Soccer, Uncategorized, Women's World Cup

Women’s World Cup Group 1 Preview

The Women’s World Cup kicked off last night with France laying down a marker with a 4-0 victory against Korea Republic. The month long festival of football will showcase the best players in the world with the tournament taking place in France. Here I discuss each team in the group and how likely they are to progress beyond the group stage. 

Group A – France, Korea Republic, Norway and Nigeria

France

France will start this group as favourites as they seek to become the first nation to hold the Men’s and Women’s World Cup trophies at the same time.

Les Bleus have never won this tournament and are seeking to become only the second side after Germany to win the Men’s and Women’s hosting of this competition.

The team are ranked fourth in FIFA’s rankings and with home support should progress to the knockout stages.

Their striker Eugénie Le Sommer will lead the line.

The Olympique Lyonnais player has won six Champions League titles and has scored 74 goals in 159 French appearances.

They are unbeaten since February and their home fans will be expecting them to go deep in the tournament.

Eugenie Le Sommer
Eugenie Le Sommer will hope to lead hosts France to World Cup glory. Photo By: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images.

Korea Republic

Korea Republic, also known as the Taeguek Ladies will compete in their third World Cup finals having reached the knockout stages in 2015 where they were defeated by France.

Their other appearance in 2003 saw them suffer a 7-1 hammering to Norway as they failed to progress from the group.

Their captain Cho So-hyun is a midfielder who plays with West Ham United and is considered one of her country’s greatest ever players.

Ji So-yun plays for Chelsea and is another midfielder worth keeping an eye on.

They are hoping to get out of the group but they only just secured the final qualifying place in Asia while their poor form against European teams is cause for concern.

Norway

The World Cup winners in 1995, Norway, would have been widely regarded as dark horses for the tournament but the first ever winner of the Ballon d’Or feminin prize Ada Hegerberg’s decision to boycott the competition is a major blow.

She argues that female players are shown a lack of respect and will miss the tournament. Hegerberg has scored 38 goals in 66 appearances for her country and they may struggle for a cutting edge without her.

Norway have won six of their seven games this year and will need Chelsea player Maren Mjelde to create chances.

Caroline Hansen is a talented winger who has signed for Barcelona after impressing with Wolfsburg.

The opening game with Nigeria looks to be vital towards deciding who progresses from the group.

Ada Hegerberg
Ballon d’Or winner Ada Hegerberg will not be playing for Norway at the World Cup.

Nigeria

Africa Women’s Champions Nigeria will be hoping to bring their success in their nation to the global stage.

The Super Falcons are the only African team to have qualified for every World Cup.

They have only got out of the group stages once, in 1999 when they reached the quarter final stage before losing to Brazil.

Nigeria will be looking to Asisat Oshoala to provide the goals; she announced herself on the world stage when she finished top scorer at the U20 Women’s World Cup.

Oshoala scored in the Champions League final as Barcelona were defeated by the all conquering Olympique Lyonnais.

They know that a top three finish may be enough to progress and the format gives them every opportunity to rectify previous World Cup failings.

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Premier League, Uncategorized

Premier League Round Up:Liverpool extend their lead while Spurs make a statement

Everton 2-6 Spurs

Spurs in the title race

Tottenham demolished Everton in what was the best team performance by any team in the premier league this weekend. After progressing to the Champions League knockout stages, they have carried that momentum in defeating North London rivals Arsenal while this victory has moved them within two points of Man City. They are in red ht form away from home also, winning 8 of their 10 way games. This was a decisive victory in laying down a marker. Now they must back this performance up.

Harry Kane 1
Harry Kane scored twice against Everton. Source: Getty Images.

 

Man United 5-1 Cardiff City

United up the pace

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took charge of his first match as Man United interim coach. It could not have gone much better as they thrashed Cardiff City 5-1. United played more attacking football as their front three of Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford all got on the scoresheet. It was the first time this season that United outran their opponents in the Premier League. They also made their highest number of forward passes in a game in the league this season. It is too early to judge Solskjaer’s reign but the signs are promising!!

