Tag Archives: Everton

Roma for Rodwell?

Jack Rodwell is reportedly in Italy ahead of a shock medical at Roma. 

Rodwell was a promising youngster starring for Everton at just sixteen years old. The England international was playing for Everton u18’s at just fourteen years old before making his first team debut in the Europa League against AZ.

After two impressive seasons at Goodison Park, Manchester City came calling and the Sky Blues got their man for a large £15million. Unluckily for the versatile defender, his time at the Etihad was scuppered by injuries and he was moved on the then Premier League strugglers Sunderland.

The Black cats acquired his services for around £10million in 2014. The twenty-eight-year-old stayed at the Stadium of Light for four years making sixty-seven appearances in the process. Despite spending four years at the club, it was relatively unsuccessful spell and he was released in 2018. Then, he joined Blackburn on a free and he impressed but was left without a club this summer.

So, after failing to impress since his time at Everton, it is a bit of a shock the Roma have come calling. Roma aren’t famed for having a great defence but even still, Rodwell is a shot in the dark.

If he rediscovers his form and stays clear of injury, can he become a top Serie A player?

Pep Guardiola admits Gabriel Jesus dilemma ahead of trip to Everton

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has confessed that he is struggling to keep Gabriel Jesus happy at the club.

The Brazilian centre-forward has this week revealed that he is growing increasingly “impatient” with a lack of game time.

Jesus, now 22, signed for the Manchester club in 2017 but still finds himself as second-choice to Sergio Aguero – City’s all-time leading goalscorer.

Despite Jesus starting two of Man City’s last three matches, and scoring in both, Aguero is set to lead the attack away at Everton on Saturday evening.

And Guardiola has admitted that he is finding it difficult to keep Jesus happy.

“He’s special,” said Guardolia. “Of course he wants to play. He’s the No.9 for Brazil. I understand completely.

“All the players want to play all the games. It’s normal. No player will be happy if they don’t play regularly.

“He’s happy when he plays, not happy when he doesn’t.

“They have different qualities. Sergio is one of the most outstanding players I’ve seen in the small spaces.

“But I try to let them both play as much as possible. There are little details that make the difference.

“In some games, Gabriel gives me something Sergio can’t – and also the other way around.

“But both guys are incredible. Sergio is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, a top player, a legend, incredibly humble and a funny guy.

“They’re upset if they don’t play, of course. How can they be happy? It’s impossible. All I can say is that I’m sorry.

“The same happened in the midfield, with Ilkay Gundogan, David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne or Phil Foden. I have to choose. We have many games and everyone is necessary.”

City go into the match on the back of three straight wins, scoring 14 goals and conceding none.

Their opponents have struggled of late in the Premier League, winning just one of their previous four matches, and two of those losses coming against newly-promoted sides.

Despite a lack of form for the Toffees, Guardiola still expects a tough match against Marco Silva’s team.  

“They are an incredible team with a top manager,” said Guardiola. “Goodison Park is one of the toughest games you can play and we know it. We’ve prepared for that and the players know how difficult it is.”

Expected line-ups

Manchester City (4-3-3): Ederson; Cancelo, Fernandinho, Otamendi, Zinchenko; De Bruyne, Rodri, D Silva; B Silva, Aguero, Sterling.

Everton (4-2-3-1): Pickford; Coleman, Keane, Mina, Digne; Delph, Schneiderlin; Richarlison, Sigurdsson, Iwobi; Calvert-Lewin.

Premier League Review

I am starting this week’s review with the match between Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday night because it had a big talking point.

The game finished 1-1 with goals from Anthony Martial and a trademark long range effort by Ruben Neves. The result itself was interesting enough as its evidence that Wolves aren’t far away from the top six.

The talking point came when United were awarded a penalty with the score at 1-1 and last week’s scorer of a penalty Marcus Rashford went into conversation with Paul Pogba. The result of the chat resulted in Pogba taking the penalty and then subsequently having the spot kick well saved.

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer revealed after the game that the penalty duties are being shared between Rashford and Pogba and that “whoever feels confident on the day” should take it. This for me is a risky and strange policy as it adds an unnecessary seed of doubt and pressure to the taker, which showed its force again in United’s next match on Saturday, More on that later.

