Saturday, 7 November 2015

PREVIEW: EPL Matchday 12

Written By Keegan Pulik


It’s been a month and a bit since the cherries last tasted victory which was a penalty shootout win over Preston North End in the League Cup. Since then it has been a tough run, having a draw against Watford and losing to Stoke, Liverpool (League Cup), Southampton, as well as suffering back to back 5-1 destruction handed to them by Manchester City and Tottenham. Last week saw another disappointing loss to Southampton with a 5 minute slip cost Bournemouth 2 two goals conceding in both the 31st and the 36th. Bournemouth were by no means out played in this match as they created 12 chances of which 10 were off target, but still managed to retain a slight majority of possession, and looked decent. There are always positives to take out of games and the Cherries will be confident in their ability to create chances which will be a key element coming up against a struggling Newcastle side.

How Steve Maclaren still has a job is a question many football pundits and Newcastle fans have been asking for weeks now. The toon’s record this season has been abysmal, recording 1 win, 4 draws and 6 losses (Same amount of losses as Chelsea) but it’s not only the poor record, it’s the fact that Newcastle have been playing terrible football. The only possible reason I can think of that Maclaren still has a job is because he refuses to sack himself (he is on the committee so he has the power to sack himself, which in itself would be strange to see). Last week Newcastle were held to a 0-0 by Stoke in a match that was disappointing to watch. Newcastle created more opportunities at goal but like the rest of this season it just didn’t happen for them.  Don’t expect anything different from Newcastle this week, it’ll be another dull and unimpressive performance and a general let down for all Newcastle fans. Sorry to say but they will be in the Championship next season, the only positive for them is that their arch rivals Sunderland will join them.

Newysports Panel Tips:
Keegan’s Tip: 1-0 Bournemouth
Alex’s Tip: 2-1 Bournemouth (McLaren sacked after the match)
Ty’s Tip: 2-1 Bournemouth

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Leicester have been the surprise package of the season and have been a joy to watch as a neutral supporter. Currently sitting in 3rd place and have taken 10 points from a possible 15 in their last 5 matches the foxes are on top of the world and only 3 points off the top of the league. Leicester are making a name for themselves as the comeback kings having twice coming back from 2-0 down to either draw level or win. Like many times this season Leicester fell behind in the first half as Salomon Rondon netted West Brom’s first. Although the second half was all Leicester with Riyad Mahrez finding the back of the net in the 57th and the 64th minutes putting the Foxes ahead but what  is a Leicester match without Jamie Vardy scoring at the moment and he did just that in the 77th all but sealing the victory. Despite a late West Brom penalty converted by Rickie Lambert, Leicester looked very comfortable in this match.  This season has seen the unlikely rise of Leicester which has been great to see one of the great football clubs in England returning to the top end of the table but this season has also seen the rise of the Jamie Vardy. Vardy is currently the league’s top goal scorer, which is a remarkable story, considering 4 or 5 years ago he was playing in the conference leagues on the verge of giving up playing before being picked up by Leicester and the rest is history. The longer he stays with Leicester at the moment the better he will become before the time is right and he is ready for a move to a bigger club.

Watford have found themselves sitting 11th after 11 games in their return to the Premier League. Last week saw Watford capitalise on a poor defensive West Ham side. The first goal of Ighalo’s brace was handed to him on a platter after Andy Carroll failed to clear the ball allowing Nathan Ake to square the ball up for Ighalo to tap the ball home. Ighalo’s second was almost as easy as his first after Anya broke free down the left hand side to cross the ball to Ighalo who comfortably forced the ball back past Adrian. Watford have had an up and down season playing very well some weeks but also playing very poor on other occasions, so it is hard to say what side we will see of Watford this weekend.

Newysports Panel Tips:
Keegan’s Tip: 2-1 Leicester
Alex’s Tip: 3-1 Leicester
Ty’s Tip: 3-1 Leicester

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It’s been 3 weeks since United have scored in the Premier League having been held to consecutive 0-0 draws against both Manchester City and Crystal Palace. Last week United travelled to Selhurst Park to face the Eagles of Crystal Palace, and for the most part of the match were out played by Pardew’s men. Louis Van Gaal will be very concerned with the lack of opportunities that the red devil’s created only having 3 opportunities at goal, 2 of which were off target. This stat in itself is a great testament to Palace’s defence but concerning that United a looking slightly lost going forward. Wednesday morning United welcome CSKA Moscow to Old Trafford. Whilst it wasn’t all smooth sailing for the Mancs, they were able to get the victory courtesy of a Wayne Rooney header in the 79th minute after a good cross from Jesse Lingard. 

