Tag Archives: Adama Traore

Sheffield united vs wolves: match preview

We are back! Almost as soon as last season ended – a new one begins, and for Sheffield United and Wolves it starts off with a tough match. Both managers are always keen to press forward but every game is a tough game in the Premier League – so expect no complacency here.

It’s well known that Chris Wilder is a big fan of Nuno Espirito Santo and vice versa – maybe being successful with promoted clubs has given them a unique bond – we’ll never know.

What we do know is both squads have seen exciting reinforcements and considering how close their games were last season, we can probably expect more of the same.

Sheffield United have been savvy in the market, the most high profile additions being goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale to replace Dean Henderson and the promising double signing of fullbacks Max Lowe and Jayden Bogle from Derby County. Ethan Ampadu has also been brought in on loan from Chelsea after the Welshman enjoyed a decent spell at Champions League semi-finalists RB Leipzig.

Wolves were very slow to get going in the market with many fans wondering if the threadbare squad would be supplemented for the upcoming season. The sale of Matt Doherty to Spurs could have a huge impact and with no replacement signed yet, that could be an area Sheffield United target.

They have however brought in some fantastic players, smashing their club record on 18-year-old striker Fabio Silva from Porto. The Portuguese contingent increased with the signing of 20-year-old attacking midfielder Vitor Ferreira ( AKA Vitinha) from the same club and the experienced Fernando Marçal from another Champions League semi-finalist in Lyon.

With both sides competing well last season and having strengthened, you can expect a close fought but entertaining game.

Match Preview/Prediction

Nuno has made it no secret over the past week that he wants his team to dominate and score more in matches, so we may see the progression into a new style of play in this match.

However, Nuno is a coach that implements his ideas over an extended period of time, so don’t expect any drastic changes.

Chris Wilder will likely stick to the system, which brought him great success and plaudits during the last campaign. Both managers will aim to nullify each other and press each backline.

With the two sides being comfortable in possession and fluid in transition, we can expect to see a game tightly fought and decided on clinical counter-attacks. The first half will probably a tight affair but we could expect to see a more expansive second.

Both sides have shown great levels of fitness (in particular Wolves) so this one could go down to the wire, similarly to their last encounter which Sheffield United won in the last minute.

If Wolves’ front three is on form we could see them edge the game. Daniel Podence, Diogo Jota and Adama Traore all offer a great threat, and with Traore likely to play RWB we could see them hold a huge threat going forward. All three, alongside Raul Jimenez, could ask serious questions of the Sheffield United backline.

Sheffield United caused this Wolves team problems with their energy and physicality last time and you could see them doing so again. This current Wolves squad still lacks a real physical presence in midfield. The midfield battle will prove crucial in a game that will rely on recycling possession and quick transition play.

Both sides will be confident in making a positive start to the season and you can easily see it being a close fought contest.

Match Prediction: Sheff Utd 1-1 Wolves

Premier league 2020/21: WHO CAN WIN IT?

The new Premier League season begins this weekend, unbeleivably as it seems like only yesterday we were waving goodbye to the last season.

Ahead of the 2020/21 season, we have some questions surrounding the top of the table. Can Pep’s Manchester City rid themselves of last years frailties and compete for longer this time? Or will Liverpool continue their consistency and defend their title?

Let’s not rule out the possibility of Manchester United’s continuing their progression and it would be almost insanity to dismiss Chelsea, given their spends, wouldn’t it?

Here’s how I think the teams involved in the upper echelons of the Premier League title race will play out in 2020/21…

Liverpool

The reigning champions. Jurgen Klopp’s side may have ended the season in somewhat bizarre fashion as they rather limped over the line following lock-down and title celebrations. That should not take away from the sheer dominance the Reds imparted on the Premier League.

While many people question the business, or lack of business done by the champions up until now, its my belief only minor changes are required, if any at all.

Natural left-back cover for Andy Robertson was required and has been found in Greek international Kostas Tsimikas.

One saga, which rumbles on is the Thiago Alcantara links, now joined by the Gini Wijnaldum to Barcelona rumours. Whilst many Liverpool fans may argue why not have both? I’m not sure there is room both in the current group, a squad that already boasts a plethora of central midfield options and the two players are of a similar mould.

The main bone of contention continues to be the back-up options to the starting XI. Should Klopp face a long-term injury to his front-line options the understudies may not be of a level required, although in truth that is the case of almost every team in world football. Not many can be a suitable understudy to Virgil van Dijk.

Overall, I believe Liverpool will go on to retain their title, the relentless nature in which Klopp has his squad churning out results is very difficult to keep up with week on week. Don’t be surprised by the growing influence of some of the younger players, in particular Curtis Jones, and also Naby Keita may finally find his feet in English football.

Manchester City

The main contenders to take Liverpool’s crown, Pep Guardiola’s well furnished Man City side.

There is little doubt 2019/20 can be viewed as somewhat of a failure from a sky blue perspective in Manchester. As glorious a victory as the Carabao Cup may have been, a side comprised of such talent and expenditure is expected to finish closer than 18 points off the summit. Not to mention the dismal UEFA Champions League exit.

