Stoke to face Doncaster Rovers in midweek cup clash

23/08/2021 - EFL

By Lewis Williamson, Stoke City writer

The Potters play host to Doncaster Rovers this Tuesday night at the Britannia hot off a 1-0 win over Nottingham Forest in the league on the weekend.

On the other hand, Rovers come into the cup game having only one point from four in League One after a draw against Portsmouth on Saturday.

Doncaster eeked through in the last round of the EFL Cup 4-3 on penalties against Walsall after a frustrating 0-0 draw.

In contrast, Stoke sailed past Fleetwood Town 2-1, only conceding an own goal in the last minute of added time from James Chester.

Stoke will be looking to build on last year’s run of form in the cup that saw the Potters only stopped by full-strength Spurs side, which made the final, in a 3-1 exit during the Quarter-finals.

However, it seems likely that Michael O’Neill may rest some key players ahead of Saturday’s top of the table clash with Fulham.

This could impact the starting XI with the chance for new signing Romaine Sawyers possibly being lined up after joining from West Brom on loan.

There’s also the possibility of starts for youngsters Adam Porter and Christian Norton, both having featured during the win over Fleetwood, the former getting a start and the latter coming on as a substitute.

Tom Ince may get a shoo-in ahead of a possible move from the club for more game time, and Alfie Doughty might also get another chance to impress, with the two having featured against Fleetwood.

Doncaster are unlikely to make many changes, but they will need to replace the suspended Anthony Greaves after his sending off against Walsall in the last round.

In terms of the points for playing, a Stoke win will get you 6 points, a draw will get you 30 points, and an away upset by Doncaster will see a whopping 45 points!

Blades bitten in the late show

23/08/2021 - Championship

By Owain Wyse, Sheffield United writer

Sheffield United were delivered a sucker punch as Levi Colwill scored to silence the Blades fans in the 4th minute of added time. United are still yet to win in the Championship this season although they did score their first goal on Saturday.

The Blades dominated large parts of the game ending with 70% possession, however, they couldn’t capitalise on their large amounts of the ball despite having 16 shots. They drew very few challenging saves from Terriers stopper Lee Nicholls with the best effort being a speculative overhead kick attempt from striker Oli McBurnie on the cusp of halftime.

Huddersfield took the lead with just 15 minutes remaining in the contest through forward Josh Koroma, he saw his first shot saved by Foderingham’s outstretched leg however the rebound off the Blades keeper saw the ball fall back to him and he was able to pass into the bottom corner at the second attempt.

United pushed for the equaliser and captain Sharp provided it. In the second minute of injury time he pounced on the loose bouncing ball in the area after a McGoldrick flick on and spun away from his marker before finishing with his left foot across the goalkeeper into the bottom right corner, this his 250th career goal. It lifted the roof off Bramall Lane as they were finally able to share the celebrations of a league goal at home for the first time since Sharps header against Norwich on the 7th of March 2020.

Despite the scenes of jubilation and the extremely late equaliser this wasn’t the final act of the match. Ben Davies put the ball behind for a Town corner which Sande Berge headed away. The ball was collected by Naby Sarr who passed it forwards into the feet of Harry Toffolo who turned away from Chris Basham as the United defenders stood and watched waving their arms for an offside. This left Colwill on his own in the centre of the box, Tofollo rolled the ball across and Colwill did the rest, awful, lazy defending from United and it cost them the point.

Despite the dissatisfaction sweeping through the United fanbase the manager has asked for their trust. "I can understand all the criticism of myself and the players, but I trust in my work and my processes and I'm sure we'll be at a different level soon”.

On Tuesday night the Blades turn their focus onto the Carabao Cup when they face debt-riddled Derby County at Bramall Lane.


Leeds & Everton battle to 2-2 draw in fiery affair at Elland Road

23/08/2021 - Premier League

By Ben Brown, Leeds United writer

Raphinha successfully became the first Leeds United player since Peter Lorimer to score in 3 successive games against Everton as his sublime curling finish earned his side their first point of the new season. The Brazilian was a constant thorn in Everton’s side during a game which befitted the occasion of a packed-out Elland Road in the Premier League for the first time in 17 years, with a feisty affair which could’ve easily swung either way.

