Midweek Football Review

There will be a new Carabao Cup winner!

Carabao Cup Round of 16

Arsenal 2 vs. 0 Leeds

Chambers scored in the 55th minute and Nketiah made it 2 in the 69th minute to seal a comfortable 2-0 for Arsenal over Leeds. Leeds get knocked out of the Carabao Cup while Arsenal continue their good patch of form by reaching the quarter-finals. 

Stoke City 1 vs. 2 Brentford

Canos and Toney scored in the 1st half to give Brentford the lead while Sawyers got one back for Stoke in the 57th minute. Stoke could not find the equaliser though and Brentford managed to see out the game to reach the quarter-finals. Brentford get slight relief from recent defeats with this win. 

West Ham 0 (5) vs. (3) 0 Man City

West Ham were under siege for 90 minutes with City having 29 shots in total but only 7 on target. The game eventually went into penalties and West Ham won 5-3 with Foden missing his penalty for City. City are knocked out of the Carabao Cup which they have won for the last few seasons in a row while West Ham’s season goes from strength to strength as they progress to the quarter’s. 

Leicester 2 (4) vs. (2) 2 Brighton

Barnes scored in the 6th minute to give Leicester the lead but Webster equalised before half time. Lookman restored Leicester’s lead soon after the Brighton equaliser. Mwepu equalised for Brighton in the 71st minute and both teams headed towards penalties. Leicester won 4-2 to reach the next quarter’s of the tournament. 

Preston 0 vs. 2 Liverpool

Minamino, and Origi scored in the 2nd half to seal a win for Liverpool. Preston did quite well during the game and matched Liverpool for chances. Liverpool had the better quality though and progress to the next round. 

Burnley 0 vs. 1 Tottenham

Moura scored the winner in the 68th minute to seal Tottenham’s place in the quarter-finals. Burnley’s only focus becomes the Premier League for the upcoming few weeks. 

La Liga MW 11

Falcao scored the winner for Rayo Vallecano as they beat Barcelona 1-0 and confirmed Ronald Koeman’s sacking soon after. Sevilla drew with Mallorca 1-1, Real Madrid drew with Osasuna 0-0 and Real Sociedad and Atletico play on Thursday. Real Madrid, Sevilla, Betis, and Real Sociedad all sit level with 21 points. Betis have played a game more than the other three teams though. Atletico can go level with these teams if they win while Sociedad can go three points clear at the top. Barcelona sit 9th in the table. 

Serie MW 10

Milan beat Torino 1-0, Atalanta beat Sampdoria 1-3, Sassuolo beat Juventus 1-2, Roma beat Cagliari 1-2, Inter beat Empoli 0-2, and Lazio beat Fiorentina 1-0. Milan, Napoli, Inter, and Roma make up the top four but Napoli can go level with Milan if they win their game on Thursday. Atalanta, Lazio, and Juventus make up 5th, 6th and 7th in the table. An interesting race for sure. 

Ligue (Games in hand)

Nice and Marseille drew 1-1 with neither team gaining any real ground on PSG. 

Advertisement

Chelsea 1 (4) vs. (3) 1 Southampton Carabao Cup Round of 16 Review

Kepa the penalty king!

Chelsea took on Southampton for the 2nd time at Stamford Bridge this season although this game came in the Round of 16 of the Carabao Cup. Southampton surprisingly switched to back 3 with Forster starting in goal, and Valery, Lyanco, and Salisu making up that back 3. There was rotation in the midfield as well with Walker-Peters and Djenepo starting as the wing backs and Armstrong, and Diallo starting in the centre. Armstrong, Adams, and Tella made up the attack up front. Tuchel also made some interesting decisions for the starting XI mainly due to injuries to the likes of Azpilicueta, Christensen, and Loftus-Cheek. Kepa started in goal with a back 3 of James, Chalobah, and Sarr. Hudson-Odoi, and Alonso played as the wing backs with a midfield of Saul and Kovacic. Barkley, and Ziyech played behind Havertz in attack. A strong lineup regardless.

