FOREST v LEEDS Preview

Nottingham Forest versus Leeds is always one of the biggest matches of the season for Forest fans. This one however is bigger than ever, taking on extra significance as both teams are in the race for promotion. Leeds are second four points ahead of fourth- placed Forest which means a win for either side will have a massive effect on their chances of automatic promotion.

Form Guide

Leeds are on a poor run of form with just one win in six, whilst losing four which has seen the gap between the two sides dramatically diminish – due to Forest’s form of three wins, two draws, and one defeat in the last six. That one defeat was last weekend as Forest let a 1-0 lead slip against Birmingham, in a game that turned quickly when Lewis Grabban missed a penalty for the chance to go 2-0 up. Birmingham equalised almost immediately after Forest had bossed proceedings up until then. At the same time, Leeds were losing at home to Wigan (again), which meant Forest could have closed the gap even more and put themselves in a position to leapfrog Leeds with victory over them.

TEAM NEWS

Forest are hopeful that midfielder Samba Sow will be able to return to the side after missing the defeat to Birmigham, Sow has proved a key man having missed all but one of Forest’s defeats this season. Leeds also have a key midfielder missing with Kalvin Phillips missing through suspension. Both sides must decide whether to give debuts to Strikers signed in the January transfer window. Neither Nuno Da Costa (Forest) nor Jean-Kevin Augustin (Leeds) featured last weekend and should both be on the bench for this one.

Head To Head

Forest have a good recent record against Leeds, The meeting at Elland Road this season ended dramatically as Lewis Grabban scored a late equaliser to secure Forest a vital point. Last season’s meetings also had drama and controversy. Forest were leading 1-0 at Elland Road until late on when Kemar Roofe handled the ball into the goal, but the goal was given. The match at the City Ground took place on New Year’s Day 2019 and Forest were 4-2 victors after a topsy-turvy encounter. Leed’s last victory came in August 2017 with a 2-0 victory at the City Ground.

Elsewhere in the Promotion race, leaders West Brom travel to play-off chasing Millwall on Sunday, Fulham are at Blackburn Rovers, Brentford are at home to Middlesbrough, Bristol City play Birmingham on Friday night and Swansea are at home against Derby County.

Championship Table (Top 10)

PositionTeam PointsGD
1.West Bromwich Albion5620
2.Leeds United5519
3,Fulham5213
4.Nottingham Forest5111
5.Brentford5026
6.Bristol City504
7.Preston North End478
8.Swansea City461
9.Millwall453
10.Blackburn Rovers446

Christian Eriksen transfer saga ends as he signs for Inter Milan

With rumors swirling around since last season about wanting to move from Tottenham, Christian Eriksen has finally departed by signing with Inter Milan.

The Danish attacking midfielder has played a pivotal part for the Spurs since he began his career with the club in 2013. His accolades with the North London side include winning the club’s Player of the Year award in 2014 and 2017, was part of the PTFA Team of the Year in 2018 and was a member of the squad that finished as runners-up in last year’s edition of the UEFA Champions League.

Eriksen has had a successful senior career thus far with Ajax and the Spurs. For the Dutch side, where he had been since his youth career in 2008, he scored 25 goals in 113 appearances before leaving for the Premier League side in 2013. Meanwhile, for the English-side, he scored 51 goals in 226 appearances, but has only scored two goals in 20 appearances this season.

For the Denmark National Team, Eriksen has scored 31 goals in 95 appearances. During the 2018 World Cup in Russia, he helped the squad advance to the knockout stages of the tournament for the first time since the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan. After finishing second in Group C to eventual champions France, they ended up losing in the Round of 16 to runner-up Croatia.

With this move to Inter, the Italian giants have been creating their own Premier League squad with the addition of Eriksen. Former Chelsea manager Antonio Conte’s squad this year has also acquired Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United), Alexis Sánchez (loan from Manchester United), Ashley Young (Manchester United), and Victor Moses (loan from Chelsea). 

As Inter sit three points (48) behind Juventus (51) for the top spot in Serie A with 17 games left, their fans are hoping they are team to finally dethrone the Turin squad, who have held the possession since 2012.

WSL Update: Week 10 round-up and Week 11 preview

The Robbins stun Casey Stoney’s United to record first league win, Sam Kerr makes a successful WSL debut for Chelsea and Nick Cushing’s Manchester City record a convincing victory against Tottenham

Bristol City enjoyed a fine start to the New Year as they secured their first league victory of the WSL season. City beat Manchester United 1-0 at United’s Leigh Valley Stadium. 

Former United player Ebony Salmon scored the only goal of the game in the first half by slotting the ball through the legs of goalkeeper Mary Earps.

Sophie Baggaley also performed a starring role for the West Country club in goal, as she pulled off a string of outstanding saves in the game’s closing stages.

Chelsea meanwhile had to come back from a goal down to see off Reading 3-1 at Kingsmeadow.

England’s most-capped international, Fara Williams had given the Royals an early lead before Reading keeper, Grace Moloney was sent off for a late challenge on Chelsea’s Australian debutant Sam Kerr.

Kerr is the Australian and American League record goal scorer who signed for the blues in November but was only available to make her first appearance for her new club in January.

Although she missed a few chances she was involved in the equaliser, producing a classy backheel to create the opening for Beth England to score.

Guro Reiten and Erin Cuthbert completed the scoring in the second half, securing the win for Emma Hayes’ side.

Elsewhere, two goals from Pauline Bremer helped Manchester City to a 4-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur.  Rianna Dean managed to score a penalty for the home team, however further goals from Ellen White and Lauren Hemp put the result beyond any doubt.

The league leaders Arsenal were able to maintain their three point advantage by completing a 2-0 win over Birmingham City.  While Liverpool remained winless as they lost 1-0 to Hope Powell’s Brighton.

The final match between West Ham United and Everton was called off due to a flu outbreak within the East London side’s squad. A rescheduled date is to be confirmed.

Week 11 preview: Saturday 11thJanuary

Manchester City vs Everton (Kick-off 17:30) – BT Sport

The weekend kicks off with Nick Cushing’s team hosting an Everton side that have lost all of their six league matches against Manchester City.

It is set to be one of Cushing’s last games in charge of City as he is going off to take over as assistant manager at New York City in the MLS in February.

The Toffees will have to watch out for City’s top goal scorer Pauline Bremer, the German has scored three goals in her past two games.

Prediction City win 3-0

Predicting that Manchester City will maintain their strong start to 2020.

 Sunday 12thJanuary

Liverpool vs Manchester United (12:30)

Both of these sides are coming off the back off disappointing results last time out. Liverpool did manage a 1-1 draw with Chelsea in their last home game and are currently unbeaten in their last three home matches.

Manchester United however won the reverse fixture in the league back in September 2-0.  They will most likely be looking to their midfielder Lauren James to provide that spark.  James is currently United’s top league goal scorer with five goals.

Prediction: United win 2-1

Think that Manchester United will return to winning ways against Vicky Jepson’s team.

