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175 Derby D’Italia, Juventus-Inter Milan Match Preview.

Two(2) of Serie A’s most successful club sides Juventus and Inter Milan lock horns in the famous Derby D’Italia for the 175th Serie A fixtures on Sunday evening. With both teams on the heels of each other on the Serie A log table(Inter playing a game less), the result of this matchup will definitely shape up the table with high flying Lazio waiting in the wings to pounce on any slip off from either or both of them.

Inter Milan will want to get one over their rival at this 2nd time of asking having lost the 1st leg 1-2 at the San Siro. The Derby D’Italia had been touted to be where the league is won or lost for either of the duos of Juve and Inter, however, having played 25 league matches so far, the top 3 of Juve, Lazio & Inter are separated with just 6 points as shown in the league table, and a lot can still go right or wrong irrespective of the results of Derby D’Italia.

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Juventus:
Juve has won every single scudetto since 2011/12 season till date, however, the Old Ladies have not been dominant in the past couple of years, failing to do a domestic double last season. Some pundits have attributed the recent struggle of the team to over-reliance on Cristiano Ronaldo, the support casts of Paulo Dybala, Gonzalo Higuain, Juan Cuadrado have not all measure up and some had further argued that the manager Maurizio Sarri’s tactics are to blame.

Nevertheless, the champion plays at home and will draw inspirations from the home crowd and of course, Ronaldo is always fired up for the big occasions.

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Sarri-ball vs Conte-dynamism whose tactics will be spot on? Derby D’Italia couldn’t get fiercer under these gaffers

Inter Milan:
Inter’s resurgence under Antonio Conte has been well documented and the new lease of life within the Nerazzurri camp has brought about believes and dreams of a 1st Scudetto title in more than a decade. However, Inter were on a 6 match winning run when they played and lost the 1st leg 1-2 to Juve and if there is any manager to be wary of Juve’s prowess any day & anytime, it would be Antonio Conte. In 2011/12-2013/14, Conte helped Juventus laid the foundation on which 8 consecutive Serie A titles were won.

Head-2-Head:
Though Inter Milan’s last visit to the Allianz Stadium was a 1 all draw at the International champions cup last summer, her overall record against Juve over last 5 matches is not encouraging, recording just 2 draws and lost 3 as shown below;

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Key Players:
Juventus undoubtedly go-to man is Cristiano Ronaldo(11 consecutive Serie A goals attest to that fact), however, the duo of Paulo Dybala & Gonzalo Higuain can inflict damage to any team on their day. Be that as it may, the front 3 of the trio has not really worked, the manager Sarri might, therefore, stick to Juan Cuadrado in place of either of Dybala or Higuain in the attack.

Inter Milan, on the other hand, have a more clicking forward lineup of Romelu Lukaku, Lautaro Martinez & Alexi Sanchez(Alexi especially gradually getting his groove back after a long injury lay off). Whatever tactic or formation Conte opted for, 3-4-3 or 3-5-2, these 3 will definitely play a daring role if Inter is to get a result against Juve. The likes of Christian Eriksen & Marcelo Brozovic could also be pulling the strings from the midfield.

Betting odds:
The reigning champion has the edge in this tie and the bookies agree, however, there is more to winning your bet than predicting just the winner, smart scorum could be placed on CR7 getting a goal or 2 while Dybala & Higuain could also be on the scoresheet;
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My Prediction:
Juventus 2-1 Inter Milan,
As much as i want to root for Inter, i just think Juve knows out to grind out results, especially on home turf, i mean that’s why they are 8-times back-to-back champion.

Thank you for your support.

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El Clasico! Who Will Come Out On Top? Real-Barca Preview.

The 2nd instalment of the El Clasico is back and it will see FC Barcelona travels to the Santiago Bernabeu to slug it out with Real Madrid in the league reverse fixture on coming Sunday.

The 1st fixture between these 2 at Camp Nou ended in a drab draw, a goalless draw that saw the 2 sides’ combine shots on target to be awfully just 6 shots. It was the 1st in 50 El Clasicos not to have produced a single goal, a run dated back to 18 years ago, November 2002.

Home side(Real Madrid):

Having began the current league campaign on a shaky note that includes 3 consecutive draws against Valencia(1-1), Barcelona(0-0) & Athletic Bilbao(0-0) in December, the Los Blanco seems to have turn the corner with 5 consecutive league victories that includes a hard-fought 1 nil win over Atletico Madrid about 4 weeks ago and even leapfrogged Barcelona at the top of the league table. However, a recent wobble, a 2-2 draw at home to Celta Vigo and a surprise 0-1 loss at Levante soon raises eyebrows.

And rubbing salt to Real’s injury is the news that their Belgian superstar Eden Hazard who recently returned from a lengthy injury has gone back to the treatment table for probably the rest of the season after fracturing his right fibula in the defeat to Levante. The good news is, Real has a genius in the French tactician Zinedine Zidane and it won’t be much of a headache for him finding a way around Hazard’s absence.

Away side(Barcelona):

Barcelona, on the other hand, began the league with decent results and were on top of the league table under former boss Ernesto Valverde, however, the Blaugrana weren’t particularly coasting under the Spaniard, and a run of just 1 win in 5 matches across all competitions that include 2-3 Spanish Supercopa loss to Atletico Madrid brought about the end of Valverde’s reign.

In came new manager Quique Setien, the man said to have the Midas touch of Barca legend Johan Cruyff. Setien had overseen 9 matches across all competitions since taking over from Valverde and had admirably won 7 and lost 2, however, the losses include the 0-1 devastating exit from Copa del Rey at the hands of Bilbao. The defeat was soon compounded with the news of turmoil within Barca hierarchies and some seniors players.

Barca has yet to rediscover the tiki-taka football promised by Setien, however, they have a certain Lionel Messi. The ingenious forward last weekend showed what he’s capable of with 4 goals in his team’s 5 nil win over Eibar, putting aside all the confusions surrounding the team in recent weeks.

Head 2 Head.

The last 5 matches between these 2 across all competitions give the edge to Barcelona as shown below, however, as shown often time, form and H2H results don’t necessarily count in rivalry matches.

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Missing key players;

Host: Eden Hazard; Real might not particularly feel the absence of the Belgian as he hasn’t really gotten into his dazzling groove since his initial injury return. Another notable absentee for the Los Blancos will be Rodrygo, the Brazilian picked up his marching order in a reserve match on Sunday. Others include Asensio who is still far from recovery.

Visitor: Barca will not only misses Ousmane Dembele who is out of the season with another lengthy injury lay off but also Luiz Suarez, the Uruguayan is still out on the treatment table.

Betting Tip;
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With both teams not firing in all cylinder as expected, one could be forgiven for leaning towards another drab draw. However, as shown in the odds above, the bookies seem to favour a Real victory.

My Prediction:

Real 0-0 Barca,

With Real struggling in front of opposition teams in recent matches, particularly Karim Benzema on a barren scoring run, i think Real will rather approach the match with caution. Barca, on the other hand, played poorly in midweek UCL and might labour again at the Bernabeu.

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Victories For Atleti & Dortmund But Ties Still Delicately Poised

2 of the most anticipated ties of the 2019/20 UCL Round-of -16 clashes went down on Tuesday night, the 1st leg clashes saw Liverpool went down 0-1 to Atletico Madrid in Spain while Dortmund also edged PSG 2-1 in Germany.

Atletico Madrid 1-0 Liverpool

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It’s a tale of the unstoppable force Liverpool going back to their old hunting ground Wanda Metropolitano to slug it out against the immovable object Atletico Madrid. Most would argue that Atleti isn’t that immovable object anymore but they will as well agree that there is no undermining Diego Simeone’s well-drilled Atletico Madrid, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp understood this when he said in one of his prematch conferences that playing Atleti ‘machine’ is brutal to players.

“Playing Atletico is one of the most difficult things in the life of a football player”-Klopp

Klopp couldn’t be more right as Atleti not only jettison possession for doggedness but also took an early lead when Saul Niguez scored just 4 minutes into the game. The Reds, despite having the larger possession of the ball were restricted to just 1 clear cut chance in the 1st half.

Atleti dropped even deeper in the 2nd half, frustrating Liverpool’s efforts for an equalizer and eventually saw off the tie with a slim 1 nil victory. A goal at Anfield in the return leg will make things complicated for the Reds.

It was a night Liverpool front 3 of Mane, Salah & Firmino failed to click, no thanks to vintage Atleti resolute defending. Mane and Salah were both hauled out and replaced by Divock Origi and Alex-Oxlade Chamberlin respectively.

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Mastermind Diego Simeone

Simeone has never lost a UCL knockout game at home as Atleti manager, played 13, won 9 & drew 4, the Argentine maintained that impressive record. Liverpool, on the other hand, lost the battle against Atleti but the war is far from over, they, under Klopp, have never lost a 2-leg-UCL tie and will draw confidence in such feat when Atleti comes visiting at Anfield for the 2nd leg.

Borussia Dortmund 2-1 PSG

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There is a local saying from where i come from that interprets to; “where 2 irons meet, 1 must bend for the other”. This is how best to describe Borussia Dortmund Round-of-16 tie against PSG, 2 of Europe’s free scoring sides.

The 2 sides in their respective domestic league have been scoring goals with reckless abandon. While the host boast of attacking lineup of Thorgan Hazard, Jadon Sancho and the newly acquired, free-scoring Erling Haaland, the visitor are also blessed with rich frontline that includes Neymar Jnr, Kylian Mbappe, Edinson Cavani, Mauro Icardi amongst others, and even more pressing is the fact that Dortmund’s former handler Thomas Tuchel now leads PSG’s dogout, some had touted him to be the x-factor if PSG is to advance ahead of Dortmund.

It was a keenly contested 1st half, however, it was the host that asked all the questions in front of goal while the visitor PSG failed to register a single shot on target, a rare occurrence judging by the array of accomplished strikers in their arsenal, in fact, the last time PSG failed to register a shot on target in a UCL match was in the defeat against Manchester United in last season Round-of-16.

The deadlock was finally broken 9 minutes after the hour mark, however, it wasn’t the star-studded PSG that notched it, it was the home side through their golden boy Haaland. Mbappe and Neymar combined for the latter to restore parity in the 75th minute, however, parity only lasted 2 minutes as Haaland completed his double in the 77th minute to restore Dortmund lead.

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Erling Haaland

The sky is the limit for the young lad Haaland who now has 10 UCL goals(8 goals with Red bull & further 2 with Dortmund) this season and became the 2nd youngest player after Mbappe to reach that goal tally.

Dortmund held on to record a slim 1st-leg win, however, they would have it all to do in the return leg at the Parc de France, PSG away goal will play a major role in both teams will be set up come March 11 when the return leg will be played.

Thanks.

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Chelsea Blows Title Race Open In FA WSL

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Chelsea Women made a huge statement towards capturing her 3rd ever league title when she completed a season double on league title holder Arsenal Women, The Blues defeated The Gunners for the often time at their backyard Meadow Park 4-1 on Sunday, having also defeated the Gunners 2-1 at home Kingsmeadow in the reverse fixture last October. It is now 3 straight league defeat(1-4, 1-2 & 1-2) for the Gunners at the hand of their London rival.

While the majority of the football attention in the country is fixed on Liverpool Men winning the EPL title for the 1st time in 30 years, the Women league(FA Women Super League) hots up with 3 teams now justling for the title. League leader & 1-time champion Manchester City, title holder & 3-times champion Arsenal and 2018 champion & 2-times champion Chelsea are all having a run-in to the title with just 1 point separating the top 2 clubs from 3rd.

The Gunners whose only defeat of the season was to The Blues last October and has been in impeccable form since struggled to deal with Chelsea’s front 2 and were ran ragged within the 1st 20 minutes of the game, conceding 3 quick fired goals from Beth England(10′), Sam Karr(13′) & Sophie Ingle(20′). Guro Reiten(68′) completed the rout for Chelsea while Arsenal’s consolatory goal came through Bethany Mead(74′).

The Blues who had also handed Manchester City Women her only defeat of the campaign with a 2-1 win last December will be aiming to complete a double on The Citizens too as they lock horns in coming weeks(Feb 23rd).

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FA SWL

Arsenal Women are now level on points with Manchester City Women with 33 points each but have lost the top spot on inferior goal difference(Manchester City had earlier assumed top spot with a 2-0 win at Birmingham City Women). Chelsea Women, with a game in hand, have closed the points gap on both City and Arsenal to just 1 point. See full table.

Manchester United Women(4th) and Everton Women(5th), with 2 outstanding games at hand each, scored 3 goals in their respective fixtures(Man Utd 3-0 Spurs & Everton 3-1 Reading) to increase any slight hope of catching up with the runaway leaders.

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Londoners Falter In EPL Matchday 23

The not-so-good day for the London clubs began with an early kick-off when Spurs visited the resurgent Watford. The Hornets, under new manager, have been on the rise after a difficult start to the league but they have won 3 straight league matches and have been undefeated in 5 matches in all competitions. Tottenham, on the other hand, is still winless in her last 3 league matches and was without the “irreplaceable Harry Kane” (in Mourinho’s word) due to injury and the striker’s absence was evident at Vicarage Road as stand-in striker Lucas Moura fired straight at Ben Foster when put through on goal in a one-on-one with the Watford goalkeeper.

It could have been worse for Spurs as they conceded a 69th-minute spot-kick when defender Jan Vertonghen was adjudged to have handled in the box, however, Spurs goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga saved the resulting kick to earn his side a share of the spoils. The afternoon got frustrating for Spurs when Erik Lamela goal-bound effort was chopped off the line by Ignacio Pussetto at stoppage time to keep the scoreline at 0-0 after regulation time.

It’s now 4 straight league draws for Spurs and still 8th on the league table with 31 points, while Watford is momentarily out of the relegation zone on 17th with 23 points.

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Lacazette leads teammate’s frustration

It doesn’t get better for Spurs’ London rivals Arsenal as the Gunners were held 1 all by the impressive Sheffield United at the Emirate Stadium. The Gunners, just like Spurs, are playing without their captain and usual goal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who served the 1st of his 3-match ban on the day.

Teenage Brazilian striker Gabriel Martinelli, standing-in in place of Aubameyang gave Arsenal the lead on the stroke of half-time when he scored from close range after a square play from left-back Bukayo Saka.

However, as it has always been all season and over the past years, Arsenals weakness in defence let them down as Sheffield United got an 83rd-minute equalizer when John Fleck also scored from close range. The home side would feel hard done by when VAR denied them a spot-kick after Nicolas Pepe was brought down in the box, however, it wasn’t meant to be as the match ended 1-1.

Arsenal remains in 10th place on the log table with 29 points, 10 points adrift of 4th place and last UCL spot while Sheffield United is on 7th position with 33 points.

Best London performer of the day belongs to Crystal Palace as the Eagles threw more spanners into Manchester City wheel, Palace pegged back the champions to drew 2 all at the Etihad Stadium. The Eagles, who emerged victorious in this fixture last season, took a shock lead when on-loan Everton striker Cenk Tosun headed home at the back post in the 39th minute. VAR in play again to overturn a penalty kick called in favour of City. Nevertheless, City fought back and thought they’ve completed the comeback when they scored twice in the space of 5 minutes through you-know-who in the 82nd and 87th minute to give his side the lead. However, City’s defensive frailty cost them yet again, as make-shift centre-back Fernandinho conceded a late own-goal from Wilfred Zaha pressure to level score at 2-2 at full-time, as his side slipped further away from defending the league title for the 3rd season running.

Manchester City with 48 points is now 13 points adrift of the runaway leader Liverpool who has 2 games at hand. Crystal Palace retained her 9th place on the league table with 30 points.

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Frustrated West Ham Aaron Cresswell

East Londoner, West Ham were not left out in the disappointing afternoon after she relinquished her 1 nil lead to Everton to earn just a point. The Hammers under new manager David Moyes were hoping to make 3 wins in a row in all competitions, took the lead in the 40th minute when Issa Diop headed home Robert Snodgrass freekick, however, just 4 minutes later, it was all square as Dominic Calvert-Lewin replied for Everton with a header at the far post. A drab 2nd half followed as it ended 1-1 at the London Stadium.

Both team’s resurgence under new managers David Moyes and Carlo Ancelotti respectively continued as both managers were contented with the points shared. While Everton moved up to 11th on the table with 29 points, the same cannot be said of West Ham who is living dangerously close to the drop zone on 16th place with 23 points.

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Dejected Hudson Odoi

Chelsea will be the most aggrieved of all the London clubs as they could not make the most of their rivals slip off to consolidate on top 4 spots. The Blues, despite their control and possession of the game, left St James’ Park empty-handed, having conceded a late, deep-into-stoppage time header from Isaac Hayden, to lose the game 0-1 to Newcastle United.

With 70% possession of the ball, 10 corners and 19 total shots, Chelsea only managed 4 shots on target and they were made to rue their sloppiness in front of goal. Newcastle will feel fortunate with the win having seen so many players out on the treatment table. Few could have predicted a win for the Toon but with luck, a Tammy Abraham goal-bound effort was cleared off the goal line by Matt Ritchie just few moments before their winning goal came.

