Team News: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Manchester United injury, suspension list

On the back of contrasting fortunes at the weekend, fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur host fourth-placed Manchester United in Thursday’s Premier League affair in North London.

Cristian Stellini’s brief time in charge of the hosts came to an end after a 6-1 thrashing at the hands of Newcastle United, while the Red Devils beat Brighton & Hove Albion on penalties to book their spot in the FA Cup final, and here Sports Mole rounds up the team news for both clubs.


Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes reacts on January 22, 2023


Out: Rodrigo Bentancur (knee), Emerson Royal (knee), Ryan Sessegnon (hamstring), Yves Bissouma (ankle)

Doubtful: Hugo Lloris (hip)


Out: Donny van de Beek (knee), Alejandro Garnacho (ankle), Tom Heaton (ankle), Phil Jones (knee), Lisandro Martinez (foot), Raphael Varane (ankle), Scott McTominay (knock)

Doubtful: Bruno Fernandes (leg)

Preview: West Ham United vs. Liverpool

Two sides scoring goals for fun meet at the London Stadium for an intriguing Premier League contest on Wednesday night, as West Ham United play host to Liverpool.

David Moyes’s team ran riot in a 4-0 win over Bournemouth at the weekend, while their Merseyside counterparts scraped by Nottingham Forest in a five-goal Anfield thriller.

Match preview

Lucas Paqueta celebrates scoring for West Ham United on April 22, 2023

Given the seven-goal spectacular that unfolded in Newcastle United’s drubbing of Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, West Ham’s demolition job of Bournemouth went under the radar somewhat, but it did not make the three points any less vital for the goal-happy Hammers.

A pair of headers from Michail Antonio and Lucas Paqueta before a fine Declan Rice finish put the game to bed before the break, and channelling his inner Olivier Giroud and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Pablo Fornals saved the best for last with a sumptuous scorpion kick at the Vitality Stadium.

Having also thrashed Gent 5-2 on aggregate to reach the Europa Conference League semi-finals – where they will take on Eredivisie powerhouses AZ Alkmaar – things are starting to look up for the Hammers, who are looking up the table themselves as they occupy 13th place in the rankings before Tuesday’s games kick off.

While having a game in hand on most of their relegation rivals, West Ham are only six points clear of the drop zone and are not home and dry just yet, but Moyes’s side have certainly kicked into gear at a crucial time, going unbeaten in their last five games in all tournaments and losing just one of their last 10.

From being humbled 5-1 by Newcastle to storming back in a 2-2 draw with league leaders Arsenal at home, West Ham have scored in all of their top-flight games at the London Stadium in 2023, but only Fulham have been beaten in the hosts’ last 20 games against top-half sides.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp pictured on April 17, 2023

Twice Liverpool went ahead against Forest through Diogo Jota – who made it back-to-back braces in the top flight – and twice they were pegged back, as Neco Williams returned to haunt his old club before Morgan Gibbs-White’s terrific acrobatic volley into the bottom corner.

However, set-piece defending was neither side’s forte on the day, and Liverpool restored their slender lead through Mohamed Salah’s landmark 183rd goal for the club – taking him level with Robbie Fowler in sixth place in the Reds’ all-time charts – from a free kick, and Forest could not respond a third time.

Jurgen Klopp’s rearguard worries are very much still alive, but with the Reds’ attack firing on all cylinders, Liverpool have surged back into European contention in seventh place in the table, albeit nine points behind Manchester United – who have a game in hand – in the final Champions League position.

Brighton & Hove Albion, who have played two fewer matches, are also breathing down Liverpool’s necks, but Klopp has every reason to shout about his side scoring 11 goals in their last three Premier League matches, although a record of two wins from their last nine top-flight contests on the road makes for grim reading.

Furthermore, Liverpool have only prevailed against Tottenham Hotspur in all of their away trips to capital clubs this term, and their visit to the London Stadium last season ended in a 3-2 defeat, but they have since recorded a pair of 1-0 wins over West Ham in front of the ardent Anfield faithful.

Team News

Roberto Firmino celebrates scoring for Liverpool on October 9, 2022

There has been little movement in the West Ham infirmary lately, and Moyes should only be working without misfiring striker Gianluca Scamacca as the Italian recovers from knee surgery – the Hammers boss admitted that he knew little about what exactly the procedure entailed, though.

Angelo Ogbonna was passed fit to make the bench against Bournemouth after shaking off a back problem, which he sustained in the first leg against Gent, and Moyes should see no reason to disrupt the harmony of a winning team, forcing ex-Liverpool man Danny Ings to accept a substitute role against his former club.

However, Fornals should certainly give Moyes food for thought in the final third following his sublime finish against Bournemouth, and the Spaniard enjoys playing Liverpool more than any other Premier League team, having struck three goals against them in the past.

As for Liverpool, Klopp revealed before the win over Forest that Roberto Firmino would miss the Reds’ next three games with a muscular problem, joining Naby Keita (muscle) Stefan Bajcetic (adductor) and Calvin Ramsay (knee) on the sidelines.

The Reds boss will therefore be working with the same group of players from the nervy win over Forest, and he is spoiled for choice up top despite Firmino’s absence, as Darwin Nunez fights to earn a recall to the firing line.

The Uruguayan may get his wish in place of Cody Gakpo, as Klopp should be in no position to demote Jota, who could now become the first Liverpool player to score three successive Premier League braces since Luis Suarez in 2013.

