Poch-marked Conte’s record!

#Conte and his all-conquering #Chelsea side were one win away from setting the record for most consecutive wins in the #EPL after going 13 in a row equalling #Arsenal’s record (there was a time when they were really good, seriously!) until they came up against a fantastic #Tottenham side and their brilliant tactician #Pochettino, who found a way to nullify Chelsea’s potent 3-5-3 (or 3-5-2-1) and come away with a well-deserved 2-0 at #WhiteHartLane with a brace from #DeleAlli’s head.
The Blues still have a 5 point lead at the top, but this win, cheered on by all the other teams challenging for honors, be it the title or top 4, has certainly kept Chelsea from going 8 points clear and running away with it. #Spurs were disciplined in defense and kept #Costa completely out of the game and their midfield gave little or no space to #Hazard #Moses #Alonso and the 2 assists by a very good and constantly improving #Eriksen were top notch.
And while Poch’s reputation as one of the top tacticians in the game continues to grow, one Herr #Klopp and his #Liverpool side must be kicking themselves for not getting all 3 points from their 2-2 draw at #Sunderland, which would have brought them within 3 of Chelsea at the top.

#Arsenal showed just how frustrating they must be to their supporters after they started like rubbish, going down 3-0 to #Bournemouth until a last 20-minute onslaught brought them back to earn a 3-3 draw. As impressive as the comeback was, all it did was highlight how mentally weak the #Gunners can be and just why they will not win the title. After the result today, they have now dropped out of the top 4 and remain only 2 clear of an in-form #United.

#Swansea pulled off a last minute 1-2 win at #CrystalPalace in front of their third new boss of the season, #PaulClemens, who left as #Ancelotti’s assistant at mighty #Bayern to find a way to rescue a team that looks set for relegation. Palace on the other hand, have now lost their first 2 games of new manager #BigSam. #Stoke beat #Watford 2-0 to keep themselves knocking on the doors of the top half of the table.

Over in the #Copa, a #James brace gave #RealMadrid a comfortable 3-0 win (and reminder of his capabilities as rumors of a £60+ mil exit to Chelsea swirl) while #Villarreal were beaten 1-3 at #RealSociedad.

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Pepinho? Mourdiola?

Tetchy, sarcastic, under siege, blaming referees and hissing at the interviewer.

Classy, calm, smiling, humble, gracious to the opposition team and it’s manager.

When you read these 2 descriptions of an #EPL Manager, you probably went #PepGuardiola or even #Klopp to the latter and quite certainly #JoseMourinho to the former. You did, didn’t you? And if you did, you’d have good reason to based on history, even recent-ish history. But you’d be totally wrong. Wrong on both counts. Pep’s last few post-match interviews had begun to reveal a side of him we hadn’t really seen before – one under pressure from his team’s performances and dropping down the table in the type of league he’s never experienced before. It has been said time and again that the EPL is the most difficult in the world to play in and coach. And it’s showing in his answers to journalists. You just have to watch today’s post match interview by him to see just how strained this otherwise calm and collected guy is – blaming the referee, blaming the rules, hissing at the interviewer even though his 10-man #ManchesterCity side were able to beat a visiting #Burnley 2-1 thanks to goals by #Clichy (who?) and #Aguero.

Klopp too, seemed particularly peeved (by his high standards) at the tight schedule (playing 2 games in 48 hours) and a free-kick call against them, as his #Liverpool side dropped 2 critical points in their aim to stay on #Chelsea’s tail in a 2-2 draw at #Sunderland thanks to 2 penalties converted by #Defoe. He has a point – all 20 managers have said the same thing (except #Conte who’s Blues have a 4-day break before they play #Spurs on Wednesday) but all 20 teams have had to deal with this and many have come out unscathed. Liverpool must be especially peeved because this was the week they felt they could close the gap to Chelsea with their visit to the in-form #Tottenham anything but a sure 3-pointer. Instead the 6 point gap might well become 8 and they visit #OldTrafford next week. In current form, that is not going to be an easy 3 or even 1 point to earn.

