Jumpers For Goalposts http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk The Football Blog Tue, 19 Jan 2016 10:36:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Why hosts France are the team to beat at Euro 2016 http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/why-hosts-france-are-the-team-to-beat-at-euro-2016/ http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/why-hosts-france-are-the-team-to-beat-at-euro-2016/#respond Tue, 19 Jan 2016 10:00:25 +0000 http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/?p=327 France have struggled to inspire confidence on the big stage in recent years but all of that may be about to change at this summer’s European Championship. As hosts of the tournament, Didier Deschamps’ men will have plenty of pressure on their shoulders, however, this France team are capable of going all the way and getting their hands on a major international trophy for the first time since 2000. There are plenty of other contenders who will fancy their chances but it’s hard to look away from France’s sheer passion, hunger and desire to succeed on the international stage.

While some may have accused France of being over-reliant on individuals in previous years, that is no longer the case. Deschamps now has an impressive pool of talent at his disposal and it would take a brave man to back against France on home soil this summer. As of January 15th, the Euro 2016 odds show that France are 7/2 with around five months until the tournament gets under way. If France are lucky on the injury front, there’s absolutely no reason why they cannot go all the way in front of their passionate home supporters.

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As previously mentioned, Deschamps has a strong group of players to choose from and France’s depth is a key reason why many believe they will go on to win the tournament. Defensively, they are solid. Hugo Lloris is a competent shot-stopper and is capable of playing the ‘sweeper keeper’ role well – even if he’s not quite as proficient as Germany’s Manuel Neuer. In front of Lloris, the likes of Bacary Sagna, Patrice Evra, Raphael Varane and Mamadou Sakho are likely to be included in Deschamps’ squad and all four are experienced at both club and international level.

It could be argued that France have the best group of midfielders in Europe and that could be the key difference for Deschamps’ men throughout the competition. Paul Pogba and Yohan Cabaye will be central to their success and the former is likely to be the key man for France in the summer. He’s been an integral part of Juventus’ recent success and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Pogba play a key role on the international stage. In fact, he will be one of the dark horses to finish as the Player of the Tournament.

Going forward, France have talent in abundance. Whether you’re looking at Karim Benzema or Olivier Giroud to lead the line, both players are exceptional footballers and are capable of spearheading France’s bid for European glory. On either side of the ‘number 9′, Antoine Griezmann has been in form for Atletico Madrid this season while Anthony Martial has been finding his feet at Manchester United. Opposing defences will be terrified at the prospect of facing both stars in the same contest. If Deschamps gets his squad selection spot on, France will stand a great chance of winning the tournament.

If they perform at their best and everything clicks, of course France can win the competition. In previous major tournaments, the French have crumbled but it’s hard to see them doing that under Deschamps’ leadership. They showed plenty of quality in the 2014 World Cup but crashed out to eventual winners Germany. However, this could be their year. With a bit of luck, France could be crowned European champions for a joint-record third time.

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Could Costa be heading back to Atletico? http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/could-costa-be-heading-back-to-atletico/ http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/could-costa-be-heading-back-to-atletico/#respond Mon, 18 Jan 2016 10:00:59 +0000 http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/?p=317 When Atletico Madrid clinched their first La Liga title in 18 years in 2014/15, it was only a matter of time before star players Diego Costa and Filipe Luis were going to be picked off by European football’s major clubs.

As it turned out, Chelsea ended up shelling out over £50 million to sign the duo and went on to win the Premier League the same season. But while Luis made a return to Atletico after just one year in the Premier League, his former Chelsea team-mate, Diego Costa, could be the next man to re-sign for the club where he enjoyed his most success.

Luis never really managed to break into Jose Mourinho’s plans during his time in England, and a return to Madrid was something of a no-brainer when Chelsea decided to cut their losses on the Brazilian.

For Costa, though, his first season in the Premier League saw him finish as the division’s top scorer with 20 goals, playing a crucial role in Chelsea winning the title.

It was a different story at the start of this season, however, with the Brazilian-born Spain international falling out of favour under Mourinho and reportedly playing a role in the manager losing his job at the end of 2015.

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With Chelsea seemingly out of the title race, looking like real outsiders in Europe and priced at around 5/1 as of 14th January with the FA Cup betting, Costa knows this team is in a very different place from the one he joined at the beginning of last season.

Following his role in Mourinho’s sacking, a section of the Chelsea fan-base has turned on the striker and that has not been helped by Costa’s modest form this season.

While it would be a real shock to see the forward leave Stamford Bridge during January, Costa’s current troubles may convince him to push for a move back to the Vicente Calderon Stadium.

Despite getting back to scoring ways under Guus Hiddink in recent weeks, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Costa would be open to a return to Atletico. For the Primera Liga side, they would jump at the chance to re-sign a player who scored 27 goals in their title-winning season, if Chelsea made him available.

