Young, Fearless and Ruthless: The French are coming

A quick look at the history books doesn’t make for much good reading when it involves the presence and participation of French clubs in European competition. Yes; you can not write the history of French Club football without mentioning the great Saint Etienne and  Stade de Reims sides of the Seventies and Fifties; who made it to the finals of the Old European Cup; but then there’s the great Marseille side of 1993 who against all odds won France its first European title (the only other European success by a French team was PSG’s triumph in the now defunct Cup Winners Cup in 1996). For such a top footballing nation, you would probably term this as a really poor European record; well the French are back and they do look like they mean business.

This current crop of French teams comprise of youthful exuberance, unbelievable pace and a keen eye for goal. What is particularly interesting and distinctive about the two French teams left in Europe’s club competitions is their focus on producing young talent. Lyon and Monaco; fly the French flag, these are exciting times for French football; despite the huge investments made into Paris Saint Germain; its those who have deep rooted youth development programs that are getting all the plaudits; it would be naive to write off Lyon in the Europa League or Monaco in the Champions League.

Both teams come face to face with two of Europe’s Historical heavyweights in Ajax Amsterdam and Juventus; it would be foolish to say they stand no chance. Yes Juventus are on course for their sixth consecutive Scudetto with a Barcelona shut out over two legs still very fresh in the minds; the Old Lady hasn’t faced an animal like these young French lads; who have so far scored over 100 goals in all competitions; the highest of any European team. Ajax on the other hand have been quietly operating under the radar; but if their performance against Schalke is anything to go by; Lyon won’t take them for granted; OL have probably had the toughest route to get to this point; so both teams can relate to the adversity.

The Monaco and Lyon youth production line is right now the envy of the European scene; a few years back Lyon in the days when they won Ligue 1, seven straight times could buy the best talent in Ligue 1; depriving or stealing off their rivals, but still kept true to the conveyor belt that produced Benzia, Ben Arfa and Benzema. Monaco took a different path; yes in the mid Nineties they were responsible for bringing Thierry Henry and David Trezeguet to lime light; but with the inflow of Russian money, a change of ownership, the philosophy changed with the Principality side going on a spending spree; bringing in Falcao, James Rodriguez, Joao Moutinho to name a few; the Parisians were still able to out muscle and out maneuver Monaco; very little in terms of success was achieved. Now Leonardo Jardim changed things a little bit and started giving the boys from the academy a chance; the likes of Anthony Martial came through and caught the eye of bigger clubs in mainstream Europe; that year Monaco caused a few upsets in the Champions League; this year they are replicating the same thing with the emergence of Kylian Mbappe along with other young, fresh and French youngsters taking Europe by storm. Mbappe plays with a poise and guile beyond his years, his eye for goal is truly majestic and the young man is definitely on his way to one of Europe’s top top teams.

Lyon have introduced Tolisso, Lacazette and Fekir to the European limelight; so has Monaco with Mbappe, Bakayoko, Lemar and Mendy; all French Internationals at Senior or youth levels; their youthfulness, openness and free spirited style of play will cause Ajax and Juventus tonnes of problems; both teams are top scorers in both the Champions League and Europa League; I won’t write them off; if I were you, these French lads can smell blood and they are coming for the meal.

UCL Knockout Round 2nd Leg Day 1: Lessons Learnt.

The more you watch the beautiful game; the more you are thrilled with the actions, occurrences and activities. Football is an ever unfolding sport; has its highs and lows; never stands still, records are created and broken; feats are achieved and the unthinkable happens. They say Lightening never strikes at the spot twice; but the beautiful sport of football always finds a way to disprove all forms of logic; whether the philosophers like it or not.

The last two nights have just been explosive in the absence of a better word or adjective; teams have arrived from a first leg deficit that seemed insurmountable; another set knew all was lost and just needed to show up to ensure the formalities are duly concluded and finally two hung in the balance with a potential for banana peels; here are the lessons learnt from Tuesday and Wednesday’s action in the most prestigious Club  competition on planet Earth.

