FA Cup 4th Round: Three Ties to Watch Out For

The 4th round of the FA Cup rolls into town this weekend and whilst teams like Tottenham prepare for their Colchester game with a trip to Barcelona, Carlisle were applying to the finishing touches to their recently flood stricken ground. This is still David vs. Goliath territory and here are three games where the shocks could be very real. Continue reading “FA Cup 4th Round: Three Ties to Watch Out For”

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One Week till Deadline Day…

One week to go to what should be the third best day of the year (only behind Christmas and the Summer Deadline Day) and yet, unless something dramatic happens and some absolute curve ball emerges out of the left field, this January transfer window has been really quite stale.

As people embark on their Dry January’s because they had too much fun at Christmas, this season the Transfer Windows feels very much the same. We all had too much fun over the festive period, now we retreat home and do just what is expected from us. Yet for some football clubs this is surely the time to realise something great or even roll the dice to try and stay up? Continue reading “One Week till Deadline Day…”

An Occasion Built for Jurgen and the Kop

Predicted XI’s

Liverpool: Mignolet, Clyne, Touré, Sakho, Moreno, Henderson, Lucas, Can, Milner, Firmino, Lallana

Manchester United: de Gea, Darmian, Smalling, Blind, Young, Schneiderlin, Herrera, Martial, Mata, Lingard, Rooney

It is a strange and wonderful world in the Premier League this year. With both teams drawing 3-3 in the week, Liverpool undoubtedly will see their late comeback goal (curtesy of Joe Allen) as one point gained compared to Manchester United’s two points dropped thanks to Newcastle United’s Paul Dummett.

For two of the most successful teams in English football, this is one fixture where league position falls by the way side for more personal matters. With Liverpool 13 points and Manchester United 10 points off the top of the league, both team’s will be focussing more on Champions League football but has Steven Gerrard’s red card cameo reinforced last season, this is a game where sometimes the 90 minutes can be more important than the season’s objectives. Continue reading “An Occasion Built for Jurgen and the Kop”

A Sticky Afternoon for Chelsea against the Toffee’s

Predicted XI’s

Chelsea: Courtois, Ivanovic, Zouma, Terry, Azpilicueta, Fabregas, Matic, Willian, Oscar, Ramires, Costa

Everton: Howard, Stones, Jagielka, Funes Mori, Baines, Besic, Barry, Deulofeu, Barkley, Koné, Lukaku

“We all like to look forward and to the top of the table, but also don’t be unrealistic – you’re six points off the line of relegation” – Guus Hiddink, Interim Chelsea Manager

When you look back on both clubs season’s so far. Oh how they read differently. Chelsea have essentially lurched from disaster to disaster. Fabregas has gone missing, Diego Costa is seriously challenging Charlie Adam for his one man bar brawl award and Eden Hazard seems to be dreaming of sunnier climbs. Throw into the mixer the sacking of Eva Carneiro and Mourinho’s sacking, and Chelsea’s season is more akin to a soap opera. Continue reading “A Sticky Afternoon for Chelsea against the Toffee’s”

Predicted XI’s Tottenham vs. Sunderland, 16-01-16

Predicted XI’s

Tottenham: Lloris, Walker, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose, Dier, Dembélé, Eriksen, Alli, Lamela, Kane

Sunderland: Mannone, Jones, O’Shea, Brown, van Aanholt, Johnson, Cattermole, M’Vila, Lens, Borini, Defore

In a league where Tottenham have been somewhat un-‘Spursy’ in their unbeaten run up till facing Newcastle a month ago, the mid-week defeat to Leicester City was further proof that this is a Spurs side that are still maturing under the tutelage of Pochettino. Continue reading “Predicted XI’s Tottenham vs. Sunderland, 16-01-16”

Injuries to Dictate Anfield Clash

Liverpool vs. Arsenal, 13-01-16

Predicted XI’s

Liverpool: Mignolet, Clyne, Sakho, Caulker, Moreno, Lucas, Can, Milner, Lallana, Benteke, Firmino

Arsenal: Cech, Bellerín, Gabriel, Koscielny, Monreal, Oxlade-Chamberlin, Ramsey, Walcott, Ozil, Campbell, Giroud

For a game that sees two of the big hitters play against each other in the League, the pre-match words from the managers have been nothing short of gushing. Praise, mutual respect and tactical insight. It seems a far cry away from say Big Sam and Tony Pulis pre-match press conference.

