Spalletti: “We must approach the game as though it were a straight knockout”


Luciano Spalletti held his traditional pre-match press conference ahead of Inter’s crucial UEFA Champions League group stage match against Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley. Here is what the 59-year-old Tuscan tactician had to say in front of the dozens of journalists in attendance: Continue reading

Harry Kane; Not just a target man

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Ever since Harry Kane burst onto the scene, he’s been labelled as a ‘traditional’ English centre-forward. A target man.

You know the type. Strong, aggressive, puts himself about a bit, gets on the end of crosses and decent hold up play.

All the ingredients, in fact, one needs to thrive in what is the most physically demanding football league in the world – the Premier League.

However, such a ‘one dimensional’ description does the Tottenham Hotspur man no real favours. Continue reading

Tottenham need more than Kane to beat Barcelona

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Injuries to key players in Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham side couldn’t have come at a worse time for the north Londoners.

If losing Dele Alli wasn’t bad enough, to hear that Christian Eriksen, Serge Aurier, Jan Verthongen and Moussa Dembele were out too would likely have sent even the most optimistic Spurs fan into meltdown.

Hugo Lloris returns in goal in one bit of good news for ‘Poch,’ who will be heavily reliant on the talismanic Harry Kane doing the business. Continue reading

Now is the team for Kane to deliver on the world stage


He may be the tournament’s leading goalscorer but Harry Kane has failed to make his full force felt on game so far in this World Cup – as England prepare to play what is easily their biggest tournament fixture since 1996, now is the time for the time’s captain to make his mark on the tournament and propel England to the final of international football’s biggest fixture.

Harry Kane’s World Cup tournament couldn’t have started better, two exceptional poacher’s finishes giving England a victory over Tunisia in a tie that seemed destined to finish all-square.

And whilst the Englishman then went on to net a hat-trick against Panama and another Continue reading

Jordan Henderson highlights credentials as all-round midfielder and leader


Jordan Henderson’s exploits in the World Cup have been critical to England’s success across the tournament. Ahead of the side’s clash with Croatia, we took the opportunity to explore the tenets of his game that have won around fans from across the nation.

Whilst the Englishman has often been accused of being too conservative with his range of passing when in the Red of Liverpool, he has all but put that criticism to bed for his national team – offering an array of passing that has contributed significantly to his side’s journey to the semi finals and firmly established himself as the number one centre midfielder ahead of the likes of Eric Dier and Fabian Delph. Continue reading

Which players have announced themselves this World Cup?


The World Cup is notoriously a tournament in which new stars can often emerge or firmly establish themselves as someone deemed eligible for the upper echelons of world football.

With us on the brink of hitting the quarter finals of the tournament, we’ve taken the opportunity to look at some of those building a reputation in 2018

Kylian Mbappe, France

Whilst the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi failed to drag their sites through from the round of 16, Mbappe was the man of the hour when his side needed a star to save the day against Argentina. Continue reading

England show promise – but there are improvements to be made


England’s performance against Tunisia will have given England manager Gareth Southgate plenty to be pleased about, as well as highlight to him some of the apparent issues if the country are to finally make good on their obvious talents in a major tournament.

Here are three main take away points that he will have to consider from a thrilling game in Russia.

Attacking threat and dogged determination

Harry Kane’s last-minute goal also highlighted a team that were willing to keep going until the very end in search of victory. Continue reading

England Gets It Right With Squad Announcement Video


Yesterday, the English Football Association released the 23-man squad for the World Cup. As usual, Gareth Southgate’s call-ups prompted much debate. Why did Gary Cahill get called up after a dismal season over younger, more promising options such as Lewis Dunk, Jamaal Lascelles and James Tarkowski? Was it big club bias? Why did two of England’s best passers, Jonjo Shelvey and Jack Wilshere, fail to even make the standby list? And why did none of England’s evergreen, teenage wingers, like Jadon Sancho and Ryan Sessegnon, get excluded from the squad list? There will be plenty of more room for hindsight bias as time goes on, and plenty more time for fans to thumb their noses at Southgate’s decisions, but one decision that should be met with universal praise is the choice to let England’s youth announce the squad list.

The video features children from across the nation announcing different players on the World Cup squad. While the video has amassed over 20,000 retweets since being posted on England’s Twitter account, it was also met with plenty of outrage from those who would prefer the account had just released a list of the players. You just have to scroll through the comment section to find a sea of fans disgusted at the national team’s efforts to ‘appeal to the youth.’

First of all, England aren’t appealing to just the youth with the announcement video, they’re appealing to the entire country. There is nothing that stokes positivity and happiness in an entire nation than seeing kids…well, being kids. It doesn’t matter what country you’re in. It wouldn’t matter if Belgium, or Panama, or Tunisia released the same announcement with the same concept: no matter what, children will always help drive a nation’s morale up.

The video starts at Wembley, with a boy and a girl directing you to turn up the sound. You’re going to need it throughout the next minute and a half of joyful screaming. Raheem Sterling is first, as a group of teenage friends celebrate his inclusion. Then, there’s a boy screaming out of a car window, with two England flags waving on the top of the car, who shouts, “JOHN STONES! GO ON LAD!”

The theme continues, with a girl surfing through a muddy pitch, as if she’d just scored an absolute curler, and then shouting “Danny Rose!” Then comes the playful tribalism. A boy standing on top of a wall spray-painted “Jamie Vardy” announces the Leicester striker’s inclusion, and notes how the Premier League winner was “made in Sheffield.” Next, at a Bristol bus stop, one child announces hometown hero Jack Butland’s inclusion. A group of Lewisham boys proudly parade Ruben Loftus-Cheek, a Mancunian child announces Danny Welbeck, and who could forget “Walthamstow’s finest,” Harry Kane?

