Thursday, 15 March 2018

Premier League Picks Of The Week 30

Sports - Football - Premier League - Week 30

The 30th week of the Premier League action saw:

29 goals - most by Leicester & Tottenham = 4 each
229 shots - most by Huddersfield = 30!!!
79 on target - most by Chelsea = 11
116 corners - most by Liverpool = 13
180 fouls - most by Liverpool = 16
25 yellow cards - most by Swansea & Leicester = 3 each
2 red cards - Anthony Knockaert for Brighton, Jordan Ayew for Swansea
2 penalties - 0 scored

What a game! It could not have been more one-sided at Huddersfield, 30-0 shots, Swansea down to ten men after just ten minutes when Jordan Ayew was sent off for catching Jonathan Hogg with his studs, keeper and MOTM Łukasz Fabiański was kept busy busy busy, but the Welsh side somehow held on, it ended 0-0 and a point each!!! Swans boss Carlos Cavalhal was full of praise, understandably, the Portuguese called it an epic point, and it was, whilst Tigers manager David Wagner was left wondering WTF?! Krass!!!
Arsenal avoided losing a fourth league game in a row for the first time in over 30 years thanks to PETR ČECH SAVING A PENALTY!!! That's a first for Arsenal! And the Czech keeper's first since 2011! And finally kept his 200th clean sheet after a long long wait, the first goalkeeper to achieve this feat in the PL! It ended 3-0 against Watford at a half-empty Emirates, the Gunners still making the clear win look difficult. Goals from Shkodran Mustafi, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan completed the London side's first league win since 3rd February when they beat Everton 5-1 and Arsène Wenger's 700th win in his 1,222nd match in charge of Arsenal. Party time? I think not.

What a team! West Brom's and West Ham's illness and injury list did not help them, both ended up well thrashed, continuing their miserable form! The prior lost 1-4 against Leicester, the latter 0-3 at Burnley, both Alan Pardew and David Moyes not gaining any points nor fans respectfully, it especially over-boiling in the London Stadium, more to that below. Not. Nice.
Chelsea got back to winning ways beating Crystal Palace 2-1 in a dominant display at Stamford Bridge and closing the gap to the top four. Former Liverpool defender Martin Kelly was involved in both goals for the Blues, Willian aided by a deflection for the first, the second a ping pong own goal, Patrick van Aanholt's goal too little too late. Unfortunate for Roy Hodgson once again, finally back on track for Antonio Conte.

What a man! Brighton manager Chris Hughton won the PL manager of the month award for the first time in his career and fully deserved it after seeing his side remain unbeaten for the whole of February. Much in contrast to that form, the Seagulls self-destructed at Everton, conceding two goals and seeing Anthony Knockaert sent off for his mad tackle on Leighton Baines, all in the last half an hour after frustrating the hell out of the Toffees. A Gaëtan Bong own goal broke the deadlock, Cenk Tosun doubled the lead with a quality finish and it could have been worse, Wayne Rooney missing a penalty. Sam Allardyce ended up being happy despite that miss, 3-0 winners which took them up to ninth.
Mauricio Pellegrino accused his side of giving up after watching Southampton downed 3-0 at Newcastle on Saturday, Kenedy scoring twice for the Magpies, the first a lovely turn and take after just 63 seconds, and Matt Ritchie adding a third and more misery on the visitors, leaving the Saints just one point above the relegation zone, Rafael Benítez on the other hand with a big smile. On Monday night, the news of the sacking of the Argentinian boss was confirmed during City's easy 0-2 win at Stoke thanks to David Silva's brace, no surprise there, with neither the news nor the result. Not even 48 hours later, Mark Hughes was announced the new boss, a lot of fans not happy with that news it seems...

What a goal! Marcus Rashford's first-half brace was enough for Manchester United to cut open and beat arch rivals Liverpool 2-1 in the Saturday lunch-time kick-off at Old Trafford, widening the gap between the two in 2nd and 3rd place respectively to five points in the Premier League table. It wasn't the visitors' day, the referee helping the hosts with a lot of decisions, more to that below and click here for my full match report.
Son Heung-min's double made it 1-4 for Tottenham at Bournemouth on Sunday, completing the perfect comeback after falling behind in the seventh minute thanks to Junior Stanislas and losing Harry Kane due to injury in the first half. It was the South Korean's sixth and seventh goal in his last four outings. Dele Alli's equaliser and Serge Aurier's header added up to complete Mauricio Pochettino's 150th league win as a manager to see the club up to third one point overtaking Liverpool after their defeat against United mentioned above.

