Aleksandar Mitrovic

Getty Images

EURO 2020 qualifying: Portugal edges Serbia, France batters Albania

Leave a comment

With four goals each, France and Portugal were in no need of favors as they comfortable cruised by their opponents in Saturday’s EURO 2020 qualifying action.

[ MORE: EURO qualifying wrap ]


Serbia 2-4 Portugal

The Serbians were no match for the Portuguese.

Portugal, trailing an unbeaten Ukraine in Group B by eight points, were more than ready to cut the deficit on Saturday night in Belgrade. And despite taking 42 minutes to get the engine going, the goals, eventually, poured in.

William Carvalho broke deadlock minutes before halftime, tapping in the ball into the back of net following a lack of chemistry between Serbia’s goalkeeper and defense inside the six-yard box.

Gonçalo Guedes added one of his own to put the visitors up two goals early into the second half. More than twenty minutes later, with Serbia back into the game through a Nikola Milenković goal, Cristiano Ronaldo, as always, made sure to make his presence known.

Goals galore followed shortly, with Aleksandar Mitrovic and Bernando Silva scoring within two minutes.

Portugal, with a lot of ground to make up, now sets its sights on Lithuania, while Serbia travels to Luxembourg.

France 4-1 Albania

Is this the year that Kingsley Coman separates himself from everyone else in the elite category? So far, it’s looking like it and France – like Bayern Munich – are gladly benefiting from it.

With a brace from the winger, France cruised past Albania in Paris.

The 23-year-old scored first in the eight minute, following a sublime back from Raphaël Varane. In the 68th minute, with France up by two, Coman recorded his second of the night.

 

Albania spoiled Hugo Lloris‘ clean sheet following a converted penalty from Sokol Cikalleshiu.

Despite an unbeaten record through five matches, the pressure on France remains intact with Turkey and Iceland, who only trail by goal differentials, as they take on Andorra next. Albania, on the side, host Iceland.

Elsewhere

Kosovo 2-1 Czech Republic
Lithuania 0-3 Ukraine
England 4-0 Bulgaria
Iceland 3-0 Moldova
Scotland 1-2 Russia
Slovenia 2-0 Poland
Turkey 1-0 Andorra

Bargain buys: Relegated players for Premier League clubs to target

Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

This season, it was Ben Foster arriving at Watford from West Brom and Xherdan Shaqiri switching from Stoke City to Liverpool.

Before that, it was Harry Maguire from Hull City to Leicester, and Jordan Pickford from Sunderland to Everton. Idrissa Gana Gueye from Aston Villa to Everton before that.

[ MORE: Terriers release Williams, Lossl ]

Yes nearly every year, at least one player from a relegated squad becomes a difference maker of some repute on a safe Premier League side.

So who will it be this year? Here are some candidates, though several may look to help their clubs rebound back to the top flight.

Neil Etheridge, GK, Cardiff City — The PL’s first Filipino player nearly kept the goal-starved Bluebirds in the top flight, somewhat similar to Lukasz Fabianski‘s work at Swans before moving to West Ham. Is there a spot for him somewhere in the top tier?

Philip Billing, CM, Huddersfield Town — The Swiss defensive midfielder averaged 2.7 tackles and two interceptions per game for the Terriers, and is just 22 years old.

Victor Camarasa, MF, Cardiff City — Five goals and four assists for a side that couldn’t find the back of the net shouldn’t be scoff material. At just 24, someone should take a look.

Aaron Mooy, CM, Huddersfield Town — Capable of unleashing a rocket, the former Man City pupil wasn’t as good in year two at the John Smith’s Stadium. Most weren’t.

Callum Paterson, DF, Cardiff City —  Also just 24, the versatile Scot can deputize at defense, midfield, and occasionally forward for his new side.

Ryan Babel, FW, Fulham — The winger may be 32, but did he ever look quite this good on his first run through the Premier League. Five goals and three assists in 16 appearances following a mid-season transfer.

Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, MF, Fulham — He’s a bit of a card accumulator, but Fulham was better with him than without him. The 23-year-old was also outstanding at Marseille in the Ligue 1 club’s run to last season’s Europa League Final.

Aleksandar Mitrovic, FW, Fulham — He’s now scored and angered defenses on two offense-hungry clubs, and rang up 11 goals while nabbing an almost silly 6.5 aerial wins per match. He’s still only 24.

Transfer rumor roundup: De Ligt to Man United; Mitrovic to Everton

Getty Images
1 Comment

The Premier League transfer window is officially open again and that means one thing: transfer reports are going to start kicking up a few notches.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Here’s a look at some of the latest gossip from around the PL…


Manchester United have been linked with a move for Ajax captain and center back Matthijs de Ligt, even though it had been previously reported United weren’t keen on signing the young center back several years ago.

A report in the Daily Telegraph states that United are chasing the Dutch international and that de Ligt is “open to a move to United” as he fancies being the main man in their huge rebuild this summer.