Moving onto Saturday’s roundup which I am starting at Anfield where the only two teams with 100% records in the league went head to head as Liverpool faced Arsenal.

Liverpool were controlling much of the possession and territory but Arsenal created good openings on the break from record signing Nicolas Pepe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

In the process, interestingly, Pepe became the first player to successfully dribble past Virgil Van Dijk breaking a record that has stood for well over a year, no mean feat. It has also become more evident that Liverpool are not performing as well in defence without Allison in goal and his deputy Adrian almost cost them another goal, as just like last weekend, one of his clearances went straight to the Gunners but luckily for him, Aubameyang, uncharacteristically, lacked composure.

Despite all of this, Liverpool’s territorial advantage paid off with them taking the lead through a Joel Matip’s header just before half-time.

After the break, David Luiz cost Arsenal any hopes, by first tugging Mohammad Salah’s shirt in the penalty area, with Salah himself scoring the penalty. It was the Egyptian once again who embarrassed Luiz by the touchline as the Brazilian needlessly dived in and Salah chipped the ball over him before running to the edge of the box and superbly curling into the bottom corner just before the hour. This ended the contest, although Arsenal did get a late consolation through Lucas Torreira.

The result means Liverpool are the only side in England with a 100% record and continues Arsenals poor record at Liverpool, however they can take something from the chances they created.

Now back to Manchester United who were playing Crystal Palace at Old Trafford, a venue where Palace hadn’t won since 1989.

United were dominant as expected, but couldn’t find the break through and Palace broke after 32 minutes which left Jordan Ayew one-on-one with David De Gea, who silenced the crowd by coolly slotting home.

There was yet more United penalty drama in the second-half when they were awarded a spot kick when Scott McTominay was bundled over. Everyone waited to see who would take the kick following Monday’s drama and this time it was back to Marcus Rashford.

However, he suffered the same fate as Pogba seeing his penalty cannon off the inside of the post. This only further strengthens my argument that Solskjaer’s method is an incorrect one. United continued to push and found an equaliser through summer signing Daniel James, who scored in consecutive home matches by curling in a delightful equaliser in the 89th minute following Pogba’s good tackle on Wilfred Zaha and with a neat build-up from Rashford and Anthony Martial.

The Red Devil’s thought they could still win it but were caught with too many players forward allowing Zaha to burst forward and find full-back, Patrick van Aanholt, who netted the winner in the 93rd minute, thumping in as the ball broke loose.

The result means United have picked up just one point from the last two matches and are showing they may struggle to get into the top four once again, a thought I had in pre-season.

Chelsea and Frank Lampard headed to Carrow Road to face a vibrant and confident Norwich side following their 3-1 win over Newcastle United looking for their first win of the season and Lampard’s first as a Premier League manager. Lampard continued to show faith in striker, Tammy Abraham and his decision paid off with the youngster scoring two excellent goals to open his Chelsea account. The first came after just three minutes, however, it didn’t take long for Norwich to hit back though, as just three minutes later, Todd Cantwell latched onto Teemu Pukki’s cut back.

Chelsea restored their lead 11 minutes after Cantwell’s equaliser for Norwich, Mount – cut inside the hosts’ defence and unleashed an unstoppable shot high into the net for his second goal of the season.

In a frantic first half Norwich equalised again and it was no surprise that it was Pukki, who scored his fifth goal of the season. Despite Norwich’s second leveller, Chelsea continued to pressure their opponents’ shaky defence; Mount and Christian Pulisic both saw efforts go wide within moments of the second half getting under way.

Abraham’s second goal saw him become the youngest Chelsea player to score twice in a Premier League fixture since 1998, twisting and turning and tying Grant Hanley and Jamal Lewis in knots before firing an unstoppable drive past Tim Krul.

The Blues thought they had scored again when Kurt Zouma poked a loose ball home, but it was ruled out by the video assistant referee after substitute Olivier Giroud was judged to have fouled the Norwich keeper, Tim Krul.

Lampard now has his all-important first win as Chelsea boss and will be looking to build on this victory.

Watford against West Ham is a match between two sides hoping to challenge in the top half of the league table.

