Stoke Appoint Michael O’Neill

Stoke City have appointed the Northern Ireland national team manager Michael O’Neill as their new manager, following the sacking of Nathan Jones.

O’Neill who lives in Edinburgh, was appointed last week following a dismal run of results for Stoke. The results have been declining way back to when Tony Pulis was at the helm.

Following Pulis’ departure from a then premier league outfit, Stoke have plunged like a stone almost to the bottom of the Championship, with a wretched run of results, which saw them win just 6 games in 38 under Jones.

So, will O’Neill be able to turn Stokes fortunes around?

At first glance, it would seem a strange appointment, given that his previous job in club management were with Brechin City in Scotland and Shamrock Rovers in Ireland, before taking the Northern Ireland managers role.

In terms of honours, he guided Shamrock Rovers to the League of Ireland Title and Northern Ireland to the Euro 2016 Championships, where they gave a good account of themselves.

He has good man management skills, and though he will continue to combine the Stoke Job with manageing Northen Ireland until their campaign ends in 2 games time, he seems to have had an influence on Stoke already after defeating Barnsley 4 ~2 away. Stoke were scoring for fun – when previously they had found goals hard to come by, not to mention results.

FOREST 1-0 DERBY

Nottingham Forest made it 3 consecutive east-midlands derby wins for the first time since 1990, by beating the Rams 1-0 at the City Ground. The win also means it is 8 consecutive visits and 7 years since Derby’s last win in Nottingham and keeps Forest in the Top 6 whilst Derby stay in the bottom half of the league table.

The goal came following a mistake by Derby right back Jaden Bogle, when a loose pass across his defensive line went straight to Grabban who smartly finished first time into the bottom corner. Grabban spoke about the goal:

“I had a little glance at where the keeper was and it looked like he hadn’t covered the near post so I just tried to aim for that and fortunately it went in.” He added: “The main thing was that we got the win. It was good for the fans, so I’m very happy. Their support gives us that little bit of a boost.”

In scoring, Grabban upped his tally for the season to seven, meaning he has now scored 80 times in the EFL since the start of the 2013-14 campaign, four more than any other player.

The match started evenly amid a raucous atmosphere at The City Ground and it was Forest keeper Brice Samba who was the first keeper called into action, doing well to keep out Tom Lawrence’s shot from inside the penalty area following a good run by Bogle. Lawrence was unsurprisingly constantly jeered by the home faithful following the drink driving scandal, however, he was probably Derby’s main threat and handled the reception well. That was until a second-half challenge on Yuri Ribeiro which he saw yellow.

It was extremely competitive, with both sides fighting for the ball and putting in committed challenges. Bogle and Ben Watson were both shown yellow cards for fouls on halfway, whilst Ryan Yates was somewhat fortunate not to be added to the list of booking’s following a challenge on Clarke, who had to be replaced.

Forest were effective in pressing the Derby backline and won the ball high up the pitch a few times, possibly leading to the goal. Forest’s best efforts in the first half both came from winger Sammy Ameobi who shot twice from the left-hand corner of the penalty area to force Derby Keeper Roos into decent saves.

The second half started with The Reds firmly in the ascendancy, applying plenty of pressure on the Derby goal. Several crosses were fizzed into the area, with only glancing headers from a Derby defender keeping the ball away from danger. It was just before the hour-mark when Derby were their own worst enemy in making the costly mistake which gave Forest the lead.

Forest sensed they could put the game beyond doubt as Derby were on the ropes following the mistake, but couldn’t find the second goal. Derby came back into the game towards the end and the closest they came to an equaliser was when Jack Marriott had a sniff of goal, but The Reds defended resolutely to hold onto their one-goal lead and claim a brilliant victory against their arch-rivals.

Man of the match

Tiago Silva – The Portuguese midfielder put in an outstanding performance, he had great energy, tenacity and put in some great tackles. Along with that, he showed his skill with some lovely touches to beat opposition players. When Silva was signed from Benfica in the summer many forest fans assumer he would an alternative to fellow Portuguese playmaker João Carvalho, however, he has shown he is a more all-round midfielder than João.

Forest head coach Sabri Lamouchi was delighted to claim victory in his second East Midlands derby of the season. Lamouchi was satisfied with his side’s second-half display which he believed was a marked improvement on the first 45 minutes. Speaking after the game, he said:

“It was a difficult, emotional game and maybe that is why we found it difficult in the first half. The second half was much better and fortunately, they made a mistake at the back and Grabbs produced another fantastic finish like the killer that he is. It was important for us to be compact, patient and focused and in the end, I think we deserved the victory because in the second half we went out for the three points. After the goal, I put more attacking players on the field to try and get that second goal but it wasn’t meant to be. It has been a good day, the perfect way to spend my birthday, and I am happy that our supporters could enjoy it too. When we play with this sort of attitude and character then we can always win games like this. We know we can still play better and control the ball better but it is important that we take three points when we don’t play at our best. It is a fantastic result and I’m happy because we’ve made our fans proud of the players. Now we can go into the international break with a positive mentality before we come back to play Bristol City.”

Norwich 0 Watford 2: Match Report

Carrow Road was the host to a game that, by the end of the season, could prove decisive in terms of Premier League survival.

Before the game, Norwich sat in nineteenth, losing six of their last eight games whilst the visitors were propping up the table but were on slightly better form. Three draws in their last five games meant the Vicarage Road faithful had something to cheer about.

The Canaries were unchanged from their 2-0 loss to Brighton which meant they still had clumsy defensive midfielder Tettey partnering Godfrey in defence.

As for Watford, they made three changes to the team that lost to Chelsea. The disappointing Masina was dropped and versatile Holebas came in. As for the Hornets other two changes, Gray and Chalobah were taken out of the side and in their place Capoue and Hughes.

Watford, boosted by the presence of Deeney on the bench after over a month out, took an early lead through former Barcelona fringe player Deulofeu.

Godfrey made an early burst forward, passed to Pukki who toe poked the ball to Buendia just inside the Canaries half. Buendia tried to Cruyff turn Deulofeu but he nicked the ball and the Spaniard had acres of green space for him to exploit, which he did. Once in the box, the winger come striker cut inside and shot past the despairing Krul.

The Hornets got off to the best possible start – silencing the nervous home crowd. The Canaries responded well with most of the play being inside the Hornets half.

Through ball after through ball fed Hernandez who was causing the Hornets defence havoc all night.

Despite all their dominance, the home side struggled to create chances in the opening half but did create one. Steipermann pushed the ball through to Hernandez who couldn’t quite get to it and Foster smothered the ball but it landed at the feet of Pukki who shot but Kabasele blocked.

The Canaries were pushing and pushing which was leaving huge wholes in the defence which the Hornets exploited on occasions.

The half ended 1-0 so a response was needed by the home side, the game went the other way though and Watford killed the game of just a few minutes after the restart.

Deulofeu skipped past Tettey who dived in and he put in a ball which initially got blocked. The ball rebounded straight back to him, he had another go and this time he was on the money putting in a delightful ball for substitute Gray to attack. Gray, who’s struggled for form in recent months backed heeled the ball bottom corner from six yards out. Krul was completely flat footed.

Wave after wave of disappointing Norwich attacks came and went without them creating any meaningful chances. Long shots from Lewis and McLean tested Foster but that’s about as much as they could muster.

The before mentioned havoc that Hernandez was causing the Hornets defence proved to be fatal for Kabasele as it meant the end of his night.

The defender kept fouling the winger and finally in the second half Kabasele got a yellow card for holding the pacy winger back with his shirt. Then twenty minutes later, Drmic and the Belgium found themselves in a race for the ball, a race which the fresher legged substitute won and in an attenpt to reach the ball fist, the clumsy centre back brought down Drmic for his second yellow.

The red card will matter more in the coming matches than it did against the Canaries as they still couldn’t create anything.

The match ended 2-0. A damaging loss for the already confidence lacking Canaries but a huge first win of the season for the visitors.

(Photo – Daily Mail)

Preview: Norwich City v Watford

Preview ahead of the Premier League clash on Friday evening…

NORWICH City host Watford in the Premier League clash on Friday evening, kick-off 8:00pm, live on Sky Sports.

The Canaries, who were promoted to the Premier League last season, will be hoping to return to winning ways following a 2-0 defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion last time out.

The Canaries are currently on a four game winless run and will be hoping to gain their first victory since  beating Manchester City on 14th September.

Watford, on the other hand, will be looking to gain their first league win of the season in Norfolk against a very tough Canaries outfit.

The Hornets, who recently hired a new manager, haven’t seen the bounce that often happens with a change of manager. They will be hoping their fortunes change soon…

Manager/head coach:

Norwich City: Daniel Farke

Watford: Enrique “Quique” Sanchez Flores

League position:

Norwich City: 19th

Watford: 20th

Top scorer:

Norwich City: Teemu Pukki (6)

Watford: Roberto Pereyra (2)

Head to head:

Norwich City Wins: 42

Draws: 29

Watford Wins: 27

Last five results (League Unless Stated):

11th May 2016: Norwich 4-2 Watford

5th December 2015: Watford 2-0 Norwich

21st February 2015: Watford 0-3 Norwich

16th August 2014: Norwich 3-0 Watford

24th September 2013: Watford 2-3 Norwich [League Cup]

Team News:

Norwich City: Midfielder Mario Vrancic is available for the first time since August after recovering from injury and then illness, whilst, Ibrahim Amadou and Todd Cantwell are now both fully fit and could start.

Watford: Troy Deeney (knee) is under consideration to face the Canaries after having a operation which kept him out of action since mid-August. Both Etienne Capoue and Ismaila Sarr have also returned to training after injury, while Craig Cathcart has recovered from a back spasm.

Who, What, Where, When, Channel:

Who: Norwich City v Watford

What: Premier League

Where: Carrow Road

When: 20:00

Channel: Sky Sports Main Event, Sky Sports Premier League, Sky Sports Ultra HD

Match Officials:

Referee: Andre Marriner

Assistants: Scott Ledger, Simon Long

Fourth Official: Keith Stroud

Video Assistant Referee: Andrew Madley

Additional Video Assistant Referee: Andrew Halliday

Super Frank Lampard wins Barclays Premier League Manager of the Month for October

On July 4, Chelsea brought a bit of nostalgia when they appointed Frank Lampard as the new manager on a three-year contract, making him the first English manager to manage the side in 23 years.

The club legend had not donned the club’s colours since he left in 2014 for a move to league foe Manchester City – much to the chagrin of some fans who did not want to see him in any other shade of blue. After finishing his playing career in the MLS for New York City FC, Lampard served as a team captain on the ITV sport panel show Play to the Whistle, until 2017. He was also a regular for BT Sport’s football coverage as well. In 2018, he was appointed as the manager with the Championship club Derby County, which begun his managerial career.

In Lampard’s first season at the helm for the Rams, he guided the club to the final of the Championship play-offs before ultimately losing to Aston Villa 2-1. However, his tenure at Derby was short-lived once his former club were searching for a new manager. Lampard is named among the top candidates for the open position.

When Lampard arrived at Chelsea, the team had ultimately lost their best player in Eden Hazard to powerhouse Real Madrid and had a transfer ban for the upcoming season. He had to use his best with what he had – a lot of young prospects and ageing veterans. His tenure for the Blues did not get off to the best start after they were clobbered by Manchester United at Old Trafford 4-0, the biggest defeat for a debut manager for the club since Danny Blanchflower’s squad in December 1978, who lost to Middlesbrough 7-2.

However, Lampard would not let that defeat define his first managerial season for his beloved club, and the squad took off after that horrendous performance. The squad started to show signs of improvement after the loss at Old Trafford, going 4-2-3 in all competitions in August and September. But October was when Chelsea took the world by storm with several strong performances, causing him to win the Barclays Premier League Manager of the Month.

The Blues had won all three of their league matches in the month of October, and this was just a sign of the improvements Lampard has made since his tenure for the club. The squad began their league play this past month cruising through Southampton with a 4-1 victory at St. Mary’s Stadium. They also had a nail-biting 1-0 win over Newcastle at home courtesy of a Marcos Alonso goal. Chelsea had finished their perfect month thanks to an astonishing performance from Christian Pulisic, whose “perfect” hat-trick led them to a 4-2 victory over Burnley at Turf Moor.

This season was an uncertainty for Chelsea fans, who had to deal with a transfer ban and the club hiring a manager with only one season of managerial experience under his belt. However, Super Frank has proved the doubters wrong with the choices he has made so far that has led his squad to be successful so far this season. Only time will tell if Lampard continues this success as a manager for his beloved club.

Friendly International: England vs Germany

Match Preview – Kick-Off 5:30pm Wembley

England’s women are aiming to put their recent poor form behind them by securing a first win on home soil against the two-time World Champions, Germany.

Saturday’s friendly at Wembley Stadium could see a record attendance for a women’s match in the UK with the 90,000 stadium expecting to be a sell out.

The FA will also use this fixture as an opportunity to honour former England women footballers at England’s home of football, where they never got a chance to play on. These players are expected to include former England Captain and current Manchester United Manager, Casey Stoney.

Previous Meetings

The Germans have largely dominated the rivalry between these two sides.  There have been 25 meetings in total and the Lionesses have lost 20 of them.

In the past four years however there has certainly been cause for optimism as England defeated Germany for the first time in a World Cup Third place playoff match 1-0 in Canada.

Phil Neville’s team have also achieved two draws in the past four years against Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s side including a 2-2 draw in the SheBelieves Cup back in March 2018.

Form of both teams

Post the World Cup England’s form has dipped.  Since their Third-place playoff defeat to Sweden Phil Neville’s side drew with Belgium 3-3, having at one point been 2-0 ahead mid way through the first half.  England subsequently lost back-to-back matches 2-1 to both Norway and Brazil.    They did however return to winning ways against Portugal last time out, on October 8th, thanks to a goal from Arsenal’s Beth Mead.

The German’s form by contrast has been formidable, since their World Cup Quarter-final loss to Sweden.   They have scored 31 goals already in their four European Qualifying games including a 10-0 win against Montenegro at the end of August.

Team News and Players to watch

England welcome back star forward Ellen White – who shared the golden boot with Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan, scoring six goals.  They will however be without Chelsea’s playmaker Fran Kirby and centre back Millie Bright through injury.  Other key players such as Jill Scott, Toni Duggan and Georgia Stanway will also be unavailable due to various injury problems.

The Lionesses will have to keep an eye on Freiburg’s Klara Buhl. The young forward has scored 6 goals in four matches in Germany’s Euro campaign, including a hat trick against Ukraine back in October.

Lyon’s Dzsenifer Marozsan is also regarded as an important player for this German side.  Marozsan has scored 32 goals in 96 appearances for the national team and has consistently proved to be one of the best playmakers in the women’s game over the past few years.

