Tag Archives: Raheem Sterling

Marcus RASHFORD to be presented with special award at BBC SPOTY

The Manchester United and England International Marcus Rasford is set to be presented with an award in recognition of his impressive contribution in raising awareness of child food poverty within the UK. 

Rashford will receive the honour at this year’s BBC Sports Personality show hosted at the Media City in Salford on December 20. 

Earlier this year, Rashford successfully campaigned for the Government to extend free school meals during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In addition, following further campaigning from the 23-year-old in November the Government were persuaded to announce more than £400 million will be made available to support poor children and their families in England.  While the striker has also launched a book club to help children enjoy reading.  

The BBC director of sport, Barbara Slater said:

“In a year that has been challenging for everyone, but particularly vulnerable families, he has gone above and beyond to transcend his sport and make a real difference.

“This award is a tribute to a remarkable young man.”

Indeed, on December 21 there will also be a documentary shown on BBC One, which will feature Rashford and go more in-depth into the motivation of the Manchester United striker’s decision to launch this campaign. 

It will also show how his efforts contributed to the announcement of the relief measures announced by the Government. 

The BBC head of commissioning for documentaries, Clare Sillery added:

“Through our access, we hope viewers will get to see just how passionate and determined he is about tackling child food poverty in Britain today.”  

Rashford has also been named on the Football Black List in recognition of his off the field campaigning. The list was first drawn up in 2008 by co-founders Leon Mann and Rodney Hinds and is designed to highlight black industry professionals who are positive influencers.

The Manchester United player follows other footballers such as: Watford’s Troy Deeney, Aston Villa’s Tyrone Mings and Wilfred Zaha and Chole Morgan of Crystal Palace.  While one of the most recent names to also be added was Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling for his work to combat racisim. 

When asked about Marcus Rasford’s campaigning efforts the Football Black List’ co-founder, Hinds said:

“The efforts of Marcus Rashford deserve acclaim alongside the others on the list who go about their business for the good of others.”

You can find out more about the Black List, the work they do and who is on it in the link here

Man City vs Liverpool Preview

Champions Liverpool travel to the Etihad on Sunday to take on Manchester City in a mouthwatering test of both sides’ title credentials.

Liverpool currently sit top of the table on sixteen points after last weekend’s hard fought 2-1 victory over West Ham. City meanwhile, are down in 10th with eleven points having played a game less than the Reds, but having already dropped points against Leeds,West Ham and Leicester.

A win for Liverpool against City would see them open up an eight point lead over their rivals and would secure their first win at the Etihad in a domestic game in five years.

Team News

Nat Phillips picked up the man of the match award for his performance on his Premier League debut against the Hammers, but the 23 year old is set to drop down to the bench as Klopp has the experienced Joel Matip available again after injury.

The Cameroon defender has been absent since picking up a knock in last month’s ill-tempered Merseyside derby, but Klopp confirmed in his press conference that Matip had returned to training this week and it is therefore likely he will partner Joe Gomez at centre back.

One man who is still working his way back to fitness after the Everton game is new signing Thiago. He sustained a knee injury in the 2-2 draw after Richarlison’s lunging tackle on him, and although he played the full 90 minutes the Spain international has sat out their past five games.

He was spotted at Melwood this week doing some individual training and Klopp has assured fans that the injury is not a serious one, but he will again be missing for the trip to Manchester, the manager told the media today.

Virgil Van Dijk and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are longstanding absentees whilst Fabinho is also ruled out with a hamstring injury.

Liverpool warmed up for this weekend’s crunch trip in ideal fashion, thumping Atalanta 5-0 in Bergamo midweek in the Champions League with the man of the moment Diogo Jota netting a hat-trick.

He has now scored seven goals in just ten games in all competitions from Wolves and his performances have given Klopp a selection headache going into Sunday’s game.

On current form, the Portuguese international must start, especially when you consider he has more goals for Liverpool than Roberto Firmino has this year despite plying far less minutes.

The Brazilian has been a key cog in Jurgen Klopp’s front three for the past few seasons but his form at the end of last year and the start of this season has tailed off alarmingly.

He looks a shadow of his former self and given that Liverpool are likely to struggle at the back with the absence of Van Dijk, attack may be the best form of defence for the Reds and the inclusion of Jota adds to their attacking prowess alongside Salah and Mané who are still scoring goals.

