Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Premier League Picks Of The Week 16

Sports - Football - Premier League - Week 16

The 16th week of the Premier League action saw:

27 goals - most by Tottenham = 5
237 shots - most by Crystal Palace = 24
85 on target - most by Tottenham = 11
102 corners - most by Tottenham & Liverpool = 12
216 fouls - most by West Brom = 18
39 yellow cards - most by West Ham & Crystal Palace & West Brom = 5 each
1 red card - Zeegelaar for Watford
3 penalties - 2 scored (Milivojevic for Palace, Rooney for Everton)

What a game! Brilliant goals, breath-taking football, action-packed, entertaining, the game had everything at St James' Park. But Newcastle once against ended up on the losing side, 2-3 against Leicester this time, a late Ayoze Pérez own goal costing the Magpies dearly. Foxes boss Claude Puel is doing what Rafael Benítez is looking for, getting the team together and the best out of his players.  The Spaniard has seen his side slump down to 16th collecting just one point from the last seven matches, whilst the Frenchman can be very happy with 14 points taking them up to eighth.
After all the massive build-up all week to the Double Derby Super Sunday - both games weren't the thrillers of the century but certainly hard-fought and no love was lost between any of the sides, that's for sure. Everton got a lucky point at Anfield after utter dominance from Liverpool. Top scorer Mohamed Salah could and should have had a hat-trick, team mate Sadio Mané blew a handful of chances, too. And after all that, it had to be Wayne Rooney who grabbed the point netting his first ever goal against the Reds in the derby from the spot off a very controversial penalty, which both managers disagreed about, to say the least. Click here for my match notes, a lot happened!
League leaders City bossed the show at Old Trafford beating United 1-2 in the later kick-off. The Red Devils only had 35% possession, their lowest figure at home in the Premier League since 2003-4. Brazilian stopper Ederson's stunning double-save topped the lot for me. Everyone is always on about David de Gea, this time the other side stayed in the game and collected the points thanks to the top keeper. More below.

What a team! Tottenham have become the first side in English top-flight history to win four consecutive league games against the same opponent by four or more goals. They must love Stoke City for that, this time crushing their favourite opponent 5-1 at Wembley, including a Harry Kane double. Home sweet home, just when everyone thought Mauricio Pochettino's side were struggling.
City's win at Old Trafford took their winning run to 14 games which is the record best for the most consecutive wins in a single Premier League season and joint-best in the English top-flight alongside Arsenal's run between February and August 2002. United's first home defeat in 41 games takes Pep Guardiola's men 11 points clear at the top. Unstoppable? José Mourinho apparently/allegedly tried to stop the Citizens' party but failed...

What a player! West Ham keeper Joe Hart must have sank in his seat watching his replacement Adrián make some brilliant stops against the champions, more to that game below.
Huddersfield record signing Steve Mounié's double ended his side's run of four consecutive defeats with a 2-0 win against Brighton, leaving manager David Wagner full of praise and deservedly so.
And Wilfried Bony found a late winner to lift Swansea off the bottom of the table after beating West Brom to bank three precious points and ease the pressure on boss Paul Clement.
Charlie Austin made it eight in his last 11 league starts for Southampton, four in his last three, capitalising on Per Mertesacker's giveaway. Arsenal were shambles in the first half in the earliest kick-off on Sunday and could have been four or five goals down at the break. Oriol Romeu hit the bar in the second half. And then of course substitute Olivier Giroud levelled the score in the 88th minute with a superb header, equalling Red Devil Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's record for the most goals by a substitute in the Premier League. It ended 1-1 but could and should have been 6 or 7-1. Lucky lucky lucky Arsène Wenger.

What a goal! It was a sweet finish by Marko Arnautović that gave West Ham the lead against Chelsea and deserved as well. The Hammers stunned the Blues who were all over the place and the home side stayed strong when Antonio Conte's men did recover and form a threat. And unlike against Manchester City, David Moyes' men were able to hang on to their first win under the former Everton and United boss.
Jermain Defoe's equaliser for Bournemouth against Palace was something else. The angle, the distance, it all looked against him, but he tapped it up and in to make it two for him and 2-2 on the scoreboard.
Salah's opening goal for Liverpool was a cracker, his 13th league goal and 19th in all competitions, topping all charts and awards for the Reds, but it was not enough to win it them as mentioned above. Manager Jürgen Klopp certainly thought Everton's equaliser should have never happened... The German failed to admit his side could and should have killed off the game way before that incident after dominating the derby through and through.

What the hell?! All the diving and whining and complaining by Chelsea at the London Stadium made me sick! The Blues were so lucky just to get away with one booking! Both Mancunian sides were just as bad as each other on Sunday as well being drama queens, and as mentioned above it continued after the match. And I was also annoyed by all the discussions and doubts about Watford's Marvin Zeegelaar's sending off, manager Marco Silva criticising the decision like blaming his side's defeat at Burnley on it. It was a two-footed, dangerous tackle! Accidental or not, it is a red.
Both penalties for Palace against Bournemouth were softer than soft, but what was Christian Benteke thinking?! His boss Roy Hodgson was not happy. First penalty taker and scorer Luka Milivojević and team mate Jeffrey Schlupp were wondering and questioning the striker's decision. Why did they let him take the injury-time spot kick? The Belgian striker has yet to score for the London side this season and it was his third miss out of five from the spot for Palace. And I hope and think it was the last as it cost them two crucial points in the relegation battle.