West Ham United possible starting lineup:
Fabianski; Coufal, Zouma, Aguerd, Cresswell; Soucek, Rice, Paqueta; Bowen, Antonio, Benrahma

Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Jones, Fabinho, Henderson; Salah, Nunez, Jota

Preview: Aston Villa vs. Fulham

Two sides still very much in the European mix do battle in Tuesday’s Premier League fixture at Villa Park, as Aston Villa welcome Fulham to the West Midlands.

Unai Emery’s men left it late to rescue a point in a 1-1 draw with Brentford on Saturday, while the Cottagers remain on the coat-tails of the top seven thanks to a 2-1 win over Leeds United.

Match preview

Aston Villa manager Unai Emery pictured on April 15, 2023

Despite continuing their incredible run of scoring in every game under ex-Arsenal and Villarreal boss Emery, Villa were not at the races for large portions of their contest with Brentford, whose talisman Ivan Toney struck his 19th goal of the campaign to put the Bees ahead at the Gtech Community Stadium.

The hitherto red-hot Ollie Watkins endured a fruitless afternoon at his old stomping ground, but with 87 minutes on the clock, a well-taken strike from Douglas Luiz denied Brentford all three points in front of their own fans and extended Villa’s unbeaten run to nine top-flight games.

Having failed in their bid to make it six Premier League wins in a row, Villa – who remain sixth in the rankings – missed a glorious opportunity to pile the pressure on their fellow Champions League chasers, and the gap to the top four stands at eight points after Newcastle United’s 6-1 humiliation of Tottenham Hotspur.

Cutting an optimistic figure after the game, Emery insisted that he was “so happy” to come away with a point from a taxing encounter in the capital, and there was every reason for the Spaniard to be pleased about his side scoring for the 21st match running under his wing.

A welcome return to Villa Park now awaits the Lions, who have won each of their last four home games against Crystal Palace, Bournemouth, Nottingham Forest and Newcastle United without conceding a goal, but a reinvigorated Fulham attack will put that defensive mettle to the test.

Fulham manager Marco Silva on April 22, 2023

Scoring in back-to-back Premier League games for just the second time in his career, Fulham’s Harry Wilson once again stepped into the Aleksandar Mitrovic-sized void to propel the Cottagers to a nervy win over relegation-threatened Leeds at the weekend.

Wilson broke the deadlock with a powerful strike off the woodwork with 58 minutes gone before Andreas Pereira lashed home perhaps the easiest goal he will score in his career, but Marco Silva’s side subjected their fans to a nail-biting final 10 minutes following Joao Palhinha’s late own goal.

Nevertheless, the Cottagers held on for a second successive Premier League win – a marked upturn in fortunes from their five-game losing streak earlier in the spring – and Brentford’s failure to beat Villa lifted Silva’s men to ninth in the standings, five points adrift of seventh-placed Liverpool.

The positives have outweighed the negatives for Fulham in the past couple of weeks, but a seven-game run without a clean sheet is not a positive statistic before tackling Emery’s goal-happy crop, and only two of the visitors’ last six away matches have ended in victory.

However, Fulham’s 3-0 thumping of Aston Villa at Craven Cottage earlier in the season makes for positive reading, but the Lions recorded a convincing 3-1 win at Villa Park 24 months ago, and not since the days of Charles N’Zogbia have the two sides played out a draw, with the Frenchman on target in a 1-1 stalemate in April 2013.

Team News

Emi Martinez in action for Argentina on November 22, 2022

Due to a stomach bug which had been plaguing him before the game, Villa number one Emiliano Martinez only lasted until half time against Brentford before having to be replaced by Robin Olsen, who counted his lucky starts when Kevin Schade missed an open goal after the Swede spilled the ball into his path.

However, Villa are optimistic that Martinez’s illness will not impact his availability for Tuesday’s game, but the same cannot be said for Philippe Coutinho (thigh), Leon Bailey (thigh), Boubacar Kamara (ankle) or Matty Cash (ankle).

While Bertrand Traore and Jhon Duran could offer something a bit different from the bench, it would not be a shock to see Emery send out the same starting XI, as Watkins aims to increase his goal tally to 15 for the Premier League season.

In contrast, Fulham will be boosted by the return of Daniel James, who was unable to face parent club Leeds at the weekend, but Mitrovic must serve the fifth of his lengthy eight-game suspension.

Left-back Layvin Kurzawa continues to be troubled by a knee injury and may not return until next month either, but Silva should otherwise be working with a near-identical squad from the weekend, and Neeskens Kebano was able to make his welcome return from a long-term Achilles problem on Saturday.

The return of James could tempt Silva into an attacking alteration, with Bobby Decordova-Reid at risk of losing his spot in the XI as the effervescent pairing of Wilson and Willian continue to strut their stuff out wide.

Aston Villa possible starting lineup:
Martinez; Young, Konsa, Mings, Moreno; McGinn, Dendoncker, Luiz, Ramsey; Buendia, Watkins

Fulham possible starting lineup:
Leno; Tete, Adarabioyo, Ream, Robinson; Palhinha, Reed; Wilson, Pereira, Willian; James

Preview: Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Crystal Palace

Bottom-half battlers Wolverhampton Wanderers and Crystal Palace will both seek an immediate return to winning ways in the Premier League when they square off in Tuesday’s contest at Molineux.

The hosts fell to a 2-1 defeat to Leicester City on Saturday afternoon, despite going a goal up at the King Power, while Roy Hodgson’s side played out a drab goalless draw with Everton.

