Who will replace Arsene Wenger?

The day seems to be drawing ever nearer when the whole Wenger In/Wenger Out camps will subside and the great man steps down from his throne. Some will dispute labelling Arsene as a great man, but only a fool would downplay what he has done. No other club has qualified in the number of consecutive Champions Leagues that he has guided Arsenal too….yes, they have more often been out of the title picture than in it, but in this day and age when all the top sides improve regularly, to keep that Top 4 placing was a task no other could have achieved.

Arsenal fans should think about what they wish for….there are not many examples in History of clubs who part from long term managers going straight onto to success, and I can’t help but get the feeling that in 12 months times, whoever is in charge at Arsenal will be subject to the same In/Out debates. But let us take a look at some of the contenders….

Carlo Ancelotti  – This seems to be the name of most Arsenal fans lips and given the players at the club, the style of play and the pressure of the role, he ticks all the boxes. Available and with something to prove in the Premier League, backed up with the wealth of experience he could well be the logical choice

Eddie Howe – Will Eddie Howe suffer for being an Englishman and lacking the top level, continental experience of others? Arsenal would be a fool not to consider this man considering the monumental, almost unbelievable job he has done with Bournemouth. One day, Eddie Howe will be in charge at a top 4 club and managing in the champions league, and perhaps Arsenal will be that team.

Antonio Conte – The more the weeks go by the more it appears that Mr Conte will be the latest in a long time of managers to depart Stamford Bridge. Unable to build on last years success, Conte has had many a controversy and seems unsettled, as do the club seem unsure of him.  Maybe a trip across the capital would be happy, but I cant imagine the Arsenal fans being overawed with this appointment?

Mikel Arteta – One of the bookies favourites at Novibet Sports, but to get rid of a man who has guided Arsenal to all those Top 4 places and trophies and replacing him with a guy who has never managed a club before, let alone one the size of Arsenal, would seem rather foolish and short sighted.

Jochiam Loew – Now we are talking, fresh eyes to the Premier League, a novel approach, a proven winner…what more could you want as an Arsenal fan?

Whatever happens, Wenger’s departure is going to take time to recover from and time to put right. Arsenal fans may have to accept they will suffer similar to the immediate post-Fergie Manchester United (who some may argue are yet to recover fully) but whoever takes the job at the Emirates will have to also accept the pressure and expectations that are going to follow.

Struggling Arsenal managed to win against Newcastle

footy

The recent performance of Arsenal has not been good so far. After being beaten by both the Manchester teams, they could not even earn the valuable points in their recent matches against Southampton and West Ham. That is the reason they are placed at the fourth spot after Manchester United and Chelsea in the Premier League table.

Therefore, the recent win against Newcastle must be a huge relief for Wenger whose team is currently five points lagging behind Chelsea. Mesut Ozil did the magic in the 23th minute of the game for the struggling Arsenal and remained till the end of the game. It was a brilliant first half volley that got them the lead.

However, this game also showed the problem which has been recurring throughout the season for Arsenal- not being able to take the chances which they create. Seeing the huge quality difference between the two teams, the dominance from the Arsenal side should have been complete. However, we did not see that happen. Though the win was not as convincing as it should have been, however a win is still a win and the Arsenal’s celebration is not out of place.

The Arsenal side would now be playing against West Ham in their next match. That game is expected to be easy for them. However, the game after that could be a real challenge for them as they will be up against the stronger opponent Liverpool. That is a game which might be of interest for both fans and punters around the world. If you are punter, you could avail from free bets and get bonus codes and know sign up offers from all the top rated UK betting sites. Read reviews for the valuable information or follow the tips for becoming a smart punter. Closely follow all the latest offers of Betfred, Paddy Power, Betway, Coral and all the others, so you can choose the one that fits you the best.

The experiments of Arsenal coach Wenger seemed to work well against the Newcastle team. He brought in Ainsley Maitland-Niles while Alexandre Lacazette was placed for Olivier Giroud.

Although Alex Iwobi and Alexis Sanchez became close to scoring, however the lead came only after the 20th minute of the game. Ozil showed a perfect combination of grace and power to give his team a lead early in the game. When the ball came to Ozil, he used his left leg to deliver the volley past Rob Elliot despite the fact that he was off balance and that he had the time to bring the ball down.

Later, Wenger appreciated that goal calling it “superb” and further commending him in such words: “Usually, he is the guy who 99 per cent of the time in this position, controls the ball and gives it someone else.”

Arsenal were looking very good in the first half of the game. However, by the second half their game looked more defensive. It felt like they had secured the win, and therefore the point of urgency was devoid from their game. Ultimately they prevailed, yet one could see that it was a lot tense towards the end of the game than it should have been.

If we talk about the Newcastle team, the situation for them is looking pretty grim now. Rafa Benitez would definitely have been dissatisfied with the performance of his team. But looking at their performance so far, it was not to be expected that they would win this game. It is been their eighth defeat of the previous nine games, and therefore has seen them drop down to the eighteenth position of the Premier League table, ahead of West Brom and Swansea City only. Benitez has been trying to bring his team up by imploring his players to strengthen their attack and exploit the weaknesses of the opposite team, but so far they have not worked.

 

 

Who will finish in the top 4?