Key Stats

  • The first match between the two sides was played in 1984
  • England achieved their first draw with Germany in January 2007 – a goalless draw played in China.
  • Germany won the last match at Wembley 3-0 against England back in November 2014 in front of a then record crowd of 45,619.
  • Germany has won eight European Championships – six of those titles were achieved between 1995-2013 before World Cup runners-up, The Netherlands broke that dominance by winning the title in 2017.

Prediction

England 1-3 Germany

Can see a similar result to that of 2014 – the Lionesses still have a few important players missing and Germany’s form particularly in the past few months has been exceptional.

 

 

Another injury blow for City before the Liverpool clash?

Manchester City could be without Ederson going into Sunday’s clash against Premier League leaders Liverpool after the goalkeeper picked up a muscular injury during Wednesday’s match against Atalanta.

The Brazilian shot stopper was substituted at half-time of the Champions League fixture, and was replaced by 36-year-old Claudio Bravo, who was later sent off, forcing right-back Kyle Walker to finish the match in goal.

And City boss Pep Guardiola is unsure whether Ederson will be fit in time for Sunday’s crucial trip to Anfield.

“Honestly, right now, I don’t know.

“It’s a muscular problem. It was not big but [we took him off] to avoid risk. He didn’t feel comfortable in the last minutes and that’s why we decided to make a substitution.”

Manchester City managed to hold out for a 1-1 draw against Atalanta, despite Walker being summoned to play in goal for the final ten minutes.

The visitors got off to a quick start, taking the lead at the San Siro after just seven minutes – a slick passing move slotted home by English superstar Raheem Sterling.

City looked well in control and had the opportunity to double their lead just before half-time having been awarded a penalty, which Gabriel Jesus scuffed wide of the upright – a miss which proved costly, as Mario Pasalic levelled the scores the other side of the break.

Despite City’s continued possession dominance, they were unable to break through their host’s defence, before the game took an unexpected turn. The Blues replacement keeper Bravo was red carded for a challenge on Josip Ilicic, leaving Guardiola with no option but to place an outfield player between the sticks.

Ederson, if unavailable for Sunday’s match, will add to an ever-growing list of injuries for Pep Guardiola to deal with. Long-term absentees Aymeric Laporte and Leroy Sane remain sidelined, while David Silva, Rodri and Oleksandr Zinchenko are all set the miss out.

City travel to Anfield on Sunday afternoon to face Premier League leaders Liverpool, with kick-off scheduled for 16:30 GMT.

What do you think the outcome will be?

Wolves to move for 10 million pound striker in January?

Huddersfield Town striker, Karlan Grant, is reportedly linked to a move away from West Yorkshire in the upcoming January transfer window.

Interest comes from Premier league side Wolverhampton Wanderers. The fee is rumoured to be in the region of £10m.

Wolves have no concerns over goal scorers, with fan favourite Raul Jimenez sustaining his form from last campaign.

Karlan, 22, signed for Huddersfield Town in January 2019. The centre forward has exceeded all expectations since arriving in Huddersfield. Grant netted 4 times in 9 starts, as the Terriers Premier league stay came to an end.

Karlan has continued to impress this season, accumulating 9 goals in 15 starts, ranking him 4th in the top scorer charts in the Championship – helping The Terriers escape the relegation zone.

Huddersfield head coach Danny Cowley has claimed he is not uneasy about the recent reports, linking Grant with a move away from Huddersfield. In a recent interview, Cowley said ”We know that if we are able to get our players into a place where they’re playing at their best then they’re always going to attract interest.

Notwithstanding, the circulating story has not gone down well with Wolves fans. A substantial amount of Wanderers fans have taken to Twitter, to voice their displeasure. Huddersfield’s star striker has been deemed “not good enough” by the majority of the Wolverhampton fan base.

Do you think Karlan Grant would fit into the Wolves attack?

3 possible candidates for the Bayern job

Bayern München have sacked manager Niko Kovac following their 5-1 loss away to Frankfurt on Saturday. But who should replace him?

Bayern sit forth in the Bundesliga and top of their group in the Champions League so it has been in no way a failure of a season. With this in mind, who ever replaces him won’t have the biggest job on their hands to turn the Bavarians fortunes around. 

Arsene Wenger

The former Arsenal Premier League winner is one of the favourites to take the job. After spending twenty-two successful years at the Gunners, the seventy-year-old has spent the last few years being a pundit. But the mastermind that lead Arsenal to a whole season unbeaten could go back into management with one of the best teams in Europe.

Max Allegri

A more realistic and probably conventional option for the Bundesliga champions is Max Allegri. After being sacked in early 2019 by Juventus, Allegri has been without a job which is surprising considering his known quality. Allegri started his managerial career at Serie D side Aglianese and has never ventured out of Italy but with more experience of modern football and a more nailed down football style, he would be a much better acquisition. 

Jose Mourinho 

The Champions League winner is the bookies favourite to take the job but he has also been linked to the Arsenal job if Emery gets the sack. The former Manchester United man has publicly implied that he is looking for a job and Mourinho would fit the bill at the German club well.

 

Who ever takes the job has a great platform to build from. Bayern sit just four points behind top spot which isn’t a big deficit to make up over the rest of the season. Add in the form of Lewandowski and the arrival of young defenders Pavard and Hernandez and you’ve got some very big players with a bright future.

Premier League teams have two wins and two draws on Matchday 4 of Champions League

In Europe’s biggest club tournament, the Premier League has continued to stamp its mark on the event as their teams have shown strong performances through the four matchdays.

Reigning Champions League winners Liverpool defeated Belgian side Genk 2-1 courtesy at Anfield. These two teams had previously faced off against each other during Matchday 3, where Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s two-goal performance helped the Reds to a 4-1 win at Luminus Arena. Jürgen Klopp’s side took the lead in the 14th minute courtesy of a goal from Georginio Wijnaldum but allowed a goal from Mbwana Samatta to have a tied score halftime. Thirteen minutes late, Oxlade-Chamberlain continued his strong string of performances in the tournament with a game-winning goal. Liverpool, who are now in first place of Group E, will host Napoli on November 27 to get revenge after suffering a 2-0 loss at San Paolo Stadium.

Chelsea, who won the most recent edition of the Europa League, hosted a wild battle against Ajax at Stamford Bridge. The visitors, whose fans were not allowed to attend the fixture after crowd trouble in their match against Valencia, got off to a quick start after Tammy Abraham scored an own goal in the second minute, but Jorginho converted a penalty two minutes later. Later, in the 20th minute, Quincy Promes finished a cross from Hakim Ziyech to take the lead and increased the advantage before halftime thanks to an own goal from Kepa Arrizabalaga. Ajax continued to trample the Blues during the second half and had a three-goal lead after Donny van de Beek’s goal in what seemed like an easy victory for the Eredivisie side. However, goals from César Azpilicueta (63’), Jorginho (71’ PEN), and substitute Reece James (74’) helped the Blues tie this match, with Ajax down two center backs after red cards for Daley Blind and Joël Veltman. Frank Lampard’s side, who are second in Group H due to goal differential, will travel to Valencia on November 27 and hope to defeat the La Liga side after falling to them at home.

Manchester City were held to a 1-1 draw by Atalanta at the San Siro, but still remain in first place of Group C. City got off to a blazing start after Raheem Sterling, who had a hat trick in a span of 11 minutes the last time these two teams played at Etihad Stadium, scored a goal in the seventh minute. However, four minutes into the second half, Mario Pasalic, who is on loan from Chelsea, scored a header courtesy of a cross from Alejandro Gómez. The game took an interesting turn after subsitute goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, who came into the game after Ederson’s injury, was shown a red card in the 81st minute after a slide tackle on Josip Ilicic, causing right back Kyle Walker to step in goal during crunch time. Pep Guardiola’s squad will battle against Shakhtar Donetsk, who are in second for the group, on November 26.

Tottenham, the runners-up in last year’s edition of the tournament, cruised through Crvena zvezda with a 4-0 victory at Rajko Mitic Stadium. The Spurs got on the board in the 34th minute thanks to a goal from Giovani Lo Celso. In the second half, Tottenham’s Son Heung-Min scored two goals in a span of four minutes in his first match since he caused a severe injury to Everton’s André Gomes. Substitute Christian Eriksen sealed the game for the team with a goal in the 85th minute as they stand in second of Group B, behind German giants – Bayern Munich. Mauricio Pochettino will lead his team in a match against Olympiakos on November 26 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, hoping to improve from their 1-1 draw at Karaiskakis Stadium during Matchday 1.

The Premier League has continued to show a strong string of performances in the Champions League, with hopes that they can have a team in the league win the biggest club tournament in Europe.

Which English side will get furthest in this years competition?

Nikola Kovac sacked! Who should replace him?

Bayern München have sacked manager Niko Kovac following their 5-1 loss away to Frankfurt on Saturday. But who should replace him?

Bayern sit 4th in the Bundesliga and top of their group in the Champions League – so it has been in no way a failure of a season. With this in mind, who ever replaces him won’t have the biggest job on their hands to turn the Bavarians fortunes around. 

Arsene Wenger

The former Arsenal Premier League winner is one of the favourites to take the job. After spending twenty-two successful years at the Gunners, the seventy-year-old has spent the last few years being a pundit. But the mastermind that lead Arsenal to a whole season unbeaten could go back into management with one of the best teams in Europe.

Max Allegri

A more realistic and probably conventional option for the Bundesliga champions is Max Allegri. After being sacked in early 2019 by Juventus, Allegri has been without a job which is surprising considering his known quality. Allegri started his managerial career at Serie D side Aglianese and has never ventured out of Italy but with more experience of modern football and a more nailed down football style, he would be a much better acquisition. 

Jose Mourinho

The Champions League winner is the bookies favourite to take the job but he has also been linked to the Arsenal job if Emery gets the sack. The former Manchester United man has publicly implied that he is looking for a job and Mourinho would fit the bill at the German club well.

 

Who ever takes the job has a great platform to build from. Bayern sit just four points behind the top spot which isn’t a big deficit to make up over the rest of the season. Add in the form of Lewandowski and the arrival of young defenders Pavard and Hernandez and you’ve got some very big players with a bright future.

Chelsea continue Premier League winning streak with victory at Watford

Frank Lampard and Chelsea were able to stretch their winning streak in the Premier League to five games after a 2-1 victory against Watford at Vicarage Road on November 2nd.

Chelsea got off to a hot start as Tammy Abraham struck a right footed shot from the center of the box thanks to a through ball from Jorginho. This goal for Abraham tied him among the Premier League leaders in scoring this season with nine, with a whopping seven of his strikes coming away from Stamford Bridge, which is top in the league.

The game started to die down for the Blues and Watford were able to catch up. However, Chelsea did have a few opportunities to score before goalkeeper Ben Foster made four saves before halftime. The opportunities for Chelsea that were saved by Foster came in the 18th minute from a right footed shot from Tammy Abraham, a 19th minute header from a Christian Pulisic header off of a corner kick from Willian, a left footed shot from Willian in the 30th minute, and a right footed shot from Mason Mount in the 43rd minute. A somewhat busy half for the English Shot-stopper.

After halftime, Chelsea had a great chance right off the gate to increase their advantage through a Mason Mount left footed shot, but Foster was there to save the Hornets from a two-goal deficit. However, the Blues were able to capitalize in the 55th minute after Christian Pulisic’s fourth goal in the last two league games courtesy of a pass from in-form Abraham.

Foster continued his great performance in goal, making three more saves to keep Watford in the game. The English goalkeeper had saved shots from Pulisic in the 55th minute, Kovacic in the 62nd minute, and Mount in the 73rdminute as he accumulated eight saves in the loss.

Watford came back after falling down 2-0 thanks to a controversial penalty call. After match referee Anthony Taylor had ruled a no call on Jorginho’s challenge on Gerard Deulofeu, VAR referee Mike Dean ruled it a penalty. Deulofeu was able to score from the spot in the 80th minute as the Hornets were only down by a goal.

The Hornets had a chance to get a point from this match in the seventh minute of extra time thanks to a header from a surprise candidate – Foster- but Kepa Arrizabalaga saved the shot from entering the right corner. The save ultimately saved Chelsea from suffering a heartbreak and sealed another three points for Lampard’s team.

Chelsea will look to continue their strong form on November 9th at home against Crystal Palace. Meanwhile, Watford, who remain the only winless squad among the top 5 leagues in Europe, will face off against Norwich City on November 8 at Carrow Road.

(Photo – Daily Express)

Women’s Super League Round Up: Week Five

Chelsea became the new leaders of the Women Super League following the completion of the fifth round of fixtures.

Emma Hayes’ side claimed a hard fought 3-1 win at West Ham United’s Rush Green Stadium.

Arsenal meanwhile bounced back from their defeat against Chelsea last time out, by overcoming title rivals Manchester City at Meadow Park 1-0, ensuring that City lost their perfect winning start to the campaign.

A bad week for Nick Cushing’s side was compounded in the Champions League, where Spanish side Atletico Madrid eliminated City 3-2 on aggregate.

Elsewhere, Casey Stoney’s Manchester United made it three wins in a row by claiming a 2-0 victory over Reading.

Merseyside club, Everton returned to winning ways against Hope Powell’s Brighton and newly promoted Tottenham Hotspur emerged victorious in the West Country against Bristol City.

The final games of the day saw Liverpool’s early season struggles continue as they slumped to a 2-0 defeat against Birmingham City.

Sunday 27thOctober results

Everton 2-0 Brighton & Hove Albion

 Manchester United 2-0 Reading

 Birmingham City 2-0 Liverpool

 Arsenal 1-0 Manchester City

 Bristol City 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur

 West Ham United 1-3 Chelsea

 Ji So-Yun fires the Blues top

Chelsea had to come from 1-0 down to defeat their London rivals, West Ham United.

Canadian striker, Adriana Leon gave the Hammers a shock lead with her first touch after coming on as a 58thminute substitute.

Welsh Captain, Sophie Ingle however equalised for the West London club ten minutes later with her second goal of the season.

Two minutes later, Ji-So Yun completed the turn around, firing in a stunning 20-yard strike past American goalkeeper Courtney Brosnan, before Drew Spence secured the victory in the fifth minute of stoppage time.

First league defeat for Manchester City

Vivanne Miedema scored her first ever goal against Manchester City with a clinical right-footed finish just before half time. This goal consigned Nick Cushing’s team to a first league defeat of the season.

The Gunners were worthy winners and could have added more to the one goal that they scored as Scottish international, Lisa Evans struck the cross-bar in the second half, while midfielder Jordan Nobbs and Beth Mead also wasted good chances.

The Red Devils make it three in a row

A Kirsty Hanson volley and a composed one-on-one finish from substitute Jessica Sigsworth, five minutes from the end secured victory for Manchester United over Reading.

Casey Stoney’s newly promoted team continue to impress in their first Super League campaign as they now gained nine points out of a possible 15 as well as a 2-0 victory over fierce rivals, Manchester City in the Continental Cup.

