No Defence for Koeman

Ronald Koeman was dismissed from his post as Everton manager after his disastrous start to the campaign saw the Toffees slip in to the relegation zone after a 5-2 home routing by Arsenal. Everton are also rooted to the bottom of their Europa League group.

Whilst there are couple of factors you could point at as elements of misfortune, overall Koeman can have no complaints that his up to now successful spell in English football has been brought to at least a temporary halt.

The fixture computer was not kind to Everton when it pitted them against Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham, United and Arsenal as 5 of the first 9 fixtures.

The performances though in those games were not what you’d expect from an Everton side historically notorious for giving the big sides a tough game, 15 goals against is an unacceptable return from those 5 fixtures and highlights a lack of quality, but more concerning a lack of character and organisation. Surprising maybe too after Everton stole a march on most rivals for the signature of Jordan Pickford

Losing Lukaku from the side last summer was always going to be tough, and the mismanagement by the club of Ross Barkley, even though he is currently injured, means Everton are without their two best players. That said the recruitment has to be a lot better than what has come into the club, the mistakes of other clubs in recent years to play a numbers game has bitten.

The club find themselves with no top players at their peak with mainly a collection of youngsters who are not quite ready and a collection of older players who are past their best. Williams Baines and Jagielka all over 32. Rooney still effective but released from Manchester United for a reason, Calvert-Lewin, Davies and Vlasic yet to celebrate their 21st birthdays. Mixing youth and experience is a great cocktail, but only Rooney has the quality required to make those two traits a success. The players Koeman has started the season with aren’t good enough. He can blame no-one or nothing but himself.

A huge managerial decision is needed now to haul Everton away from a precarious season, the quality is not there, character and motivation is going to be key.

Dan De Luca

@DDL_SSN

EPL Round up – Week 13

Burnley 1-2 Man City

Another exciting weekend of EPL action kicked off with Burnley hosting title chasers Manchester City at Turf Moor.  Sean Dyche’s side took an early lead through the former Spurs midfielder Dean Marney, a lead the home side fully deserved having made an impressive start to the game.  It wasn’t long before the EPL’s hottest striker Sergio Aguero arrived at the party and with goals on 37 & 60 minutes his brace proved to be the difference.

Liverpool 2-0 Sunderland 

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool faced a stubborn Sunderland side at Anfield this weekend and 75 minutes passed before they finally broke the deadlock.  Belgian striker and substitute Divock Origi broke the Sunderland resistance with around about 15 minutes to go and a late penalty sealed the victory as James Milner calmly dispatched.

Chelsea 2-1 Spurs

In the days late kick off, in-form Chelsea entertained a Spurs side fresh off the back of their Champions League exit midweek.  Many predicted Chelsea to cruise through this one but that certainly wasn’t the case.  An impressive first half performance from Spurs capped by a fine strike from Christian Eriksen had Antonio Conte’s men with their backs to the wall.  Pedro’s curling effort leveled it on the stroke of half time and from then on Chelsea’s superiority was clear for all to see.  Victor Moses’ goal just after the break proved to be the winner and propelled the West Londoners back to the top of the pile.  With Spurs having suffered defeat there are no longer any unbeaten teams in the division.

Arsenal 3-1 Bournemouth

The Gunners ended their run of three straight draws with a far from convincing win at the Emirates.  Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth side will feel hard done by and probably deserved at least a point from the game.  Some contentious refereeing decisions left the cherries feeling aggrieved, Alexis Sanchez’s brace and Theo Walcott’s header were enough to seal the points for the Gunners and ensure they kept in touch with the leaders.  This Bournemouth performance was further evidence that Eddie Howe is a fine manager and has a bright future in the game.

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Man Utd 1-1 West Ham

Jose Mourinho stole the headlines once again when he appeared to lose it on the touchline and was subsequently sent to the stands for the second time this season.  Man Utd got off to the worst possible start when Diafra Sakho gave the hammers the lead just 2 minutes in.  Summer signings Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic combined to draw the home side level around about 20 minutes later but neither side were able to take all three points.  Yet another frustrating result for Jose’s side who now find themselves 8 points behind the current top 4.

Game of the Week:

Swansea 5-4 Crystal Palace

Bob Bradley celebrated his first win as Swansea manager but oh boy did they leave it late!  Two goals in stoppage time from Spanish striker Fernando Llorente turned the game on its head and ultimately decided this 9 goal thriller.  It looked as though Palace were going to return to South London with all 3 points when Benteke netted on 84 minutes but sadly for Alan Pardew it just wasn’t to be.  Having invested heavily in the squad over the summer there is no doubt Alan Pardew will now be under immense pressure.  Both sides find themselves in the midst of a relegation dogfight and it’s no surprise with that sort of defending!

