Diego Costa

Weekend Preview and Predictions

@0riginalfooty takes a look at the weekend’s fixtures for the 23rd round of Premier League football. Last time out we got six out of ten predictions right and one correct score. Will we do better this week?

Saturday

Hull vs Newcastle (12:45)
Hull were appalling in their last league match where they were thumped by West Ham and their poor form this season continued. Newcastle, meanwhile, have announced that John Carver will stay on until the end of the season – despite not displaying great form under him. Neither side is in great form so a draw looks the most likely result.
Prediction: Hull 1-1 Newcastle

Crystal Palace vs Everton (15:00)
Palace’s magical revival under Alan Pardew continued with an excellent FA Cup victory over Southampton. Everton have really struggled to find their feet so far this campaign but look more solidified at the back than earlier in the season and could return to Merseyside with a point.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 1-1 Everton

Liverpool vs West Ham (15:00)
The big headline ahead of this fixture is that Daniel Sturridge is due to return in some capacity. His teammates have started to pick up their form in recent weeks but The Hammers will not be easy opponents to beat. Sam Allardyce has turned his side into a well-oiled machine that plays attractive football and will provide a stern test. The Reds should scrape a win, though.
Prediction: Liverpool 2-1 West Ham

Man United vs Leicester (15:00)
If the reverse fixture of this match is anything to go by then this should be an exciting contest. Leicester stunned Louis van Gaal’s men to win 5-3 at the King Power Stadium. United have struggled to put teams to the sword recently while Leicester have improved but The Red Devils should come out on top.
Prediction: Man United 2-0 Leicester

Stoke vs QPR (15:00)
The Potters marched on in the FA Cup by beating Rochdale and sit in the top half of the Premier League. QPR may be in the relegation zone but they are only one point away from safety. They are still yet to pick up a point on the road this season and it seems unlikely they’ll get one here.
Prediction: Stoke 2-0 QPR

Sunderland vs Burnley (15:00)
Gus Poyet has been criticized recently for Sunderland’s style of play and their lack of goals but he will be hoping that the acquisition of Jermain Defoe can help to change that. Burnley have battled for every point this season and there is every chance that they will fight for another one here.
Prediction: Sunderland 1-1 Burnley

West Brom vs Spurs (15:00)
Tony Pulis appears to have instilled belief back into this West Brom team and they won’t fear anyone. Spurs booked a trip to Wembley to face Chelsea in the League Cup final but their midweek match may have taken it out of them. The Baggies could well earn another vital point towards safety.
Prediction: West Brom 1-1 Spurs

Chelsea vs Man City (17:30)
This is the big match of the weekend and one that City will be desperate not to lose. City have slipped to five points behind the leaders in recent weeks and won’t fancy chasing an eight-point deficit. Jose Mourinho’s side are without Diego Costa through suspension and are likely to be without Cesc Fabregas too. City may just feel they have the edge to win but Mourinho knows how to set his sides up against the top teams and they should get a point.
Prediction: Chelsea 2-2 Man City

Sunday

Arsenal vs Aston Villa (13:30)
Arsenal are in excellent form at the moment and are only one point shy of fourth spot. Villa have made some astute signings this window and Carles Gil looks as if he could be the creative spark that they may need. Having said that, they are playing The Gunners at the wrong time and there will only be one result in this one.
Prediction: Arsenal 2-0 Aston Villa

Southampton vs Swansea (16:00)
The Saints crashed out of the FA Cup to Crystal Palace, which now has added a little bit of pressure on them to finish in the top four. I said a few weeks ago that Swansea looked slightly fatigued and the sale of Wilfried Bony leaves them looking less effective in attack. Southampton should come out on top.
Prediction: Southampton 2-0 Swansea

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On the whistle: Chelsea 2-0 Arsenal

Jose Mourinho extended his unbeaten record against Arsene Wenger to 12 matches as Chelsea battled to victory over Arsenal.

