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Champions League Highlights & Results: Matchday 3

There were wins all around for the England teams on matchday 3 of the Group Stage in the Champions League. Spurs made a thrilling comeback to defeat Red Star Belgrade 5-0, Man City didn’t come away with a clean sheet but matched Spurs in number of goals, thrashing Atalanta 5-1. Chelsea walked away from Amsterdam ArenA with three points and Liverpool, the reigning Champions of Europe continue their undefeated flight to the top after a 4-1 win over Genk.

Spurs bounce back

Mauricio Pochettino has said that Spurs Champions League victory “has restored hope in his men” and there is no doubt that they will want to carry this winning momentum on throughout the season.

Spurs

(Photo by Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)

The runners-up of last years Champions League had only won four of thirteen fixtures in all tournaments this season, and the probability of a repeat of last year’s ascent to the Champions League final was looking, well, improbable. Both the boys, and the fans were beginning to seem a little disheartened, especially after the 7-1 defeat to Bayern Munich but Tuesday night erased all thoughts of doom and gloom.

Spurs displayed the level of football we had seen last year; a level of football we know they are capable of – high-quality and tactical. Harry Kane and Son Heung-min both scored twice and creative midfielder, Erik Lamela bagged one too, after a number of near-misses and excellent assists.

Kane started with an early header, landing it on the inside of the far post. Less than ten minutes later Son added another to the scoring sheet, doubling Tottenham’s lead. Unmarked, the forward came running down the left flank, to roof the ball off a sublime cross from Lamela. Red Star didn’t look like they had a chance as Pochettino’s men were running riot all over the Serbian side.

Before half-time Spurs made it 3-0 and it was Son again, who came charging down the left like a rocket on fire to receive the ball from Tanguy Ndombele. Red Star’s, Marko Marin had left the ball behind him after performing what was supposed to be an elaborate trick, though he was the one being laughed at the end. Ndombele wasted no time to collect the ball and Kane provided the perfect decoy for the two defenders as he ran up towards the right post, freeing up space for Son, who slipped it past the keeper down the left.

Son was rightly rewarded man of the match for his world-class performance and gave Pochettino more than enough reason to remain in the starting XI. He was a constant threat for Red Star and his promising performance was met by the encouraging chants of the fans in Spurs Stadium.

Lamela provided Spurs with their fourth. Aurier sent a low cross to Lamela, who had time to turn around with his back to the goal and drive it into the middle of the net – appalling defending from the home side. This was the midfielders 200th appearance for Tottenham and he made it a special one too.

Kane made it five, side-footing a pass into the bottom corner. That’s more like it COYS!

It was exactly what Spurs needed, which was echoed by Harry Kane after full time. The England international and Tottenham Hotspur captain then went on to say, “It can’t stop here, though, it was a game we were expected to win.”

Only time will tell how Spurs will continue in their race for the Champions League title but let’s hope that this new confidence breeds the same results.

Raheem Sterling scores a hat-trick for Man City

Though Atalanta put an end to Manchester City’s clean sheet in this season’s Champions League, the Citizens were in a league of their own against Gian Piero Gasperini’s men, who fall further to the bottom of Group C.

Manchester City F.CMan City were unfortunate to miss out on a place in the Champions League semi-finals last season, losing out to Tottenham Hotspur’s in the quarter-finals based on away goals as it was 4-4 agg. This year they’ll be hoping to make two colossal achievements – successive titles in the Premier League and overthrow Liverpool to walk away from Europe with the Champions League trophy too. If we think back to Liverpool’s semi-final game against Barcelona, well, that tells us all that even the impossible is possible so who’s to say Man City won’t do it?

Man City did what they do best at the Etihad and that is – make winning look easy. Aside from Phil Foden picking up two yellow cards following an unnecessary offence against Atalanta’s, Martin de Roon, Man City breezed through this game. Arguably, City were poorer in the first quarter of the game but after Atalanta converted the penalty, Pep Guardiola’s men quickly jolted to life.

Sergio Aguero opened the goal-scoring for Man City, with two in the first half. The Argentine forward has already broken a number of records at City, including being the all-time highest goal-scorer for the club and now closes in on Chelsea legend, Didier Drogba’s Champion League goal-scoring record of 36, as Aguero sits on 34.

His first goal came off a wonderful cross from Sterling at the edge-of-the-box, Aguero guided the ball past the keeper and Man City had equalised with the visiting side. Five minutes later and Sterling is sent down in the box, opening up another opportunity for Aguero to double his tally and he makes no mistake, driving a low ball into the net.

Having set up two shots now, Sterling took a hold of the scoring reigns. The Man City forward really is an extraordinary player, creating three goals in just 11 minutes. The first with assistance from Kevin Du Bruyne, who teed up with Foden to claim the third for Man City. It was magnificent play from the youngster, who wasn’t selfish at all, sending a short and quick pass to Sterling who was able to thrash it home for the Citizens.

An excellent pass from Ilkay Gündogan set up the second. Sterling raced onto the ball, leaving the defenders in the wind before slicing it into the back of the net. The Etihad was roaring. And Sterling is not even considered to be the finished article yet and is already a phenomenal player.

Mahrez set up the third, firing a cross towards the back post and Sterling finds the space. He was sharp, clinical – a whole lot of things compared to anyone else and Man City deservedly ended the game 5-1 Atalanta.

City still seem to be having defensive issues as Rodri was forced to come off in Tuesday’s Champions League game, suffering a hamstring injury. Let’s hope that this doesn’t become a problem for Pep Guardiola, who is already strained at the back.

Chelsea’s young side impress against Ajax

Chelsea FC

(Photo by Clive Howes – Chelsea FC/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

Chelsea join Ajax on six points after defeating them at home on Wednesday. Michy Batshuayi put Chelsea ahead with a late goal and boost their chances of qualifying from Group H. Whilst it wasn’t a five-goal lead like we had seen from some of the other England sides, Ajax are much fiercer opponent and this will definitely be one of the biggest successes of Frank Lampard’s career as a Chelsea manager thus far.