What the hell?! The referee at Old Trafford missed and messed up a lot. I may be bias, but please, how there weren't any penalties after Antonio Valencia's handball, Ashley Young wrapped himself around Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané was felled down by Marouane Fellaini and how Rashford didn't get booked for his celebrations with the crowd, which would have added up to two bookings a couple of minutes later = red card, is beyond me!!! Aaaaah!!!
It wasn't just one pitch invasion at the London Stadium, but FOUR!!! WTF?! That's taking the mick!!! What the hell happened to the security staff?! Did they forget to do their job?! What about safety of the players and everyone else on and around the pitch?! I understand the fans' frustration, but have you forgotten you are a football fan, as in the sport, the game?! Yes, you can present and demonstrate your frustrations, but please not by disrupting and destroying the game and sport!!!

My Predictions - Actual Results
Man United 2:3 Liverpool - 2:1 or my match report
Everton 1:1 Brighton - 2:0
Huddersfield 2:2 Swansea - 0:0
Newcastle 1:1 Southampton - 3:0
West Brom 1:2 Leicester - 1:4
West Ham 2:1 Burnley - 0:3
Chelsea 1:1 Crystal Palace - 2:1
Arsenal 3:1 Watford - 3:0
Bournemouth 2:2 Tottenham - 1:4
Stoke City 1:2 Man City - 0:2

Click here for last week's Premier League Picks.

All pictures, facts and stats were taken from the BBC match reports, MOTD, Twitter and SFR coverage.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Rashford Brace Beats The Reds

Sports - Football - Premier League - MUN 2:1 LIV

Marcus Rashford's first-half brace was enough for Manchester United to beat arch rivals Liverpool 2-1 in the Saturday lunch-time kick-off at Old Trafford, widening the gap between the two sides in 2nd and 3rd place respectively to five points in the Premier League table.

It was only the second time José Mourinho managed to beat Jürgen Klopp in nine attempts, the Red Devils having only lost once at home this season against bitter rivals City, winning 16 and drawing two. The last time they lost against the Reds at Old Trafford was 0-3 in March 2014.

The first real chance, out of nowhere, just under quarter of an hour gone, Rashford headed down and collected Romelu Lukaku's header won against Dejan Lovren off a goal-kick, ran into the box on the left, pulled the ball back to make more space away from Trent Alexander-Arnold and placed the right-footed shot perfectly across into the right corner of the net to give the home side the lead, no chance for fully stretched Loris Karius.

And the number 19 doubled the lead ten minutes later, the ball falling back to him inside the box off Virgil van Dijk, with all the space in the world, the local lad made no mistake of slashing the ball from the left across past Alexander-Arnold and in to make it 2-0. Again Lovren could not cope with Lukaku in the build-up, Liverpool were all over the place, United on top.

It was the first time a Red Devil scored a brace in the first half against Liverpool since Gary Pallister in 1997.

On the other side of the pitch, David de Gea didn't get much to do in the opening half an hour, Sadio Mané and van Dijk putting chances wide, whilst skipper James Milner, in for Jordan Henderson, and Roberto Firmino served the Spanish keeper easy catches.

There was no real threat or sign from the Premier League Player of the Month of February Mohamed Salah either, isolated and kept very quiet by the home side. The Egyptian is the league joint-top goal scorer this season alongside Harry Kane with 24 goals - having scored in every single one of the Reds' league matches last month.

It wasn't the usual LFC trademark of pressing pressing pressing, more watching watching watching and giving the ball away by the Reds. Nicht gut.

And it could have been worse, seven minutes before the break, Juan Mata missed a sitter, all alone in the middle of the box, a couple of yards out, tried a flashy overhead kick, putting the golden chance wide.

Lovren put a Milner corner sky high in the final minutes before the interval after a period of pressure by the Reds on the hosts' box, but again nothing to worry the Red Devils too much and it stayed 2-0 at the break.

A penny for Klopp's thoughts and to be a fly on their dressing room's wall during the halftime team talk by the German boss... No changes were made by either side at the break.

United have not lost a home game in the league that they have been leading at the break since May 7th 1984 (1-2 vs Ipswich Town).

Van Dijk put another header off a corner high shortly after the break before Salah failed to control the ball in the box with Ashley Young all over him, no reaction from the officials.

United captain Antonio Valencia got away with bouncing Andy Robertson's cross off his left hand, blocking any Liverpool threat, the visitors pushing and pressing a bit more after the restart, but still not threatening de Gea.

Seconds after Adam Lallana replaced Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, the sub tried to push and break into the box but failed just like his team mates, Milner firing high from distance afterwards.

The ball finally went in for the Reds thanks to Eric Bailly putting Mané's cross from the left into the back of his own net, de Gea could only punch it in to make it 2-1 with just under 25 minutes to go. Game on.

That was only the second goal United have conceded in the second half in 15 PL matches at Old Trafford this season, the other one scored by Man City's Nicolás Otamendi.

Rashford was replaced by Marouane Fellaini minutes later, the United boss looking to break Liverpool's momentum.

