Salah leads the way

At the start of the season myself and DDL promised the very dubious Harry Symeou that Mohamed Salah would have a fine season in a Liverpool shirt. However, my money was was on Sergio Aguero to finish as the Premier League’s top goal scorer, as it is every season which is compounded by the belief that I’m betting on the best striker in the league. Possibly the best player, which I firmly still have confidence in.

Nonetheless the race for the race for the 2017-18 Premier League Golden Boot is well and truly on, with Harry Kane and Mohamed Salah leading the way, closely followed by Sergio Aguero. Last season we saw Harry Kane score 29 goals in 30 appearances for Tottenham, whilst Romelu Lukaku a close (ish) second ended up with 25 in 37 games for Everton.

It looked as though history was going to repeat itself after the England striker scored consecutive hat-tricks against Burnley and Southampton, but an ankle injury to Harry Kane  meant Salah  had the chance to strike 4 times in a 5-0 rout of Watford therefore moving 4 goals clear of Harry Kane in the golden boot standings.  This week his vital goal led to another Liverpool victory, his 29th Premier League goal of the campaign and his 37th in all competitions. What impresses me most about Mohamed Salah is that he’s always first to react every time his team win the ball and break away.

The Egyptian is alert enough to pop in pockets of space whether starting from a central area or having cut inside from his natural wide position. He’s selfless too, as are Harry Kane and Sergio Aguero to be fair. He’s also quick to note the impact of “Bobby” Firmino, quoted recently as saying “He is doing everything. Running, fighting for every ball, giving the ball back, trying to get the ball in any position. He’s very good for us, and very important. He’s very, very smart

In some ways I hope the Egyptian wins the Golden Boot because he deserves it for having re-joined the EPL despite things not going his way the first time around but also for the quality of many of his goals.  As short as 1/8 with some bookies you wouldn’t bet against Mohamed Salah. Just for reference he was between 60/1 and 70/1 before a ball was kicked.  Well I at least won’t be making the same mistake twice in one season!

Who do you guys think will end up as this season’s Golden Boot winner?

Words: @Alavi_SSN

Follow us on Twitter: @sofasportspod

 

Spurs vs Liverpool Preview

There are some big selection headaches for Mr Pochettino at Wembley today, after a great tactical display in Madrid. Alli and Davies back in the fold, Reckless but at times impressive Aurier or more reliable Trippier? Winksy or powerhouse Sissoko? Reward for Llorente or return for underperforming Alli? Too soon for Rose or throw him back in to the firing line to deal with Mo Salah’s pace. Rose was Spurs’s best player at White Hart Lane last season in the 1-1 draw Liverpool dominated.

Liverpool have caused Spurs the most problems consistently of any team over the last 3 seasons due to their speed and frequency of attacks. A lot of joy may be on the break where we can pick them off, but we need to be as solid Defensively as we were in the Bernabau.

Team I’d start with today:

 

Would give us the opportunity to break fast as I expect Liverpool to try and dictate the pace of the game in the early stages, with some steady hands on the bench should they be needed and still different attacking options like Llorente and Son to try and change the game if needed later on.
Still a bit early for Rose, but some players that didn’t feature or start on Wednesday to hopefully keep the side fresh where a tough night at the Bernabau may have taken its toll.

Prediction: 2-1 Spurs.

Ref Watch with Mark Halsey

Our host Harry managed to grab a few minutes with former Premier League referee to discuss the sending off of Sadio Mane last weekend and the similar challenge by Matt Ritchie in the clash between Swansea and Newcastle.

Here is Mark’s take on both incident.

Do you agree?

Man City vs Liverpool Preview

The international break has been and gone.  Premier League football returns this weekend and the early kick off is a mouth watering clash between two of the most exciting teams the division has to offer.  Manchester City entertain Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool at Eastland’s.

Both of these clubs currently occupy the top four having both collected seven points thus far and you can be sure neither side will attempt to ‘park the bus’ in this one.

The home side have an array of attacking talent in their ranks but one area of the pitch would concern me from a City standpoint.  The heart of the midfield.

Liverpool’s trio of Can, Henderson and Wijnaldum is far more combative and if the likes of Silva and De Bruyne fail to put in a shift you could see the Red’s dominate in that key area of the park.

