Tag Archives: Mane

USHERING IN THE 2018/19 PREMIER LEAGUE SEASON

By Lennox Kimtai

The 2018/19 Premier League season is here. How time flies! Just the other day we were enjoying the World Cup in Russia. Talking of the World Cup, I must say it was one of the best, if not THE best world cup tournament I have ever watched.

The drama started early in the group stages, where the 2014 winners Germany were eliminated. Coming into the tournament, Germany was one of the favorites to lift the trophy. They had just won the Confederations Cup with a squad that was mainly made up of under-23s. There was no doubt about their quality. The only explanation for their early exit is that they underrated their opponents.

Looking at the overall performance of teams, I must say I was impressed by the smaller teams such as Switzerland, Sweden, Russia and Serbia which had hitherto been expected to pose little threat. It is a clear indication that any well-organized team can outshine a traditional football heavyweight.

The Croatia Vs France final was an amazing one. After a 3-0 drabbing of Lionel Messi’s Argentina, we knew that the Croats were up to something great. Personally, I was rooting for Croatia in the final but they just couldn’t replicate their form against other teams in the final. Although they dominated the midfield and controlled the tempo of the game, they were too shy in front of goal.

Anyway, congrats to Les Bleus!

Now back to the Premier League. Clubs have been busy reinforcing their squads since the season ended in May. The summer transfer window has been a busy one, with almost every club making a major signing. Let’s have a look at some of the transfers.

Chelsea

Former Chelsea coach Antonia Conte was replaced by Maurizio Sarri. Antonio Conte apparently failed to meet the expectations of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, who has a habit of changing managers almost every season. His lowest point was selling Diego Costa, perhaps the best striker in the premier league when he was at Chelsea.

Sarri has brought in a couple of players. The first is Kepa Arrizabalaga (goal keeper), Mateo Kovacic (defender), Jorginho (midfielder) and Robert Green (Goal keeper). Looks like decent signings. Having lost Thibaut Courtois to Real Madrid, Kepa is a great replacement.

Manchester United

Manchester United didn’t really do much in the transfer Window. Only three players have signed for the Manchester club: Diogo Dalot (defender), Fred (midfielder), and Lee Grant (goalkeeper). Mourinho was unable to land most of his targets so it could be a difficult season for the Red Devils. I can picture Mourinho employing his infamous defense tactics when playing against tougher opponents.

Arsenal

The Gunners go into the new season without their former manager Arséne Wenger who has been with the North London outfit for 22 years. It looks like we are going to see a new arsenal under Unai Emery. The former PSG head brought in a number of players: Stephan Lichtsteiner (defender), Bernd Leno (keeper), Lucas Torreira (midfielder), Sokratis Papastathopolous (defender), and Matteo Guendouzi (midfielder).

It will be exciting to see what type of squad Unai Emery will develop, having had tremendous success with PSG and Sevilla. Arsenal looks ready to make a return to Champions League football.

Liverpool

If you look at the current Liverpool, you can’t help but admire Klopp’s genius. He has brought in Naby Keita (midfielder), Allison (keeper), Xherdan Xhaqiri (midfielder) and Fabinho (defender/midfielder).

Having reached the Champions League final last season, it looks like Klopp is hungry for more. With the dangerous trio of Firmino, Mane, and Salah, it looks like Liverpool will contend for every trophy this season.

Manchester City

The Premier League Champions made a few additions to their excellent squad: Philippe Sandler (defender), Riyad Mahrez (midfielder), Daniel Arzani (midfielder). With so many options for nearly every position, Pep Guardiola will easily terrorize opponents with his B team. It looks like the former Barcelona manager might retain the Premier League trophy.

Everton

Everton might look like the underdogs in this list but going by their activities in the transfer window, we can conclude that they are serious about winning the premier league. On deadline day, the Merseyside club completed a deal for Yeri Mina (permanent deal) and Andre Gomes (loan) from Barcelona. The club also signed Brazilian midfielder Bernard. With great players like Tosun and Sigurdsson already in the team, the new additions will enable Everton to fight for a top-four spot.

Tottenham has made history as the only club not to have made a signing in the summer transfer window. This means that Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino will open the club’s new stadium with the same squad that finished third in the 2017/18 season. Despite the fact that they have a strong squad, the absence of a new signing may come to haunt them.

As the new season begins, I hope the league remains competitive to the end. I wouldn’t want Man City to retain the title.

WRITER BIO: Lennox Kimtai is a content writer who is passionate about football. Apart from football, he writes on a wide range of topics such as self-improvement and productivity. Check out his blog here and here.

 

Advertisements

PALACE HAD IT IN THE BAG…THEN BENTEKE BLEW IT!!!

