With the 12th round of fixtures in the Premier League now done and dusted, it’s time to take a look at which strikers performed the best on top flight pitches up and down England.
Strikers in the Premier League may not have had a particularly lethal weekend, but there were plenty with enough clinical awareness to find themselves on the scoresheet. Continue reading
Vincent Van Genechten, armed with his extensive knowledge of Belgian football, is back again to discuss in Part III of our Q & A the Belgian national team’s prospects ahead of the World Cup next summer.
Q1) How far do you expect Belgium to go in Russia 2018? Can Belgium reach the World Cup semi-final?
The Red Devils enjoyed a very successful qualification campaign, racing through their group while scoring a large number of goals. They must be one of the favorites, right? Well, that is where it gets tricky. On paper, Belgium has all the quality players to lift that prestigious World Cup trophy. Looking at the squad list, which other country has a world class goalkeeper such as Thibaut Courtois, an elite defender as Toby Alderweireld, an assist-machine in the form of midfielder Kevin De Bruyne and a difference maker like forward Eden Hazard at the disposal of is manager? Believe me, not that many… Continue reading
It was a comparatively low-scoring weekend in Premier League as only four games witnessed more than two goals. Continue reading
We are pleased to welcome one of our former writers Vincent Van Genechten who has extensive knowledge on both Belgian and Italian football. In Part I of this Q & A, we will be discussing the Belgian national team, in particular manager Roberto Martinez and his approach.
Q1) What do you make of Belgian manager Martinez? Some are skeptical about him being the right man for the job.
It has been nothing less than a successful reign for Martinez since he took over from Marc Wilmots. Is he special in his approach? Yes. I mean, who leaves out a world class player like Radja Nainggolan just to make a point? But that has been pretty much the only point of criticism I can give Martinez so far. He was able to guide Belgium to tough away wins against Bosnia and Greece, when his team finally showcased a sense of urgency, fighting spirit and finishing ability against good defenders. Continue reading
Turf Moor is a stadium where most visiting teams leave either bruised physically or with little in terms of result. The visitors tend to be aware that they will be involved in a highly competitive game.
When they were promoted to the English Premier League in 2016 as champions of the English League Football Championship, Burnley lost just two of their 23 home games, whilst collecting 51 points. They continued that fine form through the 2016/17 season in the Premier League. Out of 19 matches at Turf Moor, Burnley collected 33 points after winning 10 home matches. Mind you they finished the season with a total of 40 points. Thus, there away form was miserable and just yielded 7 points.
On their travels, Burnley not only struggled but could not get more than a single win. The solitary win was secured at Selhurst Park against Crystal Palace. They did however earn a point by holding Manchester United to a goalless draw at Old Trafford. Despite their disappointing return of points from away fixtures, they still retained their place in the top tier of English football.
This season, they have already won two away games and secured a draw in two other games. From five away matches played during the current campaign, Burnley have amassed one more point than the number – seven – they did in the entire 2016/17 season.
By guiding his team to wins over both Chelsea and Everton, whilst also drawing against Tottenham and Liverpool, manager Sean Dyche has succeeded in getting the best out of his squad and managed to rebuild their confidence away from home.
He has created a well-balanced team, made up of the same defenders who helped the club win the Championship along with some astute midfield and attack-minded signings. While Ashley Barnes and Sam Vokes remain the forward options for Dyche, with the pair scoring 17 goals between them last season, Chris Wood has been recruited to strengthen Burnley’s attack. The 26-year-old Wood has seamlessly integrated into Dyche’s side and been on the receiving end of some quality service, with players such as Scott Arfield, Robbie Brady and Steven Defour delivering the passes.
Burnley aim to continue in this fine form and rather than battling against relegation, it may sound realistic to aim for a top 10 finish in EPL. This of course is based on their early season form. Last season, any points earned away from home were treated as an unexpected bonus, particularly since they lost 14 of their 19 games away from Turf Moor.
Now Burnely’s players are proving to be part of a team capable of competing with the bigger clubs in the English Premier League, as seen in the win over Chelsea and confirmed by the draws against Tottenham and Liverpool. Perhaps the big question is where will Burnley finish at the end of the Premier League season, but one thing is for sure- the aim is to sustain this promising start at all costs.
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It was a good week for top teams in Premier League as all top-six sides excluding Tottenham registered wins during the weekend. Continue reading
For two seasons, Radamel Falcao’s best form completely deserted him. Previously a prolific goal scorer for FC Porto, Atletico Madrid and AS Monaco, on loan from the Ligue 1 club to Manchester United and then Chelsea, the Colombian struggled to make a positive impact in the English Premier League.
In a combined 36 Premier League appearances, he scored just five goals, whilst unable to retain full fitness. Only occasionally did he show glimpses of his predatory instincts which along with his indefatigable work rate, combined to make him one of European football’s most feared strikers.
At one point, a fine instinctive finish on just his fourth appearance for Manchester United against Everton indicated he could become a success in English football. Despite his best efforts, he was unable to build upon that good start, as Falcao returned to Monaco from Chelsea after having made just one substitute appearance in his last seven months for a side then managed by Guus Hiddink.
Rather than losing all his confidence following his disappointing and frustrating two years in England, the former River Plate striker, showed great determination and desire to re-establish himself as a key player for Monaco. He has done so, emphatically.
As well as ending his first season back in France as the third top goal scorer in Ligue 1 with 21 goals, with only Edinson Cavani and Alexandre Lacazette finding the net more often, Falcao excelled in the Champions League.
With Monaco reaching the semi-final, he scored seven times in ten appearances, including twice in the away leg of their last 16 encounter against Manchester City. His goals proved vital, as they enabled his team to advance on away goals after the tie ended 6-6 on aggregate.
The ghosts of the feared striker who scored regularly prior to his injury leading to World Cup 2014 (which he missed) did not torment Falcao but rather fueled his turnaround. He has continued to score at a great this season- he has already managed to find the back of the net 13 times in just 9 league appearances.
Now captain of Monaco, the club he initially joined from Porto in 2013, Falcao scored twice in the 6-1 destruction of Marseille. The class and confidence which he exuded prior to his disappointing spell in England has fully returned.
More than just being a great benefit to his current club Monaco and the Colombian national team as well as football in general, his resurgence serves as a timely reminder for those struggling to recover from serious injury. Work hard and put in the hours to rediscover your fitness and form but, above all, believe in yourself and you may end up a rejuvenated star like Falcao.
It has certainly been an eventful last few days in the Premier League! Tottenham enjoyed perhaps the finest of weekend’s with a 4-1 demolition of Liverpool – their first win over the Reds in five years. Continue reading