De Ligt, still just 19 years old, starred for Ajax during their incredible run to the UEFA Champions League semifinal but it seems like their entire squad will now be broken up over the summer with Frenkie de Jong already going to Barcelona and Hakim Ziyech also set to move on. His leadership skills are immense and he scored some massive goals from set pieces throughout Ajax’s run in Europe, as he also led them to the Dutch title.

With Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly around at United, the fact they are chasing one of the best center back products in the game suggests one or more of those players will be moved on this summer. Defensive solidity has not been a United hallmark for quite some time and if they were to sign de Ligt it would be a massive coup. Barcelona are the favorites to sign de Ligt, but this latest report suggests it is far from a formality.


Everton are “very interested” in signing Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic this summer, according to Sky Sports.

Mitrovic, 24, scored 11 times for Fulham this season but couldn’t stop them being relegated after the newly-promoted side struggled to adjust to life back in the PL. Although the Serbian striker looked out of sorts in the final months of the season and scored just once in his final 13 games of the campaign, he was always a handful for opposition defenders.

The former Newcastle striker arrived at Fulham last summer for a fee of $25 million and the Cottagers could expect to recoup most of that if Mitrovic was sold. That said, if he stays at Fulham he has already shown how lethal he can be in the Championship as his loan move to Craven Cottage in the second half of the 2017-18 campaign was a huge success as his goals propelled Fulham to promotion.

Everton have Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Cenk Tosun leading the line, but neither have been prolific so it makes sense for Marco Silva to add a targetman who is also a poacher as Mitrovic would link up well with Richarlison, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Bernard in attack.


Staying with transfers within the Premier League, Man United are said to be interested in signing Newcastle youngster Sean Longstaff, 21, after he impressed in his first full season in the Premier League.

Multiple reports claim United are interested in Longstaff, but Sky Sports say Newcastle have yet to be approached by the Red Devils and they do not want to sell the man they gave a new contract to in December.

Longstaff, a defensive midfielder, suffered a serious knee injury which put a swift end to his superb first season in Newcastle’s first team. The Newcastle academy product looked at home in the PL with his range of passing, reading of the game and tough-tackling and he could fit the bill as United aim to replace midfield terrier Ander Herrera who is leaving the club.

If United are to keep Paul Pogba around and have him at his best, they need players in midfield who can win the ball back and get Pogba further up the pitch. Longstaff is certainly capable of doing that and he fits the bill for United as their main aim this summer is to add young, hungry British players with Declan Rice, Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka all linked with moves to Old Trafford.

Season Review: Huddersfield, Fulham, Cardiff, Brighton, Southampton

Getty Images
Leave a comment

As the 2018/19 Premier League season has come to a close, it’s time to take a very brief look back at each club’s campaign and review how they did. First, we look back at the bottom five sides and work our way up the table.

Huddersfield Town, Fulham, and Cardiff City were relegated to the Championship, while Brighton & Hove Albion and Southampton both managed to stay up, barely. Each team took its own path to where they finished in the table, so here’s a look back at some of the journeys.

Huddersfield Town

Finishing position/points total: 20 / 16pts
High point
: Doing the double over Wolves.
Low point
: Losing 5-0 to Liverpool to cap a stretch of 8 losses.

Our opinion: They struggled to score all season, with just 22 goals in 38 league matches. Shut out in a whopping 19 Premier League matches, they never had the firepower to compete.
Star player
: Aaron Mooy
Most memorable goal
: Isaac Mbenza equalized on an assist from goalkeeper Jonas Lossl to draw Manchester United on the penultimate day of the season.


Manager grade: David Wagner: C- / Jan Siewert: F
Hopes for next season
: Huddersfield needs to stabilize and regroup next season, and a top-10 Championship finish should be the target, building towards a promotion campaign the following year. Siewert wasn’t able to do anything of note in charge during the second half of the Premier League season, and the jury is still out on if he’s the right man to lead them through the Championship.

Fulham

Finishing position/points total: 19 / 26pts
High point
: Winning 3 straight under Scott Parker.
Low point
: A 4-1 loss to Watford to mark 9 straight.

Our opinion: An absolutely woeful defense doomed what was an otherwise entertaining attacking club. With a change of manager came a change of style, but nothing improved at the back. Fulham needs to sort out its back line for next season or a quick return to the Premier League can be thrown out the window.
Star player
: Aleksandar Mitrovic
Most memorable goal
: Jean-Michael Seri blasted an absolute stunner against Burnley early in the season. Andre Schurrle also victimized Burnley with a glorious volley as well.


Manager grade: Slavisa Jokanovic: D- / Claudio Ranieri: F / Scott Parker: C+
Hopes for next season
: The club did well to secure a permanent manager so quickly so they can get to work strengthening the squad for a promotion campaign to come straight back up. The priority this offseason will be looking to secure assets like Mitrovic, Jean-Michael Seri, and Ryan Sessegnon while looking to improve the defense.

