Wolves have looked very-much at home in the Premier League and their football has been easy on the eye. They take on the league leaders, in the opening match in what looks a terrific game-week 18. John Newsome previews all 10 fixtures, before paying tribute to a friend and fellow football fan who has sadly passed away. You can view all previous analysis from John’s weekly column here – English Premier League Predictions For Saturday.
WOLVES v LIVERPOOL
Friday Night Football live on Sky Sports sees the Christmas football festivities begin and Wolves and Liverpool get their pre-Christmas game out of the way early.
Wolves come into this game off the back of a great result against Bournemouth at Molineux. Raul Jimenez and Ivan Cavaliero gave the Gold and Blacks the win which is now 3 wins in a row after 6 winless games and takes them up to 7th in the Premier League. The Wolves faithful make a quick return to Molineux to take on current Premier League table-toppers Liverpool hoping to get an early Christmas present.
Liverpool are back on Top of the Premier League after a convincing 3-1 win against relegation-threatened Manchester United, which ultimately cost Jose Mourinho his job at Old Trafford. Sadio Mane gave the Reds the lead in the 1st-half but Liverpool went in at the break level after United had equalised. Jurgen then made an inspired substitution in the 70th minute bringing on the little Swiss magician Xherdan Shaqiri. Shaqiri scored within 3 minutes of entering the field of play, then added a 2nd in a blistering 21-minute cameo appearance giving Liverpool the emphatic win against a very poor Manchester United team. Now that the Champions League as closed down until February when Liverpool take on Bayern Munich in the last 16, Jurgen only has the Premier League to concentrate on and with a very busy festive period he will have to juggle his squad around and being able to bring on players of the class of Shaqiri is a masterstroke in itself and shows the depth of the squad Liverpool have at their disposal.
Bet 365 offer Wolves at 5/1, the Draw at 10/3 and Odds On 1/2 for Liverpool to come away with all 3 festive points.
Bet 365 offer 11/5 that there are Over 3.5 goals and Evens 1/1 Mo Salah Scores Anytime.
Away Win 1-3
Top Online Bookmakers For Sports Betting
ARSENAL v BURNLEY
Another live TV game on Sky Sports in this early Saturday afternoon kick-off.
Arsenal finally lost on Sunday after a 22-game unbeaten run. The surprise in that loss is it wasn’t against Liverpool, City or Chelsea it was against Southampton who were languishing in the bottom 3 of the Premier League. Henrikh Mkhitaryan had equalised twice for the Gunners after the Saints had twice taken the lead. However, they were unable to make it 23 games unbeaten and succumbed to a late Southampton winner. Arsenal are struggling in defence with only a few able to pull on a shirt, even rushing back Captain Laurent Koscielny who didn’t look completely fit after playing for 70 minutes in the Europa League game the previous Thursday. Mesut Ozil was sent on for the final 20 minutes after not featuring in any of the last 4 Premier League games. Mesut is struggling at the moment and is not the influential player Arsenal need and was unable to make any impact against the Saints. Unai Emery will regroup and get his players back on track for this visit of Burnley.
Burnley head back to North London after losing 1-0 against Arsenal’s fierce rivals Tottenham last weekend. The annoying thing about that game for Sean Dyche was that Burnley had 11 men behind the ball, didn’t have a shot on goal and wanted to hold out for a 0-0. The scores were level going into injury time. Unfortunately, the Clarets conceded a very late goal giving Tottenham all 3 points and making the journey back North a very arduous one for the Burnley faithful. Maybe some of them have stayed down in London for the week doing a bit of Christmas shopping in preparation for this trip to the Emirates. With Southampton getting the shock win against the Gunners, Burnley are now in the Bottom 3 of the Premier League and will need to turn around their fortunes pretty soon if they are to move away from the relegation zone. This tough game against Arsenal may not be the one to get back to winning ways as the Gunners will be wounded from their loss to the Saints and will want to bounce back as soon as possible.
This game last term was the penultimate game of the season and finished 5-0 to the Gunners. Alexandre Lacazette, Sead Kolasinac and Alex Iwobi along with a couple from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were the goal scorers that day in May in Arsene’s farewell to the Emirates.