Arsenal are well; still Arsenal

Lets first make a comparison of Arsenal and Bayern Munich’s Line up; will any Arsenal player make it into Bavarian’s starting eleven? Maybe only Sanchez and Koscielny can squeeze themselves into that eleven; if you flip the script; almost all of Bayern’s eleven would start in the Arsenal team bar; Rafinha who started for the absent Phillip Lahm. So the first thing we need to consider is that Arsenal are just not good enough to play at this level and it is critical that something has to change for such a big and well supported team to be taken seriously either domestically and on continent.

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The two games clearly illustrate how pivotal Laurent Koscielny is to the Arsenal set up; in the first leg he limped off injured with the game at 1-1; next thing you knew Arsenal collapsed. Fast forward to the second leg at the Emirates; same thing happened; the French defender gets sent off and immediately it was curtains for the Gunners. How does such a big club implode just at the absence of one player? Does this happen to other top clubs? I make bold to say no; Arsenal were piss poor in both legs and it was very painful to watch even for neutrals.

Winning whilst playing badly

Some three odd weeks ago; a team from Naples visited the Champions League trophy Capital with a view of dismantling the established order. Maurizio Sarri’s team have built a reputation of been potentially the best attacking side in Europe at the moment and it didn’t take long for Napoli to justify this notion with a quick, early goal to stun the Bernabeu into silence; but as we all know Real Madrid are a different animal these days. Unlike in times past; this Madrid team under Zidane have found a way to winning matches without playing well. They buckled down to find three goals to hand them a two goal margin to take to the second leg at the San Paolo; all these done without Cristano Ronaldo on the score sheet.

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In the second leg; more like the same script as it ended with the same scoreline; Real went behind to an in form Dries Mertens goal and it all seemed Sarri was on the verge of doing the unthinkable, knock out the most successful team in the competition’s history. 1-0 at the break; game there for the taking; both teams hit the post in the first half; but Napoli were the better side with more chances created and missed; two set pieces later in the second half and it was curtains; the shoulders dropped instantly; the San Paolo stunned to silence. Real Madrid hadn’t played well; Napoli made life difficult for them on the ball; but Zidane’s side found a way; took the few chances created as Morata wrapped things up with a neat finish; its back to the drawing board for Sarri and Napoli; they have the ingredients of a team that can win things; Diawara looks a shrewd acquisition, add a combative midfielder and a much more mobile Center back to compliment Koulibaly; they could be on their way.

 If at first you don’t succeed; try, try and try again

Pierre Eric Aubameyang missed a tone of chances to last three games in the first leg away to Benfica at the Estadio da Luz; it was quite horrible to watch as he missed chance after chance after chance; so bad that he even missed a penalty. The question you would ask is what else did Dortmund have to do to get an away goal after such a dominant performance. As they always say it only takes one chance to make the difference; Benfica did exactly that to take a one goal lead to Signal Iduna Park; a slim advantage, it was all they had that they could build on to potentially cause an upset in Germany.

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This time around it was an Aubameyang whose goal scoring instincts were spot on; finishing with a hat-trick to prove doubters wrong. It was a solid and commanding performance from the home side as they went on rampage; playing an interesting 5-3-2 formation with Durm and Schmelzer  providing the width and Pulisic playing up top along side Aubameyang.

Impossible is Nothing

I believe this is an Adidas slogan; but a Nike kitted team just pulled a full grown rabbit out of a hat in unbelievable fashion. In Paris on Valentine’s day; Barcelona seemed dead and buried, but it took International Women’s day for the Catalan’s to stage a rebirth of epic proportions. It was not a vintage, clinical, electric Barcelona performance as the Parisians made it difficult for that to happen; but it was a performance that demonstrated Luis Enrique’s full imprint on this team and how well he has varied the way this team plays; this I always give him credit for; Barcelona are so direct; its unbelievable.

