Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Premier League Picks Of The Week 12

Sports - Football - Premier League - Week 12

The 12th week of the Premier League action saw:
32 goals - most by Bournemouth, Man United & Chelsea = 4 each
247 shots - most by Liverpool = 22
92 on target - most by Liverpool = 8
116 corners - most by Man United & Huddersfield = 11 each
136 fouls - most by Everton = 26
34 yellow cards - most by Arsenal & West Ham = 4 each
1 red cards - Simon Francis for Bournemouth (second yellow)
1 penalty - 1 scored (Leighton Baines for Everton)

What a game! Arsenal surprisingly impressed recording their first league win against Tottenham since 2014 in the early kick-off on Saturday. Shkodran Mustafi headed the Gunners ahead in the big London derby from Mesut Özil's controversial free kick in the 36th minute. Alexis Sánchez doubled the lead five minutes later lashing in from Alexandre Lacazette's square ball. Both goals looked offside, close calls though. Arsène Wenger has now beaten 10 of the 11 Spurs managers he has faced in the Premier League, the only exception being Christian Gross in 1997-98. It was the first time Harry Kane failed to score in this bitter derby and was subbed off in the 75th minute, with Dele Alli, Son Heung-min and Fernando Llorente replacing them. Mauricio Pochettino was surely bitterly disappointed with the officials and his side, but his away record looks very dire, winning just once in the last 15 visits to top six sides. Everton came back twice against Palace, the game ending 2-2 with a point each. The two worst defences fought hard, how the match ended up last on MOTD shows how action-packed, eventful and entertaining the day was! Who can start a petition to get rid of international breaks, please?!!!

What a team! Manchester City recorded their 16th consecutive win in all competitions, 34 points in the opening 12 league games - equalling the Premier League record they set under Roberto Mancini in 2011-12. Gabriel Jesus opened the scoring from close range and Kevin De Bruyne added a breathtaking smacker that could be heard hitting the back of the net. The league leaders were lucky with some decisions though, see more below. Manchester United set a club record of their own going 38 games unbeaten after thrashing Newcastle 4-1. Dwight Gayle gave the Magpies the lead early on in the game, giving neutral viewers the hope they could be up for an actual contest. But it went all downhill from there at Old Trafford, Rafael Benítez's side conceding four including Paul Pogba netting on his return from injury. Burnley! Boom! Boom! The Clarets moved within a point of the top four after an impressive 2-0 win against struggling Swansea. Sean Dyche would be more than daft to leave this strong position for any of the shaky job vacancies going around at the moment... More to that below!

What a man! I doubt Tony Pulis will keep his job much longer after Chelsea hammered his side West Brom 0-4 at the Hawthorns, making it 2 wins in the last 21 for the Baggies. And as I am editing this, the news breaks of his sacking. It's the second Premier League week in a row that's happened, the Welshman is already the fifth sacking of the season after Slaven Bilić was sent packing before the international break and it's not even December yet!
Callum Wilson's hat-trick more than helped ten-man Bournemouth thrash Huddersfield 4-0. The Cherries are flying up the table, but the Terriers were more than up for the f(l)ight, working and fighting hard despite the scoreline.
Watford stopper Heurelho Gomes starred with breathtaking/double/triple saves!!! A super keeper on the only Super Sunday match! 22-year-old former Derby County midfielder Will Hughes scored with his first ever shot in the Premier League and Brazilian Richarlison doubled West Ham's misery after the break. Who wants to be David Moyes, ey?! The former Everton and United boss lost his first game as Hammers manager and 500th in the top-flight. The Hornets meanwhile impressed and went up to eighth.

What a goal! There was some top quality team play produced by both Chelsea and Man City in all their goals, both men of the match Eden Hazard and De Bruyne starring for their sides respectively. Mohamed Salah scored two on the day to help Liverpool beat Southampton 3-0, the Egyptian star's ninth league goal of the season to make him top scorer and 14 after 18 games in all competitions. The last LFC player to score more than 14 goals in a season was none-other than Luis Suárez. And it's only November. On. Fire. The win meant Liverpool have now won by three or more goals in four consecutive games for the first time since Bob Paisley's Reds in 1980. Double BOOM!

What the hell?! Referees!!! City defender Vincent Kompany lucky escape after a late tackle felling down last man Jamie Vardy. And what is offside again?! The Citizens and Gunners were both very lucky with those decisions respectively, but deserved the wins looking at the performances and general displays. The Cherries were just as fortunate with a few decisions as well before their first couple of goals. Fouls and offsides were missed again, I think the officials need to google both. But Eddie Howe's men doubled that score thrashing Huddersfield 4-0 despite going down to ten men, killer goals, killer score, killer points. Terriers boss David Wagner was rightly very unhappy about those decisions that went against his side. The officials at the Amex didn't cover themselves in glory either, where Brighton extended their unbeaten league run to five games as they drew 2-2 with Stoke, but could and should have done better after being denied a blatant penalty in a frantic first half. Referees, ey. What's their job again? Hm. Who knows. They don't seem to have a clue!

