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Footrace Round 15 review - Pep stops the rot, North London sees red and United hit for six

26/09/2021 - General

By Lewis Robinson, Chief Football Writer

 

 

Pep finally gets his revenge on Tuchel

 

A deflected Gabriel Jesus effort gave Manchester City a big three points at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea Saturday lunchtime. In what looks like two teams who will be battling for the league title this season, the win was huge for Guardiola’s side. The win was made sweeter for the Spaniard, as Thomas Tuchel had defeated Guardiola on the last three occasions the pair met. A repeat of the 2020/21 Champions League final was a tight battle, but City’s class shone through in the end.

Footrace verdict: Chelsea 1-0 Manchester City

Actual score: Chelsea 0-1 Manchester City 

Footrace points: 0

 

 

Tractor Boys leave it late to peg back the Owls

A last minute Conor Chaplin goal cancelled out Denis Adeniran 26th minute opener at Portman Road. The result probably fairly reflected each team’s form, with Wednesday now winless in four in the league and with the Tractor Boys still not being able to secure a victory at home.

The Owls very nearly stopped the rot, but an error from ‘keeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell allowed Macauley Bonne to pass to Scott Fraser who squared the ball to Chaplin for an easy finish. Both clubs will be frustrated with their starts to the campaign, considering the transfer business of Ipswich and with the Owls recently relegated to the division.

Footrace verdict: Ipswich Town 2-2 Sheffield Wednesday

Actual score: Ipswich Town 1-1 Sheffield Wednesday

Footrace points: 21

 

 

Ruthless Chelsea end Manchester United’s unbeaten run

Chelsea have never lost a game against Manchester United, and that run continued in emphatic fashion, beating the Red Devils by six goals to one. A brace from Sam Kerr, along with goals from Fran Kirby, Pernille Harder, Drew Spence and Jessie Fleming saw Emma Hayes’ side secure their second victory of the season.

Manchester United however suffered their first loss of the season, and Marc Skinner will have been disappointed by the manner of the defeat, the result being the heaviest in United’s history. It could have been predicted that Chelsea may have had enough to defeat United, but the sheer difference between the sides was surprising considering the form of each side.

Footrace verdict: Manchester United Women 1-3 Chelsea Women

Actual score: Manchester United Women 1-6 Chelsea Women

Footrace points: 18

 

 

Gunners thrash Spurs

As the clock hit the 33rd minute, Spurs were 3 goals down with no reply at the Emirates. A nightmare scenario for anyone connected with Tottenham, but a dream for anyone associated with the red half of North London. Spurs could only muster up a single goal in reply to the onslaught brought by Arteta’s men, an antithesis to the slow, negative football produced by Nuno’s men. 

The unpredictability of a derby struck again, with nobody predicting an Arsenal victory by that margin. Arsenal very much deserved their victory, but could it be a sign of the Arteta project beginning to tick? Or was it more a case of Spurs being very poor? It will be interesting to see whether either side carries their form from this encounter into their upcoming games.

Footrace verdict: Arsenal 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur 

Actual score: Arsenal 3-1 Tottenham Hotspur

Footrace points: 0

Nuno’s first North London derby comes at crucial time for Spurs

26/09/2021 - Premier League

By Archie Burkinshaw, Tottenham Hotspur writer

Two back to back 3-0 defeats by London opponents is followed up by a trip to Arsenal on Sunday. Is there a better time to play your arch rivals? Personally I think not. The performances have not been good enough recently and there is no other fixture in the football calendar that will rile up the fan base and players like Tottenham v Arsenal. This is also a golden opportunity for Nuno to state his claim as the right man for the job after a poor run of results in September. A win against Arsenal will no doubt cause fans to quickly forget about any problems at Tottenham and fill the Tottenham Hotspur stadium with optimism once again.

Usually in preview pieces I like to give an opinion about the tactics that I believe should be used but for a game like this it is purely about coming away with victory, even a draw, as long as Arsenal do not beat Tottenham. All I will say is I hope we go there with the intent to attack and win by scoring multiple goals instead of sitting on a slender lead.

