AFC Bournemouth v Liverpool: Frail defences to cause goal-heavy game at the Vitality

Liverpool were left frustrated after being held to a home draw for a third successive time in the Premier League on Wednesday night.

The Reds’ much-maligned defensive unit kept West Bromwich Albion at bay, but Liverpool’s usually potent attacking talent failed to fire as Jurgen Klopp’s charges were held to a bitterly disappointing goalless draw against the Baggies.

The men from Merseyside have scored 12 goals in their last three Premier League fixtures away from Anfield and the Reds will be targeting another fruitful Premier League away day when they travel to take on AFC Bournemouth on Sunday afternoon; Klopp’s team are as short as 1/2 (1.50) with Betsafe to get back to winning ways in this one.

Callum Wilson Bournemouth

The Cherries were beaten 1-0 by Manchester United in midweek which saw their winless streak extended to five fixtures, although it is not all doom and gloom as three of those matches have ended all square and Howe’s side have lost just two of their last eight matches at Vitality Stadium.

As it is, then, the hosts can be backed at 119/20 (6.95) with Betsafe to heap yet more misery upon the Reds by picking up all three points, while the odds compilers offer 37/10 (4.70) that the men from Merseyside are again forced to settle for a share of the spoils when they visit the south coast.

Bournemouth boast the best defensive record of any team outside of the top seven in the Premier League and, indeed, Howe’s side have conceded the same number of goals as Liverpool – 20 – in their 17 Premier League matches so far this season.

Bournemouth Liverpool graphic

It is in attack, though, that the Reds have been vastly superior to Bournemouth so far this season as Klopp’s team have scored 34 league goals – more than double the Cherries’ measly tally of 15 thus far this term.

Liverpool have conceded just two goals in their last five games – both from the penalty spot – and the shot-shy hosts may struggle to make much of an impact here; Betsafe offer 33/20 (2.65) that the Reds win without conceding at Vitality Stadium.

There have, however, been fireworks whenever the Reds have been on the road this season, with at least five goals scored in all but one of Liverpool’s last six matches away from Anfield, and seven of Liverpool’s eight league matches on their travels this term have produced at least three goals.

Backing yet another goal-laden game could pay dividends and it is Betsafe’s 3/2 (2.50) quote for at least four goals to be scored when these sides meet that could put punters on a path to profit this weekend.

Betting Banner - Best BetOver 3.5 goals at 3/2 (2.50) for a 1pt stake with BetsafeBetsafe footer

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Everton vs Swansea City: TV channel, stream, kick-off times, odds & match preview

Everton are looking to continue their resurgence under Sam Allardyce as they host Swansea City at Goodison Park.

The Toffees have picked up two wins and a draw in the Premier League since Allardyce was named as Ronald Koeman’s permanent successor.

Swansea, meanwhile, sit bottom of the table following Wednesday’s defeat at the hands of Manchester City with pressure continuing to mount on manager Paul Clement.

Game Everton vs Swansea City
Date Monday, December 18
Time 20:00 GMT / 15:00 ET

TV CHANNEL & LIVE STREAM


Joe Gomez Wayne Rooney Liverpool Everton

The game will be shown live on Sky Sports Premier League and Sky Sports Main Event in the United Kingdom (UK), with coverage starting at 19:00 GMT.

In the United States (US) , the Premier League can be watched live and on-demand with fuboTV (7-day free trial) .

New users can sign up for a free seven-day trial of the live sports streaming service, which can be accessed via iOS, Android, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Apple TV as well as on a web browser.


SQUADS & TEAM NEWS


Position Everton players
Goalkeepers Pickford, Stekelenburg, Joel
Defenders Kenny, Holgate, Williams, Martina, Keane, Jagielka
Midfielders Schneiderlin, Gueye, Davies, Sigurdsson, Lennon, Mirallas, Klaassen, Besic, Vlasic, Baningime
Forwards Rooney, Calvert-Lewin, Niasse, Lookman, Sandro, Bolasie

Everton are unlikely to make wholesale changes following their win over Newcastle, with Mason Holgate set to be preferred to Michael Keane and Phil Jagielka at the heart of defence.