Pressure mounts on two time Super League winners

Birmingham City earned their first league win of the campaign at Damson Park against former two time winners of the Super League, Liverpool.

The Blues secured a 2-0 victory thanks to goals from defender Kerys Harrop, who headed in England midfielder Lucy Staniforth’s free kick. Stainiforth then completed the scoring with curling left footed finish seven minutes from the end.

This latest defeat for Vicky Jepson’s side sent them bottom of the table and they are still without a win in the WSL, with only one point from their opening five matches.

Toffees return to winning ways and Spurs triumph in the West Country

The final two matches saw Everton end a two match losing run as they beat Brighton 2-0 thanks to a fourth goal in five matches from striker Chloe Kelly and a header from on loan Manchester City defender, Esme Morgan.

Finally Tottenham Hotspur secured their third league victory of the season with a 2-1 win over Bristol City.

Abi Hasson had initially put the hosts, Bristol City ahead in the ninth minute following a goalmouth scramble. The West Country Club however are still looking for their first win of the season, thanks to two goals from Tottenham’s new striker, Kit Graham

What next?

The Women Super League takes a break for the next few weeks with the next round of fixtures not due to take place until Sunday 17thNovember. 

There are however tantalising England international fixtures.  The Three Lionesses first take on former World Champions, Germany in a sold out match at Wembley Stadium on Saturday 9thNovember. This is followed by a trip to face the Czech Republic on Tuesday 12thNovember.

England Women’s International fixtures

Saturday 9thNovember

England vs Germany Kick-off (5:30pm)

Tuesday 12thNovember

Czech Republic vs England (7:15pm)

(Photo – Chelsea FC)

Is Maddison the man for Ole?

James Maddison is continuing to impress at Leicester and is looking more and more like the finished article and one of the elite play-makers in the country. And with United’s current plight, Maddison seems like the perfect fit to come in and save their season.

The attacking midfielder showed flashes of his brilliance last season playing 36 games and getting seven goals and seven assists in his first season in the top flight. With Claude Puel getting the chop in February, Brendan Rodgers has come in and turned the foxes around with some shrewd signings and inventive tactics. Rodgers’ arrival has also seen Maddison step up his game with goals against Liverpool and Spurs as well as an assist against Chelsea, Maddison has become a big game player.

Maddison is Leicester’s most creative midfielder, has a brilliant eye for a pass and can score goals in or outside the box. Add this to his brilliant dead-ball and dribbling skills and it is tough to find an area of his game that needs significantly improving.

Brendan Rodgers’ has pushed Maddison back slightly into a number eight role, giving him more defensive responsibility and requiring him to work for the team more. Maddison has taken to this new role like a duck to water and it has also seen him get on the ball more and dictate play.

United are currently crying out for a creative midfielder with the absence of Paul Pogba, and on paper Maddison seems like the perfect option to bring in. Ole seems to be clinging onto the job by the skin of his teeth and it is almost inevitable that he or whoever is in the Old Trafford hot seat in January will be given money to spend to improve a squad that has looked a million miles away from challenging for the top four this term.

But then begs the question, why would Maddison leave Leicester for United? Right now Leicester have a much better squad and manager than United, and it’d take a minor miracle for United to finish above them this season considering they are seven points behind after ten games.

United have always been able to attract the very best and despite not being in a great place over the past few years, have not lost that pulling power that has seen the likes of Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Alexis Sanchez turn down bigger money to join the Red Devils. And with Maddison being a United fan as a boy, that could be a key factor in whether he makes the move this winter.

Report: Sheffield Wednesday 0-0 Leeds United

SHEFFIELD Wednesday and Leeds United played out a goalless draw at a wet Hillsborough on Saturday afternoon.

The Owls and The Whites who are both going for automatic promotion this season cancelled each other out as they had to settle for a point a piece following a 0-0 draw.

It was the hosts who had the games first chance, midfielder Adam Reach, was played through on goal but was denied by a good stop from Leeds keeper’ Kiko Casilla, who raced out of goal to make the stop.

Reach almost got in again after good play from Steven Fletcher, but this time, defender Ben White made a good block to keep his shot out.

It was the Owls who continued to press, Kadeem Harris’ cross found Liam Palmer on the edge of the area, but his effort from 25 yards was brilliantly saved by Casilla before it went behind for a corner.

Leeds’ first chance came when Helder Costa broke into the Sheffield Wednesday’s box and saw his cross cleared for a corner, from the set-piece, defender Luke Ayling couldn’t get his strike away.

Inside the 23rd minute, Costa set up Ezgjan Alioski but his effort from 20-yards was too high and over the top.

With the half drawing to a close both sides won free-kicks. First it was the hosts, but Barry Bannan’s free-kick was poor and easily claimed by Casilla. At the other end, Patrick Bamford was felled by Atdhe Nuihu, but Kalvin Phillips’ delivery wasn’t one of his best and the Owls cleared.

Soon after the first booking of the game arrived when Joey Pelupessy was cautioned for a foul on Costa, before Casilla was forced into action.

Fletcher tried his luck from 25-yards but the Spaniard was equal to it to make a brilliant save, at the other end, Jack Harrison crossed brilliantly for Bamford but only for a superb save from Keiren Westwood kept the scores level.

Half Time: Sheffield Wednesday 0 – Leeds United 0

It was the hosts who started the brighter after the restart, winning a free-kick 25-yards out, Bannan’s effort from the set-piece struck the wall.

Leeds’ first attempt of the second half came on the 50th minute, Harrison to Phillips to strike from 25-yards but his curling effort isn’t far away from finding the top corner.

The Owls’ next move saw Bannan’s lovely centre reach Fletcher but he can’t convert, at the other end, Eddie Nketiah’s effort was thwarted by Westwood. The chances for both teams were pouring in.

Leeds went close to opening the scoring, Nketiah did brilliantly down the left, as he broke into the box, cut back for Harrison whose effort was cleared off the line by Morgan Fox, crossed back in where Alioski sees an header come back off the post.

Harris’ cross-cum-shot was superbly tipped around the post by Casilla who then made another brilliant stop to deny Nuihu.

That was the last meaningful action for either side in the contest, as they kept the pressure on West Bromwich Albion at the top of the Championship.

Full Time: Sheffield Wednesday 0 Leeds United 0

Sheffield Wednesday: Keiren Westwood, Liam Palmer, Morgan Fox, Kadeem Harris, Steven Fletcher, Barry Bannan, Joey Pelupessy (Kieran Lee 84’), Adam Reach, Atdhe Nuhiu (Fernando Forestieri 86’), Sam Hutchinson, Dominic Iorfa. Subs: Cameron Dawson, Sam Winnall, Jordan Thorniley, Jacob Murphy, Moses Odubajo.

Goals: None
Booked: Joey Pelupessy (Foul), Kieran Lee (Foul)

Leeds United: Kiko Casilla, Luke Ayling, Ben White, Patrick Bamford (Eddie Nketiah 45’), Ezgjan Alioski, Stuart Dallas, Helder Costa (Liam Cooper 76’), Jack Harrison, Kalvin Phillips, Gaetano Berardi, Mateusz Klich. Subs: Kamil Miazek, Tyler Roberts, Robbie Gotts, Leif Davis, Jack Clarke.

Goals: None
Booked: None

Referee: Tim Robinson
Assistant Referee: Ian Cooper and Mark Jones
Fourth Official: David Webb

Attendance: 27,516

Captain America arrives in England: The impact of Pulisic’s big day at Burnley

It was the 60th-minute in a CONCACAF Nations League match between host Canada and the U.S. at BMO Field in Toronto on October 15. U.S. National Team head coach Gregg Berhalter was substituting D.C. United’s Paul Arriola into a tied game at zero, but it was for the “wonder boy” – Christian Pulisic. As Pulisic headed toward the bench, the TV cameras caught his frustrations and how emotional he was to be taken off in a game in which the U.S. would end up losing 2-0, the first time the national team had lost to Canada since 1985. But, was the disappointment Pulisic faced ended up igniting a fire in him?

Since returning back to England after the U.S. were upset, Pulisic has been on a tear for Chelsea. In Pulisic’s first game since the international break, he provided the game-winning assist to Marcos Alonso in the 73rd-minute after coming on to the pitch nine minutes before in a 1-0 victory over Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge. Later, in a mid-week Champions League matchup against Ajax at the Johan Cruijff ArenA, Pulisic provided an assist to fellow substitute and former Borussia Dortmund teammate Michy Batshuayi in the 86th-minute to help the team take a first-place spot in Group H. However, Pulisic’s biggest impact for the Blues was in his first Premier League Start since August 31.

Pulisic, who had been providing some help as a substitute in recent matches, was given the nod by coach Frank Lampard to start against Burnley, who were in 7th place in the league at the time the match was played. The young American made an immediate impact in his start as he opened up the scoring for Chelsea with a goal in the 21st-minute for his first Premier League goal. 

However, the most expensive American soccer player was not done as he would score another goal – with the help of a deflection from Ben Mee – to help the Blues have a two-goal lead heading into halftime.

The perfect hat trick – a goal with the left foot, right foot, and header – was sealed for Pulisic as he headed in a cross from Mason Mount in the 56th-minute to become the youngest in Premier League history with a hat trick (21 years, 38 days) to help Chelsea to a 4-2 victory at Turf Moor.

            This game for Pulisic also made him just the second U.S. player to score a hat trick in the Premier League since Clint Dempsey was able to accomplish that feat on January 21, 2012 as Fulham defeated Newcastle 5-2.  Pulisic was also the first Chelsea player to have a perfect hat trick since club legend Didier Drogba’s big game against Wigan on May 9, 2010 in an 8-0 victory to help the Blues clinch their third Premier League title. 

With pressure coming from every direction, from U.S. soccer fans to different media outlets, it looked as if it was taking a toll on the $73 million American sensation out of Hershey, Pennsylvania. Some were already labeling this move bust and wondered if Pulisic would ever break through with the squad after a tough start to the Premier League season, ignoring the fact that he is a mere 21 years of age. However, Pulisic ignored the banter and did not try to emulate the guy he supposedly was brought in to replace – Eden Hazard- but focused on being the best player he could be. With this game against Burnley, the future is bright for Captain America as he attempts to take the league by storm.

Photo – Metro, CBS, Sky.

Southampton concede nine on home turf!

Have you ever played one of your ‘non-football’ friends on FIFA..?

Leicester ran riot in the torrential rain last night as the Foxes put nine past Southampton at the St Mary’s stadium, sending shockwaves through the world of social media.

Southampton have one of the leakiest defences in the Premier League, and after last night’s mauling they’ve conceded twenty-five goals this season. That dreadful defence was exposed to the full as Leicester’s exiting, attacking football tore the Saints defence to shreds.

Southampton started with a 3-5-2 formation which turned into a 5-4-1 almost instantly. It was clear from the first whistle that the home team’s game plan was to defend, aiming to get a vital point. However, Leicester had no trouble breaking down Southampton’s defence.

Leicester’s quick one touch football, which has been refined to perfection under Brendon Rogers, dominated the game, not letting Saints venture out their own half.

From the kick off, the Foxes were straight on the attack with Tielemans on the edge of the box. The Belgian tried to win a free kick but referee Andre Marrinner saw nothing and Leicester were away with the ball.

Not long after, Leicester scored their first through the unlikely source of Chillwell. After Bertrand lost the ball to Perez, Ndidi picked the ball up and played it square to the eighteen yard box to Maddison who let it run to Chillwell. The left back fired the ball in from the edge of the box to Barnes who shot but Gunn saved. The keeper parried the ball right into the path of Chillwell who had an open goal.

The goal also saw VAR executed to perfection for one of the first times this season. Bertrand put in a static tackle with his studs going straight into the side of Perez’s leg. It was undoubtedly a red card and a quick check later, the red card was shown. Quick and the right outcome without debate – finally it appears that the Premier League have sorted VAR ou…lets try not to speak too soon.

Seven minutes later, Tielemans hammered home the nights second after super play on the wing by Barnes. The young winger put a ball in most likely intended for Maddison but Valery intercepted but the ball landed at the feet of Teilmans and from fifteen yards out, he wasn’t going to miss, and didn’t.

Not even two minutes later, Perez netted for the first time in a Leicester shirt. After a quick one two with Tielemans, the Spaniard shot low to Gunn’s left and despite the keeper getting a touch, it ended in the back off the net. The game was beyond Southampton after just twenty minutes.

Twenty minutes later, Perez grabbed his second of the game. He found himself unmarked at the back post and he could hardly miss after a beautiful cross by England left back Chillwell.

The Foxes weren’t even finished for the first half yet though. Leicester aren’t going to get a hat full of goals without Vardy joining the party. The cross came in from Chillwell, again, and Romeu headed the ball right to the feet of Vardy who after some pretty footwork, beat Gunn easily.

Hassenhuttl’s men were having a nightmare losing 5-0 at half time. The Saints manager could have shut up shop and stopped it from being a mauling but he stayed with the same system and it definitely didn’t work.

With a half empty stadium at the kick off of the second half (mainly due to people leaving, not missing kick off due to queues at the food kiosks) Leicester were in the mood to make this a night to remember.

It only took ten minutes of the second half for Perez to bag the match ball. Poor defending from Yoshida keeping the run of Perez on side, Perez has the six yard box to himself to pick his spot and he did just that.

Less than a minute later, number seven came. Who else but Chillwell crossed straight to the head of Vardy who bagged his second of the night.

It was starting to get boring for neutrals, but not for the Leicester fans who were celebrating every goal like their first. Empty seats outnumbered the the occupied ones by this point in the home end. The game was getting beyond embarrassing.

After a time without the Foxes finding the net, Maddison got the pick of the bunch. A free kick from twenty yards out buried top corner. Gunn didn’t even get close.

One more for the Foxes to equal the record for the biggest Premier League win and Vardy grabbed it. After a brilliant through ball, Vardy was through and looked certain to make the record. He was brought down in the box – penalty. And we all know Vardy doesn’t miss penalties – he became the second to grab a hat trick.

It ended 9-0, a Brendon Rogers masterclass. You could call it pathetic fallacy for Southampton – a poor performance on a horrible night. A big job for Hasenhuttle to turn this poor form around as the Saints currently sit in the bottom three on goal difference.

A poignant night for Leicester as it marked the one year anniversary of the death late owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.

The Foxes are now firmly resting in the UCL qualification places, and quickly found themselves in second place before Manchester City defeated Aston Villa.

(Photo – Planet Football)

Roma for Rodwell?

Jack Rodwell is reportedly in Italy ahead of a shock medical at Roma. 

Rodwell was a promising youngster starring for Everton at just sixteen years old. The England international was playing for Everton u18’s at just fourteen years old before making his first team debut in the Europa League against AZ.

