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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.

Saturday, 3 November 2018

AFC Bournemouth vs Manchester United


While things might have calmed somewhat at Manchester United, it’s telling that a win here might not even be enough to propel them ahead of Bournemouth. While the Cherries are wonderfully over performing under Eddie Howe, United have not performed anywhere near their expected quality for the majority of the season.

Can a trip to Bournemouth be the right remedy to the uncertainty around United? It worked with the dominant win in their trip to then high-flying Watford: it could happen again here, too.

Bournemouth News


Bournemouth should come into this one feeling pretty chirpy about their chances of a big showpiece win here. They have some great attacking player, with the trio of Calum Wilson, Ryan Fraser and David Brooks creating an interesting British trio up top who are making a huge impression.

With the Colombian destroyer Jefferson Lerma impressing many in the middle of the park (and covering up a slow start to the season for Lewis Cook) and the defensive trio of Nathan Ake, Steve Cook and Simon Francis making a big difference, they have no real reason to fear United in this tie.

United News


Manchester United, though, are seeing a bit of an upturn in form from some of their more important players. Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba have formed a decent little triangle with Luke Shaw, while there is a decent return to form coming at the back with some more stout, stoic defending in recent weeks.

While Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelof do not look entirely solid together, they aren’t the horror show they can appear.

Verdict


We can see this being a hard-fought draw. United aren’t quite on the losing habit as they were, and will see a point here as decent enough progress. We can’t see Bournemouth overcoming their big-club hoodoo at home here – but they are more than good enough to take something. If they finally cast-off that mentality, they could probably give United a beating.

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Newcastle United vs Brighton and Hove Albion - 20th Oct


While it might only be October, this has all the hallmarks of a six pointer. Newcastle United are six adrift of their opponents, while Brighton ended a five match winless run with a win last time out. United meanwhile threw a 2-0 lead against Manchester United to lose 3-2 and mean they are yet to win this year.

The question in this game is not so much who is better, but rather who feels more confident to see out a match.

Newcastle United News


Newcastle will be without a large chunk of players from an already thin squad. Ciaran Clark Salomon Rondon, Paul Dummett and Yoshinori Muto are all doubts for this game, as is Kenedy. Florian Lejune is still out, too.

They will be without a lot of players, meaning that it will be down to the engine room of Mohamed Diame and Jonjo Shelvey to get Newcastle up the pitch into attacking positions. With such a paucity of quality even with a fully fit squad, though, is that possible?

Brighton and Hove Albion News


Brighton meanwhile will be without Davy Propper and Pascal Gross, meaning that they will be missing two of their most important midfielders. Gaetan Bong and Dale Stephens are doubts, too, meaning that Chris Hughton will need to stretch his reserves of talent if he wants to get a win back at his old club.

The injuries are mounting up a bit for a squad that already looked limited in terms of quality. Can they correct that and get a result here despite being depleted?

Verdict


We can see Newcastle finally breaking their winless un in this game. Brighton have not been great despite their win against West Ham, and Newcastle will need to start getting positive results sooner or later. If they cannot defeat a low in confidence and injury stricken Brighton, it’s not likely they’ll win a game!

Brighton are a good side, but in their present form Newcastle should have all eyes on victory here. It’s now or never for the Toon.


Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Player Profile - Paul Pogba

If you have somehow managed to get to 2018 without hearing the name of Paul Pogba, we’d be quite impressed in a way. The big Frenchman is among the finest midfielders in the world game; a unique blend of grace, style, personality and raw power. Whether he’s nutmegging a fellow midfielder or lashing an unstoppable drive from distance, the fiery midfielder has earned his right to be among the global pantheon of midfield stars.

At 24, he’s maturing into the next midfield legend at Manchester United. Following an acrimonious exit from the club due to a lack of playing time under Alex Ferguson, Pogba made his way over to Italy with Juventus. In Turin, he established himself as a global star and quickly became an icon for a club perpetually in the midst of winning titles.

In four years in Turin, he clocked up over 150 appearances and won several medals, including four Serie A crowns as the Old Lady became one of the most dominant sides in the European game. While his then-world record move back to Manchester United is yet to truly catch fire, a League Cup and UEFA Europa League is a fine start to his return to Manchester.

Seemingly set with the aim of finishing off what he left behind the first time, the 2013 Golden Boy has all the talent and aptitude to make it at the top of the game. His unique blend of power, precision, persistence and personality makes him the kind of player that is so easy on the eye.

While his critics might say he is yet to score enough goals or truly blossom into a world-record worthy player, there’s much to admire about Paul Pogba. For years to come, he’ll be remembered as a genuine Premier League great.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Player Profile - Leroy Sane

For many, Leroy Sane is the perfect representation of the Premier League star midfielder. An eloquent blend of power, speed, technique and invention, Sane is among the finest players in the dvision despite only being aged 22. The Essen-born star started his career at FC Schalke, before a quick jaunt to Bayer Leverkusen seen him return to Gelsenkirchen. This time, he stuck around and in two seasons became a player Schalke fans will remember for a long time to come.

From an impudent goal against Borussia Dortmund to a stunning performing against Real Madrid in the Champions League, Sane is a player of notable repute for one so young. Already a regular German international, the 6ft wide man has quickly established himself as a player who can make even the best full-backs full on their backside.

His electric turn of pace, incisive shooting and unbelievable passing accuracy for a winger makes him a true stand-out in the industry. When he made his move to Manchester City in 2016, some doubted if he was ready for the step-up to become a key man under Josep Guardiola.

Quickly, though, he settled in tote way of life in England and immediately established himself as one of the most electric talents in his age group in any division. He’s also been a player who had to overcome some odd challenges; for example, his first season at City was ruined due to a nose issue that made it hard for him to breathe. 
 
Corrective surgery has helped him be the stand-out player of the 2017-18 player in his age group. Just behind the likes of Salah for week-in, week-out impact, he’s quickly become one of the most satisfying players to watch as he turns seasoned international defenders into shadows of their former selves.

Sunday, 9 September 2018

USA v Mexico - 12th September


When it comes to finding that extra verve as a national side, few games can be more worthwhile from an educational standpoint than playing Brasil. While the USA came out the other side as 2-0 losers, they will have likely learned a fair amount. Will it be enough to help them come up against the old rival in Mexico, and produce a performance worth remembering?

USA News

The game against Brasil will have left an impact on the USA players, not least from a defensive organization standpoint. While Mexico are clearly not as good, they have a similar attacking penchant and could easily cause some problems for a USA defence that looks and feels like it needs more of a refresh.

We expect Timothy Weah to get a start in this one, as he’s impressed in most of his games so far in the national team.

Mexico News

Meanwhile, El Tri come into this one knowing they need to find some form – and fast. Routed 4-1 against Uruguay on Saturday night at home, they need a result here to try and get the fans back onside. The Mexico project feels a little stunted at present, and it’ll be interesting to see how they deal with playing a side less powerful on the break.

Uruguay are the perfect antithesis to how Mexico play; the States aren’t quite so effective in transition. For Mexico to win, though, they’ll need to maintain a solidity at the back they often find quite challenging.

Verdict

We can see this being a Mexico win, but with a lot of effort needed to get there. The USA have shown they can be stodgy and hard to break down, but it’s hard to see them making the most of the Mexican gaps in defence due to their paucity up front. If Mexico can shake off the pain of the Uruguay game, they could definitely come out the other side here with a positive result.