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Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Champions League - FC Porto vs Liverpool (0-2 Agg)


When the draw for the quarter finals of the UEFA Champions League was made, many seen FC Porto and Ajax Amsterdam as the ‘easy’ ties. Liverpool, though, found out that, despite winning 2-0, Porto are no mugs. Can the Reds go to Portugal and produce a similar performance to the masterful display that they offered here in 2018?

FC Porto News


If the Dragons are to do something special here, they’ll be doing so without Vincent Aboubakar. The Cameroon international misses out here, but Porto will be buoyed by the return of Yacine Brahimi, Pepe and Hector Herrera. As three of the most important players for the Portuguese, it will be interesting to see how Liverpool handle a more in-form FC Porto side.

Expect Moussa Marega to offer ample threat in the wide areas and up front. Meanwhile, the onus will be on Herrera and Danilo Perreira to control what will be a hotly contested midfield.

Liverpool News


The only doubt here for Liverpool will be that of Jordan Henderson. The Reds captain, rejuvenated as an 8 in recent weeks, has been integral to some excellent form for the Reds. The return of Andy Robertson, though, will help to make up for his loss. Expect Naby Keita or Georginio Winaldum to get a game in the middle alongside Fabinho.

Dejan Lovren might come in for this one, having impressed in the Anfield match after a long injury lay-off. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Joe Gomez are nearing a return to fitness, but will likely miss out here: the lead is not large enough to risk either.

Verdict


Score draw. Liverpool to open the scoring and render the tie almost impossible to win for Porto. Porto, though, are no fools: they are European giants in their own right and have improved massively from last year. An exciting & intense score draw.

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Newcastle vs Palace


With both sides fighting out for the ‘glory’ of mid-table comfort, Newcastle United welcome Crystal Palace. This has been a rather dull affair in recent years, with only one thriller – the 5-1 shellacking that Palace handed out in November 2015 – standing out. Most games are single goal affairs, and the first encounter this year produced a meek 0-0. With both sides in total comfort and probably not much to play for, expect both sides to perhaps play with a bit of freedom. Often, though, this can also breed conservatism.

Newcastle News


The Toon will be looking to recover from a rather listless loss against Arsenal on Monday. They produced little and came forward without much gusto, and were soundly beaten by the better team. Knowing that a win would give them more or less total safety and put them ahead of Palace does offer incentive for the home side.

They’ll be looking for Salomon Rondon to continue his good firm, backed up by his companion in Ayoze Perez. The pair have struck up a good partnership this year, and could be important for any three points gathered in this one.

Crystal Palace News


The Eagles have nothing to really play for, except for places in the team next year. Some significant change is expected to come in the summer, with likes of Wilfried Zaha and Aaron Wan-Bissaka expected to move on to bigger clubs. Until then, though, more signature wins – like one at St. James Park – could help get some of their better players even more impressive moves.

With security more or less assured, too, Palace can afford to play without the usual conservatism that a Roy Hogdson side sticks to.

Verdict


Score draw. Newcastle are flagging a little, and without the feelgood factor of a Rafael Benitez extension (though being discussed) means there is not much on this match. Both sides will go for it, but we can’t see it being enough to create anything other than a solid score draw.

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Premier League: Tottenham vs Arsenal


As one of the biggest derbies in the Premier League, meetings between Tottenham and Arsenal are often frenetic, exciting affairs. This one, though, has a hell of a lot riding on it: Spurs need a win, and a result, to help get their season on track. Arsenal need to win to make sure they can continue their push for the top four: with Manchester United and Chelsea having winnable fixtures, they could fall dangerously behind. Spurs, though, could get dragged out of the title race entirely and into the battle for the top four themselves – there’s a lot riding on this derby.

Tottenham Hotspur News


Despite the very impressive form of Harry Winks, rumors persist that he’ll miss out in favor of Victor Wanyama. The Kenyan brings steel and strength to the middle of the park, and could be the perfect choice for a game like this. Expect Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min to start up top for Spurs, perhaps in a 3-5-2 formation with Christian Eriksen running the show from the middle of the mark.

The performance of Danny Rose and Serge Aurier, though, will be very interesting indeed.

Arsenal News


The Gunners are expected to line up in the much the same way they have recently – a 3-5-2 themselves. With Lucas Torreira, Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka playing together, there’s plenty of energy and steel in the middle of the pitch for the Gunners.

Wing-back, though, could be an issue; Saed Kolasinac and Ainsley Maitland-Niles have struggled throughout the season, and we could see them continue to do the same here against the pace of Spurs.