Newcastle has now moved up to 12th position on the log table with 29 points while Chelsea retained her 4th position with 39 points but dropped further ground on Leicester and City.

Other EPL results of the day include;

Brighton & Hove Albion 1 – 1 Aston Villa

Norwich City 1 – 0 AFC Bournemouth

Southampton 2 – 3 Wolverhampton Wanderers

Thank you all for your time.

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Ibra Fired Blank On His Milan Homecoming Match

Zlatan Ibrahimovic could not inspire AC Milan to a win in his 2nd debut for the Milan giants as they played out a goalless draw to equally under-fire Sampdoria at the San Siro on Monday night. The 38-year-old Swedes re-signed a 6 months contract with the club he departed about 8 seasons ago after he helped the Rossoneri win the Serie A(Milan’s last major honour) in 2010-11 season.

AC Milan’s fall from serial title contender to the mid-table team has been shocking and unexpected. The managerial shake-ups over the years to bring back the glory days have been vast but unproductive yet. Despite having some of Europe most sort after strikers(Krzysztof Piatek, Hakan Calhanoglu etc) in their ranks this season, Milan has struggled to put the ball into the back of the opposition net, scoring a mere 16 goals in 18 league games, in contrast to the 24 goals they have conceded in those same matches.

The return of the Swede star was expected to be instant and immediate, even Ibrahimovic had hoped to score and “celebrate like a god” in front of the home crown. However, things sometimes don’t go according to plans, he(Ibrahimovic) was sub-in to replace Piatek in the 55th minute but could only muster a shot in the entire match as chances were cut short by Sampdoria, reiterating Milan’s lack of creativity in the midfield.

AC Milan is now in 12 places with 22 points on Serie A log table, 13 points off Champions League spot and 7 points off European spot, and with their goal difference(DF) into -8, they need to start winning and stacking the goals. Serie A full table.

Ibrahimovic will get his goal sooner or later, whether it will be enough to lift Milan into European qualifications or bring Cup glory remains to be seen. However, one thing is certain of the Swede star, he will surely make the headlines either on or off the pitch, Zlatan will always be Zlatan.

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Player-Coach! Wayne Rooney Opens Another Chapter Of His Illustrious Career.

Former England international Wayne Rooney began another chapter of his remarkable footballing career when he led his new championship team Derby County to a battling 2-1 win over Barnsley at the Pride Park Stadium on Thursday night.

It was a near-perfect debut the 34-year-old Rooney could hope for, having set up the opener with an inch-perfect freekick for teammate Jack Marriott(45′) to stab home and he(Rooney) was instrumental in the buildup to the winning goal having found, with his cross-field pass, another teammate Andre Wisdom at the by-line who in turn found Martyn Waghorn(57′) for the winner. A goal of his own would have made it a perfect debut for Rooney.

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Derby Manager P. Cocu & his apprentice W. Rooney

Wayne Rooney was playing his 1st competitive game since he departed the Major League Soccer at the end of the 2019 season two(2) months ago(October) and there was a concern from Manager Phillip Cocu and some fans and pundits whether Rooney was ready. Well, the former Manchester United(EPL) and DC United(MLS) answered his critics with not-the-vintage Rooney performance but a mature and majestic display.

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Playing in the centre of the midfield as a player-coach and captain of his side, Rooney made 3 quality deliveries into the opposition box, one of which resulted in the game’s opener. He(Rooney) made a handful of clean tackles, 1 shot at goal and 1 assist, a decent performance from a 34-year-old player if you ask me.

With the win, Derby County has recorded a back-to-back win for the 1st time this season, having followed up on Monday’s 2-1 win over Charlton Athletic. The team still remain in the bottom half of the Sky Bet Championship Table on 17th position with 33 points from 26 games played. See the full table

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Rolling back the years on Rooney’s numbers and contribution wherever he played. As a young Everton player between 2001-2004, Rooney played over 60 games(67) and scored more than a dozen(15 goals) during that time. It doesn’t include the 10 goals he scored in 31 league appearances during his return to Everton in 2017/18 season.

It was during Rooney’s Manchester United playing time that he became a household name, scoring 183 goals in 393 appearances for United, quite some numbers right there. Rooney’s 2 seasons with DC United was also impressive, having scored 23 goals in 48 appearances.

Age might not be on Wayne Rooney’s side any more, however, Derby County has acquired into their ranks a leader, a serial winner and with all hands on deck, Rooney’s presence in the team will definitely motivate the young lads in the team to great height and invariably benefit Derby County on the long run.

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Pay Back As Glasgow Rangers Won At Celtic Park

Rangers recorded a remarkable 2-1 away win over perennial city rival Celtic in reverse fixture of the Scottish Premier League popularly known as the Old Firm Derby. Having lost the 1st fixture 0-2 at their own back yard Ibrox Stadium, the Steven Gerrard tutored side ensured revenge by inflicting 1st defeat in 16 matches across all competitions on Neil Lennon and his Celtic side.

It was a derby match worthy of a feisty rivalry tie, with no shortage of controversy and drama, and it all began to unfold just after the half-hour mark(32′) when Celtic won a penalty against the run of play for an infringement inside the box. Celtic’s Ryan Christie stepped forward to see his kick saved by Rangers’ goalie Allan McGregor.

Four(4) minutes after the spot-kick save, Rangers took the lead. Borna Barisic inswing was met, 1st-time at the near post by in-form Ryan Kent. A well-deserved lead for the away side Rangers, having dominated proceedings.

But then, the lead lasted just 6 minutes as the home side Celtic hit back in a rather controversial circumstance. Callum McGregor’s ambitious effort was deflected into the Rangers’ net by his teammate Oddonne Edouard’s hand. Surprisingly, the centre referee Clancy Kevin awarded the goal, under FIFA reviewed rules, he shouldn’t have.

However, Rangers wouldn’t go down without a fight, and they regained the lead deservedly in the 56th minute. Once again, Rangers’ left-back Barisic with his 2nd assist of the afternoon, the Croatian’s pin-point corner-kick was headed home by centre-back Nikola Katic.

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Alfredo Morelos

There was time for a late drama as Rangers’ bad boy Alfredo Morelos(90′ + 6′) got his marching order for simulation in added time of regulation time. Morelos’ 7th red card in Rangers’ colour(3 seasons).

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SPL League table

Rangers held on to record the 1st win at Celtic Park in 9 years(2010). With 50 points from 19 matches, Rangers have now cut Celtic’s lead to 2 points and with a game in hand, as shown in SPL Table in detail

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Arsenal Women Still Hoisting The Club’s Banner.

Arsenal men’s team were yet again held to a disappointing barren draw by Everton on Saturday. Arsenal’s new manager Mikel Arteta can only watch helplessly from the stand, a glimpse of the difficult task before him. However, where the Arsenal men struggle and seem to be free-falling, the Arsenal Women have held their own so far, making true of the old saying;

what a man can do, a woman can do even better.

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Arsenal Women, last weekend prevailed where their men counterpart failed, they defeated Everton Women 3-1 to remain on top of the league. Two(2) goals from Arsenal Women top striker Vivianne Miedema(14′, 57′) and a further one from captain Kim Little(55′ pen) completed the routine win for the Gunners at the Merseyrail Community Stadium. Everton’s consolation goal came from Chloe Kelly(78′). Arsenal Women looking out for the men or should I rather say the women are showing the men how to get the job done.

In contrast to the Arsenal Men who had recorded just one(1) win in their last 12 matches across all competitions and lies 11th on the EPL league table with a mere 23 points from 18 matches, the Arsenal Women sit on top of the Women Super League with 27 points from 10 league games, 3 points ahead of arch-rival Manchester City Women. The Arsenal Women have also only lost once in the league(1-2 defeat at Chelsea) and are on a run if seven(7) straight win in all competitions, some solace for Arsenal fans, isnt it?

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Vivianne Miedema, Source

It could be recalled that the Women(Arsenal) earlier in the month recorded the biggest victory in the history of the WSL when they defeated Bristol City Women 11-1(the previous record was Liverpool’s 9-0 win over Doncaster Belles in 2013). Vivianne Miedema helped herself to six(6) goals in the 11-1 rout, she’s now on 14 goals and 7 assists with Chelsea’s Beth England her closest challenger on 6 goals and 3 assist. Looks like the Dutch forward is going to top the scoring chart for the 2nd successful season(having won the gong with 22 goals and 10 assists last season).

Arsenal Women looks like they are on the path of a successful defence of the league title, a probable 4th title since the inception of the WSL in 2010. However, having come 2nd just by the whisker last season, Manchester City Women will surely give the gunners a stern and biggest challenge.

A new manager is on board now to try and salvage whatever is left of the Arsenal Men’s team, though some critics and fans are not convinced that the Arsenal board had made the right choice in Mikel Arteta. Whatever the case may be, the men need motivation and the women are in the best place to show them their way back.

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Phew! A Win For Arsenal At Long Last.

 

Phew! A Win For Arsenal At Long Last.

 
peman85 (33) in sports •  25 minutes ago
 
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Pepe leads Arsenal celebration

Arsenal fans across the globe give a huge sigh of relief to see their darling club side recorded a win at last in the English premier league. it seemed like ages ago since the Gunners last win a match, an Arsenal fan told me she doesn’t know what it’s like to celebrate a win anymore, poor girl! Well, the long wait is finally over.

The Gunners, under the caretaker coaches, former Arsenal players, led by Freddie Ljungberg(supported by Per Mertesacker) recovered from a goal down to defeat West Ham 3-1 at the London Stadium. It was Arsenal’s 1st win in 10 matches in all competitions.

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Dismissed Unai Emery

With Arsenal free-falling under the dismissed manager Unai Emery, clearly desperate measures needed to be taken. The Spaniard oversaw 5 winless league matches(D, L, D, D, L) and 7 winless matches in all competitions(L, D, L, D, D, L, D), Arsenal’s worst run since George Graham’s led side went on an 8 winless run in 1992. How fortune changes in a blink of an eye, it is hard to believe that it was the same Emery that led Arsenal last season to 11 consecutive wins(22-game unbeaten run), the Gunners best run since 2007. Emery’s 18-month stint with the Gunners is now the 4th shortest managerial role in the club’s 133 years history.

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Interim manager Freddie Ljungberg

As it is with every new manager, the apparent task is to improve the mood in and out of the locker room, on and off the pitch, and the interim handlers have their hands full with an Arsenal side lacking not just the will but leadership and mental strength. Ljungberg had tagged the mood as “strange”. His 1st 2 matches in charge didn’t go according to scripts as the Gunners were held 2 all by Norwich City and fell 1-2 at home to Brighton and Hove Albion, Arsenal’s 8th & 9th game without a win.

However, 3rd time is a charm as some would say, Ljungberg’s 3rd match as the Gunners’ handler finally brought the much-coveted 3 points. It was hard-fought though, as Arsenal fell behind in the 38th minute, Angelo Ogbonna’s deflected header flat-footed Bernd Leno in Gunners’ goal. Arsenal was poor and laboured almost in vain for an equalizer, however, West Ham, also in troubled waters of their own, took their feet off the gas for 9 minutes and were made to rue their sloppiness. Gabriel Martinelli(60′), Nicolas Pepe(66′) and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang(69′) completed Gunners fight back.

Read little meaning to the win though as the team need more than a win over equally under-fire West Ham to think that the storm is over. Nevertheless, fans can savour this moment while it lasts.

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Celtic Claimed 10th Consecutive Trophy, They Are Still The Team To Beat In Scotland.

Rangers’ wait for a silverware will have to wait for a little longer as they were peeped to the Scottish League Cup by perennial rivals Celtic on Sunday evening, the Ibrox team were defeated 1 nil in the 1st of line-up Old Firm derbies of the season.
It has been almost 8 years(2011 league and League Cup double) since Rangers last won a major honour and this season looks like The Teddy Bears are going to put an end to that drought due to the newfound belief in the camp and their competitiveness in the league so far, thanks to the tutelage of the Gaffer Steven Gerrard. The Scottish League Cup presented the 1st opportunity to match the belief with success, however, the holders, Celtic aren’t going to relinquish their Cup easily.

Celtic has dominated Scottish football for quite some time now, The Bhoys or Hoops are on a streak of a domestic treble(League Championship, the Scottish Cup, the Scottish League Cup)

since 2016, not even the loss of former manager Brendan Rodgers could derail the 3rd treble last season, Celtic manager Neil Lennon has sure picked up where he left it last season.

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Neil Lennon and Steven Gerrard

Cup competition or not, the Old Firm Derby has always been a keenly contested fixture between city rivals Rangers and Celtic including friendlies. Many have predicted this season’s fixtures particularly to potentially be the game-changer. It seems Celtic is not just winning the battle, she is on the path of winning the war too. The psychological effect of this defeat on Rangers may be fatal in subsequent meetings.

If history was anything to go by, Rangers should have carried the day. Rangers have played Celtic in 14 finals of the Scottish League Cup and have prevailed 9 times in contrast to Celtic’s 5, and if the 1st half performance was also put into reckoning, Rangers should have buried the game long before the break, however, Celtic’s goalkeeper Fraser Forster was in impeccable form, coming to his team’s rescue when called upon.

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Christopher Jullien

Against the run of play, Celtic took the lead just on the hour mark, Christopher Jullien(60′) scored from a well-placed freekick from teammate Ryan Christie. Rangers should have levelled 3 minutes later when Celtic was reduced to 10 men after Jeremie Frimpong brought down Rangers Alfredo Morelos in the box, however, the Colombian saw the resultant spot-kick saved by the inspired Celtic’s Fraser Forster.

Rangers threw everything they’ve got at Celtic for the remainder of the game but Celtic remained resolute in defending despite playing with a man down for about half an hour. Rangers striker Morelos is also guilty of squandering several golden chances.

It is now a 4th consecutive Scottish League Cup for Celtic, 10 consecutive domestic honours for the Hoops, spanning over just 3 and a half seasons. For Steven Gerrard and his lads, on the other hand, the battle has been lost, can they regroup to claim the war(league championship)?

Congratulations to Neil Lennon and Celtic, another dominant season beckons.

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Pack It In City, League Title Slips Further Out Of Reach.

Manchester City dropped another vital point to a stubborn and resilient Newcastle United in the early kick-off of EPL matchday 14 on Saturday. The Citizens were held 2 all by the home side at the Saint James’ Park. Twice City took the lead, Raheem Sterling(22′) & K.De Bruyne(82′), Twice the Magpies hit back, Jetro Willems(25′) & Jojo Shelvey(88′).

It is one thing to successfully defend a title(2 titles in a row), a remarkable feat that Manchester City achieved when they piped Liverpool to the league title last season. However, it is another feat to defend a title back-to-back(3 titles in a row), an extraordinary feat that now seems some miles away from City’s grasp. Since the English league football was formed in 1888, only an elite group of 4 clubs have managed to win the league 3 times in a row, that includes Huddersfield Town(1923/24 – 25/26), Arsenal(1932/33 – 34/35), Liverpool(1981/82 – 83/84) and Manchester United(1998/99 – 2000/01 & 2006/07 – 2008/09).

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Dejected Pep Guardiola

Manchester City’s fading title charge might have been self-inflicted. The Citizens arrogantly refused to replace the retired long-serving defender Vincent Kompany in the summer transfer window and few weeks into the season, they were hit with injuries to 2 key defenders John Stones and Aymeric Laporte. The ripple effects are City’s inability to hold onto a lead which has already cost them 3 losses and 2 draws in just 14 league fixtures.

Newcastle is known as one of the boogie team in the league, they turn on when one least expect them to, especially against the traditional top 4-6 teams. The Magpies with all their inconsistencies this season had defeated Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United and on Saturday against Manchester City proved to be a hard nut to crack.

Steve Bruce’s tactic(5-4-1) on the day showed Newcastle’s intent of keeping City at bay. City still dominated the match proceedings with 77% of the possession, they fired 24 total shots(9 on target), a stark contrast to Newcastle’s 6 total shots(3 on target).

The draw means Manchester City(29 pts) is now 11 points adrift of rival and log leader Liverpool( who defeated Brighton & Hove Albion 2-1 to hold onto top spot). City could found themselves in 3rd place(3 pts behind Leicester City ) if The Foxes win her matchday 14 fixture against Everton on Sunday.

Many may find it too early to write Manchester City off, however, with Liverpool grinding out wins week in, week out plus VAR calls seemingly going in their favour, it’s hard to see them relinquish the 11-point haul to City. If Manchester City does recover and close up the 11-point gap, it will be some story at the end of the season.

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Are Manchester United And Arsenal Really Rebuilding Or They are Going In Circles?

It is surprising to still hear fans and analysts saying that managers of Manchester United and Arsenal Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Unai Emery deserve more time to build a title-challenging team. Both managers are into their 2nd seasons(Solskjaer a little lesser) yet there is no sign of improvement.