After two impressive seasons at Goodison Park, Manchester City came calling and the Sky Blues got their man for a large £15million. Unluckily for the versatile defender, his time at the Etihad was scuppered by injuries and he was moved on the then Premier League strugglers Sunderland.

The Black cats acquired his services for around £10million in 2014. The twenty-eight-year-old stayed at the Stadium of Light for four years making sixty-seven appearances in the process. Despite spending four years at the club, it was relatively unsuccessful spell and he was released in 2018. Then, he joined Blackburn on a free and he impressed but was left without a club this summer.

So, after failing to impress since his time at Everton, it is a bit of a shock the Roma have come calling. Roma aren’t famed for having a great defence but even still, Rodwell is a shot in the dark.

If he rediscovers his form and stays clear of injury, can he become a top Serie A player?

Club World Cup, whats new?

The club world cup is undergoing a shake up currently that will see the competition go from seven teams to twenty four starting from 2021. The competition will run every four years and include eight teams from Europe, six from South America, three each from Africa, Asia and North America and one from Oceania, however Many European heavyweights have threatened to boycott.

Being held in the summer months this would significantly impact the European calendar as it would mean players would have to finish a long gruelling season only to have to play more games in the time they should be resting and recuperating.

The European Club Association (ECA) have written a letter to Uefa saying they are firmly against the idea and confirmed that no ECA clubs would be involved. With the potential lack of European clubs this instantly devalues the competition, as how can you have a Club World Cup without arguably the strongest sides in the world?

To further increase the backlash the first edition will be held in China, a place that has seen a multitude of protests and other issues over the past 12 months and right now is in no position to be hosting a global sporting event.

With all its issues and problems, the basic idea of having an expanded Club World Cup featuring all the best teams across the globe to determine who is the best team on the planet sounds good on paper. But logistically the tournament is always going to struggle as long as the different continents have their own football calendars.

The current tournament is well respected outside of Europe and is seen as a very big deal, it has just simply never interested European fans and has often been seen as a distraction to the domestic and Continental campaigns.

After an already shaky beginning can the expanded Club World Cup survive? and possibly outgrow its previous forms?

 

Premier League teams go undefeated on Matchday 3 of Champions League

All four Premier League teams participating in Europe’s biggest club tournament were victorious during their Matchday 3 games on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Manchester City were able to cruise by Atalanta with a 5-1 victory to claim their third win in Group C. After Ruslan Malinovskyi converted a penalty in the 28th minute to silence the crowd at Etihad Stadium, Sergio Agüero scored two goals in a four-minute span to help City have a one goal lead heading into halftime against the Serie A candidate. City were able to steamroll Atalanta after Raheem Sterling continued his excellent form for the reigning-Premier League Champions, scoring a hat-trick in a span of 11 minutes. However, young talent Phil Foden will miss their rematch at Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia on November 6 as he received a red card.

Tottenham, after only accumulating one point in their first two matches of the Champions League a year after making it in the tournament’s final, was able to handle Crvena zvezda at home with a 5-0 victory. Spurs, who were embarrassed at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium last time after suffering a brutal 7-2 loss at the feet of Bayern Munich, were able to bounce back thanks to braces from Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son and a goal from Erik Lamela. The reigning-Champions League Runners-up will host Olympiacos on November 26, where they hope to avenge a 2-2 draw during Matchday 1 at Karaiskakis Stadium.

Chelsea, who won the Europa League last season, were able to have their second straight shutout in all competitions as they defeated surprise semi-finalists from last year’s edition of the tournament – Ajax. The fans in Johan Cruijff ArenA were stunned after a late goal from Michy Batshuayi, thanks to an assist from fellow substitute Christian Pulisic. The stadium was rocking as they thought Quincy Promes scored in the 35th-minute before VAR overturned the goal. The Blues will face off against Ajax during Matchday 4 at Stamford Bridge on November 5, hoping to seal another three points and hold sole possession of first place in Group H.

Liverpool, the reigning champions of the event, defeated Genk 4-1 at Luminus Arena. The team got off to a hot start after a goal in the 2nd-minute by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who ended up with a two-goal performance. Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah also scored in the game as they end the first set of matches in second behind Group E leader’s Napoli. Liverpool will face Genk in their next match of the Champions League on November 5 at Anfield.

The Premier League was fortunate to have two of its teams to be in the final of the Champions League last season, and Matchday 3 proved to be another step in the league’s success at the world’s biggest stage for the world’s most popular sport. But which Premier League team will go the furthest?

(Photo – MEN)

Is 3 5 2 The New 4 4 2?

This post looks at the emergnce if that is the right word of the 3 5 2 Formation.

Is it the new  4 4 2, which in recent years has become our default, almost formation in the English league?

The 3 5 2 Formation is not exactly new, and has been employed by a number of foreign coaches over the years, with great success.

How it works, is like this and it is accepted that there are variations of the formation, according to the coach or manager employing the tactic.

With that in mind, lets look at some of the teams who use this formation:

Accrington Stanley

AFC Wimbledon

Wolves

Newcastle United

Sheffield United

Czech Republic

MK Dons

The formation relies on the use of very speedy, and effective wingbacks.

Those Wingbacks can either be, Wingers, or they can fullbacks pushed up operating as wingers. Ashley Young is a great example of a winger turned full back over time.

If you are using fullbacks pushed up as wingers, then effectively you are leaving wingers redundant, which is in the case of AFC Wimbledon, who use 3 Central Defenders, primarily because Wally Downes who implemented the system is a defensive coach, so you could almost say he was using a 5 3 2 version, though that is digressing from the point.

The general idea is to play two full backs and one central defender, so that you keep the players positionally as close to their favoured posistion as possible, without too much disruption to the team flow.

The 3 5 2 offers a lot of flexibility to the changing needs as the game unfolds, compared to other formations, such as the 4 2 3 1, or the 4 3 3.

Wolves and Sheffield United are two great examples of this, because both clubs, have progressed through the English Football League Championship and now are in the premiership playing this formation.

It is a system that is very difficult to play against, because when it works well, the team employing it, very often outnumber the defensive team and always have the flanks overloaded through the use of the over lapping ‘outer’ defenders.

This is the reason, that Arsenal, struggled last night against Sheffield United, England came unstuck in their recent match against the Czech Republic, Wolves were able to go to the Etihad and beat Man City 2-0, while Accrington Stanley beat Ipswich on Sunday 2-0 in League 1.

In fact Sheffield United are probably the best example of how this system works effectively, because together with Wolves they have used the system the longest, Sheffield United started using it in League 1, when Chris Wilder took over.

The defending team, have absolutly no idea, where the attacks are going to come from, especially as in the case of Wolves, who employ an attacking midfielder in their version of the system, while Sheffield United, newly promoted, don’t.

It will also be interesting to see, if Newcastle United, continue to use it, because they have just reverted back to it, to cater to the teams strengths and in doing so, their results have improved.

The one downside to the system, is that though you have numbers in attack, should you get caught on the counter attack, if you lost possession, then you are liable to potentialy concede goals, through lack of cover.

Either way the teams listed in this article who use the system, will be worth following and their progress noted this season.

Gunning for the Top Four

Arsenal are a conundrum at the moment. It feels like there definitely is something up with them, but also like everything might just be going alright as Unai Emery attempts to move on from the Arsene Wenger era.

Opinion is generally split on whether the Spaniard is doing a good job or not, although last night’s 1-0 defeat to Sheffield United seems like it may have sent Arsenal fans over the edge. In fairness to Emery though, annoying the Arsenal fans doesn’t take much if you’re their manager.

The loss at Bramall Lane saw the Gunners spurn the opportunity to go third – and if they had won then perspectives today would probably be greatly different. 

But they did not, and their defeat was against a Sheffield United side who are not to be underestimated. The Blades are organised, well drilled and constantly surprising the Premier League with innovative tactics. It’s probably safe to assume that we’re all now up to date on the functions of overlapping centre backs.

Watching the game, it really didn’t feel like Arsenal were ever going to score. To use that old cliche, they could have kept playing till the next morning and still not have found a way through. 

Even recapping over the short burst of highlights Sky Sports graces us with on YouTube, there is very little for Arsenal to shout about from the game. Whoever was editing that video would have had a hard job scraping together three minutes of action. 

But it’s not like the Gunners lack any abundance of attacking talent. They have Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe as a ‘first choice’ front three. Then they also have the young talents of Bukayo Saka and Joe Willock. 

Behind them in midfield, they have the aggressive pairing of Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi, as well as Dani Ceballos adding a bit more technical quality. 

With this considered, you feel that Emery should be doing better. It seems he is struggling to find a system to incorporate and fully utilise the talents of his squad. Sheffield United were superb on Monday night but with the quality Arsenal have, they really should have created more. 

If only they had a little bit more class in the final third. A proven creative, an assists machine. Someone who, preferably, had proven themselves on the world stage. 

The above is, of course, a thinly veiled reference to Meszut Ozil – the forgotten man at the Emirates. It’s only three years since he recorded 19 assists in one season, and it seems Arsenal are in need of his creativity now. 

But he generally remains on the bench or out of the squad, with Emery tight lipped about what exactly is going on. It’s a mystery that has, unbelievably, seemed to unite Arsenal fans behind Ozil. 

There are certainly failings on Emery’s part, but there are some things that just haven’t gone his way.

The Gunners have generally failed to recruit well in defence of late, and what they have to show for the fruits of their labour is a centre back pairing of Sokratis and David Luiz. This partnership has become something of a calamity duo, with Luiz’s failings in one on one situations becoming ever more apparent. 

And then there are the early season injuries to Hector Bellerin and new signing Kieran Tierney going against Emery. Arsenal look, on paper, relatively strong at full back with these two fit. Bellerin’s return is imminent while Tierney has apparently recovered. Emery’s unwillingness to throw him straight in, though, is yet another thing that is angering fans. 

So while some things are certainly not helpful for Emery, there are ways in which he could be doing better. Some fluidity and creativity is needed up front, and the ex-PSG manager desperately needs to find the best system for his talented front line. Most likely, it will involve some difficult decisions on who to leave out. 

So in the sense that Emery has gotten some good attackers and is blooding young prospects (which, thanks to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, we now know is the best thing in the world), he is doing pretty well.

But there is a lack of coherency and guile, as well as floundering attempts to find the best system for his side. And not to forget the shortcomings at centre back. So there’s some good, but also some bad.

With a fully fit and firing squad, Arsenal should really be aiming for the top four. The Gunners will not want another season confined to the Europa League. 

Bournemouth vs Norwich – Match Review

Before kick off, neither Bournemouth or Norwich had a clean sheet all season but somehow both teams found some form of defensive stability and it ended 0-0.

The visitors, rejuvenated by the return of many key players, started with a different line up to their past games. Normally 4-2-3-1, the Canaries changed to 4-1-4-1 with centre midfielder Moritz Leitner playing further forward than normal. As for Bournemouth, they were boosted by the return of right back Adam Smith and Scotland international Ryan Fraser.

The Cherries came out the better team, not giving Norwich any time on the ball. However, when Bournemouth were on the ball, they lacked the clinical touch and could only manage two shots on target the entire game. As the game went on though, the Canaries grew into it but couldn’t break Bournemouth’s resolute defence.

The first notable shot did come from the home side with Callum Wilson sliding in Solanke, only for the former Chelsea and Liverpool academy star to shoot straight at Krul, allowing him to make the save.

After that, the first half petered out with both teams normally impressive strike forces not finding form.

In the second period, it turned into a scrappy affair with both sides struggling to create opportunities. Late on however, Norwich did start to create chances and finally tested young keeper Aaron Ramsdale through Finish striker Teemu Pukki. Aarons intercepted a poor pass from Cook and passed to Buendia who dodged a few tackles. Then, he put it on a plate for Pukki to shoot twenty five yards from goal but Ramsdale punched it past the post. After netting twice in the international break to all but seal second place in the group for his country, Pukki was lively again on the South Coast. The striker, who’s already grabbed six goals this season, didn’t give the Bournemouth defenders a moments peace and was always latching onto loose balls.

Then, as the clock ticked on towards ninety minutes, substitute Arnaut Danjuma wriggled through Norwich’s defence only to put his shot straight into the gloves of Tim Krul. After that, chances for Tom Trybull and Kenny McLean went begging and the match ended in a 0-0 draw.

Not the most entertaining encounter of the weekend but a vital point on the road for the Canaries. Daniel Farke was extremely delighted with the point saying ‘Off the mark for away games and to be there with the first clean sheet of the season is difficult but always important’ but adding ‘Bit disappointed that we were not able to win this game’

As for Bournemouth, it wasn’t such a good point with most of the Dean Court faithful wanting all three.

Amongst all the positives, there was one negative for the Canaries, their last fit centre back Ben Godfrey hobbled off injured five minutes after the restart. Farke said in all his years of managing that he’d never had all his centre backs injured at the same time.

Young Lions Impressing

(Pic – Evening Standard)

After a disappointing summer for the England Under 21 side, they have started qualification for the next European Championships in fine style. Expectations were high heading into this summer’s tournament however they failed to live up to the hype and crashed out at the group stage. Focus has now turned to the next tournament, regular forwards Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Dominic Solanke have been overlooked whilst Tammy Abraham and James Maddison have moved to the senior squad. Their replacements are impressing every bit as much with Eddie Nketiah scoring an impressive hat trick in the 5-1 win against Austria, who had won all of their previous qualifiers.

Who is ready for the senior squad?

Callum Hudson-Odoi – Impressed against Austria scoring two stunning goals, sweeping in a volley and curling home a fabulous second following a fine solo run. Callum is sure to be brought back into the senior squad once he has more games at Chelsea under his belt following his injury lay off.

Phil Foden – Has the undoubted talent to be a full England International, however at this point in his career getting game time is the most important thing. If he remains out of the picture at Manchester City then getting games at England Under 21 level is vital for his development. The question remains should he go on loan for game time or remain at City and learn from the many talented players and coaches there? That is open to debate.

As for anyone else that should make the step up, is there is anyone? Who isn’t a big advocate for giving players time to grow at this level and not rushing them into the senior squad? It is better if they gained experience this way than being brought into the senior squad and sat on the bench. There are a number of players; Tammy Abraham, James Maddison, etc, who are playing well enough for their clubs to earn full international recognition. However, it is still difficult for them to get game time for the senior side due to the form of that side.

The best thing for these players is to balance their time between both squads, pick games in which they will get minutes for the senior side, against lesser sides and give them time with the Under 21’s.

Three players who should be in your fantasy team for game week nine

After yet another week away from fantasy football due to the international schedule, fantasy managers up and down the country will be logging back on to find their team in tatters with injuries and players simply not performing as you’d expect. But heading into game week nine, who are the players you should be looking at bringing in to boost your score?