There wasn’t any goal that had genius written all over it; bar probably the Neymar free kick. This were goals you would probably see on a wet windy night at Stoke’s Bet 365 stadium. Enrique showed that he learnt certain lessons from the first leg; going with a back three was the first sign to enable Barcelona pass through PSG’s rather effective press from the first leg. I felt it was a little strange having Messi in the Hole considering how torrid a time he had every time he touched  the ball. Playing him in the hole enabled  Barcelona to have to advanced, wide midfield outlets to pass the ball to in Rafinha and Neymar as they sort to nullify the high pressing PSG style.  PSG pressed with three players all through; so Andre Ter Stegen provided himself as an alternative with Neymar and Rafinha dropping into Center Circle by-line to receive the ball as the Catalans sort to build from the back.

Now what was strange to me was PSG’s reluctance to stay true to the ethos of what was extremely successful in the first leg and that was use of the ball; every time they used the ball well and played in intricate, patient triangles they created chances; however, for most of the game they were very sloppy with the ball; Veratti and Rabiot would have to hold their hands up here to take responsibility. The non inclusion of Di Maria was a huge surprise, it however seemed part of the game plan as he came on to good effect for PSG to score and he troubled Barcelona every time he had the ball. Game management was poor from PSG; they conceded three goals in the last six minutes of the match; Barcelona had no right to get back into the game the moment the Parisians scored that priceless away goal.

Unai Emery must be kicking himself; he will have nightmares of this game for weeks; it is instances like this that show he still has a bit to go in been considered a top notch manager. All his substitutions looked well thought out; Aurier coming on was to ensure they double teamed Neymar as his influence grew in the game; Krychowiak’s was meaningless as his height and presence didn’t stop them conceding from a ball into the box; Poor, Poor PSG.

Luis Enrique has done a fine job with this Barcelona side in his three years in charge; yes his transfer business generally has not been stellar, you cannot take away his input and imprint on this Barcelona side and it is ludicrous to say he doesn’t affect nor effect anything in this team.

Halftimeng Premier League Muppets of Week 27

Huerolho Gomes has always been a goalie prone to errors and this has greatly affected his career wherever he has played; on Saturday it happened again costing his side Watford in their Seven goal thriller against Southampton at Vicarage Road.

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Gomes is not alone in this past weekend’s mistakes Bureau; so he won’t be alone for company in my selection this week. However, the biggest Muppet prize is reserved for none other than Alexis Sanchez. I believe strongly that there’s no smoke without fire; Sanchez been confined to the bench in one of the biggest games of the season for his club speaks volumes of how things are going on behind the scenes. Whatever; it may be; it looks very likely that the relationship between Player, Coach and Club is headed in the direction of disengagement with no truce in sight, forget what Arsene Wenger says.

Here’s my selection for Muppets of the week in a 3-5-2 formation:

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Halftimeng Premier League Team of Week 27

Its that time on a Tuesday Morning where we get to release or top performers for the past weekend. As you may also know we have another selection that picks the bad performances over the same period as well. Interestingly; we have had a number of instances where a player makes the Muppets of the week selection in one week; by the next he puts up a brilliant performance to make our Top players selection; is it safe to say Premier League players are paying attention?

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What is it with visiting Goalkeepers and Old Trafford; United have drawn seven of fourteen games played at the Theatre of Dreams with the visiting goalie been at the center of all the heroics put up by the visiting teams. Arthur Boruc and Martin Olsson make the elevation from Muppets last week to top performers this week.

Who would have thought that West Bromwich Albion would lose at home to Crystal Palace; considering how strong the Baggies are at home; is this a sign that ”Big Sam” is turning things around at Crystal Palace.

What can we say about Harry Kane; prolific, dangerous, lethal and at the top of his game; many had thought Spurs would suffer for their over-dependence on him; he has however managed things quite well and tops the Goal scorers chat.

