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CHAMPIONSHIP weekend round up

Changes at the top as Norwich go top, Reading drop to sixth and Bournemouth go second. Three wins from five moves Stoke City to seventh and one point of a play-off place. A third defeat in a row means Derby stay bottom, Wycombe remain in relegation places after draw with Brentford.

Canaries Top of the Table

Norwich picked a vital away win beating Middlesbrough by a single goal. Both teams had chances in the first half but Middlesbrough had a golden opportunity to take the lead early in the second half.

Some good work down the left allowed Marcus Tavernier to get the ball into the Norwich box. The Canneries were unable to properly clear the ball and Tavernier was brought down by Ben Gibson, resulting in a penalty. Tavernier took the kick and put the ball into the net but as he took the kick he lost his footing and was judged to have touched the ball twice. The referee disallowed the goal and Norwich were let away with one.

The let off sparked Norwich into life, Timo Pukki hitting a shot in the side netting. Tavernier’s poor luck continued as he blazed a shot over the bar from six yard box. Norwich got their goal after 72 minutes. Max Aarons playing a 1-2 with Emiliano Buendia, was then brought down in the box. Pukki had no problems with his penalty rolling the ball into the corner.

Norwich manager Daniel Farke told BBC Radio Norfolk:

“Middlesbrough is a tough place to go, they were on an eight-game unbeaten run and conceding just one goal in their last seven games so, that shows the size of the task today.”

Cherries Second half come-back

It was a fourth straight defeat for Reading as they drop to sixth place. After taking a two goal lead into halftime they were blown away by Bournemouth’s second half fight back.

It started so well for Reading Alfa Semedo winning the Royals a penalty after 4 minutes, when he was brought down by Begovic. Despite Begovic going the right way he was unable to stop Lucas Joao’s spot kick. It was 2-0 before the break as Oviemuno Ejaria’s through ball found Sone Aluko who guided the ball past Begovic.

The comeback started on 56 minutes as Dominic Solanke turned in from Lloyd Kelly’s cross. David Brooks’ pass cut through Readings defence and found Arnaut Danjuma who squeezed the ball in from a tight angle. Bournemouth took the lead after Brooks laid the ball off to Lewis Cook. Cook took a touch then sent a screamer of a shot into the top corner. The home side made sure of the points late on. Reading keeper Rafael giving the ball to Solanake, and after a scramble between them Solanke put the ball into the empty net.

Jason Tindle told BBC Radio Solent:

“We got ourselves in a difficult position at half-time and started slowly and I had to say one or two words and make a few tactical changes.

“We needed to come out and prove that this was a top of the table clash and, in the second half, we performed a lot better.

“That sort of result gives us confidence and the second half is our benchmark. We need to take it into the next run of games.”

Bristol City Pile pressure on Derby

Elsewhere, it is now three straight defeats for Derby after Bristol City win 1-0 at Ashton Gate.

Famara Diedhiou got the only goal of the game after 78 minutes. Antoine Semenyo breaking into the box from the right cuts the ball back to Diedhiou who placed his left footed shot into the bottom corner past David Marshall.

The win comes after Bristol City had a Covid-19 outbreak at their training ground. Dean Holden told BBC:

“To play like that after only one and a half day’s training this week was an unbelievable effort by the players.

“I can’t stress too much how well they did in the circumstances. During an international break you normally have two weeks to build up to the next game.”

Swansea City, meanwhile, beat Rotherham by a single goal. Matt Grimes netting his first of the season for the Swans. Grimes hit a shot from outside the box and going through a crowd of players the ball found the net. The win is Swansea’s third in a row at home as they look to reach the play-offs again this season.

Preston got their first home win of the season by beating Sheffield Wednesday by a goal to nil. The Owls had to play most of the game with 10 men after Josh Windass was given a straight red for a high foot. Tom Barkhuizen got Preston’s goal three minutes after the restart. Smashing home a volley from 16 yards out after Wednesday keeper Keiran Westwoods punch clear. With a first win at home Preston could mount a charge up the table if they can replicate their good away form.

Barnsley, however, left it late with two goals in the last five minutes to beat Forest 2-0. Barnsley twice struck the crossbar in the first half but had their keeper to thank for the goalless half time score. Jack Walton making three fine saves to keep the score at 0-0.

He made another in the second half as Forest looked to break the deadlock. The opening goal came from Callum Styles shotting from the edge of the box into the top corner. Cauley Woodrow got the second after good work from the right from Callum Brittain. Barnsley have four wins from five and now sit 13th.