Allison- The liverpool shot stopper is likely to return in Sundays bout against rivals Man United in The North West Derby. The Brazilian is one of the best keepers in the country, and at only £5.8 million is surely worth a punt this week, especially for those of you who have David De Gea between the sticks, who picked up a groin injury with Spain and is unlikely to feature. With Liverpool’s brilliant early season form and United’s poor start and lengthy injury list, you wouldn’t bet against the Scousers to keep a clean sheet and pick up all three points.

Adama Traore- It finally looks like Adama has added end product to his blistering pace and dribbling ability, making him one of the scariest prospects in world football. The winger has often flattered to deceive during his previous spells in the Premier League, but he has already recorded two goals and one assist in just seven games so far this season. And for just the measly sum of £5 million, Adama could be yours. With 32 points so far, he represents one of the best value for money players on the game. With Wolves’ next two fixtures being Southampton and Newcastle – expect the pacy winger to have a field day picking up points galore.

Callum Wilson- Wilson keeps on improving year on year and looks set to smash his previous best of 14 Premier League goals this term. The England international already has five goals in eight games so far and doesn’t look like slowing down as Eddie Howe’s side mount another impressive assault on the league. At £7.9 million Wilson guarantees goals and has also weighed in with three assists giving him a total points tally of 48, only bettered by four strikers in the league. And when you consider Bournemouth’s next two fixtures are against the Premier League’s bottom two Norwich and Watford, the smart money is on Wilson to continue his early season form.

Is Christian Pulisic causing debates among fans around the globe?

On January 2nd 2019, Christian Pulisic signed with Chelsea for $73 million from Borussia Dortmund, the most expensive transfer for any American player. The “Wonder Boy” was supposed to make the game of soccer popular in a country where sports such as football, basketball, baseball, and hockey are more respected. His two-goal performance in a preseason match at Red Bull Salzburg was supposed to be a glimpse of what the future of U.S. soccer could become. Instead, Pulisic’s performances have caused several debates whether or not his move to The Blues was the right decision.

After making his Premier League debut as a substitute in a 4-0 loss to Manchester United at Old Trafford, Pulisic started his first game for Chelsea in the UEFA Super Cup match against Liverpool. He made an immediate impact on his Blues’ starting debut with an assist on an Olivier Giroud goal, but Chelsea lost to the Champions League winners 5-4 in a penalty shootout. Pulisic’s performance in the match earned him starts in a few games for the club in the Premier League. However, Pulisic’s performance’s in those games not only lost him a starting gig but would wound up causing him not feature in several games for The Blues.

Pulisic’s inconsistent playing time caused several fans to be concerned over the move to Chelsea, with some already stating how this was the wrong decision for the 21-year-old American phenomenon. Comparing his play to other young Chelsea talents such as Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, and Callum Hudson-Odoi, fans were worried over Pulisic’s play compared to those around him. However, players such as Abraham, Mount, and Hudson-Odoi have been a part of the Chelsea system since their youth days and Mount played under current manager and club legend Frank Lampard at Derby County last season. So, while Pulisic may not have had the same success as other young phenomenons for The Blues, it could just be a time issue and nothing more. In fact, in Pulisic’s last game for Chelsea, he had an assist on a late goal from Michy Batshuayi in a 4-1 victory at Southampton.

Ignoring his play for Chelsea, Pulisic also has had a string of mediocre games for the U.S. National Team as they compete in the inaugural CONCACAF Nations League. In Pulisic’s first game in the tournament he had a goal – albeit from the penalty spot – in a 7-0 thrashing against a weak Cuba squad at Audi Field in Washington D.C. However, in the team’s second game at BMO Field in Toronto, Canada, the Americans were upset by the Canadians 2-0 win in the country’s first against their neighbors to the south since April 2, 1985. One of the big issues in the defeat was when manager Gregg Berhalter substituted Pulisic in the 60th minute for DC United’s Paul Arriola while the game was tied at zero, causing a wave of frustrations for the phenom.

This season has been tough for Pulisic in terms of league and international play as the pressure to be the face of American soccer is starting to take a toll on the young Pennsylvanian. Time will tell if his move to the Premier League giants will pay off in the end.

England win but football loses

Its not often you come away from a tough away game with a 6-0 win and feel sad and disillusioned with the game. But for many last night, the sad scenes in the stands in Sofia overshadowed what was a very good England performance and threw the game into disrepute. 

There had been much speculation about the behaviour of the Bulgarian fans, after a number of incidents in recent years highlighted the large racist undertone within their fan base, and England captain Harry Kane had spoke of leading his teammates off the field if there was any sniff of racially motivated chanting or jeers.

From the get go England’s black stars were booed every time they touched the ball, attackers Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford as well as debutant centre back Tyrone Mings. But it wasn’t until the 28th minute play was put on hold with discussions taking place on the sideline, and a stadium announcement being made over the speakers warning fans the game would be stopped if this behaviour carried on.

However, this did not stop the chants, the boo’s and the abhorrent monkey noises being made, and the game was then stopped again in the 43rd minute, this time with Southgate talking with the referee before the game was again restarted.

Further racist incidents continued into the second half, caught on pitch-side microphones, but play was not stopped for a third time, which would have been crucial as UEFA’s three step racism protocol states if a match is stopped for a third time the match must be abandoned.

Further footage shows fans doing Nazi salutes and one fan holding up a “no respect” jumper. Debate has been rife over the best course of action in a situation such as this, is it best to walk from the pitch refusing to stand for this kind of abuse? Or is it best to play on and not let the racists win? England chose the latter last night, and with Rashford and Sterling both scoring, as well as Ross Barkley who’s grandfather is Nigerian, well and truly silenced the racist scum in the stands.

If this was not bad enough, Bulgaria’s own manager Krasimir Balakov seemingly defended his fans post match, claiming he did not hear any racist chants towards the England players and actually blamed the England fans for unacceptable behaviour. When the man at the top is seemingly just as bad as the racists in the stands, it is concerning for all involved and something UEFA must take a serious look at.

With all of the focus being firmly set on what happened off the pitch, it is important to remember just what the England players achieved in representing their country in such difficult circumstances, standing up to racism and doing our country proud in the process.

Can England Qualify Against Bulgaria?

Tonight sees England play Bulgaria in a game that should England win, will see them qualify for the Euro 2020 finals.

Now it also sees a scenario similar to the game England played on Friday against the Czech Republic. Win, and England go through.

In total England have met Bulgaria 9 times and have an excellent record against them.

Since the 0-0 draw in their first meeting in June 1962, they have met a further eight times. England have won 5, the most recent of which was 2010, when a 4-0 result was the outcome, thanks in part to a Jermain Defoe hat trick.

In between times. there have been 3 draws and its in two of those draws that Bulgaria have scored their only goals, 2 in total against England.

England’s goal scoring average against Bulgaria over the 9 games is 2, so going on that statistic alone, tonights game should represent a comfortable enough platform on which to secure qualification.

That said, it will prove interesting tonight, because Bulgaria, employ a variation of the 3 5 2 system that England used to play and appear to find diffculties playing against, by playing a 5 3 2 formation, so in theory have 5 defenders and rely on the counter attack.

Overall taking that out of context, Bulgaria are bottom of the group and have only two points. Confidence will not be high for them, and should England start the same they did against the Czechs by scoring early, and maintaining throughout the game, then England have a good chance of recording their highest score against them.

Where did England Go Wrong?

On Friday night in the Czech Republic, England faced the possibility of winning against the Czech’s and qualifying for Euro 2020.

Top of the group and unbeaten in this campaign so far, it all looked very rosy for England.

With a strong line up, in Gareth Southgate’s now preferred 4 3 3 formation, with debut’s for the Chelsea pairing of Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham, against the less fancied Czechs. lining up in a 3 5 2 formation. Everything looked like it would go England’s way.

The opening exchanges went well for England, with strong attacking football, which saw Raheem Sterling win a penalty in the 5th Minute, swiftly converted by Harry Kane.

We expected the performance to increase and a comfortable victory to follow, ensuring qualification.

However, the penalty seemed to not only galvanise the Czechs, but it was almost like a bee had stung them on the backside.

They woke up and raised their game significantly, helped by the formation they were playing, 3 5 2. They piled pressure on England, going close a couple of times. These were wake up calls for England, but they quickly pulled level and deservedly so, just 4 minutes later.

The only surprise was that it took that long for them to equalise…

From that point on for the entire match, England laboured and toiled much harder than they needed to.

So,

What went wrong for England

To get the answer to this, you only have to look back to the last Premier League Weekend, when Wolves travelled to the Etihad Satdium, home of Manchester City and beat them in their own back yard 2-0.

But what has that result got to do with England losing in Czech Republic?

At face value, nothing, but upon closer inspection, quite a lot.

You see, just as in the Czech Republic, Wolves employed their favoured, tried and tested 3 5 2 formation, against Man City’s 4 3 3 and came away with the right result.

Now on paper it shouldn’t matter which formation you play, the result should be a positive one, if you have a good game plan.

England had a game plan, it is a tried and tested one, but, when pitched against a team playing 3 5 2, then it can prove significantly difficult to penetrate, because in a 3 5 2 formation, the opposition will have numbers over, if the players do their jobs correctly.

The Czechs executed their jobs perfectly, faster, pressed better, had players over and England were left frustrated and arguing amongst themselves, because they couldn’t create the space they required to break through and so drew blanks every time.

It will be interesting to see how Engand fare against Bulgaria this evening in their next qualifier, because they commonly line up in a 3-5-2 formation as well. What will Southgate have to do to overcome them, and secure qualifying?

If England can raise their game and also eliminate the poor decision making and passive play they employed against the Czechs, then they will come away with a good result and qualification will be assured.

Too many times, through poor decision making did England let the Czechs in.

Tonights match should be an interesting one…

Tweet us your thoughts on tonight’s game @247FootballUK

Three players Man United should sign this January

Man United are in somewhat of a crisis at the moment, winless in five, a playing squad devoid of confidence and with a manager seemingly hurtling towards the sack, things are looking bleak at Old Trafford. With top four looking very unlikely and even top six a doubt at the moment, the board need to invest heavily in the squad, starting with this winter transfer window. But who should they be targeting and why?

Wilfred Ndidi- The 22 year old has been very impressive since joining Leicester in 2017 for 17 million pounds from Belgian side Genk, and has been linked with a big money move for some time. With Nemanja Matic declining horribly over the past 12 months, United are in desperate need of a top class holding midfield player and Indidi is one of the best in the Premier League. The Nigerian goes about his work effectively, battling in the centre of the park, winning back possession and has a very good range of passing. Ndidi could partner Paul Pogba perfectly and allow the Frenchman to have more of an effect in the final third safe in the knowledge Ndidi is covering him.

Jadon Sancho- Sancho is one of the brightest young talents in the world but is also consistently putting in top class performances right now. Kick starting a wave of young English talents leaving the Premier League to find first team football abroad, the 19 year old has tore the Bundesliga up and also impressed during his stints with the England National team. With 13 goals and 19 assists in his breakthrough season for Borussia Dortmund last term, and with another four goals and seven assists in just 11 games this season Sancho’s end product for such a young player is exceptional. Despite the fact United would more than likely have to break the bank to sign Sancho, he must be top of Ole’s wish list.

Paulo Dybala- In letting Romelu Lukaku leave for Inter in the summer United lost guaranteed goals. The burden fell on 21 year old Marcus Rashford and 23 year old Anthony Martial who have so far failed to score the goals needed to win United football matches. Despite being linked with 33 year old Mario Mandzukic, this goes against all the things Ole has tried to do with his more youthful approach and therfore Dybala should be their main target. United tried to sign Dybala in the summer but failed to get a deal done, the 25 year old would possibly be a risk with his lack of Premier League experiences and his loss of form over the past year, but he scores goals and he has done for a number of years. Dybala can dribble, pass, shoot is quick, works hard and has experience at the top level, Ed Woodward should be doing everything he can to secure his signature.

Women Super League Preview: Week Four

Round four of the Women Super League features defending champions Arsenal up against London rivals Chelsea.  Both sides will be looking to gain the early physiological advantage in the title race when they meet in this Sunday’s round of matches. 

Fellow rivals Manchester City will be hoping to take advantage of their closest two challengers playing each other when they take on Birmingham City in the Saturday game.  

 Elsewhere, newly promoted sides Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United will do battle at Tottenham’s Hive Stadium at the slightly earlier kick-off of 12:30pm on Sunday.  While early season strugglers Liverpool host Bristol City, where both sides will be aiming for their first win of the season.

 The final two matches of the weekend see Reading against Everton and Hope Powell’s Brighton are at home to West Ham United.

Title rivals battle it out

The Gunners have started the season in fine form, with three wins from three.  They won 4-0 against Brighton last time out and travel to Chelsea’s Cherry Red Record Stadium full of confidence.

The Blues however, have won the last two meetings between the sides, claiming a 3-0 victory in the FA Cup in February of this year and a 2-1 win in the previous league meeting.  Both games were at Arsenal’s Meadow Park Stadium, the last time the teams played at the Cherry Red Record Stadium resulted in a comprehensive 5-0 Arsenal win back in October 2018.

The home team will have the added incentive of knowing that they will go above their fierce rivals with a win.

In total there has been seven matches between the two teams with Chelsea currently leading the head to head by three wins to two however there has also been two draws.

The match will be shown live on BT Sport and kicks-off at 3pm on Sunday.  Tickets are still available at £9 per adult and at just £1 for juniors under the age of 20 and seniors over 65.

City looking to make it four out of four

Manchester City will be looking to keep up their 100% league record; they achieved a hard fought 1-0 victory against Everton in their last game.

Nick Cushing’s City side will certainly be confident of continuing their impressive start to the season as they play a Birmingham team that have lost their opening two matches. Their game against Reading in game week three was however postponed.

Manchester City have won four out of the seven matches between the two teams and have only lost once, with the other two matches being draws.

One of those victories included a 4-1 win in the 2017 FA Cup final that secured Manchester City’s clean sweep of domestic honours at Wembley Stadium.

Spurs host Manchester United in first WSL meeting

Tottenham Hotspur defeated West Ham United in their last match at the London Stadium, 2-0.  While Manchester United achieved their first ever WSL win by beating rivals Liverpool 2-0.

United will now be looking for their first ever Super League away win, having lost their one away match so far on the opening day against Manchester City.  Spurs are meanwhile currently unbeaten at home following their victory over Liverpool in game week two.

Both Liverpool and Bristol City hunt for first victory

In the midday kick-off on Sunday both of these sides will be looking to jump-start their season with a much needed three points.

Liverpool will be hoping of a repeat of last season’s 5-2 victory on the last day of the season.

Bristol City, meanwhile will want to improve their poor record against this weekend’s opponents having only won one in five attempts. That success however did come during the last campaign in November 2018.

Everton look to get back to winning ways against Reading, and Brighton face West Ham

The Toffees will be looking to bounce back from their narrow 1-0 defeat against Manchester City last time around when they travel to face Reading.  Both sides have won twice against each other with the most recent meeting ending in a 3-2 victory for Everton in April of this year.

