News

Potters looking to reverse form to keep promotion hopes alive

22/10/2021 - Championship

By Lewis Williamson, Stoke City writer

Stoke City have lost two on the bounce in the league, losing to Sheffield United 2-1 and 1-0 midweek to Bournemouth hampering their push for promotion to the Premier League.

Millwall will be a tough challenge away from home, especially as they come into the match on the back of a 2-1 win against ten-man Sheffield United in midweek as Morgan Gibbs-White was sent off in the 54th minute.

Both teams will be looking to prove pundits wrong and make a show of force in attack, but with two low scoring sides with steady defences clashing this game has draw written all over it.

Michael O’Neill has come under criticism for not playing with enough versatility in attack instead putting too much focus on a system that prioritises defence. There was good news midweek with the return of Tyrese Campbell after ten months on the sideline.

In terms of team selection, Stoke City will be without Nick Powell after he went off injured in midweek. This could see Sam Surridge given another opportunity upfront, hopefully getting on the scoresheet.

Mario Vrančić is likely to return in midfield after a positive showing off the bench against Bournemouth, replacing either Sam Clucas or Jordan Thompson. The rest of the team is unlikely to be changed.

Gary Rowett’s team will be without George Saville who picked up his fifth yellow card in midweek against Sheffield United ruling him out in midfield likely to be replaced by Maikel Kieftenbeld.

Forward Tom Bradshaw has remained goalless in five appearances so far this season and is likely to be replaced by Rowett with either Benik Afobe or Matt Smith coming into the attack.

Eleventh place Millwall are only three points behind seventh place Stoke, meaning a win could see a leapfrog in the table.

In terms of Footrace points going for either side to win will net you 18 points as the sides seem so even. A draw on the other hand will net you 20 points.

Can Derek Adam's side overcome high-flying Swindon?

22/10/2021 - League Two

By Fletcher Smith, Bradford City writer

Bradford City will be aiming to return to winning ways following their disappointing 3-1 defeat to newly-promoted Hartlepool United at the Valley Parade Stadium. The Bantams are struggling with recent form after only gather one win in the last nine.

Relegation candidates Swindon Town have impressed so far this season, they’re currently sat third on 23 points. The Robins secured a 2-1 triumph against fellow in-form team Sutton United.

Player to watch for this fixture is Swindon’s Jack Payne, the fellow Bantam will be motivated to gain one over his former club, the attacking midfielder netting 4 times so far. He’s definitely a threat for the visitors tomorrow.

The last time Bradford visited The County Ground was in January 2020, where Shay McCartan’s late spectacular free kick snatched a point for the West Yorkshire side.

The Bantam’s currently have 2 first-team candidates injured, Liam Ridehalgh and Abo Eisa are unavailable for this clash. Niall Canavan and Lee Angol are back into contention.

An away win for Bradford gives you 20 points and a home win for Swindon claims 15 points.

The Owls host Imps

22/10/2021 - League One

By Jude Hall, Sheffield Wednesday writer

Sheffield Wednesday will be looking to get back to winning ways following two disappointing draws as they face 15th placed Lincoln City on Saturday.

Darren Moore’s side lacked inspiration in their midweek point as they came back from a goal down to draw 1-1 against Cambridge United thanks to Fisayo Dele-Bashiru’s first senior goal ten minutes from time.

The weekend’s visitors also endured a frustrating Tuesday evening, falling to a 1-0 defeat to AFC Wimbledon at Sincil Bank. Last season’s League One Playoff finalists have had a rocky start to the new campaign with four wins and six losses in their first 13 matches.

However, despite their slow start Michael Appleton’s team still have the tools to hurt any side in this division, none more so than 22-year-old Anthony Scully. Used predominantly as a right winger, Scully tops the Imps scoring charts with 11 goals already this term, seven of which coming in the league. The former Republic of Ireland under 21s international raked up 11 league goals to help his side finish 5th last season and has continued his fine form also contributing three assists since the opening day.

Chris Maguire is another standout name, especially for the eyes of Wednesdayites following the forward’s three-year spell at Hillsborough where he made 79 league appearances for the Owls netting 18 times before leaving S6 in 2015. The Scotsman penned a free transfer at Sincil Bank this summer following over 100 appearances for Sunderland and will be eager to break the duck at his new club against his former employers.