Lovren and Fellaini clashed a couple of times as United threatened on the left, the ref ignored it all, but had a word with Klopp who was fuming, before bringing on Georgino Wijnaldum for a struggling Alexander-Arnold for the last ten minutes.

Firmino back-footed the ball in the box instead of taking the chance himself, Mané and Fellaini tumbling and falling all over each other in the box, neither getting the ball nor getting a call from the ref.

Klopp brought on Dominic Solanke for the final minutes, in place of Robertson in a last desperate offensive change, just when United were having a rare period of play in and around the Liverpool box, winning their first corner.

Valencia was booked for felling down Mané shortly after Mourinho had brought on Jesse Lingard in place of Mata, but United cleared any threat once again, waste for Liverpool.

Six minutes were added on, the visitors desperate to get something out of the match, the home side surrounding them and keeping the wall/bus solid at the back, in and around the box.

Mané won a late corner unable to release a shot surrounded by Red Devils, who broke on the counter after the set piece, Karius having to come out to clear the threat.

Liverpool's 11th corner in the 95th minute, Klopp told Karius to stay put and not come out for it, their 12th corner followed 96th minute, Salah smashed the ball high.

It was just not to be. A late change for the home side killed the last seconds, Alexis Sánchez replaced by Matteo Darmian. It stayed 2-1, United frustrating and topping their rivals in the game and in the table.

Liverpool have only won one in seven games immediately following a CL match, unable to capitalise on Paul Pogba's pre-match injury, which brought Mata into midfield, Bailly and Rashford also starting, making up the three changes for the home side.

Manchester United have won 50% (10/20) of league games without the Frenchman starting since the start of last season, 60% (28/47) when he did start.

Liverpool made one change after their Champions League draw against Porto, Milner in for Henderson with the captain's armband, as mentioned above.

No team in the top five European leagues have scored more goals away from home this season than LFC = 35

It was the 200th meeting between the two rivals, 170th in the league - United edging it with 68 wins to Liverpool's 55, the most defeats the red Merseysiders have suffered against any other side.

There has never been four successive draws in the 170 league meetings. Klopp felt his side had deserved something out of the match, crucial refereeing decisions going against his side.

But the German cannot deny his side were just that one step behind, that final touch missing, because the Red Devils stayed on top and in control, despite the lack of possession.

Frustrating indeed, and rare to see the front trio not clicking and scoring. They will face Watford at Anfield next Saturday evening to pick themselves up and get back into the groove again.

HT Stats: MUN 2-0 LIV
Possession: 36%-64%
Shots: 3-5
On target: 2-2
Corners: 0-5
Fouls: 6-5
Yellow cards: 1-1

FT Stats: MUN 2-1 LIV
Possession: 5-14
Shots: 5-14
On target: 2-2
Corners: 1-13
Fouls: 10-16
Yellow cards: 2-1

Man United Goals: Rashford 14' & 24'.

Liverpool Goal: Bailly OG 66'.

Man United Team: 1 De Gea; 18 Young, 3 Baily, 12 Smalling, 25 Valencia (c) (booked 89'); 31 Matic, 39 McTominay; 19 Rashford (booked 27') (27 Fellaini 70'), 7 Sánchez (32 Darmain 97'), 8 Mata (14 Lingard 88'); 9 Lukaku. 4-2-3-1
Subs not used: 2 Lindelöf, 16 Carrick, 20 Romero, 23 Shaw.

Liverpool Team: 1 Karius; 26 Robertson (29 Solanke 84'), 4 van Dijk, 6 Lovren, 66 Alexander-Arnold (5 Wijnaldum 80'); 23 Can, 7 Milner (c), 21 Oxlade-Chamberlain (booked 35') (20 Lallana 62'); Mané, 9 Firmino, 11 Salah. 4-3-3
Subs not used: 12 Gomez, 14 Henderson, 22 Mignolet, 32 Matip.

Referee: Craig Pawson
Man of the match: Romelu Lukaku
Ground: Old Trafford
Attendance: 74,855

Click here for my last LFC match report.

All pictures, facts and stats were taken from BBC match report, Sky Sports app, Twitter and SFR coverage.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

LFC Through To CL Quarter Finals

Sports - Football - Champions League - LIV 0:0 POR (5-0)

Liverpool progressed to the Champions League quarter finals for the first time since 2009 after a comfortable goalless draw in the second leg of the last 16 on Tuesday night at Anfield beating Porto 5-0 on aggregate.

Click here for my ByTheMin match coverage.

Five changes were made by the home side after their league win against Newcastle on Saturday, Adam Lallana featuring in Europe for the first time since the 2016 Europa League final.

The Portuguese league leaders had made ten changes after they beat Sporting 2-1 in the league on Friday, Iker Casillas starting for the visitors nine years after the Spaniard faced hell when he came to Merseyside with Real Madrid.

