Category Archives: Match Previews

Leeds United in serious trouble as Man City cruise to 7-0 thrashing

Marcelo Bielsa’s reign as Leeds United manager is surely hanging by a thread after they were thumped 7-0 by Man City at the Etihad Stadium.

City were dominant for the entire 90 minutes after they altered their formation to play with an extra attacker, and found the back of the net seven times with little defending to do.

Kevin De Bruyne (2), Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez, Jack Grealish, John Stones and Nathan Ake were all on the scoresheet as City outshot Leeds by 31-6, with 15 shots on target compared to just three for the visitors.



The result means City will stay at the top of the Premier League for another game week, with with seven wins in a row and nine wins from the last ten games.

But for Leeds however, the defeat means it’s just one win in seven games and three wins all season for the Yorkshire side.

Bielsa is now under pressure to not undo the great job he has done at Elland Road, after helping them get promoted after 17 years away from the top flight and then keeping them in the division at the first attempt.

Leeds have now become increasingly easy to play against, with most sides figuring out their man-to-man approach and being adaptable enough to change it up and beat them at their own game.

They have been without main man Patrick Bamford for much of the campaign so far and will be without star player Kalvin Phillips for two months after he suffered a serious hamstring injury, but that isn’t an excuse for such lacklustre performances.

The players look tired and out of sorts, bewildered by what they’ve been asked to do on the pitch and it seems as though the quality level has caught up with them at this point.

With their next three fixtures coming against Arsenal, Liverpool and in-form Aston Villa this could mark the beginning of the end for the Argentine’s reign.

His contract is set to expire at the end of the season and there is little suggestion it will be renewed this time, so maybe pulling the trigger six months early and finding someone to reinvigorate the team is what’s needed.

Whatever the solution, it needs to be found as soon as possible, or Leeds are in very real danger of relegation back to the Championship come May.

Arsenal continuing to fail under Mikel Arteta as Everton earn 2-1 victory

Arsenal were well beaten on Monday night by an Everton side that earned their first victory since September thanks to an injury time Demarai Gray goal.

Everton thought they’d taken the lead in the first half thanks to Richarlison, only for VAR to rule it out for offside and Martin Odegaard to score minutes later on the stroke of half-time.

The Gunners were conservative in the second half and Everton’s pressure continued to build, with the Brazilian forward having another goal ruled out for a marginal offside by VAR.



Richarlison finally got himself on the scoresheet with 11 minutes of normal time to go when Gray’s strike from the edge of the box bounced off the crossbar, and the 24-year-old reacted first with a brilliant header over Aaron Ramsdale into the corner.

Arsenal finally stopped time wasting and looked for a goal, but it was Gray’s absolute screamer in the 92nd minute that sealed all three points for the Toffees.

For Arsenal, it was more of the same issues under Mikel Arteta that we’ve see for the last two years. The club had an idea of how they wanted to play but couldn’t execute it to a high level, then crumbled under pressure.

Arteta surprised many by bringing Granit Xhaka back into the team after two months out and despite clearly being tired after around 65 minutes and getting booked, he played the entirety of the game.

Kieran Tierney started the game and was brought off after 65 minutes, with Nuno Tavares coming in and struggling in his cameo performance while the rest of the team didn’t have a good night at all.

Thomas Partey is supposed to be the anchor of the midfield and the metronome with his passing ability, but he is seriously struggling with the pace of the Premier League and he lost 9/14 duels on the night to contribute to Arsenal’s woes.

Arsenal have a decent squad, and while they may be lacking some x-factor in the attacking areas it’s not a big enough deficiency for them to be performing at the low levels that they are doing consistently.

Mikel Arteta, Manager of Arsenal looks on following defeat in the Premier League match between Everton and Arsenal at Goodison Park on December 06,...

He is struggling to get the best out of senior players, with captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang failing to hold down a regular place in the team and looking unhappy, while the young players are having far too much reliance placed upon them in the side.

Ultimately, this side just isn’t very good. They aren’t coached particularly well, they don’t have anyone they can rely on to dig them out of a hole and there isn’t really a silver lining in sight.

Arsenal aren’t good and the sooner the fans and the board realise that, the better for the club.

What Manchester United fans learnt from Ralf Rangnick’s first win as manager

Manchester United earned back-to-back victories in the Premier League for the first time since September as Fred’s goal gave Ralf Rangnick a winning start as manager.

The German boss took over as interim manager until the end of the season following the win over Arsenal in midweek and named an unchanged team for the visit of Palace, who were set up to counter and attack United’s weaknesses.

