Who scored a textbook Denis Law header? Garth’s team of the week

Posted by Warren Fyfe on August 29, 2016 with No Comments
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Garth Crooks' team of the week

The top of the Premier League table is starting to take shape as Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United maintained their 100% winning starts to the season.

Champions Leicester and Arsenal also won for the first time this campaign, while Everton continued their impressive start against Stoke, who drop to the bottom of the table.

Here is my team of the week:

Goalkeeper – Artur Boruc (Bournemouth)


Sterling seals win as Man City continue 100% start

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Fernandinho’s goal was the 15th of his Manchester City career in all competitions

Manchester City continued their 100% start to the season with a victory over West Ham that took them to the top of the Premier League.

City scored first when Raheem Sterling finished off a superb team move and Fernandinho headed in a second from Kevin de Bruyne’s free-kick.

West Ham pulled a goal back in the second half when Michail Antonio nodded in Arthur Masuaku’s cross.

Sterling added his second late on when he stroked home from a tight angle.

Relive City’s 3-1 win over West Ham

The season may be in its infancy but already the title contenders have put down a few markers with three games gone.

Chelsea and Manchester United both secured victories on Saturday, which turned the focus on Pep Guardiola’s side before the international break, and they responded with a determined display.

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Man City 3-1 West Ham: Best Premier League performance so far – Pep Guardiola

A blistering start – underpinned by the attacking triumvirate of Sterling, Sergio Aguero and Nolito – yielded a slick goal finished off by Sterling.

It was not just the polished passing and intense pressing which caught the eye. City’s second goal ensured four of their nine Premier League goals this season have come from set-pieces.

That they could not convert their first-half dominance into more goals will be mildly concerning to Guardiola as they allowed West Ham back into the contest after the break.

However, a steely response to see out the victory when put under pressure, before Sterling calmly passed the ball into the net in injury time, will have pleased the City boss.

Rejuvenated Sterling proving his worth

Last season Sterling did little to justify the £49m City paid Liverpool for him in July 2015, while Euro 2016 with England proved to be a nadir in a difficult 12 months.

Inevitably it led to questions about whether his burgeoning talent would ever be realised at City, and more pertinently in the short term whether he would feature in Guardiola’s immediate plans.

The Catalan’s ruthless streak – as goalkeeper Joe Hart and midfielder Yaya Toure are finding out – has come to the fore early in his tenure.

Sterling, though, has been rejuvenated by Guardiola and his two goals put the gloss on another impressive display.

With three assists so far in this campaign, he has had a hand in five goals in four games.

By contrast, he was involved in just four goals in his last 17 appearances under Guardiola’s predecessor Manuel Pellegrini.

If Sterling’s form can be sustained over the course of the 2016-17 season, he will emerge as a key component in City’s quest for silverware.

Gritty West Ham lacking cutting edge


Michail Antonio: Uncapped West Ham man in Sam Allardyce’s first England squad

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Michail Antonio

Michail Antonio scored his second league goal of the season during Sunday’s 2-1 defeat by Manchester City

Uncapped West Ham winger Michail Antonio has been called up to manager Sam Allardyce’s first England squad.

Manchester United’s Luke Shaw has also been selected for the World Cup qualifier in Slovakia on 4 September.

It is the full-back’s first call-up since breaking his leg last season, and he joins Manchester City’s out-of-favour keeper Joe Hart in the squad.

Arsenal’s Theo Walcott and Leicester’s Danny Drinkwater are recalled, having missed out on a place at Euro 2016.

Everton captain Phil Jagielka has been selected, but club-mate Ross Barkley and Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere miss out.

Antonio, who joined West Ham from Nottingham Forest in September 2015, began his career in non-league football with Tooting and Mitcham United.

“I think he’s in outstanding form,” Allardyce told the FA website. “This is another lad with a great journey – it’s a fantastic journey that he’s been on, from non-league to now an international call-up.

“He scored nine goals in his first season and he’s a terrific athlete, a good crosser and a goalscorer.”

Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney, who also led the national side under Roy Hodgson, has been named in the 23-man squad.

England squad in full:

Goalkeepers: Fraser Forster (Southampton), Joe Hart (Manchester City), Tom Heaton (Burnley).

Defenders: Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur).

Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Michail Antonio (West Ham United), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Danny Drinkwater (Leicester City), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Theo Walcott (Arsenal).

