Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Wilshere’s Inclusion Unsurprising: Three Talking Points from England’s Euro 2016 Squad

Manager of England men’s national football team Roy Hodgson announced his final 23-man squad for the European championship earlier today, following UEFA’s deadline. And just like his Balon d’Or choices, controversy found its way to the subject.

Key factors behind the significant level of the discontent aimed at the former Fulham Boss were Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere and Leicester City’s Danny Drinkwater.

Below, we discuss these factors and other areas of concern.

Wilshere in Drinkwater out, how justifiable?

You know that popular saying about the three guarantees of life: death, taxes and some ridiculous feature, event or otherwise that cannot seem to go away. Well that ridiculous feature is Wilshere always getting the nod for the England team whenever he seems mechanically fit.

It has been the case since he made his full England debut in a friendly against Denmark in February 2011 and even more so since Roy Hodgson was appointed manager in May 2012 following Fabio Capello’s resignation.

Hodgson favours Wilshere ahead of the other England midfielders, just as he does Rooney, and for good reasons.

Wilshere remains the best technical central midfielder at Hodgson’s disposal and with all due respect to Drinkwater, he’s not a particularly talented footballer. He, just like the majority of the Leicester’s squad rely more on hard work and the force of will to deliver top level football.

Then you look at the kind of system in which he excels: sitting deep, defending resolutely and always looking to hit on the counter. That completely contrasts the kind of football the former Inter Milan manager wants his team to play.

Wilshere on the other hand, thrives at keeping the ball. He demands for it and is quite good at breaking tight defenses with his direct, mazy runs that often catches opposing teams unaware.

In general, Hodgson trusts Wilshere—every coach has such players—and believes he can manage the midfielder’s fitness considering the nature of the tournament.

Three games or thirty, Wilshere was always going to be picked as long as he was fit enough to play. It shouldn’t have surprised anyone.

Three centre halves five strikers, what’s the method to that?

Away from the midfield and the vanguard and rearguard must have gotten England fans wondering what on earth is going on in Roy Hodgson’s head.

Chris Smalling, Gary Cahill and John Stones are the only recognized central defenders in Roy Hodgson’s final 23-man squad and then he went with five strikers. Who does that?

Not even Guardiola could come up with a formation weird enough to warrant calling up five strikers but apparently, Roy Hodgson can.

There’s no denying that his hands were forced a little. Marcus Rashford’s sensational debut against Australia made it impossible to omit the towering youngster. One way or the other, you get the feeling that Rashford was always supposed to be the sacrificial lamb—that’s until he changed his fate.

Whatever the case, taking three centre backs looks a big risk, especially when none of the three players is particularly very good.

England will attack at the Euros—a lot

Of all the outfield players to be included, only three (Smalling, Cahill and Dier) aren’t really known for their attacking abilities and of these three, only the former two do not really possess any major ball-playing powers.

From John Stones, to the full backs, to the midfielders, every other player picked by Hodgson has a certain degree of attacking flair, be it in spates within the game like Jordan Henderson or almost all through like Barkley.


This might be the last tournament for Roy Hodgson with the England team, and he seems set to go all out to attack the competition in France, one final push, in the hope that it gives him a parting hurrah. 

Friday, 27 May 2016

Louis Van Gaal's time is over at Manchester United

When Louis Van Gaal was appointed manager of Manchester United 2 years ago to replace David Moyes, the fanbase greeted the news with fanfare and jubilation. Here was a manager with a history of winning silverware but as soon as he put in place his philosophy into action, the fans were singing a different tune; LvGOut. You see the fans demand to see attractive football and be entertained not the safe, defensive minded football tactics under Louis Van Gaal. 

Yes it's true his playing style, played a part in his downfall but his signings never lived up to the hype. Morgan Schneiderlin played a shadow of himself when compared of his time at Southampton, Bastian Schweinsteiger I have to admit was decent when he played but was injured too frequently, Memphis was very mediocre. It wasn't all bad though, Matteo Darmian and Marcos Rojo did a decent job, so did Daley Blind, not great. The best of the lot have to be Anthony Martial who as the season progressed, improved and showcased his potential. Players that he allowed to leave had fans scratching their heads, more specifically Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, a proven goal scorer was allowed to leave. He depended on Wayne Rooney to play as a striker. Rooney is a great player, but he doesn't have the pace to play up front but he's still is a decent finisher and his vision is still great. He also allowed Falcao and Robin Van Persie to leave without replacing them.  Falcao wasn't doing much as a striker so that's not a big miss but while RvP is not the player he once was, he can still do a job. Instead he threw in the fold 18 year old Marcus Rasford and hope for the best, lucky for Van Gaal Rashford seems to be a real talent, but to depend on a 18 year old to score for you are asking for too much, even for a talent like Rashford. Angel Di Maria left also because he was frustrated about Louis Van Gaal playing style. Now he flourishes playing for PSG, somebody of his talent should have been a great asset at Manchester United