Brighton vs Arsenal (12:30)

Brighton have recently enjoyed an upturn in form in recent weeks aside from the 5-0 loss against Manchester City that is their only defeat in the past five matches.

The defending champions Arsenal meanwhile are on an even better run and have scored 28 goals in their last five games.

The Seagulls will have to pay close attention to Scottish international and Gunners captain Kim Little.  The midfielder has contributed three goals in her last three games and has been an integral part of the North London Club’s impressive run.

Prediction: Arsenal win 2-0

Anticipating that the Gunners will have too much for Seagulls.

Chelsea vs Bristol City (14:00)

The West Country side finally secured their first league win last time out against Manchester United.  They have also won their last two away games in all competitions that indicate that they are starting to turn a corner.

Chelsea however are the only unbeaten team left in the Women Super League and young English midfielder Beth England in particular has been impressive in recent weeks.

Prediction: Chelsea win 4-1

Reckon the blues will put on another strong showing in front of their own fans.

Reading vs Birmingham City (14:00)

Birmingham come into this game not in the best of form having lost three of their past four league matches.  The midlands side however have never lost to Reading in seven matches.

The Royals will most likely look to their England midfielder, Fara Williams to make the difference.  Williams made two assists in Reading’s last home win against Tottenham Hotspur back in December.

Prediction: Reading win 1-0

Believe that home advantage will give The Royals the edge against Birmingham this time around.

Tottenham Hotspur vs West Ham United (14:00)

Tottenham are going through a bit of a tricky period as they have lost their last two league games.  They did however win the reverse fixture against the Hammers 2-0 at the Olympic Stadium in September.

West Ham meanwhile is going through a frustrating time as well as their last two league matches have been postponed for various reasons and they will hope that their squad has recovered from the flu they suffered last week.

Prediction: Draw 2-2

This is a difficult one to predict. So we are going with an entertaining score draw between these sides.

SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY: THE GOOD WORK CARRIED OUT WITHIN FOOTBALL CLUBS

Professional football clubs have an immense following within their local community with increasing influence on a global scale. With their top-tier status in society, this must used to the advantage for the people.

In the last decade, the relationships between football and charities has rapidly grown, and rightfully so. Perhaps the most famous partnership with La Liga highfliers Barcelona who wore the Unicef logo on the front and back of their famous burgundy and navy stripes for over ten years. The connection of the two organisations saw the Spanish club contribute £2 million per year from 2016, in aid of improvement of education through sport and play in countries where the United Nations charity operated. The perennial champions of La Liga successfully support this wonderful charity, but should management of football clubs begin to focus upon taking advantage of their platform to provide social responsibility?

Looking most recently at the disastrous situation down under, the destruction of homes and wildfire life has caused a sad scene for all. With premise of the Australian open being held in Melbourne on the 20th January, elites of the game have subscribed to play in an exhibition match to raise money for those affected by the bush fires in Australia. A simplistic idea but an event which will not only bring enjoyment for spectators to give break from their hardships, with participation of Rodger Federer, Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal confirmed, but is also an effective money maker for the economic help the country needs.

Looking specifically at professional footballers, their social media platforms could be used as a gateway for good causes. An impeccable example is of Aston Villa man Tyrone Mings. On top of establishing a football academy which targeted those who had been affected by homelessness, just as he had as a youngster, he opened up his executive box for the Christmas game against Southampton. The regular starter at Villa Park used Twitter to announce his opening and his followers may send nominations of inspirational people who perhaps could not make the game in normal circumstances. Social media was full of praise for the kind gesture but most importantly those who spent the day in Aston Villa’s hospitality, courtesy of Ming’s, had a once in a life time experience.

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Growing up in a homeless shelter, Tyrone Ming’s uses his status to help those who descend from a similar background has he did.

Aston Villa as a club, along with many others, have a close relationship with their local hospice. Acorn Children’s Hospice have been the official charity partners of Villa sine 2006 and have quoted on their website the players regularly visit the hospice to show support and awareness for those who use the hospice and those working there. It can be a very humbling experience for the players, but with the stature of their football player title, you can imagine what it will bring to those they are visiting.

Footballers have the status and ability to make these simplistic gestures which has potential to be a once in a life-time experience. It is clear to see many clubs and individual players are aware of the positive effect they can have on wider society and do show social responsibility. There is always room for further improvements and clubs and players should be encouraged to increase and maintain their interaction within society to the upmost.

Club legends: a new era of managers?

The past year has seen an increase of past player managerial appointments, with the likes of Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and most recently Mikel Arteta at Arsenal. But how big is the risk to appoint a club legend?

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Frank Lampard is well under way in his first season in charge of Chelsea

Frank Lampard is possibly the best example of a club legend taking charge of a former club. Lampard spent 13 playing seasons at Chelsea where he totalled 648 appearances for the South London club. Lampard took charge of Derby County during the 2018/19 before returning to the capital where he was appointed as Head Coach.

At the time it was seen as a gamble as it was only Lampard’s second season in a managerial position but with England teammate Steven Gerrard taking the same role at Rangers, Chelsea were not alone in their method of appointing a new generation of managers. Lampard got off to a respectable start with their first league loss of the season coming against reigning champions Manchester City at the Ethiad. Since then, the club has seen its fair share of mixed results. Some have been reasoned poor results, such as a 3-1 loss to struggling Everton, due to the youth of the team but and possible naivety.

But can it be argued that the lines of managerial blame become blurred when the manager in question has already such an intense relationship with the club? If the team isn’t performing to a standard expected, an element of the blame is usually passed onto the manager and the way in which the manager reacts is generally a determiner of their future. As with any manager, previous club relations or not, it is up to the powers above how long they are in charge at club. It can be suggested bias may come into play if the manager is affiliated with the club, with a possible unconscious hope of wanting him to do well. Equally, it may cause discrepancy amongst fans, some may want him to do well but if a group believe he is only keeping his places due to his club history, it could cause a divide in the support.

On the other hand with some clubs of late sacking managers as if it was going out of fashion, could it be a good thing to appoint more club favourites to coaching positions? Affiliation with the club could lead to longer managerial spells if the club want the individual to succeed in a coaching role. Former players could have the opportunity to reignite old passions within the club which would reinforce its culture. This would be advantageous also because they know and understand the club and could potentially reinforce its older traditions of play which will be reason as to why a large majority of the fans have such strong connections to the club.

Respectively it is a risk to appoint a club legend, especially for a ‘big’ successful club, who could easily attract a ‘safe’ option of an experienced man. However, the risk could be beneficial if the manager is able to recreate the passion they once had for playing for the club in the form of management.

TOWN TAKE ALL THREE POINTS FROM ROVERS

A fixture which has seen more draws in the last few years than an other score-line, fans on both sides would have been hopeful for more than just a point a piece.

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A second goal of the Christmas period for Huddersfield’s front man

Following this weeks news of star striker Bradley Dack being ruled out for the season due to injury, a heavy weight laid upon a Blackburn side who were looking to continue their unbeaten run dating back to 9th November. For Huddersfield, Danny Cowley made two changes to the Boxing Day starting line up which included the return of left back Jaden Brown who came in to replace Flo Hadergjonajat.