Currently top of the league, Atletico’s impressive form this season comes down mainly to their remarkable defensive record, conceding just eight goals since the start of the campaign, rather than their offensive unit.

In attack, however, the club have scored less than 30 goals and, without Antoine Griezmann’s tally of nine goals, the rest of the club’s strikers have only scored seven goals between them. Following a big-money move from Porto in the summer, Jackson Martinez has so far failed to live up to the hype, mustering just two goals since his arrival in Madrid.

The Colombian had been tipped to be Griezmann’s main striking partner, but Martinez has instead opted for Luciano Vietto, Angel Correa and Fernando Torres for much of this season alongside the Frenchman.

At 27 years old, Chelsea would want to recoup much of what they spent on Costa in 2014. Whether or not Atletico could afford that remains to be seen, but it would certainly be a move that would send out a statement to Barcelona and Real Madrid.

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Smash and grab United win over dominant Liverpool takes massive weight off LvG’s shoulder http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/smash-and-grab-united-win-over-dominant-liverpool-takes-massive-weight-off-lvgs-shoulder/ http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/smash-and-grab-united-win-over-dominant-liverpool-takes-massive-weight-off-lvgs-shoulder/#respond Sun, 17 Jan 2016 18:16:15 +0000 http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/?p=309 3043281D00000578-3403698-image-a-29_1453047000036

Manchester United narrowly beat Liverpool by one goal to nil at Anfield earlier today

The immensely competitive world of professional sport is always about bullets being dodged and individuals making the grade just by the skin of their teeth. Many professionals have been saved by a whisker but none have come as close as Manchester United manager, Louis Van Gaal. The Dutchman has nine lives it seems because here he is, still the coach of one of Europe’s biggest football clubs, almost a month after he was certain to be sacked.

Elimination from the Champions League, six weeks without winning a football match and a run of three League losses on the bounce saw the former Barcelona manager pushed to the brink of his reign at Manchester United. Three weeks on from then however, it looks as if the one-time Champions League winner has, just barely, turned things around.

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United skipper Wayne Rooney got the only goal of the game in the 78th-minute of the match as he smashed in Marouane Fellaini’s header which came off the woodwork

A win against Swansea City started the revival for United and another win over Sheffield United in the FA Cup saw it gather pace. A 3-3 draw against Newcastle United showed signs of the old United coming back even though their back four was noticeably leaky. LvG’s biggest achievement during this time though, was today’s win over Liverpool at Anfield. Derby matches act like kingmakers as they have the unmatchable ability to fast-track a player or manager to greatness. In Van Gaal’s case though, he’s actually been fast-tracked to safety with a narrow win over his side’s arch-rivals.

Manchester United may have beaten Liverpool on the night, but one point that cannot be ignored is that they were actually the poorer side on the day. To be fair to be both the teams, the game was a dull affair, especially during the first half. Wayne Rooney’s 78th-minute winner opened the game up, but other than that and the odd chance at either end, this game was way below the standard that these two teams had set for themselves over the years.

Liverpool totally bossed the game though with 54% possession compared to United’s 46% and a tally of 19 shots against United’s seven is proof enough that the home side were in fact the better side. In football, there’s only one stat that counts and Manchester United made their only shot on target during the entire game count. Thus, Louis Van Gaal walked away from Anfield with not just three points, but a massive feather in his cap.

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Roberto Firmino was Liverpool’s best player on the day as he looked to continue add to the two goals that he scored against Arsenal during the week

The former Holland national team manager has an outstanding record against Liverpool after winning all of his four meetings with them since moving to England. This win should really relieve the pressure that was on him because not only did they bag the bragging rights, but also moved to within two points of a Champions League place.

Football is a fickle game though and the monkey may well be taking up a position on his back if United’s next few results went awry but for the time being, there’s no one happier than Louis Van Gaal, who has defied the odds and resurrected his Manchester United career.

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Roman took the easy way out and axed Jose, but it’s the Chelsea players who have blood on their hands http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/roman-took-the-easy-way-out-and-axed-jose-but-its-the-chelsea-players-who-have-blood-on-their-hands/ http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/roman-took-the-easy-way-out-and-axed-jose-but-its-the-chelsea-players-who-have-blood-on-their-hands/#respond Sun, 20 Dec 2015 07:01:41 +0000 http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/?p=292 2F75F77200000578-3364824-image-a-29_1450385800995

Chelsea sacked manager Jose Mourinho earlier in the week after a long string of poor results saw the current holders of Premier League occupy a place towards the bottom of the table

This Premier League season has been all about surprises and there was no bigger surprise than Chelsea Football Club. Nothing is permanent in the world of sport and every team or player will have to endure the downs just like they embrace the ups, but the level to which Chelsea have fallen is truly unimaginable. Many teams have done well one season only to mess up the following campaign. Liverpool went from mid-table mediocrity to serious title contenders and back again in a space of 24 months.

