Manchester City’s quest for a cup treble continues

Manchester City are through to the fifth round of the FA Cup after an emphatic 4-0 win against Scott Parker’s Fulham. Ilkay Gundogan, Bernardo Silva and a Gabriel Jesus brace ensured City’s quest for a cup treble continued in a season that could still be an impressive one.

Despite being 16 points behind leaders Liverpool in the Premier League, Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City find themselves in good stead in the FA Cup, Carabao Cup and the Champions League, a trophy that has eluded the blue side of Manchester. Continue reading

Is Pep Guardiola right to say that the league cup must end?

You’d have thought that if you’re club had won a certain competition two times from the last 3 years you wouldn’t be talking about ending it, but Pep Guardiola is right, the league cup must end.

Guardiola’s comments have come because of player fatigue and injuries not just to his own players but others also and he is blaming the fact that there is too much football. He was quick to point out the recent injuries to Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford which could mean both players will not be 100% fit for this summers Euro 2020 competition with England.

Guardiola said: “Eliminate competitions, take out this competition, so less games, less competitions, less teams, more quality, less quantity. People can live without football for a while. It’s too much. Start the season later after the summer. We have one game a week for a long time and then, after, we start having two or three in one week. In February it is one week, two weeks off. We have two games in two weeks then, after, we have 72 games in one week. It’s a little bit strange.”

The Manchester City manager made a great point about there being too much football. Football doesn’t really end anymore. With the season going on until the end of May, there are various ‘friendly’ competitions littered throughout the summer when major tournaments are not taking place. The introduction of the UEFA Nations League may be welcomed instead of friendly games but then again players become much more competitive in the hope of winning yet another trophy available to them.

The league cup started in 1960, so this year will be the 60th one and Manchester City ironically are the favourites to win again. They beat Manchester United 3-1 in the semi-final first leg and will face either Leicester or Aston Villa if they reach the final.

What is interesting is that in France the Coupe de la Ligue will be played for the final time this season. This is the equivalent cup to the league cup, which of course is now called the Carabao Cup because of sponsorship.

Guardiola’s comments may fall on deaf ears because the majority of clubs actually opt to play their second string sides in the league cup. This gives fringe players a chance to get game time and more experience. Guardiola has been known to play strong sides in the competition, some managers are simply wired that way to win all in front of them.

But the Spaniard does have a good point about there being too much football in the modern game overall. For now it seems that the league cup is very much here to stay.

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Pellegrini makes massive mistake as West Ham’s season is almost over

West Ham were shocked and gave a shocking performance in the Carabao Cup to lose 4-0 to League one side Oxford United in midweek, and one wonders how long this negative effect will last with the Londoners.

The cup competitions can often serve a surprise as the so called giant killing teams of the lower leagues play their best games and up their performance.. Losing to one of the lower league teams happens to most of the big clubs, particularly those who rest their star players.

However, it is the manner in which West Ham disintegrated which is of most concern. A 4-0 loss is more than poor and 3 of Oxford’s goals were scored in 29 minutes in the second half as the Hammers simply collapsed. For Fantasy Football managers, cup competition can be tricky. For those who look to place bets on cup competitions, you should look no further than Amazing Bet which allows you to take advantage of offers from bookmakers as well as guide you to better betting odds. Amazing Bet also provides you with information on where and how you can place Free Bets.

Manager Manuel Pellegrini did make changes to his side that beat Manchester United in the league just a few days before, 9 changes in all, but there was still plenty of quality on the field including new signing Pablo Fornals who has been very underwhelming since joining the club on a coat tail of hype from Villarreal.

Pellegrini was forced to bring on regulars early in the 2nd half such as Mark Noble and Sebastian Haller but the irony was that when more experience and quality came on the Hammers lost the plot and Oxford United actually improved.

It is bizarre to think that the Hammers have started the season well and just beat Manchester United but this cup defeat was a stark reminder that worse things could be round he corner for the club.

There has to be criticism pointed at Pellegrini though- for example why make so many changes? Yes games come thick and fast and he rightly pointed out that you need to utilise your squad. But what justification did he seek in making those changes? For example had this been a midweek Champions League game he wouldn’t have made the changes which leads us on to suggesting that Pellegrini in actual fact disrespected the competition and it has widely back fired onto him and the club.

The irony is West Ham are one of those well known clubs alongside Everton for example who have not won a major trophy for a long time. Next year will mark 25 years for Everton and 40 for West Ham. Again did Pellegrini rest players just so West Ham could finish in the top 10? What are their aspirations in a very difficult league? Shouldn’t the club really be chasing a cup and giving it a go?

