The week that was (Premier League Matchweek 26)

News

Munich Air Disaster 60 year anniversary

Manchester United held a service to mark the 60th anniversary of the Munich Air Disaster. More than 4,500 United supporters sat in the falling snow to attend the memorial at Old Trafford.

United manager Jose Mourinho and captain Michael Carrick laid wreaths to remember the 23 casualties of the crash, including eight of United’s ‘Busby Babes’.

Survivors Sir Bobby Charlton and Harry Gregg were present at the 40-minute service, along with former manager Sir Alex Ferguson, executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and director Michael Edelson who all gave readings.

Sooky Pep strikes again 

Pep is like that little whinny brat who has all the toys in the world, yet still finds something to whine about.

In their draw with Burnley, Manchester City had six substitutes on the bench instead of the standard seven. According to Guardiola, the reason City had one less substitute was because of an injury crisis at the club and a lack of depth in the squad.

Did it not occur to Guardiola that he could promote a player from the academy?

Under the ownership of Sheikh Mansour, City built the A$355 million City Football Academy that is considered one of the best academies in the world. Yet Guardiola insists he does not have the players to fill a seven man bench.

Former Manchester United captain and television pundit Gary Neville labelled the decision a “joke”.

“If you’re a youth team manager at Manchester City, ring him up and ask which kid deserves that boost. Who has been playing well this season and who has worked hard?”

“Forget the second team. Even if they played yesterday, bring one and put them on the bench. Bring a kid to travel with the team, help the kit man and put him on the bench to have the experience of being in a Premier League game. Give someone a boost at the club.

“If you’re the Academy or reserve team manager at Manchester City you must think ‘I’m wasting my time’. Forget the fact they’ve spent however much money, six players on the bench… to me it’s like a protest.”

Spot on Gary.

Eight is great for Swansea

Swansea’s revival under Carlos Carvalhal continued with an impressive display against Notts County in the FA Cup.

The Swans put eight past a helpless County in a display reminiscent of a FIFA game played on amateur difficulty.

Tammy Abraham and Nathan Dyer both scored braces, while Kyle Naughton, Wayne Routledge, Tom Carroll and Daniel James all found the back of the net.

The Swans will hope to continue their scoring spree against Burnley in the Premier League on Sunday.

Results

Burnley 1-1 Manchester City

West Brom 2-3 Southampton

Manchester United 2-0 Huddersfield

Leicester 1-1 Swansea

Brighton 3-1 West Ham

Bournemouth 2-1 Stoke

Arsenal 5-1 Everton

Crystal Palace 1-1 Newcastle

Liverpool 2-2 Tottenham

Watford 4-1 Chelsea

Sir Alex Ferguson Award

The Sir Alex Ferguson of the week is awarded to the best-performed team of the week.

Arsenal

It seems like the dust has settled on the Wenger Out movement and all is well at Arsenal again.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang made his debut for the club and scored a lovely chip over the keeper (even though he was incorrectly called onside), while fellow new-boy Henrikh Mkhitaryan compiled a hat rick of assists.

But the star of the game was a man who epitomises Arsenal. Aaron Ramsey is a talented player who has shown glimpses of what he is capable of over his career. Ramsey’s inconsistency is a metaphor for the entire Arsenal team, but against Everton he was on fire.

The Welshman netted a hat-rick, which can only mean one thing. Three celebrities will die this week.

If you are not aware of what I am talking about here is a list of celebrities who have died after Ramsey has scored a goal.

Bebe of the week

Bebe is widely considered Sir Alex Ferguson’s worst ever signing. The Bebe award is given to the most disappointing team from the week.

Chelsea

Things are not looking good at Stamford Bridge. The champions are a shadow of themselves and the end looks near for Antonio Conte.

The Blues conceded four goals against a Watford side that had won two of their previous 10 matches in the Premier League.

Chelsea have now conceded seven goals in their past two fixtures – four against the Hornets and three against Bournemouth.

The Blues have been the butt of all jokes this week and even their on-loan star Michy Batshuayi has gotten into the act, posting the tear emoji on Twitter after the defeat.

But there is one man who would be happy with the current situation and that’s Judas himself; Jose Mourinho.

Chelsea fans started calling Mourinho Judas last year when Manchester United travelled to Stamford Bridge. But as Mourinho said at the time “Judas is still number 1” until someone betters his record of three Premier League titles at the London club.

Player of the week

Henrikh Mkhitaryan

How can you go past the Armenians performance against Everton. Mkhitaryan contributed three assist, which moves him up to eight for the season and also had 42 total passes at a success of 79%. To top it off, the playmaker got a 9.91 match rating on WhoScored.com.

If he can continue this type of performance, Arsenal fans will long forget Alexis Sanchez.

Sportdot goal of the week

There were so many incredible goals this weekend that it is difficult for me to choose one.

That is why I am letting you, the loyal reader decide on the goal of the week.

Here are the nominees:

  1. Danilo – Manchester City 

2. Lemina – Southampton

3. Izquierdo – Brighton 

4. Wanyama – Tottenham 

5. Salah – Liverpool 

6. Hazard – Chelsea  

Retro clip

Munich Air Disaster News Report

This is the BBC News report on the evening of the Munich Air Disaster on the 6th of February 1958.

