Category Archives: Aston Villa

Should ex-pros help out VAR officiating?

VAR,  not for the first time this season, once again appeared in the spot light  following more controversy surrounding no less than three different incidents this week.

Incorrect penalty decisions were made by the video assistant referee in all three of Thursday’s Premier League games.

Tottenham should have had a penalty when Joshua King clearly shoved Harry Kane in the back, in their goalless draw with Bournemouth.

Bruno Fernandes won a spot kick, which should not have been given against Aston Villa.

James Ward-Prowse hit the bar after being awarded a disputed penalty against Everton.

With so many talking points raised about VAR, there has been a suggestion by former footballer Tim Cahill, than an ex-player should be involved to work alongside the VAR officials at Stockley Park.

Going forward, it would appear to make sense that somebody who has played the game professionally, and knows how players react in circumstances during a game, would know more than a referee, who in most cases would never have played the game before.

The only downside to this in my opinion would be would the VAR officials listen to what that person would have to say, take on board and put into practice.

Overall, on debatable decisions I am sure they would like some impact from the ex pro, but I fear that the final say on the decision would be down to the VAR official.

I am still unconvinced that they would generally be swayed by expert advice from somebody who has played and understands the game more.

It hurts me to say that I genuinely believe quite a few referees don’t know the game of football. It is not just about knowing the laws of football; it is also about knowing the game.

To simplify and eradicate even more controversy going forward, surely the on field official should be allowed to go and check the pitch side monitor, and then make his own decision.

All too often the man in the middle never goes ahead and puts this into practice. It is the VAR crew who in turn make their own decision, therefore undermining the person who is supposed to be referring the game.

My own solution to this mess would be simple really.

When an incident should be reviewed, let VAR tell the on field official how they see it.

The referee should then go straight to the pitch side monitor to make up his own mind and then decide what decision to go with.

The referee who is officiating the actual game must be the sole person in charge of events on and off the field, in my opinion.

Currently, it is a case of somebody many miles away making decisions that really should be made closer to home.

Which Players Have Been Released From Each Premier League Club?

With the end of June fast approaching players across the country who haven’t reached an agreement to extend their contracts will be leaving their respective clubs and can sign for other sides on a free transfer.

Premier League clubs have already published their lists of players who will be released on the 30th June, here is a look at each of the twenty clubs and their departures this summer.

Arsenal

Only one players so far is set to leave the Gunners on the expiry of their contract and that is youngster Tobi Omole. The 20 year old defender has featured regularly for Arsenal’s U23 side but hasn’t made a senior appearance for the first team, despite signing his first professional contract in 2018.

Aston Villa

Relegation threatened Aston Villa will have a number of departures this summer, before their fate has even been decided. Fourteen players will leave the club, including James Chester, Andre Green and Callum O’Hare.

Chester and Green have taken up the option to extend their loan deals at Championship sides Stoke City and Charlton respectively. Academy graduate O’Hare meanwhile, who made nine appearances for the first team, played a staring role for Coventry in League One as they clinched promotion to the Championship.

Rushian Hepburn-Murphy, Borja Baston and Ross McCormack were other high profile stars exiting the club. Hepburn-Murphy spent 15 years at Villa in their various youth ranks whilst Spaniard Baston was a January deadline day signing from Swansea who made just two appearances for the side.

McCormack’s ill fated spell was finally brought to a close with the expiration of his contract, four years on from his £12 million move from Fulham.

Third choice goalkeeper Matija Sarkic has agreed an extension to see out the current campaign, but will be released after it is concluded.

A number of U23 players are also leaving the club with Jack Birch, Anton Hooper, Dutchman Colin Odutayo, striker Dimitri Sea and New Zealand goalkeeper Jamie Searle departing.

Bournemouth

Another club who are involved in a relegation dogfight, the Cherries will let eleven players leave at the end of their contracts, including a number of big names.

Jermain Defoe, who has been on loan at Rangers since January last year will exit the club along with £15 million winger Jordon Ibe, who has flattered to deceive on the South Coast.

Ryan Fraser, who has been linked with a number of other clubs, rejected the chance to sign a short term extension to see out the end of the season, and so will leave Eddie Howe’s side on June 30th after making over 200 appearances for the club.

Youngsters Charlie Seaman and Tyrell Hamilton, who were both playing non league football this term, will also be leaving the club. Australian Brad Smith has extended his loan stay at Cardiff City, and will leave Bournemouth once the Championship season ends.

