COULD THIS BE LIVERPOOL’S YEAR?

Reds overcome Pep’s boys

With 12 games now played, we are starting to get a clearer picture of how this season is going to pan out. Skeptics will argue that it is still too early to declare Liverpool as  the main contenders for the Premier League title but lets be honest they have been highly consistent thus far (remember this side have yet to lose a game) and who’s gonna stop them? Certainly not Manchester City right?

The top two sides of the league met at Anfield over the weekend in a hugely anticipated match. There was a lot riding on this game as the winner could either extend their lead (Liverpool) or close the gap (City). Liverpool had the advantage of being the home side, however when you’re facing a team like Manchester City, all that advantage goes out of the window.

With that being said it was Liverpool who broke the deadlock in just 6 minutes when Fabinho put the home side ahead with a thunderous strike from almost 30 yards out. There was nothing the Manchester City keeper could do (literally nothing, that’s how good the strike was!!). The Anfield hopeful celebrated like they’d won the league and who could blame them.

Moments later, Mo Salah added another in the 13th minute with a neatly headed goal after a brilliant cross from Robertson. More fist pumping and jubilation ensued from everything Red. With the home side ahead by two goals, City didn’t crumble and dug their heels in harder. They created some opportunities but luck was hard to come by. And shortly after the break Liverpool were at it again. This time it was Mane on the end of a Henderson cross to put the Reds 3 goals ahead.

Klopp must have felt like he was in dreamland (I know I certainly would) especially with the significance of the game. Manchester City did eventually find a consolation goal through Bernado Silva but by then it was all over (and that was in the 78th minute).  It was pretty obvious for all to see that the momentum belongs with Liverpool and their wait for that elusive Premier League title could finally be over. Commentators and Pundits across the country have practically  declared Liverpool champions after their victory at the weekend (somehow I don’t think history will repeat itself).

Meanwhile Manchester United seem to have turned a corner after a convincing win at home to Brighton. Pereira put the home side ahead in the 17th minute before Propper scored an own goal to give United a two goal cushion. Dunk pulled one back in the 64th minute for Brighton, giving the travelling supporters some hope. However, Marcus Rashford ended all hopes of a comeback when he netted in the 66th minute to give United a comfortable 3-1 victory (I know many United fans will be pleased with the performance but remember Ole is still at the wheel….hehehe!!).

Things aren’t going quite so well in North London this season. Arsenal suffered another defeat by Leicester after losing 2-0, Jamie Vardy (68minute) and Maddison (75minute) scoring the goals respectively. Leicester are now second in the table and are showing true ambitions of attaining a champions league spot at the very least if the title is too far out of sight.

North London neighbours Tottenham will count themselves lucky with a draw against Sheffield United. Son put Spurs ahead in the 58 minute but  Baldock equalised for the Blades in the 78th minute to rescue a point for the visitors although they did have a goal ruled out by VAR (gotta love it….you really do). Chelsea are still flying the flag with their 2-0 win against Crystal Palace as Lampard boys are quickly turning into men with yet another impressive display. Abraham and Pulisic with the goals for the Blues.

ster joe

Let the boys be boys!!!!

One Mane Show at Villa Park

Smash ‘n’ Grab

Liverpool smashed and grabbed all 3 points away to Aston Villa at Villa Park. Villa had led the match after going ahead through a Hassan effort in the 21st minute. The Villains were very well organised and looked set for all 3 points. They’d defended well and put out a very convincing display.

However, as we’ve seen time and time again, a team that can win games whilst not performing to it’s optimum will always have every chance of winning the championship. Liverpool have epitomised this already this season. So is it any surprise that Klopp’s boys did it again? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, they are showing the winning formula and mark my words they will be crowned champions in May (United displayed this throughout the 90s and 00s…..Fergie time, anyone!!).

Mane may have been criticised for his theatrics in the penalty box (to be fair that did look like a bit of a dive) but you cannot take anything away from this footballing genius. Genius? Yes genius (I said it). Mane is often viewed as the labourer who does most of the running for the Red’s forward line (not say the other two are lazy bums…..ok maybe a tad) but against Villa we got an opportunity to witness his creativity and leadership qualities.

The Senegalese international would not give up as he carried his side across the line. He engineered Liverpool’s equaliser when he picked out a superb cross for Robertson to finish in the back post on the 87th minute. I am sure when the goal went in the travelling Liverpool supporters would have settled for a draw. There was more drama to follow as Mane wasn’t finished and deep in injury time, he headed in the winner (lovely near post flick on too!!) to send the away supporters into a frenzy (I can only imagine what the journey back home must have been  like).