While Louis Van Gaal didn't make it easy for himself, he shouldn't shoulder the blame for the poor performances, which culminated on missing out on a UEFA Champions League spot. The majority of the blame goes to the board and Ed Woodward, who very well should know or should have known. The playing style that Louis Van Gaal instills into his players and that philosophy doesn't fall inline with the playing style of Manchester United, hence why he is out of a job. He never fitted the team but he always remained professional, a class act and for that reason I wish him all the best in his future endeavors.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Jose Mourinho is a Necessary Evil

Jose Mourinho’s time at Manchester United would not turn out as his reputation suggests, he would blood the youngsters—both academy graduates and signings—he wouldn’t go about trying to gouge out the eyes of opposition mangers and finally, he would decommission that famous blame generator of his that blames everything but himself—from the ball boy to the corner flag.

And just as we expect those, we could do well to include the sun turning into a ball of ice, Game of Thrones losing its appeal, snowfall in Nigeria as well as the realisation of the proverbial world peace.


The common ground upon which all these expectations stand is simple: DELUSION.


The fact is that the only thing Mourinho has in common with Manchester United is winning. Like him or hate him, he is a winner and Manchester United is a club very used to winning—until 2013 at least.

But every other attempt to justify his impending appointment  ends up in futility: Mourinho in general seems to be the antithesis of everything upon which the current global brand that is Manchester United Plc was built in the late 20th century.

Youth development was a key part of Sir Alex Ferguson’s process in turning a mediocre United into the giants of English football. The famous Class of ’94 were prime examples of this and up until his last game in charge—the 5-5 draw with West Bromwich Albion —the legendary manager stuck to his philosophy in the form of 18 year old unused substitute, Adnan Januzaj.

Mourinho’s entire managerial career betrays this philosophy and as much as his new-found disciples in red try to brush this off by calling out the names of a couple of young players given a couple of minutes or played in dead-rubber games, the fact is only Petr Čech has gone on to become anything of real relevance under his tutelage.

Then comes his often unnecessary mind games, his on pitch antics—the infamous eye-poke says it alland his general PR nightmare; activities that every football club that considers itself classy looks to avoid at all cost—the exact reason Barcelona chose a rookie over him.

Sure, Sir Alex had his controversial and somewhat excessively arrogant moments but the reason he always retained the support and confidence of his players, the fans and the board was because he ALWAYS respected the club’s interest, never feeling bigger. These are things Mourinho can never live up to.

As disconcerting and off-putting as these may be however, the Portuguese remains the best candidate for the job.

After those dark days of Real Madrid that culminated with the 4-0 UEFA Champions' League round-of-16  disgrace to Liverpool in 2009, Florentino Peréz knew how valuable Mourinho’s pragmatism and contagious winning mentality would be in getting the club back to European dominance and the foundations the Portuguese left Real with are still being enjoyed till date.

United are in a similar situation—a wayward spiral where ambition and investment cannot seem to be replicated on the football pitch—and so Ed Woodward is looking to a path similar to Peréz’s.

The winning mentality and tradition that Sir Alex took decades to install and maintain have clearly disappeared and a coach who could recreate it in a few preseason months was absolutely needed and Mourinho is the only available coach who specialises in that department.

That lies more or less the only positive to take from his appointment. He would drag the name of the club to the ground, he would blame things more ridiculous than the Law of Murphy and United fans might as well snap out of the beautiful scenes of watching the kids down a “title challenger”.

Even the reported “behaviour clause” inserted into the proposed contract would not be enough, not with someone as volatile as Mourinho.


He remains a definite upgrade to Louis van Gaal for sure and will get United fighting for the big trophies again in an impressive short while, getting the team to play beautiful football if forced to as he’s often done but the days of classy Man United would have to be suspended for now.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Manchester United v Crystal Palace Match Analysis

Oh yes! finally Manchester United have won a trophy without Sir Alex. Of course in typical Manchester United fashion it wasn't easy but in the end United overcame Crystal Palace to win that famous trophy.

