Kevin De Bruyne faces lengthy stint on the sidelines after training mishap

Manchester City star Kevin De Bryne faces a lengthy stint on the sidelines after suffering a knee injury at training.

The midfielder will have tests on a right knee injury he suffered at training on Wednesday.

It is understood De Bruyne could miss at least two to three months of the season.

De Bruyne attended the premier of Manchester City’s documentary ‘All or Nothing’ on crutches.

The playmaker was City’s Player of the Season last term, scoring 12 goals and providing 21 assists as his side won the Premier League and EFL Cup.

In 2016, the Belgium missed 12 games after injuring his knee during the EFL Cup semi-final victory over Everton.

The injury will come as a blow to City, who are trying to defend their Premier League crown.

Manager Pep Guardiola aimed to sign a central midfielder in the summer, but failed in his attempts to sign Jorginho, who joined Chelsea instead.

This year the English transfer window closed before the start of the Premier League season.

The De Bruyne injury will only reinforce the need for the transfer window to return to its September 1 deadline, because if it were still open City would have the opportunity to purchase a replacement.

2018/19 Premier League Season Preview

Arsenal

In – Stephan Lichtsteiner (Free), Bernd Leno (Undisclosed), Sokratis Papastathopoulos (Undisclosed), Lucas Torreira (Undisclosed), Matteo Guendouzi (Undisclosed)

Out – Per Mertesacker (Retired), Santi Cazorla (Released), Jack Wilshere (Released), Chuba Akpom (Undisclosed)

Position last season: 6th

This season will be a very interesting one for the Gunners. For the first time in 21 years, Arsenal is going into a new season with a new manager. Club icon Arsene Wenger finally handed over the reins last season, with Spaniard Unai Emery taking over the helm. It is just too difficult to tell how they will go this season. Will they play a brand new style of football? Will they return to the top four and finally finish on top of the table? Will their results be consistent over the course of the year? We eagerly await.

New Arsenal coach Unai Emery

Arsenal have made some very solid signings and it looks as though its reputation of hardly signing anyone has been nullified. Bernd Leno provides fantastic competition for current goalkeeper Petr Cech. Stephan Lichtsteiner may look to be a bargain signing. The addition of Sokratis Papastathopoulos strengthens their defence. An exciting season ahead for Gunners fans.

Prediction: 1st-4th

Tim Sperliotis

Bournemouth

In – David Brooks (Undisclosed), Diego Rico (Undisclosed), Jefferson Lerma (Undisclosed)

Out – Benik Afobe (A$17 million), Max Gradel (Undisclosed), Adam Federici (Undisclosed)

Position last season: 12th

After a decent last season, Bournemouth will be looking to back up their previous mid table finish. So far, only three players have been signed, however Eddie Howe is a great manager and has the ability to bring the best out of his side. The Cherries face Cardiff, West Ham and Everton in their first three Premier League matches and could possibly win all three. Bournemouth did beat French side Marseille 5-2 in a pre-season friendly, which would no doubt give them plenty of confidence against the big boys.

Prediction: 9th-12th

Tim Sperliotis

Brighton 

Ins: Alireza Jahanbakhsh (AZ Alkmaar), Leon Balogun (Mainz), Florin Andone (Deportivo La Coruna), Jason Steele (Sunderland), Bernardo Fernandes (RB Leipzig), David Button (Fulham), Yves Bissouma (Lille), Percy Tau (Mamelodi Sundowns), Anders Dreyer (Esbjerg)

Outs: Uwe Huenemeier (SC Paderborn), Rohan Ince (released), Jamie Murphy (Rangers), Steve Sidewell (released), Tim Krul (released), Sam Maldock (Reading)

Last season: 15th

A busy off-season has meant plenty of arrivals at Brighton but whether the signings have actually improved Chris Houghton’s squad is a major question which has been raised in the lead up to the season.

One man they will be hoping to perform at a consistent level once again is Pascal Gross who was quite the free transfer last season, arguably Brighton’s most influential player and a major reason as to why they retained their Premier League status.

In between the posts, Socceroos goalkeeper Mat Ryan often didn’t get the plaudits he deserved in a team, which sometimes struggled.

An interesting season awaits, where relegation is a real possibility.

Prediction: 15th – 20th

Brayden May

Burnley

In –  Ben Gibson (A$26 million), Joe Hart (undisclosed), Matej Vydra (Undisclosed)

Out – Scott Arfield (Released), Chris Long (Released)

Position last season: 7th

Burnley had a successful 2017/18 season, challenging Arsenal and Chelsea and only falling short of the top four at the end of the season. The Clarets will be full of confidence under manager Sean Dyche and will aim to once again challenge for the top four. England goalkeeper Joe Hart is a massive signing for them, who could strengthen their defence and allow them to win more matches.

Adding to their usual fixtures, this season see’s Burnley in the Europa League. So far they have defeated Scottish side Aberdeen in the second round of qualifying and will take on Turkish side Istanbul Basaksehir in the third round. Reaching the group stage would be monumental for them, however would also increase their schedule and possibly hinder their chances at improving on last season.

Prediction: 6th – 13th

Tim Sperliotis

Cardiff

Ins: Bobby Reid (Bristol City), Greg Cunningham (Preston North End), Josh Murphy (Norwich), Alex Smithies (QPR)

Notable outs: Nil

Last season: 2nd in Championship (automatic promotion)

It was a momentous achievement by Cardiff to gain automatic promotion to the Premier League last season. The Bluebirds stunned their highly fancied counterparts to secure a second place finish, even if they did have to rely on Fulham losing to Birmingham on the final day to secure promotion.

Manager Neil Warnock has already suggested his side will struggle to stay in the Premier League and will need to hit the ground running if they are going to avoid relegation.

Cardiff have three winnable games to start the season, taking on Bournemouth, Newcastle and Huddersfield.

New signing Bobby Reid will be relied on in the attacking third, but their squad lacks star quality and will need a miracle to survive the drop.

Prediction: 17th – 20th

Christopher Chrysostomou

Chelsea

In: Jorginho (A$86 million), Rob Green (Free), Kepa (A$125 million), Mateo Kovacic (Loan)

Out: Lewis Baker (loan), Trevoh Chalobah (loan), Reece James (loan), Dujon Sterling (loan), Nathan Baxter (loan), Jordan Houghton (free), Kenedy (loan), Jamal Blackman (loan), Mitcheel Beeney (free), Ruben Sammutt (loan), Harvey St Clair (free) Cole DaSilva (released), Matej Delac (free), Eduardo (loan), Renedi Masampu (released), Wallace (released), Tushuan Tyrese Walters (released), Isaac Christie-Davies (free), Jake Clarke-Salter (loan), Joao Rodriguez (loan), Todd Kane (loan), Mason Mount (loan), Boga (undisclosed), Charlie Colkett (loan), Mario Pasalic (loan), Jacol Maddox (loan), Fikayo Tomori (loan), Matt Miazga (loan), Nathan (loan), Victorien Angban (loan), Kasey Palmer (loan), Kyle Scott (loan)

Position last season: 5th

Chelsea head into the 2018-19 season with a new manager and an entirely new approach, after Antonio Conte’s nasty exit of the club. It has paved the way for another Italian to take charge with Maurizio Sarri taking over the reins for the Londerers, but will have limited time to implement his style.

