When Carlos Carvalhal was swamped in celebration by his staff, while Sam Clucas lay down on the turf in exhausted disbelief, Swansea had just confirmed another special result, as Clucas’ second goal of the game put the South Welsh side 3-1 up at home to Arsenal, with less than 10 minutes.

That the win lifted them temporarily out of the drop zone and undoubtedly off the foot of the table was one thing, that it was achieved against the Gunners was another, and that it was their first back-to-back league success of the season, after seeing off Liverpool eight days earlier, was something else as well.

‘It’s all about winning’, said Swans defender Mike van der Hoorn. ‘If you are winning then life is happier. I was talking to the boys when we were having lunch at Fairwood about how life is so much easier when we win’. ‘It changes you as a person’, the Dutchman added, ‘the belief is there and now we need to keep up this form.

The belief certainly looks there under Carvalhal, under the swamp of haplessness that was present in the closing stages of Paul Clement’s tenure. Not just that Swansea had beaten Arsenal, but that Swansea outplayed Arsenal, going toe-to-toe with them, looking them in eye until the Gunners blinked; they had more shots, and more corners, than their more-illustrious opponents. The Jacks had beaten Liverpool at the Liberty stadium on the previous Matchday, and here they began well, Jordan Ayew seeing his shot deflect wide, Alfie Mawson coming close on two occasions, while a superb tackle from Arsenal’s Mohammed Elneny denied Clucas an opening. It would be the Gunners who would take the lead though, as an excellent piece of foresight, as well as pass from Mesut Ozil found Nacho Monreal, who, prior to this season had one league Arsenal goal to his name (at the Liberty Stadium in 2013), but was celebrating his fourth of this campaign.

That seemed to be the beginning of the end for Swansea, under Clement, it probably would have been without question. But Carvalhal’s first win as manager was a comeback victory at Watford, and his side demonstrated their new found resolve when Mawson played in Clucas, who slotted home the equaliser barely 100 seconds after Arsenal struck.

The Swans have been showing enough grit and effort to earn a fair bit of luck this season, and judging by the game at home to Liverpool, when Roberto Firmino directed a free header onto the bar, unmarked, in the 93rd minute, they were getting it. But that would be nothing compared to what occurred midway through the second half in this game. From quick Arsenal throw-in Monreal shuffled the ball to Shkodran Mustafi, whose ill-advised back pass put goalkeeper Petr Cech under pressure, and the latter’s miscued clearance fell straight to Ayew, who required just one touch to accept the gift, and put the hosts in front.

The stadium was in full bounce, and with 19 minutes left, watched as Nathan Dyer’s shot grazed the outside of the post, as Swansea sought a third. But they would get it late on, a not-so convincing moment from Monreal resulted in Ayew making his way into the box with the ball, and his deflected cross would be turned home by Clucas. Cue delirium at the Liberty, from the fans, goal scorer, and dugout as well, Swansea had scored seven league goals at home this season before that night, then they got three in 84 minutes. The belief is rising, as are the performances on the pitch.

‘If we can continue to play at the level we have in the last two league games’ said van der Hoorn, ‘and the fans can keep it up too, then it will make for a very interesting finish to the season’. If Swansea keep this up, it might just make for another seemingly unfathomable escape this season.

Cherries in Dreamland at the Bridge

Olivier Giroud made his way into a seat at Stamford Bridge, the Frenchman had signed for Chelsea, less than a day after playing a part in Arsenal’s loss at Swansea, but what he proceeded to watch would be nothing short of jaw-dropping. For the first 45 minutes, Chelsea toiled and probed as they sought a way through, but none was forthcoming, and barely two minutes into the second period had been played when they fell behind, Callum Wilson in an exchange with Jordon Ibe, before finishing under Thibaut Courtois. One became two soon after, Junior Stanislas the next to find himself in behind the Blues defence, and his finish also went under Courtois, albeit the Belgian ‘keeper got something on the effort. Stanislas would turn provider for the third, his shot having been turned in by former Chelsea defender Nathan Ake, who didn’t hold back in celebrating. There was no celebration from Antonio Conte, though, his side have dropped to fourth place on goal difference, and are only two points away from fifth-placed Spurs. Conte says he doesn’t feel pressure, but recognises the fight on Chelsea’s hands to make the Champions League next season. Also known as pressure

Spurs Catch United Napping

‘I don’t think it’s very normal to concede a goal like we did’, said Jose Mourinho, as he watched his side concede to Spurs’ Christian Eriksen after just 11 seconds played at Wembley. ‘Ridiculous’ he described it, and United, perhaps stunned by such a start, never really got going, and before the half hour mark, they would concede again, Phil Jones slamming Kieran Trippier’s cross into his own net. The scoreline barely flattered Spurs, who will know they should have added more, Mauricio Pochettino’s side are two points off third place. As for Manchester United, the gap to City increases to 15 again.


