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The Fourth Lion - English football with Chris Johns

Angelo PalmeriComment

Championship Round-Up (3)

Chris JohnsComment

Two matches in four days saw plenty of action in the Football League, with several clubs parading new managers in front of their fans, and lots of chopping and changing in the league tables.



Derby County marched to the top of the Championship with two wins from two after the rest of the Top 6 all dropped points. A comfortable 3-0 win at Reading on Saturday, coupled with a 1-0 at bottom club Blackpool moved them a point above Watford at the summit. The Hornets took advantage of Sheffield Wednesday’s poor home form with a 3-0 win at Hillsborough on Saturday, but could only manage a 2-2 draw with Nottingham Forest on Tuesday, with Forest dropping to sixth after having gone down 2-1 at Cardiff on Saturday. New Bluebirds boss Russell Slade then made it two wins from two as his side defeated Ipswich Town 3-1 on Tuesday night. 


Middlesbrough slipped to third after failing to follow up their 2-1 win at Brighton as they went down 2-0 at Wolves, whose 3-3 draw with Millwall on Saturday saw manager Kenny Jackett return to his old stomping ground. Norwich could only take one points from their two matches, as they responded to a 1-0 defeat at Fulham with a 1-1 home draw with Leeds, leaving them in fifth spot.

Bolton boss Neil Lennon greets outgoing Birmingham boss Lee Clarke prior to Bolton's 1-0 win, which was cause for Birmingham to show Clarke the door.

Bolton boss Neil Lennon greets outgoing Birmingham boss Lee Clarke prior to Bolton's 1-0 win, which was cause for Birmingham to show Clarke the door.

Charlton lost their first match of the season after 13 matches as they went down 1-0 at Bournemouth. They did, however, bounce back by seeing off Bolton 2-1 to put them level on points with Forest for the final playoff spot. Bolton’s new boss Neil Lennon had made the headlines by being sent to the stands in his first match in charge in strange circumstances. Lennon appeared to react to his side being awarded a penalty and was subsequently asked to leave the touchlines as his side took all three points from their trip to Birmingham with a 1-0 win on Saturday prior to the defeat at Charlton.


At the bottom, Blackpool’s 1-0 defeat at home to Derby followed a 4-2 defeat at Huddersfield. The home side were 3-0 up after just 16 minutes, only for Blackpool to pull two back on the stroke of half time. A second half strike condemned the Seasiders to yet another defeat, and they now sit two points behind Bolton, and five behind Fulham and Birmingham. Fulham’s resurgence under interim boss Kit Symons showed now signs of abating as they dispatched Norwich 1-0 at Craven Cottage before coming from behind three times to secure a 3-3 draw at Rotherham.


Birmingham sacked boss Lee Clarke after their defeat to local rivals Bolton on Saturday, but the dismissal proved ineffective in the short term as they lost another local derby 1-0 at Blackburn. Brighton’s 1-1 draw at Huddersfield, following the 2-1 reverse to Middlesbrough, sees them lie a point above the relegation zone in 20th, with underachieving Wigan one place above them on the same amount of points after two 0-0 draws with Brentford and Millwall.

A good week for…

Derby County

Stretched their unbeaten run to 10 matches to top the table


Three wins in a row moves them to within one points of the playoffs

Cardiff City

Two wins in two for new boss Russel Slade

Chris Martin (Derby County)

Three goals in two matches for the County frontman

A bad week for...


Two more defeats cements their place at the bottom, five points from safety


Three defeats in a row and no wins in six.

Birmingham City

Two defeats and a manager sacking leaves them above the relegation zone on goal difference only

Wigan Athletic

No wins in eight continues their season of underachievement


Saturday 18th October

Birmingham 0-1 Bolton

Bournemouth 1-0 Charlton

Brighton 1-2 Middlesbrough

Cardiff 2-1 Nottingham Forest

Fulham 1-0 Norwich

Huddersfield 4-2 Blackpool

Ipswich 1-1 Blackburn

Millwall 3-3 Wolverhampton

Reading 0-3 Derby

Rotherham 2-1 Leeds*

Sheff Wednesday 0-3 Watford

Wigan 0-0 Brentford

*match played on Friday night

Tuesday 21st October

Blackburn 1-0 Birmingham

Blackpool 0-1 Derby

Bournemouth 3-0 Reading

Brentford 0-0 Sheff Wednesday

Cardiff 3-1 Ipswich

Charlton 2-1 Bolton

Huddersfield 1-1 Brighton

Norwich 1-1 Leeds

Rotherham 3-3 Fulham

Watford 2-2 Nottingham Forest

Wigan 0-0 Millwall

Wolverhampton 2-0 Middlesbrough

Standings provided by

Premier League Weekend Round-Up (4)

Chris JohnsComment

Saintly Performance Almost Equals Premier League Record

Southampton almost equalled the Premier League’s highest winning margin with a shock 8-0 drubbing of a lacklustre Sunderland side. Two own goals helped them on their way, including a stunner from Santiago Vergini, but Sunderland were woeful throughout and appeared to have given up by the time the fourth goal went in.