The keeper made his 167th appearance in the Champions League - 16 more than any other player in the history of the European Cup (Xavi next on 151).

The Reds were in control throughout, the first half registering no shots on target by either side, showing what a training game it was.

It was only the second time this season Liverpool failed to have a single shot on target in the first half of a game - last against Chelsea in the Premier League on 25 November (FT 1-1).

Porto captain Felipe Augusto de Almeida Monteiro intervened at crucial times, stopping Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino in their track when it mattered most.

The Senegalese hit the woodwork once for the Reds with just over half an hour gone, otherwise neither Casillas nor Loris Karius had anything to worry about in the first half.

The first shot on target came shortly after the break, Abdul Majeed Waris with a nice right-footed shot from outside the box, well saved by Karius, first stop the German keeper had to make.

Sub Danny Ings and James Milner had headers on target later on, but nothing to make Casillas sweat, same after star man Mohamed Salah came off the bench to get a run out for the last quarter of an hour.

The first Liverpool corner came in the 88th minute after Casillas denied Ings, stopping another header from going in.

It stayed goalless, Casillas did well not to worsen the aggregate score, the blue and white Dragons could leave Anfield with their heads held high, not everyone can say they kept a clean sheet here!

They are actually the first side to achieve that in the competition this season.

No team have ever progressed to the next round following a 5-0 home defeat in the first leg of a Champions League knockout tie.

Liverpool remain unbeaten against Porto, having played them six times in all competitions (W3 D3).

Porto have never won a Champions League away game against an English side, drawing three and losing 10 of their 13 trips.

The biggest aggregate win in the competition is still Bayern Munich's 12-1 against Sporting Lisbon in 2008/09.

Next on the fixture list for Jürgen Klopp's men is just a little league trip to Old Trafford on Saturday...

HT Stats: LIV 0-0 POR (5-0 on aggragate)
Possession: 66%-34%
Shots: 3-1
On target: 0-0
Corners: 0-0
Fouls: 4-10
Yellow Cards: 0-1

FT Stats: LIV 0-0 POR (5-0 on aggregate)
Possession: 65%-35%
Shots: 12-10
On target: 5-1
Corners: 1-3
Fouls: 11-12
Yellow cards: 1-2

LFC Team: 1 Karius, 12 Gomez, 6 Lovren, 32 Matip, 18 Moreno, 14 Henderson (c) (booked 59'), 7 Milner, 23 Can (17 Klavan 80'), 20 Lallana, 19 Mané (11 Salah 74'), 9 Firmino (28 Ings 62'). 4-3-3
Subs not used: 22 Mignolet, 4 Van Dijk, 66 Alexander-Arnold, 21 Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Porto Team: 1 Casillas, 2 Pereira, 28 Felipe de Almeida Monteiro (c), 23 Reyes, 30 Dalot Teixeira (booked 90'+2), 10 Óliver Torres, 20 André (booked 34') (27 Oliveira 62'), 87 Bruno Costa, 17 Corona, 18 Waris (21 Ricardo 68'), 9 Aboubakar (14 Paciência 80'). 4-4-2
Subs not used: 12 Sá, 55 Machado Mata, 25 Monteiro, 8 Brahimi.

Referee: Feliz Zwayer
Man of the match: James Milner
Ground: Anfield
Attendance: 48,768

Click here for my previous LFC match report.

All pictures, facts and stats were taken from the Sky Sports and BBC match reports, Twitter and beIN sports coverage.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Premier League Picks Of The Week 29

Sports - Football - Premier League - Week 29

The 29th week of the Premier League action saw:

24 goals - most by Swansea = 4
233 shots - most by Leicester = 22
82 on target - most by Burnley & Swansea = 8 each
118 corners - most Southampton = 15
189 fouls - most by West Ham = 14
23 yellow cards - most by West Ham, Brighton, Arsenal & Man United = 3 each
1 red card - Ashley Williams for Everton
2 penalties - 2 scored (Joshua King for Bournemouth, Jordan Ayew for Swansea)

What a match! Liverpool outplayed and outshone Newcastle with a top-class convincing 2-0 home win in the Saturday evening kick-off, and that could have easily been more, the front trio starring and shining once again. Click here for my full LFC match report.
Super Sunday started with super shambles by Arsenal, well beaten by Brighton for the first time since 1982, 2-1 thanks to Lewis Dunk and Glenn Murray of course, recording the Londoners' fourth successive defeat for the first time since 2002, their eighth defeat in 2018 and 11th league game without a clean sheet, their longest run since 2002. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang did pull one back and the referee did his best to help the Gunners with some ridiculous calls and decisions, more to that below. No discrediting the Seagulls and their spirit and fight, but Arsène Wenger has lost it, it = this game, his team, his fans and all his marbles if he doesn't do everyone a favour and go!!! 
The other Super Sunday match could not have been more one-sided, Manchester City riding and bossing it, Chelsea parking and watching, the miss-match ending 1-0, Bernardo Silva with the winner, taking the Citizens 18 points clear at the top for the day. The Blues failed to register a single shot in the first half of a league game for the first time since 2003-04 and got nothing on target for the whole 90 minutes for the first time this season. Have they forgotten their job? PLAY FOOTBALL!!!