It seems to me that both United and Arsenal are taking a step forward and 2 steps backwards, considering how far Leicester City and Chelsea managers Brendan Rodgers and Frank Lampard respectively have come. Both Rodgers and Lampard are only about 4 months into their appointments but have incredibly held their own so far. Leicester sits aloft of Manchester City in 2nd position on EPL log table(only Manchester City could match Leicester 23 goal difference) while Chelsea also sits on 4th place, 7 points ahead of nearest challenger Wolverhampton Wanderers(5th).

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Elated Rodgers & Lampard

It is definitely safe to say Rodgers and Lampard are striving where Solskjaer and Emery are failing. Here is a couple of the games’ aspect that both Solskjaer and Emery are finding it difficult to emulate from Rodgers and Lampard.

Solskjaer and Emery just couldn’t strike the right balance between the young/academy graduates and the established senior players. Both managers know that the young players are crucial for rebuilding and obviously making efforts, however, it hasn’t worked out for them both. They just couldn’t win a match let alone put together a winning streak. In contrast to Rodgers and Lampard, both have managed to strike a balance between the young and old, especially the core of young English players. The likes of Harvey Barnes(21yrs) & Ben Chilwell(22yrs) alongside James Maddison(23yrs) have become an integral part of Leicester City team. Also, Tammy Abraham(22yrs), Mason Mount(20yrs), Callum Hudson-Odoi(19yrs) and Fikayo Tomori(21yrs) are now a regular starter for Chelsea, promising future for the English National Team if i may add.

Wrong tactics, wrong lineup or wrong substitution is another vital area that has affected United and Arsenal. Solskjaer for some reason known to only him included Phil Jones(who has not had much playing time this season) in the lineup against Sheffield United and the result was an abysmal display for the English defender. He was chopped out at the half time. Emery, on the other hand, seems confused about the formation-players to use in each match. The 2-2 draw against Southampton saw him deployed Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney(who best play as full-backs) at wingbacks in a 3-4-3 formation. The result was another poor display from the Gunners especially in the attack where they managed a mere 5 shots on target from 7 overall shots, in contrast to their visitor who managed 17 total shots and hit 6 on target.

Arsenal sits on 8th place on the table with 18 points and an unusual -1 goal difference while Manchester United is further down the ladder on 9th with 17 points and 4 goal difference. Something has to shift and fast, it is either both managers start bringing the desired results or the clubs’ management take a bold step, cut their losses and replace Solskaer and Emery now and not wait till the end of the season, it could be far much worse by then.

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Mourinho Got Off To A Winning Start, Just By The Whisker.

Tottenham Hotspur new manager Jose Mourinho began in his new role with a 3-2 win away at West Ham. It was a much-expected debut victory for the once self-acclaim special one. A win many are already claiming will spin Spurs’ season to a new height.

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Spurs fans

Spurs’ week is what some people will exclaim and say, “heck of a week”. The football community was rocked by the news of Mauricio Pochettino’s sack and while many would say it was long coming, nobody saw the immediate appointment of Jose Mourinho coming. The Portuguese wasted little time to do what he does best, a passionate, fan-winning press release where he promised to bring back the passion to Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. I believe a few will doubt Mourinho’s promise.

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Spurs players celebrating

It was a start Mou would have dreamt off. Two(2) second-half goals from Son Heung-Min(36′) and Lucas Moura(43′) put Spurs on the winning path. Harry Kane added the 3rd with his customary header kn the 49th minute to make 3 nil. However, Spurs took their feet off the pedal and West Ham almost made them pay. Substitute Michail Antonio pulled a goal back in the 73rd minute. The host thought they have further reduced the deficit in the 89th minute but their joy was short-lived as it was ruled offside by VAR. West Ham finally made it 2-3 in additional time (90′ + 6′) by defender Angelo Ogbonna but it was too little too late.

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Typical of Mou

The victory was Spurs 1st away win since January 20th when they defeated Fulham at Craven Cottage, it was a feat Mou will certainly enjoy. Manual Pellegrini, on the other hand, is living dangerously as his West Ham side has now lost 3 league games in a row, and 5 losses in 6 league games. The Londoners who sat at 7th position on the log table at some point have now slipped into the bottom side of the table 16th. One(1) more defeat and she might find herself in the relegation zone. I don’t think David Sullivan and David Gold will spare the hammer on Pellegrini if results do not improve.

With the win, Jose Mourinho has emulated his predecessor Mauricio Pochettino in defeating West Ham in the very 1st game in charge of Spurs.

Mourinho will now have his hands full in Spurs next 5 games in all competitions. Spurs host Olympiakos in the UCL come Tuesday and then host Bournemouth in the league 4 days later. A trip to Mourinho’s last employer Manchester United soon follows in what promises to be a humdinger of a fixture. Burnley(EPL) and Bayern Munich(UCL) complete the next 5 fixtures respectively.

Is the Special one back or it’s just a false alarm?

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Emery Clearly Not The Man To Steer Arsenal Forward.

Arsenal manager Unai Emery’s days at the Emirate appear to be numbered, another lacklustre performance and poor results by the Gunners, a 2 nil loss to Leicester City made it a run of 4 league matches without a win(including 2 home draws against Wolves & Crystal Palace) and 5 in all competitions(including the 1-1 draw at lowly Guimaraes in the UEFA Europa Cup & the Carabao Cup defeat to Liverpool’s reserve team).

Arsenal’s last 4 league results now read

0-2 loss at Leicester City

1-1 draw at home to Wolverhampton

2-2 draw at home to Crystal Palace

0-1 loss at Sheffield United

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Jubilant Vardy and teammate

The Spaniard arrived at Emirate last season with promises, even though he blew his chance to mark his debut season with a UEFA Europa League Trophy(lost the final to Chelsea) and squandered the chance of an EPL top 4 finish from a vantage position, he was still cut some slack by many Arsenal fans, many who sited the state and disposition of the team he inherited from his predecessor Arsene Wenger. However, the Spaniard had overseen 3 transfer windows and is still unable to steady Arsenal ship. His choice of signings has raised more questions than answers, especially his decision to okay the big-money signing of winger, Nicholas Pepe when Arsenal could have invested such huge money on a world-class defender, a Van Dijk-Esque signing so to say, an area that has been Arsenal’s weak link for years, now it’s happening all over again, Arsenal just cannot hold onto a lead.

Emery is into his 2nd season at Arsenal and it is disturbing and quite unclear what tactics Emery deploys, it seems to me that the gaffer just sets the players on the pitch and ask them to do their thing. Amid the uncertainty of Emery’s tactics is the consistent underuse and/or playing from out of position of certain players such as Alex Lacazette, Lucas Torreira, Dani Ceballos, Mesut Ozil, … The hallmark of an Arsenal team has always been the attack, there was never a shortage of goals during Wenger reign, but now the team hardly create scoring chances let alone scoring, it’s appalling.

What kind of team manager elected his team captain(Granit Xhaka) against the popular choice of Sokratis or David Luiz and then turn around some few weeks later to replace him? Now staring in Emery’s face are a bunch of unhappy players, plus he(Emery) now has an uphill task of winning back the support of the fans, who increasingly grows frustrated and impatient with the team’s string of poor results.

For a script of Emery’s confusion on what players to play or tactics to use, it’s written all over the latest defeat at Leicester City, just 1 shot on target all evening from a mere 5 shots in total, in contrast to Leicester’s total shots of 14, 7 of which are on target. Arsenal isn’t even dominating opponent anymore, they recorded 45% of the possession, as the Foxes outplayed [[them with 55% of the ball possession.

Emery’s sack seems not to be a matter of ‘IF’ but ‘When’, and it won’t cause a shock if he’s relieved off his job in coming days.

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The Holders Held At Lowly Lecce

The Serie A matchday 9 saw the 2018/19 champion and table topper Juventus travelled to lowly Lecce in a seemingly easy fixture but against all odds, the champions were held to a 1-1stalemate by the 17-placed Lecce, 2 2nd-half penalty-kicks even the honours at the Stadio Via del Mare.

Lecce, promoted back into the Serie A since their relegation in 2012, hasn’t had it rosy in the league so far, 2 wins and a draw from 8 matches placed Lecce in the relegation battle, however, the manager Fabio Liverani tutored side put up a resolute defending to keep Juventus at bay all afternoon.

Juventus has not dropped a point since their matchday 3 dab draw at Fiorentina and were on a 5 match winning run, ipso facto were expected to run riot over their host despite Cristiano Ronaldo absence(rested). Also, the last 5 league meetings had seen Juventus recorded 3 wins and 2 draws(including the 1-1 draw in the last meetings in 2012).

The encounter sprung into life in the 26th minute when Gonzalo Higuain thought he’s given his team the lead but the celebration was promptly cut by VAR who correctly ruled Higuain offside. After that, Juventus could only test Gabriel in Lecce goal just once in the 1st half, as the host threw themselves in front of every Juventus shot. Juventus finally got their breakthrough goal 10 minutes before the hour mark, Miralem Pjanic drawing a foul in the box, Paulo Dybala then scored from 12 yards. Juventus lead lasted for only 6 minutes, as the host drew level from a spot-kick of their own, Matthijs de Ligt was penalised for handling the ball in the area, Marco Mancosu duly tucked away from the spot.

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Lecce’s goal scorer Marco Mancosu, source

It was a below-par performance from Juventus, despite enjoying 71% of the match proceedings, Juventus was limited to just 4 shots on target out of a staggering 25-shot total, in contrast to Lecce’s 29% possession, a lesser overall shot of 10 but more shots(5) on target. Juventus evidently missed the finesse of the talismanic striker Cristiano Ronaldo.

Fortunately for the Old Ladies, the 2 points dropped doesn’t prove so costly, they still stay a points clear with 23 points over 2nd place Inter Milan(22 points) who could have overtaken Juventus with a win over Parma, however, Antonio Conte’s men failed to capitalize on Juventus slip, they needed Romelu Lukaku’s equalizer to salvage a 2-2 draw at the San Siro Stadium.

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The Bloody Red Rivalry, Solskjaer’s Job Couldn’t Get Any Daunting.

At a time when a league win seems out of reach for Manchester United, the last team they want to play would be Liverpool, poor Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at this point in time could really use the phrase “why me”? Manchester United are undergoing their worst start to a season in a very long time(30 years). Sitting in an unfamiliar 12th position on the EPL table with just 9 points in their 8 fixtures so far, United have it all to do. And it could get even worse for United in the Bloody Red rivalry as Jurgen Klopp’s evading army come visiting at Old Trafford this Sunday in the EPL matchday 9.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may be wearing a smiley face and keeping calm despite United’s frustrating start to the season, but make no mistake, all is not calm in United’s camp. A defeat to Liverpool in Sunday’s clash will most likely unravel the background storm in United’s camp, and Solskjaer will have to spend most of his post-match conferences answering questions surrounding his future as United manager.

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United’s only glimmer of hope against Liverpool will be the fact that the fixture is taking place at the historical Theatre of Dreams, a ground Liverpool has not won since the 2013/14 season, in fact, Liverpool’s last 2 league visit was a 0-0 draw in Feb 2019 and a 1-2 loss in March 2018. However, many believe that the present United team is so low in confidence and carries no fear factor, the usually formidable Old Trafford fortress no longer scares visiting rivals, if an inconsistent Arsenal team could earn a point at Old Trafford, why can’t the unstoppable force like Liverpool.

Manchester United’s course was made even harder with the news of recuperation set back for Paul Pogba, and a groin injury sustained by 1st choice goalkeeper David de Gea during the international break. 1st team regulars such as Anthony Marshall and Aaron Wan-Bissaka are still not 100% fit and might not feature against Liverpool, one will feel for Solskjaer really.

While there is disarray in United’s camp, and most of the discussion and argument surrounding United is whether they can muster together a couple of wins,

Liverpool’s ship seems to be on cruise control, a 17-consecutive-league win is a testament to that, and it could get more flattering with a victory over United on Sunday, a feat that would make Liverpool equal Manchester City’s 18-consecutive league wins, set in 2017/18 season. There is a strong belief amongst Liverpool fans that they can go the entire season undefeated, just like the invisible Arsenal side of 2003/04 season. A long way to go but Liverpool is certainly grinding out results even when they are not in their usual best.

H2H:
The H2H stats for the past 2 season shows a win and a defeat for both clubs, while 2 of the meetings ended in a stalemate, the last of those drab draws came early this year at Old Trafford. However, form and odds still favour a Liverpool win, understandably so, 100% start to the season cannot be overlooked. But like it is always the case, odds and bookmakers’ scripts are always thrown into the bin in fierce rivalry clash such as Manchester United – Liverpool.

My pity for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will definitely cloud my judgement and prediction, so, I’ll sit on the fence on this one. A draw will be a good result for United and might buy Solskjaer some more time.

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The Citizens Need A Response After Shocking Defeat.

If there is any team in the EPL that needed the International break so badly, it would be Manchester City. The Citizens, before the break, fell to a shocking 0-2 defeat at the hand of Wolverhampton Wanderers in matchday 8, the break would have handed Pep Guardiola the needed time and space to ruminate and fashion the next line of action for his stuttering defence line. A trip to Crystal Palace in matchday 9 come Saturday offers City a chance to respond to critics and shows their title credentials. Any further slip up would spell doom for the Citizens and they may as well kiss goodbye to the title defence.

Pep Guardiola’s decision not to replace the departed Vincent Kompany in the heart of Manchester City’s backline seems to be taking a toll on City’s title defence. With centre back, Aymeric Laporte out injured and John Stone consistently going on and off the treatment table, City is left thin at the rare guard and now left with Nicolas Otamendi as the only senior centre back available. Even though make-shift defender Fernandinho is doing a decent job, the home defeat to Wolves has shown that the Citizens are lightweight at the back and hence, an urgent call for reinforcement need to be addressed.

Sitting in 6th position on the English Premier League table with 14 points, just 2 points adrift of their Saturday opponent, Crystal Palace offers a genuine test, another potential banana peel to Manchester City. The Eagles sure know how to hurt City, they defeated City 3-2 at the Etihad in one(1) of the league fixtures last season and will sure draw inspiration from that victory going into Saturday’s late kickoff.

H2H(Manchester City W3, D1, L1):
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City was on a decent run of form before slumping to the shocking 0-2 home loss to Wolves, however, they still hold the H2H advantage over Palace in the last 5 league meetings. Crystal Palace, on the other hand, comes into matchday 9 with a back-to-back league wins and had lost just 1 league fixture in their last 5(W3-D1-L1) but they still fall short of City on H2H stats, losing 3(including the two 0-5 losses in May & September 2017) and drawing 1.

Key Men:
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Zaha vs De Bruyne, source

Manchester City is sweating over the fitness of their mercurial midfielder Kevin De Bruyne, though there are several players that can fill De Bruyne void, the importance of the Belgian to City’s title defence cannot be over over-emphasized, 8 assists in 7 league fixtures is a testimony of De Bruyne’s role. Other usual suspects include Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling and a host of other goal threat across the team.

Crystal Palace do not possess the array of stars City boasts off but they do have tricky players of their own, one(1) of such players is the much sought after Wilfried Zaha. Though Zaha has not fully hit the ground running for Palace this season, he is still a menace for any opposition. Of course, the likes of Jordan Ayew, Andros Townsend will run at opposition all day long.

Prediction:
It has to be a straight win for Manchester City or else, they can kiss the league title bye-bye. So, I am going to stick out my neck for a City 3-1 win.

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Unbeaten Streak Over For The 3 Lions.

The English Men National Football Team, the 3 Lions slummed to their 1st defeat in a qualifier(World or Europe) in 10 years, when they went down 1-2 to the Czech Republic on Friday night, in a matchday 5 of the Euro 2020 qualification tie. The defeat was the 1st after 43 unbeaten games( W34 & D9). The 3 Lions last defeat was a 0-1 loss to Ukraine in a FIFA World cup qualifier in 2009 under the tutelage of Fabio Capello.

Tagged by many as the worst performance by the 3 Lions under Gareth Southgate, England was abysmal on the night, not just in the defence but in the attack too where they registered just 7 shots(only 4 on target) all night, a far cry of a team that had scored 19 goals in her last 4 qualifiers.

The defeat didn’t come as a surprise to many, it’s been long coming. The inconsistency and schoolboy errors made by the defence line in recent games has made England susceptible to a disciplined team. The 3 goals conceded in the 5-3 win over lowly Kosovo in the last game highlighted the concern at the back.

The tie against Czech started according to plan, England got off to a flying start in the 5th minute when Raheem Sterling was brought down in the box. Harry Kane stepped forward and dispatched from 12 yards. However, the lead lasted just 4 minutes. England failed to clear a corner kick and Jakub Brabec made them pay by firing home Czech’s equalizer. A draw could have saved England’s blushes on the night but they were caught napping again with 5 minutes left in regulation time, Zdenek Ondrasek on hand for Czech’s winner.

Player rating confirm how poor the 3 Lions were on the night, especially the defence line where only Jordan Pickford(7 pts) exhibited some worlds class saves. The quartet of Kieran Trippier(5 pts), Harry Maguire(5 pts), Michael Keane(4 pts) & Danny Rose(5pts) were all below par with their performances. Not even Declan Rice(4 pts) and Jordan Henderson(5 pts) tasked with the responsibility of protecting the defence line covered themselves in glory.

