Tag Archives: football

Ajax’s Hakim Ziyech set to join Chelsea this summer

After a verbal agreement was reached between Chelsea and Ajax, Hakim Ziyech is set to join the Premier League side for €45 million.

Ziyech, who had signed a three-year contract with the Dutch giants this past August, was linked to a move to England for some time. However, the South London club were the only ones able to snatch the 26-year-old.

Criticized for not making a move during the winter transfer window, especially after fighting to get their ban removed, Chelsea were able to add a player who can make a difference on the pitch.

 Already filled with tons of young talent on the squad, the Moroccan international brings an impressive pedigree from the Netherlands and is hoping to having similar success in one of the best league’s in the world. 

The attacking midfielder has some familiarity of what the Blues are all about, having played them twice this season during the group stage of the UEFA Champions League.

During his senior career, Ziyech has scored 79 goals in 211 appearances for Heerenveen, Twente, and Ajax. However, he was most known for his excellent passing, leading the Eredivisie in assists four times over the course of his career.

Most of Ziyech’s success came after playing for de Godenzonen, where he was Ajax’s Player of the Year twice, included in the Eredivise’s Team of the Year three times, and, most notably, part of the UEFA Champions League Squad of the Season last year when the Dutch side made a surprise run to the semi-finals of the tournament before losing to Tottenham.

After some notable players, particularly Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus) and Frenkie de Jong (FC Barcelona), on the team left for bigger clubs, Ziyech opted to stay in Amsterdam, where he currently has 6 goals and 12 assists this season.

As a member of the Atlas Lions, Ziyech has scored 14 goals in 32 appearances for the country, where he pledged his allegiance over the Netherlands. Having represented Morocco in some major tournaments such as the 2018 FIFA World Cup and the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, he was a part of the 2019 CAF’s Team of the Year.

With several big names in the club who have expiring contracts, Ziyech is brought in to provide some much-needed assistance. As Chelsea finally make a move for the club, fans are hoping that Ziyech is the answer to help the squad do well in domestic and European competition. 

WSL Update: Storm Ciara forces all Women Super League matches to be postponed…

 The Women Super League matches this past weekend were postponed due to the adverse weather caused by Storm Ciara. 

 The main cause of concern was “crowd safety” that could not be guaranteed because of the extreme weather conditions.

Roughly 20,000 were expected to attend the WSL Merseyside Derby at Goodison Park however due to the high winds on Merseyside, this made travelling to and from the match extremely dangerous.

Details of the rearranged fixtures will be released in the next few weeks. 

Mid-Week Preview

Fortunately the WSL clubs will not have to wait long until they are back in action with a full round of fixtures due to take place on Wednesday 12th February and Thursday 13thFebruary.

February 12th

Chelsea vs Birmingham City (Kick-off 7pm)

These two sides could not have more contrasting form coming into this one.  Chelsea have enjoyed seven wins in a row in all competitions, while Birmingham have lost their last four league games.

The Blues however did win at Sheffield United in the FA Cup and their last league win also came away from home against Bristol City.

The Midlands club will have to keep one of the league’s in form strikers, Beth England has managed six goals in her past seven games including two in her last game in the 8-0 win over West Ham United.

Prediction Chelsea 5-0 win

Predicting another convincing win for the only unbeaten side in the WSL.

Manchester City vs Bristol City (7pm)

This is another game where one of the league’s title contenders meets a team who is struggling near the bottom of the table.

The Robins’ performances have improved in recent weeks and they did spring a surprise last time they visited Manchester where they beat Manchester United 1-0.

In order to cause another upset they will almost certainly have to keep the prolific striker Pauline Bremer quiet.  The German has managed ten goals in the WSL so far this season.

Prediction City 4-1 win

City’s home form is very good so we can’t see them slipping up here. 

Reading vs West Ham United (7:30pm)

There are just five points and two places separating these two teams.

Both these teams have also enjoyed a mixed run of results and have secured two wins in their last five matches. There are certainly more question marks over the Hammers however as they are coming off the back of an 8-0 hammering against Chelsea.

The Royals meanwhile currently sit sixth and managed to secure a draw against Manchester United in their last game.  Lastly, West Ham has managed to come away with the three points in both of their previous league visits to Reading.

