West Ham actually made a very good account of themselves last weekend as they visited Manchester City on the back of a 4-0 drubbing by Everton. Many were expecting a cricket score against the dominant hosts, but The Hammers found the net first and almost brought home a point. It wasn’t to be though as David Silva scored a late winner, resigning West Ham to their 5th consecutive winless game in all competitions.
Things get even worse for them in the Premier League. They haven’t won a league game since the end of September, drawing three and losing five of their eight games since then. Unsurprisingly, this leaves them in trouble, sitting second from bottom in the Premier League table with a three-point deficit on the safe zone.
Chelsea disappointingly failed to win their final Champions League group game in midweek as they were held to a 1-1 draw against Atletico Madrid. This put the visiting Spaniards out of the competition, but also resigned Chelsea to 2nd place in the group, which could prove a costly failure.
Last weekend they comfortably beat Newcastle 3-1 though, and once again the ever improving Eden Hazard was the driving force behind their victory. He scored twice on the day to make it five league goals for the season, and considering he has scored four goals in his last eight Premier League games against West Ham, backing him to find the net again looks a good option.\
Chelsea has won three, drawn one, and lost two of their last six meetings with West Ham, seeing at least three goals in five of them.
West Ham has won just two of their last 22 Premier League games against Chelsea (D4 L16), losing both matches last season 2-1.
West Ham United are now eight games without a win in the Premier League (W0 D3 L5), their worst such-run since December 2015. They haven’t gone nine successive games without a win in the top-flight since May 2011.
West Ham’s total of 10 points from their 15 games this season is their third worst-ever start to a league season; only in 1973-74 and 1976-77 (both nine points, based on three points for a win) have seen them win fewer at this stage.
Prediction: Away Wins Either Half
Tottenham vs Stoke City
Tottenham rounded off their dream Champions League campaign with a win in midweek, beating APOEL 3-0 at Wembley to finish top of their group with five wins and one draw. This sort of result is no mean feat considering they were drawn alongside Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund, so Mauricio Pocchettino can be incredibly pleased with his teams’ performance.
Spurs are now winless in four Premier League games, but they will fancy their chances against a Stoke side who have been shocking at the back this season. Not only that, but Spurs have beaten them 4-0 in each of their last three meetings, so we could be in for a goal-fest on Saturday.
The Potters managed to beat Swansea 2-1 last weekend, but the fact they conceded against the lowest scoring side in the Premier League is a testament to their defensive issues. They have conceded ten goals in their last five outings, losing twice and finding themselves 13th in the table.
Only West Ham have shipped more league goals than Stoke this season, and now they are coming up against the lethal Harry Kane, who has netted ten league goals this season and is only five goals off the all-time record for Premier League goals in a calendar year.
Tottenham have won three, drawn one, and lost two of their last six meetings with Stoke, scoring 12 goals in their last three encounters.
Spurs have won each of their last three Premier League matches against Stoke all by a 4-0 score-line.
Stoke have won one of their last seven away Premier League matches at Spurs (D3 L3), a 2-1 win in November 2014.
No side in the history of the top-flight of English football has won four consecutive matches against an opponent by four or more goals in each game – it has only happened twice in the history of the Football League, with Barnsley achieving it against Darlington between 1933 and 1938 and Birmingham doing so against Northwich Victoria in the 19th century.
Prediction: Over 1.5
Real Madrid vs Sevilla
In terms of points, there is nothing to choose between Real Madrid and Sevilla heading into this one. They both have 28 on the board from 14 matches and they will also both be taking their place in the last sixteen of the Champions League, although only as runners-up. Defensively though both teams have genuine cracks which can be exploited and this promises to be a lively game with plenty of goals.
Real Madrid have some major defensive selection headaches here after a physical game in the Basque Country last weekend which saw Sergio Ramos see red. With Dani Carvajal and Casemiro also suspended, the last thing Zinedine Zidane needed was for Raphael Varane to pick up an injury against Dortmund in midweek. All four will now miss this game and Sevilla will really fancy they can exploit that.
Sevilla are in good form with 7 wins and just 1 defeat from their last 10 matches in all competitions. That solitary defeat was a narrow 2-1 loss at Barcelona so they will have reason to think they can really match Real Madrid for long portions of this game, even if they don’t normally enjoy their trips to the Bernabeu.
They bought some good players in the summer but it has taken some time for the team to gel. However, they’ve looked more fluid going forward in recent matches and have netted twice or more in 8 of their last 10 games. including 3 goals in tough games against Liverpool and Villarreal. That suggests they will cause problems for an under-strength Real Madrid but Sevilla have let in 1.57 goals per game away this term in La Liga and both teams have scored in 7 of their last 9 games.