 

 

 

ENGLISH FOOTBALL TRANSFER WRAP (WEEK 5)

Tommy Elphick – Aston Villa to Reading (Loan)

Luke Amos – Tottenham to Stevenage (Loan)

Leonardo Ulloa – Leicester to Brighton (Loan)

Justin Shaibu – Brentford to Walsall (Loan)

Harry Toffolo – Norwich to Millwall (Undisclosed/Market value: A$397,000)

Gerard Deulofeu – Barcelona to Watford (Loan)

George Taft – Mansfield Town to Cambridge United (Loan)

Daniel Sturridge – Liverpool to West Brom (Loan)

Connor Mahoney – Bournemouth to Barnsley (Loan)

Charly Musonda – Chelsea to Celtic (Loan)

Caolan Lavery – Sheffield United to Rotherham United (Loan)

Boris Mathis – Everton to Northampton Town (Loan)

Baba Rahman – Chelsea to Schalke (Loan)

Ashley Smith-Brown – Manchester United to Oxford (Loan)

Anton Walkes – Tottenham to Portsmouth (Loan)

Ali Gabr – Zamalek to West Brom (Loan)

Adam King – Swansea to Mansfield Town (Loan)

Aaron Tshibola – Aston Villa to Kilmarnock (Loan)

Tim Cahill – Melbourne City to Millwall (Free)

Pascal Struijk – Ajax to Leeds United (Undisclosed)

Diafra Sakho – West Ham to Stade Rennes (A$15.9 million)

Tom Beadling – Sunderland to Dunfermline Athletic (Loan)

Tobias Figueiredo – Sporting Lisbon to Nottingham Forest (Loan)

Roque Mesa – Swansea to Sevilla (Loan)

Mauro Zarate – Watford to Velez Sarsfield (Loan)

Josh Tymon – Stoke City to MK Dons (Loan)

Joe Rodon – Swansea to Cheltenham Town (Loan)

Jack Harrison – New York City FC to Manchester City (A$6.35 million)

Jack Harrison – Manchester City to Middlesbrough (Loan)

Andrew Boyle – Preston North End to Doncaster Rovers (Loan)

Ahmed Musa – Leicester City to CSKA Moscow (Loan)

Marcus McGuane – Arsenal to Barcelona (Undisclosed)

Emerson Palmieri – Roma to Chelsea (A$31.76 million)

Dodi Lukebakio – Royal Charleroi SC to Watford (Undisclosed/Market value: A$4.76 million)

Diogo Jota – Atletico Madrid to Wolverhampton Wanderers (A$22.23 million)

Chiedozie Ogbene – Limerick FC to Brentford (Undisclosed)

Aymeric Laporte – Athletic Bilbao to Manchester City (A$103.21 million)

Tyler Walker – Nottingham Forest to Bolton Wanderers (Loan)

Todd Kane – Chelsea to Oxford (Loan)

Tin Plavotic – Bristol City to Barnet (Loan)

Thomas Anderson – Burnley to Doncaster Rovers (Loan)

Stephen Humphrys – Fulham to Rochdale (Loan)

Stephen Henderson – Nottingham Forest to Portsmouth (Loan)

Shayon Harrison – Tottenham to Southend United (Loan)

Sandro Ramirez – Everton to Sevilla (Loan)

Ryan Allsop – Bournemouth to Lincoln City (Loan)

Rolando Aarons – Newcastle United to Hellas Verona (Loan)

Reece Oxford – West Ham to Borussia Monchengladbach (Loan)

Reece Burke – West Ham to Bolton Wanderers (Loan)

Pontus Dahlberg – IFK to Watford (A$6.2 million)

Pontus Dahlberg – Watford to IFK (Loan)

Ovie Ejaria – Liverpool to Sunderland (Loan)

Olamide Shodipo – OPR to Colchester United (Loan)

Nathan Thomas – Sheffield United to Shrewsbury Town (Loan)

Muhamed Besic – Everton to Middlesbrough (Loan)

Moses Makasi – West Ham to Plymouth Argyle (Loan)

Monty Patterson – Ipswich to Wellington Phoenix (Loan)

Michy Batshuayi – Chelsea to Borussia Dortmund (Loan)

Matthew Willock – Manchester United to St Johnston (Loan)

Matt Penney – Sheffield Wednesday to Mansfield Town (Loan)

Martin Braithwaite – Middlesbrough to Bordeaux (Loan)

Marnick Vermijl – Preston North End to Scunthorpe United (Loan)

Louis Gray – Everton to Carlisle United (Loan)

Lloyd Jones – Liverpool to Lincoln City (Loan)

Lewis Grabban – Bournemouth to Aston Villa (Loan)

Lazar Markovic – Liverpool to Anderlecht (Loan)

Kyle Howkins – West Brom to Port Vale (Loan)

Krystian Bielik – Arsenal to Walsall (Loan)

Kasey Palmer – Chelsea to Derby (Loan)

Jon Flanagan – Liverpool to Bolton Wanderers (Loan)

Jeff Reine-Adelaide – Arsenal to Angers (Loan)

Jamie Sterry – Newcastle United to Crewe Alexandra (Loan)

Jacob Davenport – Manchester City to Burton Albion (Loan)

Jack Fitzwater – West Brom to Walsall (Loan)

Jack Colback – Newcastle United to Nottingham Forest (Loan)

Issac Success – Watford to Malaga (Loan)

Islam Slimani – Leicester City to Newcastle United (Loan)

Henri Saivet – Newcastle United to Sivasspor (Loan)

Harry Wilson – Liverpool to Hull City (Loan)

George Williams – Fulham to St Johnston (Loan)

Flynn Downes – Ipswich to Luton Town (Loan)

Eoin Doyle – Preston North End to Oldham Athletic (Loan)

Easah Suliman – Aston Villa to Grimsby Town (Loan)

Dylan Mottley- Henry – Barnsley to Chesterfield (Loan)

Didier N’Dong – Sunderland to Watford (Loan)

Costel Pantilimon – Watford to Nottingham Forest (Loan)

Chuba Akpom – Arsenal to Sint-Truidense (Loan)

Chris Martin – Derby County to Reading (Loan)

Benik Afobe – Bournemouth to Wolverhampton Wanderers (Loan)

Ben Stevenson – Coventry City to Wolverhampton Wanderers (A$794,000)

Ben Stevenson – Wolverhampton Wanderers to Colchester United (Loan)

Ben Marshall – Wolverhampton Wanderers to Millwall (Loan)

Ben Hall – Brighton to Notts County (Loan)

Andy King – Leicester City to Swansea (Loan)

Aleksander Mitrovic – Newcastle United to Fulham (Loan)

Ademola Lookman – Everton to RB Leipzig (Loan)

Mustapha Carayol – Nottingham Forest to Ipswich Town (Free)

Matthew Mills – Nottingham Forest to Barnsley (Free)