One thing we can expect from Sarri this season, is his own blueprint with many tipping him to remove the back three, which Conte favoured. Instead it is likely that Sarri will play a 4-3-3 formation currently known as “Sarri ball” which will bring the excitement back to the London club.

New Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri

The 4-3-3 formation will mean there will be more emphasis on attack this season, and it saw him and Napoli become one of the most feared teams in Europe last season. One thing that Sarri does not have though, is time on his hands to implement this type of style, he has had the most of pre-season but even then it was limited due to the fact that most of the players that are normally in the starting XI were on holiday because of the World Cup.

Another problem Sarri needs to fix before the transfer window shuts is to sign an elusive and proven striker having missed out on his number one target Gonzalo Higuain. It has became apparent for a number of seasons that Chelsea needs a proven goalscorer, Alvaro Morata was seen to be the answer but after a blistering start his form began to drop. If Chelsea can get a new striker or if all else fails Sarri can get Morata to reach his potential then we could see the Blues back in the top 4.

Prediction: 3rd

Fraser Stewart

Crystal Palace

In: Vicente Guaita (Free), Cheikhou Kouyate (A$16.5 million), Max Meyer (Free)

Out: Yohan Cabaye (Free), Damien Delaney (released), Lee Chung-yong (released)

Position last season: 11th

It is almost a shock that we are even previewing Crystal Palace for another Premier League season.

10 months ago Palace were anchored to the bottom of the table with zero wins and zero goals after seven games in what was a disastrous run for former manager Frank de Boer. But somehow under Roy Hodgson, Palace were able to gather some momentum and ultimately finished in 11th spot; an amazing achievement considering the horror start.

Not much has occurred in the off-season at Selhurst but still enough to give Palace fans optimism for the upcoming season. Cheikhou Kouyate should prove to be a solid signing and after his four years at West Ham and will provide plenty of experience in central midfield. 22-year-old Max Meyer has been the most talked about inclusion for Crystal Palace however. The German international has impressed in his time at Schalke and has the ability to play both an attacking and defensive role across midfield and it will only benefit the squad.

If Palace can hold on to Wilfred Zaha by the time the transfer deadline day rolls around, the battle to survive in the Premier League will be the least of their concerns. Zaha plays a critical role, producing pace and flair and it was clearly absent in games he didn’t play last season. He may be the key to bringing Palace back to the heights they reached when they made the 2016 FA Cup final.

However, a start similar to last season will no doubt put Crystal Palace behind the eight ball again and with the promoted sides likely exceeding expectations this season, Palace have to start getting consistent on order to not fall off the pace as the luck they received by surviving last season may not be possible this time around.

Prediction: 10th-15th

Nicholas Sacco

Everton

In: Richarlison (Watford), Lucas Digne (Barcelona), Yerry Mina (Barcelona), Andre Gomes (Barcelona), Bernard (Shakhtar Donetsk)

Out: Ramiro Funes Mori (Villarreal), Wayne Rooney (DC United – free), Joel Robles (Real Betis – free), Henry Onyekuru (Galatasaray – loan), Ashley Williams (Stoke City – loan), Davy Klaassen (Werder Bremen)

Last season: 8th

Everton will be hoping for a much more settled season, after a tumultuous 2017/18. The Toffees spent over A$100 million last season, but where nearing relegation in October.

Marco Silva has finally taken the reigns and has gone about rebuilding the squad. The Toffees have added world class quality in the form of  Lucas Digne, Yerry Mina and Andre Gomes, who have all come from Barcelona. Bernard is also a talented player that will be eager to impress in the biggest league in the world.

The interesting signing is Richarlison. The Brazilian impressed in the opening stages of last season with Watford, but struggled when Silva departed the club. The A$87 million the Toffees spent him is a hefty fee for someone with minimal experience in the Premier League, but could be a bargain if he lives up to expectations.

Everton will need to be more lethal up front this year if they are going to target a top seven finish. The Toffees recorded the second fewest shots on goal last season and struggled to find a striker to replace Romelu Lukaku.

If they can find a way to score, then they will have every chance of a European berth.

Prediction: 7th – 10th

Christopher Chrysostomou

Fulham

In: Jean Michael Seri (A$47.45 million), Aleksandar Mitrovic (A$31.95 million), Alfie Mawson (A$26.66 million), Fabri (A$9.45 million), Maxime Le Marchand (A$6.33 million), Andre Schurrle (Loan)

Out: David Button (A$7.12 million), George Williams (Free), Ryan Fredericks (Free)

Position last season: Championship Playoff Final winners 

Newly promoted sides rarely receive as much plaudits as Fulham and Wolves. The Cottagers are aiming high on their return to the top tier. Owner Shahid Khan has already said his team aim to “win’ and this could be a blessing for Premier League fans. Fulham lit up the Championship last year by playing possession based football. It is wrong to think they will be able to have as much possession as they did in the Championship last year, but under the guidance of Slavisa Jokanovic, the Lillywhites won’t fear any team.

Ryan Sessegnon is the name on everyone’s lips. The 18-year-old scored 16 goals last season and was named the Championship Player of the Year. Big clubs were circling for his signature, but the winger showed his maturity by staying at Fulham, knowing it was his best option of playing every week.

Will Ryan Sessegnon take the Premier League by storm?

Captain Tom Cairney is another player who could excel in the top league. The 27-year-old has finally found consistency in his game and is the Lillywhites creative force from the middle of the park.  

Aleksandar Mitrovic netted 12 goals in the second half of last season and his signing is a big boost for the Cottagers. Alfie Mawson was heavily linked to West Ham in January and his signing is a show of intent. Jean Michael Seri was linked to Barcelona and Chelsea, while Andre Schurrle is a World Cup winner and both are great recruits.

Fulham should easily avoid relegation and are good enough to finish in the top 10.

Prediction: 10th – 13th

Christopher Chrysostomou

Huddersfield

In: Ben Hamer (Leicester City – free), Ramadan Sobhi (Stoke City), Terence Kongolo (AS Monaco), Juninho Bacuna (FC Groningen), Erik Durm (Borussia Dortmund), Florent Hadergjonaj (Ingolstadt), Jonas Lossl (Mainz – permanent deal), Adama Diakhaby (AS Monaco)

Out: Tom Ince (Stoke City), Dean Whitehead (retired), Rob Green (released)

Position last season: 16th

Once again the Terriers have added quality throughout their squad, which should help boost their survival hopes.

