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!!

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!!!! 

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!!!!