As Amazon Prime Video broadcast their first Premier League games this week, is this a preview of things to come?
In an agreed 3 year deal, Amazon are set to start out their football broadcasting career with December’s fixtures. This strategic deal comes with aim of the company to see an influx of new customers during the busiest time of the year. For the already members of Amazon Prime, they will benefit from watching for free whereas new customers can enjoy a free trial, with follow up prices at the beginning of permament membership set to increase. A free trial period is a risk taken by operators at Amazon in hope that people will follow up their subscriptions.
If this is the way football media is heading, the effects could be very damaging in terms of reducing live match day attendances. As the variety of subscription services are increasing, it is likely football fans will already subscribe to at least one of the major sports broadcasters in Sky Sports, BT Sport or now Amazon. Alongside the current expense of travelling to away games especially, could this be another factor to prevent football fans from travelling away?
If this is to be the case, in the next ten years there could be rapid change in how the game operates. Football’s commercialisation is continually on the up rise – meaning football clubs always have to look to protect themselves financially. This could mean in future they take broadcasting opportunities into their own hands. Could it be that the clubs themselves start up subscription services such as those of MUFC TV and LFC TV? These already offer some game footage and insider viewing for their subscribers. For supporters this could become a choice between your traditional season ticket or a digital season ticket for home viewing.
Despite this, it is unlikely clubs will endeavour to claim tv rights from the broadcasters just yet, so for now it seems it shall be them battling it out for top spot of football television.
On the back of two polar opposite results at the weekend, will form go out the window in the West Yorkshire derby?
With Leeds United undoubtedly being the most successful West Yorkshire team so far this season it would be expected they would take all three points from The John Smiths stadium in the early kick off on Saturday. However, the last two contests between the two teams, all be it two seasons ago, saw bragging rights sway in Huddersfield’s direction with a 1-0 win at Elland Road and a 2-1 score line on home turf.
Leeds will be heading into the game on the back of an emphatic 4-0 win against Middlesbrough which continued an unbeaten run of eight games. Arguably Leeds’ strongest team in recent years, accompanied with a highly praised manager in Marcelo Bielsa has seen them excel through the season and sit second in the table closely behind West Bromich Albion.
However, a short trip down the M62 tells a much different story. Huddersfield have not had the most comfortable of returns to the Championship, recording just four wins since August but had seemed to find some form under new boss Danny Cowley in recent weeks. The Terriers were put to shame with a 5-2 defeat at Ashton Gate on Saturday, a place Huddersfield have never enjoyed visiting, which may dampen wishes of 3 points against their closest rivals on the 7th.
Due to the important stake of bragging rights surrounding the game, both sets of supporters will be reliant on their star players turning up. For the Lily Whites, Patrick Bamford will be who they are looking out for to make an impact, just as he has done in recent weeks with 7 goals to his name this season. With a misshapen Huddersfield defence of late, with both first choice full backs in Jaden Brown and Danny Simpson out with injury, it could be an area for Leeds to take advantage. Equally, Huddersfield with be hopeful prolific striker Karlan Grant maintains his impressive goal scoring record for the season, Grant is argued for be Town’s most important player this season and someone they do not want to let go of.
If anything is to go off the last outing against the two sides, the game is set to be a physical, highly fought and possibly ugly. However a game that will surely be enjoyed by both sides and entertaining for the neutral.
With Izzy Brown’s winning goal against Charlton reviewed post match as handball, would the Championship be better off with VAR?
But would the implication of VAR have made the night any less frustrating for an unlucky Charlton team? It is clear that VAR is yet to be perfected in the Premier League therefore if it was to be used in the Championship it would be certain to cause further controversy.
The Championship, known for its intensely contested and physical football, would be in for interval filled games if VAR was too be established before its system is perfected.
It can argued the biggest downfall of the VAR system at the moment is the time it takes to come to a decision, whether it be correct or not. Without doubt this would lead to disgruntlement from the fans, players and managers surrounding the fluency of the 90 minutes.
Despite this, in cases such as the Hatter’s ‘illegitimate’ match winning goal, managers especially argue that VAR should be in place for one hundred percent accuracy of the game. Which yes, if VAR was in use the goal would have been reviewed, but as we have seen in the Premier League it is not always correct. Raheem Sterling’s goal against Chelsea was wrongly ruled out for offside through the process of VAR, with the officials proving they are still able to make a wrong decision during a live game. VAR is just not yet at without it’s flaws.
With this is mind it seems dubious to introduce VAR to another football league as the system appears just as unpredictable as football would be without it.
Stoke City have appointed the Northern Ireland national team manager Michael O’Neill as their new manager, following the sacking of Nathan Jones.
O’Neill who lives in Edinburgh, was appointed last week following a dismal run of results for Stoke. The results have been declining way back to when Tony Pulis was at the helm.
