Premier League Game of the Week: West Bromwich Albion 1-5 Crystal Palace

It started with an own goal, granted but it ended with the redemption of Christian Benteke as Crystal Palace bagged a superb victory over West Bromwich Albion winning 5-1.

Crystal Palace have been hit and miss this season, for every win over Manchester United at Old Trafford there has been defeats against Newcastle and Burnley and the result has seen Roy Hodgson’s team already become a mid table team. Too good to get involved in a relegation dog fight but too inconsistent to push for Europe. At the weekend there was evidence for the former.

The own goal to open the scoring was like a stake in the heart for Slaven Bilic’s team who unlike Palace are going to face a fight for survival. Coming into this game West Brom had lost 60% of their games, but had given up wins for draws, with just one victory so far this season which came against Sheffield United the one team even worse than the Baggies.

But the home side struck back quick through a neat shot by Conor Gallagher who was incidentally set up by Darnell Furlong who had scored the own goal moments before, the first redemption of the match. But much credit would also have to go to Semi Ajayi whose world class pass to open up Palace set up the goal.

It was a first half that West Brom played well in, four shots on target to Palace’s one, and the half finished 1-1. But there would still be problems for West Brom after Matheus Pereira was sent off. He fell in a clash and on first look it looked like he caught his studs on Patrick van Aanholt. It seemed harmless enough but perhaps VAR was right to call back the incident. Pereira had his eyes locked on the Palace player and was sent off. Without that there could have been much optimism for Bilic, but he would never have foreseen for what was to come. It would be a painful 45 minutes that would see a further 4 goals with 10 men.

The red card had hampered the home side and took the wind out of them, and it was something Palace could feel as the 2nd half kicked off. Soon it would be 2-1 to Palace after a beautiful strike from Wilfried Zaha who is living up to his £80 million price tag from last summer, when there were reports he would leave the club. Zaha would go on to score again.

But perhaps it was a day for Christian Benteke to remember, his goals were not memorable but they were important for a player who has come under a lot of pressure for not producing the goods at Palace, well now he scored 2 goals in one game and his confidence looked reinstalled. It was telling how West Brom had given up, after having their five shots on target in the first period they managed none in the second half to Palace’s five.

Next week it is back to the hard grind for Palace who face league leaders Tottenham, at least they are at home but the Eagles will have to bear in mind that Jose Mourinho’s team have lost just once this season.

For West Brom they are in 19th with six points. Fulham give them hope and it means a win could see Bilic’s team escape the bottom three next weekend. The problem is they face a tricky tie away to Newcastle. You sense that Bilic’s time is running out though and he will have to start picking up the points.

As for Roy Hodgson,the veteran manager is having a very solid season and maybe the form of Benteke and Zaha will make it a memorable one.

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Premier League: Best 11 Players from Week 11

Tottenham continue to march on and they posted a fantastic result at the weekend beating their derby rivals Arsenal 2-0. The game included a fantastic goal by Heung-Min Son and Harry Kane became the most prolific striker in north London derbies when he added a second. Tottenham remain top of the league on goal difference to the champions Liverpool who crushed Wolves 4-0.

Chelsea remain hot on the tails of both Tottenham and Liverpool as they came back from a goal down to beat Leeds and are only 2 points behind the clubs. Jamie Vardy help end a 2 game losing streak and Leicester beat Sheffield United to remain 4th and Manchester City made it back to back wins as they eased to a 2-0 victory over Fulham. Chelsea and Tottenham remain neck to neck as the in form teams.

Let’s take a look at the players who performed the best over the weekend.

Goalkeeper: Hugo Lloris- Tottenham 7pts

Only three goalkeepers kept a clean sheet but Hugo Lloris was the busiest and it was during a north London derby so he gets the nod as Tottenham beat Arsenal 2-0. Lloris really had to be vigilant as the second half went on and the Gunners put pressure on Tottenham but he stayed very focused. It is his 5th clean sheet of the season.

Defender: Joel Matip- Liverpool 9pts

Joel Matip isn’t a regular because of the quality at Liverpool but with all the injuries mounting up in the back four Matip has been able to play 4 games so far. Not only did he help keep a clean sheet but he also scored a goal as Liverpool beat Wolves 4-0.

Defender: Sergio Reguilon- Tottenham 5pts

Considering this is his debut season for Tottenham Sergio Reguilon is having a very solid start with his new club. He stayed very focused in his north London derby and that was his 4th clean sheet so far.