He demonstrated a never say die attitude that could very well aid Liverpool in winning their first Premier League title. An attitude that can rob off on other players in the team and transcend a positive mentally throughout this campaign. Whether or not they can go an entire season without defeat remains to be seen but with Mane in this kind of form and Van Dyke taking care of business at the rear, anything is possible.

Whilst Liverpool were robbing Villa for 3 points (no offence intended!!), Manchester City left it late also to claim all 3 points at home to Southampton. Ward-Prowse had put the visitors ahead in the 13th minute and the Saints tried to hold on for dear life but unfortunately caved in. Aguero pulled one back for City in the 70th minute before Kyle Walker grabbed the winner.

Everyone (and I mean everyone) in the Country were hoping to see the two top teams in the division drop valid points.  However, it wasn’t meant to be.City are still 6 points behind Liverpool after 11 games and will hope desperately for Liverpool to stutter. Leicester are  their nearest rivals as they try to keep pace with the leading two and added to their momentum by defeating Crystal Palace 2-0 away.

Soyuncu and Vardy got the goals for an impressive Leicester side who could secure a top four finish by Christmas if results keep going their way. Everton and Tottenham drew 1-1 at Goodison park but the match itself will be remembered for the injury caused to Gomes who suffered a really bad injury (wishing you a speedy recovery). He has since had a successful operation and also thanked fans for their support.

Another team that’s going well is Chelsea who registered their 7th win of the season in their victory against Watford. Abraham opened the scoring for Chelsea in the 5th minute before Pulisic added a second in the 55th minute. Deulofeu pulled one back through a penalty in the 80th but the afternoon belonged to Chelsea. Arsenal drew 1-1 with Wolves adding more pressure to the Arsenal boss (many Arsenal fans are unsatisfied with Emery and are calling for his resignation).

Ole is still at the wheel at Manchester United as they suffered yet another defeat at the hands of Bournemouth. King got the only goal of the game in the 45th minute.  Brighton defeated Norwich 2-0 whilst Newcastle beat West Ham 3-2.

gomess

Get well soon!!!!!

All Saints Down at Southampton

Leicester too hot for Saints

The Premier League matches this week gave another reminder of why it’s considered the best league in World Club football. Lets forget about the previous week’s snooze fest of games and celebrate the return of action and great entertaining spectacles. And where best to start than the thrilling game between Southampton and Leicester (in fairness it was a one-sided affair).

Leicester are performing like they did in their championship winning 2015-16 season and are showing that same level of consistency that got them to the summit of the League.  Even with that being said I don’t think Southampton anticipated that they would be up against a ruthless Leicester side. Chillwell opened the scoring for the visitors after 10 minutes after much pressure from an attacking Leicester side.

Southampton knew they’d be in for a tough night after Ryan Bertrand was red carded in the 12th minute of the game (that’s the last thing you need against a fully confident attacking team). As predicted, in no less than 5 minutes after Bertrand’s sending off, Leicester found the net again through Tielemans in the 17th minute. From this point on the flood gates opened and the Saints fell to pieces (you have to feel for their fans….nobody wants to see their team lose in that manner).

Leicester would find the net on three more occasions before the second half thanks to goals from Vardy and Perez. They both added another three more goals in the second half with Maddison also getting in on the act. The game ended 9-0 to Leicester who set a new premier league away win record for goals scored in a single game and tied with the all time record for goals scored in a match (hope that makes sense hehe!!). Credit to Brendan Rodgers for getting this crop of players performing to a high consistent standard (I’m sure Solskjaer can learn a thing or two….ouch!).

Remember this is a Leicester side without Maguire, Kante and Mahrez. Yet they are sitting 3rd in the table and have every ambition to finish in the top four (and why not). As we have learnt from history you cannot rule out a Leicester team, especially a team playing with such confidence and great believe. However, does this mean I’ll be putting money on Leicester to win the league? errr NO!!! Definitely not. I’ve tipped Liverpool from the start and I’m sticking with the Reds. Besides the odds aren’t as favourable as they were in 2015-16 (I’m just saying).

Meanwhile, Liverpool who are still searching for that elusive (very elusive) first Premier League title took on Spurs at Anfield. Harry Kane was on hand to put Tottenham ahead after 48 seconds when he headed in a rebounded effort from Son’s shot. Liverpool didn’t give Spurs any room to breathe and were relentless in their attacking display. Tottenham stand in goal keeper Paulo Gazzaniga earned his keep with some remarkable saves to deny the Liverpool front trio.