The City midfield certainly has the talent when in possession and if they click will be difficult to contain but I’m sure Jurgen Klopp will be aware of that.  I expect the Liverpool midfield to go out there, press and impose themselves physically on the game.

If they get that right there’s no doubt the likes of KDB and Silva will be out of their comfort zone and we’ll need to see them dig deep (something that doesn’t come naturally to them).

It can go either way but its clear to me the midfield battle will decide this one.

Team News:

Man City will be without Raheem Sterling, the England internationals red card at Bournemouth last time out means he will have to miss the visit of his former club through suspension.

Vincent Kompany didn’t feature for Belgium during the international break and there are still question marks over his fitness.  Pep Guardiola will have to make a late call and it remains to be seen whether his captain will be available for selection.

Ilkay Gundogan continues to work his way back to fitness after a long term injury but is unlikely to feature this weekend.

Liverpool welcome Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain into their squad but I’d be very surprised if he walked straight into the starting XI.

Philippe Coutinho made his first appearance of the season for Brazil during the international break and is now available for selection, it will be interesting to see how Klopp deals with this one.

The German boss has a number of decisions to make going into this one. Mignolet or Karius? Alexander-Arnold or Gomez? Robertson or Moreno?

Prediction: 

I expect to see an entertaining fixture, all the evidence suggests both sides will feel they can win this.  Neither manager is known for their defensive competency and that can only mean goals.

Liverpool’s away form versus the rest of the top 6 under Jurgen Klopp has been nothing short of remarkable but equally on their day Man City are capable of decimating anyone.

Score draw for me!

@HarrySymeou

@sofasportsnews_

Scouse Talk

It could be argued that Liverpool have the best front four in the league with Mane, Coutinho, Salah and Firmino. However, the thing missing for me is a 20+ goal a season striker. Every title winning team has at least one in their side. Leicester had Jamie Vardy, Chelsea had Diego Costa and Klopp’s Bundesliga winning team had Robert Lewandowski.

Whilst talk of the title may be premature when writing about Liverpool, the point still stands. To challenge, you need a prolific striker. The 4 players mentioned are top quality and will no doubt score goals for Liverpool next season. The issue is, I can’t see any of them reaching that magic number of 20 league goals.

For me, the answer is sitting on the bench in the form of Daniel Sturridge. When he plays, he scores. It’s as simple as that. The Achilles heel with Sturridge (pun intended) is that due to his disastrous injury record, he simply doesn’t get enough game time.

Click on the image to listen to our recent interview with Mark Halsey

In the last three seasons Sturridge has made just 25 appearances (scoring an impressive 15). The last time Sturridge had an extended run in the team was during the infamous 2013/2014 season when he scored 21 goals in 26 league games and before you say something like “that was only because of Suarez”. Let me remind you that Suarez was serving a 10 game ban for tucking into Branislav Ivanovic towards the end of the previous campaign and so, missed the first 5 games of the season.

5 games in which Liverpool won the first three 1-0 with Sturridge scoring the winner in each game (he also scored in 2-2 draw away at Swansea).

It remains to be seen whether he’ll be fit enough to feature predominantly next season and more worryingly for Sturridge, whether he’ll be as effective coming off the bench as its crystal clear Klopp prefers the extra off the ball, tracking back work that Firmino brings to the table. The front four and their interchangeability its key to the way Klopp wants to play and Firmino is seen as the first line of defence in pressing the opposition. Something Sturridge doesn’t do.

Transfers

Spending lots of money doesn’t guarantee success. You can ask any Spurs or Liverpool fan about that, after their clubs famously squandered the large transfer sums they received for Bale and Suarez respectively.

However, it is hard not to be concerned when other clubs are improving their squads whilst your side just aren’t doing the same. Whilst I am delighted with the signing of Salah (I wanted him to join us whilst he was at Basel), the jury is still out on Andy Robertson and Solanke. I am the same as any other football fan. I’m greedy and I want the best to play for my club.

At the time this was written, Liverpool had made only 3 signings with 2 of those seemingly not bought to go straight into the starting 11. Worryingly, clubs that finished above and below Liverpool have all bought players that have improved their starting 11.