A win would have made England only the 2nd team after Belgium to have qualified for the 2020 showpiece but they will have to try again with a trip to Bulgaria on Monday night. The Czech Republic, on the other hand, boosted their chance of qualification with the win over England, now joint top with the 3 Lions on 12 points, though with a game more than England.

Manager Gareth Southgate alongside his captain Harry Kane agreed that the result was a wake-up call for the team, and the team needed a response come Monday against Bulgaria in an already tensed match built up.

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MLS Audi Cup Line-Up Completed, Notable Names Made The Cut.

The 2019 America’s Major League Soccer(MLS) playoff lineup is now completed and most of the biggest franchise made the postseason championship. High profile players will get another opportunity to steer the team to glory, amongst these big guns includes; Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney, Carlos Vela, Josef Martinez and a host of others. The complete list of 14 clubs(7 each from both Eastern and Western Conferences) that made the Audi Cup is shown below, also see the detailed standings of both conferences here

Eastern Conference: New York City FC(NYC), Atlanta United, Philadelphia Union, Toronto FC, D.C. United, New York Red Bulls, New England Revolution(NER).

Western Conference: Los Angeles FC(LAFC), Seattle Sounders(SEA), Real Salt Lake(RSL), Minnesota United, Los Angeles Galaxy(LAG), Portland Timbers, FC Dallas.

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Fixture schedules

LAFC & Carlos Vela:
There is no better place to begin this review than in Los Angeles, the City that houses rivals, LAFC and LAG. LAFC secured the top spot in the Western Conference and made history in the process, scoring 72 points, some 16 points ahead of the nearest rival in the Western Conference(SEA) and 8 points ahead of the Eastern Conference leader(NYC). LAFC now holds the highest points total in a single-season and scored a staggering 85 goals, also the highest by a club in a single season.

The manner by which LAFC stormed out of the block was remarkable, recording a commanding lead for the entirety of the regular season, securing the Supporter’s Shield with matches to spare. One man stood out for LAFC success story, Carlos Vela. The Mexican ruthlessness in front of the opposition goal has seen him broken the MLS single-season goal haul with 34 goals(the former record was 31 goals scored last season by Atlanta United Josef Martinez). Vela’s game is more than scoring, he also contributed 15 assists, 3rd on the assist chart this season. No doubt Vela is the overwhelming favourite for the season’s MVP.

LAG & Zlatan Ibrahimovic:
Can Zlatan carry the LAG into the playoff? This was a burning question that has been asked in various quarters some weeks back, well, the answer is yes, Zlatan can. Having endured a tough season, a see-saw season that saw LAG dangerously languishing out of the playoff spot. Then, eyebrows were raised and the questions were asked whether LAG would miss the playoff for a 3rd consecutive season, however, the Swede star answered critics in style.

With the regular season coming to the home stretch, Zlatan went on a scoring spree of 14 goals in the last 10 matches of the regular season, lifting LAG from 8th to 5th on the Western Conference table. Zlatan eventually finished the season with 30 goals, 4 short of Vela for the golden boot race. The Swedish was recently quoted saying that he is the best ever in MLS history, maybe he was right or he was just being Zlatan.

Atlanta United & Josef Martinez:
Atlanta United will have the chance to defend the title she won last season, having made the playoff yet again by finishing 2nd on the Eastern Conference table. With 54 points, Atlanta fell short of their last season point total of 69, however, the postseason championship presents another opportunity to finish 2019 on a high. Atlanta United’s standout player is Josef Martinez, the Venezuelan made a name for himself last season by winning not just the MVP but the Golden boot as well, scoring a record 31 goals that have now been broken by Vela. Martinez, at some point this season was neck-to-neck with Vela & Zlatan on the scorers chat but suffered injury and eventually finished the regular season with 27 goals, 7 short of Vela’s 34.

D.C. United & Wayne Rooney:
D.C. United finished 5th on Eastern Conference log table and thereby made the playoff cut. Having made a decent start to the season, they wobbled at some stage but recovered quickly. Coming into the home stretch, D.C. United was unbeaten in their last 5 games of the season(W3, D2).

D.C. United also has a household name in their ranks, former Manchester United and England International Wayne Rooney. Rooney has been decent for D.C. United this season, directly involved in 19(11 goals & 8 assists) of D.C. United’s 42 goals. The Highlight of Rooney’s season was the 70 yards strike against Orlando City, however, his decision to call his time quit at D.C. United after just 2 seasons and join English Championship side Derby County marred his season.

Cross-published @Scorum

Thank you all for taking the time out to read.

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Derby d’Italia! The Tie That Could Shape Up Inter & Juve’s Season.

Popularly known as the Derby d’Italia(Derby of Italy), Inter Milan versus Juventus match-ups will always draw widespread attention in the footballing community across the globe, and even more attention this season judging by Inter’s great start to the season. The Nerazzurri takes a 100% start to Serie A into Sunday’s home clash against the 8-times defending Champion Juventus, the 1st of 2-league meetings that could go a long way in the Serie A title race.

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Inter Milan
Inter Milan’s new found belief and purpose have not been seen since Jose Mourinho-led Inter. The manner at which they celebrate each of the 6 league victories says it all. Though just 2 points ahead of the champion Juventus, the Nerazzurri believe they can usurp the Bianconeri this season. A 6 straight league win is a statement of intent and they have shown little or no weakness with their performances in those 6 games played so far. Antonio Conte side could match the achievement of Inter Milan side of 1966/67 with a 7th straight win should they pulled a win over Juventus come Sunday.

Juventus
If there is ever any club side that is not afraid to play catch up, it would be Juventus. The Bianconeri are known for recovering from an early-season wobble to claim the Scudetto, the history books had backed that time and again. The 1966/67 Inter Milan side that won the opening 7 league matches were eventually overtaken and beaten to the league by Juventus. Roma, having won 10 opening league matches, top the Serie A for a long period in 2013/14 season but were beaten to the Scudetto by Juventus. So was Napoli beaten to the league by the Old Ladies in 2016/17, it could be recalled that Napoli won their opening 7 league matches that season.

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H2H
Juventus(W3, D2, L1) has dominated the Serie A for the past 8 seasons, no surprises that the hold the better head-to-head results in the past 6 league meetings with 3 wins, 2 draws and a defeat. Inter Milan’s(W1, D2, L3) sole league win in the past 3 seasons came in a 2-1 win in September 2016.

Tactics
Having started top striker Romelu Lukaku from the bench in Inter’s last league victory, Inter Boss Conte will have a refreshed Lukaku to call on, however, Lukaku’s teammate Alexis Sanchez won’t feature due to the marching order he received in the last match. Conte will most likely stick to his 3-5-2 formation, a compact midfield to frustrate Juventus’s flow of play. Box-to-box Stefano Sesi, also on 3 goals like Lukaku will be crucial to Inter’s play.

Juventus manager Mauricio Sarri seems to prefer a 4-4-2 diamond formation, a tactics deploy to suit Welsh midfielder, Aaron Ramsey, playing behind the 2 frontmen. Sarri hasn’t figured out his best frontline combination, a Ronaldo-Higuain partnership or a Ronaldo-Dybala duo, a lot of football analyst believe the latter partnership isn’t just working as much as it should.

Prediction
It would have been convenient to call a Juventus straight win judging by the H2H stats but the Old Ladies haven’t gotten into their 100% stride yet. A draw should be connected for both manager, a win for Inter, however, will be a cherry on the cake for Conte and will certainly send shock waves into the league and fear into the rest of Serie A teams. A score draw; 1-1 or 2-2

Cross-published @Scorum

Thank you all for your time.

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Reds Beware Of The Foxes

Liverpool’s march for glory will be tested when they host high-flying Leicester City in a matchday 8 fixture on Saturday. The Reds aren’t naive of the threat that the Foxes pose to the traditional EPL top 4, top 6 clubs. Of course, Liverpool cannot forget in a hurry, the hurting inflicted by the likes of Leicester on their way to missing the EPL title last season, Liverpool led the league with 60 points, 4 points ahead of Manchester City, going into the matchday 24 at home to Leicester. The Reds were held 1-1 by the Foxes, a result that came first in a string of 4 draws for Liverpool(1-1 vs West Ham, 0-0 vs Man Utd & 0-0 vs Everton), that ultimately cost them the league. This weekend’s fixture is one Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp will definitely not be taken lightly.

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Liverpool:
There is no doubt about the threat Liverpool possesses in the attack, the front 3 of Mane, Firmino & Salah have between them shared 11 out of 18 league goals scored by Liverpool, not to forget the threat coming from both right and left-back through the marauding Trent Alex-Arnold and Andrews Robertson. However, there is a new worry brewing, the once impenetrable Van Dijk led defence line seems to be conceding needless goals. Having conceded 22 goals in the entire league last season, Liverpool has conceded 5 this season already(at this rate, they will concede more than last season). They conceded goals(3) at Anfield in the UEFA Champions League for the 1st time in 5 matches(since UCL matchday 1 3-2 win over PSG last season). There is no undermining of their stand-in goalkeeper Adrian but they use the return of their safest hands Alisson Becker between the posts.

Leicester City:
After the 2015/16 title-winning fairy tale run, Leicester has struggled to challenge for titles since. However, another managerial shakeup of brought in former Liverpool and Celtic manager Brendan Rogers, and he has since helped breathe in a new belief within the squad. Leicester sits 3rd in EPL table with 14 points, just 2 points adrift of Manchester City in 2nd place, having played 7, won 4, drawn 2 and lost just 1 so far. The Foxes have scored 13 goals and conceded as much as their weekend opponent. More of a team-playing side rather than a star-studded one like Liverpool, they boast of some decent players in their ranks too, a pacey striker in Jamie Vardy, a ball-playing midfielder in James Maddison, a combative defensive midfielder in Wilfred Ndidi and a few others.

H2H:
Liverpool(W3, D1, L1) holds the advantage in this fixture, winning 3 of the last 5 league meetings. Leicester(W1, D1, L3), on the other hand, had just 1 win in the last 5. However, whoever underestimate how cunning a fox can be, does so at his own peril, if Red Bull Salzburg can score 3 at Anfield, why not Leicester.

Liverpool needs to be wary of Leicester’s counter-attacking threat, the Foxes will sure sit deep and hit back on the break, with the pace of Vardy and passes of Maddison to exploit. It promises to be an entertaining tie.

Prediction:
Bookmakers still favour the Reds’ home win, understandably so, their 16 straight league wins weren’t a mere feat. It’s looking like a narrow 1 goal margin win for Liverpool but a score draw cannot be overlooked. 1-0 Liverpool win.

Cross-published @Scorum

Have an entertaining sporting weekend folks, Thank you all.

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Crisis Growing In Spurs Camp?

Tottenham Hotspur fell to their all-time low with a humiliating 2-7 home defeat to German outfit Bayern Munich in the matchday 2 of the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday night. The defeat followed Spurs disappointing 2-2 draw against Olympiacos of Greece in the UCL matchday 1. The 2-7 defeat is the biggest ever home defeat by any English club in European competition, Mauricio Pochettino’s heaviest defeat as Spurs manager.

Tottenham Hotspur’s torrid season has also seen them exited the domestic football league cup, an embarrassing defeat to a lower league club, Colchester United. Spurs have also drawn 2 and lost 2 of their 7 league fixtures so far, it all makes one wonders what might be the problem with Pochettino’s side.

Pochettino recently hinted at unease in the locker room following the uncertainties surrounding the future of several key players. Spurs playmaker Christian Eriksen made his desire to move across Europe known during the summer window but a move failed to materialize. Danny Rose was on the verge of moving away from White Hart Lane, so was Toby Alderweireld and Serge Aurier but moves never happened. It’s almost 7 weeks since the close of the summer transfer window and with all the distraction gone, it’s expected that Spurs’ Ship would be steady and cruising, but instead, it has been a season short of vintage Spurs.

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Talking Points:
• Spurs biggest problem is coming from the right-back, reliable Kieran Trippier was sold during the summer and why Spurs failed to adequately replace the Englishman is a misery, Leaving Serge Aurier as the 1st choice at right-back. The Ivorian, however, has not covered himself in glory with his poor performances in recent games. A below-par performance against Bayern Munich came at the back of a sending off in the EPL over the weekend.

• The manner in which Spurs loses points from a winning position is alarming(2-2 vs Arsenal, 2-2 vs Olympiacos, 1-2 vs Leicester & 2-7 vs Bayern), a far cry of the usually pressing and resilience Spurs, It used to be Spurs earning points from a losing position. Could it be as a result of a distracted defence line or perhaps, an underperforming team?

• Whatever reason is making Pochettino leave his most creative player Christian Eriksen out of the matchday starting 11 remains to be unclear, could it be Pochettino is preparing his team ahead of the impending departure of the Dane? Pochettino sure needs his best legs on the pitch and that includes Eriksen. Spurs struggle without Eriksen in most matches.

• Injuries to key players have not made things easier for Pochettino, his team’s progression has been certainly hampered with injuries to new boys Giovani Lo Celso and Ryan Sessegnon, while Dele Alli only returns to the squad recently.

Positive:
It is not all disaster yet for Spur though. The good thing about such heavy defeat in the early fixtures of the season is that it gives an opportunity to both team and management of a club to perform a ‘forensic look’ so to say, at the team and put machineries in place ahead of the transfer window.

Tottenham Hotspur, 6 years under the tutelage of Mauricio Pochettino has been a team on the rise, however, it has been reiterated by football pundits that Spurs need to back their progression with a trophy. The team has always been a season away from a trophy, it is time to really buckle up and actually move up a notch from another nearly season.

Cross-published, you also welcome to Scorum.

Thank you all for your time and support.

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The Red Devils Host The Gunners At The Theatre Of Dreams.

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The battle of Buffet(2004/05), The battle of Old Trafford(2003/04), Manchester United – Arsenal brawl(1990/91),… these were some of the popular captions that made the tabloids when Arsenal visits Old Trafford in the past, admittedly so, the pre-match, on-field and post-match war of words and/or scuffles between the managers and players of the two(2) clubs are 2nd to none in the premier league. The rivalry between United and Arsenal reach a boiling point in the 1990/91 season that both clubs were docked points by the FA(the only time till date in premiership history in which points were deducted from clubs due to players brawl). It is unsure whether the new set of players and managers of both clubs still have such burning fire and combativeness in them, to replicate Man United-Arsenal classic of the time past, however, the encounter is delicately poised.


Man United

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Manchester United’s performances have been appalling in recent weeks, having begun the season with a comprehensive 4 nil drubbing of Chelsea, United has since gone on to lose 2 and drawn 2 out of their 6 league matches so far and currently sits 8th on the league table with just 8 points. In defence of the manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, his team has been ravaged by injuries to key players such as Anthony Martial, Paul Pogba and recently Marcus Rashford and are now short of players upfront, however, United made her own travails by selling striker Romelu Lukaku.


Arsenal

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Arsenal may sit 4th on the log table with 11 points, their performances, however, have left little to admire. Their shambolic defence has put them in all sort of troubles already this campaign, Opta stats show that the Gunners’ defence has committed some of the most errors that led to goals conceded, errors that led to penalty-kicks conceded etc. They have conceded 10 goals in 6 matches already, a poor return for a UCL chasing team. Arsenal’s bright spot is their formidable attack that has scored 11 goals.


H2H

Both teams met 3 times in all competitions last season, a 2-2 league draw at Old Trafford, a 3-1 United win in the FA Cup and an Arsenal 2-0 reverse league-fixture win at the Emirate, which happened to be Arsenal’s first win over United in 5 meetings. In terms of form, United(L, D, W, L) could only manage 4 points in 4 league fixtures while Arsenal(L, D, D, W) only better United by a point in 4 fixtures also. Nevertheless, United seems to often raise their game when they face Arsenal.


Tactics

United boss Solskjaer will be sweating over the fitness of his players Martial, Rashford and Pogba, if they all failed a late fitness test, then, Solskjaer may be forced to drop his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation and deployed a more cautious approach. Youngster Mason Greenwood may be called on to spearhead United’s forward line.

Arsenal boss Emery had tweaked his formation between 4-2-3-1, 4-3-3 & 4-4-2 diamond formation, whatever tactics he decides to use, the focus will be on his fragile defence line. Will the return of defenders Rob Holding, Kieran Tierney and Hector Bellerin improve Arsenal’s defence? It is a big ask.


Prediction

Either team wins,…
I’ve never gotten my Man United – Arsenal prediction right, so, you’ll all cut me some slack for opting to sit on the fence.

Cross-posted @scorum, feel free to blog on Scorum.

Thank you always, for your time and supports.

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A Scrappy Win For The Reds, But Hey, Who Cares…

 

A Scrappy Win For The Reds, But Hey, Who Cares…

 
peman85 (31) in sports •  27 minutes ago
 
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Jubilant Wijnaldum and teammates, source.


Liverpool recorded a slim, scrappy but crucial 1 nil win at the Bramall Lane, Sheffield United, their 7th-straight win of the season, to remain on course for the seemingly elusive EPL title. It took a goalkeeping howler in the 70th minute from Dean Henderson in Sheffield United’s goal before Liverpool could come away with the 3 vital points.

