Andy Carroll

Boxing Day Preview and Predictions

@0riginalfooty takes a look at the Boxing Day fixtures for the 18th round of Premier League football. Last weekend we got six out of ten predictions right and two correct scores. Will we do better this week?

Chelsea vs West Ham (12:45)
Jose Mourinho’s men produced yet another solid display to win away at Stoke and ensure that they remained top of the Premier League tree this Christmas. West Ham continue to be the surprise package of the season and Andy Carroll is reminding us all that he is a large asset, when he stays fit. West Ham will be competitive, as the have been all season, but Chelsea should put early pressure on Manchester City.
Prediction: Chelsea 2-1 West Ham

Burnley vs Liverpool (15:00)
Results largely went against Burnley last weekend and returned them to the drop-zone but The Clarets are proving to be a competitive side who will fight until the end. Liverpool, meanwhile, will be encouraged by their performance against Arsenal but there are still question marks over their ability to defend. If Burnley can take the opportunities that Liverpool will almost undoubtedly present them, then they can get a result here.
Prediction: Burnley 1-1 Liverpool

Crystal Palace vs Southampton (15:00)
Palace are nervously looking over their shoulder and are yet to win in December. Southampton emphatically shook off fears that their season was coming to a grinding halt with an emphatic victory over Everton, who they will believe they can finish above. This could go either way but Palace have demonstrated a lack of killer instinct and The Saints can exploit that.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 1-2 Southampton

Everton vs Stoke (15:00)
The Toffees are having a dreadful season and are closer to the relegation zone, in terms of points, than they are to the top four. Another poor result against Southampton has added weight to the theory that teams know how to play against them and there is no plan B. Stoke have had a strange season and continually produce unpredictable results but they are capable of doing better. Roberto Martinez will be desperate to get a response from his players this week and they should have enough to see off The Potters.
Prediction: Everton 2-1 Stoke

Leicester vs Spurs (15:00)
The Foxes suffered another loss against West Ham last weekend and Nigel Pearson’s days look numbered. Spurs edged to yet another win and are now level with top-four rivals Arsenal. They will want to keep the pressure up on The Gunners before their match later in the day and should have enough to beat Leicester.
Prediction: Leicester 1-2 Spurs

Man United vs Newcastle (15:00)
United stuttered to a draw against 10-man Aston Villa but they can still take heart from the fact that they sit five points ahead of their realistic top-four contenders in the form of Arsenal and Spurs. Newcastle have started to slide since their good run of form and the late loss to Sunderland was a big blow for Alan Pardew’s team. United should return to winning ways.
Prediction: Man United 3-1 Newcastle

Sunderland vs Hull (15:00)
This is a massive fixture for both these teams. Adam Johnson produced another moment of magic in the latest Tyne-Wear derby to give The Black Cats some breathing space between themselves and the relegation zone. Hull continued their struggles with a home loss against Swansea but know that if they can beat their relegation rivals here that they could rise out of the drop zone. Steve Bruce would love to put one over on his former side but Gus Poyet has made Sunderland difficult to beat and they could record back-to-back victories here.
Prediction: Sunderland 1-0 Hull

Swansea vs Aston Villa (15:00)
Swansea will be very pleased with their season so far and enjoyed another good win last weekend. Villa will also be happy with their draw against Man United last weekend and put in a plucky display. They are quietly going about their business and have reached the halfway mark of the magic 40 points so are on track for survival. Having said that, Villa’s record against Swansea in the Premier League is dire and The Swans will fancy their chances at home.
Prediction: Swansea 2-1 Aston Villa

West Brom vs Man City (15:00)
West Brom put in a catastrophic performance last weekend and threw away a two-goal lead to allow fellow strugglers QPR to draw level with them on points. City have closed the gap significantly on Chelsea and are in good form, especially considering their shortage of strikers. There will only be one outcome in this game and it’s not good news for Baggies fans.
Prediction: West Brom 1-3 Man City

Arsenal vs QPR (17:30)
The Gunners didn’t show up last weekend and still almost beat Liverpool. The manner in which they threw away their lead will not have gone down well with Arsene Wenger and QPR may be in for a tough afternoon. The R’s are beating their relegation rivals and winning at home but continue to offer very little away from home and they will lose again here.
Prediction: Arsenal 3-0 QPR

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Premier League Preview: West Ham United

There are only 2 weeks to wait ‘til the start of the Premier League. Over the next few weeks @0riginalfooty will preview the new season, take a look at each team and offer our predictions as to where each side will finish. Here we take a look at West Ham.