As expected, the beginning stages saw both teams very open in defence with both sides having chances in the primary stages. Danny Graham was the first to capitalise one of these chances for the visitors as he headed past Grabara, leaving the Huddersfield players to simply watch as he nodded down to the near post. Up at the other end shortly after referee Andy Woolmer waved away penalty claims as Karlan Grant was brought to ground in the penalty area. Woolmer was keeping the game flowing choosing not to be disciplinary with cards where other officials might have been during the first half.

Shortly before half time a whipped in free kick from Juninho Bacuna reached six yard box to be met by Town’s centre half Jon Gorenc Stankovic who recorded his home turf debut goal with a bullet header to make it 1-1. Stankovic arguably Huddersfield’s best player of the day was up against Blackburn’s Sam Gallagher who caused problems for the home side on multiple occasions, a great contest to watch throughout the 90 minutes.

It was Huddersfield who fought back in the second half to take the lead through a skilled strike from Steve Mounie who, from middle distance, struck the ball into the top right hand corner of the Blackburn net in the latter quarter of the game. A good strike which turned out to be the winner for the Terriers, however this wasn’t before Huddersfield’s keeper Grabara was needed to pull off a close range save to deny Rovers an equaliser.

Nine minutes added on for injury time led to a majority nervous atmosphere at the John Smiths but the home side managed to cling on to their one goal advantage. A good game of football from both sides with some real glimpses of talent in youth players from John Buckley for Rovers who showed intent to get the ball forward and supply his strikers. Similarly, Lewis O’Brien who balanced maturity and desire to attack well, stepping up to replace the injured Jonathon Hogg.

Liverpool to battle Flamengo in the Club World Cup final

The European Champions escaped a close semi-final match in the Club World Cup against Liga MX side Monterrey in Qatar, ultimately needing a stoppage-time winner from substitute Roberto Firmino for the 2-1 victory.

 Liverpool had several key players either unable to play or started on the bench for the match, especially in the center of the defense. The situation was so complicated that midfielder Jordan Henderson had to fill in the void due to Virgil van Dijk (illness), Dejan Lovren (injured), and Joel Matip (injured) not able to suit up for the squad.

The current Premier League leaders got off to a quick start after Naby Keita scored in the 12th-minute, courtesy of an outstanding reverse pass from Mohamed Salah. It was a short lead, however, as Rogelio Funes Mori scored two minutes later for the recent winners of the CONCACAF Champions League.

The Reds were able to squeeze out a narrow victory after Firmino, who only entered the match in the 85th-minute, scored the late goal, causing the side to head into the finals of the competition.

In the finals, Liverpool will face off against Brazilian Série A side Flamengo. They will face off against a familiar opponent in Filipe Luis, who played for the likes of Atlético Madrid and Chelsea before making the move to his home country this season.

The two sides will play on Saturday, the first time they both play against each other in a tournament match since the 1981 Intercontinental Cup, where Flamengo defeated Liverpool 3-0 in Tokyo.

Match PREVIEW: Wolves vs Sheffield United

This weeks Sunday afternoon kick off is set up to be anything but relaxing, with two of the most in form Premier League teams going head to head at the Molineux.

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McBurnie celebrates late equaliser against Manchester United last weekend.

Both teams will enter the fixture on the back of 3-3 score lines; Wolves progressing through Europe midweek and United gaining one point in a game where they perhaps should have taken all three. The supporters will certainly be hoping for a repeat of the exciting performances both teams have delivered since the beginning of the season.

Wolves fans have certainly enjoyed watching prolific forward Raul Jimenez and tricky winger Adama Traore who have 12 goals between them this season, which has allowed Nuno’s team to balance both Premier League and European football this season. Jimenez has been praised by Nuno for his successes in front of goal this season with reference to his clinical finishing and aerial threat which has galvanised the team throughout the season.

On the other hand Sheffield’s following will not have seen as many goals from their team as Wolves have, but this is not to say it will be a game of out scoring. Sheffield’s immaculate record away from Bramall Lane is only matched by runaway league leaders Liverpool, and no doubt manager Chris Wilder will be putting out his most consistent team to carry forward this record for another week. The wing back positions have become integral for the Blades just as the skilful Edna Stevens, who has shown talent and delivered dangerous balls which have been optimized by the lurking striker in the form of top goal scorer Lys Mousset. The effort shown by the players on the pitch has been replicated within the whole of the South Yorkshire club, which is what has seen Sheffield create many friends already in the their time in the top flight, which is looking to be a lengthy stay.

With two highly respected managers, this fixture is set to be a test of two great footballing minds, a test of strength and talent for the players and a test for the spectators to stay on their seats!

Championship VAR: for better or worse?

With Izzy Brown’s winning goal against Charlton reviewed post match as handball, would the Championship be better off with VAR?

But would the implication of VAR have made the night any less frustrating for an unlucky Charlton team? It is clear that VAR is yet to be perfected in the Premier League therefore if it was to be used in the Championship it would be certain to cause further controversy.

The Championship, known for its intensely contested and physical football, would be in for interval filled games if VAR was too be established before its system is perfected.

It can argued the biggest downfall of the VAR system at the moment is the time it takes to come to a decision, whether it be correct or not. Without doubt this would lead to disgruntlement from the fans, players and managers surrounding the fluency of the 90 minutes.

Despite this, in cases such as the Hatter’s ‘illegitimate’ match winning goal, managers especially argue that VAR should be in place for one hundred percent accuracy of the game. Which yes, if VAR was in use the goal would have been reviewed, but as we have seen in the Premier League it is not always correct. Raheem Sterling’s goal against Chelsea was wrongly ruled out for offside through the process of VAR, with the officials proving they are still able to make a wrong decision during a live game. VAR is just not yet at without it’s flaws.

With this is mind it seems dubious to introduce VAR to another football league as the system appears just as unpredictable as football would be without it.

Manchester City owners add Mumbai City to CFG network

“We believe that this investment will deliver transformative benefits to Mumbai City FC, to City Football Group and to Indian Football as a whole.”

Manchester City owners City Football Group (CFG) have announced the purchase of a majority stake in Mumbai City FC.

It comes just a day after CFG announced the sale of a 10% stake to American technology investment firm Silver Lake for $500 million, valuing the group at just short of $5 billion.

The Indian Super League side become the eighth football club involved in the group’s network, also joining Melbourne City in Australia, New York City in the USA, Yokohama F. Marinos in Japan, Club Atletico Torque in Uruguay, Girona in Spain and Sichuan Jiuniu in China.

It was announced on Thursday morning that a 65 per cent share has been acquired, while the club’s existing shareholders – including actor and film producer Ranbir Kapoor – will hold the remaining shares.

Khaldoon Al Mubarak, chairman of CFG, said in a statement that the group believes the investment will provide “transformative benefits” for Mumbai City, CFG and to Indian football as a whole.

He added: “City Football Group is committed to the future of football in India and to the potential for Mumbai City FC within that future.