Liverpool, on top of the league with 18 maximum points from 6 matches played, was overwhelmingly favoured to trample down on the newly promoted host, Sheffield United, who sits in 10th position on the log table. However, football was never played on a piece of paper but on the pitch, and Sheffield United did make Liverpool laboured in the early kick-off of matchday 7.

As expected, Liverpool set out in their favoured 4-3-3 formation, an unchanged starting 11 to the side that defeated Chelsea 2-1 in the matchday 6, with the usual front 3 of Mane, Firmino and Salah. Sheffield United, like her visitor, stuck with the same starting line-up to the one that recorded a famous 2 nil victory at Everton in the last league fixture, in their usual 3-5-2 set up, a tactic that definitely stifled Jurgen Klopp’s lads for the majority of the afternoon.

It was the home side that fired the 1st warning shot, Oliver McBurnie calling Adrian to a smart save just inside 5 minutes of kick-off. Liverpool, with the majority of the ball possession, huffed and puffed for an opening but could not break down a resolute Sheffield United, who were defending in numbers. And when Liverpool did manage an opening, Sadio Mane was uncharacteristically wasteful in front of goal. Liverpool’s 7 total shots off the target summed up their 1st half performance.

Liverpool, in search of the break-through goal, brought on an extra striker in the 64th minute, Divock Origi coming on for midfielder Jordan Henderson but it was the home side who immediately drew another fine save from Adrian. However, just as the afternoon gets more frustrating for the Reds, a stroke of luck swung things in their favour. Georginio Wijnaldum fired a tame volley towards Sheffield United goal and it seemed as Dean Henderson had it covered but Henderson allowed the ball to wriggle right through his arms and legs and into the net, to the heartbreak of not just his teammates but the whole fans, all the 70 minutes hard work down the drain. It was Liverpool’s 1st shot on target and it proved a blow beneath the belt.

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It is often time said that champions don’t necessarily need to play beautiful before getting a result, they somehow grind out results by hook or crook, Liverpool had just demonstrated that notion today, another title-winning point in the kitty, how they get it is irrelevant now.

With this win, Liverpool has now gone on a winning streak of 16 league matches, their longest ever, better only by Manchester City’s 18 straight league win in the 2017/18 season. Liverpool is also unbeaten in the last 24 league matches, their 2nd longest run(the longest run was the 31-match unbeaten run between 1987 and 1988). The stuff of a champion, isn’t it?

Cross-posted @Scorum

Thank you all for your time.

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Can Inter Milan Sustain The Scudetto Challenge?

The Italian Serie A is into matchday 5 and surprisingly, it is not the familiar name Juventus at the summit of the league table, the Old Ladies are rather playing catch up in 2nd place to the frontrunner, the Nerazzurri. With 100% start to the season, Inter Milan sits in what seems to be an unfamiliar territory, having not assumed this position for a very long time. Internationale stays aloft of Juventus with 2-clear points and with other rivals such as Napoli, Roma & AC Milan dropping further points, the title race look set to be a 2-horse race between Internationale and Juventus.

Internationale latest win was a hard-fought 1 nil home win over seasoned campaigner Lazio. Internationale, coming from a crucial 2 nil win over city rival AC Milan, brims with confidence, her Rome base opponent Lazio, matches Internationale’s last result with a 2 nil home win over Parma and couldn’t be underestimated.

Both teams deployed a 3-5-2 formation and so the clash was a fierce midfield battle with few clear cut chances. However, it was Lazio who blinked first, allowing Internationale to strike a blow in the 23rd minute, Danilo D’ambrosio deployed at right wing-back sneaked in at the back post to nod home from close range, from a fine cross off teammate, left wing-back Cristiano Biraghi. Lazio huffed and puffed for an equalizer and should have gotten one, but Internationale’s man between the sticks, Samir Handanovic, making his 300th appearance for the club, was in heroic form, denying Lazio with fine saves. The win makes Inter Milan the 23rd team in the Serie A to win her 1st 5-league matches, much to the delight of the manager Antonio Conte, who in his post-match comment refused to duel on the feat and urged his team not to be overwhelmed by the feat also, but rather focus on the ultimate goal.

Some think that Inter Milan’s early charge will fade away with time, just as Napoli faded away in the 2015/16, having led the league for a very long time, they were eventually overtaken by Juventus who at some stage were languishing in the bottom half of the league table. However, statistics have also shown that 59% of the 22 teams that have in the past won their 1st 5-Serie A matches, have gone on to win the Scudetto. The stats include 3 of Juventus last 8 titles(2014/15; Won 1st 6-matches, 2017/18; Won 6 again & 2018/19; Won 1st 8-matches).

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The confidence in Inter Milan’s camp has been sky high of late, reminiscence of a Jose Mourinho tutored Inter Milan side that won a tremble in the 2009/10 season. This new-found mood in Internationale’s camp can be attributed to new manager Antonio Conte, the Italian, a serial winner, 3 times Scudetto winner with Juventus and an EPL title with Chelsea, Inter Milan fans can be forgiven for having hope of winning the league this season.

It gets even easier for Inter Milan come this weekend matchday 6, with a trip to Sampdoria, a team that has lost 4 of her last 5 league fixtures and had lost both legs of the league fixtures to Inter Milan in the past 2 seasons. 15 maximum points, 10 goals scored and just 1 conceded, Inter Milan couldn’t ask for a better start, however, the journey is still a long way to go, with 33 league matches yet to be played.

Posted to Sports Dapp @Scorum, you’re welcome to be part of Scorum.

Thank you all for your time and supports.

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2019 MLS Playoff Race, Could LA Galaxy Miss Out Yet Again?

The race for a spot in the 2019 Audi MLS Cup reaches it’s antepenultimate, with the majority of both Eastern and Western Conference teams played 31 out of the 34 regular season matches. One of the glamourous franchise of the league might miss out of the playoff for the often time. The Los Angeles Galaxy had disappointedly missed the 2017 and 2018 playoffs respectively and could yet miss the 2019 playoff with tricky games left on their roster.

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14 places(7 each from both conferences) are up for grabs in the postseason championship. All of the Eastern Conference’s current top 7 teams but the New England Revolution had secured the postseason status, as shown in the table above, leaving either of the Chicago Fire, Montreal Impact & the Orlando City SC with a realistic chance of justling out with the New England Revolution for the remaining single spot. The Western Conference, on the other hand, has 6 spots left to compete for, with Los Angeles FC the only side safely in the postseason championship. As much as 10 other clubs including the Los Angeles Galaxy are still vying for the 6 playoff spots as shown in the table below.

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Los Angeles Galaxy(Western Conference);

Five(5) times MLS Cup winner, Los Angeles Galaxy(2002, 2005, 2011, 2012 & 2014) was living dangerously close to missing the playoff, having dropped out of playoff spots following a string of poor results. However, the LAG has fought their way back into contention with back-to-back victories, which have now lifted them from 8th to 4th position on the Western Conference log table. The latest win, a 2-1 home win over Montreal Impact came at the back of a 7-2 win over Sporting Kansas City. Zlatan Ibrahimovic(31′) and Uriel Antuna(50′) combined to set up a goal apiece for each other in the 2-1 win while Lassi Lappalainen(48′) scored for Montreal Impact.

Having also scored a hat trick in the 7-2 win over Sporting Kansas, Ibrahimovic now has 27 league goals, just 2 behind league-leading scorer, Los Angeles FC’s Carlos Vela(29 goals). With 3 matches left on the regular-season roster, both Ibrahimovic and Vela alongside Atlanta United FC’s Josef Martinez(26 goals) chase the 31-goal single-season record set by Martinez himself last season.

Playoff seems to be within LAG’s grasp now, with 2 out of their last 3 fixtures against opponents outside the playoff places, bottom sides Houston Dynamo(10th) and Vancouver Whitecaps FC(12th), plus the seemingly tough tie against 5th place Real Salt Lake. The next 2 games for LAG are crucial to their playoff quest, back-to-back away games at Real Salt Lake and Vancouver Whitecaps FC, defeats in both games would make the last game against Houston Dynamo a must-win on home turf. However, if there is any team that can hurt LAG at their backyard, it would be the Houston Dynamo. It could be recall how the Houston based franchise stopped the LA Galaxy from making the playoff in the 2017 season, LA Galaxy was leading 2-0 at home but then got pegged back and stunned 2-3 at the Dignity Health Sports Park.

Ibrahimovic, after the 2-1 win over Montreal claimed to be the “MVP of the MVPs” but can he help LA Galaxy complete the revival and steer them to a 1st playoff spot in 3 seasons? There is only one way to find out.

Originally Posted to Sports Dapp @Scorum, you’re welcome to be part of Scorum.

Yours sincerely @peman, Thanks.

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The Blues Take On The Reds, Can Lampard Thwart Klopp’s Title March? Chelsea-Liverpool Match Preview.

Liverpool travels to the Stamford Bridge on Sunday to take on Chelsea, as Klopp’s army aims to continue on their blistering start to the season. Will their title march be frustrated by Frank Lampard’s tutored side? English Premier League matchday 6 offers an intriguing fixture on Super Sunday.

Chelsea-Liverpool rivalry is what many will agree to be a modern-day rivalry. The fixture between these 2 was just another EPL fixture until early 2000, and this can be merited to 2 of the most animated managers at the club’s dugout, Jose Mourinho and Rafa Benitez. These 2 managers have gone on to lay the foundation for what has become one of the biggest EPL fixtures.

The EPL is going into matchday 6, and some feel that whatever result comes out of this encounter, it may be inconsequential to the title race, however, as a reminder, Liverpool lost just 1 league tie last season but still missed out on the league title. So, every single point will be crucial to Liverpool’s course.

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Chelsea v Liverpool, source


Chelsea (P5, W2, D2, L1 & Pts 8)
Chelsea start to the season has been patchy, their 2 wins, 2 draws and a defeat has divided opinion on whether they can make the top 4 yet again under Lampard. Transfer ban had limited the Blues into putting trust in young academy graduates such as Tamny Abraham, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori, and the young lads had so far justified their inclusion in the senior squad. The trio was responsible for all 11 league goals for Chelsea, with Tammy Abraham joint leading scorer with 7 goals. Chelsea fell to a disappointing home 0-1 defeat to Valencia in the UCL and will be raring to bounce back against Liverpool, the good news is that the combative midfielder Ngolo Kante has returned to the squad and may be involved against the Reds.

Liverpool (P5, W5, D0, L0 & Pts 15)
Liverpool is on a 5-match winning run in the league, they have scored a staggering 15 goals and conceded just 4, however, they fell to a 0-2 defeat to Napoli in midweek’s Uefa Champions League tie, an uncharacteristic sloppiness in defence cost them the loss. The manner of the conceded goals raises few eyebrows concerning Liverpool’s impenetrable defence, are cracks beginning to show in the Van Dijk led wall of defence? or it’s just a one-off defensive lapse? It will be business as usual for Liverpool’s deadly front 3 of Firmino, Mane & Salah on Sunday.

H2H: Last 5 EPL Matches(Chelsea W1-D3-W1 Liverpool)
Liverpool last league visit to the Bridge ended in a 1-1 draw, so were 3 out of the 5 league meetings. The last time Liverpool defeated Chelsea at the Stamford Bridge was in 2016 when Lovren and Henderson’s goal help the Reds to a 2-1 win, Diego Costa gave Chelsea a consolation goal.

Prediction
>>Chelsea 1-2 Liverpool<<

If form is anything to reckon with in fixtures such as this, then Liverpool with the 100% league form has the edge. Chelsea might likely play deep and hit back on the break, however, it might still not be enough to keep Liverpool at bay. A draw will be a welcome result for Chelsea.

Cross-posted @Scorum

Thank you all for your time.

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Conte Fired Up For His 1st Ever Milan Derby, AC-Inter Match Preview.

Inter Milan new manager Antonio Conte will on Saturday have a taste of the yearly Derby Della Madonnina or Derby di Milano(Milan Derby), as the Italian tactician aims to consolidate Inter’s top place in Serie A log table, in a keenly anticipated matchday 4 contest against city rival AC Milan.

One of the most popular derby in Serie A, AC-Inter clash will go a long way this season to see which of the rivals is battle-ready to break Juventus stronghold on the Scudetto. The last time Juventus would not beat either of AC & Inter to a domestic title was in the 2010/11 season when AC won the Scudetto and Inter won the Coppa Italia, it has been 8-drought seasons for the city rivals since then. There’s no better way to test each other’s resolves than against each other in an early-season fixture.

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AC MILAN [P3, W2, D0, L1 & Pts 6]

AC Milan began the season with a disappointing 0-1 loss at Udinese but have since bounced back with a back-to-back wins to sit 7th on log table, however, the Marco Giampaolo tutored side is finding goals hard to come by, as the likes of Krzysztof Piatek, Suso, Fabio Borini have all struggled in front of opposition goal. The Rossoneri will sure need to dig deep if they are to break down Inter Milan on Saturday.

INTER MILAN [P3, W3, D0, L0 & Pts 9]

Inter Milan has a title-winning manager in Antonio Conte, 3 times Scudetto winner with Juventus and 1 with Chelsea in the English League, Inter has a genuine chance of title push this season. They started the league on a promising note with 3 wins out of their 3 fixtures so far, scored 7 and conceded just 1. Romelu Lukaku(brought in during the summer window alongside ex-Manchester United teammate Alexi Sanchez) has come in handy with 2 goals, and will surely be crucial to Inter’s title push.

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Giampaolo vs Conte, source


Serie A Last 5 H2H [AC Milan W0-D2- W3 Inter]

Inter had dominated the last 5 league fixtures over their city rival, the Nerazzurri had won 3 and drawn 2 over AC Milan. AC’s last league win over Inter was in January of 2016 when Alex, Carlos Bacca and Mbaye Niang condemned Inter to defeat. However, Inter completed a double over AC last season(3-2, 1-0) and has all it takes to repeat the feat this season.

AC Milan manager Giampaolo has been mostly deploying a 4-3-2-1 formation this season, Lucas Paquette & Suso playing just behind the centre forward Piatek. However, the battle will be in the midfield where AC’s midfield trio of Kessie, Biglia and Calhanoglu come up against Inter’s quartet of Asamoah, Brozovic, Barella & Candreva in a 3-4-2-1 Conte’s renowned formation. Inter’s usual suspect target man will be Lukaku.

PREDICTION

>>>AC Milan 0-2 Inter Milan<<<

AC Milan lack of goals put them on the back seat against their rival who had notched 7 goals already, nonetheless, Derby matches are often time hard to predict correctly. It may as well ends in a score draw.

Blog Cross-posted @Scorum

Thank you all for your time.

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Arsenal’s Defence Still In Disarray

Much noise had been made on Arsenal’s successful summer transfer window, perhaps so, for a team thought to have had just a little above £40M transfer budget but ended up spending as much as triple of the claimed budget, it seemed a successful window, after all, forking out well over £100M in a single transfer window is not a popular occurrence at the club. However, were that huge amount of money well spent?

Arsenal’s defence had been on a free fall since the end of the invisible era(2003/04 title-winning squad), and the then manager Arsene Wenger was consistently criticised for not bolstering his defence, and the damaging consequence is Arsenal’s lack of league title in 16 years, unacceptable feat for a team in Arsenal’s status.

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Unai Emery, source

Arsene Wenger had since left the club and in came a new manager Unai Emery. The Spaniard understandably had to use whatever players available at his disposal to try and tidy a crippled Arsenal defence in his 1st season in charge. However, Emery has now had 3 transfer windows since his arrival at Arsenal but yet, the defence is still in shambles. The 2019/20 league season has just past matchday 5 and it’s the same old anguish for the fans, as Arsenal had conceded a whopping 8 goals already(2-1 Burnley, 1-3 Liverpool, 2-2 Spurs & 2-2 Watford), a poor return for a champions league chasing team. Their poor showing at the back was highlighted in the 2 all draw at Watford on Sunday.

Arsenal allows their best centre-back Laurent Koscielny to leave the club during the summer window but failed to bring in a replacement, a title-winning Van Dijk-Esque signing. Instead, they brought in David Luiz(whom many believe should not have been a defender) to supposedly add stability and leadership to the back 4, a player Jose Mourinho was never a fan of because of his inconsistencies as a centre-back. Seems like Luiz is only adding more chaos to the defence.

So, the burning question is, why spent as much as £72M on Nicholas Pepe(a winger) when Arsenal’s urgent need is a world-class defender? Many had argued in Arsenal’s defence that a top-class defender is hard to come by when you are not playing champions league football but others disagree, they argued that the £72M spent on Pepe would have persuaded either Juventus(Italy) or RB Leipzig(Germany) to let go of center-backs Daniele Rugani or Dayotchanculle Upamecano, either of whom could have offered immensely than David Luiz.

