VAR rescues Spurs as City boys left fuming

To VAR or not to VAR?

Well I’ll tell you one thing irrespective of punditry opinions and players alike, I am still a fan of VAR and I am loving every minute and every moment of it (call me weird, it’s my prerogative). Saturday’s game at the Etihad between Tottenham and Manchester City was arguably the game of the weekend. It had it all, goals attacking prowess great saves, solid defending, near misses oh and VAR.

City went into the game full of confidence and aiming to add another 3 points on the board. And to be fair the team absolutely played brilliantly. I’m not sure if you’ve ever watched them play but it really is poetry in motion. The first half was solely dominated by the home side as Sterling struck with a beautiful header in the 20th minute. However Lamela equalised for Spurs after coolly slotting the ball home from range in the 23rd minute (you could hear the away supporters chanting away).

Kevin De Bruyne ran the midfield comfortably as he literally tormented the Tottenham back line. De Bruyne was in no mood for messing around. Having set Sterling up for the first goal, the Belgium international drove a pass low and had into the box which was dispatched by Aguero to put the home side 2-1 up on the 35th minute. City continued to dominate but the Spur defenders did their best to keep the scores at a goal deficit going into the second half.

Yes De Bruyne was the stand out player on saturday, however, Tottenham’s new boy NDombele wasn’t too far behind as he impressed again in midfield. He was able to drive his team forward and was the impetus they needed. Moura was brought on and he immediately scored a header in the 56th minute to level the game 2-2 which delighted Pochettino.

There is a great debate in certain footballing circles that suggest that Moura should be an automatic starter in the Tottenham team (I like Moura as a player but currently I don’t think he’s consistent enough to warrant a starting spot in the team….I see him more as an impact player).  I have every faith that the Tottenham manager will make the right decisions pertaining the the starting eleven.

City pressed for a winner (albeit either team could have snatched it) and thought they had done it when Jesus smashed the ball in the back of the net. Anyone remember the Champions league quarter final game last see….hahahah! Well DEJA VU all over again. City in jubilation mode, players and supporters alike jumping up and down as they believed to have scored a later winner only for the ref to disallow the goal.

City defender Laporte was adjudged to have hand balled the ball accidentally but the rules states if it leads to a goal then the goal must be disallowed. City players especially Jesus were fuming and to quote Jesus, “VAR is S**t” (I’m sure you can fill in the blanks and I certainly don’t agree).

In the other matches, Manchester United missed the opportunity to make two wins in two after being held to a 1-1 draw against Wolves. Pogba missed a penalty that would certainly have given United all 3 points. However the Wolves keeper guessed right and made a solid save (YEP!! Gary Neville ripped into Pogba as per usual!!!!).

Norwich beat Newcastle 3-1 after Pukki grabbed a Hat trick. I haven’t done a prediction for the drop but if Newcastle don’t get their act together sharpish I can see them getting relegated this season. Liverpool beat Southampton away 2-1 with Firmino and Mane grabbing, Ings scored the Southampton goal against his former club.

There were also wins for Bournemouth, Arsenal, Everton and Sheffield United respectively. After 2 games Liverpool sit at the summit with Arsenal sat in the number 2 spot. Both teams have 100% record and will have the opportunity to extend their early season run this coming weekend.

VARRRRRR

Final word belongs to VAR!!!!

 

2019/20 kicks off with a flurry

Are you not entertained?

Finally the wait is over and my weekends are back to being how they should be, sat indoors eating a nice doner kebab (with all the trimmings of course)and watching footy. The premier league finally kicked off on Friday night after the anticipation from fans alike. We’ve all waited long and hard for the new season to commence and the opening weekend did not disappoint.

The good thing about the first week is that you never quite know what will happen in relation to the results. The new boys will always fancy their chances against some of the more established teams whilst the mediocre sides tend to be a bit hit and miss  at times. However, there’s one thing that is becoming clear and that’s Manchester City’s dominance in this new era under Manager Pep Guardiola.

The defending champions raised the bar last term and have hit the ground running again. Now lets not beat around the George W. City have two teams, there’s the A team and there’s the B team. Both of which are supremely talented and the plethora of ability is undeniable. Therefore the expectations will always be high for Manchester City. With that being said, what we didn’t expect was the total destruction of West Ham United.

City ran rings around the hammers for 90 minutes (I really felt sorry for West Ham and their fans, hahaha!!) and the humbling 5-0 score line could have been a lot worse. With Aguero relegated to the bench, Jesus was entrusted with leading the line for City’s attack and the brazilian striker delivered with the first goal of the match in the 25th minute. Raheem Sterling walked away with the match ball after netting a hat trick whilst Aguero came on as a substitute to net a penalty.