Vergini inexplicably curled the ball into his own net in the 12th minute to get their afternoon off to the worst possible start, before the increasingly impressive Graziano Pelle slotting home the first of his two goals six minutes later.


Jack Cork made it three before half time, with a clumsy Liam Bridcutt own goal clocking up the forth. Four more goals in the final 21 minutes from Pelle, Dusan Tadic, Victor Wanyama and Mane punished Sunderland’s increasingly abysmal performance towards the end of the game, with Black Cats boss Gus Poyet claiming that he learned which of his players can be counted when things get tough.


Poyet also pointed to an incident in the first half with the game at 2-0, when Sunderland striker Steven Fletcher appeared to be bundled over by Southampton keeper Fraser Forster. The referee seemingly rejected the idea of a penalty based on the fact that the ball had already gotten away from Fletcher when contact was made.


Southampton boss Ronald Koeman said he was “very pleased”, but also admitted that he was “in shock” about the result, which kept them in third place behind Man City and Chelsea, who also recorded victories.


Four is the Magic Number

Sergio Aguero hit all four goals for Manchester City as they overcame 10-man Tottenham Hotspur at The Emirates Stadium. The game was also notable for the fact that referee Jonathan Moss awarded four penalties throughout the match, at least two of which were particularly debatable.

Aguero showed Tottenham no mercy, bagging himself four goals image:

Aguero showed Tottenham no mercy, bagging himself four goals

Aguero got the first of his goals after just 13 minutes, bending a shot past Hugo Lloris after a lovely cut back won him some space. An epic opening period saw Spurs level just 90 seconds later, Christian Eriksen smashing home a shot through Joe Hart as they took advantage of some lax play from City midfielder Fernando.


The first of the four penalties came on 20 minutes as Frank Lampard was adjudged to have been bundled over by Erik Lamela. It may have been a little harsh, but Aguero had no problem in stepping up and slotting the ball past Lloris to restore their lead. On-loan midfielder Frank Lampard was then stretchered off with what looked like a thigh injury minutes before the game’s second spot kick was awarded.


Ready to smash home a first-half hat-trick, Aguero stepped up and hit a low shot straight down the middle, but unfortunately for him it wasn’t far enough away from the feet of Lloris, and Aguero was made to wait before claiming ownership of the match ball.


Spurs were still posing a threat in attack, but their defensive play was leaving so much to be desired. They managed to keep the score at 2-1 and had the perfect chance to draw level just after the hour mark as Martin Demichelis tripped Spurs striker Roberto Soldado in the box. The Spaniard stepped up to take the spot kick, but his low effort to the right of keeper Joe Hart was pushed away by the England stopper, giving City the impetus they needed to push on and put the game to bed.

Fazio receives his marching orders on his Spurs debut image:

Fazio receives his marching orders on his Spurs debut

Five minutes after the Spurs penalty, City had another one of their own. Debutant Federico Fazio appeared to pull down Aguero as he tried to meet a Jesus Navas cross, with Fazio controversially receiving his marching orders. It was Aguero who stepped up once more, slotting the ball coolly past Lloris to finally complete his hat-trick and put City into a seemingly unassailable lead.

Aguero grabbed his fourth in the closing stages to round off what was a fantastic personal performance form the Argentine, but the result was a little tough on Spurs, who had competed well enough throughout the game.


Leaders March On

Chelsea continued their unbeaten start to the season with a 2-1 win at Crystal Palace. Both sides ended the match with 10-men, as Cezar Azpilicueta saw red in the 39th minute for a poor tackle in Mile Jedinka, with Palace’s Damian Delaney receiving his second yellow card just three minutes later.

Fabregas slots home a goal which boss Mourinho described as a "scandal" image:

Fabregas slots home a goal which boss Mourinho described as a "scandal"

Oscar had put Chelsea in front after just six minutes with a stunning 25-yard free kick before the referee’s enforced interventions. Cesc Fabregas slotted home Chelsea’s second after 51 minutes, with Blues boss Jose Mourinho describing the goal as “a scandal” for the quality of the build-up.


Frazier Campbell reduced the arrears with a close-range tap-in a minute from time, but Chelsea were assured in closing the game out and stay five points clears of Manchester City at the top.