Not many gave them hope of survival last season but they defied the odds to remain in England’s top-flight but doing it again is certainly going to be a difficult task. If they are able to remain in the Premier League beyond of the season they should be applauded for their actions.

The likes of Aaron Mooy are set to play a key role in helping the club keep that status. While they have made signings, manager David Wagner needs improvement from players who have Premier League experience from last season’s campaign.

While they have made smart savings, it remains to be seen whether they are in a better position than last season.

Prediction: 17th –20th

Brayden May

Leicester

In: James Maddison (Norwich City), Ricardo Pereira (FC Porto), Jonny Evans (West Brom), Danny Ward (Liverpool), Rachid Ghezzal (AS Monaco), Caglar Soyuncu (Freiburg),

Outs: Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City), Ahmed Musa (Al-Nassr), Robert Huth (released)

Last season: 9th

Leicester’s miracle 2015/16 season seems like a lifetime ago. Riyad Mahrez departs the club, after trying to leave in January. The Foxes have set about finding a replacement for the Algerian. James Maddison is one of the most exciting young English prospects and will benefit developing at the Foxes. Johnny Evans will form a solid partnership with Harry Maguire and Ricardo Pereira is an upgrade on Danny Simpson.

A mid-table finish should be Leicester’s aim.

Prediction: 7th – 10th

Christopher Chrysostomou

Liverpool 

Ins: Naby Keita (RB Leipzig), Fabinho (AS Monaco), Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke City), Allisson (AS Roma), Issac Christie-Davies (Chelsea – free)

Outs: Emre Can (Juventus – free), Jon Flanagan (Rangers – free), Danny Ward (Leicester), Ben Woodburn (Sheffield United – loan)

Last season: 4th

It has been well publicised just how well the Reds have done and this transfer window and the praise they have received is well deserved.

Across the pitch, the Reds have several strengths which should see them right in the title race until the end of the season. Last season they enjoyed a dream run to the Champions League final, which ended in heartbreak but needing to find consistency in the league remains their biggest challenge.

Could Allison be the man to take Liverpool to the promise land?

The question remains to be seen as to whether Mo Salah will hit the heights of last season, even if he is slightly below those levels we have seen how devastating he can be.

Jurgen Klopp has the tactics which make the Reds one of the most exciting teams in the league and if we see the best of Liverpool throughout the campaign there may well be silverware at the end of it.

Prediction: 1st – 3rd

Brayden May

Manchester City

In: Riyad Mahrez (A$104.6 million), Claudio Gomes (Free), Phillippe Sandler (undiscolsed)

Out: Joe Hart (A$1 million), Yaya Toure (released)

Position last season: 1st

It only took Pep Guardiola two seasons to make Manchester City champions and it is pretty difficult to consider any other scenario than them going back to back in 2018/2019.

Everything went City’s way last season with Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne continuing to be dominant in a record breaking 100 point season for City; while the emergence of Leroy Sane saw him deservingly win the PFA Young Player of the Year award. You would think it is difficult to top such an amazing season but crazier things have happened.

Pep has already made a fast start in the off season, giving plenty of minutes into the clubs young stars during friendly matches while most of the squad were playing in the World Cup. Phil Foden was the standout and will definitely be a player to watch throughout the season.

The signing of Riyad Mahrez from Leicester has also produced much excitement around Manchester in the off-season. He played a pivotal role in the Foxes unbelievable route to winning the league in 2015/16 and it is almost impossible to forget his PFA Player of the Year award from the same season. Both his goal-scoring and his precise passing suit the Manchester City squad well and you will think the Algerian will form some great partnerships in midfield with the likes of De Bruyne and David Silva.

Riyad Mahrez will add another dimension to City.

It was difficult to find any problems that City would need to fix prior to the season opener against Arsenal, although they wouldn’t mind putting teams away earlier rather than panicking to score late; particular games against Huddersfield and West Ham come to mind. But honestly, it would be difficult to improve a red hot team that is Manchester City

Unless they suffer a few shock losses throughout the season, there is no reason why City shouldn’t go back to back.

Prediction: 1st – 2nd

Nicholas Sacco

Manchester United

In: Fred (A$93.31 million), Diogo Dalot (A$34.80 million), Lee Grant (A$2.69 million)

Out: Daley Blind (A$25.31 million), Sam Johnstone (A$6.62 million) Michael Carrick (Retired)

Position last season: 2nd

Following a trophyless 2017/18 season, Manchester United fans expected the Red Devils to add to their squad to challenge for silverware. However United’s off-season has been headlined by a lack of investment, poor results and questionable management from Jose Mourinho. United have made only two headline signings, purchasing Fred from Shakhtar Donetsk and the teenage full back, Diego Dalot. Both signings fill gaps in the United lineup, but will do little to reduce the gap between United and the title winning Manchester City.

The Red Devils pre-season has left little to be desired, winning two of their six friendlies and suffering a 4-1 defeat to Liverpool. United have fielded an under-strength side because most of their players were at the World Cup, but the defensive performance of the team is a worry. United conceded eight goals in six outings, which is alarming considering Mourinho’s teams are built around defence.

Jose Mourinho has been at his grumpy best during pre-season.

Mourinho’s most successful teams have always had a settled back four. However at United it is difficult to work out which is the best defensive partnership. Fullbacks Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young are over 30, while centre-backs Eric Bailly, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo and Victor Lindelorf are susceptible to making errors.

United’s midfield trio is set to be Nemanja Matic, Fred and Paul Pogba, which on-paper is one of the most lethal in the league. Pogba is coming off a successful World Cup with France and will  be hoping to translate his national form into consistent performances at club land.

Then there’s the attack. Romelu Lukaku netted 27 goals for United last year and will be the starting striker. Alexis Sanchez struggled in his first six months at United, but has shown promising signs in pre-season and will begin on the left wing. The issue will be who starts on the right wing? Marcus Rashford is the likely option but he is not suited on the right side and struggled when played in that position last year. Anthony Martial is another who could play on the right, but has already signalled his intentions to leave the club and was fined A$360,000 for leaving the pre-season tour to be with his pregnant wife. Juan Mata is the final option on the right but as we have seen over the years, he is better suited playing through the middle.

Mourinho has looked a deflated man in pre-season and of course we know about the ‘third year blues’ he has had at his previous clubs. Mourinho said when he first became manager of United that the Red Devils should be challenging for the title every season, which is why it was unusual for him to refuse to comment on United’s title chances.

Most of the betting companies have him third favourite to be sacked. Knowing Mourinho, this negativity could be a ploy to lower the hype around his team. But the issues around the Red Devils say otherwise and United will be lucky to make the top four and Mourinho will be lucky to be manager come seasons end.