Elsewhere…

Watford suffered a home defeat at the hands of Stoke.  A Gomes own goal and Mazzari’s refusal to shake Mark Hughes hand post game were the major talking points.  Ronald Koeman’s return to St Mary’s was an unhappy one as his Everton side suffered a 1-0 defeat.  Debutant Josh Sims impressed for the Saints and he may be a player to keep your eye on for the future.  Hull City managed to salvage a draw versus an in-form West Brom side leaving both slightly frustrated.  Champions Leicester City  needed a couple of penalties to deny Middlesbrough a win at the King Power.  Leicester’s form may have completely changed this season but the dodgy penalty awards they were getting certainly haven’t, check that out on MOTD.

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Harry

sofasportsnews.com

FA Cup Semi Final Preview 23/4/2016 – Dan De Luca

The FA Cup has reached Semi Final day, and despite being as pissed off as I normally am this time of year that the venue for these games is Wembley, there are two pretty evenly matched ties to sit back and Enjoy.

Palace play Watford tomorrow on the battle of the underdogs and the 1st prize would be a place in the final and a day out at Wembley….except of course they are already playing there.
Alan Pardew’s sides league form has suffered dramatically at the expense of this cup run and he’ll be hoping to get the best out of his side and get another chance to claim the trophy he came seconds away from winning in 2006 with West Ham.
Watford’s form has dipped a little too since they secured premier league safety and this has coincided with Odion Ighalo’s blistering early season goalscoring form slowing down a tad.
Watford will be hoping to make their first FA cup final since 1984 where they lost to Everton, Palace their first since 1990 where they lost to Manchester United, so either way there is a fair chance of history repeating itself in the showcase in May.
I think Palace are going to get the job done today though, their style better suited to the occasion and just a couple more big players who have been here before. Scott Dann part of Birmingham’s league cup win in 2011, Ward Delaney Jedinak & Zaha were all part of Palaces Wembley playoff promotion win in 2013, which ironically came against today’s opponents Watford in a tight 1-0 win.
This Watford side is a host of new faces, and the Pardew factor here could also top the balance.

The obvious tie of the round sees Manchester United play Everton this evening and in a repeat of the 2009 semi final where the toffees triumphed on penalties.
In a twist of events its Roberto Martinez and not Louis Van Gaal who goes into this game under the most pressure, and despite Everton’s dreadful this is still a tough one to call.
Everton were my pre-tournament each way tips and with just win to before I can collect my spoils, I’m not going to back out on them now. I expect them to be quick out of the blocks and attempt to overpower uniteds midfield area which has been their major weakness this year. Whilst defensively there is a lot to fear, United aren’t exactly free scoring and this could be a rare day where 2 goals might be enough for Everton to upset the apple cart again and bang in the final nail in Louis Van Gaals coffin. The biggest threat from United may come from Marcus Rashford again and he’ll no doubt look to use the wide space of the big Wembley pitch to utilise his pace against the inconsistent Everton back line. It’ll be interesting to see how he copes on his first Wembley big game outing.

Expect 2 cagey encounters, and possibly more than 180 minutes.

FA Cup Betting:
Palace in 90 minutes @ 7/5
Everton to win 2-1 @ 13/1

Spurs 0-0 Everton – The view from Park Lane

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The view from Park Lane – Spurs vs Everton

3 games unbeaten, 4 games without a win, the cup is starting to look half empty rather than half full though as another winnable game ended winless for Spurs at the lane.

This is quite a significant point though in the sense we have now surpassed the “2 points from 8 games” acquired in 2008/09.

I’m happy to correct a few common media led misconceptions of the last day and a half. Tottenham played well, Tottenham DID create chances, Stones did not play like Franco Baresi, and Harry Kane isn’t tired.
Kane is tireless, never stops working, never stops moving, always dropping deep to pick the ball up and drive Tottenham forward. He missed probably Tottenham’s best chance when he got in behind midway through the first half, dallying a bit before finding Tim Howard’s big left foot. After a slow start Spurs had taken control after around a quarter of an hour and it only looked like a matter of time before the lead would come. As well as Kane’s miss, bentaleb steered just wide, Mason had only the keeper to beat once in each half and failed to find the net, Alderweireld had a powerful header tipped over the bar, and Chadli, who impressed in the first 45, skied a loose ball over the ball in the second half when he had to hit the target. How many chances are people expecting? By comparison Everton’s only chance in the first came via a Walker error and culminated in a routine save for Hugo Lloris. Vertonghen and Alderweireld were by far the more competent of the centre half pairings, restricting Everton to virtually nothing over the course of the game. When Lukaku drifted out wide to pick up possession he was comfortably dealt with by the returning Danny Rose whose improvement was one the of the few positives of last season. Lukaku was by far the most ineffective of the 2 teams’ frontmen on display and was hooked by Martinez with still a quarter of the match to play.

