Quite the game for the last night at the Boleyn

As a truly historic era draws to a close for West Ham fans this evening, as a club they seem to be prepping for whole new chapter of success in the Olympic Stadium.

When West Ham parted ways with Sam ‘Big Sam’ Allardyce in the summer (he really does sound like a formidable heavyweight boxer), I couldn’t help but think that it might be a roll of the dice too far by David Sullivan and David Gold. After all, West Ham haven’t exactly been stalwarts of the Premier League in recent memory and it would have been very hard filling 60,000 with Burton Albion as the away side in the Championship (Sorry Burton fans). OH HOW I WAS WRONG.

Like any good manager, Slaven Bilić didn’t change a system that worked. With Big Sam as a predecessor, Bilić inherited a team that had such strong foundations that you could have built the new stadium on James Collins and Winston Reid’s shoulders. What Bilić has done though with great effect is bring a little bit of sparkle, a little bit of magic into the final third that has transformed West Ham into a worthy Top 8 club.

In Manuel Lanzini and, of course, the wonderful Dimitri Payet, West Ham have genuine craft and skill in attack. Whether that may be on the break, from set pieces or in tactful build up play, West Ham are once more the footballing side that their fans so craved last season. And now, on the eve of the great farewell to the Boleyn, West Ham host Manchester United. Continue reading “Quite the game for the last night at the Boleyn”

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Klopp looks once more to Anfield Magic

After the miracles produced against Dortmund in the Europa League quarter-final, Jurgen Klopp and his band of merry men will once more be trying to harness some of the magic that surrounds Anfield on a European night as they attempt to overturn a 1-0 deficit against Villarreal.

Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool seem to becoming a match made in heaven, as the German embodies crucial elements of what Liverpool fans want to see. Passion, forthrightness and openness with the fans that any Liverpool seeks in a manager.

As seen during his time with Borussia Dortmund, Klopp is more than aware of the importance of the link between fans and players both on and off the field. Dortmund was very much a wounded giant when Klopp took to the helm, and whilst his last season was difficult, he emerged untarnished – a hero of Westphalia. Continue reading “Klopp looks once more to Anfield Magic”

Will the Theatre of Dreams live up to its name?

The time has arrived. The moment all Leicester’s fans have perhaps thought could occur since Easter but might still not feel completely real.

Leicester City are three points away from winning the Premier League.

This is a team who everyone thought would struggle this season (including myself), had just appointed a manager that seemed a bizarre choice (I certainly did), seemed destined to be facing a relegation battle to stay in the Premier League (YEP STILL ME HERE). And now Sunday could see the final sentences written of a truly remarkable season with Claudio Ranieri transcending into the realms of immortality. Continue reading “Will the Theatre of Dreams live up to its name?”

What next for the relegation run-in?

The relegation race (it is the race no one wants to be a part of – a bit like the 1500m at Sports Day) is entering its final stretch with just a handful of games to go and with Aston Villa done and dusted only two places remain in the bottom three. So with three teams left vying to remain in the Premier League but does this weekend’s fixtures mean for the relegation run in?

17th Sunderland – P34 Pts: 31 GD: -18
18th Norwich – P34 Pts: 31 GD: -25
19th Newcastle – P35 Pts: 30 GD: -26

Let’s start with the 3 o’clock kick offs and Sunderland are venturing a little south to The Britannia to face a Stoke City that are haemorrhaging goals at an almost sacrificial rate. Continue reading “What next for the relegation run-in?”

Will the Potters break the Spurs Challenge?

Normally with a match preview, I tend to write about the home side before moving on to that weekend’s visitors but as we start truly reach the pointy end of the season, Tottenham’s trip to Stoke City it’s the away side who takes precedence.

As Leicester City’s march to a seemingly likely Premier League title just continues to defy basic footballing reason, Tottenham’s rise to second in the table and their very own title challenge can be identified with greater ease. Mauricio Pochettino. Continue reading “Will the Potters break the Spurs Challenge?”

Lukaku To Shine at Old Trafford?

It is one of the strange facets of football the timings of fixtures throughout the season. In the first fixture of the season at Goodison Park, Manchester United ran out 3-0 winners in Everton’s first game after the death of Howard Kendall. That game was also played immediately after an international break all that time ago in October and the sides once more line up to face each other post-International duties. Will that have any bearing on this weekend’s result? No one knows but the computer has thrown up another fixture post the international break with both teams looking for a result. Continue reading “Lukaku To Shine at Old Trafford?”

Arsenal’s Title Tilt All But Over

If Spurs are being remarkably ‘un-Spursy’ this season, it’s perhaps with an even greater annoyance for Arsenal fans that their North London team is following the script for verbatim. Arsenal, ever since Christmas, have been incredibly ‘Arsenaly’.

As all the traditional title rivals faltered, Arsene Wenger and co. were faced with a bunch of upstarts from Leicestershire and their old North London foes. All that was required was to string a run together, something Arsenal can do with consummate ease when Top 4 is required, but alas, it seems to be the impossible feat. Arsenal have coughed and spluttered to being 11pts off top with a game in hand, their title tilt all but over for another season. Continue reading “Arsenal’s Title Tilt All But Over”

A possible Dutch headache at Wembley?

England are going to win the Euros. The odds have been slashed, the World Champions have been put to the sword and England are on the up.

This is all predicted hyperbole after England’s performance against Germany but even I must admit, the very nature of the comeback was as both surprising, as it was impressive. England throughout looked the better side and too be 2-0 down at one point was a harsh reflection on a very good performance. Continue reading “A possible Dutch headache at Wembley?”

I know I am not Roy but here is my England XI

It is timeless. It is inexhaustible. It is the great pub debate for any football fan in this country. Who should play for England?

One thing Roy has brought to the table for any such debate is a squad that doesn’t necessarily have the 7 or 8 ‘automatic’ starters like the England team of a decade ago. Perhaps the only two names who would always start (rightly or wrongly) would be Joe Hart and Wayne Rooney but even injury has dictated that come Saturday evening against Germany, it is almost anyone’s guess what Roy might send out to take down the old foe.

So here is me throwing my tuppence into the equation. I know I am not Roy but this is my England XI to take on Germany come Saturday… Continue reading “I know I am not Roy but here is my England XI”

Spurs on brink as Poch defends changes

After the first leg of their Europa League tie against Borussia Dortmund, Pochettino defended the seven changes he made to his Tottenham saying that he had “no regrets” after his saw his side lose 3-0.

Seven changes is one thing but it would be unfair to take anything away from the Dortmund performance on the night. Tottenham weren’t awful by any stretch of the imagination, just Dortmund – particularly in the final third of the field – were just devastating, with speed, movement and efficiency. It really wasn’t hard to see why the German side under Thomas Tuchel currently sit second in the league and only 5pts behind Pep’s Bayern. Continue reading “Spurs on brink as Poch defends changes”