For Wednesday there’s not too much change on the injury front, although both Massimo Luongo and Josh Windass are thought to be edging ever closer to a return. The latter still yet to kick a ball since Wednesday’s relegation will certainly provide a much needed boost.

It’s been a while since these two teams went head-to-head, 42 years to be exact when Wednesday bettered The Imps 3-0 in an FA Cup tie at Hillsborough. Any echoes of that result would be hugely appreciated by The Owls boss with pressure starting to mount on Darren Moore as his side fail to take their chances to win games.

The South Yorkshire club are the favourites for this fixtures with just 10 points available for a home win whilst a Lincoln victory wins 30 points. Have your say now over on the play section.

Wounded Leeds hunting for victory against Wolves

22/10/2021 - Premier League

By Ben Brown, Leeds United writer

Leeds United will be looking to put the disappointment of last weeks defeat to Southampton behind them when an in-form Wolves side come to visit Elland Road. The Whites multiple absentees were sorely missed during an incredibly lacklustre display in what boss Marcelo Bielsa admits has been one of his toughest weeks in charge of the club, and with Wolves looking to win four consecutive top-flight away games for the first time since 1980 this weekend is sure to provide another stern test of resolve for El Loco.

The hosts can at least bring one of their big guns back into the fold with new Brazil star Raphinha fit and ready to start after his electric displays on international duty. Patrick Bamford, Luke Ayling and Robin Koch all remain big misses however and Kalvin Phillips will not be back in the starting XI despite recovering from a calf problem, leading to speculation on how the midfield may be set up after a switch to a 3-4-3 failed miserably against Southampton. Adam Forshaw made his return off the substitutes bench in the closing stages of that defeat and may start to allow Bielsa to set his side up in his preferred 4-1-4-1 formation.

Wolves meanwhile are flying after their dramatic comeback win against Aston Villa and are likely to call upon talismanic forward Raul Jimenez after he was only named as a substitute in that victory due to international duty with Mexico. Francisco Trincao also returns after the completion of his Covid-19 isolation period to leave Portuguese boss Bruno Lage with a fully fit squad to choose from for this trip to Yorkshire. History is in the visitors favour for this fixture as they look to beat their hosts in six consecutive league matches, whilst facing a side who have conceded a league high eleven goals during the second half when they so far have scored 88% of their goals in the second period.

Despite the records and recent form, Leeds’ home advantage sees them offer 15 points for those who correctly predict a victory for the hosts. Back Wolves to have more away day joy however and a minimum 20 points are on offer if Lage’s boys can deliver again.

 

Rochdale await for Sutton as they look to get back to winning ways

22/10/2021 - League Two

By Finley Chung - Sutton United Writer

Sutton United will be looking to put Tuesday’s disappointment behind them when they travel to Greater Manchester on Saturday to take on Rochdale.

Robbie Stockdale’s side welcome Sutton United to the Crown Oil Arena, with the hosts sitting in 18th place in League 2 this season. Dale have won 3, drawn 3 and lost five of their games so far this season and will be hoping Jake Beesley can add to his four goals this season so far. The hosts have had a torrid time in front of goal recently however, scoring only twice in their last five league matches, with both those goals coming in the same game, a 2-2 draw at Swindon Town. Dale will be hoping those woes in front of goal will end on Saturday.

Sutton travel North, confirmed to be without Harry Beautyman, who was forced off with injury against Swindon, which was later confirmed to be a broken collarbone. This is a notable downside for Gray and his Sutton side, who have seen Beautyman slot back into the starting eleven in recent times. Others will be chomping at the bit however and will no doubt see this game as the perfect chance to impress both manager and fans to stake a claim for the vacant midfield spot.

12 Footrace points will be awarded if you feel Rochdale will get the win this weekend, adding ten to that total will see you earn 22 if you think the draw is the outcome, with a win for Sutton away from home, potentially earning you 25 points if you go for that outcome. 

 

Football TV's serious and silly shows

21/10/2021 - Europe

By Maurício Alencar, Footrace Football Expert

How you consume your football probably defines exactly what kind of football fan you are. The kind of football fan you are - a serious existential thinker who wants to understand why football’s possession game is some kind of play of human survival? A couch potato who can’t pronounce footballers’ names with more than two syllables in them? A merchandise-loving fan who will endlessly blame the referee’s positioning for a team conceding a goal? Or a casual guy who appreciates greeting his buddies at the footy?- may be indicated by the kind of football TV shows you watch. 

