The highlight games for this weekend and coming week’s action are LIVERPOOL versus NEWCASTLE and LEEDS UNITED versus MANCHESTER UNITED. Our feature columnist, John Newsome previews these as well as all game-week 33 EPL matches with his unique and insightful commentary. You can view all previous analysis from John’s regular column here: English Premier League Predictions For Saturday.
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ARSENAL v EVERTON
Sky Sports 20.00 in England
Arsenal come into this game off the back of a relegation battle against Fulham where Mikel Arteta’s men came from a goal behind to snatch a draw from a 1-1 scoreline. After a goalless 1st-half, the Cottagers were awarded which can only be described as a soft penalty, 10-minutes after the restart, which was converted to give the visitors the lead.
It then appeared that the referee was going to play on until Arsenal equalised, which Eddie Nketiah, a 2nd-half substitute did in the 97th-minute. It would have been interesting to see how long the referee, Craig Pawson, would have added on if Eddie had not scored.
Whilst it was a slight jest that the game was a relegation battle, Arsenal sit in 9th-place, with 46-points from 32-games played, 3-points adrift of tonight’s opponent who have played a game less than the Gunners.
Arsenal have progressed to the Semi-Final of the Europa League, beating Slavia Prague over 2-legs to set up a mouthwatering tie against Villarreal, who just happen to be managed by a certain Unai Emery. There is still the possibility of an all-English final pairing Arsenal against Manchester United.
Tottenham sack Jose Mourinho!
As the North London rivals Tottenham don’t play in the Premier League this weekend due to the Carabao Cup Final, thus not allowing for a preview, it’s fitting to include the fact that Jose Mourinho and Spurs have parted company, in the Arsenal section.
It was inevitable that Dracula would leave the Chas and Dave Memorial Stadium, even folk on Mars knew, it was just a matter of when not if. It is, however, a surprise that the ‘when’ is a week before the Cup Final appearance.
There’s no question that Jose Mourinho is a character, whether a ‘Special One’ is debatable, maybe back in 2004 when he announced his arrival at Stamford Bridge, the lad was kind of special but this is 2021, 17-years later and Dracula hasn’t evolved.
For the regular readers of this column, Jose is often referenced as Dracula, purely due to the fact that from the outside, it appears that he sucks the life out of players.
Joe Cole was an outstanding talent as a youngster at West Ham, which earned him a move across London to Stamford Bridge, exactly 12-months before Mr Mourinho arrived. Joe’s obvious talent was there for all to see until Dracula arrived to suck the life out of the lad, with Joe never being the same until Jose left in 2007.
At Inter Milan, Dracula sucked the life out of all the Italian stars and although won another Champions League with the Milan club, there wasn’t a single Italian in the Internationale starting eleven for the Final against Bayern Munich.
After the final which was played at the Bernabeu in Madrid, Jose stayed on in the Spanish Capital to take over as the Real Madrid boss for the 2010/11 campaign.
Whilst at Madrid, again winning titles, Dracula sucked the life out of the legendary Real Madrid ‘keeper, Iker Casillas.
Another stint in London followed the Spain adventure where Jose, although won the La Liga title, failed to win the Champions League, which is basically what the Spanish giants employed him for, having already won the top European gong with Porto and Inter Milan.
In Jose Mourinho’s 2nd spell at Stamford Bridge, another title was added to Chelsea’s honours board, the 3rd for Jose over 2-stints.
That title was the last one won by the Portuguese ‘Special’ which was added to 2-League Titles with Porto, the 2-previously with Chelsea, 2 with Inter Milan and a single La Liga with Real Madrid.
After the 2014/15 Premier League title victory, Dracula was once again sacked by Roman Abramovich, a couple of months into the following season.
Mr Mourinho then arrived at The Lowry in Manchester as the new United boss, where, although there was a League Cup and Europa League trophy won, Dracula sucked the life out of Luke Shaw and was beginning to work his Darkness on Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba.
After failing to win a Premier League title, the first time Jose hadn’t won a league gong in his career, Manchester United saw the iceberg and Jose was once again, down the concrete.
For some reason, Daniel Levy, who must have had a bang on the head, employed the Dark One, as Tottenham’s manager, who immediately sucked the life out of Dele Alli, an England International, whose football career as not only stood still since Jose’s arrival at the Chas and Dave Memorial Stadium but some would say, gone backwards.
Jose Mourinho took Manchester United back 5-years, where Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is currently doing a decent, if not perfect job at bringing United back to the Top Table.
Jose’s management skills, which no one can question, were once the best, haven’t evolved and the not so Special One’s methods aren’t any good in the modern game.
There’s talk Jose wasn’t happy with the proposed new European Super League that was being lined up, which more information will be put into this column later. However, whether that’s true or not is irrelevant as Mr Mourinho wouldn’t have lasted much past the end of this season and it would have been another reason or excuse as to why Dracula was back in Whitby.
It might be seen as harsh to say Jose Mourinho is a spent force but if the lad doesn’t evolve, then the same will happen at his next club, which will be sometime soon.
A team from one of the top European Leagues will employ the Dark One, that’s without question, in the meantime, Jose Mourinho will be box office on Sky Sports and dollar will be found for his punditry on the upcoming Euro 2020.
