Inter Reinforcing Ahead Of Scudetto Push

Before the season started, many expected Inter to challenge Juventus for the Scudetto, but few foresaw the nerazzurri going toe-to-toe with the Italian champions like this. After seventeen match-days just eight goals and their head-to-head encounter separates the two at the top of the table. Since his arrival, Antonio Conte has already imprinted a clear identity at the San Siro, something that was lacking for years at the club.

Along with his trade-mark 3-5-2 and defensive solidity, the former Chelsea tactician has ensured his Inter side are among the toughest to break down in the peninsula. However, their lack of squad depth has been pegged as the defining factor in their title bid. As a result, Inter sporting director Giuseppe Marotta appears to be dipping into their war-chest and taking to the January mercato aggressively.

Reports suggest that former Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal is on his way to the club, but Inter will reportedly not stop there. In recent times, they have also been linked with Napoli’s Faouzi Ghoulam, Marcos Alonso, Olivier Giroud and Marcos Acuna among many other names, highlighting clearly Inter’s intent. While their list of targets grows as the mercato is set to open, Inter’s needs are clear: Midfield depth, another wing-back to compete with Asamoah and Biraghi, and a striker to provide Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez with some much-needed rest. Alexis Sanchez is also expected to return to action shortly, giving Conte another weapon in the final third. Beyond bolstering the side in key areas, Inter’s reported winter activity highlights one thing clearly: The title is there for the taking this season and they’re going for it.

When Nicolo Barella and Stefano Sensi went down injured, Conte’s men struggled to create chances and Inter barely overcame their opponents in tight affairs. Recognizing this, Inter loosened their purse strings. That’s where the experience of Vidal comes into play. Despite being on the wrong side of 30, the Chilean remains one of football’s elite box-to-box midfielders and will add some valuable experience in the middle of the park, in what is a relatively young midfield trio.

Up front, Lukaku and Martinez deserve a break. Up until now, the former Manchester United man has featured in all of Inter’s 17 Serie A clashes while his Argentine counterpart has appeared in 16 of the nerazzurri’s domestic affairs. While Sanchez’s injury complicated things, Conte will be eager to add another forward to his offensive ranks. Given he’s already familiar with Chelsea’s Olivier Giroud, the Frenchman’s arrival makes perfect sense. The former Arsenal man still has plenty to offer as a link-up man in the final third and could form quite the partnership with any of the nerazzurri’s front-men.

While adding another fullback is a luxury more than a necessity given Inter’s depth out wide, it demonstrates Conte and Marotta won’t stop until they’ve built a comprehensive side capable of competing on multiple fronts. With the title race likely going down to the wire this season for the first time in years, Inter are reinforcing significantly and won’t go down without a fight. Brace yourselves, we’ve got a title race.

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Modern Love and The Manchester United Way

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Manchester United under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer appear more of a revelation as time passes by. Last week there were rumblings of the wheels having come off, the extended honeymoon being over but how premature we all were.

Let’s be fair. On the face of it I’m not sure any credible football person really believed post Moyes, VG and Mourinho that Man United were anywhere near a Champions League credible force.

However, what a way to bounce back. Stamford Bridge hasn’t been the best of hunting grounds for the reds even in the Ferguson era yet on Monday night, United cruised through the tie like a classic car on a demonstration circuit through the streets of Monaco. Continue reading

Brazil bow out following defeat to Belgium

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Five-times World Cup champions Brazil bowed out of the World Cup last week after a mediocre campaign was finally brought to an end by Roberto Martinez’s Belgium side in Kazan.

In a crunch match in which Brazil would have to show their mettle and championship-winning credentials if they were to continue into the latter stages of the competition, the side found themselves behind early on when Nacer Chadli’s corner struck Fernandinho’s arm, beating an unsuspecting Alisson.

Brazil had conceded just one goal in their past four games in Russia and their opponents took advantage of the malaise that followed the surprise goal – creating a Continue reading

Marcus Rashford has to leave United to further his development

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Whether or not England go on to lift the World Cup title, or go further than the quarter final against Sweden, one thing has become abundantly clear under Gareth Southgate.

His astuteness and nous has seen a number of his young players going out onto the pitch fearless and able to fully express themselves. Not constrained in any way, they’re given the confidence to play their natural game and, where possible, enjoy themselves.

Compare and contrast Marcus Rashford’s demeanour with England to when he’s playing for Manchester United. Continue reading

Japan can make history against Belgium

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Many people think this round of sixteen tie between Japan and Belgium is going to be the most one sided knockout tie of this World Cup and the Asian team will be out to prove many a doubter wrong. Belgium may have pushed aside all in their way during the group stages but Japan also deserved to qualify from what was perhaps the most evenly spread group in terms of competition.

The game at the Rostov Arena will see the big names and familiar faces come back into both line ups as the two sides rested players amid rotation during the last set of group game fixtures. For Belgium, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne will be the big hitters and Japan would’ve liked to see them remain on the sidelines. For Japan, Akira Nashino will bring back in playmakers Shinji Kagawa and Takashi Inui, captain Makoto Hasebe and perhaps striker Yuya Osaka who has impressed with regular goal scorer Shinji Okazaki battling back to fitness.

Continue reading

Premier League predictions

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Check out our Premier League predictions ahead of the latest round of fixtures, here!

Brighton vs Manchester United – away win

Brighton may not be mathematically safe but they are more or less there and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if they take their foot off the gas.

With United bringing the likes of Lukaku  (72 points) and Lingard (68 points) leading the front line, it’ll most likely be them who will finish Friday night with three points in the bag.

Stoke City vs Crystal Palace – away win

Stoke are fighting for their lives and Paul Lambert will be desperately hoping that Continue reading

Premier League Predictions

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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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Premier League Predictions

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A look ahead at the Premier League fixture list for the weekend’s action!

Everton vs. Liverpool – away win

One of the most hotly anticipated games of the season, these two teams come into the Merseyside derby with different goals in mind – Liverpool looking to nail down Champions League qualification and Everton fighting for a mid-table spot.

Whilst they might be leggy from their Champions League clash with Man City, expect a Liverpool side led by the 29 goals and 160 points of Mo Salah to prove too much for Allardyce’s Toffees – assuming he’s fit!.

AFC Bournemouth vs. Crystal Palace – home win Continue reading

English football predictions for the weekend

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This weekend brings with it a host of Premier League and FA Cup fixtures – meaning some players won’t be eligible for points – here are predictions for who we believe will deliver over the upcoming ties.

Premier League predictions

Bournemouth vs. West Brom – home win.

Bournemouth have overcome a poor run of form at the beginning of the season to rise to a respectable mid-table spot – thanks to the exploits of Callum Wilson (34 points) and Jordon Ibe (25 points).

West Brom continue a poor run of form that has seen them win just three games all season and it seems difficult to see them winning on the weekend.

Huddersfield vs. Crystal Palace – home win.

Having faced Spurs, Chelsea and Manchester United in recent weeks, Palace have slipped back into a relegation position after a positive start under Hodgson.

The Eagles come up against a Huddersfield side that are in a reasonable vein of form and the likes of Aaron Mooy and Steve Mounie will make this a tough journey for a team in a desperate search for points. Continue reading