Penalty heartbreak for Rangers

By Shantanu Gupta

Rangers were beaten by Eintracht Frankfurt in the final of the Europa League in Seville on Wednesday night.

42,500 fans in the stadium and more than 100,000 fans in the city who could not get tickets for the game but were watching the match in fan parks dotted across the city, made for a raucous atmosphere from the first whistle to the last.

The Germans were the better team in the first half, and in left wing back Filip Kostić they had the most dangerous player on the pitch with his ability to get up and down the touchline and deliver teasing crosses into the box.

It was Eintracht who came closer to breaking the deadlock when Allan McGregor was forced to make an excellent save from Ansgar Knauff. Rangers had their moments but nothing seriously to trouble Kevin Trapp in the Frankfurt goal.

And it was also the Bundesliga side that started the second half much brighter, emerging with an intensity that had the Scottish team on the ropes.

But then, against the run of play, Rangers took the lead, although Frankfurt were very much the masters of their own downfall. Midfielder Djibril Sow and defender Tuta failed to deal with a bouncing ball, Tuta fell over, allowing Joe Aribo to stride forward and calmly slot the ball past Trapp.

The lead lasted 12 minutes, during which time Rangers twice survived penalty shouts against them. VAR ruled that there was not sufficient evidence to overturn the referee’s initial decision not to award a spot-kick.

When the equaliser did come, it was no surprise that the source of the goal was Kostić. He burst down the left and delivered a low cross to the near post.

Both the Rangers centre-halves were ball watching and failed to spot the run of Rafael Borré who stole in between them, and beat McGregor from close range.

Both teams pressed for a second goal, but it would not come and the match went to extra time. With players tiring in the heat – it had been 30 degrees at kick-off and not appreciably cooler later, – mistakes began to creep in on both sides, but still the game remained tied.

Still, with penalties looming, Rangers had the chance to snatch the win. Substitute Kemar Roofe, who had just come on as a substitute, got to the bye-line and pulled the ball back for Ryan Kent to side-foot the ball from close range.

Fortunately for the Germans, Trapp was able to move his feet in time, stuck out a right leg, and managed to divert the shot away from goal.

That meant that, for the second time in a matter of days, penalties were needed to decide a major final. The three spot kicks from each side were so accurately placed that neither keeper stood a chance.

However, Welsh international Aaron Ramsey, who had been introduced very late on specifically to take a spot kick, placed his effort down the middle and Trapp was able to keep it out. It was left to Borré to deliver the coup de grace, sending the Germans into raptures of delight, whilst the Rangers players slumped to the turf in dejection.

They need to pick themselves up to the Scottish Cup Final against Hearts in nine days’ time, whilst Eintracht Frankfurt can look forward to playing in the Champions League next season.

West Ham problems with only one striker in Michail Antonio and still no replacement for Sebastien Haller

When it comes to a football team, there’s no question that one of the positions where there has to be some depth is the striker position. Every team has at least 3-4 strikers in case one of them gets injured, someone else can get the job done or to come out of the bench to try and score a goal to rescue points, win a match or win titles.

However there’s one manager that loves to have small squads, that manager is David Moyes. Unlike his competitors, David Moyes only has Michail Antonio as striker in his squad, a decision that many fans don’t like knowing that there’ll be a time where Michail Antonio will get injured, and problems would soon arrive.

At the time of writing there hasn’t been any official offer made for a striker from West Ham other than the rejected loan offer for Flamengo’s Gabriel Barbosa which can only mean one thing, David Moyes doesn’t see the problem many fans see and therefore Michail Antonio will be the only striker in the squad until the end of the season. If Antonio get’s injured, what can Moyes do without a natural striker at the squad?

Image Reference: Wiki0096 via Wikipedia, 4/6/21, CC BY 4.0

Since Sebastien Haller’s departure to Ajax last winter the only striker available in the squad has been Michail Antonio. Although there have been times where Jarrod Bowen has played at the striker position, playing him up front would result on a huge loss on the wings where chances are normally created. Another possible solution for the striker problem could be playing with a false-nine. During his time at the Spanish National Team, Vicente del Bosque played Cesc Fabregas as a false-nine or in other words, playing striker less. David Moyes could study how the false-nine on Del Bosque’s teams worked and then try to shape it up to his preferences resulting on a viable option that could improve the squad.