  • Huddersfield are well and truly on the side, as the Terriers have slipped to 17th place after yet another defeat, this time at home to Liverpool. A well-taken strike from Emre Can, and another wonderful display from forward Roberto Firmino were the highlights, as the Reds bag a first win since beating Manchester City almost three weeks earlier, and climb to third. Huddersfield might wonder if things would have gone differently had Laurent Depoitre’s shot not been away by Loris Karius when it was still goalless.
  • Debut: Theo Walcott bags an assist as Everton salvage a point at home to West Brom. Second game: Theo Walcott’s double gives Everton three priceless points at home to Leicester, the English winger’s brace was responsible for Everton getting their first win of the New Year, against the Foxes, whose pre-match was covered in speculation about Riyad Mahrez, the Algerian absent for the game, but doesn’t leave the club in the end.
  • Oh, and it was transfer deadline day last night, Giroud’s move to Chelsea part of a three-way roll that saw Michy Batshuayi leave for Dortmund, whom had initially sold Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Arsenal, although the transfer crescendo had to share the limelight with some actual football (how horrible!).


Swansea 3-1 Arsenal

Tottenham 2-0 Manchester United

Stoke 0-0 Watford

Southampton 1-1 Brighton

Newcastle 1-1 Burnley

Manchester City 3-0 West Brom

Chelsea 0-3 Bournemouth

West Ham 1-1 Crystal Palace

Huddersfield 0-3 Liverpool

Everton 2-1 Leicester

Published in International Watch

The FA has given Arsenal manager three-match touchline ban after he conceded to the improper charge against him by the English football governing council.

The 68-year-old French man was also fined £40,000 after he admitted that his languages against Mike Dean in last Sunday draw against West Brom were offensive.

Wenger was furious that West Brom were awarded a late penalty from which they equalized and according to reports the Arsenal manager was said to use swearing words at Dean.

He faced a charge for his actions after the game but he was unrepentant and made some damning statement about officiating in England.

Wenger after his side lost 3-1 to Man City earlier in the season said the level of officiating in the English League was depleting.

At his press conference today, the former AS Monaco manager said he was shocked that he got charged and said nothing would change his stance on the assessment of the referees.

Wenger said: First of all, yes I’ve been asked. I maintain what I said in the press conference.”

 “100 per cent. I have nothing to change in that. Nothing has changed.

 “I’ve been in England for 21 years and I’ve tried to serve this game with honesty, integrity and when I have something to say, I say it. On that front, nothing will change. Never.”

Wenger, who also served four-match ban last January for pushing Anthony Taylor, will sit out his side’s FA Cup 3rd round encounter against Nottingham Forest this Sunday, League cup semi-final meetings with Chelsea at the Emirate and a league match meeting with Bournemouth at the Dean Court stadium on the 14th of this month.

Published in International Watch

Well apparently nothing signifies the holidays than Premier League pandemonium, as four days after Arsenal and Liverpool acted out their own chaotic drama, Bournemouth and West Ham followed suit with a similar equally-shared six-goal..err, thriller?

‘We entertained everybody this Boxing Day and I hope people enjoyed the match, but I would have enjoyed it more if we had won’, said Marko Arnautovic afterwards, summing things up rather accurately for both sides, a game which, for all its entertainment and drama, leaves both sides still lodged in the bottom four, separated by a point. Rather similar to the Arsenal v Liverpool game.

And like the game at the Emirates on Friday, the displays at the back weren’t one to be proud of. It took only seven minutes for the goals to start flowing, veteran West Ham defender James Collins dashing unmarked at the near post to head home Aaron Cresswell’s cross. But on the half hour mark Bournemouth would level things up, Ryan Fraser floating a free kick into the West Ham box, which caused a fair bit of scrambling. The ricochet eventually fell to Dan Gosling, whose left foot shot found its way into the net. Again, Arsenal and Liverpool semblances: the first half only told a bit of the story, although Bournemouth’s Simon Francis would consider himself rather lucky to have only seen yellow after his studs met with Cheikhou Kouyate’s face.