Match preview

Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Julen Lopetegui on April 8, 2023

It is rare to see Wolves number one Jose Sa being the architect of his team’s downfall, and the Portuguese goalkeeper watched on with a smile on his face as Matheus Cunha put the visitors ahead against Leicester, but there was little for Sa to feel happy about come the full-time whistle.

With eight minutes to play in the first half, Sa caught Jamie Vardy inside the area, and Kelechi Iheanacho coolly tucked home the resulting penalty before right-back Timothy Castagne produced a striker’s finish in the second half to turn the tie on its head for Leicester.

Thanks to West Ham United’s demolition of Bournemouth on Sunday afternoon, Wolves will enter the midweek round of fixtures having slipped below the Hammers into 14th place in the table, behind David Moyes’s men on goal difference and six points clear of the bottom three with six games remaining.

Nevertheless, a blunt Loeptegui warned his Wolves players to avoid “dangerous” thoughts about being close to securing Premier League safety after Saturday’s failure, which ended the hosts’ three-game unbeaten run in April, albeit while extending their scoring streak to seven matches – a marked improvement from their shot-shy days of the first half of the season.

Molineux has also been a happy hunting ground for Wolves in recent months, as Lopetegui’s side boast five wins from seven Premier League home games in 2023 – including each of their last two – and every triumph in that quintet has seen Wolves keep a clean sheet.

Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson before the match on April 1, 2023

Crystal Palace’s explosive attacking performances under Hodgson were always going to peter out at one stage, but it was not for the want of trying against the 10 men of Everton, who left Selhurst Park on Saturday with a creditable point to their name.

Despite boasting a numerical advantage for the final 10 minutes after Mason Holgate was made to walk for two bookable offences, Palace’s efforts to outdo Jordan Pickford were fruitless, while Sam Johnstone also had to come up with some crucial contributions at the other end of the field.

The Eagles’ 100% winning record during Hodgson’s homecoming may now be over, but they are still safely entrenched in 12th place in the table – nine points clear of the bottom three with six games left to go – so another season of top-flight football should be secured with minimal difficulty.

Following victories on Leeds United and Southampton’s turf, Palace are now out to make it three Premier League wins away from home for the first time since May 2019, and recent history suggests that the visitors’ trip to the West Midlands will be a worthwhile one.

Indeed, the Eagles have come out on top in each of their last four meetings with Wolves, who fell to a 2-1 loss to Palace at Selhurst Park earlier in the season, while Wilfried Zaha and Jean-Philippe Mateta were on target in a 2-0 triumph at Molineux for the Eagles 11 months ago.

Team News

Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha reacts after sustaining an injury on April 1, 2023

Not long after setting up Cunha’s opener on Saturday, Mario Lemina was withdrawn at half time due to a hamstring injury, but the Gabon international seemingly laid any fears to rest when he was seen walking normally after the game.

Nevertheless, Lemina will need careful assessment over the next 48 hours, and Lopetegui continues to work without Sasa Kalajdzic and Chiquinho (both knee), while Boubacar Traore is still lacking match fitness and may only make the bench at best.

Should Lemina not be risked from the first whistle, Ruben Neves should immediately return to the fold in the middle of the park, while Diego Costa and Pablo Sarabia failed to make much of an impact at the King Power and could find their places under threat from Daniel Podence and Adama Traore.

As for Crystal Palace, Hodgson is hopeful that Zaha (groin) and Nathaniel Clyne (knee) will be back on the training pitches at some point this week, but Tuesday’s game is expected to come too soon for both men to make their comebacks.

Meanwhile, the luckless Nathan Ferguson has now picked up a fresh muscular problem – a serious one at that – and will remain sidelined for some time, but Hodgson does not have any fresh worries to factor in from the stalemate with Everton.

Vicente Guaita was back on the bench at the weekend, but Johnstone may have done enough to retain possession of the gloves on Tuesday, while Mateta and Will Hughes are options to freshen up the XI if tired legs come into play.

Wolverhampton Wanderers possible starting lineup:
Sa; Semedo, Kilman, Dawson, Bueno; Traore, Gomes, Neves, Nunes; Cunha, Podence

Crystal Palace possible starting lineup:
Johnstone; Ward, Andersen, Guehi, Mitchell; Schlupp, Doucoure, Eze; Olise, Mateta, Ayew

Bournemouth vs. West Ham United

Fresh from progressing into another European semi-final, West Ham United resume their battle to avoid relegation from the Premier League when they face an in-form Bournemouth outfit at the Vitality Stadium on Sunday.

While the Cherries have accumulated nine points from their last 12 available, the Hammers have only lost one of their last nine games across all competitions.

Match preview

Matias Vina celebrates scoring for Bournemouth on April 15, 2023

Aside from a 2-0 home loss to Brighton & Hove Albion, Bournemouth have had plenty of success in the month of April to date, claiming maximum points against Fulham, Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur.

A narrow 1-0 win away at Leicester was followed by a dramatic 3-2 triumph at Spurs last weekend, with former Cherries forward Arnaut Danjuma equalising for the hosts in the 88th minute before Dango Ouattara netted Bournemouth’s latest winning goal in the Premier League (94:11) to snatch all three points at the death.

Gary O’Neil’s side have picked up as many victories in April (three) as they managed in November, December, January, February and March combined, and the Cherries have put themselves in a much stronger position to avoid an immediate drop to the Championship as they now six 14th in the table and six points clear of the relegation zone.

A favourable-looking run of fixtures is up next for Bournemouth, with Sunday’s clash against West Ham followed by encounters with Southampton and Leeds United – a home match with an out-of-sorts Chelsea side could also be thrown into the mix.