On the flipside of the Pep/Klopp interviews was traditional offender, Jose Mourinho, who’s interviews more recently are gentle and thoughtful and gracious to his opponents and today was another one of those. His resurgent #ManchesterUnited side recorded their 6th win in a row, thanks to a lucky 0-2 win at 10-man #WestHam, thanks to goals by #Mata and #Ibra (who else?). United have had a lot of decisions go against them all season, including an incorrectly disallowed goal 2 days ago but lady luck seems to be evening things out a little bit because the direct red card awarded early in the game to #Feghouli was utterly harsh and was a yellow at most. The #Hammers still put on a spirited performance with 10 and the #RedDevils had the brilliant #DeGea to thank for keeping it 0-0 until #Mata’s opener and the 2nd by #Zlatan, which should have been called offside, finished the game off. The useless #Lingard and #Valencia are now in competition for the worst miss of the season, which you can watch here and brighten up your day with!

#Southampton continue their wretched form (and run) as they were thrashed 3-0 by an #Everton side that is starting to get their early-season groove back with goals from #Valencia #Baines and #Lukaku, while high-flying #WestBrom came from behind to beat #Hull 3-1. Champions #Leicester continued the weakest defense of a title by playing a lucky 0-0 draw at #Middlesborough, who should have had a clear penalty awarded to them.

#Arsenal play tomorrow as they fend off a United side that is now only 1 point behind them.

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Happy New Year – for some…..

#JoseMourinho is starting to make the #OldTrafford faithful sing again (especially today, on Sir Alex’s 75th birthday) – unbeaten in 10 and 6 wins on the trot, while playing some fantastic attacking football – more in the #SAF mould rather than than the traditional #Jose ‘Park the Bus’ mould. But none more so than today, as a much deserving #United came from 0-1 behind in the last minutes of the game to score 2 in 90 seconds to beat #Middlesborough 2-1 and keep the pressure on the top 4. The #RedDevils are starting to look very good – they are generally solid in defense, have very good midfield balance with #Herrera and #Carrick playing their terrier and calm pass-master roles respectively to a tee and #Pogba starting to show just why they paid top dollar for him – he is special and while it’s taken a while for him to get settled, he is going to be the midfield general for United for years to come. Upfront, #Ibra defies his age as his physical superiority, finish and personality are producing goals every game (he scored today as well but the goal was ridiculously disallowed – watch here to see how egregious the call was) and #Mhkitaryan and #Martial produce magic that the #TheatreOfDreams hasn’t seen since a certain Ballon D’Or winner left many years ago. Their slow start to the season will haunt them by the end of the season because this team should have been competing with the utterly brilliant #Chelsea for the title, who have now equalled #Arsenal’s winning streak of the #Invincibles of 13 wins by beating #Stoke in a very entertaining game at #StamfordBridge. The Blues led 1-0 and 2-1 as a brave Stoke kept coming back but at 2-2, they turned it on to end up 4-2 winners and now sit 6 points clear of #Liverpool, who beat #ManchesterCity 1-0 at #Anfield, thanks to a brilliant header from #Wijnaldum. In the battle of the star coaches, #Klopp came out on top over #PepGuardiola and his team now sit in 3rd on 39 points, 10 behind Chelsea and only 3 ahead of #Tottenham and United. The top 4 is still up for grabs amongst 6 teams, even though the Blues might well be out of sight in the title race!

#LeicesterCity managed a much needed 1-0 over #WestHam thanks to a #Slimani header; #Southampton lost their 2nd on the trot as #WestBrom beat them 1-2; #Burnley thrashed #Sunderland 4-1 thanks to a #Gray hat-trick and manager-less #Swansea lost again 0-3 to #Bournemouth.

The festive season continues over the next few days with #Arsenal and #Tottenham in action tomorrow.

Happy New Years everyone!

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Demolition of the pretenders…..

In so many ways, this was like the #Leicester story of last season – unknown small club punches way above their weight to give heavyweights a massive run for their money. And yet, it really isn’t, because #RBLeipzig, the club from the east, bankrolled by the owner of #RedBull, deftly jumping through #Bundesliga loopholes on ownership structure, branding (RasenBallsport as a way to use RB in their name) were joint top of the league with mighty #Bayern, much to chagrin of every else in Germany. Quite the opposite of the way most folk felt about tiny, innocent Leicester. And yet, they were going toe-to-toe with the Bavarians (if it had been any other team, most Germans would have welcomed the challenge to this boring monopoly that Bayern have had for so long).
Until now. Leipzig went to the #AllianceArena to show Bayern just how good they were. Instead, they were dealt a lesson by the Meisters. A brutal 3-0 thrashing with goals from the brilliant #Thiago, #Alonso and #Lewandowski, that could well have been 5 or 6 – 0. There is only one power in the Bundesliga and they showed it by demolishing the pretenders, especially with poor #Dortmund continuing their inconsistent league form with a disappointing 1-1 home draw against minnows #Augsburg.

