Category Archives: Everton

THE PREMIER LEAGUE DEBUTANTS – WHO IMPRESSED?

The first week of Premier League fixtures has passed and we got a look in into some of the new talents that will be on offer during the season. In this article I’ll go over some of the more impressive debuts team by team.

Newcastle United – Jeff Hendrick and Callum Wilson

Newcastle have done some tidy business this summer, and two of their signings scored both goals in a comfortable win over West Ham United.

Hendrick was impressive all round with his work rate and passing from midfield, his efforts were rewarded with an emphatic strike to seal their win in the dying minutes. Callum Wilson caused issues with his forward runs and looked fairly decent up front with Andy Carroll.

His goal really showed off his poachers instinct and how crucial he could be for the Toon this season. Getting the first goal helped the team push on and he could be that man for them this season.

Arsenal – Willian and Gabriel Magalhaes

Wow. What a debut for these boys.Arsenal wanted some Brazilian flair and they certainly got it. Gabriel made a fairly slow start to the game, looking shaky on the ball and not full of confidence. He soon, however, grew into the game and even scored from a corner just after the break.

His defensive prowess shined through further as he made himself difficult to get past and was calm and composed in possession. He certainly looks value for money in Arteta’s system.

The catalyst to their goals against Fulham was of course Willian, who grabbed three assists in his first match as a Gunner. After making the switch from Chelsea on a free many fans questioned the decision, few probably would’ve held the same opinions after this game. The winger was unplayable and Arsenal fans will be hoping for more of the same.

Everton – Allan, Abdoulaye Doucoure, James Rodriguez

This midfield really could be something special for Everton this season. After all the issues they had in the middle of the park last year they could have really struck gold this time around.

Doucoure and Allan offered ways to frustrate Spurs and broke up play very well. Doucoure offered an outlet throughout the pitch with a more box to box display, whilst Allan was superb as a defensive anchor.

The team looked more solid as a unit with them playing and with their technical ability (very underrated aspects of their game) they were able to transition with greater effect.

The biggest name was of course James Rodriguez. A player Everton wouldn’t have dreamed of signing five/six years ago, but he was certainly what they’d hoped for. Technically gifted and fantastic in possession, his vision and talent was clear to see – he was even close to getting a goal on a couple of occasions.

Carlo Ancelotti looks to have built an impressive first team, whether they have the depth to compete is yet to be seen.

Leicester City – Timothy Castagne

Castagne was superb at Atalanta last season, and he made a great start in the Premier League too as he contributed heavily to their 3-0 win over West Brom.

Castagne scored the opening goal of the game and was a threat throughout the game offering a great outlet from full-back. He looks like a player that will adapt well to the league and is an exciting addition to what is a talented attacking Leicester team.

Wolves – Fernando Marcal

Fernando Marcal was part of the Lyon team that impressed so much in the Champions League last season, and his defensive rashness made it a strange choice for Nuno to start him at Left-wing-back. He played best at the left of a back three last season.

The Brazilian gave an assured and defensively solid performance and his side strolled to a 2-0 win over Sheffield United. With Jonny out injured Wolves would’ve been reassured with this performance, and Marcal’s experience could prove very important in such a young side.

Chelsea – Timo Werner

The hype surrounding Timo Werner has been no secret, the striker was superb during his time at RB Leipzig and plenty of fans are excited to see him perform in the Premier League.

Whilst he didn’t score on debut, he was lively and caused Brighton all sorts of issues with his pressing and direct runs in between their centre- backs.

He even won the penalty that Jorghino scored to give them the lead, and continued to look a constant threat. He’ll be a useful player to press teams back as his pace will force opponents to take caution. Out of the debutants he was the real bright spark as Kai Havertz flattered to deceive.

He’ll come good in front of goal and this was a good start for him.

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.

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!

 

Premier League agrees to allow five substitutions in post-pandemic restart

On Thursday, all the 20 member clubs of the Premier League gave the nod for five substitutions when the League resumes on June 17.

The English top-flight is all set to restart their 2019-20 season on June 17th with Liverpool on top of the table, needing just two wins to secure their first championship since the 1989/90. 