Diego Costa continued his excellent scoring record by notching his ninth goal in seven Premier League appearances.

Former Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas provided the assist for Costa’s goal to ensure it was a happy afternoon for the Spaniard after Eden Hazard had opened the scoring.

Hazard both won and converted his penalty to give Chelsea a first half advantage and extend their lead at the top of the table to five points.

The Gunners failed to register a single shot on target before the 90th minute, despite enjoying a decent amount of possession, and were outmanoeuvred by Mourinho’s men.

The match was delayed by fifteen minutes due to a flare being set off by an entrance to the away end.

Alexis Sanchez was denied a chance by an onrushing Courtois, who was flattened by the Arsenal winger for his troubles.

Gary Cahill earned himself a booking for a poor challenge on Sanchez that led to Mourinho and Wenger being involved in a heated exchange on the touchline.

Courtois was still suffering from his accidental clash with Sanchez and was replaced by Petr Cech just after the 21st minute. Courtois was taken to hospital.

Chambers was then booked, for the fifth time this season, for a challenge on Eden Hazard and now misses Arsenal’s next match against Hull.

Hazard was involved again moments later as he brilliantly skipped past three Arsenal defenders including Laurent Koscielny who subsequently brought him down and was booked.

Hazard casually rolled the penalty into the corner with Szczesny diving the wrong way.

Hazard caused Arsenal numerous problems and his drilled ball across the box deflected off Flamini to force Szczesny into an excellent save.

The Gunners were then incensed that they weren’t awarded a penalty after Fabregas blocked a Wilshire shot with his hands.

Costa scored Chelsea’s second by looping the ball over Szczesny after an excellent ball over the top of Arsenal’s backline from Fabregas.

Costa then missed an open goal in stoppage time that could have been his tenth goal of the season.

Weekend Preview and Predictions

@Originalfooty takes a look at the fixtures for the fifth weekend of Premier League football. Last weekend we got five out of ten predictions correct and one correct score. Will we do better this week? 

Saturday

QPR vs Stoke (12:45)
Both these sides have made very poor starts to the campaign. QPR have the worst goal difference in the league and have lost three of their opening four matches. Stoke, on the other hand, have had what on paper looked like a relatively easy start and only a shock win over Manchester City has saved them from being glued to the bottom of the table. They will be desperate to get a win against one of the sides around them but a draw seems more likely here.
Prediction: QPR 1-1 Stoke

Aston Villa vs Arsenal (15:00)
Villa have been one of the best sides in the league to date and put in a magnificently gritty performance to earn a victory at Anfield last weekend. Arsenal, meanwhile, have made an indifferent start to the campaign and were battered by Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on Tuesday. However, they still remain undefeated in the league. There are serious concerns over Arsenal’s defence but they are always a threat going forward and should bounce back against Paul Lambert’s side.
Prediction: Villa 1-2 Arsenal

Burnley vs Sunderland (15:00)
Burnley were agonisingly close to sealing their first league victory of the season against Crystal Palace and saw a late penalty wonderfully saved by Julian Speroni. They are proving to be no pushovers though and can take heart from their start. Sunderland have started decently enough and have earned draws against Spurs and Manchester United but they look a little toothless in attack. A low scoring draw seems the most likely outcome in this one.
Prediction: Burnley 1-1 Sunderland

Newcastle vs Hull (15:00)
Newcastle have won the award for worst performance of the season so far with their dismal showing against Southampton and Alan Pardew is under huge pressure to get a result here. Hull have made an okay start to the season and will fancy their chances of picking up at least a point here. Pardew will probably need a win to keep his job but it’s hard to see them getting it.
Prediction: Newcastle 1-1 Hull

