Category Archives: Premier League

The Merseyside Derby Penalty: should it have been awarded?

Following the recent Merseyside Derby at the weekend between Liverpool and Everton at Anfield, a match won by Everton, the debate raged around the penalty conceded by Liverpool, who were already 1-0 down at this time

A ball was threaded through the Liverpool defence and Dominic Calvert-Lewin looked a good bet to score….

Until…

A decisive tackle by Trent Alexander-Arnold appeared to put the Everton striker off his stride.

This resulted in Calvert-Lewin falling into the back of Alexander- Arnold then being carried over the England right back’s head and shoulders before apparently being tripped by his right leg. This caused the Everton striker to fall to the ground and appeal for a penalty.

The appeal went to VAR, which has been the target of many critics this season.

The match referee spent a few moments reviewing the incident, before awarding Everton a penalty, which they subsequently scored with the last kick of the match to win the game 2-0

The penalty has been the subject of fierce debate since and featured on SkySports Football show in the ‘Ask The Ref Segment’ featuring Dermot Gallagher.

Unsurprisingly, Gallagher as so often is the case with him, sided with the referees judgment and viewed it as a penalty.

It could be argued, however, that Alexander-Arnold in moving to intercept the tackle, could be considered a tad unlucky because his initial movement as seen in the video below did not make contact with Calvert-Lewin.

But as Calvert-Lewin hit his back, this caused the defender to bend forward, which resulted in his right leg going upwards and catching the forward

Was it a penalty?

The referee thought so….

Jurgen Klopp obviously did not…..

Public and Pundit reaction is mixed, but I certainly think Alexander Arnold was harshly penalised.

What are your views? Feel free to provide them in the comments below…..

Premier League Preview: Wolverhampton Wanderers V Leeds United

Friday night football sees Leeds visit Molineux to face Wolves. Last time out Wolves came from a goal behind to beat Southampton 2-1. A Ruben Neves penalty and a Pedro Neto goal giving the visitor’s the win. Leeds last game found themselves three goals down at half time in their last match at Arsenal. They went four behind shortly after half time but did manage to pull two goals back – Pascal Struijk and Helder Costa scoring.

Just two points separate the sides in the table with Leeds in 11th and Wolves in 12th. Leeds do have a game in hand and could be five points clear of their opponents with a win.

Recent Meetings

Leeds have the edge on overall meetings with 42 wins to Wolves 34. Recent fixtures between the side however have gone with Wolves. Wolves have won the last four games. Leeds last victory against Wolves came in a Championship game in 2016, Kermar Roofe getting the only goal.

Team News

For Wolves Will Boly and Daniel Podence will both miss out. They have both started some rehabilitation training. Raul Jimenez has also begun training however mostly individual sessions.

Leeds have serval players out for this game, Ian Poveda, Adam Forshaw, Robin Koch and Gaetano Berardi are all out. Leeds head coach Marcelo Bielsa has also ruled out Kalvin Phillips and Rodrigo. However there is good news for Leeds fans as Mateusz Klich and Diego Llorente will be available.

Managers Thoughts

Wolves’ Nuno Espirito Santo spoke about the need to improve and the unique style of Leeds:

“We are always trying to improve, trying to reach our best performances by playing good and being consistent, and working hard to achieve that. We are lacking a lot of things that we are trying to search for in games.

“We’ve been able to improve some aspects of our defensive organisation, but not yet the full perfection. There’s still a lot of mistakes that we make in games that we want to try to avoid.

“We cannot say when we’re going to reach our best because there’s never that best, always new things, things to improve, things that went bad and not so good, so our approach basically is improving match after match. That way will lead us to the higher standards we want to achieve.

“In the game at Southampton all the team, if you regard the work the boys did, was fantastic. It’s very difficult to play against Southampton, always very tight games, and the boys gave a good answer, especially in the second-half.

“The way all the team engaged in the pressing and recovery of the ball was very good, so I was pleased with the full attitude of the team.

“Special and unique the way they approach the game. We’ve been able to see they have a fantastic squad and a special manager, Marcelo Bielsa is undoubtedly one of the greatest managers, and what we realise is they are very competitive – it will require the best of us.

“The tactical approach they have, man to man all over the pitch, it’s unique in the Premier League. It’s very difficult for all the opponents because, apart from what they do that is unique, they have talent and fitness. Besides that, a very talented squad.”

Leeds Head coach Marcelo Bielsa understands that his side are in for tough game on Friday:

“They’re a team who can play in different tactical schemes,

“When they need to make changes they can bring on a substitute which doesn’t alter the quality of the team. 