These sides have met regularly in recent years in several different competitions. This will be the 5th meeting in 2017 alone with Real Madrid leading the head-to-head 2-1 as it stands. Sevilla’s record at the Bernabeu is really poor though, losing on all of their last eight visits.
Real Madrid and Sevilla have not drawn any of their last 24 meetings in La Liga, with 15 wins for the Whites and nine for Sevilla. In those games, Real was shut out in just two games, while Sevilla failed to score in only three.
Sevilla are looking to become the sixth La Liga side to reach 1000 wins in the competition (currently 999), as well as the first Andalusian side to do it.
Prediction: Over 2.5
Hearts vs Motherwell
Hearts remain without a victory at home, having suffered yet another slip up against Hamilton last weekend. The Jambos are continuing their favorable run of home matches, but their issues readjusting to Tynecastle have severely hampered their hopes of climbing back into the upper reaches of the league. Having passed up a huge chance to get a run of form going and turn their own ground into a fortress, Hearts are now simply just desperate to claim their first win of the season at Tynecastle.
Motherwell are in a bit of a slump, having lost the League Cup final to Celtic. They’ve met the champions in each of their last three games, losing that final, drawing 1-1 at home before losing 5-1 in the league last weekend. That should leave them low on morale ahead of a trip to the capital to face Hearts, and the Jambos will be hoping that they can add to Motherwell’s three away defeats this term.
Hearts have won four of their last six matches at home to Motherwell.
Motherwell have lost as many away games as they’ve won this season, while they’ve conceded over two goals per game on the road this term.
Prediction: 12 & Over 1.5
Eintracht Frankfurt vs Bayern Munich
Eintracht Frankfurt’s 2-1 win on the road to the home-strong Hertha Berlin last weekend is a perfect representation of how far the Eagles have come since the end of last season. Frankfurt finished rock bottom of the form table in the Bundesliga from January to May, but are now outside of European qualification on goal difference alone, while also boasting the single best away record in the league (W4 D3 L1) – Bayern Munich are just behind them and have a game in hand though.
From a betting perspective, Bayern Munich’s dominance over the Bundesliga sometimes makes it difficult to find much value, but we feel backing Bayern Munich to win and over 2.5 goals to be worth a few quid. Bayern’s offensive prowess needs no introduction – any combination of Coman, Rodriguez, Ribery and Thomas Muller can provide ample support for the always-dangerous Robert Lewandowski, who’s 14 goals in 14 appearances in the Bundesliga make him one of the most in-form strikers in Europe. Bayern’s No.9 has found the back of the net eight times over his last eight competitive outings (6 singles and one brace) so is absolutely worth backing to score anytime on Saturday.
Bayern Munich won 3-0 at home to Frankfurt when the two sides last met in March.
FC Bayern are unbeaten in 12 competitive games against Eintracht (W9 D3). They haven’t lost to the Eagles since March 2010 (2-1 in the Bundesliga).
All of Frankfurt’s games this term have finished level or with a one-goal margin of victory. No other side in Europe’s top five leagues has achieved the same feat.
Prediction: 2 & Over 1.5
PSG vs Lille
Title favorites and Ligue 1 leaders PSG will be looking to bounce back this Saturday when they entertain lowly Lille. Unai Emery’s team were left stunned at the weekend when they were beaten 2-1 by newly promoted Strasbourg, giving the team from Paris their first defeat of the campaign in all competitions. They followed that up with another loss in midweek against Bayern Munich in the Champions League.
PSG now have a nine-point lead on three sides who all have 32 points in Lyon, Monaco, and Marseille. They are still expected to win the championship, but after last weekend’s game, it may not be as straightforward as many have predicted.
Lille. meanwhile are in excellent form, having won three of their last five games to drag themselves out of the relegation zone. Despite suspending manager Marcelo Bielsa in bizarre circumstances, the team is up to 17th following victories over Lyon and Toulouse in the past week. This Saturday’s match will be a tough test however and further hard fixtures against Dijon and Nice await before the end of 2017, so Lille could well be back among the bottom three. Generally, however, the side has talent within the ranks and could, if organized better, get towards mid-table.
In the past 39 meetings, PSG has won 17, Lille has won nine and 13 have been drawn.
Paris are unbeaten in their last 10 Ligue 1 games against Lille (W7 D3).
Paris has lost none of their last 18 home games against Lille in the top-flight (W10 D8).
Paris has failed to score only once in their last 11 Ligue 1 games against Lille, back in February 2016 (0-0).
Prediction: 1 & Over 2.5
Juventus vs Inter Milan
For the second weekend in a row, Serie A’s biggest game is a clash between the reigning champions and the league leaders. Juventus won 1-0 at Napoli last weekend to keep themselves in the title race, but the biggest winners from that game were Inter, who managed to jump above the Partenopei and move in to top spot. Now they face a trip to Juve in the Derby d’Italia, but can they succeed where Napoli failed?