The game was a fairly even one although Chelsea had the better chances in the 1st half. Forster was forced into some good saves by Havertz in particular. The first goal came in the 44th minute with Havertz heading in a corner from Ziyech. At half time Havertz, in particular had done well in attack but Ziyech and Barkley had been frustrating. The 2nd half started with Southampton getting right back into the game after Che Adams latched on to a loose ball in the box in the 47th minute. The 2nd half was more end to end and it lit up particularly after Chilwell, and Mount came on. Forster was forced into some very good saves by Saul who particularly grew into the game. Kepa then made some stunning saves from two successive corner towards the end of the game. The game ended up going into penalties. Armstrong, and Alonso made it 1-1. Walcott saw his penalty saved by Kepa and Forster saved Mount’s.. Long and Hudson-Odoi both converted to make it 2-2. Smallbone skied his penalty and Chilwell converted to make it 3-2 for Chelsea. Romeu scored his but James scored the final penalty to make it 4-3 to Chelsea and send us into the quarter-finals. 

Chelsea Team Review

Goalkeeper

Kepa came into the net for this game and did quite well as I gave him man of the match. Could Kepa have pushed the ball further away for the goal? Maybe but I wouldn’t really blame him because it was also poor defending. After that Kepa made around 5 good saved to keep Chelsea in the game and none more important than those that came in the final minutes. Another save in the penalties as well means that Kepa is very confident at the moment. There was also improvement in his movement around the box and playing a sweeper role at times. 

Defenders

Sarr, Chalobah, James did quite well with Chalobah in particular looking brilliant once again this time in the middle of the back three. Alonso was ok but clearly the lack of pace was a problem at times. Chilwell did well after he came on and gave us same pace going forward although he played as the right wing back. 

Midfielders

Saul began slowly but got better as the game went on. Saul also came close a few times to getting his first goal for Chelsea but Forster saved three of his chances with one being a header. It was a good game for the Spaniard. Kovacic did well but looked tired towards the end of the game. Barkley was ok but his decision making in the final third was lacking. Mount came on in the 2nd half and made an impact.

Forwards

Hudson-Odoi played as a right wing back for around 70 minutes then got 20 playing further forward. It was a decent game given the circumstances. Ziyech had poor first half but got an assist from the corner but overall it wasn’t a great game. Havertz had the best time with a few shots on target and a goal. It was a good game for him and another step in the right direction. 

Manager

Tuchel get’s another win as we progress to the quarter-finals for the first time since 2018. It was a tough game mainly because Southampton are not a bad team but the rotation worked and the players on the pitch showed good intensity which will encourage Tuchel. 

Next up is a trip to Newcastle in the Premier League, COME ON CHELSEA!!!

Chelsea vs. Southampton Carabao Cup Round of 16 Preview

Carabao time!

Chelsea take on Southampton at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night for a Carabao Cup Round of 16 tie. Southampton beat Sheffield United on penalties in the last round and have since won 1, drawn 1 and lost 2 of their games. Southampton are inconsistent at the moment but can play some good football when they are up for it. Hassenhutl will know that anything can happen in the cup.

Chelsea enter another Round of 16 in the Carabao Cup and we have lost at this stage over the last two seasons. Chelsea beat Villa on penalties in the last round and have since won 4 and lost 2 of the games. The two losses came right after the last round with City and Juventus winning 1-0 in each game. Since then Chelsea have won 4 on the trot in all competitions. Tuchel held no press conference prior to this game but we all know that every competition matters to him. Tuchel will take the Carabao Cup seriously but since it is the Carabao Cup we will probably see rotation. The 7-0 win against Norwich was great and it helped open the account for some struggling players like Hudson-Odoi and Mount and now Tuchel will hope that we continue to score goals. 

Chelsea Team Preview

Kepa should come in to replace Mendy for this game. I expect a back three of Chalobah, Christensen, and Sarr. Azpilicueta and Alonso should start as the wing backs although I wouldn’t be surprise if Azpilicueta started in defence and Reece James started as a wing back. Saul should start in the midfield with Loftus-Cheek most likely starting as well. Hudson-Odoi, Ziyech and Havertz should start up front. Plenty of quality on the pitch and a couple of players who need to regain form like Ziyech, Havertz, and Saul. Plenty of quality on the bench as well with 5 subs available. 

Southampton Team Preview

Broja will not be available to Southampton because he is on loan from Chelsea but everyone else should start. I expect minimal rotation form Hassenhutl for this game because midweek fixtures are a rarity for them. McCarthy in goal with a back four of Livramento, Bednarek, Salisu, and Perraud. Walcott, Romeu, Diallo, and Elyounoussi will start in the midfield while Armstrong will start with Redmond up front. There are players like Walker-Peters, Che Adams, Armstrong etc available to Hassenhutl. Pace on the brake and some quality full backs as well. Southampton did well against Chelsea in the league and they will hope for a similar performance in this game.