Last season could be considered job done for The Hammers. A 13th placed finish, with relegation never looking too threatening, could be considered progress for a club that were tipped by many to struggle. However, fans were furious and embarrassed by the shocking performances in both domestic cup competitions and continued to be disgruntled by Big Sam’s style of play that’s labeled boring and unattractive. Many are surprised that Allardyce kept his job at the end of the season but Gold and Sullivan have kept faith in their manager and granted him a sizable transfer kitty that, it appears, has been spent wisely on several signings.

The Manager
Allardyce is not at all popular with the Upton Park faithful but he has managed to keep West Ham in the top flight for a third season in a row. While he does prefer ‘long ball’ football, his teams are notoriously hard to break down and solid at the back. West Ham had an injury-plagued season with a number of defensive casualties whilst having to cope without new signing, Carroll, for much of the campaign. That said, Big Sam’s critics would argue that Carroll was too much of a gamble considering The Hammers blew the majority of their transfer budget last summer on the injury-prone target-man.

Sam Alladyce has been given a tough time by West Ham fans

Sam Alladyce has been given a tough time by West Ham fans

Biggest Signing
Enner Valencia is the marquee signing of this window for West Ham and their fans must be delighted that they snapped him up, especially given reported interest from ‘bigger’ clubs. The reported £12 million price-tag represents a fairly large outlay for The Hammers, but the Ecuadorian was in blistering form for Pachuca last season and, moreover, caught everyone’s eye at the World Cup in Brazil. He is a very pacey striker with an eye for goal, and is also surprisingly good in the air, possessing an incredible leap.

Mauro Zarate is another notable signing. We saw the little Argentine impress during a brief loan spell with Birmingham City and he certainly has the talent to be a real asset for The Hammers. However, he is famously temperamental and apparently lacks discipline so Big Sam will be praying he knuckles down to produce his best stuff this season.

Valencia could prove to be a fantastic capture for The Hammers

Valencia could prove to be a fantastic capture for The Hammers

Who is tipped to join them?
Despite having already made 6 first team signings so far, Allardyce has come out and said he fancies getting one more striker, another young centre back and added cover at left back.

Samuel Eto’o is odds on to arrive at Upton Park before the start of the new season, however Big Sam has announced that they will only sign the veteran attacker if he cannot find a younger striker. There is also reported interest in Peter Crouch, which could be a loan move until January to fill the void caused by Andy Carroll’s latest injury.

Shalke’s Antonio Rudiger is another player to be muted with a move to West Ham, and would be a fantastic signing. The young German international is an already an impressive, commanding centre back who would add steel to their back line.

Finally, Ronaldinho is set to name his new club this week and West Ham are amongst the list of potential suitors. It’s a move that would fulfill most Premier League fans’ dreams of seeing the Brazilian midfield magician grace our stadiums and would certainly see a soar in shirt sales. Unfortunately it does seem like an unrealistic venture.

Big Sam has said he would prefer to sign a younger striker than 33 year old Eto'o

Big Sam has said he would prefer to sign a younger striker than 33 year old Eto’o

Who should they sign?
Both Crouch and Eto’o would be good signings for The Hammers, with the latter showing last season that can still perform at this level with some decent displays for Chelsea. However, if Big Sam would prefer a younger model, Burnley’s highly rated Danny Ings could do a job for West Ham. At just 22, Ings would be a good option as young, able forward.

As for defensive cover, Croatian International Ivan Strinic would be an ideal candidate and could even challenge Aaron Cresswell, recently signed from Ipswich, for a starting berth next season.

Ings has shown that he is ready for the step up to Premier League football

Ings has shown that he is ready for the step up to Premier League football

Key Player
If Andy Carroll could have been fit for the start of the season he would be the clear choice as West Ham’s key player this term. However the big man’s 4-month layoff is a real blow to their chances of getting off to a good start. When fit he has shown that he has the potential to be a very good player and has caused some of the best defenders in the league real problems at times. Unfortunately they will have to cope without him for the start of the season. While new signing Valencia won’t be quite ready for the first few games, he could have a huge say in their fortunes this season. If he adapts well to the league and The Hammers’ style of play, we can expect to see him banging in the goals this season.