There’s a certain Dele Alli and Gareth Bale training this week, with an extra bounce in their Predators.
Everton earned a great point from a Desmond 2-2 scoreline on Friday Night Football, against, guess who? That’s correct Tottenham!
So Jose Mourinho’s final fixture in charge saw the Portuguese manager get a draw against the legend that is Carlo Ancelotti, who, perversely, should be the Tottenham manager. Whilst the Toffees faithful wouldn’t want to see Carlo leave, stranger things have happened.
Gylfi Sigurdsson scored twice on Friday at Goodison Park, 1 being a penalty, to cancel out a brace from Harry Kane to earn a point from the draw. Although unbeaten in 3-games, those 3 have been drawn and the Toffees haven’t won in 5 now, with the other 2 being defeats.
That puts Everton on 49-points, in 8th-place, 3-points more than tonight’s hosts but having played a game less than Arsenal, so the gap between the two, could effectively be 9-points if a victory was achieved in this fixture and the game in hand. That said, obviously, Arsenal would have the same points if Everton lose.
This was a Game Week-14 affair at Goodison Park which saw Carlo Ancelotti’s Toffees take the honours over Mikel Arteta’s Gunners.
Everton were helped on their way when Arsenal’s Rob Holding deflected past his own ‘keeper, to give the Blues the lead. Nicolas Pepe equalised before Yerry Mina added a 2nd for Everton on the stroke of half-time.
With no further goals after the break, Carlo got the victory over ex-Toffee Mikel by a 2-1 scoreline.
Bet 365 offer Arsenal at slight Odds On 19/20, the draw at 13/5 and 14/5 for Everton to come away with all 3-points.
Bet 365 offer 6/1 that Gabriel Martinelli Scores First and 4/1 that Gylfi Sigurdsson Scores Anytime.
LIVERPOOL v NEWCASTLE
BT Sports 12.30 in England
Liverpool gained a point from a draw by a 1-1 scoreline against Leeds United on Monday Night Football. Jurgen Klopp decided that Mo Salah wasn’t fit enough to start so left the Egyptian Magician on the bench, introducing Big Mo after 71-minutes.
Sadio Mane, who Mo replaced, scored the opening goal for the Reds midway through the 1st-half and with Liverpool a goal in front, Klipperty brought off Mr Mane and sent on Mr Salah to try and cement the lead. Unfortunately for the away team, Leeds United equalised in the 87th-minute to give both teams a share of the points.
Before the goal, Liverpool, assuming they had won, jumped above Chelsea and West Ham into 4th-place and the final Champions League slot, however, with just a point instead of 3, Jurgen’s Reds remained in 6th-place, then with Tottenham’s subsequent victory against Southampton on Wednesday, drop to 7th on goal difference, (just 2-goals in it, with both conceding 38 but Tottenham scoring 56 as opposed to Liverpool’s 54).
Liverpool appear to be one of the six clubs who were to join the European Super League, which does look as if it’s upset one or two folk and is now dead in the water.
There’s also talk of the current Champions League being revamped for the start of the 2024/25 season, with 36 teams included.
It’s a convoluted system that will see teams play 10-stage fixtures (5-home and 5-away) instead of the 6 currently. However, not the same team home and away.
The 8-teams finishing top of the group then go into the last-16, with the team finishing 9th to 24th, going into a 2-legged knockout to progress to the last-16. Everyone following?
To gain entry into the Champions League will see a similar basis where the Top Four will be included plus an extra place (5th) for some individual leagues, such as the English Premier.
Another 2-teams will be included based on their UEFA coefficient, over the past 5-years. The Europa League is being changed too, with a similar new format, plus a 3rd European competition called the Europa Conference League.
Against Leeds United on Monday, the Elland Rd outfit wore Tee-shirts with the words ‘Earn It’ on the front, which did irk Klipperty Klopp somewhat. The new proposal from UEFA doesn’t come into effect for another 3-years so there is still time for that to change.
When it appeared that Newcastle would be dragged into a relegation battle, 7-points from the last 3 outings have eased the pressure on Steve Bruce and his Black and Whites.
Following a draw against Tottenham and a win against Burnley, Newcastle gained another victory at St James Park on Saturday, against West Ham, by a 3-2 scoreline. Although a superb victory that lifts the Magpies away from the drop-zone, Newcastle did make it a nervy 90-minutes for the cardboard Toon Army.
West Ham scored an own goal to help the home side on their way, with Joelinton scoring a 2nd-before the break.
Steve Bruce then had a further bonus with the Hammers being reduced to 10-men that gave Newcastle a man advantage for almost an hour.
West Ham then made a comeback in the 2nd-half, scoring twice to level the score, however, Big Brucey made an inspired substitution, bringing on Arsenal loanee, Joe Willock, a minute after the Hammers equaliser and within a minute of the youngster’s introduction, Joe scored the winner.
The victory lifts Newcastle to 15th in the table with 35-points, which means, the Magpies are staying in the Premier League, it’s official.
Well, in saying that, it’s not actually official but with Fulham’s subsequent draw the day after, it means Newcastle are a massive 8-points ahead of the final relegation placed Cottagers, which, with 6-fixtures remaining, 5 for Fulham, the Magpies have to implode superbly to be relegated.