After a frantic opening which saw cards dished out to both sides for ongoing scuffles, the visitors took the lead to silence the home crowd when Dominic Calvert-Lewin expertly dispatched a penalty past Illan Meslier into the bottom corner, a penalty he himself had won after Liam Cooper’s needless tug back on the England striker was spotted by VAR. Keen to appease the rapturous support back at the ground after so long away, Leeds came roaring back and equalised just before half time when a misjudgement from Michael Keane allowed Patrick Bamford to latch onto a routine forward pass, who then squared it towards the charging run of Mateusz Klich who duly obliged to plant a finish over the onrushing Jordan Pickford and blowing the roof off Elland Road in the process.

The breathless pace to the game continued into the second half when with 50 minutes played an impressive Demarai Gray twisted and turned in the Leeds area before firing a left footed shot into the bottom corner and once again swinging the pendulum in favour of the visiting toffees. The game could’ve easily slipped away from the home side in the moments after with Meslier twice denying Calvert-Lewin from adding to his tally, first smothering a stab towards goal at the near post following some slack Leeds marking and then rushing out to meet the number 9 after he ran onto an Alex Iwobi through ball.

But it was Raphinha who, not to be outdone by Gray’s classy finish, would have the final say of this frenetic contest, wrapping his left foot around a setback from Cooper before blasting the ball past Pickford and inducing another ear-splitting outburst of joy from the home crowd. Leeds had the better of it from then onwards but struggled to create anything clear cut, with the closest they came happening with the last kick of the game as Bamford tried to poke a finish in from on the deck following Jack Harrison’s mishit strike.

Overall though both sides will probably be satisfied with a point, Leeds claiming their first of the new campaign in a much improved display from last week whilst Everton remain unbeaten after the uncertainty and negativity surrounding their pre-season, a hug and walk together down the touchline between opposite numbers Marcelo Bielsa and Rafa Benitez after full time indicating an acknowledgement of the spectacle they treated both sets of supporters to. Both sides are on the road next week as Leeds travel to currently pointless Burnley whilst Everton head south to take on surprise early front runners Brighton.


Moore derby day delight for The Owls

23/08/2021 - League One

By Jude Hall, Sheffield Wednesday writer

Sheffield Wednesday made it three wins from three this weekend after seeing off Yorkshire rivals Rotherham United in a 2-0 victory. 


Darren Moore named an eyebrow-raising starting XI with 5 changes following Tuesday night’s win over Fleetwood, including Massimo Luongo in the team for the first time this season whilst Dennis Adeniran and Lee Gregory were surprisingly benched. 


In a poor first-half display by the visitors, Wednesday had their keeper to thank for not going into the break a goal down. Just moments before half-time Callum Paterson brought down Joshua Kayode inside the box to give the hosts an opportunity to take the lead from the spot. Kieran Sadlier stepped up for the Millers but was denied by a truly phenomenal penalty save from Bailey Peacock-Farrell in the Wednesday goal. 


With the pain of missing a penalty still stinging, Rotherham were dealt an even bigger blow 5 minutes after the restart when Paterson found space down the right and squared the ball across for Florian Kamberi to smash home, putting The Owls ahead in front of their 2,000 travelling fans. 


Wednesday had their goalkeeper to thank once again as Rotherham looked for an equaliser from Wes Harding’s long throw-in which found the head of Michael Smith but the Millers’ target man was denied by Peacock-Farrell from close range. 


Substitute Lee Gregory had a chance to double the lead on 68 minutes when The Owls caught their hosts with a counter-attack as Barry Bannan played the ball through for Gregory, but the striker's touch wasn’t the best and the keeper was able to narrow the angle and make the save. Following a match-winner on his home debut midweek, the forward will have been disappointed with his effort. 


However, ten minutes later Gregory did get his goal and made sure the points were headed for the Steel city. After some smart play by Luongo, Dennis Adeniran fresh from the bench struck a low shot which should have been dealt with by The Millers 'keeper but the ball squirmed underneath Viktor Johansson and Wednesday’s number 9 was on hand to poke the ball into the open goal. 


