Football rule changes for 2018-19

The national transfer window is closed and we are just hours away from the return of Premier League football.  As Leicester City take on Manchester United in what will no doubt see a line of Jose Mourinho excuses ready if the Old Trafford team don’t win, but there will be a few changes in the coming season across the leagues and competitions.

Managers this season will see themselves on the end of a ban if they go too far, in the way of poor behaviour. Four  warnings from the ref and it’s a single one match ban. If the manager or coaching staff are pushing the enraged button even more and accrue another four taking the warnings to eight then it’s a two game ban. If they go on the crazy train of anger, and get twelve warnings it’s a three game ban and 16 it’s an FA misconduct charge and no doubt a whole lot of unhappiness.

We might expect to see technology being used in the technical area in the form of handheld devices, although for some managers later in the season, they might just be checking the news sites to check if they have been sacked before the end of the game. Rules had to be changed and those who choose to use unauthorised equipment will get removed from the touch line and anyone attempting to use it to show officials replays of poor decisions will be shown zero tolerance. It was seen as a way as players and officials would communicate and would be no real way of stopping it.

Suspensions see changes as players will who get yellow cards will only count towards the competition they are in. A yellow card in the FA Cup would not affect Premier League discipline. Sadly though for those receiving a red card  will though see their suspension affect all competitions.  The brighter or not so brighter news is that suspensions could be increased or decreased.

Bans will take place after five yellow cards, with a 19 game cut off, ten yellow cards  with a 32 game cut off and for fifteen by the end of the season, although that might be the least of their worries if they have reached fifteen yellow cards.

So the Carabao Cup (Why on earth are Carabao still sponsoring this competition) sees changes too. All games that are level at 90 minutes will go straight to penalties. There will be no more extra time, so maybe that will see clubs play to win if they don’t quite fancy it, There will be no more ABBA, don’t panic the greatest Swedish musical export is still around, but the ABBA format for penalty shootouts is dead and buried. It’s back to normal for the penalty shootout.

VAR will not be used in the Premier League, but will be used in the FA Cup and League Cup games at Premier League stadiums. Last season saw 19 games feature VAR, whilst this season will be increased to 60 games. I imagine many fans will hope that VAR in the domestic cup competitions will be slightly better than it was during the World Cup.

It looks certain to be an interesting  season ahead and as teams look to keep the reins on Man City’s title defence.

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Liverpool coming together

Having run so close last season in the Champions League and 25 points behind runaway champions Man City, Jurgen Klopp wasted no time in adding to the already Liverpool bound Naby Keita. Within days of  the Champions League defeat, Brazilian midfielder Fabinho was arriving at Liverpool. Nabil Fakir was next on the radar but issues arose and despite him appearing to have a number and give an interview in for Liverpool, the deal didn’t complete. Talk goes on regarding whether he will still come to Anfield before the transfer window ends.

The Champions League blunders by Lorius Karius were still in the minds of the Liverpool fans but it seemed that Klopp was still backing the young German. It turned out that he had suffered concussion after a collision with Ramos during the final against Real Madrid. This saw a split between many fans. Some believing it and some claiming it was a cover up. This of course would be a cover up that included the legendary  Franz Beckenbauer, who had got in touch with Jurgen Klopp to inform him of the news.

There  was no talk of a new keeper coming in and and Klopp was  going along the line that the young German was  going into the season as number one. That was until a pre season friendly blunder gave Tranmere Rovers a goal. Whether he was bluffing who knows, but all of sudden Liverpool were doing business with Roma again and in for Allison Becker. The Brazilian cost just shy of £70 million. It probably didn’t help in cost because of the bargain price of Mo Salah, whose price rocketed no end. Some fans baulked at the price but these days you just have to spend money to get quality.

Karius looks certain to be demoted to number two, which will only signal the end of The signing will no doubt see the end of Simon Mignolet’s time at Anfield. Allison’s arrival has already seen the end of Danny Ward who has joined Leicester City for £12.5 million.

The Welsh goalkeeper looked certain to have a chance of breaking into the first team on a regular basis, having performed well on loan at Huddersfield and with Karius’ blunders, but rather than be relegated to fighting for a spot, Leicester City came in with a £12.5 million bid and Ward was on his way.