“They have wingers who are very good and it’s not easy to find good wingers in football at the moment.  

“They defend well without this preventing them from attacking and when they attack they are always cautious of what they leave behind. 

“Very few times have I seen them completely dominated.”

Key Players

For Wolves Pedro Neto with five goals and four assists is Wolves highest rated player according to whoscored.com. Nuno Espirito Santo praised the commitment and effort of the 20 year old:

“I’m very pleased [with Neto] because he’s always committed to the training sessions, committed to the games, committed to the process of learning and improving. His dedication makes me very pleased.”

For Leeds Patrick Bamford’s form has been a key to their good position since gaining promotion last season. Bamford has 12 goals so far and more often than not when he scores Leeds win. He has also got five assists and has a whoscored.com rating of 7.15.

Prediction: Wolves 1 – 2 Leeds

Will Harry Kane’s loyalty for Spurs be tested?

A few months is a long time in football, especially it appears this season where so many sides are experiencing fluctuating fortunes.  

Take Liverpool for example, up until the last two months could do no wrong, but have now suffered back-to-back defeats against Manchester City and Brendan Rodger’s Leicester.  They subsequently face a battle to qualify for next season’s Champions League. 

Then there is Tottenham Hotspur. Back in November they produced a Jose Mourinho masterclass to secure a 2-0 win over Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side.  They were in fact setting the pace at the top of the Premier League, both Son-Heung min and Harry Kane were the most prolific pairing in the division and there appeared a new found reliance, which was installed by Mourinho.  

Fast forward, however, to what is commonly referred to as the business end of the campaign and Spurs now find themselves down in ninth in the table, 17 points behind league leaders City following a rather chastening experience of a 3-0 loss at the Etihad.  

Indeed, since that previously highlighted 2-0 loss in November Guardiola’s men have now gone 16 games unbeaten in all competitions and during that time have just conceded three goals, while scoring 36. 

The North London side, meanwhile, have only won four games in 14 since that impressive 2-0 win, the goals have dried up and Kane has looked an increasingly fore lawn figure leading the line. 

During Tottenham’s latest defeat, the England captain failed to register a single touch in the opposition penalty area.  In fact Kane put in an impressive performance as a defender having registered four clearances during yesterday’s 3-0 loss, which was the joint highest of any Spurs player.  

Following the game, however, Jamie Redknapp in the Sky Studio said:

“Harry Kane must look at that and think: ‘I want touches, I want to be the main man, not just taking free-kicks!’ He won’t be happy doing that.”

Redknapp is not the only former Spurs player to have highlighted that Kane would not be happy to be feeding off limited service.  

Prior to the match at the Etihad former fans favourite Clive Allan, who coached Kane during his days in the Tottenham academy raised the point that the England striker will not want to end his career without getting his hands on silverware.   

Allan said on TalkSport: 

“He is integral to Spurs achieving any sort of success, because without him they are not as strong a team. The way he links the play, the way he scores goals, the way he creates chances for other players.

“But, I have no doubt he has had thoughts about it [leaving].

“He’s been fantastic at the club from the first moment he walked in as a 16-year-old. I worked with him at that early age, and you could see he had the most incredible appetite and desire to improve himself, to get the best out of himself, which obviously we have seen he has done.

“But I think he will want a career where he has won something.”

This then leads on to where would Kane go if he were to leave his beloved boyhood club? 

Well, Manchester City are certainly one of the few clubs who can afford the England international and will almost certainly be in the market for a world class striker despite managing so impressively without Sergio Aguero.   

Then there is City’s rivals Manchester United, who have long been reported admirers of Kane and he would certainly provide them with a more cutting edge that times appears to be missing at crucial moments in big games.  

Abroad, meanwhile, there is Real Madrid who are the obvious candidates and Zinedine Zidane’s men are currently experiencing one of the club’s most disappointing season’s to date as they are eight points behind city rivals Atletico Madrid and have already been eliminated from the Copa Del Rey this year.

The likes of Ronald Koeman’s Barcelona would also undoubtedly be interested, despite not being as good as previous Catalan teams they are still a side that offer an obvious attraction. 

In short, Kane will have no shortage of options should he choose to leave his boyhood club and a lot will depend on what happens in the remaining months of the season and also whether he fancies a crack at pastures anew. 

Do you think that Harry Kane will leave his boyhood club this summer? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below…..

Football bodies Send Letter to Social Media CEOS

Football bodies across England have released an open letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The letter is in response to the increased levels of abuse received by players on the social media platforms in recent weeks.