At the weekend, Emerick Aubameyang’s brace had given the Gunners the lead but a horrendous pass in own box by Sokratis Papastathopoulos was intercepted by Watford’s Gerard Deulofeu and Tom Cleverly fired home to pull 1 goal back. Then, the infamous David Luiz conceded yet another penalty, his 2nd in 3 league games, Arsenal’s 3rd in 3 consecutive league games. Robert Pereyra converted from the spot, to earn his side a deserved 2-2 draw.

A difficult period for Arsenal and her fans, with centre-back Rob Holding still few days short of a return to matchday squad and Kieran Tierney and Hector Bellerin still recuperating from injuries, the winter transfer window seems like light-years away(should Arsenal come true with their promise of being proactive ahead of the window).

Blog can be found @Scorum

Thank you always, for taking the time out to read.

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More Misery For Cocu At Derby County.

Time is running out for Derby County Manager Phillip Cocu as his reign at the elms of the club’s affair has taken a somewhat downward turn since the season’s opening win at Huddersfield. The Rams, on Friday night, were held to a 1-1 draw by fellow stragglers Cardiff City at the Pride Park Stadium. The draw means Derby have now failed to win in their last 6 championship matches, and are lingering in the bottom half of championship table with 7 points, just 4 places above the relegation spot(18th position).

Cocu’s task couldn’t be more straight forward, to return the Rams(who came agonizingly close to gaining promotion last season) back to the EPL, but after matchday 7, Cocu’s task seems to be a huge mountain to climb. Derby started the 2019/20 league season started quite well with a hard-fought 2-1 victory at Huddersfield Town but followed it up with a disappointing back-to-back draws against Swansea City and Stoke City respectively. Coupled with the 2nd round exit from the EFL Cup(a 0-3 defeat to Nottingham Forest), Derby has gone on a 6-league-match-winless run, drawn 4 and lost 2. In a championship race where the trio of Swansea City, Charlton Athletic and West Brom are still unbeaten are setting the pace in the league, playing catch up wasn’t what Derby owner Mel Morris signed Cocu up for and might be growing thin on patience.

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Bielik pulled on Cardiff goalscorer Glatzel, source

Unlike the poor showing in matchday 6 0-3 loss to Brentford in which Derby registered an absolute zero shot on target, they put up a better performance, dominating proceedings against Cardiff but weren’t clinical enough in front of the opposition goal. They registered 13 total shots but managed just 5 on target. The match sparked into life in the 6th minute of kick-off when Jack Marriott, Tom Huddlestone and Martyn Waghorn had their efforts blocked or saved in quick successions, however, former Cardiff defender Scott Malone was on hand to finally fire home from close range, to give the home side the lead. The lead lasted only 13 minutes as Cardiff drew level from the spot-kick after Robert Glatzel dusted himself up to convert from 12 yards. Derby huffed and puffed for a winner but was repeatedly saw their efforts either blocked by Cardiff defenders or saved by Alex Smithies in Cardiff’s goal. It finished 1-1 to the disappointment of Derby manager Cocu who felt his team was denied a blatant spot-kick when Martyn Waghorn was brought down in the box.

Phillip Cocu might just be hanging on to his job at the moment, he needs to focus his attention on his team’s poor finishing and not on the spot-kick the referee failed to give. His team has not been decisive enough in the opposition final 3rd, likewise, has not been clinical in front of the opposition goal, 7 goals in 7 matches are unapt of the Derby under Frank Lampard and even worse was the 10 goals conceded in those 7 matches. Seems like Lampard’s shoe is proving to be too big to fit Cocu.

It is hard to understand if the off the pitch crisis(Derby under evaluation for selling Pride Park Stadium to owner Mel Morris) is responsible for Derby’s underperformance, nevertheless, Cocu needs to put in a string of results to remain on the job. He understandably needs time but unfortunately, time is not what club owners have any more in modern football.

Blog originally posted to @Scorum

Thank you for taking the time out to show support.

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3 Lions Ruthless In Attack But There Is Work To Be Done Defensively.

The English national men’s football team, the 3 Lions recorded their 4th straight win in Group A of the ongoing EURO 2020 qualifiers, first-half goals from Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane, an own goal and a Jadon Sancho brace set England to an eventual 5-3 victory over combative Kosovo in a pulsating 8 goal thriller at St Mary’s Stadium on Tuesday night. The result showed that England are still vulnerable at the back despite their attacking prowess and may well find themselves in the same old perfect qualifying campaign but disappointing tournament.

The 3 Lions as expected are on a smooth ride in the EURO 2020 qualifiers, scoring goals with reckless abandoned against Group A opponents that include the Czech Republic, Montenegro, Bulgaria & Kosovo. Their 5-3 win over Kosovo was the 4th consecutive Group A qualifier to have scored 4 goals or more(5-0 Czech, 5-1 Montenegro & 4-0 Bulgaria), a staggering 19 goals in 4 matches. As impressive and flattering the scoring spree might seem, England were never expected to fall short of convincing results in this group, perhaps so, going past a group stage has never been a hiccup for the past EURO/World Cup qualifiers played within the past 10 years. Opta stats showed that England had avoided defeat in all 43 qualifiers played within the aforementioned years(W34, D9, L0). The last English side to lose a qualifier was the Fabio Capello tutored side in a 0-1 loss to Ukraine in the 2009 World Cup qualifiers.

Much has also been said, especially in the English media, about the competitiveness among the current crop of talented players at Manager Gareth Southgate disposal. Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling forming a fearsome front 2, Jadon Sancho coming into the fray, the array of options at right-back(Trent Alex-Arnold, Kieran Tripper, Kyle Walker & Wan Bissaka) giving Southgate a healthy headache. It seems like England now has a formidable team at hand.

“RIDICULOUS MISTAKES”

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Poor individual mistakes were how Manager Southgate referred to his defender’s errors on the night. Michael Keane under no real pressure gave the ball to the opponent(Valon Berisha) who fired home just 34 seconds into kick-off, England’s 1st ever goal conceded under just 60 seconds in a qualifier. Declan Rice got in on the act, losing possession in the midfield and Kosovo made a great deal out of it for their 2nd goal(Berisha). Keane’s centre-back partner Harry Maguire then conceded a clumsy spot-kick which Kosovo’s Vedat Muriqi duly converted. Such basic errors cannot be afforded at the top level, quality sides such as France, Portugal or Italy will make them pay if gifted such. It could be recall how individual lapses from Kyle Walker, Ross Barkley & John Stone caused England places in World Cup(1-2 semifinal loss to Croatia) & Euro Nations League(1-3 semifinal loss to the Netherlands) finals.

The 3 Lions may have a potent attack to boast of but they need to address the schoolboy errors at the back that had denied them in their quest for major honours since their last and only title, 1966 FIFA World Cup triumph.

Blog originally posted to @Scorum

Thank you all for your time.

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Derby Della Capitale Ended In An Entertaining Stalemate, Review.

The Rome Derby popularly known in Italy as the Derby Della Capitale or Derby Della Capitolino is a ferocious intra-city rivalry between Roma and Lazio both of Rome. Many believe this Derby is the most fiercely contested in Italian football ahead of other famous derbies such as the Milan Derby( Derby Della Madonnina) and the Turin Derby( Derby Della Mole). The 90-year-old rivalry and bad blood between these 2 clubs is so fierce that in 1979 it recorded the 1st fatality in Italian football when a Lazio fan was struck and killed by a flare gun fired by a Roma fan. It also saw a league clash in 2004 abandoned just 4 minutes into the 2nd-half due to fans violence. Such was the nature of Derby Della Capitale, thankfully, the latest episode of the Rome derby wasn’t dramatic or fatal, rather, an entertaining 1 all draw.

With 5 Scudettos shared between Roma(3; 1941/42, 82/83 & 2000/01) and Lazio(2; 1973/74 & 1999/2000), they came into matchday 2 at the Stadio Olimpico, not with the unrealistic aim of winning the Scudetto but the chance to qualify for next season’s European competitions.

The last 5 league meetings between them have seen both teams with 2 wins and a draw including a 3-nil Lazio win and a 3-1 Roma win in the reverse fixtures of last season. Lazio the team in form, having started the season with a convincing 3 nil win at Sampdoria, Roma, on the other hand, were held at home 3 all by Genoa in their season opener.

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Source.

Lazio manager Simone Inzaghi made just 1 change to the team that won 3 nil at Sampdoria, dropping Marco Parolo for Lucas in the holding midfield role, Roma manager Paulo Fonseca, like his counterpart, made just 1 change to his line up, Gianluca Mancini preferred at the heart of the defence to Juan Jesus.

Like in most derbies, form doesn’t really count, as Roma put their nose in front from the spot-kick in the 17th minute, Aleksander Kolarov with his 2nd goal of the season(having scored 1 in the 3 all draw against Genoa). Roma held unto the 1 nil lead going into the half-time break. However, Lazio levelled 13 minutes into the restart, Luiz Alberto teed up by Ciro Immobile in the 58th minutes. It ended 1 all at the Stadio Olimpico with both teams having 3 or more players in the referee’s disciplinary book.

The result didn’t tell the full story, it was a ferocious encounter as expected and the scoreline could have ended in a 3-3 or 4-4 draw as Lazio struck the post 4 times while Roma also hit the woodwork 2 times but in the end, it was a goal apiece.

Blog posted originally to my Scorum Account

Thank you all for your time.

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Napoli Test Mettle At Champions Juventus, Preview.

It is matchday 2 in the Italia Serie A and we have an interesting inter-city rivalry on hands, Naples’ finest Napoli travels to Turin’s Heavyweight Juventus in what promises to be one of the weekend’s biggest fixtures. The early season clash will present Napoli an opportunity to test if their squad is ready to challenge Juventus for the Scudetto.

Juventus’ dominance in the Serie A is no more breaking news, as they seem to have made the Scudetto their own, 8 consecutive Serie A title summed up Juventus’ reign. In those 8 years, the only team that often time push Juventus for the title was Napoli, as she has come up as runners up 4 times, so, one can be forgiven for naming Napoli as one of the title challengers to Juventus yet again.


FORM;

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Juventus, despite an inconsistent preseason, began the season with a hard-fought, slim 1 nil victory at Parma, courtesy of a 1st-half strike from defender Giorgio Chiellini. Having dominated the proceedings against Parma, Juventus were limited to few scoring chances and will be raring to improve on that performance against rival Napoli, hopefully, manager Mauricio Sarri has shaken off pneumonia to be in Juventus dugout on Saturday.

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Napoli, also had a not-too-good preseason but in her season opener had to come from a goal down, to edge an entertaining 3-4 scoreline at Fiorentina. However, they can not afford to be porous at the back against Cristiano Ronaldo lead Juventus attack, or else it might prove difficult to undo the damage.


Juventus vs Napoli, H2H;

Juventus W68, Napoli W31, 47 Draws.
Both teams had played a total of 146 Serie A matches against each other, with Juventus having the upper hand with 68 wins, Napoli had 31 wins while 47 matches ended in a draw. Juventus’ 68 wins include victories in both return legs in last season’s fixtures(2-1 & 3-1).


Key Players;

Juventus: Home side will definitely rely on the finesse of Ronaldo in this tie, the Portuguese will be aiming to get into his groove having drawn blank against Parma. Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala and Mario Mandzukic will also offer threats in Napoli’s half. Also, new signings such as Adrien Rabiot, Aaron Ramsey and Matthijs De Ligt may be in for their 1st start.

Napoli: Lorenzo Insigne, Dries Mertens and Jose Callejon will inflict trouble to any defence, the trio scored all 4 goals in Fiorentina win and will be raring to have a go at Juventus defence, plus they have a manager that has the technical know-how to hurt Juventus, Carlo Ancelotti.


Prediction;

>>>Juventus 2-0 Napoli<<<
Losing at home is never an option for Juventus, they have made the Allianz Stadium a fortress over the past 8 seasons and are still hungry for more success. A draw will certainly be a step in the right direction for Napoli but it will be a tough task.

Blog cross-posted from Scorum

Thank You All.

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The Old Firm Derby, Preview.

The Glasgow Derby, popularly known as the Old Firm Derby, is the famous clash between Glasgow and Scottish Premiership rivals Celtic and Rangers, the rivalry that began as far back as 1888 has gone on to be part and parcel of the rich Scottish culture. With 104 out of 122 Scottish league titles shared amongst Rangers(54) and Celtic(50), both teams are the undisputed shot callers in Scottish football. However, Celtic has dominated and won the league for the past 8th consecutive seasons, putting Rangers on the back seat since her return from relegation 4 seasons ago. Rangers’ quest to break Celtic stronghold on the league begins with the 1st of 3 league clashes against Celtic on Sunday.

LEAGUE FORM:

RANGERS (W, W, W); Rangers began the season with the right momentum with a 100% start, winning all 3 league matches played, scoring 9 goals and conceded 2, and with a group stage of the Europa League secured, confidence is sky-high going into the derby come Sunday.

CELTIC ( W, W, W, ); Celtic, like her city rival, goes into Sunday’s derby full of confidence, having started the league with equally 100% win, 15 staggering goals scored and just 3 conceded in the 3 matches played. Celtic has also qualified for the group stage of Europa league and so can focus on league fixtures.

RANGERS vs CELTIC, H2H:

>>>RANGERS W2, CELTIC W7;<<<

Both teams had played 9 league matches against each other since Rangers returned to the SPL in 2016/17 season(having been removed from the league in 2012/13 for financial troubles), and it was Celtic with 6 consecutive league wins in both 2016/17 & 2017/18. Rangers brought in ex Liverpool International Steven Gerrard for his managerial debut in 2018/19, and he has since redeemed some pride unto Rangers, winning 2 out of the 3 Old Firm derbies of that season.

KEY PLAYERS:

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RANGERS‘s arguably best player is Alfredo Morelos, the Colombian has become 1 of Rangers important player over the year and will no doubt prove a torn in Celtic’s flesh. Jermaine Defoe is another player that can sure hurt Celtic if, given the nod on Sunday, other usual suspects include Scott Arfield and James Tavernier, both players scored in the 2-0 win last May.

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Source

CELTIC may be without their marauding left-back Kieran Tierney who had since joined Arsenal, but they’ve got threats all over the pitch, James Forrest and Odsonne Edouard both scored in a 2-1 win over Rangers last season and will be raring to go again on Sunday. Leigh Griffiths and Bayo Youssouf have already begun the season with a couple of goals and can be called on by Celtic’s manager Neil Lennon.

PREDICTION;

>>Rangers 1-0 Celtic<<

Rangers won both fixtures 1-0, 2-0 respectively [at the Ibrox Stadium last season, losing only the away trip 1-2 at Celtic Park. I think Rangers will edge this fixture too.

Blog cross-posted from Scorum

Enjoy the Super Sunday fixtures. Thank you all for your time.

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Rangers Keeping Up The Pace With Celtic In The Scottish Premiership, Review.

Glasgow city rivals Celtic and Rangers are yet to drop point in the season’s 3 matches played, both on 100% winning start to the Scottish Premiership season, Celtic’s scoring spree to the season continues with another 3-1 over Hearts, while city neighbour Rangers, also recorded a 1 nil win at St Mirren. Both clubs are now poised and well pumped up going into coming weekend Old Firm Derby.

ST MIRREN 0-1 RANGERS;

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It is Steven Gerrard’s 2nd season at the elms of affairs at Ibrox and the ex England International cannot afford to slip up in the early sprint with Celtic as the season begins to gear up. They have begun the season on an impressive note, winning her 3rd straight league matches, having begun with an opening day fixture slim 2-1 win at Kilmarnock, they then stepped their game up with a 6-1 drubbing of Hibernian in matchday 2. The latest 1 nil win over St Mirren over the weekend made it 9 points, 8 goals scored and just a lone goal conceded by Rangers.

The victory over St Mirren was a hard-fought one, Rangers had to dig deep before they could break down a resolute St Mirren defence. St Mirren offered little in the Rangers’ half but could have gotten a chance to take the lead had the centre referee awarded them a spot-kick when Rangers’ Filip Helander looked to have brought down Celtic’s Jonathan Obika, instead, it was Rangers who rode their luck when left-back Borna Barisic curled in a delightful 59th minute free-kick to snatched all 3 points for Rangers. A relief for Gerrard whose team had a total of 15 shots but only 7 were on target.

Rangers defence had put in quite a performance so far, conceding just a goal in 3 matches is remarkable, however, the attack needs to be more clinical if they really want to pose a challenge to Celtic’s dominance.

CELTIC 3-1 HEARTS;

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Celtic might have been knocked out of the preliminary rounds of the UEFA Champions League by the Romania side CFR Cluj, they are however doing fine on the domestic front, qualifying for the next rounds of the Scottish League Cup alongside their impressive start to the premiership. They’ve now also recorded their 3rd straight win with a 3-1 win over Hearts at Celtic Park. Neil Lennon tutored side followed up their 7 nil thrashing of St Johnstone in the league opener with another 5-2 win at Motherwell, making it 9 points from the 3 matches, scoring a staggering 15 goals and conceded 3.