Ultimately, it was a game that could have gone either way as both sides missed some near opportunities but Chelsea had a little more to offer in the final third and made a big statement to defeat last season’s semi-finalists. A young manager and a young team achieving this kind of result speaks a lot about the maturity of the team and the commitment of the manager. It goes without saying that Frank wants every one of his team members to feel valued and the team seem to have found a rhythm now following a shaky start in the 2019/20 campaign.

Christian Pulisic teed up with Batshuayi, also known as Captain America and Batsman, as the fans have quickly addressed them as super-duo and scored the winner. The goal came in the 85th minute and it was an emphatic finish from Batshuayi, as the shot bounced in off the underside of the crossbar.

It was Chelsea’s second successive win under Lampard in the Champions League and a huge step towards a top-of-the-group finish.

Oxlade-Chamberlain leads the way for Liverpool

Liverpool continue their undefeated run to the top in the Champions League following victory against KRC Genk on Wednesday. The Reds ended their winning streak against Manchester United at Old Trafford in the Premier League last Sunday, scoring a late equaliser to take a point a piece and cut their lead at the top to six points.

But Wednesday night made up for all of that.

Liverpool Champions of EuropeJurgen Klopp gave fans the trio of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Naby Keita and Fabinho which they had been so strongly yearning for and it proved to be a successful change to the line-up. Oxlade-Chamberlain opened the scoring after just two minutes of play, sending a divine low-shot into the far corner.

The midfielder had been missing most of last season, suffering from a serious knee and hamstring injury after colliding with Aleksandar Kolarov during the semi-final leg against A.S. Roma. He seems to be back in his prime now and fans should continue to see a lot more of him on the pitch.

Genk did provide fierce opposition to the Reds, almost equalising in the first half before the goal was overruled by VAR for offside. Mbwana Samatta had fired a sublime header into the far corner and they were unfortunate not to equalise. But Oxlade-Chamberlain soon put any fears of an equaliser to bed with an outrageous goal, coming off the outside of his foot.

Firmino played the pass and Oxlade-Chamberlain spun it into the back of the net – all from the outside of the box. It was a stylish, sublime goal that hit the underside of the bar before hammering home.

Forwards, Mo Salah and Sadio Mane add to the scoresheet too. Salah finds Mane, who sprints into the 16-yard-box and lifts it above the keeper. Ten minutes later, Mane returns the favour, providing Salah with the assist. Like water he slips through Genk’s defence and whips the ball into the far post.

Genk did deny Liverpool a clean sheet but not enough to stop Liverpool from achieving their first away win in the Group Stage in over two years. The Reds now sit at the top of Group E – as to be expected – and will no doubt qualify to the Round of 16.

Matchday 9: Premier League Weekend Review

Yet another interesting weekend of football in the Premier League, full of highs and lows. Here we examine the wins, draws and losses of the most significant games from the past couple of days.

Manchester United v Liverpool

Perhaps the most stand out football game of the weekend, Liverpool finally end their winning streak at Old Trafford. The Reds drew 1-1 against Manchester United on Sunday but still remain top of the table, six points clear.

Funnily enough, Liverpool has failed to win on their last six visits to United, comprising three losses and three draws. Liverpool were well short of their best but substitute, Lallana, rescued a point for the misfiring visitors. This was a significant moment for Lallana, having not scored a goal in 29 months. The Midfielder stated that ‘It’s been a tough couple of years for me, so it’s pleasing. I know my boy at home would have been watching and been delighted when that went in, so it’s a big moment and a massive point for us…we will take that.’

Missing the injured Mohamed Salah, Liverpool rarely displayed the intensity and attacking verve that has become their trademark. The match proved that Liverpool are not invincible but as the team are quick to point out, they still remain unbeaten so far this season. As it stands, their status as football Goliaths remains unscathed. Will we see their fighting spirit rekindled as they play Tottenham this weekend?

Tottenham v Watford

Speaking of Tottenham, their indifferent form continued with a 1-1 draw with bottom of the league Watford. There was some VAR confusion as Dele Alli scored Spurs’ only goal. The video assistant referee reviewed the goal and decided it was correctly awarded. The big screen, however, indicated the decision was ‘no goal’. After a spell of confusion, the goal was finally accepted. Alli stated. ‘It was my first start and great to be back in the team but overall a disappointing result.’

Football fans have taken to Twitter to voice their disappointment, many questioning Poch’s management. Speaking post-match, Poch mentioned how Spurs’ confidence has been knocked since the plundering Bayern Munich defeat. He was confident that the team could have scored a second goal if they were just given five more minutes.

Whilst a draw is better than a defeat, fans are desperately hoping that Spurs are able to put up more of a fight going forward. How will they fare against Red Star Belgrade tomorrow night?

Chelsea v Newcastle

Chelsea claimed a narrow victory against Newcastle during their match at Stamford Bridge last Saturday. This was Chelsea’s fifth uninterrupted victory across all competitions. The key to The Blues’ success this time around was most definitely their persistence. Manager, Frank Lampard, noted how ‘in the second half you saw a spirit and energy in the team. Today was tough, we had a bit of a problem and we solved it with the way we played in the second half.’

Their next battle will be against Ajax on Wednesday. Will the Blues be able to continue their winning streak and win their sixth consecutive game of football?

Crystal Palace v Manchester City

The biggest victory over the weekend was Man City who won 2-1 against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. Guardiola’s men were quiet until the 39th minute as Gabriel Jesus met Bernardo Silva’s cross with a shrewd header. As if by magic, just 93 seconds later, David Silva then repeated the success with a second goal.

City have certainly proved that they are a force to be reckoned within football. Crystal Palace manager, Roy Hodgson, said of Man City ‘They are just a very good team. Could we have done more? Could we have created more chances? Yeah, maybe. If we spend £250 million and bring some of the best players in Europe. We are playing against a team picked from some of the best players in the world.’

City have admitted that there were opportunities in the second half to score further goals but as it stands, two was all they need to secure victory.

Once again, the weekend’s results proved that football can be full of surprises. Let’s see how next weekend’s highly anticipated games play out.

 

England stand firm in Euro Qualifier against Bulgaria

Last night’s game will stand as a particularly significant one in the timeline of racism within football. England put up a crushing performance against floundering Bulgaria, securing a 6-0 Euro qualifying victory in Sofia. This should have been a joyous occasion but instead, the moment was marred by the sound of shameful racist chants from Bulgarian supporters.