It’s always a glorious day when Liverpool plays. There is usually no shortage of drama when the Reds are on the pitch, and that kind of excitement is what I crave for whenever I watch a football match. I was not really sure how exciting Liverpool vs Crystal Palace would be considering the fact that both teams are on opposite ends of the EPL table. Liverpool was in the top four while Palace was in the bottom four. You would expect that Liverpool would quash Crystal Palace, and have the Glaziers running around the pitch like some inexperienced, headless chicken from the get-go.

However, much to my surprise and thrill, that was not the case. Crystal Palace held it down on Saturday, and throughout the first half and several minutes into the second half, the Glaziers were running the show! In the first half, they pushed hard, they ran hard, covered most of their bases, and capitalized on Liverpool’s sluggish start. This pulsating energy, and being able to rattle the Reds’ defense to a point of forcing the goalkeeper to make a dangerous mistake, resulted in the first goal for Crystal Palace. Zaha had managed to permeate Liverpool’s line of defense, and it was up to the latter’s goalkeeper to try and stop the Palace talisman. Karius went in too heavy at Zaha within the box resulting in two things: a yellow card for the goalkeeper, and a surprise penalty for the home team.

The penalty was taken by the one and only, Milivojevic, who is now regarded as the official penalty maestro for Crystal Palace (he’s scored seven penalties thus far). Dismayed by this first goal, the Reds began playing with their usual lightning speed (the kind that we are used to), and much to Klopp’s chagrin, Palace were able to keep up.

The second half was packed with the kind of drama I live for. From Mane’s handball theatrics, Benteke’s wastefulness, to Salah’s undoubted ability to find the back of the net in the dying moments of the game.

The end result was 2-1 in favor of Liverpool, but for me, Crystal Palace was the better team. Zaha was my favorite player in the match. He is unbelievable! I did not even expect him to play this match (two hours to the match, and he still hadn’t been cleared for duty). And then he shows up, and he plays his heart out for 90 minutes with a not-so-healed injury. My friend! That is what it means to love what you do.

He’s going for goal in the first half and the subsequent foul on him by the Liverpool goalkeeper helped set the stage for Palace’s first goal. In addition, he was so instrumental in easing the pressure that Liverpool was mounting on Palace’s goal especially in the second half. If a defender managed to get the ball away from a Liverpool attacker in Palace’s half, that ball would most definitely land on Zaha’s path. He would then run at blistering speed down the left wing as far as he could go to give his side some time to recover from the attack. In so many instances, he led Crystal Palace’s counter-attack as a solo effort. Color me impressed!

My worst performer for the Glaziers was Benteke. He had two amazing chances in front of goal and he threw them away. If he had scored at least one of those direct chances, Liverpool would have been done for, and at the very worst, the game would have ended as a draw. I’m starting to feel that Benteke’s best days are behind him, and he should probably start considering another career…maybe beekeeping. He looks like he would be a great bee farmer.

I was not super impressed with Liverpool’s performance on Saturday, and now it has me worried about their impending Champion League’s game against Man City this week. I mean Firmino was literally unheard of much of the game, and what exactly was Mane playing at? How can you be playing at such a top flight level and act so unprofessionally? Trying to force the referee’s hand by fake falling and grabbing the ball mid-play is not only an insult to your quality as a player, it’s just plain childish! YOU CAN DO BETTER, MANE!! (FYI I strongly believe that he should

Salah added to his tally of premier league goals having scored Liverpool’s second goal late in the match (he is at the top with 29 goals, five goals ahead of his closest competition, Harry Kane). He was quite unimpressive throughout the match, and I think this is probably because he wasn’t connecting with his usual feeders as well. However, that goal was brilliant, and I cannot wait to watch what he brings to the table against Man-City (this will be like the battle of the Titans or something, can’t wait!!).

Crystal Palace players definitely need to be able to maintain their focus and attention until the game ends. If they had, Salah would not have scored, and they would be celebrating a draw right now. It’s become almost habitual for the Glaziers to let their opponents score in the last minutes of the game, and that is why they are losing most of the games. Something needs to be done about this ASAP (although at this point, it does not really matter).

Anyway, that was a wonderful match. Kudos to Liverpool for winning, albeit unconvincingly, and for making the race for the top four even more exciting!

 

THAT LIVERPOOL PERFORMANCE WILL LEAVE YOU SECOND-GUESSING YOUR ALLEGIANCE

That Liverpool game was everything!! At first, I was not going to watch it. PSG vs Real Madrid was on at the same time, and this is the game that everyone was talking about. Ronaldo vs Neymar/Mbappe/Cavani, people, what could be more exciting than this tantalizing clash of the titans? Turns out, Liverpool vs FC Porto, baby!!

