Friday, 22 November 2013

Everton vs Liverpool - Pre-Match Analysis

Build Up
The 221st (189th in the league) Merseyside derby takes place at Goodison Park this Saturday in the early kick off. Roberto Martinez team sit in 6th place, only 3 points behind Liverpool. Everton have not been beaten at home this year and have only conceded 3 goals at home this season. They have drawn there last two consecutive games 0-0 and have kept 3 clean sheets in a row. This is undoubtedly down to Martinez patient build up play and the help of Gareth Barry, providing extra defensive cover for the back line. They haven't been clinical going forwards in recent games and the concerning factor is that when loaned player Romelu Lukaku doesn't score, neither do Everton.

Liverpool have made a fantastic start to their campaign, second in the table with both strikers scoring 8 goals each in the Premier League (Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez). Brendan Rodgers team look like the real deal this season and have surprised many with their attacking prowess. There last game in the league saw them demolish Fulham 4-0 at home and fans will want this rich vein of goalscoring form to continue. Liverpool FC owner John W. Henry even issued his private jet to fly Suarez back from Montevideo in Uruguay so that the striker is rested as much as possible ahead of this derby game.

Team News
Everton - There are no fresh injury concerns for Martinez men after the international break. Antolin Alcaraz and Tony Hibbert have returned from long lay offs but won't be ready to make an appearance.

Liverpool - Jose Enrique will miss out the derby as he has been ruled out with a knee injury and could be out for some time as it looks like he will require surgery. Kolo Toure is currently nursing a muscle injury but should start.

Based on performances so far and previous derby meetings the result would suggest a Liverpool victory. The firepower they have upfront can't be ignored. At the same time Everton have played some good football and their defence have been solid this year, let alone this season. I'm going to put my neck on the line here and go for a home win with Lukaku finding the net. Being a derby, the form book goes out the window.

Everton 2 Liverpool 1

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Review: Chelsea 2 West Bromwich Albion 2

A very debatable penalty awarded in stoppage team resulted in a draw between these two teams. The referee, Andre Marriner awarded the late penalty to Chelsea in the 93rd minute when Ramires was allegedly fouled by Steven Reid. Replays suggest that Ramires leaned into Reid and the Baggies will feel very hard done by at the end of an exciting match.

After the defeat to Newcastle last week we were expecting to see a more Gung Ho Chelsea performance, however the first half was fairly uneventful with West Brom well organised and cutting out any threats from Jose Mourinho's men. 

The breakthrough came just before half time when the impressive looking Eden Hazard took a shot from just outside the area which was parried by Boaz Myhill, Samuel Eto'o was then on hand to poke home his 4th goal this season by beating a very hesitant Liam Ridgewell to the ball. All of Albion's hard work had come undone in a matter of seconds.

Half time 1-0

Chelsea came out to the second half playing with much more confidence and drive. Eden Hazard had a great opportunity to make the scoreline 2-0 but was unable to control a long ball from Oscar. West Brom were soaking up the pressure and finally got a chance to counter when Morgan Amalfitano crossed to Shane Long who saw his header bounce off the base of the post, with Petr Cech scrambling to keep it out.

Albion then stepped it up a gear and a goal came on the 60th minute from a corner. Gareth McAuley had a powerful header parried by Cech into the air and Shane Long jumped highest to head the ball into the Chelsea net.

Not wanting to rest with a point, West Brom then saw Chelsea's weakness and attacked again. Ridgewell and Sessegnon linked up well before Sessegnon side-stepped John Terry and fired a shot under Cech. Which left the Chelsea keeper shaking his head in disbelief.

Mourinho's men pressed and pressed for the remainder of the game but West Brom showed great character by holding off all that Chelsea had to throw at them. They could even of snatched a third goal on the 90th minute when Chris Brunt picked up a loose ball and ran towards the Chelsea box, he had a team mate either side of him but decided to go alone and sent the ball sailing over.

The controversial equaliser finally came deep into injury time. Ramires ran into the box and seemed to lean into Reid before falling over. It was an extremely dubious decision and the West Brom players were rightfully angry with Marriner. Hazard eventually took the spot kick and rolled the ball into the corner of the net to give Chelsea a share of the spoils.