Not too many teams have managed to hold on to the Premier League title, but then again, no team has ever been relegation challengers just the season after they won. Chelsea have broken a few records ever since their upturn in fortunes in 2004, but the record that they have broken this season is the most surprising of them all.

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Mourinho is seen here hiding his face as he leaves Chelsea’s Cobham training complex soon after being notified that he had lost his job

No team has done as poorly after winning the title than Chelsea did this season. With 16 games played, the Blues sit in 16th place with 15 points, just one point above the drop zone. And this, is why their manager, Mr. Jose Mourinho, lost his job. The self-proclaimed Special One was sacked just hours before I wrote this article and while a few people in the world of football seem to think that it was a good decision, I cannot help but disagree. How on Earth did they go from unstoppable juggernauts to relegation-threatened whipping boys in barely six months? Is all of this the manager’s fault? I think not.

Is it his fault that the players have been doing so poorly? In fact, I actually think that there could be something very wrong going inside Chelsea Football Club that the world is not aware of. Tell me, how can a world class manager fall so low in such a short span of time with basically the exact same group of players? Things don’t make sense and I feel that the players have blood on their hands. Don’t get me wrong, I personally despise Jose Mourinho as a human being, but I’d be lying if I said that he wasn’t a great coach.

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Roman Abramovich had a tough call on his hand but most believe that he made the wrong decision by sacking the Special One

What I’m really interested to see right now is how the players perform under the new manager, whoever he may be. If they’re still playing like a bunch of Sunday league amateurs, we’ll know for sure that this downfall of their club is their fault. If they perform better however, Roman Abramovich will need to really look into his players because it just may be that there may have been some sort of unrest between them and Mourinho.

Chelsea Football Club are in a mess and they have a major problem on their hands, but then again, Roman took the easy way out and sacked the manager because it’s much easier to sack one guy rather than 25. But as things stand right now, Chelsea fans the world over will be hoping that Mourinho was the problem and that all things become okay now that he is gone. But if you ask me, I think things are not that straightforward at Stamford Bridge and things may just get even worse.

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Willian hands Chelsea and Mourinho a lifeline as stunning free-kick secures win over Dynamo Kiev http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/willian-hands-chelsea-and-mourinho-a-lifeline-as-stunning-free-kick-secures-win-over-dynamo-kiev/ http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/willian-hands-chelsea-and-mourinho-a-lifeline-as-stunning-free-kick-secures-win-over-dynamo-kiev/#respond Fri, 06 Nov 2015 07:57:06 +0000 http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/?p=242 2E1D431F00000578-3304095-image-a-78_1446674366488

Chelsea hotshot Willian wheels away to celebrate after scoring a stunning 83rd minute free-kick that edged the Blues past Dynamo Kiev

Chelsea Football Club and their troubles have been one of the biggest stories of the entire season. Their curious case is so big, that we here at j4goalposts.co.uk have been covering their ups and downs for the past month. The Blue’s season has mostly been about downs but on Wednesday night, they managed to record a very rare and much needed up. Chelsea finally managed to bag a positive result as they beat Dynamo Kiev by two goals to one. The win came at a crucial time for the team and their manager because anything less than three points from this game would have left them struggling for their Champions League survival.

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Aleksandr Dragovic celebrates scoring Dynamo Kiev’s equaliser in the 77th minute of the match

While Chelsea deserve credit for winning the game, a lot of praise must be given to their influential midfielder, Willian. In fact, had it not been for the Brazilian, chances are that Jose Mourinho would have been sunbathing on a beach in Mallorca right around this time. That is exactly how close the Special One was from the sack. It is a well-known fact that Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich considers the Champions League as the holy grail. Numerous managers have bit the dust for failing to deliver on the continental stage and there was no reason why Jose Mourinho, possibly their best ever manager, would be handed a different fate.

Odds On Willian To Finish Top Scorer?

Willian is the leading scorer for Chelsea this season (marginally ahead of “own goals”) and UK bookmaker Ladbrokes have him as third favourite to finish the season as the top scorer for Chelsea in the Premier League. You can open a Ladbrokes account if you want to make this bet (you can also claim the signup offer if you are a new customer). More details of Ladbrokes company and news can be found at their website.

Although there are more recognised goalscorers at the club such as Costa and Hazard, it’s easy to make a case for Willian if he keeps up his current form. So you could land a winning bet at good odds.

Match Details

Coming to the game itself, one can’t help but deem Chelsea to be very lucky after seeing the manner in which the game progressed. The match got off to a decent start for the home side as Aleksandar Dragović managed to put the ball in the back of his own net on the 34-minute mark. Credit must be given to Willian though for getting in a good position before knocking in a dangerous cross that gave Dragovic no option but to take a chance to clear it. The ball from Willian was fantastic and like any other cross that has been placed in between the last defender and the goalkeeper, Dragovic simply had to make an attempt to play it even though he was facing his own net.

