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Liverpool v Arsenal preview

Liverpool welcome Arsenal to Anfield on Monday for the first of two clashes inside four days.

The first one will perhaps be seen as the more important fixture as the pair do battle in the Premier League looking to maintain their 100% starts to the 2020/21 campaign.

The two teams meet again on Thursday in the Carabao Cup fourth round in what is likely to be an encounter between tow much changed teams.

The Preview

Mikel Arteta and Jurgen Klopp are becoming regular acquaintances since the Spaniard took charge at the Emirates, with the managers meeting recently in both the league and the Community Shield.

Arteta came out on top of both outings and will be hopeful of his sides’ chances of completing a hat-trick of victories over the champions.

However, Klopp’s Reds were almost back to their imperious best last week as they overcame Chelsea thanks to a Sadio Mane masterclass. Bolstered by the arrivals of Thiago Alcantara from Bayern Munich and Diogo Jota from Wolves in the last fortnight, signings that have only further strengthened the German manager’s options.

Team News

Liverpool will be without their talismanic captain Jordan Henderson who misses the match with a knee injury. They do welcome back Joe Gomez to the reckoning after a short spell in the sidelines.

Arsenal are hopeful of having their own Scottish left-back fit and available as Kieran Tierney recovers from an injury absence. The Gunners do have a host of injuries to squad players.

The Match

Arsenal have had a confidence-boosting few months and will come into this match buoyed by their recent results, however, they should be wary of overplaying as they come up against a side determined to both retain their title as well as attack multiple other honours.

Prediction

Liverpool 2-1 Arsenal

Details

Liverpool v Arsenal, Anfield, Monday 8.00pm, Sky Sports

Cardiff City v ReadinG Preview

Cardiff City will host Reading on Saturday in matchday three of the championship. The bluebirds head into the fixture on the back of a good 2-0 away win at Nottingham Forest. Reading have managed two wins from two beating against both Derby and Barnsley by two goals to nil.

Rivalry

The two sides met four times last season drawing both league meetings and two FA Cup games. Reading won the reply on penalties. So expect another tight contest. There was plenty of off the field between the two clubs as well with Reading accusing Cardiff supporters of racist/homophobic chanting at the Madejski and a Reading supporter being ejected at the return fixture for mocking the death of Emiliano Sala.

The Managers

Cardiff boss Neil Harris held a virtual press conference this week and said:

“After three points on Saturday and a dominant performance, of course everyone is on a high in the training ground,”

Neil continued:

“If you can win two or three games in a rowit shoots you up the division, the same as losing three or four. That’s where consistency becomes vital over a period of time. We didn’t have it in our first game, but in the second game we were very good.

“This week to the same against Reading, we’ll have to play very well. We’ll have to be solid defensively against a very good front four, and create goal scoring opportunities from a combination of fluent football, set plays and direct play”.

Reading manager Veljko Paunovic said ahead of the game:

“Cardiff are a good team though coming from a good result. We know their strengths. And, on the other side, we know what we can do welland this is what we can improve”.

Players to Watch

For Cardiff striker Kieffer Moore will be looking to add to his two goals at Forest last week. The big forward is key to Cardiff’s attack with his hold up play as important as his goals.

Marlon Pack played a vital part in Cardiff’s win protecting the back four and helping build up Cardiff Attacks. He told Cardiff City TV:

“Without there being any supporters in there its a bit different, but you still want to create an atmosphere and an intensity at your home stadium”.

For Reading Yakou Meite haunted Bluebird fans last term scoring three times. He has one already for this season scoring from the bench in the 2-0 win v Barnsley.

Portuguese international Lucas Joao for has a flying start to the season and has netted four goals in all competitions. A hat trick in the EFL cup against Colchester and the opening goal in the win at Derby.

How To Watch

This game is avaible to watch on ifollow or can be seen on Cardiff City TV.

Prediction; Cardiff City 1-0 Reading

This will be a close game Reading are in good form but the Bluebirds will be feeling good after a two nil win away to Forest. Cardiff to edge this won.

Wrexham afc: hollywood comes to north wales

Its not every day Hollywood films stars worth an estimated £56million, and fifth-tier football Wrexham AFC are mentioned in the same sentence. Well, just as 2020 couldn’t get much stranger, this week it happened.

Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds and Wrexham AFC could now become united after it emerged from the North Wales club the actor wants to invest in the National League team along with Rob McElhenney, an actor are best known for creating It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. The duo are set to make the most unlikely of entrances into UK football.

Whilst its no longer uncommon that foreign investors and owners turn up in our beloved football pyramid, the randomness of the duo’s interest in the quiet market town famous for Mickey Thomas’ FA Cup Goal, is almost unparalleled.

The duo unsurprisingly have won approval from 98 per cent of club members to get to this stage and a takeover could see a reported £2million invested in the fan-owned club – not small fry for the level.

Wrexham unveiled the pair as potential new owners in a Tweet yesterday after the those fans involved in the current ownership voted on the likely investors. Director Spencer Harris has said he has spoken to the duo on a Zoom call last night – something I can’t imagine he had envisioned when he took the role.

