Category Archives: Premier League

Blades sign Zivkovic

Sheffield United have signed striker Richairo Živković from Chinese club Changchun Yatai.

The former Dutch U21s forward arrives in S2 on loan until the end of the season with an option of a permanent switch in the summer.

Živković, 23, joined FC Groningen at the age of 11 and progressed through the ranks, signing a three-year contract with the Green-White Army in 2012 and became the clubs youngest ever debutant.

In the Dutch top-flight Živković netted 10 goals in 33 appearances, prompting Ajax to swoop for his services in March 2014,  following in the footsteps of Luis Suarez who had previously transferred from Groningen to the biggest name in Dutch football.

He netted once in seven senior appearances in Amsterdam, but he impressed scoring 27 times in 40 appearances for the clubs reserves side, in addition to loan spells at Willem II and FC Utrecht.

Živković joined the Belgian Pro League signing a long-term deal with KV Oostende and then joined Changchun Yatai in February 2019, where he has scored 12 goals in 17 appearances.

Blade boss Chris Wilder spoke about signing the forward: “People will recognise we do sometimes go left field with our signings, but we’ve worked very hard on this one, because we have had to.” he said.

“We know enough about him, we’ve kept tabs on Richairo for a while and tracked his progress. He is a Dutch international at ages under the senior level, he’ll be unpredictable to other teams, but we know what we’re getting and he wants to make the most of the opportunity.

“He will give us genuine pace at the top of the pitch. We’re learning all the time this season, but pace in the Premier League is key and Richairo is someone we think can kick us on.

“Hopefully things go well enough to turn it into a permanent move in the summer – this is another signing of a young player with an eye on the future.”

Blades fans let us know your thoughts on the deal. Are you pleased with the striker? Where else do you need to strengthen?

Should the FA Cup replay’s be scrapped?

Following the New Meadow 2-2 draw with Shrewsbury and Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp stated his first team players, nor himself, would appear in the replay back at Anfield.

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Shrewsbury’s Jason Cumming’s scored the equaliser on Sunday to take the tie back to Merseyside.

Since Klopp’s arrival to the Premier League he has shown no happiness towards the busy December period and the replay format of the cup, it seems he believes the players are requested to play too often, hindering their physical capability and lack of recovery time. Despite this, his team way ahead at the top of the Premier League do not seem to be suffering on the whole. A factor which is potentially being interpreted as ignorance when their competition is from the lower leagues who play more games than those in the top division with remarkably less money and resources.

A recent discussion on BBC Radio 5 Live heard how Great Britain hockey star Samantha Quek argued the FA Cup replay’s should be scrapped and the format should be changed to two separate pots of Premier League and Championship teams and another of the lower divisions. A disgruntled Tranmere fan was on the phone to explain how much the FA cup meant to a lower league team, not just financially but sentimentally, and rightfully so.

The FA Cup ties and replays are renowned for bringing extra revenue to smaller clubs which can become a vital input for changes that Premier League clubs do not have to think twice about. Shrewsbury manager Sam Ricketts explained how the money from the return trip to Anfield would allow for improved drainage of the pitch and cameras for analysis to be used in games. Something Premier League regulars may take for granted.

The FA Cup allows for extra distribution of money which is circulated within English football, vitally this money can reach the lucky lower league teams who make it through the rounds. But it is also the importance of sentiment that the cup brings. For a supporter, the FA cup can be a magical occasion and allows for that chance to visit a Premier League ground to watch their team play against some the world’s greats. Similarly for a player, who may have finished a day working, to then take to the stage lined up against world famous players, a great euphoric feeling which can’t be replicated.

Yes, the Premier league may be tasking for players who play a higher standard week in week out, but they are professional. Their clubs, if anything out of respect, should participate thoroughly in an FA Cup game as if it was any other game.

How can Manchester United replace Marcus Rashford for the next few months?

Following this past weekend’s 2-0 defeat to fierce rivals Liverpool, Manchester United manager Ole Gunner Solskjaer confirmed every United fans worst fears, that Marcus Rashford could face a minimum of six weeks out.

 Solskjaer said during his post match press conference on Sunday:

“He has suffered a bad injury.  It’s a stress fracture, it happened against Wolverhampton during the FA Cup third round replay.”

This injury could hardly come at a worse time for the Red Devils with the return leg in the Carabao Cup looming against Manchester City at the end of the month where United somehow have to overturn a 3-1 deficit.