Tigers Tame the Big Guns

Danny Welbeck spared Arsenal’s blushes as he hit a 91st minute equaliser to secure his side a 2-2 draw at home to Hull City. The result ensured Arsenal matched their worst start to a Premier League season under Arsene Wenger, having won just one from seven. The match was also notable for a number of injuries, with Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere, and Hull’s Steve Harper, Nikica Jelavic and Craig Dawson heading for the treatment tables.


Alexis Sanchez had given the Gunners a 13th minute lead, four minutes before Mohammed Diamé dinked the ball over Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny to level the match. Arsenal appeared to switch off when they felt Diamé had dragged back Mathieu Flamini in the run-up to the goal, with Per Mertesacker the main culprit in focusing more on the alleged injustice than stopping Diamé.

England striker Welbeck saves Arsenal image:

England striker Welbeck saves Arsenal

Abel Hernandez nodded Hull in front just after the break, with Per Mertesacker again failing to cover himself in glory with his poor marking contributing to the goal. However, Welbeck popped up in the dying moments, much to the frustration of Hull boss Steve Bruce, to leave Arsenal in 7th place, one point behind Manchester United, who played on Monday night.


Liverpool needed two own goals to beat QPR 3-2, with all of the goals coming from the 67th minute onwards, and four goals in the dying minutes making for a dramatic end to the match. QPR’s Richard Dunne put through his own net to give Liverpool the lead, but substitute Eduardo Vargas thought he’d earned the hosts a point on 87 minutes with his first goal for the club. Liverpool sub Philippe Coutinho smashed Liverpool back in front on 90 minutes, only for Vargas to once more assume he’d bagged his team a point two minutes later. In the 95th minute, Steven Caulker bundled the ball past his own keeper as Liverpool broke, giving the Reds a somewhat fortuitous win to continue their inauspicious start to the season.


Manchester United twice came from behind to secure a 2-2 draw at West Bromwich Albion in Monday night’s fixture. Stephane Sessegnon had put the Baggies in front after just 8 minutes, but Marouane Fellaini, who has been in and out of the team since his big money move from Everton, stepped off the bench at half time to equalise three minutes after his introduction. Saido Berahino kept his cool to slot past De Gea on 66 minutes to put the hosts back in front, but Daley Blind swept home an 87th minute equaliser to leave West Brom Alan Irvine disappointed not to have secured all three points against the faltering Red Devils.

Garry Monk was far from happy after seeing his side go down 2-1 to Stoke
Video: Youtube - Avtex Sports

Stoke’s Sunday afternoon match with Swansea was shrouded in controversy, with referee Michael Oliver central to the drama. The man in black awarded Swansea a 34th minute penalty as he deemed Ryan Shawcross’ hold on Wilfried Bony to be worthy of a spot kick. Bony picked himself to slot home the penalty, but his side were pegged back nine minutes later with the hosts being awarded a controversial penalty of their own. Swansea boss Gary Monk branded Stoke’s Victor Moses a ‘cheat’ for what he considered to be a dive when winning a penalty for his side, going down under Angel Rangel’s challenge. Charlie Adam brushed aside the tension to level the match up, and substitute Jonathan Walters headed Stoke’s winner 14 minutes from time, but much of the post-match talk was of the two manager’s anger towards the relative penalties given to their opposition.


West Ham hit the heady heights of fourth place with a solid 3-1 win at promoted Burnley. Diafra Sakho scored his sixth goal in six games to put the Hammers in front in the 49th minute, five minutes before Enner Valencia powerfully headed them further in front. George Boyd got Burnley back into it on the hour mark, but the game was put to bed by Carlton Cole’s 70th minute header, giving boss Sam Allardyce the perfect present a day before his birthday.


Newcastle United put a one-hour delay behind them as a 1-0 win over Leicester City alleviated the pressure on boss Alan Pardew. A big screen failure had put the match in doubt, but they will be thankful that the match eventually began an hour later than scheduled, with Gabriel Obertan smashing home only his second ever Premier League goal to give them the win after Papiss Cisse had missed a sitter earlier in the half.


Everton comfortably beat Aston Villa thanks to goals from Phil Jagielka, Romelu Lakaku, and Seamus Coleman as they welcomed back young England starlet Ross Barkley after injury.




Arsenal 2-2 Hull City

Burnley 1-3 West Ham United

Crystal Palace 1-2 Chelsea

Everton 3-0 Aston Villa

Newcastle United 1-0 Leicester City

QPR 2-3 Liverpool

Southampton 8-0 Sunderland

Stoke City 2-1 Swansea City

West Bromwich Albion 2-2 Manchester United

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Championship Weekend Round-up (2)

Chris JohnsComment

Yet Another Manager Departure for Watford

Watford have appointed their fourth manager of the season following the decision to sack Billy McKinlay just 8 days into the job. McKinlay took charge of the 1-1 home draw with Brighton on Saturday, his second match in a row after a 2-1 win over Brentford, following the early season departures of Beppe Sannino and Oscar Garcia, who had been suffering from health issues.

