Preview: 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, Group D

6 Comments

The final group to kickoff at South Africa 2013 has the continent’s two top-rated teams, though there’s a clear favorite to finish first in group F. As always, Cote d’Ivoire was the pick going into Africa’s confederation championship, but with Algeria and Tunisia in their group, the perpetual picks have two capable North African hurdles ahead of a knockout round appearance.

Togo rounds out a quartet that’s been curiously labeled a group of death, one that begins play on Tuesday.

GROUP D: Cote d’Ivoire, Tunisia, Algeria, Togo

COTE D’IVOIRE

World rank: 14; CAF rank: 1; Best finish: Champions in 1992.

They’re the favorite on name value alone, but oh, what a set of names. Les Elephants have the two best players in Africa, talent that makes them obvious favorites. Their results, however, have never matched their reputation, and although Sabri Lamouchi’s team is again touted by the casual fan to take home Africa’s championship, their often excessively casual play has left them title-less over the last two decades.

History: Egypt has seven titles. Ghana and Cameroon have four titles. Even Congo DR has won twice. How has Cote d’Ivoire only won one title in 28 previous editions of this tournament?

It’s not that they haven’t had success in the absolute sense. The Ivorians have finished in the top three seven times, but with three semifinal appearances in the last four tournaments, the Elephants have become Africa’s nearly men, each tournament representing their next chance to not break through.

Players: Sorry Robin van Persie, but Yaya Touré was the English Premier League’s best player last season. While this year he hasn’t replicated the dominant form he showed in 2011-12, he is still Africa’s best player. If he plays for Cote d’Ivoire like he did for Manchester City, Cote d’Ivoire will win this competition.

Then there’s Drogba. He’s 34, been in China for seven months, but Didier Drogba (Shanghai Shenhua) may still be one of the most dangerous players in the world. If he plays like he did in March through May (in Champions League), Cote d’Ivoire will win this competition. (Yes, there are a lot of ways the Ivorians win this competition.)

Then there’s Gervinho (Arsenal), Cheick Tioté (Newcastle), Siaka Tiéné (Paris Saint-Germain), Emmanuel Eboué (Galatasaray), Didier Zokora (Trabzonspor, Turkey), along with a host of other players that would help the Ivorians survive in most of the big European leagues. On paper, they are the best team in this tournament.

How they’ll play: This is a broken record. It comes up in almost every snapshot, and it speaks to the lack of cohesion in these teams. It also explains why, beyond Africa, talented teams like Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, and these Ivorians have had limited success in international competitions …

But the midfield will by the key for the Ivorians. Cote d’Ivoire has a great attack, solid defending, and excellent players in the middle, but the way that midfield plays is not enough to get the most out of Drogba, Gervinho, and Max Gradel (Saint Etienne) – the likely starters in Lamouchi’s 4-3-3.

That’s why this year might be different. Whereas in the past the big African teams have relied on the likes of John Obi Mikel, Michael Essien, and (lately) Alex Song to transcend their club roles and become more progressive players for their national teams, Yaya Touré — after years of being asked to do the same — has actually played and executed in more advanced positions for City. Now, instead of a team speculating a talented player can flip a switch for three weeks, Cote d’Ivoire has a basis to think this can actually work.

Outlook: This group won’t give the Ivorians any problem. If things go right, you’ll see steady improvement throughout there first two games (and cruise through the third), giving Les Elephants momentum and confidence they can carry into the final eight.

TUNISIA

World rank: 53; CAF rank: 10; Best finish: Champions in 2004.

Hindsight has painted Tunisia’s 2012 run as surprising, the Eagles of Carthage pushing Ghana in the round of eight before losing in extra time. The evaluation shows how overlooked the North Africans have become. Consistent qualifiers and a decent bet to make it our of most groups, the Tunisians have become too predictable to be interesting. As a result, they tend to get overlooked.

History: Tunisia has qualified for 11-straight tournaments, getting out of their group eight times. In that time they’ve made three semifinals, two finals, and won the tournament at home in 2004.

Players: Aymen Abdennour (Toulouse) is the base of the team, the 23-year-old central defender key to the Tunisian back line. Veteran Wissem Ben Yahia (Mersin İdmanyurdu, Turkey) will shield the defense, with Oussama Darragi (Sion) and 22-year-old Youssef Msakni (Kuwait SC) creating in support of the team’s only consistent scoring threat: Issam Jemâa (Kuwait SC).

