Category Archives: Premier League

Another injury blow for City before the Liverpool clash?

Manchester City could be without Ederson going into Sunday’s clash against Premier League leaders Liverpool after the goalkeeper picked up a muscular injury during Wednesday’s match against Atalanta.

The Brazilian shot stopper was substituted at half-time of the Champions League fixture, and was replaced by 36-year-old Claudio Bravo, who was later sent off, forcing right-back Kyle Walker to finish the match in goal.

And City boss Pep Guardiola is unsure whether Ederson will be fit in time for Sunday’s crucial trip to Anfield.

“Honestly, right now, I don’t know.

“It’s a muscular problem. It was not big but [we took him off] to avoid risk. He didn’t feel comfortable in the last minutes and that’s why we decided to make a substitution.”

Manchester City managed to hold out for a 1-1 draw against Atalanta, despite Walker being summoned to play in goal for the final ten minutes.

The visitors got off to a quick start, taking the lead at the San Siro after just seven minutes – a slick passing move slotted home by English superstar Raheem Sterling.

City looked well in control and had the opportunity to double their lead just before half-time having been awarded a penalty, which Gabriel Jesus scuffed wide of the upright – a miss which proved costly, as Mario Pasalic levelled the scores the other side of the break.

Despite City’s continued possession dominance, they were unable to break through their host’s defence, before the game took an unexpected turn. The Blues replacement keeper Bravo was red carded for a challenge on Josip Ilicic, leaving Guardiola with no option but to place an outfield player between the sticks.

Ederson, if unavailable for Sunday’s match, will add to an ever-growing list of injuries for Pep Guardiola to deal with. Long-term absentees Aymeric Laporte and Leroy Sane remain sidelined, while David Silva, Rodri and Oleksandr Zinchenko are all set the miss out.

City travel to Anfield on Sunday afternoon to face Premier League leaders Liverpool, with kick-off scheduled for 16:30 GMT.

What do you think the outcome will be?

Gunning for the Top Four

Arsenal are a conundrum at the moment. It feels like there definitely is something up with them, but also like everything might just be going alright as Unai Emery attempts to move on from the Arsene Wenger era.

Opinion is generally split on whether the Spaniard is doing a good job or not, although last night’s 1-0 defeat to Sheffield United seems like it may have sent Arsenal fans over the edge. In fairness to Emery though, annoying the Arsenal fans doesn’t take much if you’re their manager.

The loss at Bramall Lane saw the Gunners spurn the opportunity to go third – and if they had won then perspectives today would probably be greatly different. 

But they did not, and their defeat was against a Sheffield United side who are not to be underestimated. The Blades are organised, well drilled and constantly surprising the Premier League with innovative tactics. It’s probably safe to assume that we’re all now up to date on the functions of overlapping centre backs.

Watching the game, it really didn’t feel like Arsenal were ever going to score. To use that old cliche, they could have kept playing till the next morning and still not have found a way through. 

Even recapping over the short burst of highlights Sky Sports graces us with on YouTube, there is very little for Arsenal to shout about from the game. Whoever was editing that video would have had a hard job scraping together three minutes of action. 

But it’s not like the Gunners lack any abundance of attacking talent. They have Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe as a ‘first choice’ front three. Then they also have the young talents of Bukayo Saka and Joe Willock. 

Behind them in midfield, they have the aggressive pairing of Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi, as well as Dani Ceballos adding a bit more technical quality. 

With this considered, you feel that Emery should be doing better. It seems he is struggling to find a system to incorporate and fully utilise the talents of his squad. Sheffield United were superb on Monday night but with the quality Arsenal have, they really should have created more. 

If only they had a little bit more class in the final third. A proven creative, an assists machine. Someone who, preferably, had proven themselves on the world stage. 

The above is, of course, a thinly veiled reference to Meszut Ozil – the forgotten man at the Emirates. It’s only three years since he recorded 19 assists in one season, and it seems Arsenal are in need of his creativity now. 

But he generally remains on the bench or out of the squad, with Emery tight lipped about what exactly is going on. It’s a mystery that has, unbelievably, seemed to unite Arsenal fans behind Ozil. 

There are certainly failings on Emery’s part, but there are some things that just haven’t gone his way.