Prediction Reading 2-0 win

We fancy Reading to secure their first home win over the Hammers.

Tottenham Hotspur vs Everton (7:30pm)

Spurs are certainly fairing pretty well in their first season in the Super League, while Everton are still flying high in fifth and if results go their way could find themselves in the top four.

The North London side have been strong at home in recent weeks winning four of their last five games, with their only defeat coming against the league leaders Manchester City.

Following a strong start to the campaign the Toffees are starting to struggle and have lost three of their last four Super League matches, including a 1-0 defeat to strugglers Brighton.

The Merseyside club will be looking to their star striker Chloe Kelly who recently scored a hat trick in their 3-1 win over Reading.  Kelly has managed eight goals in the WSL this season.

Prediction: Draw 2-2

We are going for a score draw in this one.

Brighton & Hove Albion vs Manchester United (7:45pm)

Hope Powell will certainly be far happier with her sides’ displays in recent weeks.  The Seagulls have particularly enjoyed some strong showings in front of their home fans recently having won three of their past five matches.

Manchester United meanwhile are going through a tricky spell in their season, having been knocked out of two competitions in a space of a few days against Manchester City and Chelsea respectively.

Casey Stoney’s side are also still awaiting their first away win of 2020.

Prediction: Brighton 2-1 win

We think that Hope Powell’s side have what it takes to spring another surprise and take another step towards safety. 

February 13th

Liverpool vs Arsenal (7pm)

At the start of the year Vicky Jepson’s Liverpool looked the clear favourites to be relegated from the WSL.

Since securing a surprise 1-1 draw with Chelsea the reds have managed two wins in their last three, including a crucial 1-0 win over relegation rivals Bristol City.

Arsenal however are now certainly up against it if they want to retain their WSL title having lost to their rivals Manchester City last time out.  Joe Montemurro’s team cannot afford any more slip-ups if want to maintain their faint title hopes.

Prediction: Arsenal 2-1 win

It was a surprisingly close game between these two sides back in November with the Gunners winning 1-0, so we are anticipating another tight match with Arsenal just coming away with the three points. 

Nottingham Forest 2 – Leeds United 0

Nottingham Forest produced a fine display in front of a vibrant sell-out City Ground crowd to close the gap to the automatic promotion places to just a single point.

Sabri Lamouchi made one change from last weekend’s defeat to Birmingham City as the returning Samba Sow replaced Ryan Yates in the centre of the Forest midfield. There was also a place on the substitutes’ bench for new signing Gaetan Bong following his arrival from Brighton and Hove Albion.

The match started fairly slowly, Forest’s first effort on target coming from Thiago Silva whose long-range shot was easily saved. Forest also had a good penalty shout when Joe Worall was pulled to the ground from a corner kick.
Marcelo Bielsa’s men were looking dangerous coming forward but as is so often the case lacked the cutting edge in attack. Ezgjan Alioski came close as his effort deflected off Joe Lolley on the edge of the Forest box but fortunately for The Reds, it drifted wide of Brice Samba’s goal.

Forest made the most of that scare as they hit the front two minutes later. Ameobi got his head down and drove into the Leeds penalty area Forest made the most of that scare as they hit the front two minutes later. Ameobi got his head down and drove into the Leeds penalty area following a good one-two with Yuri Ribero, Ameobi had the option the cross to Lewis Grabban who was in a good position but lashed a shot beyond Casilla who looked as if he was expecting Ameobi the cross to the delight of the ecstatic Reds supporters.


Arguably, Forest deserved their advantage and they certainly should have doubled the lead ten minutes into the second half. A superb driving run from Lolley made space inside the final third, he laid the ball off to Lewis Grabban and despite shifting it cleverly to the right, he then drilled his shot straight at the legs of a floored Casilla.


Forest keeper Samba produced an outstanding save to keep Forest in front with 15 minutes to play. Liam Cooper was left unmarked inside the Forest penalty area and he met a left-wing corner and despite Samba being on the floor at the time, he stretched a hand up into the air to miraculously claw the defender’s header off the line. From some angles, in the crowd, the ball looked over the line but TV goal-line technology showed the ball was plum on the line when Samba punched it away.