Swansea vs Southampton (15:00)
This could be one of the games of the weekend as two sides who have played some excellent football go head to head. Swansea’s winning streak was brought to an end by Chelsea last weekend whilst Southampton mauled Alan Pardew’s hapless Newcastle side. Both these sides were tipped to struggle this season due to their manager’s lack of experience in the league and, in Southampton’s case, a mass exodus of their playing staff. However, both sides and managers deserve immense praise for their start and this is a tough game to call. It should be a game full of goals and a great one for the neutral.
Prediction: Swansea 2-2 Southampton

West Ham vs Liverpool (17:30)
West Ham have had a decent start to the season and fought back well to draw against Hull on Monday night. Liverpool, on the other hand, dropped points against Villa at the weekend when trying to rotate their squad. They were very easy to defend against in the absence of Sterling and Sturridge. Fortunately for Liverpool, West Ham aren’t as solid as Villa are at the moment and an away win is on the cards.
Prediction: West Ham 1-3 Liverpool

Sunday

Leicester vs Manchester United (13:30)
What a start to the season Leicester have made. They have been a brilliant addition to the league and have secured some fantastic results. Leonardo Ulloa is proving to be a superb buy and will cause this weak Manchester United defence a lot of problems. United, however, managed a good result and performance themselves last weekend, albeit against a very poor QPR side, but there are still questions to be answered at the back. Leicester won’t be afraid here and can continue their brilliant campaign.
Prediction: Leicester 2-2 Manchester United

Spurs vs West Brom (13:30)
Spurs threw away three points against Sunderland last weekend and were guilty of not taking several great chances in the second half. They did play well though and Pochettino can be encouraged, on the whole, by his sides performances. At the other end of the scale, The Baggies look like a very average side and they will struggle to score against this Spurs team. Don’t be surprised to see Alan Irvine’s team rooted to the bottom of the league after this weekend.
Prediction: Spurs 3-0 West Brom

Everton vs Crystal Palace (16:00)
The Toffees finally got off the mark with an away win at West Brom and that should kick start Roberto Martinez and his side’s season. Palace are still finding their feet under Neil Warnock and were very grateful to Julian Speroni and his penalty save to avoid defeat last weekend. This should be a fairly routine win for Everton.
Prediction: Everton 2-0 Crystal Palace

Man City vs Chelsea (16:00)
This is a clash between the two sides most people believe will win the league this season. City have made a fairly poor start by their lofty standards and are without a win in their last three matches after defeat in Munich. Chelsea, on the other hand, have been magnificent in the league but a midweek home draw with Schalke demonstrated their reliance on Diego Costa. Mourinho ended City’s fantastic run at home last season but he would be happy with a draw to maintain the early five-point gap.
Prediction: Man City 1-1 Chelsea

Top Signing Per Club: A-L

The transfer window slammed shut last night and the Premier League sides will have to make do with what they have until January. Here @0riginalfooty takes a look at the top signing made by each club whose name begins between A and L.

Arsenal
Alexis Sanchez (Barcelona, £30m). Similarly to the capture of Mesut Ozil last summer, this signing has caught the imagination of Arsenal fans and has generated belief that The Gunners can be genuine title contenders once more. He may not have made a flying start to life in the Premier League but the Chilean should prove to be an excellent piece of business.
Other notable signings: Calum Chambers (Southampton, £16m), Mathieu Debuchy (Newcastle, £12m), David Ospina (Nice, £3m), Danny Welbeck (Arsenal, £16m).

Aston Villa
Philippe Senderos (Valencia, free). The arrival of the Swiss centre-back was greeted with caution by Villa fans as Senderos had never really proved himself as a totally reliable defender. However, he has struck an instant understanding with Villa skipper Ron Vlaar and Villa’s defensive woes now seem a thing of the past. If he can keep up this form, he will prove to be a marvellous addition.
Other notable signings: Aly Cissokho (Valencia, undisclosed), Tom Cleverley (Manchester United, loan) Joe Cole (West Ham United, free), Kieran Richardson (Fulham, undisclosed), Carlos Sanchez (Elche, undisclosed).