Luongo, one of the surprise selections, made his first start of 2021 and looked as though he’d never been gone. However, the man of the moment has to be Peacock-Farrell. The goalkeeper on loan from Burnley not only made a game changing penalty save but also had more touches of the football (53) than any other Wednesday player whilst also making the most successful passes (44).


Victory at the New York Stadium makes it 10 points from a possible 12 in the league so far this season for Wednesday, who are one of just two teams still yet to concede in the league this campaign. A 2-0 win also means The Owls have kept five clean sheets (in all competitions) at the start of the season for the first time in the club’s history. 


Next up for Darren Moore’s side it’s a trip to the West Coast to face 16th place Morecambe. 


Trascender a la sin trofeos

22/08/2021 - Premier League

por Juan I Giulianelli

El desafío más importante para un entrenador es hacer que sus futbolistas se conviertan en mejores jugadores de fútbol. Cuando un jugador de futbol llega a un equipo de primera división ya tiene las habilidades necesarias, pero el entrenador debe trabajar con él y con el conjunto del equipo durante la semana, para demostrarle y convencerlo de que hay formas de mejorar y explotar su talento individual.

Este es el conocimiento más importante e influyente que Marcelo Bielsa comparte con sus equipos y jugadores.

Marcelo Bielsa fue el cazatalentos que identificó a Mauricio Pochettino como una promesa futbolística y juntos obtuvieron un titulo de primera división con Newells Old Boys, uno como futbolista y otro como entrenador.

En este equipo de Newell's Old Boys había futbolistas como Pochettino (actual PSG), Eduardo Berizzo (actual selección de Paraguay), Gerardo Martino (Ex Barcelona, ​​selección argentina y actualmente en Selección México), entre otros, todos ellos no dudan al mencionar a Marcelo Bielsa como el entrenador más importante de sus carreras, pero también como el que los motivó a convertirse en entrenadores. Otros casos muy famosos son Pep Guardiola y Diego Simone, que en varias ocasiones han comentado públicamente a Marcelo Bielsa como inspiración. No muchas personas saben que Pep Guardiola pasó muchas horas con Marcelo Bielsa en Argentina antes de comenzar su carrera como entrenador. Muchos detalles de la táctica de Barcelona y Manchester City nacen en las ideas del futbol de Marcelo Bielsa.

En Argentina y en muchos países la gente lo idolatra o lo odia en partes similares especialmente por no ser un entrenador que no ha obtenido una gran cantidad de títulos.

Estos últimos suelen mencionar que sus equipos suelen perder en las rondas finales de los principales torneos, por ejemplo el Mundial de 2002 (Argentina), la Eurocopa Athletic de Bilbao y la Copa del Rey 2012, o algunos casos insólitos como Lazio donde firmó el contrato y dejo el equipo solo dos días después, o el Olympique de Marsella donde dejo el equipo tras el primer partido de la temporada.  

De hecho, la carrera de Marcelo Bielsa no tiene muchos trofeos y hay algunos casos extraños, como con la selección chilena donde Marcelo Bielsa dejó el cargo y luego ganaron dos Copas Americanas, sin embargo los chilenos reconocen a Marcelo Bielsa como el creador de ambas selecciones y el padre del fútbol chileno moderno tal y como lo conocemos hoy.

Pep Guardiola dijo que esto es insignificante. "Somos juzgados por los resultados, nuestro éxito depende de la cantidad de títulos ganados, pero el fútbol es más que trofeos, lo más importante es cómo el entrenador ha influido en el fútbol y en sus jugadores". "No he conocido a nadie, ninguno de sus exjugadores que no hable bien de él. Están agradecidos por su influencia en sus carreras".

Marcelo Bielsa no es uno más en el mundo del fútbol. Genera amor y odio. Estás de un lado o del otro, sin grises ni posiciones intermedias, pero por otro lado, futbolistas y entrenadores coinciden en la forma en que Marcelo Bielsa siente el fútbol, ​​la pasión por ese deporte y cómo comparte sus ideas con sus jugadores, hace que sus futbolistas sean mejores y genera grandes equipos que inspiran a los demás entrenadores con sus ideas.

Bielsa nos muestra que no solo los títulos son necesarios para brillar en el fútbol, ​​mirando a Guardiola, Pochettino y también a los equipos de Simone, se puede encontrar la influencia e inspiración de Marcelo Bielsa haciendo su mito cada vez mayor.