The second period was mostly the hosts’, but although they would take the lead through Nathan Ake 12 minutes after the break, they didn’t quite make the most of their superiority, as Eddie Howe admitted, even Arnautovic acknowledged that the Cherries ‘attacked more’. Still, West Ham looked unlikely to find a way through, David Moyes afterwards saying that ‘there were periods in the game I didn’t think we were getting back in it’. But a giant helping hand would come the Hammers’ way, well a helping foot, as Bournemouth goalkeeper Asmir Begovic slipped, allowing Arnautovic to draw the game back level. ‘That moment changes the feeling of the game, psychologically it hurt as we were looking comfortable at that time’, said Howe. And Arnautovic would be at it again as the game ticked towards the end, another moment Begovic would want to forget, failing to hold Javier Hernandez’s effort, and his former Stoke teammate pounced. Suddenly Bournemouth, from comfort zone, were in big trouble, while West Ham were on the verge of a priceless win. ‘It was zero points, then three points’ Arnautovic added.

But as Arnautovic also said, ‘then one point’, as in rather controversial circumstances parity would be restored. From a lumped ball forward, Ake headed on, and Callum Wilson added the final touch to make it 3-3, only to see the linesman flag go up. After some consultation with the referee, however, the goal was given, despite Wilson seemingly offside, and having used his arm to guide the ball in. ‘I didn’t think it would be given with the length of conversation between the officials’ said Howe. ‘It looks like we might have got away with one there.’ David Moyes, on the other hand, was expectedly not pleased. ‘I don’t know why he wouldn’t go with his linesman’s decision’ said the Scot. ‘He puts his flag up obviously because he believes there’s an offside. The worst part is that it’s a Bournemouth player who puts the ball in the net with the top of his arm. It should have been stopped for that.’

‘The three points were taken from us’ was the view of Arnautovic, although he and his manager agreed that the result was a fair one, Moyes admitting that the game could have gone either way.

But in the end it went neither way. It’s still as-you-were down at the bottom.


Two points dropped- again

There was no childish displays and decision-making from Manchester United’s players here, but Jose Mourinho would no doubt have been utterly displeased with the way his side defended in the third minute, as Ashley Barnes was on hand to put Burnley in front. The Clarets had won three previous Boxing Day meetings between these two, and looked on their way to a fourth when Steven Defour’s delightful free kick was too much for even David de Gea, and United trudged into the break two behind. Jose rang the changes at the break, and one of the substitutes was to come to the rescue, as Jesse Lingard scored both early and late in the second period to salvage a point for the Red Devils, he has five goals in five games. Problem is, for the second game in four days, it’s another two points dropped for United. Should Manchester City win at Newcastle, the gap would be 15 points.


  • It was some much-needed respite for Watford, as they halted their run of four straight defeats by coming from behind to beat Leicester at Vicarage Road, taking them within two points of the Foxes. More importantly it has them looking over their shoulder a little less.
  • For the sixth time in the league this season, Cesar Azpilicueta’s cross finds the bonce of Alvaro Morata and hits the back of the net, Brighton the latest recipient of that formula. Three league wins in four for the Blues, they’re only a point away from second place.
  • It was a welcome return to the goals for Dele Alli, as Spurs ran out 5-2 winners against Southampton. The Saints are only two points from the drop zone, and go to Old Trafford next, Mauricio Pellegrino is definitely not in the most comfortable of situations. This game, though, was about one man. It seemed inevitable, and Harry Kane set his own record of Premier League goals in a calendar year (39), as well the most goals in Europe in 2017 (56), not even Lionel Messi can boast that for this year.


Manchester United 2-2 Burnley

West Brom 0-0 Everton

Huddersfield 1-1 Stoke

Liverpool 5-0 Swansea

Bournemouth 3-3 West Ham

Watford 2-1 Leicester

Chelsea 2-0 Brighton

Tottenham 5-2 Southampton

Wednesday: Newcastle v Manchester City

Thursday: Crystal Palace v Arsenal

Published in International Watch

The old cliché: The worst is over. It hasn’t been the best past few weeks to cherish if you’re connected with Bournemouth, after that seemingly morale-boosting win over Huddersfield in mid-November, the Cherries haven’t won in seven league games and have slipped into the drop zone.

The past few games haven’t been the best, their last three league encounters have been against Manchester United, Liverpool and Manchester City, with defeats in all, by an aggregate score of 9-0, and in the midst of that run they’ve also been knocked out of the League Cup by Chelsea, completing a quadruple of torrid fixtures, which Eddie Howe will be glad to see the back of.

‘What a run of fixtures we’ve had, but we’re through that now’, says the manager. ‘Playing four top sides consecutively is tough, but we have to focus on the games we have coming up.’ Bournemouth would have considered themselves unlucky to have met in particular Liverpool and Man City in the form they were in, Howe saying after the Liverpool defeat he hopes he doesn’t face them anytime soon. They may be through with that hellish run, but there are still problems in the side, not least in terms of injuries.