Liverpool probably need to get another centre back, that is if they intend to use Gomez at right back.  This being the fact that Lovren can be all over the place and Matip seems to be a bit injury prone of recent. I guess we will have to wait and see.

As he enters his final year of his current deal, Daniel Sturridge looks certain to get one final opportunity to resurrect his career Anfield career. He had spent the second half of last season on loan to West Brom but had picked up an injury after managing just 6 games for the Baggies. A good pre season though has seemingly boosted the former Man City and Chelsea player. Klopp of course will need as many attacking options especially after the Champions League final that saw the early departure of Salah, replaced by a not so fully fit Adam Lallana. One player acquired in that attacking role is Xherdan Shaqiri from Stoke City, who were relegated last season.

So as the start of the season gets closer along with the end of the transfer window, Liverpool fans can have a genuine amount of enthusiasm for the coming season. A trophy is a must for the Reds this season, every fan wants the league ahead of anything else and this season will certainly not see a repeat of City’s impressive run and points haul.

Football Fixture Release day Review Part One

“So here we are once again, another June another football fixture release day. The final season before the Winter Break comes in also sees Arsenal entering a new beginning post Arsene Wenger. Tottenham will finally see their new ground whilst Liverpool will look to move forward and head to glory, especially if they add to their current transfer activity. Man Utd will look to close the points gap on Man City and even maybe play some old Man Utd entertaining football.

The newly promoted teams will hope like they did last season, all survive. Wolves, Fulham and Cardiff all return to the Premier League and hope that they are several points away from the bottom.

So how did the fixtures computer treat everyone on this World Cup opening day? Will you be cursing or will you be breathing a sigh of relief. Let’s take a look at what  will unfold.

Arsenal fans, I imagine you might well have been shaking your head and cursing the computer. Their first league game under the stewardship of Unai Emery, open with a home game against reigning champions Manchester City, but it doesn’t get easier either as they travel to Stamford Bridge the following weekend before hosting West Ham at the end of August.

December is far from joyful for the Gunners. They kick off the month with the north London derby at the Emirates on the 1st, and then take a trip to Old Trafford a few days later. A few easier fixtures see visits to Southampton and a visit from Huddersfield, but the year ends with a trip to Anfield. Emery’s men will hope to get a better result than previous.

Should Arsenal be chasing Champions League or even the title, then April and May should give them something to look forward to. April sees visits to Everton, Watford and Leicester City with May seeing a visit from the south coast Brighton and a trip to Burnley, which could be the trickiest game.

Man City defend their crown with the already mentioned Arsenal as well as Huddersfield Town, and newly promoted Wolves. Last season Huddersfield took a point from the Champions as the season wound down and they would hope the same again, but the fixture being early in the season, the current Champions will be looking to maintain a strong defence of the title. The last time these two sides met, was in the 2011/12 season when Man City won both fixtures and of course won the title. Could history repeat once more or will Wolves have something to say.

Christmas for Man City sees a lot of travelling for the City fans. Out of the seven fixtures , four of them see visits to Chelsea, Watford, Leicester and end 2018 with a trip to the coast and Southampton. Games at the Etihad see Bournemouth and then back to back games against Everton and Crystal Palace. Should City still be chasing for back to back titles, then come April, Guardiola’s team can look forward to an easier run. April sees Cardiff, Palace, Burnley and a slightly more trickier visit from Tottenham. Leicester provide Man City’s final home game whilst the season finale involves a visit to Brighton

Man Utd start their challenge for the Premier League title starts quite reasonably  with a home game against Leicester and a trip to Brighton (although hoping to forget last seasons trip south) before their third game hosting title chasing rivals Tottenham. In fact the month of September should give Man Utd a reasonable points return with visits to Watford and a home game against Wolves in amongst the trickier trips to Burnley and West Ham.

The first Manchester derby sees the Reds travel to the Etihad on 10th November. The Old Trafford club has a busy December that includes Arsenal, Fulham and home games to Huddersfield on Boxing Day and Bournemouth in the final game of the season.