The champions returned to their dogged, defensive structure after taking the lead against Napoli. It was a classic Juventus victory, from a side who have been leading the scoring charts this season. Juve managed another big win in midweek, claiming a victory in Greece to move in to the last 16 of the Champions League. While the Italian champions have had problems this season, everything seems to be coming together for them as we head towards the half-way mark in the season.
The one concern for Inter is that Icardi is scoring most of their goals, and he tends to save his strikes for the San Siro. It’s hard to see the supporting cast getting much room to thrive in this one, leaving them wondering where the goals are coming from.
That’s not a new concern for Inter in this fixture, as they’ve lost their last three trips to this ground without scoring a goal. The Old lady have won seven of their last nine games at home to Inter, and that head to head record could just see them edge a clash with a side who have little experience when it comes to winning titles. Given how Juve have dominated Serie A in recent years, we think they can come out on top here.
Juventus have won four of their last five meetings with Inter ahead of this clash.
Juve have only lost one of their last 11 home games against Inter (W7 D3) – the Nerazzurri were the first of four sides to win at the new Juventus Stadium so far in Serie A.
Juve have set a new Serie A record of scoring in consecutive games (44). The Old Lady have also scored in each of their last 45 home games in the top-flight.
Inter have 18 points more than last season at this stage of the campaign – that’s the best point-difference amongst teams who’ve taken part in the last two Serie A campaigns.
Prediction: 12 & Under 4.5
Benfica vs Estoril
Benfica became the first ever Portuguese side to lose all six of their Champions League group stage games in midweek, suffering a 2-0 defeat at home to Basel. However, the Eagles had given up on Europe quite a while ago after an awful start, and they’ll be out to retain their domestic title without the distraction of Europa League matches in the new year. Given that they return to Primeira Liga action against Estoril on Saturday, Benfica should have little trouble adding another three points to their tally this weekend.
Estoril are in awful form this season, claiming just two victories as the league approaches the half-way mark. Having claimed just 0.57 points per game away from home, the last thing Estoril want is to go up against Benfica’s 100% home record in the league this weekend. While the champions were beaten by Champions League opposition, we can’t see them having any problems dispatching a side who are heading for the second division.
Benfica have won five of their last matches against Estoril, hitting 15 goals in their last four home encounters.
The home side have been winning at the end of each half in eight of their last nine home matches. The champions have scored a minimum of two goals in all but two of their last 22 home league games.
Prediction: 1 & Over 1.5
Super League: Respect & Dialogue Needed To Restore Normality
The FIFA President emphasized his full support to the European sports model, a successful model of openness and inclusivity, promotion and relegation, disapproving the concept of Super League
President Gianni Infantino has called for respect and dialogue as he expressed FIFA’s strong disapproval of the proposed European Superleague project, and has requested that the concerned parties consider their position in line with respecting the institutions that exist to protect the interest of national, European, and global football.
“FIFA is an organization which is built on values, the true values of sport,” said the FIFA President in his address to the 45th Ordinary UEFA Congress in Montreux, Switzerland.
“It is an organization that is built on our statutes, the statutes that define the institutional framework, with the pyramid, with FIFA, the confederations, the associations, the leagues, the clubs, the players. And at FIFA, we can only strongly disapprove of the creation of a super league which is a closed shop, which is a breakaway from the current institutions, from the leagues, from the associations, from UEFA, and from FIFA, which is outside of the system. There is no doubt whatsoever of FIFA’s disapproval for this.”
The FIFA President emphasized his full support to the European sports model, a successful model of openness and inclusivity, promotion and relegation, and a model that he promoted in his 16 years at UEFA:
“FIFA is here, and I am here today as FIFA President, to bring full support to European football, to UEFA, and the 55 member associations of UEFA and of FIFA, to the leagues, clubs, players, and to fans. To all the fans, all over Europe, and actually all over the world as well.”
“We can see that there is a lot to throw away for the short-term financial gain of some,” the FIFA President added. “People need to think very carefully, they need to reflect, and they need to assume responsibility. They need to think not only of their shareholders, but they need to think about all the people, of all the fans, of all those who have contributed to making European football what it is today. It goes back not only decades, it goes back more than one hundred years. People – with love, with passion, with commitment – have created all this. And we need to protect this. It is our task.”
“FIFA is a democratic organization, an organization that is open,” the FIFA President concluded. “Everyone can bring ideas and proposals, but always with respect for the institutions, leagues, associations, UEFA, and FIFA.