Strikers: Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Jamie Vardy (Leicester City).


Chelsea comfortably beat Burnley to continue winning start

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Eden Hazard

Eden Hazard has scored two goals in four games so far this season

Chelsea continued their perfect start to the season with a comfortable victory over Burnley at Stamford Bridge.

The excellent Eden Hazard opened the scoring when he burst forward from halfway early in the first half before finishing low into the corner.

Willian then added a second just before the break with a clinical strike.

Scott Arfield shot wide for Burnley, but substitute Victor Moses wrapped up the win by sliding home a late finish.

Victory means Chelsea are currently top of the table with nine points from three games.

Hazard lights up Stamford Bridge

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Chelsea were ‘far too good today’

Two seasons ago, Hazard was arguably the best player in the Premier League as his 14 goals and nine assists helped Chelsea to win the title.

However, he was a shadow of his former self last season, failing to score in the Premier League until the end of April.

Under Antonio Conte, he appears to have rediscovered his best form. His goal against Burnley – the Belgium international’s second in four games – was reminiscent of those he scored in 2014-15, charging at the defence before despatching a perfectly placed strike beyond Tom Heaton’s dive.

The Clarets had no answer for Hazard, whose clever runs and tricky feet caused the visitors’ defence, and in particular full-back Matt Lawton, problems throughout.

If Chelsea are to win the title this season, they will need the winger at his best. On his showing so far this season, that appears to be the case.

Wing play wins it for Chelsea


Champions Leicester get first league win of season

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Jamie Vardy

Jamie Vardy scored 24 goals for Leicester last season

Jamie Vardy scored his first goal of the season to help champions Leicester record their first win with victory over Swansea in very wet conditions.

The England striker fired in off the post from Danny Drinkwater’s ball before Wes Morgan volleyed in from a right-wing corner after the break.

Leicester’s Riyad Mahrez had a penalty saved by Lukasz Fabianski, who also blocked Shinji Okazaki’s follow-up.

Swansea pulled one back when Leroy Fer headed in from Modou Barrow’s cross.

  • Relive all the action from the King Power Stadium
  • Reaction from Saturday’s Premier League games

Foxes make the most of horrendous conditions


Rashford scores dramatic Man Utd winner

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Marcus Rashford celebrates

Rashford scored eight goals in 18 games for United last season

Substitute Marcus Rashford scored an injury-time winner as Manchester United finally overhauled a stubborn Hull at a sodden KCOM Stadium.

The 18-year-old – making his first appearance of the season – steered home Wayne Rooney’s cross to spark wild celebrations on the away bench.

Moments earlier, David Meyler had blazed over in a rare Hull attack.

But it was a deserved win for United, who had gone close though Rooney, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba.

United and Chelsea are now the only Premier League sides with a 100% record from three games, with Manchester City – who have two wins from two games – playing West Ham on Sunday.

United find a way

Rashford’s winner was the climax to a performance of persistence and intelligence from the visitors, who changed tack several times before eventually breaking down Hull.

Ibrahimovic arrived at Old Trafford with a reputation for audacity, but, in the first half, it was his physical size rather than mercurial skill that posed most threat.

Offering himself as a constant target in the box, the Swede headed just over the bar in the 10th minute before an extravagant backheel found the side-netting.

The excellent Curtis Davies blocked the more direct route to goal after the break, but the guile of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and the pace of fellow substitute Rashford stretched the Hull defence in different directions and, finally, beyond breaking point.

A back muscle injury which is likely to rule Marouane Fellaini out for several weeks means United will need to show similar adaptability when they meet Manchester City in their next match

Tigers fall just short

With Harry Maguire returning from injury on the bench, former Manchester United assistant coach Mike Phelan had a season-high 14 fit senior professionals available for Hull.

But what his squad lacks in numbers, it makes up for in spirit.

Alongside Davies, Sam Clucas impressed in midfield, while Adama Diomande and Abel Hernandez chased hard to make something from the few scraps in attack.

Before Meyler’s late wasted chance, Tom Huddlestone saw a shot deflect just wide with David De Gea hopelessly wrong-footed as they briefly threatened a smash-and-grab victory.

But, after wins over Leicester and Swansea in their opening two games, their 100% start to their top-flight campaign is over.

The uncertainty over the club’s future might also be at an end, however, with vice-chairman Ehab Allam writing in the programme that the match may be his family’s last as owners, with takeover talks with a Chinese consortium well advanced.

