Sports Mole previews Wednesday’s Champions League clash between PSV Eindhoven and Lens, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Lens have the chance to put one foot firmly in the knockout stages of the Champions League when they head to the Philips Stadion for a Group B date with PSV Eindhoven on Wednesday.
Les Sang et Or sit second in the section with five points to their name, while their hosts are yet to claim a maximum and sit bottom of the four-team standings as a result....Click Here To Continue Reading>>
Three weeks on from their magnificent second-half turnaround against Sevilla, where Jordan Teze stole a point in the fifth minute of injury time, PSV were given a taste of their own medicine when they locked horns with Lens at the French side’s Stade Bollaert-Delelis base.
A fine strike from Johan Bakayoko had PSV on course for their first win in Group B at the third attempt, but the Rood-Witten’s lead only lasted for a total of 11 minutes, as Elye Wahi came up with the goods yet again to leave Peter Bosz’s crop ruing what could have been yet again.
PSV cannot be eliminated from last-16 contention entirely this week, but the fourth-placed hosts – who also have a 4-0 loss to Arsenal on their notebook – will be condemned to a second-placed finish at best if the Gunners sink Sevilla, whose superior goal difference is keeping PSV out of the Europa League berth.
Amid their underwhelming displays in Europe, the Dutch giants continue to tear defences to shreds in the Eredivisie, battering Heracles 6-0 on Saturday following a 5-2 victory over crisis club Ajax, keeping them top of the rankings with a perfect record of 11 wins from 11 top-flight matches.
However, domestic dominance has not translated into continental supremacy for PSV, who have now gone winless in 17 Champions League matches – excluding qualifying – and not since the Phillip Cocu days of 2015 have the hosts won a top-level European game in front of the home crowd.
The weight of expectation initially seemed too heavy for Lens to bear at the start of the season, but the French upstarts can now move to within one point of a place in the Champions League knockout rounds, having navigated three Group B contests without defeat so far.
Coming from behind has been the name of the game for Franck Haise’s troops, who achieved their draws against Sevilla and PSV in that fashion before stunning Arsenal in a 2-1 fightback success, leaving them just one point adrift of the North London outfit in second place at the halfway mark.
After losing four of their opening five Ligue 1 games in 2023-24, Les Sang et Or head into Wednesday’s clash seeking to stretch their unbeaten run across all tournaments to 10 matches, although they flattered to deceive on the offensive front in a goalless draw with Lorient at the weekend.
Four of Lens’ last five contests have now ended level, but for all of PSV’s attacking might, the French outfit have three clean sheets to show from their last four matches and have not conceded more than once over 90 minutes since a 3-0 loss to Monaco on September 2.
Each of Lens’ last three away matches has seen Haise’s defence emerge unbroken too, but in order to move to the brink of a top-two finish, Haise’s men must achieve something that none of their Sang et Or predecessors have done – beat an Eredivisie side away from home.
PSV Eindhoven Champions League form:
PSV Eindhoven form (all competitions):
Lens Champions League form:
Lens form (all competitions):
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A few thoughts were spared for Ismael Saibari during PSV’s six-goal thumping of Heracles, as the playmaker was brought on for Jerdy Schouten at half time before coming off just eight minutes later after taking a finger to the eye.
Despite donning a swollen eye socket, Saibari played down his issue on social media after the game and should be considered for selection on Wednesday, but Noa Lang (hamstring), Mauro Junior (knee), Armando Obispo (knee) and Armel Bella-Kotchap (unspecified) are all in the care of the medical team.
Both Ricardo Pepi and Malik Tillman have given Bosz food for thought with their goals off the bench against Heracles, but the hosts will likely put out an unchanged starting XI on the back of that emphatic triumph.
Meanwhile, Lens came out of their draw with Lorient without any new issues to report, leaving a quartet of known absentees in the medical bay, including ACL pair Jimmy Cabot and Wuilker Farinez.
Wesley Said and David Costa are also working their way back from thigh injuries and may not be involved either, although Haise still has several options for change, particularly in the attacking areas.
Indeed, both Wahi and Adrien Thomasson were overlooked for starts against Lorient, but the duo will now go head-to-head to replace Morgan Guilavogui, while Salis Abdul Samed is in line for a recall to the engine room.
