Tag Archives: Football Fans

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

Nottingham Forest January Targets

Everyone connected with Nottingham Forest knows they are after a new striker, Lewis Grabban is a top striker at Championship level but he needs someone else to help him. If Grabban were to get injured Forest have nobody else to call upon and it is far too much to ask him to play every single match.

As for who will come in, there are many options from proven goal scorers to hungry youngsters. If Forest try to bring in another top-class striker then there will be stumbling blocks. Dwight Gayle, for example, has been the name on many fans lips, but would he be willing to join knowing he will still have to fight off competition from Grabban for a starting place?

Newcastle United striker Dwight Gayle

Would Forest be willing to pay what would be a hefty transfer fee (Reports claim only bids above £15m would tempt Newcastle United into doing business) and wages? and finally, Are Newcastle willing to sell? Another player who the same questions can be asked about is Che Adams. Both these players have the undoubted quality and are not getting the game time they want at their Premiership clubs, therefore if the above questions can be positively answered then Forest would have excellent options upfront.

Southampton Striker Che Adams

Another option and the perhaps more realistic one is for someone that can do a job as a clear second choice striker who understands Grabban is the main man. They won’t have the same quality as Gayle or Adams but be of sufficient quality to take some of the pressure off him. Lukas Jutkiewicz is someone that falls into this category and would give Forest a different sort of striker to Grabban. Glenn Murray is another name being mentioned, but will there be any substance to these rumours?

A 3rd option would be to look at Youngsters from the premier league, with Eddie Nketiah a name that stands out. He has been on loan at Leeds from Arsenal and impressed when appeared but has found game time-limited and the loan cut short. The 20-year-old is said to be wanted by a host of clubs and the Reds are ranked as second favourites to capture him with Sky Bet (3/1), behind Bristol City (5/2).

Leeds United loanee Eddie Nketiah

Rhian Brewster from Liverpool would be another good option. Forest are said to have been eyeing up promising Chelsea youngster Billy Gilmour. According to London Football News, the Reds and Championship rivals Leeds “have been tracking the best players in Chelsea’s development side, for which Gilmour has caught the eye since being signed from Glasgow Rangers”. Forest do have their own youngsters including one who has done well on loan in League 1 and 2 in Tyler Walker. If Forest fail to bring in their number 1 targets then Walker has to be considered.

Tyler Walker has had several loans across the football leagues

Lyle Taylor has been in fine form for Charlton since their return to the Championship, bagging five goals in his seven appearances so far this season. Taylor’s contract at Charlton expires at the end of the season, and the Addicks are hoping they can convince their star striker to remain at the club to fend off interest from elsewhere. Forest are joined by Premier League trio Burnley, Sheffield United and Norwich City to show an interest in the striker, along with Championship duo Brentford and Bristol City.

Forest are set to rekindle their interest in long-term transfer target Lawrence Shankland, according to reports. The Reds were extensively linked with the striker in the summer before he joined Dundee United.

Given that Forest’s Owner Evangelos Marinakis also owns Olympiacos there is bound to be speculation of business between the two clubs. Belgian striker Hugo Cuypers the 22-year-old is on loan at French second division club Ajaccio from Olympiacos. According to Greek media outlet SDNA, the Reds have been impressed by the Under-19 international’s blistering start to the French league season, and are considering a move in January.

Olympiacos Striker Hugo Cuypers

A player linked with a move in the opposite direction is Joao Carvalho, Forest’s record signing was a key player under previous manager Aitor Karanka providing many assists and the odd goal and became a fans favourite. Since Karanka’s departure, he has not been the same player, bar one outstanding performance against Middlesbrough. Martin O’Neil and Sabri Lamouchi have both opted to play 3 deeper midfielders with no room for a proper number 10 such as Carvalho. This has led to speculation that the reds will cash in, however, they should keep their record signing as he still has massive potential and not forgetting he missed all of pre-season which is massively important.

Joao Carvalho has been linked with a move away from Forest

Racism Must Be Kicked Out.