Liverpool have responded well since their 7-2 drubbing at the hands of Aston Villa, winning their last five games in all competitions to bolster their quest to regain the Premier League title.

Sunday’s trip provides the sternest challenge yet, with Pep Guardiola’s men dispatching the Reds 4-0 on their last visit to Manchester after the restart. The Citizens are currently on an eight game unbeaten run in all competitions and have defeated Liverpool at the Etihad in each of the last three seasons. They will be hoping to make it four to kickstart their title charge this campaign.

City will be without striker Sergio Agüero for Sunday’s game. The Argentine has been nursing a hamstring issue since the draw with West Ham and has missed last three games. There was hope that he could feature from the bench against the Reds, but the game has come too soon and Guardiola confirmed in his press conference that he will be missing. His full return is expected after the international break.

They are still unable to call upon Fernandinho, who was forced off against Porto in the Champions League opener with a leg injury and Benjamin Mendy who is suffering from a muscle problem. Both players are eyeing up City’s game against Tottenham after the international break for their return.

City also enjoyed a comfortable Champions League win during the week, putting three past Olympiakos without reply. Gabriel Jesus marked his return to action with a goal whilst Phil Foden and Ferran Torres also impressed in that game.

Jesus should come in from the start against Liverpool to give City a focal point up top which they have lacked in his and Augero’s absence. Who he will replace is anyone’s guess given Guardiola’s constant rotation, the most likely candidate being Torres, allowing Sterling to move back out to the wing with Mahrez on the other side.

The City boss is also likely to revert to the back four who started last weekend’s victory over Sheffield United with Laporte, Dias and Cancelo coming in for Ake, Stones and Zinchenko who started midweek and Kyle Walker retaining his place.

Rodri will also be restored to the starting eleven alongside De Bruyne and Gundogan in midfield as the Citizens look to add some steel to thwart Liverpool’s devastating counter attacks. Foden is set to provide a spark from the bench if called upon alongside Bernardo Silva and the aforementioned Torres.

Key Battles

There are a number of intriguing match ups to watch out for in the game. Joao Cancelo up against Mo Salah will be one of them. The Egyptian has started the campaign like a house on fire, clinically scoring seven goals in seven games.

Cancelo, a right back by nature, has found his feet on the left side of Guardiola’s defence this season and has impressed going forward, but he will need to be switched on defensively to cope with Salah’s strength and direct running as well as Alexander-Arnold’s overlaps on the right flank.

Henderson against De Bruyne will see another battle between last year’s two outstanding players in the league. In the absence of Fabinho, captain Henderson has reverted to a deeper lying role and he will be tasked with picking up the Belgian De Bruyne and stop him from spraying passes out wide and from darting late into the box to get on the end of crosses.

Similarly De Bruyne will be keen to prevent Henderson having the time and space to launch Liverpool’s counter attacks when City are in transition.

Another key tussle will be Jesus up against Joe Gomez. The Brazilian starts City’s press from the front and will be alert to pounce on any little mistake from the England defender when attempting to play out from the back.

He’s also very comfortable taking players on one vs one and Gomez will have stand tall and marshal him in these scenarios, avoiding diving in as Jesus will take it past him punish him.

Gomez is one of the quickest centre backs in the league however, so will have no qualms about catching Jesus if he makes a run in behind.

Managers’ View

Guardiola is under no illusion of how difficult a game this will be considering City’s inconsistent start to the season, telling reporters, “ When you play against teams like Liverpool you always have moments where you have to suffer. We know it, we have to do it and try to use our strength as much a possible.”

He played down the notion that the game is season defining, however, comparing the fixture to the race for the Presidency in the USA, stating:

“It is an important game but, like the presidential elections in the USA, all the votes must be counted – there are a lot of points to play for.”

His opposite number Klopp echoed these sentiments, telling the media that Sunday’s game will be:

“The most difficult game in the world of football.

Klopp continued:

“It’s a very difficult game, hopefully for both teams. So many things are different this year, nothing can be compared with last year or the year before. I enjoy these kind of games, I enjoy the preparation, but it doesn’t make it easier, it’s just a really tough task.”

Prediction: Man City 1-2 Liverpool

Given the weaknesses in both back lines it is hard to see either side keeping a clean sheet. Chances are likely to be in abundance on Sunday as a result, and it should be the case of whoever is most clinical will take home all three points.