The shocking abuse continued throughout the match with threats even made about abandoning the game. Sadly, the warnings did not eliminate the toxic atmosphere created by Bulgarian fans. The game carries significance not simply because of the disgraceful behaviour displayed by the home fans but ultimately the inspiring way that England handled the tense situation.

England were well within their rights to walk off the pitch. They could have chosen not to be subjected to such injustice but instead did something even more powerful. They persevered and stood strong in the face of adversity.

Rather than giving any power to the abusers, they instead made a statement that they would not let racism defeat them. The fact that they persisted and went on to secure a thrashing victory, professed a more profound message.

England Manager, Gareth Southgate, stated that ‘in the second instance, we could have walked off but the players were very keen to finish the first half and talk it through. Not one player wanted to stop, they were absolutely firm on that.’

Bulgaria captain, Ivelin Popov, even addressed fans at half time in an attempt to curtail the abuse. However, the reaction that ensued following the warning over the tannoy, suggested that Bulgarian fans did not see any issue in their actions.

What was even more shocking was Bulgaria coach, Krasimir Balakov, claimed that he did not hear any racist chanting but was quick to point out that British fans whistled during the Bulgarian national anthem.

England soldiered on with a strong first half which saw effortless goals from Marcus Rashford, two from Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling, who went on to win Man of the Match. Sterling then went on to score his second goal in the second half and it was none other than Harry Kane who scored the sixth.

Tyrone Mings made his England debut, also putting up an impressive first performance. Speaking to ITV he said ‘It was a great occasion, I made my debut, slightly overshadowed by a few disappointing chants. It was quite clear to hear on the pitch but I think we showed a great response and showed a great togetherness and hopefully let football do the talking.’

There was no denying that Bulgaria simply put up a poor performance yesterday. All efforts were futile as their flimsy attempts to take control allowed England to move the ball from side to side at will. England football fans have taken to Twitter to argue that the monumental loss was payback for the actions of Bulgaria fans.

Football fans are hoping that England will continue this fighting spirit in their next game against Montenegro in November at Wembley Stadium.

Racism has noticeably become more prominent within football this year. This game has not only highlighted the severity of this issue but also what can happen when a team unites and perseveres through the chants and the taunts. In the words of Marcus Pickford, the game was ‘not an easy situation to play in and not one which should be happening in 2019’. Despite the jeers, England have come out victorious and have proved that their spirit will not be broken by bigotry.

 

 

A Man City loss, Chelsea victory & Liverpool lead eight points clear!

Manchester City suffered a 2-0 defeat to Wolves at Etihad Stadium, leaving the reigning Champions eight points behind Liverpool in the title race. Adama Traoré left City dazed at the Etihad with a late double in the final ten minutes of the game.

Wolves first capitalised on a mistake by Joao Cancelo, who gave the ball away cheaply. Raúl Jiménez came racing down the left flank and sent an excellent cross into Traoré’s path. Ederson had also come out of the six-yard box, leaving the goal exposed allowing Traoré to fire it home with ease.

Rui Patrício did have to make some key saves against City, blocking efforts from Raheem Sterling and David Silva, who had also missed out on a goal earlier in the game when his attempt hit the crossbar.

Traoré slotted the second one home into extra time, with Jiménez providing the assist again. Fernandinho made pace but wasn’t quick enough and the Spaniard drilled a low ball into the net without having to get into a tussle with the midfielder-turned-defender.

Wolves had put an end to the Premier League Champions winning streak on home turf and their first win at the Etihad since 1984. It was a morale-boosting performance from the Midlands team who have experienced a shaky start this season.

Both sides had been in European combat in midweek, City in the Champions League and Wolves in the UEFA League. But City were at home whilst Wolves had to travel 4,000 miles to Turkey and back.

City have now shelled five points in their opening four home games of the 2019/20 Premier League campaign. In the whole of last season, they dropped just three and then seven the year before that. Though, Pep’s men are having to contend for the title without key players at this stage of the season.

Kevin Du Bruyne, Leroy Sane, Aymeric Laporte and John Stones are all out due to injury, with the former two arguably being City’s most creative players.

Fernandinho has had to step in as a centre back to make up for City’s dwindling defence and though he has flourished as a stand-in during some games, it’s becoming apparent that this makeshift defence is proving to cost Pep Guardiola.

City are the best in England and potentially, even in Europe but with so many players out are they still capable of closing the eight-point gap, or more importantly overtaking their Northern rivals? Last season they did well to beat Liverpool to the line but this latest setback has sparked reason for concern.

Nuno Santo’s forwards ran free three times in the first half, more times than Man City should be allowing if they want to achieve the triple title.

In an interview with BBC Sport, Pep Guardiola said: “We were not at our best. We had chances to score but it was a bad day and we lost the game.”

A bad day indeed.

Leicester City miss out on a point in the final minutes

Meanwhile, James Milner, one of the unsung but most effective players of his era, notched an injury-time penalty to maintain Liverpool’s winning streak in a controversial victory over Leicester City.

Mane, pressing hard for the win, came under contact from Marc Albrighton and the referee awarded the Reds with a penalty, sparking controversy and an on-pitch scuffle. Some pundits accused the Senegalese striker as diving after the contact with Albrighton but VAR allowed the penalty and so Liverpool maintain their flawless start to the Premier League this season.

Liverpool now have 17 successive Premier League victories under their belt, beaten only by Manchester City’s 18 wins that took place between August and December 2017. They also top the table for the longest unbeaten home run in any of Europe’s five elite leagues (Premier League, Bundesliga, Ligue 1, La Liga & Serie A), being undefeated in 44 consecutive league games at home.

But Leicester City continue to present themselves as a top four force as Brendan Rodgers’ side posed a real threat to the Reds and looked to be on course to end Liverpool’s winning run at Anfield. It came after Perez found James Maddison, who scored a low finish between the legs of Adrian to equalise ten minutes before time.

The Foxes, well organised by Rodgers continued to show resistance and came close when James Vardy received a brilliant ball from Albrighton but the former England International couldn’t see it through. Then, moments before City equalised Dennis Praet’s effort just skimmed wide.

On BBC’s Match of the Day, Klopp acknowledged: “It was a super game. We upped the tempo. The football we played was so important.”