If someone would have told me at the start of the season when writing this article that one team would be running away with the title, I wouldn’t have believed it. But here we are with 2018 beginning and every football fan with any common sense must sense that the league title race is over. Manchester City are not only picking up the points, but doing so in a style that suggest they will never be stopped. I hear fans from time to time hark back to the days when Newcastle, in the 1995-1996 season, where 12 points clear at this stage only to lose out to Man United……we are talking about different teams. Keegan’s Toon Army were a attacking machine but lacked the quality Manchester do. Newcastle got results by outscoring, not necessarily outplaying, teams whereas Manchester City are dominating every game from the first to the last moment. It would take a brave betting man to think they will blow it from here!

In a nutshell, assuming it is over let us take a look at the 5 teams aiming to fill the other 3 places in that top 4…

Manchester United – Somewhat a fall from grace as 2017 came to a close. As the season began it was United getting the rave reviews and plaudits and many predicting they would run away with the league but it simply hasn’t happened, and with several players form up and down, unless something major clicks they are going to struggle to hold on to second. Still, I believe they have enough firepower to secure that Top four place. Prediction – 2nd

Arsenal – Amidst all the Wenger out chants and contract disputes, Arsenal have kept on winning game, including some against top 4 rivals. Quietly, but surely, Arsene Wenger has got his side singing off the same hymn sheet and it all seems to be going well. Although the extensive demands of the Europa League may play into matters, Arsenal look good and if they hit form at the right time of the season could have a very happy fan base when the season ends . Prediction – 3rd

Chelsea – Solid, secure and pick up wins when they need to. Without having that X factor that City and United possess they are vulnerable to the odd shock but Conte should find himself in the Champions League next season. Prediction – 4th

Salah

Liverpool – Free scoring and fun to watch but the rate of goals and impressive results will fade. The champions League will take a toll and Van Dijk is not enough to make that defence work. Prediction – 5th

Spurs – Anything is possible when Harry Kane lines up in your side, but Spurs stuttered at the start of the season and have stuttered ever since. Already playing catch up, the fixtures don’t look kind to Spurs and they will have to endure another season without Champions League football next year…let us just hope thus doesn’t turn Harry Kane’s head

Alexandre Lacazette Signing Makes Frenchman Arsenal’s Highest Earner

Alexandre Lacazette Signing Makes Frenchman Arsenal's Highest Earner

 Alexandre Lacazette Signing Makes Frenchman Arsenal's Highest EarnerSource: Arsenal via Facebook

It has been one of the most anticipated deals of this year’s transfer market, and Arsenal fans can now officially celebrate as their side have completed the signing of French forward Alexandre Lacazette.

The club stated that the 26-year-old striker had agreed to a “long-term contract” for an undisclosed fee, which was later revealed as a five-year deal and a record signing for the club, worth £52m. This smashes the previous record of £42.5m set back in 2013 when Mesut Ozil made the jump from Real Madrid.

Not only that, but the French forward will become the club’s highest earner, with his contract worth a reported £200,000 per week.

Speaking to the club’s official website, he said: “I am of course delighted and very proud too because Arsenal is a legendary club. Throughout my childhood, thanks to Thierry Henry and other French players, I always dreamed of playing for this club so today that dream has been fulfilled.”

With Arsenal last tasting league success back in 2004, Arsene Wenger will be hoping that this new addition can help bring back the glory days to the Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners failed to qualify for the UEFA Champions League for the first time in 20 seasons last year, which will also be a major driving force for them in 2017/18 – the side are currently placed at evens in the football betting markets to secure a berth into Europe’s elite competition.

Many are saying that with the explosive attacking trio of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and now Alexandre, this could be the year for the Gunners.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=gI6YOhbT6H0

Sanchez still has one year on his contract at the Emirates and there has been much speculation surrounding the player and his desire to remain at the London club. He was most definitely the standout player for the Gunners last season, with a very impressive tally of 24 goals and 11 assists. This latest addition to the squad could be the deciding factor in the Chilean’s decision to stay. Everybody is well aware of his hunger for trophies and thirst for success, and Lacazette is certainly the kind of player that can help make those dreams a reality.

Arsenal secured the FA Cup and took the club’s only trophy of the season, defeating Premier League champions Chelsea 2-1 at Wembley. It was a testament to the resilience of the team after heavy criticism from the supporters for both manager and players. Arsene Wenger described the wins as one of the proudest moments in his career. The win saw him lift his seventh FA Cup and become the most successful manager in the competition’s history.

Lacazette scored 37 goals in all competitions in his final season at Lyon and has become one of Europe’s most prolific goal scorers. Now the real question is, can he bring that unique touch and blistering pace to the Premier League and use it to bring the title home for the Gunners?

How can Wenger turn things round and make Arsenal Champions?

Arsene Wenger out

Sanchez

Last season seemed to be dominated by discussion over the future of the longest serving manager in the Premier League Arsene Wenger. Despite 20 years of success, consistent top 4 finishes and memorable moments, the pressure began to mount as it became clear Arsenal were going to miss out on the Top 4. With no Champions League football and unease around the club, just how can Wenger turn things around and make Arsenal Champions?

One key thing he needs to do, which is easier said than done, is turn the fans negativity away. Nothing breeds failure and defeat at a club more than negativity, and speaking as a Sunderland fan I have seen this first hand. Whether it be bold tactical decision or major signings Wenger needs the fans back on board. A winning start would ease these….