With this cup gone, West Ham’s season already looks exposed. They aren’t ready for a top 4 place and don’t look up for a Europa League one either. That leaves the FA Cup then which doesn’t start for them until January.

The shock remains with Pellegrini, for such an experienced coach to get this so painfully wrong is mind boggling.

Maurizio Sarri, Chelsea and the thankless job

Maurizio Sarri

Who’d be a manager, eh? More specifically, who would be the Chelsea manager?

When Maurizio Sarri was courted by Roman Abramovich and the Chelsea board last summer I’m sure some details were glossed over when trying to entice the Napoli coach to Stamford Bridge. The toxicity existing within The Blues dressing room being the main thing.

Is there a Premier League club with a more concerning ‘player power’ culture?

In recent years, this Chelsea squad has downed tools to oust whoever they were unhappy with.

Is a top 4 Premier League finish worth more than a cup trophy?


How football has changed when certain managers and one of them being Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino admitted recently that finishing in a top 4 place was more important than trophies, but is that true? And why has this developed?

Make no mistake there are plenty of other managers who feel the same way about the top 4. The top four at least in England has become important because it is a gateway of course to play in the Champions League. Of course it is in fact the top 3 who automatically qualify for the Champions League. The team who finish 4th have to play in a special play off in order to get into the competition proper. But English teams have always achieved that.

It does seem rather odd though that some teams would prefer a top 4 place and not an FA Cup or League Cup win. For the bigger teams still winning domestic cups is important and let’s not forget that 90% of wins in the FA Cup over the past 25 years have come from the very best teams in England- Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City. Sure the teams and players want to jump higher but winning is winning and keeps players in a good mental state.

Other teams who usually finish mid table have been guilty of not playing their strongest sides in the hopes of, what? Rare has it been to see one of these teams finish in a top 4 place. Leicester of course did it in 2016 when they won the league and Everton did it a decade ago, but it still remains a rare feat.

But has football come to when certain teams are not 100% into the domestic cup competitions? It’s not as if there is 10 different trophies up for grabs each season. There are 4, and for the teams outside the top six there is just realistically 2 each season- these teams should be and need to be going for victory all of the time.

Instead teams seem to be saving themselves for a top 4 place and the irony cannot be lost on anyone, because they are trying to qualify simply to be in another cup competition.

Arsenal did it for years, albeit they did win a few FA Cups in Arsene Wenger’s last years but it feels as though the likes of Tottenham and Chelsea might seem happy to act that way too. Surely this is short changing the fans who really do want that day out at Wembley and to experience and win a cup final.

Alas like most things in life it comes down to money, and the Champions League has plenty of it, and of course exposure and TV rights will play its part. But the big clubs have the big budgets and good squads and really should be going for everything once the season kicks off. Making choices and putting all of your eggs in one basket rarely works out.

Marco Silva is not the right manager for Everton


Another week and another loss for Everton, this time it happened yet again at their home of Goodison Park where the club lost 3-1 against Wolves. There have been calls for manager Marco Silva’s sacking but is that justified?

First we need to look to look at the positives in Silva’s appointment. Some of his buys have reacted well, such as Andre Gomes and Bernard although the pair have not been consistent enough they have been willing to adapt to Silva’s tactics and have tried to play an attacking game. Richarlison was a cheeky buy from his former club Watford and in some ways it still seems bizarre that Watford were happy to sell to Everton when they had accused the club of coming forward for Silva. Richarlison has repaid his manager with 10 goals in the league and 11 in total, for a club like Everton that is a great debut season and return.

Everton have also played with a purpose and seemed much more of an attacking threat, especially at the beginning of the season. It is the reason that when the club did lose games, like away to Arsenal the fans stayed positive, because they knew that day the better side had lost. Some fans were happy to admit that they had not seen this type of play from Everton in a generation.

But then November came and since then Everton have been poor. Dumped out of the Carabao Cup and FA Cup too early and losing so many games that the club have won just 10 points from their last 30. Their form is on par with a relegation team. Even club owner Farhad Moshiri hinted at  a club AGM that this wasn’t good enough. It feels as if Silva’s tactics have been found out and found out too early. His insistence for example on zonal marking does not work, and Everton have put in plenty of toothless displays.

In all honesty Silva does not come across as a bad coach, but one has to question whether he is the right fit for Everton? The Toffees thought so last summer as they did everything to get a man that has relegated Hull and not done much with Watford, so what were they expecting?