“The penalty was obviously a penalty. We knew it would probably happen, we knew we were going to fight for the win – and we did. Without luck, we cannot win the amount of games we have won, but over the 90 minutes we deserved it – we deserved the three points. Milner held his nerve and that was superb.”

Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers had other thoughts, stating: “It’s cruel to concede so late. I am very proud of the team. We’re playing against the European champions and we looked like we could get goals. We were always a threat in the game, we had the confidence to pass the ball. We are showing our personality in how we played.”

Spurs suffer a 3-0 defeat

Sadly, Tottenham Hotspur‘s woes continued as they fell at the hands of Brighton & Hove Albion following a disappointing result at home to Bayern Munich. For Brighton it was good news as the Seagulls picked up their first win of the 2019/20 campaign at the AMEX Stadium.

After Spurs 7-2 loss in the Champions League, head coach Mauricio Pochettino was expecting his players to have a much better performance on the South Coast but perhaps it was a game damned from the start, as within the first three minutes, goalkeeper Hugo Lloris was being carried off on a stretcher.

The French man dislocated his elbow after falling awkwardly in his attempt to keep hold of Pascal Gross’s cross. Pochettino stated that losing Lloris “changed the emotions of the game, the team suffered a lot and couldn’t find the way to be solid and play football.” Lloris has now been ruled out of the EURO 2020 Qualifiers against Iceland and Turkey.

Aaron Connolly added insult to injury for Tottenham by doubling Brighton’s lead and in his first Premier League start too. Gazzanga, who replaced Lloris denied the 19-year-old Irishman’s first attempt but couldn’t clear his second effort.

And although Spurs picked up in the second half, renewing hope with a change of formation, they couldn’t recover. Brighton continued to threaten and Connolly sought the double, producing a well-taken strike in the 65th minute to seal Brighton’s first home win since March.

The youngster described it as, a “dream come true” and it was a truly remarkable debut for the teen, who is the first teenager to appear and score for the club in this Premier League era.

Spurs had some opportunity after the third goal, as Lucas Moura was denied twice by Matthew Ryan, Harry Kane fired over the crossbar and Son Heung-Min just failed to get a foot on the ball following a pass from Moussa Sissoko.

Manchester United head further down the league table

One team it’s not looking good for is Manchester United, who lost 1-0 to Newcastle United last weekend. The Red Devils now sit in twelfth position on the Premier League table, having won only two of eight games played so far this season and talks have already ignited about Ole’s future at Old Trafford as Man United seem to be in a crisis.

Whilst Man United struggled to find their groove, Newcastle were dancing after Matty Longstaff’s decisive goal. In his Premier League debut for the club, the 19-year-old drove a low finish home, leaving the Red Devils just two points above the relegation zone and fifteen points behind leaders, Liverpool who they will go head-to-head with after the international break.

And Matty, playing in midfield alongside his brother Sean Longstaff, could have made the score 2-0, after a first-half effort rattled the crossbar with a 25-yard drive.

This has been Man United’s worse start to the league since the 1989-90 campaign, where the Red Devils finished 13th in the league. Solskjær is missing six of his first team players to injury but that cannot be used as an excuse for much longer, given United’s downwards spiral has been apparent since the start of the campaign. But who would takeover should they decide to get rid of Ole?

He needs to find a solution, and quickly at that.

Chelsea climb to fifth

Down at St. Mary’s Stadium, ‘Super’ Frank Lampard could have put his feet up as Chelsea made an example of the Saints. Tammy Abraham scored his eighth league goal of the season, with Mason Mount, N’Golo Kante and Michy Batshuayi also all going down on the score sheet for the Blues.

Chelsea dominated from the outset, taking the lead after Abraham drilled a shot into the home sides net following a cross from Callum Hudson-Odoi. Saints defender, Maya Yoshida attempted to volley it clear before it had crossed the line but his efforts turned out to be in vain.

Mount soon doubled the Blues lead, firing a lovely ball from Willian at close range, before Danny Ings halved the deficit, to give Southampton a foothold back in the game. But they were no match for Lampard’s men.

From the edge of the box came N’Golo Kante with a stunning strike that took a destructive deflection off Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and past Saints goalkeeper, Angus Gunn.

Batshuayi and Christian Pulisic combined to seal the fourth. Pulisic sent a fine pass to Batshuayi, who came on just six minutes from time before slotting it home. The duo has since acquired the nicknames of Batman and Captain America following their impressive link-up.

Chelsea continue to improve week by week and Lampard has made sure to mention that his side have much more to offer. Let’s hope Chelsea continue as they mean to go on after the international break, when they will take on Newcastle.

Champions League Round-Up

It was a mixed week for English teams competing in the Champions League this week against some of Europe’s elite. Both Manchester City and Liverpool picked up three points in their respective groups. The Citizens top Group C with two wins from two, whilst the Kopites are second in Group E.

Chelsea earned all three points on the road, getting their first win in Europe this season against Lille but Tottenham Hotspur were dealt a crushing defeat at the hands of five-time Champions League winners Bayern Munich.

Tottenham Hotspur 2-7 Bayern Munich

It was certainly a night that Spurs fans will want to forget for a number of reasons. Spurs took the lead through Son Heung-min in the early stages of the game but unfortunately that is about as good as it got. Bayern Munich showed no signs of remorse and looked nothing like the side that had failed to win their last four out of five European games on English soil.

Ruthless in front of goal, the German Champions eased to victory against a Spurs side who looked void of any confidence which will concern Mauricio Pochettino. Sometimes you witness games where teams are clinical in front of goal and fail to miss any of the chances that come their way and that’s exactly how Bayern were. Serge Gnabry, a player who Arsenal let go for £5 million scored four goals on the night and ran Spurs ragged.

If you’re one to read into statistics and analysis then Spurs had a higher xG than Bayern Munich, meaning they were more likely to score more goals than the German side which just goes to show the clinical nature of their front line. A night to forget for Spurs but they’ve still got a good chance to get out of the club.

Manchester City 2-0 Dinamo Zagreb

Manchester City continue their European charge with a routine win over Croatian team Dinamo Zagreb. City had almost 82% possession throughout the match and registered 20 shots at goal so the score line really did flatter Dinamo Zagreb.