Cardiff City

Finishing position/points total: 18 / 34pts
High point
: Beating Manchester United on the last day of the season.
Low point
: Failing to score in 4 straight, confirming relegation.

Our opinion: A club that many through would finish bottom of the league, or close to it, gave it a real fight and came close to staving off relegation a few times. The season clearly wore on Neil Warnock, who said there isn’t “a cat’s chance in hell” he ever manages in the Premier League again.
Star player
: Victor Camarasa
Most memorable goal
: Junior Hoilett‘s wonderful curler to beat Wolves in November pulled the club out of the relegation zone for the time being, but it can’t beat Camarasa’s unbelievable strike to beat Leicester City in stoppage time.


Manager grade: Neil Warnock: C
Hopes for next season
: They will be a real challenger for promotion in the Championship and should do well if they can improve the playmaking abilities up front.

Brighton & Hove Albion

Finishing position/points total: 17 / 36pts
High point
: Winning 3 straight in October, critical to staying up.
Low point
: 8 straight without a win Jan-Feb in a relegation battle.

Our opinion: Brighton was one of the most fun teams this season, with a combination of suffocating defense and an attack that could crop up at any time against any club. While they often fired blanks, when they came alive it was exciting and enjoyable. Still, the attack was too inconsistent and they’ll want to make smart improvements.
Star player
: Shane Duffy
Most memorable goal
: Glenn Murray‘s winner against Wolves capped off a critical 3-game winning streak and ultimately proved vital in keeping the club alive.


Manager grade: Chris Hughton: C-
Hopes for next season
: Sacking Chris Hughton, the man who pulled the club out of the muck and brought them to the promised land, is a bold decision. This is a team with good assets and a solid base, and they should be able to stay up again next season with the right leader.

Southampton

Finishing position/points total: 16 / 39pts
High point
: Beating Arsenal 3-2 in December.
Low point
: 6-1 loss to Man City as part of a 12-match winless run.

Our opinion: Southampton started off the season horribly and was a real candidate to go down until Ralph Hassenhuttl saved them. His management kept this team up and there’s real hope for the future with a young, scrappy squad that needs improvement.
Star player
: Nathan Redmond
Most memorable goal
: It wasn’t the best goal of the season (that would be the Redmond curler to finish off the campaign on Sunday?) but the most memorable is Charlie Austin‘s in the 85th minute to beat Arsenal and end their long unbeaten run. It sparked the turnaround for Southampton, marking their first league win in over three months and beginning a nine-match run where they picked up 15 points.


Manager grade: Mark Hughes: D- / Ralph Hassenhuttl: A-
Hopes for next season
: With Hassenhuttl in charge and improvements to the defense this summer, Southampton should be able to show more consistency next season. On their day, they’re capable of beating any team in the league and that should lead them to a belief in a top 10 finish. This team shouldn’t be battling for Premier League survival again.

Wolves beat Fulham, all but seal seventh (video)

Leave a comment
  • Dendoncker scores winner
  • Wolves stay in 7th place
  • Fulham’s run of wins ends

Wolverhampton Wanderers all but secured seventh place in the Premier League table as they beat Fulham 1-0 at Molineux on Saturday.

Leander Dendoncker‘s volley was enough to seal all three points, as Nuno Espirito Santo‘s side went close on several occasions as Diogo Jota was a constant menace.

With the win Wolves move on to 57 points, and that means that unless Leicester City win their final two games and Wolves lose to Liverpool on the final day of the season, the newly-promoted club will finish in seventh which would secure European qualification if Watford lose to Man City in the FA Cup final later this month.

Already-relegated Fulham ended their run of wins after three-straight and they will finish in 19th place.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Early on Jota went down on the edge of the box under a hefty challenge, and was then booked for simulation after going down in the box.

Jota was then denied by Sergio Rico who made a fine stop down to his left to deny the in-form Wolves forward.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

That man Jota then flashed an effort just wide of the far post as Wolves continued to push forward. Joao Moutinho‘s whipped cross then found Leander Dendoncker but his header hit the crossbar.

Wolves failed to break through before the interval and Fulham had a decent chance as Joe Bryan forced Rui Patricio into a stop.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

In the second half Jota dragged another effort just wide as Wolves huffed and puffed, but didn’t work Rico.

At the other end Aleksandar Mitrovic squandered a wonderful chance as Ryan Sessegnon set him up but the Serbian blasted over from a great position.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Ruben Neves then smashed in a low effort which was saved by Rico, and Matt Doherty was brilliantly denied by Rico at the back post.

Wolves won it late on as Doherty crossed for Dendoncker who volleyed home to spark wild celebrations at Molinuex.

Jota smashed the crossbar late on, but Wolves were worthy winners as they all but secured seventh place.