My Predictions - Actual Results
West Ham 1:4 Chelsea - 1:0
Burnley 1:0 Watford - 1:0
Crystal Palace 1:1 Bournemouth - 2:2
Huddersfield 2:1 Brighton - 2:0
Swansea 0:0 West Brom - 1:0
Tottenham 1:1 Stoke City - 5:1
Newcastle 1:1 Leicester - 2:3
Southampton 2:2 Arsenal - 1:1
Liverpool 4:0 Everton - 1:1 or here are my match notes
Man United 3:4 Man City - 1:2

Click here for last week's Premier League Picks.

All pictures, facts and stats were taken from the BBC match reports, MOTD, Twitter, SFR and Sky Sports live match coverage.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Rooney Grabs A Point From The Spot

Sports - Football - Premier League - LFC 1:1 EFC

Here are my live match notes, stats and facts:

Pre-match surprise: Coutinho and Firmino dropped to the bench, part of six changes for the Reds!!! (See the full line-ups at the bottom of these live match notes.)

15' 76%-24% possession, Reds pushing, Toffees leaving too much space at times, Big Sam going ballistic on the sideline, even Jürgen Klopp was taken aback next to the big raging boss.

23' 93%-46% passing accuracy, quality and dominance but still no real danger nor breakthrough.

29' 5-0 attempts, 0-0 on target, on top but somewhat disappointing so far for the Reds.

36' first BOOKING of the derby goes to Sigurdsson for a late tackle on Henderson, studs on ankle, ouch.

42' second BOOKING Gueye, late tackle from behind on Senegalese team mate Mané, free kick for the home side on the left -

GOAL - Salah fights his way through from the right, lifts and swerves a beauty up, away and into the left corner with his magical left foot, keeper no chance, 1-0!

Two minutes added on.

MISS - Mané skips past the last Toffee, runs in from the left, has three other Reds free in front of goal to choose from, but the Senegalese striker puts it wide instead. Should have been 2-0!

Possession: 80%-20%
Shots: 12-1
On target: 1-1
Corners: 3-0
Fouls: 4-6
Yellow cards: 0-2

Two CHANGES made by Big Sam after the break, Lennon and Schneiderlin on for Davies and Niasse. Rooney has gone from useless right-back to up front. Will it bring Everton into the game?

49' Salah header JUST wide, brilliant Milner cross. Liverpool continuing the way they were going, on top, dominant.

50' Sigurdsson puts the ball wide from the left, no real threat.

52' Fifth corner to the Reds, looking dangerous, Toffees struggling, crumbling, sixth corner, headed away, threat still not cleared, all Liverpool at the moment.

55' Seventh and eighth Liverpool corner, Salah fires it high from the edge of the box. 15-1 shots, but just 1-1 on target.

63' 77%-23% possession, I don't know how that has gone down, it's still all Red, one-way traffic. 35-2 touches in the opposition box.

65' Pickford was just watching there as Gomez headed the ball over off a free kick on the left, close one.

67' First CHANGE made by Klopp, Firmino replaces goal scorer Salah. Calculated gamble by the German boss, the commentators ask.

73' 11-1 corners, first one for the visitors, the fans cheer as if they've scored, nothing from it.

76' PENALTY TO EVERTON Lovren pushed down Calvert-Lewin in the box, no one else near, no threat as they were running towards the corner, clumsy one, soft one, a present. The visitors' first penalty at Anfield since 1988!!!

77' ROONEY EQUALISES from the spot, his first EVER goal in the Merseyside derby, Liverpool punished for their misses and clumsiness.

80' CHANGE Klopp brings on Coutinho for Oxlade-Chamberlain in response to that equaliser, Lovren had been booked for the penalty offence.

82' CHANGE Solanke is replaced by Ings, final dice thrown by Klopp.

82' Last CHANGE for Everton as well, Rooney handing the captain's armband over to Jagielka.

85' Schneiderlin BOOKED for felling down Milner. Coutinho to take the resulting free kick, Pickford saves and collects it to his top right. 22-3 shots, only 3-2 on target.

88' Lovren heads another Liverpool corner high. He will be kicking himself for giving away the win.

Four minutes added on, Firmino on the stretch, ball goes out for a goal kick. Henderson fires high late on, disappointing.

Full time whistle blows, Lovren still protesting to the officials, but he can moan as much as he likes, he has given the win away with the penalty foul. 1-1 and one point each, all the dominance and chances don't count for anything!

Positive note: Liverpool remain unbeaten in the last ten matches in all competitions and have equalled their longest-ever unbeaten run against the Toffees in all competitions = 15 games, set between March 1972 and April 1978.

Possession: 79%-21%
Shots: 23-3
On target: 3-2
Corners: 2-1
Fouls: 8-11
Yellow cards: 1-3

Klopp's post-match interview!!! Wow! The German normal and usually smiley one didn't take the questions about the spot kick lightly!!! No matter how angry he is about the referee, he can't ignore his side's weaknesses and how they couldn't take the game away from Big Sam's side. Next: West Brom at Anfield on Wednesday!