Billy McKinlay's 8-day reign is the sixth shortest in English football history image:

Billy McKinlay's 8-day reign is the sixth shortest in English football history

However, since the match, it has been announced that McKinlay has also left the club, with ex-Chelsea player and current Spanish third division side Hercules boss Slavisa Jokanovic replacing him to become Watford’s fourth manager in just 37 days. Watford owner Gino Pozzo said of the decision to axe McKinlay: “Our job is always to act in the best long-term interests of this club. There can be no compromise on this — whatever the circumstances,”. McKinlay’s reign has gone down in the history books as the 6th shortest in English football history at just 8 days.

Slavisa Jokanovic is Watford's fourth boss in 37 days image:

Slavisa Jokanovic is Watford's fourth boss in 37 days

Daniel Toszer’s free kick for the home side was cancelled out by a Lewis Dunk header thirteen minutes from time in what was one of eight draws from twelve games in the Championship this weekend. The draw with Brighton saw them stay joint top of the Championship, with the constant upheaval at the club seemingly not linked to their results on the pitch.


No Wins in the Top 7

Joint top of the league with Watford are Nottingham Forest and Norwich City. Forest drew 2-2 with Ipswich on Sunday to make it four draws in a row under new boss and Forest legend Stuart Pearce. They twice went behind to Daryl Murphy strikes, but Robert Tesche header and a 94th minute strike from Michael Antonio ensured they took a deserved point. Norwich couldn’t respond to their midweek home defeat to Charlton as they were held to a 1-1 draw by promoted side Rotherham United. Cameron Jerome’s 77th minute equaliser cancelled out Paul Green’s first half penalty to contribute towards the fact that none of the top 7 managed a win.


Derby County were held to a 0-0 stalemate by an out-of-form Millwall, while Charlton remained unbeaten with a 1-1 home draw with Birmingham City. Igor Vetokele continued his excellent start to English life with a goal to put the hosts in front after 11 minutes, but David Davis struck a 53rd minute equaliser to share the spoils. Birmingham felt aggrieved in the first half when Clayton Donaldson tapped home a goal-bound shot, only to be denied by the linesman’s flag.

Caretaker Fulham boss Kit Symons in his playing days image:

Caretaker Fulham boss Kit Symons in his playing days

Wolves slipped out of the promotion places after being held to a 2-2 draw at home to Wigan Athletic. Wolves went ahead in the first half through David Edwards, but the hosts turned the game on its head before half time via James Perch and Marc-Antoine Fortune. Bakary Sako headed a 64th minute equaliser to ensure Wolves’ unbeaten run was extended to six matches.


Middlesbrough moved up to 5th and extended their own run to six games thanks to goals from Adam Reach and Albert Adomah in a 2-0 win to dispatch a recovering Fulham side under the caretaker management of former player Kit Symons. Symons has strongly expressed his desire to secure the post on a long-term basis, but the result saw Fulham continue to occupy the final relegation spot, three points behind Wigan and four behind Birmingham.

Sergei Zenjov had to be content with a place on the bench as his side gained their first win of the season image:

Sergei Zenjov had to be content with a place on the bench as his side gained their first win of the season

Relegation Fight

At the bottom, Sergei Zenjov’s Blackpool finally became the last team in the Football League to secure their first win of the season as a Francois Zoko strike gave them a 1-0 win over managerless Cardiff City on Friday night. Cardiff have since announced the anticipated appointment of former Leyton Orient boss Russell Slade as their new head coach.


The Blackpool result saw them jump above Lancashire rivals Bolton, who announced the departure of boss Dougie Freedman earlier in the week. Interim boss Andy Hughes could only watch as his side went down 2-1 to 10-man Bournemouth thanks to two goals from Callum Wilson either side of a Jay Spearing strike. The visitors lost striker Yann Kermorgant to a red card nine minutes before half time for a high boot, but they took full advantage of the host’s poor form and managerless plight to take the points.



The Yorkshire derby between Leeds United and Sheffield Wednesday finished in a 1-1 draw as a Giuseppe Bellusci goal cancelled out Chris Maguire’s 52nd minute strike. New Leeds boss Darko Milanic remains winless in his first three matches, but will see the promise in his side following this performance.


Chris Powell saw his new Huddersfield side gain a credible 0-0 draw at Blackburn, while Brentford continued their encouraging start to life in the Championship with a 3-1 win over Reading thanks to goals from Jota, Alex Pritchard and Jonathan Douglas. Simon Cox bagged the goal for the visitors.



