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.

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World Cup Group Stage – Match Day 2 Review

Given their form running up to the World Cup, who would have thought that Russia could muster a win let alone two but that’s what they did. The second game saw them take on Egypt and Mo Salah. Having beaten Saudi Arabia 5-0, one maybe had thought that Egypt might prove hardier opponents. The first half drab but the second half picked up. The Russian opening goal had deflected off the knee in bizarre fashion and into the net. It was probably something that summed up Egypt’s plight so far. Two further goals in three minutes from Cheryshev and Dzuyba and it was game over for the African nation even with the penalty from Mo Salah.

Uruguay secured their passage into the knock out stages with a solitary goal against Saudi Arabia via Luis Suarez. A far from convincing win for the South Americans and they will need to step up if they want to progress in the knockout stages.

Group B saw a quieter second round of games, Portugal beat Morocco with a goal from none other than Cristiano Ronaldo who netted after four minutes. Portugal were top and their star man was top scorer. It also finished a bad week for the Moroccans, who had seen their World Cup bid for 2026 rejected and now eliminated from the 2018 competition. Portugal’s time at the top was short lived as Spain came through with a win against Iran. A hard fought win against a tough Iran side who had already opened their tournament with a win against Morocco. Costa’s 54th minute goal put the Spaniards on top of the group having had a better disciplinary record.

Group C saw France take control with a solitary goal to beat Peru 1-0 and qualify for the knock out round. It wasn’t easy for Les Bleus as Peru gave the 1998 World Cup winners a run for their money. Chances were there but minimal were converted and the South American nation had slightly more possession. Possession counts for nothing unless you use it, but the fortune wasn’t with Peru. They were eliminated.

Australia drew with Denmark in another game featuring VAR. The Danes had gone in front early on with Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen netting after 7 minutes. Mile Jedinak converted the penalty after Yussuf Poulsen’s handball. It was a point that meant that the Green and Gold nation were still within a chance of qualifying for the knock out stages. They might need to step up in the final game but will though need France to beat Denmark.

Well what a match day two is was for Group D. Argentina went into the game needing to get a result against Croatia, but for a second game in a row, the South American nation looked far from it’s past line ups that had seen it reach several finals. Croatia grabbed their first win against South American opposition in five attempts yet had started not so greatly as they finished. Argentina conceded their first through a blunder by Caballero gave Rebic a chance to put the ball away.  Had the Balkan nation been more accurate in front of goal, they might well have embarrassed Argentina even more. The second goal came in the 80th minute and was game over when Croatia broke away with Luka Modric making it 2-0 with a cracking goal. It was interesting to see the lack of running back from the Argentinian players in the build up. Rakitic made it 3-0 and heads dropped. Messi retired from international football once before, could Messi retire from international football for good, especially as he will be 34 going into the 2022 tournament.

Iceland’s surprise defeat against a better performing Nigeria, gave Argentina hope in making it out of the group. Having lost to Croatia, the Super Eagles knew it was win or bust. Whilst it was goalless in the first half, a double from Ahmed Musa lifted the African nation’s spirits. Crucially though Iceland missed a VAR penalty and going into the third round of group games, the previously doomed looking Argentina, might still have a chance of qualification.

Group E saw Costa Rica eliminated after two late goals from Brazil that in turn put them top of the group on goal difference. With time running out and Brazil still not looking like Brazil, it looked like two draws out of two especially when VAR actually overturned a penalty award. Step up Coutinho in the 91st and Neymar in the 97th minute. When they face Serbia, it will be winner take all. This came after Switzerland came back from 2-1 down to beat Serbia,  thanks to Shaqiri’s runaway 90th minute winner. Serbia though could feel hard done by after an obvious and blatant penalty was not given. The Swiss look favourites to qualify following their win as they complete their group campaign against Costa Rica. There is still a chance that Serbia could qualify given that they wont hold back against Brazil who wont be given the opportunity to waste their chances. Come Wednesday night we shall know who progresses.

Group F saw Mexico move closer to securing qualification with a 2-1 win over South Korea, it would come as no surprise given the Central American nation’s beating of Germany in the group opening game. Hernandez scored the second to reach 50 international goals. It was disappointing for South Korea who to be honest still have a slim chance of progression should they beat Germany and Mexico beat Sweden, but that seems very optimistic.  Their slim opportunity came thanks to Germany who came back from 1-0 down against Sweden to grab an injury time winner. It had been win or bust for the holders Germany. Having lost to Mexico, defeat against Sweden would be devastating and handed the holders a group elimination that was seen at the last World Cup.

Group G saw Belgium trounce Tunisia 5-2. The team that had proved to be difficult against England, were attacked early and were two up after 16 minutes with one each from Hazard and Lukaku. Dylan Bronn gave hope to Tunisia just two minutes later. That hope looked to have disappeared when Bronn went off with an injury in the 24th minute. That hope was then all but crushed when Lukaku netted in first half injury time. Hazard added his second five minutes into the second half to give them a big goal difference. Batshuayi of Chelsea made it five and a plus seven goal difference until Tunisia added a second to still leave the Red Devil’s a strong goal difference.

