Premier League Gameweek 5 Roundup

Did Romelu Lukaku become the fourth youngest player to score 90 goals in the PL? Could Arsenal keep up with Chelsea without Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez? How would Tottenham perform in their second game at Wembley? We at After The Whistle answer these and many more, as I put my own twist on why Spurs su—er, the week’s happenings. Have fun.

Southampton 1, Crystal Palace 0 

Water is wet. Snow is cold. Crystal Palace still haven’t scored a goal this year.

Water is wet. Snow is cold. Southampton maintained a clean sheet.

In all seriousness, it was a fairly boring game. A moment of magic from Steven Davis spoiled Roy Hodgson’s debut as Palace manager, as the Saints took home all three points.

Huddersfield 1, Leicester City 1

No goals were scored in the first half of this one, and Laurent Depoitre decided to do something. The defender powered into the Leicester penalty box and fired the Terriers in front. The lead lasted four minutes, as Jaime Vardy equalized from the penalty spot.

Bournemouth 2, Brighton 1

Solly March’s 55th minute strike looked to be the game winner for Brighton. . . until Andrew Surman finished spectacularly 12 minutes later, and Jermain Defoe flipped the result on its head. Jordon Ibe was electric, assisting both goals and running the show for Bournemouth.

Burnley 1, Liverpool 1

A rare inclusion in the squad for Scott Arfield proved to be key, as the left mid buried  a shot in the 27th minute. The lead was short lived, as a wayward Emre Can pass found Mohamed Salah, who controlled it well and stroked it past Nick Pope. No other scores were to be had, though Dominic Solanke had a point blank shot saved.

Newcastle 2-1 Stoke City

Chants of “NEWCASTLE ARE FOURTH!” galloped around the stadium as Matt Ritchie once again ran the show for Newcastle, assisting Christian Atsu and Jamaal Lascelles en route to a defeat of Stoke.

Hey, Xherdan Shaqiri scored. For once.

West Brom 0-0 West Ham

Skip.

Tottenham 0-0 Swansea

Ahaha Spurs dropped points AT HOME to SWANSEA.

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Manchester City 6-0 Watford

Watford looked helpless. A Sergio Aguero hat trick led the way to a complete battering of Watford—and Pascal’s FPL team.

Arsenal 0-0 Chelsea

You would expect us to get blown out without Ozil and Sanchez. Wrong! The defense held up quite nicely as Arsenal did their best West Brom impression. Chelsea couldn’t get anything going. Come on you Gunners!!

Manchester United 133439—er, 4-0 Everton

Romelu Lukaku is indeed the fourth youngest player to 90 goals in the PL. Everton met their bogey team and got DESTROYED!

 

That about rounds it up. I’d just like to take the end to welcome ArsenalFan9 ( the aforementioned Pascal) to the After the Whistle team!

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Premier League Gameweek 3 Roundup

Harry Kane still has NEVER scored an August goal. SLUMP ALERT!

It’s the summit of world soccer. Third time’s the charm. What could go wrong? Well. . .

 

Manchester City 2-1 Bournemouth

Oh, this crazy league. Left back Charlie Daniels produced a goal of the season contender in the 13th minute to put the massive underdogs ahead. Gabriel Jesus’s tap-in eight minutes later equalized. This game was destined to be a draw, we all said. Then referee Mike Dean gave ten (!!!) minutes of stoppage time! Raheem Sterling played hero in the seventh minute of these, and was then given a second yellow card and sent off—for running into the crowd in celebration. Cheers, Mike Dean.

Swansea 2-0 Crystal Palace

Loan signing Tammy Abraham volleyed home a spectacular ball from Leroy Fer to open the scoring just before halftime. From there it was all Swansea, and Jordan Ayew’s goal emphasized it.

Huddersfield 0-0 Southampton

Skip.

Brighton 0-0 Watford

Skip.

Newcastle 3-0 West Ham

This was a special performance from the recently-promoted Newcastle. Matt Ritchie ran the show, picking up a nice assist to pad his stats. Christian Atsu, Alexander Mitrovic, and Joselu all scored, delivering Slaven Bilic one more conundrum to deal with.

Manchester United 2-0 Leicester City

Ah, yes. Romelu Lukaku missed a penalty, making his FPL owners (like me) furious. Henrikh Mkhitaryan also racked up his fifth assist in three games en route to a dominant win for the Red Devils.

Chelsea 2-0 Everton

Alvaro Morata is enjoying playing in London, isn’t he? The striker racked up another goal and another assist, carrying the Blues to three points. The scoreline may flatter them a bit though. Ashley Williams and Idrissa Gueye were both inches away from changing the landscape of this game.