Man Utd hope to make more of a challenge for the title this season and in the final run in, if the title is still open, the Reds have what should be a fair run in. April doesn’t appear to be too bad. Trips to Wolves and Everton are mixed with home games against the Hammers and a possible tricky game against Chelsea. Groans of unfair fixtures from Old Trafford will seem more quiet.

Liverpool go into the season with some positivity once more. The Champions League might have been a defeat, but the with all the build up, it would appear that Klopp’s team had identified another player and swiping Fabinho from under the noses of Manchester United and will no doubt add more.

The fixtures machine was relatively good to Liverpool with two out of the three August fixtures at Anfield. With no Champions League qualifiers to play, it’s a longer break between pre season and the Premier League opening fixtures. Making early visits to the north west are West Ham and Brighton. The Reds enjoyed home games against West Ham and Brighton. Liverpool travel to Crystal Palace in the second game of the season. It’s a reverse fixture of the second game from last season.

September provides two top six match ups as at the start of September, Liverpool play the first league game against Tottenham at their new ground, whilst finishing September with another London visit in the shape of Chelsea.

December brings a busy month for Liverpool as they play 7 games throughout the month. Anfield sees visits from Everton, Man Utd, Arsenal and Newcastle Utd who reconvene the inbetween Christmas and New Years fixture. Liverpool’s trips away see visits to Burnley and Bournemouth. Last season December brought 15 points out of 21 and 20 goals scored and five goals conceded. Those December games saw Liverpool in a thrilling 3-3 draw at the Emirates and 4-0 at Bournemouth.

Come April Liverpool hope to be higher than fourth and challenging for their nineteenth title, their road to to glory in April sees a somewhat easier run with Chelsea only being the tougher club. May sees a trip to Newcastle Utd and a home game against Wolves. Klopp’s team will certainly avoid a defeat against the Midlands club and will more than likely will avoid season finale loss.

Tottenham bring part one to an end and in turn they bring their Wembley spell to an  end with their first ‘home’ game of the season.  Their game at the new White Hart Lane is against Liverpool which comes after their  trip to Man Utd. They don’t return to White Hart Lane until October when they host Cardiff and Man City. Their other tie is a short trip to the Olympic Stadium

Tottenham go into the final run in with literally home advantage. Four of the six remaining games are at home which should give them a decent hope if they are still within a chance of glory. Brighton, Huddersfield and West Ham visit in April with Everton rounding off the season at the Lane. Spurs do though have a trip to the Etihad in April which could be a possible decider.

Tottenham’s quest for glory will also depend on summer signings, although in the football cliche, tying down their manager and leading striker could be the best two signings. We shall though just have to wait and see.

 

They Predict its All Over – It is now

So the final whistle went and the final predictions tailed away to a 50/50 performance, that’s not to say it they weren’t helped by the fact that some teams decided to turn up or go into holiday mode before the full time whistle.

Arsenal sent Arsene Wenger away with his first Premier League away win in 2018. Three points at Huddersfield gave the Frenchman a happy send off that he deserved. It was a shame that he was calling it a day, but that is football. I wonder though who Arsenal will appoint next and how long they will get before they are on the receiving end of an out chant. For Huddersfield, they would have preferred a draw at least but they knew they were safe. Whilst I had predicted a 3-1 win to Arsenal, they were having to suffice with a single goal victory. It was a correct result either way.

Burnley had hoped to finish their season with a win, but their opponents Bournemouth had other ideas. Having had a bit of a losing streak, Sean Dyche’s team had sealed a spot in the Europa League and some new destinations for next season. Despite taking the lead, the hosts saw the south coast club not only grab a second half leveller, but a 93rd minute winner. Burnley finished 7th whilst Bournemouth missed out on a top 10 spot on goal difference. My prediction was for a 2-1 home win.

Crystal Palace hosted relegated West Brom. It was unfortunate for Darren Moore, who had seemingly turned the Baggies fortunes round and maybe had he been appointed a few games previous, may well have kept the club up. West Brom were playing Crystal Palace who not so long ago, were in the midst of having to escape the relegation fight, they though had pulled away to safety under Roy Hodgson. The Eagles ended up finishing 11th on goal difference behind Newcastle Utd. I had predicted and end of season at the beach 1-1 draw.