…but then again Arsenal always start well. One thing Wenger needs to do is work out how to stop the mid season slump that has hit them in recent years. The typical post-xmas fade needs to be eliminated….a bigger squad, bringing in a different kind of player??? Whatever it may be he needs to address it.

Indeed, bringing in that player who can “do it on a wet Tuesday night in Stoke” is something to consider. Although Arsenal have some of the world’s finest players in their ranks, they have often missed that Tony Adams/Patrick Vieira type figure who is not only a leader on the pitch but can take a testing game by the scruff of the neck and grind out winds. The invincible did this time and time again so Wenger has it in his DNA, he just needs the players who can carry out his wishes.

Speaking of those world class players…..Wenger needs to not only keep the likes of Ozil and Sanchez, but make sure they are singing off the same hymn sheet. Is Alexis Sanchez motivated by making Arsenal the best he can or does he want to shine to force a move away? If the latter is true then cutting losses may be an option but a motivated and driven Sanchez may just be key.

One thing Arsene Wenger will certainly have to do is balance the tricky Europa League commitments where they will no doubt be favourites to lift the trophy. Although he is used to European Football, the Europa League is vastly different from the Champions League with a fuller schedule, more tricky places to go and indeed the Thursday night games messing up weekend fixtures. Wenger needs to decide quickly his approach…does he go all out to win the contest and ensure Champions League football, or does he treat it as a second priority until the latter stages? Manchester United have shown the blueprint of how to win this tournament, Arsenal would be wise to follow and should they you would get enhanced odds on them being victorious in Amsterdam next summer.

This could be the hardest season of all for Wenger. If he thought that last season was tough, the reaction to him should Arsenal start badly could be even worse. What he needs is to turn the negativity into positivity and there is no reason, that with a couple of key singings, they could be challenging for the title again in 2017-2018.

 

EPL Spending Power in the Transfer Window – Summer 2017

Transfer Window

As summer begins to hit, the cheque books start to come out as the clubs in the EPL begin to splash the cash on players from around the club. Whether they have ambitions of league titles, champions league success or indeed merely staying in the division, the budgets that some of the EPL clubs will be toying with this transfer window are larger than ever. But what can we expect from the money flowing in the league? Who will be the big movers and shakers? And what are the odds that the world transfer record may be surpassed – maybe more than once? So who has the capital to back up their desires and dominate this transfer window.

Eyes must begin in the City of Manchester where the two rival clubs will be amongst the biggest spenders. The spending power of Manchester City seems to be unrivalled but there is every chance Manchester United will smash their own transfer record with the addition of a much needed striker, now that a certain Swede is no longer leading the line. Manchester City’s owners have made to clear to Pep Guardiola that he should set his sights no lower than a unprecedented quadruple haul of trophies and this will mean the cash will have to come out. It is unlikely any other club will match the spending power at City. Over at Manchester United “The Special One” has had time to build and after qualifying for the Champions League, the temptation to join the legendary red devils may be too much. Griezman, Bale…..all rumoured and I would imagine a £100 million player into Old Trafford is not unlikely.

What about the Champions? They certainly have money to spend but in the past that hasn’t always helped them. Last year Chelsea were such a force as they had no European football to occupy their midweek time, but this year they will be back in the Champions League and will need to add a range of players for back up. I don’t expect anything major but a few £20 million plus players should arrive. Liverpool have been throwing ridiculous prices around for the likes of Virgil Van Dyke and Jurgen Klopp clearly has big deals in mind. Anfield has struggled in the past few seasons to be the attractive place it once was but with the Champions League money, the lure of playing for a club with an impressive a history as any and the chance to work with Klopp, I imagine Liverpool will take up this chance with big spending power to match.

The team that will be very interesting in terms of spending power is Arsenal. The lack of Champions League may prove problematic in attracting the very best, but with money in the bank there could still be big moves to the Emirates. Wenger will know he has to buy to keep up and get back in the top 4 and they should still have the spending power to back it up!

Outside of the major clubs in the league, it will be interesting to see how the new boys cope. St James Park should see big money deals taking place as the boss has made it clear the team don’t have enough to secure a decent finish. Even when you look at clubs like Bournemouth, throwing £120,000 a week at Jermain Defoe to sign shows how much money is kicking around at all clubs. At the end of the day, the spending power of the clubs in the EPL has never been greater and although some will show caution, I expect the newspapers will be full of tales of big money buys and records will be broken. Which in turn, should lead to even more excitement for fans!

If Wenger Makes a Big Statement in the Transfer Market will Sanchez Be Tempted to Stay?

Arsene Wenger out

Arsenal Sanchez

Source: Alexis Sanchez via Facebook 

The long and lingering transfer speculation around Arsenal superstar Alexis Sanchez is still ongoing, but one Spanish journalist has sensationally claimed that the Chilean will be named as a Manchester City player later in the week. Arsene Wenger, on the other hand, has insisted that the goal machine with a year left on his current contract is perfectly happy at the Emirates and will not be on the move this summer.

Sanchez’s dismay over the lack of success during his time with the Gunners has been plain to see, and he desperately wants to be somewhere he can claim silverware. If Wenger makes some serious waves in the transfer window for world-class players, could the Frenchman persuade his number one forward to stay?