Prediction: 4th – 7th

Christopher Chrysostomou 

Newcastle

In: Yoshinori Muto (A$16.92 million), Martin Dubravka (A$6.33 million), Fabian Schar (A$6.33 million), Sung-yong Ki (Free)

Out: Aleksandar Mitrovic (A$31.95 million), Mikel Merino (A$18.98 million) Chencel Mbemba (A$12.65 million), Matz Sels (6.33 million)

Position last season: 10th

The 2018/19 season could have been the season Newcastle United returned to European football, but because of the stinginess of owner Mike Ashley, the Magpies will be fighting for survival.

Manager Rafa Benitez had to use all his experience last year to get the best out of his side that lacked the talent of the teams around them. Benitez guided the Magpies to 10th, which is an exceptional feat given his starting lineup was almost identical to the one that got promoted from the Championship.

Some smart purchases in the transfer market will bolster the squad, especially the signing of Sung-young Ki, who they signed on a free transfer from Swansea. But in a era where Everton spent A$62 million on Richarlson, Newcastle have not broken their transfer record since 2005, when they spent A$30 million on Michael Owen.

Benitez comes out of contract at the end of the season and is willing to stay if he is given the funds to improve the side. Mike Ashley however won’t give Benitez funds until he re-signs with the club. The standstill could see Benitez leave before seasons end, which will be a blow to the fans, who adore him.

If Benitez stays, Newcastle should avoid relegation, but if he leaves, the drop will be inevitable.

Prediction: 15th – 18th

Christopher Chrysostomou

Southampton

In – Stuart Armstrong (Undisclosed), Mohamed Elyounoussi (Undisclosed), Jannik Vestergaard (Undisclosed)

Out – Dusan Tadic (Undisclosed), Jordy Classie (Loan)

Position Last Year: 17th

The Saints barely survived relegation to stay in the Premier League last season. It was a disappointing season, which saw them winless in December and January. They sacked their manager Mauricio Pellegrino in March too. His replacement Mark Hughes will look to improve Southampton’s fortunes this season. Their first three Premier League matches are against Burnley, Everton and Leicester City, however going by last season’s results, it may be another long season. A 3-2 win over Spanish side Celta Vigo in a pre-season friendly could give them some necessary confidence. It will be interesting to see if the Saints can put last season to bed and finish in the top half of the table.

Prediction: 13th– 20th

Tim Sperliotis

Tottenham

In: Nil

Out: Nil

Position Last Season: 3rd

It’s silverware or bust for Tottenham if they want to make a stand in the Premier League this season.

If it wasn’t for a dominant City, Tottenham were every chance of being a serious title challenger last season while also qualifying in the Round of 16 in the Champions League before being knocked out by Juventus. With Harry Kane and Dele Alli in career best form, the Spurs comfortably secured 3rd place and got themselves another run to go deep in the Champions league next tournament.

It seems to be that once again the club has steered clear of making any big signings, in fact any signings at all, during the transfer window. Mauricio Pochettino was vocal about the club having to be bold coming into this season but with nothing to show the pressure can already start to be unleashed before a ball has been kicked.

Pochettino will still be able to select from a very impressive squad of players as despite many of these players coming off a World Cup there has been little evidence to suggest any significant drop of form coming into the 2018/2019 season.

A midfield containing Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli, Eric Dier, Son Heung-min and Lucas Moura will continue to enlighten Spurs fans with exciting and mesmerising attacking play while Kieren Trippier and Jan Vertonghen controlling the defensive structures should continue to command the back four. But there is one man who has continued to play a key role in Tottenham’s quest for silverware and after coming off a Golden Boot in the 2018 World Cup, Harry Kane will be hard to stop and another outstanding season from him could lift the Spurs into the title challengers category.

One thing that everyone will be looking forward to will be the Spurs’ new stadium, set to be unleashed in the fifth league fixture when they face Liverpool on September 15. This change from playing all their home games at Wembley last season could possibly recreate a ‘home ground advantage’ for the Spurs and if something along those lines could be generated quickly then it will put the rest of the top 6 on notice.

To be put simply it is long overdue for Tottenham to win any kind of trophy. A bunch of second and third placed finishings along with many unsuccessful league cup journeys will not be in enough for Tottenham to remain out of the spotlight. With no signings to date and now in his fifth season at the Spurs, Pochettino will begin to feel the impatient environment of fans if things do not go his way this season, but expect a top 4 finish to be a guarantee.

Prediction: 1st – 4th

Nicholas Sacco

Watford 

In: Gerard Deulofeu (A$22.6 million), Ben Foster (A$4.3 million), Adam Masina (A$20 million), Marc Navarro (A$17.4 million)

Out: Costel Pantilimon (undisclosed), Mauro Zarate (undisclosed), Richarlison (A$69.7 million), Nordin Amrabat (undisclosed)

Position last season: 14th

After an impressive first two months of the season with now Everton manager Marco Silva where they lost only one of their first eight games, a bad run of form saw the Hornets slide down bad enough to cost Silva his job and while a slight improvement followed, there wasn’t much joy for Watford fans after finishing with just 11 wins for the season.

The signing of Gerard Deulofeu has been an important capture for Watford. The former Barcelona man can provide an exciting attacking presence for the Hornets and also has Premier League experience which will fasten his settlement back into Watford colours.

Their defence stocks will need to improve after conceding 64 goals last season (the third most in the league in 2017/2018) but with the signings of keeper Ben Foster and left back Adam Masina, it should ease the pressure in that area of the pitch.

Another strong positive is the contract signing of Abdoulaye Doucoure. After signing on for an extra five years, the Hornets will hope to use him as the key when transitioning from defence to attack while the return of Nathaniel Chalobah and the steady improvement of Will Hughes will also benefit Watford.

But there are many problems for Javi Garcia to quickly solve for the season opener, especially in the attacking half. The strike force of Troy Deeney, Andre Grey and Stefano Okaka feel limited in their style of play and haven’t been able to consistently score while the departure of Mauro Karate is a dent to their already concerning problem. The scoring front will be a major factor in Watford’s final position this season and whether Deulofeu can lead that charge will be the question of many Watford fans this season.

Unfortunately for Watford it will likely be a scrappy relegation fight for majority of the season. With the promoted sides of both this season and last season expected to stay competitive in the top flight this season, unless they can replicate last seasons fast start, then it will be difficult to see the Hornets escape relegation.

Prediction: 15th – 20th

Nicholas Sacco

West Ham

In: Felipe Anderson (A$60.10 million), Issa Diop (A$34.54 million), Andriy Yarmolenko (A$31.63 million), Lukasz Fabianksi (A$12.65 million), Fabian Balbuena (A$6.33 million), Jack Wilshere (Free), Ryan Fredericks (Free)

Out: Cheikhou Kouyate (A$16.92 million), James Collins (Released) Patrice Evra (Released)

Position last season: 13th

The owners have listened to the fans and have spent money on rebuilding an aging West Ham. After unveiling Manuel Pellegrini as David Moyes’ replacement, the West Ham owners went about revitalising a West Ham squad that finished 13th last year.