What a team! West Ham were taken to bits by Swansea, 4-1 thanks to Ki Sung-yueng, Mike van der Hoorn, Andy King and Jordan Ayew, sealing Carlos Carvahal's fourth win in six Premier League games. Loved this BBC video about his metaphors in interviews, lol! It could have been eight or nine goals for the Welsh side, who have surprised everyone how they have ripped and gripped themselves up and away from the bottom of the table. I'm sure David Moyes doesn't feel so comfortable any more. 13th and 14th respectively, only three points from the drop zone, the Swans on their way up, whilst the Hammers are caught in the downward spiral.
Southampton slipped down to 17th after their goalless draw against relegation rivals Stoke City, making it a new Premier League club record of eight consecutive home matches without a win. And Watford heaped more misery on bottom-side West Brom, Troy Deeney's goal enough to slump Alan Pardew's club to their fifth successive league defeat, eight points from safety.

What a man! Everton's Jordan Pickford definitely put his name on the England team sheet making some sublime saves at Burnley with Gareth Southgate watching in the stands in the Saturday lunchtime kickoff. If it weren't for him it would have ended a total thrash. 2-1 was the result, Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood turning the game around for the Clarets in the second half after Turkish forward Cenk Tosun had given the Toffees the lead after 20 minutes. It was a competitive match, both teams creating chances and making the keepers work, Ashley Williams' late sending off for reckless swinging around with his elbow on Barnes adding to the visitors' misery, no protest. Whatever Sean Dyche said at the break in his 250th game for the club (W98 D73 L79 with this result), it worked, completing the double in the league against Big Sam's side. It was the first win for Burnley in 2018, their first comeback after going behind in 61 Premier League games under Dyche (D12 L48), and the first time they won both league games against Everton in a season since 1959-60, when they won the title!

What a goal! Tottenham's star men Dele Alli and Harry Kane set up Son Heung-min in the first and the second half respectively, beautiful crosses, exemplary conversions, making it 2-0 and giving Huddersfield no chance of a comeback at Wembley. 
And it had to be Riyad Mahrez nicking the last-minute equaliser for Leicester against Bournemouth (90'+7!!!), curling a free kick around the wall and in to make it 1-1 after the Cherries were ahead thanks to Joshua King's first-half penalty. It's never over till that annoying one bloke whistles!
That unstoppable injury-time Nemanja Matić smacker of a strike, his first goal for Manchester United, shattered Crystal Palace, mentally and physically at Selhurst Park on Monday night keeping them in the drop zone. Roy Hodgson's men had worked so hard and shocked everyone when Andros Townsend gave them lead in the first half and Patrick van Aanholt doubled the score straight after the interval. It was the first time Palace had ever taken the lead over United in the PL, they were in control. But whatever José Mourinho said at the break, it had its effects. The Red Devils finally turned up, played and broke the home side eventually, Chris Smalling and Romelu Lukaku evening out the scoreline and wounds. But once again David de Gea was the main man for United, keeping them in the game with crucial stops and avoiding a total thrash, until the last-minute winner. The visitors had two shots on goal in the first half, fewest any away team has had at Selhurst Park this season, bad, and 15 in the second half, the most, mad. The Eagles have never beaten United in 18 attempts and it was the first time United's Portuguese boss has won after being two goals behind in the PL. But if the Mancs play like this against their bitter rivals Liverpool next weekend they will get battered!!!

What the hell?! No, that wasn't a penalty at Wembley, just because Son tumbled to the ground doesn't mean he was fouled! The South Korean scored a great brace as mentioned above, but should have been booked for his diving antiques!!! FFS!
Talking about spot kicks, don't they have to be taken from the spot?! It was just stupid how the ref didn't spot that at the King Power Stadium! King got the penalty spot-on to give Bournemouth the lead, but Leicester will be glad they evened it out as mentioned above, a goal and point each in the end.
All the best wishes go to Hammer Winston Reid who was stretchered off at Swansea after landing awkwardly on his leg and taking a knock to his head on landing, I hope he will be okay. Same with Brighton's Ezequiel Schelotto after being taken out by Arsenal's Sead Kolašinac, who was lucky to escape any punishment for his reckless actions! Something serious like this makes me even more annoyed about the divers and whiners making a scene of nothing!!! Appreciate what you've got and make the most of it instead of looking for any excuse to fall!!! And referees, please, please, please be more consistent with your punishments! It is just too ridiculous what too many players get away with, fouling and diving!!!