Defender: Trent Alexander- Arnold- Liverpool 5pts

Still young but Alexander-Arnold feels like a veteran at Liverpool now as he helped the Reds to record their 31st win from 32 games at Anfield beating Wolves 4-0 and therefore keeping a clean sheet. He came off the bench to do so and took command immediately.

Defender: Eric Dier- Tottenham 5pts

Eric Dier could well leave Tottenham as a club legend one day. He has become a first choice player at the club. Dier made some good interceptions and read the game v Arsenal so well in keeping a clean sheet. Dier’s value is 7.5m.

Midfielder: Mohamed Salah- Liverpool 8pts

Mohamed Salah notched in his 9th goal of the season as Liverpool hammered Wolves 4-0. Salah’s brilliant goal opened the scoring and he also assisted in Matip’s third for a perfect game.

Midfielder: Wilfried Zaha- Crystal Palace 8pts

Wilfried Zaha is arguably having his best start to a football season and Zaha continues to impress. He was electric as Crystal Palace beat West Bromwich Albion 5-1. Zaha scored 2 goals and now has seven so far for the season.

Midfielder: Kevin De Bruyne- Manchester City 8pts

Manchester City eased to a 2-0 win over Fulham to record back to back victories. De Bruyne converted the penalty to give a 2-0 lead and effectively that was the match over. The Belgian international now has 2 goals this season.

Midfielder: Georginio Wijnaldum- Liverpool 6pts

Georginio Wijnaldum has started 10 games for Liverpool this season and oozes a lot of quality on the ball, almost an underrated player for the Reds and the midfielder scored his first goal of this season against Wolves in a 4-0 win. He is valued at 6.5m.

Striker: Christian Benteke- Crystal Palace 8pts

Christian Benteke’s season has lift off. The striker has struggled with injuries and form with most of his game time coming off from the bench but he earned 8 points as he scored a brace as his team Crystal Palace demolished West Brom 5-1. Those 8 points are his first of the season.

Striker: Heung-Min Son- Tottenham 6pts

Only Heung-Min Son and Harry Kane earned six points but we give the nod to Son who scored perhaps the goal of the weekend with his run and fantastic shot to open up the scoring in the match v Arsenal. Son now has 10 goals for the season.

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EPL: Premier League Predictions for Week 36


Have Manchester City taken a step closer to winning back to back EPL titles? City beat Manchester United in the derby in midweek to move 1 point clear of Liverpool with the same games played in a much needed win.

Liverpool will play on Friday night where they can reclaim top spot, but City will get a chance to get that back yet again on Sunday as the champions of the league look like going down to the wire.

We take a look at what should be a very exciting weekend in the Premier League with some brilliant fixtures taking place below.

Liverpool v Huddersfield

The Premier League kicks off on a Friday night where Liverpool will be the massive favourites to beat the already relegated and bottom club Huddersfield. Liverpool are unbeaten at home and with Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane have the quality to not just win this match but score lots of goals. Liverpool to beat Huddersfield

Tottenham v West Ham

Tottenham are looking good for a top 4 place now after their last gasp win against Brighton has moved them 3 points clear of 4th place Chelsea. They will need to get the job done against West Ham. But all focus will surely be on their Champions League semi-final match against Ajax and we expect to see a surprise match where the team end equal. Draw

Crystal Palace v Everton

Palace have been in decent form and pulled off a superb result last week to beat Arsenal 3-2 at the Emirates. They have crept up the league well. Everton are in good form but still look questionable away from home and Palace could get a win. Watch out for Christian Benteke who was brilliant last week against Arsenal. Crystal Palace to beat Everton

Fulham v Cardiff

Fulham are down but they proved the other week against Everton in a 2-0 win they are not out. There is still a lot of fight in Cardiff who have a belief they can still survive this season. Whoever is more hungry will surely win this game, and that could rest with the away side here. Cardiff to beat Fulham

Southampton v Bournemouth

There is still the smallest of chances that Southampton could get involved in a relegation dog fight. But they have got some decent results under their belts the last few games and should be too much for their opponents watch out for Shane Long who appears to have his goal scoring boots back on. Southampton to beat Bournemouth

Watford v Wolves

A really great clash here as the two surprise teams of the league season go head to head. Both are chasing 7th place and this should be  a very close game. Wolves got a fantastic result beating Arsenal 3-1 in midweek. Draw

Brighton v Newcastle

Newcastle will put everything into this game because they have some tough fixtures to end the season and it won’t be easy for many more points. Ayoze Perez is on fire for the Magpies after his hat-trick in their last match. Brighton are in real trouble and could well be relegated. Newcastle to beat Brighton