Reynolds himself took to Twitter following the announcement and replied to a Tweet he received over eight years ago asking if he’d ever be seen in the North Wales town.

Reynolds replied to the question and his 16.5million followers with ‘Yep, you never know.’

Whilst it is not yet clear why the actors want to invest in the world’s third oldest professional football club, one thing is for sure is the fans are getting very excited, and rightly so.

A club in truth playing below themselves in the National League, in recent times they have been seen deep in cup competitions and in and around the playoffs of League One.

The Wrexham Supporters Trust Board members have already voted overwhelmingly in favour of the investors at a general meeting and will talk more with the potential new investors in coming weeks.

Both men, famous for their on screen exploits have numerous business interests, although its fair to say none are as random as Wrexham.

The club shop have already bought into the spirit of things by producing Dragons’ shirts with the names of their potential new owners printer on the back.

Should the takeover go ahead, however, we may well see the famous Hollywood duo at the old Racecourse Ground, and perhaps Wrexham in the Premier League, far sooner than we previously thought possible.

Crazy, crazy times!

Womens FA Cup quarter Final Preview

2019/2020 FA Cup Resumes

As strange as its sounds to talk about FA Cup Quarter Finals in September, with all that’s going on in the world credit to the FA for finishing last season Women’s FA Cup.

FA Director of the women’s professional game Kelly Simmons said:

“A significant amount of work has been going on behind the scenes to ensure the Women’s FA Cup can be completed and I am delighted that we have received the necessary approval for its conclusion”.

Simmons continued:

“The Women’s FA Cup is a showpiece fixture in the football calendar and because of that there was a huge appetite for the remaining rounds to be played”.

The show piece final will take place at Wembley Stadium on Saturday 31st of October. But before that we have the quarter and semi finals to be played.

The quarter finals will take place this weekend starting with the north London derby on Saturday (Kick off 17:15). The winners of this will face the winners of Leicester City v Manchester City who met on Sunday at 14:00. Also on Sunday Everton host Chelsea at 13:00 with the winners facing Brighton or Birmingham who will face off at 14:00.

All games will be played behind closed doors. Arsenal’s game with Tottenham will be shown on BBC2 from 5pm on Saturday. While Everton v Chelsea will be streamed on the FA Player.

Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur

Arsenal head into this derby fixture having gotten off to a flying start in the WSL. With 9-1 and 6-1 wins over West ham and Reading respectively. The gunners have been on fire in front of goal. Tottenham however have suffered defeat to Everton 1-0 and drew with West ham 1-1.

New Arsenal player Steph Catley spoke to the clubs website about the competition:

“Its a brand new experience for me. the reason you play football is to win trophies, so to come in at such a late stage and be really close to winning one is really exciting”

Arsenal boast a wealth of international talent within their squad. Dutch midfielder Jill Roord has had a great start with six goals in two games. While fellow Netherlands international Vivianne Miedema has scored four goals so far. The Gunners also boast the likes of England stars Beth Mead and Jordan Nobbs, Dutch attacker Danielle Van de Donk and Scotland international Kim Little. Joe Montemurro’s side, therefore, must be considered heavy favourites.

Tottenham will be no push over’s, however, after recently signing US legend and World Cup winner Alex Morgan. Alex spoke to the club website about coming to play in England:

“I’ve heard so many great things about the WSL and some of my team-mates from the national team have come over and signed with other clubs in the WSL”. “I wanted to challenge myself and play in a different league”.

Players To Watch

For Arsenal Jill Roord and Vivianne Miedema have been scoring for fun. Jordan Nobbs and Danielle Van de Donk will also play an important part for Arsenal. As for Tottenham Australia defender Alanna Kennedy will need to be at her best. Anna Filbey will be looking to continue her good form, after Wales’ narrow 1-0 defeat to Norway. But there could be a staring role for Alex Morgan who may make her first appearance.

Prediction: Arsenal 3-1 Tottenham

Everton V Chelsea

Everton host Chelsea in Sundays early game Kick off 13:00. The game will be streamed live on the FA Player.

Everton head into this game on the back of two wins in the WSL. A 1-0 victory over Tottenham and a 4-0 win over Bristol City. Lucy Graham scored twice in the win over Bristol while Isobel Christiansen got the winner against Tottenham.

Chelsea opened the WSL with at draw away to Manchester United (1-1) with a goal from Sam Kerr. In their second game they hammered Bristol City by nine goals. Kirby, Mjelde, Leupolz, Cuthbert, Bright, England, Charles, Harder and Kerr all getting on the scoresheet.

In the last five meeting between these side Chelsea have won four and there has been one draw. Everton’s last win was in 2013 when they won 3-2.

Players To Watch

For Everton Ingrid Wold the Norwegian international helped Norway to a 1-0 win over Wales on Tuesday will be key to stopping Chelsea’s So-Yun Ji, Fran kirby and Beth England. Scotland international Lucy Graham has two goals for the season and will be looking to add more.

For Chelsea they have world stars right across the squad. Norwegian trio Maren Mjelde, Maria Thorisdottir and Guro Reiten. Sophie Ingle, So-Yon Ji, Fran Kirby can all change games. While Sam Kerr is one of the best strikers in the world.