Marcelo Bielsa, un loco sin trofeos, pero con su inteligencia aplicada al fútbol


Transcending history without trophies

22/08/2021 - Premier League

By Juan I Giulianelli, Argentinian football writer 

The most important challenge for a coach is to make his players become better football players.  When a footballer reaches a Premier League team, he already has the skills needed, but the coach must work with him and as a team during the week, to show him and convince him that there are ways to improve his conditions and exploit his individual talent.

This is the most important and influent knowledge that Marcelo Bielsa shares with his teams and players.

Marcelo Bielsa was the scout who identify Mauricio Pochettino as a football promise and together they obtained the first division trophy with Newells as football player and the as coach.

On this Newell’s Old Boys team there was footballers as Pochettino (current PSG), Eduardo Berizzo(current Paraguay international team), Gerardo Martino (Ex Barcelona, Argentinean international team and currently in Mexico International Team), all of them mention Marcelo Bielsa as the most important coach of their careers, but also as the one who motivated them to become coaches. Other very famous cases are Pep Guardiola and Diego Simone, who several times mentioned Marcelo Bielsa as an inspiration. Noot many people know that Pep Guardiola spent many hours with Marcelo Bielsa in Argentina before he started his coach career. Many details of Barcelona and Manchester City tactics came from the Marcelo Bielsa ideas.

In Argentina and in many countries, people love him or don't like him based specially on the trophies results.

The last ones usually mentioned that his teams usually lose on the final rounds of main tournaments, for example the world Cup 2002 (Argentina), the Athletic de Bilbao Euro Cup and King Cup 2012, or some unusual cases as Lazio where he signed the contract and leave the team two days after that or Olympique de Marsella where he leave the team after the first match of the season.

In fact, Marcelo Bielsa’s career doesn’t has many trophies and there are some strange cases,  like with Chilean international team where Marcelo Bielsa left the team and they won two American Cups, nevertheless Chilean people recognize Marcelo Bielsa as the creator of both national teams and the father of modern Chilean football as we know it nowadays.

Pep Guardiola said this is insignificant. "We are judged by results, how successful we are depending on the number of titles won but football is more than trophies, much important of it is how the coach has influenced football and its players."

"I have not met anyone, any of his former players who does not speak well of him. They are grateful about his influence on his careers."

Marcelo Bielsa is not one more in the world of football. He generates love and hate. He is either on one side or on the other. There are not grays. There are not positions in the middle.

On the other hand, footballers and coaches agree about the way that Marcelo Bielsa feels the football, the passion for it and how he shares that passion with his players. He makes his players better and generates great teams inspiring his action’s other coaches.

Bielsa shows us that not only trophies are necessary to shine in football, looking into Guardiola, Pochettino and Simone´s teams you can find Marcelo Bielsa’sinfluence and inspiration making his myth bigger than other ones.


Michael O’Neill’s lads march on

22/08/2021 - Championship

By Lewis Williamson, Stoke City writer

The Potters have kept up their best start to a season in over a decade with a comfortable 1-0 win over Chris Hughton’s struggling Nottingham Forest on Saturday at home. The Reds started the game wracked with selection struggles due to injuries and suspensions.

Michael O’Neill shifted the starting lineup about for this weekends clash, with Mario Vrančić coming in to replace the injured Nick Powell who had picked up a thigh injury after scoring in the midweek win over Swansea. Sam Sturridge was dropped to the bench for Steven Fletcher, with the former replacing the latter in the 71st minute as a substitute.

Stoke City looked comfortable the entire game with 59% possession and preventing Forest from having a shot on target the entire 90. The goal for the Potters came after 66 minutes of attacking frustration with Reds keeper Brice Samba keeping Hughton’s boy’s hopes of a point alive, saving a Tommy Smith shot and brilliantly denying Fletcher.

The goal came in a free-flowing passing move out on the right-hand side, before passing through Mario Vrančić and out to left-wingback Josh Tymon who slotted the ball right across Brice Samba in the Forest goal into the bottom right corner. Stoke looked as though they would continue Hughton’s woes with Samba being called into action the entire game.