Starting XI Prediction

IMG_2121

IMG_2122

I expect a tough high pressing game but Chelsea have enough quality on the pitch and on the bench to progress to the next round. It’s another big game for the likes of Hudson-Odoi to make an impact and Havertz, Ziyech etc to gain some form. I also hope that if Saul does start he has a very good game. COME ON CHELSEA!!!

Midweek Football Preview

Carabao time!

Carabao Cup Round of 16

Arsenal vs. Leeds

Arsenal beat Wimbledon 3-0 in the last round and have since won 2 and drawn 2 of their games. Leeds beat Fulham on penalties in the last round and have since won 1, drawn 1 and lost 2 of their games. Based on form their really is only one winner and that is Arsenal. The Gunners in recent weeks have begun to pick up points while Leeds and Bielsa are struggling at the moment. Cup games are different but Arsenal should win this. 

Stoke City vs. Brentford

Stoke sit 9th in the Championship and beat Watford 1-3 in the last round. Stoke have since won 2, drawn 1, and lost 3. Brentford beat Oldham 7-0 in the last round and have since won 1, drawn 1 and lost 2. Two teams in mixed form but Brentford are obviously the favourites on paper. Brentford should win this but Stoke will make it tough being the home team.

West Ham vs. Man City

West Ham beat Man United 0-1 in the last round and have since won 5 and lost 1 of their games. City beat Wycombe 6-1 in the last round and have since won 4, drawn 1 and lost 1 of their games. Two teams that are right next to each other in the league and are in similar form going into this game. City are the holders but West Ham have been doing well this season. It will be a test for sure but can West Ham make it a double against Manchester? City will of course be favourites regardless.

Leicester vs. Brighton

Leicester beat Millwall 0-2 in the last round and have since won 3, drawn 2 and lost 1 of their games. Brighton beat Swansea 2-0 in the last round and have since drawn 3 and lost 1 of their games. Leicester are beginning to hit form after a poor start to the season while Brighton have returned to old ways from last season in recent weeks. Two top teams with good managers this should be a fun game to watch.

Preston vs. Liverpool

Preston beat Cheltenham 4-1 in the last round and have since won 1, drawn 3, and lost 2 of their games as they sit 19th in the Championship. Liverpool beat Norwich 0-3 in the last round and have since won 4, and drawn 2 of their games. Liverpool even with weakened lineup should win this game without any issues.

Burnley vs. Tottenham

Burnley beat Rochdale 4-1 in the last round and have since drawn 3 and lost 1 of their games. Tottenham beat Wolves on penalties in the last round and have since won 3, and lost 3 of their games. Tottenham are clearly the team that should win this game on paper but both teams are struggling at the moment and it could be an open contest. 

La Liga MW 11

Barcelona travel to Rayo Vallecano, Sevilla travel to Mallorca, Real Madrid take on Osasuna, Real Sociedad travel to Celta Vigo, and Atletico travel to Levante. The favourites should all win these fixtures but there could also be some slip ups as well. Real Sociedad, and Real Madrid lead the pack while the rest particularly Barcelona play catch up.

Serie MW 10

Milan take on Torino, Atlanta travel to Sampdoria, Juventus take on Sassuolo, Roma travel to Cagliari, Inter travel to Empoli, Lazio take on Fiorentina, and Napoli take on Bologna. Similar to La Liga all the top teams face winnable fixtures in this match week. The question is who will slip up. 

Ligue (Game in hand)

Nice take on Marseille as they play their game in hand. The teams sit 3rd and 4th and it will be interesting to see who can get closer to PSG. 

Euro 2020 Round of 16 Day 4 Review

Two contrasting games.