The first half was a very cagey affair with neither team looking like making a breakthrough with both sides preferring a direct approach, United utilising the strengths of Marouane Fellaini and Palace the strengths of Connor Wickham. It was frankly a very boring half but given the pressure of the big occasion it is easy to see why both teams were not going for an all out attack tactic.

Manchester United dominated the first stages of the second half having close to 70% of the ball and rattling the post twice. Firstly through Marouane Fellaini and secondly through a header from Anthony Martial. But it was Crystal Palace who made the breakthrough with Jason Puncheon who beat David De Gea at a tight angle at his near post to give Palace a 1-0 lead. The joy was short lived for the Eagles who couldn't keep United at bay for any longer with Juan Mata grabbing the equaliser for the Red Devils.

Into extra time the game went with both sets of players looking tired. It was Chris Smalling who made a tired challenge hacking down Dwight Gayle with a tackle that belongs in rugby. Most Manchester United fans were in despair at that point but not for long! Jesse Lingard with a sweet finish thumped into the net to win Manchester United the FA Cup! The first since 2004 and the first trophy since Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement.

Winning this trophy cannot be underestimated. Finally Manchester United can say they've won a trophy in the post Ferguson era. The man who delivered this trophy is Mr Louis van Gaal who will be replaced by Jose Mourinho as manager on Monday or Tuesday next week it has emerged this evening. It is appropriate to say a big thank you to Louis van Gaal who has delivered us this trophy who's tactics changed the game. It has been a difficult 2 years under the Dutchman but it has ended in silverware. It is the best way to say goodbye to a man who has built solid foundations for the clubs future. To win the FA Cup is special and this was a special win. Thank you Louis.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Louis van Gaal's position has become untenable

Following the failure to achieve the minimum target set to him by Ed Woodward Louis van Gaal's position as the manger of Manchester United has become untenable. It is now inevitable that the Dutchman will leave the club after the FA Cup final regardless of the result. Van Gaal has been clinging to the hope of finishing in the top 4 for months as he has faced revolt from the Manchester United fans who are desperate for a change in the dugout with the majority fully backing Jose Mourinho to take the job.

Louis van Gaal's second season at Old Trafford has been abject at best. His team has been abysmal to watch on the pitch and the manager himself has infuriated the Old Trafford faithful. Despite spending £250 million on players in his two seasons at the club he has resided over a humiliating season resulting in a 5th place finish in the league, Champions League and Europa League humiliation, defeat to Middlesbrough at Old Trafford and an FA Cup final. A season that is no where near good enough at Manchester United. However according to Louis van Gaal it is acceptable because he believes 'expectations are too high'. Sorry Louis but expectations are high when you spend a quarter of a billion pound on players and as you said at your unveiling 'the aim is always to finish first'. This is a manager who has become blinded by arrogance and is a lame duck drifting from one game to the next.

The mood at the club has become more toxic and downbeat than the darkest days of the David Moyes era. Louis van Gaal and his philosophy has taken away the enjoyment from watching Manchester United to the point where fans only watch their team out of duty and it feels like a chore to do so. The atmosphere at Old Trafford has been flat all season with Old Trafford witnessing the fewest amount of goals scored in a Premier League stadium this season. It has been a season in which Louis van Gaal has ripped the heart and soul out of the club with his tedious boring football. Its not like watching Manchester United anymore it feels like watching a totally different football team and its deeply upsetting.

Louis van Gaal was greeted by a chorus of boos as he made his speech on the Old Trafford pitch for the last home game of the season. Even David Moyes retained the respect of the crowd right until the very end despite the disastrous time he endured at the club. It is damning of the Dutch manager that he has berated by both fans and former players a like most notably Paul Scholes and Peter Schmeichel both have been avid critics of Louis van Gaal. When there is such a massive tidal wave against a manager there is only one outcome and that is change and it is now inevitable that change will be on its way.

When the mood at a football club is so grim a boost is needed something that can energize a club. There is no doubt that the departure of Louis van Gaal as manager will bring jubilation amongst most Manchester United fans. Manchester United need a manager who understands the club they need a proven serial winner. It is time for Ed Woodward and the board to put their faith in a long term vision not a lame duck manager. It is time for them to put their faith in Jose Mourinho. A man who has wanted the job at Old Trafford for years, a man who will bring energy to the club. A man who will bring passion to the club and free Old Trafford from van Gaal's philosophy.