Full time 2-2

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Chelsea vs West Bromwich Albion - Pre-Match Analysis

Build Up
Chelsea will look to put the 2-0 defeat at the hands of Newcastle behind them as they entertain West Brom at Stamford Bridge later today. The backlash the players received from Jose Mourinho as a result of last week's defeat will no doubt fire them up to get back to winning ways. Ignoring this result the Blues have made a solid start to their league campaign by beating Man City and having 10 different goal scorers already within the Premier League. The major downside to their performance is that they have only managed to keep 3 clean sheets out of the 10 games, conceding goals against the likes of Norwich, Cardiff and of course Newcastle. Surely this has to be a cause for concern.

Steve Clarke - the man Mourinho called "my brother" earlier this week will be hoping for a repeat of Chelsea's poor performance. He will be well aware of the threats possessed, having been a friend of Jose's whilst working with him at Chelsea. The Baggies have made a reasonable start to the season and have only conceded 2 goals more than Chelsea. However their away form leaves a lot to be answered, having only picked up one win on the road - against Manchester United. They played well last week at home to Crystal Palace and with their goal talisman Saido Berahino in talks to secure a new deal and hopefully earn more money each week than the kit man, who knows what kind of performance Clarke's men may pull off.

Team News

Chelsea - Demba Ba or Samuel Eto'o will be given the chance to start upfront as Fernando Torres misses out the game with a thigh problem. Eden Hazard is set to start despite being dropped for their midweek win over Schalke. Other players to miss out through injury include Marco Van Ginkel and Ryan Bertrand.

West Brom - It doesn't look like there will be a Chelsea reunion for Nicolas Anelka or Scott Sinclair who are both doubtful with injuries, Victor Anichebe and Boaz Myhill are also likely to miss out. Other players who remain sidelined include Zoltan Gera, Ben Foster, George Thorne, and Billy Jones.


I believe Chelsea will be too strong for the Baggies, Hazard will be looking to make a statement having been dropped and Eto'o seems to be finding the net recently.

Chelsea 2 West Bromwich Albion 1

Friday, 8 November 2013

The season so far...

As the Premier League hits the 10 game mark it's all shaping up rather nicely (just like a few of the players Movember attempts). Although the season hasn't got this far without a few surprises - most notably the amount of times Ashley Young has dived and been awarded penalties!

The performance from Arsène Wengers Arsenal team has been nothing short of outstanding. They deservedly sit top of the table, although Arsenal fans know it can all change in a matter of weeks.

Chelsea, Liverpool and Spurs have also made a steady start to the 2013/2014 campaign and you would expect this to continue with the quality that their teams possess.

Manchester City sit 5th and perhaps haven't had the strong start they wanted, although a new manager and several big signings will take time to gel, something Marouane Fellaini has been unable to do at their rivals Manchester United. David Moyes team lie in 8th place and Everton fans would be delighted if they finish above, they currently sit in 7th. The surprise package in the top 6 is Southampton who have made a cracking start to the season and look like they will give any team a run for their money.

Mid table is pretty much as expected with no real surprises here. The bottom 3 consist of Norwich, Sunderland and Crystal Palace. However if Van Wolfswinkel starts scoring (8 hours and counting...) and Gus Poyet gets the best from his players then I believe they will be safe. As for Crystal Palace I really can't see a hope in hell. No offence Palace fans but not only have your team been below par, your board have also got rid of arguably the most entertaining football manager in the modern era - Mr Ian Holloway. A few of his famous quotes include:

"I accepted the Football Association’s charge of improper conduct and paid a £2,000 fine. In fact, my behaviour cost me a grand total of £2,012 — because I also had to pay a £12 ‘fine’ to my wife Kim after initially telling her that I hadn’t sworn at the ref."

"He [Cristiano Ronaldo) is six foot something, fit as a flea, good looking – he’s got to have something wrong with him. Hopefully he’s hung like a hamster – That would make us all feel better. Having said that, me missus has got a pet hamster at home, and his cock’s massive"

"To put it in gentleman’s terms if you’ve been out for a night and you’re looking for a young lady and you pull one, some weeks they’re good looking and some weeks they’re not the best. Our performance today would have been not the best looking bird but at least we got her in the taxi"