When Junior Stanislas limped off in the defeat at the Etihad on Saturday, he became the eighth Bournemouth player currently side-lined with injury, a worrying number for Howe, and rightly so. ‘With the tough runs we had, we couldn’t rotate as much as we’d have liked over this period’ Howe said, and on evidence of the Man City game, the lack of rotation might take its toll, as the Cherries leg were visibly tiring as the game drew to a close, and there hasn’t been the most sufficient of rests.

Upcoming opponents West Ham may have just about turned a corner in the past few weeks, but they slumped to 17th place following their loss at home to Newcastle, one point and one place above Bournemouth. ‘The games are coming thick and fast now and we need to go to Bournemouth and make sure we pick up some points’, says Hammers defender Winston Reid, the Kiwi defender calling on his teammates to avoid the kind of errors they made on Saturday.

This has all the makings of a six-pointer. On Boxing Day, one of these sides might just unwrap a much-needed gift.


  • Alan Pardew says he was impressed by the support of the fans even in defeat at Stoke, but he would know the fans can only be positively vocal for so long, their home game against Everton looks like a must-win. Problem is, no side has won against Everton since late November. The Toffees are still unbeaten under Big Sam, and can move up to eighth with a win here.
  • After their impressive start, Watford’s form has slipped in the past few weeks, four defeats in a row and no wins in six. They’re still in the top 10 though, and win here would not only arrest the slide, but take them within two points of opponents Leicester.
  • After that heavy defeat at home to Spurs, travelling to Old Trafford probably isn’t the most immediate game Burnley fans would have wanted. Then again, they did hold Manchester United to a draw there last season, and have already taken points at Chelsea, Liverpool, and even Spurs this term. The hosts need a win to stop their stuttering run becoming a cause of concern.
  • Stoke’s win against West Brom was largely welcome, as it carried them up to 14th. It definitely hasn’t evaporated the pressure away from Mark Hughes, though, and faltering against Huddersfield would highlight the kind of inconsistency the Potters have been showing in the past 18 months. The Terriers on the other hand, could climb into the top half with even a point.


Chelsea v Brighton

Huddersfield v Stoke

Tottenham v Southampton

West Brom v Everton

Bournemouth v West Ham

Manchester United v Burnley

Liverpool v Swansea

Crystal Palace v Arsenal

Newcastle v Manchester City

Watford v Leicester

Published in International Watch

On a day where Everton had all but sealed the deal to appoint Sam Allardyce as their new manager, a man they overlooked, Sean Dyche, steered his team to another win, one that sees them move up to sixth place.

The win at Bournemouth is their fourth in five games, and even the odd game out was the narrow and controversial defeat at home to Arsenal on Sunday. They’ve conceded just twice in that run, while their away victory at the Vitality stadium is their fourth this season, three more than the whole of the last campaign.

It was a deserved win as well, a positive first half where Chris Wood headed an attempt at the post, and saw another effort saved by Asmir Begovic ended with the Clarets going a goal up, Wood tucking home from close range eight minutes from halftime after Robbie Brady’s effort deflected off Steve Cook’s feet and into his path.

But Brady would steal the spotlight 20 minutes after the break, cutting inside Andrew Surman, before unleashing a beauty of a shot into the top corner from 20 yards. Burnley were the dominant side here, and you couldn’t begrudge the away fans when they were singing ‘we’re all going on a European tour’, as, despite Josh King pulling one back for the hosts, the result takes them to sixth place, four points behind fourth place, while Bournemouth conceded for the first time in November, as Eddie Howe got a sour present for his 40th birthday.

Tipped by many to go down following the losses of key men at both ends in Andre Gray and Michael Keane, as well as the potentials of ‘second season syndrome’, Dyche has taken his team to unfancied heights, his team will start the final month of 2017 in a Europa League spot. Still, the bigger sides continue to ignore him, as Everton have shown in appointing Allardyce, a 64-year-old who had previously lamented the limited opportunities given to young British managers.

Burnley wouldn’t mind Sam’s double-standards, they’ll gladly keep their man.

Young at the Double at Vicarage

Jose Mourinho looked stupefied, turning like he was almost trying to tell someone ‘did you see that?’. Ashley Young was wheeling away in celebration after scoring his second, a sublime free-kick that left Watford goalie Heurelho Gomes motionless. Five minutes ago, he had fired in a driven shot to beat Gomes at his nearpost, then Anthony Martial added another for Manchester United after Young’s second. Troy Deeney and Abdoulaye Doucoure would cut the gap to 2-3, but Jesse Lingard capped off a wonderful display with United’s fourth. Mourinho said United should have been ‘smoking cigars’ at three up, but ultimately it’s the win that counts. It did dispel two baseless press theories over the Red Devils though; that they’re boring and can’t attack.


