In 28 games for the club in Premier League, Ryan Fraser has one goal and four assists to his name. The 26-year-old also has managed one cross per game on an average along with 1.6 passes per game. However, with the club dealing with the relegation battle, Ryan Fraser is looking for pastures new.
The club issued a statement, which read:
“Winger Ryan Fraser has declined to sign a short-term contract extension”.
However, amidst this challenging season, AFC Bournemouth came to this conclusion. While Simon Francis Andrew Surman, Artur Boruc and Charlie Daniels have meanwhle agreed to extend their stay at the south-coast club.
We can confirm that Simon Francis, Andrew Surman, Artur Boruc and Charlie Daniels have agreed short-term contract extensions to cover the remaining nine games of the 2019/20 season. #afcb 🍒https://t.co/JEsuO4juxW
Bournemouth sit in 18th place in the Premier League table and will be looking to move up the ranks. They are two points above Aston Villa and below West Ham and Watford who have a better goal difference compared to Eddie Howe’s side.
The club will face Crystal Palace on Sunday at their home of The Vitality Stadium in the first match after the season suspension.
The Premier League confirmed on Saturday that two more people had tested positive for the Coronavirus from the latest round of 1,200 tests to take place on Thursday and Friday.
An unnamed Norwich player was one of them, and the Canaries announced that the player will self-isolate for seven days. He will therefore miss their first game of the restart against Southampton on Friday 19th June.
The player featured in Daniel Farke’s side’s 2-1 friendly victory over Tottenham on Friday , but Spurs have stated that they have no positive cases as the Norwich player had ‘no close contact’ with their squad. As a result, no Tottenham player or member of staff will have to self isolate ahead of their game against Manchester United next Friday.
In a club statement to the BBC, Spurs explained that:
“Close contact has been defined by the Government as being within two meters of a confirmed case for 15 minutes or more. The Norwich player in question confirmed he had no close contacts with our team, and our squad also verified this.
Our testing has continued to return only negative results for Covid-19 since one positive reading was confirmed almost two weeks ago.”
There have now been a total of 16 positive cases from 8,678 tests conducted as the Premier League gears up for it’s return on Wednesday, with Arsenal hosting Manchester City and Sheffield United travelling to Villa Park to take on Aston Villa.
With the Premier League set to return it’s time to analyse the all-important race for the Europa League and Champions League places. Of course with Manchester City’s ban still yet to be decided there is the tantalising prospect of 5th place meaning CL qualification, which would open up the door for a variety of clubs. In this article I’ll take a look at the clubs with the most realistic chances at European football as well as offering my personal predictions – starting with 9th placed Arsenal (yes the race is that wide open) moving up to 4th placed Chelsea. Both the Gunners and the Blues are only separated by eight points, which has the potential of offering up an interesting conclusion to the season.
It’s fair to say Arsenal are very much an enigma, having just lost 3-2 to Brentford in a pre-season friendly (to the amusement of many) it’s hard to tell what sort of shape they will be in. The defensive clips from the game circulating on Twitter were certainly a huge concern and it will be interesting to see how they will cope against hopefully better opposition in Manchester City.
While many flocked to Twitter to mock the North London side we have to remember they are under an inexperienced but promising manager in Mikel Arteta, who in fairness got them playing some tidy football before the abrupt break to the campaign. They currently sit on 40 points, five point behind Manchester United, who currently hold that potentially golden 5th place. If Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette can recapture some form while the team stay solid at the back they certainly have the chance to make waves in their last 10 games – however the Arsenal of recent years have flattered to deceive so you wouldn’t be surprised to see them struggle compared to some of the other teams in this list. In fact I’m not so sure they’ll make it to Europe, it will be close but I do not see them climbing the table.
Predicted Finish: 9th
Jose Mourinho has seen a mixed start to his Spurs tenure, but he is a born winner and that experience could be crucial as they look to hunt down United and maybe even Chelsea. Spurs currently sit on 41 points having played a game more than Arsenal, but a few wins on the bounce could see them close that four point gap to United quickly should they drop a few points. With such a quick turnaround momentum will be key, and with Harry Kane set to return they now have the potential for a strong frontline that could make a huge difference.
Mourinho did cause controversy by training one on one with some players during lockdown, while this is reckless you can see the sort of mentality he has. If Spurs can capture that winning spirit then you can expect them to be a strong side. They’re certainly a team you could label as ‘ones to watch’. Spurs, however, do have a tough start playing away to Manchester United first, followed by games against West ham, Sheff Utd and Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton. If they can start well though then you could see them easily push for top four – they do have a very talented squad. However, despite this they have been inconsistent and this could ultimately cost them in the end. Realistically I can’t envisage them scrapping out win after win.
