News

Ronaldo runs the show on his return to the Theatre of Dreams

13/09/2021 - Premier League

By Nathan Shields, Manchester United writer

There was an abundance of expectation and excitement every time Ronaldo was on the ball, and he took aim on 10 minutes, though he could only find the side-netting.

Raphael Varane then headed wide from a Luke Shaw corner on 19 minutes.

Not long after, Fernandes audaciously attempted his own Beckham vs Wimbledon moment with an effort that dropped just over the bar.

United struggled to unpick Newcastle's low block, and it appeared like the game would be goalless going into halftime.

That was until the inevitable Cristiano Ronaldo opened his account on his second debut for the reds.

Freddie Woodman spilt Greenwood's shot, and Ronaldo was there to tap the ball into the back of the net from five yards, causing an eruption from the home support and plenty to rue their decision to wander off for a halftime pint before the whistle blew.

Much of the same from the reds to start the second half as they kept up their domination.

However, despite spending the majority of the game behind the ball rather than on it, Newcastle drew level on 56 minutes after a well-worked counterattack.

Ciaran Clark drove the ball out from the back from his own half before passing to Allan Saint-Maximin, who fed the ball into Javier Manquillo to drive home.

The Geordies' delight didn't last long, though, as homecoming King Ronaldo bagged again!

The unstoppable Shaw carried the ball up the pitch and slid through to the Portuguese in the area, and he was never going to miss one-on-one, thumping his shot through Woodman's legs.

David De Gea wasn't the busiest man on the day but did well to be alert on 67 minutes to make a smart save when Joelinton took aim.

Around 10 minutes later, the largely unneeded De Gea played a stunning pass from a dropkick to find Greenwood, who broke forward.

He laid it back to Pogba, who found Fernandes 25 yards out, who picked out the top left of the goal for United's third goal.

A fourth rounded off a dominant day for Solkjaer's side when Anthony Martial dummied Pogba's pass into Lingard, who turned and deftly curled his shot into the goal.

Top two for Tics as they beat Doncaster Rovers

12/09/2021 - League One

By Charlotte Atherton, Wigan Athletic writer

Wigan Athletic move into the automatic promotion places after a Will Keane double saw them overcome Doncaster Rovers at the DW Stadium.

The visitors opened the scoring on Saturday afternoon after Tommy Rowe found the back of the net 22 minutes into the match.

Wigan reacted well to going behind and just two minutes later found themselves back on level terms thanks to a powerful header from Will Keane.

Keane put the Latics ahead just after half-time as he once again found the back of the net to ensure his side secured all three points.

Wigan started the game confidently and that was there for all to see when Callum Lang fired a long range effort just over the bar in the opening stages of the match.

Doncaster had the next real chance when two ex-Wigan players looked to link up well as Kyle Knoyle rolled a ball across the box for Joe Dodoo, but he was a fraction too late to the ball.

The visitors took the lead soon after when a lapse in concentration from the Wigan defence allowed Dodoo to work an overhead kick into the box which landed perfectly for Rowe to fire home on the volley.

Wigan were not behind for long after Max Power whipped an inviting free-kick into the box for Keane to head the Latics back on level terms.

The Latics came close to taking the lead after Jack Whatmough headed a wayward corner across the goal for Kell Watts to meet, but his effort was tipped just over the bar by Pontus Dahlberg in the Doncaster net.

From the resulting corner, Tom Naylor had a chance to convert a teasing delivery from Max Power but his effort was headed just over the bar.

Watts was denied another opportunity in almost identical fashion early in the second half as Power’s free-kick met his head only to be tipped over the bar once again by Dahlberg.

Wigan took the lead in the 53rd minute as Charlie Wyke linked up well with Power whose delivery met the head of Lang and fell perfectly into the path of Keane who was able to fire Wigan in front.

Lang tried hard to bag another for Wigan with a long range shot from distance but it fell straight into the hands of Dahlberg.

In the end the two goals from Wigan was enough to secure all three points and leaves the Latics sitting pretty in second place.