  • Another game, another winless outcome. Spurs are sliding down fast. They’ve gone from third at the start of the month to seventh at the end of it. Little wonder Mauricio Pochettino slammed his side’s attitude.
  • 95 minutes. Manchester City were being held at home to Southampton. They had won 11 in a row in the league so far, and that streak looked like coming to an end. Then Kevin de Bruyne laid the ball off to Raheem Sterling. A right-footed curler, a touchline mayhem, and a final whistle later, City maintain their eight-point gap.
  • It was almost like Erik Pieters had Mohammed Salah in his Fantasy Premier League side as he gave that ill-advised back pass, and the Egyptian found the net with ease. That was Salah’s 11th goal of the season, as he had taken his 10th, just moments earlier, with aplomb. The travelling Liverpool fans then began with ‘how Shit can you be?  We’re keeping a clean sheet ‘. If evidence of Stoke’s misses in this game is taken into account (yes Mame Biram Diouf, you)  then very. 
  • And Everton marked the impending appointment of Allardyce with a demolition of West Ham and former manager David Moyes, Wayne Rooney bagging a treble, with his third a thing of beauty. But no, it’s not better than David Beckham’s.


Bournemouth 1-2 Burnley

Chelsea 1-0 Swansea

Leicester 2-1 Tottenham

Arsenal 5-0 Huddersfield

Stoke 0-3 Liverpool

Manchester City 2-1 Southampton

Watford 2-4 Manchester United

Everton 4-0 West Ham

West Brom 2-2 Newcastle

Brighton 0-0 Crystal Palace


Published in International Watch


Seven league goals in seven league games, 11 in 10 in all competitions, 16 in 13 for club and country, yet somehow some are still to be fully convinced by Romelu Lukaku. For all the Belgian’s fine start to his Manchester United career- picking up where he left off from last season with Everton, he’s still without the odd criticism. The most prominent of them all, is his said-inability to score against the big sides, deeming him a flat-track bully.

Flat-track bully? Think again. Lukaku did indeed manage to score only four times against the top six, one of which was a penalty, but you could excuse the Belgian over the fact that former club Everton set out against those big sides mostly with the aim of avoiding defeat, and in the end offer very little up front, leaving Lukaku isolated. So four goals should perhaps even be credit-worthy, especially when you consider that one of those was an enviable solo effort at Manchester City’s Etihad stadium.

But the criticism towards isn’t more about his goals against clubs of those magnitude than it is about the impact of his goals against clubs of those magnitude. In those four games in which he scored, only in one of those did he end up on the winning, and even that was a 4-0 win, so his goals were responsible for a solitary point against the top six last season.

So, when he and his new team travel to Anfield to take on Liverpool on Saturday noon, there’ll be quite a few (cynical) eyes on whether or not he can deliver the goods, whether or not he can deliver market-defining goods (forgive the reference); with no one trying to remember that he has registered four goals against the Reds in the past.

Whatever the performance is on Saturday, there’s no denying Lukaku has made a fine start to his Old Trafford career. If he can be a game-changer in the big clashes, however, is a question that might be offered an answer come 2pm on Saturday.


Three months into the season, and Crystal Palace still haven’t found the net in the Premier League. Now they are without forward Christian Benteke, and host the champions come Saturday. Chelsea themselves are likely to be without front man Alvaro Morata, who’s in line to make a quick recovery after his injury against Manchester City before the International Break, but probably won’t play until at least the midweek game against Roma in the Champions League. Perhaps it’s the best time to be without their star striker.

Leicester and West Brom. Two teams who have spent the past few weeks with more plaudits than points, which itself is not much. Neither side have won since the second weekend of the season. There’s only so much applause one can get without end product.

Okay. Okay. They’ve had a few hiccups in the past few games, but Spurs have to start winning at Wembley. Their impeccable away form doesn’t only suggest how good they are, but also how much their ‘home’ record so far has held them back. Bournemouth are the next side to visit the ‘home of football’. Spurs can’t afford for the Cherries to be the next side to leave unscathed.