My Predictions - Actual Results
Burnley 1:1 Everton - 2:1
Leicester 1:1 Bournemouth - 1:1
Southampton 1:1 Stoke City - 0:0
Swansea 1:1 West Ham - 4:1
Tottenham 4:0 Huddersfield - 2:0
Watford 2:1 West Brom - 1:0
Liverpool 3:1 Newcastle - 2:0 or my LFC match report 
Brighton 1:1 Arsenal - 2:1
Man City 3:1 Chelsea - 1:0
Crystal Palace 0:0 Man United - 2:3

Pictures, facts and stats were taken from the BBC match reports, MOTD, Twitter and SFR coverage.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Salah & Mané Shoot Down The Magpies

Sports - Football - Premier League - LIV 2:0 NEW

Liverpool outplayed and outshone Newcastle with a top-class convincing 2-0 home win, that could have easily been more, the front trio starring and shining once again in the Saturday evening kick-off.

Jürgen Klopp made two changes from the side that beat West Ham 4-1 last weekend, Jordan Henderson replacing James Milner and Dejan Lovren coming in for Joel Matip.

Rafael Benítez returned to Anfield making three changes for Newcastle after their draw at Bournemouth last weekend, with Jonjo Shelvey out injured and Matt Ritchie and Ayoze Pérez dropped to the bench, Mikel Merino, Jacob Murphy and Christian Atsu starting in their place.

The home side dominated play from the offset with over 80% possession, 290-71 passes, 90%-56% accuracy in the opening half an hour alone. Their stamina and patience payed off eventually.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on the edge of the box set up Mohamed Salah to his right, who put a low left-footed shot through goalkeeper Martin Dúbravka's legs to break the deadlock five minutes before half time, his 24th league goal of the season, 32nd in all competitions.

Only Fernando Torres has scored more goals in a single season for Liverpool (33 in 2007/08) since Robbie Fowler in the 90s.

The Egyptian has scored in his last seven appearances in all competitions, the last LFC player to score in more is Daniel Sturridge (8) in February 2014.

Loris Karius denied Mohamed Diamé with a full-stretch dive and save to his right seconds before the break, a lovely curving shot into the top left corner, a chance out of nowhere. It was the only real stop the Red keeper had to make.

Roberto Firmino produced a top-notch set-up through the centre of Newcastle's defence with Sadio Mané ready to double the score ten minutes after the interval.

The Senegalese slotted his strike home with his right, flick, into the right side of the back of the net, a beautiful move and goal, exemplary sparkling football all round by the Reds.

That's his 14th, Liverpool's 67th goal of the season and 200th under Klopp.

LFC have scored more PL goals against NUFC than they have versus any other side in the competition = 91.

Salah had a couple of penalty shouts late on, but the referee stayed consistent in waving off any stumbles, falls, rolls and moans.

The Reds remain unbeaten after 22 league games against the Magpies at Anfield, last losing 0-2 in April 1994 (W18, D4).

Rafa had previously never lost against Liverpool with other teams recording five draws before this match (3 with Chelsea, 2 with Newcastle).

This win takes Klopp's men up to second, one point ahead of Manchester United before their trip to Crystal Palace on Monday.

The two bitter rivals will meet next weekend, what a clash it will be, decisive in who will end closest to league leaders Manchester City.

HT Stats: LFC 1-0 NUFC
Possession: 75%-25%
Shots: 9-3
On target: 2-2
Corners: 4-2
Fouls: 3-4

FT Stats: LFC 2-0 NUFC
Possession: 71%-29%
Shots: 14-7
On target: 3-2
Corners: 8-3
Fouls: 7-9

Liverpool Goals: Salah 40', Mané 55'.

LFC Team: 1 Karius; 26 Robertson, 4 Van Dijk, 6 Lovren, 66 Alexander-Arnold; 23 Can, 14 Henderson (c), 21 Oxlade-Chamberlain (7 Milner 79'); 19 Mané (20 Lallana 74'), 9 Firmino (32 Matip 88'), 11 Salah. 4-3-3
Subs not used: 12 Gomez, 18 Moreno, 22 Mignolet, 29 Solanke.

NUFC Team: 12 Dubravka; 3 Dummett, 20 Lejeune, 6 Lascelles (c), 22 Yedlin; 15 Kenedy, 10 Diamé, 23 Merino (14 Hayden 73'), 30 Atsu; 7 Murphy (17 Ayoze Pérez 85'); 9 Gayle (21 Joselu 66'). 4-4-1-1
Subs not used: 2 Clark, 11 Ritchie, 19 Manquillo, 26 Darlow.

Referee: Graham Scott
Man of the match: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Ground: Anfield
Attendance: 53,287

Click here for my last LFC match report.

All pictures, facts and stats were taken from the BBC match report, Twitter and SFR coverage.

