Terry Lane - Tuesday 18.08.15, 07:03am
Following a poor pre-season in North America, losing for the first time to Arsene Wenger and Arsenal in the Community Shield, and collecting only one from six points in the Premier League, Jose Mourinho has blamed the club doctor and John Terry. Does he have any more toys to throw out of his pram before Roman Abramovich once again sacks the self-named ’special one’?
Before kick off I had no reason to doubt that Jose Mourinho and Chelsea would right the wrongs of their opening draw at home to Swansea, and ‘turn up’ chomping at the bit as they so often do, when faced with a big game against one of the ‘big four’. But from the first kick, Manchester City were on the front foot. Manuel Pellegrini had said how his team would attack! attack! attack!… and that’s exactly what they did. Sergio Aguero was on fire, and fortunately for Chelsea, so was the stand-in goalkeeper Asmir Begovic, who with several great saves managed to keep the half-time score down to 1-0.
But master tactician that Mourinho is, he realised the speed of Man City’s forward line – the likes and speed of Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling, Jesus Navas and David Silva – Mourinho took the ‘brave’ decision to substitute his captain, leader and still his talisman, John Terry at half-time for the younger, spritely, Wilfred Zuma. A young man with plenty of enthusiasm, but nowhere near the awareness or big game experience that Terry gives the Chelsea defence.
Now, if Chelsea managed a draw or better by scoring in the second half without conceding more goals, Mourinho would have been praised for making such a contentious, brave decision. Instead, Man City went on to out-play Chelsea on every level and eventually ran out easy winners, 3-0.
There’s no denying the media have shown more interest in Jose Mourinho’s public outburst at team doctor and physio because Eva Carneiro is a woman. She actually followed ‘the other one’ into the pitch. But how many column inches have been written about him?
That said, his outburst that in someway was set as a distraction to, what in essence was, an appalling display by Chelsea on the opening day of the new Premier League season, is seriously looking like once more, Chelsea are imploding… again!
On the other hand, Manchester City have been the only team to come out of the traps at full pelt. Two games, two wins, six goals and none conceded. City look back to their very best, as the spine of their team – Joe Hart, Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero are all on fire. Wolfsburg, former Chelsea and Belgium international Kevin De Bryune has officially stated he will not be moving to Man City, possibly to the relief of the other 19 teams in the league.
Other teams with 100% records in the Premier League are Man Utd and Liverpool. Both with two 1-0 victories have been less than convincing. Last night Liverpool were a little fortunate as a perfectly good Bournemouth goal was disallowed; while Christian Benteke’s goal highlighted the new offside law that come into play this season stating that ‘if a player in an offside position moves towards or away from the ball, he is interfering with play; and is therefore deemed to be offside.’ Coutinho was clearly in an offside position when Benteke scored.
The big surprise of the season so far is Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester City. They have not only started the season with a 100% record, but the manner of the exciting, fast-flowing football has been a joy to watch.
The only other two unbeaten teams in the Premier League are Everton and Swansea. Both followed opening match draws with convincing wins over Southampton and Newcastle, respectively. While the other end of the table is propped up by two of the pre-season favourites for relegation, Sunderland and Bournemouth, still without a point.
By the way, 20/1 on Jose Mourinho!
Terry Lane - Tuesday 11.08.15, 07:02am
The new Premier League season started with a damp whimper rather than sparks flying, as Manchester United hosted Tottenham Hotspur in a Saturday lunchtime kick off. It could have been an exciting start to the new 2015/16 season. But the sunshine lasted longer than the excitement as Man Utd by and large, failed to turn up and were outplayed by Spurs for large parts of the match. It somehow seemed appropriate that the game was decided by an own goal. Fortunately for Louis Van Gaal, it was Kyle Walker that beat Wayne Rooney to the ball, and in doing so, toe-poked the ball past a stranded Hugo Lloris.
But however lacklustre United’s performance was, results would get worse for other so-called ‘big four’ title contenders over the opening weekend. Surprisingly, Chelsea didn’t use the Community Shield defeat to Arsenal to kick start their season. Whether they were over confident or underestimated the quality of Swansea, nothing should be taken away from Gary Monk’s Swans as they stuck to a game plan and were holding their own, even before Thibaut Courtois was given a straight red card for a ‘last man tackle’ on Bafetimbi Gomis.