Following Pulis’ departure from a then premier league outfit, Stoke have plunged like a stone almost to the bottom of the Championship, with a wretched run of results, which saw them win just 6 games in 38 under Jones.
So, will O’Neill be able to turn Stokes fortunes around?
At first glance, it would seem a strange appointment, given that his previous job in club management were with Brechin City in Scotland and Shamrock Rovers in Ireland, before taking the Northern Ireland managers role.
In terms of honours, he guided Shamrock Rovers to the League of Ireland Title and Northern Ireland to the Euro 2016 Championships, where they gave a good account of themselves.
He has good man management skills, and though he will continue to combine the Stoke Job with manageing Northen Ireland until their campaign ends in 2 games time, he seems to have had an influence on Stoke already after defeating Barnsley 4 ~2 away. Stoke were scoring for fun – when previously they had found goals hard to come by, not to mention results.
Nottingham Forest made it 3 consecutive east-midlands derby wins for the first time since 1990, by beating the Rams 1-0 at the City Ground. The win also means it is 8 consecutive visits and 7 years since Derby’s last win in Nottingham and keeps Forest in the Top 6 whilst Derby stay in the bottom half of the league table.
The goal came following a mistake by Derby right back Jaden Bogle, when a loose pass across his defensive line went straight to Grabban who smartly finished first time into the bottom corner. Grabban spoke about the goal:
“I had a little glance at where the keeper was and it looked like he hadn’t covered the near post so I just tried to aim for that and fortunately it went in.” He added: “The main thing was that we got the win. It was good for the fans, so I’m very happy. Their support gives us that little bit of a boost.”
In scoring, Grabban upped his tally for the season to seven, meaning he has now scored 80 times in the EFL since the start of the 2013-14 campaign, four more than any other player.
The match started evenly amid a raucous atmosphere at The City Ground and it was Forest keeper Brice Samba who was the first keeper called into action, doing well to keep out Tom Lawrence’s shot from inside the penalty area following a good run by Bogle. Lawrence was unsurprisingly constantly jeered by the home faithful following the drink driving scandal, however, he was probably Derby’s main threat and handled the reception well. That was until a second-half challenge on Yuri Ribeiro which he saw yellow.
It was extremely competitive, with both sides fighting for the ball and putting in committed challenges. Bogle and Ben Watson were both shown yellow cards for fouls on halfway, whilst Ryan Yates was somewhat fortunate not to be added to the list of booking’s following a challenge on Clarke, who had to be replaced.
Forest were effective in pressing the Derby backline and won the ball high up the pitch a few times, possibly leading to the goal. Forest’s best efforts in the first half both came from winger Sammy Ameobi who shot twice from the left-hand corner of the penalty area to force Derby Keeper Roos into decent saves.
The second half started with The Reds firmly in the ascendancy, applying plenty of pressure on the Derby goal. Several crosses were fizzed into the area, with only glancing headers from a Derby defender keeping the ball away from danger. It was just before the hour-mark when Derby were their own worst enemy in making the costly mistake which gave Forest the lead.
Forest sensed they could put the game beyond doubt as Derby were on the ropes following the mistake, but couldn’t find the second goal. Derby came back into the game towards the end and the closest they came to an equaliser was when Jack Marriott had a sniff of goal, but The Reds defended resolutely to hold onto their one-goal lead and claim a brilliant victory against their arch-rivals.
Man of the match
Tiago Silva – The Portuguese midfielder put in an outstanding performance, he had great energy, tenacity and put in some great tackles. Along with that, he showed his skill with some lovely touches to beat opposition players. When Silva was signed from Benfica in the summer many forest fans assumer he would an alternative to fellow Portuguese playmaker João Carvalho, however, he has shown he is a more all-round midfielder than João.
Forest head coach Sabri Lamouchi was delighted to claim victory in his second East Midlands derby of the season. Lamouchi was satisfied with his side’s second-half display which he believed was a marked improvement on the first 45 minutes. Speaking after the game, he said:
“It was a difficult, emotional game and maybe that is why we found it difficult in the first half. The second half was much better and fortunately, they made a mistake at the back and Grabbs produced another fantastic finish like the killer that he is. It was important for us to be compact, patient and focused and in the end, I think we deserved the victory because in the second half we went out for the three points. After the goal, I put more attacking players on the field to try and get that second goal but it wasn’t meant to be. It has been a good day, the perfect way to spend my birthday, and I am happy that our supporters could enjoy it too. When we play with this sort of attitude and character then we can always win games like this. We know we can still play better and control the ball better but it is important that we take three points when we don’t play at our best. It is a fantastic result and I’m happy because we’ve made our fans proud of the players. Now we can go into the international break with a positive mentality before we come back to play Bristol City.”