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Brazilian international Willian exhibits the perfect body stance as he whips in a 28-yard free-kick straight into the back of the net

Chelsea were the better of the two teams and it would be fair to say that they did deserve the lead even though it wasn’t one of their own who got the goal. It seemed as if Chelsea were finally getting the rub of the green but just when you started to think that, their disastrous form managed to hit them again. In the 77th minute of the game, just 13 minutes from time, Dynamo Kiev equalised and it was Dragovic again who made amends for his own goal in the first half of the match. The Blues were shell shocked but once again, they only had themselves to blame. Their ‘keeper, Asmir Begovic came out to claim a corner-kick but all he could find was John Terry. Both of these Chelsea lads took each other out in rather comical fashion as the ball, undisturbed from its trajectory, landed at the feet of the Kiev defender who wasted no time in smashing the ball into the back of the net.

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The entire Chelsea team gather together to celebrate Willian’s late winner

Their lead was squandered and once again, Chelsea were seeing their hopes of qualification get snuffed out. Just as things were getting a bit desperate, up stepped Willian again as he arrowed in a fantastic free-kick from 28 yards out. This winner from Willian meant the world to the Chelsea fans and their manager and this fact was proven by the raucous celebrations that Mourinho broke into as soon as the ball hit the back of the net.

The game ended without any more drama and the Blues managed to climb to second place in the group, giving their hopes of qualification and their manager’s employment status a lifeline.

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Chelsea in crisis as Mourinho’s men are thrashed at home by Klopp’s Reds http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/chelsea-in-crisis-as-mourinhos-men-are-thrashed-at-home-by-klopps-reds/ http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/chelsea-in-crisis-as-mourinhos-men-are-thrashed-at-home-by-klopps-reds/#respond Sat, 31 Oct 2015 17:31:08 +0000 http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/?p=236 2DF8EBF100000578-3298018-image-m-74_1446299174942iChelsea Football Club are in crisis and there are no two ways about it.  Jose Mourinho looks like a 15-year-old whose playing FIFA 16 on his Playstation. He looks dejected, forlorn and resembles a brat whose throwing a tantrum because he lost a match on his own console. The Blues are enduring a nightmare and this is not a place that anyone could have imagined them being in. Chelsea are currently in 15th place in the League after having picked up only 11 points from their first 11 games.

Many football pundits were billing the Blues to end up as Premier League top dogs yet again but forget about being title contenders, Mourinho’s men do not look likely to even make Europe! Some of the biggest names in the game are scratching their heads and trying to figure out why on Earth the Blues are playing so miserably. Things looked bleak for Mourinho’s men even before their game against Liverpool began and by the time it got over, the alarm bells at the Bridge were blaring as Jurgen Klopp’s legions cantered away with three points after scoring three goals.

2DF8EDBD00000578-3298018-image-a-86_1446299619553Chelsea were poor throughout the game although it is hard to believe that they actually began very strongly. Ramires put the champions in the lead extremely early on after some poor defending in the Liverpool box lead to the home team scoring. The tide quickly turned however as the Reds got a really good foothold in the match. They ended up being the better team by the time the first half was coming to an end and just when you thought that the Blues were going to be heading into the break with a lead, Philippe Coutinho pulled a rabbit out of the hat and equalised with a superb goal.

Liverpool had scored at one of the best times in the match and any momentum that Chelsea had gained was now lost. We all know how hard it is to regain momentum once you’ve lost it and that’s exactly what happened here. The second half began and Liverpool started it like they ended the first. Coutinho managed to score once again to put the Reds above the Blues. Chelsea looked stunned as they failed to make any headway in the match. They failed to make any clear cut chances and as they hunted desperately for an equaliser, Liverpool new boy Christian Benteke came off the bench to score a third past a hapless Chelsea defence.

The game was over by now and even before the home side could string together a few passes to create an out and out chance, the game had passed them by. The true gravity of the situation was felt during the post match press conference as an under-fire Mourinho refused to cooperate as he replied to every question with. “I have nothing to say”. Seeing his Chelsea side in this deep a mess, I’m sure that he is actually correct.

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Under fire Mourinho on the verge of cracking after ruthless rant following Saints defeat http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/under-fire-mourinho-on-the-verge-of-cracking-after-ruthless-rant-following-saints-defeat/ http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/under-fire-mourinho-on-the-verge-of-cracking-after-ruthless-rant-following-saints-defeat/#respond Sun, 11 Oct 2015 14:17:37 +0000 http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/?p=226 1443893989232_lc_galleryImage_Chelsea_s_Portuguese_mana

A seething Jose Mourinho looks on as Chelsea get drubbed in their own backyard by Southampton

When Graziano Pelle fired home Southampton’s third, Jose Mourinho was seen with a smirk. He was laughing at his own team’s current incapability of playing football. When Chelsea do score, he sits there, on the bench, stone-faced. His assistants shout and scream for joy as they should, but he just sits there, almost unhappy at his team scoring!