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

Click here for my previous Premier League Picks Of The Week.

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

Monday, 6 November 2017

Premier League Picks Of The Week 11

Sports - Football - Premier League - Week 11

The 11th week of the Premier League action saw:
24 goals - most by Liverpool = 4
213 shots - most by Chelsea = 18
74 on target - most by Chelsea = 8
118 corners - most by Newcastle = 11
226 fouls - most by Man United = 20
30 yellow cards - most by Arsenal = 6
1 red card - Christopher Schindler for Huddersfield
3 penalties - 2 scored (Sergio Agüero for Man City, Leighton Baines for Everton, Tom Cleverley missed for Watford)

What a game! All the buildup to the Super Duper Sunday was bound to disappoint. Tottenham just about scrambled through to a win over bottom side Crystal Palace. Manchester City had some help from the officials to down the fighting Gunners and don't get me started on the refs at Stamford Bridge! Chelsea number 9 Álvaro Morata had all the space in the world to head the home side ahead after Manchester United were lucky to still be in the game. More to all that below. All eyes were on Antonio Conte and José Mourinho and their Blue history, pre-match, during the match and post-match. But in the end the top game was Everton's comeback against Watford from two goals down at Goodison Park, would you believe it!!! Or top half should I say, as all goals came after the break. Leighton Baines scored a club-record 24th penalty for the Toffees and won the game in injury time, 90 + 1!  That wasn't all though. Ten minutes later, the Hornets got the chance to draw level from the spot, yep, in the 101st minute, and Tom Cleverley missed it, putting the penalty wide. Yes, you read right, it stayed 3-2, handing David Unsworth his first win as Everton's caretaker. And the temp boss can take a lot of credit as all the changes he made ended up crucial in all goals and completing the perfect unbelievable turnaround. Oh, and by the way, that was the only game on Sunday that was NOT live on telly. FFS.

What a team! Burnley shot up to sixth in the table (at least temporarily) after substitute Sam Vokes' late header was enough to beat Southampton at St Mary's. Sean Dyche's side withstood all of the pressure and Saints chances, their keeper Nick Pope making some excellent stops. Liverpool snatched that sixth spot back in the table in the late kick-off on Saturday, after beating West Ham 1-4 at the London Stadium thanks to Mohamed Salah's double on Sadio Mané's return. You can read all my match notes here. Or my full LFC match report here. Has Jürgen Klopp handed Slaven Bilić his final notice? With the Hammers dropping into the relegation zone after Sunday's results and the international break coming up, I will be very surprised to see the Croat again... Plus David Moyes being interested in the job... And as I was editing this blog, both got confirmed, the prior's sacking and the latter's interest and likely appointment. Surprise surprise.

What a man! Huddersfield keeper Jonas Lössl was hugged and kissed by everyone after some acrobatic saves late on in the match and win against West Brom! Dutchman Rajiv van La Parra produced the stunning 20-yard winner, curled into the top corner just before the break, increasing calls against Tony Pulis. The Yorkshire side were down to ten men after defender Christopher Schindler received a second yellow card with just under an hour gone but fought on hard to hang on to the win which took the promoted side into the top half of the table. Glenn Murray gave Brighton victory at Swansea, eleven of his 15 Premier League goals coming in away fixtures. It was a gift though as Federico Fernández ducked out of the way of a cross, condemning the Swans to their fifth defeat from six home league games this season and seeing them slip into the relegation zone. The Seagulls meanwhile are up to ninth after back-to-back away wins in the top flight for the first time since 1981 and only the second time in their history.

What a goal! Peter Crouch headed home Xherdan Shaquiri's corner to make it 2-2 for Stoke and grab a point from Leicester. It's the 36-year old's Premier League record 52nd netted header and 15th goal coming off the bench - only Jermain Defoe (23), Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (17) and Nwankwo Kanu (17) have scored more as a sub in the PL. Both sides had more chances, both keepers were busy, so, faire result in the end, a thrilling draw. The late Bournemouth winner headed in by defender Steve Cook was fully deserved after all the chances and pressure they produced at Newcastle. Rafael Benítez's men wasted a lot of chances and then ran out of steam, the visitors pouncing and bouncing out of the relegation zone with the win at St James' Park.