West Brom fell last week to Leicester City, and will have done a bit of soul searching after throwing away a 1-0 lead to concede 3 in the second half. West Brom opened the scoring through Salomon Rondon who has been very consistent throughout the season and proving that he was worth bringing into the club, and after his goal West Brom looked as if they may be able to go on and cause an upset, although this was not the case as Leicester came out in the second half and run rampant scoring three through a Mahrez brace and Jamie Vardy’s 11th of the season. A late penalty converted by Rickie Lambert was nothing but a consolation goal in the end. 

This game should be very straight forward for United and I can’t see them struggling at any stage.

Newysports Panel Tips:
Keegan’s Tip: 3-0 United
Alex’s Tip: 4-1 United
Ty’s Tip: 2-0 United

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Norwich almost caused the upset of last week almost scraping a draw out of nothing against league leaders Manchester City. After going behind in the 64th minute to an Otamendi header but 20 minutes later Norwich had seemed to have used a get out of jail free card as Joe Hart made a crucial and devastating error for City allowing Cameron Jerome to touch home the equaliser. The equaliser was short lived though as City were awarded a penalty after Russell Martin threw his arm out to stop the ball going into an otherwise unguarded net. And from the spot Yaya Toure makes no mistake putting the final nail in the coffin for Norwich. As for Norwich, that was their 5th straight league defeat, a streak that they will be desperate to snap this weekend going up against a Swansea side who were rolled last week.

Swansea faced a in form Arsenal side last week and it was clear from the get go that Arsenal were going to dominate the match. It took for the second half for Arsenal to break through the determined Swansea defence but when Giroud scored in the 49th minute it was the beginning of the end for Swansea. Swansea concede another 2 goals in the second half capping off the 3-0 defeat. Going up against an out of form Norwich side, Swansea will want to capitalise and get in their face early and push on, because the way I see it if they can get on top early Norwich will put up no fight and it should be smooth sailing for the rest of the match.

Newysports Panel Tips:
Keegan’s Tip: 0-0 Draw
Alex’s Tip: 0-0 Draw
Ty’s Tip: 1-1 Draw

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Big Sam has had little to no immediate impact on Sunderland having been badly beaten after the convincing win against Newcastle the week before. Positives are hard to come by when talking about Sunderland at the moment and last week was no exception being on the wrong end of a 6-2 thumping at the hands of Everton. Going into the half time break at 2-1 there was a sense of hope for all Black Cat supporters and after half time when they equalised it seemed as if it wasn’t going to be as bad as it threatened to be. That equaliser was a catalyst was for Everton to push on and score 4 within 21 minutes (55th to the 76th) to round out the thumping. 

Southampton are coming off the back of a decent performance in their 2-0 victory over Bournemouth. Their goals was one after another in a sense that in the 31st minute Steven Davies goal was the first before Graziano Pelle scored the saints second in the 36th. Southampton are currently sitting 7th just 4 points outside of the top 4, which is a positive sign for the Saints having made decent starts to the last couple of seasons before dropping off considerably, but if they can hold on and play like they have been the last couple of weeks they could very well challenge for a Europa League position.

Newysports Panel Tips:
 Keegan’s Tip: 2-0 Southampton
Alex’s Tip: 2-2 Draw
Ty’s Tip: 2-0 Southampton

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West Ham have had a decent start to the season although they are showing signs of inconsistency. They are showing a tendency to play brilliant against the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool, City and Chelsea having beaten them all, but then they will lose to the likes of Bournemouth and Watford and have a draw against Sunderland. This inconsistency was evident once again last week as the Hammers were touched up by a good Watford side, in what was a 2-0 loss which West Ham really did shoot themselves in the foot so to speak. The first goal came off a poor defensive mistake made by Andy Carroll, as he took two swings to try clear the ball but he never got the ball away before Nathan Ake pinched the ball and squared it to Ighalo who was waiting in an unguarded net to comfortably place it home. The second goal was again a defensive error this time by Tomkins who failed to clear a poor cross by Anya which ended up at Ighalo’s feet before he easily put it past Adrian. West Ham will have to show up to play all guns blazing this week if they are to get anything from an inform Everton.