Chelsea visited the already mentioned Newcastle United knowing they needed to win to be in with a chance of grabbing the fourth spot ahead of Liverpool.  Having beaten the Reds and having seen Spurs beat Newcastle United, Conte’s team we’re surely favourites to win. It was hard to imagine a more spineless defence of a Premier League title than Chelsea but that it was. The Blues had not even manage to hit a shot on target in the first half and paid for it when Newcastle went ahead after 23 minutes through Dwight Gayle. Nothing seemed to improve in the second half and the Chelsea were consigned to the Europa League when Ayoze Perez added two quick second half goals. It would turn out to be meaningless as Liverpool strolled to victory in their game at Anfield. My prediction was a 1-1 draw which would have reflected both sides recent performances.

Liverpool hosted Brighton & Hove Albion knowing a point would be enough. Klopp’s side weren’t interested in finishing the season with another home draw but instead stormed to a 4-0 win including a Mo Salah goal, that clinched the golden boot. The Reds were on fire and probably should have had more than they did. Lovren, who was disappointing in games throughout the season, connected well to net a powerful header 5 minutes before half time. Lovren had headed home an Andy Robertson cross. The signing of Robertson last summer seemed to raise a few eyebrows, but the Scotsman has been quite impressive with his attacks from defence this season. It seemed fitting that he should bag a goal and he did five minutes from time to seal the win for his first Liverpool goal. He wasn’t the only one bagging his first Reds goal as Dominic Solanke scored with his shot powering off the crossbar. My prediction for this game was 3-0, so I was not too far off with this one.

Man Utd who had already secured second spot signed off not only their Premier League season with a win, but were also saying farewell to Michael Carrick. It wasn’t much of a game, but the former England international helped set up the only goal of the game when sent a lofted pass to Mata, who in turn set up Rashford.

Carrick looks certain to join the Man Utd coaching squad, is a player who England often missed. He was given an ovation in the 85th minute when replaced by Frenchman Paul Pogba. In regards to the game, I had predicted a 1-1 draw.

Tottenham hosted Leicester City in their final game at Wembley, they were assured of a place in next seasons Champions League, but a failure to win combined with a Liverpool win, could see the Lilywhites finish fourth. It seemed that Leicester were not in the mood to just give Spurs an easy game, especially having previously beaten Arsenal. Jamie Vardy opened the scoring early in the game, the hosts were level three minutes later through another England striker, Harry Kane. Previously wantaway Mahrez put Leicester back in front and it stayed that way till half time.

It looked even bleaker for Tottenham as the fell 3-1 behind whilst Liverpool were 2-0 up. Lamela scored his first of two early in the second half to make it 2-3. Spurs were level in the 53rd minute when Fuchs put through his own net. Lamela put Spurs ahead for the first time when he netted on the hour. Leicester though seemed unlikely to be finished and they were back level when Vardy struck again. The game saw its ninth goal a few minutes later when Kane netted again and with the game like it was, many wondered if he might even steal the golden boot off Mo Salah. It wasn’t too be as the game finished 5-4. It will probably be a while until we see another nine goal thriller at Wembley. My prediction had been a slightly narrower result of 2-1.

At the other end Southampton who were virtually saved were unlucky not to finish the season with a point as they lost at home to Man City with a injury time goal. I had a correct result here although I had predicted 2-1.

The Saints defeat mattered little as Stoke won at Swansea. Relegation was inevitable for the Welsh side but a 14th minute goal gave them hope. That hope though was squashed as Stoke netted two goals in the space of ten minutes to take all three points. It was Stokes first win since January very much all to late. I had predicted a 2-0 win for Swansea.

Everton and West Ham faced off in a match where both managers of each club were likely to be departing at some point after the game. The Hammers always seemed to be in charge of the game having almost 60% possession. Possession doesn’t necessarily give you the points, but in this case it did as the Hammers nailed their chances to win 3-1. For David Moyes, he had done his job in East London and secured their Premier League safety. In the end they finished two points off tenth spot. For Sam Allardyce and Everton they turned things around and secured Premier League safety. His style of management did not go down well with the fans who will not be to sad to see him depart Goodison Park.

