Irvine facing selection headache
West Brom head coach Alan Irvine is facing a selection headache as he prepares for the visit of Burnley in the Premier League on Sunday.
Irvine made 11 changes for his side's 3-2 League Cup victory over Hull City on Wednesday, with Sebastian Blanco, Liam O'Neil and Cristian Gamboa among the players to make a big impression.
West Brom picked up an unexpected 1-0 win at Tottenham last time out in the Premier League, but Irvine says his cup contingent have given him plenty of food for thought.
"It was fantastic to build on a really good result at Tottenham and really important that the players who played on Wednesday gave me things to think about," he said.
"They certainly did that. To a man they can be really pleased with their performances and they have given me some selection issues to think about but they're the right selection issues because I’m looking at a whole load of players who have played well.
"It's also great for the mood of the camp because everybody has now played in a winning performance and hopefully we can now build on that on Sunday in what is a really important game."
The victory over Tottenham was West Brom's first of the new campaign and lifted them out of the bottom three.
Opponents Burnley, meanwhile, are still searching for their first win since gaining promotion from the Championship, but have shown signs of promise in three consecutive goalless draws.
Goalscoring certainly appears to be the primary issue for Sean Dyche's men, with Burnley having failed to find the net since Scott Arfield opened the scoring in a 3-1 defeat to Chelsea on August 18.
Burnley have not beaten West Brom at the Hawthorns since December 1969, but Dyche insists the past will have no bearing on this weekend's clash.
"You have to win games," he said. "The stats are irrelevant. I've said many times we use stats to be analytical about performances but things that have happened in the past have no representation on the future.
"We seemed to get that about every single team we played last year.
"Let’s just say we don't worry too much about what's happened in the past. We look forward to what we're going to do in the future."
Brown Ideye (ankle), Victor Anichebe (groin) and Chris Baird (illness) are all facing a race against time to be fit for West Brom.
Burnley will be without Matt Taylor (Achilles), Danny Ings (hamstring) and Sam Vokes (knee), while Kieran Trippier (groin), David Jones (thigh) and Dean Marney (hamstring) are all injury doubts.
Mazzarri´s men seek goalscoring touch against Cagliari
Walter Mazzarri will hope his demand for Inter to be more clinical will be put into action when they face struggling Cagliari on Sunday.
Mazzarri's men have enjoyed a strong start to the new Serie A season, taking eight points from their first four games while scoring 10 goals and conceding just one.
Seven of those goals came in a demolition of Sassuolo earlier this month but, following a 2-0 win over Atalanta on Wednesday, Mazzarri called for his side to be more ruthless in front of goal in order to sustain a challenge at the summit of the Italian top flight.
Cagliari should prove the ideal opposition for Inter to perfect their goalscoring touch given the dismal campaign the Sardinians have endured so far.
Zdenek Zeman's men sit at the foot of the table with one point to their name and have yet to keep a clean sheet.
The visitors' record at San Siro, where they have won just once against Inter in a 2-1 triumph in 1995, should give Mazzarri's side further reason for confidence, although they were held to 1-1 draws home and away by Cagliari last term.
For Zeman the frustrating wait for his first win since taking over at the Stadio Sant'Elia in July has been defined by a lack of killer instinct, something that was evident as Cagliari failed to build on Andrea Cossu's opener and slipped to a 2-1 home loss to Torino on Wednesday.
Czech coach Zeman left that encounter ruing what might have been but the former Roma boss remains confident that Cagliari have the quality to perform to a higher standard.
"The team has the quality to do well," Zeman said after the Torino defeat. "We must acquire more conviction and for this we have to work so hard."
Cossu, the 34-year-old midfielder who has netted two of Cagliari's three goals, will likely be looked upon to lead by example as Cagliari go in search of a rare triumph over Inter.
However, with strikers Pablo Daniel Osvaldo and Mauro Icardi having already found the net six times between them, Inter's forward line should be of greater concern to a team that finished a lowly 15th in the top tier last season.
Inter also have the benefit of a fully-fit squad, while Cagliari have no new injury concerns to worry about with midfielder and long-term absentee Sebastian Eriksson still on the sidelines due to a knee complaint.
Mirallas: We can beat Liverpool
Kevin Mirallas believes Everton can finally beat Liverpool at Anfield, with Brendan Rodgers' new-look side there for the taking.
Everton will make the short trip to Anfield on Saturday for the Merseyside derby, desperate to end 15 years of pain.
Roberto Martinez's Everton are without a win away from Goodison Park against Liverpool since September 1999.
However, Mirallas is confident Everton can end that drought following Liverpool's influx of close-season recruits, who are taking time to acclimatise to the Premier League.