Liverpool team: 22 Mignolet, 12 Gomez, 6 Lovren (booked 76'), 17 Klavan, 26 Robertson, 14 Henderson (c), 7 Milner, 21 Oxlade-Chamberlain (10 Coutinho 78'), 19 Mané, 11 Salah (9 Firmino 67'), 29 Solanke (28 Ings 82'). 4-2-3-1
Subs not used: 1 Karius, 5 Wijnaldum, 23 Can, 66 Alexander-Arnold.

Everton team: 1 Pickford, 43 Kenny, 15 Martina, 30 Holgate, 5 Williams, 17 Gueye (booked 42'), 29 Calvert-Lewin, 26 Davies (12 Lennon HT), 10 Rooney (c) (6 Jagielka 82'), 18 Sigurdsson (booked 36'), 19 Niasse (2 Schneiderlin HT, booked 85'). 4-3-3
Subs not used: 33 Robles, 4 Keane, 27 Vlasic, 31 Lookman.

Referee: Craig Pawson
Man of the match: Jonjoe Kenny
Ground: Anfield
Attendance: 53,082

Click here for my previous LFC match report.

All facts and stats were taken from the BBC match report, Twitter and Sky Sports live match coverage.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Premier League Picks Of The Week 15

Sports - Football - Premier League - Week 15

The 15th week of the Premier League action saw:

27 goals - most by Liverpool = 5
257 shots - most by Arsenal = 33
91 on target - most by Arsenal = 16
106 corners - most by Arsenal = 12
189 fouls - most by Watford = 16
30 yellow cards - most by Watford = 4
2 red cards - Sanchez for Tottenham, Pogba for United
2 penalties - 2 scored (Hazard for Chelsea, Murray for Brighton)

What a game! Arsenal suffered their first home defeat at the Emirates since January, losing 1-3 against 10-man Manchester United. The Gunners fell two goals behind after 11 minutes and couldn't recover after those errors, no matter what they threw at the Red Devils. The defeat sees Arsène Wenger's men drop out of the Champions League qualification places to fifth. More to the fiery encounter below.
Watford were unlucky just to get a point against Tottenham, referee Martin Atkinson not making (m)any friends at Vicarage Road. Less than a minute after the home side felt Richarlison was fouled, but nothing was given, Son Heung-min levelled the score from the counter. Christian Kabasele had headed the Hornets ahead from a corner and the home side fought hard to stay in the match. Too hard and physical according to some, but the officials ignored all appeals and calls on both sides. Mauricio Pochettino felt it was long overdue for some decisions to go his side's way, avoiding any further word about Davinson Sánchez's red card for an elbow. Spurs have now gone four league matches without a win unable to deal with Marco Silva's side's fighting spirit.

What a team! Man City are still topping the lot with an eight-point cushion - next weekend's derby is going to be interesting! The odds on an 8-0 win to the league leaders against West Ham were lower than the visitors nicking it 0-1, which said it all!!! But the Hammers started so well and worked so hard though and got a surprise lead in the first half thanks to Angelo Ogbonna's header. However, it was no surprise they got knackered and leaked the goals in the end, Nicolás Otamendi (57') and David Silva (83') handing the Citizens their record-equalling 13th PL win in a row in Pep time.
Crystal Palace have moved off the bottom of the table for the first time this season and have been replaced by Swansea after the Welsh side's 2-1 defeat at Stoke. Mark Hughes was a very relieved man seeing his side showing much more "courage and character" as he put it after seeing the Potters record their first win since October, first home win since September. The pressure is up and going more and more against Paul Clement. Despite failing to score for the 10th away game in a row for the first time since Manchester City in 1950, the Eagles were happy with the point at West Brom, Alan Pardew full of praise for his side too.
Huddersfield are sliding down the table, Everton making it two wins and six goals in two games and Big Sam very happy after his first match in charge beating the Tigers 2-0 at Goodison Park.

What a man! Man of the match at the Emirates David de Gea made the most saves in a single match in Premier League history = 14, including a breathtaking double-save against Alexandre Lacazette and Alexis Sánchez. 33 attempts made by the home side, 16 on target, but just one goal to show for on the scoreboard. José Mourinho's side produced just 8 shots, 4 on target, but 3 goals meant 3 points. It was a thriller and a very harsh lesson to the London side, despite having the extra man for the last 15ish minutes after Paul Pogba was sent off for a dangerous tackle.
Man of the Match at Stamford Bridge Eden Hazard made a big difference for Chelsea as the Blues came back from a goal down to beat Newcastle 3-1 at Stamford Bridge. The former Premier League Player of the Year levelled the score with an angled strike and sealed the win from the spot after striker Álvaro Morata had given the Blues the lead. This result made it ten wins for Antonio Conte's side in the league, whilst Rafael Benítez's Magpies have seen no wins in the last six and been dragged down to 15th, 5 points from safety.