An FA Cup fourth round tie against either Watford or Tranmere Rovers is also on the horizon and not to mention the resumption of their Europa League campaign against Club Brugge in February.

Rashford himself has up to this point enjoyed his best ever goal-scoring season for the club to date having scored 19 goals in all competitions so far – making him the top goal scorer.

So how does Solskjaer go about replacing his main man for these up coming season defining games?

Strikers currently at United who could replace Rashford

Anthony Martial

The French international is the most senior fit forward currently at the club and is enjoying his best scoring return since his debut campaign for the team back in 2015/16.

Martial has scored 24 goals in all competitions this term however question marks still remain however about his consistency, he did also miss a crucial chance at weekend against Liverpool that could of altered the outcome.

Mason Greenwood

Greenwood has enjoyed a terrific start to his career at Old Trafford and has proven that he is a clinical finisher having reached 10 goals in all competitions. On top of that his left foot has been likened to Dutch forward Robin Van Persie.

He is only 18 and it is his first season playing Premier League football. This in mind, would it be worth Manchester United bringing in another striker to help fill the void that Rashford would leave?

Striker options in the Transfer Market

Former Manchester United right back Gary Neville has previously stressed that his old club needed to replace Romelu Lukaku following his move to Inter Milan in the summer and yesterday Neville said:

“United have to go into the transfer market. They need someone up there with a physical presence and a bit more maturity – they need another body.”

Solskjaer has also stated that they would be open to a short-term solution following their growing injury list.  So who is currently available?

Edinson Cavani

The Uruguayan forward’s name immediately jumps out following his transfer request that he has put in this week.  Cavani’s contract at Paris Saint German expires at the end of the season but the 32 year old wants to leave during the January transfer window.

Cavani has scored 195 goals in 269 appearances for PSG, however this season his game time has been limited due to injuries.

He is a proven international striker but could be a gamble due to his inexperience in the premier league and current injury record. So there is the danger of a repeat of Radamel Falcao’s disastrous loan move a few years ago.

Paco Alcacer

Following the arrival of Erling Haaland at Borussa Dortmund the Spanish international’s game time could be further limited so his game time could be further limited at the German side.

Despite his lack of game time Alcacer has still managed five goals in 11 games this campaign and has managed a good goal scoring return at his previous clubs, particularly Valencia.

The 26 year old is another one however that lacks Premier League experience. There would also be further competition for his signature from Atletico Madrid.

Fernando Llorente

Fernando Llorente, unlike the previous striking options has had experience of playing in the Premier League.

The Spanish international has previously appeared for Swansea City and Tottenham Hotspur and would also give United a more physical presence up front that they currently lack with their current forward options.

Llorente is also not getting much game time at his current side, Napoli.

At 34 years old however he is the oldest striker on this list and he also is not scoring many goals having only managed three goals in his 16 appearances so far for the Italian club.

Callum Wilson

Another potential striker option is Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson. His style is similar to that of Rashford’s and he did score 25 goals in all competitions last season.

Wilson however has struggled for form this season scoring just five times but signing for Manchester United could prove beneficial for both player and club and inspire him to get back to that goal scoring form of the last campaign.

Moussa Dembele

The 23-year-old French forward is having a strong season for Lyon.  Dembele has scored 11 goals in 19 appearances in France Ligue 1 and has previously played for English club, Fulham and has impressed while at Scottish Champions Celtic.

Dembele has previously been linked with the 20 time premier league champions while he was at Fulham.   The French side however will unlikely want to part with their prized asset until the summer at the earliest and there would be the added competition from Premier League rivals such as Chelsea for his signature.

Raul Jimenez

Our final option is a striker already applying his trade in the top flight.  Jimenez has already proved to be an excellent acquisition for Wolverhampton Wanders and the 28 year old has led the line brilliantly for Nuno Espirto Santo’s team, scoring ten times and contributing six assists in 23 games.

The Mexican striker would certainly be an effective target man up front for Solskjaer’s side.  The chances of Wolves letting their prize asset go mid-season however are somewhat remote and United may have to splash out in access of 50 million for his signature.

Summary

The need for United to venture into the January transfer market for an additional striker is certainly apparent, particularly if they want to maintain a realistic challenge for the Champions League places and winning a Cup competition.

Otherwise the Red Devils and their fans could face yet again another season without featuring in Europe’s premier competition.

FA Cup Replays – Who can cause an upset?