“We are very much looking forward to playing an active role in Mumbai City FC’s fan and local communities, and working with our co-owners to further develop the Club as quickly as possible.”

While the deal provides clear benefits for Mumabi City and Indian football, it is also likely to benefit the rest of the CFG network, in particular flagship club Man City.

With the Premier League champions unable to play in countries such as India or the USA every week, CFG provides an opportunity to maintain franchises of the brand in such locations, enabling a constant market presence.

Deloitte’s Fernando Pons has stated that the CFG model is a leading example of ‘glocalisation’, a concept which implies adapting global products for local markets.

And while Man City merchandise isn’t sold by other CFG clubs – so that supporters of different British teams are not alienated – Pons states that followers of subsidiaries will almost certainly become MCFC fans.

A wider network of clubs improves their capabilities in terms of supporter base, and the larger their fan base the more revenue CFG will produce. With that in mind, it is unlikely that the group will stop at Mumbai, and – according to reports – CFG could make a move in Brazil and Mexico next.

POCH OUT, JOSE IN AT SPURS

Tottenham’s poor start to the season has resulted in Mauricio Pochettino losing his job. It was not long ago that Pochettino was one of the most admired and sought after managers in the business, yet now he has been sacked by Spurs despite being heavily linked with the Real Madrid managers’ position in the summer – following his success in guiding The Lilywhites to the Champions League Final. His achievements speak for themselves; when he took over Spurs were a Top 4 outsider, he turned them into the closest challengers to Liverpool, Man City and Leicester for the premiership title. All whilst developing young players and playing attractive attacking football. It comes as no surprise to me that he is already being linked with another top job as Bayern Munich are reportedly interested as are Real Madrid once more.

What went wrong?

Tottenham’s success was considered more remarkable due to the fact Lucas was their only signing over 2 transfer windows. But this created a togetherness and team spirit which were key elements in reaching the illusive Champions League final. This summer this changed with money being spent on new players, existing players linked with moves away and Pochettino himself linked with other clubs. Bringing players in with the aim of building on what he had already done was what it seemed Spurs needed. But with players like Christian Eriksen and Toby Alderweireld seemingly seeking moves away it all added up to less cohesion and team spirit than beforehand.

Tottenham became one of my favourite sides to watch under his management and I fear this could change under the new man in control. José Mourinho is renowned for defensive football or “parking the bus” as it has been referred to as and this is the complete opposite of Pochettino. He likes 2 defensive midfielders whose prime focus is to protect the back 4; this could result in Eric Dier being brought back into the team in place of Harry Winks – despite his recent success in the International break for England. His wide players in a 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 formation need to track back which for me casts further doubts on Eriksen’s future at the club. However one thing that Mourinho always seems to do is win trophies and that is the one thing Spurs under Poch didn’t do, so the question is whilst they might not be as entertaining or attacking if they win a trophy will this be forgiven?

Do you think Mourinho is a good replacement for Pochettino?

Top 10 players of the decade

With the decade that brought 7-1 wins and title winners that defied all odds, we’re going through the top 10 players of the last 10 years.

Lionel Messi

How could you not put this man in? Labelled one of if not the best player of all time, the Argentinian has been hugely influential. Messi has two Champions League titles and a Golden ball at the 2014 World Cup to his name. He also scored ninety-one goals in one calendar year, a record that hasn’t been equalled in recent years.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Another who is impossible to miss, Ronaldo has done everything a player can do. You name it, the Portuguese has won it. Two La Liga’s, two Copa Del Rey’s, four Champions League’s and a winners medal at Euro 2016 to name just a few team trophies. Real Madrid’s all time top scorer has also won five Ballon d’or.

Neymar

The Brazilian burst onto the scene with Santos in 2013 which earned him a move to Barcelona for around seventy million. After being a crucial part of the deadly MSN trio that lead the Catalonian side to a Champions League, Neymar moved to Paris Saint German for a record breaking two hundred million.

Andreas Iniesta

The first of four midfielders in this list, the magic Spaniard has been included in the Ballon d’or top three twice since 2010. He was also an influential part of the Spanish World Cup winning side in 2010 and he even scored the winning goal in the final.

Xavi

Iniesta’s midfield partner for club and country, Xavi is you dream midfielder. One of the best ball players in recent years, Xavi has been in the top three of the Ballon d’or once and was another who was crucial to Spain’s World Cup wining team. In 2015, he moved from Barcelona, the club where he’d played for over fifteen years to join Quatrain side Al Sadd. After four years of making everyone around him look like fools despite being in his mid thirties, he became their manager at at the start of this season.

Andrea Pirlo

The third magic midfielder in this list, Pirlo is the definition of majestic. The Italian could always find a pass and didn’t just pass. Some of his passes defied physics with him being able to make the ball go where ever he wanted. The fact that he has very little individual credit to his name is outrageous being one of the most underrated players of our decade.

Luis Suarez

After announcing himself to the world with Ajax, the Uruguayan moved to Liverpool where he formed a deadly partnership with Sturridge. After scoring sixty nine goals over four successful seasons, he moved to Barcelona for seventy million. Despite a decline in recent years, Suarez has been brilliant at the Blaugranes.

Luka Modric

The last of the midfielders in this list and unsurprised the only Croatian. He was labelled the ‘worst signing of the summer’ by Real Madrid fans after his move to the club in 2013. He’s proved the haters wrong since then and after an impressive 2017 and 2018 he finally picked up an individual award. He won the Ballon d’or in 2018 and won the golden ball at the 2018 World Cup after helping his nation get to their first ever final on the world stage.

Sergio Ramos

One of the biggest (and dirtiest) characters in the footballing world makes it into our list. Ramos isn’t afraid to voice his opinion or go in for a tackle meaning he has accumulated twenty five red cards (the most in Europe). He has won everything their is to win with Spain and Real Madrid so you can’t not put him in.

Manuel Neuer

Another who’s declined in recent years, Neuer has undoubtedly been one of the best goalkeepers of our decade. He has so much agility and he was probably the best ball playing goalkeeper in his prime. The World Cup winner has also kept Barcelona first choice keeper Ter Stegan to only twenty three Germany caps.

LA Galaxy look towards PSG’s Edinson Cavani to replace Zlatan Ibrahimović

According to several reports, the LA Galaxy are hoping to replace Zlatan Ibrahimović with former PSG teammate Edinson Cavani.

Ibrahimović, who had been in the league since making his much-anticipated debut for the Galaxy on March 31, 2018, decided it was time to leave the club after scoring an impressive 52 goals in only 56 appearances.

Cavani, who has been sensational for the French giants since arriving from Napoli in 2013, has fallen down the pecking order after the club signed Inter Milan’s Mauro Icardi on loan for this season. This has caused the Uruguayan striker to find a move that could get him playing time, which the MLS would be able to offer.

Throughout the summer, Cavani had been linked to David Beckham’s Inter Miami for their inaugural season, but Ibrahimović’s departure could lead the storied franchise to sign the prolific striker.