Manchester United vs AFC Bournemouth Match Review

Manchester United hosted AFC Bournemouth at Old Trafford on Tuesday for the last game of their 2015/16 campaign, after the match was rescheduled after a bomb scare right before kick off in the weekend. Manchester United needed a win to secure the fifth position and qualify for the Europa League, while AFC Bournemouth could jump up two places and finish their first season at 16th position. 
The match went Manchester United's way after they decided to put their foot on the gas during the final moments of the first half, with some great goals by  Wayne Rooney, who also netted his 100th at Old Trafford, Marcus Rashford and Ashley Young, and a second own goal for Chris Smalling, the match ended with a score of 3-1, this also meant that David de Gea lost out on the Golden Glove. 

Analysis

The starting moments of the game were pretty Man United-esque, credit given to Carrick in deep mid field, who probably played his last league game and Wayne Rooney, to keep possession and regulate the ball well, however, nothing ended behind the net for the first 40 minutes, it was pretty boring. The first goal, after an assist by Anthony Martial, was scored by Wayne Rooney and that seemed to help the overall morale of the team, of course, they couldn't score the 19 required to take up 4th position but the game became slightly more entertaining. After a much better second half everyone was hoping to see De Gea with the golden glove, but that all went down the drain as Chris Smalling ended the ball past him and into the hosts' net. 
  • David de Gea had a decent game, wasn't called to action much but did his part when required, I can't help but feel sad for him, missed a golden opportunity and that too by an own goal, but he'll come back, that's for sure
  • Antonio Valencia did well on the right, crosses were decent, didn't make a lot of mistakes, a good game for him
  • Other than the own goal, even Chris Smalling had a good game, and of course, it wasn't his fault, much of the hate he's receiving his utterly useless, he's one of the most improved and matured defenders and he's shown that in this game as well. 
  • Daley Blind was good again, not a lot went past him in defence was solid as well when attacking
  • Cameron Borthwick Jackson started for the first time in two months and had a good game as well, he paired up well with fellow youngsters Rashford and Martial and has a bright future ahead 
  • Michael Carrick, who probably played his last league game, was pretty good in deep midfield, his passes were on point and he got close to scoring twice, one of them being a long range effort which hit the crossbar, overall, a good game after a few not so good ones
  • Juan Mata was on the wing when the game began and was pretty much invisible for majority of the first half, but he played some good balls and made a few good touches in the second, to be fair, he could have had a better game
  • Jesse Lingard had a fine game as well, he didn't have as much of an impact as he would've wanted, but it was a fair game for him, made a few good touches, but again, nothing major
  • Wayne Rooney made all the difference in the end, his goal was a huge morale booster, and like most of his recent games, his passing was magnificent, overall, he seems to have matured a lot and fits into the role of captain (Man. United and England) very well
  • Anthony Martial was pretty good as well, he seemed to be trying hard to get a goal in the first half, and it was after some cheeky skill that he was able to secure an assist for the first goal, another fine game for the frenchman
  • Marcus Rashford had been the topic of speculation after being included in the EURO 2016 provisional English squad, but he silenced everyone after scoring another beautiful goal, he has a bright future, and I'm sure he can do wonders in the Euros.
Overall, this is the kind of game that we wanted to see against sides like Norwich, West Brom or Sunderland, had that happened, we would not have to worry about qualifying for the Champions League, it could've been Louis Van Gaal's last game at Old Trafford and he certainly wanted it to be special. 

Monday, 16 May 2016

Manchester United vs AFC Bournemouth Updates

Manchester United were supposed to host AFC Bournemouth for the last game of the 2015-16 Premier League season, however, after a suspicious package was reported in the North West corner of Old Trafford, the match was delayed and finally abandoned upon its discovery. 
It was an intense situation as players waited in the dressing room while the Stretford End and Sir Alex Ferguson stand were evacuated, everyone cooperated and no panic was reported. The match was called off and a controlled explosion was carried out
According to the Daily Mail, the package was a dummy and the entire shenanigan took place because of a security error, we can expect a sacking in the coming days then, not sure if LVG would be the one to go though. This was confirmed in a statement by Assistant Chief Constable John O'Hare.
There were several rumours about the rescheduling of the match with some claiming that it would be considered a 0-0 draw (much like most of Manchester United's season) but that was all put to rest with an official announcement by the Premier League and Manchester United that the match will be played on 17th of May at 20:00 BST 
Manchester United's champions league hopes were destroyed as rivals Manchester City drew with Swansea to stay in fourth place but a win now would allow them to secure fifth position (currently taken by Southampton) and head into the Europa League while AFC Bournemouth could jump up to 14th place with one.