Leicester v Arsenal

Leicester keep on battling and have been strong and came back to make it 2-2 away to West Ham in their last game. Arsenal have crumbled with losses against Crystal Palace and Wolves. Arsenal have the Europa League semi-final on their mind, but with a little luck can come away here with a scrappy victory. Arsenal to beat Leicester

Burnley v Manchester City

Burnley have been back to their 2017/18 form in the past few weeks and the general theory is that they can give Manchester City a game here. But take out their 2-2 draw at Chelsea and they have not been beating quality teams on their good run. This match could be close but City are several levels from where Burnley are and they should continue their fantastic run. Bernardo Silva is in excellent form for City. Manchester City to beat Burnley

Manchester United v Chelsea

There is a lot of pressure on United to perform and start winning games after losing against Everton and then Manchester City. This match in theory represents their final chance at a top 4 place. Chelsea are a quality team but United if they want to play to their potential can get all the 3 points. It’s about time Romelu Lukaku showed up though. Manchester United to beat Chelsea 

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EPL Best XI – Week 35


With the Premier League season continuing whittling itself down to what seems destined to be a thrilling conclusion, nothing more was decided during this past weekend’s action. The battle to avoid being the last side to be relegated from the top flight this season remains far from over, while various intricate races / challenges at the top of the table appear nowhere nearer to being resolved. Liverpool remain two points ahead of Man City at the top of the league with City having a game in hand, Everton impressed many by beating Man Utd 4-0 at Goodison Park and Crystal Palace pulled off a great 3-2 win over Arsenal at the Emirates. With all that said, let us now adopt a 4-3-3 formation and take a peek at which players performed the best this weekend.

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Benteke slump endures as Palace slip to third consecutive defeat

When Crystal Palace were awarded a penalty in the closing stages of last season’s meeting with Leicester City at Selhurst Park, the home supporters began to chant the name of Christian Benteke. The Eagles were already four goals to the good when referee Mike Dean pointed to the spot in the 90th minute, and the majority of those on the terraces wanted to see the Belgian striker experience a rare high towards the end of a season of lows.

Benteke made no mistake from 12 yards to put the icing on the cake of what was one of Palace’s best performances since their promotion to the Premier League in 2013. It was a particularly significant moment given what had happened five months earlier, when the ex-Aston Villa and Liverpool centre-forward disobeyed managerial awards to take a stoppage-time penalty in the 2-2 draw with Bournemouth, which opposition goalkeeper Asmir Begovic comfortably saved. It was a decision which could have proved costly in Palace’s battle against relegation, and one which did not exactly endear Benteke to his team-mates or the club’s fans. Continue reading

Best Strikers in the Premier League – Week 18


With this weekend’s round of football producing little in the way of surprises as far as the top of the Premier League goes, we will be taking a look at which strikers did the job for their club the best.

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EPL Attacker Review – Wonderful Welbeck, Kane the Corker and Blundering Benteke


If you are a striker who is on the books at Man United, with some first team experience, and a club like Arsenal come along, there is certainly a decision to be made. In the case of Danny Welbeck, it seemed an easy one. Continue reading

Andre Silva shines as Portugal secure comprehensive victory

Euro 2016

For a second successive 2018 World Cup qualifier, Portugal won 6-0, as Andre Silva scored a first half hat – trick to inspire his team to a comprehensive victory over the Faroe Islands in Torshavn.

In an entirely dominant display the Euro 2016 winners amassed 23 shots, 11 of which were on target, whilst Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 66th international goal before Joao Moutinho and Cavaco Cancelo enhanced Selecao’s margin of victory.

Prior to beating the Faroe Islands 6-0, in their previous qualifier Portugal overcame Andorra by the same score line courtesy of four goals from Ronaldo, whilst Cavaco Cancelo and Silva also scored.

Victories for Hungarians and Swiss

In the process of recording successive 6-0 victories, Portugal climbed to second place in group B, three points behind Switzerland, who beat Andorra 2-1.

After Fabian Schar and Ahmed Mehmedi gave Switzerland a 2-0 lead Martinez Palau set-up an interesting finale as the 18-year-old scored in the last minute for Andorra, who produced a vastly improved performance from the one which they delivered against Portugal.

One of Fernando Santos’ side’s Euro 2016 group stage opponents also occupies their 2018 World Cup qualification group.  Hungary, with whom Portugal drew 3-3 at Euro 2016, beat Latvia 2-0 away from home with Adam Gyurcso and Adam Szalai scoring for Bernd Storck’s team.

