English Premier League: Latest EPL Rumors, Preview and Predictions for Week 12
Javier Hernandez played the role of hero as Manchester United remained atop the English Premier League table. Chief rival Manchester City moved up to second with a victory, while Chelsea, which has cooled after a hot start, slipped to third.
While those three squads leading the way is no surprise, the teams battling for fourth are certainly outplaying preseason expectations. Everton continues to sit in the coveted position, with West Brom and West Ham both within striking distance.
As those clubs keep shining, the teams that are usually battling for a Champions League spot, namely Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool, are struggling to find their usual form. It's led to a lot of frustration among their diehard fanbases.
Even though a lot of clubs are already looking forward to the January transfer window, they must find a way to remain afloat before then in order to make any impact additions pay off. Knowing that, let's look at some of the latest news along with a look at the week of matches ahead.
Stewart Downing Exit?
Stewart Downing's move to Liverpool hasn't worked out as well as he or the club would have hoped, failing to provide the offensive boost the Reds were seeking. Now it appears he might be on the way out in January.
David Anderson of the Daily Mirror reports Liverpool is hoping to move him during the mid-season transfer window to open up some space for other signings. In order to do that, however, the team will have to accept a loss.
A change of scenery is exactly what the 28-year-old winger needs after watching his role change at Anfield due to a lack of results. Finding an interested suitor will all depend on what the Reds are willing to accept in return after spending £20 million on him.
Loic Remy Linked to Newcastle
Newcastle currently stands in 10th place despite playing well below their capabilities so far, which actually leaves the door open for a strong run before season's end. A move or two in January could bolster those hopes.
Loic Remy is one player the Magpies are considering, according to Kristan Heneage of ESPN, who states the team is willing to include Sylvain Marveaux in a potential deal. Marseille is reportedly seeking around €12 million for him.
It would be a wise pickup for Newcastle, which currently relies heavily on Demba Ba to provide the scoring punch. Remy would give the club another option up front and shouldn't have a problem making the transition if a move was made.
Luis Suarez on the Move?
One of the week's most interesting rumors comes from David Maddock of the Daily Mirror, who reports Manchester City is going to make an aggressive run at landing Liverpool star Luis Suarez. He says the bid will be around £40 million.
It seems like a long shot given how the Reds have talked about adding–not subtracting–in January. Suarez has scored eight goals in Premier League play while no other player on the team has chipped in more than one. Seeing him leave would be a major setback.
That said, it wouldn't hurt for City to try. It looks like the Citizens are in for another long battle with rival Manchester United and potentially Chelsea for the league title. Adding a player like Suarez would tilt the odds in their favor.
Manchester United Eyeing Zaha
Crystal Palace rising star Wilfried Zaha has the type of potential that's impossible to ignore. The 20-year-old winger has steadily improved during his time with the Championship side and now clubs are lining up to land him.
Greg Stobart of Goal.com reports Manchester United are among the leading contenders with a planned move that would let Zaha remain with the Eagles until season's end. He states Manchester City, Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool are also interested.
It would fit right in with Sir Alex Ferguson's recent trend of going after players before they reach their peak value (Robin van Persie aside). Zaha still has some developing to do, but his upside makes him a coveted target and United is clearly trying to get an early leg up.
Chelsea Chasing Falcao
Radamel Falcao has skyrocketed to prominence over the past two seasons with Atletico Madrid thanks to his tremendous play both in La Liga and European play. So it's only fitting that he's a popular name in the rumor mill as the January window approaches.
Wayne Veysey of Goal.com reports Chelsea is already lining up a move for the Colombian striker with hopes of beating other clubs to the punch once the window opens. The first number being thrown around is a gaudy €60 million.
The Blues definitely need some type of impact move during the mid-season transfer session in order to keep pace with the Manchester clubs atop the Premier League table. Falcao would fit the bill after a terrific run of form with Los Colchoneros.
Liverpool Seeking Help
Liverpool has shown signs of improvement ever since a dreadful start. A draw with Chelsea on Sunday continued that trend, but it's going to take a lot more than that to dig the Reds out of an early hole as they still sit in 13th place with just 12 points.