Liverpool equalised in the second half through club captain Henderson in the 52nd minute before Salah converted a very contentious penalty in the 75th minute. Liverpool remain 7 points clear at the top and head to the next round of fixtures with an unbeaten record. Spurs however do have a lot of positives to take from the game. They were very energetic, pressed well and who knows, if Son’s shot hadn’t hit the crossbar Tottenham would have been two goals up at that stage and the game may have had a different outcome (but nooooo he just had to blast the ball).

On the other side of North London, Arsenal threw away a 2 goal lead against Crystal Palace having been put ahead by Sokratis in the 7th minute and Luiz in the 9th minute respectively. Palace fought back and pulled one back through Milivojevic in the 32nd minute before Ayew grabbed the leveler in the 52nd minute of play.

The game itself will be remembered for Arsenal fans sarcastically cheering for their team captain Xhaka before loudly booing him off when being substituted. Xhaka was visibly frustrated and retaliated by tossing the captains arm band on the floor before mouthing some explicit contents at the home supporters and for a moment looked like he was going to throw his shirt on the ground too but thought better of it (Me, well I loved every minute and moment of the drama hahaha!!!).  Check out AF TV on YouTube for Arsenal fans reaction, it’s absolutely comical.

There were wins for Manchester United who beat Norwich 3-1 and Manchester City who comfortably dispatched Aston Villa 3-0 at the Etihad. Brighton defeated Everton 3-2 in a closely contested game with Digne rabbing a late winner in injury time. Chelsea and Lambard maintain their current form after another impressive display away to Burnley with a 4-2 win. Pulisic netted a hat-trick whilst Willian contributed the other goal. West Ham drew 1-1 with Sheffield United as did Newcastle against Wolves  and Watford drew 0-0 against Bournemouth.

xhaka 1

What is a Captain?

adams 1

This is a Captain!!!!!

viera 2

This is a Captain!!!!!

henry 2

This is a Captain!!!!!

JUST IN CASE YOU NEEDED REMINDING 🙂

To Var or not to Var? That is the question!

VAR RULES AGAIN

As far as this round of Premier League games go there was only one thing on everyone’ mind and that was VAR. Yes, VAR is rapidly becoming the talk of the town (whether you like it or not) and who can blame this tech. My my my, some of the decisions over the weekend were questionable and that’s me putting it mildly.

There were a hand full of games that had the pleasure of VAR intervention but no rewards attained. I’ve just found out that referees can’t actually view and review a contention on the monitor in the league as the FA have yet to sanction it (definitely defeats the objective to be honest). All they have access to is the information being passed through their earphones whereas during the World Cup, the officials were able to run across the turf view the replay in slow motion and make a calculated and informed decision.

Apparently it would take approximately 90 seconds for officials to head to the Referee Review area (RRA) however VAR continues to lead the way forward. After 9 games there have been 19 overturned decisions and over 500 incidents checked by VARs in the Premier League (skysports.com).  I am very much a fan of VAR and believe in what it’s trying to achieve but the weekend’s VAR activity was farcical to say the least.

Tottenham played host to Watford and were looking to bounce back after the disastrous few weeks they’d had. Well you couldn’t blame the Spurs supporters for feeling slightly disappointed after they went a goal down in the 6th minute (Doucoure bursting through the Spurs defence to put the away side ahead). Danny Rose was brought down in the penalty area but no penalty was awarded (VAR??) and this was succeeded by Vertonghen bringing down Deulofeu, yet again no penalty (VAR anyone).

The VAR check clearly shows Vertonghen bringing down the Watford winger only for the referee to overrule VAR and wave the game on (we need some consistency in fairness irrespective of favourability). Credit to Spurs as they endeavored to find an equaliser and get their campaign back on track. Their breakthrough came in the 86th minute when Dele Alli took advantage of a bunder in the Watford defence to slot the ball home and send the Tottenham hopeful into a burst of jubilation (shows you how badly Spurs have been in recent games, for their supporters to be happy with a draw against Watford).

Yet again Alli was adjudged to have handled the ball to gain an advantage before scoring and VAR was required to assist in finding the current ruling. The referee appeared to have given the goal but the VAR screen showed a “NO GOAL” display on the replay screen which left players and fans alike very confused. After a final clarification Alli was awarded the goal which proved to be Tottenham’s equaliser and earned the homeside a valuable point.

Manchester United and Liverpool drew 1-1 with goals from Rashford in the 36th minute for United and Lallana with the leveler for Liverpool in the 85th minute. This result meant Manchester City have now closed the gap to Liverpool to six points having beating Crystal Palace away 2-0. Chelsea continue their winning streak with a home win against Newcastle. Alonso grabbed the only goal of the game for Chelsea, ensuring Lampard’s boys remain in the top four.