However, only one of the two sides looked like they had that in them in this match at Vicarage Road and that was West Ham.

They have some terrific creative midfielders and their record signing striker, Sebastien Haller scored his first two goals for the Hammers as they ran out 3-1 winners.

Mark Noble’s third-minute penalty set West Ham on their way to their first win of the season after Manuel Lanzini had been fouled by Abdoulaye Doucoure.

Watford responded with a well-worked Andre Gray goal, with the forward drilling home a right-foot shot from Will Hughes’ pass.

It was then Haller who took centre stage as he led the line in exemplary fashion and contributed to all three West Ham goals. He displayed his predatory instincts that allowed him to comfortably claim his first goal for Manuel Pellegrini’s side before acrobatically doubling his tally.

Watford did create plenty of chances mainly through Gerard Deulofeu who had seven shots on goal, with only a close-range strike that hit the West Ham crossbar finding the target, alongside Hughes’ extraordinary miss from a yard out after Gray had squared the ball with the score at 1-1, that summed up the hosts’ lack of potency in attack.

At the other end the presence of Haller, Anderson and Lanzini provided too much power, pace and guile for the Watford defence to cope with. Gracia’s side now face a challenging sequence of fixtures – with a home game against Arsenal sandwiched between trips to Newcastle and reigning champions Manchester City – having shipped 41 goals in their last 18 matches.

At the same stage last term Watford had collected nine points after an impressive start, but a pointless return this time around represents a complete reversal of fortune.

Sheffield United were looking to back up their first win back in the top flight but came up against a Leicester City side that were just too good for them on the day.

Ayoze Perez robbed defender Chris Basham before James Maddison played a deft pass with the outside of his foot into space, allowing Jamie Vardy to race in and power home left footed. Vardy – a boyhood Sheffield Wednesday fan – had been booed throughout and duly cupped his ears in celebration. Billy Sharp and McBurnie’s second half introduction seemed to raise home spirits and suddenly Leicester’s midfield seemed unable to close spaces as quickly. It was Oliver McBurnie, who scored the equaliser from Sam Baldock’s pin-point delivery – proving why the Blades paid Swansea £20m for the striker.

They were level for just eight minutes, however, as substitute, Harvey Barnes, scored a marvellous winner six minutes after coming on, Barnes fired a half-volley from the edge of the box which flew past home keeper Dean Henderson.

Saturday’s final match saw a south coast derby as Brighton met Southampton, Brighton have started the season impressively, whilst Southampton headed into the encounter pointless and this showed in the early stages as Neil Maupay and Martin Montoya both had chances.

However, the game swung the visitors’ way when Florin Andone was dismissed following a rash challenge that left Yan Valery withering in agony near the halfway line. A challenge that Brighton manager Graham Potter said he “can’t defend”.

The Seagulls responded well, initially, with Lewis Dunk’s header chalked off by VAR, but the Saints capitalised on their numerical advantage in the second half. They took the lead through Moussa Djenepo, who came on as a substitute eight minutes into the second half and his impact was almost instant, cutting in from the left and curling into the top corner just two minutes after entering the fray.

A late Nathan Redmond goal secured the points for Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side.

Onto Sunday’s matches and a Tottenham Hotspur side buoyed by gaining a point at Manchester City took on a Newcastle United side with no points and were embarrassed by Norwich last weekend, surely this could only end one way. In fact, Newcastle looked like a completely different team from last weekend, credit to Steve Bruce for that, they were superb in defence and caused Spurs problems on the counter attack.

It was from one of these counters that they took a surprise lead through record signing Joelinton, this his first goal since joining. Spurs were caught with too many players forward and Joelinton controlled Christian Atsu’s through pass beautifully before drilling past Hugo Lloris.

Spurs enjoyed the majority of possession and territory but couldn’t find the creativity to unlock an excellent back five of Newcastle.

Cristian Eriksen and Giovani lo Celso, both started on the bench and came on together after an hours to try and add this creativity.

Lo Celso, nearly made the difference with a pass to Harry Kane in the penalty area and Kane went down under a challenge by Jamal Lascelles.