Liverpool v Manchester United

Manchester City v Stoke

Crystal Palace v Chelsea

Watford v Arsenal

Brighton v Everton

Swansea v Huddersfield

Tottenham v Bournemouth

Burnley v West Ham

Southampton v Newcastle

Leicester v West Brom

Published in International Watch


We’ve been here before. Not just once. These days there always seems to be a post-mortem once Arsenal are done with an away trip to the Premier League ‘big boys’, and this was no different. Four goals conceded, no shots on target, looking at sea throughout the encounter. Yet the most immediate, and perhaps most accurate, conclusion was that it should have been a lot worse. Although it would be ridiculously unfair to overlook how scintillating and irresistible Liverpool were, the biggest talking point would always be Arsene Wenger’s side’s capitulation, not for the first time in recent years under the Frenchman’s stewardship. There had been an 8-2 shellacking to Manchester United in 2011, a 6-0 humbling at Chelsea in 2014, the same year in which they were thumped at Anfield as well, by a difference of four goals. But could this be the most damaging? With players still seeking the exit door, it might be. Want-away men Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Alexis Sanchez- making his first appearance of the season- were shown no reasons why it was worth hanging around, although they hardly made a case for themselves either, while another player with an uncertain future, Mesut Ozil’s most notable act of the match was being on the brink of tears after the final whistle.

The return of Sanchez, which had been arguably the headline in the build-up to the game all week, was seen as a boost to the Gunners, but Wenger left fans scratching their heads with his decision to drop record-buy Alexander Lacazette on the bench. Jurgen Klopp made his own bizarre decision for the hosts, choosing to leave out Simon Mignolet and put Loris Karius in goal- the German’s first league appearance since December- citing that he was simply giving the Belgian a ‘rest’, but on the looks of it, he could have even given Mignolet a rest by putting him in the game. Liverpool began the game well on top, and only a combination of not-so good finishing from their winger Mohammed Salah and a good save from opposing goalkeeper Petr Cech prevented them from going in front inside 10 minutes. But Cech could do nothing on 17 minutes, when Joe Gomez’s inch-perfect cross was met by Roberto Firmino to give the hosts a merited lead. Cech could have done nothing, but the Arsenal defence should have done something. Instead, despite the return of skipper Laurent Koscielny, they stood almost in unison to watch Firmino leap to glance home the opener. Five minutes before the break, it was two, a swift Liverpool counter-attack ended with Sadio Mane scoring a very Sadio Mane goal, his third strike in as many league games. Before then, the game had seen Salah denied by Cech once again, then the linesman’s flag, and a rather comical back-heel by Gunners midfielder Granit Xhaka in front of his own goal which gave away a corner. The visitors had to improve after the break, and for about 10 minutes after the restart it looked like they did, until they won a corner on 57 minutes. Then events transpired, Salah robbed a sloppy Hector Bellerin around the halfway line, and the Egyptian ran half the length of the pitch before finishing with deadly assurance. All that was left was for Daniel Sturridge to come on and score his first goal of the season within two minutes of his entrance, crowning the Reds’ perfect day.

The traveling fans- well those that remained- watched in horror; this is not the first time in recent years they had been subjected to such humiliating conditions. And you wouldn’t begrudge them wondering whether this wouldn’t be the last.


Football’s Irksome Rule Strikes Again

97th minute at the Goldsands stadium, Manchester City are being held away at Bournemouth, much to their angst. Then Raheem Sterling scores the latest of late winners and runs into the clutch of the away fans. Such a nice and heart-warming moment, until Sterling returns to the pitch and is shown a second yellow card for over-elaborate celebrations by referee Mike Dean. The irritating rule remains, and in this case it begs two questions. First, the most obvious and recurring one, why are players not allowed to celebrate with the fans who chant their names and pay their wages? Second, why was Sterling the only one cautioned when clearly a herd of City players followed him into the crowd? The Englishman will be suspended for the game against his former club Liverpool, after the International break; the unsavoury end overshadowed a decent game, which had an absolute howitzer from Bournemouth’s Charlie Daniels to open the scoring. The Cherries are still waiting for their first point of the season, although the headlines of this game were the dismissal of Sterling, some fans unrest, and a quite interesting conversation between Sergio Aguero and a Matchday steward.



Leicester City proved to be the biggest test so far, but Manchester United still passed it. They had to wait for the breakthrough, and even missed a penalty, as it looked like being a throwback to one of many games at Old Trafford last season, but eventually the Red Devils found a way past the Foxes. Jose Mourinho’s side are three for three so far; they’ve scored 10 times, and have conceded 10 goals less.

Spurs still can’t get any joy at Wembley. It looked like they would manage to steal three points in a hard-fought and frustrating afternoon against Burnley, until the Clarets’ new boy Chris Wood struck gold for the visitors in the 92nd minute. Another sickening late collapse for the Lilywhites, who need to sort out that national stadium itch. And soon; with Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund still to come there.

In the battle of the unrests, Newcastle saw off West Ham with three unreplied goals on Saturday afternoon. It was a more than welcome relief for Rafa Benitez and the Toon, while West Ham are supposedly going to review manager Slaven Bilic’s position during the week, the Hammers lie bottom, pointless and with the worst defence in the league.