What the hell?! How did Wilfried Zaha miss that chance?! The Palace forward cost his side three points as minutes after he put a sitter wide, Son Heung-min swept the one and only goal in from 20 yards. Tottenham will be very relieved after another win at Wembley from a less than convincing performance. And how the hell did the linesman not see goalscorer Gabriel Jesus AND David Silva were BOTH offside when the official was exactly on the same line as the players when the cross came in?! The error made it 3-1 to City at the Eithad and destroyed any kind of competition or chance of a late comeback by Arsenal, who enjoyed a much better second half after not offering much before the break. Although, Arsène Wenger's men were also unlucky to concede the penalty in the first half, Raheem Sterling making the most out of nothing, which gave Sergio Agüero his record 179th City goal from the spot and the home side a two-goal lead. Harsh. And seeing a spectacular Phil Jones own goal disallowed for an alleged push by Morata just added more crap creme on the horrendous refereeing cake of the weekend!!! Lucky Mancunian buggers!!!

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

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 live match coverage.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

LFC Break Hammers At London Stadium

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

Mohamed Salah's double helped Liverpool to their first consecutive league win since August, thrashing West Ham 1-4 at London Stadium on Sadio Mané's much awaited return from injury.


Click here for my FT Notes on the match.

The opening goal came off a killer counter from West Ham's first corner in the 21st minute, Mané with the break, run and pass to his right, where Salah gratefully collected, controlled and tapped in the ball with his left boot, Joe Hart well beaten. Exemplary.

Two minutes and 37 seconds later, Salah took Liverpool's first corner of the game, Hart punched away skipper Mark Noble's block, nearly conceding an own goal, for Joël Matip to net the rebound with his right boot and make it 0-2 to the Reds.

The visitors were happy to play kick-about in the middle of the park after that, frustrating the hell out of the hosts, manager Slaven Bilić and co-owner David Gold no happy men.

To many Reds fans' surprise, Simon Mignolet captained the visitors in Jordan Henderson's absence due to injury, and showed too many shakes and nerves once again.

Andy Carroll was brought on for the Hammers after the break, replacing Edimilson Fernandes, but the former Redman just added to the frustrations and booking list.

Manuel Lanzini pulled one back ten minutes into the second half, off the chest, onto the right foot and into the right corner, nice one.

But seconds later, the bubbles were still blowing, former Gunner Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain restored Liverpool's two-goal cushion with his first league goal for the club, netting the rebound after Hart blocked and denied his first attempt, nicely set up by Roberto Firmino.

Lanzini came close again seconds later in an action-packed few minutes with just over an hour gone.

Salah made it four and sealed the deal for the Reds with 15 minutes to go, Mané in the build-up again, running, stumbling, getting back up again, running on, providing the Egyptian with the perfect ball into the box, which he netted with the left foot.

The double took Salah just one league goal behind a certain Harry Kane totalling seven in the league and twelve in total for the Reds this season.

London Stadium emptied very quickly, YNWA echoing around with the boos at the full-time whistle, LFC manager Jürgen Klopp all smiles.

It was much needed goals, a much needed win, much needed points for the Reds. A big blow for the Hammers.

The win takes Liverpool closer to the top four whilst West Ham dropped down dangling into the relegation zone.

Their points total after 11 games equals their 2010-11 season when they were relegated from the top flight.

I will be very surprised if Bilić stays in the job, especially with the international break giving the owners time to look around and David Moyes showing interest.

Klopp and Co meanwhile, will be much happier going into the international break after their fourth consecutive win in all competitions, scoring 17, conceding just one.

West Ham Goal: Lanzini 55'.

Liverpool Goals: Salah 21', Matip 24', Oxlade-Chamberlain 56' & Salah 76'.

West Ham Team: 25 Hart; 21 Ogbonna, 8 Kouyate, 2 Reid (booked 47'); 3 Cresswell, 16 Noble (c) (booked 37') (Arnautovic 61'), 10 Lanzini (booked 90'), 14 Obiang, 31 Fernandes (9 Carroll HT); 17 Hernandez (15 Sakho 72'), 20 Ayew. 3-5-2
Substitutes not used: 13 Adrian, 23 Haksabanovic, 26 Masuaku, 41 Rice. 

Liverpool Team: 22 Mignolet (c); 18 Moreno, 17 Klavan, 32 Matip, 12 Gomez; 5 Wijnaldum, 23 Can, 21 Oxlade-Chamberlain (6 Lovren 87'); 19 Mané (7 Milner 77'), 9 Firmino (29 Solanke 77'), 11 Salah. 4-3-3
Substitutes not used: 1 Karius, 15 Sturridge, 16 Grujic, 66 Alexander-Arnold.

HT Stats: WHU 0-2 LFC
Possession: 43%-57%
Shots: 2-3
On target: 0-3
Corners: 1-2
Fouls: 5-6
Yellow cards: 1-0

FT Stats: WHU 1-4 LFC
Possession: 48%-52%
Shots: 6-15
On target: 1-7
Corners: 2-3
Fouls: 9-13
Yellow cards: 3-0

Referee: Neil Swarbrick
Man of the match: Mohamed Salah
Ground: London Stadium
Attendance: 56,961

Click here for my previous LFC match report.