Tottenham have no injury concerns following their penalty win against Wolves in the week. However, they do remain without Steven Bergwijn and Ryan Sessegnon but Lucas Moura could feature after recovering from an ankle injury. Harry Kane will be hopeful that his 250th Premier League appearance for Tottenham will result in a North London derby goal.

My prediction for this game is a 2-1 victory for Tottenham which would gain me 110 points on Footrace. Somehow, Footrace have Arsenal down as the favourites for this one offering 12 points for a Gunners victory, 22 points for a draw and 25 for a Tottenham win.

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Depleted Leeds Host High Flying Hammers

25/09/2021 - Premier League

By Ben Brown, Leeds United writer

Leeds United continue their hunt for a first Premier League win of the season when they welcome West Ham to Elland Road this afternoon. Both sides tasted midweek Carabao Cup success, with the hosts edging past Fulham on penalties whilst the hammers claimed a mightily impressive 1-0 success away at Manchester United to avenge their 2-1 loss handed out by the same opponents in the league the previous weekend.

Leeds’ difficult start to the season has been further compounded by a mounting absentee list, particularly in central defence with Diego Llorente and Robin Koch still missing through injury and Pascal Struijk serving the last of a three-game suspension. Stand in centre half Luke Aylingmissed the midweek win with a niggle and may be replaced by 19-year-old academy captain Charlie Cresswell who impressed in that victory. Elsewhere Raphinha and Jack Harrison may return from injury and covid isolation respectively but recently capped England forward Patrick Bamford has been ruled out with an ankle injury.

West Ham’s only notable absentee comes in the form of Ryan Fredericks who immediately pulled up with a groin problem after teeing up Manuel Lanzini for the winner in theaforementioned cup win, with talismanic forward MichailAntonio back after serving a one game suspension last weekend. Ten changes were made between the two fixtures against Manchester United and David Moyes is almost certain to reinstate the likes of Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek into the starting XI.

Leeds lost this fixture 2-1 last season to a late Angelo Ogbonna header so vengeance is on the cards as well as a first league victory for Marcelo Bielsa’s men. With fellow early strugglers Burnley and Norwich facing tough trips to Leicester and Everton respectively, now could be the perfect time for the hosts to put some much needed breathing space between themselves and the bottom three.

Footrace Round 15 preview - Gunners, Tractors and James'

24/09/2021 - General

By Lewis Robinson, Chief Football Writer

 

Chelsea vs Manchester City

A barnstormer of a game welcomes us into the Saturday action, with Chelsea taking on Manchester City at Stamford Bridge. The evenness of the match up signified by the Footrace points this weekend, with a win for either side giving you 18 points, and a draw providing 20 points.

Buoyed by the return of N’Golo Kante, the Blues are in good form, not tasting defeat in all competitions so far this season. Along with the fact that Thomas Tuchel’s side have only conceded one goal in the Premier League so far, it is set to be a very tough match for Pep Guardiola and his City side.

Under Guardiola’s reign City have never failed to score in consecutive games, which is in danger on Saturday due to the resoluteness of Chelsea’s backline. However, Manchester City can never be written off, winning three out of the last four league titles. Also, Guardiola’s side have not started badly. Despite their opening day defeat to Spurs, the Cityzens have not lost a game in all competitions since the opening day.

The game on Saturday lunchtime will be an intriguing one, but can Tuchel make it four successes against Guardiola in a row?

Footrace verdict: Chelsea 1-0 Manchester City

 

Ipswich Town vs Sheffield Wednesday

Ipswich Town host Sheffield Wednesday, with both sides making a stuttered start to their League One campaigns. Visitors Wednesday are winless in the league since August 21, whilst the Tractor Boys are looking to build on their last victory, in which they beat Lincoln by one goal to nil. That victory was Ipswich’s first of the season.

The last meeting between the two teams was in 2019, where Wednesday actually beat the hosts one nil. The Owls have actually won their last two meetings against the Tractor Boys, which could provide a good omen for Saturday.

Sheffield Wednesday have lost their last two games on the road, combined with Ipswich’s slow start to the season, it could make the match up a fairly even one.