But Chelsea being held by Swansea 2-2 at Stamford Bridge, it was overshadowed by a shocking performance by Arsenal, who many have tipped to win the league this season, as Slaven Bilic’s West Ham beat Arsenal 2-0 with a much deserved win at the Emirates Stadium. With the final whistle, Bilic pumped his fist in the air, while Arsene Wenger shook his head in despair, and sections of the Arsenal faithfull, who were in buoyant mood before kick-off, booed their team off the pitch.
Of the newly promoted teams, Watford played well and totally deserved a point away to Everton. Norwich began well, but were beaten 3-1 by a strong Crystal Palace team and a poor refereeing decision when a skilfully crafted overhead shot by Cameron Jerome was disallowed for a dangerous high foot.
I personally expected Bournemouth to start with a home win against an Aston Villa team that I thought would struggle again this season. But Tim Sherwood had Villa playing as a well-oiled, solid unit that showed no signs of hangover from losing their best two players – Fabian Delph and Christian Benteke – over the summer break. But there was no fairy tale start for Eddie Howe and the south coast minnows, as Aston Villa took all three points with a 1-0 win.
Other matches included an exciting 2-2 draw between Newcastle and Southampton. While Stoke City and Liverpool played out a dull, uneventful affair with one exception; a great piece of individual skill by Phillipe Coutinho in the 86th minute, to give Liverpool a 1-0 win at the Britannia Stadium.
Leicester City racked up an exciting start to their season, after narrowly escaping relegation last season, with a convincing 3-1 display under new management of Claudio Ranieri, whose appointment raised many eyebrows. Though, it is often forgotten that Chelsea only finished second in Ranieri’s final season 2003/04 to the famous Arsenal ‘invincibles’ side. That said, Sunderland were absolutely shocking, and after this display, won’t only be favourites of mine to be relegated this season.
Lastly, West Brom played host to Manchester City on Monday night where media eyes were all on Raheem Stirling, playing his debut for City alongside William Bony and Jesus Navas, while Sergio Aguero was given an extending break on the subs bench and Fabian Delph out injured.
West Bromwich Albion started the match with a surprising 4-4-2 formation though it looked like Tony Pulis had new signing Rickie Lambert stranded in no-man’s land between a losing midfield and striker Saido Berahino. Man City completely outclassed WBA and were by far and away the fastest out-of-the-blocks of the ‘big four’ and pre-season favourites to win the Premier League, this weekend.
Tony Pulis, the master tactician got it completely wrong last night; and the only good news for West Brom fans was the signing of Zenit St Petersburg striker Salomon Rondon for a club record fee of around £12m. Man City played the Baggies off the pitch at a canter and won 3-0 with goals from Yaya Toure and Vincent Kompany, both of whom were sharp and back to their best.
So, who will stay up, who will be relegated, and who will be crowned Premier League Champions of the 2015/16 season. If Toure and Kompany continue the season in this ‘return to form’, and Raheem Sterling can live up to the hype and play up, alongside David Silva and Sergio Aguero, then it will be the sky blue of Man City, and not the royal blue of Chelsea, that will be crowned champions, come May.
Only 37 games to go! The next match for Manuel Pellegrini and Manchester City is a home game on Sunday against arch-enemy Jose Mourinho and Chelsea.
Terry Lane - Wednesday 24.06.15, 13:19pm
League Two side, Northampton Town FC is in talks with an Indian consortium that is to take a controlling interest in the club, it was announced today.
Chairman David Cardoza said the League Two club has reached initial agreement with new owners who will also buy into plans to redevelop the club’s Sixfields Stadium.
David Cardoza, whose family are the current owners of the club, said:
“Heads of Terms have been signed for new owners who will also become involved in the redevelopment of Sixfields and the land surrounding the stadium.
“This deal will be a very positive move for the football club and its future. This is exciting news for the club, its staff and the people of Northampton and it will bring significant investment into Northampton.”
Mr Cardoza said that further information will be announced at an appropriate time in the future.
He added: “We would like to thank fans for their patience while due process takes its course and we will issue further updates as soon as we are able.”
Northampton Town Football Club was founded in 1897 and the team is affectionately known as The Cobblers.
The club will begin its 2015 / 16 League Two Season on August 8th with an away fixture at Bristol Rovers, followed by a home game in the League Cup against Blackpool on August 11th.