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

Saturday, 4 November 2017

FT Notes: West Ham 1-4 Liverpool

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

Biggest pre-match news: Sadio Mané starts for Liverpool after long absence!!! And stopper Simon Mignolet skippers the Reds in Jordan Henderson's absence due to injury.

2' West Ham keeper Joe Hart blocks Roberto Firmino after an early Liverpool free kick, Alberto Moreno brought down loud and painful.

6' Hammers play the ball too far and out for a throw a second time they look close to pushing forward, Obiang with the overhit this time.

9' Ayew hits the post after breaking clear and collecting Lanzini's ball over the top, looking to curl the ball around and past a hesitant Mignolet, Liverpool caught sleeping and running behind.

13' Hernandez goes to ground a little too over-dramatic there, ref doesn't give anything, Bilić is furious. A couple of minutes break as Hernandez receives treatment.

15' Lanzini takes a free kick from about 25 yards out, cleared by the Reds.

16' A lot of tumbles and falls, appeals for free kicks, the ref's whistle on high demand, the visitors winning the call this time in their own half.

18' Offside flag up against Hernandez, Hammers pushing more as the Reds keep losing the ball.

21' Fernandes wins the first corner of the game, on the right, off his throw, the home side on top at the moment. As I write that, the corner is cleared, Mané and Salah break clear, KILLER COUNTER, 0-1! Mané runs and runs and passes to his right, Salah gratefully collects, controls and taps it in with his left, Hart well beaten. BOOM!

24' Salah corner, first for the Reds, Hart punches away NOBLE's block, nearly an own goal there, but MATIP NETS the rebound with his right boot, wham, bam, thank you ma'am, 0-2.

Liverpool are on their way to their first back-to-back league wins since August.

There were just two minutes and 37 seconds between the two LFC goals. West Ham co-owner David Gold does not look impressed.

34' Liverpool happy to play kick-about in the middle of the park, comfy with the two-goal lead, West Ham growing more and more frustrated.

37' First booking goes to West Ham skipper Noble for diving, cheeky one the French commentators say, stupid one I say!

40' Some harsh tackling, but Klopp and Bilić are going more mental than anyone else at the moment, great entertainment on the sideline, like a dance choreography between the two managers.

44' Roadrunner style, Salah breaks on the right, wins a corner, second for the Reds, Hart collects.

45' Mané gives away a free kick, soft one, the home side looking for anything and everything, desperate.

Two minutes added on before the break, loud boos echoing around London Stadium, the Hammer fans are not happy.

Mignolet comes out of the box, unable to clear the ball against Ayew on the right, flappy, floppy, needless.

But I'm happy, nothing comes off that little slip up, Liverpool stay two goals up at the break, West Ham drawing a much more sloppy and frustrated picture!

HT Stats: WHU 0-2 LFC
Possession: 43%-57%
Shots: 2-3
On target: 0-3
Corners: 1-2
Fouls: 5-6
Yellow cards: 1-0

Andy Carroll is brought on for West Ham at the break. Surprised to see Fernandes is the one replaced, who had a lot of influence and power in the first half, the little the Hammers created.

47' Reid booked for foul on Mané, cynical one.

49' Mané shot wide, goal kick for the Hammers.

51' Carroll elbows Matip, concedes a free kick, but avoids a card, very lucky escape there.

54' Flag goes up against Lanzini, clearly offside.

55' Mané goes down again, nothing given, lucky not to end up in the books... LANZINI, chest, right foot, right corner, cheeky, pokey one! 1-2 AND GAME ON!

56' OXLAAAAADE right foot, blocked and denied well by Hart, BUT CHAMBERLAIN NETS THE REBOUND with his left foot!!! 1-3 thanks to Oxlade-Chamberlain, the former Gunner's first league goal for the Reds, just when the Hammers thought they were back in it!!! Hart looks devastated, Bilić can't believe it! Nicely set up by Firmino by the way.

59' LANZINI AGAIAIAIN, this time high, tight angle again, so close. I. Can't. Keep. Up.

60' Mignolet gets the ball, Lanzini goes down, soft, softer, the softest, nothing given, game on.

61' Bilić has had enough, brings on Arnautovic in place of Noble. The skipper is injured actually. My mistake.

62' Free kick for the Hammers on the left, Lanzini takes, Chicharito heads it high.

64' Lanzini flagged offside again, close one this time. Hammers edging closer, Mignolet takes the kick.

65' Free kick given against the Ox, a bit late there, and nowhere near the ball, faire enough.