Liverpool also made a good start to the campaign and will need to be consistent through out if they are to mount a title challenge against the formidable Manchester City. The Reds played hosts to Norwich City at Anfield and won the game 4-1. Liverpool were gifted the first goal through a Hanley own goal before goals from Salah (19), Van Dijk (28) and Origi (42) ensured all 3 points for Klopps men.

The game was very entertaining and you always felt Liverpool were going to score and score they did. I’ve predicted Liverpool as my favourites to win the league but many do not agree and on City’s first outing who can blame them (just saying). Spurs on the other hand were home to Aston Villa and went a goal down in the 9th minute after a brilliantly taken effort from McGinn.

Villa are one of the new boys and almost looked set to cause an opening day upset against an established and potential title challenging team. However, Tottenham new boy NDombele had other ideas. The Spurs midfielder put in a man of the match display and leveled the scores after striking a goal from long range which sent the home fans into a frenzy. The chants got even louder as Kane grabbed two late winners in the 86th and 90th minute respectively.

In fairness Villa played well and Kane should have scored at least  4 goals but the most important aspect is that the Tottenham fans got a chance to see NDombele put in a midfield masterclass (I mean the boy was everywhere-what an engine) and Eriksen coming on in the second half made a difference too so lets hope he stays (hands off Madrid….you’ve been warned).

The other half of Manchester also mad a decent start after Man Utd easily over came a Chelsea side looking like a shadow of their former glory. The red devils won the game by 4 goals to nil with Rashford, Martial and James grabbing the goals respectively. Maguire’s acquisition in defence is already reaping rewards as the most expensive defender in football led his team with a man of the match performance whilst Chelsea are finished without Hazard (sorry Frank, you could be out of a job come Christmas).

With Lukaku now long gone, Utd will need to find goals if they are to mount a challenge for a top four finish. A friend of my stated that “Man Utd will give Rashford, Martial and Greenwood one season to prove themselves in the premier league and if they don’t deliver then Utd will purpose non other that Tottenham’s Harry Kane”. Well the irony is that both Martial and Rashford got onto the score sheet at the weekend and could actually deliver this season (well they’ll need to!!).

You can tell it’s the opener cause there’s so much to cover. Arsenal also have ambitions of returning to the top four (champions league is becoming a distant memory right?? Hahahaha….) and got off to a winning start thanks to a goal from Aubameyang giving them a 1-0 victory against Newcastle. Burnley won 3-0 against Southampton as did Brighton against Watford whilst Leicester and Wolves ended in a goalless draw as did Crystal Palace against Everton. Bournemouth drew 1-1 against new boys Sheffield United.

All in all a great weekend of footballing action and I’m sure we are all looking forward to the next round of matches with the highlight being Manchester City VS Spurs. The question remains who will be crowned champions in May…..a little to early for an answer but nevertheless this league will most certainly entertain. So I ask you once more are you not entertained? (I already know the answer!).

VAR

For those that aren’t aware the acronym for VAR is Video Assisted Referee (hey don’t look at me like that, some people may not be aware). The tech has now been introduced to the premier league and has already made an impact in the opening weekend.

There were a few incidents that raised eyebrows. Firstly Raheem Sterling was adjudged to have been offside by an inch of shoulders which ment Jesus’s goal was disallowed (in real-time that would have stood). Aguero was afforded an opportunity to dispatch his second attempt of a penalty kick after a West Ham player was penalised for encroachment.

Wolves were denied a late winner  after Dendoncker’s goal was disallowed for handball which definitely displeased the Wolves Manager Nuno Santo and with good reason. As far as I could tell it was ball to hand and therefore the goal should have stood. However, I’m still a massive fan of VAR as I believe it adds to the drama and welcome it with open arms (YES I said it!!!!).

sterl moss

First Hat-trick of the season!!!!

Manchester City bag first honours

City win first silverware

Manchester City began the new campaign with a win against closest rival Liverpool as the two favourites entertained in the Community Shield. Both teams finished the season off in impressive fashion so fans were eagerly anticipating the match and get a glimpse of what’s to come when the League officially starts on Friday.

The community shield game gave a micro insight into how the teams would set up for the season ahead and whether or not they were off the pace (summer break being a factor). To my surprise both teams looked very sharp and didn’t look at all affected by the short pre season given the fact that the season will commence a lot earlier than normal (I’m guessing that is to accommodate a Christmas break in the winter of which would benefit a lot of teams).