Terry Lane - Saturday 30.05.15, 10:39am
English FA Cup Final 2015 - Arsenal vs Aston Villa
Though Aston Villa lost their last two Premier League matches, including a 6-1 thrashing by Southampton, this season’s FA Cup Final sees two inform teams battle it out in what should be an open and exciting game. Just what the beautiful game needs after a week in the life of FIFA.
With the appointment of Tim Sherwood, Villa woke up from what appeared a season-long slumber under the rudderless leadership of Paul Lambert and the constant threat Randy Learner wanted to offload the club.
As with his previous short stint as caretaker manager of Tottenham Hotspur, Tim Sherwood’s schoolboy enthusiasm doesn’t end on the touchline, where his heart is clearly worn on his sleeve for all to see. His man-management and passion is sometimes overlooked. But he has a track record of getting the best out of individual players. At Spurs it was Emmanuel Adebayor. At Villa he has given youth a chance in Jack Grealish, got Tom Cleverley playing to his full potential again; and most of all, has Christian Benteke firing on all cylinders. The Belgian striker has scored eight goals in his last eight matches.
But will Tim Sherwood and Aston Villa be able to stop Arsenal winning the English FA Cup for a record twelfth time? No less than six victories have been under their most successful manager of all-time, Arsene Wenger.
Ahead of the match questions are being raised as to whether Wenger will play Theo Walcott ahead of Olivier Giroud; with former Arsenal player Charlie Nicholas suggesting if Wenger leaves Walcott out, he risks losing the FA Cup and Walcott. With Danny Welbeck injured, Walcott’s pace could be a threat to a slow Villa defence.
Personally, I think Walcott is settled at Arsenal but with a return to fitness of several attacking midfield players such as Walcott & Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain pressure grows on Wenger to keep all of his squad happy.
While other Premier League players are already on their summer holidays or enjoying downtime playing casino games at euro palace or other online games, whoever plays for Arsenal and Aston Villa I am looking to an exciting open game of football that will be full of goals, colour, bright sunshine and passion.
Buzzin Football prediction: 2-1 to Aston Villa. Benteke and Alexis Sanchez to score.
Terry Lane - Saturday 23.05.15, 13:01pm
Tomorrow sees the final round of Premier League matches for the 2014/15 season. As is tradition, all 10 games will kick off simultaneously at 3pm. But there are only two matches that count for much. The final relegation place is still to be decided. Will it be Hull City or Newcastle United?
On the last day of the 2008-09 Premier League season, Phil Brown, then manager, celebrated as Hull City narrowly avoided relegation to the Championship even though they lost to Manchester United. Instead, Newcastle United was relegated. This time, former Man United captain, Steve Bruce will be hoping to lead Hull City to victory against his former club while hoping the team he supported as a boy, Newcastle United, lose to West Ham.
Both Hull City and Newcastle United are at home. But the visiting teams may have more to say on the results than normal. Hull City play Louis Van Gaal’s resurgent Manchester United, but without scoring seven more goals than Arsenal, they are resigned to finishing fourth and playing a qualifying round to enter next season’s Champions League. However strong a team Van Gaal plays tomorrow the players have nothing to play for, and may well already be thinking of their summer holidays. West Ham United, on the other hand are managed by Big Sam Allardyce, sacked by Newcastle United in January 2008 and ridiculed by supporters while in charge for less than six months. He may also still be playing for his future, as he will allegedly find out whether his services are still required on Monday following a meeting with his agent and the club. The Hammers are currently 11th in the Premier League and Allardyce’s contract is set to expire at the end of the season.
John Carver took over as Newcastle United manager following the departure of Alan Pardew to Crystal Palace in January. Carver is a well respected coach and a local Geordie but promoting him to the top job was seen by most critics and fans alike as a cheapskate move by Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley. The fans wanted a big name, but with Ashley pulling the strings and showing very little ambition to achieve more than Premier League survival, only a large wage would surely make the job an attractive proposition.
But John Carver will win many of the fans back, if only for a short term, if his team were to avoid defeat to West Ham tomorrow. Though some fans calling football phone-ins have said if Newcastle is relegated it may be for the benefit of the club as a way of ousting Mike Ashley who continues to make a profit from Newcastle all the while they are a Premier League club.
Personally, I can see both Hull City and Newcastle United losing tomorrow, and that won’t be good enough for Steve Bruce and the Tigers.