Premier League Preview: Hull City vs. Newcastle United

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  • There have been 19 goals in the last five Premier League meetings between these teams.
  • Hull have won just two of their last 12 Premier League home games (D3, L7).
  • The Magpies have gone 10 league games without a clean sheet and they have conceded two or more goals in each of their last five league matches. (BBC Sport)

John Carver did just enough in his four games as caretaker manager.

Following the departure of former Newcastle boss Alan Pardew, who left for the managerial vacancy at Crystal Palace, the 50-year-old led the Magpies to one draw and three losses.

The defeats came against Chelsea, Southampton and Leicester City, and the first two results against top Premier League squads certainly were not detrimental to Carver’s incumbent status at the helm.

Now, the Englishman will remain manager until the summer, and he will face his first challenge in this role vs. Hull City on Saturday, where Newcastle will look to improve their mid-table 11th place spot.

[RELATED: Newcastle name John Carver interim manager until end of year]

Hull City haven’t mustered their best form lately, dropping three straight matches up to this point after an excellent victory over Everton on New Year’s Day.

The Tigers sit in danger of relegation at 18th place in the league tables, and any points in this match would help guide Steve Bruce’s side away from the depths of demotion.

[RELATED: Current Premier League standings | Premier League stats]

One target area of Hull in the transfer window has been the forward position, with the aim to bolster depth and scoring possibilities, and rumors linking the club to veterans Diego Forlan and Demba Ba attest to that intention.

Newcastle has trained their transfer eyes on youngsters, while also monitoring the possible departure Moussa Sissoko.

The upcoming match between these two outfits will be available for viewing at 7:00 AM ET on NBCSN, or online via NBC Sports Live Extra.

What they’re saying

Hull City manager Steve Bruce on players recovering from injury for match (Tigers official website): “It looks like we might have some back. We’ve been away for four or five days and managed to get some training into [Nikica] Jelavic, [Abel] Hernandez and [Andrew] Robertson. You can add [Gaston] Ramirez to that list too…It’s not ideal and we’d like another week for all of them if we’re being honest, but as long as they come through training today it looks as though they’ll be ok.”

Newcastle United interim boss John Carver on aims for season in charge (ESPN FC): “I’ve got enough belief in my ability…I think Lee [Charnley, chief executive] has come out and said our goal is to finish in the top 10. If we get ninth, eighth, or seven at a push, why not? We’ve got 16 games left and I’ve seen enough in the last three or four games, taking the cup game out of it, for us to go on a run.”

Match injuries/ absences

In some capacity, Hull City strikers Nikica Jelavic and Abel Hernandez are ready to take the pitch following injury absences. Andrew Robertson and Gaston Ramirez should also be available, while Alex Bruce (thigh) and James Chester (shoulder) are sidelined.

If fit enough to go, Newcastle striker Papiss Cisse will join his side after his country was knocked out of the Africa Cup of Nations. The Toons have Mehdi Abeid, Davide Santon and Gabriel Obertan back from injuries, too, as left-back Paul Dummett will probably sit out due to hamstring trouble.

Prediction

Assuming that Hernandez and Jelavic see limited roles in this one, the pacey Magpies have their best opportunity to snag three points since their contest against Burnley at the start of 2015. Hull City 1-2 Newcastle.

Leicester City’s Rodgers: ‘Good news’ on Vardy injury

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Brendan Rodgers says there’s good news when it comes to the injury suffered by Jamie Vardy in Leicester City’s 4-1 blowout of West Ham United on Wednesday.

Vardy hurt his glute in the win, temporarily returning to the match after treatment from the trainer but ultimately subbing off before halftime.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

“It wasn’t his hamstring, so that’s good news for us,” Rodgers said, via The Leicester Mercury.

“He just felt a twinge in his glute, so we just have to wait and see on that in the next day or so. Thankfully his hamstring is okay and he just felt some pain in his glute, so we will have to assess that over the next few days.”

Vardy has a Premier League-best 17 goals, one more than Man City’s Sergio Aguero.

He was replaced by Kelechi Iheanacho, who assisted one of Ayoze Perez’s two goals on the day. Perez’s seven goals are second on Leicester, while James Maddison‘s six are third.

Iheanacho has six goals and three assists in 485 minutes and there’s reason to believe he can feast off Leicester’s playmaking if Vardy needs a match or two to heal.

Whether he can fill Vardy’s shoes in the long-term is a big question, especially as Leicester aims to return for the Champions League.

Transfer rumor roundup: Willian Jose to Spurs, Bournemouth after Croatian CB

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London could get itself another Willian.