Seven Goal Thriller

A goal feast at Stoke as they beat Huddersfield 4-3. The visitors took the lead as Carel Eiting volley from the edge of the box went in. The host’s levelled as Tyrese Campbell latched on to a loose ball in the box and smashed the ball into the net. Campbell gave Stoke the lead two minutes later, played into the box he rolled the ball under the keeper 2-1. Isaac Mbenza squared things up again at 2-2, played in by Eiting he rolled the ball under the Stoke keeper. Stoke pressed high as Huddersfield tried to play out form the back. Campbell getting the ball in the box and his shot going in off Richard Stearman.

Sam Clucas made it four for Stoke, with some good footwork he found a pocket of space and shot into the top corner. Huddersfield made it 4-3, Mouhamadou-Naby Sarr heading in from Mbenza’s free kick.

Elsewhere

Cardiff came from behind to draw with Millwall as Neil Harris made his first return to his former club. Matt Smith gave Millwall the lead on 35 minutes with his first of the season. Kieffer Moore scored his fourth Cardiff goal on 79 minutes to get a point for the visitors.

QPR went behind early to a Ben Wilmot goal after 3 minutes for Watford. Llias Chair made sure the points were shared with his third goal of the season. The draw drops Watford to fith. Five draws for QPR this season as they sit in 18th place.

Luke Berry gave Luton the lead on 69 minutes at Kenilworth Road. Sam Gallagher leveled for Blackburn three minutes later giving both sides a point. Both sides are unbeaten in three games. Luton are 10th while Blackburn are 14th.

Coventry City v Birmingham and Wycombe v Brentford both ended goalless. Coventry remain a point above Wycombe down the bottom. Brentford have now drawn four of their last five.

Norwich now lead the table and Reading having lost four in a row have dropped to sixth. The table will keep changing with only eight points from 12th to 1st.

Should Arsenal make a move for Christian Eriksen in January?

Following Arsenal’s 0-0 draw with newly promoted Leeds United on Sunday, it is now seven hours and 56 minutes since the Gunners scored from open play in the Premier League. 

This equates to the North London side’s lowest tally in 34 years, just nine goals in nine games. The failure to score against the leagues’ worst defence must draw concerns for Mikel Arteta and his coaching staff all be it they were playing with ten men for the best part of half an hour. 

In addition, Mikel Arteta’s side have now not scored in four of their last Premier League matches.  Their one goal came in an impressive 1-0 victory at Old Trafford scored from the penalty spot by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

What is a more startling stat, however, is that the North London club now rank among the bottom six teams so far this campaign for chances creation per match in the top flight. 

German international Mesut Ozil, who has not played for Arsenal this season, ended up ranking second on the list of most creative player for the 2019/20 season. Despite only playing 18 games he created 38 chances for his teammates.  

This begs the question whether Ozil should be recalled from his exile or in fact should Arteta go all out to recruit another creative player in the January transfer window?

Arsenal’s Christian Eriksen link?

One former Arsenal player Kevin Campbell has suggested that the Gunners should sign the ‘superb’ ex-Tottenham star Christian Eriksen. 

The 28-year-old Danish attacking midfielder has reportedly asked to leave his current club Inter Milan and could be sold in January according to the Serie A club’s sporting director Giusppe Marotta. 

Marotta told DAZN:

“We do not certainly have to force a player to stay when he asks to leave.”

Indeed, since moving for £17.5 million from Spurs to the San Siro in January of this year, Eriksen has just managed four goals in 33 matches – including none this season. 

Eriksen has also only started three of the club’s eight league matches so far and has been an unused substitute in Inter’s last two matches, including Sunday’s 4-2 win over Torino.  

The attacking midfielder’s contract with Inter Milan runs until 2024, but when asked about his current role with the club Eriksen told TV2:

This isn’t want I dreamed of, 

It is a strange situation, as the fans want to see me playing more and so would I, but the coach has different ideas and as a player I have to respect that.

“I am concentrating on my football, then when the transfer window opens we will see if something happens or not.”

While Inter Milan manager, Antonio Conte said:

“I will not select my team just to please one player.” 

Eriksen’s record with Tottenham

The Denmark midfielder’s record with Tottenham is significantly more impressive as he played more than 300 games for the club and helped Mauricio Pochettino’s side reach the Champions League final back in 2018. 

Overall he scored 69 goals in his 305 games for the club but perhaps more importantly chipped in with 89 assists for his team. 