If you'd like to predict the spoils to be shared at Portman Road, 21 points are on offer. 

Footrace verdict: Ipswich Town 2-2 Sheffield Wednesday

 

Manchester United Women vs Chelsea Women

The Lauren James derby kicks off at lunchtime on Sunday, with James’ former club making the better start. Marc Skinner’s side have won two out of two so far.

Emma Hayes’ side responded to their opening day defeat by winning their last match against Everton by four goals to nil. Skinner’s side beat Leicester 3-1 in their last game, meaning they’ve won every game so far by two goals.
Chelsea have never lost a game against Manchester United previously, and the comprehensive nature of Hayes’ side’s win against the Toffees, there is evidence Chelsea may be back to their best. After already dropping points, Chelsea will be keen to make sure they secure a victory against a title rival.

Footrace verdict: Manchester United Women 1-3 Chelsea Women

 

Arsenal vs Tottenham Hotspur

The North London derby. Arsenal vs Tottenham. Once a fixture where Arsenal were the better side out of the two. Then Spurs took the ascendency. Now, Spurs probably still are the better side, but that bar is now lower for both teams.

The nature of the derby is that they’re unpredictable, a ‘cup final’ even, making them notoriously hard to predict. The head to head record between the two sides makes it even harder to predict, with Arsenal winning three to Spurs’ four in the last ten meetings between the sides in the league.

Neither side have been prolific in the league so far, with Arsenal only scoring two and Spurs scoring three. This suggests the game may be a low scoring affair, but will the unpredictability of a derby strike again?

A draw here would earn you 22 points, with a home win being worth 12 points. A Spurs win would get you 25 points.

Footrace verdict: Arsenal 1-1 Tottenham

Latics hoping to stay top as the Robins visit

24/09/2021 - League One

By Charlotte Atherton, Wigan Athletic writer

Wigan Athletic are back to Sky Bet League One action this weekend as they welcome Cheltenham Town to the DW Stadium.

Both teams were knocked out of the Carabao Cup in midweek, with the Latics losing to Sunderland and the Robins falling to defeat against Preston North End.

Attention now turns to the league and both teams will be hoping to keep their impressive start to the season going.

Cheltenham have been one of the surprise packages in League One so far this season, they currently sit in ninth place in the table having picked up back to back victories in their last two league games.

Wigan on the other hand have had a remarkable turnaround following last season’s relegation fight and find themselves top of the league going into Saturday’s fixture. The Latics are unbeaten in six league games and will be hoping to pick up their fifth win on the bounce this weekend.

For the game on Saturday, Wigan manager Leam Richardson will probably revert back to the team that beat Accrington Stanley 4-1 last weekend after making nine changes for Tuesday night’s cup game.

Cheltenham have a couple of ex-Wigan players amongst their ranks who will be making their return DW Stadium for the fixture. Most notably, Latics fans will no doubt give a warm welcome back to one of their own in Kyle Joseph, someone who played a huge part in keeping Wigan in the league last season.

Wigan will be strengthened by the return of a group of players that have given the club their best start to a season in 17 years, so there are just seven footrace points available for a Latics win this weekend compared to the 40 on offer for Cheltenham.

 

Stoke host winless in five Hull side

24/09/2021 - Championship

By Lewis Williamson, Stoke City writer

After a midweek cup routing of Premier League side Watford, Stoke City will be looking to continue their winning ways with a home visit from Hull City. A win would see Stoke remain in the top five and keep their promotion hopes alive.

Stoke have been in mixed form throughout the league campaign this season, with only two wins and two losses out of their last five games. On the other hand, Hull has failed to register a single win since the opening day of the season. This form will give Stoke fans hope that they can maintain their promotion push.

In terms of team selection, Nick Powell is tipped to feature again for Stoke after proving his fitness, and prowess, against Watford midweek. Joe Allen on the other hand has yet to be cleared from his toe injury, meaning a substitution appearance is the only likely way the Welshman will make an appearance.