Everton will be fine this season but if Silva survives will the club look for a replacement? If it wasn’t for their early form they could be in a bottom three battle right now, that’s the problem. It may do both parties the world of good if they were to go their separate ways.


Leicester crash out of FA Cup and it’s manager Claude Puel’s fault


Leicester were knocked out of the 3rd round of the FA Cup after their shock loss to Newport County by 2-1 at the weekend. And the blame game should be directed at Leicester’s manager Claude Puel.

Puel made wholesale changes to his normal Premier League squad with the biggest gap being upfront with the omission of Jamie Vardy. One can only wonder why Puel has not respected the FA Cup?

Of course back in 2016 Leicester shocked everyone when they won the Premier League, something that we are not likely to see again for a very long while. But realistically speaking when the likes of a team like Leicester start the season, they are usually not going to win the league.

There are three competitions that they can win, the league, FA Cup and Carabao Cup, and only the cup competitions give teams like Leicester a realistic chance of winning. Their Carabao Cup hopes were fought with more pride but they went out at the quarter final stage against Manchester City on penalties which was very unfortunate given that they would have played Burton Albion in the semi finals- then again if they cannot Newport…..

But this match was a real shocker for them. It is one thing going out of a cup competition against the champions of England quite another against Newport. But what was Puel thinking, not to take this game seriously?

Leicester are currently 7th in the league but they are almost 20 points behind 4th place and will not be finishing in a Champions League position. At the other end they are almost 20 points from the bottom three and will not be getting relegated, so why didn’t Puel start his best team for this game and why didn’t he get the team behind this fantastic competition- after all it is a trophy at the end of the day which is up for grabs, and nothing makes sense about The Foxes attitude coming into this game. Newport always seemed like the hungrier team and now they have got their just rewards.

For Puel this is a real head shaker not to be fully committed to a cup competition. It’s true that the top 4 sides in England haven’t always taken cup competitions as seriously but then again they are challenging for the league title or a European one, Leicester are challenging for 7th place trying to get to 6th.

Puel’s attitude and other managers around him need to change as cup competitions remain the best chances to win trophies for mid table teams and Puel should be a little embarrassed about his choices at the weekend.





















Manchester City get golden draw in Carabao Cup as Tottenham’s Pochettino chases first trophy

And then there was the final four, and we now know who will play in the Carabao Cup semi finals. Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham and…. Burton, who could have guessed?

Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City will be installed as the favourites to win the competition as Guardiola will chase his 3rd major trophy with the club, and they look assured of a final place since they have been drawn to face Burton. For Burton this is a magical moment make no mistake about it. Not only will they come face to face with the champions of England but they will also play at Wembley Stadium in a prestigious cup semi final and do so against one of the best managers in world football. It is indeed a dream come true for the club, and they should be very proud.

On the flipside though is that it looks like being almost impossible that they will be able to defeat City, but at least they will be given that opportunity and in some ways Burton have won just by getting to a semi final.

Chelsea remain an obvious threat and they will play Tottenham in what should be a fantastic London derby at Wembley. Of course they met here in the league just a few weeks ago where Tottenham inflicted Chelsea’s first defeat of the season in a rather comfortable 3-1 victory. But this match really could go either way and it would be very difficult to pick a winner here.

Tottenham got sweet revenge by knocking out Arsenal at the Emirates by 2-0, the same ground where they lost 4-2 in the league. This was great vindication for the club who have bounced back brilliant well since losing to their old enemy. But if Tottenham are to win their first trophy under Mauricio Pochetino then they will be doing so the hard way. Having to beat the last two champions of the Premier League in Chelsea and Manchester City, well that is how it should work out unless Burton create the shock of shocks and knock City out.

The bookmakers will see a Manchester City-Chelsea final, but it wouldn’t be a shock to see Tottenham there. Tottenham need that trophy perhaps more than the other clubs. But at the same time Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri will be looking to win his first trophy with the club. The Carabao Cup may not always be taken seriously but one thing is for sure from this moment on it will be. The semi final games will take place In January with the final to be held at Wembley Stadium on 24th February.



Everton’s season is going from bad to worse under Silva


Marco Silva, the new Everton manager, was supposed to bring a silver lining to Everton on his arrival but after splashing the cash after 2 months of the new Premier League season has he done a good job?