City are without influential ex club captain Vincent Kompany who has moved onto pastures new and will rely heavily on John Stones. However, it was arguably the best player of last season Raheem Sterling who opened the scoring for City just after 12 minutes. The England man was at the right place at the right time to stick the ball in the back of the net (the Liverpool keeper could have done a lot better than that……I know fellas that look like the old Johnny Vegas that could have done better).

City did what City do and attacked Liverpool from the start of the game and had the better half. Liverpool had it all to do in the second half and they didn’t disappoint their traveling fans. Mo Salah was a bag of tricks upfront and trouble the City defenders and keeper after twice hitting the post. Liverpool played with more attacking vigour and their efforts paid off when Matip leaped to head the ball in the back of the net from a Van Dyke cross to level the match 1-1.

City created fewer changes as Liverpool mounted pressure but unfortunately could not find the winner. The game went into penalties of which City won by 5 penalties to 4. This guaranteed Guardiola’s boys their first trophy heading into the new season and by the looks of things (if this match is anything to go by) we could be in for another block buster of a season.

 

PREDICTIONS

Right, so I hate predictions cause I always, always get it wrong. Why? Because I’ve predicted that SPURS would win the premier league title in the past 4 campaigns……..haha!!! And yes to say I’m wrong is an understatement.

This season though is looking like another two horse race but you have to take it with a pinch of salt as there is still a day left in the transfer market for plenty movers and shakers. So, Manchester City and Liverpool are the obvious candidates but I have a sneaky feeling a team from North London could be the surprise package (and no not Arsenal) this term especially if Coutinho and Dybala are confirmed by transfer deadline day.

But on the contrary, I predict that Liverpool will be crowned champions at the end of the season in May. They amassed enough points last term that would have seen them win the premier league at least 10 times (that ain’t easy). They look like the finished article and I believe City may not have enough this year to perform the heroics of the last campaign (not to mention no Kompany).

city boys

City Boys!!!

The Season Edges Closer

Transfer Window

Hope you’re all enjoying the summer break and getting your fair share of some sun, sea and sangria. The season is now edging closer  and I for one am anticipating another year of action and great footballing entertainment. Last season’s chapter ended with Manchester City being crowned the kings of the Premier League whilst closest rivals Liverpool were crowned kings of Europe.

Who knows how this upcoming season will end, I guess only time will tell. We welcome the newly promoted clubs Norwich, Sheffield United and Aston Villa respectively to the premier league (will they all survive relegation this year?). Aston Villa seem to be the most active of the 3 groups in relation to activity within the transfer market having made some significant changes to their squad.

The transfer market does feel a little quite this year and no real major signings have been confirmed although we’ve witnessed some managerial changes in the league. There hasn’t been that many exciting transfers to get your pulse racing.

With that being said Chelsea have appointed all time goal scorer and club legend Frank Lampard as their Manager. Lampard’s appointment comes after he successfully guided Derby to the playoffs final albeit in defeat. He replaces  Maurizio Sarri who is now the new manager of Juvents. He’s status within the Chelsea hierarchy will help him settle down in his new role but he will be aware that the expectations will remain high as ever.

Lampard must achieve success and the pressure will be huge. However he must devise a plan going forward without (arguably) their best player Hazard who left West London for the great heights of Real Madrid having signed for the spanish giants for a sum in the region of £150m. Elsewhere, Manchester United are desperately trying to retain the services of their enigmatic want-away midfielder Paul Pogba. There are reports suggesting the French midfield ace is admired and wanted by Real Madrid.

United fans whether they want to admit or not know they would find it difficult to replace a player of Pogba’s calibre. The addition of Wan-Bissaka to the squad and the pursuit of Harry Maguire are evidence of Solskjaer’s intentions of addressing United’s weaknesses in defence.

Another notable signing is Tottenham’s acquisition of Tanguy Ndombele from Lyon. The France international joins Spurs on a long term contract and is seen as the replacement to Dembele in centre midfield. Tottenham will hope to build on this signing and will want to stake a stronger claim on the title challenge this term.

hazard mad

Hazard now Galactico!!

LIVERPOOL KINGS OF EUROPE

CHAMPIONS OF EUROPE

Liverpool made it an historic sixth European Cup victory after defeating Tottenham in the Champions League final in Madrid. Liverpool had previously settled for the runners up spot having lost to the galactico’s Real Madrid a year earlier. However, they battled through this season’s competition and rose to great heights especially in their semi final destruction of Barcelona to gain a place in the final.

