Gray and Keys EPL predictions - Week 26

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Crest of a wave: Tottenham.

BeIN Sports hosts Andy Gray and Richard Keys share their predictions for the weekend’s Premier League football fixtures, with Manchester City hosting Tottenham and Leicester travelling to Arsenal in two potentially crucial matches in the race for the Premier League title.

Who are they backing for success?

Manchester City v Tottenham

Andy Gray: Sunday’s match will be open and there will be goals. Man City have got to do better than they did against Leicester last week and it would be a blow to their title ambitions if they were to lose again. However, I don’t think that is going to happen. 2-2.

Richard Keys: City look a bit off the pace at the moment and Pellegrini doesn’t look well to me. If they lose this I think they can forget their title bid. 1-2.

Arsenal v Leicester

AG: As I said last week, I am convinced that Arsenal are going to give someone a hiding soon, scoring three or four. I know it’s risky to bet against Leicester at the moment but they can afford to lose this while Arsenal can’t. 3-1.

RK: I have to stick with Leicester. They didn’t just beat Man City last week, it was a clinical dissection. Arsenal will probably have the majority of possession but Leicester won’t care. 1-2.

Aston Villa v Liverpool

AG: Liverpool always win at Villa Park. It is one of those grounds they love going to. This is not the Liverpool of old but Villa struggle to score goals. 1-3.

RK: Villa are now in the top half of the form guide but, as Andy says, Liverpool have a great record at this ground and with Jurgen Klopp back in the dugout they’ll win. 0-1.

Chelsea v Newcastle

AG: Newcastle’s away form is dreadful; they have only scored six on the road all season in the league and it won’t change today. 3-0.

RK: Chelsea are much better than Newcastle and Costa has reinvented himself to become the player he was when he first came into the Premier League. 3-0.

Sunderland v Man United

AG: The speculation over Mourinho going to United is getting ridiculous. If I was Louis van Gaal I would walk into Ed Woodward’s office and tell him, “I’m off” – it’s embarrassing. If it is a done deal then I hope it hasn’t been done behind his back and it should be made public. There won’t be many goals in this game but United are good enough to win it. 0-1.

RK: I am totally in agreement with Andy in that I feel sorry for Van Gaal. It’s not fair and will affect team performances. As for this game, I think Sunderland, who did well to get a draw at Liverpool last time out, can get another point. 1-1.

Bournemouth v Stoke

AG: Stoke have lost their way a little bit but I think they will get something at Bournemouth who are still not clear of danger. 1-1.

RK: Bournemouth won’t make the same mistake they did against Arsenal last week when they showed them far too much respect. 2-1.

Crystal Palace v Watford

AG: A draw last week brought an end to five successive defeats for Palace while Watford have hit the buffers away from home. 2-1.

RK: It was an important point for Palace last week but Watford are good at sitting deep and containing teams and can come away with a point. 1-1.

Norwich v West Ham

AG: I wonder if the season is going to catch up with West Ham soon. They had extra time in midweek in a cup tie and their players might be running on empty. Because of that I think Norwich can get a vital three points. 2-0.

RK: Norwich are in trouble. If the fat lady is not singing she is certainly warming up. West Ham had a really good win the FA Cup last week and it’s great to see that Slaven Bilic gives that competition the respect it deserves. 0-2.

Swansea v Southampton

AG: I fancy an away win here. Southampton are playing well and are hard to score against. Swansea are still finding their feet under a new manager and because of that I think Saints will win. 1-2.

RK: Swansea have been very good in their last four of five games but I can’t go against Southampton when Ronald Koeman has got them back on track. 1-2.

Everton v West Brom

AG: Home banker. Everton are playing well, have had three clean sheets in a row which makes a huge difference to any team. 2-0.

RK: Ross Barkley has found some form, Romelu Lukaku is scoring goals and Aaron Lennon has been a breath of fresh air for them. The Baggies are hard to beat but Everton have got goals in them and now know how to kill games off. 3-0.

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Gray and Keys: Spurs have a class act in Pochettino

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Earning plaudits: Pochettino.

Tottenham take on Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday sitting in second place and with a real chance of taking the title.

Andy Gray and Richard Keys, who front beIN Sports’ EPL coverage, look at manager Mauricio Pochettino and the players who have put Spurs back on the glory trail.

Andy Gray: Of all the teams in the league, Tottenham have been as impressive as anybody, fighting on more than one front. They change a couple of players every now and then but generally it’s the same team, week in, week out.