Friday, 2 March 2018

Premier League Picks Of The Week 28

Sports - Football - Premier League - Week 28

The 28th week of the Premier League action saw:

29 goals - most by Liverpool & Brighton = 4 each
233 shots - most by Liverpool = 21
92 on target - most by Liverpool = 12
98 corners - most by Leicester & Tottenham = 13 each
205 fouls - most by Brighton = 17
24 yellow cards - most by Newcastle = 4
0 red cards
2 penalties - 1 scored (Murray for Brighton)

What a game! A late comeback by Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium broke Newcastle's hearts after they started so brill! Dwight Gayle's double had given the visitors a two-goal cushion at the break. But Adam Smith's smacker off the crossbar and Dan Gosling's side-footed last-minute equaliser nicked a point for the Cherries, leaving them in 11th after Watford's win later on against Everton, whilst the Magpies dropped to 15th.
And what a crucial win it was for Brighton in the relegation battle, thrashing the sorry Swans 4-1. Star man Glenn Murray scored twice, Anthony Knockaert and Jürgen Locadia added to the Welsh side's misery later on after they saw Tammy Abraham's effort deflected in by Lewis Dunk for his fourth own goal of the season - the only shot on target for the visitors! The result takes Chris Hughton's side up to 12th whilst Carlos Carvalhal's men dropped to 18th.

What a team! West Brom's misery continued as Huddersfield held off their fightback to win 1-2 at The Hawthorns. The Terriers took the lead shortly after the break thanks to Rajiv van la Parra and it was doubled by Steve Mounié with under an hour gone. Craig Dawson headed one back for the home side minutes later, and went close from another set-piece in the dying moments. But the visitors recorded their second consecutive win, taking David Wagner's side three points safe from the drop zone in 14th. Alan Pardew on the other hand, has only seen one win in his 14 games as Albion boss, keeping his side rock bottom, seven points from safety. Surely they can't escape from that far down with ten games to go!

What a man! Liverpool's front trio were at it again as they thrashed West Ham 4-1 at Anfield on Saturday afternoon to bring the Reds' goal total to 103 in all competitions this season. Simply the best (well, behind City). Click here for my LFC match report with all the facts, stats and details.
Manchester United had sub Jesse Lingard to thank for their three points on Sunday, his header downing Chelsea after Romelu Lukaku had levelled out Willian's opener. It wasn't a clash of the top titans, more like a bash of the flop divers! But it was enough for the Red Devils to keep them second, their bitter red Merseyside rivals two points behind them, the two sides' meeting in a couple of weeks is going to be interesting.

What a goal! Stoke stopper Jack Butland went from zero to hero within seconds. After gloving in the equaliser for Leicester, a blooper-and-a-half own goal to level Xherdan Shaqiri's opener, the keeper made some great saves moments later denying Riyad Mahrez and Harry Maguire off the rebound against the post. It stayed 1-1 and a point each, leaving the Potters in the bottom three whilst the Foxes moved up to eighth.
Substitute Manolo Gabbiadini's 90th-minute equaliser at Burnley dragged the Saints out of the relegation zone, keeping the Clarets' 2018 winless run going. Troy Deeney showed how it's done, whacking Watford ahead from the middle of the box, enough to beat a poor Everton side in the late kickoff on Saturday. Crucial goals all round in and around the relegation zone.

What the hell?! Dele Alli's diving was so annoying to watch on Sunday! Even more annoying was that he didn't get cautioned for his theatrics! Crystal Palace did well to frustrate the hell out of Tottenham, until Harry Kane headed in the winner in the final minute of normal time, his 35th goal in 36 matches. Double argh! The result leaves Palace in 17th, level on points with Swansea in 18th, whilst Tottenham moved up to 4th, two points ahead of Chelsea in 5th.
After being well and truly thrashed by the league leaders Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final last Sunday, Arsenal didn't expect much in their postponed league meeting on Thursday night... And rightly so, they were once again totally outclassed and -played by the Citizens and well beaten 0-3 at the Emirates, their joint-heaviest home Premier League defeat, having lost by three-goal margins to Coventry (1993), Middlesbrough (2001) and Chelsea (twice in 2009). The Gunners started quicker and more on the ball than in the cup thrash, but Pep Guardiola's men were just too good in their 100th match under the Spaniard, recording his 69th win thanks to Bernardo Silva, David Silva and Leroy Sané and their clinical play and finishes, all in a sublime first half. To add to the home side's misery Ederson saved their second-half spot-kick denying Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and any kind of comeback for the hosts. Arsène Wenger meanwhile, well, I'm lost for words how the Frenchman is still in his job!!! The stadium was half-empty and it such a big clash, that is a big statement by the fans!!! It must be the end! Putain!!!