Having spent several million during the summer, the club and their fans must feel really disappointed that they didn’t fair better. Silva of Watford is being linked with taking over the helm at Goodison Park.

My prediction wasn’t too far out with a 2-1 win for West Ham.

 

 

 

FA Premier League Predictions – Week 39 The Final Hurrah

So a disappointing penultimate round of fixtures three  correct results out of six. The footballing gods were throwing a curve ball and Southampton seem to have made the great escape as they beat Swansea. That was one of my correct results predicted. Man City provided the other, although somewhat predictably.

Sunday afternoon sees the Premier League reach the final hurrah, we finally reach the final round of games and Premier League predictions. There is not too much left to play for. The title is won, Man Utd need at least a point to secure second, Tottenham have qualified for next seasons Champions League. That just leaves the final Champions League spot to play for. Liverpool currently hold fourth spot after Spurs win and Chelsea’s surprise draw. Liverpool know that a point at home to Brighton will be enough should Chelsea win. This though due to Liverpool’s significantly better goal difference.  I can’t imagine Liverpool losing at Anfield home on their final home game of the season. Chelsea will need to go to Newcastle and win, which given any other season wouldn’t be in doubt, but this season the London club has been all over the place.

At the other end it’s seemingly a formality. Swansea host Stoke City  whilst Southampton host Man City. Only a heavy mauling by Man City in Southampton and a heavy win by Swansea over Stoke City would see the south coast club doomed to the Championship. Depending on results, the Swans could even finish bottom but again that depends on Stoke being able to win 4-0, which would seem a tall feat.

So for the final time, my predictions for the last round of Premier League. I will though be looking back through the whole season to see how well or not so well my predictions turned out.

 

  1.                                  Burnley. 2-1 Bournemouth     Hosts end fab season with a win
  2.                       Crystal Palace.  1-1 West Brom.        Point each in nothing game
  3.                        Huddersfield.  1-3. Arsenal.             Wenger signs out with a win
  4.                              Liverpool.   3-0. Brighton.          Reds win and seal CL spot
  5.                                Man Utd.   1-1. Watford.           Hornets take point at Man Utd
  6.                    Newcastle. Utd.  1-1. Chelsea.              Chelsea blow CL hopes
  7.                       Southampton. 1-2. Man City.            Saints lose but stay up
  8.                       Swansea City.   2-0 Stoke City.          Swans win but go down
  9.                          Tottenham.   2-1 Leicester City.    Spurs end with Wembley win
  10.                             West Ham.  2-1 Everton.             Hammers end season with win

 

So the Premier League curtain comes down for another season, Liverpool give their fans a sense of relief as they get vital win to secure Champions League for next season. Can they add the trophy itself. Chelsea finish with a draw that costs them a Champions League place and will it cost Conte his job.

Man Utd end their league season with a drab draw although Watford, their opponents will miss out on a top ten spot.

FA Premier League Predictions – Week 38 Rearranged fixtures

After a less than fruitful weekend with 1 correct score and three correct results, the Premier League still has some things to sort. Friday night had seen Brighton secure their place in the Premier League for next season, whilst having predicted a comfy win for their guests Man Utd, it was to be a home win. Having predicted a draw between Bournemouth and struggling Swansea, the Cherries made the battle for survival even more interesting with a 1-0 win. Man City seemed to be enjoying a relaxed affair as the party mood seemed to take over. The Premier League champions played out a 0-0 draw against Huddersfield, who were looking to secure survival, so much for my prediction of a 3-0 win.

West Brom fans may wonder if appointing Darren Moore much sooner than he was, they might have secured Premier League football. I had predicted a 1-1 draw. It had looked like a 0-0 draw until Jake Livermore netted a last minute win. It was a result that Spurs didn’t need as Chelsea beat Liverpool.

Stoke were relegated with a home defeat by Crystal Palace. It was a result that saw my only correctly predicted score. A few months back Palace were looking like going down, but Hodgson somehow managed to get his team working and staying up.