 

Stoke return to winning ways at home

12/09/2021 - Championship

By Lewis Williamson, Stoke City writer

Stoke City welcomed Huddersfield Town to the Britannia this Saturday, hoping to bring their form back on track after a disappointing trip away to Fulham that saw them end their unbeaten run as the Cottagers put three past Stoke.

Huddersfield came into the game in high spirits after beating Reading at home by four, hoping the international break wouldn’t interrupt their form.

Michael O’Neill’s lads managed to rally the team around after the international break to secure the three points to keep the pressure on promotion rivals Fulham and West Bromwich Albion.

The lineup featured just two changes from the defeat to Fulham, with Joe Allen coming into the centre of the park to replace loanee Romaine Sawyers and Sam Surridge taking Steven Fletcher’s place up front.

Despite the nil each score at the halftime break, there was plenty of action in the first half between the sides with Joe Bursik being called into action for several saves. Surridge came close early on with a header off the back of a free-kick outside the 18-yard box, but the chance was too high.

The Terriers fought back with a close header at the other end that went just wide just before the half. Two minutes into the second half, the breakthrough came for the visitors as Joe Bursik stopped Sorba Thomas’ freekick with his feet and off Terriers captain Jonathan Hogg, teeing up Harry Toffolo to open the scoring,

The Potters responded within three minutes, with Jacob Brown heading home from a corner on the left side by Mario Vrančić, beating Lee Nicholls who barely moved an inch.

After another thirteen minutes, Stoke took the lead to seal the three points after Mario Vrančić hit another great ball into the box from the right-hand side off a weaving run for Matty Pearson to turn the ball into his own net, ending the Terrier’s three game-winning run.

Michael O’Neill’s side are looking to continue their promotion push with a midweek visit from Barnsley.

Sutton Earn Historic Maiden EFL Win over Stevenage

12/09/2021 - League Two

By Finley Chung, Sutton United writer

A 5-minute double from Sutton United’s Richie Bennett earned the home side their maiden EFL win over the 10 men of Stevenage. Elliott List had given the Hertfordshire side the lead, before Bennett levelled just 3 minutes after List’s opener, with the Sutton man smashing home the winner from 12 yards when Terrence Vancooten was adjudged to have handled inside the box and was dismissed for his troubles.

In their first game since the heart-breaking EFL home opener against Oldham, Sutton manager, Matt Jay gave opportunities to Richie Bennett, Tobi Sho -Silva and Alistair Smith to look to earn Sutton a historic first ever EFL win.

The opening to the encounter was tough, as the sun shone down on the VBS Community Stadium pitch both teams were trying to find their rhythm early on. Bruno Andrade of Stevenage had the first chance midway through the first half, inches away from connection to a Ben Coker cross from the by-line. Stevenage keeper, Joseph Anang then had his gloves stung for the first time in the afternoon, as Richie Bennet took aim, but the Stevenage stopper held onto the effort. Tobi Sho-Silva then had a guilt edged chance to put Sutton Infront, but his header was straight at Anang.

Just after the half-hour mark, Stevenage had probably the best chance of the half. Coker got to the by-line yet again and hung a cross up to the back post, with Luke Norris connecting to the cross, but Dean Bouzanis tipped the ball onto the crossbar to see Sutton survive the scare. Bouzanis was called into action to again deny Norris at the end of the first half.

Half Time – Sutton United 0-0 Stevenage

The second half got underway with Enzo Boldewijn and Richie Bennett beginning to feature more prominently for the hosts, with the former being denied by Anang, while the latter was denied by a last-ditch challenge from Terence Vancooten. Sutton were on top and applying the pressure onto Stevenage, but the visitors quickly turned on the style on the break. Chris Lines threaded the ball through to Elliott List who smashed the ball home to put the visitors ahead. Sutton weren’t to be behind for long however, as Joe Kizzi surged down the right and his cross was met by the head of Richie Bennett to haul the hosts back level, just three minutes after going behind.

Sutton had their tails up and when Vancooten was adjudged to have handled in the box and received his marching orders, Bennett placed the ball down on the spot and the entire ground, well at least the Sutton United fans and everyone associated, took an entire collective deep breath. Bennett remained ice cool and slotted his penalty away to send Sutton fans into raptures and completely turn the game on its head.

