Jake Livermore

David Davies/PA via AP

Analyzing Benitez’s risk in reported Mitrovic out, Rondon in moves

Leave a comment

As Newcastle cut ties with Aleksandar Mitrovic ahead of the Serbian striker Fulham move and Salomon Rondon seemingly moves into his old squad spot, it’s worth asking, at least in theory, whether the Magpies can defy the age math of the move.

There’s a load of well-earned respect amongst the Geordies for manager Rafa Benitez, who has rarely had time or patience for the productive but combustible Mitrovic.

[ MORE: Pochettino hopeful for signings as injuries pile up, deadline looms ]

Still just 23, the powerful forward had an amazing half-season on loan at Fulham and was a handful for defenses at the World Cup.

But Benitez has kept a short leash on Mitrovic since he took the reigns at St. James Park. Mitrovic scored 12 goals in 17 Championship matches for Fulham after scoring just five times in 31 appearances between the Championship and Premier League for Newcastle from 2015-17 (His first year at Newcastle was a nine-goal, four-assist, two red card campaign under Steve McClaren and then Benitez).

Given Mitrovic’s young age and success rate at Craven Cottage, there’s no reason for Fulham not to spend the reported $28 million.

The Magpies are expected to use a lot of that money to sign big West Bromwich Albion forward Rondon, who has scored 24 goals in three seasons as the focal point of one of the Premier League’s most conservative attacks.

Newcastle’s bet has to be that Benitez believes that feeding pieces around Rondon — Ayoze Perez, Yoshimori Muti, Matt Ritchie, Jonjo Shelvey, DeAndre Yedlin and Kenedy — are going to produce more feast-able material for the big man than the Baggies’ recent pieces (Chris Brunt, Matty Phillips, Kieran Gibbs, Jay Rodriguez, Jake Livermore, and James McClean).

Mitrovic played with such fury that cards were never too far away. Rondon is no shrinking violet, but has only taken one red in his career (going head-first into Bournemouth opposition, who was doing the same).

This is a pretty big risk for Benitez, who is one even marginally-big Mitrovic season away from having a $40-plus million striker on his hands. But Newcastle owner Mike Ashley’s stingy nature has forced Benitez to find creative solutions to his squad needs.

Rondon is a short-term fix and the striker market is never going to be low cost, but the Magpies do have plenty of crossers and playmakers should they stay healthy. Might Rondon be the tonic for an attack dreadfully shy of finishers last season? He’s no doubt an upgrade on Joselu and Dwight Gayle, but that’s not saying a ton.

It’s not a big gamble, but admittedly it’s a gamble. Rondon can be a 10-goal man with terrific hold-up play for teammates, but a behaved Mitrovic has 15-20 in his locker. That’s asking a lot though.

England announce 23-man World Cup squad

Getty Images
2 Comments

The English national team have announced their squad for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Unlike plenty of teams who have released preliminary rosters for the tournament, Gareth Southgate has gone straight for his final 23-man squad.

There is a place for Liverpool youngster Trent Alexander-Arnold, while the likes of Adam Lallana, Joe Hart, Jack Wilshere and Ryan Bertrand have been out.

With Joe Gomez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain out through injury, Southgate has had to get a little creative with his selections but, for the most part, he’s chosen to go with youth as he’d previously discussed.

“I believe this is a squad which we can be excited about. It is a young group, but with some really important senior players so I feel the balance of the squad is good, both in terms of its experience, its character and also the positional balance,” Southgate said. “We have a lot of energy and athleticism in the team, but players that are equally comfortable in possession of the ball and I think people can see the style of play we’ve been looking to develop. The selection process has been over months really, it’s not just been the last few weeks. We feel the team are improving and we want to continue that momentum.”

Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Raheem Sterling will likely be the stars for the Three Lions this summer, while the likes of Loftus-Cheek and TAA being included show a clear pathway to the senior team for youngsters.

Below is a look at the squad in full, plus a pretty cool video to announce the squad from England’s media team as they traveled around the country.


