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Goals Galore in UCL Match day 3

There were a total of 54 Goals scored over 2 nights in the Champions League this week as three teams found the net 5 times.

The first of which was Tottenham Hotspur as they defied the form book and won 5-0 against Red Star Belgrade. The result demonstrates that Spurs do have undoubted quality and what they are capable of. Red Star gave them far too much space to play and Spurs took full advantage. Harry Kane got them off to the perfect start after 9 minutes with a well-timed header at the near post. Kane and his strike partner Heung-Min Son both netted twice whilst Erik Lamela scored the other.

The other result in Group B saw Bayern Munich overcome Olympiakos by the odd goal in 5. Robert Lewandowski scored on 34 and 62 minutes whilst Corentin Tolisso got there 3rd after 75. The Greeks gave a good account of themselves and Youssef El-Arabi had put them ahead after 23 minutes, Guilherme gave them a chance on 79 minutes but Bayern held on. The results mean Spurs move up to second in the Group.

  1. Bay Munich – 9 Points
  2. Tottenham – 4 Points
  3. C Zvezda -3 Points
  4. Olympiakos – 1 Point

Manchester City also scored 5 on Tuesday night but this was after Atlanta took a surprise lead when Ruslan Malinovskiy scored from the penalty spot after 24 minutes. Raheem Sterling then took over with an 11-minute hat-trick to make it a comfortable win for City, Sergio Aguero got the other 2 goals. There was bad news for City as Phil Foden was harshly sent off for two yellow cards and an injury to makeshift center-back Rodri. Six minutes after being cautioned for tugging back Malinovskiy, the 19-year-old did likewise to Marten de Roon to receive a second booking. Rodri was substituted with what appeared to be a hamstring injury in the first half.

The other result in the Group was a 2-2 draw between Shakhtar Donetsk and Dinamo Zagreb.

  1. 1 Man City – 9 Points
  2. 2 Din Zagreb – 4 Points (+2 Goal Difference)
  3. 3 Shak Donetsk – 4 Points (-2 Goal Difference)
  4. 4 Atalanta Atalanta – 0 Points

The third team to score 5 were Paris Saint Germain. It wasn’t until the second-half introduction of Kylian Mbappé however until they took command. They were leading somewhat fortunately at halftime thanks to Mauro Icardi’s opener but needed something extra. Mbappé undoubtedly provided it with a superb hat trick and assisted Icardi for his second.

Also in the same group, Real Madrid got their first win of the campaign thanks to a Toni Kross goal in the first half. Real were once again largely uninspiring however and look a long way behind where they should be.

  1. 1 PSG 9 Points
  2. 2 R Madrid 4 Points
  3. 3 Club Brugge 2 Points
  4. 4 Galatasaray 1 Point

Atletico Madrid were kept quiet for large periods by Bayer Leverkusen who were on a terrible run of conceding goals prior to the match. However, it took Madrid until the 79th Minute when substitute Alvaro Morata broke the deadlock to get Atletico over the line. It took the introduction of Morata and Thomas Lemar to make the difference as they took a gamble and went two upfront. Lemar did well in the build-up to create the winner for fellow substitute Morata.

Juventus were another big name who struggled for large periods and went behind at home to Lokomotiv Moscow through Aleksey Miranchuk. Paulo Dybala was their heroic rescuer as he scored twice in two minutes to turn the match on its head in the last 15 minutes.

  1. Juventus 7 Points (Goal Difference +4)
  2. A Madrid 7 Points (Goal Difference +3)
  3. Lokomotiv 3 Points
  4. Leverkusen 0 Points

Moving to Wednesday night which started with Chelsea getting a very good result and performance with a 1-0 win away at Ajax. They restricted the usually free-scoring Dutch champions to limited opportunities and were a threat on the counter arrack. They could’ve fallen behind however in the first half when Ajax had a goal ruled out by VAR for offside when the decision was minimal. Chelsea did deservedly take the lead through substitute Michy Batshuayi. The other result in this group saw Lille and Valencia daw one apiece.

  1. Chelsea 6 Points (Ahead on head to head)
  2. Ajax 6 Points
  3. Valencia 4 Points
  4. Lille 1 Point

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored two wonderful goals on his first return to Champions League action in 18 months as Liverpool beat Genk 4-1 on Wednesday. However the scoreline didn’t fully reflect the game, Liverpool were far too open, particularly in the first half as Genk had numerous openings which they failed to capitalise on. Ultimately Liverpool were clinical and Oxlade-Chamberlain had a great night he won’t forget in a hurry. He reminded us that he has a lot of talent – he is a great option if more creativity is required. Napoli avoided a scare as Red Star Belgrade twice pegged them back but eventually came out as 3-2 winners with two goals from Dries Mertens.