I am American, I have never so much stepped foot inside England since Tony Blair was Prime Minister, and I tend to cheer when a team like Uruguay or Iceland send England packing from an international tournament. But I cannot deny that a video like that fills your heart with national pride and joy.

The creators of the video should also be applauded for going out of their way to feature England’s diverse demographics. Not only does the video feature boys and girls of different ethnicities, of different backgrounds and of different parts of the country, but it also features children with disabilities. A boy with Down’s Syndrome announces Jesse Lingard’s inclusion while playing FIFA, and then does one of Lingard’s many different goal celebrations. A deaf boy signifies in sign language that “Ashley Young’s on the plane.” The England social media team deserve credit for linking together a group of diverse children, bonded by nothing more than a passport and a shared love for football, and making them the stars of the World Cup squad announcement video.

It’s ingenious video ideas like this that not only give hope to the next generation, but to the future of marketing as well. While every other nation will simply release a 23-man list on the day of their respective announcements, England ought to be praised for going outside the box and proving just how crazy English kids are for football.

The squad announcement didn’t necessarily need a video, but England still went for it, and they pulled it off. I fail to see how anyone could possibly have a problem with this, but I would be a fool to ignore the cardinal rule of Twitter: as long as you tweet it, someone is bound to get mad at it for no apparent reason.

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Premier League predictions

Roberto Firmino Liverpool

With this being the last weekend of Premier League action, every sides that will be keen to end their season with a win. Here are our predictions for the upcoming games!

Burnley vs AFC Bournemouth – home win

Burnley have been truly phenomenal this season, securing Europa League action against the odds, and will be hoping this game rounds off a fantastic campaign.

With Nick Pope (12 clean sheets) cutting an inspired figure at times this season, this could well be his last chance to make a late bid to become the England keeper come the summer’s World Cup in Russia. Continue reading

Premier League Predictions


Check out our predictions for the upcoming Premier League fixtures, will Manchester CIty secure the Premier League title at Wembley this Saturday?

Southampton vs Chelsea – away win

There can surely only be one winner here. Whilst Chelsea have underwhelmed this campaign, the Saints have been truly dreadful.

Expect 11 goal Eden Hazard and co. to cause Mark Hughes’s men a fair bit of trouble this weekend.

Burnley vs. Leicester – draw

Two teams that are fighting it out to secure the ‘best of the rest’ accolade, both sides have impressed across the 2017/18 campaign.

Whilst Vardy (61 points) and Mahrez (71 points) have shone in attack for the Foxes, the fact that Heaton and Pope have kept 12 clean sheets between them exemplifies why this will be a tight affair.

Crystal Palace vs Brighton – home win

Whilst Hodgson’s men are on a poor run of results, their performances against big sides like Liverpool have been far from uninspired.

With the Selhurst Park faithful behind them, expect the likes of Zaha (33 points) and Benteke (10 points) to be real difference makers here

Huddersfield vs Watford – draw

Whilst Huddersfield have made the John Smith’s Stadium a tough place to travel to, they remain in a tough battle for survival.

The Hornets seemingly no longer have much to play for this campaign but one would suspect that a player of Doucoure’s talents (seven goals and 39 points this campaign) will be favourite to be the difference maker tonight.

Swansea City vs Everton – home win

Whilst the Toffees have largely stabilised since the appointment of Sam Allardyce, their dour brand of football has left a lot to be desired.

Swansea have made the Liberty Stadium an intimidating arena so far this season and a player of Tammy Abraham’s calibre (five goals on loan from season) could be enough to unsettle the visitors.

Liverpool vs Bournemouth – home win

Liverpool will need an extra bounce off the back of their gruelling midweek Champions League exploits but with the likes of Mane (65 points), Firmino (97 points) and Salah (160 points) leading the line, they’ll be confident of securing another victory at Anfield.

Jordon Ibe has found good form in recent weeks, hitting six assists and 29 points, and he will be will be keen to cause an upset against his old team.

Tottenham vs Man City – home win

A really tough one to call, this depends entirely on how City react to three consecutive defeats within a week.

If Guardiola’s men, led by De Bruyne (87 points) and Silva (75 points) can show a bit of mettle then they’ll be favourites to secure their third Premier League title. Anything less than their best, however, would open the door for the likes of Harry Kane (97 goals) to take full advantage.

Newcastle Untied vs Arsenal – home win

Newcastle’s form since a productive January transfer window has been particularly good, with the likes of Matt Richie 29 points inspiring them to a drive towards mid-table safety.

Arsenal’s away form will be of concern to them. With one eye firmly on the Europa League, this might prove a tough day for them up at St James’ Park.

Manchester United vs West Brom – home win

United will be buoyant after their spectacular comeback at fierce rivals Manchester City and eager to compound that great performance with another win here.

The attacking exploits of the likes of Lukaku (68 points) and Jesse Lingard (64 points) should be far too much for a West Brom side that is rooted at the bottom of the table to handle.

West Ham United vs Stoke City – home win

Both sides have had underwhelming seasons, with Stoke now one of the favourites to go down to the Championship.

Whilst West Ham have largely disappointed this season, the form of Arnautovic  has largely been a pleasure across the campaign. Expect the 39 goal attacker to be the difference maker this weekend.

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