Cardiff City amongst tragedy

For Cardiff City, this season will be remembered for all the wrong reasons but there could still be a happy ending come May. Two successive wins against the backdrop of tragedy have given the Bluebirds some hope that instant relegation back to the Championship can be avoided.

With the season now heading towards it’s final throes, Cardiff boss Neil Warnock is using all his years of guile and experience to retain the club’s Premier League status in what must be extremely difficult circumstances.

Until a few weeks ago, the Welsh club were merrily conducting January transfer window business and the capture of striker Emiliano Sala from French club Nantes, the man seen as the answer to a poor goal scoring record and giving the club every chance to stay up. But, with the deal done and dusted, Sala became the focus but unfortunately not on the football field.

The awful reasons surrounding the tragedy will live long in the memories of all fans around the world, and Bluebirds supporters will never get to see Sala wearing their shirt. For the club itself, having come through some difficult weeks there is focus once again, to honour Sala’s memory by getting enough points to avoid the bottom three come the end of the season.

Last weekend’s last gasp win over fellow strugglers Southampton, lifted Cardiff just outside the relegation zone and at the same time dragged themselves closer to those just a few places further up the table. Besides Burnley and Crystal Palace, everyone else around Cardiff are struggling with indifferent form and Warnock’s men must take advantage over the next four games in which they face mid table teams in each one and three of these matches they have home advantage.

What is against the Bluebirds is the lack of goals and a poor goal difference compared with the other clubs fighting to stay up, these three home games coming up could well define where their season will end up. As mentioned, scoring goals are certainly a problem with Bobby De Cordova-Reid and Callum Patterson sharing four goals each the reliance is going to be on clean sheets and pinching a goal here and there, but Warnock’s side have only shut out teams twice since the turn of the year so the opposition know there is a good chance they will pick up a goal or two.

Fourteen points will more than likely be enough from twelve games providing they can pick up those points from the teams around them, many of which they have still to play and every year there is one team who go from looking safe from the troubles below to getting drawn into the scrap for survival, and with Fulham and Huddersfield looking like they already need snookers Cardiff will be hoping they are the lucky ones to get a shot at another Premier League season.

In Warnock the club have one of the most experienced managers still in the game and he will know it can take every ounce of effort from his players to ensure the Bluebirds are proudly flying the Welsh flag amongst England’s elite.

Article by Trevor Knell

‘See you, best of luck’, ‘bang average player’ – some Everton fans express anger with 29-year-old midfielder after talking up exit

A few Everton fans have been left unimpressed after Idrissa Gueye talked up the prospect of leaving the club at the end of the campaign. The Senegal international was desperate to leave the Toffees during the winter transfer window amid the approach from Paris Saint-Germain but the club stayed firm with their ambition of keeping hold of his services.

The midfielder has since returned to normalcy with back-to-back league appearances against Manchester City and Watford but that does not seem to have seized his disappointment of missing out on a dream move to Parc des Princes.

In a recent exclusive with L’Equipe, the 29-year-old has admitted that he still harbours the ambition of playing for an elite European club in the Champions League and remains hopeful of doing the same with Les Parisiens, should they return for him during the summer.

This interview has certainly not gone well with a section of the Toffees supporters, who have expressed their anger on Twitter while urging the club to part ways with the midfielder when the season concludes.
Here are some of the tweets;

At the age of 29, Gueye was no doubt excited by the prospect of joining one of Europe’s most successful clubs but given the approach was made during the closing stages of the winter transfer window, the Toffees may not have found sufficient time to pursue a replacement.

Nonetheless, coming with such an open statement in February itself suggests that the midfielder has already made his mind up for a fresh challenge and he could push through his desired move when the transfer window reopens.

Everton midfielder remains hopeful of pursuing dream switch to Paris Saint-Germain

Everton midfielder Idrissa Gueye has refused to rule out a potential move away from Goodison Park at the end of the ongoing campaign. The Senegal international had been the subject of two bids from Paris Saint-Germain during the dying stages of the winter transfer window but the Toffees opted to remain firm with their not-for-sale stance.

Since then, the midfielder has returned to the Toffees fold to feature in the league defeats against Manchester City and Watford but he has placed doubts regarding his future with the club after acknowledging the ambition of pursuing a big-club move during the backend of his professional career.

Speaking exclusively to L’Equipe, the former Aston Villa man admitted that he was desperate to make the switch to Paris Saint-Germain after they came up with an approach during the final days of the January transfer window.

He added that he still has the ambition of playing for an elite European club participating in the Champions League and remains hopeful that Les Parisiens retain their interest when the transfer window reopens during the summer.