Wednesday, 11 May 2016

West Ham United vs Manchester United Match Analysis

Manchester United travelled to Upton Park for the last ever game to be played there, with top 4 at the tips of their fingers, a win would mean a temporary fourth position and another one against Bournemouth at home would see them secure that, but thanks to West Ham, that didn't happen.
West Ham united gave a fitting farewell to Upton Park by coming back from behind to finish it off at 3-2. 

Analysis

Manchester United had a pretty sad first half, constantly losing the ball, being outclassed everywhere and just playing pretty bad, it wasn't a surprise when they conceded an early  goal, while it becomes a driving factor for some teams, this squad didn't budge, the game went on in a simillar fashion and it would've been 3-0 had it not been for a few bad misses. They picked up the pace in the final minutes of the first half and for the majority of the second, and were able to take the lead after two brilliant goals by Anthony Martial, their joy however was short-lived as they weren't able to hold on to the lead for long, a few fouls outside the box allowed Hammer of the year, Dimitri Payet to deliver some brilliant passes into the box and both of them ended up behind the net, Manchester United's lack of defensive skill in set piece situations hurt them when it mattered most, a few more tries by the devils saw no result and that was that.
  • David De Gea couldn't do much about any of the goals, poor defending is to be blamed for all three otherwise had a bad day and did well in a one on one situation against Caroll 
  • Antonio Valencia moved up the wing and gave Rashford a good chance to score, but thanks to some good defending, it didn't go their way, but could have done better defensively
  • Chris Smalling did well to keep a check on Andy Caroll, constantly heading the ball away from him, to be frank, he seems to be the only one in the back four who knows how to deal with an aerial ball
  • Daley Blind did well when moving forward but made a few blunders in general, he could have done better when it came to the free kicks as well 
  • Marcos Rojo should be the first player to be axed under new management, the lad can't seem to defend, he was responsible for the very first goal and again, this isn't the only time such a thing has happened, a very bad first half but seemed to improve in the second
  • Morgan Schneiderlin didn't live up to his expectations, a sloppy ball gave away the possession to West Ham, which led to the first goal, in a more general sense, he was reluctant to give the ball in tough situations, we saw a positive change when he was subbed off for Carrick at half time. 
  • Ander Hererra would be a tough call, he could have done way better, didn't live up to his potential and didn't affect the game as much as fans expected him to 
  • Juan Mata did very well to hold the defenders as Rashford took the ball to build up the first united goal, seemed to improve after a bad first half but is not a player you'd like to see out wide
  • Wayne Rooney was one of the finest players for United, with great lob and great mental presence, he seemed to be the only one to keep calm after conceding the early goal and did well in moving the ball up front, sad result after a good game for him.
  • Anthony Martial was another streak of awesomeness in an otherwise dull-looking squad, scored both the goals and while the first one was an easy tap in, the second one required skill, he was outclassed by Antonio on the wing in the first half, but did well to come back and give Manchester United a temporary lead in the second
  • Finally, Marcus Rashford seemed fine, made a few minor errors while dribbling, but has the potential to do great stuff and it shows as he set up Martial for the first goal quite exquisitely and stood firm in tough situations especially on the right.
Overall, a very sad result for United and a sigh of relief for City as they head into the final game week. Manchester United's top 4 hopes aren't quite over yet as they could take the number four spot if Manchester City lose to Swansea City and they win against Bournemouth.
While the top 4 race isn't quite over yet, this match was pretty decisive, it would take a miracle for Manchester United to end up in the Champions League but one can't say for sure, its the Premier League after all.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Norwich City v Manchester United Match Review

A game Manchester United simply had to win to have any chance of scraping a place in next seasons Champions League and win they did. Although there was nothing to enjoy about the performance from United. It was very difficult to watch the team in red with the red devils line up showing a distinct lack of pace. It would be simplistic and naïve to say that its the result that maters but when this is the norm from this team you can only be furious with these performances.