Wenger endured a dismal Premier League campaign last season which resulted in a finish outside of the top four for the first time in his English career. As such, at the time of writing Arsenal have football odds of 11/1 to win the league next season.

If the Gunners were to lose the likes of Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, those odds would doubtlessly grow even larger. But if Wenger manages to attract strong reinforcements this summer it could, in fact, give his star players the belief that Arsenal are able to challenge for the top prizes.

Wenger is thought to have a budget of around £100 million to spend in the transfer market, and he could also generate a significant amount of spending money if Barcelona snap up Hector Bellerin. The Spanish giants are rumoured to be lining up a whopping bid of £40 million for the pacey full back.

This would leave Wenger with a significant war chest to bolster his squad in an attempt to win the top flight while all Arsenal’s main rivals are busy in the Champions League. One of the most coveted players in the world right now is Monaco’s Kylian Mbappe, and Real Madrid are believed to be preparing a staggering bid of around £117 million for the 18-year-old.

Wenger, however, has advised the wonder kid to seek a move to a club where he is going to be assured of regular game time. With the Champions League winners having the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, and Gareth Bale in the attack there are question marks over how frequently Mbappe would start.

Arsenal are in desperate need of a prolific striker and have been for the past few seasons. If Mbappe wanted to grow into a global star and follow in the footsteps of his compatriot Thierry Henry, then a move to North London could be the ideal platform for him to rise to the next level.

With Arsenal also showing interest in James Rodriguez, it looks as though the three-time Premier League winning manager is well and truly on the hunt for star quality this summer. Whether the Gunners will manage to secure the signatures of these world-class players remains to be seen. If their potential signatures manage to tempt Sanchez to stay is another question entirely.

 

Arsenal look to bounce back from Bayern Munich humiliation

Arsene Wenger out

Arsene Wenger’s team travel to the 5,000 capacity Borough Sports Ground to face Sutton United in the FA Cup fifth round on Monday evening.

Sutton United, the National League side, have already eliminated Wimbledon and Leeds United en route to their first ever fifth-round appearance and were awarded with a dream tie against The Gunners. They will be looking to become the first non-league team to reach the sixth round of the FA Cup in its current format.

Arsenal suffered humiliation in their crushing defeat to Bayern Munich during the mid-week Champions League fixture and the FA Cup remains their most realistic chance of silverware this season as the Premier League title looks like it’s out of reach – however you can check out the live odds for the Premier League title if you feel Arsenal will close the 10 point gap between them an Chelsea.

Arsene Wenger has come under intense pressure this week, however has stated that he will be managing next season. He said, “no matter what happens, I will manage next season, whether it’s here or somewhere else. That’s absolutely for sure.”

When discussing the 5-1 defeat in Germany, he goes on to say “on a night like that, of course I hate defeat and I hate to lose games. I want to do extremely well for this club and I feel a big responsibility.”

“It is difficult to take, but I have the strength and experience to respond. It all went wrong for us after half-time. I think we looked quite defensively solid in the first half. We lost Laurent Koscielny in the second half and after that we lost our structure and our organisation. We were a bit naive for the goals we conceded. At 3-1 I felt we were mentally affected by the result and much more vulnerable.”

He goes on to say “everyone focuses on the next game, to take care of the consequences a disappointing result can have on everybody’s spirit and to make sure we bounce back and focus on the next game.”

“We have to deal with the media and our job is to and analyse with clarity what happened. We can’t influence the last result.”

“I always had in my head that it was a very important game. In my head I have had a team that will start and play there, for a week or 10 days now. That result we had at Bayern Munich will not influence that selection.”

“The FA Cup is one of our targets. It’s te next game and for us to bounce back after the game we just had, it becomes a very important game. But it always was, in my head.”

Arsenal, who could reach the sixth round for the fourth season in a row, must be wary of a potential cup upset. However, Sutton United manager Paul Doswell is remaining cautious. “There’s two ways of looking at it” says Doswell. You either get the likes of Ozil and Sanchez and Giroud – and you can just keep naming them – in which case we would lose the game comfortably but the lads would get the experience of having played a Premier League giant.”

“If you see Ozil and Sanchez on the team sheet our chance doesn’t come beyond nought. Or you go the other way and you play a team of under-23s that are still internationals mixed in with one or two of their squad players, and that gives us that one percent chance that we’d be after.”

Life After Arsene Wenger: A Tough Act to Follow

Arsene Wenger out

Being at a single Premier League club for two decades is a remarkable achievement, but even that isn’t enough to stop some Arsenal fans complaining about Arsene Wenger. The Frenchman has transformed the London club from a defensively-minded outfit into a team that plays one-touch football with flair.

However, for all the success Wenger has brought to the club, he still has his detractors. A lack of action in the transfer market when it counts coupled with a lean spell in the Premier League and Europe over the last decade has hurt his credibility. But, even though his recent spell has been something of a disappointment, there’s no denying that his first ten years at Arsenal were impressive.

Time Will Force a Change of the Guard

With time waiting for no man, there will come a day (and possibly soon) when Wenger will wave goodbye to the Emirates Stadium faithful and sail off into the sunset. In fact, with Wenger’s clock starting to run low, the odds makers are already offering betting lines on his potential replacement. Sun Bets, the official bookmaker of football-mad newspaper The Sun, has already got in on the action.