With respect for the history and with the respect for the passion of so many people around the world. I understand as well that on these particular days, emotions are very high, but we need to always keep the line. Football is hope, and it is our responsibility to make hope a reality. So we hope that everything will go back to normal and that everything will be settled, but always with acting responsibly, with respect, with solidarity, and always in the interest of national, European, and global football.”
3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big Elsewhere
The English Premier League has welcomed some of the best players in the history of football. Players from different continents have made a huge impact on the league with impressive performances. There are others who failed to impress and can be termed as flops.
The League is quite unique from other European leagues. It is more competitive, fierce, physically challenging in nature. Needless to say, a player who isn’t mentally and physically geared up for this will stumble under the pressure.
Established stars can fall by the wayside with their former successes and triumphs becoming nothing more than a footnote in the EPL. Impressively, some of these players put in impressive performances when they moved to other leagues.
3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big In Other Leagues
Following the impending sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid, Tottenham bought several players, one of the players they bought was Paulinho.
Paulinho was signed from Corinthians in Brazil where he helped them win the Copa Libertadores, Brasileirao, and the FIFA Club World Cup.
They defeated Chelsea in the latter to lift the trophy. Importantly, he had just won the FIFA Confederations Cup with Brazil and was voted as the third-best player at the tournament.
He joined Tottenham as the club’s record signing in 2013, so a lot was expected of him. However, his performance was not as impressive as the club had envisaged. He was later sold to Guangzhou Evergrande in China at a loss.
The Brazilian’s transfer to the Chinese league resulted in a change of fortunes, as helped the club claim the Chinese league and the AFC Champions League title in his first season.
In the second, he was voted into the Chinese League team of the year in recognition of his performance. Also, he won the league, FA Cup, and Super Cup.
Although critics downplayed his performance, citing the standard of the Chinese league compared to the English league, Paulinho impressed in Spain too following a €40 million move to Barcelona.
Paulinho helped the club claim the league and the Copa del Rey trophy. His performance in his only season with Barcelona impressed Ronaldinho who said: “He really stood out.”
- Iago Aspas
Most Premier League fan remembers Aspas only as a Liverpool flop with the number 9 jersey. Aspas moved from boyhood club Celta Vigo to Liverpool for a deal estimated to be around £7.7 m, with Liverpool hoping to have unearthed a gem. However, that gem turns dregs, failing to score in any of his 14 league appearances.
After just one season, Liverpool decided that they have seen enough so they sent him on a season-long loan to Sevilla with an obligation to buy. In his season-long loan at the club, he was the joint top scorer in the Copa del Rey alongside Neymar with 7 goals and won the UEFA Europa League.
At the end of his season-long loan at Sevilla, the club signed him from Liverpool but sold him to Celta Vigo in the same transfer window. In every of his first 5 seasons at Celta Vigo, he scored in double digits.
In fact, in three of the 5 seasons, he won the Zarra Trophy awarded to the Spanish player with the most league goals in a season. As of December 2020, Aspas had won La Liga player of the month four times.
- Diego Forlan
Perhaps, the most notable and interesting English Premier League flop who became a star in another League. He was not just impressive in another league; he was extraordinary with his National team Uruguay.
Sir Alex Ferguson signed Forlan in 2001 following the attacker’s impressive form at Independiente in Argentina. In his first season in England, Forlan made 18 appearances but failed to score a single goal. The two seasons after were not impressive either, hence his transfer to Villarreal.
Impressively, Forlan scored 25 league goals in his first season with Villarreal and won the league’s top scorers award (2004/05). Also, he was awarded the European Golden Shoe award alongside Thierry Henry the same year. He left the club two seasons later for Atletico with 59 goals scored in 128 matches.
In his second season with Atletico Madrid (2008/09), Forlan beat Samuel Eto’o to the Spanish league’s top scorer’s award. He scored 32 league goals in 33 league appearances that season which earned him the Pichichi trophy. Again, he won the European Golden Shoe but this time it was not shared with anyone.
The next season (2009/10), Forlan played a key role as Atletico won the Europa League. He scored six times in the tournament, including two in the 2-1 win over Fulham in the final. He was voted as the man of the match in the final.
With his national team, he was just as impressive; he scored the most goals at the 2010 FIFA World Cup alongside Thomas Muller, Wesley Sneijder, and David Villa.
Furthermore, he was voted into the FIFA World Cup dream team and won the Golden Ball and goal of the tournament title. By the time he retired, he was Uruguay’s highest goal scorer in history, a record which has since been broken by Luis Suarez.
Forlan eventually became so good that some Football fans think he is the caliber of player that could have won the Ballon d’Or.
There are several reasons why players struggle when they change clubs, especially to other countries. Culture, language, teammates, family are some factors that can affect their performances.
These 3 cases show that a player may fail to perform in one league but go on to become a star in another league.