PSV Eindhoven possible starting lineup:Benitez; Teze, Ramalho, Boscagli, Dest; Veerman, Schouten; Bakayoko, Til, Lozano; De Jong
Lens possible starting lineup:Samba; Medina, Danso, Gradit; Frankowski, Mendy, Abdul Samed, Machado; Sotoca, Thomasson; Wahi
We say: PSV Eindhoven 2-1 Lens
Expected recalls for Wahi and Thomasson in the final third should help Lens rediscover their bite in the final third, but they could certainly do with taking a leaf or two out of PSV’s attacking playbook, even if Bosz’s team have seen their powers wane continentally.
Haise’s troops have also proven time and time again that they are a force to reckon with defensively on the road, but we cannot see Les Sang et Or coming from behind to avoid defeat for a fourth time, as PSV harness their enviable firepower to blow Group B wide open.For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.
Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data
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Preview: Leicester City vs. Plymouth Argyle – prediction, team news, lineups
Sports Mole previews Saturday’s Championship clash between Leicester City and Plymouth Argyle, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
After both sides netted stoppage-time winners in their last fixtures, Leicester City and Plymouth Argyle will battle to make it back-to-back victories when they clash at the King Power Stadium in the Championship on Saturday afternoon.
The Foxes still have a healthy cushion between themselves and third place following the success at West Bromwich Albion, whilst the Pilgrims eased their faint relegation concerns with three points against Stoke City. ...Click Here To Continue Reading>>
Heading into extra time at The Hawthorns a week ago, league leaders Leicester City were staring down the barrel of one win in their last five matches after West Brom’s Josh Maja scored a scrappy 89th-minute equaliser following Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall’s opener, however it would be the East Midlanders who would have the last laugh in the Black Country.
Carlos Corberan’s men ploughed forward in questionable numbers in pursuit of a winner and were punished for their lack of defensive care in the final stages, with playmaker Dewsbury-Hall turning the provider as the Foxes struck on the break, affording former England international Harry Winks a simple tap-in to send the away end into hysterics.
Victories for all of Kieran McKenna’s Ipswich Town, Daniel Farke’s Leeds United and Russell Martin’s Southampton made Leicester’s success in the West Midlands even more important, meaning the Foxes remain eight points clear of the third-placed Whites after 19 games of the second-tier campaign.
After back-to-back away games at Hillsborough and The Hawthorns yielded four points, Enzo Maresca’s side return to the King Power for the first time since their 2-0 success over Watford on November 25, when a late Jamie Vardy brace bailed out a sluggish display from the hosts.
The Foxes face four games against teams currently 15th or below in the table before a mouth-watering encounter with second-placed Ipswich on December 23, meaning those of a Leicester persuasion will be expecting to put 12 more points onto their impressive tally ahead of the trip to Portman Road.
Making a 100th appearance for his hometown club, midfielder Adam Randell was the hero of Home Park last time out as the 23-year-old scored a 97th-minute winner against Alex Neil’s out-of-form Stoke side, extending Argyle’s unbeaten home run to four matches.
The Green Army were facing the possibility of losing only their fourth home clash of the term when Tyrese Campbell netted for the Potters in the first half, however an equaliser from Sierra Leone’s Mustapha Bundu allowed local boy Randell the chance to snatch all three points for the hosts.
Steven Schumacher’s men currently occupy 16th position in the second-tier table after collecting a respectable tally of 22 points from their opening 19 matches, and although the Plymouth boss has been linked to the vacant managerial role at Sunderland following the departure of Tony Mowbray, the 39-year-old insists that he is at the “perfect place” to continue his development as a coach.
The clear reason why the Green Army have been unable to join the likes of the Black Cats in the chase of a top-six position is Argyle’s woeful away record, with Saturday’s visitors to the King Power failing to win any of their nine league outings, collecting just three points away from Home Park so far this season.
Since securing a permanent switch from Swansea City in the summer, Morgan Whittaker has scored eight goals in 19 Championship appearances for Plymouth this term, meaning the 22-year-old is one strike away from equalling the tally he managed during 25 League One games in 2022-23.
Leicester City Championship form:
Plymouth Argyle Championship form:
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After Kelechi Iheanacho was largely unimpressive during the narrow success at West Brom last time out, Vardy could be set for a spot in the starting XI, whilst summer arrival Thomas Cannon is waiting patiently for his opportunity in the Leicester attack.
Wilfred Ndidi produced a solid display alongside goalscorers Dewsbury-Hall and Winks in the Foxes’ engine room at The Hawthorns, meaning the Galatasary-linked midfielder will retain his place in the XI.
Marseca’s men will be without the services of influential defender Ricardo Pereira after he picked up his fifth yellow card of the term last weekend, with the versatile Hamza Choudhury a possible deputy at right-back.