Willian Jose, 28, was left out of Real Sociedad’s squad at his request on Wednesday, with the club Tweeting that he’d prefer not to play until his situation is resolved.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

Jose Mourinho said he would not comment on another team’s players, but Willian Jose could help Spurs bridge the gap to Harry Kane‘s return.

Willian Jose has been a double-digit scorer for Real Sociedad in La Liga for the previous three seasons, and is well on his way to another 10-goal campaign. He’s got eight goals in 20 matches this season.

Bournemouth needs defensive help, and is reportedly rivaling Newcastle United and Blackburn Rovers for Portuguese giant Toni Borevkovic.

The 22-year-old Croatian has one goal in just over 3000 minutes with the side since arriving from domestic side NK Rudes.

He’s averaging 1.3 interceptions, .9 tackles, and 3.3 clearances per game in league play.

Rio Ave sits seventh in Portugal’s top flight and is managed by former Premier League boss Carlos Carvalhal.

Dropped points in Top Four race point to wild February

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Regardless of whether Wolves end Liverpool’s unbeaten Premier League season on Thursday, there will be five teams within seven points of fourth place heading into Matchweek 25.

Chelsea has 40, a comfortable-enough six-point lead on Manchester United, Spurs, and Wolves (who meet Liverpool at 3 p.m. ET Thursday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com). Sheffield United has 33 points.

February, specifically the next three matchweeks, will see the teams inside that group learn a lot more about their fates, and give Chelsea and Sheffield United big opportunities to cement their places in the Top Four and Seven, respectively.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

In the case of the latter, it’s because the Blades are the only team in the bunch who don’t face a Top Four six-pointer; Chris Wilder‘s men will meet Crystal Palace, Bournemouth, and Brighton, while the others will be beating up each other.

Chelsea’s path is fraught, but a big opportunity. The Blues travel to Leicester City before hosting both Manchester United and Spurs. Nine points there would effectively Top Four-proof Frank Lampard‘s side.

By the way, how’s this for a hot take? If any of Chelsea, Man Utd, or Spurs find their center forward or playmaker help in the window, they’ll have a leg up on their Top Four rivals. And, really, is that extra few million pounds worth the spoils of the Champions League? Yup.

Bruno Fernandes is not (yet) with United, and the Red Devils face Wolves and Chelsea in their next two matches. Spurs have City and Chelsea. Tumult is probable!

A draw with Newcastle and loss at Watford dampened Wolves’ hopes of riding into fourth. Beginning with Thursday’s visit from Liverpool, however, Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men face three of the Top Seven and then a visit from Norwich City. It’s not over.

And don’t entirely rule out Leicester City from dropping into the fray; The Foxes host Chelsea and Man City, and visit Wolves.

One more nod, however improbable: Arsenal sits 10 points back of fourth but meets Burnley, Newcastle, and Everton over those three match weeks. A perfect run could have the Gunners thinking big (Man City is after that, alas).

Matchday 25
Leicester City v. Chelsea
Crystal Palace v. Sheffield United
Manchester United v. Wolves
Spurs v. Man City

Matchday 25
Sheffield United v. Bournemouth
Wolves v. Leicester City
Chelsea v. Manchester United
Aston Villa v. Tottenham Hotspur

Matchday 27
Chelsea v. Tottenham Hotspur
Leicester City v. Man City
Wolves v. Norwich City
Sheffield United v. Brighton
Manchester United v. Watford

Spurs play Wolves the next week, too!

Mourinho: Spurs don’t have attacking depth, but do have ‘family’

Mourinho on Spurs win
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In this “whole new Jose Mourinho” world, the key word is family.

Mourinho said it six times in his post-match presser after Tottenham Hotspur scrapped to a 2-1 defeat of Norwich City on Wednesday in London.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Spurs had an early lead disappear when Ryan Sessegnon gave away a penalty to Max Aarons, and Teemu Pukki converted it for a 70th-minute deadlock.

Heung-Min Son scored nine minutes later. It was a win that is good for the whole family.

From Football.London:

“It was fantastic what happened after the 1-1, which happens in a difficult moment for us where I look to the bench and I don’t have attacking players to change the game the team is a little bit fatigued, especially Lucas, Son and of course Lamela. I took him off because he was in trouble and he is a player who is coming from very important and long injury, so very difficult.

“How can we change the game? With the family spirit, the family character and desire.”

Mourinho also praised Giovani Lo Celso‘s work on the wing for attack-short Spurs as “a good experience for the family,” and Paulo Gazzaniga‘s support for returned goalkeeper Hugo Lloris as “a good member of the family and he is such a special friend of Hugo.”

I mean, I’m getting the warm and fuzzies.

Clearly, Mourinho is stressing unity and there’s a bit of bunker mentality involved, as the manager mentioned some dicey calls not going their way against Watford, Liverpool, and now Norwich.