Long-serving midfielder Andrew Surman, and full back Charlie Daniels alongside back-up goalkeeper Artur Boruc have all accepted an extension to keep them at the Vitality Stadium until the conclusion of the current Premier League season.

Brighton

Brighton, who have impressed since their return to action after the enforced break due to the coronavirus pandemic, will let nine players leave the club, including a number from the youth team.

English trio Luca Cocoracchio, Archie Davies, Lewis Freestone, Welsh midfielder Jordan Davies and Finnish goalkeeper Hugo Keto have been released, alongside centre back Kacper Lopata and Serbian striker Bojan Samoukovic.

Beram Kayal who has been with the Seagulls since 2015, has signed a short term extension, having returned from his loan spell at Charlton in January following an injury. Ezequiel Schelotto has also signed an extension to keep him at the Amex until the end of this campaign having already played eight times for Brighton this term.

Burnley

Burnley, like Bournemouth, will allow a number of first team squad members to depart Turf Moor at the end of this month. Aaron Lennon and Joe Hart will move on, having played peripheral roles this term.

Irishman Jeff Hendrick, a key cog in the Burnley midfield, is also set to leave having rejected the offer to extend his contract for next season. Goalkeeper Adam Legzdins will also become a free agent, leaving Burnley having failed to make a single appearance in his three year spell at the club.

Tunde Bayode, Christian N’Guessan, Henri Ogunby (who signed a short term deal in January) and Joel Senior, all members of the U23 squad, will also be released.

Chelsea

Chelsea’s squad overall, which began last summer under Frank Lampard will continue, with big hitters Pedro and Willian set to leave the club having failed to reach an agreement to extend their contracts beyond the current campaign.

Pedro has already chosen to link up with Serie A side Roma for the 2020/21 season, whilst cult hero Willian has admitted he could yet extend his stay at Stamford Bridge despite interest from other Premier League clubs.

Other plays exiting the club include defender Josh Grant, who spent the first half of this season on loan at Plymouth, Marcel Lavinier, who has been with the club since the age of seven and Richard Nartey who made 25 appearances for League One side Burton this campaign.

Crystal Palace

No first team player will leave Selhurst Park this summer, in a huge boost for Roy Hodgson, as five members of the development squad have being shown the exit door.

Dion-Curtis Henry who spent time playing in the National League South this season, Kian Flanagan, who was the U23 Young Player of the Year last season and Jason Lokilo, who made his senior bow for the club in an EFL Cup tie against Ipswich in August 2017 join Jacob Mensah and Joe Tupper in leaving the club.

Everton

Carlo Ancelotti’s Merseyside rebuild will begin in earnest this summer, and the club has started by releasing some dead wood from their squad.

Back-up goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg will depart once the current campaign is over to join his former side Ajax, whilst Cuco Martina, signed on a free transfer from Southampton in 2017, will also move on.

Luke Garbutt, who came through the Toffees’ academy system will also be allowed to leave once his contract expires, having spent the past four years on loan in League One and the Championship. Outcast Oumar Niasse, a £13.5 million signing from Lokomotiv Moscow four and a half years ago, is the fourth and final first team player to be released.

U23 players Morgan Feeny, Alex Denny, Matty Foulds, Manasse Mampala and Korede Adedoyin will all leave Everton along with Kieran Phillips, who will depart once he completes his loan spell at Huddersfield.

Leicester City

Long serving midfielder Andy King will leave the Foxes this summer, after 378 appearances during a 15 year spell with the club, which saw him win the Premier League in 2016. He has spent the past two seasons on loan in the Championship after falling out of favour but he will go down as a club hero among Leicester fans.

U23 captain George Thomas, first choice goalkeeper Viktor Johansson, Irish midfielder Conor Tee and Ryan Loft will also say their goodbyes at the end of this season. They join Rhys Davies, Ed Elewa-Ikpakwu, Justen Kranthove and Bruneian Faiq Bolkiah in leaving the club.

Liverpool

The Premier League champions will wave goodbye to Adam Lallana and Nathaniel Clyne this summer, two men who played a starring role in Klopp’s early years in charge of the Reds before injury derailed both their careers on Merseyside.

Lallana was offered a short term extension to his contract, to ensure that he can pick up a Premier League winners medal, although right back Clyne was not afforded the same luxury and will leave on the 30th June.

Third choice stopper Andy Lonergan has also been handed a short term extension to complete the season at Anfield.