Mathieu Debuchy – Arsenal to St Etienne (Free)

Louis Dodds – Shrewsbury Town to Chesterfield (Free)

Ashkan Dejagah – Nottingham Forest (Free)

Tyler Roberts – West Brom to Leeds United (A$4.53 million)

Roy Beerens – Reading to Vitesse Arnhem (Undisclosed/Market value: A$2.38 million)

Papa Alioune Ndiaye – Galatasaray to Stoke City (A$25.40 million)

Oliver Giroud – Arsenal to Chelsea (A$27 million)

Matej Kovar – FC Slovacko to Manchester United (Undisclosed/Market value: A$80,000)

Lucas Moura – PSG to Tottenham (A$45.1 million)

Jordan Stevens – Forest Green Rovers to Leeds United (Undisclosed)

Jordan Hugill – Preston North End to West Ham (Undisclosed/Market value: A$4.76 million)

Joe Lolley – Huddersfield Town to Nottingham Forest (Undisclosed/Market value: A$794,000)

Jack Withers – Boston United to Swansea (Undisclosed)

Glenn Middleton – Norwich City to Rangers (Undisclosed)

Gary Madine – Bolton Wanderers to Cardiff City (Undisclosed/Market value: A$477,000)

Freddie Ladapo – Crystal Palace to Southend United (Undisclosed/Market value: A$395,000)

Angus MacDonald – Barnsley to Hull City (Undisclosed/Market value: A$1.6 million)

Andre Ayew – West Ham to Swansea (A$36.20 million)

Admir Mehmedi – Bayer Leverkusen to VFL Wolfsburg (A$12.70 million)

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – Borussia Dortmund to Arsenal (A$98.80 million)

https://twitter.com/Sporf/status/959120194365984769

*Market value’s courtesy of Transfermarkt.co.uk 

 

 

The week that was – FA Cup

News

VAR controversy

Image courtesy: Goal.com

It seems no matter what country it is being used in, VAR is causing a lot of havoc. The technology was used twice in the match between Liverpool and West Brom. First it was used to rule out an early West Brom goal from Craig Dwason for offside.

It was then used on the pitch-side monitor by referee Craig Pawson – the first time the on-field review has occurred in English football – to change his decision and award a penalty to Liverpool, after Jake Livermore fouled Mohamed Salah. Fortunately for West Brom, Roberto Firmino missed his spot kick.

After the game Baggies manager Alan Pardew said the first goal would not have been disallowed without VAR’s intervention.

Pardew also complained that nobody watching in the stadium knew what was happening.

“In the stadium it was bizarre,” Pardew told the BBC. “There’s no screen for us. It’s not like tennis, we were completely in the dark.”

Sooky Pep cries foul

For a man on top of the league, Pep Guardiola sure does complain a lot. The Manchester City manager has urged the referees to protect the players more after it was reported Leroy Sane will be out for two to four weeks with an ankle injury, following a physical tackle from Cardiff full-back Joe Bennett.

“It’s his ankle. I have said many times – the only thing they [the officials] have to do is protect the players,” Guardiola told the BBC.

“But please protect the players. Not the Manchester City players, [all] the players. The only thing they can do is that: protect the players. Or it will happen again. The players are the artists and you have to take care of them. That’s why you are here and why I’m here. For them, the players.”

It’s not the only topic Guardiola has complained about this week. The Spaniard said he has been restrained from making big money purchases by Manchester City’s budget.

“Their salaries we cannot pay. There are budgets for the transfers and we cannot pay. In the future, it may change but we haven’t paid more than £80m-£100m for one player. We cannot pay that right now, it is the truth.”

In Guardiola’s two seasons at the club, Manchester City have spent A$639 million on player acquisitions, more than Manchester United have spent in that time. Three of the five biggest transfer fees paid for defenders have been by Guardiola at City. The Sky Blues are also about to spend close to A$100 million on Athletic Bilbao centre-back Aymeric Laporte.

I think I will end the argument with the words of Cardiff manager Neil Warnock.

“City dished out a bit, as well. He [Guardiola] is in England. What do you expect? I suppose when you’re like that you want everything to be nice and pretty but you don’t get that in England. You get different challenges, don’t you?”

Gunners edge closer to Aubameyang

Arsenal are close to finalising a deal for Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

The deal is believed to be in the region of A$105 million and will allow Oliver Giroud to move to Chelsea.

Aubameyang has netted 13 goals in the Bundesliga this season and will be expected to link up with former Dortmund colleage Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Results

Sheffield Wednesday 3-1 Reading

Yeovil Town 0-4 Manchester United

Peterborough 1-5 Leicester

Southampton 1-0 Watford

MK Dons 0-1 Coventry

Hull City 2-1 Nottingham Forest

Millwall 2-2 Rochdale

Sheffield United 1-0 Preston North End

Middlesbrough 0-1 Brighton

Huddersfield 1-1 Birmingham

Notts County 1-1 Swansea

Wigan 2-0 West Ham

Newport County 1-1 Tottenham

Liverpool 2-3 West Brom

Chelsea 3-0 Newcastle

Cardiff 0-2 Manchester City

Sir Alex Ferguson award

The Sir Alex Ferguson of the week is awarded to the best-performed team of the week.

West Brom

West Brom have had a difficult time in the Premier League this season, but their form in the FA Cup has been a highlight. Liverpool went into the tie with a 19-game unbeaten home record. The Baggies on the other hand entered the match sitting last in the Premier League and had lost 12 of their 20 away matches. In a match filled with controversy – courtesy of VAR, West Brom held on for a 3-2 victory. Former Southampton striker Jay Rodriguez was the hero netting two goals.

Bebe of the week

Bebe is widely considered Sir Alex Ferguson’s worst ever signing. The Bebe award is given to the most disappointing team from the week.