O’Neil will be keen for his team to take advantage of this promising run of fixtures and maintain their winning momentum to all but secure their survival in the top-flight, although beating the Hammers is not a given having lost their last two meetings against them by an aggregate score of 6-0.

West Ham United's Michail Antonio celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on April 20, 2023

After rescuing a point in a 2-2 draw at home to Premier League leaders Arsenal last weekend, West Ham advanced into the Europa Conference League semi-finals courtesy of a 5-2 aggregate win over Gent, beating the Belgian side 4-1 in the second leg on Thursday.

With the tie level both on the night and on aggregate at half time, a stunning second-half blitz from the Hammers put David Moyes’s men in control of proceedings at the London Stadium, with Lucas Paqueta, Declan Rice and Michail Antonio all scoring within just under eight minutes of each other to seal the victory and set up a semi-final clash with AZ Alkmaar next month.

West Ham now have five Premier League fixtures to prepare for before shifting their focus back to European duties, with the Hammers still embroiled in the relegation dogfight despite picking up eight points from their last five top-flight games. Moyes and co sit 15th in the table and just four points above the drop zone, although they do have a game in hand on every other team in the bottom half.

A narrow 1-0 win at Fulham earlier this month ended an 11-game winless run away from home for the Hammers, but they travel to Bournemouth on Sunday having failed to win each of their last four visits to the Vitality Stadium, conceding 10 goals in the process.

West Ham United have won each of their last four Premier League matches against newly-promoted teams, though, including a 2-0 home victory over Bournemouth in October, and they will look to complete their first-ever league double over the Cherries on Sunday.

Team News

AFC Bournemouth's Dango Ouattara on January 21, 2023

Bournemouth will be without attacking midfielder Hamed Traore as he continues to recover from a foot injury, joining Ryan Fredericks (calf) and Junior Stanislas (unspecified) in the treatment room.

Matias Vina, who scored his first goal for the Cherries against Spurs, is a minor doubt with a lower back problem, but the left-back has taken part in light training and O’Neil is hopeful that he will be involved in the matchday squad.

O’Neil will likely revert to a four-man defence, with Adam Smith set to be recalled at right-back, while Marcos Senesi could replace Chris Mepham at centre-back after recovering from a hamstring issue to feature as a substitute last time out.

Ouattara will also be looking to force his way back into the first XI and could replace Ryan Christie, while Philip Billing is set to continue in behind central striker Dominic Solanke.

As for West Ham, Gianluca Scamacca remains sidelined after undergoing knee surgery earlier this month, while Angelo Ogbonna missed the midweek win over Gent with a lower back problem and is a doubt for Sunday’s contest.

Lukasz Fabianski is set to be recalled between the sticks at the expense of cup goalkeeper Alphonse Areola, while Moyes will also ponder outfield changes to freshen up his side following Thursday’s victory.

Danny Ings will push Antonio, who has scored four goals in his last two starts for Hammers, for a place up front, while Kurt Zouma and Said Benrahma, who both scored in the 2-0 win over Bournemouth in October, could continue at centre-back and on the left-flank respectively.

Bournemouth possible starting lineup:
Neto; Smith, Stephens, Senesi, Kelly; Tavernier, Lerma, Rothwell, Ouattara; Billing; Solanke

West Ham United possible starting lineup:
Fabianski; Coufal, Zouma, Aguerd, Emerson; Soucek, Rice; Bowen, Paqueta, Benrahma; Ings

Preview: Angers vs. Paris Saint-Germain

French champions Paris Saint-Germain will be bidding to make it three straight wins in Ligue 1 when they travel to bottom-of-the-table Angers on Friday night.

The visitors are currently eight points clear of second-placed Marseille in the race for the title, while Angers are rock bottom on 14 points, 17 points from the safety of 16th position.

Match preview

Angers' Pierrick Capelle appeals to referee Stephanie Frappart on October 30, 2022

Angers have been present in Ligue 1 since 2015, and they finished 14th in France’s top flight last term, some nine points clear of the relegation zone, but Le SCO are currently in a very difficult spot in the division.

Unless something extraordinary happens over the next few weeks, Angers will be playing Ligue 2 football next season, as they are currently bottom of the table on 14 points.

A disappointing campaign has seen Alexandre Dujeux’s side record just three wins from their 31 matches, drawing five and losing the other 23, which has left them 17 points from the safety of 16th position.

There are only seven games left in France’s top flight, so one of the biggest comebacks of all time would have to happen to prevent Angers from being relegated to the second tier for next season.

The Black and Whites will enter this match off the back of a 2-1 defeat to Clermont, which followed a 1-0 victory over Lille, and they will now welcome the best side in the division, who they have lost against in each of the last 13 top-flight meetings between the two sides.

Paris Saint-Germain's Lionel Messi celebrates scoring against Lens on April 15, 2023

PSG had a wobble either side of the international break, losing at home to both Rennes and Lyon, but they have responded by winning their last two against Nice and Lens.

Kylian Mbappe, Vitinha and Lionel Messi were on the scoresheet in the 3-1 win over Lens last time out, with the result moving the capital giants onto 72 points from their 31 league matches courtesy of a record of 23 wins, three draws and five defeats.

PSG are eight points clear of second-placed Marseille and therefore in a strong position when it comes to winning the title, and they do not have any distractions for the remainder of the season.