The most obvious option is to sign another striker which many fans want. There have been many names available but there hasn’t been an offer for any of them. First off Anthony Martial who is looking to leave Manchester United for playing time could be a great fit for the squad with a similar play style to Michail Antonio, he’s fast, strong and can finish with ease, however it seems that Sevilla are going to get the Frenchman on loan until the end of the season. Talking about Sevilla another great option would be Youssef En-Nesyri, a player that David Moyes loves but hasn’t been able to get the striker due to Sevilla rejecting all offers sent. With 8 days left for the end of the transfer market, could a striker join the Hammers at least until the end of the season?

David Moyes’ favourite option which would cost nothing to the team is playing U-23’s striker Sonny Perkins in case Michail Antonio gets injured. The 17-year-old striker has already made his debut with the first team but has yet to score his first goal with the hammers. A very physical, agile, and vertical striker, Sonny Perkins is somewhat different to Haller and Antonio. His clinical finishing makes him a great striker but his speed and runs make him even better. Surprisingly, Sonny wasn’t a striker until last season, but his intelligence has helped him get into the first team in less than a year. Having made him debut this season against Rapid Vienna, David Moyes could soon get his “winter transfer signing” in the form of the talented England international.

In conclusion, whatever David Moyes does is what he thinks is the most beneficial for the team, in this case it looks like he will trust the academy and play Sonny Perkins if Michail Antonio gets injured which fits perfect with West Ham’s philosophy of developing players until they reach the first team, we have had Declan Rice at the midfield who is an academy graduate, why not do the same with Sonny Perkins and give him the confidence he needs.

Thoughts on Sky Sports News no longer aired in the United States after NBCSN’s shutdown last week

One week ago at midnight on Saturday, the NBC Sports Network or NBCSN 24-hour cable sports channel was taken off the air by Comcast/NBC management since its launch nearly a decade back in 2012, there’s still no answer as to when Sky Sports News will end up this year having aired it as a two-hour simulcast in the morning between 2019-2021.

Unfortunately, they addressed this situation earlier this week on Monday that SSN is not currently on its broadcast or streaming schedule via Peacock.

It’s a shame SSN won’t be aired on USA Network because that channel is well renowned for their entertainment and unscripted programming over the last 30 years, they are unable or don’t need to sacrifice some re-run drama marathons by putting some soccer & foreign sports news on linear TV when USA is a part-time NBC Sports channel alongside CNBC despite inheriting over 1,500 hours of programming from the now-defunct NBCSN.

And not even putting on Peacock when Pro Football Talk is already in there which means die-hard soccer and expat sports fans in the USA are missing out some of their daily fix from a recognized sports network they know so well that began when they were little before some moved Stateside later in life, SSN might be back only for every transfer-window coverage of Soccer during deadline day at the end of August and January on USA but it looks these weekly sports news bulletins will only be available in the UK and Ireland from now on.

Swimming back on Nine with the FINA World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka, Japan this May alongside some UEFA Champions League soccer finals

I’ve just seen the 2022 Nine’s Wide World of Sports promo and it’s great to have swimming back on the network in a long time since 2008, although they did show a bit of that sport when they had the rights to the 2012 Summer Olympics in London a decade ago but this time it’s only the FINA World Swimming Championships that will be held in Fukuoka, Japan in mid-late May this year.

It’ll be interesting to see if they will go with the World Feed commentary or use their own voices but with Ray Warren, who was their last play-by-play voice for swimming during the 1990-2000s, also called the London Olympics there & now at age 78, I reckon Nine will only have a studio panel with world feed commentary for this event especially when Rabs prefers to call on-site & has a fear of flying as COVID is still impacting all of us for two years.

And thanks to their own paid streaming partner Stan Sport, who covered exclusive UEFA Champions League content so far this season in the first of a three-year deal, nice to see the soccer back on Nine/9Gem in simulcast with Stan ahead of this competition’s finals stage as the last time European Football aired on Free TV was back in 2017-18 with SBS.

Exciting times ahead this May for the typical sports fan fix in Australia on TV and streaming.

An outlook of James Tarkowski in the 2022 January transfer window as his current contract with Burnley expires this summer

The temperature in the Premier League is rising. The winter transfer period started and some of the clubs are trying to buy some reinforcement for the rest of the season especially those clubs that are fighting for the top of the table. Some of the clubs have different problems as how to keep theirs best players in the team and to extend their contract.

It is the case with Burnley and their central defender James Tarkowski. He is one of the players who could attract a lot of attention in the next two transfer periods. The 29-year-old stopper’s contract with Burnley expires in the summer, there is no agreement on the extension, which is a signal for many clubs to try to bring him in January. At Burnley they are willing to sell him this transfer period so the club can earn something of that transfer. The occasional member of the England national team has a reputation as one of the most reliable defenders in the league.