Liverpool

How can you not go past Loserpool (sorry I mean Liverpool). The Reds are the gift that keeps on giving. With the thrilling three up front and a A$122 million defender in the team, the Reds were expected to easily account for a side sitting bottom of the Premier League. But as is the case, the Reds failed to land the knock out punch and have now been knocked out of the FA Cup in the fourth round for the fourth consecutive year under Jurgen Klopp. Ironically the man who tormented the Reds was former Southampton player Jay Rodriguez. Liverpool have purchased six players from the Saints since 2014, yet the one player they didn’t purchase was the one who single handily beat them. Maybe Rodriguez will be in Liverpool’s summer transfer plans.

Player of the week

Will Grigg

West Ham’s defence was terrified because Will Grigg was on fire. The man with the best chant in world football has been a revelation in the FA Cup, scoring six goals in four games. Grigg scored both of Wigan’s goals to send the Hammers packing from the cup. Hopefully Grigg continues to perform so us fans can keep singing his song.

Sportdot goal of the week

Jesse Lingard

Could Lingard be a bolter for the Ballon d’Or? The Manchester United star has been a revelation this season, becoming a first team starter and scoring 12 goals in all competitions. Lingard has always had the knack of scoring stunning goals and his run and shot against Yeovil Town is Messi-esque. Watch him be a star at the World Cup.

Retro clip

1973 FA Cup Final

Mighty Leeds United were the reigning FA Cup holders when they came up against Second Division Sunderland in the 1973 FA Cup Final. Ian Porterfield first half strike gave the Black Cats the lead and Leeds responded but throwing everything at goalkeeper Jim Montgomery.

Montgomery stood tall and produced one of the best goalkeeping displays ever seen, with the highlight being an amazing double save.

When the full time whistle sounded, Sunderland manager Bob Stokoe ran on to the pitch to celebrate, a celebration that has been captured in a stature at the Stadium of Light.

One of the true football fairy tales.

English Football Transfer Wrap (Week 4)

Ryan Loft – Tottenham to Exeter City (Loan)

Michal Zyro – Wolverhampton Wanderers to Charlton Athletic (Loan)

Matt Targett – Southampton to Fulham (Loan)

Mateusz Klich – Leeds United to FC Utrecht (Loan)

Kenny McLean – Aberdeen to Norwich City (A$357,460)

Kenny McLean – Norwich City to Aberdeen (Loan)

Erdal Rakip – Benfica to Crystal Palace (Loan)

Alexis Sanchez – Arsenal to Manchester United (Swap)

Henrikh Mkhitaryan – Manchester United to Arsenal (Swap)

It is very rare to see swap deals in football but surely the Sanchez/Mkhitaryan swap is up their with Zlatan Ibrahimovic/Samuel Eto’o as the biggest swap deal of all time. Arsenal fans may not see it now, but in the long term the deal will end up being a win/win for both clubs. Sanchez was in the final six months of his contract and could have walked away from the club for free at the end of the season. Instead, Manchester United swapped Mkhitaryan for the Chilean star. Mkhitaryan had a horrid time under Mourinho but expect him to return to his best at Arsenal. The Armenian suits Arsenal’s passing style of play and if played in his preferred position of central attacking midfield, he will create numerous opportunities for Alexandre Lacazette or possibly Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Sanchez on the other hand will be given licence to cut in from the left or right wings at United. Given he is available for the Champions League, Sanchez’s arrival is a bargain in terms of todays transfer market.

Tommy Smith – Ipswich Town to Colorado Rapids (Undisclosed/Market value: A$2.38 million)

Ritchie de Laet – Aston Villa to Antwerp (Loan)

Kenedy – Chelsea to Newcastle United (Loan)

Jaroslaw Jach – Zaglebie Lubin to Crystal Palace (A$3.49 million)

Aaron Lennon – Everton to Burnley (Undisclosed/Market value: A$7.92 million)

Harry Souttar – Stoke to Ross County (Loan)

Paul Rooney – Millwall to Colchester United (Undisclosed) 

Shaun Miller – Carlisle United to Crewe Alexandra (Loan)

Lois Diony – St Etienne to Bristol City (Loan)

Kevin O’Connor – Preston North End to Fleetwood Town (Loan)

Jason Shackell – Derby County to Millwall (Loan)

Axel Tuanzebe – Manchester United to Aston Villa (Loan)

Onel Hernandez – TSV Eintracht Braunschweig to Norwich City (A$3.17 million)

Matthew Palmer – Burton Albion to Rotherham United (A$633,920)

Guido Carrillo – AS Monaco to Southampton (A$34 million)

Southampton paid a club record transfer fee to secure the exciting Carrillo from Monaco. The 18th placed Saints have found scoring difficult this season, netting only 24 goals in 24 games. Carrillo will need to hit the ground running to help the Saints avoid relegation. 

Dennis Srbeny – Paderborn to Norwich City (A$2.36 million)

Stephen Warnock – Burton Albion to Bradford City (Loan)

Matthew Lund – Burton Albion to Bradford City (Loan)

Bradford’s three signings – Matthew Lund, Ryan McGowan and Stephen Warnock. 

Ryan McGowan – Al-Sharjah to Bradford City (Free)

Australian international Ryan McGowan has swapped the UAE for Yorkshire in the quest to impress new Socceroo’s manager Bert van Marwijk. The 28-year-old defender arrives at Bradford on a free transfer, subject to an international clearance.

Mallik Wilks – Leeds United to Grimsby Town (Loan)

Joao Mario – Inter Milan to West Ham (Loan)

Jacob Bruun Larsen – Borussia Dortmund to VFB Stuttgart (Loan)

Darren Bent – Derby County to Burton Albion (Loan)

It’s a vast contrast from the big money moves that have highlighted Darren Bent’s career, but the move to Burton Albion could be just a pivotal. Bent – one of only 26 players to have netted more than 100 goals in the Premier League, arrives at the Brewers hoping to help the team avoid relegation from the Championship. The Brewers sit in last place, one point below safety. Scoring has been a struggle for the Brewers, who have netted 21 goals in 28 matches. But with vast experience and a knack for finding the net, Bent has the opportunity to become a club hero by helping the side avoid the drop.