The first half was eventless. The only notable thing to happen was Matteo Darmian coming off with a nasty looking injury. It was typical of Louis van Gaal's team this season with the lack of forward movement frankly scary to watch. Wayne Rooney provided nothing upfront in the first half with the skipper providing no movement in behind the Norwich defence and offering very little in terms of hold up play. The team was in desperate need of pace with Anthony Martial injured in the warm up and Marcus Rashford bizarrely rested. The formation was unbalanced with Juan Mata yet again shifted out wide and Jesse Lingard playing in in Mata's number 10 role.

 Manchester United started the second half with more forward intent but in truth it was still of poor quality. Ander Herrera had United's first real chance of the game but like United's performance it was lacklustre and only found the side netting. Norwich provided nothing going forward and it was only after a misjudgement from Sebastian Bassong Wayne Rooney was able to get in behind and coolly pick out Juan Mata who slotted home with a neat finish. That was the only notable chance either team created and the game fizzled out and ended 1-0 to Manchester United.  

A game that was just so typical of this season for Manchester United. It was just incredibly boring you can find more excitement in a game of walking football than watching this United team. The best thing about this performance was when the referee blew the whistle for full time.

Player Ratings:

David De Gea: 7- Wasn't tested very much but was solid as usual and his command of the box was excellent.
Antonio Valencia: 7- United's best attacking threat and wasn't troubled defensively.
Chris Smalling : 7- Kept the Norwich strikers quiet and had a faultless game.
Marcos Rojo: 5- Looked a liability throughout the game but wasn't spectacularly bad today.
Cameron B-Jackson: 5- Decent going forward but looked exposed at times defensively.
Michael Carrick: 5- Didn't pass forward enough and didn't influence the game at all.
Jesse Lingard: 4- Did nothing meaningful and looked lost playing centrally.
Ander Herrera: 6- Not his best game but he tried to be positive and was neat on the ball.
Juan Mata: 7- Struggled playing out of position but got the winning goal and looked decent at times.
Memphis: 3- Offered nothing to the team, didn't work hard and was poor. Terrible performance.
Wayne Rooney: 4- No presence upfront was generally poor but did well to set up the winner.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Devil's Wager - Betting guide to Sevilla vs Shakhtar Donetsk

Sevilla host Shakhtar Donetsk at the Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán in the second leg of their Europa League semi-final tie on Thursday priced as bet365’s 8/13 favourites to win in regulation time and as 1/5 favourites to progress into the final. Shakhtar trade 9/2 and 7/2 respectively in these markets.

Sevilla have dominated this competition in recent years, winning the last two renewals to take their tally to a record four trophies, all of which have come in the last decade. Off the back of a 2-2 draw away from home, they can sit tidy in the fact the have two comfortable away goals. To qualify is't good enough, at 2/9 you would have to bet too much, but to win in 90 mins strikes a good at 4/6.

At around the same price, you can back both teams to notch at around 4/6 which would have collected in the Spaniard's last three games while Shakhtar have scored in all of their last 10. If you fancy Sevilla to put their recent form behind them then the 2/1 about a home win with both sides scoring may appeal with in-form striker Kevin Gameiro.

Taking of Kevin Gameiro, you can find the french international at 12/5 to score first, and considering he is the main outlet of the Spanish side, you can figure out why the odds are such, alongside nine goal Taison who trades 11/4 to net anytime.

We fancy Sevilla to progress with a victory in regulation time on Thursday; however, the fact that they have kept just two clean sheets in their last six home games makes backing a home win with goals for both teams and +3.5 goals appeal at 11/5 and 13/8.

Devil's Wager - Betting guide to Liverpool vs Villareal

Villarreal’s narrow win ended Liverpool’s 12-game unbeaten run in this season’s Europa League and left the Merseyside outfit with it all to do at Anfield. Ironically, it is the Spanish side that are now 12 games without defeat in Europe’s second tier competition as they look to reach the Europa League final for the first time, too.Everyone loves a stat and for those who bet by them the fact that 59% of teams that have won 1-0 at home in the first leg of Europa League knockout ties have gone on to progress to the next round. Not great news for Liverpool, but you can find Villarreal to qualify at 8/13 which is a tidy price for a team who could settle for a 0-0 at Anfield.
Their away form in La Liga, though, is not wholly compelling with a 6-6-6 record which includes a recent loss at relegation threatened Rayo Vallecano. With Liverpool having to score, we can see this game being full of goals in comparison to the first fixture, with Liverpool and Over 2.5 goals at 15/8, its a good price considering both must go out at it from the start.