Chelsea defeated Tottenham 2-0 in the late Sunday kick off, however the game arose a different sort of matter which needs to be defeated.

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Antonio Rudiger; the latest Premier League player subject to alleged racism

Tottenham striker Son-Heung Min was seen to kick out at Rudiger in the aftermath of a tackle, a tackle which subsequntly led to Son’s dismissal. But what happened following the sending off is a much higher priority issue.

The Chelsea man reported receiving racially stimulated abuse from a Tottenham supporter, Rudiger followed procedure of informing his captain who then reported the issue to the Referee. Television pictures show Rudiger displaying the monkey-like actions which was the abuse he received. During the game, the Tottenham public announcement system gave plea to immediately stop racially inclined abuse as it was interfering with play. Unfortunately, these strategies do not seem efficient. Yes, an announcemnent is an immediate reaction but it is not a strong enough deterrent and does not justify the upset directly caused to Rudiger.

With multiple examples of racism towards players already this season, it is imperative that stronger action is taken. A possible deterrent may be that players decide to leave the pitch if made to feel uncomfortable due to verbal or physical racially fuelled abuse. Empowering the players to leave the pitch and stop the entertainment will make an example of the extremity of the spectators action to receive the punishement they deserve. It will also hopefully deter others from acting irresponsibly. Players have previously been reluctant to do this, as exampled in England’s recent international match in Bulgaria where the players continued the game despite a copious volume of racism in the stands, as those players who had been subject to racism and their team mates refuse to let the racists win by causing their exit from the pitch.

Another deterrent has to come from the sanction given by those in high power, which have been critiqued as very minimal. On Sunday night The Proffessional Footballers’ Association called for Government enquiry into the alleged abuse. A Downing Street spokesperson said they were working very closely with the footballing authorities to tackle the issue. It is clear something needs to be implemented urgently and although publication of statements follows protocol, it is simply not enough to just say what action they will take. As a country, this issue needs to be actively eradicated as soon as possible.

During the mean time of national debate to implicate an effective strategy to end racism in football, the clubs themselves can respond to any form of racism within their club and ultimately anyone found guilty racist behaviour should be punished heavily. It would be most effective to sanction a life ban from football, we do not want these people in the game.

Racism of any kind is out of order, and the people in charge of running the league need to do something about it – before the name of English football is tarnished for the worse.

England win but football loses

Its not often you come away from a tough away game with a 6-0 win and feel sad and disillusioned with the game. But for many last night, the sad scenes in the stands in Sofia overshadowed what was a very good England performance and threw the game into disrepute. 

There had been much speculation about the behaviour of the Bulgarian fans, after a number of incidents in recent years highlighted the large racist undertone within their fan base, and England captain Harry Kane had spoke of leading his teammates off the field if there was any sniff of racially motivated chanting or jeers.

From the get go England’s black stars were booed every time they touched the ball, attackers Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford as well as debutant centre back Tyrone Mings. But it wasn’t until the 28th minute play was put on hold with discussions taking place on the sideline, and a stadium announcement being made over the speakers warning fans the game would be stopped if this behaviour carried on.

However, this did not stop the chants, the boo’s and the abhorrent monkey noises being made, and the game was then stopped again in the 43rd minute, this time with Southgate talking with the referee before the game was again restarted.

Further racist incidents continued into the second half, caught on pitch-side microphones, but play was not stopped for a third time, which would have been crucial as UEFA’s three step racism protocol states if a match is stopped for a third time the match must be abandoned.

Further footage shows fans doing Nazi salutes and one fan holding up a “no respect” jumper. Debate has been rife over the best course of action in a situation such as this, is it best to walk from the pitch refusing to stand for this kind of abuse? Or is it best to play on and not let the racists win? England chose the latter last night, and with Rashford and Sterling both scoring, as well as Ross Barkley who’s grandfather is Nigerian, well and truly silenced the racist scum in the stands.