Perhaps now everyone will hate poor Leipzig less.

Over in the #SerieA, #Inter continued the resurrection of their otherwise garbage 2016 campaign with a 3-0f thrashing of #Lazio – could this be the start of something meaningful for the #Nerazzurri ?

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Same old, same old….

It’s Christmas time, when fixtures come thick and fast, couple of away games to boot and lo and behold, #Arsenal come unstuck again, losing back-to-back games at#Everton and then today at #ManchesterCity. In both games it wasn’t that they thrashed or that they didn’t show up (infact they led 1-0 in both games only to lose 2-1 in the end) but they lost for the same reason that the #Gunners have lost the race for the title the last 12 years – their weak spine. They are brilliant in so many ways – #Ozil’s creativity, #Sanchez’ all-round genius, #Cech’s consistency between the sticks, #Koscielny’s defensive nous and yet, when it comes to the tough (often away) games, they just seem to whittle away physically and mentally, just enough to bottle a couple of games that end up costing them in the race for the title. #Wenger, like he does every season, blames everyone and everything (today it was the refereeing) but the end result is just the same. #Sane’s equalizer today for #City was borderline onside and the #Sterling goal to win it could have been construed as offside because of #DavidSilva’s position but neither were clear offsides. What was clear was that Arsenal played only one half at City today. And that’s just the same old, same old, isn’t it?

#Tottenham had a late #Rose goal to thank for their narrow 2-1 win against #Burnley, helping them come within 1 point of #Arsenal, who dropped to 4th after today’s defeat. #Southampton won at #Bournemouth 1-3 thanks to 2 #JayRodriguez goals, who’s return from non-stop injury is a massive boost to the Saints (and possibly #England).

In the #Bundesliga, a narrow 0-1 win at #Darmstadt means #Bayern are back at top of the table on goal difference from #RBLeipzig and in the #SerieA 4 goals by #Mertens gave #Napoli a 5-3 win against #JoeHart’s #Torino and moved them up to 3rd, within a point of #Roma. #Inter got a welcome 0-1 away win at #Sassuolo moving them into 7th and in the #Ligue1, another #Balotelli brace gave #Nice a 2-1 win against #Dijon to leave 4 points ahead of 2nd placed #Monaco (who play later today).

#CristianoRonaldo scored yet another hat-trick to give #RealMadrid the #ClubWorldClub capping off an absolutely incredible year for the 4-time FIFA Ballon d’Or winner.

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Just Conte stop him!

19 teams in the #EPL currently feel like they just can’t find a way to stop #Conte’s brilliant #Chelsea side as they continue to grind out result after result, now getting to 11 wins in a row after a 0-1 win at #CrystalPalace thanks to yet another #Costa goal. 9 points clear at the top now and barring a dramatic collapse in the new year (perfectly timed with a huge winning run by someone in the group chasing them), the Blues will coast to their 2nd title in 3 years. #Zlatan seems just as unstoppable currently after scoring a brace in a comfortable 0-2 win at in-form #WestBrom, giving #ManchesterUnited their 3rd win on the trot and move them within 3 points of 4th placed #City and on equal 5th with #Spurs (both have a game to play tomorrow, though).  #United have looked the better team for about 2 months now but had struggled to convert their dominance into goals. Zlatan’s consistency in front of goal and the growing influence (and form) of #Pogba has helped change that. It also helps that #Mourinho seems to have found the 11-13 players he seems to rely on and the unlikely defensive pairing of #Rojo and #Jones has been fantastic for the last 4-5 games. With the reliability of #Carrick and the non-stop industry of the little terrier that is #AnderHerrera, the #RedDevils go into the festive season with a lot to aim for.
#WestHam seem to be getting better, slowly, with a narrow 1-0 win against #Hull; #Sunderland eked out a 1-0 #Watford; #Middlesborough sent #Swansea to the bottom with a 3-0 thrashing and 10-man #Leicester came from 0-2 behind to salvage a 2-2 draw at #Stoke.