Credit must be given to Reds manager Jurgen Klopp who finally won a final (it’s been a long time coming) after losing his previous 7 contests but he was able to set his side up and guide them to victory in his 8th final. The KOP and Klopp celebrated the win in bringing Liverpool European glory once more.

The game itself wasn’t what you’d expect from a champions league final in terms of entertainment value, especially with both teams being renowned for their great attacking prowess. Nevertheless the showcase premiered two great English clubs competing for European Club football’s summit.

The match started off controversially after Sisoko was adjudged to have handled the ball in the penalty box (I’m not sure what the referee was watching but from where I was sat that didn’t look like a hand ball). The referee wasted little time in awarding the penalty and to the amazement of the Spurs supporters VAR was not consulted (think of it what you like). Salah who had been injured in last year’s final stepped up and confidently dispatched the spot kick. There was nothing the Spurs goal keeper Iloris could do but pick the ball out of the net.

To be fair to Tottenham they actually played a lot better than Liverpool and had most of the possession. However, they were unable to create that clear cut opportunity in the Liverpool half and struggled at times to get Kane involved in the game. To be brutally honest Kane should never have started the game and I believe Pochettino made the wrong decision with his team selection. It’s easy to understand why neutrals and Spurs fans alike questioned Moura’s omission from the starting eleven.

We can argue all day about the manager’s preferences however, the night belongs to the team that scores the most goals. And on the 1st June 2019, that team was Liverpool. Origi capped of a memorable night for this group of Liverpool players when he added a second for the reds late in the second half on the 87th minute. Tottenham knew it was over by then and so too did the boys in Red.

It had been a wonderful campaign for both clubs (more so Spurs giving their route to the final) and what a conclusion to another year of football, although there is a smalll matter of the super cup to settle between Liverpool and Chelsea (after the latter beat Arsenal in the Europa League final) in the coming months. For now it’s holiday season (SUN, SEA and SANGRIA beckons!!!).

Congratulations once again to Liverpool and commiserations to Tottenham who endeavoured  but couldn’t quite get over the line. We anticipate a summer of major signings with a plethora of movers and shakers no doubt. One thing is for sure all the big teams will strengthen up again and will be back competing for the major honours. It’s been a majic season and I cannot wait for it to go off again in august. HAVE A GREAT SUMMER!!!!

winners

LIVERPOOL CHAMPIONS OF EUROPE 2019!!!

 

 

MANCHESTER IS BLUE ONCE AGAIN

City crowned champions

The final day of the premier league had the chance to produce one last twist in the tale of two teams that have been heads and shoulders above the rest (or so we thought). Both Liverpool and Manchester City have without doubt been outstanding all season long and their impressive statistics is a reflection of their achievements. However, there can be only one winner and one winner only (let’s face it, nobody remembers the runner up).

Liverpool needed a win and required City to either draw or lose to clinch the title and end decades of waiting for a championship title since the glory days of the 80s. Liverpool were at home to Wolves who in part have also had a great season and beaten some of the top teams in the division.

Liverpool and their supports new what they had to do and wasted little time in attacking their opponents. As good as Wolves have been this season they couldn’t prevent the onslaught from Liverpool as Mane found the back of the net to put the home-side  ahead. The anfield crowd erupted into cheers as emotions ran high through the stadium in belief of something specially. Ah, but they should know better, this is football after all.

The cheers got even louder when they found out that City had gone a goal behind away to Brighton after Murray scored on the 27th minute. Could this be Liverpool year (I’m sure a lot of fans pondered the thought) or would City ruin the party. No sooner after Brighton scored did City equalise through their all time goal scorer Aguero in the 28th minute. This was soon followed by a goal from defender Laporte in  the 38th minute to put Manchester City ahead by 2 goals to 1.

The pendulum had swung in City’s favour and their travelling fans new they were another 45 minutes of achieving back to back titles for the first time in their history. Liverpool knowing what was unfolding in the south coast  carried on with their game and searched for another goal which was provided by Mane in the 81st minute. By now anfield was becoming evermore silent as the realisation started to kick in that they’d let another title slip away (mate you had a 7 point gap, how in the hell……NEVERMIND!!).

The day and the premier league title belonged to City as Mahrez and Gundogan scored in the 63rd and 72nd minute respectively to give City a season ending 4-1 victory and the cup. This all but confirmed City’s dominance  over 38 games and boy have they been a pleasure to watch. Pep Guardiola proved his masterclass as a back to back league title winning manager and will have the opportunity to do the double when City take on Watford in the FA cup final this coming weekend.