Leighton Baines, James McCarthy and Ramiro Funes Mori remain on the sidelines, but Yannick Bolasie could be named in the matchday squad for the first time since suffering a cruciate ligament injury in December 2016.

Potential Everton starting XI: Pickford; Kenny, Holgate, Williams, Martina; Schneiderlin, Gueye; Lennon, Rooney, Sigurdsson; Calvert-Lewin.

Position Swansea City players
Goalkeepers Fabianski, Nordfeldt
Defenders Rangel, Naughton, Van Der Hoorn, Mawson, Fernandez, Olsson
Midfielders Fer, Clucas, Sanches, Roque Mesa, Carroll, Ki, Fulton, Narsingh, Dyer
Forwards Bony, Abraham, Ayew, McBurnie

Wayne Routledge has been ruled out with a slight knock while Kyle Bartley is not ready to return a knee ligament injury that has kept him sidelined for three months.

Clement has insisted midfielder Renato Sanches will not be sent back to Bayern Munich, though he has not even made the bench for either of the Swans’s last two matches.

Potential Swansea starting XI: Fabianski, Naughton, Van Der Hoorn, Mawson, Olsson; Clucas, Ki; Ayew, Fer, Dyer; Bony.


BETTING & MATCH ODDS


Wilfried Bony - Swansea

Everton are considered 4/5 favourites to win, with Swansea 4/1 and a draw comes in at 13/5.

Click here to see all the dabblebet markets for the game, including correct score predictions and more.


GAME PREVIEW


Sam Allardyce Everton

Eyebrows were raised when big-spending Everton eventually plumped for Sam Allardyce to replace Ronald Koeman, but the former England boss has got straight down to doing what he does best.

Victory over Huddersfield Town in his first game in charge was followed by a battling point in the Merseyside derby and a midweek win at Newcastle to lift them into the top-half of the Premier League table.

Wayne Rooney has looked particularly revitalised, with the 31-year-old having netted five goals in his last four appearances, including a hat-trick against West Ham.

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Swansea, meanwhile, dropped back to the bottom of the table after slumping to a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Manchester City last time out.

They have, however, been able to frustrate better teams on their travels this season, picking up a point at Tottenham and slipping to narrow defeats at Arsenal and Chelsea.

Nevertheless, manager Paul Clement’s future continues to come under scrutiny, though the club hierarchy insist he is unlikely to be relieved of his duties before the January transfer window opens.

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January transfer news & rumours: Alexis Sanchez rejects lucrative China move


ALEXIS REJECTS £21M SALARY IN CHINA


Wantaway Arsenal attacker Alexis Sanchez has rejected a £21 million salary in China as he holds out for a January bid from Manchester City, The Sun has claimed.

The forward was denied a deadline day transfer from Arsenal to Man City this summer when his current club failed to find a replacement.

Hebei China Fortune had hoped a £400,000 per week pay packet could lure Alexis away from the Premier League but failed in their pursuit of the Chilean.


BARCA MEET GRIEZMANN’S FAMILY


Antoine Griezmann Atletico Madrid

Barcelona are making major advances to sign Antoine Griezmann and met the Atletico Madrid forward’s family for dinner, according to Mundo Deportivo.

There were strong rumours linking Griezmann with an Old Trafford switch in the summer but a move fell through due to Atletico’s transfer plan that prevented them being able to replace the Frenchman.

However, a transfer will be back on the table in 2018 and Barcelona are desperate to lead the pack in the race for his signature after such stinging failures to sign their targets during the summer, such as Philippe Coutinho.


MAN UTD TARGET EVANS RETURN


Jonny Evans West Brom

Manchester United are ready to submit an offer that would bring West Brom defender Jonny Evans back to Old Trafford, the Mirror reports.

Jose Mourinho believes Louis van Gaal made a mistake by selling the centre-back for £6 million in 2015, with the Red Devils reportedly fending off interest from Manchester City and Arsenal for the 29-year-old.

West Brom are believed to be open to selling Evans for around £30m during the January window.


STURRIDGE TOLD HE CAN LEAVE LIVERPOOL


Daniel Sturridge

Daniel Sturridge has been told he is free to leave Liverpool in the January transfer window, according to The Sun.

The Reds forward, 28, is hoping to play frequently enough to merit a place in England’s squad at World Cup 2018, but he’s been consistently overlooked for the starting XI at Anfield this season.