Manager Brendan Rodgers is hoping for a couple moves in January to help lead a second-half charge, based on a report from ESPN. Every addition will help the building process at Anfield, which is still in the early stages:
The owners have given me great support since I've been here but, if you're not going to have a massive investment to make it happen quickly--we have to develop it.
The biggest problem Liverpool is going to encounter in January is a high number of clubs battling for a select amount of available talent. It's yet to be seen if the Reds will spend big after the early struggles, but Rodgers is clearly hoping for some upgrades.
Mario Balotelli to Inter?
One player being linked to a possible January move is Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli, who has been unable to make a consistent impact with the club. Given his dynamic attacking abilities, there would be no shortage of suitors.
Tom Doyle of Goal.com reports Inter Milan might be among those interested teams after head coach Andrea Stramaccioni played coy after asked about the possibility of bringing the striker back to San Siro. He left in the summer of 2010.
City has good depth up front, so it would be dealing from a position of strength if the decision was made to make Balotelli available. That said, it's hard to imagine him getting moved for anything less than a king's ransom. He's a special talent.
Match of the Week: Arsenal vs. Tottenham
This is an intriguing matchup for many reasons. Not only are Arsenal and Tottenham separated by just one spot in the table, but both clubs are looking for the spark to send them toward the top four and this match could provide it.
The Gunners are coming off a 3-3 draw with Fulham, a perfect example of how their season has gone. When the offense shows up, the defense goes missing and vice versa. Arsene Wenger has to find a way to get everything working together at the same time.
Tottenham was playing one of its best matches of the season through the first hour against Manchester City, leading 1-0. That's when the Citizens took it into another gear, however, and the Spurs simply weren't table to match it. They can't let that happen against Arsenal.
Arsenal vs. Tottenham Hotspur
Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski are finally starting to settle in for Arsenal, which should help the attack become more consistent. But will the back line be able to slow down Jermain Defoe and Co.? On home turf, I think the answer will be yes.
Prediction: 2-1 Arsenal
Liverpool vs. Wigan Athletic
Liverpool has racked up six draws already after tallying just 10 all of last season. The Reds have to find ways to start earning all three points in matches like this against a struggling Wigan side that just lost at home to West Brom.
Prediction: 1-0 Liverpool
Manchester City vs. Aston Villa
Even though Manchester City only played 30 minutes of really good football against Tottenham, the Citizens still emerged with a victory. It showed how dominant they can be, especially when Edin Dzeko is in top form, and that momentum should carry over.
Prediction: 2-0 Manchester City
Newcastle United vs. Swansea City
Quietly, Swansea has been enjoying a solid season. Nathan Dyer scored a late equalizer to ensure a point against Southampton. As they continue to get contributions from every area, Newcastle has been far too reliant on Demba Ba. The Jacks will swipe another point.
Queens Park Rangers vs. Southampton
A battle between the bottom two teams in the table is usually widely overlooked, but it actually carries a lot of importance to both clubs. Three points would do wonders in their journey to avoid relegation. Alas, a draw seems like the most likely result.
Reading vs. Everton
If Everton wants to remain in a top-four position all season, these are the types of games the Toffees must find a way to win. Marouane Fellaini has been tremendous so far and should once again lead the way against an overmatched Reading side.
Prediction: 2-1 Everton
West Bromwich Albion vs. Chelsea
Even though this match doesn't shape up as favorably as it looked prior to the campaign given West Brom's strong play, it's still one Chelsea should win. The Blues can't afford to fall any further behind the Manchester clubs this early.
Prediction: 1-0 Chelsea
Norwich City vs. Manchester United
United has finally found the right balance between all of its different options up front and the result has been a terrific run of play. Norwich's lackluster attack, which has just eight goals in 11 matches, won't be able to keep pace with the Red Devils.
Prediction: 2-0 Manchester United
Sunday and Monday Predictions
Fulham vs. Sunderland
Fulham hasn't lost a match in more than a month, but the club's inability to defend leads has been concerning. It's a problem the Cottagers must fix quickly if they don't want to spend the entire season hanging around the middle of the table.
Prediction: 2-1 Fulham
West Ham United vs. Stoke City
Stoke will present another good test for West Ham. The Irons are in fifth place because they have found ways to earn victories in these type of matches, but Stoke has been playing stout defense throughout the campaign and is looking to steal at least a point.