Goals from English starlets Raheem Sterling and Phil Foden sealed the three points for Man City. They’re the only team in their group with a 100% record and Pep Guardiola will be desperate to win the competition with Manchester City this year.

Pep Guardiola apologised to Foden in his post-match interview over the youngsters playing time. Pep said: “He deserves to play. I want to give him minutes. Every time I don’t play him, I am in front of him saying I’m sorry. But it’s Kevin De Bruyne there, Rodri, Bernardo Silva, David Silva, Gundogan, I’m so sorry. I know the best way to grow up is to play minutes, but he’s so young.”

With many other young English players moving on from their respective clubs for minutes, including former City man Jadon Sancho, the club will certainly look to include Foden more in the future.

Liverpool 4-3 Red Bull Salzburg

Is there ever a dull game involving Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool team? We don’t think there is. Liverpool squandered a three goal lead against an underrated Red Bull Salzburg side.

Three sumptuous goals from Liverpool in the first half gave them the lead. It’s something we just expect from this team now with its rock and roll football. Sadio Mane scored against his old club, much to the delight of the Anfield faithful.

However, Salzburg scored three and they were fully deserved as Klopp branded this team as ‘one of the most underrated sides in the competition.’ They levelled through Erling Haland, the son of former Man City defender Alf Haland. He’s been closely monitored by a whole host of European clubs after already netting four hat-tricks this season, aged just 19.

Anfield was stunned into silence but not for long as Mo Salah saved Liverpool’s blushes as he scored the winner. Liverpool are second in their group to Napoli as they picked up a point away.

Lille 1-2 Chelsea

Chelsea’s European quest is well underway as they gained their first win in the competition this season with a victory of LOSC Lille.

In-form Tammy Abraham got the Blues off the mark before Lille levelled the scoring in the first half. It was looking as if a point on the road was better for Chelsea than it was for Lille but Willian scored in the latter stages of the game for Chelsea, earning them a huge three points. The Brazilian scored from a near impossible angle, hitting his volley into the ground and over the keeper.

Frank Lampard was delighted after the game and said: “It feels really good. This was a really hard place to come, added to the pressure of not beating Valencia. And it was the first time for a few travelling in Europe. ‘Now Ajax have set their stall out in the group. This gives us confidence and points. Now the hard work begins.”

Premier League Weekend Review

It was a weekend of challenging football, with all winning teams having to work hard for their victories. So far, the Premier League seems to be mirroring last year’s results. Once again, football giants Liverpool and Manchester City remain at the top of the table. Only seven games into the new season and Liverpool are the leaders, standing five points ahead of City. Despite their victories, each team proved that they are not untouchable. Discover the highs and lows of the weekend as we examine the most notable Premier League games.

Sheffield United v Liverpool

It was a narrow victory for The Reds on Saturday who managed to win 1-0 against The Blades at Bramall Lane. Georginio Wijnaldum was responsible for the singular goal and although Dean Henderson attempted to spoil his efforts, the ball made its way to the back of the net regardless.

Sheffield United proved that they are able to put up a fight against the European Champions despite their loss. Although they played a good game of football, there were chances where The Blades could have pushed further and gone on to equalise.

Likewise, there were missed chances where Liverpool could have squeezed in extra goals. Sadio Mane came close but hit a post and Mo Salah blew a one-on-one with Henderson for what would have been a match settling second goal.

It seems as though The Reds have been lucky the past couple of weekends. Manager, Jurgen Klopp stated that Liverpool ‘need a complete performance to win football games, especially in this tough league.’

Ultimately, when it comes down to it, a win is still a win. In the words of Wijnaldum, ‘It was not the best game we had. But another win, that’s the most important thing.’

It will be interesting to see how The Reds fair against Red Bull Salzburg on Wednesday.

Everton v Manchester City

Manchester City reigned supreme against Everton on Saturday at Goodison Park. It was Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling who struck in the final 20 minutes to give City a 3-1 victory.

The Toffees certainly put up a good fight against City regardless. There were promising performances from Alex Iwobi, Seamus Coleman and Calvert-Lewin, who scored the equalising goal.

Ultimately, it was Mahrez who stood out from the crowd. City manager, Guardiola labelled Mahrez’s performance as ‘outstanding’ and went on to praise ‘the action on the first goal, the second one, the two assists he did, especially the one to Raheem. I’m happy for him because he’s playing at an incredible level.’

Chelsea v Brighton

There were raucous cheers from Stamford Bridge last Saturday as Chelsea were victorious against Brighton, securing their first home win with a 2-0 result.

Football legend, Frank Lampard, has not had the best Blues manager record thus far but his men managed to dominate the pitch against The Seagulls in what Super Frank has labelled as a ‘much needed win’.

Chelsea also made a Premier League record as the victory means they have won all nine League football games played against Brighton.

The Blues led when Jorginho scored a penalty after Adam Webster fouled Mason Mount.

Brighton, who have not won in the league since the opening day, nearly equalised, but Dan Burn’s header struck the crossbar.

Willian sealed Lampard’s first home win as a Premier League manager with a deflected strike from Callum Hudson-Odoi’s pass.

It will be interesting to see if this victory kickstarts a further run of success for The Blues.

Tottenham Hotspur v Southampton

Tottenham managed to shake off their recent defeats and persevered to gain a 2-1 home win against Southampton last Saturday. The team showed true resilience as they were reduced to 10 men for one hour and a blunder by keeper Hugo Lloris.

Having lost to Leicester City a week previously and by Colchester in the Carabao Cup, Spurs soldiered on to secure the win. It was Tanguy Ndombele and none other than Harry Kane who provided the goals as Lloris redeemed himself with two excellent second-half saves from James Ward-Prowse and Maya Yoshida.

Naturally, there was much relief for football fans watching at home and at their new stadium, following their previous disappointments.

Let’s see how spurs fair against Bayern Munich on Tuesday.

Aston Villa v Burnley

It’s been a struggle so far for Aston Villa as they remain in the bottom three after drawing 2-2 to Burnley at Villa Park on Saturday.

Villa have faced tough competition so far this season and as a result, seem to be failing to dominate the field. Manager Dean Smith believed that this game was Villa’s ‘best first half performance of the season but ultimately we’re disappointed. There’s still work to be done’.