The Uruguayan has been a pivotal part of PSG since his arrival, scoring 136 goals in 192 appearances with the club. Cavani has also been sensational for his national team, alongside FC Barcelona’s striker Luis Suárez, bagging 48 goals in 114 appearances. 

If the Galaxy are able to land Cavani, it would be a major coup for the league. The striker has dominated Europe, winning a Coppa Italia with Napoli in 2012, winning five Ligue 1 titles, and many more. The Uruguayan was also a part of the squad that won the 2011 Copa América in Argentinian soil.

Although Cavani’s personality may not as out-of-the box as Ibrahimović’s, whose flair off the pitch seemed to take over the city of Los Angeles and the league, he is a player that could make an immediate impact if signed.

The 32-year-old looks as if he could still play at a high level, so some may wonder why he would move to the MLS, a league considered to be a place where Europe’s biggest stars come to “retire.” However, if the Galaxy are able to land Cavani, it could be a huge step to increase star influence in the league, having already had players such as Beckham, Ibrahimović, Thierry Henry, Didier Drogba, and many more take their talents to the U.S. and Canada. 

As the Galaxy become desperate to search for their next No. 9, it should be interesting to see if Cavani will be able to fill the giant void left by Ibrahimović in a city where the lights and pressure shine the brightest.

FIFA Appoint Wenger…

FIFA have announced they have appointed Arsene Wenger as their new Chief Of Global Football Development.

Wenger has been out of work since leaving Arsenal, being their manager for some 22 years. In the last 12 months he had hinted that he was looking to return to football in ‘some capacity’ possibly at managerial or head coach level.

In the last week, he was interviewed for and looked set to take the Bayern Munich head coach position, a position he has previously been linked with.

However talks on that stalled, because even at 70… he wanted a longer contract than Bayern were offering.

But now it seems that he has found a more fitting role, given his all round knowledge, global contacts and absolutely breath taking football experience.

FIFA have described Wenger as being a “Leading Authority on Technical Matters” a fact you could hardly disagree with.

Wengers new role has yet to be fully defined, but is thought to be ‘driving growth for men and women across the Globe’.

Certainly it is a role which for those who like Wenger, will be followed with great interest. Another part of the role will involve coaching education and a programme that will encourage former players to become managers and stay in the football world.

Given Wenger’s reputation and experience in the football sphere, his role is expected to be fulfilled well.

Arsenal legend Thierry Henry named head coach of MLS side Montreal Impact

Thierry Henry, one of the biggest players in the most popular sport worldwide, was appointed to be the head coach of the Montreal Impact on a two-year contract.

 For Henry, who has played for the likes of some of Europe’s top clubs such as Monaco, Juventus, Arsenal, and FC Barcelona, this will be his second stint in the league after he played for the New York Red Bulls from 2010-2014, scoring 51 goals in 122 appearances for the club.

The Frenchman began his coaching career in February 2015, coaching Arsenal’s youth teams along with working for Sky Sports. Henry later became an assistant coach, specifically focused on the forwards, for the Belgium national team under manager Roberto Martinez. His efforts led him to be offered the managerial position for Bordeaux, but disagreements with the club’s owners led him to not accept the job. 

After being promoted to lead assistant coach, Henry accepted his first job as a manager for his former club Monaco in October after the firing of Leonardo Jardim. After starting off his tenure with a 2-1 loss at Strasbourg, Henry was unable to get a win for over a month before defeating Caen 1-0 in November. The club’s struggles led him to sign several key players during the winter transfer window, including former Arsenal teammate Cesc Fábregas from Chelsea and Brazilian center back Naldo from Schalke. Ultimately, these signings did not help the club improve its form, and Henry was dismissed from his former club after the team was in 19th at the time, finishing his tenure with a record of 4-5-11.

 Although Henry’s tenure at Monaco was rough, he does not have to face the pressure of relegation in the MLS with the Impact. The club’s partnership with Italian-side Bologna will also offer a great deal of help as he would be able to loan some players from a top-flight league into the squad, offering some much-needed assistance for a squad that missed the playoffs after finishing 9th in the Eastern Conference. 

With the fate of Montreal’s success in the league in the hands of Henry, time will tell if the Frenchman – who had only previously managed one side prior and was unsuccessful – will be able to improve the squad’s performance compared to last season.

How do you think Henry will get on at Montreal Impact?

Women’s Football Weekend

Following a record-breaking attendance of 77,768 for the England international match against Germany last weekend, The FA is set to launch the first ever Women’s Football Weekend this Sunday 17thNovember.

All 12 teams will be in action in the Women’s Super League with three of the six ties being played at Premier League grounds and another at a well- known and highly respected Championship stadium.

The weekend begins at 12:30pm with a repeat of last season’s FA Cup final as Manchester City will be looking to bounce back from their first defeat of the season against a strong Arsenal team last time out. They host West Ham at their Academy Stadium.

Brighton’s Amex Stadium will see the Seagulls welcome fellow strugglers Birmingham City, while Reading entertain Bristol City at the Madejski, both at 2pm.

The other 2pm kick-off sees league leaders Chelsea against newly promoted Manchester United at the Blues Cherry Red Record Stadium, in what promises to be an entertaining match between two of the divisions in-form sides.

The final two matches feature two of the most enthralling Derbies in English football. The Merseyside Derby will take place in front of the Kop at Anfield between Liverpool and Everton. The North London Derby meanwhile is set to take place at The Tottenham Hotspur stadium as Tottenham Hotspur host Arsenal.

Tickets at Anfield are set to cost just £5 for adults while tickets to Tottenham vs Arsenal priced slightly more at £6.50, both matches start from 3pm.

FA Cup Final Rematch

Both Manchester City and West Ham United will be looking to get back to winning ways. West Ham suffered a 3-1 defeat against table topping Chelsea, while Manchester City lost for the first time in the Super League away at defending champions Arsenal, 1-0.

Nick Cushing’s Manchester City side completed the domestic cup double against Matt Beard’s West Ham team the last time these two sides met back in May of this year, winning 3-0.

City also completed the league double over the Hammers last season that included a  7-1 victory at the Academy Stadium.

The Hammers will need to watch out for striker Pauline Bremer.  The German international so far has eight goals in nine games this season for City.

Match Prediction: Manchester City 4-1 West Ham United

Cannot see anything other than a comfortable Manchester City home win in this one.

Amex and Madejski Stadiums host Women Super League football

Hope Powell’s Brighton side host Birmingham City.  The Seagulls are still waiting for their first win in the Super League this season having lost 2-0 away at Everton last time out. Birmingham however gained their first win of the season, a 2-0 home win against Liverpool.

The South Coast club will very much be looking a repeat of last season’s 2-1 score line.

Prediction: Brighton 1-1 Birmingham City

The matches last season between the sides were close and I can see both teams cancelling each other out this time around.

Reading has had somewhat of a mixed start to this season so far.

The Royals have managed six points from their opening five matches; they are coming off a 2-0 loss against newly promoted Manchester United.  Bristol City meanwhile is one of three sides still without a win in the Super League, they were only narrowly beaten 2-1 against Tottenham in their last game.