Celtic dominated their visitors in possession(61%) and in shots(9), as they made light work of Hearts. 2 goals from their Ivorian striker Vakoun Issouf Bayo(29′, 60′), one each in either half and a 3rd from Callum McGregor(54′), a sensational 25-yard strike completed the 1 sided tie. Connor Washington(81′) did get a late consolation for Hearts when he rebounded his saved spot-kick back into the net. It’s now 3 matches without a win for Hearts in the new season and 6 winless league matches stretching back to the 2018/19 season(W0, D1, L5).

Celtic may be scoring freely, however, they need to address their defence. They might be getting away with conceding goals on the domestic front but not in Europe, conceding 3 goals on home turf against CFR Cluj(3-4 agg), having drawn the 1st leg 1-1 away, ultimately ended their UCL campaign.

All road now leads to the Ibrox Stadium next weekend in a Super-Sunday clash between Rangers and City rival Celtic in what is known as the Old Firm Derby. The result might be inconsequential to the title race yet(35 matches still to play), however, whichever side wins get the bragging right.


Blog cross-posted from Scorum


Thank you all for your time.

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Arsenal Taking An EPL Trip To The Dreaded Anfield, Liverpool-Arsenal Preview.

Liverpool vs Arsenal fixture will always be a clash to look forward to, this fixture had over the years produced goals feast and hat-trick heroes more than any other fixtures could, from the historical Robbie Fowler 5-minute hat-trick in a 3-0 Liverpool win in 1994/95 season to a lanky Peter Crouch’s hat-trick in another 4-1 Liverpool win in the 2006/07 season. Arsenal also had hat-trick heroes in this fixture, they had the better of Liverpool in 2003/04 season when French striker Thierry Henry dazzled with his hat-trick goals in a 4-2 win. Then came the entertaining 4-4 draw in the 2008/09 season when the diminutive Arsenal striker Andrey Arshavin put 4 goals past Liverpool goalie. Last season’s tie saw Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino registered his hat-trick against Arsenal in a 5-1 win, amongst other memorable hat-tricks, perhaps another hat-trick might be on the card come Saturday.

It’s matchday 3 in the new season, and the 2 teams with the 100% winning start lock horns in Saturday’s late game. Arsenal travels to Anfield to take on a familiar foe Liverpool in what promises to be another entertaining encounter.

LIVERPOOL;

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Two(2) wins in 2 matches, 6 goals scored and 2 conceded, Liverpool is on the right track to challenge Manchester City for the EPL title. They will, however, need their stand-in goalkeeper Adrien not to make a silly mistake such as he made against Southampton last weekend. Henderson might come back into the midfield alongside Wajnaldum and probably Fabinho, the frontline will definitely be unchanged from last weekend win in a 4-3-3 formation.

ARSENAL;

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Two(2) wins in 2 matches, 3 goals scored and 1 conceded, Arsenal couldn’t have asked for a better start to a season, they have not had such start to a season in years, is it an omen of the better season ahead or otherwise? A slightly different team might be on the card from Unai Emery with Pepe likely to replace Reiss Nelson and Xhaka coming in for Joe Wilnock in a likely 4-2-3-1 formation.

H2H;
Liverpool incredibly dominates this fixture, having the better of Arsenal in the last 8 meetings(W4, D4, L0), in fact, Liverpool’s last league defeat to Arsenal was some 4 seasons ago(2014/15) when the Brendan Rodgers tutored side lost 1-4 to the Gunners at the Emirate Stadium. Power had shifted since that league defeat, as Liverpool had made 4 further trips to the Emirate with 3 draws and a win. Arsenal, on the other hand, had fared poorly on her recent trips to the Anfield with just 1 draw and 3 losses, losing with a 2 or more goal margin(1-5, 0-4 & 1-3 respectively ).

KEY MEN;
Liverpool restored her favourite lethal front 3(Salah, Mane & Firmino) in the league win over Southampton, having started the previous game against Norwich City without Sadio Mane, and the threat these 3 players offer at opposition half is relentless and ruthless. However, Liverpool is not all about attack, the Van Dijk led defence has matched the success of the attack, with the flying full-backs of Trent Alex-Arnold and Andrew Robertson offering immensely in the attack. They will no doubt miss the brilliance of their number 1 safe hands Alisson Becker who is still out injured.
Arsenal surprised everyone with the addition of few new players in the last transfer window, one player has caught the eyes of many, loan signing, Ceballos, the Spaniard has proven to be a quality addition so far and would be vital for Arsenal’s season quest. There might be a 1st start for Arsenal record signing Nicholas Pepe, the Ivorians might join the usual suspect of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre Aubameyang in a likewise exciting front 3. Arsenal weak link has always been the defence for years, and it is unclear whether the signing of David Luiz will offer any improvement to the defence, with Salah-Firmino-Mane prowling, it might be a long evening for Luiz led defence.

PREDICTION;
The stats surely favours Liverpool, having scored a staggering 12 goal against the Gunners in the last 3 visits, however, stats are often time thrown out of the window in such fierce fixture. A draw will be a welcome result for Arsenal.
Liverpool 3-1 Arsenal


Find post on Scorum

Thanks.

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Can Any Club Break Juventus’ Strong Hold On The Scudetto? Milan Clubs? Or Perhaps Napoli?

There were periods in the time past when the Italia Serie A honour, the Scudetto or Coppa Campioni d’Italia was dominated by a single club for years, from city rivals Inter(2005-2010) & AC Milan(1991-94) to Juventus(1930-35) & Torino(1942-49). In all of those dominant seasons, none of those clubs come close to the domestic successes achieved by this present Juventus, the present Old Ladies of Turin has reign supreme for the past 8 seasons, holding firm to the prestigious Serie A throne, She’ll stop at nothing to extend her reign for the 9th straight season.

The Bianconeri is not resting on her oars as she grows even stronger, the already untouchable squad that includes Cristiano Ronaldo, Paulo Dybala, Miralem Pjanic, Giorgio Chiellini etc is being bolstered by the arrival of the midfield duo Aaron Ramsey(former Arsenal) and Adrien Rabiot(former PSG), and the talented teenage defender Mattijs de Ligt(former Ajax) amongst others. Even though Juventus had parted ways with their former manager Massimiliano Allegri(double domestic winner between 2015-18), and had since replaced him with former Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri(who has never won a domestic honour in Italy, however, won UEFA Europa League with Chelsea last season), it will still take some collapsing from Juventus before any of the Milan Clubs(Inter or AC), Napoli or other clubs can stop Juventus from winning a 9th successive Scudetto.

PARMA vs JUVENTUS, H2H;

Juventus begins her Scudetto defence on the road to Parma on Saturday, a team that has proven to be a tough nut to crack by the Old Ladies in recent fixtures, it took a Blaise Matuidi 2nd-half winner to separate the 2 in a hard-fought 2-1 win while the reverse fixture ended in an entertaining 3-3 draw. Further previous league fixtures saw both teams securing a win each(1-0 Parma, 7-0 Juve).

KEY MEN;

PARMA; Manager Roberto D’Aversa will be hoping his Ivory Coast import Gervinho reproduce such performance that saw him scored 2 goals in the 3 all draw with Juventus last season.

JUVENTUS; Maurizio Sarri, on the other hand, has a pool of stars to pick from, Cristiano Ronaldo, who also scored 2 goals in the 3-3 draw with Parma last season(and 21 league goals for Juve, their leading scorer) should be available for the opener, he could be playing in starting 11 with the new signings, talented box-to-box duo Aaron Ramseyand Adrien Rabiot who will provide him with plenty scoring chances.

PREDICTION;

Juventus yet to sort out the future of the Argentine Paulo Dybala, nevertheless, it is not expected to be a distraction or excuse for Juventus not to get all 3 points against Parma at the Stadio Ennio Tardini. I reckon a Juventus win.

Parma 0-2 Juventus.

Cross-posted from sport Dapp Scorum

Thank you all for your time.

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Front Runners Are Beginning To Emerge In The EFL, Review.

It may be too early to be reading too much meaning to the English Championship table, however, some teams have got off to a good start. Leeds United and Swansea City occupy the 2 automatic promotion spots with 10 points each after 4 matches, while Fulham(9 pts), Sheffield Wednesday(9 pts), Charlton(8 pts) and West Bromwich Albion(8 pts) take the playoffs spots, the promotion race has begun in earnest.

LEEDS UNITED 1-0 BRENTFORD;

blankNketiah, source

Leeds United will be leaving no stone to unturn and ensure their promotion race doesn’t collapse like it did last season, Bielsa’s lads started last season swiftly but collapsed at the home stretch and eventually missed promotion agonizingly.

It’s matchday 4 in the EFL, and it’s 3 wins and a draw for Leeds United, they had to leave it late before getting the desired 3 points against Brentford on Wednesday night. New signing, Arsenal’s 20-year-old on-loan striker Eddie Nketiah tapped in from close range with 9 minutes of regulation time to play, having just came on 4 minutes earlier.

Leeds dominated their visitor Brentford but weren’t clinical in front of goal, they had a mere 11 total shots all night and just 4 on target. They will have to do better if they are to remain on top of the league table.

QPR 1-3 SWANSEA CITY;

blankCelina, source

Swansea’s quest to gain promotion is going according to plan, a long way to go but they must keep grinding out results as they’ve done at the weekend at home to Preston North End(3-2 Swansea) and on Wednesday night.

Swansea started the game on the back foot, with their goalkeeper Freddy Woodman called to fine save in the early exchanges, however, they gain confidence and got into the lead through Bersant Celina in the 29th minute. The home side equalised in the 66th minute when Jordan Hugill nodded in, but the scoreline didn’t stay level for long, as Swansea regained the lead from the spot-kick when Borja Baston sent Joe Lumley in goal the wrong way. Sam Surridge made the game safe for Swansea with a headed goal in the 80th minute.

Swansea joined Leeds at the tabletop with same 10 points but with lesser goal difference.

FULHAM 4-0 MILLWALL;

blankCavaleiro, source

Fulham will stop at nothing to gain an immediate return to the premier league, having dropped down at the end of last season. The Cottagers brought in Wolverhampton forward Ivan Cavaleiro on loan to bolster their attack, the Portuguese is surely paying dividends.

Fulham host Millwall at Craven Cottage on Wednesday night and it was a one-sided clash, not only did Fulham enjoyed 84 possession of the ball, but they also put 4 goals past their helpless visitor.

Cavaleiro opened the scoresheet with a fine effort in the 15th minute and then provided a cross for teammate Anthony Knockaert to nod in just after the half-hour mark. Fulham made it 3 from spot-kick in the 56th minute when Serbian Aleksandar Mitrovic dusted himself up to score from 12 yards. Cavaleiro completed his double in the 63rd minute when he rounded Millwall’s goalie Bartosz Bialkowski, to make it 4 nil on the night.

It’s 3 goals each from 4 matches for Fulham’s duo of Ivan Cavaleiro and Aleksandar Mitrovic. Millwall’s 3-match unbeaten run ends in a whitewash.

SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY 1-0 LUTON;

blankKadeem, source

Sheffield Wednesday is keeping the pace with the frontrunner with just a point adrift of Leeds and Fulham, if they can maintain the pace remains to be seen, however, it’s an encouraging start for Sheffield.

A narrow 1 nil home win over Luton on Tuesday night help Sheffield to momentary top the EFL table. It was a game Luton dominated in possession and in shots but couldn’t make their shots count. Sheffield Wednesday fired lesser shots but fared better by getting a goal, which ultimately separated both teams. Kadeem Harris with the decisive goal in the 54th minute.

Luton still without a win after 4 matches and is just a place of the bottom of the league table.

Both Charlton Athletic and West Brom played out a 1-1 draw with Nottingham Forest and Reading respectively in their Wednesday fixtures and are still unbeaten after matchday 4 with 2 wins and 2 draws but it’s only good enough to earn them 8 points, 5th and 6th(the remaining playoff spots) position respectively on the log table.

Blog cross-posted

Thank you all for your time.

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Pochetino In Love With The VAR.

Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino said in his post-match comment on his team’s 2-all draw with Manchester City at the Etihad that he is in love with the VAR and for good and obvious reason, 2 major VAR decision come his way in just about 4 months, firstly, the thrilling UEFA Champions League 2nd-leg all-English quarterfinal clash at the Etihad last season and now, the English Premier League matchday 2, also at the Etihad.

IMG-20190819-WA0000.jpg

Guardiola, source.


A quick reminder of how it went down in that historical 2nd-leg UCL clash between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspurs. Spurs go into the 2nd-leg with a slim 1 nil advantage and had to avoid a 2-goal-margin defeat. However, it looked like they would fail in their quest when they went down to a Raheem Sterling 4th minute goal, they kept their nerves and fought back to a quick-fired Son Heung-Min’ double, to take a 2-1 lead. City well aware of the challenge, regained a 4-3 lead and needing one(1) more goal, Raheem Sterling scored what looked like the clincher in the injury time, but much to their heartbreak that put City manager Pep Guardiola on his knee with his head in his hands, the goal was disallowed by VAR due to Sergio Aguero’s offside run in the buildup to Sterling’s goal, ouch! Isn’t it?

IMG-20190819-WA0002.jpg

shocked Jesus alongside Sterling, source.


Fast forward 4 months later, in an EPL week 2 fixture where Tottenham took on Manchester City again at the Etihad, again it was Spurs boss Pochetino having the last laugh. Like the April clash, City took the lead through that man again, Raheem Sterling(he’s sure getting beneath Spurs skin these days), however, the lead only lasted 3 minutes as Spurs equalised through Erik Lamela in the 23rd minute. City regained the lead in the 35th minute through Sergio Aguero, as the Argentine put away Kevin De Bruyne’s cross, but again City got pegged back by Spurs through Lucas Moura(56′) who just got substituted onto the pitch seconds earlier. Deja Vu as City thought they won it late in the injury time when Gabriel Jesus curled into the bottom corner, however, VAR disagreed as City’s Aymeric Laporte was adjudged to have handled the ball in the buildup to Jesus’ goal. 2 all it finished at the Etihad much to the disappointment of the Citizens who felt Laporte should have been awarded a spot-kick earlier in the game when Spur’s Davison Sanchez pulled him down in the box(but VAR turned a blind eye).

I am in love with VAR… Sometimes you get the benefit like today or in the champions league…-an elated Pochettino says.

I just hope he won’t turn his back on his love for VAR when decisions don’t come in his favour in the nearest future.

Cross-Posted from Sport Dapp @Scorum

Thank you all.

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Reality Check For The Champions Barcelona And Bayern Munich In Season’s Opener, Review.

ATHLETIC BILBAO 1-0 BARCELONA:

FC Barcelona began her Spanish Primera title defence on a disappointing note, after going down 0-1 to Athletic Bilbao in the 1st match of the Spanish La Liga, a spectacular Aritz Aduriz’s scissors’ kick late in the game condemned the Blaugrana to their 1st opening-fixture defeat since the 2008 0-1 loss to Numancia, bringing a 10-straight opening fixture to win to an end.

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Dejected Barca team, source

Barcelona is still locked in the summer transfer window tug-of-war with PSG over the signing of their ex-forward Neymar Jnr and with rumours of a compromise between the 2 clubs still proving difficult to reach, the saga/drama is set to go to the wire as the European transfer window edges closer to it’s the final day. With so much attention on the transfer window, some quarters believe it’s a distraction to the team going into the Bilbao opener, and so it proved to be.

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Aduriz leading Bilbao celebration, source

Barcelona went into the match without their mercurial talisman Leo Messi due to a reported injury, and so, the onus falls on new signings like Antoine Griezmann and Frenkie De Jong to show their qualities, however, it wasn’t a debut both players would have hoped for. The Blaugrana as expected enjoyed plenty of the ball possession but were worryingly reduced to a single shot on target in the 1st half(2 in the entire regulation time) when substitute and Barca’s only lively player on the night Rafinha drew a finger-tip save from Bilbao’s goalkeeper Unai Simon in the 44th minute. Bilbao on the other hand, kept Ter Stegen in Barca’s goal busy in the half, calling the shot-stopper to some fine saves[Inaki Williams (7′), (15′), Unai Lopez(31′) & Raul Garcia(36′)] to keep the scoreline at goalless before the break.

The 2nd half was same old Barcelona moving the ball around with no real threat to Bilbao and just when it seemed like the match was going to end in a goalless statement, then came a moment of sheer brilliance from substitute and Bilbao’s old warhorse Aritz Aduriz, the 38-year-old Spaniard was barely on the pitch when he met teammate Ander Capa’s ambitious cross into the box with a delightful overhead kick(such that Messi & Ronaldo would be proud of) beyond a helpless Ter Stegen in the 89th minute.

Athletic Bilbao is now undefeated to Barca in 3 league games(W, D, D). Barcelona, on the other hand, once again proved that they are incomplete without a certain Argentine Leo Messi. They might feel hard done by with the early injury to Luiz Suarez(37′), however, Suarez replacement did remarkably well, arguably was Barcelona’s best player on the night.

BAYERN MUNICH 2-2 HERTHA BERLIN:

Also on Friday night, across Europe was the commencement of the German Bundesliga and it was kicked started by the reigning champion Bayern Munich versus Hertha Berlin at the historical Allianz Arena Stadium. Bayern needed a 2nd-half spot-kick to rescue a point at home in their league opener.