That, however, was last term, how about now? The arrival of Nathan Ake certainly plugs a crack in the issues faced at City, a forced to be reckoned with going forwards, just ask Watford, but defensively they were often found wanting, just ask Adama Traore. However, I’m not sure Ake is the answer, for one the Dutchman is very much a left-sided centre-back, similarly to Aymeric Laporte. On top of which, despite being a more than decent operator at Premier League level, he isn’t elite, and City are operating amongst that level.

Elsewhere, the club has seen the departure of David Silva from the Etihad, a fine servant to the football club who leaves with the knowledge he will be forever immortalised in statue form. On the field, in a more mobile capacity, Silva is likely to be replaced by the much praised but lesser seen Phil Foden.

Pep has also spent £20 million on former Valencia man Ferran Torres, a 20 year old right winger who arrives with plenty of plaudits and provides competition to the likes of Rihad Mahrez, Bernado Silva and Foden himself.

Whilst the transfer window remains open there is always the chance City could strengthen further, although the Lionel Messi links have now subsided, as things stand in the week of the season’s opening day they haven’t addressed the areas of the squad suitable to overcome an 18 point swing.

Manchester United

Despite the obvious improvement in the past six months, particularly since Bruno Fernandes arrived back in January, there are still areas of weakness at Old Trafford.

Ole Gunnar Solskjær is learning on the job somewhat and with that there is bound to come mistakes, certainly when up against seasoned campaigners over a prolonged period.

Despite the frailties, however, it should be another year of progression for the red half of Manchester, who have already bolstered their midfield ranks with the arrival of Donny van de Beek from Ajax. One or two more signings, particularly in defensive positions and they should find themselves cutting the gap to the top two.

Chelsea

Who haven’t they signed? One thing is for sure is the Blues are set to be an enthralling watch with the attacking prowess in their currently huge squad.

Boasting the likes of Kai Havertz, Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech, to name but a few, Frank Lampard’s side will give anybody a match on their day, but it’s consistency they may lack to begin with.

They shipped goals all too regularly to maintain prolonged title challenge last term and as things stand that won’t change too much, despite the arrival of the vastly experienced Thiago Silva, it’ll remain a difficult ask to breach the gap to the top two.

Any Other Contenders

Whilst the Premier League has seen Leicester City win the title against the odds, it seems unlikely 2020/21 will see another Claudio Ranieri and Jamie Vardy shaped fairy-tale, but you never know. The main protagonists would of course be Tottenham and Arsenal, although the rivals may be best focusing on breaking into the top four instead of harbouring serious title ambitions.

Outside of the North Londoners, perhaps Wolves could be considered for a tilt for a time being, however a 38 game threat seems unlikely at this stage.

With over a month left in the transfer window anything can happen (Messi), but for now it’s back to back Liverpool glory. After-all, top flight domestic titles are like Mersey Ferries, you wait 30 years for one and two come along at once….

Wolves vs Bournemouth: Match Preview

Bournemouth travel to Molineux on the back of a disappointing 2-0 defeat to Crystal Palace, which leaves them marred in the relegation scrap. The home side enjoyed a much more successful return to the campaign, brushing aside West Ham United 2-0 at the London Stadium.

Eddie Howe’s side have been inconsistent this season and have struggled for goals with injuries keeping out key players such as David Brooks, and Callum Wilson and with Ryan Fraser not wanting to play due to contract issues.

Wolves on the other hand have enjoyed another stellar season and are pushing for the Champions League places. Favourable results have put them right into contention and against an underperforming Bournemouth side it would be difficult to see them drop points. Subsequently, both sides are desperate to compete in their own battles, so, this could provide an entertaining contest.

Team News

Wolves come into this game with no injury issues to worry about. Despite having such a small squad they seem to have coped magnificently with the commitments they’ve had this season and the enforced break has given them time to relax and recover. Adama Traore was brought off the bench in the last game to great effect and you wonder whether that strong performance will warrant him a place in the starting 11. Pedro Neto also proved to be a productive substitute with that stunning volley he scored last time out.

Nuno Espirito Santo stated after the West Ham game:

“In the first half, we were organised. We didn’t finish too many actions but we kept West Ham – a good team with good players – away from our goal.

“In the second half, we started and introduced some speed. We were more accurate and were able to create more danger.”

You would expect the back three to remain the same having put in a solid display and depending on whether Nuno goes with the 3-4-3, the midfield could see Leander Dendoncker drop out. Daniel Podence was an unused substitute and so he could get some game time as Wolves look to rotate and utilise their squad in this packed schedule.

Bournemouth are of course without their star winger Fraser after Howe announced last Friday that he wouldn’t take part in any of their remaining games due to his ongoing contract issues. Brooks has of course made a welcome return to the squad after a long time out with an ACL injury and he will be crucial in the Cherries’ survival bid.

However, defensive issues have plagued Bournemouth for some time now, and despite them having key men fit like Nathan Ake and Steve Cook, they still seem to struggle keeping a compact shape.