The range of football TV is broad. In the UK, Sky lead the way. You can watch Soccer AM, in which minor popstars and forgotten footballers get the chance to score from a volley in front of a couple morning-enthusiastic fans. You can watch The Transfer Show, in which a few young entrepreneurial-looking people discuss the ins and outs of every transfer story they actually might not know that much about. You used to be able to watch Sunday Supplement, in which prominent newspaper journalists with no experience in football but with years of education and training in research and in the humanities would theorise the weekly climate of football.  

Sky’s most popular football TV show, however, is surely Monday Night Football. The landmark pre-match TV show, which is probably more significant than the game being broadcast itself, mainly involves the two great pundits, or perhaps even voices, of our age, didn’t-learn-Spanish-in-Valencia Gary Neville and I’m-recoiling-watching-that Jamie Carragher, alongside the composed mediator that is Dave Jones. 

Monday Night Football combines the best of football- intricate analysis, exciting season reviews, banter, and a deep questioning of some of the sport’s issues. Guests such as Jurgen Klopp, Pep Guardiola, and Claudio Ranieri have given the show real zeal. Comments on human rights (as most recently with Newcastle), late-stage capitalism, racism, and more have given the show some real pedigree. It has effectively driven Neville and Carragher’s own fame as critics of football, and of other societal issues, to levels which almost certainly surpass their fame for being ex-footballers. Earlier this year, it felt as though the whole country took notice of their impassioned rants against Project Big Picture and the ESL; they somewhat became the voice-bearers for the country’s political problems in sport. A show that was probably foreshadowed by the great success of Saint and Greavsie in the late 80s and early 90s, Monday Night Football has become one of the country’s most important ways of encouraging football fans to think. 

However, beneath the shadows of Monday Night Football lies a strange show that ridiculously, bombastically, and insanely deals with some of the same matters as MNF. El Chiringuito de Jugones is Spain’s football telenovela, hosted by self-indulgent Josep Pedrerol, who cares for nothing but Real Madrid’s success. Most of the other pundits, if you can call them that, on the show support Real Madrid as well, or Barcelona. The show is hysterical, mad, consisting of death threats, anxiety attacks, and even some slapstick fighting. There is also the occassional walkout, and they make Piers Morgan’s walkout from GMB look lame. 

For all the silliness of the show, all the despairing “tic tac” mutters from Josep Pedrerol hoping to get Mbappe into Real Madrid, even for it managing to somehow be a kind of stage-enactment of all the abuse on Twitter, the late-night show has attracted a number of important guests. The most significant of them all was Florentino Perez, the president of Real Madrid, who appeared the night after the ESL was announced online. The point of joke for El Chiringuito is over. Despite its façade of high entertainment and humour, the TV show revealed its journalistic seriousness. 

Given the English football fan’s manic passion for football, and the growing distance between the Premier League and other teams in the country, it would not be a surprise to see a form of this show on our TVs one day- one which takes itself seriously though it seems to be a joke. An appetite for this kind of football TV in the UK could very much depend on whether MNF continues to withstand banality and repetition. 

Blues blow away Malmo at the Bridge

21/10/2021 - Europe

By Louis Pantziarka, Chelsea writer

Chelsea put in their most complete performance of the season at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night, coming away with a comprehensive 4-0 victory over Malmo in the Champions League.

The Blues came into the game on the back of some tepid performances, having managed to find results for most of the season without ever hitting top gear. With a favourable looking run of fixtures coming up, Thomas Tuchel clearly saw this as the perfect fixture to build some momentum.

Tuchel’s players started the game brilliantly, getting on the front foot right from the first whistle, with an aggressive and effective press. Timo Werner missed a sitter from point blank range just two minutes in – something that seems to be becoming an unfortunate signature move for the German. The chance itself was a sign of good things to come though.

Malmo were more ambitious in their own pressing game than many would have expected and that was ruthlessly exploited by Chelsea for the first goal. After some neat play out from the back Romelu Lukaku’s deflected effort forced a corner, which the Blues did well to keep alive. Thiago Silva found himself on the edge of the box and whipped a ball in for Andreas Christensen to volley home on the nine minute mark. It was the Dane’s first goal for the club, coming after 137 appearances.

Lukaku was also involved in the second goal, powerfully surging into the box after some incisive counter attacking play from Werner and Mason Mount. The Belgian was thenadjudged to have been brought down by Malmo defender Lasse Nielsen and penalty maestro Jorginho slammed the spot kick into the back of the net in a departure from his usual technique.