Duckens Nazon – Wolverhampton Wanderers to Oldham Athletic (Loan)

Andy Firth – Liverpool to Chester FC (Loan)

Shaun Donnellan – West Brom to Yeovil Town (Free)

Tony Gallacher – Falkirk to Liverpool (A$358,000)

*Market value’s courtesy of Transfermarkt.co.uk 

 

The week that was in the Premier League – Matchweek 24

News

Alexis and Micki do a little switcharoo

Unless you have been living under a rock you would have heard that Alexis Sanchez and Henrikh Mkhitaryan have switched teams. Sanchez joins Manchester United on a four-and-a-half year deal, earning A$877,000 a week. In an exclusive interview with Manchester United, Sanchez said he was thrilled to be joining the “biggest club in the world”.

“I am thrilled to be joining the biggest club in the world. I have spent three-and-a-half wonderful years at Arsenal and I bring with me very positive memories of that great club and its fans.”

“The chance to play in this historic stadium and to work with Jose Mourinho was something I could not turn down. I am very proud to be the first Chilean player ever to play for United’s first team and I hope I can show our fans all around the world why the club wanted to bring me here.”

After only 39 games over a season and a half at Manchester United, Henrikh Mkhitaryan will be looking to resurrect his career at Arsenal. Mkhitaryan was crowned Bundesliga Assist Leader in 2015/16 and has been voted Armenian Footballer of the Year eight times.

“I’m very happy that we could finish this deal and I’m very happy to be here. It’s a dream come true because I’ve always dreamed of playing for Arsenal. Now that I’m here, I’ll do my best for this club to create history,” Mkhitaryan said in an exclusive interview on the Arsenal website.

Both players will wear number 7 at their new clubs.

Marco Silva sacked by Watford

Credit: Sky Sports

It’s incredible to think a manager so highly regarded could be sacked so early in his tenure. But as is the case in modern football, Marco Silva is now looking for a new gig.

Silva made his desire known that he wanted the Everton job after only eight games in charge of Watford. At the time Watford were sitting fourth on the table. Since then the Hornets have slipped to 10th, winning one of their past 11 games.

Former Malaga manager Javi Gracia has been appointed Watford’s new coach on a 18 month deal.

The 47-year-old is the 10th manager to work for Watford under the Pozzo family since 2012.

Pioneer Regis passes away

Cyrille Regis, known as the pioneer for black footballers in Britain passed away aged 59. Regis began his career with West Brom in 1977, scoring two goals on debut against Rotherham United. At the Baggies, Regis played with fellow black players Laurie Cinningham and Brendon Batson. The three were given the nickname ‘Three Degree’s’ and were racially abused by opposition players and fans. Despite the abuse, the three became known as trailblazers and inspired the second generation of black footballers. Former Manchester United and Aston Villa striker Dion Dublin last week recalled the impact Regis had on his life.

Results

Brighton 0-4 Chelsea

West Ham 1-1 Bournemouth

Stoke 2-0 Huddersfield

Leicester 2-0 Watford

Everton 1-1 West Brom

Burnley 0-1 Manchester United

Arsenal 4-1 Crystal Palace

Manchester City 3-1 Newcastle

Brighton 0-4 Chelsea

Southampton 1-1 Tottenham

Swansea 1-0 Liverpool

Sir Alex Ferguson of the week

The Sir Alex Ferguson of the week is awarded to the best-performed team of the week.

Chelsea

A flawless performance by a Chelsea side under heavy scrutiny. Heading into the game the Blues had played in three consecutive scoreless draws. But from the get go Chelsea looked a team in form. Chelsea took the lead in the third minute through Eden Hazard before Willian capped off a brilliant build up play to double the lead three minutes later.

Hazard then scored a delicious solo goal in the 77th minutes, before Victor Moses capped off a dominant display by finding space behind the Brighton defence.

After this performance do Chelsea still need Peter Crouch?

Bebe of the week

Bebe is widely considered Sir Alex Ferguson’s worst ever signing. The Bebe award is given to the most disappointing team from the week.

Liverpool

How can you not give it to the boys from Merseyside. A week after trouncing the top of the table Manchester City, Liverpool somehow managed to lose to bottom place Swansea. Liverpool have a habit of disappointing their fans, but surely this has to be one of the most disappointing. Swansea look a rabble, but against the Reds they looked like a ‘silky gazelle’ (credit: Will Ferrell).

In the wake of their horrendous defeat here is my version on the crazed ‘Sugar Sugar’ song sweeping through Merseyside.

Losers doo doo doo doo do do,

Liverpool are losers doo doo doo do do.

You go and beat Man City,

But you can’t beat Swansea.

That’s right you can’t because you suck!

Player of the week

Eden Hazard

How can you go past the magician from Chelsea? Hazard’s performance against Brighton had it all. Two magnificent goals, nine dribbles and to cap it off, he gave his shirt to a young fan in the crowd, showing what a genuine good guy he is.

Imagine where Chelsea would be this year without him? I can guarantee they wouldn’t be in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

 Sportdot Goal of the week

Sergio Aguero

It seems every goal of the week award has a sponsor so why should I not do the same? Aguero’s goal is all about the incredible set up by Leroy Sane. Sane has been electrifying this year and showing signs of being a future Ballon d’Or winner. His dribbling is Messi esque. This goal can be replayed time after time.

 Retro clip of the week

Malcolm Allison v Alan Mullery

I came across this clip earlier in the week and thought I needed to create a segment to show the wider public this incredible video. The confrontation takes place in the wake of the 1970 World Cup. Malcolm Allison was the manager of Manchester City at the time and was doing some television work for British network ITV during the World Cup. Allison criticised the performance for Alan Mullery, who later got word of this and thought it was wise to challenge Allison live on air. Truly captivating television that will never be seen again.