Prediction: Everton 0-4 Chelsea

Brighton V Birmingham City

These sides met each other on the opening day of the WSL season. Brighton won the game by two goals to nil, with stikes from Megan Connolly and Inessa Kaagman. The score flattered the Blues as Brighton hit fifteen attempts to their four.

Brighton’s second game saw them hold Man City to a goalless draw. They sit in sixth place after two games. After finishing ninth at the early end of last season Brighton will want to push on this season.

Birmingham’s poor start continued with a 5-2 defeat to Manchester United. They did lead in the match after conceding early. A Claudia Walker equaliser and an own goal from Abbie McManus giving them a brief lead. United leveled before the break, then hit three without reply in the second half.

Players to Watch

For Brighton Inessa Kaagman and Kayleigh Green will be important. Also 18 year old english defender Maya Le Tissier has looked a great talent in the first two rounds of the WSL. Birmingham will be looking for more goals from Claudia Walker.

Prediction: Brighton 2-0 Birmingham City

Leicester City v Manchester City

Leicester enter the quarter finals as the only Championship side remaining in the competition. They have begun their season with a 3-0 win over Blackburn and a 2-2 draw with Sheffield United. They sit second in the championship on goal difference.

FA Cup holders Manchester City have a win and draw in their opening WSL fixtures. City boss Gareth Taylor spoke to clubs website ahead of this game saying:

“The girls are under no illusions that we need to be better in the final third with our decision-making and final action where it matters”.

Taylor continued:

“Goals are important and of course, we don’t want to concede any. Its a positive in that respect- we’ve had two clean sheets”.

Aoife Mannion, Megan Campbell and Lauren Hemp are all confirmed to be out of contention though injuries. In positive news though Rose Lavelle may get her first start.

Players to Watch

For Leicester Natasha Flint has three goals in two games for the season. Millie Farrow has one goal in one and is another Leicester player to watch. Manchester City have an outstanding squad of international players, however, keep an eye on American pair Rose Lavelle and Sam Mewis.

Prediction: Leicester City 0-3 Manchester City

DOES NEW LIVERPOOL SIGNING MEAN Something’s jota give?

Liverpool’s recruitment kicked into gear in dramatic fashion last weekend as they unveiled the signing of Thiago Alcantara from Bayern Munich, quickly followed by Diogo Jota from fellow Premier League club Wolves.

It was the latter which caught many by surprise, without being linked to the Portuguese star, suddenly he was a Liverpool player as the Premier League champions tied up a £41 million deal to sign the 23-year-old.

Often used as a wide forward Jota ticks the ‘need backup for the front three’ box in Jurgen Klopp’s squad. Although it remains to be seen who may depart Anfield in the coming weeks, coupled with options such as Divock Origi, Xherdan Shaqiri, Takumi Minamino as well as a host of youngsters, it seems the Reds have now got all backup bases covered.

Just where will Jota fit in with the title holders?

Often used as a left inside forward throughout his career in Portugal and since his arrival in England, Jota is capable of operating through the middle although it seems likely he will mainly be used out wide.

Although currently occupied by Sadio Mane, Jota will see his fair share of match action. It has long been used as a stick to beat Klopp’s Reds but their apparent nonplussed attitude towards domestic cup competitions could well change with additional strength in depth.

Jota could well make his Liverpool debut in such a competition when they travel to Lincoln City on Thursday night for the Carabao Cup Third Round.

Whilst the infallible Liverpool front three are arguably the best in the world it is a fair argument to say without one the others fail, as well as the drop off in quality with the previous understudies being too high to afford to rest anyone during even the most strenuous periods.

Now, however, with quality of the likes of Jota waiting in the wings, Klopp will be far more willing to perhaps rest his star men in certain matches, as well as having the capabilities from the bench to change the direction of travel of a match should it not be going his side’s way.

The Stats

From a numbers perspective whilst Jota doesn’t quite match up with the current Liverpool wide men, although neither Mane or Salah were hitting the numbers they are now prior to their Anfield arrival. Klopp and his staff could well be about to take another prestigious talent up a number of levels.

Jota struck 33 goals in 111 league Wolves performances, and has also recently bagged his first international goal amidst his first four caps.

In 34 Premier League appearances last term, the Portuguese star scored seven times and assisted once. By comparison Mane scored 18 times and assisted seven in just one more outing.

Clear to see the position sharers are somewhat apart on the numbers front, although that gap could be accentuated by the differing levels of teams they were in.

Summary

Ultimately Jota is unlikely to be a regular starter to begin with and at just 23, the Portuguese international has plenty of time to grow into his Reds career, without any pressure to begin with.

Jota will most likely be utilised at the forefront of what Liverpool will hope to be a prolonged cup run, whilst providing an energetic and slightly alternative option off the bench in Premier League action.

Should, god forbid, any of the front three pick up an injury, Jota at least offers high quality backup with proven English top flight experience. Something almost everybody can agree was previously missing from the squad, despite the unrivalled success of the last 18 months.