Bet 365 offer Arsenal at Odds On 2/9, the Draw at 11/2 and a massive 10/1 for Burnley to come away from the Emirates with all 3 festive points.
Bet 365 offer 7/4 that there are Under 2.5 Goals and 11/4 for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to get the First Goal.
Home Win 1-0
MAN CITY v CRYSTAL PALACE
Man City briefly went back to the top of the Premier League for 24 hours after a very convincing win against Everton in the rain of the Etihad. Gabriel Jesus scored twice, before Raheem Sterling, who had only just come on as a 2nd-half substitute, scored the 3rd with his first touch. City did concede a goal to the Toffees but ultimately this was just a consolation and in truth never looked in trouble and went back to the top until Liverpool played and beat United. That might be the story of the season with Jurgen and Pep fighting for the top spot throughout the term. In theory, if Liverpool win their remaining 21 games, they will be champions but in reality, there’s a long way to go and City will fight to the end to hang on to their title.
Crystal Palace finally got a much-needed win against Leicester on Saturday giving them breathing space from the bottom 3. Luka Milivojevic got the only goal in the 1-0 win against the Foxes. That win was without Wilfried Zaha after he picked up a ban for his 5th yellow card. Roy Hodgson saw Crystal Palace secure their first Premier League win without Wilfried Zaha in over two years and that would definitely have pleased Roy. It’s unlikely that Roy will leave Zaha on the bench though and Wilfried should come straight back into the starting eleven probably at the expense of Jordan Ayew. Which seems unfair on Jordan but Palace can’t risk not playing the very influential Wilfried.
This game last season was played at the end of September and Man City ran out easy 5-0 winners. Leroy Sane, Sergio Aguero, Fabian Delph,
and a couple from Raheem Sterling were the goal scorers that day.
Bet 365 offer City at a massive Odds On 1/8, the Draw at 8/1 and 14/1 for Palace to come away with all 3 festive points.
Bet 365 offer 4/1 that Raheem Sterling gets 2 Goals and a massive 40/1 that Crystal Palace Miss a Penalty.
Home Win 4-0
WEST HAM v WATFORD
West Ham got the better of their London rivals on Saturday beating Claudio’s Cottages 2-0 at Craven Cottage. Robert Snodgrass and Michail Antonio got the Bubbles goals against bottom of the table Fulham lifting them to 9th in the Premier League. Andy Carroll got some action as a 2nd-half substitute making a brief 20-minute cameo when the game was effectively over. After being injured for a long time, Andy is easing himself into matches with brief appearances in the last 3 games, all winning games incidentally. That will definitely please Big Andy and the Hammers faithful and if he can stay fit, will be a real asset to Manuel Pellegrini.
Watford beat Cardiff 3-2 last time out. Although a great win, with some great goals, the worrying factor in the game for the Hornets was that they were leading 3-0 with 10 minutes to go but allowed Cardiff back into the game conceding 2 late goals making the final few minutes nervy ones for the Watford faithful. Gerard Deulofeu, Jose Holebas and Domingos Quina got the Watford goals giving them their 1st win in 7 games. This should be a great pre-Christmas clash for both sides and the Watford fans haven’t far to travel in what potentially will be a very busy day in the Capital.
This game last season was played in the cold of February and finished 2-0 to West Ham. Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and Marco Arnautovic were the Hammers goal scorers.
Bet 365 offer West Ham at 13/10, the Draw at 11/5 and 21/10 for Watford to head away from the London Stadium with all 3 festive points.
Bet 365 offer 2/1 that there are Over 3.5 Goals and 9/4 that West Ham Score in Both Halves and 11/4 for Watford to do likewise.
NEWCASTLE v FULHAM
The Toon Army headed back North from West Yorkshire after a well earned 1-0 win against Huddersfield. Salomon Rondon got the only goal of the game in the 2nd-half giving Newcastle the 1st win in 4 games. Rafa will be hoping Mike Ashley puts his hands in his wallet and invests in the team in the January Transfer Window. There is still confusion as to whether Mr Ashley is selling the club but Rafa will want some money for investment to stave off a relegation battle.
