x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Premier League team-by-team: Arsenal to Fulham

Aston Villa will have to do without Emile Heskey for the next month while Carlo Ancelotti believes that Nicolas Anelka is in the best form of his career.


Arsene Wenger felt his side were guilty of taking things for granted in their surprise 2-1 loss to Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday in the Champions League. The Arsenal manager told the club's official website: "We lost concentration in the duels and you could see what was coming towards half-time. It was more of a team problem, a kind of complacency problem more than an individual problem. In the second half we came back into the game and gave a lot so you can't fault the team." Arsenal can close to within two points of top spot tomorrow with a victory over Newcastle.

Aston Villa

Aston Villa will have to do without Emile Heskey for the next month due to the striker requiring knee surgery. Heskey tore the medial meniscus in his right knee and surgery is needed to rectify the problem. He has been ruled out of tomorrow's clash at Fulham, but is likely to be back in time for the Christmas period. "Heskey tore the medial meniscus in his right knee yesterday in training," a club statement announced yesterday. The news is a blow to Villa, who are already without Gabriel Agbonlahor, one of the club's other main forwards, who is also injured.

Birmingham City

Ben Foster is confident that Birmingham are on the verge of a strong run of form after a frustrating start to the season. The Blues, who are only 15th in the table, have picked up four points from their last two games and are at home to basement side West Ham tomorrow at St Andrew's. The goalkeeper told the Birmingham Mail: "We're playing really well. We look really solid and we're not letting teams have a lot of chances either. If we can just get the ball in the back of the net ourselves I think we'll do similar to last season. We're not actually letting a lot of goals in."

Blackburn Rovers

Paul Robinson believes his decision to retire from international football has improved his performances from Blackburn. The Rovers goalkeeper said he was no longer available for selection after not going to the World Cup in South Africa with England in the summer, and he has impressed this season. He told Sky Sports: "I am reaping the rewards at Blackburn. I am really enjoying my football - I think my form shows that and I am in a good place at the moment. It was a big decision for me but I think I have benefited from it because I have been able to put a lot more time into my training here." Rovers entertain Wigan tomorrow.


Ian Evatt is convinced that Blackpool are going to go from strength to strength now that they have picked up their first home win in the top flight for almost 40 years. Monday's 2-1 win over West Bromwich Albion was their first at Bloomfield since 1971, and Evatt believes that the result could be a real confidence booster for the team. The defender told the Blackpool Gazette: "We've got the monkey off our back and we can now go into the game full of confidence," he said. "Hopefully we can get another three points. I just think the way we've started this season shows just how far we've come in such a short space of time."

Bolton Wanderers

Owen Coyle is backing his Bolton side to bounce back from last week's 1-0 loss to Liverpool with a strong performance against Tottenham tomorrow at the Reebok Stadium. "We'll take our medicine, the kick in the teeth, and look to bounce back," he told the Bolton News. "We'll get a smile on our face and look to get the next three points available to us. There is pressure, but then there is in every single game in this league; Spurs is no different at all. I haven't been able to ask any more from my players in terms of effort and endeavour." Bolton are 11th in the table going into the game, three points above the relegation zone.


Carlo Ancelotti believes that Nicolas Anelka is in the best form of his career. The French striker was on target in Wednesday's 4-1 win over Spartak Moscow in the Champions League, and has been in impressive form as his 10 goals in all competitions have seen Chelsea move to the top of the Premier League table and already book their spot in the knockout stages of the Champions League. "He has experience. He maintains very good skill, ability and speed. Overall he is in the best moment of his career," Ancelotti said. "I think he is happy at this moment." Chelsea are at struggling Liverpool on Sunday.


Jermaine Beckford has been backed to make an impact in the Everton first team after a low-key introduction to life in the Premier League. The striker, who joined from Leeds in the summer, has only one Carling Cup goal to his credit thus far, but Alan Stubbs, Everton's reserve team boss, is confident his style of play will help him be more productive. He told the Liverpool Echo: "A lot of his goals at Leeds came from him running on to things. Defenders don't like it when you play just on the shoulder." Jack Rodwell and Victor Anichebe could both be fit for the weekend's trip to Blackpool after both played for the reserves in midweek.


The form of Carlos Salcido has been one of the high points of the season for Mark Hughes, the Fulham manager. The Mexican has been a revelation at left-back this season, and was man of the match in last week's 2-0 win over Wigan. Hughes told Fulham's club website ahead of tomorrow's home game with Aston Villa: "What I like about him is that he's very humble and enjoys his work. I think he's found an environment that he likes; he likes the type of football we play because that's what he's been used to in the teams he's played with before. All in all it's a good fit. We're delighted with what he's producing."