With the added extra of a final game against Fulham to confirm their stay in the Top Flight.
At St James Park, the day before New Year’s Eve, New Years Eve-Eve so to speak, the teams were so excited in getting the disastrous 2020 out of the way, that both the Black and Whites and the Reds, couldn’t concentrate on scoring with the game finishing in a drab 0-0 draw.
Bet 365 offer Liverpool at Odds On 1/4, the draw at 11/2 and 9/1 for Newcastle to come away with all 3-points.
Bet 365 offer 21/10 that Mo Salah Scores First and 6/4 that there are Over 3.5 Goals.
WEST HAM v CHELSEA
Sky Sports 17.30 in England
West Ham will feel a bit unlucky after Saturday’s away-day defeat against Newcastle by a narrow 3-2 scoreline.
The unfortunate Issa Diop scored an own goal to give the Magpies a lead, then David Moyes Boys compounded that error, with Craig Dawson receiving 2-Yellow Cards and an early bath at the same time as Issa’s OG.
Trailing 2-0 at the break and with a man light, West Ham staged a bit of a comeback with Big Issa scoring in the right net and Jesse Lingard continuing his fine goalscoring form to equalise in the 80th-minute.
Unfortunately for the Bubbles, the parity didn’t last long with Newcastle scoring the winner to inflict the defeat on West Ham, just the 3rd-loss from the previous 11-games.
The Hammers dropped to 5th in the table with 55-points, with the same 55-points as Chelsea but a slightly inferior goal difference, after the Blues subsequent draw against Brighton on Tuesday.
With 6-fixtures remaining, this one against Chelsea, plus home games against Everton and Southampton on the final day, added to away trips to Burnley, Brighton and West Brom, it will be a tough ask for the Bubbles faithful to dream of a Champions League place but they will definitely take a Thursday Night outing for next season.
West Ham’s previous 3-fixtures have finished in a 3-2 scoreline, so it would be remiss not to have a cheeky pound on the score at the London Stadium being the same.
Obviously, the excitement of the supposed European Super League was too much for the Chelsea Boys, who played out a delayed Tuesday Night drab goalless bore draw against Brighton at a wave of anger filled Stamford Bridge (well anger outside of the Bridge).
The absolute misjudgement of the proposed Super League has been quickly re-aligned, with the usually ruthless Roman Abramovich, deciding to pull the Blues out immediately.
More on that later.
A victory on Tuesday would have seen the Blue Engines leapfrog both West Ham and Leicester into 3rd-place in the table.
The point gained, however, as one knows, it’s always a point gained, not 2-points lost, as a team can’t lose something that’s not there, does lift the Blues into 4th, with the same 55-points as the Hammers but with a slightly superior goal difference, Chelsea with plus+19, the Hammers with plus+11.
That obviously means the winners, in this London Derby, will be in the Champions League places, with a 3-point gap between the two.
The result would also see, one of the teams jump into 3rd-place, for 24-hours at least, until the Foxes game against Crystal Palace on Sunday.
Chelsea appear to have the hardest run-in, between themselves and West Ham, with fixtures at home against West London rivals Fulham, who are fighting for their Premier League survival, Man City at the Etihad, Arsenal and Leicester at the Bridge and a final away-day trip to Villa Park.
The irony in the Chelsea v Leicester fixture is that it should take place in Game Week-37 on the 15th of May but actually Thomas Tuchel’s Blue Engines face Brendan’s Wonderful’s on the same weekend at Wembley, in the FA Cup Final, so that will have to be rearranged, probably for the midweek between 37 and 38. Come the final Game Week-38 fixtures, the Champions League places could already be decided.
Chelsea got a brilliant victory in the Semi-Final of the FA Cup, beating Man City by a narrow 1-0 scoreline to not only progress to the Final in May but stop the opportunity of a Quadruple from Pep’s Low Flying Blues.
The Red half of Manchester are over the moon, as their historic record of the treble, winning the Premier League, the Champions League and the FA Cup from 1998/99 is still intact.
Four days before Santa arrived, Chelsea got the early Christmas presents with a victory against West Ham by a 3-0 scoreline. Frank Lampard was still at the helm, with no inclination that in 5-games time, would be down the concrete.
Thiago Silva scored in the 1st-half to give the Blues a half-time lead. Tammy Abraham (remember him?) scored twice after the break to seal the win for Big Frank over Big David.
Bet 365 offer West Ham at 10/3, the draw at 5/2 and slight Odds On 17/20 for Chelsea to come away with all 3-points.
Bet 365 offer 2/1 that Jesse Lingard Scores Anytime and 12/5 that there are Over 3.5 Goals.
SHEFFIELD UNITED v BRIGHTON
Sky Sports 20.00 in England
Sheffield United lost!
Obviously, that’s the opening line to most of the Blades previews this term, with the added extra of Saturday’s late defeat against Wolves by a 1-0 scoreline, confirming the inevitable that Sheffield United are officially relegated.
Nuno’s Gold and Blacks scored the solitary winning goal on the hour mark to inflict the 27th-defeat of the season on the Blunts who sit bottom of the table with 14-points from 32-games played.