66' Mignolet catches, Carroll and Can are down after a collision.

69' Hernandez heads high, claims push, nothing given, goal kick. Firmino puts a shot across goal and wide on the other side.

72' Last change for the Hammers, Javier Hernandez is replaced by Diafra Sakho with just under 20 minutes to go.

75:01 SALAH MAKES IT FOUR!!! Sadio Mané with the build-up, runs, stumbles, falls over a challenge, gets back up again, runs on, provides Salah with the perfect ball into the box, edge of the box, the Egyptian takes and nets with the left foot! 1-4, a lot of fans are heading for the exits.

Salah is just one league goal behind a certain Harry Kane totalling seven in the league and twelve in total for the Reds this season.

77' And James Milner replaces Sadio Mané, Klopp is taking no fitness risk here.

81' Salah left-footer from the centre of the box, Hart catches.

84' Liverpool attack again, Salah shoots again, blocked by Hammers defence this time, for a change.

86' Milner shot wide, had all the time and space in the world, with a couple of team mates, a bit selfish there by the sub.

86' Liverpool on the attack again, Firmino shot goes high.

87' Second Liverpool change, Dejan Lovren comes on for the Ox. And last change at the same time, Solanke replaces Firmino, hug from the German coach.

89' Chance after chance for the Reds, the visitors win a corner, Milner cross, blocked, free kick to the Hammers, Matip fouled Reid.

90' Lanzini is booked and free kick goes to the Reds near the middle-line.

Three minutes added on, YNWA echoes around the London Stadium. Klopp is all smiles with the fourth official.

Kick-about for the Reds near the centre circle, Hart clears the ball eventually.

Goal kick to the Hammers, the whistle and boos go eventually, Bilić gutted, the ground is empty already.

Klopp is pushing and sending his team out onto the pitch, with many thanks I hope and think.

Much needed goals, much needed win, much needed points for the Reds.

The win takes them up to sixth, level on points with Chelsea and Arsenal in fourth and fifth respectively, who face Manchester United and Manchester City respectively tomorrow.

West Ham drop down to 17th, one point off the drop zone, where Everton and Palace have a game in hand.

Their points total after 11 games matches their 2010-11 season when they were relegated from the top flight.

I will be very surprised if Bilić stays in the job... The international break giving more time to find a replacement...

FT Stats: WHU 1-4 LFC
Possession: 48%-52%
Shots: 6-15
On target: 1-7
Corners: 2-3
Fouls: 9-13
Yellow cards: 3-0

West Ham Goal: Lanzini 55'.

Liverpool Goals: Salah 21', Matip 24', Oxlade-Chamberlain 56' & Salah 76'.

West Ham Team: 25 Hart; 21 Ogbonna, 8 Kouyate, 2 Reid (booked 47'); 3 Cresswell, 16 Noble (c) (booked 37') (Arnautovic 61'), 10 Lanzini (booked 90'), 14 Obiang, 31 Fernandes (9 Carroll HT); 17 Hernandez (15 Sakho 72'), 20 Ayew. 3-5-2
Substitutes not used: 13 Adrian, 23 Haksabanovic, 26 Masuaku, 41 Rice.

Liverpool Team: 22 Mignolet (c); 18 Moreno, 17 Klavan, 32 Matip, 12 Gomez; 5 Wijnaldum, 23 Can, 21 Oxlade-Chamberlain (6 Lovren 87'); 19 Mané (7 Milner 77'), 9 Firmino (29 Solanke 77'), 11 Salah. 4-3-3
Substitutes not used: 1 Karius, 15 Sturridge, 16 Grujic, 66 Alexander-Arnold.

Referee: Neil Swarbrick
Man of the match: Mohamed Salah
Ground: London Stadium
Attendance: 56,961

All facts and stats were taken from the BBC website and SFR live match coverage.

HT Notes: West Ham 0-2 Liverpool

Sports - Football - Premier League - WHU 0:2 LFC

Biggest pre-match news: Sadio Mané starts for Liverpool after long absence!!! And stopper Simon Mignolet skippers the Reds in Jordan Henderson's absence due to injury.

2' West Ham keeper Joe Hart blocks Roberto Firmino after an early Liverpool free kick, Alberto Moreno brought down loud and painful.

6' Hammers play the ball too far and out for a throw a second time they look close to pushing forward, Obiang with the overhit this time.

9' Ayew hits the post after breaking clear and collecting Lanzini's ball over the top, looking to curl the ball around and past a hesitant Mignolet, Liverpool caught sleeping and running behind.

13' Hernandez goes to ground a little too over-dramatic there, ref doesn't give anything, Bilić is furious. A couple of minutes break as Hernandez receives treatment.

15' Lanzini takes a free kick from about 25 yards out, cleared by the Reds.