The fixture computer compiler has not been kind to Fulham and their fans giving them this long trip up to Newcastle 3 days before Christmas. Maybe the fans can visit the Metro Centre to pick up some last minute shopping before they head to St James Park. Fulham sit rock bottom of the Premier League after another loss at the weekend against London rivals West Ham. The Hammers got 2 1st-half goals to inflict another loss on the Cottages which is now no wins in 4 for Fulham and Claudio Ranieri has work to do over the coming weeks to try and get Fulham away from the bottom of the table and the January Transfer Window is key.
Bet 365 offer Newcastle at Odds On 10/11, the Draw at 5/2 and 11/4 for Fulham to come away from St James Park with all 3 festive points.
Bet 365 offer 17/2 for Newcastle to Win 2-1 and 19/10 that Alexandar Mitrovic Scores Anytime against his old Club.
Home Win 2-1
HUDDERSFIELD v SOUTHAMPTON
After a brief resurgence, Huddersfield have slipped back into the bottom 3 of the Premier League following their 4th loss in a row. Admittedly the losses have only been by the odd goal, so they are not exactly getting hammered, but a loss is a loss, whether it’s 1-0 or 5-3. The latest loss was a 1-0 defeat to Newcastle. The stats show that the Terriers had 75% of the possession in that game but ultimately the majority of possession counted for nothing. Huddersfield make a quick return to the John Smiths Stadium to hopefully give their loyal fans a pre-Christmas present. A big factor in team selection over the next few weeks is David Wagner is unable to call on the services of star man and influential midfielder Aaron Mooy. Aaron picked up a knee injury in the loss against Arsenal a couple of weeks back and is possibly missing for up to 8 weeks. A big loss for the Terriers.
Southampton got arguably the result of weekend beating Arsenal at St Mary’s on Sunday. New boss Wreck-it Ralph Hasenhuttl certainly wrecked the Gunners 22 game unbeaten run and the 3-2 win lifted the Saints out of the bottom 3 on goal difference. Danny Ings got a couple then was replaced by Charlie Austin midway through the 2nd-half. With time running out, Charlie got the winner and gave Ralph his 1st win in English Football in only his 2nd competitive game. It’s early days yet for Southampton but to beat Arsenal is a great start and will give the Saints momentum going into this game against Huddersfield. The fixture computer compiler must be a Bournemouth fan, making the Southampton faithful travel all the way to West Yorkshire 3 days before Christmas.
This game last season was one of the earlier games played at the end of August and finished 0-0.
Bet 365 offer Huddersfield at 21/10, the Draw at 2/1 and 16/11 for Wreck-it Ralph to get back-to-back wins.
Bet 365 offer 11/8 that there are Over 2.5 Goals and 5/1 that Charlie Austin Scores the First Goal.
Away Win 0-3
CHELSEA v LEICESTER
Chelsea remain 4th in the Premier League Table after their convincing 2-1 win away at Brighton on Sunday. Although the scoreline was only 2-1, it was a convincing performance from Maurizio Sarri’s men.
Eden Hazard was at his imperious best, assisting in Pedro’s opener and then scoring Chelsea’s 2nd with superb composure. Chelsea won’t win the Premier League but will keep Liverpool and Man City honest and should finish in the Top 4. However, the main objective for the Blues is to try and persuade Eden to stay at Stamford Bridge, although a Summer move to Real Madrid is more than likely.
Leicester lost 1-0 on Saturday away at Selhurst Park and return to the Capital in quick succession without a win in 3 games now. Sheffield boys Jamie Vardy and Harry Maguire both returned to the starting lineup against Crystal Palace. Jamie had missed 2 games and Harry had missed the last 6 both through injury, so the Foxes faithful will be pleased to see the main men return. However, their presence failed to inspire Leicester who have become a bit static under Claude Puel with the players report-ably finding the training a bit monotonous.
This game last season was played in mid-January and finished 0-0.
Bet 365 offer Chelsea at Odds On 1/3, the Draw at 9/2 and a massive 7/1 for the Foxes to come away from the Capital with all 3 festive points.
Bet 365 offer 21/20 that Eden Hazard Scores Anytime and 7/2 that Jamie Vardy does likewise.