Predicted Finish: 7th
Now on to one of the two ‘breakthrough’ sides in this race alongside Wolves. Sheffield United have been simply marvellous since their promotion to the top division with their system of overlapping centre-halves receiving much attention and praise from fans and pundits alike. Chris Wilder has worked wonders on a small budget and a team of players he has brought through League 1 and the Championship. They even recruited a big name in Sander Berge in January – a player wanted by Manchester United among other big clubs. With a rock solid defense and efficient front-line you could see them enjoying this return where many teams could struggle fitness wise and leave gaps defensively.
It must be pointed out that they don’t always have those match winners so they could drop more points than some of the ‘bigger clubs’. Having said that it hasn’t stopped their success so far. Aston Villa and Newcastle offer decent opponents to start to start off with before that huge game against the Red Devils on the 24th June. They are only two points off United with a game in hand so the chance of success is very much for the taking. We have still yet to see whether they can go all the way and get that prestigious Champions League spot. Without the support of their fans you could seem them potentially drop off They will fight for every point but I think they’ll just falter at the final stages.
Predicted Finish: 8th
The club in old gold and black have continued their meteoric rise. They are very much in the mix for the Champions League. Despite a very poor start to the season they managed to turn it around and were in fine form before the break. It is worth noting that they also lost their pre season friendly 2-0 against Nottingham Forest. So, similarly to Arsenal it’s tough to call what sort of form they will be in at the restart.
Their fans have played a huge part in helping the team push on this season with many fans hailing Molineux as having one of the best atmospheres in the league. Without those fans you have to question if Wolves can produce those same comeback performances like the one against Manchester City. They do arguably have the easiest fixture list out of the teams around them but having no support can harm a side. Despite those doubts they still have a squad filled with quality and if they recapture their form from before the break they are a huge danger to the top four or five sides. Signings like Daniel Podence and Leonardo Campana could help them kick on and add some extra elements to the team. I think they will have a solid return despite the lack of fans, they have some winnable fixtures and if the new signings bed in I can see them reaching potential Champions League football.
Predicted Finish: 5th
Manchester United are another hard team to pin down. They are a squad full of quality but they have been inconsistent with a ‘two steps forward one step back’ approach. The Red Devils managed to keep Odion Ighalo, which is a huge boost (who would’ve thought we’d be saying that?) as his link up play and tidy finishing have helped the team grind out results. If Pogba and Fernandes can gel in midfield they could genuinely blow teams away, however, Pogba has rarely featured this season and it’d be tough to seem him making an explosive return with all the speculation surrounding him – albeit a lot of it unjustified. Marcus Rashford has gained plenty of positive press for his actions during lockdown but his performances in this campaign can’t go unnoticed. He’s having the best season of his career and if he can fire again, United could be well placed for qualification.
There’s no doubt United have the talent to make the Champions League but they also have a tough fixture list with a decent amount of potential banana skins, with the amount of pressure that comes with playing for the club you could see some similar mistakes cropping up, which could swing their season either way. Defensively they have seen improvements with Wan-Bissaka proving to be an inspired purchase, this will prove crucial for them coming up against Sheffield United and Leicester City who can both defend very well. Whether they can maintain a solid backline is yet to be seen and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer still has a lot of work to do to get them close to being the finished article.
I do think United will drop a few points here and there, particularly against Spurs, and for that reason I have them finishing just outside the Champions League places.
Predicted Finish: 6th
This Chelsea team have been a breath of fresh air this season! Not being allowed to make big money signings in the transfer market has allowed their young talents to flourish. Similarly to a lot of these teams they have been very inconsistent at times and we could very much see that again after having such a long break. However with having a youthful and exuberant squad mixed with experienced pros such as Willian, Pedro, Mateo Kovacic and even N’Golo Kante I think they have enough to carry on their impressive first season under Frank Lampard.
Lampard knows how much this competition means to the club and that has to transfer to the players. His legendary status carries weights but alongside that he’s shown himself to be tactically astute. They need to be more consistent than the teams around them and so far they have been, a common theme with the race for Europe this season is that, like last season, clubs are almost saying ‘after you’ each week with an odd amount of dropped points and poor runs. You only have to look at the gap between Chelsea and the teams above them to see that. There is a lot of positivity at Stamford Bridge at the moment with the confirmed purchase of Hakim Ziyech and the potentially Timo Werner. With the team driven by the success they could have next season, the Champions League is something they will place under the utmost importance.
I do feel that Chelsea have a bit more balance to their squad and with the energy their style of play brings, I think they will adapt well to this restart and maintain their position in the top four.
So there we have it, while putting Wolves in 5th seems controversial, with my predicted results and the fixtures for each team I believe this to be very much a realistic outcome. The race will remain close for the rest of the season and it would be unfair on any of these teams to miss out.
Feel free to drop your predictions in the comments below and we look forward to seeing how the league will turn out. Of course I’ll be hoping these come true!