And to prove a point (only God and Jose know what that point was), he took off Nemanja Matic, 25 minutes after the poor chap went on to the pitch as a substitute. The commentators confirmed that he was not, in any way, the worst player on the field wearing a Chelsea shirt. Call it pressure from the board or the Oligarchy, Eden Hazard remained on the pitch, which is a decision that cannot be explained by us mortals. Only ‘Special Ones’ can take these extraordinary decisions.

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Graziano Pelle celebrates after scoring the Saint’s third goal of the night in the 72nd minute of the match

Asmir Begovic, Willian and Pedro must be thinking why they are giving their all when the manager isn’t even taking any interest in their hard work. Why was Branislav Ivanovic STILL in the starting lineup with Kurt Zouma on the bench? That’s like selecting your worst photograph as your Display Picture on Facebook!

Remember this is a team that won the league easily last season. At the start of this campaign they were hot favourites with most bookmakers and punters to win it again. Millions of pounds were bet on them to finish champions, and yet they find themselves firmly in the bottom half. Even the club’s new betting partner, Bet Victor, now has them as huge outsiders (sign up with them if you want to bet on Chelsea at much longer odds) because even at this stage of the season there is simply too much ground for them to make up on the leaders.

Watching Mourinho for the past few weeks has made us believe that he does not know what he is talking about. All that changed however with the post Southampton interview that was aired on live television for the entire world to see as millions of fans now understood exactly what was going on within the Chelsea management. Before we dissect that interview, let us read some of the more important statements that Jose made in it.

Mourinho said,“…. clearly the referees are afraid to give decisions for Chelsea”.

More importantly though, he went on to say, “I want to make it clear. One, I don’t run away. Two, if the club wants TO SACK ME, they have to sack me because I’m not running away from my responsibility and my team. ….because if the club sacks me, they sack the best manager that this club has.”

Radamel Falcao went down in the box but a penalty was not awarded by referee Robert Madley

Radamel Falcao went down in the box after some contact with the Saints ‘keeper but a penalty was not awarded by referee Robert Madley

The most obvious conclusions that we can draw from this interview are that Jose is facing immense pressure from the Chelsea board. He is under massive pressure and I feel that a sacking ultimatum has been given. Similarly, Jose looked wrecked, nervous and almost pleaded with the media to show him, his players, and Chelsea in a better light. He would not have acted in that manner had he not been under pressure.

He also blamed his team’s tough times on refereeing decisions and a supposed FA bias against Chelsea because of course, the “Special One” can never blame himself. He said in the interview too that he has a “big ego” which was showcased when Jose subtly issued the board a warning that they will lose their best manager ever if they were to sack him. Quite frankly though, nobody can argue with that fact.

Yes, he is under pressure and is overseeing bad results at the moment, but let’s not forget that whatever reputation Chelsea FC have built up over the years, is mostly because of him.  What we can guarantee though in these uncertain times is that an intriguing period lies ahead of us as the drama unfolds at Stamford Bridge after the international break. Will Jose normalise in time and save his and Chelsea FC’s blushes or is this the beginning of the end of his second stint at the Bridge?

 

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Chelsea crumble yet again as Porto take advantage of hapless Blues in the Champions League http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/chelsea-crumble-yet-again-as-porto-take-advantage-of-hapless-blues-in-the-champions-league/ http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/chelsea-crumble-yet-again-as-porto-take-advantage-of-hapless-blues-in-the-champions-league/#respond Fri, 02 Oct 2015 09:53:44 +0000 http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/?p=220 2CE9344D00000578-3253985-image-a-86_1443558765061

Jose Mourinho looks dispirited as his side lose yet again in what is turning out to be a tormentuous season

“Hell hath no fury like a Woman scorned!”  is what we all are thinking about right now. Ever since Jose uttered the choicest of words for Dr. Eva Carneiro, every tabloid in the media is laden with stories of how Eva’s curse has caused Chelsea to play underwhelmingly. Branislav Ivanovic and John Terry are prime examples of the Blues massive dip in form. The latter has been relegated to the bench but the former, rather surprisingly, has not followed him there and only Jose can explain that kind of sorcery.

Chelsea’s loss to Porto earlier in the week was a chastising experience. Mourinho would’ve loved to get a win over his former side, but his current side’s predicament, left them open for counter-attacking exploitation. And boy did Porto exploit it! Andre Andre latched onto a rebound to open the scoring on the 40th minute mark to compound misery on their boss. Willian though, gave Jose’s men a ray of hope, as he has been doing for the past few weeks, by converting a brilliant free kick that sailed past a frozen Iker Casillas. After the break however, the Portuguese team took Chelsea to task with swift passing and incisive counters. And these attacks resulted in a goal from captain Maicon who directed a firm header past Asmir Begovic from a corner. Chelsea tried every trick in the book to get back on terms once again, but to no avail.