Since he is 29 years old this and maybe next two seasons he will probably be at his top form and will be able to give his best in the Premier League. Many clubs know this and are trying to sign him. There are many rumors now and many clubs are involved. Some of the rumors are that Manchester United will try to bring Tarkowski this winter. Dayot Upamecano (then Leipzig, now at Bayern Munich) and Kalidou Coulibaly (Napoli) were on United’s radar in the summer but these were expensive variants, so Manchester United in January will turn to the cheaper one, Burnley’s defender James Tarkowski. Man. United is still looking for a quality partner of Harry Maguire in the defensive line, and since they could not find him this summer, they could not agree with Leipzig and Napoli on the amount of compensation will now try to bring Tarkowski, who is far more cheaper and available variant.

Some media in England have reported that the Liverpool camp is interested in bringing James Tarkowski from the Burnley. The Sun reported that Klopp had reportedly contacted Burnley’s management to sell the player for the next six months without the right to buy the contract. Such announcements were strongly denied by Burnley coach Sean Dyche, who pointed out that this is a bizarre speculation. But more realistic are news that Newcastle and West Ham are in tight race for his signature. The Sun claims that David Moyes is a big fan of Tarkowski and is ready to send a concrete offer. If Burnley remains firm in his intention not to sell his defender, the same paper states that Nat Phillips (Liverpool) and Ben Davies (also Liverpool but on-loan at Sheffield United) are alternatives to the Hammers. Newcastle United plans to bring in two English players in the winter transfer window. According to the English Telegraph, it is about the Burnley defender, James Tarkowski and the Manchester United player, Jesse Lingard. According to them it seems that Tarkowski has already agreed to join the Newcastle team, and negotiations with Lingard are still ongoing.

Tarkowski started his professional football career in Oldham in League One. After 3 years he joined Brentford and won a promotion to Championship in the first season there. In 2016 he joined Burnley which were part of the Championship. That season Burnley was promoted to Premier League and are part of it since then. Tarkowski under the manager Sean Dyche has grown into one of the best central defenders in the league and as many would say he is old school central defender something that is missing in the Premier League lately. He has 2 appearances for the England national team and if he join some “bigger” club than Burnley he has very big chances of becoming a constant member of England.

Could Daniel Kretinsky be West Ham’s new owner after David Gold & David Sullivan?

The third richest Czech should become the minority owner of West Ham United in the first week of November. This is good news for the London’s club because the fans are not happy with the current owners. Also, the club announced that they got permission to increase the stadium for additional 2.500 seats. It seems that the money from the Czech billionaire will come at the right time in West Ham.

West Ham has been building a small Czech colony in East London for the past two years. In January last year, Tomas Soucek arrived, who after quality games in the summer of 2020 was bought from Slavia Prague, in the same time when Vladimir Coufal also arrived from the same team. A year later, Alex Kral also came to West Ham on loan from Spartak Moscow, after which jokes immediately appeared that they were no longer Hammers, but Czechs. And what can we say after the information that the Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky is on the verge of buying a package of shares, which means 27% of the club.

The third richest Czech, the owner of Prague’s Sparta, is determined to make a step forward and expand his influence in the top five leagues. That idea did not occur to him yesterday, three years ago he was connected with the potential purchase of AC Milan or Roma. The media in England claim that the purchase of a little more than a quarter of shares is just the beginning and that in the future, Kretinsky has a vision to become the majority owner.

The purchase should be realized in the first week of November, most likely for the weekend, when West Ham welcomes Liverpool in London. The financiers claim that the contract will contain a clause on full control, which will be activated after a period that has not been specified yet. At the same time, the estimated total value of the club at this moment is somewhere between 700,000,000 and 825,000,000 euros.

Image Reference: Egghead06 via Wikipedia, 23/5/21, CC BY 4.0 SA

When the deal will be official it will be known how much money the club will have for transfers in January but according to experts West Ham and Newcastle will both have more than enough budget to bring quality football stars in January. Since Kretinsky is owner of Sparta Prague it is possible that these two clubs will have cooperation in developing young players and transfer players in both ways in junior and senior categories.

Kretinsky’s fortune is estimated at around 4,000,000,000 euros, and in addition to jobs in the homeland related to the energy, media, industrial and retail sectors, he has a serious stake in the postal service company Royal Mail, as well as in the supermarket chain Sainsbury’s, the second most powerful markets in Great Britain.