They haven't lost in this competition since that opening encounter and have scored in every game bar the second leg at Leverkusen where they gained a 0-0 draw that saw them progress 2-0 but their defense doesn't look rock solid. The only problem is where the Liverpool goals are going to come form. Firmino has been the shining light on a drab season up front, so if he starts a good price of 11/2 to break the deadlock, whilst you can find in form Bakambu at 6/1, a wholly price considering he has scored nine goals in this seasons competition.

Liverpool's display against a fine Dortmund side bodes well for their chances of sinking the Yellow Submarine but they did have an away goal in their favour that night and rather than back them to win at 4/5 in 90 minutes or to qualify, I'm prepared to risk a couple of correct scores at 2-1 and 3-1 in what promises to be another tense, enthralling European encounter which looks sure to go to the wire. 2-1 final score is priced at 15/2, whereas 3-1 is coming up at 14/1.







Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Louis van Gaal celebrates mediocrity on the night Leicester City win the league

Its rather fitting that on the night Leicester City were crowned Premier League champions Louis van Gaal had the opportunity to address the Manchester United fans at the end of season awards night. He gave a rousing speech at last years awards ceremony in which he promised the world to the fans and declared 'we are close!' to being able to win the Premier League. This years speech had a rather different take to it but Louis was still able to make 5th place seem like the greatest achievement in the clubs history with his usual rhetoric of excuses and false positives.

No less than an hour after Leicester had won the league Louis van Gaal said one of his infamous catchphrases 'its a process' he declared yet again. The words used by the Manchester United manager in almost every time he speaks usually he used it as an excuse to explain why his team have been so poor this season. However on a night were Claudio Ranieri had lead his Leicester team to the league title the rhetoric from Louis was not going to wash with the fans of Manchester United. How can it be possible that Ranieri had lead the 5000/1 team to the title 10 months after taking over. Surly it cannot be possible? What about the process? That is how you would be thinking if you believed the rubbish Louis van Gaal comes out with. A manager who has spent more in 2 seasons than Leicester have in their entire history but it's okay because as he loves to remind everyone before the injuries Manchester United were 1st in the league.

Louis then took the opportunity to inform us all that the expectations at Manchester United are 'too high' and it is because of this that his team have struggled. It is quite ironic that this is a manager who this time a year ago was embracing the expectations of the club and was even upping the expectations of the fans. He complained that the expectations that are too high but in the next breath boasted 'I am arrogant because I am one of the best managers in the world'. Most people probably find it strange that one of the best managers in the world believes his players have 'contributed to the success of the season'. A season that has reached the incredible heights of 5th place and the FA Cup final. How is it that the worlds biggest football club has been reduced to such mediocrity and the fact that the hierarchy at the club seem happy to accept the mediocrity Louis van Gaal is shackling the club with is deeply concerning and disappointing.


Monday, 2 May 2016

Manchester United vs Leicester City Match Analysis

Manchester United hosted league leaders Leicester city with both teams eyeing a win, one to be crowned champions and the other to enter the top 4 and potentially qualify for the champions league. But both didn't get the result they wanted as the match ended 1-1 much like it did the last time the teams met.