Of course judging a new manager so soon after the season has started isn’t very fair and it can be argued that with suspensions and injuries Silva hasn’t been able to play his best 11 players on a regular basis. But he came as something like a saviour when he was announced as the new Everton manager and was allowed to spend upwards of £80m on new players. If we were to judge Everton right now out of 10 one would be hard pressed to give them a 5.

The Toffee Men are currently in 11th place and have 9 points after 7 games and have won 2 matches, both happened at home and both were against teams you would expect them to beat in Southampton and Fulham respectively. If Everton were to continue the season like this they would finish on 49 points which is the same they acquired last season under Sam Allardyce. Nothing would have changed despite the managerial change and the money in the summer spent. That in a nutshell, would add up to a disappointing season.

In midweek Everton were delivered a hammer blow by way of a team they had already beaten in the league when they were knocked out of the Carabao Cup to Southampton. The match finished 1-1 and the Saints won the game on penalties, all of this was compounded by the fact that Everton had lost the game at home. Exiting the Carabao Cup was indeed a massive blow for a club whose only realistic chance of silverware is this one and the FA Cup. Next year will mean that it has been 24 years since the club won a trophy.

At the weekend in the league Everton face a very strong Leicester side, the same team that Southampton will now go on to play in the next round of the Carabao Cup. Leicester will provide a stern test for the Mersey siders and it is away from home. Leicester have won 2 of their 3 games at home and the match they did lose which came against Liverpool was a close one that ended in a 2-1 defeat. The Foxes are in good form and have won their last two games in a row.

As for Everton it’s all been much ado about nothing so far, but seen as a long term project Silva is still the man who many believe will turn it around for the club. The worry is that on this evidence the team whilst not going backwards look stuck in a rut.

West Ham drawn against AFC Wimbledon in the Carabao Cup

West Ham have been drawn against AFC Wimbledon in the Carabao Cup second round this evening. The tie which will take place at Kingsmeadow is set to be played the week commencing August 27th.

The Dons, who were ball number two are unbeaten in League One this season. They defeated Fleetwood Town 1-0 in their opener before drawing 0-0 with Coventry City. They overcame Portsmouth 2-1 to progress to the second round, thanks to Joe Pigott’s strike and an 88th minute own goal from Anton Walkes. Since reforming in 2002 -after Wimbledon FC had been relocated to Milton Keynes and became MK Dons- AFC Wimbledon have never played against the Hammers. Having regained their place in the Football League in 2011, the Dons had not progressed past the first round before this campaign.

This match could be seen as an opportunity for West Ham to give some talented youngsters, such as Josh Cullen, Nathan Holland and Xande Silva some game time. It is also a chance to continue acclimatising the club’s summer signings to their new surroundings, with the likes of Issa Diop and Lucas Perez not having played any competitive minutes for the Hammers at the time of writing. Manuel Pellegrini will be keen to progress past this round in pursuit of West Ham’s first major trophy since 1980.

Last season’s Carabao Cup campaign may not have brought a trophy, but it was eventful for the Hammers. They comfortably navigated their way past Cheltenham Town and Bolton Wanderers, winning 2-0 and 3-0 respectively. They then met Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley in the fourth round in what turned out to be one of the club’s best and most exciting matches of the season.

With 38 minutes on the clock against Spurs, West Ham found themselves 2-0 down following strikes from Moussa Sissoko and Dele Alli. However, a brace from Andre Ayew, which was completed on the hour mark, got West Ham right back into the tie. Ten minutes after the equaliser, Italian centre back Angelo Ogbonna rose above Son Heung-min, Kieran Trippier and Toby Alderweireld to head Manuel Lanzini’s corner ball past Michel Vorm. The Hammers managed to defend their lead, setting up a quarter final tie away against Arsenal.

However, David Moyes –who had taken over from Slaven Bilic- decided to rest key players against the Gunners. Unlike his predecessor Bilic, the Scotsman’s sole aim was the Premier League. This was clear to see, as the inform Marko Arnautovic was given just seven minutes at the end of the tie. It turned out to be an anticlimactic finish to the club’s Carabao Cup campaign, as a scrappy Danny Welbeck goal in the 42nd minute secured Arsenal’s progression to the semi final from what was a very tame affair.

The Hammers have never won the League Cup before in their history, coming second place twice. However, their manager Pellegrini has been successful in the competition. The Chilean tactician won the tournament in two of his three campaigns with current Premier League champions Manchester City.

Pellegrini will be hoping he can continue his impressive record in the competition with a win against AFC Wimbledon.

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