James from Swinton, nowhere near Bramall Lane, has mixed emotions, well he would have if he knew what that meant, as although Sheffield United are going to the Championship, his 1st-footballing love, Barnsley FC are in the Playoffs and could quite possibly be replacing the Blades in the Top Flight.
Jim used to watch the Oakwell outfit when he was younger, walking down to the ground holding his Dads hand, with his Father saying, ‘Stop holding my hand you little Blunt, you’re 23-now!’
It’s hoped that Jimbo’s true Club, the Super Reds, do get promoted to continue the little fella’s inclusion in this column as the lad loves his weekly mention and excitedly shows his lovely girlfriend the piece every time this column is published.
She’s still waiting for the ring on her finger but James keeps telling her, that due to the horrendous Coronavirus situation, Haribo remains shut and she will just have to wait.
There are 6-more Premier League fixtures remaining for the little Blunt who is drowning his sorrows with the fruit Kopparberg, only 2 mind, as the lad is still not fully house trained.
The other day, Jim went to the toilet after a couple of pints of the fruit stuff and returned to his lovely girlfriend, saying that he must have super-powers as when he went into the toilet, the light came on automatically and when he left the light went off, Jim’s girlfriend wasn’t happy,
‘You’ve gone in the fridge again, you silly little Blunt!’
A quick note to add is recently another good friend of John Newsome’s was on the phone spelling out words using the phonetic alphabet. The young lady, whose own football team, the Blue half of Sheffield, Sheffield Wednesday, are going to be relegated too, to League 1 or Division 3, so is a bit upset and came out with, A for Alpha, S for Sierra and X for Christmas (Xmas!) One couldn’t make it up, silly Owl.
Brighton played out another draw on Tuesday at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea, the Seagulls 13th-stalemate of the campaign.
Graham Potter has assembled a decent enough squad that should be playing Premier League football next term after already amassing 34-points from 32-fixtures played.
Whilst still not mathematically safe, the Seagulls have a 7-point gap between themselves and the final relegation placed team Fulham, which would mean the Cottagers have to win 3-games more than Brighton in the remaining 6-fixtures, 5 for Fulham.
Added to that, Harry’s men have the superior goal difference between the bottom clubs, despite only scoring 33 times, Brighton have conceded the least amount of goals by any of the bottom 9-teams, scoring 33 and conceding 38, meaning a minus-5 GD. Fulham have minus-18 and West Brom have minus-31.
There is a player that Graham has at his disposal, brought to the Amex by Chris Houghton, that could easily play in any of the supposed Top Six teams and that is Yves Bissouma, who wouldn’t look out of place in a Manchester United shirt, whether Red, Grey of Zebra.
The Mali International will turn 25, come the start of the 2021/22 campaign, with the top boys keeping an eye on the lad. Watch this space. Sheffield United didn’t lose at the Amex, before Christmas, which is a surprise in itself.
Happy Chris was happy, even though his face didn’t reflect the feelings of joy from earning a point following a 1-1 draw.
After a goalless 1st-half, that saw the Blades John Lundstram see Red and allow him to put the kettle on for his mates, Jayden Bogle, 9-minutes after coming on as a substitute, scored to put Sheffield United in front.
Unfortunately for Happy Chris and the Blades (a great name for a band), the bad dog walker was on show and the away team couldn’t hold on to the lead, conceding a goal, late on, when Brighton’s ex-Manc, Danny Welbeck equalised to give both teams a share of the points.
Bet 365 offer Sheffield United at 17/4, the draw at 12/5 and slight Odds On 3/4 for Brighton to come away with all 3-points.
Bet 365 offer 7/4 that there are Under 1.5 Goals and 13/2 for a 0-0 Scoreline.
WOLVES v BURNLEY
BBC 1, 12.00 in England
Wolves got the victory late on Saturday night, inflicting a defeat on Sheffield United by a 1-0 scoreline.
Willian Jose scored the solitary winning goal on the hour-mark to not only get the win but officially confirm the inevitable of the Blades relegation back to the Championship. The victory leaves Nuno’s Gold and Blacks in 12th-place with 41-points from 32-games played.
There’s no danger of relegation so Wolves could actually play without fear and have freedom which could surprise Burnley, West Brom, Brighton, Tottenham, Everton and Manchester United, the remaining teams to play.
Burnley and West Brom are fighting relegation so Nuno’s Boys could help seal the fate of either of those two as they did with Sheffield United. Burnley remain just above the relegation zone in 17th-place, with 33-points after the defeat against Manchester United on Sunday.
After a goalless 1st-half, the Clarets conceded a United opener, soon after the restart but were quickly level when James Tarkowski equalised with a header from a corner.
Unfortunately for Sean’s Boys, Manchester United were able to bring on the superb Edinson Cavani, whose class was the difference between the two, helping Ole’s Wheels to score twice more, inflicting the defeat on Burnley by a 3-1 scoreline. That being the 3rd-defeat in a row, which the lack of form is coming at the wrong time for Sean and his men.
Sean Dyche’s Clarets are 6-points ahead of Fulham but have only played 32-times, not the 33, the Cottagers have so will feel it’s still in their hands.
Burnley got the home victory by a 2-1 scoreline just before Christmas. Ashley Barnes got the opener for Sean Dyche’s Clarets 10-minutes before the break with Chris Wood adding the 2nd just after the restart.