Swansea City midfielder Yan Dhanda being the latest victim after Swansea’s FA Cup game against Manchester City. Dhanda posted on twitter “How can this still be happening in 2021?“.

Dhanda’s club Swansea City released a statement saying:

“Swansea City is appalled and saddened by racist abuse received by Yan Dhanda via social media following tonight’s Emirates FA Cup game against Manchester City.

“As a club, we pride ourselves on working with the community and our supporters, as well as the EFL and the FA, on all anti-racism and anti-discriminatory campaigns because it has no place in society.

“Swansea City condemns racism and abuse of all kinds, and we urge social media companies to go above and beyond to stamp out this abhorrent level of behaviour that continues to tarnish football and society.

“An official report has been made with South Wales Police and the club will assist them in their investigation.

“Yan has our unwavering support in this matter as we and the relevant authorities strive to eradicate this mindless behaviour.”

This come after Manchester United players, Axel Tuanzebe, Antony Martial, Lauren James and Marcus Rashford had experienced abuse on social media. Premier League Referee Mike Dean’s family were sent death threats.

The platform recently announced that user’s who send abusive message will face having their accounts permanently removed.  Facebook’s (who own the platform) content policy manager, Fadzai Madzingira who said:

“Currently, we will set a specific ban or what we call a block for a set amount of time when someone violates those rules and we extend that time should they continue to do so,

“We’re taking tougher measures on people who violate those rules in Instagram direct messaging, so instead of just extending the time, we’ll be removing the accounts altogether.”

The letter has called for more to be done and has been sent by, The FA, The Premier League, The EFL, The FA WSL, The FA Women’s Championship, PFA, LMA, PGMOL and Kick it Out.

The letter has called on the companies to do the following,

Messages and posts should be filtered and blocked before being sent or posted if they contain racist or discriminatory material.

You should operate robust, transparent, and swift measures to take down abusive material if it does get into circulation.

All users should be subject to an improved verification process that (only if required by law enforcement) allows for accurate identification of the person behind the account. Steps should also be taken to stop a user that has sent abuse previously from re-registering an account.

Your platforms should actively and expeditiously assist the investigating authorities in identifying the originators of illegal discriminatory material.

The letter also welcomes:

“The comments made on Twitter by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden, that the UK Government is going to change the law to make social media companies more accountable for what happens on their platforms”.

“We call for meetings with your organisations to discuss the evidence of abuse on your platforms, the action you are taking, and how you plan to directly address the matters outlined in this letter.”

At the time of writing neither Facebook or Twitter have responded to the open letter.

Bamford Chalks Up Century of Career Goals

Should the Leeds United striker be an outside shout for the England Squad?

Patrick Bamford netted his 100th goal of his career on Monday night as Leeds eased to a 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace at Elland Road. The 27 year old is enjoying life back in the top flight along with his teammates, with that victory taking Marcelo Bielsa’s side up to 10th in the table.

Despite doubts surrounding whether Bamford could cut it in the Premier League, after previous failed stints in the top flight, where he endured barren spells at Palace, Norwich and Burnley, he’s hit the ground running on Leeds’ return to the big time after a 16 year absence and is starting to gain the plaudits he deserves.

Often playing as a lone striker, Bamford is already in double figures for goals so far with a tally of 12 strikes in 22 Premier League appearances. In his current vein of form, Bamford is on course to match and maybe even eclipse his impressive 16 goal haul from last year, a figure which was crucial in helping to lift Leeds to the Championship title and promotion to the Premier League.

It’s not just Bamford’s goals which have drawn praise from various sections of the media, but his all round game. Whilst he may not be the most prolific, with his feeble attempt at dinking the ball over Vicente Guaita in the first half on Monday sailing well off target a clear example of this, he does well holding the ball up as a lone striker and bringing others into play as well as creating chances for his teammates.

His decision to unselfishly square the ball to Jack Harrison to allow him to tap into an empty net in Leeds’ recent win over Leicester was the striker’s sixth assist of the season and shows he is very much a team player.

He leads Leeds’ press and works tirelessly for the cause, with his direct running into the channels, great strength despite his seemingly slender stature and his aerial threat, some other key attributes.

His dozen strikes so far places him as the third highest scoring Englishman in the league this campaign, with only Harry Kane and Dominic Calvert-Lewin ahead of him by a single goal.

Whilst those two, (barring injury), are nailed on inclusions for Gareth Southgate’s 23-man squad for the European Championships scheduled to take place this summer, the third space reserved on the plane for a striker is seemingly still up for grabs, and the uncapped Bamford should be worth mentioning.

