WHAT THE PAPERS SAY
Chelsea‘s Eden Hazard could be one step closer to the Stamford Bridge exit door after Real Madrid put in a £120million bid for the Belgian international, the Sun reports. The deal – if it went ahead – would eclipse the current record for a transfer involving a British club, which stands at the £89million Manchester United paid for Paul Pogba.
Theo Walcott could be heading to Southampton on loan, according to the Daily Mail. The 28-year-old has been on the fringes of the Arsenal first team this campaign and previously played for the Saints, with Mauricio Pellegrino eager to bolster his attack, the paper reports.
Leicester’s Islam Slimani is a man in demand – with both Newcastle and Watford keen on signing the £30m striker, according to the Mirror. Slimani, 29, has struggled to make it into the Foxes’ first XI with Marco Silva and Rafa Benitez looking to sign up the Algeria international.
Manchester United want to bring in Joao Mario to Old Trafford, according to the Sun. Jose Mourinho wants to sign the 24-year-old with Henrikh Mkhitaryan looking set to travel the other way after losing his first team place, the paper says.
Arsenal are said to be leading the pack in the race to sign David Luiz, according to the Express. The Brazilian international has struggled for a start at Stamford Bridge and the Gunners are among those interested in taking him on.
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PLAYERS TO WATCH
Marseille want to bring Crystal Palace defender Pape Souare to Ligue 1, according to the Mirror.
Steven N’Zonzi – who is wanted by Everton – will hold talks about his future at Sevilla, according to the Liverpool Echo.
Furious Arsene Wenger hit out at referee Mike Dean and the festive fixture schedule after Arsenal‘s 1-1 draw at West Brom.
The Frenchman was angry after Dean awarded the Baggies a last-minute penalty to allow them to snatch a point at The Hawthorns.
Calum Chambers was adjudged to have handled in the box and Jay Rodriguez cancelled out Alexis Sanchez’s late deflected free-kick which almost gave Arsenal victory on Sunday.
They now host Chelsea on Wednesday with the Blues having 24 hours longer to prepare to further irritate Wenger.
He said: “Two things that aren’t normal in the the Premier League is the schedule and referees. Maybe we haven’t played well enough but West Brom had five days to prepare and we had three.
“I’m ready to play every day as long as our opponent has the same time to recover. It’s not normal. We have the same problem against Chelsea on Wednesday, they played on Saturday.”
Wenger reserved most of his anger for Dean after he gave the Baggies an 89th-minute penalty when Chambers handled Kieran Gibbs’ cross, just six minutes after Sanchez’s free-kick deflected in off James McClean.
“I think the referee has not even seen it, he’s not seen it,” he said, following his record-breaking 811th Premier League game in charge.
“That’s my opinion, but he will tell you he has seen it. It wasn’t a penalty. It was not a deliberate handball. The arm was not up.
“You can not play football when you are as close as that. It is impossible. Where do you put you arms when you move, in your pocket? There are no pockets in the shorts.
“We fought very hard years ago for the referees to become professional, yet we see no improvement and you can not say a word against it because they are untouchable.”
Albion extended their winless run to 19 league games and sit joint bottom but boss Alan Pardew believes his players showed character.
He said: “I think I’d be very upset if it was given against me, it was a tough penalty, but obviously the ball has hit his arm.
“There was a lot of pressure on us, being bottom of the league and a lot of the teams around the bottom having won. We had to deal with the pressure and fair play to the players they did.”
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With Spurs and West Ham enjoying a Double Gameweek, the striker is the chief candidate for the captaincy.
Manchester United have a tough fixture away to Everton while Manchester City probably have the easiest of the lot as they face Watford at home. Meanwhile, Chelsea and Arsenal go head-to-head as Liverpool travel to Burnley.
Here are a few pointers to guide you ahead of Gameweek 22.
Mohamed Salah was the captain pick last week and he came up with the goods yet again with a match-winning brace that earned him 14 points, doubling to 28.
This time around, Kane is the obvious choice although a slight illness has thrown a spanner in the works. With comfortable fixtures away to Swansea City and at home to West Ham lined up for the striker in a DGW for Spurs, plenty will be considering using their Triple Captain chip on him as well.
However, he is no longer a certain starter for the game against Swansea at least so we’ll have to wait on the latest news. If it turns out that he is good to play, then you can’t afford not to give him the armband. If not, there are a few alternatives below.
MOHAMED SALAH (10.1m) can never be left out of the conversation when picking your captain. He’s now delivered a remarkable 10 times in his last 11 GWs. The only question is; will he finally be afforded a rest?
HEUNG-MIN SON (8.0m) has started the last six games and has reignited Spurs, scoring four goals and providing four assists in that time. If he plays both games over the DGW, he could be in for another double-figure score.
NICOLAS OTAMENDI (6.4m) has picked up four clean sheets in five games and we already know he’s got an eye for goal, scoring four times already this season. It’s about that time again for him to bag another as he faces Watford at home.
ADRIAN | WEST HAM UNITED | 4.3M
After three clean sheets on the bounce, West Ham have conceded six in their last two outings. However, it’s a good bet that David Moyes will get his team to manage a shut out against West Brom who have been woeful going forward. With the DGW as well, even if Adrian doesn’t keep a clean sheet against Spurs, he’s likely to be peppered with shots, which could lead to a couple of save points.
MARCUS RASHFORD | MANCHESTER UNITED | 7.6M
It’s unclear how long Romelu Lukaku will be sidelined for owing to his injury against Southampton but the Belgian looks set to miss the next couple of games at least. That paves the way for Marcus Rashford to start as the main striker. It’s not an ideal scenario and United are far from their best, but the young Red did step up to the plate and deliver last season when Zlatan Ibrahimovic was ruled out with a knee injury.
EDEN HAZARD| CHELSEA | 10.8M
After failing to start on Saturday, Eden Hazard has now managed just one assist in the last six GWs. At his price, that’s simply unacceptable. With so many far cheaper midfielders doing better, including his team-mate Willian, it doesn’t make sense to keep hold of the Belgian.
ASHLEY YOUNG | MANCHESTER UNITED | 5.1M
Following an off the ball incident with Dusan Tadic where Ashley Young appeared to elbow the Southampton midfielder, the defender has been charged by the Football Association. If the charge goes uncontested, the full-back will miss the next three games.
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