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

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

The Italian Job – Watford

The sacking of Flores, Walter Mazzari and Watford’s chances this season!

I mentioned on the Podcast that the sacking of Flores was nothing short of outrageous, which I stand by. However, I can’t understand why most pundits and fans (including the bookies) have Watford to go down. We know all about their players and any team that can rely on two players scoring 15 a piece will stay up for me. We know all about the players- but how about the manager?

The uncompromising Italian Walter Mazzarri is a hard taskmaster who is bound to ruffle feathers at Watford but he has a striking record for improving.
At Sampdoria he turned Giampaolo Pazzini, a player who had never reached double figures in a single season, into the team’s top scorer, with 19 league goals in 2008-09. Pazzini said of his manager “Most of all he’s a perfectionist. I have never met a coach who focuses so much on small details. He prepares you well for every situation in the game. I think the best thing about him is that he is never happy.”

After leaving Sampdoria at the end of the 2008/09 season Napoli came calling after sacking Roberto Donadoni in 2009. Mazzarri built a well organised and effective counter attacking side that finished sixth in his first season and improved again the following year to qualify for the Champions League in 3rd place in Serie A and won the Coppa Italia. They flourished in the Champions League too, qualifying for the knockout stages ahead of Manchester City to book a last-16 tie that they narrowly lost to Chelsea.
His most famous success story is Edinson Cavani, a player who had never scored more than 14 league goals in a season but who in three years for Mazzarri managed 26, 23 and 29, and a total of 104 in 138 games, shattering along the way Napoli’s then 78-year-old single-season goalscoring record and helping the team to a first Coppa Italia and to second place in Serie A. It will be interesting to see what success he can have with Odion Ighalo

He spent 56 matches in charge of Inter but was sacked in 2014 after a series of disappointing results, leaving the club in 9th place. He had been out of work since. It was soon after his dismissal from Inter that Mazzarri started to target the Premier League, renting a flat in Manchester last year. He signed up for a course of English lessons, although he remains far from fluent and has avoided much media activity in pre-season.
Mazzarri has been wedded to a back three for years and set out to play the same way at Watford, pleasantly surprised by the players’ response to the demands of his tactical training sessions. In the past he has preferred a 3-5-2 system, which may suit Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney, but he reverted to a back four against Lorient last Saturday.

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Deeney & Ighalo – all smiles. Image courtesy of www.skysports.com

The 54-year-old Italian has become the Hornets’ seventh coach in five seasons since taking over from the popular Quique Sánchez Flores. Watford have been largely quiet in the transfer window this summer but Mazzarri hopes to change that – “ I want two or three new players, they say it’s no problem if we need them, and I think we need them. I prefer not to go into much detail but it will probably be one of each position of defence, midfield and forward.”

I believe Watford will, at the very least, survive. Maybe it’s because of the soft spot I have for them having followed them sporadically when I was young, going as an Under16 for a fiver behind the goal . Thought if you fancy a flutter they’re 10/1 to finish in the top half of the table

Alavi

Cover Image courtesy of www.101greatgoals.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