 

English Football Transfer Wrap (Week 3)

Marcus Edwards – Tottenham to Norwich City (Loan)

Jason Cummings – Nottingham Forest to Rangers (Loan)

Ricky Holmes – Charlton Athletic to Sheffield United (A$701,260)

30-year-old Ricky Holmes said his move to Sheffield United was a no brainer. The winger has been heavily criticised by Charlton fans on social media, but Holmes said at his age, moving to Sheffield United may be his last chance to play in the Premier League. The Blades sit in the playoff positions in the Championship and are potentially 19 games away from promotion to the top tier. For Holmes, the decision to leave Charlton for Sheffield was about completing a life-long dream.

https://twitter.com/ricky_holmes/status/952939959777923072

Russell Martin – Norwich City to Rangers (Loan)

Kean Bryan – Manchester City to Oldham Athletic (Loan)

Jack Payne – Huddersfield Town to Blackburn Rovers (Loan)

Michael Madl – Fulham to Austria Vienna (Undisclosed/Market value: A$1.6 million)

Michael Madl departs Fulham.

Keshi Anderson – Crystal Palace to Swindon Town (Undisclosed/Market value: A$155,840)

Cameron Jerome – Norwich City to Derby County (A$2.65 million)

Derby have boosted their attacking options with the signing of 31-year-old striker Cameron Jerome. The deal is seen as a huge step towards promotion for the Derbyshire club. The Rams sit second on the table but have had little output from their strikers. Attacking midfielder Matej Vydra has netted 15 goals this season, nine more than forwards David Nugent and Sam Winnall. Jerome has only scored one goal for Norwich this season, but has netted 124 goals in his career.

Martin Samuelsen – West Ham to Burton Albion (Loan)

Marko Grukic – Liverpool to Cardiff City (Loan)

Marcus Tavernier – Middlesbrough to MK Dons (Loan)

Deniss Rakels – QPR to Cracovia (Loan)

Theo Walcott – Arsenal to Everton (A$35.06 million)

Walcott unveiled at Everton.

After 12 years of service, Theo Walcott departed Arsenal with his belongings in a bin bag. The winger has been at the Gunners since the age of 16, but a lack of game time this season has seen him move to Everton. Walcott thanked Arsene Wenger for giving him the opportunity at such a young age and said he is looking forward to working with Sam Allardyce. Walcott was the third-highest scoring Englishman in the Premier League last season with 19 goals, behind Harry Kane and Dele Alli.

Brandon Comley – QPR to Colchester United (Undisclosed)

Cameron Carter-Vickers – Tottenham to Ipswich Town (Loan)

Daniel Pinillos – Cordoba to Barnsley (Undisclosed/Market value: A$ 468,300)

*Market value’s courtesy of Transfermarkt.co.uk 

Press for success – How Liverpool beat Manchester City

Liverpool did it.

Manchester City’s unbeaten run is over. The Reds 4-3 victory over the top of the table City makes them the one in 22 and 1.

Liverpool fans can rejoice, while the rest of the Premier League can take note; Manchester City are not unbeatable as once thought.

But how did Liverpool achieve the feat that 18 other Premier League teams failed accomplish?

When Manchester United took on City in early December, Jose Mourinho set his side up to defend first and counter City on the attack. The tactics were rightfully criticised and the result all but confirmed City as the title winners.

Liverpool also went out to defend, but instead of sitting back and waiting for City to attack them, the Reds intended to defend on the attack.

“The plan was to defend as well as we could all over the pitch and then attack them when we could,” Liverpool’s Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlin said after the game.

City and Liverpool are the top two scorers in the league. Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp are known for their attacking play and the match was always built up to be an exhibition of attacking football.

Klopp’s philosophy is all about pressing. Klopp has previously said his teams pressing is ‘out of this world’ and the stats prove the press has been a success.

Since taking charge of Liverpool in 2015, the Reds have scored 187 goals at a rate of 2.1 per game.

This year with Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino up front, the Reds have scored 54 goals.

Outscoring City was the only way Liverpool were going to win and to do that they had to be ruthless in front of goal.

City have been unstoppable, but there was always a question mark over their defence.

In their 0-0 draw to Crystal Palace at the start of 2018, City were pressed high up the pitch, which isolated their defenders in one on one battles with the Palace forwards. Whilst defending individually City’s defence made uncharacteristic errors and conceded a clumsy penalty. Fortunately for for the Sky Blues, Palace failed to capitalise on the mistakes.

Against better opposition City would not be as fortunate, as was the case against Liverpool.

The Sky Blues set up in a 4.3.3 formation and tried to play out from the back as much as they could. They went down a goal, courtesy of an Oxlaide-Chamberlin screamer, but levelled the scores just before half time through Leroy Sane.

The second goal City conceded was all to do with Liverpool’s press. Georginio Wijnaldum and Oxlaide-Chamberlin double teamed Kevin De Bruyne, who lost possession of the ball, before Oxlaide-Chamberlin put through an inch perfect pass for Firmino to finish off with a goal.

Georginio Wijnaldum and Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlin double teaming De Bruyne. Image courtesy of BBC’s ‘Match of the Day’.

The third goal was again created by pressure. Four Liverpool players swarmed Fernandinho, who coughed the ball up in the middle of the ground, which then led to a Mane stunner.

Four Reds swarm Fernandinho. Image courtesy of BBC’s ‘Match of the Day’.

The final goal was all to do with perceived pressure. Ederson has a pass completion rate of 85.3 per cent, but with the speedy trio of Mane, Firmino and Salah hot on his heel, the goalkeeper ran out of his box to win the ball and then erratically gave the ball away to Salah, who scored a long range chip.

Despite three of the four goals coming off the back of pressure, the best example of the Reds press came in the 74th minute, when left-back Andrew Robertson performed a continuous press that saw him end up in the right wing position.

Some people believe pressing is a simple task that can be performed by any fit side. But if that was the case, every team would have been able to achieve what Liverpool accomplished and Manchester City would not have been undefeated in 22 games this season.

According to Alan Shearer on the BBC’s Match of the Day, teams need “energy, pace, legs, courage and belief” to play the way Liverpool did.

Shearer also said only Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham have the capability to deploy the same tactics.

But that won’t stop other teams from trying. The rest of the league will try to deploy the same tactics and force City’s defence into one of one defending.

The first challenger will be Newcastle this weekend and it will be interesting to see how they set up against the wounded ladder leaders.

