Son shines in Kane absence

17/08/2021 - Premier League

By Archie Burkinshaw

Well well well, did anybody expect a 1-0 victory for Tottenham Hotspur against reigning champions Manchester City?

If anyone read my preview for the game, you will know that I certainly didn’t! Even though I stated it was a perfect time to play City I did not envisage us taking three points.

But perhaps I should have been more optimistic. In four attempts City have never won or even scored a goal at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium. Despite this, the lineup far from filled with me with confidence, especially the centre-back partnership of Dier and Sanchez. A partnership I had the unpleasure of countlessly watching getting unlocked last season.

The opening 20 minutes played straight into my pre-match narrative. City started at an electrifying pace, pinging the ball around beautifully and creating threatening chances.

New boys Grealish along with Sterling and Mahrez looked hungry for the ball and immediately had the Spurs defence on the back foot. Flashbacks of City dismantling us 3-0 at the Etihad last season flooded my head and I accepted it was only a matter of time before City made there dominance count.

To my surprise, Spurs did not let this faze them in the slightest. In fact, they responded brilliantly and by the end of the half they looked the side more likely to score. At the start of the second half it was the same story, Tottenham were unbelievably the more threatening side.

Unlike City, Spurs made their dominance count 55 minutes in. A classic Spurs counter-attack, which started with Lucas and ended with a sumptuous Heung-Ming Son strike. The pace of Lucas, Son and Bergwijn was too much to handle for Mendy and Ake all game.

It was only a matter of time before Son could run at one of them. The unlucky recipient was Ake, who foolishly allowed Son to cut inside and unleash a powerful strike into the bottom left hand corner, leaving Ederson rooted to his goal line.

Under Mourinho a 1-0 scoreline meant time to park the bus. But under Nuno things appear to be different. Spurs gloriously kept at City with plenty of pressing, Japhet Taganaga embodied this. The young full-back put in a man of the match performance, not allowing Sterling or Grealish a yard.

It was refreshing to watch a Spurs side that worked so hard for each other again. It was a reminder of what this squad is capable of, even without Harry Kane! Mourinho had clearly created a toxic atmosphere around the club which had spilled out onto the pitch. On Sunday, Spurs looked like there were enjoying their football again, much to the joy of the fans.

I have to touch on Kane, given the edge this match was given over the transfer saga between the two clubs. This game proved that there is life at Spurs after Kane. Son stepped up in his absence terrifically. I don’t buy the line Spurs put out about his fitness being the reason he wasn’t in the match day squad.

Every other player from England’s Euro squad at least made the bench this weekend. I think his time is up at Spurs and for the first time that doesn’t fill me with complete terror. If we invest the money properly it might even be a good thing.

What a start to the season. COYS!

Hull City: the team who don't know what a good thing is

16/08/2021 - Championship

By Sam Ketch

Hull City, a club who do not know what a good thing is... Or if they do, they don’t know how to keep it going. 

The Tigers performance at Preston was so good that optimism and hope had somehow seeped through to a fan base more familiar with pettiness and complaining. 

Keane Lewis-Potter: don’t you know the lad is the second coming of Christ? And he’s ‘one of our own’ no less. Probably take us to the Premier League single-handedly.  

Perhaps QPR, buoyant with Jordy de Wijs able to play having been a doubt, were just ruthless and outclassed Hull on the day – but what’s the fun in saying that? 

Okay, it’s fair to say that Chris Willock’s opener was a great strike (but could Ingram have done more?) and that Matt Smith could very easily have seen his shot connecting with the netting rather than Rob Dickie’s long legs. But still... for once the fanbase viewed a young, hungry and exciting group of players as worth being invested in and positive about. 

Of course, this is all tongue-in-cheek. The players do not try to derail a good thing – perhaps because they don’t know what a good thing is – but it is stunning how often Hull fans can find themselves complaining about a good thing ruined. 

This group of players available to Grant McCann is the first since the ‘glory days’ of not that long ago (but given everything between then and now... quite some time) to excite fans and get them eager to take up their seats. 

There are still the silly infights over whether we boycott or attend the games. My personal view is the players don’t deserve a season of empty stands at home and packed houses in their away matches, but people have their reasons to believe that the Allam family will leave if enough fans do not go to the matches. 

Anyway. This midweek the mighty Tigers will host Derby County. A team in a far worse situation than us. That calls for one thing, and I shall go to the Carl Anka school of terminology for this: ‘Hull City, go cook those boys’. 