Jaden Brown looks likely to replace Abdallah Sima in attack after Brown impressed in his start against Watford. Tommy Smith will serve his final match ban of three picked up from his red card against Huddersfield. Joe Bursik is likely to return in the nets along with key centre backs OStigard and Souttar.

Hull City look unlikely to make many changes from the side that lost 3-1 to Sheffield United last weekend, but Tyler Smith could make a case to start in attack after providing an assist last week. Tom Huddlestone remains out of action with his hamstring injury.

As for predictions, picking the in form, at home Stoke City to win will net you 6 points, predicting a draw will net you 30, and an away upset prediction with Hull City will net you 45 points.

 

 

 

Cumbrian visitors next up for Sutton

24/09/2021 - League Two

By Finley Chung, Sutton United writer

Sutton return to Gander Green Lane on Saturday for the visit of Carlisle United in League Two, yet another side Sutton have never played against before this upcoming encounter.

The two sides head into this in indifferent form, the visitors have one win in their last six games, and their record on the road is played 4, 1 win and draw apiece and 2 defeats, as opposed to being unbeaten at Brunton Park. Sutton are looking for a fourth consecutive home win and in doing so, they would climb above their visitors on Saturday. The hosts will be looking to bounce back from the defeat in Devon last week and get back to winning ways, against a side from the opposite side of the country to their last opponents.

Sutton will potentially be without Tobi Sho-Silva and Jon Barden as they recover from respective injures. Isaac Olafoe could be in line for his first start of the season, since returning on loan from Millwall at the end of August. Two former Carlisle players are currently in the Sutton ranks, Richie Bennett who scored 10 times in a 59 appearance, two-year spell with the Cumbrians, and goalkeeper, Dean Bouzanis, who was at Brunton Park seven years ago, but made no appearances for Carlisle. Tristan Abrahams will be the one to watch for the Sutton defenders, bagging three goals so far for United, making him their top scorer so far this season.

As always, Footrace points are on offer for this fixture on Saturday! Banking on a Sutton home win would earn you ten points towards your total, 25 points will be available if you go for the draw and 30 points are up for grabs if you think Carlisle will take 3 points back up North!

Chelsea to welcome City in the biggest game of the season so far

24/09/2021 - Premier League

By Louis Pantziarka, Chelsea writer

Focusing entirely on results, Chelsea’s start to the season has been excellent - thirteen points from five Premier League games, including tough trips to Tottenham, Liverpool and Arsenal, a winning start to the Champions League and through to the next round of the Carabao Cup. Since the international break though, the Blues’ performances have clearly dropped off and they’ve had to ride their luck at times.

Thomas Tuchel has acknowledged this, with the Chelsea manager admitting that his side are yet to hit top gear. They needed a penalty shootout to scrape past Aston Villa in the Cup, but the Blues know they won’t have that saving grace against Manchester City this weekend.

Chelsea have come away with wins from their previous three encounters with the current Premier League champions, but are unlikely to get a positive result this time unless they lift their performance level. City will be out for revenge after the Champions League Final and will hope for a Pep tactical masterclass to spur them on.

These two are arguably the favourites for the title and a win for either would be a huge statement this early in the campaign. As the home side Chelsea might be expected to aim for all three points, but don’t be surprised to see the visitors dominating possession and the Blues looking to hit on the break.

Christian Pulisic’s counter attacking abilities will be missed, as the American international remains out with an ankle problem, but Tuchel has hinted that first-choice goalkeeper Edouard Mendy could return after missing the last two games with a hip injury.

This’ll be a tight-run game and the points available for Round 15 reflect that. You’ll get 18 for picking either side as the winner, but the safer choice might be the 20 on offer for a draw.

Owls face Tractor Boys as they look to get season back on track

23/09/2021 - League One

By Jude Hall, Sheffield Wednesday writer

Darren Moore’s side look to end their draught of three league games without a win as they take the trip down South to face fellow promotion hopefuls Ipswich Town at Portman Road.