Fabio Silva scored a late penalty to give the Gold and Blacks hope of a comeback, however, the goal proved just a consolation, with Burnley holding on for the home win.
Bet 365 offer Wolves at Evens 1/1, the draw at 23/10 and 3/1 for Burnley to come away with all 3-points.
Bet 365 offer 15/2 that Adama Traore Scores First and 2/1 that there are Under 1.5 Goals.
LEEDS UNITED v MANCHESTER UNITED
Sky Sports 14.00 in England
Marching On Together! That was the sound reverberating around Elland Rd on Monday Night, when Diego Llorente scored a brilliant equaliser to gain a point against the current Premier League Champions, Liverpool, from a 1-1 draw.
In last week’s column, a little praise was given to Diego who is a great defender and at 27-years old, is entering the prime of his career and will show over the next couple of seasons, just what a class act he is.
One slight negative that Mr Llorente needs to address is to not give the ball away in dangerous areas, that said, it’s a concern for a lot of current high-class defenders who have a manager that promotes, playing out from the back, so mistakes, will no doubt, be made.
Harry Maguire and John Stones are of similar age as Diego, with Big Harry being slightly older and the Barnsley Stone being slightly younger.
Diego Llorente is up there with the both of them and whilst not wanting to upset the Leeds United faithful, could easily become a player for either of the Manchester clubs.
Leeds sit 10th-in the table, with 46-points, the same as Arsenal, who are a place above due to goal difference. Marcelo’s Whites, by the way, have a zero-goal difference, scoring 50 and conceding 50.
With Sheffield United being relegated, it does look like Leeds United won’t have a Yorkshire Derby next term, however, there is a slight chance that Marcelo Bielsa could bring his boys, down the M1, to Oakwell.
It’s touch and go as to whether Barnsley FC will make the playoffs and once making those, it really is a Lottery as the Leeds United faithful know.
Yet with a fair wind blowing and a bit of divine intervention, the Yorkshire Derby could continue and a guaranteed 6-points for the Super Reds.
Manchester United earned a great professional victory against Burnley on Sunday by a 3-1 scoreline, cementing the Red Devil’s 2nd-place, in the table, with 66-points, which briefly closed the gap between the two Manchester clubs to 8-points.
That subsequently went back to 11-points following City’s victory against Aston Villa on Wednesday.
With 66-points from 32-fixtures played, the gap between United and Leicester in 3rd, is still 7-points, with 6-games to go (5 for City).
After a goalless none-entertaining 1st-half, Ole replaced Fred at the break, not needing the midfielder, bringing on the excellent Edinson Cavani, who changed the direction of proceedings helping Mason Greenwood to score twice, before adding the 3rd, himself.
That was after helping United to the Semi-Final of the Europa League scoring in the 2nd-leg victory against Granada, to set up a home and away tie against Roma, for a chance to play Arsenal or Villarreal in the Final.
Ex-Manchester United defender, Chris Smalling is at the Italian club but hasn’t played since the beginning of March, so will be wanting to be fit to face his old mates. Fred was taken off at half-time against Burnley, which changed the dynamic of the 2nd-half.
Most regular readers of this will know John Newsome’s thoughts about the Brazilian, which is just about Football and not a personal attack on the lad, who looks a decent kid. It’s well documented in this EveryTip column that John Newsome’s narrative, is Manchester United won’t win anything with Fred.
Whilst it will be a great achievement for Ole and his Devils, Red, Zebra or Grey, to win the Europa League, the narrative still stands that if Fred is included in the starting eleven for the Semi-Final or Final, United will not win. There’s a saying that the proof is in the pudding and only time will tell if that narrative plays out.
As mentioned, it’s not a personal attack on the Brazilian, it’s the fact that Manchester United don’t create enough chances when Fred is playing. If watched, his first pass is usually sideways and if forward, it’s usually to a player with 5-defenders around them. There’s rarely a powerful run past the opponents or a definitive through ball that creates a goal-scoring opportunity.
Fred is energetic and runs around a lot but so do headless chickens and unless the said chicken has the genes of Diego Maradona, it’s unlikely the feathered friend of the Colonel will be playing at Old Trafford anytime soon.
Scott McTominay has come in for criticism too but in a recent Podcast done by John Newsome and Ian from TheHalfTimePie, which has somehow been confined to the rubbish bin, it was pointed out that Scott, may subconsciously, play in a withdrawn way, as he’s covering for Fred.
Subconsciously as it may just be a natural thing for Scott to do, without realising, that when Fred is next to him, Scott, subconsciously thinks to himself, ‘I’ve got to cover for Mr Flintstone!’
It was apparent on Sunday that when the Brazilian went off at half-time and was replaced by EC, Scott McTominay looked much free-er and United themselves looked more fluid, without Fred slowing the play, down.
Paul Pogba also enhances Manchester United. Paul has a lot of critics, not from this column by the way, as regular readers will know, this contributor is a fan.
A fan of Paul as a footballer, what the lad does off the pitch is up to him but on the pitch, Ole’s Wheels are a better team.
The ideal scenario would be for Fred to start against Roma and come off at half-time as although United won’t win anything with Fred, Ole will pick him to partner Scott. So Fred will play in the Semi-Final and if successful will start in the Final.