The Champions League is the trophy that the club really wanted to win this term, but they were beaten by Bayern Munich in the last-16 stage of the competition, and it is set to be a fascinating summer transfer window for the Paris giants, with a number of players expected to both arrive and depart.

Christophe Galtier’s side have the second-best away record in Ligue 1 this term, picking up 34 points from 15 matches, and it would be a shock if they failed to overcome Angers on Friday night.

Team News

Neymar in action for Paris Saint-Germsin on October 1, 2022

Angers will be without the services of Nabil Bentaleb on Friday through suspension, while the home side are also missing a number of players due to fitness problems.

Indeed, Pierrick Capelle, Farid El Melali, Amine Salama, Miha Blazic, Ilyas Chetti, Ali Kalla and Ulrick Eneme-Ella will all miss out for the basement side against the reigning champions.

Head coach Dujeux could also be missing Halid Sabanovic and Cedric Hountondji, while Bentaleb’s absence could lead to Jean-Matteo Bahoya being introduced in central midfield.

As for PSG, Timothee Pembele, Renato Sanches, Marco Verratti, Nordi Mukiele, Presnel Kimpembe and Neymar will miss the contest through injury.

Galtier’s squad has been stretched due to the absences, but with no European football at this stage of the campaign, the players have been able to recover in recent days, so it could be the same XI that took to the field for the first whistle against Lens last time out.

A 3-5-2 formation should see Mbappe and Messi operate as the front two, with Vitinha expected to keep his spot in central midfield alongside Fabian Ruiz and Carlos Soler.

Angers possible starting lineup:
Bernardoni; Rao-Lisoa, Valery, Bamba, Ghoulam, Kalumba; Bahoya, Mendy, Hunou; Abdelli, Niane

Paris Saint-Germain possible starting lineup:
Donnarumma; Marquinhos, Ramos, Danilo; Hakimi, Soler, Ruiz, Vitinha, Mendes; Messi, Mbappe

Preview: Sporting Lisbon vs. Juventus

Facing a one-goal deficit from last week’s first leg, Sporting Lisbon welcome Juventus to Estadio Jose Alvalade in Thursday’s Europa League quarter-final decider.

Beaten by Federico Gatti’s second-half strike in Turin, Sporting are without a win from their last four home games in Europe. Meanwhile, Juve may have suffered successive Serie A defeats but have won each of their last four in continental competition – all without conceding a goal.

Match preview

Sporting Lisbon coach Ruben Amorim reacts on April 13, 2023

Following their unsuccessful trip to Italy last week – when Juventus stole a 1-0 win through the unlikeliest of goalscorers in the 73rd minute – Sporting have now failed to win on any of their 16 visits to Serie A sides, losing on 12 occasions.

Having just gone unbeaten through 11 games in all competitions, Ruben Amorim’s side were dealt an increasingly rare setback, as their form has improved markedly over the past two months – Premier League leaders Arsenal and Denmark’s Midtjylland being among their recent victims.

Sitting fourth in the Primeira Liga standings – while bitter foes Benfica streak clear at the top – does not match the Portuguese champions’ ambition, though, and they remain outsiders to achieve Champions League qualification through the league after a disappointing home draw with Arouca on Sunday.

Hero of the win over Arsenal in London, Pedro Goncalves turned villain when missing a first-half penalty, and Sporting also struck the woodwork twice as they trailed heading into the final minutes; but late on, ‘Pote’ then redeemed himself by striking from the spot to salvage a point.

Winless in three previous meetings with Juventus in UEFA competition, O Leoes have also been eliminated from each of their last five European knockout ties when they have lost the first leg, so history is certainly not on their side ahead of this week’s second leg.

Not only that, but since beating Tottenham in Lisbon last September they have failed to win any of their home fixtures in Europe. Sporting will certainly need to halt that run on Thursday, as going five straight continental contests at Alvalade without victory for the first time would bring elimination.

Juventus' Dusan Vlahovic celebrates scoring their third goal with teammates on February 7, 2023

Juventus may have lost their last two away matches against Portuguese opponents – versus Porto in the 2020-21 campaign and Benfica earlier this season – but avoiding defeat this week would see them through to yet another major semi-final.

Also into the last four of the Coppa Italia, it has, however, been far from plain sailing in Serie A this season; hampered by a 15-point penalty for financial misdemeanours, Juve sit as low as seventh in the table – nine points adrift of Milan, who occupy the final Champions League place.

Since starting April with a trademark 1-0 win over Hellas Verona, Max Allegri’s men have followed a controversial cup draw against old rivals Inter with consecutive defeats, to in-form Lazio and then mid-table Sassuolo.

For all their domestic woes – and a miserable Champions League campaign, during which they were beaten twice by Sporting’s city rivals Benfica – the Bianconeri have won each of their last four matches in Europe without conceding a goal, which represents their best such run since 2013.

Nantes and Freiburg have been cast by the wayside since Juventus entered the Europa League’s knockout stages via a distant third-place finish in Champions League Group H, and a semi against either Manchester United or Sevilla could soon await.

Going on to lift the trophy after next month’s final in Budapest would also offer a route back into Europe’s top club competition, but despite holding a slim first-leg lead, a tough Sporting side still stand in their way.

Team News

Marcus Edwards celebrates scoring for Sporting Lisbon against Tottenham Hotspur on October 26, 2022

After Ruben Amorim made several changes at the weekend, when Goncalo Inacio and Hidemasa Morita were among those dropped to the bench, a more familiar XI will start on Thursday.

While much-admired winger Marcus Edwards missed out with an illness and Jeremiah St. Juste was unavailable due to injury, both will aim to be involved in the second leg.