Home Win 3-1
BOURNEMOUTH v BRIGHTON
Bournemouth are on a poor run of form at the moment only winning 1 game out of the last 7. The latest defeat was a 2-0 loss away at Wolves. Eddie Howe has credit in the bank but he needs to turn around the fortunes of the Cherries soon before they slip further down the Premier League. Callum Wilson did get 30 minutes against Wolves after a little injury. Callum is vital to Bournemouth’s progress this season. Also, Eddie needs to work on his defence. Bournemouth have not kept a clean sheet in the last 9 games now which is worrying for the Cherries faithful.
Brighton head to the Vitality also off the back of a loss. They were beaten 2-1 on Sunday at home against Chelsea which is no disgrace but that’s 2 losses in a row and the previous loss was against struggling Burnley so Chris Hughton needs to quickly address the decline. Solly March got the solitary goal against Chelsea, Solly’s not known for his goal-scoring prowess but did score in this fixture last season.
This game last term was played in mid-September and Bournemouth ran out 2-1 winners. Goals from Andrew Surman and Jermaine Defoe gave the Cherries the win. As mentioned Solly March had put Brighton in front early on but Bournemouth got the 2 goals in the 2nd-half to take all 3 points.
Bet 365 offer Bournemouth at Odds On 5/6, the Draw at 13/5 and 16/5 for Brighton to come away with all 3 festive points.
Bet 365 offer 13/2 for the Score to be 1-1 and 11/2 that Glenn Murray gets the First Goal.
CARDIFF v MANCHESTER UNITED
Late Saturday Afternoon Football live on BT Sports.
Cardiff come into this game against Manchester United off the back of a 3-2 loss against Watford. At one point, with 10 minutes remaining, the Bluebirds were 3-0 down but 2 quick goals from Junior Hoilet and Bobby Reid gave Neil Warnock and the Cardiff faithful brief hope of a comeback. Alas, it wasn’t to be and Cardiff suffered the loss. In the last 7 games, the results have been Lost, Won, Lost, Won, Lost, Won, Lost, so on that basis Cardiff are due the win against Manchester United. Up until Tuesday of this week, Neil would have been rubbing his hands after watching United perform against Liverpool and the win was a possibility, however, because of the developments in Manchester on Tuesday, Neil has the unenviable task of taking on a Post-Jose-Manchester United.
Manchester United’s tame and uninspired performance at Anfield on Sunday, not only gifted their fierce rivals all 3 points but ultimately cost Jose his job. The receptionist at The Lowry started to get Jose’s bill ready at about 6 o’clock on Sunday afternoon. Her boss asked her what she was doing, to which she replied “Have you not watched United this aft ! “
It was touch and go as to whether it was Jose or Paul Pogba that departed Old Trafford first. Now the board have acted and paid Jose his severance, which will be north of £11 Million. Not bad for someone who has taken an institution the size of Manchester United backwards. Paul has to now step up to the plate and put in the performances that gave him a £90 Million price tag and a World Cup Winners medal. Whoever is in charge for this game against Cardiff doesn’t really have to do that much, just tell the players that they are playing for Manchester United, the goals are at either end of the pitch and that one end is for putting the ball into and the other end is for preventing the ball going into and at half-time you swap round. As the Meerkats would say “Simples”.
Bet 365 offer Cardiff at 11/2, the Draw at 14/5 and Odds On 1/2 for United to get back on track and come away with all 3 festive points.
Bet 365 offer 11/8 for United to Score in Both Halves and 2/1 that Paul Pogba gets a goal at Anytime in the Match.
Away Win 1-3
EVERTON v TOTTENHAM
This is the last game of the weekend and the final game prior to the Christmas Festivities live on Sky Sports. Ho Ho Ho.