Howe also seem displeased with his team’s performance last time out as he stated:

“We know now we have one game less to achieve our objective.

“The table is still so tight, the difference is so tight and we could look at back-to-back wins as being the difference for us. We have to believe that is going to happen but we have to play better than we did in the first half an hour in this game.”

You could expect him to make some changes and potentially match Wolves with a back five.  Due to the amount of pace and creative flair Wolves possess, particularly on the counter attack, you would think Bournemouth would need to utilise a lower defensive block. This change could enforce Howe into switching around his defence.

Score Prediction: Wolves 2-0 Bournemouth

The form of both these sides makes it tough to look past Wolves and with their attacking players starting well with the return. I could see them closing out another 2-0 victory.

What have we learnt since the Premier League resumption?

After the return of Premiership football to our screens, have we really learnt much about the League since the resumption?

Well, the wait has certainly been worth it some pundits have said but has it really been worth the build-up of over 100 days?

What we have learned already is that Liverpool are a step closer to their title dream. We are all having to get used to the sight of very few people inside stadiums. VAR certainly won’t go away and even technology has the odd blip, which leads to more controversy up and down the land.

As we are all getting used to viewing football as we have never seen before. One good talking point has been welcomed around the country. The sight of both sets of players, officials and team personal taking the knee in solidarity together. Such a welcome sight and fully applauded. It’s is so good to see the Premier League sending out a message to the rest of the footballing and sporting world that Black Lifes Matter.

Aside from Liverpool edging towards lifting the title, on just the first day back since the resumption, controversy reared its ugly head once again when Sheffield United were denied a certain goal when technology failed. Admittedly it’s the first time this has unfortunately happened for over 9,000 times the system has been in place. What a time for this to happen, as the Premiership was taking centre stage.

One has to feel sorry for Michael Oliver- England’s top referee- as he was trying to explaining to surrounding players that his watch didn’t make a noise to indicate that the ball had crossed the line. Not his fault but wouldn’t it have been more sensible that somebody in the truck watching pictures of the match would have seen that clearly the ball was over the line? That person in the VAR room could then have communicated with Oliver to say to him to check the monitor at the ground and make his own mind up about the decision. If he was allowed to do this, then make no mistakes Sheffield Utd would have been awarded the goal.

We also learnt since the resumption that Arsenal players are certainly struggling with fitness levels, having already seen a handful of players taken off through picking up injuries. Clearly the three-month break has affected them, which is a big concern of their fitness levels. Yes, every team has looked leggy at times which is understandable due to not playing competitive football for over three months but for some sides including Arsenal it begs the question, what instructions were the players given to do for training during lockdown and resuming back into training? Something definitely isn’t right there.

However, nothing has changed with the Gunners defence, which still looks as fragile as before the enforced break. Arsenal need leaders, now they haven’t got any. Oh, for the leadership chiefs such as Tony Adams and Martin Keown- who must be shaking their heads every time they watch Arsenal play- who must begin to wonder will this problem ever be rectified.

We also learn in the past few days how good a player Bruno Fernandes is and the return of a hungry Paul Pogba. I didn’t think I would ever be saying that for a long time.

Despite appearing to not be worrying about a haircut- Yes Roy there are mobile hairdressers around who will be queuing up to cut your hair- Hodgson is building a very dogged and tenacious side in Crystal Palace. Looking a very well-oiled unit, especially at the back, having not conceded a goal in almost six hours of football. Palace could be outsiders to possibly sneak into a Europa League spot come the end of the campaign.

The two W’s after the restart, Wolves and West Ham appear to be going in different directions. The Hammers are in a relegation dogfight, while Wolves are flying thanks to the brilliant duo of Adama Traore and Raul Jimenez – 23 goals this season and counting.

Another interesting point would be that since the resumption the sides struggling at the bottom of the table have really struggled since the restart. A fact that could be put down to playing home games with no crowd behind them to raise morale. However, you would have felt that with eight games to go, crowd or no crowd wouldn’t need to lift players, who know they have a massive battle on their hands to stay up.

To finish, although in most games playing with no fans present it is no material advantage to both sides, over the weekend in both Premiership and Championship games there were only five home wins out of 22 games played. When it comes to a derby match, it clearly will benefit both teams to have fans in the stadium. Take the weekend’s Merseyside derby between Everton and Liverpool. A game that was played with no passion and at times looked similar to a practice game. A lukewarm encounter which hardly got going. Not much commitment from both sides aside from a couple of late chances. This game desperately needed a full house at Goodison Park, which I’m sure would have given the game more of a feisty contest that normally happens in derby matches.

We must, however, remember that for the foreseeable future this is the way that football will be for a while. We will get used to it, with fan noise or not, carboard cut outs or not and drink breaks, which so far are amounting to a managers team talk on the pitch.

It is either this or nothing. I know what alternative I would rather have. Even if it means watching Mike Dean with that amazing grey beard and listening to Roy Keane bemoaning about Manchester United’s crop of current players. Welcome back Premiership, we really have missed you!