So to this penultimate week and some crucial fixtures

  1.                         Chelsea.  2-0.  Huddersfield.  The Blues have too much for visitors
  2.               Leicester City.  0-3.  Arsenal.           Gunners 1st PL away win of 2018
  3.                       Man City.   2-0. Brighton.          City sign home fixtures with a win.
  4.                   Tottenham.   1-1  Newcastle Utd. Spurs held by Toon, twist for 4th?
  5.                       Swansea.   1-2. Southampton.  Southampton get crucial win
  6.                    West Ham.   1-1  Man Utd.           Hammers hold indifferent Man Utd.

 

So some interesting results predicted, I wonder correct they will be as we move closer to the finish line. My prediction sees Southampton win the key clash between them and Swansea who are in 18th on goal difference. This would relegate West Brom ahead of their final league clash Huddersfield travel to Chelsea probably at the wrong time. The Terriers need a positive result to survive, whilst the hosts need to win to keep their top four hopes up.

Arsenal win their first league away win in 2018 whilst the chase for 4th looks like taking a twist. West Ham will hold a disappointing Man Utd, who probably have one eye on Wembley.

FA Premier League Predictions Week 37 – Mind The Gap

Well first off, week 36 saw a miserable week for predictions as I managed just 1 correct result and 1 correct score. Where there were wins predicted there were draws and where draws looked a banker, the result at Selhurst Park for example was the most unlikeliest result of the season.  Who would have thought Crystal Palace would have stuck five past Leicester City.  West Brom seem to have left their great escape a bit too late after their win at Newcastle United.  With fellow strugglers Southampton (32 points) and Swansea City (33) both with a game in hand, the drop does look inevitable for the Baggies.

The top end of the table saw wins for United, Spurs and Chelsea, whilst Liverpool were held to another home draw after Mo Salah showed he was human after all. It was the first game since Boxing Day that he hadn’t found the net. It would be interesting to see how things pan out as Liverpool travel to Chelsea on the Sunday afternoon. Liverpool will go in looking for a win that would secure their Champions League spot, whilst a draw would be enough to secure a top four spot. Should the Blues win and take maximum points in the remaining games, it will make it interesting going into the final round of the season. Tottenham travel to West Brom where it is likely that the hosts will be doomed to relegation. Should West Brom do anything else, then it could make things quite interesting,especially

  1.                         Arsenal  3-1.   Burnley.            Gunners give Wenger final home win
  2.            Bournemouth.  1-1.   Swansea.          Swans hanging on by a thread
  3.                     Brighton.   0-3.   Man Utd.          United storm to south coast win
  4.                        Chelsea.  1-2.   Liverpool.         Another win over Chelsea for Klopp
  5.                       Everton.   2-2.  Southampton.  Saints struggling for survival
  6.            Leicester City.    1-2.   West Ham.       Hammers safe again
  7.                     Man City.   3-0.   Huddersfield.  Can City ton up?
  8.                      Stoke City. 1-2.   Crystal Palace. Palace send Stoke down
  9.                        Watford.  1-1.  Newcastle Utd. Hornets and Magpies draw
  10.                   West Brom.  1-1.   Tottenham        Point not enough as Baggies down

 

So with the penultimate weekend, the Emirates sees Arsene Wenger’s final home game, the relegation battle is being eeked out and the battle for the remaining Champions League spots gets ever closer, so here’s how things should look this weekend.

Arsenal look certain to beat Burnley not only giving Wenger the final home game send off he deserves whilst securing sixth spot. In the chase for the Champions League, Liverpool face Chelsea as they travel to the Bridge and having qualified for the Champions League Final, they will look to secure their place in next seasons competition. The Red look certain to bounce back from the second leg defeat and beat their hosts. For Liverpool a win or draw will give them a top four finish, whilst a home win would make things a little interesting. I am though giving three points to Liverpool.

Spurs look certain to end West Brom’s stay in the Premier League albeit with a draw. This and the other result would surely end any hopes of Chelsea in the Champions League next season.

Swansea City’s trip to Bournemouth sees only a point for the Welsh club which will do nothing for the nerves of the fans although their relegation rivals Southampton will only see a point away to Everton. The two relegation threatened sides face off in the midweek game in what is basically a game that will either make it a final day survival battle or make Premier League survival all but done. That prediction is for another column.

Until then, it’s good night.