Jack Wilshere’s signature is a cue because at 26, he still has plenty of years left in him. Felipe Anderson was once on the radar of Manchester United and could be anything if he is confident.

New West Ham signings Jack Wilshere and Felipe Anderson.

The Hammers could secure European football next year, but could also fight relegation. They now have the talent to compete against the big teams, but there is a reason they were able to secure the players they purchased. Wilshere, Anderson and Andriy Yarmolenko are not on the big clubs radars because they have not lived up to expectations.

We have seen teams prior recruit big names and stumble. Could West Ham do the same?

History has shown it is difficult to predict where they will finish.

Prediction: 6th – 20th

Christopher Chrysostomou

Wolves

Ins: Rui Patricio (Sporting Lisbon), Benik Afobe (Bournemouth – loaned to Stoke), Wily Boly (FC Porto – permanent deal), Raul Jimenez (Benfica – loan), Diogo Jota (Atletico Madrid – permanent deal), Leo Bonatini (Al-Hilal), Ruben Vinagre (Monaco), Joao Moutinho (Monaco), Jonny Castro (Atletico Madrid – loan), Adama Traore

Outs: Ben Marshall (Norwich City), Barry Douglas (Leeds United)

Position last season: Championship winners

Wolverhampton have enjoyed more than a successful off-season making several major signings which have significantly improved their squad.

Could Ruben Neves fire Wolves to a top six finish?

Just by the names listed, you can already see that the newly promoted side have improved their squad, and they should be able to challenge for the top half of the table.

Wolves certainly will be exciting to watch this season and if they hit top gear they could beat anyone on their day.

Could there be a new big boy in English football?

Prediction: 7th – 11th

This article was written by Brayden May, Christopher Chrysostomou, Fraser Stewart, Nicholas Sacco and Tim Sperliotis. You can listen to the boys weekly by subscribing to the English Football Podcast on iTunes and Soundcloud

Premier League Season Review

Arsenal

A disappointing season that resulted in the end of an era. 22 years after coming into the top-job, Arsene Wenger finally made the decision to leave the the club. The French manager won 17 trophies at the Gunners, however the disappointments over the last few years were key to his decision. Arsenal have failed to qualify for the Champions League in the past two years. They were England’s only participant in the Europa League this year and many expected them to win the tournament. After an exciting run, they bowed out to Spanish side Atletico Madrid in the semi-finals.

Arsene Wenger farewells the fans.

Premier League wise, the season was a disaster. Many had become accustomed to Arsenal finishing in the top-four, however for the second consecutive season they missed out and finished in sixth place. They were on track to lose every away Premier League match in 2018, but a 1-0 victory at Huddersfield on the final matchday prevented that record.

The Gunners made an impressive run to the Carabao Cup final where they faced Manchester City, however a disappointing performance resulted in a 3-0 defeat. An embarrassing 4-2 loss to Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup 3rd round did not allow Arsenal to retain their trophy. Overall, a shocking season with a sad end.

Grade: E

Tim Sperliotis

Bournemouth

The Cherries finished in 12th place and can consider their season a good one. Some highlights include the 3-0 away win against Chelsea and a 2-1 victory over Arsenal. They would be disappointed with their late November to December form, where they did not register a win in nine matches across all competitions.

April was also a difficult month for the Cherries, as they went five Premier League matches without a victory. Despite this, they finished off the season on a high, with two wins on the trot and with a few decent signings, they can push towards a top-half finish next season.

Grade: B-

Tim Sperliotis

Brighton

Coming into the season, there was only one goal for the newly promoted Seagulls, survival.

That mission was completed and we will once again get to see them strut their stuff in the big time next season. Despite threatening with the prospect of relegation in the back half of the season, the players stood tall when their club needed it most.

Manager Chris Houghton deserves to be in talks for manager of the season, after a terrific season. Socceroos goalkeeper Mat Ryan drew plenty of plaudits throughout the season and rightfully so, producing several big performances, against the Premier League big boys. While he may have conceded goals, he certainly did stop a lot more finding the back of the net.

Pascal Gross was an exciting acquisition from Ingolstadt in Germany prior to the campaign and the Seagulls may have a battle to retain him with other clubs sure to be interested.

Grade: B

Brayden May

Burnley

Sean Dyche would have to be one of the only men to rival Pep Guardiola for manager of the season. Lifting the Clarets to seventh and subsequently securing a chance at the Europa League title.

While that may sound like a stretch for Burnley, so was finishing anywhere near the top sides of the Premier League 12 months ago.

Burnley managed just the one away win, along with 20 losses and a 16th place finish in the 2016/17 season. This year, The Clarets managed to take a total of 28 points away from Turf Moor as well as just the 12 losses for the entire season.

Dyche has transformed his side into a squad full of young, promising talent with great depth, particularly within the Clarets defensive third.

Burnley only conceded 39 goals for the season, one goal more than 4th place ranked Liverpool and Chelsea. James Tarkowski and Ben Mee lead the Clarets from the back, and rightfully put themselves in contention for team of the season.

New Zealand striker Chris Wood and Goalkeeper Nick Pope took their games to a new level, with Pope stepping up in the absence of Tom Heaton.

Dyche will look to stabilise the consistent efforts he found within his side this year, and perhaps turning to the transfer market to invest in a chance at grabbing a top six spot in 2019.

Grade: A

Mitch Keating

Chelsea

Once again the Blues failed to launch a proper title defence after ending the season as the reigning champions. Several players who helped guide the club to the title last season failed to reach the same heights this year, particularly their defence, which went through a major reshuffle.

On the new signings front, Tiemoue Bakayoko failed to fill the hole left by Nemanja Matic who joined Manchester United (and a player who evidently featured in the English Football Podcast’s Team of the Season). Meanwhile, Alvaro Morata started like a house on fire before being overtaken by January signing Olivier Giroud. Elsewhere, Antonio Rudigier proved to be a more than respectable signing.

Chelsea have failed to recapture their form from last season.

Rumours continued to swirl surrounding the future of Antonio Conte, who often cut a frustrated figure during the season. There was a lot more complaining from the Italian and it was clear he wasn’t happy with how the club was being run. His relationship with the club’s board has dwindled and we shouldn’t be surprised if he moves on.

A big off-season looms for the Stamford Bridge club if they wish to be in the title discussions next season, because as it stands they are a club with big question marks hanging over them. We shouldn’t be surprised if there are big changes during the summer transfer window, possibly with a new manager in charge.