According to its team of experts, Bournemouth manger Eddie Howe is currently the betting favourite to replace Wenger, at 5/2. Despite having only moved away from his position at Bournemouth for a year to coach Burnley, the weight of public opinion seems to suggest the 39-year-old is the man for the job at Arsenal. Of course, given Arsenal’s history of giving relative unknowns a chance, we could see a surprise appointment in the form of Thierry Henry. Currently priced at 10/1 behind Ralph Hasenhuttl (5/1) and Joachim Low (8/1), Henry could solidify his legendary status at the club by taking the current crop of stars to new heights.

Of course, whoever replaces Wenger will have a tough act to follow. Regardless of how you feel about his lack of signings or major trophies in recent years, the stats suggest that Wenger has been a proverbial talisman for Arsenal, and life after he leaves could be tough. OK, so in his first ten years at Arsenal, Wenger oversaw 566 games and won 327 of those. Those wins include the infamous unbeaten 2003/2004 season.

Trophies, Wins and a Whole Lot More

That first decade yielded 11 trophies, including three Premier League titles. Following this, decade two has seen the Frenchman take charge of 563 games (to the end of September) and win 320. Although trophies have been sparse in that period (four in total), he’s still well on the right side of the win/loss divide.

Beyond the cold hard facts, Wenger has also turned rough diamonds into international stars during his time at the club. Although he’s often failed to lure the “big names” to North London, Wenger has picked up the best unknown talent and rising stars and used them to good effect. Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Robert Pires, Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie are just some of the players Wenger has brought in for a relative pittance.

Essentially, if anyone wants to follow in Wenger’s footsteps and keep pace with him, they need to be smart with the club’s budget, have a knack for finding hidden talent, and importantly, get the tactical best out of players. Wenger, for all his faults, is a managerial great. When history tells the story of the best Premier League managers of all time, there will be a chapter on Mr. Wenger. With this being the case, the next Arsenal manager will have to work extremely hard if he wants to avoid the post-Alex Ferguson slump Manchester United are currently experiencing.

So, whoever the next manager is, good luck to you sir, you’re going to need it.

AUTHOR BIO

Daniel Smyth is a freelance writer with interests in the sports and betting worlds. From football and boxing to poker and MMA, Daniel now produces articles for a range of games, sports and betting discplines.

 

January Transfer Window

Transfer Window

Who will be the busiest in this January’s Transfer Window ?

The transfer window this January could turn out to be an interesting one. Even Arsene Wenger looks like putting his hand in his pocket this time. There are deals to be done as clubs strive to stay in the league and make the most of the riches on offer from the new television deal.

But it doesn’t feel like there will be big deals. It feels like a rush for quantity rather than quality. Bournemouth have added depth with three signings so far. Liverpool have taken Steven Caulker on loan for defensive cover. Leicester have got a bargain in Demarai Gray, but he looks like on for the future rather than a first-teamwork this season.

Here’s our guide to the clubs we expect to be adding to their squad the most.

Sunderland

Sam Allardyce has stated time and again that he believes the key to survival is clean sheets. But the defence that he inherited isn’t capable of this. John O’Shea and Wes Brown are fast approaching the end of their careers but still look steadier than Sebastian Coates. It looks like they need to add several more defenders to have any chance of picking up enough points to survive. Expect some typical Big Sam wheeling and dealing. Loans may be on the cards as the owner Ellis Short always seems reluctant to spend.

Arsenal

They have walked into their usual injury crisis but without any of the usual signs of young quality players breaking through. This may be the January that Wenger adds heavily to his squad. Backup central defenders, defensive midfielders (when don’t Arsenal need a defensive midfielder?) and cover for Olivier Giroud are all needed. Will Wenger see this as the biggest opportunity in over a decade to win the league? If so, will he spend to secure that title? You never know with a man as stubborn as Arsene Wenger.

West Brom

It may seem strange for a team that are 9 points ahead of the drop zone to be frantically looking over their shoulder but that’s the situation West Brom find themselves in. If they lose Saido Berahino then goals go from being a problem to a crisis. They will have to spend to plug this gap. Creativity is a longstanding issue so some midfield purchases may also be on the cards.

Swansea City

The club are in freefall. It’s not clear whether they appointed Alan Curtis as manager because he impressed or because nobody else wanted the job. Jonjo Shelvey has just left and there’s £12m from his sale ready to reinvest.

They need goals, midfield power and a partner for Ashley Williams in central defence. It will be difficult to clear all of these up in one window so some loan deals or short-term moves may be in order.

Whatever the transfer window brings, there’s bound to be some surprise deals and some late drama.

This article was produced by Steve Thompson of In Off the Post. You can read more of his articles on his blog: http://inofftheblogpost.blogspot.co.uk/

Top 4 Premier League Predictions by Footie Quiz

EPL Quiz

As per last year I am going to put my neck out and tell you who I believ will be the winners and the losers of the 2015/16 Premier League Season in the race for the top 4.