Stoke City manager Michael O'Neill told BBC Radio Stoke: "I was pleased with us overall. I think in the first half we were trying to do the right things. At times, we were a little bit short, we just didn't create enough for the control we had in the game.”

Nottingham Forest manager Chris Hughton told BBC Radio Nottingham: "In the first half, I thought we were good. We frustrated them, I thought we were decent on the ball, had good possession, but they're the moments where you've got to get your goals.”

Stoke look set to continue their unbeaten run of form, being one of only three teams to take 10 points from a possible 12, though next weekends opponents are similar quick starters Fulham who host the Potters at 3 pm on Saturday 28th of August. O’Neill’s lads face a midweek cup game against League One strugglers Doncaster Rovers who travel to the Britannia having only one point from their first four league games.

Nottingham Forest’s compact formation and failure to attack have left Chris Hughton struggling to find form for the Reds at the start of the season, meanwhile, the Potters continue their unbeaten run after a lesson in match control through possession by O’Neill’s side.

Latics double sinks Addicks

22/08/2021 - League One

By Charlotte Atherton, Wigan Athletic writer

Wigan Athletic travel back from the capital with all three points after a deserved victory over Charlton Athletic at The Valley.

The Latics had a handful of chances to take the lead throughout the game, but they had to wait until the 88th minute to make it count when captain Tendayi Darikwa put the visitors ahead.

With the game all but finished, James McClean slotted home for Wigan on his second debut for the club to ensure the Latics travelled back up to the North West with all three points.

The visitors should have taken the lead in the opening ten minutes of the game when Callum Lang’s well taken cross from the right met the head of Jordan Jones who could only fire the ball off the crossbar.

Jones was heavily involved in the action again for Wigan shortly after as he whipped in a beautifully placed ball into the box which met the head of Kell Watts, but his effort was expertly saved by Craig MacGillivray in the Charlton net.

On the stroke of half-time, Jones had another opportunity to help put The Latics ahead after his well taken free kick caused MacGillivray to pull off another great save to prevent Tom Naylor from heading home.

Charlton started the second half brightly and almost punished Wigan for not taking their chances when Charlie Kirk bided his time on the edge of the area, but his shot drifted just wide of the bottom right corner.

Kirk had another chance to put the home side in front soon after when he found himself in the right place at the right time to meet Jayden Stockley’s ball across the box, but his effort went wide of the post.

MacGillivray was called into action again for the hosts when a fingertip save denied Charlie Wyke who looked destined to score after a well worked cross from Max Power.

The Latics finally broke the deadlock two minutes before full time when Power’s cross from the right met the head of Darikwa who was able to beat the Charlton keeper and find the back of the net.

Wigan were rewarded for their excellent performance in the fifth minute of injury time when Stephen Humphrys curled a ball through to McClean who glided passed the Charlton defence and slotted home in front of over 700 travelling Latics supporters.


Potential debut for Varane, while Sancho is in contention as United face Saints

22/08/2021 - Premier League

By Nathan Shields, Manchester United writer

After his surprise unveiling before kick-off last Saturday, Manchester United fans will be looking forward to seeing if Raphael Varane plays any part in proceedings as the Reds travel to face Southampton.

Meanwhile, there is speculation over whether Jadon Sancho will make his full debut after a substitute appearance in United's 5-1 victory over Leeds.

Edinson Cavani is in contention to return to action after returning to training following his extended break. Amad Diallo and Eric Bailly have also returned to training after their time at the Olympics, and Jesse Lingard is fit to play again after recovering from Covid-19.

Lingard was amongst the scorers in a 3-1 win against Burnley in a behind closed doors friendly this week, with Anthony Martial and Fred scoring the other goals on the day.

However, Marcus Rashford and Alex Telles are still absent through injury.

In Friday's pre-match press conference, Solksjaer said: "With regard to team news, that's a boost as well, Edinson's joined in, Raphael's joined in, and we're getting fitter and fitter,"

"You'll see on Sunday. They've worked well. They've had minutes. We've had a very good week ourselves. We'll see who's making the flight down to Southampton on Saturday."

In the Saints camp, England international James Ward-Prowse has committed his future to the club by signing a new contract after much transfer speculation surrounding him this summer.

