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).

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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.

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Hazard now Galactico!!

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!!!!

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!!!).

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

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).

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Home sweet home, Casa de Tottenham!!!

MAN UTD OUT GUNNED BY ARSENAL

Arsenal stake claim on 4th spot

All eyes and focus were at the emirates stadium to witness the duel between Arsenal and Manchester United. In a fixture that always provides plenty of entertainment, Emery’s men were going to do battle with a United side who were full of confidence especially after their heroics in the champions league against PSG in midweek.

A few years ago (many moons to be honest) this match would have been billed as a top two clash. However, those days are over for now at least and fans of both sides have to accept their current standing respectively as they look to secure a top 4 finish. Arsenal took the initiative right from kick off and attacked Man Utd with intent. Arsenal can be a little bit unpredictable at times and you’re never quite sure which Arsenal will turn up on match day.

Unlucky for Man Utd, the Arsenal that they were faced again was the precise passing and attacking Arsenal accompanied with hard work. Although Man Utd went closest to scoring in the first few minutes of the first half after Lukaku hit the crossbar from close range (should have scored!!), it was Arsenal who took the lead through Xhaka after he struck the ball from distance which deceived De Gea to give Arsenal the lead in the 12th minute.

United did create chances in the game but to no avail as Arsenal showed some good defensive displays also much to the frustration of the United forwards. Arsenal knew they needed another goal to ensure all 3 points and when Lacazette was brought down in the penalty box it was left to Aubameyang to do the rest. The Gabon striker coolly dispatched the resulting penalty in the 69th minute. The win means Arsenal sit 4th in the league with 8 games to play.

Tottenham will be thanking their North London rivals for beating Man Utd because if the result had gone the other way then United would be 3rd on goal difference. What has happened to Spurs in recent weeks? How can you go from being title contenders to a 3rd and 4th place battle (I just don’t understand). All that hard work and graft for nothing.

Spurs suffered another loss (no surprises) to Southampton 2-1. Kane opened the scoring for Spurs in the 26th minutes before Valery leveled for the saints in the 76th minute. The winner came courtesy of Ward-Prowse in the 81st minute sinking Spurs to their 3rd defeat in 4 games. They’ll be very lucky to remain in 3rd place come the end of the season.

The battle for the summit still remains the same as 1 point separate Manchester City from Liverpool as both teams won their respective games comfortably. City are looking more and more likely to defend their title and win a much coveted back to back championship.

Chelsea meanwhile drew 1-1 with Wolves after Hazard equalised for the blues late in the 92nd minute of added time. Crystal Palace lost 2-1 to Brighton, Cardiff beat West Ham 2-0, Newcastle beat Everton 3-2 in a thrilling encounter, whilst Bournemouth beat Huddersfield 2-0 away.

AUB

Gunning for fourth!!!!!!!!

Cheeky Mane back heals Reds to victory

Liverpool hanging on

Liverpool proved in their match against Watford that they have exactly what it takes to be crowned champions (Spurs take note). The current leaders came out of the blocks full of desire and energy with the incredible Mane leading the charge. Klopp’s men wasted little time finding the net as Mane scored to put the home side ahead after 9 minutes of play.

His second goal followed shortly on the 20th minute and what a goal it was. It will definitely go down as one of the greatest goals scored in the premier league history (yes i said it!!!). He sublimely back healed the ball past the out-rushing Watford goalkeeper after his controlled first touch set up the opportunity. Watford had it all to do and rarely gave Liverpool any worries. Van Dyke also joined in on the fun banging in two headed goals and Origi got in on the act also. The game ended 5-0 to Liverpool and deservedly so.

It was a good day for Arsenal also who are pushing for the final champions league spot as they easily saw of Bournemouth at the emirates. The game saw the return of the ever neglected Mesut Ozil and the German international marked his return to first team action with a goal in the 4th minute. Arsenal fired on all cylinders and won the game 5-1.

Manchester United are also fighting for the 4th spot along with Chelsea respectively and both teams won their respective matches. Man Utd won 3-1 against Crystal Palace with Young and Lukaku grabbing the goals. Chelsea won 2-0 at home to Tottenham leaving them 3 points from 4th place. Spurs let themselves down again and played poorly against Chelsea. I think it’s safe to say that the title dream is permanently over for Tottenham.

In the other games, Manchester City won 1-0 against West Ham, Southampton beat Fulham 2-0, Everton won 3-0 against Cardiff, Newcastle United won 2-0 against Burnley, Huddersfield defeated Wolves at home 1-0 and Leicester won 2-1 against Brighton.

Other News

Fulham have sacked boss Claudio Ranieri after 17 matches. Ranieri will be succeeded by Scott Parker who takes the helm as caretaker manager until the end of the season. The tinkerman only managed 3 wins in 17 matches which is a far cry from the heroics and miracle he performed with Leicester in their premier league winning campaign.

As much as we all love Ranieri, unfortunately you get judged on results. The 2-0 defeat against Southampton proved enough for the club’s hierarchy to take action and relief him of his duties at Craven Cottage.

Whilst we say goodbye to one manager we are happy to welcome another to the premier league. Brenda Rodgers has been confirmed as the new Leicester City manager having left Celtic. Much has been written about his Celtic legacy, however the premier league offers a different Challenge and he will be very aware of what to expect.

Rodgers previously managed Swansea and Liverpool and almost won the league with the latter if not for the now infamous Steven Gerrard slip (the memories!!!). He will be ready and chomping at the bit am sure (lets hope he lasts longer than 5 minutes).

 

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Arrivederci Ranieri!!!