There were also wins for both Everton and Leicester who beat West Ham and Burnley respectively. Arsenal meanwhile, lost 1-0 away to Sheffield United thanks to a goal from Mousset whilst Wolves drew 1-1 with Southampton and Aston Villa beat Brighton 2-1.

Thats a very VAR decision!!

Brighton add to Spurs Woes

Not so Hot Spur

This is probably an understatement but it’s a bad bad bad week for Tottenham. After the 7-2 humiliating defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich in the champions league, Spurs fans and supporters alike hoped the premier league game against Brighton would be the perfect springboard for a positive reaction.

Oh boy Oh boy how wrong we were (trust me we were a mile off). Brighton hosted Spurs in the lunch time kickoff on Saturday and were gifted their first goal after another howler from Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris. The France international was taken off injured after practically giving Maupay the easiest goal he’s ever going to score in the 3rd minute of play. I sincerely hope Lloris recovers from his injuries and is back in the mix for Spurs. However, the inadvertent injury caused to Lloris may be a blessing in disguise for Pochettino as his number one keeper has been absolutely awful in recent weeks (then again the backup keeper isn’t much to write home about).

Brighton knew Tottenham were on the ropes and theirs for the taking, and Brighton did just that. They were exceptional and looked full of confidence and adventure (a far cry from how they’ve performed in the past two games). Brighton striker Connolly capped off a man of the match display with two quality goals. Ok, the first was a tap in but credit to the young striker for being alert in the box while the Spurs defence was on snooze. He gave the Tottenham back four a torrid time as he embraced his first premier league start of the campaign adding his second goal on the 65th minute (what a delightful finish it was!!).

The game ended 3-0 to Brighton and the delight and joy could be felt all around the south coast at the  Falmer (Amex) stadium. The question now remains, what the hell is actually happening down at the Lane? I don’t have the answers, do you? I’ve heard some pretty crazy rumours concerning the Spurs dressing room but that’s just speculation and none of my business. Here’s hoping they get it together and get back to winning ways (the last thing we want is for Spurs to return to the dark ages of the 90s…..not good!!).

Liverpool make it 8 wins in a row in the league after a last minute winner against Leicester. Mane put the home side ahead in the 40th minute just before half time. The Reds defended well and looked good for the 3 points before Maddison leveled for Leicester in the 80th minute to silence the KOP. One could be forgiven for thinking Leicester had stopped Liverpool in their tracks but there seems to be a belief within Klopps team that just motivates them beyond believe.

Liverpool endeavoured and kept on pushing for an opportunity. Their efforts paid off when Mane was brought down in the box and awarded a penalty ( for me it definitely was a penalty although it looked soft) late in the last minute of injury time. The penalty was converted by James Milner which gave the home side all 3 points and leaving them 8 points ahead of their nearest rivals. Leicester gave a good account of themselves and could possibly finish in the top four this term. One thing is for sure, Liverpool are in pole position and should win the league.

Manchester City seemed to struggle this weekend having lost 2-0 against Wolves. Traore gave the visitors the win with two late goals in the 80 minute and 94th minute respectively. City are still second in the league after 8 games and will no doubt want a reaction in the next match. However, they have a lot of work to do if they are to stop Liverpool this season.

Aston Villa totally smashed Norwich City 5-1 whilst Chelsea beat Southampton 4-1. Chelsea have put in some noteworthy performances and their starlets Abraham and Mount seem to be delivering week in week out (that’s 8 goals in 8 games for Abraham, I’m impressed). There were also victories for Newcastle who beat Manchester United 1-0 and Arsenal who beat Bournemouth 1-0 at the emirates (David Luiz with the only goal of the game).

connolly

Bright future for Connolly!!!

FALL OF THE GIANTS

Theatre of no dreams

Many moons ago (and am talking a while back) the fixture between Manchester United and Arsenal was once considered the flagship game of the premier league. Fergie and Wenger sat in the dugouts delegating instructions with hand gestures whilst captains Vieira and Keane with their sleeves rolled up were ready to go to war. The abundance of talent that followed behind them was just incredible.

The fans and neutrals were always guaranteed a high level game of football full of passion, commitment and great value. The motivation for both teams to win the match was out of the world (I’m not sure I can draw any contrast these days to be fair). Everyone remembers the battles at Old Trafford and Highbury which unfortunately are vastly becoming (quite literally) a thing of the past.