Verdict


Spurs win. Arsenal dispatched Spurs with relative ease in the return fixture, but we can see Spurs picking up their game again ahead of a challenging tie against Borussia Dortmund. This is, though, likely to be a tight and tense game – with so much riding on it, it’s easy to see why.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Player Profile - Christian Eriksen

For years, the name of Christian Eriksen has been on the tips of the tongue of scouts across the globe. Now 25, the Middlefart-born Dane is one of the most impressive creative players in the world. With a deftness of touch that wouldn’t look out of place in a Brazilian national side to a vision and general temperament on the ball that makes him almost impossible to frustrate, Eriksen is easily among the leading lights in the entire Premier League.

The Spurs man started out at AFC Ajax, like many of his fellow Danes. He quickly became a key man at Ajax, thriving as the key cog in a resurgent Ajax side led by Frank de Boer. With some exceptional performances domestically and in Europe, including rampaging performances on English soil, Eriksen was a player that most teams in the world would have taken a chance on.

It was a surprise, then, when he made a move to Tottenham for just £11m in 2013. The move was seen as a massive coup for the club, as he joined a mini revolution at Spurs. While at first he was somewhat slow to get started, despite an assist on debut, he quickly established himself as a player who could lift the tempo of a math seemingly at will.

With the ball under his control almost permanently, he’s become a player noted for important goals, including wonderful free kicks. He’s also a player who is known for his top quality link-up play, having become a key foil for teammates Harry Kane and Dele Alli and, at international level, alongside the likes of Lasse Schone and Kasper Dolberg – fellow Ajax players.

For many, he’s among the most underrated players in the world and, just 25, could yet establish a career to rival Danish legends such as Michael Laudrup.

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Punters Win Big with 8-Fold Acca



Two happy chats dicussing their winning football accumulator bet. From beer money to £100k. The stuff of dreams!

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Arsenal vs Tottenham


As a truly classic English football fixture, the game between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur is well worth keeping an eye on. Both sides have been very impressive this year, though Arsenal are beginning to enter a minor blip – despite a 2-1 win against Bournemouth last time out, they have looked a touch jaded.

Spurs, though, are flying after dismantling Chelsea and then putting Internazionale to the sword in Europe. With Arsenal coming back from a politically intensive trip to Kyiv, could we see Spurs get a result at Arsenal? With Arsenal winning one of their last six derbies, it wouldn’t be beyond the realms of possibility.

Arsenal News


With the likelihood of Arsenal resting a lot of players after their European tie on Thursday, they should come into this one mostly full strength. The return to form of Shkrodan Mustafi was much-needed, as is the constant firepower of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

If they can get to this game without any major injuries at the back, they should feel pretty good about getting a result here.

Spurs News


Spurs will arrive at the Emirates flying after a major win in midweek against Inter. However, they are enjoying a very impressive run of results mostly at home. Away from home, especially against Arsenal, results have been much less impressive.

This should be an intense game, so expect Spurs to stick with their tight and offensive midfield diamond that they have been using recently to great effect. In getting the most out of their key players, it offers a versatility that should help to congest the game and slow down Arsenal.

Verdict


Spurs to win. It might seem controversial given their away day derby record, but a win for Spurs here feels very much possible. Arsenal have toiled in recent weeks, and they might just find that Spurs, flying from their recent wins, have just a touch too much energy for them in this one.

Monday, 19 November 2018

Player Profile - Loris Karius

For many, German goalkeeper Loris Karius was the wrong choice for a club the size of Liverpool. The 24-year-old German, though, has shown in 2018 that he has more than enough to handle playing for a top club. After all, there’s a reason why he was voted among the finest keepers in Germany prior to his arrival at Anfield!

He started off at VfB Stuttgart after a series of moves around smaller youth clubs like SSV Ulm 1846. He then made a surprise move to England, when he joined recently cash-rich Manchester City. He was signed for City in 2009, but never made a single appearance for the Citizens despite costing an “exorbitant amount of money”, according to Thomas Albeck, the Stuttgart youth co-ordinator.

A move to Mainz 05 came next, where he stayed for four years. In his time at the club, he quickly established himself as a keeper of some repute, playing regularly for the Zero-Fivers. He quickly became a key player following coming on for Christian Wetklo. Wetklo was injured and, at 19, he became the youngest Bundesliga keeper of all-time.

From 2013-2016, he was a key player for the club and was voted the second best keeper in the Bundesliga in 2015-16, keeping nine sheets. He came second only to the great Manuel Neur.

Then, he made his move to Liverpool. While he’s only begun to establish himself at Anfield after 18-months, the German looks to be coming into his own and really establishing a legacy for himself. Now the number one keeper at Anfield, he appears to have the back of players, coaches and fans as he continues an impressive renaissance.

While he might not be among the elite keepers in the league just yet, a rich history and potential for development says that, at just 24, that could change quickly.