Reading won both league matches against the West Midlands club last season; this included a comprehensive 3-0 home win.

Prediction: Reading 2-0 Bristol City

Predict that it will be relatively comfortable win for The Royals.

Battle of two in-form teams

The League leaders Chelsea host Casey Stoney’s Manchester United at the Cherry Red Record Stadium. Both of these sides have won their last four matches in all competitions.

Emma Hayes’ Chelsea team remain the only unbeaten Super League side, while the only two defeats that Manchester United have received were against last season’s top two sides, Arsenal and local rivals Manchester City.

This Sunday’s match will mark the first ever meeting between the two teams.

 The Red Devils will need to keep talented England international Beth England quiet. The Blues striker has two goals and one assist so far this campaign and she recently scored in England’s 3-2 win against the Czech Republic.

Prediction: Chelsea 2-1 Manchester United

Predicting that the league leaders will maintain their unbeaten record.

Merseyside Derby in front of The Kop

Liverpool will be hoping that hosting the first ever Women Super League fixture at Anfield will inspire the team to their first win of the season against fierce rivals Everton.

The Reds won this fixture 3-1 in the last campaign and will be looking for more of the same this time around.

In complete contrast to their Merseyside rivals, Everton have enjoyed a strong start and are currently fifth in the table with three wins from their five matches so far.

Liverpool will have to stop England striker Chloe Kelly.  She is currently the division’s leading scorer with four goals.

Prediction: Liverpool 1-2 Everton

I predict that Chloe Kelly will prove the difference between the two teams in this one.

First ever WSL North London Derby at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

Newly promoted Tottenham Hotspur will take on Joe Montemurro’s Arsenal in their first ever Women Super League match.

Both sides won their last matches and will be looking to build on those results. Arsenal in particular will be looking to keep pace with title rivals Chelsea.

Tottenham will have to look out for prolific Dutch striker Danielle van de Donk. She is currently the Gunners top goal scorer in the Super League with three goals.

Prediction: Tottenham 1-3 Arsenal

Can see Arsenal coming out on top in this one. The Gunners attackers are in good form with the likes of Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema as well as the previously mentioned van de Donk.

Fixture list: Sunday 17th November

Manchester City vs West Ham United (Kick-off 12:30pm)

 Reading vs Bristol City (2pm)

 Chelsea vs Manchester United (2pm)

 Brighton & Hove Albion vs Birmingham City (2pm)

 Tottenham Hotspur vs Arsenal (3pm) –  Live on BT Sport

 Liverpool vs Everton (3pm)

Chelsea Women’s land international superstar Sam Kerr

Manager Emma Hayes and the Chelsea Women’s side, who are currently the leaders of the WSL at 4-1-0, improved their squad drastically by signing Australian sensation Sam Kerr on a two-and-a-half-year contract.

The Blues competed against several of European’s top clubs, including FC Barcelona, PSG, and Champions League winners Lyon, but were able to sway the prolific scorer into playing in England. She will officially join the squad in January 2020.

Kerr, 26, was rotating her playing time between the Perth Glory of Australia’s W-League (whose season runs from October to April) and the Chicago Red Stars of the NWSL (whose season ran from April to October), which was taking a toll on the striker. 

The Australian international had a strong campaign in her home country’s league last season as she won the Golden Boot Award for the second consecutive year in the league with 13 goals. Kerr also had an MVP season in the U.S. as she accumulated a league-record 18 goals along with five assists – leading the Red Stars to the championship game before ultimately losing to the North Carolina Courage. She is currently the all-time leading scorer in both leagues (64 in W-League, 65 in NWSL).

However, Kerr is most known for being the face of soccer Down Under, where she has been striving for the Matildas since her international debut at a mere 15 years of age. The captain of the squad has scored 38 goals in 83 appearances, leading Australia to the Round of 16 in the most recent edition of FIFA’s Women’s World Cup before falling to Norway in penalties.

 This signing for Chelsea was a huge step towards league and European dominance as they look to compete with these powerhouses by signing one of the best goal scorers in women’s soccer history.

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.

WSL Update: Vivianne Miedema keeps Arsenal in the title race

Defending champions Arsenal secured a vital 3-2 win at Liverpool in the latest round of the Women Super League. 

 The impressive Rinsola Babajide had given Liverpool a surprise lead against Joe Montemurro’s side, breaking clear to slide the ball past Pauline Peyraud-Magnin in the Arsenal goal.

England international, Jordan Nobbs then sparked a dramatic three-minute turn around for the Gunners. She provided the cross for Vivianne Miedema to steer home.  Nobbs then scored herself with a powerful header into the top corner.

Rachel Furness however was able to draw the reds level before half time after capitalising on a defensive error from Arsenal full back Lisa Evans.

In the second half, just when it looked like the defending champions were going to drop crucial points, their star striker Miedema again popped up with a critical header to secure the Gunners first win in three WSL games.

Arsenal’s WSL rivals Chelsea and Manchester City both secured home victories against relegation threatened Birmingham City and Bristol City respectively.

Beth England managed to keep up her impressive WSL scoring record for the Blues by grabbing the crucial second and her 13thof the campaign, to help secure a 2-0 victory over the Midlands Club.

In Alan Mahon’s first game in charge of Manchester City meanwhile, Gemma Bonner’s second minute goal was enough to earn the Citizens a 1-0 victory over Bristol City.

A 2-0 victory for Reading over East London side West Ham United was enough to move them up to fourth above Casey Stoney’s Manchester United team, who were held to a 1-1 draw by Hope Powell’s Brighton & Hove Albion.

Elsewhere, Tottenham Hotspur fought back from two goals down to draw 2-2 against Everton in a fiery encounter at their Hive Stadium.

Goals from the Toffees top scorer, Chloe Kelly and Inessa Kaagman had put the Merseyside club in control, however Spurs’ substitute Angela Addison and a long-range free kick from Emma Mitchell earned the North London side a share of the spoils.

February 23rdMatch Previews

Everton vs Manchester United (12:30pm Kick-off)

There is just one point and one place separating these two sides and is a crucial match in the race for finishing fourth.

Casey Stoney’s team have won just once on the road in their past five visits and that was against relegation threatened Birmingham City.

Everton’s home form meanwhile has been pretty good in recent weeks and they have only lost to Manchester City and Arsenal in their last five home games.

Manchester United however won both the previous meetings between the sides including a 3-0 victory at Everton last November in the Continental Tyres Cup.

Prediction Everton 2-0 win

We fancy the Toffees to secure their first win over Manchester United this time around with recently called up England striker, Chloe Kelly proving the difference. 

Birmingham City vs Bristol City (2pm)

This is certainly a relegation six pointer between these two midlands’ clubs.

Bristol City are currently bottom of the Super League but could move up to 10thwith a win over rivals Birmingham City.

Both sides come into this one not in the best of form and have only managed wins in cup games in recent weeks.

The Blues do boast a strong record against the Robins having won five of their previous six encounters including a 2-0 win in the league’s reverse fixture last December.