 

Arsenal 3 – 1 Burnley

Kolasinac outstanding in wing back role

Arsenal defeated Burnley 3-1 in Saturday’s early kick off.  The Gunners came in to this game after back to back defeats to Southampton in the league and Spurs in the Carabao Cup. They suffered further defnsive woe with Nacho Monreal limping off but the performance of Sead Kolasinac at left wing back is encouraging. He suffered when deployed in a back four against Wolves and since then Unai Emery has deployed a back three. He got an assist and played a key role in the second. Arsenal need him to stay fit amid their defensive crisis.

Arsenal v Burnley

Arsenal responded to two defeats in a row to defeat Burnley. Photo via: http://www.arsenal.com

 

Huddersfield 1-3 Southampton

Hasenhuttl has got Saints scoring

Ralph Hassenhuttl has enjoyed an excellent start to life as Southampton manager. They have won consecutive premier league games for the first time since April 2017. The Saints have also scored 3 goals in consecutive games. Danny Ings, Charlie Austin and Michael Obafemi have all scored uder their new boss while Shane Long had a goal ruled out for offside against Arsenal. Their fans can now enjoy Christms outside the relegation zone.

 

Chelsea 0-1 Leicester City

Leicester enjoy the rub of the green

Crystal Palace defeating the reigning Premier League champions meant that Leicester’s victory against Chelsea was almost forgotten. The Foxes set up with a bank of four and a bank of five as they frustrated the Blues and Eden Hazard. It was their best result of the season but had Marcos Alonso’s injury time strike gone in instead of striking the post and rolling across goal, then they would have not gained the three points. Sometimes you earn your own luck and Leicester’s tigerish performance saw them grab all three points.

Giroud v Southampton
Chelsea had little cause for celebration after a 1-0 defeat to Leicester City. Photo by: Reuters

Crystal Palace 3 – 2 Man City

A Coming of Age Performance for Wan-Bisaka

Crystal Palace deserve immense praise for their shock victory against Man City. Roy Hodgson got his tactics spot on while Palace scored three goals from three shots on target as they were ruthless in front of goal. No player typified Palace’s grit and determination more than 21 year old right back Aaron Wan-Bisaka. The defender faced in form Leroy Sané but nullified the talented German while providing an outlet for the counter attack. He is far from the finished article but based on this performance, he has a bright future.

 

Crystal Palace v Leicester
Crystal Palace had cause for celebration after pulling off the upset of the season so far.  Source via: talkSPORT.
Uncategorized

Premier League Talking Points: Spurs slip up while the rest of the top 6 win. Talking Points from an exciting Premier League week

This weekend of Premier League action saw wins for five of the ‘Top 6’  as Spurs slipped to an away defeat to Watford. The Hornets rise to third place as the Premier League takes a break with international games being played. Here I discuss the key points from the weekend’s action.

Emery must sub Cech or alter his plans

Petr Cech endured an uncomfortable afternoon as he continues to struggle with Unai Emery’s passing out from the back system. He has looked uncomfortable with the ball at is feet all season, almost scoring a comical own goal at Man City. He has made decent saves so far but he does not fit the style of play Emery demands. Emery must change his tactics or his keeper as it is hard to see Cech turning into Ederson any time soon.

Arsenal v Burnley
Arsenal beat Cardiff 3-2 but Petr Cech’s performance will worry Unai Emery. Photo via: http://www.arsenal.com

Another milestone for James Milner

James Milner assisted Roberto Firmino’s goal against Leicester in Saturday’s early kick-off. That was his 80th Premier League assist, equalling David Beckham’s total assists in the league. The lack of glamour in his game means he will more than likely not go down as one of the all-time great Premier League midfielders but his performances and stats show he has enjoyed a stellar career.

Chelsea adjusting to Sarri-Ball

Chelsea maintained their 100% record under Maurizio Sarri as they beat Bournemouth 2-0. The last time they won their first four games was in 2014-15 and they won the title that season. Sarri wants Chelsea to press the ball high up the pitch while he demands that defenders move the ball forward quickly instead of waiting for the right pass. The Blues look a settled side while Eden Hazard is impressed with Sarri’s style of play. A promising start now can they maintain it?