England had won a hard fought game against Tunisia,  which had they taken early chances might have been a bit clearer result, although it didn’t help that the referee was seemingly thinking he was refereeing a wrestling match. Their game against Panama was completely different. England were all over Panama, when Panama players weren’t fouling England players that is. Thankfully the referee wasn’t taking any rubbish. Southgate’s team finished the first half 5-0 up and points secured. Harry Kane grabbed a third goal to nail a hat trick in a game that saw Man City defender John Stone almost grab a hat trick. England could find themselves disappointed that they conceded as it put them back level on goal difference with Belgium. Thanks to their better disciplinary record, England go into the Belgium game in pole position. Belgium national coach may find enforced changes with fitness checks over Mertens, Hazard and Lukaku.

The final group saw an entertaining game between Japan and Senegal that had seen both sides take the lead at one point in the game. Japan went into the tournament as outsiders to qualify, but found themselves leading the group following their win over Colombia. Senegal had opened with a crucial win and knew that anything other than a defeat gave them a reasonable chance of qualifying. Colombia who had been expected to do well netted their first win of the group over a very disappointing Poland. Lewandowski struggled again and their final game against Poland will see them finish without a win or get a result that could throw open the qualifying. That though may take some doing.

Lets see what Matchday 3 brings us, will there be upsets or last game salvages for the big nations.

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 30

So last week was a much better week for correct predictions as I managed six correct results and one correct score. It’s always good to get back to a big week of successful predictions, especially as we head towards the tail end of the season.

This weekend could be another interesting round of games as the chase for Champions League qualification hots up alongside the battle for Premier League survival and Europa League qualification. The big game sees Man Utd host Liverpool whilst Arsenal look to get a win against Watford. This though has potential to be another week of misery for the Arsenal and for restless Gooners all depending on their game against AC Milan on the Thursday night, At the other end Huddersfield take on Swansea City, Brighton travel to Everton, Newcastle face the Saints whilst odds on to be relegated West Brom, host Leicester City.

  1.                                   Arsenal  2-1 Watford            Arsenal back to winning ways
  2.                        Bournemouth  1-2 Tottenham       Spurs maintain top four spot
  3.                                   Chelsea   2-0 Crystal Palace Blues gain crucial win
  4.                                  Everton   1-2  Brighton          Everton’s struggles continue
  5.                        Huddersfield   1-1 Swansea City   Point each in crucial game
  6.                                Man Utd   1-2 Liverpool          Klopp’s men take the points
  7.                      Newcastle Utd   2-0 Southampton   Rafa’s Magpies take the win
  8.                              Stoke City   0-3 Man City            The title nearer for Guardiola
  9.                            West Brom   0-2 Leicester           Baggies closer to drop
  10.                           West Ham   2-2 Burnley            Hammers gain vital point

 

So from my predictions, Arsenal look certain to secure Europa League football especially as Burnley are likely to draw. Leicester taking the three points could see them push closer to the Clarets in hope for a possible venture into Europa League football next season.

Liverpool look certain to get past Man United with a 2-1 win. The hosts have not exactly set the world on fire despite the players they have whilst Liverpool have been able to put Coutinho’s departure behind them and move on. A win for Liverpool will make them odds on to finish second. A draw between the two will see business as usual and the future fixtures having a say. A win for United will increase the gap to five and allow Spurs to catch up on Liverpool.

Klopp’s team is on top form and with the defence looking generally sound, United will have to work hard to keep Salah, Mane and Firminho quiet, saying that, the Liverpool fullbacks will be working hard, especially Robertson, who has done really well with his forward moves.

Tottenham travel to Bournemouth and look certain to put the Champions League disappointment behind them and aim to secure qualification for next seasons tournament, especially with Spurs facing key games away to Chelsea and home to Man City in the coming three games.

Relegation seems destined for West Brom, but it is the others that will still have all to play for in the survival stakes. Seven points separate Stoke City and Everton, although it would be hard-pressed for anyone to think that Everton will be caught up in a relegation fight. Saying that though anything can happen.

Whilst Palace blew it last week against Man Utd, this week I don’t see the same against Chelsea as they look certain to lose 2-0. The win for Chelsea of course will be vital to try and snatch a Champions League place. Southampton and Newcastle Utd have both had one win, three draws and one defeat in the last five but this weekend expect the Toon to add to the Saints woes. Southampton will be grateful for the fact that teams below are not likely to win this weekend.

Whatever happens, it could be an exciting Premier League weekend.

FA Premier League Predictions – Week 28

Welcome back to Premier League fixtures as we head to week 28. The last week seems such a long time ago and to be honest a not great week prediction wise. Four correct results only last week. Victories for Chelsea, Man City, Liverpool whilst it was a 1-1 draw between Stoke and Brighton.