In the final minute of stoppage time, Joe Lolley did superbly well to win the ball inside the Leeds half, powered on into the box and squared it to the supporting Walker who tapped home into Casilla’s unguarded net. It was a dream return to Forest for Walker who came on as a late substitute for Lewis Grabban to make his first City Ground appearance in around 2 years, during which he has enjoyed excellent scoring form in loan spells at Mansfield and Lincoln.

There was a big-game feel on Trentside and Forest were the team who left with all the glory. It was an absorbing, entertaining end-to-end contest, despite Leeds predictably having 70% possession they struggled to create a cut chance, with Forest once again proving they are hard to break down and looked by far the more threatening in an energetic, resourceful and clinical counter-attacking display.

Nottingham Forest boss, Sabri Lamouchi: “It was a massive result and a massive performance against a fantastic team. Leeds made more mistakes than usual, but we disturbed them without the ball. My players played with fight and determination and they played so well today. The players made me so proud and happy. We have 15 more games and we play again in three days. This league is crazy and you must be ready each game. My goal was to finish the season, the last time a [Forest] manager did that was 11 or 12 seasons ago.”

Match Stats

FORESTLEEDS
POSSESION30%70%
SHOTS1413
SHOTS ON TARGET61
CORNERS 38
FOULS 1114
Click above to watch match highlights on youtube

WSL Update: Nick Cushing signs off with a win against Arsenal

Departing Manchester City manger Nick Cushing ended his six-year stint with the club this past weekend by completing a 2-1 win over Arsenal.

Cushing was presented with an achievement award before the game by current club captain Steph Houghton.

During Cushing’s time with the club he led them to one league title, two Women’s FA Cups and three Women’s League Cup’s.

In form striker Pauline Bremer scored the opener for City just before half time from close range. Lauren Hemp doubled their advantage with a looping header.

Danielle Van de Donk pulled a goal back for the Gunners but it was not enough to deny Cushing a dream send off.

The win leaves City a point ahead of closest challengers Chelsea, however the Citizens have played a game more than Emma Hayes’ side.

Chelsea maintained their impressive form by scoring eight goals past West Ham United in an 8-0 win over Matt Beard’s team.

Both Maren Mjelde and Beth England scored twice, while further goals from Scottish winger Erin Cuthbert, Sophie Ingle and substitutes Ramona Bachmann and Emily Murphy completed the scoring.

Casey Stoney’s Manchester United were denied all three points at Adams Park thanks to a Fara Williams penalty, which earned Reading a 1-1 draw with the Red Devils. Both sides remain fourth and sixth respectively in the WSL.

Elsewhere Brighton secured a crucial home win against Everton thanks to a goal from Aileen Whelan, who found the bottom right hand corner of the net against her former club.

This win means that the Seagulls are now six points clear of the relegation zone and are in ninth place.

The other two WSL matches, Liverpool versus Birmingham City and Tottenham Hotspur against Bristol City suffered postponements due to waterlogged pitches.

A Look ahead to this weekend’s fixtures

Sunday 9 February

Everton vs Liverpool (Kick-off 2pm)

Goodison Park is set to host its first Women Super League Merseyside Derby. The previous league meeting between the sides took place at Anfield for the first time last November where Everton secured a 1-0 win.

The Toffee’s recent home form in all competitions has been strong, as they have won three of their last five matches.

Everton’s Merseyside rivals meanwhile have also witnessed an upsurge in form having only lost one of their last five matches.  Although the Reds match with Birmingham City was postponed last weekend.

In terms of the head to head meetings both sides have now won two matches apiece, however the Toffees have won two of their last three encounters with their fierce rivals.

Prediction 1-1 draw

We are anticipating a closely fought encounter between these two sides, predicting that the spoils will be shared on this occasion. 

Arsenal vs Tottenham Hotspur (2pm)

The WSL fixture list has provided another famous English derby this weekend.

Joe Montemurro’s Arsenal side have endured a tricky time of it as of late, having lost to both their title rivals consecutively in the league.

Their North London rivals however are also going through a difficult spell, particularly away from home where they have lost four of their last five matches.