English Football Transfer Wrap (Week 2)

Kevin Mirallas – Everton to Olympiakos (Loan)

Kevin Mirallas

Jamie Murphy – Brighton to Rangers (Loan)

Joe Lumley – QPR to Blackpool (Loan)

Jake Clark-Salter – Chelsea to Sunderland (Loan)

Charles Vernam – Derby County to Grimsby Town (Loan)

Philippe Coutinho – Liverpool to Barcelona (A$192 million)

Liverpool’s ‘Fab Four’ has been broken up after the Red’s accepted Barcelona’s offer for the Brazilian star. The A$192 million fee is the second largest fee paid for a player. Barcelona vice-president Jordi Mestre claimed Liverpool slashed their price for Coutinho, which has been poorly received by Liverpool fans, who were assured the club did all they could to keep hold onto the playmaker. The deal has been in the pipework’s since Barcelona sold Neymar to PSG in the summer transfer window. It will be interesting to see how Liverpool invests the money.

Barcelona new man Philippe Coutinho

Emilio Nsue – Birmingham City to APOEL Nicosia (Undisclosed/Market value: A$2.32 million)

Kieffer Moore – Ipswich Town to Barnsley (Undisclosed/Market value: A$309,000)

Jack Price – Wolverhampton Wanderers to Colorado Rapids (Undisclosed/Market value: A$1.03 million)

Jack Livesey – Partick Thistle to Burton Albion (Undisclosed)

Yosuke Ideguchi – Gamba Osaka to Leeds United (Undisclosed/Market value: A$1.52 million)

Yosuke Ideguchi – Leeds United to Cultural Leonesa (Loan)

Georges-Kevin N’Koudou – Tottenham to Burnley (Loan)

Elijah Adebayo – Fulham to Cheltenham Town (Loan)

Ben Pringle – Preston North End to Oldham Athletic (Loan)

Adam Armstrong – Newcastle United to Blackburn Rovers (Loan)

Ryan Leonard – Southend United to Sheffield United (Undisclosed/Market value: A$ 771,780)

Ryan Delaney – Burton Albion to Rochdale (Undisclosed/Market value: A$ 154,360)

Moritz Bauer – FK Rubin Kazan to Stoke (A$ 8.65 million)

Luke Hendrie – Burnley to Shrewsbury Town (Undisclosed/Market value: A$385,890)

James Wilson – Manchester United to Sheffield United (Loan)

It’s been a tough time for James Wilson. After recovering from an ACL injury, Wilson has had to shoulder the goal scoring burden for the relegation bound Manchester United under 23 side. Wilson began the season slowly but has recaptured his best form and scored seven goals in his final eight games. The striker will being hoping he can help Sheffield United claw there way back into the automatic promotion places in the Sky Bet Championship. The Blades won only one game in December and now sit sixth on the table.

James Wilson

Lee Evans – Wolverhampton Wanderers to Sheffield United (A$ 1.4 million)

Ryan Blair – Fulham to Falkirk (Loan)

Matty Virtue – Liverpool to Notts County (Loan)

Ivan Toney – Newcastle to Scunthorpe United (Loan)

Donovan Wilson – Wolverhampton Wanderers to Port Vale (Loan)

Laurens De Bock – Club Brugge to Leeds United (A$2.66 million)

Francis Coquelin – Arsenal to Valencia (A$21.86 million)

Coquelin has been much maligned during his time at Arsenal. But in his first press conference after departing Arsenal for Valencia, the defensive midfielder said the only reason he left the club was for the sake of his career. After returning from a loan spell at Charlton in 2014, Coquelin became an integral part of the Gunners midfield, playing his best football when partnered with Santi Cazorla. This season has been a struggle for the Frenchman, who only featured 13 times for the Gunners in all competitions. Coquelin departs after making 160 appearances for the Gunners.

Benjamin Whiteman – Sheffield United to Doncaster Rovers (Undisclosed/Market value: A$234,270)

Ryan Kent – Liverpool to Bristol City (Loan)

Isaac Buckley-Ricketts – Manchester City to Oxford United (Loan)

Harry Charsley – Everton to Bolton Wanderers (Loan)

Noor Husin – Crystal Palace to Notts County (Undisclosed)

Alex Pritchard – Norwich City to Huddersfield Town (A$19.30 million)

Former Tottenham academy product Alex Pritchard joined Huddersfield Town on a three and a half year deal. The attacking midfielder made nine appearances for Norwich this season, scoring one goal and creating two assist. Huddersfield manager David Wagner said Pritchard is the perfect type of player he likes to work with. “Alex is a young, British player who arrives as one of the top performers in the Sky Bet Championship and with a desire to prove himself in the Premier League.”

Nathan McGinley – Middlesbrough to Wycombe Wanderers (Loan)

Fousseni Diabate – GFC Ajaccio to Leicester City (A$3.13 million)

 

*Market value’s courtesy of Transfermarkt.co.uk 

The Hulk Hogan sex tape

Hulk Hogan, the man children of the 80’s so fondly admired has successfully sued website Gawker, US$ 115 million for publishing a sex tape involving the wrestling icon and his best friends wife.

I know what you are all thinking. Who the hell would want to see a balding, 62 year old man, with the dress sense and vocabulary of a tween, performing moves in the bedroom, resembling his last great performance at Wrestlemania 3?

Of course it would have to be the same people who get a thrill from watching a balding, 62 year old man, with the dress sense and vocabulary of a tween doing his best work in a wrestling ring.

Well that’s what Gawker believed when they published the sex tape.

So lets begin from the start of how this incident occurred. Hogan said his friend, Bubba ‘The Love Sponge’ Clem (what is a love sponge?) told him in a phone call that his wife, Heather wanted to have sex with him.

Hogan, shocked but ever so generous, accepted the invite to sleep with his best friends wife.

Hogan had a suspicion that his friend may have been recording the relations, but for reasons that could not be explained, the Hulkster carried through with the deed.

Speaking in court, Hogan said he felt “humiliated” by the video and had not been the same man since it was published.

The last time Hogan felt this humiliated, he was swinging on a wrecking ball, wearing a thong.