  1. Napoli 7 Points
  2. Liverpool 6 Points
  3. Salzburg 3 Points
  4. Genk 1 Point

To roundup the other results were

  • RB Leipzig 2 – 1 Zenit St. Petersburg
  • Benfica 2 – 1 Lyon
  • Inter Milan 2 – 0 Borussia Dortmund
  • Slavia Prague 1 – 2 Barcelona

Which leaves the remaining Groups looking like this

  1. Barcelona 7 Points
  2. Inter 4 Points
  3. B Dortmund 4 Points
  4. Slavia Prague 1 Point
  1. RB Leipzig 6 Points
  2. Zenit 4 Points
  3. Lyon 4 Points
  4. Benfica 3 Points

(Photo – The Week)

Premier League teams go undefeated on Matchday 3 of Champions League

All four Premier League teams participating in Europe’s biggest club tournament were victorious during their Matchday 3 games on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Manchester City were able to cruise by Atalanta with a 5-1 victory to claim their third win in Group C. After Ruslan Malinovskyi converted a penalty in the 28th minute to silence the crowd at Etihad Stadium, Sergio Agüero scored two goals in a four-minute span to help City have a one goal lead heading into halftime against the Serie A candidate. City were able to steamroll Atalanta after Raheem Sterling continued his excellent form for the reigning-Premier League Champions, scoring a hat-trick in a span of 11 minutes. However, young talent Phil Foden will miss their rematch at Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia on November 6 as he received a red card.

Tottenham, after only accumulating one point in their first two matches of the Champions League a year after making it in the tournament’s final, was able to handle Crvena zvezda at home with a 5-0 victory. Spurs, who were embarrassed at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium last time after suffering a brutal 7-2 loss at the feet of Bayern Munich, were able to bounce back thanks to braces from Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son and a goal from Erik Lamela. The reigning-Champions League Runners-up will host Olympiacos on November 26, where they hope to avenge a 2-2 draw during Matchday 1 at Karaiskakis Stadium.

Chelsea, who won the Europa League last season, were able to have their second straight shutout in all competitions as they defeated surprise semi-finalists from last year’s edition of the tournament – Ajax. The fans in Johan Cruijff ArenA were stunned after a late goal from Michy Batshuayi, thanks to an assist from fellow substitute Christian Pulisic. The stadium was rocking as they thought Quincy Promes scored in the 35th-minute before VAR overturned the goal. The Blues will face off against Ajax during Matchday 4 at Stamford Bridge on November 5, hoping to seal another three points and hold sole possession of first place in Group H.

Liverpool, the reigning champions of the event, defeated Genk 4-1 at Luminus Arena. The team got off to a hot start after a goal in the 2nd-minute by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who ended up with a two-goal performance. Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah also scored in the game as they end the first set of matches in second behind Group E leader’s Napoli. Liverpool will face Genk in their next match of the Champions League on November 5 at Anfield.

The Premier League was fortunate to have two of its teams to be in the final of the Champions League last season, and Matchday 3 proved to be another step in the league’s success at the world’s biggest stage for the world’s most popular sport. But which Premier League team will go the furthest?

(Photo – MEN)

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.

Brexit: How will it affect the Premier League?

It comes without surprise that all 20 of the current Premier League clubs were against Brexit in the first place. With Britain set to leave the EU on March 29th, and a ‘no deal’ Brexit looming closer by the minute, what will happen to The Premier League and English football in the future? 

 

The first likely outcome of Brexit on English football is the restriction on the movement of players from Europe to the UK, and vice versa. Players will most likely have to acquire work permits when transferring from The UK to Europe. It is estimated that only 60% of all players in the top flight are UK nationals, so there is major potential of future issues within the league. The clarity of movements in the transfer market may be completely hindered, with it being harder for Premier League clubs to sign European talent, and harder for players with UK citizenship to move to European clubs. Furthermore, with the Champions League quarter finals set to take place just two weeks after the March deadline, and four out of eight teams being from the UK, how will the final three stages pan out?