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Hertha Berlin, source

Bayern spent much of the summer transfer window chasing Manchester City Leroy Sane but they were consistently rebuffed by the Citizens. Bayern then shifted their attention to an unsettled Brazilian, Barcelona’s Phillipe Coutinho which despite the green light, might turn out to be a long shot too as it’s reported that Barcelona is including the Brazilian in a potential deal that would see 2 Brazilians switch clubs(Neymar the other).

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Lewandowski, source

Bayern was favoured to come out of this clash with Hertha Berlin victorious, an opponent they defeated in both home and away league fixture last season. They got a deserved lead through the usual suspect, Robert Lewandowski in the 24th minute and it seemed like the flood gate would open afterwards with Bayern dictating the proceedings, however, Hertha Berlin got other ideals, they struck in 2-quick minutes, Dodi Lukebakio’s deflected shot in the 36th minute and Marko Grujic’s stunner in the 38th minute.

The Bavarian, however, were relentless with their attack and got a chance to draw level when that man again, Lewandowski drew a foul from Marco Grujic in the area and was confirmed by VAR, Lewandowski dusted himself up to convert from 12 yards, to save the champion’s blushes( his double for the night).

With loanee James Rodriguez returned to his parent club Real Madrid, the Bavarian is lurking the transfer window for a playmaker, and it is uncertain if they can truly pull off a Phillipe Coutinho loan deal.

The good thing about not getting an opening day result is that it will give the club concerned an opportunity to perform a ‘forensic’ check on their team and make the necessary transfer business before the window closes, Barcelona and Bayern still have the chance to do so.

Blog cross-posted SPORT DAPP @SCORUM

Thank you for your time and supports.

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Celta Vigo vs Real Madrid, Preview

Real Madrid begins the new La Liga season with a tricky tie away at Celta Vigo, the Galacticos will be aiming to do better this season having finished last season on a disappointing note, an unacceptable 3rd for the 2nd year running, 19 whooping points behind champion, it was a difficult season that followed the unceremonial departure of their record goalscorer Cristiano Ronaldo and 3-time UCL winning manager Zinedine Zidane. The team struggled and laboured without Ronaldo and Zidane at the dugout, and it was expected that an immediate team rebuilding would begin.

In-come big-name signings that include long- coveted Belgian Eden Hazard, Serbian Luka Jovic, Ferland Mendy and a few more, and with the European transfer window still open until September 2, fillers around the world claim that there are still more signing on the horizon, with the likes of Neymar Jnr, Ajax youngster Van De Beek still can make the switch over, boosted with the return of former manager Zinedine Zidane, glory days awaits.

CELTA VIGO vs REAL MADRID: H2H;

Real begin the season title challenge with a trip to the Estadio Balaidos, Celta Vigo, a ground they know too well and had enjoyed recent successes over the past 3 seasons, with 2 La Liga wins and a draw, Real’s last 5 clashes with Celta Vigo stands at WWWWD.

ATTACKING THREATS:

Celta Vigo;

Iago Aspas: the 32-year-old Spaniard is mainly Celta Vigo’s danger man having sold out strike partner Maximiliano Gomez, Aspas’ 20 league goals last season was 4th o the goal chat behind Messi(36), Karim Benzema(21) and Luiz Suarez(21) respectively, Aspas now has new offensive support in the shape of former Barcelona forward, Denis Suarez, both can form a dangerous frontline for Celta Vigo.

Real;

Karim Benzema; one of the standout Real player last season, stepping up when it mattered, the French striker beat the 20-goal mark(P36-G21-A6-S85) in La Liga for the 1st time since he scored 24 goals in 2015/16 season. It gets even better for Benzema and Real with the acquisition of Eden Hazard who can sure create scoring chances. Others include new signing Lukas Jovic and the usual suspects Vinicius Jnr, Marcus Asensio Luka Modric, Gareth Bale(if he stays) etc.

PREDICTION:

Real’s poor preseason(DWWLLDL) should not be an excuse for not starting the league with a win,

Celt a Vigo 1-3 Real Madrid.

Original Blog on my Scorum account

Thank you all for your time and support.

Diego

Can Atletico Madrid Win The La Liga? Atletico vs Getafe Match Preview.

Spanish La Liga is back as Atletico Madrid begins title challenge on Sunday against Getafe at home ground. Diego Simeone will be aiming to win the league and dethrone Barcelona.

ATLETICO MADRID:

Atletico Madrid finished off La Liga season in 2nd place, some clear 8 points adrift of the champion Barcelona, a back-to-back 2nd place finish for Diego Simeone men. They boast of the meanest defence in the league, conceding only 29 league goals, 7 goals fewer than the champion Barcelona(if only their attack could match the defence success), Nevertheless, it was an ageing backline that includes Diego Godin, Juanfran, Filipe Luiz and so on, and the manager had since moved swiftly to bolster his defence by replacing the tired & weak legs.

Atletico was ruthless in transfer business, breaking their transfer record for the much sort after Portuguese teenage sensation Joao Felix for a reported £120M, bringing their summer spending to the excess of £242M. Remarkably, their spending so far is within budget, as they had profited from player sales in excess of £311M( the most from player sales in Europe). They are more than ready for their season’s opener at home to Getafe on Sunday.

ATLETICO vs GETAFE: H2H ;

Atletico has enjoyed a recent good run against her visitor Getafe, winning both La Liga return fixtures for the past 2 seasons(G4, W4), the odds sure favours Atletico to get a straight win again.

NEW SIGNINGS & ATTACKING THREATS;

Atletico:

atletistars.jpg

Joao Felix, Kieran Tripper and some of Atletico new signings, source


Joao Felix; the young lad came into Atletico with a lot of potentials and pressure, having commanded such huge fee(£120M), but the 19-year-old had shown maturity and glimpse of his qualities in preseason’s victories(including the win over Cristiano Ronaldo-led Juventus). With the young lad pulling the strings behind the usual suspects Diego Costa, Alvaro Morata, Angel Correa and a host of others, there should be no shortage of goals for Atletico.

Getafe:

Jorge Molina, Jamie Mata and Angel Rodriguez are all decent strikers for Getafe, they shifted in combined league goals of 36 last season and can cause havoc if afforded to much space.

PREDICTION:

Atletico had a smooth and encouraging preseason, drawing just 1 of their tuneup matches( WWWWWD) and if that winning momentum can be carried over to the league opener, they should have a comfortable home win,

Atletico 2-0 Getafe

blog cross-posted

Thank you all.

images (3)

Who is right? Manager Or The Fans

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer risked angeringManchester United fans on Wednesday, saying it was only a “loud minority” who have turned against Paul Pogba.

The French midfielder has made
clear his determination to leave the
Premier League giants, with Real
Madrid and his former club Juventus
both said to be interested.

But Solskjaer has made clear that
he wants to keep the World Cup win-
ner, as he attempts to steer the Old
Trafford club back into the Champi-
ons League.

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Iniesta The Legend

Andres Iniesta has been named the
latest La Liga Icon, a La Liga initiative to continue growing worldwide driven by the popularity of players like the FC Barcelona legend.

The 35-year-old currently playing his football in Japan becomes the newest star to be named a La Liga Icon af-
ter his Spanish teammate Iker Casillas. “We are delighted to have
Andres Iniesta on board as a La Liga Icon” said La Liga President, Javier Tebas. “He is a player who inspires millions and is a fantastic representative for what La Liga stands for across the globe.”

 

Source : AFP

Image Source: Instagram

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Chile Sweeps Japan

Eduardo Vargas scored twice as Chile launched the defense of their Copa America crown with an emphatic 4-0 defeat of Japan in Sao Paulo on on Monday.

Vargas, who plays for Mexico club Tigres UANL, netted twice in the second half as Chile gradually overpowered a skillful but limited Japan, who are playing in the South American showpiece as one of two invited teams from Asia. Erick Pulgar had opened the scoring for Chile in the first half before Vargas doubled the 2015 and 2016 champions’ ad-
vantage with a deflected second-half strike.

News source: AFP

Image source:  https://www.google.com/amp/s/ftw.usatoday.com/2019/06/copa-america-schedule-japan-vs-chile-live-stream-how-to-watch-online-tv-channel-start-time/amp

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Madrid Signs Mendy

Real Madrid continued their summer spending spree on Wednesday by completing the signing of left-back Ferland Mendy from Lyon.

Mendy has signed a six-year contract with Madrid, who have now added four new players for next season following the arrivals of Eder Militao, Eden Hazard and Luka Jovic.
Hazard was the most expensive of the quartet, joining in a deal that could reach up to 145 million euros, while Militao and Jovic each cost around 50 and 65 million euros respectively. The fee for Mendy
was reportedly set at around 50 million euros, which would mean Madrid’s summer spending is already worth around 300 million euros in total.

 

Source : AFP

Image Source : bbc.co.uk

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Mane Full Focussed On CL

Sadio Mane admits he is flattered
by suggested interest from Real Madrid but insists he is hap-
py at Liverpool and fully focused on trying to help them win the Champions League. Reports from Spain in recent weeks have suggested that Real want to bring the Senegal forward and Manchester United’s French midfielder Paul Pogba to the Bernabeu. Mane will
be in action across the city on Saturday, at Atletico Madrid’s
Wanda Metropolitano home, which will host the Champions League final between Liverpool and Tottenham.

The 27-year-old has scored 17 goals in 24 matches for his club since the turn of the year, and is expected to lead his country’s attack in Egypt at the Africa Cup of Nations, which
starts in late June.

As he prepared for Saturday’s European final, Mane was
asked about interest from Real Madrid, and did not dismiss
it altogether.

He did, though, insist that Liverpool’s progress to the Champions League final – which has seen them knock out Napoli, Bayern Munich, Porto and Barcelona – is a sign of their standing in the European game.

“This is part of football, so we have to deal with it,” said Mane. “But for me, the more important thing is that I am with Liverpool and I am very happy here, and I am preparing for
one of the club’s biggest games.

“Let’s focus on this first, and on winning it.

“It’s always a pleasure for this kind of team to want you, but Liverpool, don’t forget, we beat big teams.” Mane scored for Liverpool in last season’s Champions League final, which ended in the disappointment of a 3-1 defeat by Real Madrid in Kiev. 

 

News Source : AFP

Image Source: Google

 

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European Faltering Giants, Will They Turn Things Around?

Manchester United, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich are 3 of European heavyweights representing the English premier league, Spanish La Liga and German Bundesliga respectively, but their individual performances of late is a fowl cry of what soccer followers knew them to be.

Wednesday night’s results in the UEFA champions league might be inconsequential as far as the 3 giants’ quest to qualify for the next stage of the competition, but the results left little or nothing to admirer of them.

MANCHESTER UNITED:

Manchester United, arguably the most successful club in the EPL (Liverpool fans will disagree), lost 1-2 to Valencia, a struggling team in the Spanish La Liga. It was not the result that was cause for concern but United performance on the night and in recent matches in all competitions. United coming from an EPL-match 4-1 trashing of Fulham, are brimming with confidence and are expected to get a respectable result in Valencia, but they did not. The old Red devils under Sir Alex Ferguson would have gotten atleast a point in Valencia. Manchester United now have just 1 win in 4 in all competitions and placed a distance 6th on EPL log table, an unfamiliar territory as far as their pedigree tells. Is Manchester United a club in decline? or their rivals are just getting stronger? It is a big question mark.

REAL MADRID:

Real Madrid had had their fair share of a turbulent season, and had already sacked a coach as quickly as they hired him. In came a new coach, Real ship seems to be steady and cruising, it seems Real have turned the corner, but yet, Real cannot muster a run of 5 straight win this season. Last night 0-3 lost at home ground Santiago Bernabeu to a lesser competitor in CSKA Moscow is just not acceptable to Reals fateful irrespective of the players paraded by Real on the night. The all conquering Real don’t lose at home, Santiago Bernabeu was suppose to be a fortress, it looks like it isn’t, not anymore, Real had already lost a La Liga match this season at home 1-2 to lowly Levante and are also sitting in 4th position on Spanish La Liga log table surprisingly club like Seville above them. Will Real Madrid put together a good run of result and move back to where they belong, at least 2nd position behind old rivals Barcelona on the La Liga log table? It is a big ask.

BAYERN MUNICH:

Another European giant which has been disappointing by their own standard is the Bundesliga big gun Bayern Munich. Bayern played an entertaining 3 all draw in Holland against a youthful Ajax Amsterdam side on Wednesday night. A match in which Bayern led 3-2 on 90th minutes and yet conceded a goal in the 95th minute to lose the 3 points and earned just a point, the old Bayern would not have struggled against this Ajax team, taking away nothing from the Ajax team, their steady resurgence is not going without notice. Bayern performances this season have raised eye-brows, they have been unconvincing even in some victories, They already lost at home to Bayern Munchingladbach and lost away at arch rival Borussia Dortmund, couple with some other poor results now sits on 3rd position on the German Bundesliga log table, surprisingly behind their 2 conquerors in Dortmund and Munchingladbach respectively. Can Bayern turn things around? they have it in them.

These 3 clubs in Manchester United, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich have raised a standard so high for themselves, that a couple of bad results will quickly raise eye brows and questions about them.

Will these faltering giants turn around their fortune before the end of the season? Time will tell.

You can find the original post on my Scorum Account.

Thanks for your usual supports.

 

 

 

 

 

derbyCoaches

An Intriguing EPL Derby Day, Early Goal, Spot Kicks and Injury Time Winner, Just What Every Derby Matches Needed.

English Premier League fans were treated to a truly super Sunday with 3 sumptuous derby matches in West London derby, North London derby, and the Merseyside derby, What a match they all turned out to be.

Super Sunday kicked off with an earlier afternoon match between home side Chelsea and their West London rival, Fulham. It was an easy 2-0 win for Chelsea, with Pedro and substitute Reuben Loftus-Cheek getting the goals.

My take from Chelsea’s point of view;

▪Sarri remains adamant on using Jorginho at the base of Chelsea’s midfield. There have been calls after the defeat to Spurs for the Chelsea coach to restore Ngolo Kante back to his natural position, a place now occupied by Jorginho, no cause for alarm this time though as Fulham posed little or no threat, as Chelsea won comfortably. Sarri has reiterated that Jorginho is still his anchor midfield man.

▪Reuben Loftus-Cheek deserves more playing time. The young lad came off the bench to double Chelsea lead. Coaching team should look into Loftus-Cheek shout for a regular playing time.

The second derby match of Sunday afternoon was between Arsenal and their bitter North London rival Tottenham. Boy! What a match. Fans and spectators were treated to a 6-goal thriller, as Arsenal claimed the bragging right with a 4-2 win over Spurs.

My take from Arsenal’s point of view;

▪Emery sure knows what he is doing with his Arsenal team. His response and decision during the match were spots on. He started with a 3-4-3 formation, Alex Iwobi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan on either side of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in attack, 3 central defenders with wing-backs, He then made changes immediately at start of 2nd half and switched formation to 3-4-1-2, Aaron Ramsey playing behind 2 central strikers with substitute Alexandre Lacazette joining Aubameyang in attack, he then reverted to traditional 4-3-1-2 when Shkodran Mustafi got injured. That’s a man with plan B.

▪Aubameyang and Lucas Torreira are making name for themselves at the Emirate, Aubameyang scoring with ruthless precision and Torreira sweeping the midfield for Arsenal. They both are bringing back the good old days’ memories of Thierry Henry, Gilberto Silver, and co.

▪Arsenal still struggling in the 1st half of matches. This is a worry for the coach, if every Arsenal matches were to finish at the halftime, Arsenal would have been rooted rock bottom of the EPL table. How long will their 2nd half performances bail them out of trouble, it remains to be seen?

Away from London, to the Merseyside where Liverpool hosted arch-rival Everton. It was the home side Liverpool that stole a dramatic injury-time 1-0 winner. The result did not reflect the full story of the match, it was an entertaining end to end match, it could have ended in a 3 all draw, or a 5 all draw. The match was heading towards a nill all draw until a 96th injury time error from Everton goalkeeper Pickford handed Liverpool’s substitute striker D. Origi with a last-gasp winner, a goal that got Liverpool manager running onto the pitch to celebrate with his goalkeeper Allison.

Talking point from Liverpool’s point of view;

▪Liverpool on the heels of league leader Man City. Liverpool isn’t ready to give up on the league, they keep grinding out results even when they are not in full throttles, for me that is a mark of a champion.

▪Allison proving his worth for Liverpool. He made some great saves to keep his team in the match, reason why the manager went to celebrate with him when Liverpool scored.

▪Liverpool Manager ran onto the pitch to celebrate his team’s late winner. Klopp could not control his emotion, as he ran to celebrate with his goalkeeper Allison, and there have been calls condemning his action. We are all humans, sometimes the flesh got the better of us.

I cannot remember the last time fans got to watch 3 derbies in a day, Sunday the 2nd was such day and fans certainly got the worth for their money across the world.

This post is originally made on Scorum

Thank you all for checking by.

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