A loan move abroad is the most likely outcome for the former Chelsea and Manchester City attacker as Liverpool look to shift his £125,000-per-week wages.


BENTEKE A TOP EVERTON TARGET


Christian Benteke Crystal Palace 2017

Everton manager Sam Allardyce has made Crystal Palace striker Christian Benteke a top January transfer target, claims The Mirror.

The striker scored for the first time in the league this season in Saturday’s 3-0 win at Leicester City, which propelled Palace away from the relegation zone.

Allardyce worked with Benteke at Selhurst Park last season and also hopes to beat Arsenal to the signing of Sevilla midfielder Steven N’Zonzi next month.


CONTE IN LINE TO REPLACE ZIDANE


Antonio Conte Chelsea

Antonio Conte is in contention to succeed Zinedine Zidane as Real Madrid head coach, according to The Sun.

Zinedine Zidane guided the Blancos to two successive Champions League titles and a La Liga win last season but is under pressure to recover the deficit to Barcelona this campaign.

Conte still has 18 months left on his Chelsea contract and has previously dismissed suggestions that he was set to leave Stamford Bridge.


BUNDESLIGA STAR SCOUTED BY MAN CITY


Philipp Max, Augsburg, 18/18

Augsburg star Philipp Max is being scouted by Manchester City amid rave reviews of his performance in the Bundesliga this season, says the Daily Mail.

The left-back has already racked up 10 assists in 17 games for the club in the German top flight this season, a new club record.

Pep Guardiola is desperate to bolster City’s defensive options in January and is known to be eyeing up a move for Southampton centre-back Virgil van Dijk.


JUVENTUS TO MAKE £4.5M EMRE CAN DEAL


Emre Can Juventus

Juventus are willing to offer Liverpool utility man Emre Can a £4.5 million salary to sign for them next summer, according to the Daily Mail.

Contract talks between Can – whose contract runs out at the end of the season – and Liverpool have stalled in recent weeks.

The Germany international, who can play in defence or midfield, has been in and out of Jurgen Klopp’s first team plans in 2017-18.


GUARDIOLA TELLS MAN CITY TRANSFER PLANS


Pep Guardiola, Man City

Pep Guardiola has laid out his transfer plans to Manchester City’s chiefs and requested significant spend to bolster his squad for the second half of the season, reports the Manchester Evening News.

Despite being 14 points clear in the Premier League following their 4-1 thumping of Tottenham on Saturday, Guardiola is keen to avoid complacency and believes defensive signings are needed to achieve their goals in 2017-18.

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LIVERPOOL TO MISS OUT ON DE VRIJ


Stefan De Vrij Lazio

Liverpool are set to miss out on Lazio defender Stefan de Vrij, according to the Mirror .

The Reds reportedly have monitored the Dutch centre-back as an alternative to Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk, but they’re poised to miss out as Inter Milan prepare a £25 million bid that would keep De Vrij in Serie A.

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Guardiola blasts ‘dangerous’ Alli and Kane tackles

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has criticised Tottenham stars Dele Alli and Harry Kane for reckless challenges during the Etihad side’s 4-1 win over Spurs on Saturday.

Goals from Ilkay Gundogan, Kevin De Bruyne and a late double from Raheem Sterling carried the Premier League leaders to a 17th win from 18 games this season, continuing their dominance of the title race.

Yet Guafdiola had harsh words for two of their opponents’ star players as he accused both Alli and Kane of challenges that might have injured De Bruyne and Sterling respectively.

“It was a dangerous action, like the one with Harry Kane and Raheem,” Guardiola said after being questioned about Alli’s challenge.

“It’s their football, the physicality of the Premier League and players have to adapt. You saw what happened. Thankfully, it was just a kick.”

Dele Alli Tottenham

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Former Premier League referee Graham Poll was also critical of both tackles, pinpointing the Alli tackle as one that was especially bad.

“Dele Alli’s was the worst one of them all. He goes over the ball and I think he is meaning to hurt him,” he told BT Sport. “That is definitely a red card.”

Alli, however, was only booked by referee Craig Pawson, yet his Spurs side slipped to seventh in the standings, two points shy of fourth spot, currently occupied by Arsenal.