Liverpool 4-0 Arsenal

Can we just move on?

West Brom 1-1 Stoke

Two boring, park-the-bus sides went up against each other. Both scored crummy goals and parked the bus thereafter. What’s left?

Oh, right. The Baggies signed Kieran Gibbs.

Fun.

Tottenham 1-1 Burnley

Yes, Clarets! New signing Chris Wood buried a pinpoint pass from Robbie Brady to prolong the “Wembley curse” of Tottenham. Harry Kane still hasn’t scored in any August, ever.

 

That will do it for this week! If you would enjoy me berating Arsene Wenger’s infinite  failings, please leave a like! Transfer deadline day is tomorrow, and Arsenal probably won’t sign anybody. What a time to be a Gunners fan, am I right?

Premier League Gameweek 2 Roundup

You readers absolutely smashed that like button last time out. So of course I have to review Gameweek 2, which took place this past Saturday–Monday.

Manchester United 4-0 Swansea   

Romelu Lukaku and Paul Pogba may have stolen the headlines, but Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s creativity crushed Swansea. The Armenian wizard assisted two of the Red Devils’ four goals, bringing his season tally up to four. The next highest players have two.

Southampton 3-2 West Ham

There goes the vaunted Southampton defense. The Saints went up 2-0, but two goals from Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez equalized before a dramatic last minute penalty converted by Charlie Austin granted Southampton the victory.

Watford 2-0 Bournemouth, Leicester City 2-0 Brighton

The less said about these games, the better. Watford and Leicester dominated and Bournemouth and Brighton were dreadful. Leave it at that.

Liverpool 1-0 Crystal Palace

For most of the game, one would think it was Liverpool who shipped three goals to Huddersfield last week. A last-gasp goal from Sadie Mane carried the Reds to victory, and disappointment reigns for Palace, who had every chance to finish it off.

West Brom 1-0 Burnley

Tony Pulis’ favorite type of victory, isn’t it?

Stoke City 1-0 Arsenal

There are bogey teams. Bayern Munich has Atletico Madrid, Liverpool has anyone who can score, and Arsenal has Stoke. A wonderful strike from debutant Jesé Rodriguez, coupled with a disastrous mistake from the assistant referee on an Alexandre Lacazette goal incorrectly ruled offside, delivered the Potters the three points.

Huddersfield 1-0 Newcastle

The Terriers did it again! Picked against by the world, Aaron Mooy curled in a terrific strike. Disappointment for those fantasy managers that transferred in Steve Mounie (me), but what a start it’s been for Huddersfield!

Chelsea 2-1 Tottenham

There’s the Marcos Alonso we know so well! Harry Kane hit the post twice, but the left back was more clinical, scoring both of the Blues’ goals.

When a left back saves your attack. . .

Manchester City 1-1 Everton

Lovely end-to-end stuff at the Etihad. Wayne Rooney’s 200th goal in the Premier League was cancelled out by a late volley from Raheem Sterling. In all fairness, he shouldn’t have had the chance. A disastrous header from Mason Holgate went straight to the winger’s foot. Dominic Calvert-Lewin looks like a star in the making. The City defense couldn’t deal with his rare blend of speed and skill.

Premier League Gameweek 1 Roundup

Photo courtesy of premierleague.com

 

 

It’s been a long three months, but the Premier League is back with a bang. An entertaining Gameweek 1 featured only one goalless draw, and had its share of surprises.

 

Arsenal 4-3 Leicester

Coming into the first game of the week, Arsenal were missing all of their starting center backs. The result? Sead Kolasinac moved over from wing back, Nacho Monreal was stuck in the center, and poor Rob Holding was the only actual center back playing at center back. For Leicester, Shinji Okazaki surprisingly started alongside Jaime Vardy instead of new signing Kelechi Iheanacho.

As an Arsenal fan, this game was just pure stress. For the neutrals it must have been fantastic. Record signing Alexandre Lacazette put the hosts in front after just two minutes with a sublime header, only to see Leicester pull ahead through Okazaki and Vardy. Right before the break, Sead Kolasinac kind of/sort of/shouldn’t have found Danny Welbeck for the equalizing goal.

In the 56th minute, Jaime Vardy found the back of the net to put Leicester back in front, 3-2. Arsene Wenger immediately decided to throw on Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud. They both scored, Arsenal won, and you all probably watched it anyways.

Watford 3-3 Leicester

Many things are constant in the red half of Liverpool. The first is signing Southampton players. The second? They are really, really bad defenders. Goals from Stefano Okaka, Abdoulaye Doucoure, and a dramatic last-minute equalizer from Miguel Britos offset strikes from Liverpool.