What a goal! All FIVE Liverpool goals just over-rolled Brighton... Great team play, counter attacking, running, passing, smashing. Mohamed Salah wasn't on the scoreboard for a change but was more than involved. The Egyptian has played part in 15 goals in the first 15 PL games for Liverpool, more than any other player for the club (12 goals, 3 assists). Man of the match Philippe Coutinho's cheeky low free kick that went under the wall made it four and settled any nerves and fears of a comeback like Sevilla in the Champions League. And unlucky Lewis Dunk put the ball into his own net it sealed the deal 1-5 at the Amex Stadium. The Brighton defender is only one away from Martin Škrtel's record for the season (= 4 in 2013/14). The Reds meanwhile have moved into the top four of the Premier League for the first time since August after scoring 15 goals in their past four away games in all competitions. BOOM!

What the hell?! There were lots of questionable refereeing decisions once again, as (some) mentioned above... Penalties... Bookings... Red cards... The inconsistencies are just mad! I could fill books with all the errors (and arguments FOR video reviews and WHY THE HELL they still haven't been introduced)! Bournemouth defender Adam Smith said in the post-match interview referee Jonathan Moss admitted his booking for diving was a mistake instead of a giving a penalty - too little too late as the game against Southampton ended 1-1!!! And as it is Cherry's fifth yellow card of the season he will be suspended for the next game. It's ridiculous is cannot be retracted. It is rare an official so openly concedes a mistake, so, something should be done!!!
And a little LOL to cheer up and finish things off: I loved Gary Lineker's MOTD running order prank on Twitter, LMAO!

My Predictions - Actual Results
Chelsea 4:1 Newcastle - 3:1
Brighton 1:3 Liverpool - 1:5
Everton 3:0 Huddersfield - 2:0
Leicester 1:1 Burnley - 1:0
Stoke City 2:1 Swansea - 2:1
Watford 2:1 Tottenham - 1:1
West Brom 0:0 Crystal Palace - 0:0
Arsenal 2:1 Man United - 1:3
Bournemouth 2:1 Southampton - 1:1
Man City 6:0 West Ham - 2:1

Click here for my previous Premier League Picks.

All pictures, facts and stats were taken from the BBC match reports, MOTD, Twitter and SFR live match coverage.

Friday, 1 December 2017

Premier League Picks Of The Week 14

Sports - Football - Premier League - Week 14

The 14th week of the Premier League action saw:

32 goals - most by Arsenal = 5
237 shots - most by Man City = 26
91 on target - most by Man City = 12
113 corners - most by Chelsea = 15
207 fouls - most by Everton = 16
22 yellow cards - most by Liverpool = 5
0 red cards
3 penalties - 1 scored (Troy Deeney for Watford, Wayne Rooney for Everton denied by Joe Hart, Manuel Lanzini denied by Jordan Pickford)

What a game! Leicester condemned Tottenham to their fourth defeat of the season already. Jamie Vardy's cheeky opener, his 100th league goal, and Riyad Mahrez's curling beauty from the edge of the box were enough for the home side to grab the three points. Harry Kane pulled one back, too little too late though. It's the first time since 2001/02 the Foxes beat Spurs at home, their final game at Filbert Street.
What a comeback it was by Newcastle at the Hawthorns from two goals down, set pieces costing managerless West Brom two goals and two points, seeing them miss the chance of a first league win since August thanks to Ciaran Clark pulling one back and Jonny Evans' late own goal. No such comeback by Watford... José Mourinho's men led 3-0 thanks to Ashley Young's double and Anthony Martial's cool finish, until the 77th minute, when the Hornets hit two back in quick succession, Troy Deeney from the spot and Abdoulaye Doucouré from close range. But too many too good too strong goals, especially Jesse Lingard's stunning fourth, and display by Manchester United meant it ended 2-4 at Vicarage Road keeping the Red Devils in the race, ish, 8 points behind the Citizens. More to them below...

What a team! Arsenal downed Huddersfield, dancing all over and through the visitors again and again, scoring three goals in 3:58 second-half minutes, bringing the total thrash to 5-0 at full time at the Emirates. Olivier Giroud's double and Mesut Özil scoring one and providing two were just a couple of their shining stars. The win and rivals Spurs' defeat takes the Gunners up to fourth, one point behind Chelsea in third, Arsène Wenger doing his best and very well at the moment to keep a big smile against his doubters and local rivals.
And Manchester City just look unbeatable, more to their win below, equalling the top flight record for points after 14 games = 40 points, level with Spurs of 1960-61 (with 3 points for a win), EIGHT POINTS ahead of rivals Manchester United in second, as mentioned above. It will take more than a miracle/disaster to see anyone knock them off the top!

What a man! Wayne Rooney’s hat-trick came 2,272 days after his last (10 September 2011) – the longest gap between two hat-tricks by a player in Premier League history. The Evertonian bossed the show against his former boss David Moyes netting a hat-trick despite getting denied from the spot, penny for either man's thoughts... The third one was a one-touch smacker from the halfway line beating Joe Hart off his line after an attempted clearance. Wow! Ashley Williams made it 4-0 to complete the first perfect match David Unsworth hasn't conceded two or more goals, taking the Toffees up to 13th. Sam Allardyce will be more than happy to take over from here after watching that from the stands at Goodison Park. Moyes' record against his former side looks more than miserable: Played 5, lost 5, scored 0, conceded 12.
Mohamed Salah came off the bench to net two adding to Sadio Mané's opener and make it 0-3 for Liverpool at Stoke and 17 goals for him so far this season. Double wow. The win took the Reds up to 5th. More to that match below...