Ralph Hasenhuttl's side does not appear to have too many injury concerns. Notable absentees will be midfielder Will Smallbone and Sam McQueen, who has been out with a long-term injury.

This fixture last season ended 3-2 to United as an Edinson Cavani brace inspired a comeback after the Reds went 2-0 down before halftime.

However, the last meeting between the two sides saw the Reds complete a 9-0 mauling of Sunday's opposition at Old Trafford.

Ole's men will be eager to build on the momentum of their demolition of Leeds United on the opening day to continue their strong start to the campaign.

Whilst the home side will out to avenge the embarrassment of the previous game to get their first win of the season after starting with a 3-1 loss against Everton.

There are 5 points available for a Reds win, while the Saints are valued at 50 points and a draw in this fixture would get you 34 points.

Only 15 senior players available as Nuno returns to Molineux

21/08/2021 - Premier League

By Tom Parker, Wolves writer

Wolves welcome Nuno Espirito Santo’s Spurs side to Molineux in their opening home game of the season. This marks an early return for the former Wolves boss who only left the club in May.

Both sides come into this game on the back of defeats. Wolves lost their first game of the campaign away to Leicester, but the side played well and there were early signs of how dangerous they could be going forward. Spurs, on the other hand, began with a stunning 1-0 victory over champions Manchester City but faltered to a shock loss against Pacos de Ferreira in the Europa Conference League. With the home crowd back inside Molineux the momentum could turn in Wolves favour, but Spurs’ quality also has to be accounted for.

Wolves come into this game having still not signed any players over the past month and have a squad consisting of 15 senior pros. Yerson Mosquera and Willy Boly are still sidelined with hamstring injuries, meaning a back three is a very clear possibility. Raul Jimenez will be making his first competitive appearance at Molineux in nine months.

Spurs will be without Harry Kane and Tanguy Ndombele as both are still yet to have their future decided and have requested moves away from the club.

Wolves' 1-0 Premier League win in 2010 is their only home victory against Tottenham in 10 meetings in all competitions, so you can expect a tough game for the home side in this one. The lack of personnel means Wolves will likely use the 3-4-3 seen under Bruno Lage so far. Whilst similar on paper to the system used under Nuno, the higher line and intense forward pressing has made a clear difference in getting Wolves further up the pitch, not just with better intensity but also frequency.

Nuno saw his side battle out a win against City that was akin to most of his victories at Wolves, with a focus on compact defending and efficient counter-attacking. The game against Pacos showed the glaring weaknesses seen in his last campaign as Wolves manager – with the side only mustering one shot and being fairly passive in the game (albeit it was using a very rotated squad).

I expect Nuno will line up with a 3-4-3 to try and soak up the pressure of Lage’s high instensity and attacking play, and with Wolves looking suspect from their high line, a counter-attacking approach may suit them well for this contest. The pace in behind of Stevie Berwijn and Heung-min Son will cause Wolves issues and I can see most of Spurs’ good moments coming from those two.

Wolves will see their danger come from the fullbacks and wingers, which have so far been key in the way they play. Nelson Semedo is set to make a return to the side after self-isolating and his inclusion in the XI will make the world of difference. He was impressive in pre-season when getting forward and creating space with Francisco Trincao, and I believe this right-hand side will come good again. Sergio Reguilon can be exposed defensively, and against these pacy and agile wingers I think Wolves could win a number of free-kicks on that side. If they can make use of the height of Romain Saiss and Max Kilman, Wolves could see an avenue to goal through them.

The return of Raul Jimenez and the absence of Harry Kane will be a huge boost for the home side, as Jimenez is the glue that holds Wolves’ attack together with his link-up play and goal threat. Kane is the same for Spurs, and whilst Son is perfectly capable, they are a much weaker side with the England captain absent.

This will be a very tight game, Nuno will be solid in his approach and so far Wolves haven’t looked convincing in taking their chances in front of goal. Counter-attacks will play a key role in the match but I do think the systems could cancel each other out.

Score Prediction: Wolves 1-1 Spurs

That prediction is worth 60 bonus points, on top of the 21 points for a draw. If you fancy a home win then 20 points are available, while an away win is worth 15 points.




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