16' A lot of tumbles and falls, appeals for free kicks, the ref's whistle on high demand, the visitors winning the call this time in their own half.

18' Offside flag up against Hernandez, Hammers pushing more as the Reds keep losing the ball.

21' Fernandes wins the first corner of the game, on the right, off his throw, the home side on top at the moment. As I write that, the corner is cleared, Mané and Salah break clear, KILLER COUNTER, 0-1! Mané runs and runs and passes to his right, Salah gratefully collects, controls and taps it in with his left, Hart well beaten. BOOM!

24' Salah corner, first for the Reds, Hart punches away NOBLE's block, nearly an own goal there, but MATIP NETS the rebound with his right boot, wham, bam, thank you ma'am, 0-2.

Liverpool are on their way to their first back-to-back league wins since August.

There were just two minutes and 37 seconds between the two LFC goals. West Ham co-owner David Gold does not look impressed.

34' Liverpool happy to play kick-about in the middle of the park, comfy with the two-goal lead, West Ham growing more and more frustrated.

37' First booking goes to West Ham skipper Noble for diving, cheeky one the French commentators say, stupid one I say!

40' Some harsh tackling, but Klopp and Bilić are going more mental than anyone else at the moment, great entertainment on the sideline, like a dance choreography between the two managers.

44' Roadrunner style, Salah breaks on the right, wins a corner, second for the Reds, Hart collects.

45' Mané gives away a free kick, soft one, the home side looking for anything and everything, desperate.

Two minutes added on before the break, loud boos echoing around London Stadium, the Hammer fans are not happy.

Mignolet comes out the box, unable to clear the ball against Ayew on the right, flappy, floppy, needless.

But I'm happy, nothing comes off that little slip up, Liverpool stay two goals up at the break, West Ham drawing a much more sloppy and frustrated picture!

HT Stats: WHU 0-2 LFC
Possession: 43%-57%
Shots: 2-3
On target: 0-3
Corners: 1-2
Fouls: 5-6
Yellow cards: 1-0

LFC Goals: Salah 21' & Matip 24'.

WHU Team: 25 Hart; 21 Ogbonna, 8 Kouyate, 2 Reid; 3 Cresswell, 16 Noble (c) (booked 37'), 10 Lanzini, 14 Obiang, 31 Fernandes; 17 Hernandez, 20 Ayew. 3-5-2
Substitutes: 7 Arnautovic, 9 Carroll, 13 Adrian, 15 Sakho, 23 Haksabanovic, 26 Masuaku, 41 Rice.

LFC Team: 22 Mignolet (c); 18 Moreno, 17 Klavan, 32 Matip, 12 Gomez; 5 Wijnaldum, 23 Can, 21 Oxlade-Chamberlain; 19 Mané, 9 Firmino, 11 Salah. 4-3-3
Substitutes: 1 Karius, 6 Lovren, 7 Milner, 15 Sturridge, 16 Grujic, 66 Alexander-Arnold.

Referee: Neil Swarbrick
Ground: London Stadium

All facts and stats were taken from the BBC website and SFR live match coverage.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

LFC Move Closer To CL Last 16

Sports - Football - Champions League - LFC 3:0 NKM

Liverpool got one step closer to qualify for the Champions League knockout stages for the first time since 2008-09, topping the group after beating NK Maribor 3-0 at Anfield, in not the most riveting and convincing victory on Wednesday night.



Click here for my full LFC ByTheMin match coverage.

The first half was the only goalless half of the night in Europe, agonising to watch the Reds dominate the ball, creating chance after chance, Maribor's keeper Jasmin Handanović and defensive back line of eight frustrating the hell out of the home side.

Ragnar Klavan and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were the two changes for the Reds since the two sides met in Slovenia a couple of weeks ago, replacing Dejan Lovren and Philippe Coutinho due to lack of form and fitness respectively.

It didn't help when Liverpool were forced to make their first change, Georginio Wijnaldum getting injured with just over 15 minutes played, to be replaced by Jordan Henderson.

Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino created most chances for the Reds, but it was still goalless at the break, the home side unable to break the deadlock despite 12 chances and 84% possession in the first half alone!

The atmosphere reflected the frustration and disappointment, the Maribor fans making themselves heard at Anfield more than once or twice.

Momo finally found the breakthrough shortly after the interval with a cheeky back-footer, Joël Matip winning the ball back near the centre-circle, passing to Trent Alexander-Arnold, who found the Egyptian in the box.

Salah registered his 10th goal in all competitions, plus three assists, that's more goal involvements than any other LFC player.

Seconds later, the Reds were awarded a penalty after Bobby was wrestled to the ground by Aleksander Rajčević, who was booked for his wrestling/judo skills.

Skipper James Milner's spot kick was soft and predictable, Handanović able to glove it onto the post and clear.

