What is the point of pre-season?

Pre-season, huh, what is it good for? Well not preparation judging by the opening two rounds of Premier League football from 2016/17. All those tours, all those ‘tournaments’, the transfers and money spent and yet, the teams that have a settled starting line up at this point of the season are few and far between.

 

This had led to an underwhelming start, with competitors lumbering, slowly emerging from the cocoon of July, rather than exploding into life. Yes, there have been exciting new signings scoring (Zlatan!), new managers emoting (Conte) we’ve had villains (Costa) and late winners (Costa again), so why the sense that something is missing? Continue reading “What is the point of pre-season?”

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The Premier League Contenders from the North

As we move north, the three biggies from the North West really start to put the cat amongst the pigeons on trying to predict this season’s Premier League.

 

It’s been a summer of change and transitions from Liverpool to Manchester. As Pep and José decide to kick start their rivalry from Spain in the same city and Jürgen Klopp finally gets his pre-season, it could be more than feasible to see all three of Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United vying for title honours come April and May next year. Continue reading “The Premier League Contenders from the North”

JG’s Transfer Update Pt.2

Here we are with pt.2 of JG’s transfer round up and its full of the big hitters. It’s L to W, taking in the likes of Liverpool, United, City and Spurs and the newcomer who loves being linked with the big names – Middlesbrough. Continue reading “JG’s Transfer Update Pt.2”

Portugal awaits the winner from Marseille

Game of the Day: France vs. Germany, Marseille, 20.00

After a tournament scattered with surprises, Thursday night sees what will be a widely predicted line up for the semi-final in the bottom half of the draw; hosts and favourites France against World Champions Germany. Continue reading “Portugal awaits the winner from Marseille”

Engand vs. Iceland Match Preview

Game of the Day: England vs. Iceland, Nice, 20:00

The round of 16 may have been a mixed bag so far, but there are lessons to be learned for England ahead of a potential banana skin against Iceland in Nice on Monday evening.

Teams seem to be tiring in the heat, but instead of trying to wear Iceland out over the course of the 90 minutes, Rooney et al would be best served going against the grain of the tournament to date and starting fast. If England can do something they haven’t managed so far and get an early goal, they will surely make life much easier for themselves and have a better chance of tying up the result without the need for extra time. Continue reading “Engand vs. Iceland Match Preview”

Group B Final Round Preview

Games of the Day
Slovakia vs. England, Saint-Etienne, 20:00
Russia vs. Wales, Toulouse, 20:00

Standings
England – 4pts
Wales – 3pts
Slovakia – 3pts
Russia – 1pt

As Euro 2016 rolls into the final round of group fixtures there is both relief and sadness; it is quite the commitment to watch three live games per day and remain a functioning adult, but no 5pm game on Monday will leave an insurmountable void, filled only with local news, Home and Away and (gulp) The One Show. Then there is the entire lack of live games on Thursday and Friday; it’s almost like there is something more important than football happening instead? Continue reading “Group B Final Round Preview”

Republic must dare to capitalise on uncertainty in Brussels

Game of the Day: Belgium vs. Republic of Ireland, Bordeaux, 14:00

Following Italy’s last gasp winner against Sweden, this generation of Irish players may never have a better chance of progressing to the knockout rounds of a major tournament. Martin O’Neill will hope that Belgium are as discombobulated in Bordeaux on Saturday afternoon as they were when wilting against the compact yet deadly Italians in game one. Continue reading “Republic must dare to capitalise on uncertainty in Brussels”

Is England vs. Wales a must win game for Roy Hodgson?

Game of the Day: England vs Wales, Lens, 14:00

Two games left. Three teams qualify from the group. It sounds easy enough? But after Slovakia’s defeat of Russia yesterday, has England’s game against Wales become ‘must win’?

Slovakia’s 2-1 victory over Russia on Wednesday really has changed the complexion of Group B. If England fail to beat Gareth Bale and co in Lens, England will see themselves at best in third place going into the final round of games and whilst a win against Slovakia will basically guarantee qualification, a third place finish will see possibly a round of 16 tie against potentially the likes of France or even Spain. Such an outcome will be an unmitigated disaster of a campaign for Roy and Wayne as this is a group they should so easily of dominated. Continue reading “Is England vs. Wales a must win game for Roy Hodgson?”

Conte vs. Wilmots – The Battle to Top Group E

Game of the Day: Italy vs. Belgium, Lyon, 20:00

The team that always turns up at a tournament. Italy. Regardless of how poor a squad or form may have been over the course of 6 months or since their previous finals campaign, Italian coaches always seem to be able to cobble a squad of 23 together that delivers.

What makes Antonio Conte’s 23 man squad so interesting is firstly the fact that it really isn’t that great. And secondly, he is coming to Chelsea and for a group that has little to no bearing on England’s tournaments, many a people will be intrigued to see what this Conte fellow is all about. Continue reading “Conte vs. Wilmots – The Battle to Top Group E”