City have to go and attack with confidence. KLP, the magic man, must be fed delicious passes through gaps in the defence – just as he was in the Preston and Wigan games. 

Defensively, perhaps tracking your runner on set-pieces would help. There is little else to pick them up on, really. 

This is a sign of the season to come though, you would imagine. A win, a draw (because it wasn’t a loss to Wigan in the 90 minutes), a loss and a penalty shootout defeat. It will be mixed and varied, given the unpredictable nature of Championship football. As long as the Tigers avoid a relegation scrap, it will be a season to enjoy. 

Full stands – maybe, one day, at the MKM again too – and a team that will get better and better with every 90 minutes played. 

Hull City could do with learning what a good thing is, and then putting it into practice to let the fans fall in love again. 

Ice cool Frieser wins it for the Reds

16/08/2021 - Championship

By Lewis Robinson

As 13,000 home fans clapped along to the iconic tune of ‘Timerider’, football was back.

‘You Reds’ echoed around the stadium, as a sea of red united on three sides of Oakwell, after 18 months away from the stands.

The players responded to the energy from the stands, starting very brightly in Markus Schopp’s first home game as Barnsley manager.

After some neat play on the edge of the area, Carlton Morris threaded a pass through for Callum Brittain who nearly converted from close range for a perfect start to the game.

Perhaps surprisingly for some, Josh Benson was left on the bench despite an impressive performance against Bolton in midweek, with Callum Styles and Romal Palmer starting in the middle for the Reds.

Palmer gave an impressive performance against the Sky Blues, winning the ball back well whilst being neat with the ball. Palmer also provided the assist for Dominik Frieser’s goal with a perfectly weighted through ball. Frieser then bore down on goal, striking the ball home across the Sky Blues ‘keeper.

Palmer’s performance perhaps a statement to Schopp, to prove that he is deserving of a starting spot in this Barnsley side.

Frieser scored his first home goal for Barnsley, and indeed the first goal that fans at Oakwell had witnessed since February 2020. The Austrian took the goal well and showed intelligent movement to get himself in behind the Coventry defence.

Michal Helik was ever reliable once again, heading every ball and blocking every cross. Also impressive was Liam Kitching, to say the centre-back was playing League Two football not long ago, Kitching looked like he had played at this level for a long time. His efforts were rewarded, with Kitching winning the Man of the Match award.

One negative from the afternoon was the injury sustained by Morris, as he ended the match sat in the stands sporting a knee brace and crutches. Schopp said post-match that the striker will have a scan this week. Barnsley will hope that the injury is not too serious, with Morris playing an important part of the Reds’ play-off push after joining in January 2021. Along with the lack of fitness of new recruits Obbi Oulare and Aaran Leya Iseka, Morris’ absence no matter how long, will be felt.

A key point within the game was of course the stoppage time penalty won by Coventry in the final minutes. A defensive mix-up allowed Sky Blues substitute Jamie Allen to enter the Reds penalty area, where Allen was brought down in an attempted recovery by Jordan Williams. The referee initially did not give the penalty, but seemingly after consultation from his assistant, John Busby pointed to the spot.

Viktor Gyökeres stepped up for Coventry, but a fantastic save from Brad Collins denied the Swede and saved two points for Barnsley at the death.

This moment really encapsulated the beautiful return of fans. Despair for Barnsley supporters when the referee pointed to the spot, hope for those in Sky Blue, followed by despondence, and jubilation for three sides of Oakwell.

The result a fitting way to cap off the return of fans to Oakwell, and a great one in the context of the season. A good point earned away at Cardiff, followed by a victory at home against a solid Coventry side is a very good start for Schopp’s side.

A tough contest against Luton Town follows for the Reds, on Tuesday at Oakwell. A tough game is all but guaranteed against a consistent Hatters side. Under the stewardship of Nathan Jones, Luton are aggressive and difficult to break down.

However, Schopp will be relatively happy with his start to life in Barnsley.

An unfortunate Welcome Home party for the Terriers

16/08/2021 - Championship

By Lauren Whitehead

Huddersfield Town suffered a 5-1 defeat at the John Smiths’s Stadium against Fulham on Saturday.

The Cottagers took the lead early in the game before managing to secure another two goals in the first 45 minutes.

Town’s Matty Pearson did manage to find the back of the net later in the game but their efforts proved to fall significantly short of the mark.

The Terriers were again without key players Lee Nicholls, Harry Toffolo, Josh Ruffels, and Lewis O’Brien which placed the home side on the back foot from the get-go.

It was Huddersfield who thought they had the lead when Pearson managed to get one past Paulo Gazzaniga, however it was not to be as the assistant raised his flag.