The Newcastle defender appeared to slip and dive across Kane, as he knew he had no chance of getting to the ball, clever or reckless the referee and the VAR decided it wasn’t a penalty.

Spurs created more opportunities the best of which fell to Lucas Moira, who shot over from eight yards after being found by former Newcastle player Moussa Sissoko, who was unsurprisingly roundly booed throughout by the toon army crowd.

Spurs couldn’t find a way through and from evidence of this and other weekend results we could be heading towards another two horse race for the title.

There was a meeting between the last two sides to finish 7th in the league at Molineux, where Burnley were the visitors to Wolves.

It was the Clarets who were the more effective side and eventually took the lead through an excellent strike from Ashley Barnes, his fourth goal in three Premier League games this season.

Burnley were denied a second goal when Rui Patricio produced an excellent save to keep out Chris Wood, while Ben Mee headed against the bar with the rebound coming off Wolves defender Ryan Bennett and hitting the post.

However, Wolves were awarded a penalty in the dying moments when Erik Pieters fouled Raul Jimenez.

After a video assistant referee check, Jimenez stepped up to calmly roll the ball past Nick Pope and earn Wolves a third successive Premier League draw.

Despite this lacklustre performance from Wolves, I wouldn’t be worried that they are set to suffer like Burnley did last season in the league due to being in European Competition.

The Final Match of the weekend was a routine win for champions Man City away at Bournemouth. Another goal apiece for Aguero and Sterling meant they lead 2-0 at half time. Bournemouth rallied and substitute Harry Wilson’s superb 25-yard free-kick raised hopes of a fight-back, However Aguero pounced for City’s third after good work from Silva. Wilsons strike means he has scored two stunners in his two first premier league matches.

Five young Championship players who could step up to the Premier League this summer

The quality of the Championship has undoubtedly soared over recent years and as a result their are many young players making a name for themselves in English footballs second tier. With players such as Dele Alli and Harry Maguire beginning their careers outside the top flight and now starring in the Premier League with full international honours, it is clear that there is real talent out there. But which young Championship stars are ready to make the step up now?

Mason Mount, Derby (Loan)- The young loanee from Chelsea has really made an impact at Derby this season and has led them all the way to the play off final. With 11 goals and 6 assists the 20 year old has been in fine form despite a few injury troubles, and with Chelsea’s current transfer embargo Mount could become a key player for Sarri’s side next term. If not he will almost definitely be on loan at another Premier League club after proving he is a cut above Championship level. He has all the key skills a good attacking midfielder needs but is also not afraid to do the dirty work, tracking back and putting challenges in, expect big things from Mount over the coming years.

Daniel James, Swansea- Heavily linked with a big money move to Manchester United, Swansea winger Daniel James has turned heads with his incredible pace, dribbling skills and end product. The 21 year old was close to joining Leeds in January but the deal fell through at the last minute, contrary to many other players who’s form nosedives after a failed transfer, James continued his stellar form and recorded three goals and five assists after Christmas to take his overall tally to 5 goals and 10 assists in 38 games. The Welsh international went viral earlier this season after a goal he scored against Brentford highlighted his immense pace as he sped through the whole defence from just inside his own box and finished well.

Marcus Tavernier, Middlesbrough- Brother of Rangers captain James Tavernier, Marcus has made a name for himself on his own right after a string of promising performances for Tony Pulis Middlesbrough during 18/19. The left winger has broke through this season making 27 appearances and recording four goals and three assists with many feeling he would be the perfect replacement for Ryan Fraser at Bournemouth. Eddie Howe has a reputation for giving football league prospects a chance such as Callum Wilson and David Brooks and a move to the South Coast could be the perfect place for the 20 year old to develop.

Che Adams, Birmingham- The 22 year old striker has just enjoyed the best season of his career with Birmingham and has bagged 22 goals in 48 games, not missing a single League game and finally turning that potential into consistent performances. His finishing has dramatically improved and he is now much stronger, allowing him to hold the ball up much better and bring teammates into play. Premier League clubs such as Burnley, Crystal Palace and Southampton are interested in Adams and it seems inevitable the Leicester born goal scorer will be playing Premier League football next season, the only question is where?

