x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Premier League team-by-team: Liverpool to Wolves

As Roberto Martinez chases Claudio Yacob, the Argentine midfielder, his most important task appears to be retaining the services of Charles N'Zogbia.

Gareth Bale, left, was superb in Tottenham's memorable 3-1 victory over Inter Milan at White Hart Lane.
Gareth Bale, left, was superb in Tottenham's memorable 3-1 victory over Inter Milan at White Hart Lane.


Roy Hodgson, the Liverpool manager, is confident that the club's appointment of Damien Comolli will allow him to devote more time to team affairs. The former Tottenham sporting director has been appointed into a similar role at Anfield by the club's new owners, New England Sports Ventures (NESV). "It is a strategy which I think makes sense, especially for our club at this moment in time because we are in a period of transition with new owners. He will certainly take a lot of the minor things that you have to deal with, allowing me to concentrate on the team management and he will help us bring the team forward."

Manchester City

James Milner has blamed the press for creating rumours of a rift in the City dressing room and said "when the whole world is against you, that is when you pull together". Roberto Mancini's men have lost their previous two league games, against Arsenal and Wolves, which has sparked some infighting - most notably between Milner and Yaya Toure. But the former Aston Villa midfielder said he would be more concerned if that was not the case. "Having on-field disagreements says we're very hungry to win football matches. We'd be worried if there wasn't that hunger because we're desperate to win trophies."

Manchester United

United players are urging Gabriel Obertan, the French winger, to start fulfilling his potential after a man-of-the-match-winning performance midweek against Bursaspor in the Champions League. With Nani expected to miss tomorrow's fixture with Wolves through injury, Obertan will be given a chance to shine. Compatriot Patrice Evra said he must take his opportunity: "Now is the time to show that he has the potential to play for United." Meanwhile, Wayne Rooney is set to go up in flames tonight as Edenbridge Bonfire Society celebrate Guy Fawke's Night with a massive effigy of the troubled striker.

Newcastle United

The Magpies go to Arsenal this weekend hoping to maintain the kind of form that saw them demolish local rivals Sunderland 5-1 on Sunday. However, Newcastle lost 4-0 at home to a young Gunners side last week in the Carling Cup so know the task in hand is enviable. Steven Taylor is returning from long-term injury and Sol Campbell has regained the fitness required to play at this level, so coach Chris Hughton has options at the back for what is sure to be a demanding afternoon at the Emirates Stadium. And Joey Barton said this week he has one eye on an England recall, so he will be keen to impress, too.

Stoke City

Tony Pulis has revealed he does not expect Eidur Gudjohnsen to start a game for Stoke until at least December after the Icelandic forward, a summer signing, arrived out of shape and carrying too much weight. The Potters travel to Sunderland tomorrow looking for their first win since October 2. With Ricardo Fuller facing a late fitness test, Pulis would have benefited from Gudjohnsen's involvement, but said it is impossible to use the versatile striker, who can also play in midfield, at the moment. "His weight is still a bit up on what it needs to be. Hopefully sometime in December we should have him up and running."


Sunderland are still reeling from last week's dismal display against north east rivals Newcastle, but Steve Bruce, the manager, is hoping record signing Asamoah Gyan can banish the bad memories of their horror show at St James' Park. The Ghanaian forward joined on deadline day, but has yet to start a Premier League game. Bruce, however, knows the Black Cats need a big performance this weekend at home to Stoke City, and plans to play Gyan for the full 90 minutes. "He will start. We've let him gently bed in and get used to being here, and it's about time we unleashed him and see what he's got," Bruce said.

Tottenham Hotspur

The name on everyone's lips this week at Tottenham has been Gareth Bale. Following his sublime performance in Spurs' 3-1 win over European Champions Inter Milan, the Welshman has been likened to Lionel Messi and linked to a move to Real Madrid in the next transfer window. But Bale is staying grounded and says he hopes to see out his four-year deal at White Hart Lane. Tottenham host Bolton tomorrow and having failed to collect three points from either of their previous two games, they need a victory if they are to maintain their involvement in the Champions League and ensure this season is not just a cameo appearance.

West Bromwich Albion

Pablo Ibanez's appeal to the FA following his dismissal against Blackpool on Monday has led to his suspension being rescinded. The Baggies lost 2-1 to Ian Holloway's men after seeing Ibanez sent off in the 11th minute and Gonzalo Jara joining him some 20 minutes later. Ibanez will now be available for selection when Roberto Di Matteo picks his team to face Manchester City on Sunday, but attacking trio Peter Odemwingie, James Morrison and Jonas Olsson are all carrying knocks. West Brom could leap frog City if they were to win by three goals, and having beaten them in the Carling Cup will relish their chances.

West Ham United

Christmas could be a depressing time of year for Hammers fans if their team do not start scoring goals. That is the view of Matthew Upson, the defender, who has warned his strikers to be more precise if the side are to lift themselves off the foot of the Premier League. "'It's all about results, so we have to turn them around and possibly be more clinical. [If] you hit Christmas and you are still in that kind of scenario you have a real dogfight on your hands. We need to improve, we need to get results and we need to do it quick." West Ham travel to Birmingham tomorrow.

Wigan Athletic

As Roberto Martinez chases Claudio Yacob, the Argentine midfielder, his most important task appears to be retaining the services of Charles N'Zogbia. The Frenchman came close to leaving in the summer, but has since returned to the Wigan fold to help their survival push. His performances have reportedly led Liverpool and Juventus to ponder offers. Meanwhile, Scottish youngster James McCarthy has undergone surgery to the ankle ligaments he damaged in the match with Bolton last month and is expected to miss up to three months.


Mick McCarthy, despite watching his side record a memorable win over Manchester City last week, said the top teams do not offer his side their toughest tests. Wolves face Manchester United this weekend, but Wolves' Irish coach has his eyes focused on future matches. "We've got United and Arsenal around the corner but the bigger test is to play against Bolton, Blackburn, Sunderland, Wigan - all the teams that will be around us," he said. "They are all coming up and they are the ones that we have to play well in, and graft in, and put good performances in."