The new decision comes as no surprise as the new rule is in the lines of temporary guidelines provided by the International Football Association Board (IFAB). The football body allowed the temporary amendment in order to facilitate the completion of the ongoing season.

 

There was approval to increase the number of players on bench from seven to nine by shareholders. The step is welcomed by managers and players as it will allow them to change their approach towards the game. It is also something that is approved by IFAB and Premier League, keeping the players’ welfare in their mind.

However, the rules also state that only three occasions will be provided for managers and clubs to make changes. This is a measure to avoid frequent disruptions during the match.

During the meeting, the clubs’ shareholders have also given their consent towards the neutral venue fixtures. Thought a vote has still to be held, the shareholders have agreed to host the games in a neutral venue if the situation demands.

For instance, one of the games that may be held at a neutral ground is the Merseyside Derby between Liverpool and Everton.  

It was revealed that discussions were also held regarding the promotion and relegation along with European qualifications if the season gets disrupted again due to the pandemic. However, no contingency plans have yet been finalised with the focus of the meeting being the resumption of the 2019/20 campaign. 

Borussia Dortmund vs Schalke 04 Preview

All eyes will be on the restart of the German Bundesliga this weekend as it is set to become the first major European league to return to action following the global pandemic.

Among those fixtures set to take place feature the Revier Derby, which is held between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04.

Before the postponement of the league, Lucien Favre’s Dortmund team were sitting four points behind reigning champions Bayern Munich and will be looking to close the gap to just a single point before their title rivals play Union Berlin on Sunday.

Since David Wagner took over at Schalke, the former Huddersfield Town and Dortmund coach has turned them from potential relegation candidates to Champions League hopefuls.

The team known as the Royal Blues, however, come into this one on a poor run of form having not won a Bundesliga match since the middle of January and suffered 5-0 losses against the likes of Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig.

The last match Dortmund played was their Champions League match against Paris Saint Germain, where the ultimately suffered a 4-2 aggregate loss. They did win their last league match at Borussia Monchengladbach 2-1 on the 7 March.

Previous successes and meetings

Dortmund have had the most recent success out of the two clubs having won five Bundesliga titles, the latest coming during Jurgen Klopp’s reign in 2011/12.  Schalke, meanwhile have not won the German Bundesliga since it was reformed in 1962 with their last of seven national titles coming in 1958.

In total there has been 19 Bundesliga previous matches between these rivals, seven have been won by Dortmund compared to Schalke’s five and there have also been seven draws including a 0-0 draw in the last match between the sides back in October.

Schalke do however boast an impressive recent record against this season’s title challengers having just lost once in their last five matches against them.

Indeed, the Royal Blues won the last encounter between the sides at The Westfalenstadion 4-2 in a dramatic match that subsequently saw Dortmund reduced to nine men.

Key Players

In their 2019/20 campaign so far, Schalke have certainly struggled for goals but two of their young midfielders, Moroccan international, Amine Harit, 22 and German Suat Serdar, 23 have enjoyed impressive seasons to date.

Serdar is the Royal Blues top scorer currently with seven league goals, while Harit has managed six goals and four assists in 24 appearances this season.

The Royal Blues also boast England under-21 international, Jonjoe Kenny in their ranks.  Kenny is currently on loan from Everton and the right back will certainly be in for a tough afternoon.

Kenny and his team will be tasked with keeping two of the most prolific and highly regarded attackers in Europe quiet.  England winger, Jadon Sancho is Dortmund’s top scorer with 14 goals so far, while January signing Erling Haaland has already managed nine goals in just eight appearances for the club.

Dortmund Club Captain, Marco Reus meanwhile has also reached double figures this season with 11 goals.

Where to watch?

BT Sport will be showing every game live on TV and online this weekend.

Dortmund versus Schalke will be shown on BT Sport 1 HD from 2pm BST.

Prediction

Dortmund 4-1 win

We are anticipating goals in this one but ultimately we believe that Dortmund will have too much firepower for Wagner’s Royal Blues with both Sancho and Haaland proving to be the difference between the teams.