The Tractor Boys’ boss Paul Cook is a face many Wednesday fans had hoped to see in the Hillsborough dugout before Darren Moore was appointed, but the former Wigan Athletic manager hasn’t had the greatest of starts to the season with his latest club. Ipswich finally recorded their first victory of the campaign at the seventh attempt when they beat Lincoln City 1-0 last Saturday. It was a much needed win for Ipswich who have reported spent over two million pounds last transfer window but only managed three points from their first six league fixtures.

The League One highest summer spenders have brought in an influx of talent from the level above with notable names such as Rakeem Harper, Tom Carroll, Sam Morsy, Macauley Bonne and Conor Chaplin amongst others making them the promotion favourites in the division. On that long list of new recruits in Suffolk is Owls academy product Matt Penney who joined Ipswich on a free following his release from S6. The left-back has made five appearances for Paul Cook’s side, also grabbing a goal and will be keen to prove a point against the club that let him go just a few months prior.

Along with their wealth of Championship experience, Ipswich have also brought in some of last season’s most eye-catching talents in the third tier. Joe Pigott joined The Tractor Boys on a free transfer from AFC Wimbledon where he netted 20 league goals last term. Scott Fraser is another notable performer last year, notching 14 goals and 6 assists in MK Dons’ midfield.

Despite the start they have made, Ipswich Town certainly have one of the most threatening teams in the division along with a manager who has three promotions to his name already in the EFL.

Alike Ipswich, it’s fair to say The Owls are taking some time to properly gel following a lot of summer additions. Despite a frustrating point at home to Shrewsbury last weekend, Wednesday can take positives from a game which on another day may have been a different story. Saido Berahino is officially off the mark on his English Football return and could give The Owls a boost to help them turn their fortunes around. Olamide Shodipo looked another dangerous player with the winger causing The Shrews a number of problems throughout the afternoon. With it now five weeks since the Yorkshire club’s last league victory, Darren Moore’s side will be itching to get what would be a big win on the road this weekend.

With Ipswich Town sat in 20th position, 5 points behind The Owls in the League One table, the hosts come into this fixtures as slight underdogs with 20 points available for correctly guessing a win for Paul Cook’s men. However, 15 points are up for grabs should the away side take the spoils. A draw may well be a wise decision for this one, bagging 21 points if Saturday’s game ends level. Head over to the play section to have your say.

 

Tottenham edge past Wolves in dramatic penalty shootout

23/09/2021 - Premier League

By Archie Burkinshaw, Tottenham Hotspur writer

A wonderful opening 30 minutes in which Tottenham took a commanding 2-0 lead were undone by a poor second half performance, allowing Wolves to score two goals. Following the draw a penalty shootout ensued. When the scores were level at 2-2 in the shootout, Neves blasted over. Pierluigi Gollini, saved from Dendoncker after Gil had converted and Wolves' fate was finally sealed when Coady hit the bar, meaning Tottenham won on penalties 3-2.

As a Tottenham fan I will always be pleased to see my side win, albeit on penalties. However, for a couple of seasons now there has been particular frustration on my part at the fact Spurs can not win without their key men in the side. We have a huge game on Sunday against Arsenal, Kane played 90 minutes, whilst Son and Højbjerg came off the bench in the second-half to steady the ship, thankfully all without injuries but still a huge risk to take by manager Nuno Espírito Santo.

If you look at Tottenhams record with fringe players making up the side it is not a pretty read. A dismal performance against Royal Antwerp last season, resulted in Mourinho making a quadruple substitution at half-time, the following Thursday Spurs drew 3-3 with LASK with Kane absent. Even this season against Pacos de Ferreira a heavily changed side put in a torrid performance and were beaten 1-0, this led to Kane, Son and Højbjerg all starting the return leg to dig Spurs and see them qualify for the Europa Conference League.

Tottenham will depend on Kane and Sons goals even more this season after the departures of Carlos Vinícius and Gareth Bale, if either of them pick up long term injuries I fear for the team's results. Tottenhams fringe players will have to step up in Europe and domestic cups this season, to give much needed rest to key members of the side.

There were still plenty of positives to take from this game, Skipp put in a MOM performance in midfield and Ndombele, Alli and Gil all had eye-catching moments. It is also Tottenhams first win of September which will bring some much needed confidence before the North London derby on Sunday.

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