Lukaku will score the goals against the “smaller” teams, the goals that were missing for Manchester United so often last season and it doesn’t take a football expert to know that Matic is a vast improvement on Fellaini.

Click on the image to listen to our recent interview with Marlon Harewood

Manchester City have improved both their full back and goalkeeper situations and Arsenal have bought one of the best goal scorers in Europe in Alexandre Lacazette. These are all positions that have been identified by the clubs as areas that needed improving, and they’ve done just that.

Liverpool’s weakness has been the same for a number of years now and that is their defence. They haven’t had a solid defence since the Rafa days.

Every manager that has preceded the Spaniard has tried to improve it. Hodgson bought Danny Wilson and Paul Konchesky. Kenny bought Jose Enrique and Rodgers acquired the likes of Moreno, Sakho, Mignolet, Toure, Cissokho, Ilori and Lovren to name a few.

So far, Jurgen Klopp has signed Karius, Manninger, Klavan, Matip and Robertson whilst being heavily linked with Van Djik from Southampton. It is clearly an area of concern that despite all these changes in personnel, has yet to have been addressed. In the last three seasons, Liverpool have conceded 140 goals in the league alone.

Prediction

In terms of where Liverpool will finish this season I think their starting 11 has more than enough quality to finish in the top 4 maybe even top 3. My concern would be that they are 2/3 injuries away from having a very average side (Lallana is already out for a minimum of 2 months).

To challenge for the top positions and the cups you either need to be exceedingly lucky with injuries (see Leicester in 2015/16 and Chelsea last season) or have at least two quality players in each position.

Last season, up until January, Liverpool were the only ones really challenging Chelsea at the top. After 20 games Chelsea were top with 49 points and Liverpool were second on 44. They had just beaten Man City at Anfield and were flying.

Then came the AFCON, off went Saido Mane and with it, their whole season. Liverpool fell apart during January and February losing at home to Wolves in the FA Cup and falling further and further down the table as a result of poor league results.

Click on the image to listen to our recent interview with Steven Caldwell

The frustrating thing as a Liverpool fan is that the manager knew that we would be losing Mane for two months due to the AFCON and we still didn’t bring any cover in during the summer or winter transfer windows.

It can be forgiven to an extent if they’d lost Mane to an unexpected injury but that wasn’t the case. They were fully aware of the situation during the summer, long before the season even started and they failed to address it.

If they can have another strong start and maintain it throughout the festive period with minimal injuries then I think Liverpool will finish in the top 4 again. However with the fast, pressing style Klopp demands from his players. Injuries are pretty much a certainty during the campaign and I think the lack of squad depth will really have an impact on their season.

Dan 

(Liverpool Fan)

www.sofasportsnews.com

Twitter: @sofasportsnews_

Klopp & Liverpool: The Next Step?

Jurgen Klopp is about to enter his second full season in charge of the Merseyside giants.  The charismatic German arrived at the club back in October 2015 and it wasn’t long before he won the hearts of the Anfield faithful.  Like Jose, Arsene and Fergie he wasn’t the greatest of footballers in his day but took to management like a duck to water.

He began his managerial journey with his beloved Mainz 05 and worked wonders during his 7 year spell at Borussia Dortmund before arriving on the British Isles.

Even as somebody who doesn’t support Liverpool, it’s almost impossible to dislike the man, his charismatic press conferences and interviews often put a smile on my face and many others.

At the start of the 2016/17 season Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool’s primary objective would have been to qualify for Europe’s premier club competition – the UEFA champion’s league.  Job done, the reds finished the season in fourth place, a point clear of Arsenal.

As a neutral I admire Liverpool Football Club, they’re rich in history, ooze class and their European dominance in the past provided the platform that has seen the English top flight become one of the most desirable destinations for footballers all over the world.

Without doubt, the countries second biggest club but their failure to win the title since 1989/90 means they’ve been somewhat left behind.  Brendan and Luis came close but it was not to be.

Klopp has found a way of beating the leagues ‘bigger sides’ and Jurgen’s reds are just a few players away from mounting a serious title challenge.