Jarrod Bowen, Hull- Winger Jarrod Bowen has built on a very good 17/18 and upped the ante this term grabbing more goals, assists and playing more games. Playing predominantly off the right hand side cutting inside onto his left foot, Bowen has bewildered many fullbacks this season and almost managed the impossible of carrying a very average Hull side to the play offs. Unsurprisingly he picked up the player of the year, the fans player of the year and the players player of the year at the end of season awards and rumour has it Champions League finalists Tottenham are sniffing around the 22 year old.

Who do you think would have the biggest impact on the Premier League?

Meet the men behind Fans Supporting Foodbanks

By Euan Burns

Every football fan knows what to expect when you’re lingering outside the ground waiting for kick off. Burger van’s, pop-up bar’s, maybe a bit of music and an abundance of people selling you every type of merchandise you can possibly imagine.

Outside both Anfield and Goodison Park however, you’ll find two truly inspirational men doing everything they can to help their local community. These men are 61-year-old Everton fan Dave Kelly, and 46-year-old Liverpool fan Ian Byrne.

Dave, Ian and their team spend a few hours before every Everton and Liverpool game collecting food from match-going fans, and taking it to local foodbanks. The two men’s footballing allegiances formed the basis for their project, and spawned the fast-growing hashtag #HungerDoesntWearClubColours.

What is immediately striking about Dave and Ian is how genuine and honest they are. They don’t speak and act like people who know they are doing a wonderful thing. As far as they are concerned, what they are doing is a necessary thing. They dress in the way you’d expect any casual football fan to do so, jeans and dark jackets. Dave was wearing a beanie hat with his Fans Supporting Foodbanks badge attached to the front. Nothing about them suggested they were the leaders of the steady crowed surrounding the van situated on Anfield Road. Their strong scouse accents add a level of credibility to their comments on the state of their community.

The project has gained huge recognition over recent months, meaning I had to wait for Ian to finish his chat with another journalist before he joined Dave and I. I met up with them both during a food collection outside Anfield, prior to the Liverpool vs Huddersfield match. After chatting for a bit and telling me whom various people dotted about the area were, Dave introduced me to Ian in a manner that suggests he doesn’t see himself as news-worthy, by saying: “This lad’s a journalist, bizarrely wanting to find out who we are and how we do it.”

This led Dave onto the first interesting point about how the organisation is run in regards to leadership: “No one’s really in charge it’s a bit of a free for all. In my day job I work for a trade union, so the thought of being in charge of something or a manager is a bit of an alien concept.”  The project is run with a strong socialist ethos, which has clearly been engrained in Dave for his whole life. Dave told me one of his anecdote that became very regular during the chat: “My son said to me the other day, I used to love coming out of school on a Friday afternoon and going out with you because we’d put a loud haler on the van and we’d go and collect food for the miners during the miners’ strike in 1985. 35 years later, you’re still out collecting food. You never feel like you’ve wasted your life.”

Interviewing Dave whilst in his natural requires a level of patience, because every passer-by knows who he is and wants a chat. One volunteer at the van said to me: “People usually have neck ache after talking to Dave because you’re turning here there and everywhere”. It epitomises the community spirit both he and Ian are so desperate to highlight.

Collections have been carried out under the Fans Supporting Foodbanks title for three years now, with the idea coming to the two men whilst on the train back from London after a meeting with the Premier League. Dave said: “Our first collection was after we’d seen a huge queue outside a community centre and we found out it was a foodbank queue, and it was basically a food bank without food. We thought we better hit the ground running. Our first collection was out of a wheelie bin, we got more chip papers than food.”

There is clearly a very down-to-earth and pragmatic way about how Dave thinks, as shown by his attitude towards political labels: “People accuse people who put their head above the parapet and get involved with community initiatives of being a Communist, a Marxist, you name it I’ve been called it. I always say to people, I am not that political, but I know what’s right and I know what’s wrong. I would actually suggest that I’m a community activist, I’m immersed in what goes on in and around my community, and I’m not happy or comfortable with what I see going on in my community, or any other community.”