Everton took on High Flying City at the Etihad on Saturday and although put up a decent fight, were convincingly beaten in the end. Dominic Calvert-Lewin did score midway through the 2nd-half giving the Toffees faithful hope of a comeback but City scored again and ran out 3–1 winners. Everton are languishing in 8th position of the Premier League and the loss to City will be put to bed as most teams will lose at the Etihad. Marco Silva tried to negate Pep by playing a back 5, 4 midfielders and just having Dominic up front on his own. Whilst it’s difficult to go head to head with City, Richarlison should have played up front with Dominic and had a go at the City back line. Maybe Marco will bear that in mind for the return visit of City and as this game against Tottenham is at Goodison Park will go with the 2 front men. The Toffees have only picked up 2 points from a possible 12 and will want to get back on track, however, Tottenham will be another tough task.
Tottenham head up to Goodison Park off the back of a hard-fought 1-0 win against Burnley. Hard-fought because Burnley came to Wembley with the sole purpose of putting 11 men behind the ball and defending, not even attempting a shot on Tottenham’s goal. Christian Eriksen got the winner in the 91st minute giving Spurs the 3rd Premier League win in a row. Mauricio Pochettino has become the leading contender for the vacant Manchester United job after Jose Mourinho left the building but Daniel Levy will want a fortune to let Mauricio leave. This trip to Goodison Park late on a Sunday afternoon 2 days before Christmas is just what the Tottenham faithful will want, but if Tottenham get all 3 points then the trip back home will be less of a burden.
This game last season was played in early September and finished 3-0 to Tottenham. Christian Eriksen got a goal sandwiched between a Harry Kane double to give Spurs the win.
Bet 365 offer Everton at 23/10, the Draw at 12/5 and slight Odds On 8/7 for Tottenham to come away with all 3 festive points.
Bet 365 offer 2/1 that there are Over 3.5 Goals and 3/1 that Harry Kane gets the First Goal.
Away Win 1-2
A Tribute To ‘Little H’
On Sunday 16th December 2018, I lost a dear friend who was the nicest man in the World and was always there to help me. Andrew ‘H’ Holmes. H was a massive Football fan and a massive Barnsley F.C. fan who travelled everywhere to see his beloved Reds. Words cannot describe the way his family, friends and I are feeling at the moment. I just wanted to share this little story with you all.
“In May 2009, Little H and I went to Italy for the weekend hoping to try and see AC Milan V Juventus on the Sunday night. We had been to Benidorm the previous three years but because Greeny’s baby was due and there was no way we could all go for a fourth consecutive year, Little H and I decided to go to Milan. We checked when AC Milan were at home and booked the relevant flights and hotel for that weekend. We didn’t buy any tickets over here, in hindsight we should have, but we thought we would wing it. At the airport on the Friday morning, we had a couple of pints and then Little H informed me he had lost our boarding passes.
Good start, somehow the airport staff let us on the plane, we were on their list and just had to wait until the plane had filled up and ours were the only names left so they let us on. It was common sense really by the staff but in this day and age of terrorism, I didn’t think they would without our boarding passes. As the plane took off and was over France, Little H found the boarding passes, you couldn’t make it up. It could have been worse I suppose if we weren’t allowed on the plane and he had found them as we were driving back to Barnsley. A couple of more drinks on the plane and we landed in Italy and caught a bus into Milan centre.
Our hotel, Hotel Berna was in the centre so we jumped in a taxi and told the driver ‘Hotel Berna mate’ we speak Italian! The driver just started laughing and shouting at the other cabbies on the rank. It turned out he was laughing because we were 100 yards from the hotel and could have walked, but he drove us there and charged us 10 euros for the short trip, we had the last laugh though, we didn’t tip him! The exchange rate was virtually the same, a pound for a euro.
We dropped our bags off at the hotel then went for a walk to get a feel for where we were, also we were on our holidays and that meant a few drinks. Not that many as it was only the afternoon but a steady five or six pints, then we went back to the hotel for a shower and to get ready for the night session. We asked the receptionist where the action was and got a taxi. ‘Garibaldi’ was the place to go, apparently, so we headed there. However, we got lost, we got out of the taxi and turned the wrong way and ended up in some back street local. It was a nice enough boozer but it was a local and full of the locals, we stayed there all night drinking pint after pint at €16 Euros a round, €16 Euros for 2 pints! There were only Little H and me.