That deal may free up funds to supplement the Tigers’ threadbare squad – Tottenham’s Ryan Mason is a target – and help them continue to defy the Premier League’s usual rules of gravity.

Man of the match – Curtis Davies (Hull)


Arsenal close in on Lucas & Mustafi for £52m

Posted by Warren Fyfe on August 26, 2016 with No Comments
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Lucas Perez Martinez

Lucas scored 17 goals in Spain’s La Liga last season

Arsenal have agreed a deal to sign Deportivo La Coruna striker Lucas Perez and are close to reaching an agreement with Valencia for centre-back Shkodran Mustafi.

Spaniard Lucas, 27, scored 17 goals in 37 games last season and Arsenal will meet a 20m euro (£17.1m) buyout clause.

Germany international Mustafi, 24, is set to join for a fee in excess of £35m.

It would take Arsenal’s spending to almost £100m since last season.

They have added midfielder Granit Xhaka, defender Rob Holding, forward Takuma Asano and midfielder Kelechi Nwakali to their squad.

Everton were closing in on Lucas before Arsenal declared their interest.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has said he is not reluctant to spend money in the transfer market after being criticised by fans.

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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/37185258

Failing drugs test a ‘get out of jail free card’

Posted by Warren Fyfe on August 26, 2016 with No Comments
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Jake Livermore

“It should have been a glorious and happy time for everyone. It was tragic, and very difficult to stomach,” Livermore said.

Jake Livermore says his positive test for cocaine was the “get out of jail free card” he needed to start to come to terms with the death of his son.

The 26-year-old Hull midfielder failed a drugs test in May 2015, almost a year after his newborn son Jake Junior died.

The Football Association decided not to ban him because of “the unique nature of circumstances” involved.

“It was a young human being who got lost in circumstances and didn’t know how to react,” he told Football Focus.

Livermore said he “almost felt relieved” at being caught.

“I put my hands behind my head and laid back in the manager’s office,” recalled the former Tottenham player. “He looked at me, saying this could be serious, this could be two years or four years banned. I didn’t care.”

Hull finished the 2013-14 Premier League season in 16th place, a year after winning promotion from the Championship. They were about to play Arsenal in the FA Cup final. Livermore’s partner was also expecting their first son.


Bilic ‘angry’ at West Ham’s Europa League exit

Posted by Warren Fyfe on August 26, 2016 with No Comments
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West Ham manager Slaven Bilic

Bilic’s side have won one and lost one of their opening two Premier League fixtures

Manager Slaven Bilic said he was “angry and frustrated” after West Ham failed to reach the Europa League group stage.

The injury-hit Hammers lost to Romanian champions Astra Giurgiu in the qualifying round for the second season in succession.

The visitors won Thursday’s second leg at the London Stadium 1-0 to go through 2-1 on aggregate.

“I’m not going to lose faith in the players after one game,” said Bilic. “We’re missing top-quality players.”

Former West Brom and Barnsley midfielder Filipe Teixeira’s precise first-half finish secured victory for Astra as West Ham failed to convert any of their 17 attempts at goal.

“The disappointment is massive,” said Bilic. “We didn’t play good in the first half or with desire as a team. We were second best.

“I’m angry and frustrated but I’m much more disappointed than anything else.”

Bilic made eight changes from Sunday’s Premier League win against Bournemouth, but had few attacking options with Dimitri Payet, Andy Carroll, Manuel Lanzini and Andre Ayew injured.

Bilic has said he is interested in signing Manchester City striker Wilfried Bony, while West Ham announced the arrival of Swiss midfielder Edimilson Fernandes from FC Sion before kick-off.

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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/37192079

Tyler Blackett: Manchester United defender joins Reading

Posted by Warren Fyfe on August 23, 2016 with No Comments
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Tyler Blackett

Tyler Blackett made 12 appearances at Manchester United

Reading have completed the signing of Manchester United defender Tyler Blackett on a three-year contract.

The 22-year-old was handed his United debut by former manager Louis van Gaal in August 2014 against Swansea.

He spent six months on loan at Celtic last season, making eight appearances in all competitions.

Blackett becomes Reading’s 11th signing of the summer following the arrival of fellow defender Liam Moore from Leicester City on Saturday.

Find all the latest football transfers on our dedicated page.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/37157280