The idea of mobilising football fans all over the country to help those in poverty is something that Ian and Dave are very enthusiastic about. Ian seemed to fill with pride when he said:  “That’s probably one of our proudest achievements. Making fans focus on the bigger enemy and not each other. We always say our enemy is not someone in Salford, Newcastle, and Huddersfield whatever. They are helping us collect food because our communities are starving. That is one of the most enjoyable parts of it. We’ve got the Huddersfield supporters trust coming down tonight and they’re bringing a donation of food, we’ll go to Newcastle, Dave’s going to Manchester. There’s a cross-pollination now where we’re all helping each other out. It’s quite ground breaking to be honest when you’re bringing food to Old Trafford as a Liverpool fan.”

It isn’t just food collections that Ian and Dave use the vehicle of football for. They want to integrate everyone in their society, and make sure no one is left behind. They have gone to great lengths to make the Muslim community in Liverpool feel as welcome as possible, especially given the current political climate. Dave told me a story which highlighted a key problem in society: “You’ll be aware of Mo Salah receiving racist abuse at West Ham’s ground the other week. That’s obviously of great concern to all of us. What you probably won’t realise is that a few weeks ago, Fans Supporting Foodbanks and West Ham Independent Supporters Association went to Mo Salah’s mosque, and they offered a hand of friendship. The Imran at the mosque at Friday prayer time conducted the whole service with a West Ham scarf on because he accepted the hand of friendship.”

I was aware of the racist abuse, but not the heart-warming events that followed. I pointed out that that may well be part of the problem. This prompted Ian to say: “Well yeah let’s be blunt about it, that was a massive failing of the footballing authorities that what happened there wasn’t highlighted. It was one of the proudest moments we’ve probably ever had because it was really touching when he put the scarf on. We always get a lot of warmth from that congregation. There was a 75-year-old guy there praying and waving his Liverpool scarf at Dave. It’s using football again to lighten the tone, unite people, break down divides. It’s a hugely powerful tool.”

I pressed Ian on the idea of football being a powerful tool, pointing out how it can be so effective in both good and bad ways. He said in response: “Absolutely, we’re domestically opposed to what Tommy Robinson and Football Lads Alliance and all that garbage do. They see the value of football the same way that we do, so they see football as an opportunity to create a division. We see football as an opportunity to unite communities. Its dead interesting when you sit down and you look at their modus operandum and you look at our modus operandum because footballs the national game, and it’s amazing that me and Dave can use football as a vehicle to walk into a mosque and integrate with their communities.”

Their work with Mohammed Salah’s mosque stretches back further than that. During the 2018 World Cup, they screened the Egypt vs Russia game at the mosque, and about 250 people attended from the whole community. Dave described it as: ”One of our proudest moments”. Ian elaborated by saying: “A lot of people haven’t been to a mosque before, and it’s an opportunity to break down that barrier and put some of those mistruths that you might read in The Daily Mail and the right-wing propaganda to bed really.” With a smirk on his face, Dave added: “It’s funny how no one’s ever tried to radicalise me isn’t it? There’s an ignorance isn’t there, what happens behind that door there.”

I asked Dave how rewarding it is to know he’s helping so many people, but his answer suggested he feels their work in mobilising football fans is more impressive. Food bank collections is something that should be happening regardless. He said: “Well I think it’s more rewarding knowing how we’re helping to change the narrative about football fans. That lad over there has just bought a lodge for disabled and sick children in the Lake District. Football fans believe it or not are just like anyone else.”

It was at this point a very wealthy looking man arrived, shook hands with us all and started having a casual chat. This was the Chief Executive Officer of Liverpool Football Club, Peter Moore. Politely, Dave immediately explained whom I was and what I was doing, to which Mr Moore said: “It’s a great story here isn’t it. Careful though you know what side of the park he’s from.” He went on to ridicule me about Manchester United’s recent form, and then rushed off to get something to eat. In fairness, he had just flown in from China and hadn’t eaten. Incidentally, it was Mr Moore who bought the van that Fans Supporting Foodbanks use for their collections out of his own pocket. It was testament to the relaxed, social vibe around the collection that such a prominent figure can turn up, have a chat and continue with his day.

Ian and Dave have a really impressive mind-set, and are doing deeply impressive work. They are changing the stereotype of what a football fan is, and helping those in need along the way.