The bar staff loved us, the locals would order a coffee and spend three hours drinking it, we were ‘Brits’ abroad, pint after pint at sixteen Euros a round. We got a couple of complimentary shots from them, well it’s the least they could do after getting about €150
Euros from us. The locals were fine with us though, Little H said to me as we went for a taxi ‘watch yourself’! ‘watch ourselves’? we could hardly stand up, we didn’t have to worry about the local hard nuts jumping us, we were that leathered, an old granny could have done us. Hee hee, we got back to the hotel ok though and had a top night. We were up for breakfast bright and early on the Saturday, hungover, but that’s to be expected. We had decided to head towards the San Siro to see if we could get tickets for the AC Milan V Juventus game.
The match was on the Sunday evening but we thought we would go up on the Saturday to see exactly where the stadium was. It was a scorching day, we bought a tube ticket for the weekend and headed to the San Siro, I had always wanted to go to the San Siro, I had seen it on TV many times and it was a stadium that Little H and me wanted to see, I had been to Barcelona’s Nou Camp or Camp Nou as some folk call it and Little H had been to Real Madrid’s Bernabeu so we decided the San Siro was the next one for us. it’s a fair walk from the tube to the stadium but it was a lovely day and we made our way there.
Although it wasn’t a match day there were quite a lot of people at the stadium. We decided to do the stadium tour, which was brilliant, just going into the changing rooms and sitting where Beckham, Ronaldhino and the rest got changed and finding out that there are actually three changing rooms. The San Siro is shared by AC Milan and Inter Milan and both teams have their own changing rooms, one in red and one in blue. With Recaro seats and LED TVs showing the players name above the seats. The third changing room was for the away team, AC and Inter don’t share. The tour guide told us that the game against Juventus was a sell-out and all the 85,000 tickets were gone.
As we left the stadium and went for a pint in a bar across the road from the ground, some local lads offered us tickets. We were a bit wary of buying from touts but I had come to Milan to see the game and had prepared myself for this situation. We started to ‘haggle’ over two tickets, the touts couldn’t speak English and as you have gathered Little H and I can’t speak Italian, other than ’2 pints please’ we got through the transaction of purchasing two tickets from these fine law abiding citizens by nodding our head and using our fingers and if you saw my fingers, anything could have happened. We eventually bought two tickets for €65 Euros each, they wanted €120 Euros each at first but we got it down to €65. Maybe we could have got them cheaper, who knows, but we had them now, we were happy.
We had a walk around the city then decided we were thirsty, well it was a hot day! We found a bar in the middle of a busy square outside some sort of castle and just drank and watched the world and beautiful women go by. About as perfect as you could wish for. We went back to the hotel at about 7 PM to shower and get ready for the night. I was ready first and left Little H to it whilst I went down to the bar and had a €10 Euro vodka and coke. Little H told me to hand the key in and would be down soon, after about an hour I wondered what was up and went back to the room. Little H had said there had been a power cut and he had to get ready in the dark so it took him longer, turns out that when I handed the key in at reception, the electricity goes off in the room, some sort of energy saving device. Made me laugh though, Little H bungling about in the dark thinking there was a power cut. I’d asked the barman where to go for some food and he recommended a little restaurant close by and told us exactly where to go in Garibaldi.
At the restaurant, I made the mistake of asking the waiter what he recommended. I love pasta and had vowed to have some sort of pasta whilst in Italy. The waiter, however, persuaded us to have ‘T Bone’ steak and chips and we had to cook it ourselves, they brought the steak out along with a hot plate so you could cook it to your own satisfaction then charged us €80 Euros for the privilege. It was nice, but not €80 Euros nice. We found the correct part of Garibaldi this time and had a good night on this little ‘strip’. Again we drank like we were at home and again the bars loved us. €9 Euros for a bottle of ‘Corona’ between us we must have polished off fifteen each and headed back to the hotel at about 4 AM. What surprised me most was the place was dead at this time of night. I thought Milan would be a ‘24’ hour city.