Speaking of zero points, Crystal Palace are also in that category, having suffered another home loss, this time to Swansea. The Eagles are yet to even score a league goal under new gaffer Frank de Boer; that philosophy will take a while.



Liverpool 4-0 Arsenal

Manchester United 2-0 Leicester

West Brom 1-1 Stoke

Chelsea 2-0 Everton

Bournemouth 1-2 Man City

Newcastle 3-0 West Ham

Watford 0-0 Brighton

Tottenham 1-1 Burnley

Crystal Palace 0-2 Swansea

Huddersfield 0-0 Southampton

Published in International Watch


By Kunle Ajao

Hugo Lloris was chock-full of disappointment, feeling a sense of utter frustration having allowed Marcos Alonso’s shot to squirm under him and into the net with three minutes left. Spurs had fought hard to level matters, spending virtually the entire game on the front foot after falling behind midway through the first half, and to concede late on in such manner was a more than bitter pill to swallow, the reaction of the home fans after that moment was one of disbelieving dejection. Spurs had gone into this game with the question hanging over their heads as to whether or not they could get to grips with playing at Wembley, and what better way to answer the question right than beating the champions, who came to the national stadium without three key players, plus a continuously AWOL, sure-to-depart Diego Costa; and, as Antonio Conte had inferred pre-match, rushed Tiemoue Bakayoko into a first start for the club. But it was another man making his first Chelsea start, Alvaro Morata, who would have felt disappointed not to have headed the visitors in front early on from close range. Spurs looked a little flat in the opening 20 minutes and seemed like they needed a wakeup call. And they got one on 24 minutes, Alonso curling in a delightful free-kick beyond a jumping wall and a helpless Lloris in goal. Spurs responded well after that setback, with Chelsea more than happy to sit back and absorb what their hosts would throw at them. It felt like Mauricio Pochettino’s side were constantly tweaking the kind of siege they laid at the Blues goal, first coming up with a handful of fizzed crosses from the flanks, some of which were dealt with by David Luiz, others just racing across the face of goal; then they moved up to testing Thibaut Courtois with a few decent efforts, most of which the Chelsea shot-stopper had little trouble in dealing with. Then when the Belgian goalkeeper was finally beaten five minutes before the break, Harry Kane’s effort rebounded off the base of the post. Spurs began the second period as they ended the first, relentless pressure on the Chelsea backline, but still they had very little to show for it in terms of troubling Courtois, and could have easily conceded a second, but Willian’s shot hit the woodwork in a rare Chelsea attack. That was the Brazilian’s last significant contribution before being withdrawn alongside Morata to make way for Pedro and Michy Batshuayi. Batshuayi in particularly was under pressure to redeem himself following a not-so glamourous start to the season, but his first impact of the game wouldn’t have gone down well with the away fans. From a Christian Eriksen free-kick, the Belgian forward contrived to head the ball into his own goal with 10 minutes left, to draw the game level. Spurs had the wind in their sails and looked the likelier side to grab the winner if one was up for the taking. But events that transpired afterwards gave Spurs supporters every reason to feel like there is a Wembley curse; another rare Chelsea foray forward, Alonso’s low shot, Lloris’ error; Conte went into his usual overdrive. Chelsea had given Spurs the Wembley blues again.

Another Fourmality

You bet Manchester United fans wouldn’t worry about the pun, the bounce in and around the club showed no sign of departing at the weekend, as Swansea were the ones on the receiving end of a quartet of goals this time. It might not have seemed to be heading that way, particularly with the score still 1-0 with 10 minutes left, as the Swans defended stoutly, but after Romelu Lukaku added the second- his fourth in three games for United- the floodgates opened. Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial added the gloss on the scoreline, as they did last week. It’s the first time the Red Devils have scored four goals in successive games since April 2014.

The Stoke Test is Still a Thing!

It looked like Arsenal had finally exorcised the ghost of the Brit… Bet365 stadium following their 4-1 win there in May, which meant they arrived at the same ground feeling rather confident, particularly with Stoke and Mark Hughes under pressure, which their manager discarded as rubbish. Sparky had claimed the criticism his side had been receiving was over the top, and if this performance was anything to go by, he’s got a point. Well actually he’s got three points, an early second half goal from debutant Jese giving Stoke their first win of the season, while Arsene Wenger bemoaned his team’s ‘stupid mistakes’ and poor refereeing as the reasons for the defeat. Also, water is wet.


Six points. Four goals scored. None conceded. It looks like Huddersfield saved up enough fairy-tale fuel for more than a season. A 50th-minute strike from Aaron Mooy enough to see off Newcastle, whose manager’s case for signing new players seems to be getting more justified as the games go by.