Apart from the odd signing Pochettino has used the players that were already there when he arrived at the club from Southampton. He sifted out the ones he didn’t want like Paulinho, and then demanded more from the ones he kept and he is getting it.

I think he has done a terrific job and Tottenham fans won’t thank me for saying this, but if I was Manchester United he would definitely be on my radar. He’s young, ambitious and what he is doing at White Hart Lane is no fluke. He has built a young, vibrant team at Tottenham and they definitely look like a side that could go all the way and win the Premier League title.

One of the things l like about Pochettino is that he doesn’t court publicity like Jose Mourinho does; he operates under the radar. That’s partly down to the fact that he is still not fluent in English so he can’t command a press conference but it suits him to let the others get on with it. He is a bit like Manuel Pellegrini who just gets on with his job without looking to get into the headlines.

He has some great talent to work with. Harry Kane is having another great season and Dele Alli has proved that if you are good enough you are old enough. It has been refreshing to see a young kid given an opportunity.

Too often we are told that if you are 19 years old you are not ready but that’s nonsense and he has proved that. He has been sensational and if he carries on like this there is no doubt in my mind that he will be in the England squad for the European Championships.

And it’s not just about those two. Toby Alderwiereld has been fantastic at centre-back, the shifting of Eric Dier from the centre of defence to midfield has been inspirational and players like Christian Eriksen, Mousa Dembele, Nacer Chadli and Erik Lamela have upped their game.

Sunday’s match will be open and there will be goals. Man City have got to do better than they did against Leicester last week and it would be a blow to their title ambitions if they were to lose again. However, I don’t think that is going to happen. 2-2.

Richard Keys: At the start of the season I wasn’t sure about Pochettino because I couldn’t see the direction he was taking but it has become very evident now. I would say he is the first Tottenham manager to actually get a grip of the reins at the club, maybe since Bill Nicholson.

Chairman Daniel Levy was always the person we talked about whether it was Martin Jol, Harry Redknapp, or whoever else managing Spurs. Even Terry Venables under Alan Sugar was all about what was happening behind the scenes. Not any more.

Pochettino is quietly causing a revolution there that has to be taken seriously. He has gone in there, got rid of the players who weren’t good enough to mount a title challenge, and I really like what he is doing.

Right now l guess the primary objective for Tottenham fans is to finish above Arsenal for the first time since the year dot and I think they can do that and possibly win the title. Pochettino has brought steel and belief to the club.

Like Andy, I think Alli has played a massive part in what they have achieved so far. He stepped off the bench last week and it was no coincidence that within 90 seconds he had made the winner.

Liverpool missed out on signing him because they saw him as a player for the future and Pochettino saw him as someone who could make an instant impact and how right he was.

City look a bit off the pace at the moment and Pellegrini doesn’t look well to me. If they lose this I think they can forget their title bid. 1-2.

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City welcome back Kompany but injury concerns mount

Andy Hampson 13/02/2016
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Captain fantastic: Kompany.

Vincent Kompany is ready to return to bolster Manchester City’s title challenge.

The influential City captain has been sorely missed throughout his prolonged periods on the sidelines with recurring calf injuries.

The 29-year-old has played just nine minutes in City’s last 20 games in all competitions – an abortive comeback against Sunderland on Boxing Day.

He has now been declared fit for tomorrow’s clash against title rivals Tottenham at the Etihad Stadium, a match City can ill afford to lose after slipping to fourth in the table.

Manager Manuel Pellegrini said: “Vincent is coming back from a long injury. He is a very important player for our team.

“I think that you have seen Kompany playing so many years here that I don’t have to say what he brings to the team, but he is one of the best defenders in the league and he is the captain of the team.

“I think that every player that will play the game must be 100 per cent and Vincent has been working the last three weeks without any problems. He played 45 minutes in a friendly with the under-21s so I think that he is ready now to play.”

Statistics underline Kompany’s importance to the team. In the nine Premier League games in which he has featured, they have won seven and drawn two. They have lost six of their 16 without him.

But while his return is a huge positive, it has been a mixed week for City in terms of injury news.

Playmaker David Silva has shaken off the ankle problem that forced him off early in last week’s loss to leaders Leicester but midfielder Fabian Delph and right-back Bacary Sagna face spells out.

Pellegrini said: “Bacary has a problem in his knee, some liquid inside the knee, so he had an injection. He needs one week at least to return to work.

“Fabian Delph is worse because he has a problem with his Achilles tendon. He needs six or seven weeks to recover.”

They join a lengthy injury list which already includes Eliaquim Mangala, Kevin De Bruyne, Samir Nasri, Jesus Navas and Wilfried Bony.

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