When asked about the Eriksen speculation, Campbell said: 

“Christian Eriksen played for the rivals but we all know the quality he possesses, that’s for sure.

“It is not quite working out for him at Inter Milan right now and I am sure he would be a good addition to Arsenal’s squad.” 

Do Arsenal need a player like Eriksen?

Truth be told, a team like Arteta’s could certainly do with someone of Eriksen’s talents.  

The Danish playmaker is certainly someone who has that potential to come up with that spark in the final third and picking that pivotal final pass is something that the Gunners clearly lack at the moment.

It is also clear that Eriksen is a player who currently does not fit in with Conte’s plans at Inter Milan and he has struggled so far to get the best out of the Danish international. 

It certainly worked out well for Eriksen first time round in the Premier League for another North London side, could perhaps it do so again?

Let us know what you think Arsenal fans in the comments below, would you be happy to see your side make a move for the Danish international in the January transfer window? 

WHAT NEXT FOR OLIViER GIROUD?

Often underrated and always scores goals Olivier Giroud is facing a decision over his future. After all, It is imperative that the French World Cup winner plays regular football in order to secure his place in his national side for next year’s Euros.

The 34 year old has appeared just six times this season for Chelsea and this week France manager Didier Deschamps spoke out about the striker who has been an integral part of his plans in recent times despite being on the fringe at Stamford Bridge.

Giroud scored twice in midweek for France against Sweden to move him to within seven goals of the nations record goal scorer Thierry Henry – a mark of the forwards credentials.

However, with the plethora of striking options available to Chelsea boss Frank Lampard, Giroud has been on the periphery of matters in West London this term, leading to plenty of speculation around a move in the upcoming January transfer window.

Fellow Premier League club West Ham are believed to be interested, whilst a host of Serie A sides have also been credited with interest, including a reunion with former manager Antonio Conte at Inter Milan.

The cultured French striker who’s attributes stretch to beyond his prowess in front of goal with his ability to hold up the ball and bring others into play will be desperate for one final hoorah on the internationals stage in the rearranged Euros next summer – therefore may need to move on to pastures new.

France boast a host of high-quality forwards who will all be hoping to oust the tall striker from Deschamps’ plans. The likes of Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezzmann, Anthony Martial, Moussa Dembele, Ousmane Dembele and Marcus Thuram are all in with a shout of leading the line.

With competition for places at the attacking end of the France squad as such, it is inconceivable Giroud could expect to be picked without regular football behind him.

One thing is for certain is Giroud’s representatives believe their player deserves to be seeing more action, this week the players agent questioned Lampard’s preference of Tammy Abraham whilst hinting at a January exit.

At 34 years old and with Timo Werner and Abraham clearly above him in the pecking order, a mid-season move seems the most viable option in order for the cultured frontman to get the football he needs for the rest of the season.

Championship weekend preview

As ever the Championship season is providing arguably the fiercest competition in world football as a host of clubs look to fight heir way to the promised land of the Premier League.

There has already been one game completed on Friday night as ground sharing Coventry City and Birmingham City played out a rather lacklustre 0-0 draw on Friday night.

Here is your preview of the rest of the big games over the weekend…

AFC Bournemouth v Reading Saturday 12.30pm

Fourth place Bournemouth welcome table toppers Reading to the Vitality Stadium with a chance of overtaking their visitors.

Reading had been unbeatable in thre league until recently, where they are now clinging on to dear life at the summit after losing their last three matches before the break.

Steve Tindall’s Cherries will be without Josh king who tested positive for COVID-19 whilst away on international duty as the relegated south coast club look to bounce back immediately.

QPR V Watford Saturday 3.00pm

An all London affair on Saturday afternoon as second place Watford travel to Loftus Road looking to go top of their table in their quest to make an instant return to the Premier League.

QPR meanwhile have been inconsistent at best during 2020/21 and will be looking to resolve their problems in order to start moving in the right direction and away from the threat of relegation.

Middlesbrough v Norwich City Saturday 3.00pm

Middlesbrough go into this match unbeaten in 10 and with October’s manager of the month, Neil Warnock, at the helm. The hosts are on the cusp of the play-off places but will need to turn a plethora of draws into wins if they are going to challenge.

High-flying Norwich are another side hoping to bounce straight back into he top flight and Daniel Farke’s side are making a decent fist of it as they sit third. Goal scorer Teemu Pukki will be pivotal to the Canaries chances.

Bristol City v Derby County Saturday 3.00pm

Bristol City in fifth are unlikely to be the story of this clash as bottom of the table Derby head to Ashton Gate with Wayne Rooney as their manaager.