Grade: C

Brayden May

Crystal Palace

The 2017/18 season could not have started any worse for Crystal Palace. After losing their opening four matches without scoring a goal – the first team in 93 years to have begun a top flight season in such fashion, Palace sacked manager Frank De Boer, making him the shortest reigning manager in Premier League history.

De Boer was replaced by Roy Hodgson who also had trouble changing the clubs fortunes. Hodgson lost his opening three matches in charge without hitting the scoresheet, before a 2-1 victory over Chelsea ended the Eagles seven game winless start to the season.

Palace looked like a sure bet to be relegated this season, but in the end Palace easily avoided relegation. A lot of Palace’s good form is due to the brilliance of Wilfried Zaha. The Ivorian played in a more central role this year and scored nine goals in 28 starts. Zaha was also named the April Premier League Player of the Month for his four goals in four games.

Hodgson also deserves a lot of credit for the way he turned Palace’s season around. Hodgson’s reputation took a hit after his failure as England’s national team manager. But his record has always been good in the Premier League and once again guided a team away from relegation.

Grade: C

Christopher Chrysostomou

Everton

At the start of the season Everton were expected to be challenging for the top four. The Toffees had spent A$250 million on new players and the blend of the new arrivals with the talent already at the club was expected to propel them up the table.

But the loss of Romelu Lukaku left a massive void in the team and by mid October, Everton sat in the relegation zone. The Toffees sacked manager Ronald Koeman and replaced him with Sam Allardyce.

Allardyce’s arrival saw improvement in results and quickly the Toffees were out of the relegation fight and moved into mid table. Despite guiding Everton out of relegation, there wasn’t any harmony between Allardyce and the club. Fans protested against the style of play and booed Allardyce’s negative approach at home games. The fans protest were heard by the directors, who sacked Allardyce after their final game of the season.

Majority owner Farhad Moshiri has grand plans for the club and wanted Watford’s Marco Silva to replace Koeman in October. Now that Silva is without a job, Moshiri may try to get his man.

Despite avoiding early fears of relegation, Everton’s season is a failure because they failed to live up to the pre-season expectations.

Grade: D

Christopher Chrysostomou

Huddersfield

The new boys surprised us all in the first part of the season, with a string of victories giving them some confidence. A 2-1 win over Manchester United was no doubt a great moment in their history. Their form then dipped and relegation looked to be inevitable. One win between March and May highlighted this, however the Terriers managed to survive the drop and will compete in the Premier League for another season.

Aaron Mooy has starred this season.

One of the main men was Socceroo Aaron Mooy, who impressed many and featured in 36 of the 38 Premier League matches. Once he burned out, so did Huddersfield’s form, however they could be a team that finishes in the top half of the table next season with some good acquisitions. Overall, they surprised many and will be ecstatic to remain on the top division.

Grade: C-

Tim Sperliotis

Leicester

When Craig Shakespeare departed the club in October 2017, there was a genuine fear that the Foxes could be in for a relegation scrap, just two seasons after claiming the league title. Then came Claude Puel, a former Southampton manager, and his arrival was not very warmly welcomed by sections of the club’s supporters.

Looking back on it now, the Foxes couldn’t have got the appointment any more correct. Puel guided the club to another top half finish, ninth place. He continued to get the best out of Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, although the Algerian did prove difficult during the January transfer window.

At the other end of the pitch, Harry Maguire proved to be one of the signings of the season and is only set to develop further next season. As a whole, there is plenty of room for improvement in this team.

Grade: C+

Brayden May

Liverpool

A season which offered so much promise on the domestic front, ended in Champions League qualification once again for the Anfield club. The signing of Mo Salah was easily the biggest bargain of the season, with the Egypt international romping to the Golden Boot with 32 goals – a record in a 38-game season.

Mo Salah was the Premier League player of the season.

On the European front, Jurgen Klopp’s men have one more mountain to conquer, Real Madrid in the Champions League final on May 26. As they have shown throughout the season they are capable of anything so we should not be surprised if they do scale the heights of the Champions League mountain.

Throughout the season, Klopp had an instrumental effect on some of the lesser likes in the Liverpool side. That included Dejan Lovern and Andrew Robertson, who arrived from Hull City in the summer, with the pair both becoming important regulars. Consistency was once again the main issue the club faced in the Premier League and if they can fix this ahead of next season there is no reason why they can’t challenge for the title.

Grade: B+

Brayden May

Manchester City

It is hard to believe that Pep Guardiola was ever questioned if he could perform in England. 100 points and 106 goals later see his second season at the helm of Manchester City to be arguably the most dominant in premier league history.

Apart from defeats to rivals Manchester United and Liverpool, City could not put a foot wrong throughout the year. Guardiola has found the best out of every player who has stepped onto the pitch and represented the Sky Blues.

The midfield trio of Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva and Fernandinho have taken over the league from matchday one. All three rightfully have an argument for a place in the Premier League’s team of the season.

Manchester City were unstoppable this season.

De Bruyne and Silva join winger Leroy Sane as the first trio of players to reach double digits in assists in Premier League history. Along with Sane, Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus and veteran Sergio Aguero together put on an unstoppable force for City, breaking the single season record for goals by one club.

It wasn’t just the forward half of Pep’s side that stood apart from the rest of the league. It was made clear after City’s record-breaking spending that Pep was looking to bolster his defensive stocks and managed to do so perfectly. Half backs John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi have came under immense scrutiny shortly after signing for City and this year made any critic look foolish. Along with Kyle Walker and Brazilian Goalkeeper Ederson, City’s defense managed to concede just the 27 goals for the season, proving to be both an unstoppable force and an immovable object.

City will go into next season outright favourites and with such a youthful side already taking the championship, Premier League fans could be in for more of the same for some time.

Grade: A+

Mitch Keating

Manchester United

A second place finish and a spot in the FA Cup final would usually signal a successful season for a club. That is unless the team is Manchester United.

United 2017/18 campaign will be remembered as a season of unfulfilled expectations. United were supposed to be a title contender, after spending over A$500 million on player acquisitions in the past two years.

The season got off the best possible start, with successive 4-0 victories over West Ham and Swansea. United were on the tails of City until October, when Jose Mourinho parked the bus at Liverpool. From there, the gap between United and City was too large to overcome. United had the opportunity to reduce the deficit when City traveled to Old Trafford in December, but the 3-1 defeat ended any hopes of a title push.

Manchester United became a team to fear again this season.

2017/18 was not all doom and gloom for United. United defeated all the ‘big six’ teams, including an amazing come from behind away victory over Manchester City. United had little trouble coming up against the best sides in the Premier League, however, it was their inability to kill off the bottom half teams that proved costly.

United suffered defeats to all three promoted sides (Newcastle, Brighton & Huddersfield). The Red Devils either drew or lost to seven of the bottom 10 teams in the league. Added to this, they were knocked out of the Carabao Cup by Bristol City and the Champions League by Sevilla.