Over in the #Bundesliga, #Dortmund needed a late comeback to draw 2-2 at high-flying #Hoffenheim while #RBLeipzig won, yet again, a 2-0 over #Hertha to go back top of the league, until #Bayern play tomorrow.

In the #LaLiga, #Atleti finally got their season back on track thanks to a #Saul rocket to beat #LasPalmas 1-0, while #Barcelona and @Espanyol play the Catalan derby tomorrow and #Real miss a game thanks to their final at the Club World Cup.

In the #SerieA, #Juve moved 9 points clear of #Roma after they beat them 1-0 thanks to a Higuain goal early in the 1st half, all but ending any Roman hope of a title challenge!

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The Ballon goes to CR7, again!

Love him or hate him, he’s had quite the year.

#Euro2016 winner

#ChampionsLeague2015 winner

#Ballond’Or winner

In 54 Games he scored 51 goals at an average of 0.94 per game. That’s #WayneRooney’s average per year!

Here is the list of the top 10 for 2015-2016. When you look at the list and see the little #Leicester duo of #Mahrez and #Vardy in that list dominated by the 2 Spanish giants (with a little #Atletico thrown in for variety), you begin to realize what a fairy tale year the Foxes had last year. It also shows you why Ronaldo and Messi are so darn amazing – they’ve now produced these Ballon winning performances since 2007 non-stop. That is some feat!

️1. Ronaldo – Real Madrid (0.94 goals per game)
2. Messi – Barcelona (0.93 goals per game)
3. Griezmann – Atletico Madrid
4. Suarez – Barcelona
5. Neymar – Barcelona
6. Bale – Real Madrid
7. Mahrez – Leicester
8. Vardy – Leicester
9/10. Pepe – Real Madrid
9/10. Gianluigi Buffon – Juventus

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Oh Arsenal…..

The #Gunners can’t catch a break in the knock-out rounds of the #ChampionsLeague it seems. For years now, they’ve somehow found ways to finish 2nd in their group only to be drawn against one of the giants – #Barcelona or #BayernMunich and end up being knocked out after playing really poorly in one leg and then fighting like crazy in the 2nd but falling short. Again and again. They had a difficult group again and this time, on the last match day, largely due to #PSG’s doing, #Arsenal topped their group. Yay? Not quite. Bayern just happened to finish 2nd in their group, surprisingly, and in the draw that took place this morning, lo and behold, that’s who #Wenger’s men will face in the round of 16. Bayern haven’t been as devastating as they usually are and Wenger will believe that he has a chance this time. But cometh the hour, cometh the Bavarians. This could end in pain and tears again for the Arsenal faithful.

#PSG paid the price for their slip-up as well, as they drew #Barcelona – a clash that neither team would have liked to see this early in the knockouts. For the neutrals, these are the 2 matchups of the round of 16.

Predictions:
1. #ManchesterCity over #Monaco
2. #RealMadrid over #Napoli
3. #Dortmund to edge #Benfica but this one could go either way, especially with #BVB’s inconsistency.
4. Bayern over Arsenal (again)
5. #Juventus over #Porto but only just.
6. #AtleticoMadrid over #BayerLeverkusen
7. Barcelona over PSG but this might be closer than the Catalans would life.
8. #Sevilla over #Leicester, their demolition of manCity over the weekend notwithstanding, the Spanish side have far more guile and experience dealing with Europe.

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All class and one ass!

Post game interviews are always interesting, especially when the game/ result hasn’t gone well. The questions seem just that much harder or annoying to have to answer. Some Managers give detail and analyze meaningfully in their responses (#Klopp is the best example of this) and some answer in a relatively biased manner (#Wenger often comes to mind). But this season, if you look at the interviews of #Pep, Klopp and #Pochettino (all embedded below) the one thing that stands out is just how classy these guys are. Objective, loyal, respectful and often times thoughtful. They show respect for their opponents, appreciate good goals and objectively defend their players.

Then you have Arsene Wenger, who is fine if Arsenal win but gets tetchy and sarcastic when they don’t. He’s annoying but tolerable when that happens. At the absolute other spectrum is the self-styled ‘Special One’, who seems less special by the day and more annoying each time he comes out to speak to the press. Watch his post game interview after #Everton scored right in the end to make it 1-1 last week. He is such an annoying classless twat, isn’t he?

Pochettino:

Pep:

Klopp:

Mourinho:

 

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