Winners – Man City

Given the ease with which Chelsea secured the title last year many may feel this a surprise prediction. But Chelsea had an almost perfect season last year out with top class additions in the form of Fabregas and Costa hitting the ground running and improving the level of an already very good team. I don’t believe the same is likely to happen again this year and with question marks remaining over Costa’s fitness I feel Chelsea will find this seasons EPL Quiz campaign much harder. City on the other hand in my opinion can only improve on last year’s performance. The addition of Sterling will have many critics but he is after all one of the best young players in Europe, this will the likely arrival of De Bruyne will improve City offensively. If Auergo stays fit and Silva continues to weave his magic I think the title will be heading to the Blue Camp.

Runners Up – Chelsea

Despite tmy reservations above Chelsea are still a very good side with a great deal of strength in depth. I see them finishing second and possibly getting into the semis of the Champions League – something that will distract them from their League campaign. Jose is too good a manager to bet against.

Third – Arsenal

On paper the Gunners (bar one exception up front) have a potentially title winning team. They proved in the Charity Shield this year and last that they can beat the league winners on their day. However doubts remain for me. Giroud is good but not in the same mould/level as Aguero or Costa. The midfield is still missing that ‘bite’ that Toure or Matic bring City and Chelsea respectively. Two excellent spells broken up with a dreadful run will see them third.

Fourth – Liverpool

In disclosure I am a Liverpool fan! My view is that as things stand Liverpool can only ever be better than last season and the signings brought in by Rodgers indicate as such. A lot will depend on two things:

1. If Rodgers still has a job after 10 games given how unkind the fixture list has been to Liverpool with regards to away games early on.

2. How Liverpool fare against United in the North West Derbies.

United have also strengthened but as things stand they only have one recognised striker in Rooney. An injury to him and what then? United were worthy of their fourth place last year but they also had no European football to contend with. I see this as a rocky challenging season for the Red Devils. The Premier League odds don’t agree with my views but whose would have foresaw Liverpool nearly winning the league in 2013/14? Odds eh?

The massive influx in TV money from the Sky deal will see all EPL teams improve in quality making the race for the Top 4 even harder than ever before. A couple of years ago who would have thought that Stoke City  would be able to sign former Bayern starlet Shaqiri? The EPL is the league to be in as it pays and as a result it will mean that those challenging for the top 4 not being able to take any team for granted.

Lets the games commence!

Football Rivaries: Arsenal V Tottenham

Arsenal v Spurs

There are many teams in London and hence many derbies. Every week you can look at the fixture list and see teams from the capital squaring of across the division. But none of the derbies have ever quite managed to match the North London derby for passion, hype and excitement. Something magical happens when these two sides meet, and their rivalry is one of the bitterest and most passionate in the English game.

In the Premier League era, since the foundation of the division in 1992, Arsenal have been the dominant side. Spurs fans have had to watch as Arsenal won leagues (including the unbeaten season), qualified for the Champions League year in and year out and won domestic trophies. Arsene Wenger crafted his side into one of England’s “Top 4 clubs” and for a short time that top 4 seemed unreachable. Indeed, up to the start of the 2014-2015 season Spurs had only managed to finish above their rivals on two occasions. However, Spurs managed their own success winning the League Cup and moulding players like Gareth Bale into world beaters but the team were always fighting hard for their place in the upper reaches of the table. Only in the 2010s did Spurs manager to cement themselves in the Top 6 and turn into Champions League contenders, the gap truly began to close and the North London rivals are closer in the table than ever before.

From the very first meeting in 1897 until the Present day the North London derby has created memories, made heroes, caught out villains and provided entertainment for all to see.  White Hart Lane and Highbury (now the Emirates) have never been as electric as when the locals are in town and the fans seek out the fixture first when the list is published. A manager can be having a great season, but defeat in the North London derby can have fans turning.

Recent times have seen some exciting matches as both teams throw caution to win. Who can forget the 4-4 draw in 2008 or the back to back 5-2 wins Arsenal recorded at the Emirates in later years. Perhaps the most memorable game occurred in 2002 at White Hart Lane when a dominant Arsenal side emerged 5-4 victors in one of the Premier Leagues most thrilling matches. Whatever the occasion, whenever these two sides clash there is passion, joy, tears and emotion. This is one derby even neutral fans never want to miss.

Both teams are Premier League mainstays and with transfer fees paid out on world class players, strong youth policies and a long tradition, we will be treated to the North London derby, with all its glamour and passion for some time to come.

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NASH’S PREMIER LEAGUE PREVIEW WEEK 11

The opening half of the Premier League season has thrown a ton of tight match-ups and week 11 assures to be no different. BLOCKBUSTER ALERT: Table topper Arsenal would be facing current champions and an old time foe Manchester United on Sunday evening, before that match takes place, there are plenty of tricky contests to look forward to. Here is the full round ups of all the games taking place.

ASTON VILLA V CARDIFF CITY @ Villa Park

Cardiff are siting one point clear of Villa in the league table. Cardiff would be high on confidence after last week’s derby win against Swansea. For Villa, they have had a disappointing start to the season, when Benteke scores, they look a whole different team. Agbonlahor and Delph should be available for Villa to play on Saturday. I predict Villa to win it, but only so narrowly.

PREDICTION 1-0

PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR

Cristian Benteke: Without him scoring Villa just look like an ordinary side, it is about time he scores and Cardiff should provide him an easier match-up, to get up and running.