Liverpool have made a knack of scoring crucial goals and grinding out important wins even if they aren’t playing well, and it seems hard to overlook them edging this one if their front three have their shooting boots on.

City will cause them problems going the other way and Robertson and Alexander-Arnold will have to put in a shift defensively to prevent Sterling and Mahrez from wrecking havoc out wide.

It is sure to be a great game of football and you can watch all the action on Sky Sports with the game kicking off at 4:30 pm.

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.

Can England Qualify Against Bulgaria?

Tonight sees England play Bulgaria in a game that should England win, will see them qualify for the Euro 2020 finals.

Now it also sees a scenario similar to the game England played on Friday against the Czech Republic. Win, and England go through.

In total England have met Bulgaria 9 times and have an excellent record against them.

Since the 0-0 draw in their first meeting in June 1962, they have met a further eight times. England have won 5, the most recent of which was 2010, when a 4-0 result was the outcome, thanks in part to a Jermain Defoe hat trick.

In between times. there have been 3 draws and its in two of those draws that Bulgaria have scored their only goals, 2 in total against England.

England’s goal scoring average against Bulgaria over the 9 games is 2, so going on that statistic alone, tonights game should represent a comfortable enough platform on which to secure qualification.

That said, it will prove interesting tonight, because Bulgaria, employ a variation of the 3 5 2 system that England used to play and appear to find diffculties playing against, by playing a 5 3 2 formation, so in theory have 5 defenders and rely on the counter attack.

Overall taking that out of context, Bulgaria are bottom of the group and have only two points. Confidence will not be high for them, and should England start the same they did against the Czechs by scoring early, and maintaining throughout the game, then England have a good chance of recording their highest score against them.

Where did England Go Wrong?

On Friday night in the Czech Republic, England faced the possibility of winning against the Czech’s and qualifying for Euro 2020.

Top of the group and unbeaten in this campaign so far, it all looked very rosy for England.

With a strong line up, in Gareth Southgate’s now preferred 4 3 3 formation, with debut’s for the Chelsea pairing of Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham, against the less fancied Czechs. lining up in a 3 5 2 formation. Everything looked like it would go England’s way.

The opening exchanges went well for England, with strong attacking football, which saw Raheem Sterling win a penalty in the 5th Minute, swiftly converted by Harry Kane.

We expected the performance to increase and a comfortable victory to follow, ensuring qualification.

However, the penalty seemed to not only galvanise the Czechs, but it was almost like a bee had stung them on the backside.

They woke up and raised their game significantly, helped by the formation they were playing, 3 5 2. They piled pressure on England, going close a couple of times. These were wake up calls for England, but they quickly pulled level and deservedly so, just 4 minutes later.

The only surprise was that it took that long for them to equalise…

From that point on for the entire match, England laboured and toiled much harder than they needed to.

So,

What went wrong for England

To get the answer to this, you only have to look back to the last Premier League Weekend, when Wolves travelled to the Etihad Satdium, home of Manchester City and beat them in their own back yard 2-0.

But what has that result got to do with England losing in Czech Republic?

At face value, nothing, but upon closer inspection, quite a lot.

You see, just as in the Czech Republic, Wolves employed their favoured, tried and tested 3 5 2 formation, against Man City’s 4 3 3 and came away with the right result.

Now on paper it shouldn’t matter which formation you play, the result should be a positive one, if you have a good game plan.

England had a game plan, it is a tried and tested one, but, when pitched against a team playing 3 5 2, then it can prove significantly difficult to penetrate, because in a 3 5 2 formation, the opposition will have numbers over, if the players do their jobs correctly.

The Czechs executed their jobs perfectly, faster, pressed better, had players over and England were left frustrated and arguing amongst themselves, because they couldn’t create the space they required to break through and so drew blanks every time.

It will be interesting to see how Engand fare against Bulgaria this evening in their next qualifier, because they commonly line up in a 3-5-2 formation as well. What will Southgate have to do to overcome them, and secure qualifying?

If England can raise their game and also eliminate the poor decision making and passive play they employed against the Czechs, then they will come away with a good result and qualification will be assured.

Too many times, through poor decision making did England let the Czechs in.

Tonights match should be an interesting one…

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