Blackburn Rovers 0-0 Huddersfield Town

Blackpool 1-0 Cardiff City (Fri)

Bolton Wanderers 1-2 Bournemouth

Brentford 3-1 Reading

Charlton Athletic 1-1 Birmingham City

Derby County 0-0 Millwall

Middlesbrough 2-0 Fulham

Norwich City 1-1 Rotherham United

Nottingham Forest 2-2 Ipswich Town (Sun)

Watford 1-1 Brighton & Hove Albion

Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-2 Wigan Athletic

Standings provided by

Premier League Weekend Round-up (3)

Chris JohnsComment

Mourinho’s Men March On

Chelsea extended their lead at the top of the Premier League to five points with a fiery 2-0 victory over local rivals Arsenal. The hostilities on the pitch spilled over to the touchline, as Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger dished out a shove in the chest to his Chelsea adversary Jose Mourinho following a hefty tackle by Blues defender Gary Cahill on Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez. 

Wenger squares up to Mourinho image:

Wenger squares up to Mourinho

The petty squabbling over technical area perimeter breaches eventually subsided, as Arsenal struggled to deal with an in-form Chelsea side buoyed on by the home crowd. The hosts took the lead after 27 minutes when Eden Hazard slotted home a penalty following his mazy run that drew a clumsy foul by Laurent Koscielny.


A number of tackles throughout the match led to both managers claiming afterwards that at least three of the opposition team should have been red-carded. These may have been overreactions of certain degrees following a match that saw 24 fouls and seven yellow cards, but the justice of the outcome bore little doubt when Diego Costa notched yet another goal in the 78th minute, latching on to a sensational Cesc Fabregas ball, to wrap up the win.


Champions Step Up

Manchester City moved into second place with a 2-0 victory over a stubborn Aston Villa side. Villa lost striker Gabriel Agbonlahor in the warm up, and as a result lack a certain cutting edge as City peppered their goal throughout. The two goals eventually came in the final ten minutes as Yaya Toure curled in a shot from the edge of the box and Sergio Aguero secured the points with his own strike from the edge of the 18-yard box two minutes from time.


United Fight For Victory

Manchester United made it back-to-back wins for the first time under new boss Louis van Gaal as they dispatched an Everton side recently returned from a 4800 mile round-trip to Krasnodar in midweek.


Angel Di Maria put United ahead in the first half with his third goal in five games, before Everton were presented with the chance to equaliser before half time. Luke Shaw’s trip on Tony Hibbert in the box allowed Leighton Baines the opportunity from 12 yards, but United keeper David De Gea got down to his right well and kept his side’s lead intact.

De Gea's last-gasp save ensured United took the points image:

De Gea's last-gasp save ensured United took the points

After a sluggish first half, Everton came out stronger in the second and took the lead ten minutes in when Steven Naismith nodded home Baines’ whipped cross from the left to set United nerves on edge again. However, after a number of missed chances throughout the match, new signing Radamel Falcao converted Juan Mata’s sliced shot to give his side the points. It could have been a different story, however, had De Gea not pulled off an incredible 94th minute stop to deny Brian Oviedo.



Saints’ March Halted

New Southampton boss Ronald Koeman tasted his second defeat of the season as he took his side to ex-Saints boss Mauricio Pochettino’s new stomping ground on Sunday.


Christian Eriksen swept home the game’s only goal in the first half to give Tottenham a first win in four, and the result saw Southampton slip a place to third after a strong start to the season.

Balotelli looks on from the Liverpool bench image:

Balotelli looks on from the Liverpool bench

Reds Recover

Liverpool recovered from a disappointing Champions League defeat at Basle in midweek with a 2-1 win over West Brom at Anfield. Mario Balotelli was dropped to the bench, with summer signing Rickie Lambert preferred at the head of the attack.


Another summer signing Adam Lallana put the hosts ahead on the stroke of half-time, but they were pegged back by a Saido Berahino penalty eleven minutes into the second half after the referee had adjudged Dejan Lovren’s foul on the West Brom striker to have been inside the box, rather than outside as replays suggest.


The impressive Jordan Henderson restored Liverpool’s lead just four minutes later, however, as his overall performance was rewarded with a deserved goal to give his side the points.



Newcastle boss Alan Pardew avoided another storm of epic proportions as his side twice came from behind to earn a credible 2-2 draw at Swansea. The hosts took the lead as early as the 17th minute through Wilfried Bony, but Papiss Cisse grabbed his first of the day two minutes before half time.

Papiss Cisse celebrates his brace at Swansea image:

Papiss Cisse celebrates his brace at Swansea

Wayne Routledge restored the hosts lead five minutes into the second half, with Gylfi Sigurdsson notching his second assist of the day. However, Cisse was on hand to level the match once more with 15 minutes to go to as the Toon Army manager lives to fight another day.


A poor performance saw QPR remain rooted to the bottom of the table as they went down 2-0 to West Ham, who move up to 7th place themselves.