If at one point he completely takes over West Ham, the long-term rule of David Gold and his best friend David Sullivan, who bought the club in 2010, will come to an end. West Ham has been owned by two former big fans of the club since 2010, David Gold and David Sullivan, after they sold Birmingham City. These two made money in the porn industry, and under their leadership West Ham were relegated once in 2010/11 but returned to the Premier League in 2012/13 via the EFL Championship Play-Offs and became a team for respect.

It started with the change of the minority package of shares in Wolverhampton, followed by the purchase of Newcastle by the Saudi prince Mohammed bin Salman, and the point for some future period could be put by Daniel Kretinsky. And then it is very possible that we will see the Czech colony rising at the Olympic Stadium in London.

2021/22 Champions League fixtures, FC Sheriff Tiraspol from Modolva has upset FC Shakhtar Donetsk 2-0

We’ve just seen BSC Young Boys shock Manchester United 2-1 at home in Bern, Switzerland, now there’s another huge story when FC Sheriff Tiraspol, a small team from Modolva has beaten FC Shakhtar Donetsk 2-0.

They dominated all game on both halves that began by Adama Traore on the wide right (16th min) & he’s not the namesake everybody knows who plays for Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League, then they followed up the 2nd goal (62nd min) when Momo Yansané came off the bench for Dimitrios Kolovos just a few mins ago & made an immediate impact towards the net.

If Sheriff is to continue their fairytale run, they will need to play five more Champions Leagues games with two giants to face off Real Madrid & Inter Milan on both occasions each before facing Shakhtar again as the away team.

It will be difficult for sure in Group D but tonight’s win shows that this small club has every hope to achieve the impossible in Europe’s elite competition & it’s something what sport is made of creating miracle/underdog journeys like this moment here.

#UCL #ChampionsLeague #FCSheriffTiraspol #FCShakhtarDonetsk #Soccer #UEFA

Champions League fixtures 2021/22, BSC Young Boys knock down Manchester United 2-1 in the dying seconds during stoppage time

Unreal scenes at Stadium Wankdorf in Bern, Switzerland after BSC Young Boys knocked down one of the giants from the English Premier League, Manchester United 3-1 during Matchday 1 of 6 in the 2021/22 UEFA Champions League season.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored the first goal for the Red Devils earlier on which followed up his brilliant 2nd spell start on Saturday v Newcastle United with a double brace as he still has energy to burn on the pitch at age 36.

However, it’s Young Boys who stole the show where Moumi Ngamaleu scored an equalizer 1-1 on the wide left before Jesse Lingard made a defensive passing error in the dying seconds for Man Utd when striker Theoson Siebatcheu came off the bench, took advantage of it & scored the game-winning move that wowed these supporters who paid their tickets to watch.

The final score is BSC Young Boys 2-1 Manchester United as sport creates unpredictable moments like this one.

So the home team tops the standings in Group F ahead of Atalanta who drew with Villareal CF with Young Boys traveling to Italy in two weeks against the 2nd-placed side while the Red Devils host Villareal at the same time on Matchday 2.

#UCL #Soccer #BSCYoungBoys #ManchesterUnited #ChampionsLeague #UEFA #CristianoRonaldo #TheosonSiebatcheu #MoumiNgamaleu

Is Arsenal’s busiest summer transfer business of 2021/22 enough to save Mikel Arteta’s job & their Premier League campaign?

Image Reference: The Emirates Stadium
cc-by-sa/2.0 – © Ian S – geograph.org.uk/p/3111029

It was only a few years ago, when Arsenal fans could hardly wait for Arsene Wenger to leave the “gunner” bench after more than two decades and winning “some” trophies. When their wish was finally fulfilled, they hoped that their wishes would come true and that the London great team would once again dominate the Premier League and in European competitions. But, even in the worst thoughts, they could not dream that Arsenal would go astray, and the results at the beginning of the new season speak best of how bad the situation is.

Arsenal played three rounds in the Premier League and suffered the same number of defeats. The last one was humiliating, because Manchester City won 5: 0!

It can be said that in the duel between the two teams led by the Spanish coaches, Guardiola “broke” Arteta. Right at the beginning, it was clear that Arsenal will not have a good time against the “citizens”. The goals of Gundogan, Torres and Jesus were in a row, and already at half time, City was leading 3: 0. In the continuation, Hernandez and again Torres only added salt to the wound of the “gunners”.

After three rounds played, Arsenal has not scored a goal or won a point. The question is also when… The club from the “Emirates” will have the longest playing experience in the strongest rank of English football, and the last time it had to be in the lower league was 108 years ago.

Arsenal is the biggest spender this summer from English team, but the sports sector is not really famous and popular among fans. They mostly bought young players and always are talking about club’s future, but their reality is really bad.