Liverpool will also let Academy prospects Isaac Christie-Davies, who played against Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup earlier in the season, goalkeepers Shamal George, Daniel Atherton and Kai McKenzie-Lyle leave the club along with defender Jack Walls.

Manchester City

City’s big name departure is of course David Silva, who will bring the curtain down on his glorious ten year spell in Manchester once the current campaign ends, having signed a short term extension to see out the end of the season.

The Spaniard has won four Premier League titles, two FA Cups, five EFL Cups and Teo Community Shields during his time with the Citizens, as well as amassing over 300 appearances, scoring 58 goals in the process and going down as a true City legend.

His next destination remains to be seen as the 34 year old reportedly has offers from across the globe.

Claudio Bravo, City’s second choice goalkeeper is also set to depart the club this summer. After signing from Barcelona in 2016, the Chilean endured a difficult first season as the number one shot stopper at the club, before he was replaced by Ederson in 2017.

Since then the 37 year old has been playing second fiddle to the Brazilian, appearing predominantly in cup competitions. He has been linked with a host of clubs including Arsenal and Celtic, according to the Manchester Evening Standard.

Joining them in leaving the Etihad this summer are Ghanaian midfielder Ernest Agyiri and goalkeeper Thomas Scott.

Manchester United

United will wave goodbye to eight academy players at the end of the current season. Of those leaving, Cameron Borthwick- Jackson is the only player to have featured for the first team, making 10 appearances for the Red Devil’s. He has spent this campaign on loan with League One side Oldham Athletic.

Irish goalkeeper Kieran O’Hara will depart, after spending the majority of his United career on loan at lower league clubs. Nineteen year old Dion McGhee, Demetri Mitchell, who scooped the United Reserve Player of the Year in 2018, Englishmen Aidan Barlow and George Tanner, goalkeeper Alex Fojitcek and midfielder Ethan Hamilton have also been released.

Newcastle

Goalkeeper Rob Elliot will bring his nine year stay on Tyneside to an end this summer. The Englishman last made an appearance for the Magpies in 2017 having fallen down the pecking order at the club.

Jack Colback will also leave Newcastle at the end of the campaign, having spent the entirety of last season on loan at Nottingham Forest. Academy graduate Jamie Sterry joins him in departing, having made three appearances for his boyhood club.

Youth players Luke Charman, Victor Fernandez, Liam Gibson and Nathan Harker have been released after their contracts expired.

Norwich

Basement side Norwich will allow seven players to leave the club upon the expiring of their contracts this summer.

They are all members of the U23 squad, with the majority having spent this campaign out on loan. Diallang Jaiyesimi, Mason Bloomfield, Timi Odusina, Saavas Mourgos, Alfie Payne and Billy Johnson played their football away from Carrow Road, whilst Tom Scully remained at Norwich in the U23 squad this term.

Sheffield United

The Blades, who have enjoyed a fairytale first season back in the Premier League, will see a raft of players leave the club this summer.

First team squad players Leon Clarke, Jack Rodwell, Phil Jagielka, Kieron Freeman, who have made a combined seven Premier League appearances this season have all signed short term extensions but are still likely to exit the club once those expire.

January signing Connor Leak-Blunt has also signed a short term extension, after impressing with the U23 side.

Mark Duffy, who has been at Bramall Lane since 2016, playing over 100 games for the club will depart this summer, along with Ricky Holmes, who has announced his retirement from football after a back injury.

They join youngsters Ta’Shae Andall-Gibbons, Keenan Ferguson, Oliver Greaves, Callum Gribbin (formerly of Manchester United), Harry Sheppeard, Samuel Ompreon, Reece York and Jake Young I’m waving their goodbyes to Bramall Lane.

Ben Heneghan and Nathan Thomas will also be released having spent this campaign on loan at Blackpool and Carlisle respectively.

Southampton

The Saints will allow long serving defender Maya Yoshida to leave Saint Mary’s, once his contract expires. The Japanese international has not been offered a short term extension and so will leave the club on 30th June.

Cedric Soares, has also left the Saints, joining Arsenal on a permanent deal, despite having failed to register a single appearance since his loan move to the Gunners in January.

Twenty-three year old Marcus Barnes, who made his first, and only appearance for Southampton in an FA Cup tie against Derby in January 2019 will leave along with U23 goalkeeper Alex Cull, defender Simon Kozak, midfielder Harlem Hale, Irishman Aaron O’Driscoll and forward Christian Norton. Goalkeeper Jack Rose, who spent time on loan at Walsall this year, will also be released.