Away wins at Arsenal, Chelsea and Everton combined with draws at Old Trafford and The Etihad were overshadowed by points dropped at home versus West Ham, Swansea, Bournemouth and Crystal Palace.

Champion’s league participation will increase the strain on what I already believe to be a thin squad.  The Virgil Van Dijk saga continues to drag on and with the Red’s yet to make a marquee signing this summer how do you see them getting on?

The Race for the Title – You get what you pay for!

The transfer market has gone bananas.  Cast your mind back to 2006 and the sum of £38m could buy you one of the world’s most prolific strikers – Andriy Shevchenko.  Fast forward to the 2010/11 season and that kind of money would bring you…Andy Carroll!

The latest Premier League TV deals and an influx of wealthy foreign ownership have contributed to a transformation in the football landscape nobody could have foreseen.  July 2017, and the previously mentioned sum of £38m isn’t even enough to sign half of Romelu Lukaku.

The money men at City have spent in the region of £133m on full backs, Romans Chelsea have laid out a further £119m and the idea of FFP (Financial Fair Play) is beginning to seem like a fairy tale.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…You get what you pay for.

Arsenal smashed their transfer record this summer with the acquisition of French striker Alexander Lacazette.  The Gunners are known for keeping their cards close to their chest and although the fee was officially undisclosed it was believed to be around the £50m mark.

Having splashed the cash on Granit Xhaka and Shkodran Mustafi before him, the Gunners are still not competing financially with the likes of Manchester City, United and Chelsea.

To put it bluntly, the Arsenal specialize in second rate signings. The game’s elite players demand the kind of wages that would blow the Gunners wage structure apart.  The power is with the seller and Arsenal’s reluctance to be held to ransom and pay a premium means they’re being left behind.

The same can be said for Liverpool.  Another club who’s fan base are desperate for premier league success.  Ownership who seemingly won’t pay the top dollar and a manager who’s inability to defend will ultimately cost them.

Tottenham Hotspur have exceeded expectations for two seasons now, but that won’t continue.  The financial burden of a new stadium and the move to Wembley will see Mauricio Pochettino’s side struggle to compete on all fronts and I’ve yet to mention their lack of transfer activity.

Throughout recent history, with a few anomalies of course, there has been a clear correlation between the title winners and the most dominant in the transfer market.   The title race will be between the top 3 spenders and the sooner the Arsenal, Liverpool and Spurs fans accept this, the better.

So you can rest assure, the Arsenal Fan TV melt downs will be back next season, the Spuds will end up heartbroken and the Scousers will still be talking about 2005!

@HarrySymeou

sofasportsnews.com

Check out the latest episode of the SSN Podcast!

Steven Caldwell Interview

Why it can’t be the Reds…

“I’d rule them out of winning the title this season…”

I’ve written several articles about Klopp since Sofa Sports News began. Liverpool have had a magnificent start to the campaign, particularly considering the relative difficulty of their early fixtures including trips to the Emirates Stadium, White Hart Lane and Stamford Bridge. Coming off a great win at Everton, and despite picking them in my pre-season top 4, I’ll rule them out winning the league title this year.

I often hear “If they can sort the defence out…..” Yet it’s not just the defence. How many clubs win a title without a top class keeper? How many are there available in January? Don’t get me wrong their fluid, fast-paced and incisive attacking play has been sensational at times, with few sides in Europe likely to be able to cope with them when they’re in full flow.

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But nevertheless they still tend to find themselves under pressure in key periods of games even when dominating. Liverpool have taken apart a number of teams so far, including Hull, Leicester and, in a tremendous 20-minute spell after the interval on the opening weekend, Arsenal.

I appreciate that the defensive frailties haven’t necessarily cost the Reds dearly in terms of points, but  it’s hard to escape the feeling that it could ultimately undermine their bid for the title; while an element of chaos has helped them to blow opponents away in the final third, there’s a chance that the same force will prove costly at the other end of the pitch.

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Every time you watch them, you know there is always the potential for a period of meltdown defensively. I’d love to know whether Klopp has deliberately set up his side in this way as a means to counter the issue. When a team is perceived to have problems in defence, the traditional solution is to offer greater protection in midfield, position the backline closer to its own goal and ensure there are never too many bodies thrown forward in attack. Rather than shutting a game down and tightening up when they’re ahead, they continue to play an open and expansive brand of football- “have a cheap goal on us, we’ll score more than you”. I respect that philosophy, but not if I were a fan of the Reds.