Although the transfer period in the Premier League is closed, according to Sky Sports, Serge Aurier, who recently terminated his contract with Tottenham, could join the club. Tottenham hired Emerson Royal from Barcelona for 25,000,000 euros, so after four years, Aurier became redundant. As the management failed to sell him, even though it had offers from Russia, Turkey and France, it decided to terminate the cooperation with the 28-year-old football player. That is how the former Paris Saint-Germain football player became a free agent. His wish is to stay in England. He is followed by several clubs, including Arsenal. The Gunners set aside 165,500,000 euros for reinforcements this summer, but they did not solve the issue of the right back. Hector Bellerin was loaned out to Betis, while Ainsley Maitland Niles publicly expressed his desire to leave the club, so there was writing that he would be removed from the first team.

After talks with Mikel Arteta, it was decided Niles to remain part of the team and to will fight for a place in the first squad in the continuation of the season. Takehiro Tomiyasu who was bought from Bologna (18,600,000 euros), can play along the right line, but is primarily a stopper, was also hired to fullfil the defensive line but he is not enough.

Aurier would thus become the seventh reinforcement of Arsenal this summer. Previously, Ben White from Brighton (58,500,000 euros), Martin Odegaard from Real Madrid (35,000,000 euros), goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale from Sheffield United (28,000,000 euros), the mentioned Takehiro Tomiyasu, as well as the young Albert Sambi Lokonga from Anderlecht. (€ 17,500,000) and left-back Nuno Tavares of Benfica (€ 8,000,000) were bought. The young Folarin Balogun was also promoted to the first team, who will compete for a place in the top of the attack with Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah.

Arsenal fans used to make fun of themselves that they were regularly fourth, and now that is their biggest fantasy.

The competition is too strong this year as well, City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United are teams that everyone believes will take the places that lead to the Champions League, and it really seems impossible for Arsenal to get involved in that race.

There is also the always strong Leicester, Aston Villa and West Ham should not be written off, while Tottenham are still searching for the real self, but they will definitely be a competitor in the fight for the top 6.

Arsenals’ biggest chance for winning a trophy most likely be one of the English cup tournaments. Not too many matches and easier opponents until the final rounds seems like ideal for a team like Arsenal at the moment. They showed in the past seasons that especially FA Cup is competition that suits Arsenal and fans are hoping that there is a real chance for trophy.

However this will be very difficult and turbulent season for the team from north London.

SAME OLD STORY FOR NORWICH THIS SEASON

Only 2 games into the new Premier League season and Norwich are bottom once again. They’ve had an incredibly tough opening 2 games, playing Liverpool and Manchester City back to back. It is quite early but it appears to be the same old story for Norwich as it was 2 years ago. Today I’ll be taking a look at different aspects of Norwich and assessing how I think they’ll do.

Transfer Strategy –

Norwich have always used the “Buy low, sell high” strategy when it comes to transfers. They’ll buy a player on the cheap, develop him and then sell him for a big margin of profit. There’s nothing wrong with this approach as Leicester used to do this after their success but the difference between Leicester and Norwich is that Leicester reinvested their money properly back into the squad. For example Norwich sold Emi Buendia for £35m this window and they haven’t exactly spent it that well. They made the transfer of Ben Gibson permanent for £8m from Burnley, they went to Werder Bremen who got relegated, and bought both Milot Rashica and Josh Sargent, who scored a combined 8 goals last season. Their defence was the main issue the last time they were here and they clearly haven’t reinforced that area well enough to warrant them staying up and that already doesn’t fill me with confidence.

Daniel Farke –

Farke himself said in an interview with the Canaries website some time ago that teams who are promoted to the Premier League because they’re better at attacking rather than defending “find it difficult to do well” or stay up in the first season because in the Premier League, those attackers who were so good in the Championship won’t do as well because the level of the Premier League is higher. He also said that teams who are promoted because of their defensive ability find it easier to stay up because they’re already so solid. It seems that Farke needs to take his own advice and he needs to make this Norwich team more solid and harder to play against. He persists with this style of play and of course it’s entertaining but I think he was lucky the first season as they let him off because it was his first season so he got lucky but I feel this season if Norwich don’t pick up results or form by Christmas then I think that Farke will be sacked as the owners would like to stay in the league and wouldn’t want to face the same fate of two years ago.

In conclusion, both of these factors together I think will unfortunately mean that Norwich will end up being relegated. Their transfer strategy doesn’t seem that reassuring and it looks like Farke is persisting with his style of play but if they do sack him by Christmas and get in a new manager, they might be able to survive, depending on the damage done.