Manuel Ugarte was among those promoted to the lineup against Arouca, but Morita impressed last week in Turin when covering the Uruguayan’s absence through suspension and could win the nod in central midfield.

Sporting remain without first-choice forward Paulinho, plus Daniel Braganca and Jovane Cabral, and if St. Juste cannot recover in time, Ousmane Diomande would most likely start instead.

Juventus number one Wojciech Szczesny was withdrawn due to feeling chest pain during the first leg and regular cup keeper Mattia Perin stepped into the breach both then and in the subsequent defeat to Sassuolo – it remains to be seen if the latter will be called upon again.

At the back, ex-Porto defender Alex Sandro returns after serving a Serie A suspension, but Federico Gatti is set to keep the faith of Max Allegri. Having recently recovered from their latest injury setbacks, both Paul Pogba and Federico Chiesa are available for selection too.

Angel Di Maria should return to take his place in the Bianconeri’s front line – between 2007 and 2010, Di Maria played for Sporting’s arch-rivals Benfica, where he was a teammate of Ruben Amorim.

Sporting Lisbon possible starting lineup:
Adan; Inacio, Coates, Diomande; Esgaio, Goncalves, Morita, Reis; Edwards, Chermiti, Trincao

Juventus possible starting lineup:
Szczesny; Gatti, Bremer, Danilo; Cuadrado, Fagioli, Locatelli, Rabiot, Kostic; Di Maria; Vlahovic

Preview: Bayern Munich vs. Manchester City

Returning to his former stomping ground without a shred of sentiment, Pep Guardiola leads his Manchester City team out for the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final with Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday night.

The Premier League champions board their flight to Germany with a 3-0 advantage under their belts from last week’s first leg, where Thomas Tuchel’s Bavarian baptism of fire continued.

Match preview

Bayern Munich coach Thomas Tuchel reacts on April 1, 2023

The action on the field at the Etihad Stadium was striking enough without Sadio Mane allegedly striking Leroy Sane in the face after the final whistle, as a faltering Bayern Munich side were served a slice of humble pie to leave their continental dreams hanging by the thinnest of threads.

A first-half Rodri stunner preceded Bernardo Silva’s header and an obligatory goal for Erling Braut Haaland in a Manchester mauling, although a besotted Tuchel bizarrely claimed that he “fell in love” with his team, but there was no such infatuation from the ex-Chelsea boss at the weekend.

Letting a slender lead slip to draw 1-1 with Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga, where Andrej Kramaric cancelled out a Benjamin Pavard effort, Bayern hold just a two-point lead over Tuchel’s former club Borussia Dortmund atop the standings, and the Star of the South could very well end a season of transition with just the DFL-Supercup to their name.

So far, the board’s brash decision to part ways with Julian Nagelsmann has not been vindicated, as Tuchel has won just two of his first five games at the helm, and Bayern have just one clean sheet to show from their last seven matches – not a reassuring statistic before facing Haaland and co, and neither is a two-game winless run at the Allianz Arena.

However, it has been over three years since the hosts failed to score in a competitive fixture at the Allianz Arena – drawing 0-0 with RB Leipzig in February 2020 – but only four teams have ever progressed from a Champions League knockout tie when losing the first leg by three goals or more, and none since Liverpool’s infamous Barcelona comeback of 2019.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola pictured on April 15, 2023

Another day, another page in the history books for Scandinavian sensation Haaland, who continues to delight his manager and fantasy football managers across the land during the Citizens’ remarkable end-of-season winning streak.

Following a sublime opener from John Stones against Leicester City, Haaland netted Premier League goal number 31 and 32 – equalling Mohamed Salah’s record for the most in a 38-game season – before ex-Man City striker Kelechi Iheanacho gave the forlorn away fans something to cheer.

The dying embers of that 3-1 win were far from comfortable for Man City, but thanks to Arsenal letting successive 2-0 leads slip, the champions are right back in the thick of things in the Premier League, sitting four points off the Gunners with a game in hand.

Guardiola’s sky blue juggernaut is in full swing, with Man City travelling to the Allianz Arena on the back of their 10th successive win across all competitions – going unbeaten in their last 14 – and they have netted at least three goals in each of their last six fixtures.

However, Man City notably failed to win any of their away games in this season’s Champions League group stage against Dortmund, Copenhagen and RB Leipzig – drawing all three – but a stalemate would be satisfactory here, even if Guardiola is pining for a 100th Champions League victory as a manager; a feat only achieved by Carlo Ancelotti and Sir Alex Ferguson.

Team News

Sadio Mane in action for Bayern Munich on September 30, 2022

Following a disagreement on the Etihad pitch, attacking duo Mane and Sane were involved in an astonishing dressing room bust-up – where the former purportedly left his teammate with a swollen lip from a punch – and he was dropped from the squad to face Hoffenheim at the weekend.

However, Tuchel has confirmed that the Senegal international will return to the squad for the second leg, which is more than can be said for long-term absentees Manuel Neuer (leg) and Lucas Hernandez (ACL), while youngsters Paul Wanner (jaw) and Gabriel Marusic (ACL) are out of contention too.

On a more positive note, striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting – an unlikely success story with 17 goals this season – is back in training following a knee injury, but it remains to be seen if he will be given the green light to start the second leg.

Regarding the travelling contingent, Guardiola has surprisingly been able to welcome Phil Foden back from appendix surgery for the journey to the Allianz Arena, and he will take a place on the bench here.

