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!!!

De Gea fumbles United’s top four hopes

Top four up for grabs, any takers?

In a weekend of footballing action that saw all eyes focused on all the teams competing for the exclusive top four positions, no one seized the opportunity. It was a schedule that could have potentially either confirmed your place in the top four or ruined any chance of it happening.

Well thanks to David De Gea it looks like Man United may be the first team out of the running. The united stopper was at fault during the game against fellow top four hopefuls Chelsea. Mata had earlier given United the lead against his former club after getting on the end of a good team build up.

United looked the better of the two sides in the opening exchanges and were looking good in the first half until De Gea’s blunder presented Chelsea with a chance. Alonso was the man to capitalise on the goal keeper’s error in the 43rd minute given Chelsea continued hope of  a top four finish (it looks like De Gea may have cost United their champions league place next season, however the remaining games will be vital). The match ended 1-1 with everything to play for.

Tottenham on the other hand needed a victory at their new stadium against bitter London rivals West Ham to all but ensure a top four finish (provided the other results went their way). Well, whilst they did create chances it is clear that the players had one eye on Tuesday’s Champions League semi final encounter with Ajax.

Take nothing away from the Hammers, they turned up and did a job on Spurs. I had a feeling West Ham would be the first team to beat Spurs at their new ground. Thanks to Antonio’s goal in the 67th minute (not sure about the celebration though hahaha!!) the visitors ran away with a 1-0 win. Not to make excuses for Spurs but you can’t help but wonder had they had their fully fit first eleven it most likely would have been a different outcome.

I read in the newspaper that West Ham reckon they have provided the blueprint for Ajax on how to beat Spurs (alrightyyy thenn!!). I don’t think that game is anything to go by and it will be a totally different game against the boys from Amsterdam. Tottenham now need just a win to secure a top four finish and are best placed to achieve the feat amongst the other chasing pack.

Arsenal suffered a crushing defeat against Leicester and currently sit 5th in the table. The gunners now have slim hopes of qualifying for the champions league and may have to win the Europa League to guarantee a place in the champions league next season. Leicester won the game 3-0 thanks to a brace from Vardy (86, 90+5) and Tielemans effort in the 55th minute of play.

Manchester City still sit top of the pile after a hard fought 1-0 victory away to Burnley, whilst Liverpool battered Huddersfield 5-0 (Mane and Sane amongst the goals). It could go right down to the wire between the two clubs, however City still remain favourites.

CONGRATULATIONS to Raheem Sterling who won the PFA young player of the year and Virgil Van Dyke who won the PFA player of the year. Both players have had an amazing season and I personally would have given Sterling the best player award if it were down to me (but it’s not, so there you go!!!).

virgil

PFA player of the year Virgil Van Dyke!!!!!

Manchester City dented by resilient Spurs

Greatest game of all time?

Forget the billions of viewers who tuned in to watch the return of the eagerly anticipated GAME OF THRONES season 8 opener (great watch!!!) this past week. The real drama unfolded on Wednesday evening at the etihad  stadium in the champions league quarter final match between favourites Manchester City and Tottenham.

I have never seen anything quite like it in my entire life. Spurs went into the game with  an aggregate advantage of 1-0 having beaten City in the first leg of the tie at home. The 2nd leg was viewed by many as a game set to be dominated and won by City. However, what we got was the total opposite. The opening felt like a game of basketball with both teams unleashing attacking prowess.

The action was non stop and that was just the first 3 minutes of the game. Raheem Sterling opened up the scoring with a beautifully taken goal in the 4th minute sending the etihad faithful into euphoria (City fans were full jubilation). I thought it was going to be another lackluster gutless performance from Spurs but boy was I wrong. Spurs did the total opposite and attacked City like a team possessed.

Their efforts were rewarded when Son leveled in the 7th minute before putting Tottenham ahead with an absolute peach of a goal in the 10th minute (nothing the City keeper could do about the finish). Before Spurs could blink they were picking the ball out of their own net thanks to Bernado Silva’s deflected effort which eased past Lloris in the 11th minute. That’s 4 goals in 11 incredible minutes jam packed action. City would not allow Spurs to settle into the game and clearly dominated possession.

City’s player of the moment (Sterling), stepped up to the plate again and slotted in at the far post to give Guardiola’s men a 3-2 lead on the night. At this point Spurs would still go through. A night at the etihad wouldn’t be complete without an Aguero goal and the Argentine did just that in the 59th minute. After great work from De Bruyne who provided the assist, Aguero hit the ball with venom to put City up 4-2 and closer to the semi-final. At this point you’re thinking the flood gates will open and City will run through Spurs.

However, Spurs showed great resilience and pegged back in the 73rd minute with a Llorente goal from a set piece (even I was chanting his name, trust me I really don’t RATE him). The drama wasn’t over yet as Sterling found the net in the last minute of injury time before the goal was disallowed thanks to VAR which meant Spurs go through to the semi-finals 4-4 on the away goals rule. I am pretty certain someone suffered an heart-attack because that was just too much tension for one to handle.

