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Dan’s EPL Predictions WK16 – Arsenal to finally lead at half-time and jump back into Top Four?

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So here are Dan’s Premier League predictions for this weekend’s games. With Chelsea and Man City squaring off can the Gunners leapfrog the Blues into Fourth place?

Saturday – 12.30

Bournemouth 2-3 Liverpool
With Eddie Howe’s ethos to play the game the right way this should play into Liverpool’s hands. They have a chance to go temporary top and put maximum pressure on City going into their evening date with Chelsea. Klopp puts too much emphasis on squad rotation this time of year and I think it will cost him over the Christmas period.

3.00

Arsenal 4-0 Huddersfield
A win at Old Trafford would have signified a change in mentality. Although a draw is not a bad result it does feel like a missed opportunity given, we might never get a better chance to win there. Emery’s task after a physically tiring week is not to take the visitors lightly. Stay professional, get the three points and everyone gets a well-deserved week off. I say this is the game where we will finally be leading at half time.

Burnley 1-0 Brighton
Complaints over their over physicality from Klopp will be music to Sean Dyche’s ears as it shows at least his players are responding which they haven’t been doing. Brighton somehow won against Palace, playing the majority of the game with 10 men. Physically and mentally that might have taken something out of them .

Cardiff 1-0 Southampton
At a time when Southampton fans needed a lift their owners produce an appointment with little imagination. Of course, there are examples where names not known in this country have done well in this League but having lost their identity in the last couple of years, now’s not the time to be hiring on the cheap, which seems to be the criteria. Arriving in December with lots of fixtures coming up, with his new side in the bottom three means this is not an ideal time to be implementing new ideas. He might experience a brand of football in Wales he hasn’t seen before.

Man United 2-0 Fulham
Man United’s standards have fallen so low that they are now being complimented for working hard against Arsenal. Given the history of the club that’s quite patronising. Imagine if they actually win a game?

West Ham 2-1 Palace
It’s not often I question the attitude of a Roy Hodgson side but the manner of how they lost in midweek was a setback, one that undermines how well they had played last weekend. I’m happy that Perez got a brace for West Ham on Tuesday. He never really was given a chance by Arsene Wenger and subsequent loan moves seemed to suggest the striker had lost his way. The Hammers have plenty of firepower but need to get them all into their team.

5-30
Chelsea 1-1 Man City
Liverpool will be thinking this is the few weekends on paper where City could realistically drop points. Mentally it could be huge for City to get through this round of fixtures still top of the table. I’m not sure how much Chelsea believe they can beat the Champions but with Hazard you always have a chance . Maybe as a neutral I want this to be a draw just so we get a title race this year

7.45
Leicester 1-2 Spurs
The excuse coming out of Spurs is they lost the North London Derby due to tiredness having had to play a huge a Champion’s League tie days before. That’s their fault for not recruiting anyone in the summer. The transfer window is a huge part of managing your club especially with a coach who every December complains about fixture congestion. His temptation might be to rest key names for the Nou Camp. Given that, this is not a game you want before a must win clash with Barcelona.

Sunday

Newcastle 2-1 Wolves
I hope Mike Ashley is serious about the Toon being sold by Xmas. If not, he’s waited for his club to finally be getting results just to raise his fans hopes and dash them. As rightfully happy Wolves were to beat Chelsea, they need to ask why they can get going for the big sides but not have the same attitude/desire for games like this.

Monday

Everton 1-1 Watford
It’s becoming a recurring theme to talk about how well Everton have played and how unlucky they are. They are struggling to turn possession into goals and should be thinking about buying a natural goal scorer in January. Silva has nothing to prove to his former employers. Watford have sacked so managers who did well for them it was hypocritical for them to expect a young coach not to be tempted to jump to a bigger club.

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Arsenal ace Lucas Torreira drops transfer revelation that could WORRY Gunners fans

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Torreira joined the Gunners from Sampdoria lsat summer and impressed in his debut season at the Emirates.

The Uruguayan made 34 Premier League appearances as the Gunners finished fifth, scoring twice.

But he has now thrown his Arsenal future into doubt by admitting he wants to play in South America.

“One day, I want to play for Boca and wear their shirt,” Torreira said.

“It’s a dream I have had since I was a little kid. It’s no secret, my family and friends know that.

“I was with several friends [at the Copa Libertadores final in Madrid]. I did not think I was going to suffer so much, I lived it with a lot of nerves.

“It was not as we wanted, but reaching the final is not for anyone. It was a nice show because I had never had the chance to see Boca.”

Arsenal boss Unai Emery is expected to have a busy summer, though his budget may be limited.

First, the Europa League final against Chelsea on May 29 is on Emery’s mind though.

Though the Spaniard recently admitted he needs money to improve his Arsenal squad.

He said: ”I think we can improve first, by spending money to achieve players.

“In the past the club have done great work in watching players, finding and signing young players and developing our players in the academy.