The Reds turned in an excellent first half performance but they didn’t find the breakthrough until late on, when Fred whipped one into the top corner with his right foot from the edge of the box.



United learnt from the performance that there are some things to come and there are plenty of positives to take from it, but here are the ones I picked out.

Fred will love Rangnick

If it wasn’t obvious from the fact he got the winner, the Brazilian was excellent throughout. Many people expected an upturn in his fortunes with the arrival of a coach and a more structured system and it showed immediately.

The 28-year-old was quick in the press, more forward thinking with his passing and his tackling was as good as usual. This system is designed to get the best out of players like him and he is thriving in the heart of midfield.

Victor Lindelof enjoyed the responsibility

The Swede continued in the absence of Raphael Varane but he turned in one of the most assured performances of his Old Trafford career.

Lindelof was excellent on the ball, brave to pinch the ball early on the halfway line and constantly organising his midfielders ahead of him too. He did well to completely nullify the threat of Christian Benteke and Odsonne Edouard up front while also helping Diogo Dalot get forward and track Wilfried Zaha. A top performance.

Attacking full-backs

Under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Aaron Wan-Bissaka was a staple of the defence but it seems as though his position may not be so secure anymore.

Rangnick opted to stick with Dalot and the Portuguese defender turned in an excellent display, with great confidence on the ball and a real threat up and down the wing. With the full-backs keeping a high starting position, the attacking abilities are important and Dalot could be a big winner in this change.

Manchester United Head Coach / Manager Ralf Rangnick congratulates Diogo Dalot of Manchester United at the end of the Premier League match between...

Free flowing attack

United pressed high and were impressive off the ball in the game, but the performances of both Cristiano Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho were also positives in an attacking sense.

Both men pressed well and they linked well together in and around the box as United touched the ball more times in the opponents penalty area than in any game since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement.

While neither were directly involved in the goal, it showed that they can be key figures in the side and that can only be a positive for Manchester United.

Ralf Rangnick can find out exactly where Manchester United stand against Arsenal

Manchester United play host to long-time rivals Arsenal at Old Trafford in the Premier League tonight, and it’s the start of a new era.

The Reds have seen two games go relatively well results wise since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked following a poor run, with a 2-0 win over Villarreal followed up with a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge vs Chelsea.

Michael Carrick has been the man in charge of those fixtures, and has vehemently denied that new interim manager Ralf Rangnick had any input on team selection and tactics.



But after being officially announced as the interim manager until the end of the season, Rangnick will surely have input on this game despite not being in the dugout for it.

The German is still working through the visa process and won’t be able to officially take charge of the team against Arsenal, but reports say he has already been looking at training tapes and analysing previous games to be able to hit the ground running when he does eventually take charge.

But with that time edging ever closer, it won’t be beyond the realms of possibility that he has a big say in team selection and training methods leading into this game.

Even if he isn’t though, this is a game where he will finally be able to see what the team is truly made of and the size of the task he has taken on. While Villarreal are a good team in their own right, United are supposed to be beating them.

Head coach of Manchester United Michael Carrick and Forward of Manchester United Cristiano Ronaldo during Champions League match between Villarreal...

Chelsea are a team right now that would cause any team to adapt their tactics slightly too, so it’s no surprise United went extra defensive in that sense.

But against Arsenal, at Old Trafford and with a win desperately needed in the Premier League, they have to go for it. The fans will be right behind them, the players should be up for it to impress the new boss and they are playing against a team who have their own issues.

This isn’t an Arsenal team that have been particularly impressive recently, despite their results. Mikel Arteta is still learning on the job and while his side have started to somewhat resemble what he has been speaking about since being in charge almost two years ago, they still have glaring weaknesses.

On paper, the United squad is considerably stronger than Arsenal’s and they have the ability to put this team to the sword if they are firing. But that’s a big ‘if’ considering recent form, and Arsenal will be raring to go against a wounded animal.

Jadon Sancho of Manchester United celebrates scoring their first goal during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Manchester United at...

If United can show their true level they should win this game. If they perform below it, then it’s very possible they get beaten and fall even further down the table in the race for a top four place.

But one thing that will be sure, is that Rangnick will have a much better idea of his task after 90 minutes at Old Trafford. Whether he can turn it around or build on it, is a different question entirely.

Rafa Benitez must give Everton fans a reason to love him

One of the big stories in the summer was that of Rafa Benitez joining Everton as manager to replace the departed Carlo Ancelotti.

After the Italian re-joined Real Madrid in a shock move to surprise Everton, the Toffees took their time to appoint his replacement.

There were talks with Frank Lampard, Eddie Howe and Nuno Espirito Santo but ultimately, the decision of the owner Farhad Moshiri was to bring in Liverpool fan favourite Benitez.