Burnley 3-2 Chelsea

No, that’s not a typo. Sam Vokes (twice) and Stephen Ward propelled Burnley to a shocking 3-0 lead over the defending champions at Stamford Bridge. Alvaro Morata and David Luiz managed consolations for the box score, but one question lingers.

What is going on with the Blues?

Crystal Palace 0-3 Huddersfield

Look at the Terriers! Picked to finish last by the whole world, Steve Mounie’s brace thrusted them to the top of the early table. An abysmal showing by Frank de Boer’s side, especially in defense, certainly opened the door. Mounie ran through it.

Everton 1-0 Stoke

There’s not much to say, is there? Wayne Rooney’s header was the only time Everton weren’t just playing it around the back like they didn’t care, and Stoke obliged them.

Southampton 0-0 Swansea

The Saints had 29 shots. Twenty nine! Only two were on target.

Just. . . just move on.

West Brom 1-0 Bournemouth

Tony Pulis grabbed the most Tony Pulis of victories. A header from Ahmed Hegazi put the hosts in front and West Brom promptly spent the rest of the game trying to send long balls to Jay Rodriguez.

Manchester City 2-0 Brighton

Kevin de Bruyne —> David Silva —> Sergio Aguero goal.

de Bruyne—> Silva—> Lewis Dunk own goal

A typical win at the Etihad. Or in Brighton. Either way, it was BORING.

Tottenham 2-0 Newcastle

Dele Alli and Ben Davies scored in the second half to deliver an away win for the Spurs. Newcastle were content to defend, getting booked left and right. It didn’t work.

Manchester United 4-0 West Ham

West Ham were very poor defensively, and Romelu Lukaku took advantage, scoring two . Nemanja Matic seems to have unlocked Paul Pogba’s center midfield potential, as they dominated the Hammers. Hammered them, in fact.

 

That’s all for today! Next week I will round up Gameweek 2, and the article will likely be out on Tuesday. Until then, don’t destroy your FPL teams 😀😎🙄

Premier League Predictions III: The Top Four

Today I predict the top four of the Premier League. If you missed the first two parts of my EPL predictions, please go back and read them.

Arsenal. Liverpool. Chelsea. Manchester City. Those four teams will make up the top four, starting in the fourth spot with. . .

Liverpool. The Reds bolstered their attacking lineup with the €42 million capture of Mohamed Salah from Roma. The problem is, as Arsenal fans like me painfully learned with Mesut Ozil, attacking players tend to get pushed around for about half a season before they become accustomed to the Premier League’s version of the world’s game. Playing Philippe Coutinho in the center of midfield won’t help their playmaking either.

What is left to be said about last year for Arsenal? Their record 19 year streak of finishing top four was broken and the Gunners will compete in the Europa League this year. Fans changed their tune when Arsene Wenger signed some striker (!) named Alexandre Lacazette. This Lacazette guy is actually very good. Mesut Ozil is going to break every assist record imaginable this—oh wait, he did that two years ago.

Mesut Ozil is going to break all of his assist records this year if Alexis Sanchez stays. Arsenal could finish even higher if not for second-placed Chelsea. When John Terry is your worst departure, you’ve had a pretty solid transfer window. When Alvaro Morata and Tiemoué Bakayoko come in to South London?  Unheard of. Look at what happened to the last five champions of the Premier League. They got off to abysmal starts the year after. Add the fact that Eden Hazard will miss the first month of the season. Chelsea should be on fire late a lá Arsenal 2015, but it won’t be enough to top. . .

Champions Manchester City. Has Josep “Pep” Guardiola finally assembled the team he has wanted at the Etihad? New signings Benjamin Mendy and Kyle Walker will start on either side of the defense. Danilo won’t even start. Bernardo Silva and Ederson Moraes have been signed to start at right mid and goalkeeper respectively. Considering that Kevin de Bruyne and David Silva are the other attacking midfielders, this side will score goals. Lots of them. In defense, Nicolas Otamendi and Vincent Kompany form a formidable center-back partnership. If they’re healthy.

 

Did you agree with my predictions? Perhaps you thought something different. Let me know in the comments!

Alexandre Lacazette: Who is Arsenal’s record signing?

Arsenal fans lit up earlier this week when notoriously penny-pinching Arsenal announced the signing of Alexandre Lacazette. The former Lyon striker had been pursued by Arsene Wenger for over two years, and with Alexis Sanchez possibly departing the club, Arsenal not only bought the French striker, they smashed their record transfer fee.