Here’s my Premier League Team of Week 27 in a 3-4-3 formation:

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** Pictures courtesy : Przegląd Sportowy

Halftimeng LA LIGA TEAM OF WEEK 26

After 26 rounds of games, Barcelona are on top of the pile with 60 points – a point ahead of rivals Real Madrid who have a game in hand. Soceidad, pushing really hard for a spot in Europe did a fine job beating Real Betis at the Villamarin 3 – 2 moving them  just a point off the Champions League spot

The Belly of the La Liga table looks the most surprising – Paper Tiger, Valencia, like a dying duck are 13th on the log with a meagre 29 points while newcomers Alaves are 2 points off the top 10.

Bottom three of Granada, Gijon and Osasuna all lost to Leganes, Deportivo and Las Palmas respectively.

Here’s my Team of the week selection from La Liga in a  4-2-4 formation:

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Gorka Iraizoz  – Atletico Bilbao

Am particularly relieved to see him get monkeys of his back and put in a workmanlike performance against Malaga after he has been largely dismal in the past three weeks notably against APOEL Nicosia in the Europa League. Even at the twilight age of 35, Iraizoz still had the acrobatics of a teenager keeping Charles and Ignacio Camacho strikes out with very cogent saves.

Defenders

Diego Rico –  Leganes

Looked ridiculous when Leganes spent €1 million to get a left back from CD Burgos back in August 2016 but it’s clearly looking like a comme il faut buy. Still only 24, Leganes got themselves a defender who clearly might not be as talented as Marcelo or Felipe Luis but this boy is a hard worker.

His positional play against Granada was impeccable, combining well with Szymanowski along the byline. Manage to get 7 crosses into the opposition’s box – highest by any defender in the La Liga last weekend.

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Samuel Umtiti – Barcelona

Cameroonian-Born French Defender has received some stick recently which I think is unjust. He’s just been made a patsy to save face for senior players like Piqué.

His performance against Celta Vigo was what he needed, and it will improve his confidence greatly. Marshalled things well, never went extravagant, did the simple things effectively. Iago Aspas will want to forget playing against him.

Given his only 23, with over 150 games under his belt in France before moving to Spain, I think he’s got it.

Alejandro Arribas – Deportivo La Coruna

Not the quickest but he’s ability and knowledge of reading the game and snuffing out danger is tremendous.

Left Sevilla two seasons back after a lack of game time where he won the Europa League. He has been a stalwart for Deportivo and he proved that against Gijon keeping Carmona quiet for largely most part of the game.

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Šime Vrsaljko – Atlético Madrid

Atletico Coach Diego Simeone opting for speed and vigor rather than Juanfran’s know-how and experience against Valencia. It paid off and handsomely too.

With both right backs having 34 appearances between them this season (17 a piece) it difficult to ascertain which he prefers but Vrsaljko has made a statement of intent with his solid performances that he’s ready to keep Juanfran on the bench. His telepathy with Saul Niguez was magnifical.

Midfield

Gabi – Atlético Madrid

Another classy performance from the Skipper after only last week saved Fernando Torres from the grasp of death.

Am I the only one who still does not understand why he never played for the Spanish Senior Team. Not one cap? Really? His level of persistence and enthusiasm at 33 is extremely good.

His tactful approach to his gameplay and helping younger wards like Koke flourish makes him a maverick.

Casemiro – Real Madrid

For me  the best thing that ever happened to the defensive midfield position of Los Merengues since Makelele left. Not saying he’s better – don’t get it in the wrong box.

Since he became a regular last season, he has given Real Madrid a good stead of solidity and stability. Against Eibar, he played with a body language that says ‘Modrić and Kroos, go do the the damage while I stop any attack coming through’. He did not disappoint.