Stevenage were working hard as the game ticked into its final half hour to get back into the encounter, with James Reid and Jamie Daly being introduced as the Herts side faced an ever more uphill battle to get something from the encounter. It was Daly who thought he had put the visitors back level with fifteen minutes remaining, but his celebration was short lived as the linesman on the far side raised his flag.

That was to be the last action and when the referee blew his whistle, a moment of joy for Sutton United and the players, after they recorded the club's first ever, English Football League win.

Blades Take On Posh In Search Of First Championship Success

11/09/2021 - Championship

By Owain Wyse, Sheffield United writer

Sheffield United host Peterborough in a 3 o’clock kick off at Bramall Lane on Saturday. The Blades are yet to win in the league this season and are sitting second bottom with just 2 points from their first 5 games. Fellow strugglers Peterborough travel up to Sheffield just 3 places and 2 points ahead of their hosts. United will view this game as a huge opportunity to show their quality against the newly promoted side.

As for team news, mystery surrounds whether new Blades number 1, Robin Olsen, will be available for selection. During the pre-game media the Blades boss said “it’s new rules on the Covid situation and Brexit I can not give you an answer on whether I can use him in my team”; Olsen was not on the EFL squad list released by the Blades during the week so it is unlikely he will feature this weekend. However, Jokanovic’s side will receive a boost from being able to call upon the services of other summer signings Conor Hourihane and Morgan Gibbs-White to make their Blades debut as they add their quality in the middle of the park. Other selection problems include David McGoldrick who is recovering from a calf strain and both Ben Davies and Sander Berge coming back from COVID isolation.

The visitors will be without their skipper, former owl Mark Beavers, and striker Ricky Jade Jones for the trip up north both missing out through injury.

Last time out, the Blades drew with 0-0 Luton at Kenilworth Road and have lost both home games at the start of this season to Birmingham and Huddersfield respectively. Whereas the visitors conceded a crushing 94th minute header as they went down 1-0 at the hands of West Brom. The Posh have also lost their first two games on the road, so whatever the result may be one or both teams' run of form must come to an end.

My prediction is a 3-1 Blades win as they shake off the early season malaise, hopefully coming back from the international break revitalised and with fresh ideas to put in a strong performance in front of the home support.

Owls fly south for Plymouth clash

10/09/2021 - League One

By Jude Hall, Sheffield Wednesday writer

Sheffield Wednesday return to League One action this weekend as they face 14th place Plymouth Argyle at 3pm on Saturday.

Following defeat to Morecambe last time out in the league, Darren Moore will be looking for a reaction at Home Park where The Owls will don their brand new pink away strip for the first time this season.

Wednesday’s opponents have made a steady start to the league campaign, winning two of the first five matches and losing just once, with that only defeat coming on the opening day away at Rotherham United. Like The Owls, The Pilgrims saw last weekend’s game rescheduled due to international involvement so will feel refreshed ahead of Wednesday’s visit. Saturday’s hosts remain unbeaten at home so far this season after a 1-0 win over Gillingham, a 1-1 draw against Cambridge and then another 1-1 draw with Fleetwood Town in their last league fixture.

The Argyle manager, Ryan Lowe, will be excited ahead of the clash against his former club, with the Ex-Owls striker scoring eight times during Wednesday’s 2011/12 League One promotion season. The Hillsborough faithful hold pleasant memories of the Liverpudlian who has been linked with the Wednesday job on multiple occasions in the past.

Sheffield Wednesday’s loan goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell was nominated for the League One player of the month after he was voted as Wednesday’s best player for August, and the 24-year-old has been catching the eye again on international duty with Northern Ireland, saving penalties against Lithuania and Switzerland. The man on loan from Burnley has now faced four penalties this season without conceding whilst only letting in one goal since joining the Yorkshire club. Saturday will prove to be another stern test for The Owls’ defence as they face a strike duo of Luke Jephcott and Ryan Hardie who both have three goals so far this term.