As expected, Fulham came into the game raring to go and an over hit pass from Sorba Thomas saw Schofield try to keep the ball in play. However, his clearance was met by a sliding Aleksandar Mitrovic who slotted the ball perfectly into the net.

After half an hour, the offside flag was raised again as Mitrovic looked to claim a brace early on.

A 39th minute corner from the Cottagers saw Bobby Reid nod the ball towards Josh Onomah who managed to find the bottom corner and put them 2-0 up.

Just before the half time mark, Pearson latched onto the end of a corner from Sorba Thomas to see him claim his first Town goal on his home debut.

However, the joy was short lived as Fabio Carvalho drilled another past Schofield and reclaimed a solid lead.

The Terriers made two changes for the second half, bringing on Scott High and Fraizer Campbell to replace Alex Vallejo and Danny Ward.

This also saw Josh Koroma move to the front of the new 3-5-2 formation alongside Campbell.

The visitors had the first real chance of the second half when Harry Wilson hit the bar following an initial effort from Carvalho.

Fulham were reduced to 10 men not long after as Wilson was handed a red card for kicking Levi Colwill who had brought him down in a challenge. Colwill saw a yellow for the foul.

The Cottagers added a fourth to their scoreline when substitute Ivan Cavaleiro flicked the ball over Schofield who had left his line in an attempt to stop the winger.

Huddersfield’s Jonathan Hogg headed the ball just over the bar in the closing minutes seeing the final chance for the home side.

Added time gave Cavaleiro his brace as he bagged the fifth and final Fulham goal in the 95th minute.

Yet to find a win in the new season, the first game back at the John Smith’s was as disappointing as it could have been for the Huddersfield fans.

However, hopefully the Terriers can look back at their defeat to pinpoint exactly where they went wrong and get ready to host Preston North End on Tuesday evening.

Five-star Red Devils thrash Leeds

15/08/2021 - Premier League

By Nathan Shields

Manchester United steamrolled their North Yorkshire rivals 5-1, en route to the top spot in the league after the opening weekend of the Premier League season.

Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba were the standout performers on the day, as Fernandes scored a hat-trick and Pogba provided four assists.

Solskjaer’s men should’ve been ahead within the first 15 minutes when Greenwood’s excellent pass put Pogba through 1-on-1 with Meslier. Despite a clever stepover, his shot went agonisingly wide of the target.

David De Ge produced a smart stop after 16 minutes as Leeds started to come into the game with the reds having been on top from the first whistle.

The deadlock was broken on the half-hour mark when the home side seized onto a loose clearance by Leeds’ keeper. Pogba clipped the ball into Fernandes’ path, which Bruno struck powerfully through the legs of Meslier.

Leeds equalised three minutes into the second half when Luke Ayling rocketed the ball past a helpless De Gea.

Within three minutes, the reds were back in front when Pogba played a beautifully weighted pass to put Greenwood through for a clinical, drilled finish into the bottom right corner.

Two minutes later and it was 3-1.

Pogba again found Fernandes, who brilliantly sat down the Leeds goalkeeper and wrong-footed the defence before lashing the ball over the line, despite Ayling’s desperate attempt to hack it away. However, goalline technology signalled the whole of the ball had entered the goal before Ayling cleared it away.

Bruno ensured he took home the match-ball when he latched onto a sublime over-the-top through ball by Victor Lindelof with a stunning half-volley inside the box on the hour.

Leeds found themselves in disarray and another goal down as Fred tidily swept home a fifth after 69 minutes.

With the result beyond doubt, Ole subbed on debutant Jadon Sancho on 75 minutes to rapturous applause from the home crowd who were audibly buzzing to see their new man in action.

Next up for Manchester United is a trip to the south coast to face Southampton at St Mary’s.

Last minute Latics leave it late against Millers

15/08/2021 - League One

By Charlotte Atherton

Wigan Athletic came away with all three points on an emotional day at the DW Stadium after Will Keane headed home in injury time.

The game was tied for the majority of the match, with both sides having opportunities to take the lead, but it was Wigan who stole all three points deep in stoppage time after Will Keane headed in a well taken free-kick from Max Power.

Prior to kick-off, Latics fans had the opportunity to show their appreciation to their new owners Phoenix 2021 as chairman Talal Al Hammad was introduced onto the pitch – signalling the start of a new and exciting chapter for Wigan Athletic.

If that was not emotional enough, there was also a minute’s applause to remember supporters who would not be returning to their seat after an incredibly tough 18 months.