I was looking at the possession statistics in the Premier League. The reds are second to Manchester City, the only two teams to break the 60% mark. Any guess on 3rd place? Spurs. League leaders Chelsea just about make the top 6. The success of their pressing and then quickly counter attacking has given them a different look to last year, where we saw more ball possession in the safer midfield areas.

Currently Liverpool are winning on the Passes and Goals front. However, when it comes to Clean sheets, they only score higher than Arsenal out of the “Big 6”. And the most valuable commodity for title challengers?

Clean Sheets

Now in the last 10 seasons the team with the highest number of goals scored has won the league on seven occasions, while the side with the fewest conceded has only triumphed four times. History would suggest that wining the clean sheet battle isn’t a MUST to win the title, but you WONT win it having the same amount as the likes of Middlesbrough and Bournemouth as per current stats show.

Alavi

sofasportsnews.com

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.

Click on the image below to listen to the latest episode of the sofasportsnews.com official podcast.

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Harry

sofasportsnews.com

How clubs are turning the EFL Cup from an opportunity to a hindrance – De Luca.

I don’t know what to make of the League Cup right now. Fans seem delighted to win it, but then it doesn’t ruin their weeks if they are knocked out in the early stages. That’s a good thing.

But then, top Managers don’t seem to care despite what they may tell you. Home fans aren’t particularly bothered, and the noise (or lack of) from the home end at Anfield yesterday qualifies that.

It is though a good opportunity for younger fans to get tickets and has become an opportunity for families to visit at affordable prices, which is a good thing too of course, although the late finishes, especially if there is extra time, can be a problem for them as much as it can cause travel chaos for all fans particularly away fans who have long journeys back to their home town.

The opportunity for a wider net of teams to have a shot at reaching a major Wembley final is a great thing for football, as teams capitalise from some of the bigger sides fielding weakened teams.
That benefit has a flip side to it…

When 21 of the 22 starters of a match were not selected to start by their managers on the previous Premier League weekend the tournament can only be seen at that moment to be taking another knock.

I was at Anfield last night watching Liverpool Vs Tottenham and aside from Liverpool going through I’m struggling to understand much else either side got from the game.

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The Anfield ‘Scarf Show – De Luca’

The positives will be of course that it gives a runout to squad players and the old favourite ‘a chance to see some of the younger players’. The latter is becoming overused and I’m not sure of the value a manager gets from seeing them in this environment.

From a Tottenham perspective last night, 8 of the starting 11 were under the age of 23. So you could argue that’s a positive if you wanted provided they put in a reasonable display. What we learned yesterday is that Spurs have 5 or 6 fringe players in the squad who are decent enough footballers, based on the possession statistics and some of the parts of the game where they were able to keep the ball for periods. Great. I’d expect that from a squad player of a top 6 club anyway.

I assume though that when a younger player is thrown into this competition that a manager is looking to see how close they are to being ready for the bigger games and bigger tournaments. Which leaves my question…How can he establish that when the opponents are reserves or a lower division side too? And also, his teammates will all be of lesser quality than the players he would be surrounded by if he ever needed to be thrown in.
How does that affect his level of performance?

Josh Onomah for example had comfortably the worst game I’ve seen him play for Tottenham, has he sunk to the level of his team mates and opposition on the night? Or is he actually not that good after all? The manager can’t know after last night so is it a pointless experiment?

I was looking forward to seeing Carter-Vickers in the flesh, a highly-rated youngster with a possible great future ahead. What I saw though was an entirely changed back 4, with him paired with Kevin Wimmer who has not played all season either. How do I know then who was really at fault for a horrific defensive display in which Tottenham were carved open several times and struggled massively when asked to play out of the back? How then does Pochettino?

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Surely there would be more benefit in making just 3 or 4 changes and seeing the player in the environment they may find themselves in of they were called upon? Tottenham’s best chance of silverware each season is the league cup, that’s a fact. Liverpool’s too. The same for every team in fact. It was the only trophy Manchester City picked up last season for example. I can’t help but feel last night was a surrender of a trophy opportunity by Tottenham but not a lot gained in return in terms of knowledge or valuable experience.