With that miss, Liverpool have messed up five out of their last seven penalties!

Salah missed more sitters, Firmino was denied by Handanović, the crowd died down and shut down more and more in silence.

Even Jürgen Klopp showed less tantrums and more composure than usual. Worrying. Disappointing.

Emre Can finally doubled the lead with just under half an hour to go, banging the ball from the centre of the box with his right foot into the back of the net off Milner's pass.

Loris Karius did not have much to do, but the couple of times Maribor did attack, the keeper showed full attention and good focus, stopping and saving well.

Substitute Daniel Sturridge made it three in the final minute, waking up Anfield with a nice first touch and then strong volley with his left foot, capitalising off another Red corner and sleepy defence in the box.

It was a very one-sided game, but the visitors can be very happy the way they frustrated the hell out of the home side. Patience is a virtue. One more and more LFC fans seem to lack...

It is a win for the Reds which sees them top of Group E, a point ahead of Sevilla in second, plus a clean sheet, but it was nowhere near the quality, glory and entertainment of other European clashes.

On a more positive note, Liverpool have kept four clean sheets in their past five games in all competitions, after managing none in the seven games before that, and have scored 14 in the last five matches. 14!

⚽️👊🏻⚽️👊🏻⚽️

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Liverpool Goals: Salah 49', Can 64' & Sturridge 90'.

Liverpool Team: 1 Karius; 18 Moreno, 17 Klavan, 32 Matip, 66 Alexander-Arnold; 5 Wijnaldum (14 Henderson 16'), 23 Can, 7 Milner (c); 11 Salah (15 Sturridge 73'), 9 Firmino (16 Grujić 85'), 21 Oxlade-Chamberlain. 4-3-3
Substitutes not used: 22 Mignolet, 12 Gomez, 26 Robertson, 29 Solanke.
Coach: Jürgen Klopp

NK Maribor Team: 33 Handanović (c); 4 Šuler, 26 Rajčević (booked 53'), 3 Billong; 28 Viler, 8 Kabha, 6 Pihler, 22 Milec; 39 Bohar (booked 23') (20 Bajde 69'), 27 Mešanović (9 Tavares 58'), 10 Hotić (7 Ahmedi 81'). 3-4-3
Substitutes not used: 69 Obradović, 5 Vrhovec, 12 Vršič, 29 Palčič.
Coach: Darko Milanoč

HT Stats: LFC 0-0 NKM
Possession: 84%-16%
Passes: 459-91
Shots: 12-1
On target: 2-0
Corners: 9-0
Fouls: 2-4
Yellow cards: 0-1

FT Stats: LFC 3-0 NKM
Possession: 75%-25%
Shots: 23-5
On target: 9-1
Corners: 17-2
Fouls: 7-9
Yellow cards: 0-2

Referee: Ivan Kružliak (SVK)
Assistants: Martin Balko & Tomaš Somolani (SVK)
Additional assistants: Peter Kralović & Filip Glova (SVK)
Fourth official: Branislav Hancko (SVK)
UEFA delegate: Danilo Filacchione (ITA)
Man of the match: Emre Can
Ground: Anfield

Click here for my previous LFC match report.

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

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Premier League Picks Of The Week 10

Sports - Football - Premier League - Week 10

The tenth week of the Premier League action saw:

23 goals - most by Liverpool & Man City = 3 each
114 shots - most by Crystal Palace = 19
68 on target - most by Crystal Palace = 9
92 corners - most by Crystal Palace = 11
195 fouls - most by Crystal Palace = 18
29 yellow cards - most by Watford & Stoke = 4 each
0 red cards
2 penalties - 1 scored (Mohamed Salah missed for Liverpool, Luka Milivojevic for Crystal Palace)

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What a game! West Brom against Manchester City started with a flood of goals, three in under 15 minutes! Leroy Sané opened the scoring for the visitors with a vicious strike from 15 yards. Jay Rodriguez levelled the score for the hosts three minutes later lifting the ball past Ederson off Gareth Barry's cross. But seconds later Fernandinho restored the Citizens' lead, seeing the ball deflect off a couple of players and in off the post. Former LFC winger Raheem Sterling made it 1-3 with just over an hour gone after the game calmed down a bit. The home side pulled one back late on, what a massive mistake it was by Nicolás Otamendi, Matt Phillips capitalizing well on it, but it was too little too late for the Baggies. The blue league leaders keep flying high five points clear at the top even after not exactly their best performance.

