EPL action resumes as transfer window gossip goes into overdrive

On form: Hazard (centre) will be the man to watch when joint leaders Chelsea welcome Newcastle tonight.

Is Lionel Messi England bound? Will Swansea let Wilfred Bony go to Man City? Will Man Utd tie down David de Gea to a new longer deal in a bid to prevent Real Madrid from getting their hands on the 24-year-old Spanish keeper?

These are part of the talk flying around as the January transfer window opened last week and is due to close on Feb 2.

As the English Premier League action resumes after last week’s FA Cup third-round matches, there have been many talking points for fans to start the New Year.

Apart from the transfer window gossip, Steven Gerrard leaving Liverpool at the end of this season has dominated headlines of newspapers worldwide. The vacant spot for the manager’s seat at Newcastle is another hot topic with Ajax Amsterdam’s Frank de Boer favourite to take up the position.

As for Tiger FC fans, this week marks week two of the The Star-Tiger FC Real Pitch Contest. The question for this week is as below.

The contest gives readers and fans the chance to win a once-in-a-lifetime experience to watch a game in the UK and also to experience a viewing party at a pub in London. The grand-prize winner will be rewarded with a 4days/5nights all-expenses-paid trip to London to enjoy football like never before.

The contest, which started last week, runs for four weeks and requires fans to correctly answer a question each week about the English Premier League and complete a slogan in the last week in less than 20 words.

Contestants must send the answers to thestar.realpitch@tigerfc.com.my. The closing date to submit entries is Jan 27.

Earlier last month, Tiger FC launched a contest on its social media platform where fans were required to send a 15-second video on how they would “Uncage their passion for football” via Instagram and submit it by tagging @TigerBeerMywith the hashtags #TigerFC, #TheRealPitch and #UncageYourPassion.

All properly tagged entries were linked automatically to Tiger FC’s The Real Pitch Facebook Tab on its Facebook page. Fans could also share their entries from the tab’s gallery, and challenge their friends to submit an entry themselves.

Joint leaders Chelsea and Man City face tricky ties today against Newcastle and Everton.

Under-fire Everton manager Roberto Martinez will have something to prove to angry Toffees fans calling for his head as the Citizens visit Goodison Park.

Man City will still be without a recognised striker for today’s game with Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko out injured and will be further weakened with Yaya Toure away for African Cup of Nations duty with Ivory Coast.

Bony has been on City’s radar this week and it emerged this week that they were in advanced talks with Bony, who has been a prolific goal scorer since arriving at Swansea. Having roared back from a eight-point deficit on leaders Chelsea, a David Silva-inspired City will be favourites to come out tops today against an Everton team struggling for form and consistency.

Chelsea, meanwhile, entertain managerless Newcastle and will be determined to bounce back from their 5-3 reverse against Tottenham Hotspurs in their last league match. The Magpies inflicted a first league defeat for Chelsea in the reverse fixture a few weeks ago, so revenge will surely be on Jose Mourinho’s mind.

Chelsea this week has been linked with a £200mil (RM1.1bil) contract-release clause to sign Barcelona star forward Lionel Messi and it will be interesting to see if this materialises in the next few weeks.

John Carver has taken temporary charge of Newcastle after Alan Pardew left to join Crystal Palace and he started on a low last week as the Magpies were knocked out of the FA Cup by Leicester City.

Ajax’s De Boer is Magpies chairman Mike Ashley’s favourite to replace Pardew. No doubt, Eden Hazard and Co will be favourites today to get their title aspirations back on track with a comfortable win and Chelsea’s 11-in-a-row unbeaten run in all competitions at Stamford Bridge looks set to continue.

Third-place Man Utd entertain fourth-place Southampton tomorrow in this week’s tie of the round and fans can look forward to a potentially explosive match with the teams two Dutch managers controversial fallout likely to add spark to this game.

The Red Devils injury curse continued last week as Luke Shaw and Rafeal went off injured in their FA Cup win over Yeovil.

United have this week made an offer for German central defender Mats Hummels – but struggling Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund insist the 26-year-old is not for sale while former Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes has joined United on an 18-month contract.

The Saints will come to Old Trafford brimming with confidence after beating Arsenal 2-0 on New Year’s day so this points to a match not to be missed. Expect goals in this match with United to edge it and Angel De Maria to star for the Devils.

Meanwhile, for all you fans who want to be part of a dream trip to the UK to watch the EPL action, take part in The Star-Tiger FC Real Pitch Contest to stand a chance of being part of a trip to remember.

Watch out for week three’s question next Saturday. Enjoy your football and good luck!

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