The unfortunate thing for the United faithful is this EveryTip narrative about the Brazilian, may be borne out.
It’s a shame the Podcast with Ian and John has gone missing as there were some interesting, intellectual gems on there!
In a week where the sacking of Dracula Jose Mourinho was put in the shadows by the supposed set up of a European Super League, it would be remiss of John Newsome not to offer a paragraph or five on the subject.
On Sunday Afternoon it was mooted that the self-styled Top Six of the Premier League, Man City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham had all signed up to a 20-team European Super League, with the giants of Spain, Barcelona, Real and Athletico Madrid, plus Juventus, Inter and AC Milan, all confirming their intent to join the ESL.
Firstly, a self-styled Top Six, because currently, Tottenham are 7th and Arsenal, 9th.
The owners of these clubs, apart from Tottenham, are foreign, with Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal owned by Americans, Chelsea owned by a Russian and Man City owned by a guy from the United Arab Emirates. Tottenham are owned by a British businessman, not, by the way, Daniel Levy but Joe Lewis.
The arrogance of these people, in just assuming that their actions would be accepted, as that’s basically how these Billionaires attain their Dollar, Ruble, Dirham or Pound.
Unfortunately, this action was a step too far for the British fan who simply put up resilience and within 2-days, the proposal of a European Super League was scrapped.
Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher, on Monday Night Football, started the furore, Jurgen, Ole, Pep, Unai and Thomas, were all like rabbits in the headlights, with Dracula having his own problems.
Manchester United’s stock, on the market, rose considerably on Monday, after the announcement, which is what the foreign owners wanted. The stock fell soon afterwards, after Worldwide condemnation of the ESL, even Boris got involved. Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville appeared to talk sense but in truth, are they?
The biggest problems in the Premier League at the moment are Racist abuse and the dreaded VAR. Yet, the reason that players are abused is that their Social Media accounts are set up, for Greed, purely to generate money, making them an easy target for the keyboard bullies.
Players have their own Media companies to oversee their account to allow them to generate money.
Phil Foden’s Twitter Account Management Company (yes, really !) have just parted company with the City player due to a Tweet put out about Kylian Mbappe. The post wasn’t abusive by the way.
This Media company wasn’t set up to just help out young Phil, it was set up to generate money, both for themselves and the player. Greed!
So whilst it is totally unacceptable for a person to send abuse to a player from their mum’s bedroom, the player is on Social Media with an ulterior motive in mind, to add to their already expansive wealth. Greed!
It’s thought that people higher up in football are a little bit hypocritical, with the UEFA statement saying the European Super League is based on greed! Isn’t that what UEFA and FIFA base their establishments on? Greed!
There’s been outrage and rightly so, that the proposed ESL, was a closed shop and no team would be relegated, ironically, similar to the NFL, the National Football League and the MSL, Major Soccer League, both American and both what the Yank owners advocated in the European Super League system. Capitalism is based on Greed!
Isn’t it Greedy to charge a spectator up to £2,000 for a 38-game season ticket?
Is it not greed that makes the Premier League charge Sky Sports and BT Sport over £1 Billion for rights, then charge a customer the extortionate monthly subscription fee?
Is it acceptable to pay a player £500,000 a week, a week! when families are struggling to put food on the table. Greed!
These players were outraged with the proposal of the European Super League, outraged, as they drove away from training in their Lamborghini and Bentley’s, outraged!
Whilst the protesting fans caught the tube home, scraped together a couple of quid and went down Lidl’s, to buy some food for the family.
Amongst the mayhem of the disgruntlement of the idea of a European Super League, proposed on Greed, Dracula was seen, leaving Tottenham’s Multi-Million Pound Training Complex, heading for Romania, in a £100,000 Aston Martin, with a cheque for £15 Million in his back pocket, for being sacked!
On top of the £15 Million received from Manchester United when he was sacked from that job too.
Roman Abramovich paid Jose £18 Million in 2007 for being rubbish, then paid him another £12.5 Million in 2015 for being equally as rubbish. Real Madrid added £17 Million to Dracula’s sack fund. A total of £77.5 Million for being sent down the concrete. Not bad work if one can get it, be rubbish at it, then get sacked. Greed!
UEFA are revamping their own model of the Champions League and Europa League, even introducing a 3rd, European competition, the Europa Conference League, with these being introduced in 2024.
Are they doing this purely for the good of the game and the interest of all those disgruntled fans? Will BT Sport put their monthly subscription down? Greed!
Taking the total number of teams from 32 to 36 in the UEFA Champions League, the biggest change will see a transformation from the traditional group stage to a single league stage including all participating teams.
Every club will now be guaranteed a minimum of 10-league stage games against 10-different opponents (5-home games and 5-away) rather than the previous 6-matches against 3-teams, played on a home and away basis. Some are calling it a European ‘S-Su-Sup’…Champions League.
The top 8-sides in the league will qualify automatically for the knockout stage, while the teams finishing in 9th to 24th place will compete in a 2-legged play-off to secure their path to the last-16 of the competition.
Similar format changes will also be applied to the Europa League (8-matches in the league stage) and a new Europa Conference League (6-matches in the league stage).
Subject to further discussions and agreements, these 2-competitions may also be expanded to a total of 36-teams each in the league stage.