Rooney is in temporary charge of the Rams after Phillip Cocu was sacked during the international break, giving Rooney his first role in senior management.

The former Manchester United striker has a huge job on his hands getting a talented Derby squad heading in the right direction.

Other Fixtures

Preston v Sheffield Wednesday Saturday 3.00pm

Stoke City v Huddersfield Saturday 3.00pm

Barnsley v Nottingham Forest Saturday 3.00pm

Millwall v Cardiff City Saturday 3.00pm

Luton Town v Blackburn Rovers Saturday 3.00pm

Swansea City v Rotherham United Saturday 3.00pm

Wycombe Wanderers v Brentford Saturday 3.00pm

Its back: Premier league weekend preview

After the final international break of the calendar year top flight domestic football is back and heading into the most hectic part of an already condensed 2020/21 schedule.

The Premier League has already seen plenty of shock results this campaign and as things stand the top of the table is delicately poised with a host of clubs vying for supremacy.

Here are your big match previews for the weekend…

Premier League

Newcastle United v Chelsea Saturday 12.30pm

Frank Lampard’s side were in fine form before the break and the Blues legend will be hoping his side can pick up where they left off as they head to the North East.

Lampard will be without Ka Havertz and Christian Pulisic for the clash at St James’ Park while experienced centre-back Thiago Silva is a doubt.

Steve Bruce’s Magpies have been typically inconsistent so far this term without setting the world alight. However with the attacking threats of Ryan Fraser, Allan Saint Maximin and Callum Wilson, they can be confident of stopping the visitors heading to the top of the table.

Tottenham v Manchester City Saturday 5.30pm

A huge test of Tottenham’s early title credentials as Jose Mourinho’s men look to seize the opportunity to reach the summit of the table, albeit potentially for just 24 hours.

Spurs have been a tough team to beat this season and with the likes of Harry Kane, Gareth Bale and Heung Min-Son in attack they pose a danger to any team.

Pep Guardiola, fresh off the back of a new contract, will be looking for more consistency from his side as they look to close the small gap to the league leaders. Gabriel Jesus is likely to be available whilst Sergio Aguero is a doubt.

Manchester United v West Brom Saturday 8.00pm

United went into the break on the back of a morale boosting victory over Everton, a victory that arguably saved Ole Gunnar Solskjær from a difficult conversation over this job.

Slaven Bilic’s Baggies meanwhile are desperate for points already as they flounder in the relegation zone without a win in their opening eight matches.

Leeds United v Arsenal Sunday 4.30pm

Perhaps evevery neutral’s favourite side to watch, Leeds United have made for enthralling viewing this season, unless you’re a fan of stout defending.

Marcelo Bielsa’s charges are a fast flowing bunch who always look to play on the front-foot, occasionally to their detriment. The Yorkshire side have already shocked the big boys this season, taking a point from the game with Man City.

Mikel Arteta’s Gunners could almost do no wrong until they came unstuck in a big way against Aston Villa before the break. The North Londoners sit 11th in the table and will be desperate to start clawing their way up.

Liverpool v Leicester City Sunday 7.15pm

Arguably the game of the weekend as the reigning champions host the current leagues leaders at Anfield.

Jurgen Klopp’s side come into this game with almost an unprecedented amount of injuries with Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez out for the majority of the season at least. Captain Jordan Henderson, Thiago Alcantara, Mohamed Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold are all major doubts for the clash whilst Fabinho has returned to full training.

The Foxes, not without their own injury concerns, must fancy their chances of taking a positive result back to the Midlands as former Reds boss Brendan Rodger’s pits his wits against Klopp.

Wolves v Southampton Monday 8.00pm

The weekend’s action rounds up at Molineux as this seasons surprise package Southampton head to Wolverhampton hoping to continue their positive start.

Ralph Hassenhutl’s Saints sit fourth in the table heading into the weekend after a 2-0 victory over Newcastle before the international hiatus. The visitors are likely to be without talismanic striker Danny Ings however as he recovers from a knee issue.

Wolves meanwhile haven’t quite hit the heights perhaps many expected this term so far as they struggle to get going with a host of new signings in their ranks. Nuno Espirito Santo will be hoping this period can bring about a new level of consistency from his talented squad.

Other Fixtures

Aston Villa v Brighton & Hove Albion Saturday 3.00pm

Fulham v Everton Sunday 12.00pm

Sheffield United v West Ham United Sunday 2.00pm

Burnley v Crystal Palace Monday 5.30pm