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Porto skipper Maicon wheels away to celebrate after putting the hosts back into the lead

The usual suspects could be blamed for this humiliation at Jose’s native land. Branislav Ivanovic again, defended woefully as he was run ragged by Brahimi on the left flank. How he still finds a place in the starting line-up, and how he has been promoted to captaincy, is a mystery even for the most ardent of Blues fans. Cesc Fabregas too, just can’t seem to track back and defend.

True, he is one of the most creative footballers in Europe at the moment, but his task list includes helping his defence too, which he has conveniently forgotten it seems. Diego Costa did hit the crossbar once and gave a hard time to the opposition defence once in a while, but that’s about it. John Obi Mikel was as usual, clueless.

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The Chelsea players rush to celebrate as Willian equalises the game from a fantastic free-kick just before half time

The bright lights for Chelsea this season, have been Willian, Begovic and Ramires. These three players have worked their socks off for the Blue cause, though in vain. Eden Hazard has been astonishingly below par this season and it looks like Jose’s alleviation of him above Cristiano Ronaldo made him lose his bearings. Pedro has had a good start to his Premier League career and is playing good football all around. Yet, Chelsea’s machinery lacks the normally sound defence and the midfield supremacy of old.  Also, their strikers are frustratingly barren in front of goal, and bringing Falcao into that kind of mix was, in my humble opinion, nothing short of suicide.

On a more serious note, what is going on at Stamford Bridge? More importantly, what is Jose thinking? We all know that had it not been Jose, the manager would’ve been sacked by now as per Chelsea customs. Since it is Jose, he has to prove why he is the self-proclaimed “Special One” and turn Chelsea Football Club’s fortunes around, before Roman pulls the plug.

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Sunderland victory sees United climb to the top of the pile for the first time in two years http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/sunderland-victory-sees-united-climb-to-the-top-of-the-pile-for-the-first-time-in-two-years/ http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/sunderland-victory-sees-united-climb-to-the-top-of-the-pile-for-the-first-time-in-two-years/#respond Sun, 27 Sep 2015 07:08:56 +0000 http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/?p=213 2CC9EC5200000578-3250091-image-a-37_1443280755568

Manchester United players celebrate with their Captain, Wayne Rooney after he scored his first League goal in over 1000 minutes of football

770 Days. Manchester United are back on top of the Barclays Premier League table, after a gap of seven hundred and seventy days! Quite a long time for modern day United fans who had become so used to on-field success when a certain Sir Alex Ferguson was at the helm of the club’s affairs. Nevertheless, Louis van Gaal has managed to do what he has been promising since day one of his reign at Old Trafford, i.e., to bring back the glory days of Manchester United Football Club, albeit using his own patient and often frustrating style of play.

The match against Sunderland showed the influence of van Gaal’s tactics, and was justified on the players’ part by the commentator when he informed the viewers that any player who does not follow the van Gaal philosophy, gets benched, so that fear alone sets the ball rolling in van Gaal’s favour.

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United skipper Wayne Rooney celebrates after scoring his side’s second goal of the afternoon

The first half, up till the 44th minute, was, for lack of a better word, uninspiring when suddenly, Daley Blind showed amazing vision (what an irony!) and picked out Juan Mata at the far post, from just in front of the halfway line. The delightful ball flew over the defence’s collective heads, and Mata, being the good Samaritan that he is, cut it back for Memphis Depay to score his first League goal as United went into the break, leading by 1 goal to nil.

The United players emerged for the 2nd half visibly motivated, none more so than Depay who was showcasing his pace brilliantly. Juan Mata was working his magic well and Anthony Martial was coming up with the ball everywhere! And just as they ended the first half, United scored began the second.  Right after the 2nd half started, Martial’s trickery on the right wing bamboozled the defence as his pass found Rooney’s knee, resulting in the ball rolling inside the net past a hapless Costel Pantilimon. That was Wayne Rooney’s first goal in over 1000 minutes of Premier League football, the longest goal draught for the United captain.

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Memphis Depay put Manchester United in the lead as he scored his first Premier League goal in first half stoppage time

The introduction of Bastian Schweinsteiger for Michael Carrick in the 68th minute brought new life in the midfield. The German captain showed why he’s still a force to be reckoned with in the middle of the park. Later on, a knock to Daley Blind allowed Phil Jones to get some minutes under his belt as he came on in the 74th minute. Memphis Depay was replaced by Ashley Young who lit up the match with his usual bold runs and cut ins. De Gea had to make a couple of routine stops with his feet to keep his clean sheet with Jeremain Lens being a positive attacking outlet for the Sunderland team.

Sunderland’s defensive strategy was dealt a final blow in the 90th minute when Young smashed the ball across the goal, which was calmly controlled by Mata who then duly banged it in with elan.

Chris Smalling was rock solid at the back, with Valencia surprising everyone with his seemingly newfound ability to cross! Jokes aside, some clinical finishing from the Manchester side gave them a  well  deserved three points that also saw them secure the position as the current leaders of the Premier League, and now what remains to be seen is how long they can last there.

