Archives for December 2021

#10 Michigan State Basketball at Northwestern FYIs, Stats, Info

Michigan State basketball began the season flying under the radar, unranked for most of the preconference portion, but they’re back on the map now. Ranked in the top ten once again, in both polls, the Spartans look like they’ll be a major factor in the Big Ten race this year.

The New Year’s slate, where conference season really gets started in earnest, sees MSU visit Northwestern, a place where they didn’t just lose last season, but lost rather convincingly. Will they make amends for that in this Sunday matinee?

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Predicted Liverpool Starting XI at Chelsea FC


After a frustrating loss to Leicester City, Liverpool return to action Sunday when they travel to face Chelsea FC. The teams sit second and third in the table, but in danger of falling out of a true title race as City has extended their lead in recent weeks.

Liverpool has some issues with COVID that may alter their line-up on Sunday, but it should line up close to what they did against Leicester.

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Liverpool FC Team News at Chelsea: Alisson, Thiago, Firmino

Jurgen Klopp announced Friday that three first-team players and several coaches tested positive for COVID and will miss Sunday’s match. Alisson and Roberto Firmino both missed training on Thursday, so they are two of the three expected out.

Klopp also said Friday that Thiago is out with a hip injury. He joins Divock Origi (knee), Takumi Minamino (muscle), Harvey Elliott (ankle) and Nat Phillips (broken cheekbone) on the injured list. Andy Robertson will also miss in his final game of a red-card suspension.

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Tottenham Hotspur Starting XI Prediction vs Watford FC

Tottenham Hotspur could find themselves just two points off of fourth place in the Premier League table with a victory on New Year’s Day against Watford. Yep! The same Spurs side I derided and chastised for almost the entire first half of the 2021/22 season, both on this website and the After Extra Time podcast could begin 2022 within touching distance of a Champions League qualification place.

Their transformation under Antonio Conte, whilst not surprising, has been stunning. They have gone from the side that does the least running per match in the league to the side that does the most running per match in the league by quite some distance. 

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Tottenham Team News vs Watford: Bergwijn, Lo Celso, Sessegnon, Romero


A resurgent Tottenham suffered a disappointing 1-1 draw last time out against Southampton. Despite having plenty of chances, Spurs just couldn’t get that decisive second goal to secure the three points. They’ll be hoping for a bit more luck in front of the goal this weekend as they face Watford in New Year’s Day Premier League action.

The Lilywhites do not have a tremendous recent record when traveling to Vicarage Road. They have only won two of their last ten matches away from home against the Moosemen.

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West Ham United Starting XI Prediction vs Crystal Palace

London rivals West Ham and Crystal Palace face each other on New Year’s Day in the English Premier League.  Both sides head into this one on the back of comprehensive victories. For the Hammers, they snapped a horrible run of form with their 4-1 victory over Watford. Meanwhile, Crystal Palace rebounded back from a thumping at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur to defeat relegation candidates in Norwich City 3-0.

This match will probably mark superstar Declan Rice’s 150th Premier League game for the Irons. He’ll be the youngest player to reach this milestone for the club. He takes the record from his current captain, Mark Noble. Crystal Palace does not enjoy playing on New Year’s Day.

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West Ham United Team News vs Crystal Palace: Fornals, Cresswell, Zouma, Rice

West Ham takes the quick trip to Selhurst Park to face Crystal Palace in their New Year’s fixture. After a horrible run of matches where they failed to take all three points from any of the encounters, the Hammers finally got back in the winner’s books, with a 4-1 victory over Watford in their last fixture of 2021. Their opponents, Crystal Palace, also come into this match on the back of a victory, having dispatched Norwich City 3-0 in their last fixture.

Incredibly, in the last nine fixtures between these two sides, both teams have scored. That makes this fixture the fourth longest-running streak of matches where both teams score. It doesn’t stop there. In a weird quirk, the side that scores first has won none of the aforementioned nine matches. Strange.

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Chelsea FC Starting XI Prediction vs Liverpool

With Romelu Lukaku, there is always a risk that he can hinder and distract whatever team he is on, given his personality. That’s been among the major knocks on him, as he’s never been the greatest dressing room guy. The big Belgian may have disrupted team chemistry now, as he called out the tactics of his own manager Thomas Tuchel.

He also professed his love for his former club, Inter Milan, letting it be known that he wishes to return there someday soon. Yikes! Does Tuchel bench him against Liverpool on Sunday for this? He needs to make an example, right? Or does he have no choice but to play him?

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Chelsea Team News vs Liverpool FC: Lukaku, James, Werner, Silva

Chelsea hosts Liverpool on Sunday in what is the headliner of the Premier League New Year’s round of fixture. It’s also a very tightly contested series, encompassing 59 games. Chelsea have won 21 times, Liverpool have taken 23 while the total number of draws equals 15.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the latest Chelsea team news, starting with malcontent Romelu Lukaku letting it be known how much he does not like Thomas Tuchel’s tactics. This is not something that many of us really saw coming, to be honest.

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Arsenal FC vs Manchester City: Starting XI Predictions

Arsenal will play host to Manchester City on New Year’s Day. It’s a clash of the two sides currently in the hottest form in the entire league. It’s the perfect way to start 2022, as both sides have outstanding records in their first game of the year,  meaning that this promises to be a real showstopper.

Arsenal has lost just once in their last 10 games in the New Year round of the Premier League. Their one defeat came in 2015, when they fell to Southampton 2-0. The loss came while Arsene Wenger was still in the dugout; which now seems like a lifetime ago.

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Arsenal Team News vs Manchester City: Arteta, COVID, Partey, Aubameyang

Mikel Arteta and Arsenal head into the New Year in high spirits. They have put their terrible start to the season behind them and enter 2022 as one of the most in-form teams in the country.

They face their sternest test yet against a side they have consistently struggled against. Arsenal has lost their last nine Premier League matches against the Sky Blues and have failed to score in the last 5 in the series. Mikel Arteta will be desperate to get one over his former mentor and thus solidify Arsenal’s credentials as a Premier League powerhouse.

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Manchester City Team News vs Arsenal: Stones, Walker, Torres

After defeating Brentford 1-0 in the midweek round of fixtures, Manchester City now holds what seems an unassailable lead at the summit of the English Premier League heading into the second half of the season. The smart money is with Manchester City to maintain their lead at the top of the league. They have an incredible record against the Gunners.

In their last four matches across all competitions, City has easily accounted for the North London club, winning all four with an aggregate of 11-1. Despite this, I am optimistic about this matchup. These two sides are arguably the most in-form sides in the league.

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