After a delay to kick off of 10-minutes it was the home side who came the closest to taking the lead when Charlie Wyke looked to set up Keane, but he was only able to send his shot wide of the post.

Rotherham had several chances to take the lead in the first half, the first chance coming from Mickel Miller, but his effort was deflected wide.

A confident display from Wigan goalkeeper Ben Amos ensured the Latics stayed level after Jamie Lindsay’s effort was parried over the bar.

The visitors ended the first half strongest, but Wigan could have gone ahead on the stroke of half time with some strong skill from Wyke, but he was unable to find the right angle to score.

In the second half, Wyke and Tom Naylor worked well to set up Keane who came close to putting Latics in front, but his close range header sailed wide of the post.

The Millers looked to have broken the deadlock when Dan Barlaser’s header beat Amos, but his effort fired off the woodwork and into the hands of the Wigan keeper.

A 0-0 thriller looked set to be the end result until Wigan took the lead in the last minute of injury time.

With the fans willing them on, Power’s free-kick was perfectly whipped into the box to meet the head of Keane who was able to fire home the winner and ensure the home side secured maximum points in front of their new owners and the returning Latics supporters.

Moore gets one over his old team

15/08/2021 - League One

By Jude Hall

Sheffield Wednesday defeated South Yorkshire rivals, Doncaster Rovers, to secure their first win of the season thanks to second half goals from Barry Bannan and Dennis Adeniran at a noisy Hillsborough.

Darren Moore made two changes to his XI that drew at Charlton, with Florian Kamberi and Marvin Johnson given their first starts in blue and white.

In a flat first half the only chances fell the way of the visitors with Watford loanee, Tiago Cukur skying Ethan Galbraith’s floated cross on the 30 minute mark.

Just before the break, Kyle Knoyle saw his powerful drive saved at the near post by Owls keeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell.

In the second 45, the hosts turned up the tempo with Lewis Wing and Andre Green both having efforts well-saved in the first 10 minutes of the half.

With an hour on the clock, Kamberi had his only chance of the game when Johnson’s lifted cross fell the way of the Albanian, but the Wednesday man couldn’t keep his header down.

It was to take something special to break the deadlock, and the Owls skipper obliged with a stunning left-footed strike from 25 yards to give Wednesday the lead.

With chants of ‘we’ve got Bannan’ still ringing round Hillsborough, the home side doubled their lead. Jaden Brown’s cross was pushed out by Doncaster keeper Pontus Dohlburg, straight into the path of Dennis Adeniran who’s scuffed effort clipped the post on its way in.

The visitors were given a lifeline back into the game when Sam Hutchinson was penalised for handling the ball in the Wednesday area. However, it wasn’t to be for Richie Wellens’ side as Omar Bogle fluffed his lines, hitting the post from the penalty spot.

The Derby victory gets Darren Moore’s team up and running with four points from the opening two fixtures, Wednesday’s back line yet to concede this season.

Next up for The Owls is another home game on Tuesday night against Fleetwood Town who have lost both their opening games.

Big first test for Nuno Espírito Santo on opening Premier League weekend

15/08/2021 - Premier League

By Archie Burkinshaw

Finally the Premier League is back. After a chaotic and dismal 20/21 season for Spurs, surely things can now only get better for the Lilywhites. It’s been a summer of upheaval for Tottenham, a new manager in Nuno Espírito Santo, a new managing director Fabio Paratici and some key players coming too and also leaving Hotspur way.

Along with many other Spurs fans, I was somewhat underwhelmed with the announcement of Nuno as the new Spurs manager. After being in talks with seemingly every coach in Europe, Spurs finally found their man in the ex-Wolves boss, but can anyone’s 6th choice candidate fill a fan base with confidence?

Paratici excites me far more, a workaholic with over a decade of experience running Juventus. The deals he has done so far this summer have been smart. Out with Toby Alderweireld and Erik Lamela (both been fantastic players for the club but the right time to go) and in with the exiting Spanish winger Bryan Gil and Serie A defender of the year Cristian Romero.

Of course the elephant in the room is star striker Harry Kane who has publicly stated his desire to leave for Manchester City. Chairman Daniel Levy doesn’t seem interested in selling his prize asset, and if they can keep hold of him Spurs have a chance of a successful season.

Coincidentally Spurs opening game is against the side hoping to bring Kane to their mouth-watering attack. Reigning champions Manchester City have already been active in the transfer market, bringing in Jack Grealish for a modest fee of £100 million.