How they’ll play: A 4-3-3 will allow Msakni, Jemaa and Saber Khelifa (Evian, France) to exhibit a skillful attack that instinctively plays on the counter but is capable of more. The team’s pressing can be problematic for a continental style that’s used to getting time on the ball while approaching the attacking half. That stylistic difference makes Tunisia a difficult matchup for most teams, a difference that’s capable of getting results that transcend their base talent level.

Outlook: This might be the year Tunisia doesn’t advance, which would be no fault of their own. With both Cote d’Ivoire and Algeria in their group, they’ll need to pull one mild upset to get through. It could happen in game one, a match with Algeria that both sides concede would decide the second team out of this group.

ALGERIA

World rank: 22; CAF rank: 2; Best finish: Champions in 1990.

After winning a fall 2009 playoff in Khartoum to advance to the World Cup past African champions Egypt, Algeria went into meltdown mode. They made the final four of Angola 2010 before imploding in the semis against the Pharoahs. At the World Cup, they were best known as the other team on the field during Landon Donovan’s goal.

After failing to qualify for Equatorial Guinea-Gabon in 2012, the Desert Foxes are back, with former Cote d’Ivoire head coach Vahid Halilhodžić trying to bring his heavy-handed stability to a team that was distracted by internal tensions.

History: Like Tunisia, Algeria has a consistent record of qualification, making 15 of the last 18 Cup of Nations. And like Tunisia, the only time they’ve taken home the trophy was when they hosted. That was one of only two times the Foxes have made the final.

Players: The Foxes have undergone a refactoring after their 2009 successes. Gone are players like Nadir Belhadj, Karim Matmour, Kader Ghezzal, Mourad Meghni, and Anthar Yahi – the core of Algeria’s previous team. Halilhodžić’s current team has nobody whose been capped more the 25 times (thanks in part to his omissions of Madjid Bougherra and Rafik Halliche).

Valencia attacker Sofiane Feghouli is the most dangerous man on the current team. He’ll be a problem for every left back he’s match up against this tournament. Veteran Marseille midfelder Foued Kadir will be tasked with finding him, while forward Islam Slimani (Belouizdad, Algeria) will need to take advantage of the chances Feghouli creates. Also expect contributions off the bench from Ryad Boudebouz (Sochaux, France).

At the back, Carl Medjani (Ajaccio, France), Djamel Mesbah (Milan), and Liassine Cadamuro (Real Sociedad) feature in one of the tournament’s better back lines, one that will be protected by Getafe’s Mehdi Lacen.

How they’ll play: Whereas before Algeria would shift between a 3-5-2 and 4-4-2, now the Halilhodžić has the team going between 4-4-2 and 4-3-3, with more of the latter thanks to players like Feghouli, Boudebouz and El Arbi Soudani (Vitoria Guimaraes, Portugal). Like other North African teams, they’ve tended to excessive rely on counter attacking in recent years. If you play off the Algerians, you’ll rarely hurt.

Outlook: Most are picking them to get out of this group, but it’s a tossup between them and Tunisia. The order of games might end up deciding who goes through, with Cote d’Ivoire’s (lack of) third game incentives potentially giving one team an advantage.

TOGO

World rank: 110; CAF rank: 31; Best finish: Six group stage exits.

Their place in this group has led to many’s conclusion this is the group of death, but Togo’s reputation is based on the presence of one world class player. Beyond a potentially unstoppable striker, they aren’t much, and given that striker almost skipped the tournament, Didier Six is right to bemoan preparations disrupted by a compensation row.

History: Togo’s only qualified for seven tournaments (participating in six) and has never advanced beyond the group stage. With only one World Cup appearance (where they finished 30th), the Sparrow Hawks have no history of success at major tournaments.

Players: The one other player that has the talent to match the Ivorian duo is Emmanuel Adebayor (Tottenham). But until last week, it was unclear Togoan No. 9 was going to come to the tournament. At first it was reservations spurring from a 2010 Angolan rebel assault that kept the team out of that year’s championship. Then, it because a question over internal federation issues. Abedayor has been a consistently inconsistent presence for a team that depends on his talents.

Beyond Adebayor, it’s a pretty non-descript squad. Nine players are based in France, with Reims’ 34-year-old goalkeeper Kossi Agassa providing some needed experience. Defender Daré Nibombé (Boussu Dour, Belgium) is the team’s most-capped player with 67 appearances, while veteran Moustapha Salfiou is still a probable starter despite not having a club.