 

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Unlucky Arsenal doomed to defeat as disgraceful Mike Dean’s howlers let Diego Costa off the hook http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/unlucky-arsenal-doomed-to-defeat-as-disgraceful-mike-deans-howlers-let-diego-costa-off-the-hook/ http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/unlucky-arsenal-doomed-to-defeat-as-disgraceful-mike-deans-howlers-let-diego-costa-off-the-hook/#respond Sun, 20 Sep 2015 18:09:57 +0000 http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/?p=208 2C86E81800000578-3241547-image-a-33_1442703127534

Diego Costa and Gabriel Paulista had a nasty coming together where the latter was sent off while the former should also have been giving his marching orders in a match where controversy took centre stage

Chelsea finally seem to have found their long lost form after they notched up two consecutive wins; the first being a mid-week Champions League match while the second was a 2-0 win over visitors Arsenal just yesterday. The game however, saw way more than what the result suggests. This match was the epitome of drama and Chelsea, who were looking for their first League win in a while, looked like they would do anything to grab a result, and they did. In a way, the Blues lured Wenger’s men into self-destructing thereby leaving them with just 9-men to see off the game.

In the early minutes of the clash, the Gunners were looking to make hay while the sun was up and shining at Stamford Bridge until an overtly grateful Diego Costa decided to be the sunglasses in order to turn the match in their favor. In fact, a few minutes before half-time, he blinded opposition defender Koscielny, an incident that spurred a lengthy brawl and saw the first sending off in the form of Gabriel Paulista while Costa surprisingly avoided a red card. Even though this was a legitimate decision, yet not a complete one, this was definitely not the end to the unjustified events that occurred next.

Eight minutes into the second half, Chelsea managed to draw first blood from a clean free kick by Fabregas that was headed past Petr Cech by 20-year-old Kurt Zouma, leaving the 10-men with a difficult state to recover from. Indeed, things were falling in place for the hosts and especially Diego Costa, who kept on with his rough physical game until Remy replaced him as a substitute in the 82nd minute. While Arsene Wenger thinks Costa should have been sent off as well, according to Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho, Costa was the Man of the Match.

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Diego Costa flailed out his arms into the face of Arsenal centre half Laurent Koscielny

As the game progressed Arsenal were looking for a fightback with the limited resources at their disposal. Oliver Giroud and Oxlade Chamberlain were also introduced to bolster their attack and get something out of the game when they were hit with yet another setback. Santi Cazorla, who was already in the book, caught Fabregas with a mistimed sliding tackle and was issued marching orders by referee Mike Dean. Arsenal immediately shifted to a 4-3-1 formation but quite evidently the back four were facing a hard time against the incessant Chelsea attacks. Even though the Arsenal manager just wanted them to keep possession and kill the remaining minutes, the home crowd jeered every time there was a defensive strategy on show. Any remaining hopes of an Arsenal come back were ruined by Eden Hazard, who struck the final blow to double the lead for the Blues. Cech was beaten for the second time when a deflection from his fellow defender, Callum Chambers, saw the ball take the opposite trajectory.

Well, Chelsea supporters would definitely be happy as majority of the decisions did go their way and most importantly the three points saw their team climb their way to the 13th spot. The proceedings at the end of the match also kept things alive for the next Chelsea vs. Arsenal fixture as the managers never shook hands. Arsene Wenger walked into the tunnel undoubtedly unhappy while Jose Mourinho stayed back congratulating his players which was quite a rare sight. The next fixture promises to be as eventful as this and it would be interesting to see how fortune plans to square things off.

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Chelsea continue woeful start to the season after Everton smash them for three http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/chelsea-continue-woeful-start-to-the-season-after-everton-smash-them-for-three/ http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/chelsea-continue-woeful-start-to-the-season-after-everton-smash-them-for-three/#respond Sat, 12 Sep 2015 15:32:43 +0000 http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/?p=201 2C3820F000000578-3231833-image-a-126_1442061222649

Steven Naismith scored a perfect hat-trick as Everton beat Chelsea by three goals to one at Goodison Park

Chelsea Football Club lost yet another Premier League match to continue the unbelievably poor start that they’ve had to this campaign. Jose Mourinho’s boys headed into their game against Roberto Martinez’ legions on the back of a 2-1 home loss at the hands of Crystal Palace on the other side of the international break.

They had two weeks to of free time before they could seize the first chance to make up for that defeat, but what ultimately happened was simply not in the script. Nobody expected Chelsea to walk away with three points from Everton’s stronghold, but getting drubbed 3-1 was surely not foreseen by too many individuals.