Despite their poor record against the bottom teams, United have proven they are a defensively competent team, conceding the second fewest goals and goalkeeper David De Gea awarded the Golden Glove for most clean sheets.

United will be expected to put up a better title fight next season, but to do that they will need to close the gap to a Manchester City side who only look like getting better.  

Grade: C+

Christopher Chrysostomou

Newcastle

The Magpies finished in a respectable 10th position under manager Rafa Benitez. A disastrous November and December left them with only one win and put them at risk of relegation. However, they recovered and results such as a 1-0 win over Manchester United, a 2-1 win over Arsenal and a 3-0 victory over Chelsea on the final day ensured they gained some confidence.

The off-season will be key, as some new signings can make them stronger and allow them to challenge for a European place. Ayoze Perez scored eight goals and got five assists, while Jonjo Shelvey’s looks to only get better.

Grade: C

Tim Sperliotis

Southampton

A Manolo Gabbiadini winner against Swansea confirmed Southampton’s survival in the premiership. While the success of avoiding relegation has brought a sigh of relief to the club, Saints fans should still feel on-edge heading into the new season.

For a side that has finished 8th or higher in the last four years, a 17th placed finish is nothing to celebrate. The Saints’ ability to perform at home has become an ongoing concern with just four wins to show for the season.

The mid-season loss of Dutchman Virgil Van Dijk certainly left a large gap in the Saints defense and soon cost the club its form.

The Saints endured an eight game winless run between February and April and soon found themselves deep into the relegation battle, prompting the sacking of Mauricio Pellegrino.

Mark Hughes failed to lift the Saints’ spirits and soon found himself relying on the poor performances of other sides to help his side stay out of relegation.

Crucial home wins against Bournemouth and Swansea saw Southampton move out of the bottom three and guaranteed a spot in the Premier League next season.

Grade: D

Mitch Keating

Stoke City

After years of mid-table finishes, Stoke City have been relegated and the blame game has begun. Midfielder Charlie Adam said on BBC Five Live that some of his teammates were “getting away with murder”.

“As players, you have your seven or eight in the group that try to make it work, and we failed.

“I think some players have been getting away with murder for a long time and it’s difficult for supporters. It’s not just one or two, I think there are four or five that could be counted.”

Stoke had all the ingredients to cement a top half finish this season. The club had more Champions League winners in their squad then any other Premier League team this season.

But that was also the reason for their failure.

Players like Jese, Bojan and Ibrahim Afellay were frozen out of the squad because of poor performances and attitude. Giannelli Imbula was Stoke’s record signing but he was loaned out to Toulouse. Saido Berahino was once a top transfer target for Tottenham, but has failed to score a goal in his two seasons at Stoke.

Because of the poor form of these players, Stoke had to reply on the old brigade to keep them up. Peter Crouch was relied on to score goals, Adam and Joe Allen were expected to patrol the midfield.

Stoke messed up with their recruitment and paid the price with relegation to the Championship.

Grade: F

Christopher Chrysostomou

Swansea

At Christmas it looked as if Swansea were guaranteed to drop to the Championship, when Carlos Carvalhal took over from Paul Clement and for some time it looked as if they would survive towards the back half of the season. The 2017-18 campaign started in impressive fashion off the field, when the club captured Bayern Munich and Portugal youngster Renato Sanches on a season-long loan.

But just like the South Wales’ club season, that would end in disappointment. The club hit a purple patch between January and April where they lost just two matches to Brighton and Manchester United in a run of 11 games. During that period, Carvahal guided his side pass the likes of Liverpool, Arsenal and Burnley. And for a time it looked as if they would survive.

Despite their wonderful show of fight, things came to a grinding halt as the club lost five straight matches to end the season. The final nail in the coffin, a 1-0 defeat at fellow relegation battlers Southampton, a result which left the club needing a miracle on the final matchday. A wonderful fightback ended in disaster, as their goal of remaining in the top-flight ended in tears.

Things weren’t made better by Cardiff City’ automatic promotion to the Premier League.

Grade: E

Brayden May

Tottenham

The 2017/18 season was another year which promised a lot, but delivered little for the Spurs. This season will be highlighted by a victory over Real Madrid and finishing on top of their Champions League group.

The Spurs also made the Semi-final of the FA Cup, but let slip of a 1-0 lead to Manchester United. Tottenham will rue their failure in the tournament because they have played home games at Wembley all season and would have had the home ground advantage if they made the final. Mauricio Pochettino’s decision to pick Michel Vorm, instead of captain Hugo Lloris in goal will be questioned for a long time as Vorm was at fault for United’s winning goal.

Tottenham have been arguably the most consistent side over the past three years but have no silverware to reward their good work. The squad is not deep enough to challenge for the Premier League title and their is an over reliance on Harry Kane to score the goals. This season Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool overtook Tottenham in the race for the title and with Chelsea and Arsenal likely to spend big in the summer transfer window, Tottenham may find themselves dropping out of the top four. Lucas Moura was brought in to compliment Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min in attack, but he has struggled for consistency.

Harry Kane showed why he is one of the best strikers in the world.

The Spurs needed to secure Champions League football, ahead of the move to their new stadium. Pochettino was able to deliver on expectations, but it is now time to deliver silverware.

Grade: B-

Christopher Chrysostomou

Watford

No Watford fan would be satisfied with a 14th place finish during their season previews. Yet after the sacking of Marco Silva, Hornets fans would probably have taken anything outside of the relegation zone.

A strong start to the season saw Watford sitting high on the table, losing only one of their first eight matches.

Abdoulaye Doucoure and Brazilian forward Richarlison were pivotal in the Hornets early season form but soon faded, along with Watford’s performances in the second half of the season.

Kiko Femenia was another name to burst into the spotlight under Silva but his formed dropped off as the season progressed.

Javi Gracia took over the reigns of first team responsibilities in January but struggled to find any growth in results.

The Hornets conceded 31 goals at home in 2017/18, the most in the premiership and continued to drop points to sides below them in the standings.

Heading into next season, Gracia will look to the transfer market to add to what ended up being a disappointing finish for a side that had the potential to push for the top six.

Grade: D+

Mitch Keating

West Brom

Relying on three managers in the one season sums up the efforts made by the Baggies. Whilst a late run of form under caretaker Darren Moore gave West Brom fans hope, damage had already been done by the tenures of Tony Pulis and Alan Pardew.

The Baggies managed to win their first three games of the season, but were unable to grab a victory in their next ten and soon sent Tony Pulis packing.

The appointment of Alan Pardew had little to no effect on the sides performances with West Brom winning only one of 18 games under the silver fox.

In the midst of their nightmare run, the Baggies were soon under fire after Gareth Barry, Jonny Evans, Boaz Myhill and Jake Livermore were accused of stealing a taxi in Barcelona in February.