Tottenham

Jan Vertonghen has signed a short term extension, to keep him at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium until the end of the current campaign, although his future at the club after that remains to be seen.

Third choice goalkeeper Michel Vorm has also penned an extension to see out the season at Spurs, but he is set to depart after it expires.

U23 quartet Rayan Clarke, Phoenix Patterson, Maxwell Stratham and Jonathan Dinzeyi have had their contracts extended until the end of the current Premier League campaign, with their long term futures still to be decided. Twenty year old defender Tariq Hinds has been released.

Watford

The Hornets, who are hovering dangerously over the drop zone, will allow up to eleven players leave Vicarage Road this summer.

Defensive stalwarts Adrian Mariappa and Jose Cholevas, along with back up goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes have signed short term extensions to help Watford in their fight to escape relegation.

Twenty-one year old midfielder Callum Whelan, who made his Watford debut as a substitute in the FA Cup game with Tranmere in January, before starting the replay a week later, has also renewed his contract until the end of the current campaign.

U23 captain Jamal Balogun, Jayden Bennetts, who also made his Hornets’ debut in the replay defeat to Tranmere, Kaylen Hinds, who scored Watford’s equaliser in that game, forward Micheal Folivi, defenders Lewis Gordon and Cameron Green and have all been released.

West Ham

Defenders Pablo Zabaleta and Carlos Sanchez, who have played 16 Premier League games between them this season, will leave the Hammers once their contract expires, with Zabaleta rejecting a short term extension.

Also departing the London Stadium are U23 players Anouar El Mhassani, Reece Hannam and Louie Watson.

Wolves

High flying Wolves will allow five players to leave the club once their contracts expire.

Jordan Graham, who has had five separate loan spells during his five years at Wolves has already left the club and is joined by Phil Ofosu-Ayeh who failed to make a single appearance in his three years with the club, young defender Connor Johnson, Irish winger Callum Thompson and Swiss midfielder Ming-Yang Yang.

Premier League TABLE scores and fixtures

 

PosTeamPlayedGDPoints
1Liverpool (C)354993
2Manchester City355772
3Chelsea3514

60

4Leicester City352959
5Manchester United342658
6Wolves351155
7Sheffield United 35554
8

Tottenham

35952
9Arsenal35750
10Burnley35-850
11Everton35-1145
12Southampton34-1344
13Newcastle35-1643
14Crystal Palace35-1542
15Brighton35-1636
16West Ham United35-1534
17Watford35-2134
18

Bournemouth

35-2431
19Aston Villa35-2730
20Norwich (R)35-4121

Latest Results

  • Norwich City 0-4 West Ham United
  • Watford 2-1 Newcastle United
  • Liverpool 1-1 Burnley
  • Sheffield United 3-0 Chelsea
  • Brighton 0-5 Manchester City
  • Wolves 3-0 Everton
  • Aston Villa 2-0 Crystal Palace
  • Tottenham 2-1 Arsenal
  • Bournemouth 4-1 Leicester City

Upcoming Fixtures

  • Manchester United vs Southampton Monday 13th July 8pm

You can see the run in and out assessment of the race for European Football here.

 

What have we learnt since the Premier League resumption?

After the return of Premiership football to our screens, have we really learnt much about the League since the resumption?

Well, the wait has certainly been worth it some pundits have said but has it really been worth the build-up of over 100 days?

What we have learned already is that Liverpool are a step closer to their title dream. We are all having to get used to the sight of very few people inside stadiums. VAR certainly won’t go away and even technology has the odd blip, which leads to more controversy up and down the land.

As we are all getting used to viewing football as we have never seen before. One good talking point has been welcomed around the country. The sight of both sets of players, officials and team personal taking the knee in solidarity together. Such a welcome sight and fully applauded. It’s is so good to see the Premier League sending out a message to the rest of the footballing and sporting world that Black Lifes Matter.

Aside from Liverpool edging towards lifting the title, on just the first day back since the resumption, controversy reared its ugly head once again when Sheffield United were denied a certain goal when technology failed. Admittedly it’s the first time this has unfortunately happened for over 9,000 times the system has been in place. What a time for this to happen, as the Premiership was taking centre stage.