West Ham meanwhile will want to be more clinical in front of goal as their finishing certainly cost them victory in their first ever match at the Olympic Stadium against Spurs. They play a Brighton side who are searching for their first win of the campaign.

Saturday 12thOctober

Manchester City vs Birmingham City Kick off (2pm)

Sunday 13thOctober

Liverpool vs Bristol City  (12pm)

Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester United (12:30pm)

Reading vs Everton (2pm)

Brighton & Hove Albion vs West Ham United (2pm)

Chelsea vs Arsenal (3pm)

Sunderland Sack Jack Ross…

Somewhat surprisingly, yesterday Sunderland Boss Jack Ross had his contract terminated by the club.

Surprising because the season is still early and despite a poor start to the season, the black cats had managed to climb up the table, currently sitting in a playoff position.

They have 19 points from their 11 games and a plus, albeit small goal difference, of 2. They have lost just 2 matches… Hardly relegation form you’ll agree.

The club decided to terminate Ross’ contract with immediate effect and want to move forward in a different direction. Ross did extrememly well to stabalise a club, which was in free fall and had suffered back to back relegations, prior to his arrival.

In his first season, having rebuilt well, he guided the club to a checkatrade trophy final, where they were narrowly beaten by Portsmouth on penalties and the League 1 play off final where again they lost narrowly to Charlton 2-1.

Ross is by no means a bad manager, he forged his name north of the border and leaves Sunderland with his held high. He has a good win percentage of 50% and there are plenty of managers with a far worse win ratio still in employment, and whose clubs are far worse off than Sunderland.

It remains to be seen, who will take up the new post.

Royals Part Company With Gomes

READING have announced the sacking of first team manager José Gomes with immediate effect.

A spokesperson on behalf of the Royals issued the following statement:

“Reading Football Club can announce that José Gomes has left his position as first team manager.

Gomes joined the club at the end of December 2018 and successfully steered the club away from the threat of relegation.

However, following just two wins in the first 11 league games in 2019-20, owner Mr Yongge Dai has made the difficult decision to part company with Gomes and make a change at first team level.

We would like to sincerely thank José for his hard work during his tenure as manager at Reading Football Club and we wish him the very best of luck in his future career.

The club will make no additional comment at this time but will provide further updates as soon as possible.”

The news from the Royals comes after reports in the last 48 hours regarding his future at the Madejski Stadium.

Following last weekend’s defeat to Bristol City in the Sky Bet Championship, which left the Royals 22nd in the table, Gomes said he’d be the first to resign if he thought his players had lost faith in him.

Since then rumours of his future had been widespread across social media, but the club have now officially announced the news of his departure.

Reading fans, what do you make to this decision? Who do you want to replace José Gomes? Let us know your thoughts below or on Twitter @247FootballUK.

German legend Bastian Schweinsteiger announces retirement

On October 6th, at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida, fans got to witness the last game of Bastian Schweinsteiger’s career as he announced his retirement. This followed from the 5-2 victory in the MLS regular season finale for Chicago Fire.

Known for his playing days at Bayern Munich, Schweinsteiger won several awards with the Bavarians from 2002-2015. Scoring 45 goals in 342 appearances for Bayern, Schweinsteiger won eight Bundesliga titles, seven DFB-Pokal titles, a DFB-Ligapokal title in 2007, a DFL-Supercup in 2010, and was a part of the UEFA Champions League squad that won the tournament in 2013.

After a great career for Bayern, Schweinsteiger signed a three-year contract of £6.5 million with Manchester United in 2015. In Schweinsteiger’s first season with the Red Devils, he won the FA Cup. However, after the arrival of José Mourinho, Schweinsteiger’s role was diminished, forcing him to move to the Chicago Fire in 2017.

The midfielder also played a pivotal role in the success of Germany’s national team, including winning the 2014 World Cup with the nation, deafeating Argentina 1-0. Scoring 24 goals in 120 appearances, Schweinsteiger’s last appearance for the Germans came after the team’s run ended in the 2016 edition of UEFA’s European Championship.

Schweinsteiger also won several individual awards across his career, including being named the German national team Player of the Year in 2010, and two-time MLS All-Star in 2017 and 2018, and was inducted in Bayern Munich’s prestigious Hall of Fame in 2018.

What’s Up With City?

Manchester City hit another bump in the road on Sunday as they slipped to a second defeat of the season against Wolverhampton Wanderers. Two late Adama Traore goals gave Wolves all three points at the Etihad.

In the skewed reality of this latest iteration of the Premier League, where Liverpool and City are essentially both gunning for record breaking points tallies, every dropped point by the two runaway leaders is infinitely more drastic. 

It means that Liverpool’s eight point lead early in the season feels like a cavernous gap – the Merseyside tectonic plate shifting away from the East Manchester one. So what exactly is going wrong for City?

Their latest defeat against Wolves was an example of something that has been heralded as a weakness throughout Pep Guardiola’s managerial career: counter-attacks. 

It’s common to see just City’s centre-backs not joining the attack, leaving them exposed to teams adept at transitioning quickly up the pitch on the counter.

And Wolves are a side that specialise in hitting the opposition in such a way, as shown by their excellent record against the ‘big six’ since their promotion back to the Premier League. 

Nuno Espirito Santo had his Wanderers side play a wonderful counter-attacking game on Sunday. Part of this was, of course, through excellent defending. They were able to funnel City wide and force them to go wide and cross the ball – playing straight into the hands (foreheads) of Willy Boly, Connor Coady and 13th minute substitute Ryan Bennett. 

Their defensive organisation was supreme, and further drew in City to leave them more vulnerable at the back for when Wanderers did strike. And when they did, they did so with excellently. 

Raul Jimenez terrified Nicolas Otamendi and Fernandinho with his dribbling ability, and should probably have given Wolves the lead in the first half. But City clung on, and it was Santo’s tactical shift that helped bring about Wolves’ two late strikes. 

In January of last season, Wanderers fell 3-0 against City at the Etihad Stadium after Boly’s first half red card. At half time, Traore was brought on to offer a direct counter-attacking threat with his pace in behind.

Although it didn’t work out then – Wolves were down to 10 men and completely pinned in by City – Santo used this tactic again on Sunday in far more positive circumstances. 

In the 68th minute, Matt Doherty was brought on for Patrick Cutrone. The Irishman took up his usual slot at right wing-back, with Traore moving up front alongside Jimenez. 

The Mexican frontman again terrified Otamendi and Fernandinho with his dribbling on the counter, and this time had Traore haring up the pitch with him to finish.

Counter-attacking isn’t the only way to exploit City. Set pieces are a well known weakness, and generally getting at their centre-backs can cause real trouble. Especially with Otamendi the most experienced available player in that position, with his sudden decisions to forget how to be a footballer. 

Norwich were able to target City’s weaknesses in devastating fashion with their victory at Carrow Road earlier this season. 

The Canaries opened the scoring with a set piece goal, before continuing to cause City problems with their boldness in playing out from the back. 

It was the style that saw Norwich promoted last season as champions, and they showed that if you can break the Citizen’s initial press and go at their centre-backs, City are vulnerable – as proved with Norwich’s second.

Otamendi got himself in a pickle, while at full-back Kyle Walker sat far too deep to play Teemu Pukki onside. For the third goal, Otamendi was caught in possession as he made one of his sudden decisions to forget how to be a footballer. 

Of course, there are some mitigating circumstances. The centre of City’s defence is a key issue, which is somewhat understandable considering the injuries to Aymeric Laporte and John Stones, as well as the departure of the ageing Vincent Kompany. 

There is also some transition in midfield, with Rodri still adapting to his role at the base of midfield in front of the defence. Kevin de Bruyne is also a huge loss in the middle of the park. 

But these weaknesses also seem to be systematic, and it looks like Premier League sides are starting to target them more and more. 

Guardiola has adapted before upon his arrivals in Germany and England. Now, it is looking like he must continue to evolve his City side to tend to their weaknesses, before Liverpool build up an even healthier lead at the top of the table.

FOREST 1-0 Brentford

Nottingham Forest went second in the Championship Table (level on points with leaders West Brom), by beating Brentford at the City Ground on Saturday. In the process making it 10 league games unbeaten.

The match was one in which both sides were happy to play through midfield and be patient, which meant not many goal scoring chances were created. Forest controlled possession of the ball better than Brentford but often opted to play a safe pass rather than one that would open up a defence.

The closest either side came to scoring in the first half was from a Thiago Silva free-kick which went just wide from around 30 yards out. Brentford also threatened from a free kick as they had an effort from Mathias Jensen deflected, which forced Forest keeper Brice Samba to pull off a very good save. The second half was played at a higher tempo as Forest looked to make the break through, they had the chance to do so when Lewis Grabban was played in but was denied by some good defending and an equally good save.

It wasn’t long after that Forest did take the lead. It came from a corner which found Joe Worrall free at the far post who headed back, allowing Captain Ben Watson to finish powerfully and high into the net. This was Watson’s second winning goal in consecutive home matches for Forest and it came in the same minute as his winning goal in the previous home game against Barnsley. Watson had previously failed to find the net since his transfer to Forest in January 2018. It’s been quite a turnaround for Watson this season, who received much criticism last season from the Forest faithful. His performances have much improved and he now has them singing his own chant.

Forest were reasonably comfortable in defence of the lead, they worked extremely hard to get men behind the ball and deny Brentford any space to create chances with their renowned passing style.

It has been a promising start to the season for Forest having topped the table for the first time in 5 years. It’s fair to say it wasn’t expected, following another summer of changes – but so far the change of manager and his subsequent signings have paid off.

https://247-football.com/2019/07/03/yet-another-managerial-change-at-forest/

https://247-football.com/2019/07/12/lamouchi-getting-to-work/

Lamouchi clearly knows how to get results and in different ways. From back to wall displays at Leeds and Charlton where Forest came from behind to earn valuable points, deserved wins away at Fulham and Swansea where great defence was matched by excellent counter-attacking, and finally grinding out wins or draws against teams who are difficult to break down at the City Ground. These are all things that have let Forest down in the past.

Another significant difference is the extra strength and power in central midfield, previously Forest could be bullied by teams like Millwall, but the signings of Samba Sow and Alfa Semedo and extra togetherness mean this is no longer likely.

Three players who should’ve been included in Gareth Southgate’s England squad

England manager Gareth Southgate announced his latest squad for the upcoming European Championship qualifiers away to the Czech Republic and Bulgaria. The main talking points will be the omission of Tottenham’s Dele Alli and United’s Jesse Lingard as well as the continued omission of right back Kyle Walker. But which players can count themselves unlucky to not be involved?

James Tarkowski- The Burnley centre back may be another victim of not playing for a “trendy” club as the in form defender has been overlooked once again by Southgate. Tarkowski has been a large factor in why Burnley boast one of the better defensive records in the division and his own personal stats make for good reading, as in terms of aerial duel success rate he sits third in the league with 76.9%, and interceptions per 90 minutes he sits second with 8.85. Despite competition for places at the heart of England’s defence, the 26 year old is playing the best football of his career right now and is unfortunate to miss out.

 

Aaron Cresswell- The left back looks to have finally regained his starting spot in the Hammers back four and looks back to his best in the early stages of this season. A brilliant display against United was capped off by a spectacular free-kick goal to double his sides lead, and this was followed up with another goal in West Ham’s 2-2 draw with Bournemouth a week later. Meaning after only three Premier League appearances so far he has already matched his best ever goals tally at West Ham. Add to this the poor form of fellow left back Danny Rose, who has endured a tough start to the season, Cresswell can count himself unlucky to not be adding to his three caps.

 

Todd Cantwell- The Norwich winger has been a complete surprise package this season, linking up brilliantly with striker Teemu Pukki and chipping in with important goals and assists from the left flank. The 21 year old has adapted to Premier League life seamlessly, and has already made more goal contributions (4) in seven games this term than he managed in the whole of last season (3). And when you consider he has notched goals against the likes of Chelsea and the champions Manchester City, this further supports his case. Had he been playing for a top six club, Cantwell would have more than likely been in the 25 man squad, but if he continues this fine form Southgate cannot ignore him for much longer.

England Boss Southgate Picks 25-man Squad For October Qualifiers

ENGLAND boss Gareth Southgate has named a 25-man squad for October’s Euro 2020 Qualifying games against Czech Republic and Bulgaria.

The Three Lions take on the Czech’s in Prague on Friday 11th October before playing Bulgaria three days later in Sofia.

Southgate has handed call-ups to Chelsea duo Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori following their impressive campaigns at Stamford Bridge so far this season.

Striker Abraham has returned to the senior Three Lions squad for the first time in almost 2 years, when he featured for Southgate’s men at Wembley against both Germany and Brazil. Meanwhile, defender Tomori has earned his first senior call-up after impressing at U19, U20 and U21 levels.

England, who currently sit top of Group A in the Qualifiers after winning four from four, know that a victory in Prague could seal qualification for next summers Euros. However, boss Southgate and his squad will know that if they are to secure top spot in their group, they will need to complete a 100% record in the group campaign.

Squad in full for the Three Lions trips to Prague and Sofia:

Goalkeepers: Tom Heaton (Aston Villa), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Burnley)

Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Ben Chilwell (Leicester City), Joe Gomez (Liverpool), Michael Keane (Everton), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), Fikayo Tomori (Chelsea), Kieran Tripper (Atletico Madrid)

Midfielders: Ross Barkley (Chelsea), Fabian Delph (Everton), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), James Maddison (Leicester City), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Declan Rice (West Ham United), Harry Winks (Tottenham Hotspur)

Strikers: Tammy Abraham (Chelsea), Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Callum Wilson (AFC Bournemouth)

There has been a few surprise inclusions in the squad, especially Fikayo Tomori and Tammy Abraham being involved despite their impressive starts in the Premier League. I would have thought Burnley’s James Tarkowski and Southampton’s Nathan Redmond would have been included despite their clubs positions in the table.

Let us at 24/7 Football know your thoughts on the latest Three Lions squad. Are you happy with the selection Gareth Southgate’s made?

Would you have included both Tomori and Abraham? Let us know in the comments below.

Has Bernardo Silva’s critism been unfair?

Bernardo Silva in recent weeks has faced criticism for a twitter post, in which he compared long standing team mate Benjamin Mendy to a child in a French children’s cartoon. The post was quickly deleted but did not escape the mainstream media’s attention, and instantly labelled him as racist.

All bodies involved disregarded any prior knowledge that the two have been teammates for the past four years at Monaco. Manchester City and Pep Gaurdiola saying the two ‘are like brothers,’ and regularly exchanged jokes about one another.