Forward

Antoine Griezmann – Atlético Madrid

Good Speed, Intelligent runner, Bodacious awareness, it is very difficult to pin a lassitude to the Frenchman’s game not when only recently has formed a delicious partnership with countryman Kevin Gameiro.

Should have easily had a hat trick but eventually got a brace from well threaded passes from Koke and Thomas Partey. Winning the La Liga looks a tall order but they look to have their Champions League spot back on track.

Lionel Messi – Barcelona

Against PSG, 3 weeks ago, he looked disinterested, unperturbed and nugatory. Since that Black Valentine Day in Paris, Messi has scored 6 goals in 4 games including a brace in the 5 – 0 win at the Nou Camp on Saturday

One quirky move and you are left for dead – Celta Vigo defenders will tell you that for free. I always say there is no tactics to keeping him quiet when he’s in full throttle.

Now there is a palpable atmosphere in Catalonia that they can cancel a 4 goal deficit and qualify against PSG to defy odds.

Karim Benzema – Real Madrid

He has struggled for form and injuries has also had a fair share. Just 7 League goals this season is poor in relation to his prolific standards but getting a brace against Eibar will surely pump up his confidence.

Madrid needs all the fire power they need to push for the League title and Champions League.

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Jese Rodriguez – Las Palmas

Las Palmas smacking 5 past Osasuna was always going to happen but Jese Rodriguez scoring a brace was slightly surprising plus he had a superb game. Graduated from the Madrid Youth ranks with huge prospects but things haven’t really worked out for him even when he moved to PSG only to be loaned out to the Canary Islands club. I really hope this helps kick start his career.

**Pictures coutesy UEFA.com; mundodepotivo.com; pulse.ng; getty images and dailymail.co.uk

CAF ELECTIONS 2017: THE NIGERIA DILEMMA

The Nigeria football polity has been in the news over the past week following NFF’s President Amaju Pinnick’s open support for Madagascar’s FA chairman Ahmad Ahmad who is the lone rival to incumbent Issa Hayatou of Cameroon in the upcoming CAF elections.

The Minister of Sports Solomon Dalung issued a statement late last week disassociating the country from Amaju Pinnick’s support and has gone ahead to schedule an emergency meeting with top FA members and stakeholders for 11am on Tuesday in Abuja.

Background of the Elections:
Through a constitutional assembly after several attempts, the Confederation of African Football came to life in February 1957 and has since grown over the years into a formidable organization in World football affairs. In 1988, after being endorsed by the then incumbent CAF President, Issa Hayatou emerged as the new man at the helms of affair defeating his Togolese challenger by 22 votes to 18, the 72 years old has been President for 29 years and is seeking re-election for his eight term in office come March 16 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, when the elections take place.

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In past elections, Hayatou has gone unchallenged but this year, with the strong wave of change blowing across various political settings in the world which also saw FIFA electing a new president in Gianni Infantino, Madagascar FA Chairman Ahmad Ahmad is leading a strong resistance to the Hayatou reign. The 57 year old is the Chairman of the Madagascar FA, elected in 2003, he is also a member of CAF executive committee and was once named in corruption allegations surrounding the award of the hosting of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, he did admit to requesting for financial aid for his FA but insists it was not in exchange for votes.

The Nigerian Dilemma:
The NFF President who was recently in Zimbabwe and South Africa with Ahmad Ahmad for a three day FIFA council meeting with President Infantino last week openly endorsed the Madagascar’s FA President as Nigeria’s choice in the upcoming elections, harping on the need for a change in how football affairs should be run on the continent. The NFF President who is also seeking a place on the executive seat claimed that the decision was one discussed and agreed upon during an NFF executive meeting.

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However, the declaration has opened a can of worms to which there seems no end, 9 Nigerians in CAF’s committees including Dr Amos Adamu, Brig-General Dominic Oneya (rtd), Alh. Sani Lulu, Alh. Aminu Maigari, Mr Amanze Uchegbulam, Dr. Bolaji Ojo-Oba, Mr Paul Bassey, Mr Chris Green and Aisha Falode, issued a statement insisting that Pinnick’s decision to dump incumbent Issa Hayatou was purely a personal matter and not a national decision as they were not consulted before the endorsement was made.