A last-gasp Ross Wallace free kick earned Burnley a 2-2 draw at Leicester, a result which also ended their goal drought that had continued since the opening day of the season.


Another first since the opening day saw two second half goals from Mohamed Diáme and Nikica Jelavic give Hull City a win against a resurgent Crystal Palace under returning boss Neil Warnock.


A first of the whole season was seen at the Stadium of Light as Sunderland finally bagged a victory with a 3-1 defeat of Stoke City. The returning Steven Fletcher bagged two goals after Charlie Adam had equalised Connor Wickham’s fourth minute strike. Sunderland had drawn five of their opening six matches of the season and a first win sees them edge away from the relegation zone.




Aston Villa 0-2 Man City

Chelsea 2-0 Arsenal

Hull City 2-0 Crystal Palace

Leicester City 2-2 Burnley

Liverpool 2-1 West Bromwich Albion

Manchester United 2-1 Everton

Sunderland 3-1 Stoke City

Swansea City 2-2 Newcastle United

Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 Southampton

West Ham United 2-0 QPR

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Championship Weekend Round-Up

Chris JohnsComment

Sergei Zenjov image:

Sergei Zenjov

Hunt for a Win Goes on for Tangerines

Blackpool’s hunt for a first league win of the season continued as visitors Norwich secured a 3-1 win to lift themselves to the top of the table. A season of turmoil has seen Blackpool struggle to build a full squad of players (which includes Estonian national team player Sergei Zenjov) after a summer of discontent, and a recent revelation that the club has spoken to other manager’s with a view to replacing current boss Jose Riga has only increased the number of shaking heads in the North West.


The Seasiders actually took the lead through Nathan Delfouneso, but a Donervon Daniels own goal, and strikes from Lewis Grabban and Josh Murphy condemned Blackpool to a ninth match without a win, and saw them continue to occupy bottom spot. Zenjov came on as a sub with three minutes remaining, but was unable to do anything about his side's plight.

Norwich replaced Nottingham Forest at the foot of the table, as Stuart Pearce’s men could only manage a 0-0 draw at home to Sami Hyypia's Brighton and Hove Albion.


Hornets Stung by Garcia News

A 2-2 draw away at Blackburn, after they had taken a 2-0 lead, saw Watford rise to third in the table. Matej Vydra and Daniel Tozser put the visitors in front at half time, but a Rudy Gestede goal in the first minute of the second half started the comeback, which was completed in the 77th minute by substitute Ryan Tunnicliffe. However, news today that new boss Oscar Garcia has stepped down after just 27 days in the job due to ill health will see the North London side need to look for their third manager of the season, making their good start all the more impressive.


Ipswich sit in 4th place after two goals in the first six minutes, including another from the impressive David McGoldrick, gave them a 2-0 home win over Rotherham. Wolves, who didn't play at the weekend, are in 5th.


Down at the Bottom

After Felix Magath's much-maligned reign came to an end recently, Fulham finally secured their first three points of the season following relegation from the Premier League last term. A Hugo Rodallega winner gave them a 2-1 win at Birmingham, which saw them move off the bottom and drag their opponents to within one place of the drop zone. Bolton Wanderers occupy the final relegation spot after another disappointing performance, in which Chris Martin inflicted a 2-0 home defeat by playoff chasing Derby County, sees the pressure continue to grow on boss Dougie Freedman.


Cellino gets amongst the fans at Brentford image:

Cellino gets amongst the fans at Brentford

Leeds Merry-go-Round Stutters

New Leeds boss Darko Milanic got life in Leeds off to a disappointing start with a 2-0 defeat at Brentford. Caretaker boss Neil Redfearn had gone four matches unbeaten prior to Milanic’s appointment, but another change in staff put paid to that run extending. Owner Massimo Cellino was spotted amongst the fans during the game, further extending his reputation as an enigmatic figure.



Elsewhere, Chris Powell secured his first win as new Huddersfield boss with a 2-1 victory over Millwall thanks to a brace from Nahki Wells, and managerless Cardiff continued life after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with a 2-1 win over a Sheffield Wednesday side who had been slaughtered 7-0 by Manchester City in the cup last week. Charlton and Middlesbrough played out a 0-0 draw at The Valley, while Wigan’s disappointing start to the campaign after a pre-season full of hope under ex-Manchester City star Uwe Rosler went on with a 2-0 defeat on the South Coast at Bournemouth. 