Everton were superb last week, although it was against a pretty useless Sunderland side. Everton raced to a quick 2-0 by the 31st minute as Gerard Deulofeu and Arouna Kone getting on the score sheet. By the 50th minute though Sunderland were level and things were looking pear shaped for Everton. In the 55th Everton’s rampage begun when Sebastian Coates scored an own goal, and 5 minutes later Lukaku had gotten in on the scoring. And 2 minutes later in the 62nd Arouna Kone had his second before he topped off his hat trick in the 76th with a header from a perfect cross from Lukaku. Whilst it was a very impressive result, as is any result when you score 6 in any match but it was against a Sunderland side that is a barely at a Championship standard this season. They will have to go onto another level to get up against West Ham this week.

Newysports Panel Tips:
Keegan’s Tip: 2-2 Draw
Alex’s Tip: 2-1 West Ham
Ty’s Tip: 2-1 West Ham

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Stoke are the mid table side that everyone expected them to be this season, although mid table probably should have beaten last placed Newcastle. Stoke were held to a 0-0 against a Newcastle side who is desperately clinging to any hope that they may have of staying up. Stoke played Chelsea little over a week ago in the League Cup where the Potters won on penalty shootout. Stoke led for a large part of the match before Chelsea netted a very late equaliser. This sent the match into extra time and eventually penalties. Stoke will want to go one better this week and finish off Chelsea in normal time. 

Chelsea were poor again last weekend against a resurgent Liverpool side. Despite hitting the lead very early through a Ramires, but from that point on it was one way traffic. Liverpool dominated the match for the large majorities, with individual pieces of brilliance from Oscar really being one of very few highlights for the blues. Liverpool equalised on the stroke of half time and took the lead soon after the half time break through another Coutinho goal. Benteke came on and fired home Liverpool’s third for the night. Mourinho had a very basic post-match press conference due to possible sanctions from the FA. His one line for the night was “I have nothing to say”. Whilst Mourinho may have had a case when it came to the non-sending off of Lucas Leiva, Liverpool would have also had a case against Diego Costa kicking Martin Skrtel in the chest if they had wished to pursue it. Mourinho may have a job for now but for how much longer is yet to be seen. His stakes would have improved when Chelsea beat Kyiv in the Champions League but it will be the league form that will be his down fall. 

Newysports Panel Tips:
Keegan’s Tip: 4-1 Chelsea
Alex’s Tip: 1-1 Draw
Ty’s Tip: 1-1 Draw

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Since their opening day win against newcomers Bournemouth, Villa have drawn one game and lost the other 9 and are deservedly sitting at the bottom of the Premier League. Last week they saw another heavy defeat at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur going out 3-1 losers on the night. After going behind by two by half time the game looked all but gone for Villa but a Jordan Ayew goal looked to have kicked them into gear. They then stalled in the 90th minute when Harry Kane put the final nail in Villa’s coffin sealing the 3-1 loss for Aston Villa. Villa will struggle this week, there really is no way to avoid it the way they are playing so don’t expect too much in terms of entertainment if you are a Villa supporter.

City faced a late scare last week as Norwich capitalised on a Joe Hart howler. City hit the lead through a Nicholas Otamendi header and looked to have the game in the bag from there on, until in the 84th minute Joe Hart dropped a cross onto Cameron Jerome’s foot who had no issue in slotting home the equaliser. City were saved 5 minutes later when Russell Martin threw himself in front of a Navas shot which struck his arm on its way into the back of the net. This saw Martin sent off and Yaya Toure making now mistake from the spot. City were award another penalty when Raheem Sterling was brought down although Kolarov decided he’d take this one off of Sterling and missed as it was saved by John Ruddy. City had no such problems against Sevilla in the Champions League midweek as they touched up the Spanish powerhouses. 11 minutes in and Sterling and Fernandinho had both scored for City and despite Sevilla getting one back in the 25th, Wilfred Bony finished off Sevilla in the 36th adding City’s 3rd ending the game 3-1. City all in all should have no issues this week. They could probably play their under 21 squad and still win comfortably.