Analysis

Manchester United

The team had a brilliant first half followed by a terrible second one, constantly moving forward and trying to create chances suddenly changed to fighting in the midfield and passing the ball to the Leicester player (we all want them to win the championship, but giving them the ball isn't the right way to do that) 
David de Gea didn't see much of the ball and seemed to take care of it whenever called, other than the goal by Morgan, which to be honest, I don't blame him for, Okazaki was in his face and it was like a wrestling match in the box, not the ideal  conditions for a good save.
Antonio Valencia, who replaced Tim Fosu Mensah was quite good on the wing, it was his intelligent cross to Martial which helped with the goal and played pretty well overall. Chris Smalling has been outstanding this season and continues with his top form as the season comes to an end, handled Mahrez well and had a good command over the defence. Daley Blind started out pretty well, defended well throughout but was sloppy as he moved forward in the second half. Finally, Marcos Rojo, the Argentine had a bad game, and that's an understatement,was not effective moving forward and in my opinion created more problems for Martial and the rest of the forwards with terrible balls, defensively, he was the one marking Morgan who equalised for the foxes, so that should say it all, in fact Morgan won the ball thrice while being marked by Rojo, LVG needs to keep a check on him.
Fans were surprised to see Fellaini in the starting lineup and it was pretty clear why, the man elbowed again and might receive a ban by the FA, although he didn't seem to be doing much except push, pull and move his feet around a little, he was like Captain America in the first Avengers movie, ineffective (team Iron Man ftw) although, I must highlight that he wasn't the worst player out there. Michael Carrick was the second holding midfielder and had a predictable game, it was 50-50 for him, good at times and not so good at other times. 
Jesse Lingard started over Juan Mata on the right, and that should explain why the hate for him has shot up, but to be honest, to replace Mata, you need to play better than him, and that's the problem, he had a bad game, especially the second half, he had one attempt on target which was saved by Schmeichel and another one where it was him vs Simpson and Kasper in front of the goal, he was slow, he was reckless and he went down easy. Another bad game for the young player. Anthony Martial continued his top form by scoring another to make it 2 in 2, he might be the reason that united could make it to the top 4, had a good first half, made runs and saw a lot of the ball, however, he disappeared by the second half and never seemed to come back. 
Wayne Rooney started in the no 10 spot, and as he has mentioned before, he takes up the role with pride and is inspired by Paul Scholes and it shows, perfect passing and distribution, semi-intelligent play (expanding) but the problem is with his finishing, he tried all shots from outside the box, and that's not what the team wants, pass the ball or go a little closer, so an okay game for him. 
Marcus Rashford led the attack and had an okay game as well, didn't see much of the ball, though passed it around well, didn't look all that dangerous with it. 
Subs: Memphis Depay, whose recent antics on Instagram have got people thinking that he might be leaving, had a chance at goal with a freekick but nothing too great. Ander Herrera didn't impact the game as much as he wanted to, however, in his short time, paired up well with fellow Spaniard Juan Mata, who himself had a tough time getting to the ball and moving around with it.
To conclude, good first half but boring, dull and sad second half, could do better, need to do better if they're serious about top 4, and with a play like this, they didn't seem to be. 

 Leicester City 

The foxes had an awkward start to the game after conceding an early goal, but were confident they would be coronated after the equaliser, a fair enough game on their part, away games are never easy, especially against a side like Manchester United.
Kasper Schmeicel made a terrible mistake early on to allow the devils to go up, but made an important save to avoid making things worse, overall, made very good saves and played well after the goal. 
Wes Morgan was the man of the day for them, he has probably won them the title subject to a the spurs' match tomorrow, but had a good game, scored a goal, defended well, MOTM for me. Robert Huth was very good defensively as well, strong and intelligent tackles in the second half disallowed any chances to the home side moved forward and passed the ball around quite well. Danny Simpson played a pivotal role in not allowing Lingard to score in a tough situation, kept Martial busy and had a good game as well. Christian Fuchs gave no Fuchs and played tackled Lingard quite well, dealt with Valencia in the second half and had a good match against him, overall, well played. 
Jeffery Schlupp could've had a better game, made good runs but wasn't all that effective for them. N'golo Kante was quite the opposite, the tweets about the man keep coming and are proving to be true, the man is going places with the way he plays, and this game was no different, a commendable performance. Danny Drinkwater is the second player to be sent off in two consecutive premier league games, his freekick was good though, as it allowed Morgan to go for goal (thanks to Marcos Rojo as well for defending like bag of rocks) but two bad fouls means that he cracked under the nervous atmosphere and that's not good, must be checked. Finally, Riyad Mahrez, the player of the year had could've had a  better game, was handled by Chris Smalling at times and wasn't as effective as fans or he himself wanted to be. 
Leonardo Ulloa started as a result of the suspension of Jamie Vardy, he was quite alright, had a few chances but none ended behind the net so you can imagine what kind of a game he had. Shinji Okazaki was not impressive as well, a little more effort from both of them and they could be celebrating the title right now. 
To conclude, the absence of Jamie Vardy is notable in the attack, however, defensively, they were good, need to keep this up and win the next to just seal it up, it has been a great season for the foxes and they continue to show us why.
Manchester City lost to Southampton today to keep the top 4 hopes of United alive, can Arsenal defeat City and United defeat Norwich, West Ham and Bournemouth to return to the Champions League?