Darren Moore has plenty of strike power in his own armoury following the deadline day addition of Ex-premier league forward Saido Berahino. The 28-year-old made a highly reported move to S6 just over a week ago and could be in contention for the trip down South. Another name back in the mix for Wednesday is that of Olamide Shodipo who is back in full training following his injury in the Carabao Cup first round exit. After decent outings in the Papa John’s Trophy last week both Theo Corbeanu and Sylla Sow also have a case to start making this Darren Moore’s biggest headache so far this season.

Despite the long journey, The Owls come into this one as favourites with just 15 points for correctly predicting an away win whilst should the hosts continue their fine home start there’s 20 points up for grabs. With both teams looking dangerous going forward, there may be a few goals in this one especially with Bailey Peacock-Farrell only recently returning to the Wednesday camp following Northern Ireland heroics. I’ll go with a 2-1 Wednesday win scoring 100 points should it come in. Head over to the ‘play’ section to have your own say…

Second coming of Crist-iano Ronaldo

10/09/2021 - Premier League

By Nathan Shields, Manchester United writer

At his pre-match press conference, Ole Gunnar Solksjaer has confirmed that Cristiano Ronaldo will definitely make his second debut for the club this weekend.

Ronaldo arrived at Carrington on Tuesday after being released early by Portugal due to a one-match suspension.

Jadon Sancho was the only casualty of the international break, but he has since been training with his United teammates since his withdrawal from the England squad.

Solksjaer said: "Jadon has come back in and trained the last couple of days. He's disappointed he couldn't play for England but determined to be fit, and he's available. That's a positive."

Alex Telles and Scott McTominay have been training this week as they up their fitness upon returning from their injuries.

"Alex is not 100 per cent," said Solksjaer. "He's still a few weeks [away]. Scott has recovered very quickly from the operation, so, if he's going to play or not, I'm not sure."

Dean Henderson and Phil Jones have also been trying after their respective absences.

Eric Bailly returned from his Ivory Coast to work at Carrington on Wednesday, but fellow Ivorian international Amad remains injured.

Raphael Varane is in line to make his home debut for the reds after coming back from international duty with France unscathed.

Fred's availability is up in the air after FIFA's ruling, making Brazilian players unavailable to their clubs.

This came after Brazil complained that several of their players from the Premier League did not report for international duty.

Premier League clubs didn't allow their Brazillian's to go due to Brazil being a red list country and having to quarantine upon return to England.

However, Newcastle manager and former red Steve Bruce has confirmed that Miguel Almiron will be available after Paraguay followed suit of their South American compatriots and complained to FIFA that he didn't report to their training camp.

Bruce also confirmed Callum Wilson is out with a thigh injury, while Ryan Fraser is also unavailable after picking up an injury while on international duty with Scotland.

Martin Dubravka remains sidelined, along with Jonjo Shelvey and Paul Dummett.

Meanwhile, Isaac Hayden is closing on full fitness.

Foxes host Citizens in a swift rerun of the Community Shield final

10/09/2021 - Premier League

By Tyler Khan, Leicester City writer

Leicester City host the current Premier League champions Manchester City this Saturday, in their first match back after the international break. The Foxes will be looking to make it two wins in two against City this season after Kelechi Iheanacho scored an 89th minute penalty in the Community Shield just over a month ago.

Leicester City have had an okay start to the season with two wins over Wolves & Norwich, but they also suffered a heavy 4-1 defeat to West Ham. 

Leicester sit 9th in the table and will be looking to push up a few more positions over the next few games.

Brendan Rodgers will be reminding the squad that they do have a chance of taking some points from the City game, after beating them just over a month ago - with the 5-2 victory at the Etihad last September still in their minds too.

Although Rodgers will be reminding the players of the previous encounter, he will also not be naive in thinking this game is going to be similar to the game that they played in the Community Shield. In this fixture we could see Pep Guardiola putting out one of- if not the strongest starting lineup he has available to him; compared to his weakened side in early August.

While Man City do have a strong backline, we have seen Jamie Vardy find ways to exploit it over the years - and this is why he must turn up on Saturday. Leicester won’t see much of the ball and they will have to take the little opportunities they get, so I can see Leicester opting with the strategy of looking to play in Vardy when they get a chance as this will be their best chance of scoring in this game.

It sounds as though it may be too early for Ademola Lookman to start the game this weekend, but the new signing could be on the Foxes bench as an option for Rodgers to exploit a tiring City defence with some electric pace.

Rodgers looks like he is going to stick with the newly adopted 442 formation. It could be a defence of Caglar Soyuncu, Daniel Amartey and Ricardo Pereira, with Luke Thomas also starting again on the left-hand side. Rodgers will be banking on his midfield four of Barnes, Ndidi, Tielemans & Albrighton; and expect the same system as the Norwich game, with Vardy and James Maddison starting up top.

Man City are the favourites going into this game, as they are in 99% of the games they play, however as I said before I do see Leicester potentially taking a point from this game if Rodgers can set his team out in the right way.

Footrace has Leicester available at 50 points, with my prediction of a draw worth 34, and - if you want to side with the favourites - Man City are available for 5 points.

Stoke welcome early-season promotion rival

10/09/2021 - Championship

By Lewis Williamson, Stoke City writer

Michael O’Neill’s side returns from the international break having a good track record in the league but with their most recent game being a loss against Championship leaders Fulham.

They’ll be looking to get back to their pre-Fulham form against a Huddersfield side that sits level with the Potters on points and only one ahead in goal difference.

Huddersfield, however, come into the clash on the back of a 4-0 routing of Reading and will look to continue this run. Carlos Corberán’s team will be aiming to keep pressure on the top spots as they sit only one point behind Queens Park Rangers in third.

Corberán’s side has received a boost this week with the reported returns of Aaron Rowe who will provide competition for the wide positions, and Josh Ruffels who could slot in either at left-back or midfield. Harry Toffolo has started the last two games at left-back, and Ollie Turton has featured on the right, so there will be plenty of choices to be made ahead of Saturday’s game.

Stoke have also been handed a boost with goalkeeper Adam Davies set to return after having been pulled out of the Wales international squad due to contracting coronavirus. Though Davies has only featured in the EFL Cup so far, he may return this weekend to O’Neill’s side.

The Potters are hoping to turn their form around after the poor display at Fulham, hoping to jump ahead of Huddersfield in the table with three points at the weekend. Huddersfield have won three straight Championship games since their loss to Fulham in their second match.

Stoke will need to lead from the front and keep an energised Huddersfield side that is on good form. Michael O’Neill’s side will look to continue the prolific nature of Nick Powell and Sam Surridge in front of goal, building on their form so far.

Spurs must cope without several first team players as they travel to Palace

10/09/2021 - Premier League

By Archie Burkinshaw, Tottenham Hotspur writer

The Premier League is back after what felt like an incredibly long international break, I think it felt longer than usual due to the great position Tottenham find themselves in after three games, sitting top of the table with a 100% winning start. I was eager to see Tottenham continue this great form especially with fixtures such as England v Andorra being the alternative.

Thankfully Spurs are back and are the lunchtime kick-off, travelling to Selhurst Park to play Crystal Palace, the Eagles always make it a tricky affair for Spurs and dont expect this match to be any different. Palaces last outing resulted in an entertaining 2-2 draw against in-form West Ham, no doubt this result will have given them confidence and I expect them to bring it against Spurs, defending compactly and looking to release Zaha on the counter.

It will be very interesting to see what team Nuno chooses tomorrow, Tottenham are without Giovani Lo Celso, Cristian Romero and Davinson Sanchez, following the mess of Covid-19 protocols for players in South America. Worryingly, Son Heung-min is another doubt after injuring his calf on international duty. These absentees could see Tanguy Ndombele get some minutes for the first time this season or even deadline day signing Emerson Royal coming in for a debut.

I see this being another cagey affair for Tottenham so I am going for another 1-0 win for Spurs making it four in a row in the Premier League, Footrace are offering 70 points for this result. Footrace is offering 35 points for a Palace win, 27 for a draw and 8 for the overwhelming favourites Tottenham Hotspur.

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