KickItOut condemned the tweet and exclaimed that they were ‘extremely disappointed’ with Bernardo’s behaviour, furthermore the FA opened an investigation into the tweet. In response, Silva and Mendy both wrote open letters to The FA, with Bernardo apologising if he caused offence, and Mendy saying no offence was taken from Benrardo’s tweet and that it was a ‘friendly joke’.

The lack of context shown with Bernardo’s case is definitely worrying. The two are very close friends and have been for a number of years, constantly seen to be having banter on their respective social media accounts, and on the Netflix All of Nothing series. Without context this case, which is how a number of media outlets reported, it could possibly be seen as offensive. However, John Barnes, former Liverpool and England striker, was also to Bernardo’s defence with the accusations of racism as “ridiculous,” and called for context while also saying that KickItOut and The FA having bigger racial problems that they should be focusing on.

Do you think Bernardo should be punished by The FA? Or should they focus on more serious problem involving racism?

Premier League teams attempt to rise on Matchday 2 of Champions League

As the second matchday of the UEFA Champions League commences later today, Tottenham and Manchester City begin their quests of making it to knockout rounds after having successful tournament results last year. Reigning Champions League winners Liverpool and former winners Chelsea are set to play on Wednesday – aiming to get back in the standings after devastating losses to Napoli and Valencia respectively.

Tottenham, fresh off a Champions League campaign in which they finished as the runner-up, started this edition of the tournament with a 2-2 draw against Olympiacos. Scoring two early goals from Harry Kane’s penalty in the 26th minute, followed by a Lucas Moura goal in the 30th minute – goals from Daniel Podence in the 44th minute and Mathieu Valbuena in the 54th minute were enough to seal a draw at Karaiskakis Stadium. Tottenham will host German giants Bayern Munich at 8 p.m. GMT for its fifth-ever meeting against the club. Bayern are coming off a 3-0 victory over Crvena Zvezda after goals from Kingsley Coman, Robert Lewandowski, and Thomas Müller took all three points at The Allianz Arena.

Manchester City had a huge victory 3-0 over Shakhtar Donetsk at The Metalist, with Riyad Mahrez, Ilkay Gündogan, and Gabriel Jesus providing the necessary goals. They will face off against Dinamo Zagreb at Etihad Stadium at 8 p.m. GMT. The Croatian side defeated Atalanta 4-0 on Matchday 1 after Mislav Orsic’s hat trick at Stadion Maksimir. This will be the first-ever matchup between the two clubs – who do you think will end up in top spot?

Liverpool, fresh off of their recent Champions League winning campaign, started their campaign off with a dud as they lost 2-0 to Napoli. Late goals from Dries Mertens in the 82th minute and Fernando Llorente in injury time, helped the Italian team embarass the holders. Now, Liverpool will have to get back on track as they host Red Bull Salzburg at 8 p.m. GMT. The Austrian side had a 6-2 victory against Genk on the first matchday, led by a hat trick from Norwegian teen sensation Erling Braut Haaland at Red Bull Arena. The matchup between tonight’s game will be the first-ever matchup between the two clubs.

Chelsea, the champions of last year’s edition of the Europa League beating London compatriot Arsenal, did not get off to a great start in the Champions League as new coach/former club legend Frank Lampard and The Blues suffered a 1-0 loss at the feet of Rodrigo at Stamford Bridge. Considered the favorites of the group before the start of the tournament, Chelsea will have to get back in gear as they head to Stade Pierre Mauroy to battle Lille OSC at 8 p.m. GMT. Lille suffered a 3-0 defeat in their last game against Ajax due to goals from Quincy Promes, Edson Álvarez, and Nicolás Tagliafico at Johan Crujiff ArenA. The two clubs will face off against each other for the first time.

With the Champions League still in the beginning stages, time will tell if England will have back-to-back winners in the tournament for the first time since Liverpool and Aston Villa won the 1981 and 1982 editions.

Women’s Super League Round Up: Week Three

Spurs defeated London rivals West Ham in front of the second–largest attendance in Women Super League history, at the London Stadium.

Title favourites Arsenal and Manchester City meanwhile both continued their impressive starts to the season by beating Brighton and Everton respectively.

Elsewhere Manchester United won their first ever Super League match against fierce rivals Liverpool

Finally, Chelsea proved to be too strong for West Country side, Bristol City.

Spurs spoil West Ham’s London Stadium debut

A crowd of 24,790 watched Tottenham beat London rivals West Ham United 2-0.

Striker Rianna Dean scored the opening goal on her first start of the season in the 36th minute with a brilliant header before Birthday girl, Lucy Quinn came off the bench to make the points safe seven minutes from time. This secured Spurs’ first away victory in the Super League.

The hosts however, were made to rue missing a number of second half opportunities that included Adriana Leon wide header from six yards.

Arsenal and Manchester City continue hundred per cent starts

Both Arsenal and Manchester City kept up their perfect records after three Super League matches.

City however were made to work hard for their 1-0 victory over Everton, with England captain Steph Houghton grabbing the only goal of the game in the seventh minute from a corner.

The Toffee’s almost grabbed a late equaliser at the death through Lucy Graham, however Canadian forward, Janine Beckie was able to clear her header off the line.

The Gunners’ achieved a much more routine victory as they put in an impressive 4-0 display against Brighton.

Club Captain Kim Little provided the early break through for her side, before last season’s top scorer, Vivianne Miedema opened up her account to double Arsenal’s advantage.

Miedema then turned provider for her Dutch teammate, Danielle van de Donk, who made it 3-0.  Finally England midfielder, Jordan Nobbs rounded off the scoring with an 18-yard strike.

United win first Women Super League game

Manchester United secured a 2-0 win against rivals Liverpool in their first-ever Super League meeting.

Second half goals from Lauren James, sister of Chelsea full back Reece James, and a late penalty from Katie Zelem ensured the Red Devils of their first points of the campaign.

A crowd of over 2,800 at the Leigh Sports Village watched what was a rather tense affair with United hitting the woodwork on three occasions. The Red Devils proved good value for their win.

Chelsea too good for Bristol City

The Blues moved into third place with a comfortable 4-0 win at Bristol City.

Norway midfielder, Guro Reiten scored twice in the first ten minutes, before Ji So-Yun added Chelsea’s third seven minutes later.

Sophie Ingle then finished off from close range in the second half to leave Chelsea with seven points from three matches. Winless Bristol City meanwhile is down in 10th position.

Birmingham City versus Reading – Postponed

There was meant to be a sixth match for the week, however it was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch at Birmingham.  The new date for the fixture is yet to be announced.

What next?

Round four of the Women Super League features a top of the table clash between rivals Chelsea and Arsenal at The Cherry Red Records Stadium. 

Newly promoted sides Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United meet at Spurs’ Hive Stadium.

While Liverpool plays fellow strugglers Bristol City, both sides will be looking for their first wins of the season. 

Manchester City will look to take advantage of their title rivals facing each other as they host Birmingham City.

The final two games see Reading against Everton and Brighton take on West Ham United.

Dates of next WSL Fixtures

Saturday 12th October

Manchester City vs Birmingham City Kick off (2pm)

Sunday 13th October

Liverpool vs Bristol City  (12pm)

Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester United (12:30pm)

 Reading vs Everton (2pm)

 Brighton & Hove Albion vs West Ham United (2pm)

 Chelsea vs Arsenal (3pm)

Manchester United vs Arsenal

About 15 years ago, Manchester United versus Arsenal was the hottest fixture in the Premier League calendar. As the cliche goes, it’s the game you would be looking for as soon as the fixture list came out.

But nowadays, as much as the Sky Sports marketing team are trying to pretend otherwise, it just doesn’t have the same gravity.

The days of the Ferguson-Wenger rivalry are over, along with the two side’s title hopes for the foreseeable future. There are no furious wrestles for top spot in the Premier League, but a desperate clammer for the Europa League. 

The Solskjaer-Emery rivalry just doesn’t feel like it will have the same kind of bite to it. And it’s a rivalry that, should the current form of both sides continue to slump, probably won’t be around for much longer. 

Both sides currently sit outside the ‘top six’, but a win for the Gunners would see them fly up to fourth, behind Leicester City on goal difference. A win for United, meanwhile, would put them level on points with their London opponents.

The two sides have already met twice in 2019 since Solskjaer took over. The first was in late January, near the start of the Norwegian’s now baffling winning streak. It was a game and a result that actually felt like more than just United’s players being happy that someone with a nice smile had taken over as manager. 

Solskjaer displayed some real tactical nous. Jesse Lingard lingered in kind of false nine position, teasing the Arsenal backline. Romelu Lukaku would then use his pace and power to exploit this space, and drift wide to pillage the inevitable gaps left by Sead Kolasinac. 

It was a result that felt like it gave some real substance to United’s burst of form under Solskjaer. Something that showed that it wasn’t just a new manager buzz that was spurring them on. 

But fast forward a couple of months to their Premier League meeting in March, and the Red Devils slumped to a disappointing 2-0 defeat at the Emirates Stadium. The wheels had come off whatever vehicle Solskjaer was at the wheel for. 

It was Arsenal’s first victory against Man United since May 2017, having lost three of the four games since. But now they seem the slightly more likely side to pip the points tonight based off recent form.

United capped off a disappointing 2-0 defeat to West Ham last weekend with a midweek scare against Rochdale in the League Cup. A strike from 16 year old Luke Matheson sent the match to a nervous penalty shootout, which United were able to edge through on. 

The signs aren’t encouraging for the Red Devils, although they were able to pull off what now constitutes as a surprise victory against Leicester this month. 

United have generally struggled in games which they’ve seen a lot of the ball, such as against Crystal Palace. But when facing teams that want to play and have their share of the ball like Leicester and Chelsea, the Red Devils have been able to release their counter-attacking weapons. 

This has the potential to trouble Arsenal’s defence, with David Luiz and Sokratis both struggling this season. Sokratis lacks speed and has looked shaky in possession, while Luiz’s recklessness has seen him punished several times already. 

Isolating both in one on one situations could see them struggle, although United will be without Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford. Both players’ direct running abilities would have been a serious danger to the Gunners’ centre back partnership.

Instead, it is likely to be Mason Greenwood who they will face. Unless Solskjaer decides that Lingard should be played up front, like he surprisingly did against West Ham. 

Greenwood has certainly shown potential and willingness to run at opponents, so if he can fully realise his talents against the Gunners then he could be a threat. 

But that is not to forget Arsenal’s own talents up front. Alexandre Lacazette remains sidelined but Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Nicholas Pepe both look set to start, with Dani Ceballos in the team to help supply them. 

Arsenal’s front line this year is incredibly promising, in stark contrast to their defence. United, meanwhile, have bolstered at the back with Harry Maguire, who looks to be forming a good partnership with Victor Lindelof. 

But with Martial and Rashford injured and a lack of a creative attacking midfielder, the Red Devils look very light in attack. It will be a fascinating battle between two teams who have greatly mixed abilities throughout each of their sides. 

AFC Wimbledon Suspend Wally Downes…

AFC Wimbledon, currently in the bottom 3 of League 1 have today suspended their first team manager Wally Downes until further notice, for a breach of FA Betting rules.

A Club Statement Read:

Club manager Wally Downes has been suspended from first team duties pending further notice.

The club has been informed that Wally has been charged by the FA for Misconduct under FA Rule E1(b) in respect of 8 bets placed on football matches between 30 November 2013 and 12 July 2019.

Given the seriousness of this breach in FA regulations, the club has decided to suspend Wally with immediate effect, giving time for the club and Dons Trust boards to look at the allegations more closely and make a further announcement in due course.

 

This couldn’t have come at a worse time for AFC Wimbledon, who are in the middle of a bad run of form.

Wally Downes was appointed, in December last year and led them against all the odds to survival in League 1, thanks to a last day draw at Bradford City.

The period in question relates to a time when Downes was employed in India with Kerala Blasters during 2016/2017. And carried on during his subsequent appointment as manager for AFC Wimbledon in December 2018.

Prior to his appointment as manager and during his interview process, Downes was quizzed on comments made which related to homophobia on his Twitter account. Though the board were happy with his explanation of these matters and his Twitter account was quickly deleted.

It remains to be seen what the outcome will be. Downes will most likely be aware of the outcome for Joey Barton, now manager at Fleetwood Town; Joey was charged for the same offence and suspended from all football activities for 18 months.

Portsmouth 0 Southampton 4 …

The eagerly awaited South Coast Derby eventually came last night, as league 1 Portsmouth took on Premier League Southampton. It was the first derby between the two teams since 2012, and predictably enough, went the way of Southampton.

The scoreline might seem a tad harsh on Portsmouth, who fielded a strong side last night. The side bore close resemblance to the team that narrowly missed out on Promotion from League 1 Last season.

Southampton for their part were fresh, following being beaten in another South Coast Derby on Friday night against Bournemouth. That game saw them on the wrong end of a 3-1 scoreline, so last nights game was always going to be a tall order for Portsmouth

However…

Portsmouth more than held their own for 30 minutes, before making two sloppy mistakes by their standards. These defensive errors, which led to Danny Ings Scoring two goals.

FIFA awards Klopp and Alisson; van Dijk and Alisson part of Best XI

On Monday at the Teatro all Scala in Milan, Italy, The Best FIFA Football Awards ™ were hosted. It was a particularly huge night for Champions League winners Liverpool as they had two major award winners for The Best FIFA Men’s Goalkeeper (Alisson) and The Best FIFA Men’s Coach (Jürgen Klopp). Although Virgil van Dijk did not win the award for The Best FIFA Men’s Player, he and Alisson were a part of FIFA FIFPro Men’s World11.

Klopp, after consistently losing in the finals of major competitions such as the Champions League final twice (2012-13 and 2017-18) and the UEFA Europa League Final (2015-2016), he finally was able to get over the hump and win his first major European trophy. Klopp’s journey to glory came with a few bumps in road, having to overcome a massive deficit against FC Barcelona to win 4-3 on aggregate in the semi-final. It ended in glory as Klopp and Liverpool were able to defeat Premier League foe Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 in Madrid to clinch their first Champions League trophy since the 2004-2005 season. Klopp had received 48 percent of the vote, edging out fellow Premier League managers Pep Guardiola of Manchester City (38 percent) and Mauricio Pochettino of Tottenham Hotspur (27 percent) for the top award.

Alisson was able to land the award for The Best FIFA Men’s Goalkeeper after becoming a world-class player for Liverpool in their Champions League triumph and for Brazil in their victory at CONMEBOL Copa América, having been named the Best Goalkeeper and to the Team of Tournament as well. He was able to beat out FC Barcelona’s Marc-André ter Stegen and fellow Brazil compatriot Ederson of Manchester City to win the award as the best goalie in the world.

Virgil van Dijk, although not able to win the award for The Best FIFA Men’s Player after FC Barcelona’s Lionel Messi received 46 percent of the votes, was able to finish second in the race with 38 percent of the votes, just above Cristiano Ronaldo’s 36 percent. The center back had an incredible 2019 as he helped lead a Liverpool defense in their Champions League journey while also playing a key role for the Netherlands during the UEFA Nations League, making it to the finals before ultimately losing to host Portugal.