Immediately fans protested the decision, letting it be known that they were not happy with his involvement in the club considering the brilliant history he has with their fiercest rivals.

Benitez famously won the UEFA Champions League in 2005 as Reds boss while also leading them on a title charge as they competed with Manchester United and Chelsea in the late 2000’s.

Despite some ugly scenes before he was officially announced in the role, Benitez took over officially before the season started and took charge of pre-season where he signed the likes of Andros Townsend and Demarai Gray.

The season started well too, with three wins from the opening four Premier League games as well as progression in the Carabao Cup against Huddersfield. Since then though, it’s been a bit of a nightmare.

Everton manager Rafa Benitez greets his players after the Premier League match between Everton and Southampton at Goodison Park on August 14, 2021 in...

A 3-0 defeat to Aston Villa on September 18th was the start of seven defeats in ten games, with just one win in that run that has led them to tonight’s Merseyside derby against their in-form city rivals.

A video from the away section of their defeat against Brentford at the weekend showed just how angry Everton fans are right now, and considering Benitez was fighting a losing battle when he took the job initially it hasn’t got any easier for him now.

Something that would undoubtedly get Blues fans on side would be a victory against the Anfield side, who have long been labelled as one of the very best teams in the world currently.

One of those classic defensive performances with some strong counter-attacking threat and a potential upset win, would be the perfect remedy for the fans and go some way to showing exactly where his loyalties lie these days.

Everton manager Rafael Benítez during the Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Everton at Molineux on November 01, 2021 in...

Whether it comes against Liverpool or in the following games against Arsenal, Crystal Palace or Chelsea, Benitez needs to do something and quickly.

The longer this stretch of bad form goes on for, the less likely it is that the fans will be forgiving to him as the season becomes harder and harder to resurrect.

The same way Benitez endeared himself to Liverpool fans by winning big games and trophies, the Spaniard must find a way to make Everton fans love him.

Leeds United desperate for Marcelo Bielsa to find his mojo again

After 17 years away from England’s top flight, Leeds United returned to the Premier League last season and were a breath of fresh air under Marcelo Bielsa.

The legendary South American oversaw a stellar Championship campaign with the Yorkshire side that saw them promoted as champions, with expectations among the fan base relatively high following their return to the grandest stage.

It was a great season too for the Elland Road faithful, as Bielsa’s extraordinary man-to-man tactics worked well and secured the club a ninth placed finish with a positive goal difference.



It was a nudge in the right direction for Leeds, who many neutrals were delighted to see back in the big time and performing well.

They play with swashbuckling attacking intent, often prepared to concede goals if it means they’re able to score a few more at the other end of the pitch.

They all trust each other on the ball and are comfortable and confident when it comes to playing their way out of tight situations. All the fortune that their bravery brought last season was well deserved, but this season has been nothing short of a nightmare.

After a 5-1 thumping on the opening day of the season by rivals Manchester United, Leeds have managed just two wins from the following 12 Premier League games so far.

Marcelo Bielsa, Manager of Leeds United looks on during the Premier League match between Leeds United and Leicester City at Elland Road on November...

They are languishing three points above the relegation zone, with just 12 goals scored and 20 conceded. Starting striker Patrick Bamford has missed a chunk of the campaign through injury, while Raphinha hasn’t quite hit the heights he did last year.

Kalvin Phillips also seems to be suffering with a Euro’s hangover after helping England reach their first major international final since 1966 during the summer. Overall, the performances have just been poor for the most part and fans are beginning to worry.

But beyond them all it’s Bielsa who seems to have lost his spark the most. He isn’t nearly as animated on the touchline as he has been in the past, and while he has made decisions to make substitutions early in games he seems to lack the decisiveness he usually possesses.

A team that clearly thrives on confidence, Leeds are bereft of it currently.

They’ll take on a Crystal Palace side next who are still transitioning into their full potential under Patrick Vieira but have started the season well. Only Chelsea, Man City and Liverpool have lost less games than Palace and they’re also one of only seven teams in the division to not have a negative goal difference.

Kalvin Phillips of Leeds United applauds the Leeds fans after the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Leeds United at Tottenham...

If Leeds are to start building momentum to survive this season, there is no time like now. They have seven games left in 2021 and four of them comes against the top three and Arsenal.

They need to win some games and sharpish, or they’re at a very real risk of being relegated at the second time of asking after fighting so hard to get back to where they believe they belong.

If anyone can provide a win for Leeds, it’s not the players on the pitch. It’s their leader off it and their tactical genius of a coach. He has all the tool and qualities to come up with something different for the team to get it to click again, and it must happen now.