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What the hell has happened to Mkhitaryan? Outcast’s Man Utd career in serious danger

It was shortly before Christmas 2016 that Henrikh Mkhitaryan finally began to make an impression on Jose Mourinho, ending almost three months in isolation to truly announce himself as a Manchester United player.

But just one year on the Armenian finds himself back in limbo, with a run of only one inclusion in the last eight matches coming off the back of a string of poor performances. Mkhitaryan’s all-or-nothing existence at Old Trafford has taken a turn for the worse, and there is even some speculation that his United career could come to a very sudden end if he doesn’t prove himself all over again just as he did in the months following his arrival at the club.

Mkhitaryan’s malaise was one of the most curious narratives during the early stages of Mourinho’s tenure in M16. After seemingly switching off in the build-up to a Manchester City goal in his full debut in the red shirt the former Borussia Dortmund man had to wait until December for his next league start.

“At the beginning, we had some difficulties,” Mkhitaryan told the BBC in February. “It’s not very easy because you know when you have a new manager you have to try to adapt yourself to him, to the team, to the training session, to the game.

“But, at that time, even when I wasn’t playing, I always had a smile on my face because if I would be sad or if I would be mad, nothing would help me. That’s why I was just being patient, waiting for my time. I was sure that my time would come and I would have one more chance.”

Mkhitaryan, Mourinho, Man Utd

He took his chance alright, becoming one of United’s key players on the way to Europa League glory in the second half of the season and he even started the current campaign as first-choice number 10, repaying Mourinho for his renewed faith with two goals and six assists in a barnstorming beginning to the season.

But as the team’s style changed somewhat and their fortunes began to change, Mkhitaryan’s form dropped off a cliff. The attacker was particularly anonymous in the fixtures against Liverpool, Tottenham and Chelsea in successive Premier League outings, and he has featured for only 20 minutes in the six weeks since the loss at Stamford Bridge.

Mourinho has refused to give him any more leeway after those let-downs, and when asked about Mkhitaryan’s continued absence this week the manager delivered a forthright response. “I can only have six outfield players on the bench and I try to have some balance on the bench – I had two defenders and [Daley] Blind who can play in different areas. I had Ashley Young to cover me all of the wing and the wing-back position.

“I had [Ander] Herrera as a midfield player, Zlatan [Ibrahimovic] as a striker and Marcus [Rashford] as a second striker and winger. I played [Anthony] Martial, [Juan] Mata and [Jesse] Lingard in the team. To have Micki means that I don’t have one of them and, in this moment, I believe the other ones they deserve [the chance to play].”

Henrikh Mkhitaryan stats

Word is that Mkhitaryan has blamed his downturn on the increased defensive responsibility requested of him by Mourinho, and that would certainly explain the timing of his bad run which coincided with a run of poor results for the team. However, the 28-year-old cannot say he has been caught by surprise by his manager’s demand for harder work off the ball given what he went through last autumn.

Romelu Lukaku rightly drew some criticism for the flaws in his all-round game in the loss at Chelsea, but Mkhitaryan also disappointed in his inability to influence the game whenever United were under the cosh. It was much the same story against Liverpool and Spurs too, but while Lukaku was seen working hard in the channels to turn his form around in just such games his team-mate was of a far quieter disposition.

United have a lot of cash and faith wrapped up in the Belgian, meaning he has been given more time to come to terms with life at Old Trafford, but Mkhitaryan now finds himself facing an even more precarious situation than the one in which he found himself 12 months ago.

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Henrikh Mkhitaryan Manchester United

There has been some talk in Italy that Mkhitaryan and Mata are players Mourinho would consider offering in a swap deal to bring Inter’s Joao Mario to Old Trafford, and while that exact deal may not come off there is a clear need for the United boss to address the No.10 situation as it stands. That Jesse Lingard has recently become first choice in that position says much about the problems facing the manager, and if Mkhitaryan cannot turn around his form once more then something will have to be done in the transfer market in June if not sooner.

Last time around it took a lot of hard work and adaptation for Mkhitaryan to win Mourinho over, and if he doesn’t deliver the same again it could spell the beginning of the end of his Manchester United career as well as sending the club for an unscheduled visit to the supermarket come January.

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