But how humiliated was Hogan by the sex tape. Gawker lawyers went out of their way to prove Hogan has never been afraid to shy away from the topic of sex, as heard in a radio interview from 2006.

The interview centred around Hogan’s (cough) manhood. Yes we mean his Willy Wonka.

Gawker lawyers wanted to prove the Hulkster’s manhood is not as big as he proclaims.

The discussion was so off topic that we will skip the remainder of it for the sake of our readers.

To lighten up the mood, here’s a gif of a cute panda.

Now back to the main event. Gawker lawyers claimed that Hogan was humiliated by the video as it showed him racially vilifying his daughter’s boyfriend at the time, rapper Stacks.

The racial rant led to the WWE firing Hogan last year and removing all Hulk Hogan related products from their online store.

The only other time the WWE has abandoned someone so abruptly was when superstar, Chris Benoit murdered his son and wife before committing suicide.

The Gawker wanted to prove that Hogan’s lack of income in the past year was the reason behind his decision to sue the website.

But with his home town jury supporting him, Hogan was the victor in the grudge match that ended with him becoming $115 million richer and feeling good about himself once again.

The Collingwood and Richmond trade war

It was a war that should never have happened. A war that saw one club bankrupt and the other on the brink of extinction.

Collingwood and Richmond have never gotten along.The cross-town rivals have shared a history that dates back to the 1920s, when the Tigers claimed their first premiership in the 1920 grand final.

Collingwood sought their revenge by trouncing the Tigers in three successive grand finals between1927 to 1929.

Tensions between the clubs were so fierce that Richmond immortal Jack Dyer confessed he could not watch black and white television because of his hatred for the Magpies.

But for all of their history, nothing would prepare the clubs for the bitter trade wars of the early 1980’s.

Richmond and Collingwood began the decade by squaring off in the 1980 Grand Final. In front of 113,461 fans, the Tigers defeated the Magpies by 81 points to win their 10th VFL premiership.

With a side full of youth, the Tigers were expected to dominate the decade and be become one of the most successful teams in VFL history.

However, the Tigers failed to make the finals in 1981 and sacked coach Tony Jewell.

Former player Francis Bourke was appointed coach in 1982 and guided the Tigers to the Grand Final. But in wet conditions the Tigers were no match for Carlton, who ran away with an 18-point victory.

While Richmond was mourning the Grand Final defeat, Collingwood were in the midst of an evolution.

For the first time in six years the Magpies failed to make the finals. The Collingwood board were criticised for being conservative and the lack of improvement saw rebel groups challenge the board for power of the club.

One of these rebel groups was the ‘New Magpies’, who were led by well know media identity and businessman Ranald McDonald.

McDonald and the‘New Magpies’ promised fans if elected onto the board they would embark on one of the biggest recruiting campaigns ever seen in VFL history.

Ranald McDonald

An election was called and the ‘New Magpies’ gained power of the club.

Collingwood historian Michael Roberts recalls the ‘New Magpies’ early promises.

“They [the ‘New Magpies’] went out to spend big money and buy a premiership. It was a charged environment under that regime and that mean’t they were spending big money and that mean’t clubs who were poached by Collingwood got a bit more pissed off.”

Richmond was one of the clubs annoyed by the Collingwood recruiting strategy.

In the wake of the grand final defeat, club legends David Cloke and Geoff Raines asked for pay increases to compliment their service to the Tigers.

According to former player Dale Weigtman in his book ‘Saving our skins and other tiger tales’, the duo had requested pay increases after discovering 20-year-old forward Brian Taylor was on a larger salary.

Livid by the perceived lack of respect shown towards the club, Richmond secretary Graeme Richmond did not accept the request.

“Graeme Richmond had this attitude that you don’t tell us what you are worth, we tell you,” Richmond historian Bill Meaklim said.

Graeme Richmond

News of the player unrest reached Collingwood and the Magpies offered the pair the money they were seeking.

Losing the well-loved players to their fiercest rival infuriated Richmond, who began plotting their revenge.

“Guys like Cloke and Raines were royalty at Richmond and Richmond were understandably pissed off,” said Roberts.

David Cloke and Geoff Raines

The Tigers tried signing Collingwood icon Peter Daicos, but a conversation with his father persuaded Daicos to stay at the Magpies.

With Daicos rejecting a move, the Tigers set their sights on Phil Walsh and John Annear.

Walsh was named Collingwood’s best first year player in 1983 and the move hurt Magpie fans.

“He [Walsh] was a very popular player,” Roberts said.

“The fans loved him and from that moment it was a realisation that this was a war.”

Collingwood hit back by securing Brian Taylor in 1985, while Richmond poached Wally Lovett, Neil Peart and Craig Stewart.

But the effects of the war were beginning to take its toll. While Collingwood were getting the best out of their recruits, Richmond’s signings failed to impress.

“What we did was dopey,” Meaklim said.

“While Collingwood were get- ting hundreds of games from Cloke, Raines and Taylor, we got ordinary players who played under 50 games.”

“The money we spent on transfers would have been enough to pay Cloke and Raines what they wanted.”

Collingwood returned to the finals in 1984, while Richmond struggled in the lower half of the ladder.

Over a four-year period, the ‘New Magpies’ spent $1.8 million on player acquisitions.

In 1986, the Magpies were on the verge bankruptcy, but found enough money to pay off their debts.

“We got a stay of execution of a couple of weeks and that gave us the time we needed to settle things down a bit,” Roberts said.

Richmond were not so lucky. Disappointing on-field results saw the club sack four coaches in a five-year period. In 1990 Richmond declared they needed to raise $1 million by October 31 or face extinction.

The Save Our Skins campaign was established and saw the club rattle tins for survival.

“Tins were taken everywhere to raise the money. A legend match was planned at Windy Hill and it got a crowd of over 23,000,” recalls Meaklim.

Amongst the many who donated to the cause was the Collingwood Football Club.

It is unclear why the Magpies donated to the Richmond fund. But what is clear is no matter how strained the relationship became, both clubs needed each other for survival.