Football fans have taken to Twitter to offer their suggestions of what needs to be done to improve Villa’s position. Many are of the opinion that Smith need to switch up the line-up.

Above all, the weekend’s matches prove that there is certainly never a dull moment of football in the Premier League with surprises popping up left, right and centre. No game was without its difficulties, verifying that the League is full of tough competition.

Let’s see what happens during this week’s Champion’s League fixtures.

 

Villa Made Light Work of Brighton in Carabao Cup

Aston Villa visited the Amex Stadium on Wednesday to face Brighton and Hove Albion in what was supposed to be a challenging game but turned out to be the very opposite. It was an all Premier League affair in this Carabao Cup fixture, with the newly promoted Villans and three-year running Brighton.

Graham Potter, ridden with a team full of injuries started with the youngest ever XI of this season. His side averaged an age of just 22 years and 35 days and featured nine senior debutants. That’s not to say Aston Villa started at any advantage as both teams went into the match having won just one Premier League game apiece, with Dean Smith’s side sitting at 19th position in the Premier League’s current stats.

Aston Villa gave an impressive run nevertheless, swarming all over the Seagulls to win 3-1. Jota gave the visitors the lead, scoring his first goal since his Summer switch from Villa’s West Midland rivals, Birmingham City. The midfielder sent a fine left-footed drive into the back of the net following a nice set up from Matt Targett and Conor Hourihane.

Great movement could be seen down the left flank from Villa, though Albion’s youngsters had the Lions acting fast on their feet with the ball. Villa amassed 70% possession and an excellent ten shots on target, compared to Albion’s six. The Seagulls goalkeeper, David Button was forced to make some key saves and did well to do so too, given the ball was in his sides box so often.

More success came for Aston Villa in the form of Hourihane. He hasn’t seen as much playing time as he would have liked to so far this season and the midfielder definitely proved that he deserves to be in the starting XI every time. He was expertly picked out by Keinan Davis, who came charging down the left flank after collecting the ball from a link-up between Trezeguet and McGinn. Hourihane smashed Davis’s cutback into the corner of the net – staking his first goal since last season’s Championship play-off semi-finals. Villa were 2-0 up and asserting their authority at Amex Stadium.

But Brighton & Hove Albion soon got a foothold back in the game. 17-year-old Haydon Roberts, halved the hosts deficit with a sublime goal to put the Seagulls back in the game. Brighton may have even drawn level with Villa had Aaron Connolly’s shot not hit the crossbar!

But in the 77th minute, Villa made sure they would progress by re-establishing their two-goal lead. Just 11 minutes after coming on, captain and striker, Jack Grealish hammered one home for Aston Villa, sealing their win in this round of the Carabao Cup. Grealish is yet to score in the Premier League so no doubt will be very pleased with his performance at the Amex Arena.

Albion manager, Graham Potter said that his young players shouldn’t be too disheartened by the loss and was impressed by their performance. He also inferred that the fact Dean Smith resorted to bringing on Jack Grealish speaks volumes about how well his side were performing. Smith responded with saying that his side aren’t “take winning lightly” in the Carabao Cup.

This victory is Aston Villa’s first against Brighton & Hove Albion at the Amex since the 1981/82 European Cup campaign. Progression sees Villa host the Wolverhampton Wanderers in the fourth round after Wolves defeated Reading 4-2 in a penalty shootout. The last time Villa played Wolves, Villa ran riot on their Midland rivals, winning 4-1 although the Wolverhampton Wanderers ultimately won the league that year. The all Midlands Derby, which is set to take place in late October is set to be electric as the pair renew their rivalry on the pitch at Villa Park.

Will Nuno Santo’s men struggle against the Lions?

They had a much harder time than the Villans in their third round fixture against Reading at the Molineux Stadium. It was Wolves debutant Bruno Jordao, that gave the hosts their lead. In the 27th minute his shot slipped through Joao Virginia’s fingers to mark his first goal for his side but his dream debut soon turned sour when he was later carried off in a stretcher after suffering a twisted ankle. Wolves midfielder, Meritan Shabani also went down in a traumatic way during the match and had to be carried off in a stretcher, adding to Nuno’s list of injured players.

Wolves still lead 1-0 for over 70 minutes of the game but couldn’t build on that first goal. The second-half was a much slower game, without as much creative play and any resolute chances being made. John Ruddy made a good save in the second-half to prevent it from being 1-1 earlier on in the game and though Wolves were the better team overall, Reading did well to apply pressure to their midfield and defence but nevertheless and in dramatic fashion, Reading drew level.

It was well into stoppage time, at the 99th minute when Lucas Boye headed a stunning cross from John Swift into the hosts net causing a deadlock. In the penalty shootout Ruddy eased some of the pressure off of Wolves – diving to the left to save Swift’s shot and then Wolves saw more relief when Boye blasted his attempt over the bar. Albion’s Virginia just couldn’t redeem himself after the error with Jordao and allowed Wolves to scrape through after being unable to deny any of their shots, sparking outrage amongst the Seagulls fans.

Top form from both sides will be needed when Wolves travel down to Villa Park, though Aston Villa and Wolves would probably be better off without this clash so they can focus on Premier League success. But this is the furthest Villa have got in the Carabao Cup for a number of years and the Lions are hungry for the win, will they be able to slay the Wolves?

Tough Night for Liverpool & Chelsea

Liverpool suffered an unlucky defeat at San Paolo Stadium against Napoli in the first round of the UEFA Champions League Group Stages. Defeat was looking unlikely until the 82nd minute, when the game took a turn following a controversial decision made by the referee. Andy Robertson was adjudged to have brought Jose Callejon down in the box and Napoli were awarded with a penalty.

There seemed to be minimal contact and the foul went to VAR, who deemed the referee’s decision as just and allowed Napoli the spot-kick. In an interview, Klopp agreed that Callejon played it smart against Robertson and that the yellow card his defender received was “harsh.”

It was Dries Mertens that took the shot and though Adrian got his hand on it, he just couldn’t do enough to push it outside of the goal. Nevertheless, Adrian’s performance against Napoli was outstanding and he did well to save a number of dangerous shots from Carlo Ancelotti’s side. The most stunning being when he denied Mertens attempt earlier on in the second half, somehow managing to push the ball onto the roof of the net with his right hand as it spun rapidly towards the top corner.