What a goal! There were so many crackers, as already listed and described above! Burnley impressed once again producing beauty after beauty, a tap in by Chris Wood after lovely team play and slasher into the right corner by Robbie Brady, to overtake Tottenham and go 6th in the table!!! Joshua King did pull one back for Bournemouth, but Sean Dyche's men held on 1-2 at the King Power Stadium making Eddie Howe the 25th different manager to loss a Premier League game on his birthday.
Southampton's leveller at the Etihad was boom bang whack off a corner, Sofiane Boufal from the left to Oriol Romeu, that's how it's done, 1-1 at league leaders City. But Raheem Sterling topped that in the 95:03 minute of five minutes added on, right-footed curler from the edge of the box to make it 2-1 and three points for the Citizens. That means the former Liverpool man has scored a match winner in the 84th minute or later for the third time in a row for Pep Guardiola's men. Triple wow! It's Pep Time.

What the hell?! Just a booking was a lucky escape for Simon Mignolet after his late tackle on last man Mame Biram Diouf who was ahead of Joe Gomez which made it an open goal scoring opportunity. But was he last? Jürgen Klopp didn't think so... I'm sure the crazy German would have gone mental if it would have happened on the other side! It's all going against Stoke City at the moment, Mark Hughes feeling hard done-by, harsh decisions and scorelines, the defeat dragging the Potters down to 16th, 3 points away from the drop zone.
Chelsea boss Antonio Conte apologised to referee Neil Swarbrick after being sent to the stands for protesting to the officials who denied his side a corner. Ridiculous. It wasn't a major decision, like a goal or penalty or sending off (like Mignolet's), just a corner! His side dominated, 10-0 shots on target, and ended up beating Swansea, just about, 1-0 thanks to defender Antonio Rüdiger's header. Not a game to brag or rant about really...

My Predictions - Actual Results
Brighton 1:0 Crystal Palace - 0:0
Leicester 1:2 Tottenham - 2:1
Watford 1:3 Man United - 2:4
West Brom 1:2 Newcastle - 2:2
Arsenal 2:0 Huddersfield - 5:0
Bournemouth 1:2 Burnley - 1:2
Chelsea 4:1 Swansea - 1:0
Everton 2:2 West Ham - 4:0
Man City 3:0 Southampton - 2:1
Stoke City 1:1 Liverpool - 0:3

Click here for last weekend's Premier League Picks.

All pictures, facts and stats were taken from the BBC match reports, MOTD, Twitter and SFR coverage.

Monday, 27 November 2017

Premier League Picks Of The Week 13

Sports - Football - Premier League - Week 13

The 13th week of the Premier League action saw:

22 goals - most by Southampton = 4
221 shots - most by Tottenham = 24
62 on target - most by Palace, Bournemouth, Tottenham, Man City & Everton = 5 each
92 corners - most by Tottenham & Chelsea = 8 each
199 fouls - most by Swansea = 18
27 yellow cards - Swansea & West Brom = 4 each
1 red card - van La Parra for Huddersfield
2 penalties - 2 scored (Sánchez for Arsenal, Agüero for Man City)

What a game! David Moyes claimed his first point as Hammers boss thanks to Cheikhou Kouyaté's headed equaliser off a corner after Marc Albrighton's early opener for the Foxes. Claude Puel has a win, two draws and one defeat in his four City games. The Friday night draw showed both sides' weaknesses, West Ham staying in the bottom three whilst Leicester remain in the bottom half. More below.
Jürgen Klopp surprised everyone with the Liverpool line-up against Chelsea in the late kick-off on Saturday. But it was less of a surprise seeing the full-time scoreboard, Mohamed Salah giving the Reds the lead with his 15th goal of the season and Willian grabbing a late equaliser that was definitely an intended cross that fluked its way in over Simon Mignolet and nicked a point for the Blues. Both sides created and gave away a lot of chances. Deja vue for the home side to throw away a lead, click here to read my full LFC match report. But with this draw, Liverpool have only lost two of their last 34 home games in the Premier League. Boom.

What a team! Huddersfield and Burnley were up for it on Sunday, unlucky to lose against Manchester City and Arsenal respectively. Sergio Agüero and Raheem Sterling completed the comeback for the league leaders after the Terriers were ahead thanks to a Nicolás Otamendi own goal to make it eleven consecutive wins for Pep Guardiola's men and take them eight points clear at the top. Clarets boss Sean Dyche was left fuming after Alexis Sánchez netted a very soft injury-time penalty at Turf Moor. It was the third consecutive time the Gunners had grabbed a stoppage time winner against Burnley, this one taking them back into the top four.
At the other end of the table, Everton continued their poor form after being taken apart 4-1 at Southampton. Caretaker manager David Unsworth took responsibility saying "things have to change quickly", the Toffees having won just once in seven under him, staying stuck in 16th, just two points clear of the relegation zone.