How they’ll play: Another 4-3-3 one that will both leave Emmanuel Adebayor isolated as well as stretch the defense enough to create room for his speed to exploit. His chances will be rare as Togo sees very little control of their matches.

Outlook: Some team has to finish last.

SCHEDULE

Tuesday, Jan. 22, 10:00 a.m. Eastern – Cote d’Ivoire versus Togo
Tuesday, Jan. 22, 1:00 p.m. Eastern – Tunisia versus Algeria
Saturday, Jan. 26, 10:00 a.m. Eastern – Cote d’Ivoire versus Tunisia
Saturday, Jan, 26, 1:00 p.m. Eastern – Algeria versus Togo
Wednesday, Jan. 30, 12:00 p.m. Eastern – Algeria versus Cote d’Ivoire
Wednesday, Jan. 30, 12:00 p.m. Eastern – Togo versus Tunisia

Wild guess order of finish:

1. Cote d’Ivoire (7 pts.)
2. Algeria (5 pts.)
3. Tunisia (4 pts.)
4. Togo (0 pts.)

Tottenham vs Manchester City, live! Score, updates, live stream link, highlights

0 Comments

Manchester City can gut the gap to Premier League leaders Arsenal to just two points with a win over Tottenham in north London on Sunday (watch live, 11:30 am ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com). 

STREAM LIVE TOTTENHAM vs MANCHESTER CITY

Arsenal (50 points) were handed just their second defeat of the season on Saturday, beaten 1-0 away to Everton as Sean Dyche made his debut as Toffees manager. Now level on games played for just over 24 hours, Manchester City (45 points) are once again within striking distance, but Tottenham (36 points – 5th place) have given them fits in recent seasons, when few others could.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Tottenham vs Manchester City

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


How to watch Tottenham vs Manchester City live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 11:30 am ET, Sunday
TV channel: NBC
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com


Tottenham vs Manchester City live score, updates

Tottenham vs Man City halftime score: 1-0 (Kane, 15′)

12:20pm ET: HALFTIME STATS! It’s still 1-0 to Spurs on Kane’s record-making goal. Here’s how the match looks, via FotMob:

Tottenham vs Manchester City live
fotmob.com

12:17pm ET: Crossbar smashed! Riyad Mahrez nearly has it 1-1 at the break. We’re almost done with two minutes stoppage time.

12:13pm ET: Close! Grealish has been a live wire and whips in a shot that cannot find the frame. City cannot find Erling Haaland and the xG battle is even at 0.37 even if City has 68 percent of the ball and a 6-2 edge in shots. Still 1-0 Spurs, who have a corner and cannot get through City because Kane and Eric Dier have a few chances to snap a loose ball home.

12:05pm ET: It’s slowed down a bit, so let’s take a moment to shout out reaction from the other two Premier League players who can say they’ve scored 200 goals in the competition.

Here’s more on Harry Kane’s Tottenham record and new berth in Premier League history.

11:52am ET: YELLOW CARD, TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR. Man City right back at it, but Spurs take the ball back and Kane wins a free kick just inside the circle. City takes the ball back and Jack Grealish and Rico Lewis are bringing electricity to the center of the park. Lewis is chopped down by Rodrigo Betancur, who sees a yellow card for his petulance.

11:47am ET: GOOOOOAAAAALLLL! TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR! And it’s history for Harry Kane! It had still been a lot of City, but a bad giveaway deep in its own end allows Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg to lay the ball off for Kane inside the 18. From this angle and range, the new all-time Tottenham Hotspur goal scorer is not going to miss and Spurs lead at home with his 267th goal in the shirt. It’s also his 200th Premier League goal. What a moment! Tottenham 1-0 Man City, 15′.

11:36am ET: It’s been a good start for Man City, with a couple of corner kicks. City, however, looks like it will be dealing with an 18 that resembles cartons of milk on the shelf at the grocery store. City currently opening the door to find a compact Spurs unit all over the pitch, with several shots blocked inside the 18.