Lukaku was hurt in the challenge and was forced off to be replaced by Kai Havertz. Worryingly for Chelsea, Timo Werner then seemed to tweak his hamstring just before the break and was also substituted, with Tuchel confirming that they’re both likely to miss some games.

Not put off by that, Chelsea started the second half with the same intensity of the first 45. Within two minutes of the restart, they had a third. Callum Hudson-Odoi broke into space and drove forward, eventually playing in Havertz who superbly dinked the ball over the despairing keeper from a tight angle.

The Blues remained dominant and managed a fourth around the hour mark. Toni Rudiger found himself pressing the Malmo back-line, before being played in on goal by Havertz, where he was cynically brought down. The hop, skip and jump returned for Jorginho, who dispatched the second spot kick as impressively as the first.

After the fourth goal Chelsea allowed the tempo to drop, as Tuchel made a triple substitution. It was good to see Saul getting some more minutes, while N’Golo Kante, Cesar Azpilicueta and Ben Chilwell earned a well-deserved rest after an intense display.

This was a game where the performance was always going to be scrutinised as much as the result. Tuchel summed it up pretty neatly, as he spoke to BT Sport:

"We wanted three points and wanted them deserved and we got both of those.

"We played to huge intensity, we demanded this from us and we played an excellent game until it was 4-0. We are very happy."

Chelsea will feel that they’ve passed a test with an impressive showing at the Bridge, but Tuchel will want to emulate that against Norwich this weekend. Whether or not they can do that might depend on the fitness of Lukaku and Werner. Either way, Wednesday was a good night for the Blues.

Solksjaer’s side’s stunning second half sees them come back to win it late again

21/10/2021 - Europe

By Nathan Shields, Manchester United writer

Name a more compatible duo than Manchester United and European comebacks.

Yet again, the Old Trafford faithful were treated to a remarkable turnaround, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s red and white army overturned a 0-2 deficit to beat Atalanta 3-2 at the Theatre of Dreams.

The first 15 minutes didn’t offer much in the way of excitement.

Rashford was a livewire, demonstrating the advantages of playing with a fresh bill of health and not struggling on with long-term shoulder, back and ankle problems, as he pulled a shot wide through on goal in the third minute.

However, he was ruled offside anyway.

Atalanta looked dangerously comfortable for being the away side at Old Trafford, and they made United pay for letting them have so much of the ball.

The Italians sliced United open with a quarter of an hour gone. Some terrific passing exchanges ended with Davide Zappacosta crossing for Pasalic to stab into the net.

VAR checked for offside but, unfortunately for the reds and to the delight of the away end, eventually, Polish referee Szymon Marciniak confirmed the goal stood.

In response, Fred drilled a shot that keeper Juan Mussomet met with an excellent fingertip save as United took control of the game.

That control wasn’t to last, though, as Atalanta went 2-0 up after 29 minutes, with a well-whipped in corner, that the rising Demiral, who rose to outjump both United captain Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw, headed home.

Solksjaer’s side struggled to find a way back into the game before half-time, and other than Rashford’s thundering shot crashing off the crossbar, they created nothing that posed a serious threat to Atalanta’s lead.

The home team flew out of the traps to begin the second half and within two mins had a fantastic goalscoring opportunity when Ronaldo was through on goal, but Musso stood up strong and saved well.

United were relentless, and a magnificent ball from Bruno Fernandes in the 53rd minute released Rashford, who kept a cool head to calmly slot the ball into the bottom right corner and send the Stretford End barmy.

Soon after, Scott McTominay almost brought the game back even when he thumped his effort off the post in the 58th minute.

Then, Ole brought on Paul Pogba and Edinson Cavani for McTominay and Rashford.

Atalanta caught out the marauding Reds after 71 minutes, but David De Gea denied Duvan Zapata and Ruslan Malinovskyl with two world-class saves.

Up at the other end, a poorly hit corner from Fernandes found its way back to him, and his ball was pinpoint the second time around.

A searching right-wing cross was cleverly dummied by Cavani and slammed in at the near post by Maguire, causing an eruption behind the goal again.

However, there was time for one more, and Shaw’s cross was steered into the net by a trademark, gravity-defying Ronaldo header, causing pandemonium inside Old Trafford. Particularly in the area of the Stretford End known as ‘SERS’ (Stretford End Right Side).