Qualification for the Super, sorry, Champions League will continue to be open and earned through a team’s performance in domestic competitions.
One of the additional places will go to the club ranked 3rd in the League of the association, in 5th-position in the UEFA National Association ranking.
Another will be awarded to a domestic Champion by extending from 4 to 5, the number of clubs qualifying via the so-called ‘Champions Path’
The final 2-places will go to the clubs with the highest club coefficient over the last 5-years that have not qualified for the Champions League group stage but have qualified, either for the Champions League qualification phase, the Europa League or the Europa Conference League.
All games before the Final will still be played midweek, recognising the importance of the domestic calendar of games across Europe. Is that for the good of the game? Or Greed?
UEFA and FIFA were threatening to ban for life, any of the players involved in the European Super League, from playing for their country, yet can only ban a player or club for a couple of weeks, if that player or club uses Racist language towards a fellow player.
The EPL, English Premier League were outraged about the European Super League and the fact that the so-called elite Top Six were to join. Outraged!
The EFL, English Football League were outraged about the European Super League with the closed shop and the lack of competition. Outraged!
One final thought on the European Super League, Bury FC, would have joined the ESL, in a heartbeat! As for Greed!, there’s a reason it’s one of only 7 of the deadliest.
At Old Trafford, the cardboard faithful were certainly entertained with Ole’s Trollies getting the pre-Christmas victory by a 6-2 scoreline.
On first reflection, it would appear that Manchester United won easily, however, that wasn’t the case over the 90-minutes with Leeds United missing quite a few chances and like a Boxer, who doesn’t know when he’s beaten, Marcelo’s Whites kept getting up off the canvas and fighting back until the final bell was rung.
Scott McTominay scored twice within the 1st, 3-minutes to stun Mr Bielsa’s Boys.
Bruno Fernandes and Victor Lindelof added a couple more before Liam Cooper pulled a goal back to take Leeds in at the break trailing 4-1.
Although the scoreline looks like Manchester were completely in control, Patrick Bamford did miss a couple of good opportunities to notch for Leeds.
In the 2nd-half, Dan James and a Bruno penalty made it 6-1, before Stuart Dallas added a Whites 2nd.
The game still had almost 20-minutes to go so the scoreline could have been anything, however, with no further goals the game finished with the Red United beating the White United, 6-goals to 2. Although the scoreline looks emphatic, Leeds United were unlucky not to score more.
This game at Elland Rd will be a good watch for the football faithful, both cardboard and real.
Bet 365 offer Leeds United at 14/5, the draw at 3/1 and slight Odds On 5/6 for Manchester United to come away with all 3-points.
Bet 365 offer 13/10 that Edinson Cavani Scores Anytime and 10/3 that there are Over 4.5 Goals.
ASTON VILLA v WEST BROM
BT Sport 19.00 in England
Aston Villa stunned the Champions elect Man City on Wednesday, with John McGinn scoring after just 20-seconds of the referee’s whistle. Unfortunately, the lead only lasted 21-minutes with Pep’s Blues equalising then taking the lead before the break.
Just after those 2-City goals, Man City had a player sent off with Villa initially playing the opening 12-minutes of the 2nd-half, with a man advantage.
Unfortunately for Dean Smith’s Claret and Blues, Matty Cash received 2-quick Yellow Cards and ultimately the Red, to equal the sides out, both having 10-men.
That was the most of the excitement after the break with no further goals, City inflicted the defeat on Aston Villa that leaves Dean’s Boys with 44-points in 11th-place, however, having played only 31-fixtures.
Leeds United and Arsenal sit in the places above with 46-points but both have played a game more, so Dean will still feel his boys can go above them with a victory in the game in hand. As always though, it’s usually considered better to have the points on the board than games in hand.
Aston Villa’s remaining 7-fixtures are this game against West Brom, plus Everton both home and away, due to the game at Villa Park, being postponed back in February, Manchester United, Crystal Palace, Tottenham and Chelsea, with the extra game against the Toffees still not scheduled yet.
The fixture against Everton will probably take place between Game Week-37 and 38.
On current form, that is a Villa form built without Jack Grealish, Aston Villa will probably finish about where they currently are now, which considering Dean’s Claret and Blues are lucky to be in the Premier League (ghost goal against Sheffield United last season!) the Villains will do a Gary Barlow, Mark Owen and the rest and Take That and party.
West Brom were simply outplayed on Thursday, against the Midland rivals Leicester at the King Power, conceding 3-goals in the 1st-half. With no further goals after the break, the Baggies went back to losing ways, after victories in the previous 2-games.
The defeat leaves Big Sam’s Baggies in 19th-place in the table, with 24-points, a massive 9-points from safety, with just 6-fixtures remaining, against Aston Villa, Wolves, Arsenal, Liverpool, West Ham and Leeds United.
That effectively means West Brom need to win 3-times more than Burnley, from 6-outings, which, although is still mathematically possible, is a big ask and Big Sam may just have his first relegated team from the Premier League on his CV. The relegation could be confirmed in 2-fixtures time if the Baggies don’t win the Midland Derby’s against Villa and Wolves
At The Hawthorns back in December, West Brom had just sacked Slaven Bilic and appointed Sam Allardyce with this being the Big Man’s first game. Aston Villa got the pre-Christmas victory by a 3-0 away-day scoreline. Anwar El-Ghazi scored after 5-minutes before Jake Livermore got himself sent off just before half-time.