If this was not bad enough, Bulgaria’s own manager Krasimir Balakov seemingly defended his fans post match, claiming he did not hear any racist chants towards the England players and actually blamed the England fans for unacceptable behaviour. When the man at the top is seemingly just as bad as the racists in the stands, it is concerning for all involved and something UEFA must take a serious look at.

With all of the focus being firmly set on what happened off the pitch, it is important to remember just what the England players achieved in representing their country in such difficult circumstances, standing up to racism and doing our country proud in the process.

Bayern demolish Dortmund to reclaim Bundesliga top spot! Talking points :

Bayern Munich thrashed title rivals Borussia Dortmund 5–0 in Saturday’s Der Klassiker to reclaim top spot from their arch rivals. Described by many as the ‘biggest game in Europe’, Bayern swept aside Dortmund who led the table by 2 points before the game, with a ruthless display of attacking and fearless football and now lead the table by a point with 6 games left to play.
The visitors, who once lead the league by 9 points and looked set to prevent Bayern winning their seventh consecutive title, have seen their form dip in recent weeks and the display on Saturday showed they need to overcome a huge hurdle now if they still are to prevent Bayern winning their 29th Bundesliga title.

A lot was expected from the match, and Dortmund indeed started brightly with Mahmoud Dahoud hitting the post early on. However, once Mats Hummel’s header gave Bayern the lead, there was no looking back for the Bavarians. They lead 4–0 at the break, with goals from Lewandowski, Javi Martinez and Serge Gnabry adding to Dortmund’s misery.
And it was Lewandowski who completed the rout at the closing stages of the match, thereby also making him the first foreign player to score 200 league goals in German football.

But lets have a look at where exactly Dortmund got it wrong and Bayern prevailed.

  1. Bayern dominated the all important Mid-field battle : Nico Kovac’s decision to start with  Javi Martinez and Thiago Alcantara was spot on as the duo provided perfect blend of defensive stability and attacking creativity in the middle of the park. Martinez playing as the defensive midfielder made some crucial interventions and did not allow the likes of Dahoud and Reus to play their free flowing football for Dortmund. He capped off a solid performance with a well finished goal as well which effectively sealed the game for Bayern. Thiago Alcantara was also at his mercurial best and the opposition has no answer to his exquisite passing range. Along with the assist to Bayern’s opener, he created seven chances, more than any player in the game.
  2. Dortmund’s poor defending:
    Dortmund’s back four were poor is possession multiple times and found it difficult to cope with Bayern’s pressing game. Their Center back pairing of Akanji and Zagadou were at fault for most of the goals, also with Diallo playing as make shift Left back, Bayern took full advantage of their poor chemistry and below average link-up in defense. Also surprisingly Lukasz Piszczek was equally poor as the right back, and was constantly troubled by the pace and agility of Coman throughout the game. Also he was at fault for the first Bayern goal, giving Hummels enough room to place his header past their GK.

This kind of defensive performance is not going to take Dortmund anywhere near the title, and the manager needs to get the balance right before the next game to keep their title charge on track.

3. Bayern’s super Pressing game :

As mentioned, Dortmund’s defense were under constant threat by Bayern’s immense press throughout the match and Nico Kovac’s tactics were spot on to lead Bayern back to the top of the table. The attackint quartet of Lewandowski, Muller, Coman and Gnabry won the ball back on multiple occasions in the final third. Their quick interplay and swift interchange in position gave Dortmund no time on the ball, causing them to concede possession in vital areas of the field. Bayern’s tactics didn’t allow Witsel or Delaney to link up with Sancho, Reus or Brunn Larsen, leaving the forwards very frustrated without any service for most parts of the game.

Nico Kovac’s Bayern side now have the edge to secure their seventh straight title, but any complacency might lead to Dortmund reclaiming the top spot again as there is very little margin for error during the business end of the season. However, one thing is for sure, the Bundesliga is all set for one of its best finishes in recent years and here on 24-7 football, we will keep you updated till the last chapter of the season is written and finished off.