The Gunners have generally failed to recruit well in defence of late, and what they have to show for the fruits of their labour is a centre back pairing of Sokratis and David Luiz. This partnership has become something of a calamity duo, with Luiz’s failings in one on one situations becoming ever more apparent. 

And then there are the early season injuries to Hector Bellerin and new signing Kieran Tierney going against Emery. Arsenal look, on paper, relatively strong at full back with these two fit. Bellerin’s return is imminent while Tierney has apparently recovered. Emery’s unwillingness to throw him straight in, though, is yet another thing that is angering fans. 

So while some things are certainly not helpful for Emery, there are ways in which he could be doing better. Some fluidity and creativity is needed up front, and the ex-PSG manager desperately needs to find the best system for his talented front line. Most likely, it will involve some difficult decisions on who to leave out. 

So in the sense that Emery has gotten some good attackers and is blooding young prospects (which, thanks to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, we now know is the best thing in the world), he is doing pretty well.

But there is a lack of coherency and guile, as well as floundering attempts to find the best system for his side. And not to forget the shortcomings at centre back. So there’s some good, but also some bad.

With a fully fit and firing squad, Arsenal should really be aiming for the top four. The Gunners will not want another season confined to the Europa League. 

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Bournemouth vs Norwich – Match Review

Before kick off, neither Bournemouth or Norwich had a clean sheet all season but somehow both teams found some form of defensive stability and it ended 0-0.

The visitors, rejuvenated by the return of many key players, started with a different line up to their past games. Normally 4-2-3-1, the Canaries changed to 4-1-4-1 with centre midfielder Moritz Leitner playing further forward than normal. As for Bournemouth, they were boosted by the return of right back Adam Smith and Scotland international Ryan Fraser.

The Cherries came out the better team, not giving Norwich any time on the ball. However, when Bournemouth were on the ball, they lacked the clinical touch and could only manage two shots on target the entire game. As the game went on though, the Canaries grew into it but couldn’t break Bournemouth’s resolute defence.

The first notable shot did come from the home side with Callum Wilson sliding in Solanke, only for the former Chelsea and Liverpool academy star to shoot straight at Krul, allowing him to make the save.

After that, the first half petered out with both teams normally impressive strike forces not finding form.

In the second period, it turned into a scrappy affair with both sides struggling to create opportunities. Late on however, Norwich did start to create chances and finally tested young keeper Aaron Ramsdale through Finish striker Teemu Pukki. Aarons intercepted a poor pass from Cook and passed to Buendia who dodged a few tackles. Then, he put it on a plate for Pukki to shoot twenty five yards from goal but Ramsdale punched it past the post. After netting twice in the international break to all but seal second place in the group for his country, Pukki was lively again on the South Coast. The striker, who’s already grabbed six goals this season, didn’t give the Bournemouth defenders a moments peace and was always latching onto loose balls.

Then, as the clock ticked on towards ninety minutes, substitute Arnaut Danjuma wriggled through Norwich’s defence only to put his shot straight into the gloves of Tim Krul. After that, chances for Tom Trybull and Kenny McLean went begging and the match ended in a 0-0 draw.

Not the most entertaining encounter of the weekend but a vital point on the road for the Canaries. Daniel Farke was extremely delighted with the point saying ‘Off the mark for away games and to be there with the first clean sheet of the season is difficult but always important’ but adding ‘Bit disappointed that we were not able to win this game’

As for Bournemouth, it wasn’t such a good point with most of the Dean Court faithful wanting all three.

Amongst all the positives, there was one negative for the Canaries, their last fit centre back Ben Godfrey hobbled off injured five minutes after the restart. Farke said in all his years of managing that he’d never had all his centre backs injured at the same time.

Is Christian Pulisic causing debates among fans around the globe?

On January 2nd 2019, Christian Pulisic signed with Chelsea for $73 million from Borussia Dortmund, the most expensive transfer for any American player. The “Wonder Boy” was supposed to make the game of soccer popular in a country where sports such as football, basketball, baseball, and hockey are more respected. His two-goal performance in a preseason match at Red Bull Salzburg was supposed to be a glimpse of what the future of U.S. soccer could become. Instead, Pulisic’s performances have caused several debates whether or not his move to The Blues was the right decision.