Villa left it late to seal the victory with Bertrand Traore adding the 2nd in the 84th-minute and Anwar scoring his brace and the Claret and Blues 3rd in the 88th-minute, to get the Midlands bragging rights and inflict an opening game defeat on Mr Allardyce.
Bet 365 offer Aston Villa at Odds On 17/20, the draw at 13/5 and 16/5 for West Brom to come away with all 3-points.
Bet 365 offer 4/1 that Ollie Watkins Scores First and 3/1 that Callum Robinson Scores Anytime.
LEICESTER v CRYSTAL PALACE
Sky Sports 20.00 in England
After confirming their place in this season’s showpiece FA Cup Final against Chelsea, with a victory over Southampton last Sunday, Leicester hosted West Brom on Thursday at the King Power Stadium.
With the Baggies fighting for survival and coming into the fixture against the Foxes off the back of 2-straight wins, it appeared to be a tough game, yet in fact, it was quite a stroll for Brendan’s Wonderful’s, gaining a great victory by a 3-0 scoreline.
Sheffield Superstar Jamie Vardy had his scoring boots back on, getting the opener, with Jonny Evans and Kelechi Iheanacho adding the others before the break.
With no further goals, Leicester got the Midlands bragging rights and hang onto 3rd-place in the table with 59-points, from 32-fixtures, now 4-points from 5th-placed West Ham, that would mean the Hammers have to win 1 and a bit more games than the Foxes to prevent the King Power seeing Champions League football next term.
Rod Stewart isn’t happy and his lovely pooch Lennon was straight off after the final whistle, late Thursday night, the West Brom shirt with ‘Stewart’ and ‘76’ on the back heading in Lens direction.
Sir Roderick was already in a bad mood over the football, seeing Brendan Rodgers take his team to the Final of the FA Cup, whilst at the same time, Mr Rod‘s beloved Green and White Hoops were being knocked out of the Scottish Pub Cup by arch-Glasgow rivals Rangers, who prevented Celtic from a 5th-straight Pub Cup victory, after stopping the 10-in a row of the Scottish Pub League.
Lennon knew the score and was off, barking the tune, ‘He’s Celtic, United but Brendan has decided that Leicester is the best place to be’ Woof-Woof!
Come kick-off, of this Monday Night Football at the King Power Stadium, it will have been 16-days since Crystal Palace last took to the field.
It was the 10th of April when Roy’s Boys were convincingly beaten at Selhurst Park against Chelsea by a 4-1 scoreline. Thomas Tuchel’s Blue Engines took a 3-0 lead at the break before Christian Benteke pulled a goal back, midway through the 2nd-half.
Chelsea scored a 4th, with 12-minutes remaining to inflict the defeat on the Eagles, which leaves Palace with 38-points in 13th-place, from 31-fixtures completed, not the 32 some others around have played.
There’s no danger of relegation, so Crystal Palace could upset a few, playing without fear, with remaining fixtures, including this away trip to Leicester, against Southampton, Sheffield United and Liverpool on the road and Man City, Aston Villa and Arsenal at Selhurst Park.
It could be Roy Hodgson’s last 7-fixtures as a manager as surely the 73-year old will call time on an amazing career. Roy will actually be 74 when the 2021/22 Premier League season starts.
Whilst there have been some moments that haven’t gone down well with the football fraternity, with a disastrous spell in charge of Liverpool and England, Roy should be afforded tremendous respect for a wonderful managerial career and it’s assumed the Crystal Palace faithful will wish the boy all the best in his retirement.
At Selhurst Park, pre-Christmas, Jamie Vardy wasn’t fit enough to start and was a substitute which meant that when Leicester were awarded a penalty after 19-minutes, Jimmy V wasn’t on the pitch to take and left it to Kelechi Iheanacho. Unfortunately, Big K missed, meaning the half-time score was 0-0.
Wilfried Zaha scored after the break with Harvey Barnes equalising late on to give both teams a share of the points.
Bet 365 offer Leicester at Odds On 4/9, the draw at 3/1 and 15/2 for Crystal Palace to come away with all 3-points.
Bet 365 offer 12/5 that Jamie Vardy Scores First and 6/4 Leicester Score in Both Halves.
Ex-professional footballer known affectionately as The Beast, Jon Parkin continues to offer his input and has kindly given his predictions for the 8, Game Week-33 fixtures.
Arsenal 1 v Everton 2
Liverpool 3 v Newcastle 0
West Ham 1 v Chelsea 1
Sheffield United 0 v Brighton 1
Wolves 1 v Burnley 1
Leeds United 1 v Manchester United 2
Aston Villa 1 v West Brom 1
Leicester 2 v Crystal Palace 1
JP had 5-correct results from the 10-fixtures last time out but significantly, Jon had 0-correct score.
John Newsome had 4-correct results from the 10-games with the 1-correct score.
A quick tally was added up and since Jon started giving his predictions, the Beast has 63-correct results with 14-correct scores from 134-games played.
John Newsome is slightly behind with 61-correct results and 12-correct scores.
All to play for