The contrast was amazing!! Pep running down the sideline jumping in the air one minute, and then head in hands the next. Pochettino hand in head one minute then hugging and celebrating with players the next. Even the home fans were silent when the VAR ruling was upheld. It truly was a beautiful match and possibly the best champions league game if not  of all time, then definitely in recent years. The beautiful game delivered a beautiful story……..well done boys!!!!

Champions League Semifinals

Spurs V Ajax

Barcelona V Liverpool

spurs champ

Spurs celebrate epic victory!!!

 

Relegations,Top four battles and that Stadium

Fast and Furious

This week has been full of action as we near the closing stages of the season. As always, the closer we get to the end the faster and more it seems the games are being thrown at us. I am highly entertained by all the drama and definitely happy to see the return of some premier league football after the international break (well done England by the way!!!).

In the past week we have seen some movers and shakers on both ends of the table and the league is now becoming a lot clearer. There are two teams competing for the title, four teams battling it out for the the exclusive champions league spots and the relegation dog fight. It’s a lot to get through (I know) but it’s definitely worth the excitement and hype.

Firstly we have to say goodbye to Huddersfield and Fulham who have both been officially relegated from the Premier League having lost respective matches this week. Huddersfield’s fate was sealed when they lost 2-0 away to Crystal Palace whilst Fulham suffered back to back defeats to Manchester City (2-0) and Watford (4-1) respectively. The results mean that both teams will be in the Championship next year. However, I expect to see them return to the premier league soon enough.

Cardiff are the other team in the relegation zone and with 5 points adrift from Burnley may also find themselves in the championship next season. They too suffered back to back defeats at the hands of Chelsea (2-1) and Manchester City (2-0) casting doubt over their survival chances in the top flight (let’s face it, they’ve got absolutely no chance in hell and will be RELEGATED!!! yes i said it).

The drama at the top is yet to be decided between the top two, although many will feel Liverpool have made the task a lot harder for themselves having thrown away a 7 point advantage. Over the past week we have seen them exchange places with City at the top of the summit and unfortunately only one team can be crowned champions.

Liverpool made sure they were still in the title race thanks to an own goal from Alderweireld in the game against Tottenham. Firmino gave the home side the lead in the 16th minute before Lucas Moura equalised for Spurs in the 70th minute. To be fair to Spurs they made a massive improvement in the second half after a very poor first half showing and could have won the game if not for the awful finishing of one Moussa Sissoko (absolutely terrible, the ball ended up in Row Z).

Take nothing away from Sissoko as he actually did perform well but that’s just football I guess. Still, Liverpool pressed on and were rewarded thanks to Salah’s quick thinking and Spurs’s inability to defend. The Reds proved they are willing to go toe to toe with City and it could all be decided on the last day of the season (we’ve seen that before, so here’s hoping).

City meanwhile are steamrolling everything in sight and are unplayable at times. It’s very hard to overcome a team/squad full of immense quality and talent and there’ll be no surprises if they go on to win every competition they are in. As mentioned, they made light work of Fulham and Cardiff by dispatching both 2-0 ensuring they remain top of the table by a point ahead of Liverpool. They now have 6 more games to go and who would bet against them? Certainly not me!!

In the race for the top four between Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham the drama is also unfolding. There are just 3 points separating 3rd and 6th place so it’s looking very tight indeed. Arsenal staked their claim for the prize in their 2-0 win against Newcastle at the emirates whilst United, although they won 2-1 against Watford, dropped points in their 2-1 defeat to the very impressive Wolves (what a season the Wanderers have had).

Chelsea  are also back in contention having had back to back wins against Cardiff (2-1) and Brighton (3-0) respectively. Tottenham on the other hand have gone from being title contenders to a possibility of missing out on the top four places especially after that 2-1 defeat to Liverpool. They always make it hard for themselves but as always the Spurs go marching on. And march they did as they bounced back in their 2-0 home win against Crystal Palace. By home I mean the Tottenham Stadium (think they could have come up with a better name to be honest!!) and not Wembley.

It’s official the mighty Spurs have finally moved into their new stadium and what a sight to behold. While things may not be great on the pitch, the new stadium definitely brought a lot of smiles to the Spurs fans especially knowing that it’s a lot bigger  than the emirates (Arsenal’s stadium, hahaha!!!) well by 1000 seats me thinks. It boasts the longest bar in Europe and lets hope the players can turn it into an impregnable fortress (now there’s something to behold). So cheers Daniel Levy for a job well done, how’s about a couple of trophies in the next few years to liven the place up (don’t worry I won’t hold my breath).

SPURS 1

Home sweet home, Casa de Tottenham!!!