CHELSEA V WEST BROM @ Stamford Bridge

The Apprentice V the Master, this could be an exciting encounter especially with Chelsea’s wobbling start to the season, West Brom themselves have made a poor start compared to last season. Chelsea would love to take the momentum from midweek’s 3-0 over Schalke and many would expect them to win, BUT Steve Clarke is a clever manager, West Brom can get a result here.

PREDICTION  2-2

PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR

Eden Hazard: currently looks out of sorts with all the rotation going around him, but is an impressive player and should be the to keep an eye out on all season

Sessegnon: He has had an impressive start to his West Brom career and for West Brom to have any chance in getting a result, he would be the key.

CRYSTAL PALACE V EVERTON @ Selhurst Park

Everton have been consistently good this season and they are playing against Palace, a side who is literally struggling in the Premier League. It would be an easy day out for Everton and another clean sheet to add to the tally. I don’t see a better fortune for Palace in the near future, if they lose against Everton, it would be their seventh consecutive loss.

PREDICTION 0-2

PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR

Lukaku: He is a power forward, already scored 5 goals and this couldn’t be an easier match-up for him to increase his tally. Watch out Palace defence.

LIVERPOOL V FULHAM @ Anfield

Liverpool just didn’t start their engines against Arsenal last week, they would be raring to go and get that set back off their backs against Fulham. A loss for Fulham potentially means the last game for Martin Jol. Fulham have just haven’t clicked as a team. Liverpool are too strong a team. Expect another drubbing at Anfield.

PREDICTION: 4-0

PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR

Suarez/Sturridge: They can disregard the Arsenal game, for them to be a Champion team, they need to score against tough opponents, but against Arsenal, Liverpool were not working it out as a team. But now Fulham awaits and should be a tough competition in who will score more goals? Suarez? Or Sturridge?

SOUTHAMPTON V HULL CITY @ St. Mary’s Stadium

It is no fluke for both the teams, in where they sit in the Premier league table. Both teams look promising and play compact football. Southampton have the best defensive record in the premier league, allowing only four goals and the second best in Europe. Hull would find it difficult to crack the Saints defence. It would be a tough midfield battle between both teams but the Saints would eventually come out winning.

PREDICTION: 1-0

PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR

Jay Rodriguez: He is still the player to watch out for this Premier League season, as the season progresses, he will do wonders. Look out for him.

NORWICH V WEST HAM UNITED @ Carrow Road

Norwich have always struggled defensively and very look bleak. The play West Ham a team who struggles to score (they don’t play a striker, you see). This equals the odds, but Norwich would wish to bounce back after last week’s 0-7 drubbing by City. Expect to be a dull game, with plenty of long balls and defensive errors and Norwich might sneak in a goal.

PREDICTION: 1-0

PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR

Van Wolfswinkel: He is hopeful to make a return, if he plays Norwich chances of winning skyrockets. Norwich need his services up front.

TOTTENHAM V NEWCASTLE UNITED @ White Hart Lane

Spurs have had a decent start to the season, with all the new signings, it’s difficult to gel as a team so soon, still they are sitting 4th in the table. They can only get better. Newcastle had an impressive win over Chelsea last weekend and would be hoping to capitalise on that against the Spurs as well. Spurs are not a scoring team, so they would hold down the Magpies offensively as well as defensively. It would be a well fought encounter, ending in a draw.

PREDICTION: 1-1

PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR

Loic Remy: he has been the signing of the season for Newcastle, without him the Magpies season would have been disaster, expect him to bother the Spurs defence all day.

SUNDERLAND V MANCHESTER CITY @ Stadium of Light

Well history suggests, City have always struggled at the Stadium of Light losing 1-0 for the last 3 years. Will this time be different? Well the Black Cats have found some resurgence, and winning against the Saints midweek in the Capital One Cup would have helped. City on the other hand, have been in prolific scoring form. And Negredo and Aguero are proving to be a deadly combo. This is to me is going to be an upset of the week, going with the history.

PREDICTION: 2-1

PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR

Steven Fletcher: for Sunderland to do well, Fletcher needs to be scoring, he is the most experienced and a stable personality that can guide the whole team together.

Sergio Aguero: he has scored eight goals in the season and is looking in ominous form, any defensive lapse by the Black Cats and he’ll pounce upon it.

MANCHESTER UNITED V ARSENAL @ Old Trafford

Arsenal looking like The Invincibles, for which they were known for before. They are one of the best teams in form around the world. Playing world class football and on Sunday they travel to Old Trafford, the home of the current league champions; Manchester United. United have had a horrendous start to their season, Januzaj being the only saving grace. A win here for United and it can lift their whole season and David Moyes would be know that. But for United to beat Arsenal, they have to play like a Champion team that they are. Going for a United win, just to make the premier league and the league table more interesting.

PREDICTION: 3-2

PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR

RVP: Do I even have to mention him. He would be the focal point for both sides.

Ramsey: He is in brilliant form, is running high on confidence and he tends to find gold in whatever he does nowadays.

SWANSEA V STOKE CITY @ the Liberty Stadium

Swansea usually don’t play well on premier league weekends when they are playing in the Europa League midweek. They have been very inconsistent and the form of MICHU has had so much to do with it. Stoke on the other hand are just finding it tough to play a certain type of football, which they could stick to it. Scoring goals has been tough for Stoke, they have just scored seven times this season, out of which one goal came from the goalkeeper. Going by Swansea’s inconsistencies after playing the Europa league game midweek. A draw is on the cards.