Carroll's latest injury is a big set back for Allardyce

Carroll’s latest injury is a big set back for Alladyce’s squad

Prediction
Despite the gloom surrounding Carroll’s injury, West Ham have strengthened remarkably well this summer and have done some of the best business in the league. Compared to other clubs around them, they look as if they will be in much better stead to push up the table and perhaps find themselves in the top half come May. Providing their new strikers can remedy their age-old problem of lacking goals, we’re expecting The Hammers to finish in 9th place this season, which would represent serious progress.

Premier League Preview: Newcastle United

There are only 4 weeks to wait ‘til the start of the Premier League. Over the next few weeks @0riginalfooty will preview the new season, take a look at each team and offer our predictions as to where each side will finish. Here we take a look at Newcastle United.

Newcastle are a side with problems behind the scenes and the Geordie faithful have made it clear that they want owner Mike Ashley to sell the club. A 10th place finish may appear good on the face of it but Newcastle were flying high in the first half of the season before winning only 5 matches in the second half. They even only managed 1 draw so managed to lose 13 out of 19 matches, which is a terrible record. Pardew will be desperate for Newcastle to rediscover their best form and return to the top half of the table.

The Manager
Alan Pardew has been in charge of Newcastle since December 2010 and is the second longest-serving manager in the League. Pardew’s spell in charge of the Magpies has not been short of controversy. He has pushed an official, been involved in a verbal spat with Manuel Pellegrini and most recently head-butted David Meyler.

Alan Pardew has been at the centre of plenty of controversy in his time at St James' Park

Alan Pardew has been at the centre of plenty of controversy in his time at St James’ Park

Biggest Signing
Pardew has been quick to draft in reinforcements this summer in order to replace creative influence Yohan Cabaye, who departed for PSG in January, and top goal scorer Loic Remy whose loan spell has ended. Newcastle have brought in six new faces. The biggest signing of those is Remy Cabella who they have been pursuing from Montpellier the last few transfer windows. They were finally successful this time around and have paid a reported £12 million to land the attacking-midfielder. Jack Colback has been pinched from bitter rivals Sunderland on a free transfer, much to the fury of the Black Cats. Right-back Daryl Janmaat has been drafted in to replace Mathieu Debuchy who has moved to Arsenal, midfielder Siem De Jong has been signed from Ajax and strikers Emmanuel Riviere and Ayoze Perez have moved to Tyneside from Monaco and Tenerife respectively.

Remy Cabella is an exciting signing

Remy Cabella is an exciting signing

Who is tipped to join them?
The Magpies have been heavily linked with a move for Alexandre Lacazette from Lyon and are reported to be interested in Burnley striker Danny Ings. Andy Carroll has also been tipped to return to his home club from West Ham in a £12 million deal.

Will Andy Carroll return to Newcastle?

Will Andy Carroll return to Newcastle?

Who should they sign?
Newcastle have generally moved pretty well in the transfer window and I’ll be surprised if there are too many more faces through the door. It seems they are still keen on bringing in at least one more striker as Loic Remy is set to move to Liverpool. Carroll would be a good signing, if he can remain fit, and would probably be keen on a return to his hometown.

Remy is expected to snub Newcastle in favour of Liverpool

Remy is expected to snub Newcastle in favour of Liverpool

Key Player
Fabricio Coloccini. Newcastle are in desperate need for their leaders on the pitch to steer them away from their terrible run of form at the end of last season. Coloccini is a big figure in the dressing room, an imposing character on the pitch and will be key to turning Newcastle’s fortunes around.

Coloccini is a big presence in the Newcastle dressing room

Coloccini is a big presence in the Newcastle dressing room

Prediction
This is a side that definitely won’t go down but they look a little lost without leading lights Cabaye and Remy in the picture. It remains to be seen how quickly they return to the form they are capable of and I think they will struggle to finish in the top half again this season. They should avoid a relegation battle, though. Expect Newcastle to finish 12th.