What a man! Former Derby midfielder Will Hughes has scored in back-to-back league games for the first time in his career giving Watford the lead at Newcastle with a lovely finish. B(l)oom! DeAndre Yedlin diverted the ball into his own net to add to the Magpies' misery before the break. And Andre Gray sealed the deal making it 0-3 with just under half an hour to go. It could have been 5 or 6 or 7 by then. Rafael Benítez's men were well and truly beaten, broken, too open at the back, suffering their fourth successive defeat. No discrediting Marco Silva's side, just wow! They have won more away league points in their seven matches this season (13) than they did in all 19 games on the road last season (12). Impressive.
A great double-save by Brighton keeper Mathew Ryan at Old Trafford denied Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku just before the break and kept his side in the game and United disappointed and frustrated. The Seagulls impressed at the back and front, fighting and surprising the Red Devils. It took an evil deflection off Lewis Dunk to see Ashley Young's powerful shot from just outside the box into the top right corner to break the stubborn deadlock. Lucky. Harsh on Brighton who did so well, even José Mourinho conceded that much in the post-match interview. But that's football. It takes United's unbeaten run at home to 39 games in all competitions, the last defeat being against Man City in September 2017, 441 days ago!!!

What a goal! Swansea's Wilfried Bony was not a happy man seeing his low curler into the bottom corner disallowed just before the break as referee Stuart Attwell felt Jordan Ayew fouled Bournemouth defender Nathan Aké in the build-up. Harsh. Softer than soft. It stayed goalless and luckless for the Swans. More to that match below.
West Brom's opener at Tottenham was an odd one, Salomón Rondón taking advantage rolling the ball into the far corner, beating a sleepy defence early on in the game (4'). The managerless side defended well, keeping Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen oh so quiet in the first half. A penny for Tony Pulis' thoughts at half time... Kane spoilt the upset equalising with a simple touch through Ben Foster's legs. With that leveller, the striker has scored 40 goals for Spurs in 2017 and been involved in 100 Premier League goals in his 128 league games - 87 goals, 13 assists. Wow. Still, a point is a point, not bad for the visitors at Wembley, Mauricio Pochettino going as far as saying the draw took his side out of the title race. Ouch.
And Crystal Palace were made to rue Christian Benteke's miss, Xherdan Shaqiri powering past three defenders before firing the ball in to give Stoke the lead at Selhurst Park. But not for long as 2:31 minutes later, Ruben Loftus-Cheek tapped in the equaliser at the far post as the Potters forgot how to defend. An action-packed couple of minutes in not the most entertaining nor top-quality game... Mamadou Sakho nicked a last-minute winner for Roy Hodgson's hard-working men, only their second win of the season, closing the gap from the bottom to safety. It's Palace's first 90th minute winner at home in the PL since Clinton Morrison against Sheffield Wednesday in May 1998. Rare. But deserved.

What the hell?! How did Ryan Shawcross miss that sitter to make it 1-2 for Stoke, a yard or two away from the goal-line?! His defending was just as miserable as his side ended up losing 2-1 to Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, as mentioned above.
Swan Ki Sung-yueng got a lucky to escape with just a yellow card after some daft pushing and fighting, including the referee!!! Manager Paul Clement was more than right to criticise the referee as mentioned above, but his side benefited from the bad refereeing in this incident, evening out the errors going for and against them.
And André Ayew's penalty appeal was an absolute waste for West Ham, if he would have stayed up he would have had a golden chance to get the Hammers ahead. But no, dive and whine instead. Waste. I hope the FA will have a look at it and punish him.

My Predictions - Actual Results
West Ham 1:2 Leicester - 1:1
Crystal Palace 1:1 Stoke City - 2:1
Man United 2:1 Brighton - 1:0
Newcastle 1:2 Watford - 0:3
Swansea 0:1 Bournemouth - 0:0
Tottenham 3:1 West Brom - 1:1
Liverpool 1:1 Chelsea - 1:1
Southampton 2:0 Everton - 4:1
Burnley 0:0 Arsenal - 0:1
Huddersfield 0:4 Man City - 1:2

Click here for last week's Premier League Picks.

All pictures, stats and facts were taken from the BBC match reports, Twitter and SFR match coverage.

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Willian Nicks A Late Point For Chelsea At Anfield

Sports - Football - Premier League - LFC 1:1 CFC

Substitute Willian grabbed a point for Chelsea late on, Liverpool failing to hang on to a lead once again after Mohamed Salah put them ahead, the much anticipated Premier League clash ending 1-1 at Anfield.

Liverpool started strong, dominant in possession, in control but didn't produce much danger, not giving Thibaut Courtois much to do.

Halfway through the half saw a block by Simon Mignolet one-on-one against a dangerous Eden Hazard and then seconds later the Belgian keeper put Davide Zappacosta's attempt out for a corner, followed by ping pong in and around the box, tense, tense, tense, first real chances and pressure by the Blues, or either side actually.

Chelsea were all over the Reds in those crazy ten-ish minutes, Marcos Alonso's 25-yard free kick going over the wall but bending just about a yard wide. And breath.