Having seen his players put Leicester to the sword before the half-time whistle blew, Guardiola once again denied Haaland a hat-trick by bringing him off at half time, while Stones, Rodri and Kevin De Bruyne were also brought off early doors in anticipation for the second leg.

With 11 continental goals to his name so far, one more strike for Haaland on Wednesday would draw him level with Ruud van Nistelrooy for the most Champions League goals in a single campaign by a Premier League player – the Dutchman netted 12 for Manchester United in 2002-03.

Bayern Munich possible starting lineup:
Sommer; Pavard, Upamecano, De Ligt, Davies; Kimmich, Goretzka; Sane, Musiala, Coman; Choupo-Moting

Manchester City possible starting lineup:
Ederson; Akanji, Dias, Ake; Stones, Rodri; Silva, Gundogan, De Bruyne, Grealish; Haaland

Preview: Chelsea vs. Real Madrid

Facing the unenviable task of trying to record a three-goal win over the reigning European champions, Chelsea host Real Madrid in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday night.

The teams renew hostilities at Stamford Bridge with Los Blancos boasting a 2-0 advantage from their Santiago Bernabeu showdown, and Frank Lampard’s homecoming has done little to end the Blues’ blues.

Match preview

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard and Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti on April 12, 2023

There is no shame in losing to the European champions in their own backyard, and Lampard could have taken a few positives from his side’s valiant efforts in the Spanish capital, where strikes from Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio led to a predictable victory for those in white.

However, the under-performing Blues were played off the park by Brighton & Hove Albion in Saturday’s Premier League clash – at one stage conceding 70% possession to the soaring Seagulls – as Conor Gallagher’s deflected strike was cancelled out by Danny Welbeck’s header and Julio Enciso’s rocket.

A 2-1 scoreline flattered Chelsea, according to Lampard, as the interim Blues boss admitted that his side were fortunate not to lose by more, and the 44-year-old now boasts an unsightly record of three defeats from three games in charge; Todd Boehly cut a dejected figure as he was given an earful from the Stamford Bridge faithful, as Lampard’s dream return turns into a nightmare.

Now winless in six successive matches since a 3-1 triumph over Leicester City under Graham Potter, Gallagher’s fortunate strike against Brighton at least managed to end a four-game streak without a goal for Chelsea, who did reverse a first-leg deficit against Borussia Dortmund at Stamford Bridge to progress to the last eight.

The West London giants have now advanced from five of their last seven Champions League ties in which they have lost the first leg away from home, but they have failed to win any of their last four Stamford Bridge games since seeing off BVB, and historical omens will count for nought unless Lampard’s side can suddenly find their best shooting boots.

Real Madrid's Karim Benzema celebrates scoring against Chelsea on April 12, 2023

Potentially playing his way into a contract renewal, Real’s bit-part winger Asensio came up with another telling contribution in Los Blancos’ trip to Cadiz at the weekend, a few days after drilling home his side’s second against Chelsea.

Ancelotti understandably rang the changes for Saturday evening’s clash with the bottom-half outfit, and patience was the name of the game for the La Liga champions, but Nacho Fernandez’s strike preceded another Asensio effort to keep their fanciful hopes of domestic glory alive.

A return to winning ways in the top flight allowed Real Madrid to cut the gap to Barcelona down to 10 points, but La Blaugrana have the chance to respond against Getafe on Sunday, and Ancelotti’s men would be forgiven for prioritising continental glory as the season approaches its home straight.

From their 19 Champions League knockout ties in which they have won the first leg by at least two clear goals, Real Madrid have progressed from 18 of them – only falling to eventual runners-up Monaco in 2003-04 – and even then Los Blancos were only knocked out courtesy of the now-abolished away goals rule after a 5-5 aggregate draw.

A sixth successive Champions League knockout win would also see Real Madrid set a new continental record, which have been bread and butter for the 14-time European champions, and their visit to Stamford Bridge 12 months ago ended in a 1-3 triumph – avenging a 2-0 loss away to Chelsea in the 2020-21 semis.

Team News

Chelsea defender Ben Chilwell is sent off for foul on Real Madrid winger Rodrygo on April 12, 2023.

Chelsea were forced to navigate the final half-hour of the first leg with 10 men after Ben Chilwell was given a straight red card for a last-man foul on Rodrygo, and the left-back will serve his suspension on Tuesday, surely signalling a recall for Marc Cucurella at left-back.

Kalidou Koulibaly is out for a “matter of weeks” with the hamstring problem he picked up at the Bernabeu – joining Armando Broja (knee) on the sidelines – while Kai Havertz (knee), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (back) and Carney Chukwuemeka (knock) will all need assessing over the next 48 hours, but the trio have trained ahead of this game.

Thiago Silva and N’Golo Kante were left out of the squad to face Brighton with the second leg in mind, while recalls for Reece James, Joao Felix and Mateo Kovacic should also be in order. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Benoit Badiashile, David Datro Fofana and Noni Madueke are all ineligible.

Real Madrid boss Ancelotti was also without a couple of integral cogs for the weekend due to bumps and bruises, with Vinicius Junior and Toni Kroos both missing out with muscular overload alongside calf victim Ferland Mendy.

Mendy’s comeback will not come this week, but Kroos and Vinicius should be good to go after their precautionary absences, so Asensio’s reward for his recent goalscoring exploits should be a demotion to the bench.

In contrast, Fernandez’s goal at the weekend could give Ancelotti food for thought, but as was the case in last week’s victory, the fresh legs of Eduardo Camavinga could be utilised at left-back.

Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Kepa; James, Fofana, Silva, Cucurella; Fernandez, Kante, Kovacic; Mudryk, Havertz, Felix

Real Madrid possible starting lineup:
Courtois; Carvajal, Militao, Alaba, Camavinga; Modric, Valverde, Kroos; Rodrygo, Benzema, Vinicius Jr

Preview: Leeds United vs. Liverpool

At risk of going six games without a win for the first time under Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool make the journey to Elland Road to lock horns with Leeds United on Monday night.

Javi Gracia’s men were demolished 5-1 by Crystal Palace in their most recent fixture, while the Reds came from two goals down to hold Arsenal to a 2-2 draw at Anfield.

Match preview

Leeds United manager Javi Gracia reacts on April 1, 2023

An early Patrick Bamford effort would not be a sign of things to come for Leeds when Palace paid a visit to Elland Road last weekend, as Gracia’s side conceded just before the break to a Marc Guehi effort, and the floodgates opened thereafter for Roy Hodgson’s goal-happy Eagles.

A merciless second-half onslaught saw Jordan Ayew net twice alongside efforts from Eberechi Eze and Odsonne Edouard, and Michael Olise has been a prominent figure in Whites’ nightmares, unlocking Gracia’s permeable defence with ease to register three assists from open play in one game – the youngest in Premier League history to do so.

With none of Southampton, Leicester City or Everton winning on Saturday, Leeds retain a narrow buffer over the relegation places in 16th spot, albeit just two points clear of Nottingham Forest, who can leapfrog them with a shock triumph over Manchester United on Sunday.

Defeat to the Eagles was only Leeds’ second loss in their last five top-flight matches – and just a fifth defeat of the season at home – but the Whites’ rearguard have shipped at least two goals in four of those matches and possess the joint-second leakiest defence in the division, level with Nottingham Forest on 54 goals conceded and only better off than Bournemouth’s 57.

While acknowledging the dreadful manner of his side’s capitulation against Palace, Gracia insisted that his Leeds side can still beat “anyone” on their day, and backing up those bold comments with an immediate response against Liverpool would go some way to appeasing Elland Road faithful.

Liverpool's Roberto Firmino scores against Arsenal on April 9, 2023

Only the acrobatic excellence of Aaron Ramsdale denied Liverpool all three points in last weekend’s pulsating stalemate with Arsenal, who were on course to end their Anfield curse thanks to strikes from Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Jesus in the early exchanges.

It is fair to say that neither Liverpool nor the crowd had woken up before the final 10 minutes of the first half, but Mohamed Salah’s effort gave the Reds a glimmer of hope before Arsenal’s long-time nemesis Roberto Firmino headed home a late and thoroughly deserved equaliser.

During a relentless period of second-half pressure from the Reds, Salah missed a penalty and saw a deflected effort somehow kept out by the fingertips of Ramsdale, who also denied Ibrahima Konate at the back post with seconds remaining, and Klopp was left to rue what could have been only an hour after watching the Gunners carve his side open at will.

Liverpool enter Monday’s battle still entrenched in eighth place in the rankings, and with Brighton & Hove Albion and Aston Villa both winning on Saturday, the Reds cannot leapfrog any of their fellow continental challengers no matter what transpires on Monday.

While there were plenty of positives to take from their second-half display versus Arsenal, Klopp’s side have now failed to win any of their last five games – not since the Hodgson days of 2010 have they endured a longer streak without victory – and they still have just the three away wins to their name in the current Premier League season.

Furthermore, Liverpool’s sole home defeat in the league this term came against Leeds in dramatic fashion in October, but the Whites have failed to beat the Reds at Elland Road in the Premier League since 2000-01, where Mark Viduka single-handedly crushed the Merseyside club with four goals in a 4-3 spectacular.

Team News

Luis Diaz in action for Liverpool on September 13, 2022

Neither Stuart Dallas nor Tyler Adams will be in contention to return from thigh injuries for Leeds just yet, but Maximilian Wober has trained this week and will be given every chance to prove his fitness.

Gracia also revealed that some unnamed members of his squad were nursing physical problems, and while he refused to give any specific details away, changes should be in the offing after last weekend’s disaster class.

Wilfried Gnonto can surely look forward to a recall to the forward line, while Rasmus Kristensen, Liam Cooper and Rodrigo are also among the realistic options for change for Gracia.

Over at Anfield, Klopp revealed fresh concerns for Alisson Becker and Ibrahima Konate – who have both missed a couple of training sessions this week – but both integral defensive cogs should be put through their paces over the weekend and are expected to be fine for the match.

Monday’s game will also mark the long-awaited return of Luis Diaz from a serious knee injury – a spot on the bench awaits the Colombian – but all of Stefan Bajcetic (adductor), Naby Keita (muscle) and Calvin Ramsay (knee) are confined to the medical room.

Firmino’s crucial contribution against Arsenal is unlikely to be enough for a starting berth, but Thiago Alcantara and Darwin Nunez are primed to displace Curtis Jones and Diogo Jota respectively.

Andy Robertson will also start after clearing the air with official Constantine Hatzidakis over an alleged elbow in last Sunday’s draw – the FA have deemed that no action is necessary against Hatzidakis, and Robertson has accepted an apology.

Leeds United possible starting lineup:
Meslier; Kristensen, Koch, Cooper, Firpo; McKennie, Roca; Harrison, Rodrigo, Gnonto; Bamford

Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago; Salah, Gakpo, Nunez