Napoli did have it in the net from early on in the game but the ‘goal’ was ruled offside – Fabian Ruiz shot twice and Adrian made two successive lightning saves before the ball was nodded home by Lozano, who was correctly flagged down. Cutting a home sides raring celebration short.

More frustration came in extra time when Napoli scored again in the 92nd minute sending Liverpool down 2-0 in Naples. Virgil Van Dijk made a rare error by allowing former Tottenham centre-forward Fernando Llorente to gain pace on the ball and send it home for Napoli. He’ll be disappointed with his part in the goal and should Liverpool want to hold on to their Champions League title, errors like that can’t be afforded but we all know how capable the Dutch defender is and this small blip won’t speak for the rest of the season.

Whilst the Reds conceded two goals, they were still threatening on the counter-attack and Napoli goalkeeper Alex Meret, had to make some vital saves, especially from Mo Salah and Sadio Mane.

Mane whipped a shot towards the net, in attempt to go through the keeper but Meret got down well to block, cradling the ball in both arms. Mo Salah fired a low diagonal shot and again, Meret did excellently to get his fingertips on the ball and deny the shot. Roberto Firmino nearly put Liverpool ahead with his header that just flashed wide of the post – could have definitely been a goal if it had been on target! James Milner nearly had an assist when he curled a low ball towards Mo Salah but Mario Ruiz did well to clear it.

Mane and Salah also somehow made a hash of a two on one. Napoli had failed to mark the two forwards effectively and the two zoomed towards a Napoli box but Mane miscalculated the cross to Salah, sending it far too wide for him to get a clear foot on it. It was the perfect and perhaps easiest opportunity Liverpool would have had to put themselves ahead and you could see the anticipation on the away fans faces. Either way, the Reds were creating opportunity, there’s no denying that.

Liverpool had been the better side for long periods, but it was clear that Napoli had done their homework and it was a spell of déjà vu for Liverpool, as Napoli’s last-minute success was a reminder of what happened when they played the same opponents a year ago.

A disappointed Jurgen Klopp admitted: “We had our opportunities. We had a lot of counter-attacks but could not finish them off.”

But this is exactly how Liverpool started their Champions League season last year. The Reds lost four of their six away fixtures and yet still climbed to the top to win the Champions League title, so fans shouldn’t be too disheartened.

For Liverpool it seems that when the beginning is harsh, it will end in victory. They play Red Bull Salzburg next at home and whilst the Austrian side defeated Genk 6-2, they shouldn’t be too brazen as Klopp’s men haven’t lost a game at Anfield Stadium since 2017! They’ll be looking to make light work of RB Salzburg though they should keep their eye on up-and-coming star Erling Håland.

Ross Barkley Gutted by Missed Penalty That Prevents a Draw at Stamford Bridge

Chelsea also suffered a defeat in their opening Champions League game. The Blues lost 0-1 at home to Valencia, marking another frustrating night at Stamford Bridge.

It was Valencia’s, Rodrigo, the only goal-scorer of the night that put Chelsea down. He edged into the home sides box in an excellent set-piece following Valencia’s free-kick. Parejo chipped the ball over the man-made wall and Rodrigo sprinted from out of nowhere, catching the ball with his left foot to hook it around and send it past Chelsea keeper, Kepa. And the away fans were sent into a flurry of celebration.

Chelsea had opportunity to equalise after VAR awarded a penalty for a handball by Daniel Wass that came off a header by Tomori. After a round of questioning by Jorginho and Willian, Ross Barkley took the shot but missed the penalty, with the ball cannoning off the cross bar and then going over.

Valencia had evidently done their homework on Lampard’s men as they defended smartly against a home side that clearly had more possession and control for the most part of the game. Jasper Cillessen did well to deny attempts from both Willian and Marcus Alonso, who fired a lovely shot through the visitor’s poor wall and towards the corner of the post.

Willian was looking especially threatening throughout the game, which is perhaps why he was so determined to take the spot-kick for his side.

There were chances from Giroud and Christensen too, though they just couldn’t do enough to put the Blues ahead. Chelsea had also lost young star and England International, Mason Mount early on in the first half following a rash challenge by Valencia’s Francis Coquelin. Needless to say, it was a tense and frustrating encounter that marked an undesirable first for Frank Lampard, who has become the first Chelsea manager in charge to lose his opening Champions League match.

He admitted that it was a “harsh lesson”, especially for his younger players who have much to learn about Champions League Football. We know there will be better nights than this one for Chelsea and that the Blues will do well to qualify from this minor setback.

N’Golo Kante is in good form, Emerson Palmieri has returned and Callum Hudson-Odoi is set to make his comeback. We know Chelsea are capable of great football, that was seen in their 5-2 victory over Wolves and with the Blues eager to seal their first win at Stamford Bridge, if they don’t do it in the Premier League, they’ll be hoping to triumph against Ajax, who they face at home next in the Champions League Group Stages.

The Sublime to the Ridiculous: Premier League Weekend Review

We witnessed some intense football over the weekend, from incredible highs to crushing lows. Here we distinguish the football fortunes from the football flops and analyse the errors and achievements of the weekend’s fixtures.

Manchester City v Norwich

Man City fans perhaps experienced the most devastating defeat of the weekend, losing 3-2 to Norwich at Carrow Road. Who would have thought that The Canaries had it in them to conquer The Sky Blues? The win is especially shocking when you consider that the cost of the whole Norwich team is probably less than the price of one City substitute. City fans took to Twitter to concede that Norwich played an excellent game of football and were worthy winners.

Poor defence seemed to be the key reason for the loss as Norwich highlighted the vulnerability of Man City’s line up. Many fans were critical of Otamendi, commenting that he is no longer a decent starter.

Despite the loss, Guardiola refuses to speak negatively of City. ‘I am sorry if you think that today I have doubts in my team – I can’t’ he said. ‘Maybe you forget that they are human beings. Maybe you were wrong when you talked about us being unbeatable or a perfect team.’

City are clearly missing their top defender, Aymeric Laporte who is currently nursing a knee injury. The French footballer labelled City’s defeat as an ‘accident’. In his absence, Guardiola fielded Otamendi alongside Stones. Sadly, the Argentine’s catastrophic performance contributed to the defeat.