A threatening Salah created most for the home side, putting a left-footed shot just wide a few minutes before the break, still no shots on target for the Reds though, Courtois looked beaten but remained unthreatened.

The referee Michael Oliver ignored a penalty shout against Hazard bringing down Philippe Coutinho in the box as an Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain threat was cleared. It would have been harsh.

It stayed goalless at the break, Liverpool with more of the ball, but Chelsea with more chances and closer to breaking the deadlock.

Chelsea were on top after the interval, Hazard tumbling into the box a bit too over-dramatic, nothing given.

Seconds later Courtois spilled Daniel Sturridge's cross/shot, the ball squirming under the keeper and out for a corner, Liverpool's first of the match. The second followed shortly after, both were cleared.

A daft kick out by Tiemoué Bakayoko against Coutinho conceded a free kick, which the Brazilian took and saw blocked out for a corner. Joel Matip wasted that set piece out for a goal kick.

The first attempt on target for the Reds came in the 55th minute, skipper Jordan Henderson with a shot, easily collected by Courtois.

Another penalty shout came with just under an hour gone, this time against Gary Cahill, Sturridge's ball, arms by his side, nothing in it, game on.

Chelsea threatened a couple of more times with Zappacosta and Alvaro Morata before Liverpool mounted threats and chances of their own with Coutinho and Salah.

The Egyptian former Chelsea man then finally found the breakthrough, nicking the ball off Bakayoko in the box and putting it past Courtois and in, 1-0 with 65 minutes gone. Cheeky, too easy, his 15th of the season, BOOM!

Jürgen Klopp took off Sturridge straight after LFC took the lead, Georginio Wijnaldum replacing the under-fire striker with just under 25 minutes to go.

The game slowed down a lot after that. Chelsea needed changes, made changes, more attacking after falling behind.

Substitute Wijnaldum saw a shot deflected out for a corner by Cahill, before some poor decision making by Chelsea conceded another counter by the Reds which won them a corner.

So, both sides kept threatening, Alonso missing the biggest sitter right in front of goal, kicking the ball high in the sky with his left foot.

The Reds did look nervy at the back, it's surprising they had only conceded once at Anfield in the Premier League this season.

That was until Willian stunned and fooled everyone with a cross/shot from the right edge of the box, the curl and turn lifting over and beating Mignolet to make it 1-1 with five minutes to go.

Five very tense minutes, plus three added on which saw a late double-change for the Reds, Adam Lallana returning from injury and coming on with Sadio Mané, and a great save by Courtois denying Salah late on.

It ended a goal and point each, the Reds throwing away a lead once again, disappointing, but showing much more strength, fight and threat against the Blues, who will be much happier with the point, Antonio Conte's reaction said it all.

Much in contrast to that, Mané was not happy with Klopp after the match, no surprise there. Everyone was caught out by the German's changes and too late substitutions, he blamed it all on the referee in the post-match interview. Harsh.

With this draw Liverpool remain unbeaten in their last six Premier League meetings with Chelsea.
However, the Blues haven't lost any of their last six Premier League visits to Anfield.

One point gained, but two points dropped in the chase for the top four, especially annoying after Tottenham also dropped points against managerless strugglers West Brom earlier in the day.

No rest for the wicked as Liverpool will travel to Stoke on Wednesday.

Liverpool Goal: Salah 65'.

Chelsea Goal: Willian 85'.

HT Stats: LFC 0-0 CFC
Possession: 64%-36%
Shots: 6-7
On target: 0-2
Corners: 0-5
Fouls 5-4
Yellow cards: 0-0

FT Stats: LFC 1-1 CFC
Possession: 53%-47%
Shots: 16-11
On target: 4-3
Corners: 7-8
Fouls: 10-7
Yellow cards: 0-0

Liverpool Team: 22 Mignolet; 18 Moreno, 17 Klavan, 32 Matip, 12 Gomez; 7 Milner, 14 Henderson (c), 21 Oxlade- Chamberlain (19 Mané 89'); 10 Coutinho (20 Lallana 89'), 15 Sturridge (5 Wijnaldum 66'), 11 Salah. 4-3-3
Substitutes not used: 1 Karius, 9 Firmino, 26 Robertson, 66 Alexander-Arnold.

Chelsea Team: 13 Courtois; 24 Cahill, 27 Christensen, 28 Azpilicueta; 7 Kanté; 3 Alonso, 14 Bakayoko (11 Pedro 77'), 6 Drinkwater (4 Fàbregas 74'), 21 Zappacosta (22 Willian 83'); 10 Hazard; 9 Morata. 3-1-4-1-1 or more like 8-1-1
Substitutes not used: 1 Caballero, 2 Rüdiger, 15 Moses, 30 David Luiz.

Referee: Michael Oliver
Man of the match: Mohamed Salah
Ground: Anfield
Attendance: 53,225

Click here to read my previous LFC match report.