I think this is a perfect time to play City, De Bruyne and Foden out injured, several players returning to pre-season late due to international tournaments during the summer and a poor Community Shield performance leaving many City fans feeling uninspired. The game may come too soon for Tottenham new boys Romero and Gil but Nuno has the rest of the squad to choose from, even Kane is in contention to play.

Both teams are bound to be a little rusty but I expect a cracking game for the neutral, Spurs have beaten City at home the two previous seasons so they should go out there with no fear and entertain the fans - something they failed to do during the Mourinho era.

Footrace makes Tottenham Hotspur the underdogs at 45 points, a draw at 30 points and Manchester city as the big favourites at 6 points. I'm going with a 2-2 draw which could score me a whopping 170 points.

Huddersfield vs Fulham pre-match preview

13/08/2021 - Championship

By Lauren Whitehead

After a long 533 days, Huddersfield Town will finally welcome fans back to the John Smith’s Stadium as they take on Fulham this Saturday.

The Terriers go into the match having earned a point in a 1-1 draw with Derby County last weekend.

The Cottagers also head into the game with a sole point, after they found only one goal in their match against Middlesbrough last Sunday.

Fulham recently saw the departure of head coach Scott Parker, but former Everton manager Marco Silva will be hoping to build on their one point from the previous game.

However, Tom Cairney is likely to not be available for the fixture as he is struggling with injury, alongside Harrison Reed, Anthony Knockaert, and former Terrier Terence Kongolo also being doubts.

The absentees will have a huge impact on Fulham’s performance and may see Silva needing to change style of play in order to find a win.

Nevertheless, the Cottagers still have a strong, influential squad and so the starting XI are sure to provide a difficult task for Town.

Having recently been without Head Coach Carlos Corberan, Lee Nicholls, Harry Toffolo, Josh Ruffels, and Lewis O’Brien due to positive Coronavirus tests, it is likely that these key players will miss out again for the second consecutive weekend.

Although, following an outstanding performance against the Rams, Sorba Thomas will likely be a vital squad member in a demanding game.

Danel Sinani is also likely to reappear in the team after he was substituted on during the last match and has been back in training this week.

New signing Tom Lees may make his debut on Saturday, having joined Town from Sheffield Wednesday, and so will be looking to impress.

Pipa is still a doubt as he continues to struggle with a groin injury, but he may be on the bench again on Saturday.

Both Rolando Aarons and Aaron Rowe have been in training but are uncertainties due to injuries also. Aarons however has made good progress and so Corberan may choose to name him on the bench.

Hopefully their performance last weekend will see Huddersfield go into the game with confidence and find a win that would be the perfect welcome home.

A Huddersfield win will earn you 35 Footrace points, whereas a draw sees just 27. Backing newly relegated Fulham will see you obtain 8 points, and so the odds are unfortunately not in their favour.

Rivalry renewed as United face Leeds, with a full crowd to see it

13/08/2021 - Premier League

By Nathan Shields

The headline news going into the game for the Reds regards the potential debut of their £73m signing, Jadon Sancho.

Speaking at his pre-game press conference on Friday, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said: "Jadon has come in and done very good this week. Maybe a little bit too early; I'll see how he is. I'd say you'll see him. He's definitely involved in the squad."

Since the announcement that an agreement had been reached to sign Raphael Varane, his formal announcement as a Manchester United player has yet to come

Solskjaer's latest update on Varane is that the deal is "not 100% done yet" and that "he won't be involved because he has not trained."

Elsewhere, Alex Telles and Marcus Rashford will miss out due to injury.

Edinson Cavani, Eric Bailly and Amad Diallo will also not feature. They are currently in quarantine ahead of being cleared to return to training.

Dean Henderson and Jesse Lingard will also be absent as both have recently tested positive for COVID-19.

There are new contracts for their manager and goalkeeper in the Leeds camp, as Marcelo Bielsa has agreed to stay until the end of the season and a new five-year deal is Illan Meslier's reward for his stellar performances last term.

The last meeting between the old rivals ended in a goalless stalemate at Elland Road. However, the last meeting at Old Trafford saw Manchester United trounce Leeds 6-2.

Ole's men will be looking to produce a similar result to get their season off to a flyer in front of a capacity home crowd for the first time since 8th March 2020.

Whilst Bielsa's side will want to kick on and improve on last season's impressive return to life back in the top flight.

Footrace players can side with the Red Devils to win, but they will only get 5 points (if they don't get the score right) for that outcome; while a draw would be 34 points and a victory for the Yorkshire side at Old Trafford is worth a whopping 50 points.




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