England 2 vs. 0 Germany

Wembley stadium was electric, celebrities were all over the stands as everyone had come out to watch this game between two historic rivals. Though as is the case with all England games it was a snooze fest. The first half saw a few chances with Werner testing Pickford and Kane going close while Sterling also drew a save from Neuer but apart from that it was 0-0 going into the 2nd half. The game only lit up when Grealish came on in the 2nd half as he added some flair to England’s team. The first goal came in the 75th minute as some nice play down the left by Shaw and Grealish found Sterling who tapped England into the lead. Germany had a brilliant chance to equalise soon after but Muller scuffed his shot wide of the post. Kane made it 2 in the 86th minute with the assist again coming from the left as England finally beat Germany at Wembley in the 8th attempt. England are by far the most boring team left in the tournament but they are hashing out results and until they are winning no one will complain. Low’s time as Germany manager comes to an end it’s been an incredible era that spanned 15 years and he can hold his head up high. The Germany squad is young and Flick will get them firing for the upcoming tournaments. Southgate hopefully releases the shackles for the games ahead. 

Sweden 1 vs. 2 Ukraine

This was a far better game and more entertaining. Zinchenko gave Ukraine the lead in the 27th minute after a brilliant cross from Yarmolenko. Forsberg equalised for Sweden right before half time with a deflected shot. The 2nd half saw Forsberg hit the post twice while Ukraine also hit the post but neither team could break the deadlock. The game went into extra time and it looked like it was heading for penalties but Dovbyk scored in the 121st minute to send Ukraine through to the quarter’s and break Swedish hearts. Sweden have played well in this tournament and have an interesting squad that will improve with experience. Ukraine have been on the track of improvement year on year under Shevchenko and they do it once again reaching their first quarter’s. Big step for Ukraine. 

Euro 2020 Round of 16 Day 4 Preview

Final 2 games will they live up to the rest?

England vs. Germany

England finished top of their group winning 2 and drawing 1. They weren’t great in either of the 3 games but along with Italy were the only team to not concede a goal. Unlike Italy though England only scored 2 goals. Germany finished 2nd in their group and really had to fight hard against Hungary to go through on the final day. This is a fixture steeped in history and with both teams sharing a great rivalry. With Portugal, Netherlands, and France now out these two teams will feel they have a realistic chance of going all the way if they win this fixture. England should have Mount back while Germany have a fit squad to select from. The only thing holding England back are Southgate’s tactics because both squads have plenty of quality available to them. Many of these player’s play with each other but for this game it will be thrown out of the window. A massive game and too close to call but I feel Germany might go through. Let’s hope it matches the excitement of the previous games because games involving England have been far from that.

Sweden vs. Ukraine

Sweden topped their group while Ukraine went through as one of the best placed 3rd teams. Ukraine have looked decent in this tournament while Sweden have more quality and have deserved to top their group. Its an open game so I think there will be a couple of goals for sure but with the likes of Forsberg, Isak, etc in the Swedish squad I feel they have the talent to do the damage. It will come down to how well the defences can cope with each teams forward because the defences of both teams have looked shaky in their games. I think Sweden will edge it. 

Euro 2020 Round of 16 Day 3 Review

Football at its unpredictable best!

Croatia 3 vs. 5 Spain

The first goal came in the 20th minute as Pedri passed it back to Simon who forgot the basics and stared in horror as the ball went past his foot and into the net. Morata had just missed a good opportunity before the goal. Sarabia equalised in the 38th minute for Spain though. Azpilicueta then headed Spain into the lead in the 57th minute. Torres made it 3 for Spain in the 77th minute as it looked like Spain were into the quarter’s. Croatia had other plans as Orsic got one back in the 85th minute after a scramble in front of goal. Pasalic then equalised with a header in the 92nd minute to send the game into extra time. Morata put Spain back into the lead in the 100th minute with a brilliant finish to redeem himself and silence the doubters. Oyarzabal scored the 5th in the 103rd minute. Spain could have scored a few more but 5 was enough as Croatia tried their best but another comeback was not possible. A brilliant game with both teams giving it their all. Croatia bow out while Spain proceed to the quarter’s. 

France 3 (4) vs. (5) 3 Switzerland

This game saw the last one and said we can do better. Switzerland had to score first to make this game interesting and that is what they did as Seferovic scored a header in the 15th minute. Switzerland stayed strong for the rest of the half as they played well and managed the game. France had no reply in the 1st half. Swizterland got a penalty early in the 2nd half which Rodriguez saw saved by Lloris. France were encouraged by this as Benzema scored a brilliant goal to equalise in the 57th minute. Benzema made it 2 in the 59th minute to give France the lead. Pogba then scored an absolute world class goal in the 75th minute to make it 3 for France. Again the French probably though it was game over but far from it. Seferovic got one back for Switzerland in the 81st minute. Gavranovic then scored a brilliant goal to equalise for Switzerland in the 90th minute to send another game to extra time. There were no goals in extra time although France went close and Mbappe for sure made some dubious decisions. In penalties both teams scored 4 of their 4 while Switzerland scored their 5th as well. For France’s 5th up stepped Mbappe who saw his penalty saved by Sommer as France were knocked out. France the favourites out in the Round of 16. Switzerland fought hard and were able to show grit and determination and calmness as they book a place in the quarter’s. 