Cristiano Ronaldo is Manchester United’s poison and medicine

Manchester United secured a huge point away to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, but bigger than the result was Michael Carrick’s decision to drop Cristiano Ronaldo.

United started the game in a 4-3-3 shape with Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho flanking Bruno Fernandes as the striker, with all of Fred, Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic playing in midfield.

The Reds took the lead in the second half as Sancho pounced on a Jorginho error to slot past Edouard Mendy, before the Italian converted a penalty to ensure a nervy finish.



Ronaldo wasn’t on the pitch when United went ahead but had been called upon by Carrick before the penalty decision, while he was largely anonymous on the field for the rest of the game.

Carrick implemented a high press to try and force Chelsea into errors higher up the pitch, but the home side managed to cope fairly well for the most part.

While some speculated that the incoming Ralf Rangnick may have had something to do with the team selection and decision to drop Ronaldo, Carrick completely ruled that out and it was pretty clear from the style that the German had no involvement.

But what it did offer up were some questions about how Ronaldo will fit in going forward.

Manchester United's Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo replaces Manchester United's English striker Jadon Sancho in the second half during the...

The Portuguese forward is the club’s top goalscorer this season with ten goals, but the Premier League has proved tough for him with just four goals in nine appearances so far. His lack of defensive nous means United are often a man down when it comes to the transitions and keeping clean sheets.

Despite that though, he has proven to be United’s saviour on several occasions already. He scored twice on his debut in a 4-1 win over Newcastle, scoring the opening and go-ahead goals in the game.

He scored the equaliser against West Ham, the opener against Young Boys, the winner against Villarreal at home, the winner in the home game against Atalanta, the opener against Tottenham, both goals in a 2-2 draw with Atalanta away and the opener in the return game against Villarreal too.

All of his goals to date have been meaningful and contributed towards United winning points. So how is it that someone so important can also potentially be a hinderance to the current United squad going forward?

Ultimately, that is the case. His defensive frailties don’t help the side whatsoever on the pitch, but going forward you can’t just ignore how good he is when it comes to being clinical and winning you games.

Forward of Manchester United Cristiano Ronaldo celebrate after scoring the 0-1 goal with his teammate during Champions League match between...

With Ronaldo now 36-years-old, you get what you’re given with him at this point. United knew what he offered when they signed him and they did it anyway. To his credit, he has performed too.

For United and Rangnick now, the task remains the same. They need a cohesive defensive unit on the pitch, which also contains Cristiano Ronaldo in attack to have the perfect balance to win games, especially at the highest level.

The Portuguese legend is currently both a poison and a medicine to the Manchester United squad, but United must now find a way to perfectly balance the doses of each.

Liverpool proving they can win without Mo Salah firing

It says something about the strength of the Premier League right now that three of the top four teams in the world right now are plying their trade in England’s top flight.

Alongside Bayern Munich of the Bundesliga, Man City, Chelsea and Liverpool are running riot as the best and most effective teams in the world right now.

In those teams are some of the best players in the world right now, but arguably the best of the bunch currently is Anfield hero Mohamed Salah.



The Egyptian has been in the form of his life so far this season, registering an amazing 17 goals and eight assists in 18 games in all competitions.

But as Liverpool played host to Southampton on Saturday afternoon, for once he wasn’t firing on all cylinders. Even despite that though, Liverpool were able to run out 4-0 winners thanks to goals from Diogo Jota, Thiago and Virgil Van Dijk.

Salah did register an assist, but the overall performance for Liverpool was very encouraging against a good side in Southampton.

The full-backs were flying once again, with both Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold registering assists, while the midfield were able to dominate the ball and also chip in with creativity too.

It was the performance of Portuguese forward Jota that would have been most encouraging for Jurgen Klopp though, as he continued his excellent form with two goals early in the first half.

For a player who was initially signed as cover for the famous front three, Jota’s form and performances have pushed him firmly into consideration for a regular starting role in the team ahead of Roberto Firmino.

One of the big things for Liverpool’s attack was that all three players didn’t need to be firing for them to be influential on the result of a game, but Firmino’s drop-off over the last 18 months had essentially taken one of their weapons away.

Jota’s work rate means Liverpool are able to restore the feeling without Firmino, but his added quality in attack means they are back to having a three-pronged attack that is capable of rotating and going toe-to-toe with any defence in the world.

For Liverpool that can only be a good thing. It means that when a team does manage to halt the momentum of Salah, or even Sadio Mane for that matter, they still have one more weapon in their arsenal to punish the opposition.