Burnley
Matt Taylor (West Ham United, undisclosed). Burnley have had a tough set of opening fixtures and, despite performing valiantly, they will know how difficult it will be to stay in this league. They were a side who needed to add Premier League experience to their ranks and Taylor certainly fits the bill. His know-how at this level could prove vital to The Clarets survival hopes.
Other notable signings: George Boyd (Hull, £3m), Nathaniel Chalobah (Chelsea, loan), Matt Gilks (Blackpool, free), Lukas Jutkiewicz (Middlesbrough £1.5m), Michael Keane (Manchester United, loan), Michael Kightly (Stoke City, undisclosed), Steven Reid (West Bromwich Albion, free), Marvin Sordell (Bolton Wanderers, undisclosed), Stephen Ward (Wolves, undisclosed).

Chelsea
Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid, £32m). Costa has been a revelation since signing from La Liga champions Atletico Madrid and has scored four goals in his opening three matches. What has been more impressive, however, is his work-rate off the ball and willingness to battle and make defenders lives a misery. Jose Mourinho will be delighted with his contribution so far and he could easily prove to be the best signing of the season.
Other notable signings: Didier Drogba (Galatasary, free), Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona,£30m), Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid £20m).

Crystal Palace
Brede Hangeland (Fulham, free). Hangeland has been a quality performer in the Premier League for many years now and will be an excellent addition to Neil Warnock’s defence. He is a natural born leader on the pitch who is dominant in the air and will happily battle with opposition attackers.
Other notable signings: Fraizer Campbell (Cardiff City, £900k), Kevin Doyle (Wolves, loan), Martin Kelly (Liverpool, undisclosed), Chris Kettings (Blackpool, free), Wilfried Zaha (Manchester United, loan).

Everton
Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea, £28m). Roberto Martinez smashed Everton’s record transfer record by bringing in burly Belgian frontman Romelu Lukaku. He was the top scorer for The Toffees last season and is a constant menace going forward. Everton have put a lot of faith in him with such a big outlay and will hope he can fire them to Champions League football this season.
Other notable signings: Christian Atsu (Chelsea, loan), Gareth Barry (Manchester City, free), Muhamed Besic (Ferencvaros, undisclosed), Samuel Eto’o (Chelsea, free).

Hull
Hatem Ben Arfa (Newcastle United, loan). Hull were very busy on deadline day and surprised many fans with their capture of Newcastle midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa. Ben Arfa fell out with his parent club when he was fined for being overweight but has been given a lifeline by The Tigers. There is no doubting Ben Arfa’s quality if he can stay fit and Hull fans will be eagerly anticipating his debut.
Other notable signings: Michael Dawson (Spurs, undisclosed), Mohammed Diame (West Ham, undisclosed), Tom Ince (Blackpool, undisclosed), Jake Livermore (Spurs, undisclosed), Harry Maguire (Sheffield United, £2.5m), Andrew Robertson (Dundee United, £2.9m), Robert Snodgrass (Norwich City, undisclosed).

Leicester
Leonardo Ulloa (Brighton, £7m). Ulloa, Leicester’s record signing, has made an excellent start to life in the Premier League and scored the equaliser in their most recent draw against Arsenal. He’s a powerful striker who is deadly in the air and The Foxes will be hopeful that his goals can keep them in the Premier League.
Other notable signings: Marc Albrighton (Aston Villa, free), Jack Barmby (Manchester United, free), Esteban Cambiasso (Inter Milan, free), Ben Hamer (Charlton Athletic, free), Matthew Upson (Brighton, free).

Liverpool
Mario Balotelli (AC Milan, £16m). Balotelli has returned to English football, much to the delight of the media, and Liverpool fans will be hopeful that he can produce the world-class form that we know he is capable of on a regular basis. If he can put his troublesome ways behind him and focus on his football then he will be a steal at £16m.
Other notable signings: Emre Can (Bayer Leverkusen, £8m), Adam Lallana (Southampton, £25m), Rickie Lambert (Southampton, £4m), Dejan Lovren (Southampton, £20m), Javi Manquillo (Atletico Madrid, loan), Lazar Markovic (Benfica, £20m), Alberto Moreno (Sevilla, undisclosed).