All pictures, stats and facts were taken from the BBC match report, Twitter and SFR match coverage.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

3 Goals & A Point Each In Seville

Sports - Football - Champions League - SFC 3:3 LFC

It was a Champions League group game of two halves in Seville, Liverpool bossing the first half going three goals up thanks to Roberto Firmino's double either side of Sadio Mané's header, but vanishing after the break letting the home side grab three goals and a point back, with Wissam Ben Yedder netting twice and Guido Pizarro equalising in the dying moments.

The Reds couldn't have asked for a better start, finding the breakthrough not even two minutes into the game, silencing the stunning Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, where no visitors have won for over a year.

88 seconds gone, unmarked Firmino swept in Georginio Wijnaldum's flick-on off Philippe Coutinho's corner, LFC's second fastest goal in the competition.

Mané doubled the lead 20 minutes later, Firmino the provider this time off another Coutinho corner, the Senegalese striker powering home his first goal for the Reds since 27 August to make it 0-2.

Sevilla had a couple of chances, cup keeper Loris Karius did well denying Nolito before Ben Yedder put an easy chance wide.

And with just half an hour gone, man of the match Firmino made it 0-3 with an easy tap in after Mané's attempt deflected its way to the Brazilian, Liverpool completely bossing the show.

Whatever both bosses said at the break, it completely reversed the game.

Los Rojiblancos came out running all over Liverpool, holding their opponents back completely, pushing, pressing and were soon rewarded for it. The team was back. The fans were back.

Six minutes into the second half, Ben Yedder pulled one back for the home side, Alberto Moreno conceding a free kick which Éver Banega whipped in for the French striker to glance home. And it got much worse for the former Sevilla defender.

Just under an hour gone, the Spaniard conceded a very soft penalty, which had to be retaken to add to the drama, but eventually gave Ben Yedder the double and reduced the hosts' deficit to just one goal.

Jürgen Klopp tried to resuscitate the visitors with a double change, James Milner and Emre Can replacing Moreno and Coutinho respectively, and a bit more organisation did return, but no control.

Captain Jordan Henderson looked a very unhappy and frustrated figure throughout, getting nowhere near the opposition, just no control.

Defenders Ragnar Klavan and Joe Gomez did well under the circumstances, but the main culprit Moreno had already done the damage and was rightly taken off. Just. Not. Good. Enough.

Sevilla totally made the most of Liverpool's weaknesses, just like happened vice versa in the first half. And it could have been much worse.

Substitute Franco Vazquez fired straight at Karius before Sergio Escudero's smacker hit the underside of the bar before rebounding to safety after the Reds keeper got his hand to it.

But in the dying seconds Pizarro netted the equaliser and banked the point for Eduardo Berizzo's side, unmarked in the centre of the box off a corner.

So, the best and worst from both sides, three goals and a point each, a fair result in the end which keeps the Reds top of the group and Sevilla second, a point separating them with one final group game to go.

It was the first time since May 2014 Liverpool let a three-goal lead slip in a competitive match (v Crystal Palace in the Premier League, also 3-3).

37-18 attempts between the two sides in the two games, Liverpool recording more than double as many shots as Sevilla but scoring and conceding the same (5-5).

The Reds have scored as many goals in the last three Champions League games (13) as they have in the previous 14 combined.

Klopp said he doesn't doubt his side's mentality, calling what happened a misjudgement.

It's a bit more than a misjudgement to throw away a three-goal lead! And the contrast between the two halves was just too shocking to overlook.

Yes, a point at Sevilla is good, but the way the Reds dropped the two points was just shambolic!

Klopp cannot ignore that! Especially with Chelsea next on the fixture list, the German boss will have to fix the problem and fix it quickly, mental or not mental, otherwise they'll be in for another thrashing like against Tottenham!

Sevilla Goals: Ben Yedder 51' & pen 60' & Pizarro 90'+3.

Liverpool Goals: Firmino 2' & 30' & Mané 22'.

Sevilla Team: 1 Sergio Rico; 18 Escudero (c), 5 Lenglet, 12 Geis, 25 Mercado (booked 54'); 14 Pizarro, 10 Banega (booked 45'), 15 N'Zonzi (22 Vazquez 45'); 24 Nolito (20 Muriel 73'), 9 Ben Yedder (11 Correa 81'), 17 Sarabia. 4-3-3
Subs not used: 2 Corchia, 7 Krohn-Dehli, 13 Soria, 16 Navas.

Liverpool Team: 1 Karius; 18 Moreno (booked 38') (7 Milner 63'), 17 Klavan, 6 Lovren, 12 Gomez; 10 Coutinho (23 Can 63' (booked 82')), 14 Henderson (c) (booked 68'), 5 Wijnaldum; 19 Mané, 9 Firmino, 11 Salah (21 Oxlade-Chamberlain). 4-3-3
Subs not used: 15 Sturridge, 22 Mignolet, 29 Solanke, 66 Alexander-Arnold.

FT Stats: SFC 3-3 LFC
Possession: 70%-30%
Shots: 11-13
On target: 6-7
Corners: 6-7
Fouls: 10-19
Bookings: 2-3

Referee: Dr. Felix Brych (GER)
Man Of The Match: Roberto Firmino
Ground: Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan
Attendance: 39,495

Click here for my previous LFC match report.

All pictures, facts and stats were taken from the BBC match report, Twitter and beIN Sport match coverage.