Liverpool won the match last night and deservedly so and the difference was the one player of genuine quality on the pitch who could get into most teams in Europe’s match day squads although bizarrely doesn’t seem to be wanted at Liverpool.

The league cup a useful platform for him to remind his manager of his quality.

The League Cup is a great opportunity for so many positives for a lot more teams and it would be nice to see the FA and the clubs work together, make some rule changes and commitments around squads, ticket pricing and scheduling, to make the most of a rare opportunity in football where everyone at all levels of the club, and the fans, can benefit, enjoy the game and not feel the lasting pain of a defeat.

The League cup can be a great tournament, for more clubs, for more fans, for more players and for the future of football. Without closing the opportunities for smaller clubs to compete, the people at the top of the game should pledge to do more to make it so.

De Luca

Sofa Sports News

EFL Cup -Betting Tips! (Tuesday)

Tuesday night see’s 5 EFL cup tie’s taking place with the stand out game being that between Liverpool & Spurs at Anfield. (Live on Sky sports)

Betting: EFL Cup

Arsenal: 2/9   Draw: 6/1   Reading: 14/1

Bristol City: 13/10   Draw:  5/2   Hull City: 9/4

Leeds United: 15/8   Draw: 12/5   Norwich City: 8/5

Liverpool: 7/10   Draw: 16/5   Tottenham Hotspur: 4/1

Newcastle: 2/5   Draw: 15/4   Preston: 17/2

Odd’s from Bet365 online…(subject to change)

Harry’s tip:  “I expect Liverpool vs Spurs to be a good EFL cup tie and I think the host’s should just edge it.  However, Spurs at 4/1 is excellent value and I am feeling lucky so I will certainly be backing an away win!

Interestingly, if you like an accumulator a treble of Arsenal, Tottenham and Hull City is at 19/1.  Worth a tenner surely!”

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Sofa Sports News

The Most Exciting Title Race in Years! EPL Week 9 Review.

EPL Week 9 Review

After another weekend of unpredictable results this is shaping up to be the most exciting title race in years.  Of the top eight only Liverpool and Chelsea were able to take all three points from their respective fixtures.

Jurgen Klopp’s side continued their fine run of form with a narrow victory over West Brom.  Having been held to a draw vs Bourinho’s United last Monday the title talk around Anfield had somewhat evaporated, at least temporarily.  Saturday’s victory which ultimately drew them level on points with both City and Arsenal has set the Liverpool band wagon rolling once again.

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Are Liverpool EPL Title Contenders?

Any team joint at the top of the EPL must be considered as contenders.  However, let’s not forget it is only October and so if I was a Liverpool fan I wouldn’t be getting carried away just yet.  Sorry Liverpool fans but I just can’t see you going the distance for a number of reasons.  Two dodgy keepers, the inability to defend any form of set piece and a lack of strength in depth will ultimately cost you.

The Return of the Special One…

Jose returned to the bridge this weekend and prior to kick off it was all about him, just the way he likes it.  Having gone to Anfield last week and parked the bus it was pretty obvious he was going to try and do the same thing in the hope of avoiding defeat.

I’m a huge critic of his ‘anti-football’ approach especially when you are the manager of such a prestigious club and spending hundreds of millions of pounds on ‘top players’.

Nothing pleased me more than to see his game plan go out of the window inside a minute and their vulnerability was clear for all to see.  Chelsea continued to stick the knife in on their old boss and were far superior in every department.

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“I know you sold me the wrong Pogba”

In a poor attempt to deflect the headlines away from his teams awful performance Jose reportedly whispered in the ears of Conte something to the effect of “you don’t celebrate like that at 4-0.  You can do it at 1-0, otherwise it’s humiliating for us.”

Despite his side being horrendous and Chelsea completely out playing them he still had to make it all about him come the end of the game.  He had an issue with the current Chelsea manager celebrating?  That’s rich coming from this man…

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Jose slides on his knee’s in celebration during his Real Madrid days.