PREDICTION: 0-0

PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR

Michu: He plays a vital role in how his team performs as a whole, his current drought of goals, has affected Swansea as well. He is too important a player for Swansea.

 

 

Guest Blog: The battle for the first place

The eyes of most English soccer fans will be on Emirates Stadium this Saturday, when Arsenal host Liverpool.

Despite their loss at home at the beginning of the week against Chelsea in the Capital One Cup, most of soccer driven Sportsbooks have Arsenal as favorite for this game. The Gunners are in first place of the Premier League with 22 points.

After a surprising defeat in week one at Emirates against Aston Villa , Arsenal has seven wins and one draw. They are the second best offense of the tournament with 20 goals scored, only behind Manchester City who has 21.

Frenchman Olivier Giroud and Wales’s Aaron Ramsey are the top scorers for the Gunners, with five goals each, but this Saturday will face a tough match against one of the best defences in the league. Liverpool have shipped only eight goals this season, but five have come away home.

The Reds are in third place with 20 points will try to steal the lead this weekend. English striker Daniel Sturridge is having a great year and is the top scorer of the Premier with eight goals.

Liverpool attack has within it one of the best forwards in the League, Uruguayan Luis Suarez, who has six goals in only four games. The problem for the Reds is that they rely too much on their stricker. Sturridge and Suarez have combined for 14 their 17 goals on the season.

This will be the first Liverpool game on the road against one of the top five teams. When they visited Manchester United on the third round of the Capital One Cup they lost 1-0 with one goal of Mexican striker Javier Hernandez.

Arsenal have only lost one of the last 16 home games against Liverpool, including FA Cup, Community Shield, Carling Cup and Champions. In 178 games between these two squads in the league, the Reds lead the stats  with 69 wins and 47 draws.

 

 

The Miracle of Istanbul, United’s Late Show and Gunners hit Reading for 7

Matthew Glazier of www.bettingpro.com looks at some of the best football comebacks of the past few years

Two English teams have produced a stirring comeback to win the Champions League in recent memory; while there have also been some fantastic performances in the Premier League which have seen losing teams rally to get a draw or better.

1) The Miracle of Istanbul

Liverpool were staring down the barrel in the 2005 Champions League final as Milan ran rings around Rafael Benitez’s team and stormed into a 3-0 lead, with Paolo Maldini scoring in the first minute before a late first-half brace from Hernan Crespo looked as though the cup had been won for the Rossoneri.

However, Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard had other ideas and his 54th minute goal set the Reds on the path to recovery. Amazingly, they were level on the hour mark thanks to goals from Smicer and Alonso, with Jerzy Dudek producing an amazing save to deny Andriy Shevchenko and the final went to penalties. Converted spot kicks from Hamann, Cisse and Smicer were enough to claim victory.

2) Sheringham and Solskjaer party like its 1999

Liverpool’s success came six years after another famous Champions League win for an English club, with Manchester United spending 84 minutes trailing to a Mario Basler effort until the most dramatic of finishes which saw the Red Devils score two injury-time goals.

In fairness, it was a poor performance from Sir Alex Ferguson’s team at the Camp Nou and Bayern could have been out of sight before Teddy Sheringham looked as though he had sent the game into extra-time, although Solskjaer’s goal in the third minute of injury-time meant that UEFA quickly changed the ribbons on the trophy before it was held aloft by Peter Schmeichel.

3) Arsenal come from 4-0 down to win 7-5 at Reading

During the 2012/13 season, the Gunners and the Royals exchanged 24 goals in three matches although it was the League Cup clash at the Madejski Stadium which was the most dramatic by far, with Arsene Wenger’s team going 4-0 down after 37 minutes as Reading ran riot.

Just as Wenger was about to read the riot act at half-time, Theo Walcott’s 45th minute strike threw the visitors a lifeline and Olivier Giroud’s goal just after an hour created lots of tension among the home side. However, Laurent Koscielny’s 89th goal looked like being a mere consolation before Walcott poached a fourth a minute later to take the game to extra-time.

The momentum was with Arsenal and Chamakh put the visitors ahead for the first time although Pogrebnyak looked to be taking the tie to penalties when scoring for 5-5 before Walcott and Chamakh scored at the death.

Matthew Glazier is the Managing Editor of an award-winning sports, news and betting website.

Premier League Predictions

FootieQuizes Gordon Kearney gives his predictions for 2012-13

Premier League top six: Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham.

Premier League bottom three: Southampton, Wigan, Notts Forest

Leading Prem scorer: Sergio Aguero – Manchester City.

First Prem manager to be sacked: Steve Clark WBA

Biggest Prem flop: Giroud- Arsenal.

FA Cup winners: Arsenal

Capital One Cup winners: Arsenal

Champions League winners: Real Madrid.

Europa League winners: Liverpool

Championship top six: Bolton, Cardiff, Middlesbrough, Blackburn, Nottingham Forest, Birmingham .

Leading Championship scorer: Kevin Doyle – Wolves

League One champions: Sheffield United

League Two champions: Rotherham.

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