Euro 2020 Round of 16 Day 3 Preview

Tricky games…

Croatia vs. Spain

Croatia finished 2nd in their group after a big win on the final day. Spain also finished 2nd in similar fashion by scoring 5 in their final game. Those wins also happened to be the first for the respective countries in this years competition. On paper these are two very talented teams while Croatia in recent years have done extremely well. Spain dominated all 3 of their games but the attack only seemed to click in that final game. This is going to be a tactical game to watch as Spain will no doubt want to control possession and Croatia will want to dictate tempo as well. This is a game that’s too close to call but I have a feeling it will be Croatia who will go through. Spain’s destiny will depend on whether their forwards take their chances. 

France vs. Switzerland

France only won one of their games in the group stage as they topped the group while Switzerland finished 3rd in their group by winning on the final day. On paper there should only be one clear winner and that is France. The reigning World Cup winners have not been at their best in this years Euro’s but have sheer quality all over the pitch. Switzerland will know that the task is a gargantuan one but will take encouragement from the way Hungary performed against France. France should go through but Switzerland have a better chance than most expect. 

Euro 2020 Round of 16 Day 2 Review

What a day!

Netherlands 0 vs. 2 Czech Republic

This game was very close in the 1st half as both teams had chances but neither was able to take them. In the 55th minute De Ligt was sent off for the Netherlands after intentionally using his hand as Schick was through on goal. Czech Republic were encouraged by the card and they applied even more pressure on the Netherlands defence. The first goal came in the 68th minute after a corner bounced around in the box and finally Holes headed the ball into the net. Czech Republic continued to have a go at Netherlands while the Dutch seemed to have no reply. Schick then got the 2nd in the 80th minute after some good work down the flank by the Czech Republic. The away team could have had more but on a day when the Puskas stadium in Budapest was full with fans it was Czech Republic who were victorious. The Czech showed hunger in the 2nd half while the Netherlands just never looked like they would score. A talented team for the Dutch but for sure not the right manager. Czech Republic move into the quarter-finals. 

Belgium 1 vs. 0 Portugal

This was set up to be an amazing game but for most of it it was Portugal’s attack vs. Belgium’s defence. Belgium were poor in the 1st half and managed to get the goal in the 42nd minute thanks to a brilliant shot from Thorgan Hazard and some solid hold up play by Lukaku. Portugal continued to dominate play in the 2nd half ending the game with 23 shots but only 4 of those were on goal. De Bruyne and Hazard played well with the latter especially looking back to his best but he had to come due to a hamstring issue while De Bruyne also suffered an injury. Belgium held on for the win though and similar to Italy they won while playing poorly. Ronaldo tried his hardest while Renato Sanches also had a brilliant game. The latter might get a move away from Lille now while Ronaldo will be looking to take a break and then maybe have one more go in next year’s world cup. Belgium into the quarter-finals though and surely they can’t play any worse than they did in this game.

Euro 2020 Round of 16 Day 2 Preview

Two tough games!

Netherlands vs. Czech Republic

Netherlands topped their group winning 3/3 of their games while the Czech Republic finished 3rd in their group but went through as one of the best 3rd placed teams. These are two evenly matched teams in my eyes although in terms of quality Netherlands have the upper hand. Netherlands should go through but they do tent to concede goals and the Czech Republic will know with Schick up front anything is possible. 

Belgium vs. Portugal

Belgium were also one of the teams that won 3/3 group games in quiet comfortable fashion. Belgium also only conceded 1 goal. Portugal finished 3rd in their group and went through as one of the 3rd placed teams. Portugal conceded 6 goals and looked far from great in their games. Belgium look like more of a team with the likes of De Bruyne, Lukaku, and Hazard picking up form. Portugal look like Ronaldo + others. Portugal are the reigning champions so they have the experience but Belgium I feel have the quality to go through. It’s now or never for Belgium to prove they can reach the latter stages while for Portugal it all depends on Ronaldo.