VAR. The three letters that have sparked the biggest debate in football, in particular the Premier League, and caused many fans to coin the question “Is it football anymore?” into the plethora of chants at their disposal. It has been widely covered by the press and pundits alike with many decisions being called as too close or even inconclusive. Fans have voiced their concerns over the time taken to make decisions and the lack of clarity about the system’s use while attending matches live.
Many will look to the other top European leagues (Bundesliga, Ligue 1, Serie A and La Liga) for examples of how to use it but even they have had seen similar problems. A common theme for each league has been teething issues. The Bundesliga introduced VAR in 2017 and had issues with the time taken to make decisions and the lack of clarity within stadiums (sound familiar?) but have allowed the implementation of screens to help offload the time taken.
Although they were overused at first, it seems as though the league has seen the positive impact of it now with hardly any controversy surrounding its decisions. Serie A and La Liga had exactly the same issues when VAR was introduced to them in 2018, slow decisions, fan frustration and general displeasure led to changes being made within each system. In La Liga they stuck true to the ‘clear and obvious’ rule (more on that later) where if a decision is too close or is taking too long, they simply forget it and move on. This allows for quicker and more legitimate calls to be made. Serie A had mixed issues when they changed their system from a local VAR referee to a team of people in a centralized location – like Stockley Park here. Whilst their system is generally a lot quicker they still have some issues with misinterpretation of decisions between the two teams of officials. Of course any level of human error is met with a lot of annoyance from fans. Ligue 1 is probably where it has been implemented the worst, and where it is most similar to the Premier League.
In an interview with the BBC Sport (2019) football writer Jeremy Docteur Stated:
“This season is even worse than last season. It is good when it changes obvious errors and it is fair if a player is offside by two or three metres.
“We are judging offsides badly. The point is not to overturn a goal if a player is one centimetre offside, they draw a line and rule out a goal if an armpit or chin is offside. Football is supposed to be a human sport, but there are huge stoppages and they are reviewing everything, including ridiculous calls for handball.
“I was never pro-VAR but it’s creating even more problems than before. They need to have a meeting and discuss this. A lot of players have come to to say it is not working well and we have to listen to the people actually playing the game.”
As you can see this strongly conforms with many people’s opinions here of how VAR works as a system. The question we must ask ourselves is, of course, has VAR changed football for the better? At the moment you would have to say yes for most of Europe, but for the Premier League and Ligue 1 it is certainly a resounding no. So how can they improve their systems?
We can first look at the phrase that has been branded about all campaign – “Clear and Obvious”. We’ve heard it so many times it’s almost second nature to us football fans to refer to it in any VAR discussions. Yet its continuous use still hasn’t made it any ‘clearer’ as to what it means (no pun intended). Another common theme is the lack of consistency in decision making and confusing rules that even the players sometimes don’t understand.
The biggest issues surrounding the system are ones that need to be fixed ASAP if the controversy is to end. The offside rule has been reworked to the point where a fingernail could chalk off a goal, many fans and pundits have said it ruins the human aspect of the sport. The debate has raged on about how science and calculations is taking the integrity of football away.
This in mind, it would be worth looking at how La Liga used their system for ‘clear and obvious’ decisions. One suggestion has been to set a 30 – 45 second timer on decision making- if it cannot be figure out within the limit it shouldn’t be deemed as clear and obvious and we should let the game play on. It would certainly be worth trialling considering the positive effect this brisk nature of thinking has improved the fluidity of the game in Spain. The debate on offsides would also be simplified and I’m sure the players would appreciate a change in the rulings. After offsides we then have consistency, which in itself is a different beast all together. With VAR checks taking place in Stockley park having different officials at each stadium for each game it would certainly be a positive start. This could allow for better and quicker decision making as communication would be easier and of course the VAR officials would get a feel for the match. Italy’s Serie A saw success with this method in their initial season with this system.
Another step for change would be getting more experienced referees to manage the decisions with VAR, rather than having younger referees do it. This one is pretty self-explanatory, we don’t want better/more experienced officials being swayed by inexperienced ones – it just doesn’t make any sense.
Finally we have monitors; fans have been crying out all season for monitors to be used pitch-side like in many other leagues. For some reason the Premier League didn’t start to implement this until towards the end of the current season pre-outbreak. A more consistent use would surely help referees and speed up the time taken. With the season due to return in less than a week it is paramount that there is a solid plan going forward. We are all eager to see the league return on the 17th June, however, fans could soon be reminded of what they didn’t miss should mistakes crop up again.
Overall, VAR has the potential to make a huge positive impact. As seen in Germany. Spain and Italy it has taken some time to get going but it appears they have gradually built a solid way of using VAR. The Champions and Europa League have also seen a more consistent use for it. Both Ligue 1 and in particular the Premier League some tweaks would certainly provide a much needed improvement for VAR going forward. For now we can only hope!