Alisson and van Dijk were also able to make the FIFA FIFPro Men’s World11, recognizing the best 11 players in their respective positions during 2019. They made the list along with Matthijs de Ligt (Ajax/Juventus), Marcelo (Real Madrid), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Frenkie de Jong (Ajax/FC Barcelona), Eden Hazard (Chelsea/Real Madrid), Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus), Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain), and Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona).

This year was successful for Liverpool as not only were they recognized as a great team by winning the Champions League but received individual awards thanks to those who played a pivotal role in a season their fans will never forget.

Leeds Blow Derby Revenge

It was the same old story for Leeds United at Elland Road for the Championship’s early kick off, as the Whites conceded in stoppage time to make it 1-1 against a Derby County side they had previously dominated. 

United bossed the first half, and took the lead through a Max Lowe own goal before Mateusz Klich put a second half penalty wide. That miss proved costly, with Chris Martin sliding in the Rams’ only shot on target of the game in added time. 

“I said to the players ‘stay in the game’ because the way they play – which is really good – they’re expending a lot of energy. To keep this going for 90 minutes is difficult I think”, said Derby manager Phillip Cocu. 

The Dutchman was proved right, as Leeds appeared to blow themselves out after a furious first half.

Marcelo Bielsa’s men went about their business in fine fashion pressing and haranguing Derby, making sure they barely got a look-in. 

Clear openings were slow to come by, but did eventually come as Jack Harrison saw his close range effort saved by Kelle Roos after excellent work from Stuart Dallas on the right. 

The opener was to come just a minute later though. A Kalvin Phillips free-kick was turned back across goal by the flailing leg of Patrick Bamford. Dallas arrived to turn it towards goal and although his strike was saved by Roos, it rebounded back in off the unfortunate Max Lowe. 

Dallas did nearly have his goal soon after as Roos turned over the Northern Irishman’s effort from the edge of the area, before beating away a Jack Harrison strike from a similar range. 

Bamford continued to struggle in front of goal for United after his early season form. The former Middlesbrough man blazed over the bar after being put through on goal at the end of the first half.

The second half saw then saw a completely different Leeds to the first. Perhaps it was the hot weather or the early kick off, but the home side looked sluggish after half time, and their previous intensity fell off a cliff edge. 

More fine play from Dallas on the right saw Bamford hit the post from close range a couple of minutes into the half, but from then on the Whites’ foot was off the accelerator. 

A quiet second half played out, before Bamford earned his side a pivotal penalty in the 69th minute. Pablo Hernandez played the centre forward in, and his weaving run into the Derby box drew out a clumsy challenge. 

Klich stepped up with a slow run-up, just as he had last week against Barnsley successfully. The run-up itself went well, selling Roos completely the opposite way. But Klich, almost comically, was only able to roll the ball the wrong side of the post. 

What was left of United’s energy reserves now seemed to completely dissipate, especially from Klich who had previously had a superb game setting the tempo in midfield. 

Derby began to ease their way back into it and shifted higher and higher up the pitch, with Leeds becoming increasingly bedraggled. 

The moment for the Rams finally came in added time. A ball from the right found Jamie Paterson on the edge of the area, who had made a positive difference for Derby since his introduction. 

He turned neatly and laid the ball on a plate for fellow substitute Martin, who cooly placed the ball past Kiko Casilla. 

Regardless of the fact that Leeds had slipped off in the second half, it was a somewhat undeserved point for County. Leeds will be ruing missed opportunities as more home points slip through their grasp.

Chelsea vs Liverpool Preview: Who will win the battle at the Bridge?

The Premier League’s gameweek 6 sees Liverpool travel to south London to go toe to toe with rivals Chelsea, which promises to be a mouthwatering battle. Liverpool sit at the top of the Premier League standings while the Blues are currently placed 6th.

Both Liverpool and Chelsea suffered a defeat at the hands of Napoli and Valencia in the first round of the UEFA Champions League, with late goals getting the better of both teams.

However, the attention has quickly turned to Sunday’s clash which is undisputedly a main event of the weekend.

Frank Lampard’s Chelsea had a mixed start to the season as they have won two, drawn two and lost one from the opening five fixtures. While on the other hand, the Reds are enjoying a brilliant start as they are the only side in the division with the 100% record which sees them sit at the top of the pile with 5 points lead on Champions Manchester City.

Here is all you need to know about Sunday’s clash between Liverpool & Chelsea.


Team News:

N’golo Kante is back for Chelsea and is in contention to face Liverpool which certainly is a mega boost for Lampard.

Liverpool’s Naby Keita and Alisson are still not available to feature. While Divock Origi doesn’t look will have a part in game vs Chelsea due to an injury against Newcastle United last week.


Kick-Off time: Sunday, 22nd September (16:30 BST)

Venue: Stamford Bridge, London

Referee: Michael Oliver


Predicted Lineups:

Chelsea:  Kepa; Azpilicueta, Zouma, Christensen, Tomori, Alonso; Jorgiinho, Kovacic; Willian, Mount; Abraham.

Liverpool: Adrian; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Henderson; Salah, Mane, Firmino


Prediction:

Chelsea 1-2 Liverpool

It would be an intense battle and both the teams will try to nullify each other but I think Liverpool will have enough in their tank to get a win at Stamford Bridge.

Reports: David Beckham, Inter Miami set to sign Man City star David Silva

According to several reports, midfielder David Silva is reported to likely join Major League Soccer’s newest franchise Inter Miami after the end of the Premier League season, making it David Beckham’s first big signing for the club.

David Beckham entered the MLS as the league’s first worldwide soccer star in 2007, after arriving from powerhouse Real Madrid. He wants the league to continue to bring in superstars and is hoping to bring them to his franchise in South Beach. Although Silva is not a household name like Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi, he is a player that a team can easily build around.

Since Silva arrived from Valencia nine years ago for £26 million, he has been a catalyst in Man City’s success over the past few years. He has won four Premier League titles, two FA Cups, and four League Cups. Silva has also been a pivotal part in Spain’s history as he was won two European championships and the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. 

Although Silva would miss the first three months of the inaugural season as the MLS campaign starts in March, he may not be the only player arriving in Miami late. There have been several reports that Paris Saint-Germain and Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani is also a target for the team. Also, it was reported that Beckham and his partners Jorge Mas and Paul McDonough were in Barcelona this month, apparently approaching Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez.

Inter Miami had already signed three players prior to the Silva reports. Forward Julián Carranza (Banfield) and midfielder Matías Pellegrini (Estudiantes) are both on loans at their respective teams in Argentina’s Primera División, while Venezuelan defender Christian Makoun arrives after being on loan at Juventus’ U-23 team.

Is Zidane What Real Need?

Just over a year ago, Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid were claiming their fourth Champions League in five years, and their third in a row. A far cry from the side that crumbled against PSG on Wednesday evening.

They managed to hold off a Liverpool side yet to reach the heights of last season, helped by two calamitous errors from Loris Karius.

This Real Madrid side that ruled Europe was packed with individual brilliance, from back to front. Yet, particularly in the last couple of years, it has felt as though this is a side lacking in the collective.

There was no particular style of football you could really label Los Blancos with aside from that of being a pure winning machine, which some may very fairly argue is the most impressive and important style of all. 

While their individual brilliance saw them through Champions League nights, it generally failed to sustain Real properly throughout a league campaign. Throughout their five year period of continental dominance, Los Blancos only won La Liga once. 

On the flip side, you have Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. A superb collective that can dominate over a season in the league, where a one off bad result can be bounced back from. But the chaotic nature of the Champions League knockout stages does not allow for such things. It’s hard to deny that there is a strong element of luck in pretty much all knockout competitions. 

At times, it has felt like fortune favoured Real. Spirited and deserving opposition performances were put to the sword with moments of fortune and brilliance. Overhead kicks have seemingly been a particular feature of Real’s recent dominance in the Champions League. 

And who could deny the wondrous ability of their players. A front three of Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo. Toni Kroos and Luka Modric creating in midfield anchored by Casemiro.

Even in defence, Real Madrid had more excellent attackers. Marcelo and Dani Carvajal probably spent most of their time in the opposition half, and Sergio Ramos’s goal threat from set pieces is admirable.

But this attacking brilliance felt like a problem lying in wait – a lack of coherence and defensive stability. Casemiro was thrown in at the base of midfield, but at times it appeared to be more like Pritt Stick trying to hold an aeroplanes wings on. 

There was a fragility covered up by superstar moments. Real’s midfield and attack had little defensive nous aside from their Brazilian anchorman. And Marcelo’s frequent raids forward left so much space in defence, not helped by Ramos’s instinctive drive to attack the ball. 

It’s miraculous that these weaknesses were never really exploited. It felt inevitable that they would be, and that the time would soon come to shift on Los Blancos’s brilliant but ageing stars. 

Now we skip ahead past their disaster of 2018/19, with Ronaldo’s departure and the chaos of Julen Lopetegui, to the present day back with Zidane. 

There has been some forward shift. Eden Hazard has taken up the number seven shirt, and Vinicius Junior emerged into the first team last season – a child of the 2000s. 

But in defence, there are still issues. Ramos is a conundrum – there is no denying his incredible and combative defensive ability, particularly in one on one duels. But he is reckless, often darting from his position and leaving space in behind him.

However, Real Madrid seem to struggle to cope without him. He was missing last night against PSG as Los Blancos fell to a 3-0 defeat. That was thanks to a two match suspension he picked up for deliberately getting a yellow card in the first leg of Real’s last 16 tie against Ajax. We all know how that second leg went. 

Nacho Monreal also being suspended won’t have helped Zidane and Real, but their failings in Ramos’s absence shows their reliance on individuals – be it through their ability or character. 

Ramos is far from the perfect defender, but he is an aggressive leader and Los Blancos seem to struggle without him. They also, of course, have struggled since Ronaldo’s departure. Not only have they lost his show-stopping moments on the pitch, but also the leading character of the Real Madrid blockbuster. 

Marcelo, for all his frankly laughable defensive lapses, also seems to be a missed presence when he is not in the side. Even when he hits crosses woefully behind their intended recipient, they get finished off via overhead kicks. Some of those sparking moments seem to be fading.

And perhaps this shows what the strength of Zidane was and is. Somehow fashioning this unwieldy band of superstars into a single minded and driven unit, capable pulling off spectacular moments to win big matches – matches they arguably sometimes did not deserve to win. 

But now there is a rebuild going on. The superstars from that team are dispersing, waxing and waning. Zidane has an entirely different task on his hand to when he first took up the Real Madrid job. Old structures will have to be knocked down for new ones to be built, and Zidane may not have the right managerial talents to do so. 

Women’s Super League Round Up: Week Two

Title contenders Manchester City and Arsenal both maintained their unbeaten starts to the season with wins at Reading and Manchester United respectively. Fellow title hopefuls Chelsea however could only manage a draw at Brighton.

Meanwhile surprise package Everton also made it two wins from two games against Bristol City, having only won three games in the league all of last season. 

Elsewhere Tottenham picked up their first ever points in the Super League against Liverpool and last year’s FA Cup finalists, West Ham picked up their first win of the campaign by beating Birmingham.

 Everton’s (The Toffees) unexpected start

The place to begin with is The Toffees, who maintained their unbeaten start to the season by beating Bristol City 2-0.  Two terrific strikes from 21 year old, Chloe Kelly either side of half time secured the points, as the Merseyside club backed up their 1-0 win over Birmingham on the opening day of the season in impressive fashion.

Their unbeaten run however will certainly be put to the test when they next face Manchester City at home.

Manchester City continue to impress

German international, Pauline Bremer continued her prolific start to the season, following up her two goals in mid-week during the 7-1 Champions League win over Lugano, with a double in a 2-0 victory over Reading at Adams Park.

Bremer’s recent displays is certainly a major plus considering the fact that they will be without star player Georgia Stanway for the next six weeks through injury.

Arsenal (The Gunners) made to work

The Gunners left it late against newly promoted Manchester United It took a 89th minute winner from substitute, Danielle Van der Donk to maintain Arsenal’s perfect start to the season, following up on their 2-1 victory over West Ham on the opening weekend.

Casey Stoney’s side have now given a good account of themselves against both of last season’s top two Super League sides, Manchester City and Arsenal.  They will hope to get their first points of the season when they face winless Liverpool in the next round of matches.  Arsenal’s next Super League match is against Brighton at home.

Chelsea (The Blues) held by Brighton

Chelsea had to rely on a stoppage time equaliser from substitute, Adelina Engman after Aileen Whelan had put Brighton ahead with just six minutes to go.

The Blues however, will certainly see this as dropped points and will look to get back to winning ways when they travel to Bristol City.

Tottenham and West Ham pick up first wins

Tottenham meanwhile picked up their first ever Super League win, 1-0 against Liverpool, thanks to a Rachel Furness penalty just before half time.

Liverpool also had to play the last 30 minutes with ten players after centre-back Niamh Fahey was sent off for a foul on Rosella Ayane when the forward was clean through on goal.

Finally West Ham also picked up a 1-0 over Birmingham win thanks to a goal from Canadian international, Adriana Leon.

The London rivals will face each other in the next round of matches at West Ham’s Olympic Stadium.

Dates of the next WSL fixtures

Saturday 28th September

Manchester United vs Liverpool Kick Off (12pm)

Sunday 29th September

Arsenal vs Brighton (12:30pm)

Everton vs Manchester City (12:30pm)

Birmingham City vs Reading (2pm)

West Ham United vs Tottenham Hotspur (2:30pm)

Bristol City vs Chelsea (3pm)

Carlisle United sack manager Steven Pressley after 10 months in charge

League Two side, Carlisle have sacked their manager Steven Pressley as the club currently sit 19th in the division.

Pressley left the club following the 3-1 defeat to Morecambe in the Leasing.com Trophy on Monday night.

The previous Friday, they had progressed through to the FA Cup 2nd Round, beating Dulwich Hamlet 4-1.

Carlisle say they had not seen sufficient progress under Pressley since he was appointed In January this year.

Carlisle’s decision does leave the Layman wondering what type of progress they were expecting, because when he was appointed in January, there were only a few months left until the end of the season, which then is followed by pre season and then the season kicking off.

Given that we are only 3 months into the season, it takes any manager a period of time to settle in, see how the team were playing, what adjustments need to be made and then implement them and thats just the theory side.

Add into the mix, financial constraints, injuries and suspensions; which will always hit any team in any league and you wonder quite what the Cumbrians aspirations are.

Either way, Pressley can leave with his head held high, knowing that previous managers and maybe some with a better pedigree than his, have left the club, after finding the same constraints.

He will be back in football soon and a better manager with this experience.

Advertisements

Advertisements

THE FANS PLATFORM

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: