Brendan Rodgers

Weekend Preview and Predictions

@0riginalfooty takes a look at the four FA Cup quarter-final matches as well as the one Premier League fixture. Last time out we got nine out of ten predictions right and two correct scores. Will we do better this week?

Saturday

Bradford vs Reading (12:45)
The Bantams are entering this match as favourites given their recent cup history in both the FA Cup and the League Cup and particularly considering their home form in cup competitions. Reading may be a division above them but pundits have largely written them off, however, I’m not sure that they will roll over so easily. The Royals will be fully aware of the dangers that Bradford will pose in this tie so they shouldn’t underestimate them. In addition to this, there are question marks over whether the Bantams will be able to be motivate themselves to perform at the levels they have in previous rounds because Reading aren’t such a big name. For those reasons, I think the tie might go back to the Madjeski Stadium.
Prediction: Bradford 1-1 Reading

QPR vs Spurs (15:00)
The weekend’s only Premier League fixture features two sides facing very different battles. The R’s are back in the relegation zone following their defeat to Arsenal in midweek, whereas Spurs put themselves firmly in contention for a top-four spot with their 3-2 victory over Swansea. Mauricio Pochettino will be expecting his side to use their game in hand wisely and put real pressure on the sides above them and they should do that.
Prediction: QPR 1-2 Spurs

Aston Villa vs West Brom (17:30)
This is a very interesting cup-tie. It’s a local derby and the same fixture was played on Tuesday night where Villa came out on top 2-1 through a late Christian Benteke penalty. The atmosphere should be electric and both sets of players will be up for it, especially because a trip to Wembley awaits the winner. The Villans were the stronger side when the sides last met but Baggies’ boss Tony Pulis will get a reaction out of his players. It could go either way and neither side will want a replay but I’ll sit on the fence and say that’s what they’ll get.
Prediction: Aston Villa 1-1 West Brom

Sunday

Liverpool vs Blackburn (16:00)
Brendan Rodgers’ side are the form team of 2015 and Rovers couldn’t have picked a worse time to play them. Having said that, Liverpool must guard against complacency as Blackburn have knocked out Premier League opposition in the form of Stoke and Swansea already this competition but this is a real opportunity for The Reds to lift a trophy and it’s hard to see Rovers stopping them.
Prediction: Liverpool 3-0 Blackburn

Man United vs Arsenal (20:00)
This should be a fascinating tie. Louis van Gaal’s team are yet to convince anyone of their powers but United always seem to have a hold over The Gunners. Arsenal, meanwhile, have been in good league form but are still susceptible to conceding silly goals and gifting opportunities to the opposition. United have the firepower to capitalise on those sort of chances and I think this will end up as a high-scoring draw.
Prediction: Man United 2-2 Arsenal

Weekend Preview and Predictions

@0riginalfooty takes a look at the fixtures for the 17th round of Premier League football. Last weekend we got seven out of ten predictions right and three correct scores. Will we do better this week?

Saturday

Man City vs Crystal Palace (12:45)
City may not have been at their best last weekend but they still ground out a result and head into the Christmas period in good form. Palace picked up another point towards safety last weekend but will be second best here. This should be a comfortable win for the home team.
Prediction: Man City 3-0 Crystal Palace

Aston Villa vs Man United (15:00)
Villa may have lost last weekend but they looked in control until Kieran Richardson got sent off and they performed admirably with 10 men for 70 minutes. United have won six on the spin but haven’t played particularly well in many of those fixtures. Winning when you’re not playing well is a good sign but Christian Benteke is a different kettle of fish to most other strikers in the league and he will put a lot of pressure on United’s weak backline. Having said that, United’s strikers are starting to find the back of the net and should be able to outscore Villa.
Prediction: Aston Villa 2-3 Man United

Hull vs Swansea (15:00)
Hull are in terrible form and are showing few signs of turning it around. Swansea saw Spurs leapfrog them last season and now sit in ninth, which is roughly where I’d expect them to finish this season. Hull desperately need to win their home games but Swansea should have too much for them.
Prediction: Hull 1-2 Swansea

QPR vs West Brom (15:00)
QPR suffered yet another away loss to Everton last weekend but teams really struggle to go to Loftus Road and get a result. West Brom recorded victory over their local rivals last weekend but were by no means convincing given that they had a man advantage for the majority of the game. QPR’s home form is what will keep them up this season and they should drag West Brom back into trouble here.
Prediction: QPR 2-0 West Brom

Southampton vs Everton (15:00)
Southampton have now lost five in a row and are suffering a small crisis. The loss to Burnley was really disappointing for Ronald Koeman’s team and their squad is being stretched very thin during the Christmas period. Everton, meanwhile, look like they’re about to kick on and then suffer a surprising result – they are really lacking consistency. A draw looks probable here.
Prediction: Southampton 1-1 Everton

Spurs vs Burnley (15:00)
Spurs have suddenly began a climb towards the top-four and are only two points behind their main rivals Arsenal who face fellow rivals Liverpool later in the weekend. Burnley earned a magical win over Southampton and pulled themselves out of the relegation zone. Away from home they look more vunerable, however, and Spurs should take advantage of one of their main rivals dropping points and win here.
Prediction: Spurs 3-1 Burnley

West Ham vs Leicester (15:00)
West Ham are proving to be the surprise package of the season but there appears to have been some unrest in the camp this week over their wage structure. Sam Allardyce was rightly furious at certain members of his squad demanding a pay rise when they are yet to achieve anything this season. Leicester, meanwhile, are now five points away from Burnley who are just above the relegation zone and I’ll be surprised, if they don’t win before the New Year, if Nigel Pearson keeps his job. This should be a comfortable victory for The Hammers.
Prediction: West Ham 2-0 Leicester

Sunday
Newcastle vs Sunderland (13:30)
This derby matchup should provide entertaining viewing and Newcastle’s goalkeeping woes aren’t helping them. They suffered a heavy defeat to Spurs and were knocked out of the Capital One Cup but their league form is still stronger than their rivals. Sunderland drew yet again last week but the fans will want a victory here, which may leave spaces for Newcastle to exploit.
Prediction: Newcastle 3-1 Sunderland

Liverpool vs Arsenal (16:00)
This is a vitally important match for both these clubs. Arsenal need to keep pressure on Manchester United and keep distance between themselves and Liverpool while Liverpool desperately need to close the gap on their top-four rivals. Arsenal are certainly in better form following their 4-1 victory over Newcastle and pressure is really mounting on Brendan Rodgers. While Liverpool are in the bottom half, they are still only five points behind The Gunners and this is a great opportunity to really close that gap. Having said that, Arsenal will see it as a chance to put Liverpool’s top-four challenge to rest and I think they’ll have too much for The Reds.
Prediction: Liverpool 1-2 Arsenal

Monday
 
Stoke vs Chelsea (20:00)
This is a game Man City will be looking at and hoping that Chelsea will slip up. Stoke are known for being solid at home but have been less consistent there this season. Chelsea are still viewed as favourites for the title and won’t give Manuel Pellegrini an early Christmas present by losing here.
Prediction: Stoke 1-2  Chelsea

Weekend Preview and Predictions

@0riginalfooty takes a look at the fixtures for the 16th round of Premier League football. Last weekend we got four out of ten predictions right and one correct score. Will we do better this week?

Saturday

Burnley vs Southampton (15:00)
Burnley may be in the relegation zone at the moment but in the last few weeks they’ve given their fans great encouragement through their gritty performances. The loss to QPR away may have dampened the mood around Turf Moor slightly but their results at home are what can keep them in the league this season. Southampton are on a three-match run of defeats but they have played strong sides and were a little unfortunate to lose on Monday against Man United. Burnley’s need to get points at home combined with Southampton’s desire to end a losing run may lead to this one ending as a draw.
Prediction: Burnley 1-1 Southampton

Chelsea vs Hull (15:00)
Chelsea may have suffered their first loss of the season last week but they have been gifted the best possible fixture to bounce back. Hull have endured a miserable run of late and have not won since October. They have slipped into the relegation zone and need to stop the rot quickly but they won’t do it at Stamford Bridge.
Prediction: Chelsea 4-0 Hull

Crystal Palace vs Stoke (15:00)
Both these teams are capable of good performances and results and yet they have disappointed their fans on many occasions this season. Palace have outplayed both Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur in their last two matches but have only come away with one point while Stoke blew Arsenal away in the first half but have disappointed in some of the fixtures that you would expect them to do better in. This game could go either way but Stoke will fancy their chances of returning from Selhurst Park with a point.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 1-1 Stoke

Leicester vs Man City (15:00)
Leicester’s miserable run of form went from bad to worse by losing to relegation rivals Aston Villa and they are now four points away from QPR who lie just above the drop zone. Kasper Schmeichel’s injury is another body blow to their survival hopes as he has been their most consistent performer this season. City, meanwhile, are starting to look like genuine title contenders and have narrowed the gap at the top of the table to just three points. It’s hard to make a case for anything other than a victory for Manuel Pellegrini’s men.
Prediction: Leicester 0-3 Man City

Sunderland vs West Ham (15:00)
Sunderland have won fewer games (two) than any other team in the division apart from the sides in the relegation zone and are proving to be the draw specialists in the league. West Ham are flying high in fourth but need to be careful not to get carried away and complacent. Sunderland know how to grind out a result and The Hammers may have to settle for a point.
Prediction: Sunderland 1-1 West Ham

West Brom vs Aston Villa (15:00)
The Baggies are slowly sliding down the table and are five points behind their Midlands rivals before the derby. Villa have climbed up the table with back-to-back victories and could welcome both Fabian Delph and Ron Vlaar back this weekend. Both of the fixtures between these teams were brilliant spectacles last season and a high-scoring and hotly contested derby should be on the cards again.
Prediction: West Brom 2-2 Aston Villa

Arsenal vs Newcastle (17:30)
The Gunners were very poor in the first half against Stoke last weekend and need to improve defensively. It is hard to predict against Newcastle at the moment given their excellent form and they deserve great credit for being the first team to beat Jose Mourinho’s men this season. Having said that, Arsenal earned qualification for the Champions League this week with another good win and Aaron Ramsey looks as if he could return to his best form over the crucial Christmas period. It will be tight but Arsenal should just edge it.
Prediction: Arsenal 2-1 Newcastle

Sunday

Man United vs Liverpool (13:30)
United played very poorly but managed to win against Southampton on Monday night – a trait that has been missing around Old Trafford since Sir Alex Ferguson left the club. Liverpool’s season took another turn for the worse after their Champions League exit and other teams in the division have worked Brendan Rodgers’ team out. United are in much better form than their bitter rivals and they will see this as a good chance to add further distance between themselves and their top-four rivals.
Prediction: Man United 2-1 Liverpool

Swansea vs Spurs (16:00)
Swansea had their first really poor game of the season last weekend but Garry Monk can generally be delighted with his team this season. Spurs are still yet to get going this season and Pochettino has not been as much of a success as they would have liked. Spurs also lost out on top spot in their Europa League group with defeat against Besiktas on Thursday night. A draw seems a likely result.
Prediction: Swansea 1-1 Spurs

Monday

Everton vs QPR
Everton are another team that have been sussed out this season and their defence has not been as resolute as in previous seasons. QPR have started to look solid at home but have been very poor on their travels this campaign. Everton are in need of a win to boost them up the table and they should get it here.
Prediction: Everton 3-1 QPR

 

 

A First Time Footballer

This week our First Time Footballer reveals the results of the stadium quiz and takes a look at the tragic death of Albert Ebosse.

The results are in…
1. Who plays at Upton Park? West Ham
2. Crystal Palace play at which ground? –
3. The club that Alan Pardew manages play in which stadium? St James’ Park
4. The KC stadium is the home of which club? Hull
5. QPR play where? Loftus Road
6. White Hart Lane is the home of…? Tottenham
7. Brendan Rodgers’ team play where? Anfield
8. Leicester City play at which ground? King Power Stadium
9. Burnley play their home matches at…? Turf Moor
10. The Stadium Of Light is the home of? Sunderland

I make that an impressive 9/10 – an improvement on my last football knowledge quiz! A few of the stadiums have particularly memorable names, which made it quite easy to memorise them ‘KING POWER STADIUM’ and ‘STADIUM OF LIGHT’ sound especially grand and I would quite like to learn the stories behind the naming of these football homes.

Albert Ebosse. Not a name I’ve ever come across in football until two days ago. The Cameroonian, playing for Algerian team JS Kabylie, was last season’s top goal scorer in the Algerian league with 17 goals. He was only 24 years old and showed great promise as a footballer.

Albert Ebosse was tragically killed by fans throwing rocks

Albert Ebosse was tragically killed by fans throwing rocks

He died as a result of an object, thought be a rock or piece of concrete, that was thrown on to the pitch and hit his head. After Ebosse and his team lost 2-1 at home (Ebosse having scored his team’s only goal), angry and disappointed fans took to hurling objects onto the pitch. I have no doubt that whoever is responsible had no intention of killing anyone, let alone a star player, but how you can throw concrete slabs into a group of people and expect a happy ending? This certainly isn’t the first incident of angry fans acting unacceptably, but it is most definitely one of the saddest that I’ve come across.

I appreciate that fans may feel irritated and disheartened by a loss – but go and have a couple of drinks, punch a wall (gently) or shout about it (into a pillow)… There is no excuse for what the footballing world has seen this week.

A First Time Footballer

Last week, A First Time Footballer took on the challenge of trying to learn the managers of the Premier League teams. Having only known 3 prior to the test, I wasn’t feeling particularly confident. The results are in…

1. Who is Harry Redknapp the manager of? QPR
2. Who is Everton’s manager? Roberto Martinez
3. The manager of Leicester is…? Nigel Pearson
4. Man Utd have recently employed…? Louis van gaal
5. Liverpool are managed by…? Brendan Rodgers
6. Tony Pulis manages which club? Crystal Palace
7. Garry Monk is the manager of which team? Swansea
8. Who is the boss of West Ham United? Pass
9. Who manages West Bromwich Albion? Alan someone?
10. Alan Pardew manages which side? Newcastle

8/10

I am actually quite pleased with my 80%. By no means did I spend the past week or so studying the managers religiously. In fact, I’ve been on holiday and Premier League revision has been far from my mind. However, I did try and come up with some random yet memorable ways of getting the names to stick in my head (e.g. Surely the Queen and red-headed Harry don’t take knapps in the park = QPR Harry Redknapp) and I think it turned out pretty well. I’ve still got a little bit of work to do, but it’s all about baby steps when you are trying to tackle something as varied and ever-changing as football.

Whilst I was on holiday, I visited some family friends who live in LA. The son of the family is soccer mad and often stays up until the early hours of the morning to follow English football, particularly to support his beloved Manchester City. He plays for a team called ‘Santa Monica United’ and apparently it is quite a costly hobby.

A large reason for the high membership price is that a lot of very poor children want to play football for a team. In many cases they don’t speak English, can’t afford football boots and couldn’t dream of being able to pay for membership at a club. However, they play phenomenal football and are blessed with raw skill and talent. So, the families that can afford to pay their membership, cover the costs for the children that can’t. The system works because it benefits everybody involved – the kids desperate to train can do so, the families that are paying extra don’t mind because their team becomes stronger and improving the side is the main goal.

I don’t really know if this is what happens in all clubs or not, but I was really impressed with the idea. It just goes to show that despite the many criticisms of football and the money involved in the industry, it does bring together people from an array of upbringings and backgrounds because of their shared love of the game. Actually, football is pretty great.

A First Time Footballer

As the Original Footy know-it-alls near the end of their Premier League previews, I still feel completely and utterly lost. I have been reading the posts, but there is mountains upon mountains of information about the teams involved – names I can’t spell or even begin to pronounce, movements of players from foreign and exciting lands, absurd sums of money in the fight for the best footballers – all of which I find baffling. For those of you who, like me, want to learn a bit more about the game but can’t hope to retain all the information in the Original Footy previews, the key is to go at it in bite-size chunks. So, we will begin today with the managers of the Premier League teams. I’m going to ask one of the guys at @0riginalFooty to test me on this at some point next week, so it’s time to start learning!
Arsenal – Arsene Wenger
Aston Villa – Paul Lambert
Burnley – Sean Dyche
Chelsea – Jose Mourinho
Crystal Palace – Tony Pulis
Everton – Roberto Martinez
Hull – Steve Bruce
Leicester – Nigel Pearson
Liverpool – Brendan Rodgers
Manchester City – Manuel Pellegrini
Manchester United – Louis van Gaal
Newcastle – Alan Pardew
QPR – Harry Redknapp
Southampton – Ronald Koeman
Stoke – Mark Hughes
Sunderland – Gus Poyet
Swansea – Garry Monk
Tottenham – Mauricio Pochettino
West Brom – Alan Irvine
West Ham – Sam Allardyce

At present I would say that I know 3 of these for sure. A measly 3 managers. Arsene Wenger is one of them and is an easy one to remember because his name is so similar to the name of his team. I actually know Paul Lambert and Aston Villa, but only because a good friend of mine speaks of very little else other than his favourite team. Finally, Manuel Pellegrini is where my knowledge of Premier League managers ends. I was on a flight back from Malaga last summer and he happened to be on the same plane as me. When collecting our luggage, he was stood with all the “normal” people and I noticed lots of passengers going up to him and asking for his autograph. Needless to say, I had no idea who he was so I sneaked a photo of him and sent it to a few of my football-savvy friends who confirmed that it was Manchester City’s new manager. So, I currently stand at a meagre 3 out of 20. I have a lot of work to do. Look out for A First Time Footballer’s post next week to find out how well (or not as the case may be) I fare in my Football Manager test…