Newysports Panel Tips:
Keegan’s Tip: 5-1 City
Alex’s Tip: 2-0 City
Ty’s Tip: 3-0 City 

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The North London Derby, one of the fiercest derbies in English football has its next instalment this Sunday morning as Spurs travel to the Emirates. With a rivalry dating back to 1909 where Arsenal were victorious 1-0, the two clubs have been a part of classic matches, having met 181 times since the first official match almost 106 years ago to the day. Of these 181 matches, Arsenal have won 78, Spurs 55 and 48 draws have been played out. Of the last 13 matches between the sides dating back to the 22nd September 2010 Arsenal have had the advantage winning 7 of these meetings, with Spurs having only 4 victories to their name. The most recent fixture was played out just over a month ago in the League Cup, where Arsenal flexed their guns walking out of White Hart Lane moving into the next round of the cup, where they lost to Sheffield Wednesday. 

Arsenal have found themselves basking in outstanding league form having won their past 5 games, the last of which was a second half 3-0 demolition of Swansea. Olivier Giroud continued his goal scoring ways just after half time scoring what was Arsenal’s 2000th goal under manager Arsene Wenger. From that point on the match was all Arsenal, with a controversial second goal from Laurent Koscielny but with all the protests waved away by referee Kevin Friend, Arsenal had doubled their lead, and 5 minutes later Joel Campbell had added a third in what was his first goal for Arsenal in the Premier League. The Gunners were full of confidence heading into this week’s must win Champions League match against Bayern Munich. And that confidence was quickly squashed out of them, as the German champions demolished Arsenal in every aspect of play. 10 minutes in and in form striker Robert Lewandowski had beaten the Gunners offside trap and headed home what was to be Bayern’s first of many on the night. By half time Muller and Alaba had put another two past Petr Cech all but sealing Arsenal’s fate. The second half started the same as the first as 10 minutes in Arjen Robben hammered home the German’s 4th before Olivier Giroud showed everyone how to score a consolation goal in style with a bicycle after receiving a cross from Sanchez and popping it up for himself on his chest for the finish. Unfortunately for the Londoners, it was Munich who would have the final laugh with Muller scoring his 2nd and Bayern’s 5th for the night running out dominate 5-1 winners. Arsenal will have a lot of soul searching to do, although being a derby it shouldn’t be too hard for them to show up and play the quality football everyone knows that they are capable of producing. 

Tottenham Hotspur having flown under the radar this season are clawing their way back from 3 draws and a loss from their opening 4 games. With arguably one of the most impressive runs this season, Spurs haven’t been beaten since the opening day where they ironically beat themselves when Kyle Walker netted an own goal. Since then Spurs having produced 5 wins (Sunderland, Palace, City, Bournemouth and Villa) and 5 draws (Stoke, Leicester, Everton, Swansea and Liverpool) from the past 10 matches, Spurs have proven to be very hard to beat, even when they haven’t played at their best. In the last two matches Spurs have netted a massive 8 goals, in which Harry Kane has scored 4, and have only conceded 2. Last week, Spurs played host to a struggling Aston Villa side who proved to not put up much of a fight. Dembele handed Spurs the lead in the 3rd and they pushed on from there, netting their second on the stroke of half time. They received a late scare as Jordan Ayew threatened a Villa revival ten minutes before the end of the match but any hope of a comeback was squandered by Harry Kane as he finished the 3rd goal into the top back corner of the net, leaving Guzan helpless. Spurs play Anderlecht in the UEFA Europa League early Friday morning, a team who they have already lost to in this campaign, but with this match being played in front of the Tottenham faithful I wouldn’t go past a Spurs win. 

With both sides holding great league form going into this instalment of the North London Derby, picking a winner is hard, Spurs haven’t lost in 10 and their only loss was self-inflicted but Arsenal have won their past 5 in convincing fashion. The key in this match will be the impact players, Ozil, Sanchez, Giroud, Carzola, Cech, Eriksen, Kane, Dembele and Lloris, which side has the better impact players who can change a game from any situation. Don’t get me wrong Spurs have been good but purely based on who I think will have the biggest impact, I can’t go past Arsenal this week.

Newysports Panel Tips:
Keegan’s Tip: 2-1 Arsenal
Alex’s Tip: 3-2 Arsenal
Ty’s Tip: 2-1 Arsenal 

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Author Note:
*Please note I wrote this on Thursday night so I don’t have review or opinion on the Europa League match.