The Red Army (TRA) occupies this area, and they did not stop singing for a minute and should receive a massive amount of credit for the result.

Their endless support for the whole 90 minutes surely galvanised the players to achieve another special comeback under the floodlights in European competition.

Spurs travel to face Vitesse with host of key players left behind

21/10/2021 - Europe

By Archie Burkinshaw, Tottenham Hotspur writer

Tottenham are on the road again in the Europa Conference League, this time to face 3rd place Vitesse, looking to remain at the top of Group G. Spurs will have to do this without any of the starting XI that lined up against Newcastle on Sunday.

It is clear Nuno is prioritising the London derby match against West Ham on Sunday and there is nothing wrong with that. In fact I applaud his bravery. When Nuno tried this at the beginning of the season against the combination of F.C. Paços de Ferreira and Manchester City, it produced a woeful performance against the former but did result in 1-0 victory against City.

Nuno has got his priorities spot on with this one, it is undoubtedly a risk because Spurs could well lose this game, with Tottenham’s reserve squad history of underperforming on the European stage. I still expect Tottenham to win this game but even if we lose, there is no way the likes of Kane, Son and Højbjerg can get injured which is far more important.

My prediction for this one is a 2-0 victory to Tottenham with Footrace offering 65 points for this result. Vitesse are the underdogs with Footrace offering 45 points if they win, 30 for a draw and 6 for a Spurs victory.

COYS!

Swindon maintain unbeaten away record as Sutton’s run halted

21/10/2021 - League Two

By Finley Chung, Sutton United Writer

Sutton United were undone by two brilliant first half goals that saw Swindon Town pick up an impressive away victory at Gander Green Lane. This result saw The Robins move into the automatic promotion places.

The game started with the visitors on the front foot, with Dean Bouzanis being called into action to deny a rasping volley from Harry McKirdy. Ben Goodliffe was straight into the action on his return to the side from injury, throwing himself Infront of an effort from Jack Payne. Sutton weren’t without chances early on too, with David Ajiboye producing one of his trademark, tricky runs before fizzing a ball into the box which was caught by Joseph Wollacott in the Swindon goal.  Former Sunderland man Jonny Williams was dictating the tempo for the visitors, always looking to make things happen and he certainly made the first goal happen, running at the Sutton defence before going down under a challenge from Harry Beautyman, the free kick was placed beautifully into the back of the net by Louis Reed which put the visitors ahead.

Tyreece Simpson was also a handful for Sutton, with his presence almost rewarding Swindon with a second soon after the opener, Ben Wyatt who had been brought in due to Rob Milsom’s injury, produced a miskick forced by Simpson, which allowed McKirdy to get onto the loose ball, but it was stabbed against the post rather than nestle in the back of the net. The net was bulging again for the visitors soon after, with Jonny Williams unleashing a fierce shot into the top corner after being found by Romoney Crichlow-Noble to double the visitors lead.

As always, Sutton had a response though and after Swindon had a penalty appeal waved away, Mathieu Baudry was adjudged to have handled the ball challenging with Omar Bugiel, Harry Beautyman assumed responsibility from the spot to open his account for the season and haul Sutton back into the contest. The first half did have yet more action, with Bugiel going close after a free kick was headed on by centre halves Louis John and Goodliffe. Isaac Olafoe then thought he had bagged the equaliser but was adjudged to have fouled his man in the build-up, before Swindon were also denied the fourth goal of the night, with the offside flag denying Harry McKirdy in the last action of a pulsating first half.

David Ajiboye was the first to go at the visitors in Sutton’s mission to level it up in the second half, he was bundled over on the edge of the box and Beautyman stepped up but planted his free kick wide of the mark. Sadly, Beautyman had his night ended prematurely, going down under a heavy challenge and was forced off clutching his shoulder with Jon Barden entering the fray in place of Beautyman.

Harry McKirdy’s continuing duel with Dean Bouzanis in the Sutton goal was continuing and the keeper had to be alert, rushing out to deny him with a superb tackle, then denying the same player with his legs before saving again from substitute Ben Gladwin. Sutton continued to huff and puff however, and they did get one final chance, with a free kick being won courtesy of another Ajobye run. From the resulting kick, Will Randall’s floated ball was met by Joe Kizzi, but his header was straight at Wollacott, which saw Sutton leave a game empty handed for the first time since losing at Exeter on September 18th.

 

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