They insisted that no Nigerian in CAF or the supervising Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports was consulted before the NFF chief decided to announce the country’s support for the candidate from the Southern African football sub-region (COSAFA).

“Mr Pinnick as an individual has a right to declare support for whoever he pleases but when such support is made in the name of Nigeria then there is need for extreme caution given the political colouration of CAF elections of which we are well grounded and versed in.

“CAF Elections are not about individuals… They insisted that while Hayatou remains a friend of the country having previously supported most of the football fiestas hosted by the country as well as helping Nigerians into various CAF positions, Ahmad has not been here to canvass support and listed the hosting of the FIFA Under-17 Competition in 2009, the election of Nigerians into the CAF and FIFA Executive Committees, (Etubom Oyo Orok Oyo and Dr. Amos Adamu) as some of the benefits accruing to the nation under Hayatou’s reign.

But in a swift move, Chairman of Chairmen of the current NFF board, Ibrahim Gusau, countered this statement, he revealed that Pinnick was given the go-ahead to act in whatever possible way to advance the interest of Nigeria in the CAF elections.

“In a nutshell, we all agreed unanimously at the board meeting of NFF to support NFF President, Amaju Pinnick to contest for a CAF Executive seat in the forthcoming CAF elections in Addis Ababa. We also gave him a mandate to use his discretion to vote for any presidential candidate that has genuine vision that will benefit Nigeria. We believe Amaju as the President of NFF is not going to CAF as an individual but he is going there to represent the interest of Nigeria and we believe as a leader he understand the politics in CAF”.

My Opinion:

Just so we clear, Amaju Pinnick getting on the executive committee of CAF is more to his benefit than to Nigeria’s benefit, there is really no gain that comes to the nation from him being on the board. I am fully in support that Issa Hayatou’s time is up and he needs to go but two things worry me, are we not jumping from the proverbial ‘fry pan to fire’ in seeking change just for the sake of change without due diligence on Ahmad Ahmad and why is Pinnick going all about his support like an amateur politician, forgetting that in politics, nothing is certain.

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Issa Hayatou came in as an unknown, a breath of fresh air and grew into a behemoth that we all want out of the door. Ahmad Ahmad has been Chairman of his FA for 14 years (anything to read from that?), he is also the deputy Senate leader in his country and having listened to him on several platforms, I am yet to be convinced about his plans for football on the continent outside the leading chant that Hayatou just needs to leave. I have also learnt following the Nigerian Presidential elections, that all politicians are from the same side of the coin.

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For Pinnick, who is Nigeria’s representative on the board and gets to vote, he seems fully confident that Ahmad Ahmad will win following FIFA President Infantino’s veiled support, COSAFA’s endorsement and some West African nations also supporting the challenger, but maybe he needs to take a cue from the likes of South Africa who have been careful in putting their necks on the line despite pressures from both side.

A total of 28 votes are required to unseat Hayatou, Ahmad Ahmad claims to have secured 15 already, will today’s meeting with the Minister witness any change in Nigeria’s stance, whatever the outcome of today’s meeting, football and not politics should be the winner.

Halftimeng Premier League Muppets of Week 26

On Sunday; we saw probably the worst first half performance you would see anywhere in the world by Stoke City as Tottenham Hotspurs put up a first class performance with four goals scored in the first half. Mark Hughes has a huge headache with this team in sustaining performances; one week Stoke City are solid and gritty in their performances; then next week, absolute Muppets.

West Ham are another team that compound critics; new signing Robert Snodgrass hasn’t settled at all and had probably one of his worst games away to Watford; Mikael Antonio got a red card for all his hustling and desire to get West Ham all three points at Vicarage Road.