Today, I think it’s safe to say that both teams very much represent the epitome of a fallen giant. The fall from grace of two of the most decorated teams in English Footballing history have fallen short of their former glory. Therefore is it any surprise that the game between the two sides on Monday night produced possibly the worst (and I mean the WORST!!!) 45 minutes of football in the last 10 years. Okay, I might have exaggerated a little but the point is they were terrible.

Man United did come alive just before the end of the first half and were able to break the deadlock after McTominay put them ahead with a brilliant effort from outside the box. Arsenal came out stronger in the 2nd half and produced some really good chances. Pepe could have done better with his finishing and Saka was very impressive for the Gunners. However it was their talismanic striker Aubameyang who equalised on the 58th minute to earn Arsenal a draw. I would be really distressed if I supported either club but it’s down to the respective Managers to find a solution to enable success and the glory days return (personally I can see this happening for a good 50 years!!!).

Liverpool still maintain a 100 percent record but had to overcome a very stubborn Sheffield United side. As we’ve seen in the past, great champions will win games even when playing badly and that’s exactly what Liverpool did in this match. Wijnaldum got the only goal of the game on the 70th minute ensuring the reds leave with 3 valuable away points which keeps them at the top of the summit.

Credit to Sheffield United, they certainly deserved a lot from the game and if they carry on playing like they did against Liverpool, then they should have no fears about staying up this season. Just to add, Mane and Salah missed some sitters and I am pretty sure normal order of service will be resumed in their next outing.

Tottenham were able to secure a home victory against Southampton having played the majority of the game with just 10 men. Aurier was sent off in the 31st minute after his second bookable offence. However, goals from NDombele and Kane were enough to give Spurs a 2-1 win over the Saints. Crystal Palace beat Norwich 2-0, whilst Chelsea also defeated Brighton by the same scoreline. Aston Villa against Burnley ended as a 2-2 draw as did Bournemouth against West Ham. Manchester City cruised to victory 3-1 away to Everton and Wolves won 2-0 at home to Watford.

vieira

Alas, the good old days!!!! 

10 Man Arsenal Punish Villa

Gunners fight hard

Arsenal showed and proved their worth by overcoming Aston Villa in a thrilling encounter at the emirates. Villa had taken the lead through McGinn in the 20th minute and it seemed as though luck was on their side when Arsenal defender Maitland-Niles was sent off after receiving his second yellow card of the game in the 41th minute.

Arsenal defended and held strong until the 2nd half. Emery must have given his team great encouragement at the break (or an ear full). The Gunners came out on the other side full of determination and a will to win every challenge and every ball. Their endeavour was rewarded after Pepe equalised for the home side via a spot kick which excited the gunners faithful.

Aston Villa showed little respect for Arsenal by the way they moved the ball and attacked the gunners defence and there were no surprises or complaints when Da Silva put them ahead. It looked like Villa would have it their own way but the 10 men of Arsenal showed great resilience (very impressed by banter FC) and fought back to equalise again through Chambers on the 81st minute before Aubameyang slotted home the winner on the 84th minute. Does this victory mean Arsenal are back to their hay day? NO, no no.

Manchester City bounced back after their defeat against Norwich last week by totally demolishing Watford at the etihad. The result was crazy and City were absolutely relentless in this game (gave us a reminder that they are champions). The final score ended 8-0 and to be honest they could have got a lot more goals. Perhaps the Norwich game was a wake up call and City could now go on a winning streak.

Current leaders Liverpool, maintained their 100% start to the season with another win against top four hopefuls Chelsea. Alexander-Arnold put the visitors ahead in the 14th minute before Firmino added another in the 30th minute. Chelsea pulled a goal back in the 71st minute through Ngolo Kante but it was not enough as Liverpool earned an important 3 points away from home.

Meanwhile Tottenham gave up another lead after going ahead as they were beating 2-1 by Leicester. Spurs looked like they couldn’t be bothered in stages of the game and really should have done better. Take nothing away from Maddison’s finish which proved to be the winner (a future England international) but Spurs need to get their act together as quickly as possible. VAR played a part also having ruled out goals for both teams although Tottenham will feel hard done by.

There were wins for Burnley who beat Norwich City 2-0, Sheffield United who beat Everton 2-0 also and West Ham United who beat Manchester United 2-0 at home. Crystal Palace and Wolves drew 1-1 whilst Newcastle and Brighton ended goalless. There were some heavy criticism this weak aimed at Manchester United from past players (one Roy Keane) concerning United’s lack of fire power having sold Lukaku and not finding an adequate replacement. They need to find a solution to their woes as soon as possible otherwise Solskjaer could be picking up his P45 in the coming weeks.

aubby

Aubameyang flying high!!!!!