“I have big respect for our work, for our players in the academy.

“I want to develop the players here—giving them progress to achieve something at a big club like we are.

“We can also achieve [buy] some players who are in other teams, who can come here and give us this performance—like [Virgil] Van Dijk with Liverpool.”

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Arsenal facing transfer PROBLEM because of Man Utd, Liverpool and Nicolas Pepe

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Arsenal boss Unai Emery is looking to the transfer window to strengthen his squad, regardless of whether or not they win the Europa League.

But Manchester United and Liverpool are looking to do the same, with both clubs interested in securing Pepe’s signature.

The Lille star, who is also in the Gunners’ sights, has enjoyed a stunning campaign with the Ligue 1 giants.

The 23-year-old has bagged an impressive 20 goals from 36 league outings, clocking up 11 assists along the way.

Express Sport understands Arsenal are interested in securing Lorient hitman Alexis Claude-Maurice.

But Lille want him too as a replacement for United and Liverpool target Pepe.

Should one of Arsenal’s domestic rivals swoop for the star, then Lille may go in for Claude-Maurice.

And that would give the Gunners a problem, with Emery eager to sign Claude-Maurice as well this summer.

Liverpool have been strongly linked with a move to Pepe.

But United, according to journalist Duncan Castles, have enquired about the player Arsenal are also tracking.

“One of the clubs interested in Pepe [that] have expressed an interest to Lille is Manchester United,” he told The Transfer Window podcast.

“I’m told that last week a phone call went in to one of the Lille directors to enquire about the cost of a transfer for Pepe, who’s been outstanding in the French division this year, scoring goals and creating goals with a great deal of pace, actually a very good fit to what Manchester United would need on the right wing, to ask whether he would be available for sale.

“So Manchester United have shown their hand there. They’ve not gone any further.

“I’m told there’s been no bid and there’s been no further contact with Lille since that enquiry.

“But, again, the market’s beginning to move.

“Clubs like Lille who have players like Pepe who they know they will sell this summer, they very openly advertised and set a fee for him, would like to have as many of the big clubs bidding for him as possible, are waiting for one of these big clubs to make a move and inject money into the market so they can spend and recruit elsewhere, and those moves have implications for everyone else.”

Arsenal have also been linked with Kostas Manolas, Wilfried Zaha and Samuel Umtiti.

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Arsenal star hopes to play last Gunners game in Europa League final vs Chelsea

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Danny Welbeck could be available to play for Arsenal in the Europa League final after returning to training.

The 28-year-old has not played after breaking his ankle in November.

The Injury was so severe it required him to go under the knife twice as part of his recovery.

However, following Welbeck’s return to full training Arsenal are now planning to take him to Baku to face Chelsea, reports the Daily Mail.

Although the player will travel with the squad it is not known what involvement, if any, the England international will have during the final on May 29.

It is expected to be a farewell game for Welbeck, after Arsenal boss Unai Emery confirmed the player will be leaving the club when his contract expires in the summer.

Following Arsenal’s 1-1 draw with Brighton in their final Premier League game, Emery confirmed Welbeck’s departure.

“I spoke to the club with this situation and the decision is he is going to leave,” Emery said at the time.

Despite Welbeck missing half of the season through injury, he could get an opportunity to help the club qualify for the Champions League next year as Arsenal might not be taking Henrikh Mkhitaryan to Azerbaijan.

The club have made it clear they want Mkhitaryan to travel, but the 30-year-old Armenian might be caught up in political tensions if he travels to the game.

That is because there is currently a dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh territory.

Arsenal are seeking guarantees from UEFA about the situation with Mkhitaryan, but the club are reputedly growing concerned about the situation.

The Gunners have already played in Azerbaijan in the Europa League this season, when they took on Qarabag FK in the group stages of the tournament.

Mkhitaryan did not travel to Baku to play but the Gunners did win 3-0 on the night.

However, it might not just be Mkhitaryan not making the journey to Azerbaijan, as thousands of fans from both clubs also face the prospect of missing out.

Both Arsenal and Chelsea have only been allocated 6,000 tickets each from the 68,700 seats at the Olympic Stadium in Baku, a decision which has infuriated fans.

And those who are lucky enough to get a ticket then face the logistical nightmare of completing a 2,500 mile round trip to attend the game.

Uefa have apologised to both clubs over the travel chaos fans face but admit they hadn’t expected an all-English final.

“It goes without saying that an all-English final played by two London teams was not a very predictable event at the time of the appointment,” Uefa competitions director Giorgio Marchetti said.

“There is little doubt that this has added significant difficulties to the event logistics.

“We are really sorry for the problems that your (and Chelsea’s) fans are encountering trying to organise their journey to Baku.

“Our experts are keenly working on this matter with a view to help find cheaper solutions for travelling fans. We would welcome a joint effort with your club in this respect.”

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