Liverpool have done themselves and their loyal supporters proud by pushing Manchester City right to the very end and also have the champions league final to look forward to. I’m not sure if they’ll be able to topple the mighty mighty SPURS but it will definitely be a mouth watering experience (and hey, if Spurs win just pat us on the back and wish us well….you’ve got 5 of those Cups already hehehe!!!).

Tottenham and Chelsea make up the top four whilst Arsenal and Man Utd have to settle for 5th and 6th place respectively. However, Arsenal have a chance of qualifying for the champions league next year if they are able to beat Chelsea in the Europa League final. Check out Insider Journal‘s article on the upcoming final between Chelsea and Arsenal (click link) it’s a good read.

Premier League table view

champions

MANCHESTER CITY, CHAMPIONS OF THE PREMIER LEAGUE 2019!!!!

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE REVIEW

The reality of miracles

Now where do I start? Having now got my voice back after a thrilling week of European club football it gives me great pleasure in the knowledge that there will be an all English representation at both European cup finals (Champions League and Europa League).

I am sure everyone watched and appreciated some amazing games of football this week and witnessed history being made (average players became heroes). First up were Liverpool who were trailing the mighty Barcelona 3-0 on aggregate and without their influential midfielder Salah.

Prior to the game the entire world had written off Liverpool after the first leg in which Messi put in a one man display of share brilliance. We all watched in amazement as the little Argentinian magician dazzled (I really believed it was over for the Reds). The return leg at Anfield would need to be extra special to overcome a mountain of a task.

The anfield faithful sang their hearts out full of believe and hope for their team who always manage to find that spirit on the big occasions. This match saw Klopp make some changes. I certainly raised my eyebrow (and am sure many across the world did too, be honest hehe!!) when I saw Divock Origi in the starting line up. I thought right, he’s gonna mess up big time ( well………I used a different phrase at the time).

Origi to my surprise opened the scoring in the 7th minute sending the Liverpool supporters into jubilation. They could sense something special was about to happen. They pressured Barcelona for much of the first half and continued in the same vain in the 2nd half. Wijnaldum added a brace in quick succession on the 54th and 56th minute respectively leveling the tie at 3-3 on aggregate.

Barcelona at this point looked worried and disheveled and a far cry from their more disciplined and organised displays. At this stage the atmosphere in anfield was electric, the fans believed. Step up that man Origi who found the winner in the 79th minute after a clever corner from Alexander-Arnold. The boys from Liverpool had done it and defeated the mighty Barcelona and Messi 4-0 on the night and 4-3 on aggregate.

Now the question people were asking was could lightening strike twice? Can Tottenham repeat the heroics  of their English counterparts? Were they mentally strong enough and tough enough to challenge and defeat a young vibrant, athletic and clinical Ajax side?

The answer to those questions, YES, YES, YES, YES!! Yes they can and yes they did. we were treated to another jaw dropping, heart racing and dramatic encounter between two warriors. Spurs were already down by a goal to nil on aggregate having lost at home the previous week and needed to go to the Johan Cruyff Stadium to perform miracles of their own.

Ajax are a very very good side and carried their impressive form from the first leg into the match and were ahead on the night after their brilliant young captain de Ligt headed in. The home supporters went bananers, especially when Ziyech put them 2 goals ahead in the 35th minute. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and thought Tottenham had blown their opportunity once again.

Moura was nowhere to be seen in the first half likewise Son who was billed as the player that would make all the difference in the 2nd Leg. However, I am not quite sure what Pochetinno said to his team at half time but a different Spurs came out of that changing room.

The players now started to work for each other and the confidence and believe started to grow. Moura pulled one back for Spurs in the 55th minute before shortly adding a brilliant second goal (he’s foot work was poetry in motion). Ajax now seemed lethargic and although they hit the post, the night belonged to the boys from North London.

Moura was able to find the back of the net in the 96th (and complete his hat trick)after a clever flick from Dele Alli put the Brazilian through on goal. It was a great comeback for Spurs and once that final whistle went Pochetinno was overcome with emotions and who could blame him. His team had been written off long ago but here they are as Liverpool’s competitors to be crowned the best in Europe. June 1st is the date and Madrid is the place, so I’ll see you there for what promises to be an epic encounter between two footballing giants (yes Spurs are footballing giants!!!!).

Champions League Final 

Liverpool V Tottenham

Europa League Final

Chelsea V Arsenal

Cup

He who dares, wins!!!