After making his Premier League debut as a substitute in a 4-0 loss to Manchester United at Old Trafford, Pulisic started his first game for Chelsea in the UEFA Super Cup match against Liverpool. He made an immediate impact on his Blues’ starting debut with an assist on an Olivier Giroud goal, but Chelsea lost to the Champions League winners 5-4 in a penalty shootout. Pulisic’s performance in the match earned him starts in a few games for the club in the Premier League. However, Pulisic’s performance’s in those games not only lost him a starting gig but would wound up causing him not feature in several games for The Blues.

Pulisic’s inconsistent playing time caused several fans to be concerned over the move to Chelsea, with some already stating how this was the wrong decision for the 21-year-old American phenomenon. Comparing his play to other young Chelsea talents such as Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, and Callum Hudson-Odoi, fans were worried over Pulisic’s play compared to those around him. However, players such as Abraham, Mount, and Hudson-Odoi have been a part of the Chelsea system since their youth days and Mount played under current manager and club legend Frank Lampard at Derby County last season. So, while Pulisic may not have had the same success as other young phenomenons for The Blues, it could just be a time issue and nothing more. In fact, in Pulisic’s last game for Chelsea, he had an assist on a late goal from Michy Batshuayi in a 4-1 victory at Southampton.

Ignoring his play for Chelsea, Pulisic also has had a string of mediocre games for the U.S. National Team as they compete in the inaugural CONCACAF Nations League. In Pulisic’s first game in the tournament he had a goal – albeit from the penalty spot – in a 7-0 thrashing against a weak Cuba squad at Audi Field in Washington D.C. However, in the team’s second game at BMO Field in Toronto, Canada, the Americans were upset by the Canadians 2-0 win in the country’s first against their neighbors to the south since April 2, 1985. One of the big issues in the defeat was when manager Gregg Berhalter substituted Pulisic in the 60th minute for DC United’s Paul Arriola while the game was tied at zero, causing a wave of frustrations for the phenom.

This season has been tough for Pulisic in terms of league and international play as the pressure to be the face of American soccer is starting to take a toll on the young Pennsylvanian. Time will tell if his move to the Premier League giants will pay off in the end.

Is Olivier Giroud’s time up at Chelsea?

After Chelsea forward, Giroud spoke out about his frustration with the lack of game time, it has sparked rumours that the Frenchman will leave Chelsea in January.

The 33 year old spoke to Le Pelerin and said, “You do not have to be fatalistic in certain situations. I have always been respectful and humble. Even if I do not agree with the coach, I do not criticise him.

“But in myself, I cannot accept it because I know what I’m worth on a pitch. Last year, when I felt that I deserved to play, I asked the coach for explanations.”

Giroud performed well for Chelsea in the Europa League last season, scoring 11 goals in 14 appearances; leading the side to glory after scoring and beating his former side, Arsenal 4-1.

Giroud had a phenomenal Europa League campaign last season

However, Giroud doesn’t regret joining Chelsea from London rivals, Arsenal, “I want to have fun and play more games. Chelsea is my priority but afterwards if in the end I am forced to make a choice, I will do it like when I left Arsenal.

“He (Frank Lampard) will almost certainly watch the matches [I just played for France]. In any case, I am going back to Chelsea pumped up.

“It was not easy to leave Arsenal for Chelsea two years ago. I loved Arsenal,” added Giroud, who scored the only goal in France’s 1-0 win over Iceland on Friday.

“But it was a progression because Chelsea is the English club that has won the most titles, with Manchester City, in ten years.

“I had competitors in attack – [Alvaro] Morata, [Gonzalo] Higuain, who ended up leaving. I won at the end: I played the final of the FA Cup in 2018 and the [Europa League] final in 2019.”

Despite Chelsea having a transfer embargo, if Giroud was to leave, Chelsea manager, Frank Lampard still has Premier League joint top scorer, Tammy Abraham and Belgian, Michy Batshuayi to use if Giroud was surplus to requirements.

Chelsea face Newcastle United at the weekend and it is more than likely Giroud will be sitting on the sidelines yet again with the in form, Abraham expected to start and Batshuayi on the bench.