What a team! Just when Arsenal looked to be on top of their game after taking Everton apart 5-2 last week, they were humbled by Swansea, in the first half. The Swans took the lead when Sam Clucas slotted one in against the run of play halfway through the opening half. And it could have been worse if it weren't for Petr Čech's stops, denying Jordan Ayew, who came closest to double the Welsh side's lead. But the Gunners hit back and completed a great turnaround after the break, thanks to two goals in seven minutes by Sead Kolašinac (51') and Aaron Ramsey (58'). It's the third successive game the Londoners have fought back from behind, ending manager Arsène Wenger's 800th Premier League game on top, remaining fifth in the league table, level on points with Chelsea in fourth.
Newcastle definitely don't like Mondays after losing their 10th consecutive top-flight match on this miserable opening day of the week. Burnley deserved the win thanks to Jeff Hendrick's second league goal of the season, sealing a nice fifth anniversary present for manager Sean Dyche, who has been linked with the vacant Everton job. I don't think he'd be that stupid: Burnley are sitting high and happy in seventh, whilst the Toffees are stuck in the bottom three, more to their defeat below.

What a man! Super sub Anthony Martial won the early kick-off on Saturday for Manchester United, beating two Spurs defenders to slot the ball home off Romelu Lukaku's headed cross with 81 minutes on the clock, just over ten minutes after coming on. Too easy. With this victory, the hosts have won their last six league games at Old Trafford, conceding zero, keeping them second in the league table. The last time they recorded such a strong league run at home was March 2010 under Sir Alex Ferguson. The weather was just as dire as the entertainment value and quality of the match though. The first half saw the visitors on top, the home side were poor, but took more control after the interval, José Mourinho's substitution(s) proved to be crucial. Harry Kane and Victor Wanyama were ruled out due to injury and certainly missed, both scorers in Tottenham's win over the Red Devils the last time the two sides met in an emotional farewell at White Hart Lane. The result put an end to Mauricio Pochettino's men's unbeaten run on the road this season, recording their second defeat in the league, keeping them in third place, local rivals Chelsea and Arsenal closing the gap to just a point. The London side definitely don't like this ground, having lost 21 of their 26 Premier League trips to Old Trafford. (After this match, Manchester City will surely not be all too worried though, neither side looking half as threatening and lethal as the league leaders.)

What a goal! Both West Ham goals impressed, from nice team play to top quality individual effort! Javier Hernández broke the deadlock with a nice finish and André Ayew doubled the Hammers' lead with a stunner driven from 20 yards out. But a spot kick by Luka Milivojević and late late late late late Wilfried Zaha goal grabbed a point back for Crystal Palace (90'+7!!!), who had also hit the woodwork twice and pulled numerous saves from Joe Hart. It ended a point each for Roy Hodgson and Slaven Bilić, but very different feelings, the fourth point of the season for Palace, denying West Ham a first Premier League away win in six attempts.
Eden Hazard made it three in three for Chelsea, as many goals as in his previous 17 games, to beat Bournemouth 0-1 at the Vitality Stadium. Clinical. Asmir Begović was beaten from a tight angle on the side the Bosnian keeper should have had covered. The Cherries fought hard, but just could not find a breakthrough. Cruel.
And what a run and goal Leicester's opener was against Everton! Jamie Vardy banged the chance in from close range after the Foxes broke and ripped through the Toffees, Demarai Gray with the run past Tom Davies and two more Evertonians, followed by a Riyad Mahrez cross, top top top counter attack. Jonjoe Kenny's deflection added to the visitor's misery, awarded to Gray, who was on fire and involved again with a fine run and shot. The Claude Puel era is up and running, it was certainly a Super Sunday for he Frenchman. Not sure caretaker David Unsworth will get nor want the job at the Merseyside club permanently at this rate, watching his side nowhere near competing, moulding in 18th.

What the hell?! Only Jürgen Klopp knows why Mohamed Salah took the spot kick for Liverpool. James Milner and Roberto Firmino left watching as Huddersfield keeper Jonas Lössl denied the Egyptian from the spot. It just added to the frustrations, the last league win difficult to remember. It was over a month ago to be exact, 2-3 at Leicester, felt like years ago! A slice of luck saw Daniel Sturridge capitalize on Terriers captain Tommy Smith's misplaced header to give the Reds the lead and relieve them of a lot of pressure!!! Firmino doubled the lead with a strong header off a corner. Georginio Wijnaldum made it three with a rifle of a shot, past four defenders, the 150th PL goal under Klopp. What was I ranting about again? The Reds turned on the style at Anfield in the second half, finally!!! Something/someone finally clicked and turned the switch on, and keeping only their fourth clean sheet in ten league games will boost the confidence more, too. The win takes Klopp's men up to sixth, three points behind the top four. It was the first league meeting between the two sides since February 1972 and there was a lot covered in the buildup to the match about the close friendship between the two managers, Klopp and David Wagner. History. The last time the Terriers beat the Reds was 1959 under non-other than Bill Shankly before his LFC era! History-and-a-half.

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

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 live match coverage.