Benteke scores hat-trick in comprehensive Belgian win

Just as Portugal secured a 6-0 away victory so too did Belgium, with Christian Benteke scoring a hat-trick against Gibraltar.  The Crystal Palace striker influentially helped his country to a second successive comprehensive win, following a 4-0 home victory over Bosnia Herzegovina, who recovered from that loss by beating Cyprus 2-0 courtesy of a brace by Edin Dzeko.

With the game goalless entering the final two minutes, the Manchester City striker scored twice.

One of the 30-year-old striker’s Roma teammates Kostas Manolas also enjoyed a successful international appearance whereby the central defender helped Greece to a 2-0 victory over Estonia, as Michael Skibbe’s maintained a 100% record to sit atop of group H alongside Belgium.

In the process of winning their first three qualification games, Roberto Martinez’s team have scored 13 goals without conceding, to make an extremely positive start to their bid to reach Russia in 2018.

Sweden on form in Group A

Another team to do that is Sweden, who won a second successive qualifier, since after a 1-0 away victory over Luxembourg, they then beat Bulgaria 3-0 in Stockholm.  Whilst Ola Toivonen gave Janne Andersson’s team the lead, Oscar Hiljemark and the Benfica defender Victor Lindelof scored to ensure Sweden are now level on both points and goal difference at the top of group A.

France’s fine form continues

Whilst Sweden won comfortably, France was forced to work considerably harder for their victory, as Les Bleus defeated the Netherlands 1-0 in Amsterdam.

After half-an-hour, Paul Pogba scored the winning goal with a fine long range effort.  The Manchester United’s midfielder along with each of his French compatriots delivered an accomplished display, as Didier Deschamps’ side continued to recover from the disappointment of losing the Euro 2016 final to Portugal.  Specifically their win over the Netherlands followed an emphatic 4-1 win over Bulgaria, who occupy fourth place in group A, ahead of Belarus and Luxembourg who drew 1-1.

Series of action packed qualifiers

Ultimately another series of entirely entertaining qualification games unfolded, which was particularly notable for the superb hat-tricks scored by Portugal’s Andre Silva and Christian Benteke, whose first goal in just 8.1 seconds was the fastest ever scored in a World Cup qualifying campaign.

Whilst Belgium and Portugal greatly enhanced their prospects of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, so too did the quartet France, Sweden, Switzerland and Greece as the race to reach Russia intensifies with each passing qualifier.

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Liverpool’s Christian Benteke impresses on his home debut

Liverpool striker Christian Benteke scored the only goal of the game on his home debut to earn his new side all three points against AFC Bournemouth on Monday night.

The Belgian international created more chances (4) than any other player on the pitch, and showcased his aerial dominance with 10 duels won over the course of the evening. He proved to be a useful out-ball when Liverpool were forced to go long in defence, and even hit the woodwork late on to wrap up the win.

Benteke had brief moments of clever interchanges with the likes of Philippe Coutinho, and was full of running for the side too. Often the 24-year-old peeled off a Bournemouth defender to hold the ball up down the channels, allowing Liverpool to regain their shape and build an attack. Manager Brendan Rodgers was delighted with the striker’s performance.

“He gives other options in the game, when teams try to press us high. I thought his hold-up play was excellent. You can see his feet – he’s got a good touch and awareness for a big guy and, of course, naturally when the ball comes into the box he’s a big threat. He deserved his goal and will be disappointed he didn’t get another, but it was a good night for him,” said the Liverpool boss.

Benteke himself admitted his excitement to have finally got off the mark for his new club, saying: “I think it’s a great day, for myself and the team. The more important thing tonight is the three points, but I should have scored (the effort that hit the woodwork).

Signed from Aston Villa for around £30M this summer, question marks were raised at the lofty asking price given the goal droughts and lacklustre performances have been prevalent during his time with the Midlands outfit, but Benteke temporarily silenced critics with a strong debut showing in a Liverpool shirt.

His goal earned the Reds their second win in an many Premier League games this season, and will have given confidence to Rodgers that he can be a useful option when injury-prone Daniel Sturridge is out of action. Benteke’s goal was a wrapped in controversy, with Philippe Coutinho influencing the play from an offside position, but the Belgian took his chance when it came to him, and will be hoping to replicate his debut season at Villa Park (19 Premier League goals). He’s certainly got off to an ideal start.