 

Another potential issue Brexit may reveal regards the 1995 Bosman ruling. The Bosman ruling has made a vital development to football around Europe, allowing players to act as free agents once their contract with the club has expired. The ruling came after three separate legal cases between Jean-Marc Bosman and UEFA, The Belgian FA and Bosman’s club at the time – Royal Football Club De Liege. Bosman won his case at The European Court of Justice in 1995. With the UK departing European jurisdiction, and it no longer being a requirement to follow EU law, UK players could potentially be at risk from a lack of free movement. 

 

The FA has already made a pre-Brexit statement regarding all teams in the Football Leagues. Back in November, they stated that every roster must consist of a minimum of 12 players from a UK background. This could have a positive and negative effect on the league; forcing managers to train with a more ‘British’ based team, leading to further player development and possibly lead to a stronger English, Welsh and Scottish national teams. However, it could lead to a lack of European talent in Premier League teams. Talented players such as Van Dijk, De Bruyne, Sane and Hazard may aim to look at joining major clubs in Europe, to mitigate against the uncertainty that Brexit may bring. Premier League scouts will most likely put their focus on British talent, and the number of European players brought to the top flight could be dramatically reduced. Furthermore, more pressure may be weighted on football academies, as there is an increased need for young English talent. This would lead to the increased development of young English players, the likes of Phil Foden, Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Callum Hodson-Odoi all generated their success through excelling in their respected football academies. Could Brexit result in a breakthrough for unseen flair?

 

The main question on everyone’s mind is “Can Britain beat Brexit?” Although the outcomes still remain indistinct, it is clear that it could be rough. Lets just hope that it doesn’t tarnish our league and restrict the luminous football we are all so familiar with. 

Can Wolves break into the top 6 in the next three seasons?

Wolverhampton Wanderers are undoubtedly having a fantastic season currently sitting 7th in the premier league , will we see them push even further and challenge for the top 6?

Wolves have been a team to watch ever since the Fosun takeover in July 2016. The Wanderers have been very active in the transfer market over the past couple of seasons with the signing of key players such as Ruben Neves , Adama Traore , Rui Patricio , Diogo Jota and powerhouse central defender Wily Boly. Spending over 100 million it was a busy summer for Wolves however they managed to accumulate 20 million from outgoings.

17/18 Summary

On the 31st of May 2017 Nuno Espirito Santo was appointed Wolves boss. Wolves ended up having an immense season , winning the championship comfortably. Ruben Neves ended up living up to the hype and Wily Boly turned out to be an excellent loan signing. 3 of their players made the PFA championship team of the season.

18/19 So far

In pre season predictions Wolves were never specified in the relegation picture nonetheless they also weren’t deemed to be only one place behind Chelsea at this stage of the season. Wolves had a blistering start losing just one of their first eight games , additionally picking up 1-1 draws with both Manchester clubs. Despite the Wanderers having a poor run of games losing 6 out of 7 games in October through to the end of November. They were strong enough to bounce back with 3 wins in a row beating Chelsea , Newcastle and Bournemouth. Still in the FA Cup Wolves could potentially be going to Wembley, however a revolutionised Manchester United team stand in their way. Wolves have been consistently picking up points for the duration of the campaign and are set out for top 10 finish come may.

How can they break the deadlock of the top 6 ?

As many people believe there is a great boundary between the top 6 and the rest of the league , it tends to be because the “Top” teams can attract better players as a result of European football and their status in the game. Nevertheless Wolves have been able to attract many high calibre players such as Joao Moutinho , Rui Patricio and Diogo Jota. Wolves’ outstanding performance in the league will also increase interest from players around Europe as they will look to build on a solid season.

Wolves are now recognised as a rich club with ambitious owners , despite Wolves already achieving a considerable amount they want to accomplish more. Wolves already have a stable Premier league team and their owners are highly ambitious and keep injecting money into the club. Should Wolves finish 7th place and gain European football they will be able to take the next step up and attract top 6 quality players. Despite it being a challenging task we’ve seen many clubs break into the top 6 before. On the other hand clubs like Everton can never seem to break the top 6. Its clear that it takes good management to become a top 6 club , Nuno Espirito Santo has done a tremendous job therefore Wolves are the front runners to break into the top 6 . Fosun international stated earlier this year they are targeting to win the Premier league by 2025 , this obviously puts pressure on the management team and also states Wolves are an enthusiastic and determined to become a top English club. Providing Wolves sustain the improvement they have a prospect of finishing in the top 6 in the coming seasons.

Do you think Wolves can win the Premier League by 2025 ?