Standings provided by


Birmingham City 1 - 2 Fulham

Blackburn Rovers 2 - 2 Watford

Blackpool 1 - 3
Norwich City

Bolton Wanderers 0 - 2 Derby County

2 - 0 Wigan Athletic

Brentford 2 - 0 Leeds United

Cardiff City 2 - 1 Sheffield Wednesday

Charlton Athletic 0 - 0 Middlesbrough

Huddersfield Town 2 - 1 Millwall

Ipswich Town 2 - 0 Rotherham United

Nottingham Forest 0 - 0 Brighton and Hove Albion

Premier League Weekend Round-Up (2)

Chris JohnsComment

World Class Goals Aplenty

A footballing weekend of the highest quality saw a number of contenders for any observer’s Goal of the Season.  Two highly-charged local derbies saw the points shared between the sides, and Manchester United’s attempt at bouncing back from their 5-3 embarrassment at Leicester last week just about succeeded.


United Survive Rooney Dismissal

The big talking point of the game was a red card for United and England captain Wayne Rooney, his first in the Premier League for over five years. Rooney himself put the Red Devils in front early on, and Robin van Persie’s 50th strike for the club doubled their lead after just 22 minutes, before Diafra Sakho nodded a goal back for West Ham from close range following some poor United defending, the overriding theme so far this season.


Rooney trudges off following his dismissal image:

Rooney trudges off following his dismissal

Rooney’s dismissal came on 59 minutes as he brought down a breaking Stewart Downing with a rash kick to the West Ham man’s thigh. It was far from the worst tackle you’ll see this season, but it was cynical and above the knee, giving the referee no choice but to brandish the red card and United boss Louis van Gaal no defence of his talisman.


It could have been much worse for United had the linesman not adjudged West Ham’s Kevin Nolan to have been offside when sweeping home what he thought was an 89th minute equaliser. Replays showed that the Londoners may feel hard done by, as Nolan’s head and shoulders appeared to be the only part of him beyond the last defender. It was not to be, however, and 10-man United held on for a shaky three points.


Jagielka Makes Reds Feel Blue

Earlier in the afternoon, Liverpool and Everton battled out another passion-fuelled Merseyside derby in the lunchtime kick-off. Steven Gerrard’s free kick just after the hour looked to have given the hosts the three points, with Gerrard himself taking the opportunity to gesture his displeasure to recent critics of his ability to compete at the highest level. However, a sensational strike from Everton and England defender Phil Jagielka in injury time sent the blue half of Merseyside home with slightly wider smiles on their faces.


Mangala’s Jekyll and Hyde Performance

Eliaquim Managala’s impressive debut for Manchester City against Chelsea last weekend was followed-up with a less than impressive showing in their 4-2 victory over Hull City. Sergio Aguero put the visitors in front after just seven minutes, and a superb curling effort from Edin Dzeko extended that lead just four minutes later.


Mangala’s mini-capitulation began after 21 minutes as he diverted a Liam Rosenior cross into his own net, before burying his studs into the chest of Hull striker Abel Hernandez to concede a penalty nine minutes later. Hernandez buried the spot kick to put Hull back on level terms after they had look severely under the cosh early on.


Not to be completely overturned, City stepped up a gear in the second half, with a second Edin Dzeko goal preceding Frank Lampard’s fourth goal in a week to give City the points.


Pelle's superb strike gave Southampton the points image:

Pelle's superb strike gave Southampton the points

Austin and Pelle Strikes Light Up St. Mary’s

A fantastic Graziano Pelle bicycle kick gave Southampton the points with a 2-1 win over QPR at St. Mary’s. Left back Ryan Bertrand had given the Saints a 54th minute lead after some excellent overlapping play down the wing. Prior to Pelle’s match-winning strike, QPR striker Charlie Austin provided his contender for Goal of the Season by taking the ball down with his right foot on the turn with his back to goal, and swivelling 180 degrees to sweep the ball home with his right foot. Pelle cracked in his effort just two minutes later as Southampton cemented their 2nd place position in the table.


Champions League Contenders

The North London derby between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur saw Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain rescue a point for the Gunners after a high-tempo Spurs side had gone in front through Nacer Chadli. Early leaders Chelsea secured a comfortable 3-0 win over Aston Villa thanks to goals from Oscar, the prolific Diego Costa, and Willian as the Blues remain unbeaten in the league so far.



Leicester couldn’t follow up their 5-3 defeat of Manchester United as they went down at Crystal Palace thanks to goals from Frazier Campbell and Mile Jedinak. West Brom made sure Burnley remained winless on Sunday with a 4-0 humbling of the newly-promoted side, who have scored just once in five league games. Sunderland and Swansea played out a 0-0 draw, which Swansea midfielder Jonjo Shelvey described as ‘rubbish’. Angel Rangel was dismissed for two bookable offences for the Swans in what was the game's biggest talking point.


Stoke City host Newcastle United in Monday’s 8pm kick-off. 