England’s 23-man World Cup squad

Goalkeepers: Jack Butland, Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope
Defenders: Kyle Walker, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Kieran Trippier, Gary Cahill, Harry Maguire, Phil Jones, John Stones, Danny Rose, Ashley Young, Fabian Delph
Midfielders: Dele Alli, Eric Dier, Jordan Henderson, Jesse Lingard, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Raheem Sterling
Strikers: Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Jamie Vardy, Danny Welbeck

Reserves: Tom Heaton, James Tarkowski, Lewis Cook, Jake Livermore, Adam Lallana


West Brom holding onto hope after wild finish

Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Leave a comment

West Bromwich Albion could be relegated with a Southampton win later in the day, but the Baggies’ last gasp win over Tottenham on Saturday has hopes raised at the Hawthorns.

[ RECAP: West Brom 1-0 Spurs ]

The Baggies took a lap of honor after the win in what could be their final home Premier League match for at least 15 months, with manager Darren Moore taking a microphone and imploring the fans to stay with them.

“We need everyone again for the final week of the season. Together we will go to the last game of the season,” he says.

Jake Livermore was Saturday’s hero, prodding a last-minute ball over the line.

“I don’t know what to say. We will just keep battling until the end. It has not been due to lack of effort and the last few weeks have proved that. We have got that never say die attitude back and you never know what we can do.

“It is difficult when you look at table, it is not a good read but all we can do is take it game by game.

“Darren Moore and his staff, all of the staff mean an awful lot to us. They are with us every kick.”

Livermore keeps West Brom alive

Leave a comment
  • Baggies stay alive
  • Spurs stay fourth
  • Livermore scores at death

West Bromwich Albion is still alive following a 1-0 defeat of Tottenham Hotspur at the Hawthorns on Saturday.

Jake Livermore cleaned up a goal mouth scramble in the third minute of stoppage time to move West Brom into 19th place.

The Baggies’ hot finish to the season needed all three points to stay alive, and Darren Moore‘s men needed almost every moment to complete their valiant effort to save Premier League status.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Spurs had three-quarters or more of possession for most of the match, though decent chances were at a premium.

Allan Nyom took a slap to the face from Danny Rose after exchanging shoves in the second half, but only yellow cards came to both.

Hugo Lloris made an incredible save on — you’re going to read this right — Harry Kane when the English striker failed to clear danger over his goal.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Newcastle United 0-1 West Bromwich Albion: Not dead yet

Leave a comment
  • West Brom stays alive
  • Phillips continues NUFC mastery
  • Magpies outshoot WBA 17-8

West Bromwich Albion earned itself a stay of relegation with a 1-0 win over Newcastle United at St. James’ Park on Saturday.

Matty Phillips scored for the Baggies, who have 28 points and sit five points behind 17th place Swansea City. Interim manager Darren Moore has collected eight points in four matches.

Newcastle remains 10th with 41 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Chances both ways early, with James McClean ripping a shot wide for West Brom and Dwight Gayle sending a low shot into the arms of Ben Foster.

The Baggies went ahead through a net-battering shot from Phillips, who took advantage of Jake Livermore‘s lid-opening pass cooking Paul Dummett.

Kenedy looked to have leveled the score in the 34th minute, trading passes with Ayoze Perez but dinking his shot off the outside of the post.

Mo Diame had a close shot deflected over the bar, and Newcastle were refused shouts for a penalty kick off the ensuing corner kick. Foster also made an outstanding in-tight save prior to the uncalled foul.

The counter attack saw Martin Dubravka make a fine save on Jay Rodriguez.

West Brom stayed stingy in the second half, hoping to avoid formalizing its Championship status for another week.

Diame had a second shot deflected out for a corner, and Jamaal Lascelles couldn’t get on the end of Jonjo Shelvey‘s attempt.

DeAndre Yedlin served a second ball into the mix, and substitute Joselu nodded his attempt wide in the 86th.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]