"Liverpool are totally different this season, I think we can beat them this time for sure. They are really different to last season, with a lot of new players," said the Belgium international.
"I know myself how hard it is when you go to a new country. When I came here from Greece at first I struggled because the leagues are totally different – it's non-stop.
"They lost Suarez, who was the big player for them last season. They will be a different team against us; Liverpool have a new striker, a new defence, and that's very difficult for a team.
"Players need time when you go to a new club, so I think I tell you they're different from last season, like I say, with a lot of new players and we are confident."
Only one point separates Liverpool and Everton in the table, with both teams struggling for form after five rounds.
But Mirallas feels Everton are capable of kick-starting their campaign at Anfield, where they lost 4-0 last term.
"Last season was a really bad result against Liverpool - the derby was a real shock," he said.
"But things are very different for them, while we have the same players, the same squad.
“We are getting better. Players need time when you go to a new club."
Almeria vs Atl. Madrid: La Liga Preview
Atletico Madrid defender Miranda has expressed his concern about the number of goals his side have conceded in recent weeks.
The Primera Division champions head to Almeria on Wednesday in search of a morale-boosting win after drawing 2-2 with Celta Vigo in the league and losing 3-2 at Olympiacos in the Champions League, results which have provoked inevitable questions about the team's normally solid defence.
``It's not normal to concede five goals but we are working on it, we are working on what we did wrong in those two games and we're certain it's not going to happen again,'' Miranda told reporters.
Atletico have largely kept last year's title-winning back four intact, with just Filipe Luis leaving over the summer, but Miranda stressed that the entire team was responsible for defensive duties and pointed to the large number of changes in the squad as a whole.
``It affects us because the whole team defends, from the forwards to the attackers,'' said the Brazilian centre-back.
``When there are changes you lose a bit of the harmony you had before. I think that at the start of the season the group is still in formation, because important players have left and it's normal that when there are changes the team takes a while to react.''
The Brazilian pointed to inconsistency, citing the contrasting 2-1 wins over bitter rivals Real Madrid and lowly Eibar.
``We've played some good games such as against Madrid, and haven't played so well in other games, such as against Eibar,'' he said.
``That can happen at the start of the season but in two or three weeks we'll be better and we're going to start winning games again.''
The Brazilian also played down the significance of Atletico fans booing Diego Simeone's decision to replace Antoine Griezmann with Raul Garcia against Celta and backed Mexican forward Raul Jimenez, who was also the subject of boos from the Calderon faithful.
``It's normal that the fans are happy sometimes and not happy other times. But we are sure that everything we do is for the good of the team, sometimes the fans might not like it but that's expected,'' he said.
``It's normal for the fans to boo one day and applaud the next. They can boo me, (Diego) Godin or Raul Garcia and then applaud us immediately afterwards. You have to be patient. You win the fans over with hard work.''
Atletico are still without striker Mario Mandzukic while the Croatian recovers from a broken nose, and Cristian Rodriguez is also out with a calf injury.
Almeria meanwhile will be short of midfielders for the game at the Juegos Meditaraneos, where they beat Atletico 2-0 last season.
Thomas Partey is prevented from playing against parent club Atletico due to the terms of his loan deal, Corona remains out with a thigh injury and Sebastian Dubarbier is suspended after being sent off in the 2-1 win at Real Sociedad last weekend.
Ancelotti focuses on Real defence
Coach Carlo Ancelotti will switch his focus to improving Real Madrid’s defence after seeing his attack click into gear in stunning fashion over the last week.
Real came in for criticism following a disappointing start to the season which saw them lose two of their opening three Primera Division games, having also been beaten by Atletico Madrid in the Spanish Supercopa. However, 13 goals in their last two matches, thrashing Basle 5-1 and Deportivo La Coruna 8-2, suggests Real’s star-studded forward line is beginning to fire on all cylinders.
Ancelotti said ahead of tonight’s visit of Elche to the Bernabeu: “Right now, we have the same problems as last year, although our attack is better. Now the attack is good but we need to improve our defensive play.”
The top four in La Liga are all in action tomorrow night, where leaders Barcelona will look to continue their perfect start under Luis Enrique when they go to Malaga.
Barca have won all five of their competitive matches this season without conceding a goal, and Spain defender Jordi Alba admits it is nice to be on a high after the lows of the last year for club and country. He said following Sunday’s 5-0 mauling of Levante: “Last season wasn’t very good, either for me or for the team... it’s been some time since we’ve all been so happy.”
Barca are two points clear of Sevilla, who are at home to stuttering Real Sociedad, while third-placed Atletico travel to Almeria.
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