The first 5 games of the Klopp era have been relatively successful from a Liverpool fan point of view. Sure holding the lead against Southampton would have been nice, but for the first time in 2 years when Liverpool got within a whiskers length of winning the league, Liverpool have looked to have gone onto the park with a direct style of play and with the objective of giving absolutely everything for the team, and from the looks of things the players are enjoying their football again. Last week was the best performance to date under Klopp, and despite going behind early, Liverpool from about the 15th minute onwards when they had settled in dominated the game completely. With the likes of Coutinho, Firmino, Lucas, Can, Milner and Lallana all in firing hot form again the starting line-up was one that should be feared if they are on their game. 

Coutinho has overcome his out of character form slump and returned with a magic performance netting Liverpool’s first two goals, whilst some Chelsea supporters will call for Martin Atkinson’s head after he allowed play to continue an extra minute than the MINIMUM added time leading into half time in which Coutinho scored his first, there is no taking away that the finish was top class as he left defenders for dead and forced the ball home with his “weaker” left foot. 

With the game seemingly slipping away from Chelsea’s grip, Mourinho made a move many managers worldwide would not think of doing, bringing off Eden Hazard in the 59th minute for younger Brazilian Kenedy. Although with Liverpool’s domination settling in for the second half there was no stopping Coutinho’s second as it deflected off of John Terry past Begovic giving the reds the lead for the first time. And when Christian Benteke scored his 3rd Liverpool goal and Liverpool’s 3rd of the night it was curtains for Chelsea and many thought curtains for Mourinho. Chelsea will feel hard done by when Lucas really should have been sent off for a second bookable offence although Martin Atkinson decided against it, like he also decided against possibly sending off Diego Costa for a subtle kick at Martin Skrtel as they both came crashing down. 

Many have criticised Roberto Firmino for not living up to the hype that he came to the club with, but that was in my opinion put to rest the last couple of weeks, especially last week. Playing at the top of the tree formation as I call it, 4-3-2-1, Firmino added along with Coutinho and Milner an attacking flare that had previously been lacking. Whilst Firmino is by no means the aerial or physical threat that Benteke is, he added a flare that along with Coutinho that created opportunities and tore apart Chelsea’s defence. Milner was added to the list purely because his hard work that he does every week was there which allowed Coutinho and Firmino to work their magic.

And finally before I move on to Palace, Liverpool is set to play Ruben Kazan in the Europa League. Klopp will take a full strength squad to Russia with only injured players (Sturridge…) and ineligible players left on Merseyside, one of the ineligible players Joao Teixeria has rumoured to have frustrated Klopp by being ineligible as he was not named in the Europa squad by Brendan Rodgers at the beginning of the campaign. After impressing in the League Cup match against Bournemouth, don’t be surprised if Teixeria is a featured young player for the rest of the season, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he were to feature this weekend against Palace.

Palace have had a shaky run as of late losing 3 of their past 5 matches, although one of which was a 5-1 demolition at the hands of Manchester City in the League Cup. Just days after being torn apart by City, Palace came up against City’s fierce rivals Manchester United. Going into this match, you would’ve been forgiven for picturing Palace being severely beaten. But as with Palace when they play the “bigger” clubs, they out perform themselves. Last week was no different, for the large majority of the match Palace were on top and thoroughly out playing United. Despite being held to a 0-0 draw Palace created opportunities which maybe on another day, would have gone in. Keeping United goalless is a feat in itself after the form they have shown this season. Alan Pardew’s men will be confident going into this weekend’s match, knowing that of the Liverpool have struggled to handle the Eagles, with the last 5 games winning 2 each and the infamous 3-3 draw of the 2013-14 season that all but cost Liverpool the title. This fixture will produce goals, 3 of the last 5 matches have finish 3-1, the others being that 3-3 draw and a 2-1 Liverpool FA Cup win. 
Expect goals in this match, history has a way of repeating itself particularly in this fixture. Although Palace have dropped off after their amazing start to the season, whilst Liverpool are only getting better under Klopp. 
Keegan’s Tip: 3-0 Liverpool (Benteke, Coutinho, Firmino)
Alex’s Tip: 1-0 Liverpool
Ty’s Tip: 3-1 Liverpool
Ty’s Tip: 3-1 Liverpool

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