Saturday 27th September

Arsenal 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur
Chelsea 3-0 Aston Villa
Crystal Palace 2-0 Leicester City
Hull City 2-4 Manchester City
iverpool 1-1 Everton

Manchester United 2-1 West Ham United 
Southampton 2-1 QPR
Sunderland 0-0 Swansea


Sunday 28th September

West Bromwich Albion 4-0 Burnley

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Premier League Weekend Round-up

Chris JohnsComment

United We Fall

After years of success and stability in the red half of Manchester, the ongoing saga at Old Trafford continued this weekend as Leicester City became the latest side to embarrass the Red Devils. United had taken a 3-1 lead thanks to a Robin Van Persie header, a sublime lob by Angel Di Maria and a close range effort from Ander Herrera, and looked to be cruising to a second win on the spin. The hosts had other ideas, however, as Jamie Vardy won a contentious penalty after a challenge by Rafael, which David Nugent duly converted to bring them back into the game.


New boy Esteban Cambiasso smashed home an equaliser two minutes later, before some lax defending on 79 minutes allowed Vardy to race clear and slot home past David De Gea. It got worse for United, as younger defender Tyler Blackett floored the impressive Vardy in the penalty box, earning himself a red card in the process and allowing the impressive Argentine Leonardo Ulloa, who had drawn Leicester level at 1-1 earlier in the match, slotted home the penalty to put memories of United’s 4-0 win over QPR last weekend firmly to bed.


The defeat thrust more focus on United’s defensive deficiencies, particularly in light of their recent spending spree that saw them construct what is potentially the most frightening attacking line-up in the Premier League, but neglect the gaps left by the departed Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra.


Hammer Blow for Liverpool

The result leaves United languishing in 12th place, one position below local rivals Liverpool, who didn’t have the best of weekends themselves. A 3-1 defeat to West Ham, who used winger Stewart Downing in a central role to devastating effect, has seen their stuttering, post-Luis Suarez season continue. Last year’s surprise runners-up conceded twice in the opening seven minutes, before a Raheem Sterling strike gave them hope before half time. A late Morgan Amalfitano goal put paid to any hopes of a comeback and gave the Hammers a second win of the season, and their first at home.


Blue Stalemate

The blue half of Manchester hosted title rivals Chelsea, and had on-loan ex-Stamford Bridge hero Frank Lampard to thank for an 85th minute equaliser that cancelled out an Andre Schurrle goal 14 minutes earlier. City defender Pablo Zabaleta had been dismissed on 65 minutes for two bookable offences, and it had looked as though Chelsea would take full advantage. The draw leaves City in 6th place after five games, while Chelsea lead the way at the top, three points ahead of surprise packages Southampton and Aston Villa.


Surprise Early Front-Runners

Villa’s recruitment of Roy Keane as assistant manager appears to be bearing fruit as a difficult two years for boss Paul Lambert appear to be finally showing some results. A virus in the Villa camp undermined their chances against Arsenal this weekend, with the Gunners taking full advantage with a comfortable 3-0 in Birmingham.


Southampton were expected to struggle this year following a monumental exodus that included manager Mauricio Pochettino, England stars Rickie Lambert, Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana, and defender Dejan Lovren. However, Dutch boss Ronald Koeman appears to have maintained the feel-good factor at St. Mary’s, with the signings of Graziano Pelle and Dusan Tajic particularly shrewd.


A thumping 4-0 win over Newcastle last weekend was followed up with a 1-0 win on the road at Swansea, who had striker Wilfried Bony sent off in the first half for a stupid second yellow card. The Swans’ impressive start has stuttered somewhat, with a 4-2 defeat to Chelsea preceding the Southampton defeat to give August’s manager of the month Garry Monk some work to do.



Elsewhere, two late Papis Cisse goals saw Newcastle recover from 2-0 down after two outstanding strikes from Nikica Jelavic and Mohamed Diame had heaped pressure on under-fire Newcastle boss Alan Pardew. The Toon Army went into the game rock bottom of the table with an overwhelming 90% of fans calling for his head in a recent local newspaper poll.


QPR and Stoke played out a cracking 2-2 draw at Loftus Road in Saturday’s early kick-off, West Brom picked up their first win of the season with a surprise 1-0 win at Tottenham, Crystal Palace pulled off another surprise with a 3-2 win at Everton, and Burnley were held to a goalless draw at home to Sunderland.


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Saturday 20th September

Aston Villa 0-3 Arsenal
Burnley 0-0 Sunderland
Newcastle United 2-2 Hull City
QPR 2-2 Stoke City
Swansea City 0-1 
West Ham United 3-1 Liverpool

Sunday 21st September

Everton 2-3 Crystal Palace
Leicester City 5-3 Manchester United
Manchester City 1-1 Chelsea
Tottenham Hotspur 0-1 
West Bromwich Albion