Manchester City have been unplayable in recent weeks demolishing almost all opponents in sight with the minor blip of the loss in the FA Cup to Man City. They have beaten Arsenal twice last week by a 2-0 and 3-0 scoreline while prior to their FA Cup loss beat Basel 4-0 and Leicester City 5-1 showcasing how strong they have been on the offensive end. Kyle Walker and Raheem Sterling will most likely miss out this encounter leaving Danilo and Bernardo Silva to start in their place. Sergio Aguero has been in great form heading into this game along with Kevin De Bruyne, Leroy Sane and David Silva which gives City plenty of options for scoring on the offensive end against this Chelsea outfit.
Standard Liege has not managed an impressive season this year either. Although they had enough games in which they took advantage first, in many cases the defensive errors or the lack of a goal in the last few minutes, deprived them of the possibility of gathering more points.
At home, in front of the fans, Standard felt the best. They lost one match at the beginning of the season in front of Waregem. Unfortunately for them, the November and December matches from home meant 4 consecutive draws. With opponents in front of whom they could get much more. It is true that the quality of the game was negatively influenced by the extremely poor state of play in those months full of rains and mud.
Over the last 20 years in the history of the Belgian championship, Mechelen has never won the Standard at home. In most parties the hosts have won, having a H2H of 11 wins and 3 draws. This year can prove to be a game of “all in” for both teams. Mechelen is the last to be ranked and Standard still needs victory to catch the top 6 positions.
Bourg Peronnas is trying harder to get out from the relegation spot, taking some important points in last 2 rounds. They beat relegation contender Nancy 3-2 at home after playing for about 65 mins in 10 men and being down 1-2 and took a good 0-0 on the road at promotion contender LeHavre after a good defensive game (first draw on the road this season for Bourg). And keeping in mind poor shape shown by at least 3 teams lately (GFC Ajaccio, Nancy and Niort) their chances to escape from the play-out spot are increasing constantly. Only 1 point behind Nancy and 5 behind Niort and a schedule with enough affordable games to take wins, but let’s see how Della Magiore’s boy are coping with. Still without main GK Deneuve, Paye and fresh injured Martins Pereira.
AC Ajaccio had again an incredible finish of game. After few rounds before they beat 3-2 Lorient after being 1-2 down at the HT, now was Sochaux time to have 2-1 until 5 mins to go and one extra man; But with Nouri in great shape, Ajaccio scored twice in a 5 mins gap and took another important win 3-2 in their fight towards promotion.
Middlsbrough had all the chances to walk away with a three pointer last Saturday afternoon against Sunderland, at least on the paper before the game, but the side managed to take just a point in a 3:3 game.
Their hosts took the lead in eleventh minute via Asoro, but quickly stood playing with a man less, same thing that happened for the visitors when Traore got red carded, however the guests responded with far better approach in the second halftime.
Bamford in 50th and Leadbitter from the penalty kick in 53rd minute have reverted the scoreline completely, just to see Williams leveling up in 58th minute. Bamford scored his second in 68th minute for the Middlesbrough’s lead again, while the hosts pushed much for the equalizer and deservedly got it in fifth minute of additional time via McManaman.
After this point taken, Middlesbrough is now continuing to be at eight position for the moment, having three points less than Sheffield United and remaining in a must win position for this one.
Assombalonga should lead their attack in 4-2-3-1 formation with Bamford, Harrison and Traore as offensive midfielders. Adama Traore will be available for this one, after his red card being overturned by the FA on appeal. Left back Fabio (18/1) is injured for this one, as well as forward Rudy Gestede (19/3).
Hearts is very strong side at Tynecastle, unbeaten in their past nine Scottish top-flight home games. And happy of mutual stats, have kept four clean sheets in their past six Scottish Premiership matches against Kilmarnock. They are a physical so maybe here the reason why they do not record much corners at home ground. Neither don’t give much away so very tough battle is expected.
Kille’ is also in good shape, have lost just one of their past 11 league games, winning three of the last four. When Steve Clarke was brought into to the club his main object was to “Guide away from relegation”. Since it’s no longer an issue, at the moment the targets are still to get as far away from the bottom as possible. Visitors fly high recently and builded two high total of corners results, 16-4 and 12-2 while against Heart it just cannot be a case.