The forward is not ruling out a first senior call up for World Cup qualifiers in March, ahead of the Euro tournament which kicks off in June, although was coy on his prospects of it coming in the next few months, telling Sky Sports after Monday’s game, “If you had said that at the start of the season I would’ve brushed it off and said ‘you’re mad’, but now people are talking about it.

“We have four or five strikers that have not been involved in the England squad many times and they are doing well so it will be interesting to see who gets called up.”

Rumours of the Nottingham born striker earning a first England call up does seem ‘mad’ when one remembers that Bamford was on the cusp of switching international allegiances and declaring for the Republic of Ireland just 18 months ago.

Then Ireland boss Mick McCarthy was so confident that Bamford, who qualifies to play for the Boys in Green through his grandmother and who played one game for Ireland’s U18s in 2010, would make the switch, he told the the Irish Independent in March 2019:

“I asked him the question ‘Do you still want to join us?’ – ‘Yes’ was the answer. I’m hoping to meet him. I haven’t given up on it at all.”

Bamford ended up snubbing a call up from McCarthy for Ireland’s games later in June that year to focus on Leeds and whilst he stated he, “hasn’t closed any doors” he recently reiterated his desire to represent England in an interview for Talksport, saying it would “be a dream come true” to play for the Three Lions.

Bamford has played for England at U18, U19 and U21 level, with his last cap for the Young Lions coming in 2014. He has never been in consideration for the Three Lions senior squad, until now.

At 27, there is no doubt he is a late bloomer, but the same can be said for two of his rivals Danny Ings and Callum Wilson who are both 28. Those two strikers, along with Tammy Abraham and Bamford, appear to be the four players battling it out for the final forward spot in the squad, if Southgate does opt to bring three strikers. Based on selection from previous tournaments, it seems that this will be the case.

For the 2018 World Cup Southgate chose three out and out strikers (Kane, Jamie Vardy and Danny Welbeck) as well as two versatile wide forward players in Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling. Again barring injury, Rashford and Sterling are automatic picks for Southgate given their respective forms for both Manchester clubs this season, leaving one more space for a goal hungry striker.

Of the aforementioned quartet only Bamford (12) and Wilson (10) have hit double figures for goals so far this term. Ings has seven goals and three assists whilst Abraham has six goals and two assists.

Bamford, along with Abraham also boasts the best injury record out of the four. He hasn’t suffered any injury problems in the last two seasons, whilst Abraham has avoided any major absences so far this campaign.

Ings’ injury woes have been well documented. He has remained fit for the majority of the current campaign but did sustain a hamstring injury in December, which saw him miss a number of Southampton’s festive fixtures.

Wilson has similarly suffered a succession of serious injuries like Ings, but had been firing on all cylinders for Newcastle until recently when he limped off against Ings’ side Southampton on Saturday with a hamstring tear.

He has been dealt a sickening blow after the club confirmed he will be ruled out for 6-8 weeks and Wilson now faces a race to build up full fitness ahead of England’s first group game with Scotland on 18th June.

Bamford is the least experienced striker and the only one not to have won an England cap with Ings having 13 caps and Wilson and Abraham amassing four each. It was the Chelsea striker who got the nod and was named in Southgate’s last England squad in November at the expense of the other three.

Abraham has struggled recently under new boss Thomas Tuchel and although Southgate seems to be a fan of his, on current form he doesn’t merit an inclusion. With Wilson, it will be a case of whether he can prove he is up to full fitness and can last the duration of such an intense tournament when he makes his return to action.

Mason Greenwood is another left wing shout who could be included. His form has fluctuated this campaign after his breakout half season last year, and Southgate may wait until after the Euros before trying to integrate him fully into the senior set up.

It therefore seems like it will be a straight shootout between Ings or Bamford for a place on the plane. Ings may just edge the individual battle, if he can keep fit, as he is viewed as the better striker all round, particularly when it comes to his expert finishing ability and given he has been in and around the England set up before.

Bamford at least deserves a call up to the squad ahead of March’s World Cup qualifiers to give Southgate the chance to assess him up close in training and maybe even in games before making his final decision for the Euro squad.

It’s a nice conundrum for Southgate to have and his inclusion in discussion for selection for England caps quite the rise for Bamford, who just last year, was deemed not good enough to lead the line for Leeds in the Championship.

Now he’s scoring goals for fun in the Premier League and could be afforded the chance to make his mark on the international stage very soon.