Here’s my selection for Premier League Muppets of the Week in a 4-2-3-1 formation:

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Halftimeng PL/EFL CUP Team of Week 26

Let me make a quick confession; I hate selecting the team of the week when there’s a Monday game yet to be played; it distorts the entire thought process that goes into picking the team; but hey, somebody has got to do it right?

What is it with clubs sacking managers and then the next game after the change, the players step it up and put in a great performance. Just look at Leicester City, got rid of Claudio Ranieri, only to step it up and have a cracking performance, putting Liverpool to bed quite comfortably with Jamie Vardy, Wilfred Ndidi and Danny Drinkwater putting in top class performances.

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On Sunday, we had the EFL Cup final; where Southampton gave Manchester United a really hard time; outclassing them in virtually all departments. What a signing Manolo Gabbiadini is turning out to be; I do not think any player has made this type of impact in Southampton’s history fresh off arriving at the club, he makes the cut for the second time running along with the grand old scoring machine; Zlatan Ibrahimovic, whose header sealed the EFL Cup victory for Manchester United.

Finally just before the EFL Cup final; Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen delivered a master class as Spurs demolished Stoke City at White Hart Lane 4-0 with all goals coming in the first forty-five minutes of the game.

Here’s my Joint (Premier League & EFL Cup) Team of the Week selection in an interesting 3-3-1-3 formation:

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#FootballAgainstXenophobia

It is no longer news that Xenophobic attacks against foreigners has made a return to South Africa. The Football world particularly in Africa have formed a United front to fight and stand against this inhuman uprising; under the auspices of the Football Africa Arena a press statement released yesterday stated in clear terms the role football has played in positioning its self as an all embracing, all inclusive and nondiscriminatory way of life. (Please find statement below).

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There is no place in today’s world for Xenophobia especially as we continue to grow the world today as a global village; where we embrace our differences despite race, colour, gender, religious or political leanings.

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Halftimeng Premier League Muppets of Week 25

At Halftimeng.com from time to time;we try to view the funnier side of football or view football from a less serious perspective or how else would you explain a well decorated referee, who has handled many big International matches and Cup finals approaching a team to apologize for wrongly awarding a goal to the opposing side at Halftime?

Can some one help me here; what are today’s referees turning into; if this had happened in Nigeria; we would probably be asking what Hospital the referee had been admitted to. Take a bow Mark Clattenburg; for this you are an absolute Muppet.

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The Muppet team sets up in a 4-4-2 diamond formation with Vito Mannone in goal after Southampton put four past him at the Stadium of Light; The back four has a returning, own goal scoring Tyrone Mings in Bournemouth’s home defeat to Manchester City at Right Back; West Ham’s Aaron Cresswell at Left back with a rather poor display to further anger his manager Slaven Bilic with a Center Defensive pairing of Craig Cathcart and Jason Denayer of Watford and Sunderland respectively after a torrid showing against Anthony Martial and Manolo Gabbiadini.

So I hear Jack Wilshere is injured again? Dude cannot catch a break with the Brakes firmly on; Marc Albrighton continues having poor performances as the Leicester Ship keeps sinking; Middlesborough have their own version of David Bellion in Adama Traore;all speed but very little endeavour and end product; concluding the midfield four is Adnan Januzaj; one so much was expected of but chose to ride along with the biggest Muppet of them all.

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In attack; with the coming of Sam Allardyce to Crystal Palace; it was believe they had finally found someone who would put Christian Benteke’s attributes to good use; however reverse has been the case; imagine a striker not having a single shot on target all game at the Bet 365 stadium. He is able joined by the fallen from grace Jamie Vardy; the less that’s said the better.

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How do you give people a false dawn and hope by going away to win 0-4; only to return home to lose by the same margin the following weekend; step up and take a bow, Muppet Manager of the week; Mr. David Moyes, may our expectations never be cut short. In Jesus Name, Amen!!!!