Maurizio Sarri
Maurizio Sarri. Photo By: Getty

Optimism fades for pointless West Ham

West Ham are currently bottom of the table with four defeats in their first four games. The last time they lost their first four games was in the 2010-11 season when they suffered relegation. Despite spending £100 million on new recruits, the Hammers’ midfield lacks drive and defensive nous while there was a lack of penetration in attack. Their new signings are yet to gel while Carlos Sanchez’s mistake led to Wolves’ late winner. They simply must improve when the league returns otherwise they are in for a long season.

Marko Arnautovic
Marko Arnautovic has not had much reason to celebrate this season. Photo By: Getty

Murray crucial for Brighton

Glenn Murray in some ways typifies Chris Hughton’s Brighton side: tigerish, tenacious and workmanlike. Murray scored twice as The Seagulls drew 2-2 with Fulham. The centre forward put himself about, knocking defenders off the ball and causing havoc for the Fulham defence. His first goal was well taken while his second was an emphatic penalty. He rose through the leagues and is an example for all lower league players.

 

Uncategorized

Premier League Round-up – Is the miracle esacape possible?, Wenger’s farewell and all set for a grand stand finish

Swansea need goals and fast

Swansea slumped to a 1-0 defeat away at Bournemouth as they remain deep in relegation trouble. The positive results under Carlos Carvalhal at the start of his reign now look a distant memory. The Swans have not scored in their last 3 league games and they have only scored twice in their last 8 games in all competitons. They must find a way to score in their last two games otherwise they may well be relegated.

Jordan Ayew
No way through for Jordan Ayew. Photo By: Getty Images

Giroud suits Conte’s game plan

Olivier Giroud struck as Chelsea reignited the top 4 race with a 1-0 victory against Liverpool. His header means that in the last three seasons, he has scored more goals with his head than anyone else in the top 5 leagues. He is keeping Morata on the bench and it was his double against Southampton that helped Chelsea believe they could gain a Champions League spot.

Giroud v Southampton
Giroud celebrates after scoring Chelsea’s 3rd goal against Southampon. Photo by: Reuters

Southgate must be relieved with England defenders’ returns

John Stones returned to the Man City starting 11 as they drew 0-0 with Huddersfield. England manager Gareth Southgate must be delighted to see Stones back and he will be hoping the youngster can see more action before the end of City’s campaign. Gary Cahill has returned to Chelsea’s starting team and he will be pushing hard for a place in Southgate’s plans. This is a welcome problem for England to have.

Spurs gone off the boil

Spurs’ season has petered out since their loss to Man United in the FA Cup. Their narrow defeat to Juventus in the Champions League has taken the wind out of their sails before United ensured they would win no silverware this year. They struggled to create chances against a battling West Brom as Harry Kane failed to score. Their season is not over as they need to seal a top 4 place to keep their top talents.

West Brom v Spurs
West Brom score a last minute goal to beat Spurs. Photo By: Getty Images

No straight fall back to the Championship

Brighton sealed their place in next season’s premier league with a deserved 1-0 victory against Man United. Newcastle are already safe while Huddersfield’s draw against Man City means all three promoted clubs look set to stay up. A series of resuts would need to go against The Terriers if they are to be relegated. If they survive, it would be the third time in 25 years that none of the 3 sides that come up got relegated straight back down.

Aubameyang can fire the next Arsenal manager to glory

Aubameyang scored twice as Arsenal gave Arsene Wenger the perfect final game at the Emirates. He was a constant threat alongside the improved Alexandre Lacazette in a game that felt like a testimonial match. Aubameyang has been involved in 12 goals in 11 games since his arrival (8 goals and 4 assists). Wenger’s final signing will be crucial for the new manager and if he continues his fine form next season then Arsenal may make quick progress.

Arsenal v Burnley
Arsenal celebrate against Burnley. Will they have reason to cheer next season? Photo via: http://www.arsenal.com

Southampton need to be smarter

Southampton squandered a major chance to escape the relegation zone as they drew 1-1 with Everton. They led through Nathan Redmond’s header before Tom Davies’ deflected 96th minute strike earned Everton a point. Southampton failed to keep the ball in the corner and failed to reset themselves as Everton attacked. They headed the ball away before Ryan Bertrand prevented the throw. He should have put the ball dead but his clearance fell to Idrissa Gueye who teed up Davies. Southampton don’t seem to be learning their lesson and it could prove very costly.