This weekend sees some big clashes in the League whilst Arsenal and Man City clash in the League Cup final.

  1.                        Bournemouth   1-2  Newcastle Utd   The Toon squash the Cherries
  2.                                 Brighton    0-2  Swansea             The Swansea recovery continues
  3.                                   Burnley   1-2 Southampton     Claret woes as Saints win
  4.                        Crystal Palace   0-3 Tottenham          Spurs continue on the march
  5.                        Leicester City    1-1 Stoke City            Another draw for the Foxes
  6.                               Liverpool    3-0 West Ham            Reds storm to win
  7.                                 Man Utd    1-2 Chelsea                Blues give Jose woes
  8.                            West Brom     2-0 Huddersfield      Baggies bounce back
  9.                                 Watford     2-2 Everton               Draw at the Vicarage

 

Some interesting clashes and results this week featuring the top and bottom teams in crucial games. Liverpool host West Ham as they look to strengthen their Champions League qualification whilst Tottenham travel to Crystal Palace. The Lilywhites should take the points but we know that Palace have the ability to dent many clubs plans. Man Utd host Chelsea in what should be an interesting affair, but with United recently seemingly off par, I feel Jose’s old club will take the victory.

Tricky ones too especially with some of the teams threatened with relegation fighting it out. Bournemouth and Newcastle Utd battle it it out a win for the Cherries will move them closer to security whilst the Toon will move level with Bournemouth should they win and that’s what I have predicted. A win for the Saints will do the south club a bit better whilst Stoke will be no better off with a draw against Leicester.

Lets see how things have panned out come Sunday evening.

 

FA Premier Prediction – Festive lookback

With no Premier League fixtures this weekend, it means I can look back and see how well I did or how well I didn’t do. Christmas Eve weekend seems a long ime ago even though it wasn’t really, but lets see how I did.

Well the Christmas Eve Premier League fixtures certainly didn’t bring much festive joy as a paltry one correct score and one correct result came my way. Tottenham beat Burnley to give the correct result, but Man City in their flying form nailed Bournemouth 4-0 to give some joy.

My opening fixture prediction looked to start well as the reds got off to a flyer, but no one gave Arsenal the right script as they came back from 2-0 down to go 3-2 up before Klopp’s men levelled through Firmino. Watford the updown side so far as they took on Brighton, they were not complying as the Seagulls grabbed the only goal of the game to take the points.

Boxing Day, a beautiful boxing day in all manner of things but prediction wise it was quite good. Whilst no correct scores, I predicted 7 out of 10 correct results which is probably the best of the round so far. This round it was Man Utd letting me down AGAIN

The final fixture predictions of 2017turned out to be the equivalent of the post Christmas feeling  as four out of nine were correct results and for once I predicted a Man Utd draw. I guess it was inevitable in the end. With some teams looking to change things around with another round of fixtures from New Years Day onwards, it could have easily gone in any direction but thankfully I was able to get something out of it.

So to the first fixtures of 2018 and I have to say it was rather a good start to be honest. From the Premier League fixtures that had a chance to cause a bit of new year mayhem, it was generally good. With the addition of two games for Spurs it made it even better. As a Liverpool fan it was looking like a disappointing draw, but all hail the Klavan who helped get the ball across the line in injury time. A first late winner from the Reds for a while to give me a correct score. The Mighty Hammers who seem to be heading for safety gave their fans a great start as they beat West Brom 2-1. Later in the week the East London club gave me a correct result as they took a point off Tottenham. Late consolation for the Hornets too converted a correct result into a correct score. Once again though Everton let me down as they lost 2-0 to Man Utd, where I had predicted a 2-2 draw. I guess I shouldn’t complain too much, as it was only one of two results that didn’t go how I expected. The other game was Southampton against Palace. The right score ust the wrong way. With Palace though, nothing should be surprising to say the least.

Premier League predictions will be back later this week and will be interesting to see how things pan out, especially with the big game at Anfield between Liverpool and Man City. Least after one week there is a positive outlook

FA Premier League predictions Week 21

The fixtures come in thick and fast  with the final round of Premier League fixtures for 2017.

  1.                                Bournemouth  1-2 Everton            Blues march on
  2.                                            Chelsea  2-0 Stoke City        Stoke struggle again
  3.                                Crystal Palace   1-3 Man City         Can anyone stop the City
  4.                                Huddersfield    1-1 Burnley            Huddersfield hold Burnley
  5.                                       Liverpool    3-1 Leicester         Reds too much for Foxes
  6.                                           Man Utd  1-1 Southampton  Saints hold United
  7.                                Newcastle Utd   2-0 Brighton          Rafa gets a win
  8.                                           Watford   1-1 Swansea City  Watford held by Swans
  9.                                      West Brom   0-2 Arsenal            Gunners beat Baggies