Whilst the honeymoon bubble for Klopp has well and truly burst, the amount of games and the amount of injuries he has seemingly stumbled into certainly represents a baptism of fire into English football. Whilst he was surprised that there was a second leg to be had in the Capital One Cup, someone really must let him know that a draw with Exeter was going to bring about a reply. Littered with bodies, Mellwood could be mistaken for outside location for Casualty, but in spite of his injury issues, it is welcome to what Klopp brings to the Premier League in how he spoke about football before this game against Arsenal this evening. Continue reading “Injuries to Dictate Anfield Clash”

A Game of Change at White Hart Lane

Tottenham vs. Leicester City, FA Cup Third Round 10-1-16

Predicted XI’s

Tottenham: Vorm, Tripper, Alderweireld, Wimmer, Rose, Carroll, Bentaleb, Lamela, Onomah, Chadli, Son

Leicester City: Schmeichel, Moore, Wasilewski, Huth, de Laet, Dyer, Inler, King, Gray, Okazaki, Ulloa

One of the better ties in this year’s third round sees the unlikely sounding title contenders of Tottenham hosting Leicester at White Hart Lane. Whilst Tottenham’s consistency of racking up points (albeit a little heavy on the draws) is a clear sign of progression under Pochettino, the job Ranieri is doing at Leicester City is unfathomable. Continue reading “A Game of Change at White Hart Lane”

Could a cup run be Chelsea’s catalyst?

Chelsea Predicted XI

Begovic, Ivanovic, Zouma, Terry, Baba Rahman, Mikel, Matic, Pedro, Fabregas, Willian, Diego Costa

The FA Cup last year didn’t go so well for Chelsea. That 4-2 defeat at home to Bradford City was a bizarre and unfortunate afternoon for the Champions elect. Yet now the resonance of that afternoon rings loud and clear.

Over the period between Christmas and New Year Chelsea would be on the back end of two traumatic afternoons of the football; the 5-3 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur and the aforementioned game against Bradford City. With hindsight, however these two momentary blips of sub-par performance take on greater importance when you look at the Chelsea team today. Continue reading “Could a cup run be Chelsea’s catalyst?”

‘It’s back and with more magic than Harry Potter’ – The Return of the FA Cup

I generally don’t like trading in clichés but sometimes the very cliché itself strikes a nerve. The magic of the cup. Its FA cup third round weekend and it’s when the might of the Premier League gets unleashed on all that have got this far. Continue reading “‘It’s back and with more magic than Harry Potter’ – The Return of the FA Cup”

‘Are the Black Cats running out of lives?’ – Sunderland’s Relegation Plight

Sunderland AFC. 9 years (we have only just snuck into 2016 after all). 9 separate full time managers. Since Mick McCarthy departed in March 2006 Sunderland fans have seen Niall Quinn, Roy Keane, Ricky Sbragia, Steve Bruce, Martin O’Neil, Paolo di Canio, Guy Poyet, Dick Advocaat and now Sam Allardyce all charging around the home dugout at the Stadium of Light. The longest serving Sunderland manager in that time is Roy Keane. 100 games in charge with the Championship title in his back pocket, it reflects both the clubs and funnily enough Roy Keane’s greatest period of success in the last decade.

It would be wrong to suggest that managerial instability didn’t occur before Ellis Short took out right charge of The Black Cats. The manner in managerial departure certainly has changed since the American-Irishman took outright control of the football club in October 2011. It has almost become cyclical at the Stadium of Light since the departure of Steve Bruce. A manager will be sacked after a poor run of results, normally just before Christmas or Easter and then the new man in charge will get the famed if not scientifically proven ‘new manager bounce’ and lead Sunderland to safety. That change of voice on the training ground must have particular resonance in the North-East because this could now become the assumed game plan for securing Premier League football that any Sunderland fan must now endure. Continue reading “‘Are the Black Cats running out of lives?’ – Sunderland’s Relegation Plight”