City without a win in five…

Once again individual errors cost Pep Guardiola’s side dearly and John Stones’ decision making doesn’t seem to have improved just yet.

City were held at home by an in-form, well organised and resolute Southampton side.  Credit to the Saints but there’s no doubt the blue half of Manchester will be somewhat disappointed with the nature of the goal they conceded.

It appeared to be a mix up between Stones and Vincent Kompany but none the less a goal that could have been avoided had a bit of common sense been applied.  It wasn’t to be City’s day in the end but the results around them gave them some breathing space, a draw this weekend wasn’t as damaging as it could have been.

A constantly changing formation and  a lack of confidence are certainly contributing to City’s bad run but there’s no need for an over reaction, they are top of the EPL!

Arsenal & Spurs stutter…

Neither North London club were able to take all three points this weekend and I would put it down to both suffering from a Champions League hangover.  It’s been years since Spurs have been able to use that excuse!

Spurs failed to dazzle at the vitality stadium and Bournemouth could have nicked it late on. Perhaps the biggest talking point was the moment of madness from Moussa Sissoko where he appeared to throw an elbow at Bournemouth midfielder Harry Arter.  The Frenchman was lucky not to see red and I expect him to face retrospective action in the coming days.

I was at the Emirates on Saturday and the Gunners were simply off the boil.  A leggy Arsenal side struggled to create as many openings as they would have liked against a stubborn and well organised Boro side.

The absence of Santi Cazorla in the middle of the park was a big miss for the Gunners.  He plays a vital role in Arsenal’s midfield, a player who is so good at both collecting the ball from the defence and play making from deep was always going to be missed.  The man who normally makes us tick wasn’t in the side and it disrupted our fluency in possession.

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Arsenal missed their deep lying playmaker on Saturday.

It’s worth noting had it not been for Petr Cech Arsenal could have ended up losing that one.  Adana Traore was a constant threat down the right hand side and its hard to believe that he spent last season sitting on Aston Villa’s bench!

Boro were good value for the point.  Both North London clubs suffered a minor stutter but it’s nothing to worry about at this stage, I expect both to be there or thereabouts come May.

EPL Results:

Bournemouth 0-0 Spurs, West Ham 1-0 Sunderland, Swansea 0-0 Watford, Leicester City 3-1 Crystal Palace, Hull City 0-2 Stoke, Burnley 2-1 Everton, Arsenal 0-0 Boro, Man City 1-1 Southampton, Chelsea 4-0 Man Utd.

Click here for the Premier League Table!

Harry

Sofa Sports News.

Jose ‘Bourinho’ makes his point!

Liverpool 0-0 Man Utd: ‘Bourinho is at it again’

Well that was an anti-climax to say the least.  A miserable Monday in the office and only the thought of MNF got me through the day.  The game being hyped as ‘the biggest of the season so far’ – the coming together of England’s ‘two greatest clubs’ proved to be a complete and utter disappointment.  Now there’s a surprise…

I got caught up in the pre-match hype and it was naive of me to expect an entertaining game seeing as Jose ‘Bourinho’ was involved.  Liverpool have been in great form, cutting teams open with ease of late and Jose’s team selection was the first sign of his intentions.

Negative from the start

The return of Fellaini and the inclusion of Ashley Young gave us an indication pre-match that ‘Bourinho’ was a) concerned about the physical aspect in midfield and b) felt he needed to nullify the attacking threat of Liverpool’s adventurous right back Nathaniel Clyne.

Giggsy, Carra and Neville stood there pre-match telling the world Fellaini was included from the start because of his threat in set piece situations.  If you have no intention of attacking and only win one corner in 90 minutes as a result of this – surely it’s pretty obvious he was only in the side to disrupt play and take his inevitable yellow card for just being a classless thug.

In plain English, his team were set out for a point and nothing more.  I can remember them creating just  the one opportunity and in 90 minutes they failed to force a single save from Liverpool’s ‘dodgy’ keeper Loris Karius.

Klopp’s side dominated the possession with a huge 65% share, but i guess that’s useless when your opponent opts to just ‘park the bus’.  It’s ironic that the very expression ‘parking the bus’ came from ‘Bourinho’ himself when he was criticizing somebody else for adopting the same approach.  Jose being a hypocrite!? I never thought I’d see the day!