Liverpool v Newcastle

Unsurprisingly, The Reds came out on top at Anfield as they played against Newcastle on Saturday, securing a 3-1 win. There were, however, glimpses of brilliance from The Magpies as Jetro Willems scored a fantastic goal. Ultimately, Liverpool remained strong throughout the game, cementing their victory. Senegalese winger, Sadio Mane, managed to score two goals in the first half with Mo Salah scoring the third after half time. Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp said he started enjoying the match ‘after 35 minutes when we arrived in the game.’

Newcastle manager Steve Bruce responded by praising their opponents. ‘Liverpool are as good as you get. You can understand why they are European champions and only lost once last year.’ The Reds have once again proved their status within the world of football and continue to stay at the top of the table.

Manchester United v Leicester

Man United were also weekend winners, claiming a 1-0 victory against Leicester at Old Trafford.  The Red Devils defended well and were able to administer Leicester’s first defeat of the season. During a post-match press conference, Solskjaer stated that he thought that United played excellently. ‘I thought they read the game well. I’ve got loads of admiration for Jamie Vardy, he’s my type of centre-forward, runs in behind and harasses.’ However, he also acknowledged Leicester’s performance, stating that ‘it was the first time this season where we have had to defend for large periods. They are a good side who want to get into the top four.’

It was Marcus Rashford who scored the only goal during a penalty in the eighth minute. It may have been a difficult start to the football season for United but there were plenty of positive moments in Saturday’s game, which may kickstart further promising performances throughout the remainder of the season.

Tottenham Hotspur v Crystal Palace

The most spectacular win of the weekend goes to Spurs. They reigned supreme against Crystal Palace and won 4-0 at their new impressive stadium. Manager, Mauricio Pochettino stated that ‘the attitude was amazing and the performance. We were very concentrated and had tremendous quality. I’m so happy for the team. I think it’s important for their confidence.’ Perhaps the most stand out performance from the Spurs side was from Korean forward, Son Heung-min. He brought energy to the game and did all he could to stop his opponents from scoring. Spurs’ overall performance was so impressive that even football legend, David Beckham, joked that he wanted to come out of retirement so he could play form them!

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Chelsea

We started the article with a defeat and so we end with a defeat. Wolves played a disappointing game against Chelsea on Saturday, losing 2-5 at Molineux Stadium. They continued to put up an unsatisfactory performance, having failed to secure a single win so far this season. Manager, Nuno stated that ‘bad games can happen, what is important is we don’t repeat them. We have to react and be better. It cannot happen again. We have to start from the defensive organisation.’ Football fans have commented that Wolves have not been up to scratch for the past five games they have played and are becoming frustrated with Nuno’s repetitive response. Many have stated that they simply need a stronger squad in order to break the cycle. We still have a way to go this season but can Nuno’s men get their act together in time?

Euro 2020 Qualifying – England Sit Top of Group

What a tremendous win for England last night at Southampton’s St Mary’s Stadium. Gareth Southgate’s men beat Kosovo 5-3 in their second Euro 2020 qualifiers game, topping group A with a maximum of 12 points, 3 points ahead of second place Czech Republic.

England’s 45 minutes of Goals

Kosovo came to play a different game to England with an attacking front, pressing high, which saw Valon Berisha score for the away team in the first seconds of the game This was a real game changer after Michael Keane made an early mistake, passing to the Kosovo midfielder.

England kept their game faces on and Kosovo paid the price despite their early lead after Raheem Sterling levelled up, scoring in the 9th minute. This is where Keane later compensated for his earlier mistake with his assist of Sterling’s goal after he made the first header towards Sterling who nodded it into the back of the net.

There was no stopping England after this as they later went onto striking another 4 goals in 45 minutes of the game, securing a solid 5-1 front after the first half of the game.

The next 20 minutes saw England take the lead. A lovely run from Sterling to set up Tottenham Hotspur Harry Kane with a nutmeg through keeper Arijanet Muric’s legs.

Kosovo defender Mergim Vojvoda became under pressure from Sancho’s cross into the box, as he scored an own goal, taking England 4 goals in front. Moans from the away fans filled St Mary’s as Kosovo’s player went down injured in the build-up but it was a clenching moment.

Another quick England breakout for youngster Jadon Sancho, leaving nothing to chance, he stepped up to the goal to finish the play off, making it a clear 3-1 lead for the Three Lions. An impressive move for the 19-year-old, Marcus Rashford could potentially be looking over his shoulder, as Sancho begins to show the great young talent in the England squad and has the potential to be a regular starter.

But the goals didn’t stop there for Sancho as he bagged England yet another goal in the 46th minute. This was assisted with yet another great set up by Sterling, who played a great game against Kosovo

England’s Second Half Drama

The first half saw action from the get-go but the second half was also just as thrilling as Kosovo bagged 2 more goals. Berisha gets himself on the score sheet yet again after a curl to Jordan Pickford who just doesn’t quite manage to save the shot. Kosovo certainly kept England on their toes for the second half, slowly closing the goal gap.

Harry Maguire gave away a penalty after he pulled down Vedat Muriqi who then took the penalty to settle the 5-3 final score. Pickford unfortunately just couldn’t get control of the ball. England later got their own penalty when Ross Barkley was fouled. Kane took the penalty and was unluckily saved by Arijanet Muric, off his line but no VAR was in sight.

A Win is Still a Win

A handful of times the home side looked vulnerable with few errors throughout the game, something Southgate will need to fix before going forward into England’s next fixture. Coming up against stronger teams in the tournament could make England look weak with the performance put on last night against Kosovo.

It seemed that 8 goals were enough in England’s second fixture as the final whistle blew on a 5-3 scoreline. Sterling hit the post with many chances but Kosovo also had their fair share of chances too.

Southgate later commented that “there were poor errors for the goals. The mistakes were obvious. We have to be better.”

But he was delighted with the front trio. “It was devastating attacking play. Our forwards were a huge threat.”

It was an interesting play from England but if they’re hoping to replicate their Russia World Cup performance in the Euro 2020 tournament, they surely need to step up their game ready to face some of Europe’s best talent.