11:15am ET: Good morning! Nick Mendola here with you ahead of a game Antonio Conte would love to get and Pep Guardiola will be planning to capture. Some odd comments from Guardiola before the game about Kevin De Bruyne being out of the Starting XI for tactical reasons, while Phil Foden misses out through injury/illness. Exciting under-the-radar Maximo Perrone has a spot in the 18, too, and some are suspecting him as a long-term Rodri clone. As for Spurs, Conte does get Richarlison on the bench, which also holds room for new signings Pedro Porro and Arnaut Danjuma. Depth options and two tactical wizards on the touch line should make this a complete game… unless Erling Haaland makes it a fait accompli before it has a chance to become a chess match. (NM)


Tottenham team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Lucas Moura (calf)

Manchester City team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: John Stones (thigh), Benjamin Mendy (suspension – MORE), Phil Foden (foot)


Key storylines & star players

When these sides met just two weeks ago, Tottenham found themselves 2-0 up at halftime and threatening to cause the Man City upset yet again, effectively handing rivals Arsenal a three-point boost in the title race. Then the second half kicked off, and the two-time defending champions poured in four games, including three in the first 18 minutes. Another fantastic half wasted by Tottenham, though it was typically a poor start followed by a frantic finish of their own. Harry Kane will pass Jimmy Greaves as Spurs’ all-time top scorer when he scores his next goal, taking his total in all competitions to 267. If Kane scores that goal in a Premier League fixture, the record goal will also be his 200th in the league.

Erling Haaland (25 goals) is the only player with more PL goals than Kane (16) this season, and though his numbers are certainly eye-popping, his arrival has clearly unsettled Pep Guardiola’s tactical system to some degree. A season ago, Manchester City conceded just 26 goals in 38 games (0.68 per game). This season, 20 goals in 20 games, up nearly a half-goal per game.

Follow @AndyEdMLS

Harry Kane record goal: New Tottenham record; Joins Rooney, Shearer

0 Comments

Harry Kane and Tottenham Hotspur are names that go hand-in-hand for a generation of Premier League viewers, so how fitting that the English center forward has now scored more goals in a Spurs shirt than anyone in history?

Very.

Kane, 29, fired Tottenham in front of Manchester City on Sunday at home, giving Spurs a 1-0 lead against the run of play and earning him his 267th goal in the club’s shirt.

STREAM LIVE TOTTENHAM vs MANCHESTER CITY

The goal, also his 200th in the Premier League. Only two other players have done that: Alan Shearer (260) and Wayne Rooney (208).

Kane doesn’t turn 30 until the summer. If his ankle cooperates and he stays in Enland, well, sorry Alan.

England star Kane has now passed the legendary, late Jimmy Greaves for most Tottenham goals but needs another 21 to break Greaves’ record for league goals in a Tottenham shirt. Greaves scored 357 goals for Spurs, Chelsea, and West Ham in the pre-Premier League era.

Nottingham Forest beats Leeds to continue surge

0 Comments

Nottingham Forest won yet again as they beat Leeds United 1-0 to move into midtable and keep their great recent form going. 

FULL MATCH REPLAY

Steve Cooper’s side have won three of their last five Premier League games and are unbeaten in that stretch. Brennan Johnson continue his fine form too as the youngster sent home a beautiful volley in the first half and Forest defended well to keep Leeds at bay with new signing Keylor Navas in fine form in goal.

As for Jesse Marsch and Leeds, they huffed and puffed and wasted big chances in the first half as they’ve now won just two of their last 17 Premier League games and are only out of the relegation zone on goal difference as they haven’t won any of their last seven Premier League games.

Nottingham Forest are now on 24 points, six points above the relegation zone, while Leeds remain on 18 points.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


Gritty Forest see off disjointed Leeds

Nottingham Forest did not play well but they did what they had to do as defensively they are so solid, they have a clear plan and they are doing the basics so well. With Brennan Johnson in this kind of form, plus other threats on the break, Forest are looking set to stay in the Premier League quite comfortably. Jesse Marsch and Leeds look very disjointed as they continue to integrate new signings and get players back to full fitness. They looked like a team struggling for confidence and with no win in their last seven the pressure is mounting on Marsch. It seems like they just need one lucky break to get going again and regain their early season form. However, the Leeds fans aren’t happy and a bad week with their two games against in-form Man United could see the owners forced into a change.


Stars of the show

Keylor Navas: After arriving from PSG on loan in a major coup, the veteran Costa Rican goalkeeper stood tall in the first half and injured Dean Henderson may struggle to regain his starting spot.

Morgan Gibbs-White: Gave Forest an outlet and never stopped running. His close control took the pressure off his team when they needed it most.

Nottingham Forest vs Leeds
Graphic via FotMob.com

What’s next?