Moore took over the managerial position in April. Coming into the caretaker role, Moore soon increased his chances of the full time job with a fantastic run of late form, including a 1-0 win against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Unfortunately, the run was too little, too late as relegation was confirmed with one game remaining. The Baggies have the squad to be successful in the Championship next season and could make a swift return to the Premier League.

Grade: F

Mitch Keating

West Ham

The Hammers finished in a disappointing 13th and manager Slaven Bilic was sacked mid-season. The campaign began with three straight Premier League losses and new manager David Moyes allowed them to find some form, with a 1-0 victory over London rivals Chelsea standing out.

Despite some disappointing results, West Ham finished the season on a high, going undefeated in their last three matches. Marko Arnautovic led the scoring for the Hammers with 11 goals and no doubt they would want to sign some more important players to help them charge up the table.

It was a tumultuous year at West Ham.

David Moyes left the club at the end of the season, after being told by the owners that his position was not guaranteed and that they would be interviewing other candidates for the manager position.

Grade: D

Tim Sperliotis

You can hear Brayden, Mitch, Tim and Chris weekly by subscribing to the English Football Podcast on iTunes and Soundcloud

 

The week that was (Premier League Matchweek 29)

News

MEN uses tragedy as click bait

The football world was in mourning this weekend after Fiorentina captain Davide Astori sadly passed away aged 31. Heartfelt messages from colleges were published on social media for the Italian international, including one from Juventus captain Gianluigi Buffon.

View this post on Instagram

Ciao caro Asto, difficilmente ho espresso pubblicamente un pensiero riguardo una persona, perché ho sempre lasciato che la bellezza e l'unicità di rapporti, di reciproca stima e affetto, non venissero strumentalizzati o gettati in pasto a chi non ha la delicatezza per rispettare certi legami. Nel tuo caso, sento di fare un'eccezione alla mia regola, perché hai una moglie giovane e dei familiari che staranno soffrendo,ma soprattutto la tua piccola bimba, merita di sapere che il suo papà era a tutti gli effetti una PERSONA PERBENE…..una GRANDE PERSONA PERBENE….eri l'espressione migliore di un mondo antico, superato, nel quale valori come l'altruismo, l'eleganza, l'educazione e il rispetto verso il prossimo, la facevano da padroni. Complimenti davvero, sei stata una delle migliori figure sportive nella quale mi sono imbattuto. R.I.P. Il tuo folle Gigi.

A post shared by Gianluigi Buffon (@gianluigibuffon) on

The Manchester Evening News however decided to use Astori’s death as click bait. Manchester United defender Matteo Darmian was a former teammate of Astori and the paper used the headline ‘Matteo Darmian woke up to some terrible news’.

The paper received backlash on social media for their actions.

https://twitter.com/BillyBeanpole84/status/970381170792943617

Henry says ‘yes’ to managing Arsenal

Thierry Henry admitted he would be willing to manage Arsenal if the club asked him to.

However, the Frenchman continued to support Arsene Wenger in the role but said he had never shied away from a challenge and if the club and Wenger wanted him to coach, he would be willing to step up to the task.

“Listen, I’m a competitor, you don’t back down from a challenge,” Henry told Sky Sports.

“We are hypothetically speaking before people jump ahead of everything, [but] I have never backed down from a challenge since I was young.”

Pipe bomb from Antonio Conte

Antonio Conte branded Sky Sports pundits Jamie Redknapp and Gary Neville ‘stupid’ after they described Chelsea’s display against Manchester City as ‘anti-football’.

Informed of the comments, Conte said: “The pundit has to use the head to understand when you speak about tactics. I think you must have knowledge to speak about tactics and not only to speak in a stupid way. You have to accept every criticism but I am not so stupid to play against Manchester City open and to lose 3-0 or 4-0.

Maybe if Conte’s side showed as much fight as their manager they would be challenging for the title instead of trying to secure a spot in the top four.

Results

Burnley 2-1 Everton

Liverpool 2-0 Newcastle

Leicester 1-1 Bournemouth

Southampton 0-0 Stoke

Swansea 4-1 West Ham

Tottenham 2-0 Huddersfield

Watford 1-0 West Brom

Manchester City 1-0 Chelsea

Brighton 2-1 Arsenal

Crystal Palace 2-3 Manchester United 

Sir Alex Ferguson Award

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

 Swansea

Swansea moved out of the relegation zone following their big win over West Ham. The Swans looked relegation bound at the end of 2017, but the appointment of Carlos Carvalhal has changed the fortunes of the Welsh club.

The Swans have won four of their eight games in 2018 to ignite the hopes of an unlikely relegation survival.

The victory over West Ham saw Swansea jump up to 13th on the table, three points above 17th place Crystal Palace.

Jordan Ayew, Andy King, Ki Sung-yueng and Mike van der Hoorn all found the back of the net in the victory. Van der Hoorn’s goal was his first for the club.

Continued performances like this will see the Swans avoid relegation and could see Carvalhal named manager of the season.

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.

Arsenal

The last time I wrote one of these articles, Arsenal had just beaten Everton and were my Sir Alex Ferguson of the week. Four consecutive defeats in all competitions have changed the entire dynamic of the club and the ‘Wenger Out’ movement has reached a level never seen before.

The Gunner’s latest defeat to Brighton leaves them in sixth position, 13 points behind fourth place Tottenham.

Arsenal’s only chance of qualifying for next years Champions League is by winning the Europa League, which will not be an easy feat. The Gunners will face AC Milan in the round of 16, which will not be an easy task given Milan have not lost a game in 2018.

Some Arsenal fans, such as Troopz from Arsenal Fan TV believe the club will sack Wenger if they are knocked out by Milan in the Europa League.

As Troopz said in his recent video on Arsenal Fan TV, “Every story has an ending and for Wenger his story ended five years ago.”

Player of the Week

Son Heung-Min

Son is pushing his claim to be regarded Tottenham’s second best players behind Harry Kane.

The South Korean netted both goals in the Spurs 2-0 victory over Huddersfield on the weekend. Both goals showed off Son’s array of abilities, with the first being a fine shot with this left food and the second being a header from distance.

https://twitter.com/officialuwem/status/969959377766637568

Son has now scored 16 goals in all competitions this season, making him the Spurs second highest scorer, behind Kane.

Sportdot goal of the week

Riyad Mahrez

A 96 minute equaliser from a free kick is the perfect way to get back into the fans good books. Mahrez’s sublime curling free kick was his first goal for Leicester since the closure of the January transfer window.

Mahrez’s was said to have sooked it up after his transfer to Manchester City was blocked. But by his celebration after the goal against Bournemouth, it appears he is happy to be at the club for the remainder of the season.

Retro clip

Premier League launch advert 1992

This is Sky Sports launch advert for the Premier League. Check out the bad haircuts and try naming some of the players.

 

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.