I watched the RealvsPSG match for the first 10-12 minutes, and I kid you not I was getting bored. Plus, I was not really feeling Cavani on that Wednesday night, I just did not like seeing him on the screen for no apparent reason. Then, a small voice inside me told me to switch to the Liverpool game for just a few minutes then come back to this ‘main event’, hopefully, more refreshed. That small voice was like a calling! People, I never went back to that PSG game, and I do not regret it for a second! Liverpool was on fire, and if I wasn’t such a staunch Arsenal supporter, they would have converted me.

I’m talking about moves that could give a girl straight orgasms; goals that could give a healthy 26-year-old, heart palpitations, a game that moved so fast, there was hardly any time to breathe or blink, an intense coach who hardly sat for the entire match (I love Klopp’s theatrics on the sideline, they are always entertaining), a defensive wonderkid who is delicious to watch (and he gets better every game), and a midfielder who, for the life of me, has not let age define him. Yes, that was what the Reds brought to Porto on Valentine’s day. That and much more!

Let me begin with James Milner, this midfielder who seemingly re-invents himself every season, nay, every match! Every time I see him play, I make fun of him for being too old to be on this particular team. I know that is kind of mean, but in football years, Milner is ancient! I first heard about him in 2010 when he was moving to Manchester City from Aston Villa where he had spent two years. Before that, I came to find out, he had been in Newcastle, preceded by a loan transfer to Aston Villa, which was after his first stay in Newcastle who had bought the then 18-year-old from Leeds United. In short, he’s been playing professional football since I was a pre-teen, and my head just cannot get around that!

But, here is the funny thing about Milner that leaves me in awe. He is doing what normal 32-year-old professional footballers cannot do. He’s changing roles on the field on a regular basis making him one of the most versatile footballers some of us have ever come across. Last season, he was playing in the left-back position; this season, he’s playing as a midfielder! How absolutely amazing is that?

Another fun fact, he currently holds the record for the most assists in this Champions League season. He set up two of the five goals scored by Liverpool on Wednesday taking him to the top of the assist table. Imagine, he’s ahead of players like Kevin De Bruyne! Wow.

That’s not all! Milner (alongside Henderson) clearly dominated that midfield and controlled that game. He showed so much tenacity and maturity that promulgated throughout the Liverpool team. Milner was not allowing any of his teammates to make mistakes, not on this day!

Milner was not the only one showing maturity on such a big stage on Wednesday. Mo Salah, the King of Egypt, demonstrated that exact sentiment throughout his game, and he was so impressive to watch. I find the way this man moves with the ball, dribbling across defenders, and linking the ball up with teammates, at times who are in his blind spots, so enticing. Like, I cannot resist him when he is on the field.

And did you see his goal? This was one of those orgasmic, heart palpitation causing moments I was talking about earlier. That goal wasn’t just magical, it was pure art! How can he have such composure to score a goal like that? To me, it’s just mind-blowing! Can Salah do anything wrong at this point? I doubt it!

Firmino was also on point in this game, and what a spectacular goal that was. I loved his celebration after he scored, it was so boyish (I also like his teeth, but this is a story for another place). And, I have to be honest. I fell in love with the Firmino-Salah combination in their match against Southampton last Sunday. They played off each other so well at the front during this game, and it was exciting to see them doing that again in the Porto game.

The duo seems to have so much chemistry, and so much fun playing together and scoring amazing goals. That is why it was so surprising to learn that they are not best friends. Guess who is Salah’s closest friend at Liverpool?

I’ll tell you. It’s the man who completely destroyed Porto on Wednesday. Sadio Mane, baby!! What a performance! What a way to seal the destiny for your team in the Champions League. Mane’s three goals against Porto is another testament of how mature, and composed these boys have become under Klopp, and how precise their game is. It also shows the breadth of talent within Liverpool, wow!

Of course, Mane’s performance on Valentine’s day was also testament to the player’s self-belief and self-awareness. Just a couple of weeks ago people were talking about how he sucked because his form had nose-dived a little. But, now look at him, scoring hat-tricks in one of the biggest competitions in the world! That is truly inspirational, and Liverpool is a wonderful team for giving him the space and the encouragement he needed to recover and reach these new heights.

So, yeah! I am basically in love with everything about Liverpool including their coach and their orange kits. It was the perfect match to watch on Valentine’s, and I hope performances such as those keep coming from Liverpool. (Don’t worry, I have not converted yet. Once a Gunner, always a Gunner, but a little flirting with a rival never hurt nobody).

Subscribe, and leave your comments about the game below. You can also follow me here, here, here, and here.

Have amazing, safe, and love-filled weekends, people!!