In the weekend of flailing arms, West Ham’s record buy Marko Arnautovic decided to reshape Jack Stephens’ neck with his elbow, with his side a goal down at Southampton. He promptly received his marching and on his way off kicked out in frustration, presumably because he didn’t do as much as damage as he hoped he would. Despite the setback, the Hammers rallied from two goals down, thanks to Javier Hernandez, and were on the cusp of snatching a point when Pablo Zabaleta gave away a penalty- the second one they conceded in that game- in the 92nd minute. They still have zero points to their name.

And in the Burnley v West Brom game, with the match scoreless, substitute Hal Robson-Kanu comes on and breaks the deadlock with 15 minutes left. Robson-Kanu might have spent some of his time on the bench watching the Southampton v West Ham encounter, as minutes after scoring, he also decides to try his elbow at the neck of an opponent. Despite his sending off, West Brom held on for a second consecutive 1-0 win. Just the way Tony Pulis likes it.



Tottenham 1-2 Chelsea

Bournemouth 0-2 Watford

Burnley 0-1 West Brom

Liverpool 1-0 Crystal Palace

Swansea 0-4 Manchester United

Leicester 2-0 Brighton

Southampton 3-2 West Ham

Huddersfield 1-0 Newcastle

Stoke 1-0 Arsenal

Monday Night Football: Manchester City v Everton

Published in International Watch


How will Spurs cope with playing at Wembley?’ has been the question asked by many after it was confirmed that the Lilywhites will use the national stadium for their home games while their new stadium is being completed. The query came about following the less than stellar performances and results from Mauricio Pochettino’s side at that ground last season, which was arguably responsible for their Champions League group-stage elimination (two defeats) and their Europa League round of 32 exit to Gent, and it was where they lost the FA Cup semi-final to Chelsea. Coincidentally, it’s Chelsea who will be the first side to visit Spurs at Wembley in the Premier League, the champions making the short trip as they seek to kick-start their season, after losing their first game, a 3-2 home defeat at the hands of Burnley doing nothing to quell the malaise going on at the Blues’ camp, the Diego Costa situation still unresolved and Antonio Conte still demanding more signings. Chelsea will be without the injured Eden Hazard, suspended duo Cesc Fabregas and Gary Cahill, while they’re still sweating over the fitness of summer arrival Tiemoue Bakayoko; although Victor Moses returns for the champions, after missing the defeat last Saturday. The Blues haven’t won away at Tottenham in four games, and have just one win in 11, but those were at White Hart Lane, and Spurs’ hopes of re-creating the old ground’s atmosphere at Wembley will not have been helped by the restriction placed on ticket purchases- some 20000 tickets won’t be sold for the game. But the bigger issue is how comfortable the hosts will feel at their temporarily new home, particularly in terms of their high-pressing game, while for Chelsea it’s about avoiding talk of any sort of crisis at the club. It may be early in the season, and it may not quite be as defining, but it could be a blueprint of things to come.



First big test for two new-look teams: On Monday night Manchester City and Everton meet at the Etihad stadium, in what might be a first indication of how strong both teams are. Both sides have spent big in the transfer window, both sides won their opening games in solid if not unspectacular fashion, and both sides are aiming to make significant progress from the previous campaigns. The Toffees haven’t lost in any of their last two league games here, but they haven’t won in six either.

The most unwelcome of guests: Crystal Palace travel to Anfield on Saturday, seeking a fourth win there in succession. And they could do with it, after last weekend’s humbling against newly-promoted Huddersfield; there’s still more than a few teething problems early in the Frank de Boer era, but Liverpool are always vulnerable, as Jurgen Klopp’s men showed at Vicarage Road last weekend.

The most haunting of trips: Well it used to be, until last season, when Arsenal thumped four past Stoke at the Bet365 stadium (the name’s still terrible). The Gunners make the trip to the Midlands on Saturday evening aiming for two wins out of two in the new season, something they haven’t quite managed since the 2009/10 campaign. Stoke meanwhile need to get some points on board before the pressure on Mark Hughes- the bookies favourite to get the sack- reaches altitude.

And at Turf Moor that same day, Burnley host West Brom in what could potentially be the weekend’s most boring game. Or maybe not; both teams- who won last weekend- have shared eight goals in their last two meetings in Lancashire. Don’t bet the house on an all-action packed encounter though.




12:30: Swansea v Manchester United

15:00: Liverpool v Crystal Palace

Southampton v West Ham

Leicester v Brighton

Burnley v West Brom

Bournemouth v Watford

17:00: Stoke v Arsenal


13:30: Huddersfield v Newcastle

16:00: Tottenham v Chelsea


20:00: Manchester City v Everton

Published in International Watch