Prediction: Birmingham City 1-0 win

We believe that Birmingham City will secure the crucial three points in tense encounter. 

Brighton & Hove Albion vs Tottenham Hotspur (2pm)

Hope Powell’s Brighton side come into this one in good form having just lost one of their last five matches.  They have also only lost just once at home in 2020, against defending champions Arsenal.

Spurs meanwhile have been relatively inconsistent in their first season in the WSL so far, however they do find themselves well clear of relegation at this point.

The North London side won the only encounter between the sides back in December in a closely fought 1-0 game at The Hive Stadium.

Prediction: Brighton 2-1 win

We are going for another home win in this one, the Seagulls have been strong at home in recent weeks and we are anticipating them to put on another strong showing in front of their own fans.  

Manchester City vs Chelsea (2pm)

This is arguably the title decider and featured game of the weekend.

Both of these sides are in terrific form, Chelsea are still unbeaten throughout this campaign yet they currently sit second, one point behind their latest opponents Manchester City.

Emma Hayes’ side do however crucially have a game in hand over the Citizens and the home team also come into this one with a newly appointed manager in Alan Mahon, who is taking charge of just his second match.

The West London club won the only meeting of the season so far in 2-1 win at Kings Meadow.

Presently that remains to date  Chelsea’s only victory over Manchester City.

Prediction 1-1 draw

We do not think there is much to split these two teams and we believe this will be a score draw.

West Ham United vs Liverpool (3pm)

West Ham United have been struggling in recent weeks with just one win in their past five games.  That came against Brighton in mid-January.

Vicky Jepson’s Liverpool however have been putting in some good performances recently without getting results, they certainly challenged defending champions Arsenal last time out.

Liverpool’s record against the Hammers is also a good one; they have won two of their three encounters and drew 1-1 against them earlier this season.

Prediction Liverpool 3-1 win

The Merseyside club have been impressive in recent weeks and with the likes of Rinsola Babajide and Rachel Furness in the side we think that they will fire Liverpool to a crucial three points. 

Ajax’s Hakim Ziyech set to join Chelsea this summer

After a verbal agreement was reached between Chelsea and Ajax, Hakim Ziyech is set to join the Premier League side for €45 million.

Ziyech, who had signed a three-year contract with the Dutch giants this past August, was linked to a move to England for some time. However, the South London club were the only ones able to snatch the 26-year-old.

Criticized for not making a move during the winter transfer window, especially after fighting to get their ban removed, Chelsea were able to add a player who can make a difference on the pitch.

 Already filled with tons of young talent on the squad, the Moroccan international brings an impressive pedigree from the Netherlands and is hoping to having similar success in one of the best league’s in the world. 

The attacking midfielder has some familiarity of what the Blues are all about, having played them twice this season during the group stage of the UEFA Champions League.

During his senior career, Ziyech has scored 79 goals in 211 appearances for Heerenveen, Twente, and Ajax. However, he was most known for his excellent passing, leading the Eredivisie in assists four times over the course of his career.

Most of Ziyech’s success came after playing for de Godenzonen, where he was Ajax’s Player of the Year twice, included in the Eredivise’s Team of the Year three times, and, most notably, part of the UEFA Champions League Squad of the Season last year when the Dutch side made a surprise run to the semi-finals of the tournament before losing to Tottenham.

After some notable players, particularly Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus) and Frenkie de Jong (FC Barcelona), on the team left for bigger clubs, Ziyech opted to stay in Amsterdam, where he currently has 6 goals and 12 assists this season.

As a member of the Atlas Lions, Ziyech has scored 14 goals in 32 appearances for the country, where he pledged his allegiance over the Netherlands. Having represented Morocco in some major tournaments such as the 2018 FIFA World Cup and the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, he was a part of the 2019 CAF’s Team of the Year.

With several big names in the club who have expiring contracts, Ziyech is brought in to provide some much-needed assistance. As Chelsea finally make a move for the club, fans are hoping that Ziyech is the answer to help the squad do well in domestic and European competition. 

Alan Mahon – the right man for the Manchester City Woman’s job?

Following Nick Cushing’s abrupt departure from Manchester City to take on the role of Assistant Manager at the New York men’s side in the MLS at the start of February, 24/7 football takes a closer look at the man entrusted with leading on of the top sides in the WSL. 

Playing career

Alan Mahon began his professional football career at Tranmere Rovers in 1995.

He made a total of 144 appearances for the club over a five-year period that included a Football League Cup final appearance at Wembley in the year 2000, where Rovers lost 2-1 to Martin O’Neil’s Leicester City.

In the same year Mahon earned his two international caps with the Republic of Ireland in Friendly’s against Greece and South Africa respectively.

The Irishman then secured arguably the biggest move of his career later that year as he was signed by Portugal’s Sporting Lisbon.

During his year spell with the club he featured in the team that lost 4-0 to Real Madrid.  The Madrid team had already qualified for the knockout rounds but it still included the likes of Roberto Carlos, Luis Figo and Claude Makelele.

Mahon said:

“I was playing a team like Crewe a few months ago and all of a sudden I am playing Real Madrid in the Bernabeu in the Champions League. I look back on it now with a lot of happiness – one of the highlights of my career.”

Due to his lack of games in Lisbon however he moved back to England on loan to Blackburn Rovers where he would go on to make the move permanent and help the Lancashire club gain promotion to the Premier League.

Further spells with Wigan and Burnley followed before he finished his career where it all began, at Tranmere Rovers.  The Irishman retired in 2011.

Coaching  experience to this point

Mahon has been involved with the Manchester City set up since 2013 as mainly Nick Cushing’s Assistant Manager.

The advantage of his appointment certainly seems to be the sense of continuity.

When asked about his interim successor Cushing said:

“Alan hasn’t been a head coach but he’s got an incredible amount of knowledge and experience in the game.”

Indeed Cushing took on the Manchester City role himself back in 2013 at the time he did not have much experience in the women’s game and went on to achieve three league cups, two FA Cups and an unbeaten league title winning campaign.

One thing that cannot be ignored however is that Mahon is taking over at a challenging point in the season, title rivals Chelsea are still to lose a match and are just a point behind in the WSL table, the blues have also crucially got a game in hand.

The Citizens are also still in the FA Cup as well so there is still the chance of securing another piece of silverware.

Whether or not Mahon can develop the same successful relationship as a manager with his players as his predecessor remains to be seen.

How do you think Mahon will get on at City? Is he the right man for the job? Feel free to let 24/7 Football know your thoughts.

WSL Update: Storm Ciara forces all Women Super League matches to be postponed…

 The Women Super League matches this past weekend were postponed due to the adverse weather caused by Storm Ciara. 

 The main cause of concern was “crowd safety” that could not be guaranteed because of the extreme weather conditions.

Roughly 20,000 were expected to attend the WSL Merseyside Derby at Goodison Park however due to the high winds on Merseyside, this made travelling to and from the match extremely dangerous.

Details of the rearranged fixtures will be released in the next few weeks. 