One has to feel sorry for Michael Oliver- England’s top referee- as he was trying to explaining to surrounding players that his watch didn’t make a noise to indicate that the ball had crossed the line. Not his fault but wouldn’t it have been more sensible that somebody in the truck watching pictures of the match would have seen that clearly the ball was over the line? That person in the VAR room could then have communicated with Oliver to say to him to check the monitor at the ground and make his own mind up about the decision. If he was allowed to do this, then make no mistakes Sheffield Utd would have been awarded the goal.

We also learnt since the resumption that Arsenal players are certainly struggling with fitness levels, having already seen a handful of players taken off through picking up injuries. Clearly the three-month break has affected them, which is a big concern of their fitness levels. Yes, every team has looked leggy at times which is understandable due to not playing competitive football for over three months but for some sides including Arsenal it begs the question, what instructions were the players given to do for training during lockdown and resuming back into training? Something definitely isn’t right there.

However, nothing has changed with the Gunners defence, which still looks as fragile as before the enforced break. Arsenal need leaders, now they haven’t got any. Oh, for the leadership chiefs such as Tony Adams and Martin Keown- who must be shaking their heads every time they watch Arsenal play- who must begin to wonder will this problem ever be rectified.

We also learn in the past few days how good a player Bruno Fernandes is and the return of a hungry Paul Pogba. I didn’t think I would ever be saying that for a long time.

Despite appearing to not be worrying about a haircut- Yes Roy there are mobile hairdressers around who will be queuing up to cut your hair- Hodgson is building a very dogged and tenacious side in Crystal Palace. Looking a very well-oiled unit, especially at the back, having not conceded a goal in almost six hours of football. Palace could be outsiders to possibly sneak into a Europa League spot come the end of the campaign.

The two W’s after the restart, Wolves and West Ham appear to be going in different directions. The Hammers are in a relegation dogfight, while Wolves are flying thanks to the brilliant duo of Adama Traore and Raul Jimenez – 23 goals this season and counting.

Another interesting point would be that since the resumption the sides struggling at the bottom of the table have really struggled since the restart. A fact that could be put down to playing home games with no crowd behind them to raise morale. However, you would have felt that with eight games to go, crowd or no crowd wouldn’t need to lift players, who know they have a massive battle on their hands to stay up.

To finish, although in most games playing with no fans present it is no material advantage to both sides, over the weekend in both Premiership and Championship games there were only five home wins out of 22 games played. When it comes to a derby match, it clearly will benefit both teams to have fans in the stadium. Take the weekend’s Merseyside derby between Everton and Liverpool. A game that was played with no passion and at times looked similar to a practice game. A lukewarm encounter which hardly got going. Not much commitment from both sides aside from a couple of late chances. This game desperately needed a full house at Goodison Park, which I’m sure would have given the game more of a feisty contest that normally happens in derby matches.

We must, however, remember that for the foreseeable future this is the way that football will be for a while. We will get used to it, with fan noise or not, carboard cut outs or not and drink breaks, which so far are amounting to a managers team talk on the pitch.

It is either this or nothing. I know what alternative I would rather have. Even if it means watching Mike Dean with that amazing grey beard and listening to Roy Keane bemoaning about Manchester United’s crop of current players. Welcome back Premiership, we really have missed you!

 

Pulisic, Giroud help Chelsea escape scare from Aston Villa

In Chelsea’s first game since the Premier League restarted, the club were able to skate by with a narrow 2-1 victory in Birmingham courtesy of goals from substitute Christian Pulisic and Olivier Giroud.

During most of the first half, the Champions league contenders were dominating the home team, having most of the possession and had many chances to take the lead. However, it was manager Dean Smith’s side that took an early lead thanks to a right-footed shot from Kortney Hause following a set piece situation.

 

As the teams returned from halftime, The Blues were looking for any way to escape an upset. They decided to bring on Pulisic, the young American who had not played since January 1 due to a thigh injury in the 55th minute along with Ross Barkley.

Five minutes after Chelsea’s first substitutions, Pulisic scored a left-footed shot from the left side of the pitch after César Azpilicueta crossed the ball into the area, evening things up at 1-1. 

 

Not even two minutes, Giroud hits a right-footed shot from the center of the box, with the help of a deflection, into the top left corner as Azpilicueta added another assist to his stats.

 

After the win at Villa Park, which helped the squad increase their lead over Manchester United to now five points, Frank Lampard and Chelsea will take on Manchester City at Stamford Bridge. Meanwhile, Aston Villa will look to keep their place in the Premier League on Wednesday against Newcastle United at St. James’ Park.