The record was formerly held by their £42.5 million capture of some guy named Mesut Ozil. Lacazette was signed for a reported £46 million, but sources found that it could rise to £52 million if he meets specific incentives. That basically means that if he scores lots of goals, Lyon get lots more money.

Some who don’t follow the French Ligue 1 will say Arsenal overpaid for Lacazette. I call bogus. Lacazette doesn’t often find himself in front of goal, only taking 2.7 shots per game last season, but he buried those chances in the back of the net 37 times in 45 appearances for Lyon.

The French striker brings to Arsenal what they have been lacking. Goals, goals, and more goals. If Arsene Wenger sticks with a 3-4-2-1, the Gunners have a front three of Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, and Lacazette. Thomas Lemar wouldn’t even start if they sign him from Monaco.

 

As always, leave a like if you enjoyed this article! Smash that “follow” button to have new articles delivered straight to your email, and leave your feedback in the comments!

Confederations Cup 2017 Predictions!

The 2017 Confederations Cup is here! Let’s take a look at the qualified teams and how they got here.

Germany: 2014 World Cup winners

Russia: 2018 World Cup hosts

Cameroon: African Cup of Nations winners

Portugal: Euro 2016 winners

Chile: 2015 & 2016 Copa America winners

Australia: Asian Cup winners

Mexico: 2015 Gold Cup winners, defeated USA in a playoff

New Zealand: OFC Nations Cup winners

But enough of that. Here’s what you came to see. My predictions for how this thing will shake out.

Group A

Fourth place: Russia

Quite frankly, it’s hard to see the hosts even getting a point. They may be buoyed by the passionate home crowd, but a squad whose best players are Alexander Korkorin and Artem Dzyuba won’t go places.

Third place: New Zealand

Led by free-scoring striker Chris Wood, (no, seriously. He scored 27 goals for Leeds last year) New Zealand has a squad almost entirely made up of English Premier League and Championship players. They managed an impressive 1-1 draw against the United States last October. They’re not pushovers, and will probably beat Russia.

Second place: Mexico

Eliminating New Zealand will be Mexico. El Tri has had a nearly flawless start to World Cup qualifying, and stars Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Carlos Vela, and 21 year old wonderkid Hirving Lozano spearhead a deadly strike force.

Group winners: Portugal

The champions of Europe roll in with a stacked squad. Euro 2016 hero Eder was cut from the squad after a less than inspiring season with Lille, but the big stars are all there. Cristiano Ronaldo, Pepe, and new Manchester City signing Bernardo Silva will lead Portugal to the top of the group.

 

Group B

Fourth place: Cameroon

Manager Hugo Broos led Cameroon to a surprising win in the African Cup of Nations, employing a fast-paced, risky style of soccer. It won’t pay off against stronger opposition.

Third place: Australia 

The Socceroos haven’t been beat in Asian World Cup qualifying this year. They are on a roll, led by goal threat Tommy Juric and lockdown defensive midfielder Aaron Mooy. They should dispatch the Cameroonians, but face a daunting task against a Chile and Germany.

Second place: Chile

The South American champs are simply loaded in Russia. Arsenal star Alexis Sanchez will spearhead a deadly attack, and Arturo Vidal is no slouch in midfield. They should comfortably qualify for the knockout stage.

Group winners: Germany

You knew this was coming. Complain all you want about the weakened side they’ve sent to Russia. They left Mesut Ozil, Marco Reus, Manuel Neuer, and Toni Kroos at home. So what? Julian Draxler, Emre Can, Jonas Hector, Marc André ter Stegen, and Leon Goretzka are all bound for Russia. There’s more incredible players too. Shkodran Mustafi. Max Meyer. Time Werner. The Germans should win this group comfortably.

 

Semifinal: Chile defeats Portugal

Chile would come into this matchup set on nothing less than victory. Ronaldo and Silva will keep it close, but Alexis Sanchez will expose the lack of defensive talent Portugal has outside of Pepe.

Semifinal: Germany over Mexico

A year ago, Mexico was thrown out of the Copa America by Chile, to the tune of 7-0. It won’t be that bad, and Hirving Lozano’s speed and skill will cause problems for right back Matthias Ginter. It still won’t be enough, as the German side is simply too good.

Final: Chile over Germany

This is my classic risky Finals pick. Why, you ask, would the reigning world champions lose here? Germany does feature a slightly weakened side, and that is all Chile needs. Gary Medel will shield the defense, allowing Arturo Vidal to get forward and play through balls to the feet of Sanchez, who doesn’t miss.