 

Premier League Preview: Chelsea

There is only a month 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 Chelsea.

Chelsea were reunited with outspoken manager Jose Mourinho last season and finished 3rd in what was generally a disappointing campaign. Mourinho insisted that his young side was a work in progress so this is the season they will expect to be judged. Their major opposition for Premier League glory comes from fellow big-spenders Manchester City but Chelsea will be confident of pushing them all the way.

The Manager
Does Mourinho need an introduction? He is one of the most successful bosses in football history and is still at a young enough age to establish himself as the greatest manager of all time. When Mourinho originally arrived at Chelsea he heralded himself as “the Special One” and proceeded to win them their first Premier League title. He presided over the most successful period in the club’s history before falling out with Roman Abramovich, the owner, and moving on. He has since managed Inter Milan and Real Madrid before returning in an attempt to guide Chelsea to further glory.

Can Mourinho guide Chelsea to Premier League glory?

Can Mourinho guide Chelsea to Premier League glory?

Biggest Signing
Chelsea have already been busy this transfer window and have made some major signings. So big, in fact, that it difficult to determine which one is the biggest. It’s largely a tossup between the signings of Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas who both cost around £30 million. Mourinho has also splashed big money on left-back Filipe Luis who will cost roughly £20 million. Although not officially a new signing, Thibault Courtois has also returned from loan and is another boost to Chelsea’s already talented squad.

Can Diego Costa justify his hefty price tag?

Can Diego Costa justify his hefty price tag?

Who is tipped to join them?
Chelsea are linked with hundreds of players every window due to Abramovich’s vast fortune so it is difficult to sift through genuine rumours. Names that are continuously linked are the likes of Sami Khedira, Edison Cavani and Paul Pogba. Interestingly, Champions League hero Didier Drogba has also been linked with a move back to the club as a back up striker for Diego Costa combined with a coaching role.

Will Drogba return to Chelsea this summer?

Will Drogba return to Chelsea this summer?

Who should they sign?
Chelsea are in the very comfortable position of not really needing to sign anyone. Having said that, Mourinho is not keen on the striking options available to him, Diego Costa aside, and he will be looking to bring in a secondary option. He is trying to rid himself of the likes of Torres and Ba and, with Eto’o having already been released, it is likely he will want one more forward. Drogba has been mentioned but may be past his best to be seriously challenging for first team football. The most sensible option would be to allow Romelu Lukaku the opportunity to stake his claim at the club but should Mourinho remain undecided on him, Wilfried Bony could be an option.

It remains to be seen whether Mourinho will give Lukaku an opportunity to shine at Stamford Bridge

It remains to be seen whether Mourinho will give Lukaku an opportunity to shine at Stamford Bridge

Key Player
Eden Hazard. He enjoyed a wonderful campaign last season and will be fully expected to do the same again this time. Often he was looking to inspire an unbalanced side with a lack of cutting edge but this season, with the improved quality up front, he should be part of a more menacing attack. Hazard is one of the most skilful players in the league and a fullback’s worst nightmare when he’s running at them.

Eden Hazard was Chelsea's top performer last season

Eden Hazard was Chelsea’s top performer last season

Prediction
Make no mistake about it; this is a very strong Chelsea side and one that will most likely win the league this season. They have added wisely to their squad early and will therefore get a long preseason behind them with all their playing staff together. Mourinho seems prepared and to have a best team in mind, which wasn’t always the case last season. Players like Ivanovic and Azpilicueta are useful to offer cover anywhere across the back four and there are quality options throughout the squad. Although Manchester City will be a force to be reckoned with, I think Chelsea have enough about them to emerge victorious this season. Expect Chelsea to finish 1st.