Nottingham Forest head to Fulham on Saturday, Feb. 11. Leeds have two huge rivalry games against Manchester United, first up at Old Trafford on Wednesday, Feb. 8 and then at home on Sunday, Feb. 12.


How to watch Nottingham Forest vs Leeds live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 9 am ET, Sunday
TV channel: USA Network
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com

We are deep into the four minutes of stoppage time.

Substitute Sam Surridge goes close to making it 2-0. Just off target.

The clock is ticking for Leeds. Just 15 minutes to go. Still 1-0 to Nottingham Forest.

Not a lot going on. Forest happy to sit back, while Leeds have made plenty of subs but they haven’t been able to carve out any big opportunities so far in the second half.

Weston McKennie is on for his Leeds United and Premier League debut. This feels like a game where he can have a big impact and dare I say grab a debut goal from a set piece situation? He’s very good at timing his runs into the box. Summerville is on too as Roca and Sinisterra depart.

Second half is underway! Nottingham Forest still lead 1-0. Colback and Aurier are on for Mangala and Danilo.

Navas with another fine stop to deny Wilfried Gnonto this time. Forest are making some sloppy mistakes at the back but Leeds aren’t punishing them.

Luke Ayling denied by Keylor Navas after Patrick Bamford missed his kick after a good ball back to him.

What a chance. It should be 1-1. Luis Sinisterra smashes over from close range after a ball over the top finds Gnonto and he tees up Sinisterra but he gets it all wrong. Oh dear.

Forest are sitting back after taking the lead. Leeds are struggling to build anything as they search for an equalizer.

What a start for Forest! Brennan Johnson with a lovely strike and the City Ground is bouncing. Bit of controversy on the Forest goal as Johnson was offside when the ball was initially played towards him when he won the free kick he ended up scoring from. Leeds will feel more than a little aggrieved with that.

KICK OFF: We are underway at the City Ground and Leeds have started brightly with Gnonto looking sharp down the wing.


Key storylines & star players

Though some fans have started to turn on Jesse Marsch, the American manager has seemingly been fully backed by the club’s hierarchy, not through their words but through their actions. Chris Armas was hired as Marsch’s assistant head coach, and then Weston McKennie was signed ahead of deadline day, affording Marsch the opportunity (and money) to further shape the club into his own. When Leeds kick off on Sunday, the only thing separating them from the relegation zone will be five goals in the goal difference column.

After winning just one of their first 12 games back in the Premier League for the first time since 1999, Steve Cooper’s side has gelled and picked up wins over Liverpool, Crystal Palace, Southampton and Leicester since late October. The key to their success? Just five goals conceded in their last six games, with three of the five coming in a single game against Manchester United. Winning with clean sheets, picking up score-draws, after conceding 33 goals in 15 games to start the season.


Nottingham Forest team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Morgan Gibbs-White (ankle), Taiwo Awoniyi (groin), Dean Henderson (thigh), Cheikhou Kouyate (thigh), Giulian Biancone (knee), Omar Richards (calf), Moussa Niakhate (thigh), Ryan Yates (illness)

Leeds team news, injuries, lineup

OUT: Stuart Dallas (thigh), Crysencio Summerville (ankle), Adam Forshaw (groin), Archie Gray (ankle), Robin Koch (suspension)

Follow @AndyEdMLS

Premier League table, 2022-23 season

0 Comments

If it’s the 2022-23 Premier League table you’re after, you’ve come to the right place.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

After the break for the 2022 World Cup, the Premier League is back with a bang and the start to 2023 has delivered plenty of fun.


Who’s looking like title contenders and/or favorites?

Almost at the halfway mark of the 2022-23 season, Arsenal and Manchester City are looking head and shoulders above the rest though Newcastle is not going away and Manchester United has surged into contention.

The Gunners will have their hands full for the duration of their title challenge, as Erling Haaland continues to take the Premier League by storm with an almost impossible goal-scoring record.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Uneven Tottenham are hanging in the top four battle, while Liverpool is struggling to stay in the Champions League scrap. Chelsea has some work to do while surprising Fulham, Brentford and Brighton are hanging around on the periphery with fine campaigns.


Who are the candidates for relegation?

Everton, Bournemouth, and Southampton currently occupy the relegation places.

But Leicester, West Ham, Nottingham Forest, Wolves, and Leeds all find themselves within a few points of the bottom three after a topsy-turvy season so far.

Below you will find the latest Premier League table.


Premier League table – February 4



Follow @AndyEdMLS