Prediction: Arsenal 2-0 win

Predicting the Gunners to get back to winning ways.

Birmingham City vs Brighton & Hove Albion (2pm)

Only one place separates these teams in the table ahead of this weekends matches.

Hope Powell’s Brighton got a big win against Everton last time out, though they are still to record a victory away from home in the WSL this season.

Birmingham meanwhile is also struggling for results, having lost four of their last five games.  Their last league win came against fellow strugglers Bristol City at the start of December.

The Seagulls have got a slight edge over their relegation rivals in terms of head-to head encounters having won two of their three meetings.

Prediction: Birmingham 2-1 win

We think due to the fact the pressure is on Birmingham to win this weekend that they will get the result they need.

Bristol City vs Reading (3pm)

This is a crucial game for the league’s bottom side, with two of their relegation rivals playing each other this weekend.

Bristol City are still to win a home league game in this campaign and they have also lost their last five matches in all competitions so the signs do not look good for Tanya Oxtoby’s team.

Reading also have enjoyed a lot of success against the West Midlands club having won five and drawn just once against them in the league.

Prediction: Reading 3-1 win

We believe that all signs seem to point to a relatively comfortable Reading victory.

West Ham United vs Manchester City (3pm)

The WSL leaders Manchester City begin life without Nick Cushing with a trip to East London.

Alan Mahon, previously the assistant manager, is taking interim charge until the end of the season and he will be determined to get off to a good start.

West Ham meanwhile are coming off the back of a heavy 8-0 defeat to City’s title rivals Chelsea, so they will be coming into this one looking to avoid further humiliation.

The reverse fixture between these sides resulted in 5-0 for Manchester City so it promises to be a tough afternoon for the Hammers.

Prediction: Manchester City 3-0 win

Manchester City has won all three previous encounters with West Ham in the league and we believe they will get the three points in this one to get Mahon off to a winning start.

Manchester United vs Chelsea (4:30pm) – BT Sport

The final game of the weekend promises to be an intriguing one.  Both of these teams met in the Continental Tyres Cup Semi-Final just a week ago with Chelsea coming out 1-0 winners on that occasion, setting up an all London final with Arsenal next month.

In the league’s reverse fixture the Blues also ran out 1-0 winners so all signs seem to point to another close encounter.

Casey Stoney’s side has also only lost twice in the league at home this season.

Prediction Chelsea 2-1 win

We believe this will be another close game with the title favourites Chelsea just coming away with the win.  

Inter Miami keen on signing Edinson Cavani and Luka Modrić

With the MLS season set to begin at the end of this month, Inter Miami are hoping to sign Edinson Cavani and Luka Modrić away from their respective clubs. 

The club, who are part-owned by football legend David Beckham, are looking for some reinforcements for this season, particularly one’s they think will make a big splash in the league.

Cavani, whose contract with Paris Saint-Germain is set to expire at the end of this season, has been left out of Thomas Tuchel’s plans as the German manager has been pairing Inter Milan-loanee Mauro Icardi alongside generational-talent Kylian Mbappé. After rumors that the Uruguayan striker was on the move to Atlético Madrid this past transfer window, the deal did not materialize.

The 32-year-old has been lethal for Les Parisiens, scoring 136 goals in 196 appearances for the French giants. However, in 10 league appearances this season, Cavani has only scored twice. This move to the Western Hemisphere could be a win-win situation as Cavani would get the opportunity to star in Vice City whereas PSG can unload the disgruntled striker and not worry about any more chaos.

 On the other hand, Modrić is going to be more difficult to sway as Real Madrid are currently in the top spot of La Liga.

The Croatian-midfielder, whose has a contract with Los Blancos until June 2020, has been a vital part of the club’s success since his arrival in 2012 from Tottenham Hotspur. Since his arrival, Real Madrid have won four UEFA Champions League, four FIFA Club World Cups, and the league in 2017. However, the 2018 Ballon d’Or winner has been limited this season due to the rise of Fede Valverde.

As a new franchise in the league, Inter Miami are hoping to secure some big signings that could help them have a successful inaugural season. However, time is ticking for The Herons as they open the season on March 1 away against last year’s Supporter’s Shield winner LAFC.