Even though Basaksehir disappointingly lost to Fenerbahce ten days ago, which caused them to lose the first position, they managed to get back to winning ways thanks to the narrow 1-0 win against Trabzonspor. This Monday, Abdullah Avci’s squad shouldn’t have a lot of troubles to secure three points in front of the home crowd and get back on top of the table. Genclerbirligi are going to be the challengers on the other side of the pitch. Hopes of the visitors are probably at low level, considering the current standings.
The visitors are in a tough spot 22 rounds in. They are 13th on the table with 25 points, which is only four above the relegation zone. Big 3-0 home win against Gotzepe last Monday has restored confidence and incrased team spirits for sure, but bookies see them as massive underdogs going into this clash. Gencler have won only one match out of 11 on the road, while suffering six defeats. The average number of goals seen in these duels is around 3.50 per game.
For FCSB the Sunday match is perhaps the best drug after the disaster in Rome in EL. Waking up to reality with Inzaghi players, they now know they have to be highly concentrated in the championship to not let CFR Cluj take a too big advantage. At 4 points behind the leader, FCSB has to prove that it still matters in the fight for the title in the Romanian league.
At home, in front of an opponent who lost 10 of the 12 matches played away so far, they have the perfect opportunity to do it. With a net high value team, but with a low morale, the hosts will have to find the restart necessary to overcome an ambitious and hard-workeed opponent.
Under normal circumstances, a win at least 2 goals in favor of the hosts would be a trivial thing, so I will play this game somewhat more cautious.
After their starting victory at the re-start of the season away to St Pauli, players of Darmstadt have really hit a poor form and are coming from fourth consecutive defeat. Most recently, they suffered 1:2 defeat at home against Kaiserslautern last Wednesday evening.
They were better in the first halftime, but the guests took the lead a bit against the flow in fifteenth minute via Borrello, while Mwene doubled up their lead in 61st minute when the home team looked way better, but lack of concentration cost them too much. Despite being better for the most of the second halftime, Darmstadt only managed to reduce the deficit in first minute of additional time via Platte.
The side has now entered even bigger problems, as they allowed rock bottom placed Kaiserslautern to approach them to only one point difference, while they have five less than safely placed Greuther Furth and surely aim a victory here.
Goalkeeper Mall (5/0) and midfielder Niemeyer (3/0) are injured and out, while doubtful remains defender Sirigu (15/0).
AZ Alkmaar managed to get important three pointer last weekend on Saturday afternoon as the side visited Breda and celebrated 3:1 victory. After their setback at home against Venlo, the side quickly responded with much better performance and once again proved their efficiency.
They were completely better and dominant in both halftimes, with the difference that the second one was a bit more open overall from both ends, as Jahanbakhsh opened up the scoreline in 32nd minute, with Til and Seunthens increasing the lead at the start of second, while Breda tried to react and had some decent phases, only managing to reduce the deficit in 85th minute thanks to goal from Sadiq.
AZ is now still third at the table, having eight points more than fourth placed Feyenoord, but still surely dreaming of catching the Champions League ticket even though Ajax is second with seven points more – still a victory here is their absolute and only goal.
Hosts should be playing in a version of 4-2-3-1 formation with Weghorst as central striker, plus Overeem, Seuntjens and Jahanbakhsh as offensive midfielders. Forward Calvin Stengs (1/0) and midfielder Marko Vejinovic (7/0) are both injured, similar to defensive midfielder Teun Koopmeiners (16/1) and midfielder Jeremy Helmer (9/1), both having very little chances to appear in this one.
After poor opening of the second part of the season and a home loss against Midtjylland, the players of Horsens improved and responded much better with a 2:0 victory last Sunday afternoon away from home against Helsingor. They were set as quite strong favorites against one of the weakest sides in Superliga and have justified that belief.
However, must be said that the game was quite an interesting and balanced one, with the home team also having their fair share of chances created. They were even slightly better in the first halftime, however visitors looked much more concrete in second, taking the lead in 54th minute via Drost, while the hosts tried to react and approach more willing to risk, but conceded the second goal in 83rd via Nymann.
The side now stands at fourth position with thirty points earned, far away from the title battle as first placed Midtjylland has twenty points more, while seventh and out of play-off zone placed Hobro has just two points less which means that the game is a very important one.
Forward Kjartan Finnbogason (21/4) is suspended for this one, while midfielder Jeppe Mehl (11/0) remains out due injury.