It proved the game changing substitution, as Naismith, clearly sent on to hustle and disrupt Spurs’ flow achieved it within minutes. Featuring in a couple of flashpoints and earning several free kicks to break the rythym. The ref got caught up in the excitement with an inconsistent session of whistle blowing and card waving that aided the disruption somewhat.

Spurs never regained the momentum in the last 15 minutes and it was clear that their best opportunities to win had been and gone. Everton conjured up a late chance to steal the points when Kone glanced a header wide with Lloris along with my comrades in the Park Lane end stood helpless in hope that the ball would miss the far post, it did, and the match ended in stalemate.

A worrying points return from Spurs for the season so far especially given the fixture list could have been tougher so far. Things are far from rosy in the White Hart Lane garden but this was not the game to use an example. A good performance, solid clean sheet, and plenty enough chances created to get the elusive first win.

Of course, the Kane “drought” extends by 1, but then of every player to score 11 or more last season none of those 18 players have managed more than one league goal. The pressure on Kane to deliver for his club is a bit disproportionate. The international break will hopefully give him the chance to see the net bustle once more and he’ll return to the lane with an extra spring in his step. It was November before he scored his first Premier League goal of the season, it’ll be few more weeks before I start to hit my panic button.

DAN DE LUCA

SPURS FAN

Everton vs Man City 23/8/15 – Sapha Alavi

Man City vs Everton

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Nine wins on the trot for City (three this season) mean that City are now the shortest priced favourites at this stage of the season in Premier League history. When you take into account that two of the games so far have been Everton and Chelsea, the task is already becoming daunting for the other title contenders. This begs the question; where are the weaknesses in their side? Where are the areas you can exploit? Kompany and Mangala have started the season as they mean to go on, with strength and a ferociousness to their play. And that’s before £32 million Nicolas Otamedi provides cover.

Yaya Toure displayed why he is still rated as one of Europe’s finest Midfielders. A player that came under criticism last season recently gave Pellegrini plenty to smile about. Additionally, Fernandinho is slowly but surely justifying his price tag. I’m not sure whether I’m more impressed with their ability to regain possession or their enthusiasm to marauder forward. The fact that they seem happy doing either provides a stark contrast to other holding Midfielders in the league. How often do you see Matic doing this? Would you swap any of Chelsea’s spine for City’s?

Everton just couldn’t cope with City on Sunday, and you sense that not too many will over the coming 35 games. Of course, any Martinez managed team will create the odd good chance at the very least. Everton had the ball in the back of the net before referee Anthony Taylor correctly called offside. If it hadn’t been for Everton Shot Stopper Tim Howard, City would have been several up before the break. A shocking moment came when Sterling could have scored, if only he had the confidence to use his left foot from 5 yards out. Always amazes me when Premier League footballers don’t have the confidence to use either foot. Moments later Sterling cut inside before forcing Howard, stretched at full length, to save the home side.

The first goal came as Silva started the move deep inside his own half, and Sterling carried it on as City moved the ball down the left hand side. Admittedly Howard went to ground too early and gave Kolarov the near post as exposed as you can expect at this level to take aim. You could argue Howard didn’t deserve to concede, but you couldn’t argue the goal was coming. Nasri came on for Sterling and looked dangerous before adding a second with a lob from close range. I like Navas as a player but I’m surprised he’s got the nod ahead of Nasri for all three games so far.

Man of the match is an obvious one, but the Spanish magician was at it again. A constant source of danger from the first whistle with his brilliant close control and superb vision.One commentator aptly suggested that he hired a body double because he was everywhere and anywhere. The majority of his touches come in wide positions, constantly giving the opposition full backs an extra player to worry about. No surprise then that both goals came from one of Silva’s wide colleagues. The best player in the league. For me, yes. Title favourites at the bookies? Yes. Title favourites for me? Maybe, just.

Next Match Prediction- Manchester City 3 Watford 0

Alavi