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Steven Naismith puts Everton two up in the 22nd minute of the match after pumping in a smashing drive from long range

The game came at a very ironic time when you consider that the Blues did everything they could to sign Everton centre-half, John Stones. Ironically enough, Chelsea’s first game after the transfer window slammed shut was against the Toffees. That is not however, where the irony ended. Stones and his partners went on to have a fantastic game as if to show Mourinho what he missed out on. Everton forward Steven Naismith opened the scoring in the 17th minute after powering home a terrific header from Brendan Galloway, the only Brendan in the world of football residing in Merseyside who knows what he’s doing.

God only knows how the Scotsman got so much room in the heart of the Chelsea penalty box and I’m sure this is something that will be picked on by the meticulous Mourinho. Five minutes later however, Naismith did not need anyone to provide for him as he smacked in a brilliant left footed drive from outside the area that Asmir Begovic could do nothing about. This time around, Branislav Ivanovic can be blamed for allowing Naismith too much time to line up his drive. The Serbian tank is losing his impregnability and this point was made evident with just this one snafu.

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Nemanja Matic scored a stunning long-range drive in the 36th minute, but even that failed to get Chelsea back into the game

While one Serb was losing his reputation, another was not only maintaining his own, but was also trying everything he could to save his team. Midfield marshal Nemanja Matic was the only Chelsea man who could walk away from the game with his head held high. A 36th minute stunner from long range brought Chelsea back into the game. The goal was one to steal the limelight from any game, but unfortunately for Matic, it failed to serve that purpose as Chelsea failed to land another telling punch.

The game carried on with the home side in the lead till the last ten minutes or so until Steven Naismith bagged his third to round off  a perfect hat-trick. The forward who only featured in the game due to an early injury to Mo Besic, put Everton 3-1 up after he had the confidence to smash the ball with his right foot between the legs of Begovic from a very acute angle. Thus came to an end a day that every Chelsea player and fan will want to forget, but the truth is that there’s no waking up from this nightmare. This is now the Blues worst start to a league campaign since 1988 and also Mourinho’s worst start to any league. “You’re getting sacked in the morning” yelled the home crowd to see off Mourinho and while they may not be correct already, the truth is that more of this may very well see him off.

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United and Real continue mudslinging as deadline day horror show leaves De Gea stranded http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/united-and-real-continue-mudslinging-as-deadline-day-horror-show-leaves-de-gea-stranded/ http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/united-and-real-continue-mudslinging-as-deadline-day-horror-show-leaves-de-gea-stranded/#respond Sun, 06 Sep 2015 10:25:17 +0000 http://www.j4goalposts.co.uk/?p=196 267B041700000578-3223645-image-a-54_1441493684476

Spain goalkeeper David De Gea has seen his dream Real Madrid move fall apart during the last minutes of the summer transfer window

When the last season drew to a close, there was one transfer saga already simmering under the lid that had the potential to be the biggest deal of the coming summer. The David De Gea transfer saga has definitely got to be one of the longest running transfer sagas ever. It began ages ago, soon after the season drew to a close and has actually managed to survive longer than just the one transfer window because the player is still a Manchester United servant.

Not too many people would have seen that coming and personally, I thought there was no chance in the world that De Gea would remain a United man by the time the transfer window slammed shut. It was anyway the saga of the summer and chances were high that it would be one of the most expensive transfers of the summer as well. And in my eyes, I believed that it could have also been the deal of the summer because signing David De Gea would have to be a massive coup for any football team in the world.

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Manchester United Executive Vice-Chairman Ed Woodward has come under heavy scrutiny after the De Gea deal fell through at the last minute

The former Atletico man single-handedly pulled United through many situations last season, and having him in a team as regal as Los Galacticos could make them almost invincible. Unfortunately for Real, the deal will only  be discussed using terms like could and would because they have failed to sign their number one target of the window. Exactly why that happened is still a mystery because all we have to believe are accounts from  the United and the Real camp.

There is, of course, no guarantee that either party is speaking a word of truth as numerous allegations have been launched against the administrators of both the massive football clubs by their counterparts. While Real have labelled the United big wigs as “naive”, United have claimed that the deal fell through due to errors on Real’s part. This whole mess is therefore no different from a kindergarten scuffle between two toddlers who are childishly pointing the finger at each other.

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Real Madrid President Florentino Perez has also courted controversy as numerous sources have claimed that he is the one at fault for the botched De Gea deal

Amidst all the pandemonium, there is one party whose demands and needs have been almost forgotten. Not too many people are paying much heed to De Gea himself and exactly how he could be feeling. The first thing that we have to remember is that no matter who says what, it is certain that the player himself wanted the move to happen. He had his eyes set on being a Real Madrid player, which could be why United boss Van Gaal chose to keep him away from the first team.

As things stand, it will be at least six months before De Gea can complete his move to Real but even then, a move will not be too possible. The earliest opportunity that De Gea would get to move to Real would have to be the summer transfer window of the coming season, which means that he would have to spend one whole year in a place he does not want to be. While both the clubs continue to bicker, I only imagine what the player must be going through right now.

 

 

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