Changes could be made on the flanks for Saturday’s hosts, with Abdul Fatawu pushing for a start alongside Vardy and Stephy Mavididi, at the expense of Kasey McAteer.
With Bundu finding the net against Stoke, Plymouth striker Ryan Hardie could find it slightly more difficult to force his way back into the starting XI following time out due to a hamstring injury.
Brendan Galloway started his first game since April at left-back as the Green Army saw off the Potters, however the 27-year-old could make way for Mickel Miller at the King Power.
Last weekend’s match-winner Randell could be rewarded with a starting spot in the East Midlands, with Schumacher potentially preferring the 23-year-old over more attack-minded players such as Luke Cundle and Finn Azaz.
Leicester City possible starting lineup:Hermansen; Choudhury, Faes, Vestergaard, Justin; Ndidi, Winks, Dewsbury-Hall; Fatawu, Mavididi, Vardy
Plymouth Argyle possible starting lineup:Cooper; Kesler-Hayden, Scarr, Gibson, Miller; Houghton, Cundle, Azaz; Mumba, Whittaker, Hardie
We say: Leicester City 2-0 Plymouth Argyle
Leicester will be delighted to be back at the King Power following two tricky Championship outings, where the home faithful will demand maximum points and a dominant display from the league leaders.
Plymouth are one of three sides in the Championship who are yet to taste success on the road this season, so we are expecting the Pilgrims to struggle in the East Midlands on Saturday. For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.
Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 2.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 2.5:data
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Arsenal considering Viktor Gyokeres signing, scouted him more than once
Arsenal have been closely monitoring Sporting Lisbon striker Viktor Gyokeres ahead of a possible approach, according to Portuguese publication Record (page 14).
The Sweden international had a good stint in the Championship with Coventry City last term. He registered 22 goals and 12 assists from 50 appearances.
He was linked with a potential switch to the Premier League over the summer, but Sporting eventually won the race to sign him for €20 million plus add-ons.
It is now reported that the Gunners have scouted him more than once this campaign and they are now considering the possibility of landing his signature.
However, Sporting are quite clear that they don’t want to lose him in January unless any club is willing to trigger the hefty €100m release clause in his contract.
Arsenal linked with surprise move for Gyokeres
The 25-year-old was linked with a Premier League switch last summer after Coventry missed out on top-flight promotion to Luton Town via the play-offs.
West Ham United were the most interested English club in the Swede, but he chose to make the move to Sporting, who are currently top of the Primeira Liga.
Gyokeres has been pivotal for the club with 15 goals and seven assists from just 17 appearances and we are not surprised that Arsenal are monitoring him.
The Gunners already hold an interest in his teammate Ousmane Diomande, but any deal could be delayed until the summer with Sporting unwilling to negotiate in January.
A move for Diomande seems justifiable with his huge potential as a 19-year-old centre-back, but we believe there are better strikers that Arsenal could pursue over Gyokeres.
Gyokeres would be a good acquisition for a mid-table Premier League side, but the Gunners should aim higher and recruit someone like Victor Osimhen if they want to win titles.
Stats from Transfermarkt.com
AC Milan ‘intensify efforts to sign Arsenal defender Jakub Kiwior’
AC Milan are reportedly set to step up their efforts to sign Arsenal’s Jakub Kiwior and are ready to open discussions over a possible move for the player in January....Click Here To Continue Reading>>
AC Milan are reportedly set to step up their efforts to sign defender Jakub Kiwior and are ready to open discussions with Arsenal over a possible move for the player in the January transfer window.
The 23-year-old arrived from Italian outfit Spezia in the last window but has not been able to nail down a regular starting role under Mikel Arteta during his time in North London.
Kiwior has made only five starts in all competitions over the last 11 months, with two of those coming in the Carabao Cup.
According to 90min, Kiwior is keen to play more regularly, and The Gunners are open to granting the defender a loan to move away from the Emirates Stadium in January.
The report adds that with the possibility of the defender becoming available in the New Year, AC Milan have emerged as one of the frontrunners to secure the 23-year-old’s services and are preparing to open discussion with Arsenal over a potential move.
It is understood that the Rossoneri are keen on a loan move for Kiwior, with the option to purchase him outright next summer.
The Serie A giants are also believed to be happy to agree with an obligation to buy the player next summer if it will help get the deal done.
AC Milan are expected to be active in the upcoming transfer market as they try to bolster their defensive line, with the likes of centre-backs Malick Thiaw and Pierre Kalulu currently sidelined through injury.
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