Mid-Week Preview

Fortunately the WSL clubs will not have to wait long until they are back in action with a full round of fixtures due to take place on Wednesday 12th February and Thursday 13thFebruary.

February 12th

Chelsea vs Birmingham City (Kick-off 7pm)

These two sides could not have more contrasting form coming into this one.  Chelsea have enjoyed seven wins in a row in all competitions, while Birmingham have lost their last four league games.

The Blues however did win at Sheffield United in the FA Cup and their last league win also came away from home against Bristol City.

The Midlands club will have to keep one of the league’s in form strikers, Beth England has managed six goals in her past seven games including two in her last game in the 8-0 win over West Ham United.

Prediction Chelsea 5-0 win

Predicting another convincing win for the only unbeaten side in the WSL.

Manchester City vs Bristol City (7pm)

This is another game where one of the league’s title contenders meets a team who is struggling near the bottom of the table.

The Robins’ performances have improved in recent weeks and they did spring a surprise last time they visited Manchester where they beat Manchester United 1-0.

In order to cause another upset they will almost certainly have to keep the prolific striker Pauline Bremer quiet.  The German has managed ten goals in the WSL so far this season.

Prediction City 4-1 win

City’s home form is very good so we can’t see them slipping up here. 

Reading vs West Ham United (7:30pm)

There are just five points and two places separating these two teams.

Both these teams have also enjoyed a mixed run of results and have secured two wins in their last five matches. There are certainly more question marks over the Hammers however as they are coming off the back of an 8-0 hammering against Chelsea.

The Royals meanwhile currently sit sixth and managed to secure a draw against Manchester United in their last game.  Lastly, West Ham has managed to come away with the three points in both of their previous league visits to Reading.

Prediction Reading 2-0 win

We fancy Reading to secure their first home win over the Hammers.

Tottenham Hotspur vs Everton (7:30pm)

Spurs are certainly fairing pretty well in their first season in the Super League, while Everton are still flying high in fifth and if results go their way could find themselves in the top four.

The North London side have been strong at home in recent weeks winning four of their last five games, with their only defeat coming against the league leaders Manchester City.

Following a strong start to the campaign the Toffees are starting to struggle and have lost three of their last four Super League matches, including a 1-0 defeat to strugglers Brighton.

The Merseyside club will be looking to their star striker Chloe Kelly who recently scored a hat trick in their 3-1 win over Reading.  Kelly has managed eight goals in the WSL this season.

Prediction: Draw 2-2

We are going for a score draw in this one.

Brighton & Hove Albion vs Manchester United (7:45pm)

Hope Powell will certainly be far happier with her sides’ displays in recent weeks.  The Seagulls have particularly enjoyed some strong showings in front of their home fans recently having won three of their past five matches.

Manchester United meanwhile are going through a tricky spell in their season, having been knocked out of two competitions in a space of a few days against Manchester City and Chelsea respectively.

Casey Stoney’s side are also still awaiting their first away win of 2020.

Prediction: Brighton 2-1 win

We think that Hope Powell’s side have what it takes to spring another surprise and take another step towards safety. 

February 13th

Liverpool vs Arsenal (7pm)

At the start of the year Vicky Jepson’s Liverpool looked the clear favourites to be relegated from the WSL.

Since securing a surprise 1-1 draw with Chelsea the reds have managed two wins in their last three, including a crucial 1-0 win over relegation rivals Bristol City.

Arsenal however are now certainly up against it if they want to retain their WSL title having lost to their rivals Manchester City last time out.  Joe Montemurro’s team cannot afford any more slip-ups if want to maintain their faint title hopes.

Prediction: Arsenal 2-1 win

It was a surprisingly close game between these two sides back in November with the Gunners winning 1-0, so we are anticipating another tight match with Arsenal just coming away with the three points. 

Nottingham Forest 2 – Leeds United 0

Nottingham Forest produced a fine display in front of a vibrant sell-out City Ground crowd to close the gap to the automatic promotion places to just a single point.

Sabri Lamouchi made one change from last weekend’s defeat to Birmingham City as the returning Samba Sow replaced Ryan Yates in the centre of the Forest midfield. There was also a place on the substitutes’ bench for new signing Gaetan Bong following his arrival from Brighton and Hove Albion.

The match started fairly slowly, Forest’s first effort on target coming from Thiago Silva whose long-range shot was easily saved. Forest also had a good penalty shout when Joe Worall was pulled to the ground from a corner kick.
Marcelo Bielsa’s men were looking dangerous coming forward but as is so often the case lacked the cutting edge in attack. Ezgjan Alioski came close as his effort deflected off Joe Lolley on the edge of the Forest box but fortunately for The Reds, it drifted wide of Brice Samba’s goal.

Forest made the most of that scare as they hit the front two minutes later. Ameobi got his head down and drove into the Leeds penalty area Forest made the most of that scare as they hit the front two minutes later. Ameobi got his head down and drove into the Leeds penalty area following a good one-two with Yuri Ribero, Ameobi had the option the cross to Lewis Grabban who was in a good position but lashed a shot beyond Casilla who looked as if he was expecting Ameobi the cross to the delight of the ecstatic Reds supporters.


Arguably, Forest deserved their advantage and they certainly should have doubled the lead ten minutes into the second half. A superb driving run from Lolley made space inside the final third, he laid the ball off to Lewis Grabban and despite shifting it cleverly to the right, he then drilled his shot straight at the legs of a floored Casilla.


Forest keeper Samba produced an outstanding save to keep Forest in front with 15 minutes to play. Liam Cooper was left unmarked inside the Forest penalty area and he met a left-wing corner and despite Samba being on the floor at the time, he stretched a hand up into the air to miraculously claw the defender’s header off the line. From some angles, in the crowd, the ball looked over the line but TV goal-line technology showed the ball was plum on the line when Samba punched it away.


In the final minute of stoppage time, Joe Lolley did superbly well to win the ball inside the Leeds half, powered on into the box and squared it to the supporting Walker who tapped home into Casilla’s unguarded net. It was a dream return to Forest for Walker who came on as a late substitute for Lewis Grabban to make his first City Ground appearance in around 2 years, during which he has enjoyed excellent scoring form in loan spells at Mansfield and Lincoln.

There was a big-game feel on Trentside and Forest were the team who left with all the glory. It was an absorbing, entertaining end-to-end contest, despite Leeds predictably having 70% possession they struggled to create a cut chance, with Forest once again proving they are hard to break down and looked by far the more threatening in an energetic, resourceful and clinical counter-attacking display.

Nottingham Forest boss, Sabri Lamouchi: “It was a massive result and a massive performance against a fantastic team. Leeds made more mistakes than usual, but we disturbed them without the ball. My players played with fight and determination and they played so well today. The players made me so proud and happy. We have 15 more games and we play again in three days. This league is crazy and you must be ready each game. My goal was to finish the season, the last time a [Forest] manager did that was 11 or 12 seasons ago.”

Match Stats

FORESTLEEDS
POSSESION30%70%
SHOTS1413
SHOTS ON TARGET61
CORNERS 38
FOULS 1114
Click above to watch match highlights on youtube

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