It’s amazing for Liverpool and just another reason why they’re among the best teams in the world currently.

Steven Gerrard and Patrick Vieira can show us what the future of the Premier League looks like

This weekend will see a legendary Premier League midfield battle take place on the touchline as Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa take on Patrick Vieira’s Crystal Palace.

Both men are in their first Premier League jobs as manager after taking over in the summer and during the most recent international break respectively, showing just how far the league has come as a spectacle.

During their respective playing careers, there weren’t many better than them in their midfield roles but now as coaches they are trying to carve a whole new legacy that can help them stand out.



Since taking over at Selhurst Park in the summer, Vieira has overseen a complete overhaul of playing style and ethos at the club.

From a team that was set up to defend their box and counter through Wilfried Zaha under Roy Hodgson for years, they are now a team that look to be brave in possession and create their own chances rather than just trying to capitalise on opponent’s mistakes.

They have a young squad that are composed and offensive minded, while defensively they look as solid as they have in the past.

Conor Gallagher of Crystal Palace speaks with Patrick Vieira, Manager of Crystal Palace during the Premier League match between Manchester City and...

Gerrard has made a name for himself in the Scottish Premiership with Rangers, helping to end Celtic’s dominance and earning them their first league title in ten years.

He plays attacking football, with an emphasis on control and speed while he also trusts youth if he deems them good enough.

For both, it’s an ode to the way they played the game themselves. Both love a powerful midfield with speed in attack and defenders who defend first and foremost. It’s also a blueprint to players of that era in the Premier League who are looking to move into coaching and management.

Playing in that era of football had a magical feeling, as technique and technology had more of a place than just passion and fitness. It’s likely that a lot of players from that era in the Premier League will see the game in a similar light, especially those who had success like these did.

Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard looks on during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Brighton & Hove Albion at Villa Park on November...

The more we see former players move into management, with the likes of Wayne Rooney, Scott Parker and Frank Lampard already involved it could lead to seeing a reincarnation of the old style of play with the new advancements tweaked in.

If Gerrard is able to continue his successful managerial spell with Villa and Vieira can continue the good job he has done at Palace so far, fellow ex-pros will see the benefits too and be more inclined to try and implement their way of playing onto their teams.

That can only be a good thing with the way football is improving, and that means fans will get a show every week no matter the fixture happening in the stadium.

Chelsea showing how important Manchester United managerial decision is

Premier League leaders Chelsea play host to Manchester United on Sunday afternoon in the big game of the weekend, with more than just three points on the line.

Both sides picked up wins in midweek in the Champions League, with United earning a 2-0 win over Villarreal thanks to goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho, while Chelsea smashed Juventus 4-0 at Stamford Bridge with Trevoh Chalobah, Reece James, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Timo Werner on the scoresheet.

But it’s the managerial position at both clubs that is currently in the headline most, and for very different reasons.



It’s a little under a year since Tuchel arrived at Chelsea following his sacking at Paris Saint-Germain, and the turnaround in the club’s fortunes since have been phenomenal.

They became European champions for a second time with a 1-0 win over Manchester City in the Champions League final last season, and currently sit top of the Premier League with a three point lead over City and just four goals conceded in 12 games so far.

Tuchel celebrated his 50th game in charge against Juventus and it brought to light an incredible statistic showing just how good he has made his side in a short space of time.

New manager Thomas Tuchel of Chelsea holds up the home Nike Shirt at Stamford Bridge on January 27, 2021 in London, England.

It was his 32nd win as manager, but amazingly it was also the 31st clean sheet he has overseen as boss. In the other 19 games, Chelsea have conceded just 24 goals with five of those coming in that shock defeat to West Brom last season.

He has absolutely maximised the talent in his team and by tweaking his system throughout his time at the club, he has made them look formidable in all aspects of play.

For Manchester United, they need something very similar to happen for them. After sacking Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on Sunday, they find themselves in a position where the season could still be saved if the right man could be brought in.

Mauricio Pochettino has been linked with the role on a full-time basis, but it seems highly unlikely that he would join before the summer. This has led to the club appointing Ralf Rangnick as their interim coach until the end of the season, before moving into a consultancy role afterwards.

Players of Manchester United celebrate after a goal during UEFA Champions League Group F match between Villarreal and Manchester United at Estadio de...

There were countless names linked to the job, but Rangnick can be seen as the man with a plan so to speak.

He will have the right ideas, right mentality and right character to try and save the season for the club while also laying the foundations for whoever it is the club are planning to bring in on a full-time basis. He just needs to execute now.

The results of what could happen if they get the next decision right will be staring them right in the face on Sunday at Stamford Bridge.