An enthralling game is in store for those in North London tonight where Tottenham host Championship competition of Middlesbrough. The inform tier two side may be concentrating on reaching a vital 40 points in the league, but there is no doubt the northern side will put on a valiant effort to progress into the next round. With this weeks news of Harry Kane’s absence till April, Mourinho has interesting squad decisions to make, and the strength of tonight’s team will surely have in mind their distance from a European spot for next season. The FA Cup may the silverware they strive for in Mourinho’s inaugural season as Tottenham manager.

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Kane out until April: Jose admits that without him, they cannot play the ‘Tottenham way’.

Another Premier League team with potential to fall with an upset are Newcastle United, who take on League one Rochdale at St James’s Park. The original fixture saw Rochdale bite back in the latter stages of the game with a goal made by two players aged two decades apart. Youngster Luke Matheson, who made his name when he equalised against Manchester United in the Carabao Cup earlier last year, grabbed the assist which booked Dale’s replay on Tyneside. An already classic FA Cup story, it seems written for Rochdale to go all the way, but will Premier League quality become too much and halt their FA Cup story?

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40 year-old Aaron Wilbraham scored the equaliser at The Spotland Stadium

Nigel Pearson has seemed to flip Watford’s Premier League fate on it’s head as after this weekend they sit above the relegation places for the first time season. However, his team were not as focussed as they conceded three second half goals to draw with Tranmere Rovers on the 4th January. A heroic display from the struggling League One display confirmed a replay which neither side would have desired at kick off, but one that could bring joy to the one set of fans, who have perhaps endured a poor season so far.

With current form, it would be suggested Watford would progress to the next round, but Pearson may rest his usual players for a tricky London derby against Tottenham on Saturday, as they continue to try secure Premier League status for next season. On the other hand, the Merseyside club will be hopeful for more FA Cup magic in the replay and may see a strong team out to finish a job they so excellently accounted for in the original fixture. Similarly to Watford in managerial terms, it will be argued the priority should be on Tranmere too escaping their relegation zone position.

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Watford must be delighted with Pearson’s impact so far, but what will his attentions be for The FA Cup

SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY: THE GOOD WORK CARRIED OUT WITHIN FOOTBALL CLUBS

Professional football clubs have an immense following within their local community with increasing influence on a global scale. With their top-tier status in society, this must used to the advantage for the people.

In the last decade, the relationships between football and charities has rapidly grown, and rightfully so. Perhaps the most famous partnership with La Liga highfliers Barcelona who wore the Unicef logo on the front and back of their famous burgundy and navy stripes for over ten years. The connection of the two organisations saw the Spanish club contribute £2 million per year from 2016, in aid of improvement of education through sport and play in countries where the United Nations charity operated. The perennial champions of La Liga successfully support this wonderful charity, but should management of football clubs begin to focus upon taking advantage of their platform to provide social responsibility?

Looking most recently at the disastrous situation down under, the destruction of homes and wildfire life has caused a sad scene for all. With premise of the Australian open being held in Melbourne on the 20th January, elites of the game have subscribed to play in an exhibition match to raise money for those affected by the bush fires in Australia. A simplistic idea but an event which will not only bring enjoyment for spectators to give break from their hardships, with participation of Rodger Federer, Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal confirmed, but is also an effective money maker for the economic help the country needs.

Looking specifically at professional footballers, their social media platforms could be used as a gateway for good causes. An impeccable example is of Aston Villa man Tyrone Mings. On top of establishing a football academy which targeted those who had been affected by homelessness, just as he had as a youngster, he opened up his executive box for the Christmas game against Southampton. The regular starter at Villa Park used Twitter to announce his opening and his followers may send nominations of inspirational people who perhaps could not make the game in normal circumstances. Social media was full of praise for the kind gesture but most importantly those who spent the day in Aston Villa’s hospitality, courtesy of Ming’s, had a once in a life time experience.

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Growing up in a homeless shelter, Tyrone Ming’s uses his status to help those who descend from a similar background has he did.

Aston Villa as a club, along with many others, have a close relationship with their local hospice. Acorn Children’s Hospice have been the official charity partners of Villa sine 2006 and have quoted on their website the players regularly visit the hospice to show support and awareness for those who use the hospice and those working there. It can be a very humbling experience for the players, but with the stature of their football player title, you can imagine what it will bring to those they are visiting.

Footballers have the status and ability to make these simplistic gestures which has potential to be a once in a life-time experience. It is clear to see many clubs and individual players are aware of the positive effect they can have on wider society and do show social responsibility. There is always room for further improvements and clubs and players should be encouraged to increase and maintain their interaction within society to the upmost.