My Predictions - Actual Results
Leicester 3:0 Stoke City - 1:1
Bournemouth 2:1 Newcastle - 2:2
Brighton 1:1 Swansea - 4:1
Burnley 1:1 Southampton - 1:1
Liverpool 3:2 West Ham - 4:1 or my match report
West Brom 2:0 Huddersfield - 1:2
Watford 2:1 Everton - 1:0
Crystal Palace 1:1 Tottenham - 0:1
Man United 2:2 Chelsea - 2:1
Arsenal 2:2 Man City - 0:3

Click here for my previous Premier League Picks.

All pictures, stats and facts were taken from the BBC match reports, MOTD, Twitter and SFR coverage.

Monday, 26 February 2018

Reds Bash Hammers 4-1 At Anfield

Sports - Football - Premier League - LFC 4:1 WHU

Liverpool's front trio were at it again as they thrashed West Ham 4-1 at Anfield on Saturday afternoon to bring the Reds' goal total to 103 in all competitions this season, just behind league leaders Manchester City (111).

Click here for my live ByTheMinute match coverage.

The Hammers were unbeaten in their previous three away games in all competitions against LFC.

However, their only victory in the previous 48 attempts at Anfield came in August 2015 (D14, L33).

And it stayed that way as Liverpool took the visitors to bits, starting with Emre Can heading in a corner with just under half an hour gone.

Man of the match Mohamed Salah and Marko Arnautovic had both hit the woodwork earlier on in a competitive start.

Loris Karius denied the West Ham forward a few minutes before the break as well with a top-draw save, keeping a cracker of a right-footed strike out.

The home side took total control after the interval, Salah doubling their lead after some lovely moves and layoff in the build-up by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

The Egyptian's low shot on the turn into the right corner of the net was his 20th left-footed goal out of 23, which is a Premier League record.

Roberto Firmino made it three with just under an hour gone, completing one of his cheeky looking-away goals off Can's cross with the Hammers all over the place.

The visitors pulled one back seconds later, sub Michail Antonio sneaking one through Virgil van Dijk's legs seconds after coming on for Manuel Lanzini, fooling and beating Karius to make it 3-1.

But the Reds kept their dominance and composure after those crazy few minutes, which saw three goals in eight minutes to be exact.

With a quarter of an hour to go, Sadio Mané hit the post from close range, but moments later made it four, bouncing the ball in off Andy Robertson's pass.

It's the sixth time this season all three Liverpool forwards have scored in the same match.

Former Everton/United/Sunderland and now West Ham boss David Moyes kept his record of no wins at Anfield after 15 games (D7, L8), leaving his substitutions too little too late.

The Hammers' most top-flight defeats have come against the Merseyside clubs: 61 by Liverpool and 61 against Everton.

Reds boss Jürgen Klopp was understandably a very happy man(ager), the win taking his side past Manchester United and up to second (at least temporarily until the Red Devils beat Chelsea on Sunday).

With this thrashing, the Reds scored four goals in three consecutive games against a single opponent for the first time since facing Norwich between 2012 and 2013.

The next visitors at Anfield are going to be former LFC boss Rafael Benítez's Newcastle on Saturday evening. And then the Reds will travel to Old Trafford the week after - crunch time to decide who will come closest to league leaders City!

Liverpool Goals: Can 29', Salah 51', Firmino 57' & Mané 77'.

West Ham Goal: Antonio 59'.

HT Stats: LFC 1-0 WHU
Possession: 66%-34%
Shots: 8-5
On target: 3-3
Corners: 6-1
Fouls: 4-5
Yellow cards: 0-1

FT Stats: LFC 4-1 WHU
Shots: 21-7
On target: 12-4
Corners: 8-2
Fouls: 7-6
Yellow cards: 0-2

LFC Team: 1 Karius, 66 Alexander-Arnold, 32 Matip, 4 van Dijk, 26 Robertson, 21 Oxlade-Chamberlain, 23 Can, 7 Milner, 11 Salah (29 Solanke 88'), 9 Firmino (20 Lallana 82'), 19 Mané (18 Moreno 87'). 4-3-3
Subs not used: 6 Lovren, 12 Gomez, 14 Henderson, 22 Mignolet.

WHU Team: 13 Adrián, 5 Zabaleta, 19 Collins (booked 43'), 21 Ogbonna, 3 Cresswell, 27 Evra, 18 João Mário (41 Rice 83'), 8 Kouyaté (booked 47'), 16 Noble, 10 Lanzini (30 Antonio 58'), 7 Arnautovic (17 Hernández 83'). 3-4-3
Subs not used: 2 Reid, 12 Hugill, 22 Byram, 25 Hart.

Referee: Stuart Attwell
Man of the match: Mohamed Salah
Ground: Anfield
Attendance: 53,256

Click here for my previous LFC match report.

All pictures, facts and stats were taken from the BBC match report, Twitter and SFR coverage.