We were up for breakfast on the Sunday, albeit a bit worse for wear, but we were up. We found out some worrying news though. Unbeknown to Little H and me, all the tickets for the match had the purchaser’s name on it and had to be shown at the turnstile, along with a matching passport. Although we had a legitimate passport, we didn’t have our own names on the tickets as we had bought them from touts. There were Italian names on the tickets and worse, one of the tickets had a women’s name. I gave Little H this one, Maria Rose. We had been told that we had no chance of getting into the stadium, some lads we had met on the Saturday night said they had purchased some tickets from touts the previous season and were refused entry. They ended up watching the match in the bar we had bought the tickets in on the Saturday.
We caught the tube to the stadium and walked with all the fans up to the ground. I have to admit Little H and I were extremely nervous approaching the turnstiles and virtually knew we weren’t going to be allowed in. The turnstiles were all electronic, but about 15 yards in front of the turnstiles were barriers with the security checking the tickets and passports. We found the entrance and nervously approached the security staff, straight away they refused us entry because we had not got the relevant passport, we tried arguing but they wouldn’t listen. It didn’t matter to them, the tickets had already been paid for so the club had the money, they didn’t care whether the seat was filled or not. As there was a big queue and 85,000 fans trying to get in we were ushered away.
Little H said he was going to the box office to see if he could get some more tickets. I just shook my head, there was a forty-foot electronic screen saying, in big letters ‘SOLD OUT’ so I knew this was a futile effort, but Little H knew best. I just told him I would stand and wait. As I was waiting I watched the security staff see if anyone else were turned away. A couple of lads, who had obviously done the same as us, were turned away, so I kept my eye on them to see what they did. They walked to an opening which was about two foot from the actual turnstile. There was a barrier in front but no security staff. These two lads waited for about a minute and then quick as a flash, squeezed through the barrier, straight into the turnstile and as it was electronic, showed the barcode to the machine and were in.
I told Little H to follow me and as we stood at the barrier two foot from the turnstile, we kept an eye on the security staff and for that matter the police, who had guns. They were busy checking the crowd’s ticket and passport and as it was only about half an hour from kick off, it was extremely busy. I told Little H to get his ticket ready, he was with me and we shot through the barrier and straight into the turnstile which was quite full of other fans. We flashed our barcodes under the machine and amazingly we were in. We just mingled in with the rest of the crowd and headed in.
It was an amazing adrenalin rush, both of us were expecting a hand on our shoulders but none came and we carried on. The San Siro has four walkways on each corner of the ground which are ‘helter-skelter’ shaped and takes the fans up to their relevant part of the stadium. We went up to our seats and took in the atmosphere. David Beckham, KaKa, Ronaldhino, Pirlo, Clarence Seedorf and Paulo Maldini were some of the players on show for Milan, managed by ex-Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti. Buffon, Chiellini, Zanetti, Iaquinta, Camorenasi were playing for Juventus managed by former Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri. You can see why Beckham chose Milan to go out on loan from LA Galaxy, he strolled through the game. Serie A, although technical, is very pedestrian-like and suit’s the older players.
That’s why Maldini played until he was 41. The game finished one each, with goals from Seedorf for Milan and Iaquinta equalising for Juventus. The row of seats we were sitting in were empty. It’s obvious the touts buy sections from the club giving random names and then sell them to unsuspecting supporters who turn up at the ground and are not allowed in. Seems daft to me, I know touts are bad but its supply and demand and if football fans like Little H and me want to pay a bit more for a ticket to get in the ground, let us. If the fans have tickets, let them in, that way the ground gets full and has an atmosphere and the food and drink stands get custom. Little H and I had a coke and a hot dog in the ground. That’s money they would not have got if we didn’t get in.
We saw the game though and we had achieved our ambition, we were happy, now it was party time. We headed back to Garibaldi and met up with the lads we had met Saturday night. The bar owners face lit up when they saw Little H and me. I’m sure I heard him shout ‘get the Corona ready’ in Italian. We partied until 4 am again at €18 Euros a round, €18 Euros for two bottles of ‘Corona’ scandalous, but we drank them like they were for free and only stopped when we had the bar shut around us. They just locked up as we were stood outside. A good weekend though, a good drink, a game of football and no trouble. No pasta either, miffed at that.”
Andrew ‘H’ Holmes Rest In Peace my little brother. Love Always.
Greeny, Wak and JB xxx
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