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out my stance on ‘Bourinho’, his dull tactics and horrible personality.

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(Jose looks like he’s just woken up after watching his teams performance at Anfield)

Lack of Ambition

Don’t get me wrong, to come away with a point from Anfield when Liverpool are in great form is a solid result.  My problem is with the managers attitude and approach.  For someone who is constantly pointing to the fact he manages, in his words “The Biggest Club in the World”you’d expect to see some sort of ambition.

A man who has spent £156m and is in charge of ‘the biggest club in the world’ has an approach to the big games which is no different to the likes of Stoke or West Brom!  At least try and win the game, show some ambition, take the game to your opponent and if you only manage the point you can be proud of it.

‘Bourinho’ faces his old club Chelski this coming weekend and I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a repeat performance.  Maybe I’ll be watching Downton Abbey instead, there will probably be more action (just ask Alavi).

Man Utd are a club that down the years have pride themselves on playing good attacking football, winning in style and they always carried an awe about them that let the world know they could go and win anywhere.  They’ve abandoned their principles and their identity is being sucked out of them by a classless, negative and gutless manager.

Glory, Glory Man United is no more and Boring, Boring Man Utd is whats in store.

Harry

Sofa Sports News.

 

 

 

 

Sofa Sports News Podcast – Premier League Round up!

This week Premier League fans were in for a treat, the new ‘Friday Night Football’ featured the weeks stand-out fixture – I think we could get used to this!

Game of the Week: Chelsea (Costa ’61) 12 Liverpool (Lovren ’17, Henderson ’36) 

Liverpool registered their 3rd league win of the season with an impressive victory at Stamford Bridge.  Antonio Conte’s side went into the fixture unbeaten and not many would have backed Jurgen Klopp’s men to take all three points back to Merseyside.  Liverpool have beaten both Arsenal and Chelsea away from home in the early weeks and comprehensively beat last seasons champions Leicester City at Anfield.

Talk of Liverpool for the title has begun surfacing and I for one think its premature.  I can’t help but feel they will fall short defensively and over the years they have been known for pushing the self-destruct button come the business end of the season.  For more on Liverpool click here!  As for Chelsea, Antonio Conte suffered his first defeat of the season and after last weeks draw at Swansea he may have to rethink his approach.  As a talented manager/tactician I’m certain the Italian will scrutinize their recent performances and it won’t be long before they are back to winning ways.

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Performance of the Week: Watford F.C.

This was a tough decision to make, I have to say I considered giving the Sofa Sports News Performance of the Week to Tony Pulis’ West Brom.  Based purely on the quality of the opponent I decided to give it to Watford.  Walter Mazzari’s Hornet’s piled more misery onto the ‘Special One’ – Who’s special? Don’t make me laugh!

An organised, physical and hungry Watford side registered their second win of the season after their impressive come back at the Olympic Stadium just a week earlier.  Odion Ighalo missed a sitter early on when the returning Chris Smalling and David De Gea made a meal of an aerial ball.  Thankfully for the Hornets Etienne Capoue continued his impressive goal scoring form and late goals from Zuniga and Deeney completed the victory.

Jose was quick to shift the blame from himself and criticized the officials post-match.  I guess he just does that wherever he goes, if you refer to an old article I submitted you will see what I mean…click here!  If I was a United fan I’d have questioned his team selection once again, but who am I to judge! 🙂

That leads me onto the next section nicely…

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Worst Performance of the Week: West Ham Utd

Has Slaven Bilic completely lost it at West Ham?  A discussion I never thought I would have so early on in the season – it’s clear that the fans remain behind their manager but whats gone wrong in the past few weeks?

Having surrendered a two goal lead at home last week I was tempted to label that as a one off.  Saturday’s defeat at WBA  has done nothing to ease the pressure on the Croatian and to concede four goals in two games running vs the kind of opposition they should be turning over has set the alarm bells ringing.

It’s far too early to panic but having moved into the Olympic stadium and having crashed out of the Europa League in the qualifying round the Irons will no doubt be aiming to secure the European football that stadium deserves.

For the rest of this weeks Premier League Results click here!

Harry

Sofa Sports News