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”

Can the luck of the Irish see off France in Lyon?

Game of the Week: France vs. Republic of Ireland, Lyon, 15:00

If I could be in any part of France right now, (admittedly, I will be in Nice for the England game, which isn’t all that bad) it would have to be Lyon because France vs. Republic of Ireland is just going to be a damn party.

You would have to live under an actual stone (or just not have Facebook) to not have seen the Irish fan frivolities over in France. Whilst the British media filter back stories of violence on the streets, the Irish media must be having a bloody field day as Ireland fans head out to France and genuinely look like they are having a good time. Whether it be singing to a Nun on a train, serenading French girls or singing along with the French police, everyone loves the Irish and now the shamrock party bus heads to Lyon to face the hosts. Continue reading “Can the luck of the Irish see off France in Lyon?”

Group A Final Round Preview

Games of the Day
Switzerland vs. France, Lille, 20:00
Romania vs. Albania, Lyon, 20:00

France – 6pts
Switzerland – 4pts
Romania – 1pt
Albania – 0pts

Just like that, we are at the beginning of the end for the group stages of Euro 2016 and what a tournament so far. The tournament may not be bursting at the seams with goals but goals don’t always lead to excitement as Spain proved in their demolition of Turkey.

France have somewhat become the late goal specialists. In a tournament where late goals have come to characterise this championship, it seems only fitting that the hosts themselves have mastered the last gasp winner.

Whether it was Dimitri Payet’s worldie of a goal in the 89th minute against Romania or Antoine Griezmann coming off the bench to break the deadlock against Albania at the death, any tournament needs the hosts to perform and France are duly injecting their own championships with excitement. Continue reading “Group A Final Round Preview”

Can Dimitri Payet be France’s Euro hero?

Game of the Day: France vs. Albania, Marseille, 20:00

In the world of tournament football, 5 days is an eternity. We’ve had the brilliance of Germany’s counter attacking sucker punch against the Ukrainians, Italy emerging from also-rans to favourites with their 2-0 victory over Belgium and obviously the scenes of Russia’s new breed of footballing madman acting indefensibly in (and around) the Stade Vélodrome. Now we return to the site of such unsavoury scenes 4 days ago with the hosts entertaining the underdogs. Continue reading “Can Dimitri Payet be France’s Euro hero?”

Reaction: England’s Squad for Euro 2016

Anger. England’s squad announcement left me with bizarre sensation of anger as the list was read out on Sky Sports News just past 11am on this fine Monday morning. I wasn’t expect such a feeling but it was when Andros Townsend and more inexplicable Fabien Delph’s name was read out amongst the other 24 France hopefuls that proved to be my undoing.

I have relaxed now though. I have done my banking errands for the morning and feel like I can now have a look at the England squad with fresh eyes. So here it is… Continue reading “Reaction: England’s Squad for Euro 2016”

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”

The PFA Player of Year: The Winner’s, The Loser’s and the Missing

It is the Football Awards season and the PFA Player of the Year awards is loaded attacking flair, goals and assists. In a world where attackers take the glory, the PFA’s delivers once more with an abundance of attacking riches vying it out for Player of the Season. Whilst I have absolutely no bearing on who might win the award, here is my run down of the top 6 and one person who I really think should have made the cut. Continue reading “The PFA Player of Year: The Winner’s, The Loser’s and the Missing”

‘Will Swansea’s Slump Continue?’ – Swansea vs. West Ham, 20-12-15

Predicted XI’s

Swansea: Fabianski, Rangel, Fernandez, Williams, Taylor, Cork, Britton, Ki, Ayew, Gomis, Sigurdsson

West Ham: Adrián, Tomkins, Collins, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Song, Noble, Kouyaté, Zárate, Carroll, Antonio

Oh how times can change in Football. Garry Monk, lauded for producing Swansea’s best ever finish to a Premier League season last year, has joined the ever-growing list of managerial causalities after not winning a game since Swansea’s defeat of Manchester United at the end of August. Names have been bandied round (I myself wrote just last week that I thought David Moyes could be a good fit), yet no one has yet been appointed to date, with Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins now in South America supposedly trying to tie down the enigmatic Marcelo Bielsa to a contract (Bielsa to Swansea). Continue reading “‘Will Swansea’s Slump Continue?’ – Swansea vs. West Ham, 20-12-15”

‘A Fight to be London’s Third Team’ – Tottenham vs. West Ham, Match Preview, 22/11/15

This could be one of the last meetings for these London clubs in the guise we know them today. Change is afoot in London, and the footballing landscape of the Premier League really could be a whole new world by 2018. It is a question of Stadiums. As Liverpool re-develop Anfield, Tottenham and West Ham have gone down the moving home root.

With West Ham due to inherit the Olympic Stadium next season, the likes of James Collins and Mark Noble will be strutting their stuff in front of a sold out crowd of 54,000 come August 2016. Karen Brady talks about generating a footballing brand in East London, revenues will be up, finances will be a lot stronger. West Ham want Champions League. Tottenham on the other hand aren’t moving. Perhaps in a backhanded swipe against their greatest of rivals, their new stadium will be built on the current White Hart Lane site. Tottenham don’t move boroughs and with a stadium of over 60,000 capacity, the new Spurs venture could well be ready as early as August 2018. With both these stadium moves in mind, who out of Spurs and West Ham are in the better position before they start their respective transitions into the big time? Continue reading “‘A Fight to be London’s Third Team’ – Tottenham vs. West Ham, Match Preview, 22/11/15”