Gueye has undoubtedly been the Toffees’ leading performer in the centre of the park and his performances have earned him plaudits from the faithful.

However, the latest statement is unlikely to be welcomed by the club supporters and it remains to be seen whether there is a negative mindset towards him during the remainder of the league campaign.

Meanwhile, the Merseyside outfit have bowed down to player pressure over the past 18 months with Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley among the notable high-profile names pushing through exits. The hierarchy may go through the same route with Gueye, who appears to have made his mind up to pursue a bigger challenge elsewhere where he has the assurance of Champions League football.

‘I should have stayed calm’, Alexandre Lacazette reacts on social media after Arsenal’s shock defeat at BATE Borisov

Arsenal striker Alexandre Lacazette has offered his apology to the Gunners’ faithful after he was needlessly sent off against BATE Borisov during the away leg of the Europa League round of 32 tie. The north London club were expected to dominate the proceedings against BATE despite being on the road but they experienced a tough night where they eventually succumbed to a shock 1-0 loss.

To make things worse, Lacazette was issued a straight-red card after elbowing Aleksandar Filipovic in the 85th minute and he could now serve a three-match ban for violent conduct. Following the game, the Frenchman issued a generous apology to the supporters while urging his teammates to help the Gunners progress beyond the round of 32 stage.

Unai Emery’s side held nearly 80 percent of possession during the course of the game but there was a genuine lack of cutting edge upfront where they managed just two attempts on target throughout the 90 minutes. Nonetheless, they have the opportunity to turn the tie around in six days’ time, although they need to produce a better performance on both ends of the field.

Arsenal can qualify to the round of 16 stage with a routine 2-0 triumph but things could get tougher for them, should BATE score an away goal. Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see whether the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil are brought into the fray for the second leg after missing out on the matchday squad for the Borisov trip.

Jesus and Mahrez start, Strongest Predicted Manchester City lineup (4-3-3) to face Newport County

Manchester City have the opportunity to progress to the quarter-final stage of the FA Cup when they face League Two side Newport County on the road on Saturday evening. Pep Guardiola will certainly make changes with a view to the Champions League game next week but the team should still consist of experienced campaigners, who have participated regularly through the season.

Formation: 4-3-3
Predicted Lineup:

Barring the League Cup, Pep Guardiola has not experienced with the goalkeeping position in any other competition and the same could be the case for the weekend. Ederson should once more feature between the sticks.

In the defence, Danilo could slot into the right-back position ahead of Kyle Walker with Oleksandr Zinchenko maintaining his position in the opposite end after impressing with a couple of assists in the thumping triumph over Chelsea last weekend.

At the heart of the backline, Aymeric Laporte could be offered a breather, given he has constantly featured for the team of late. In his absence, Nicolas Otamendi should return to the fray to partner John Stones in the central defensive department.

Onto the midfield, Ilkay Gundogan could be tasked with the holding midfield duties with Fernandinho getting a rest. Ahead of him, the experienced David Silva could return to the starting XI alongside Phil Foden, who should receive another game to aide his impressive progress.

In the attack front, Leroy Sane and Riyad Mahrez are bound to earn starts on the left and right wing respectively and the latter, in particular, will be yearning to impress after barely featuring since the beginning of February.
Leading the line should be Gabriel Jesus, who has been playing second fiddle to Sergio Aguero over the past few league matches. The Brazilian has netted a staggering seven goals in the past three starts for the club.

Predicted Manchester City XI (4-3-3): Ederson, Danilo, Nicolas Otamendi, John Stones, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Ilkay Gundogan, David Silva, Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez, Leroy Sane, Gabriel Jesus

‘Should have stayed calm,’ some Arsenal fans slam forward following shock defeat at BATE Borisov

A few Arsenal supporters were left far from pleased after Alexandre Lacazette received a straight red card during the Europa League round of 32 first leg clash against BATE Borisov on Thursday.

The Gunners were trailing the Belarusian side 1-0 heading into the final minutes of the game where the Frenchman elbowed defender Aleksandar Filipović to the ground.

As such, the referee has no other option than issuing him with a straight red card and following the match, some supporters were critical regarding the striker’s mindset at the time.

Here are some of the tweets:

With the red card, Lacazette is expected to miss the return leg of the Europa League round of 32 clash but that could be extended for a further two matches with the anticipated charges for violent conduct.

Meanwhile, the north London club now have everything to play for during the return leg at the Emirates Stadium next week where they need to win by two clear goals without conceding to progress to the round of 16 stage.

Arsenal have no game scheduled for the weekend following their elimination from the FA Cup last month and this provides them with ample time to refresh themselves from the recent disappointment at the Borisov Arena.

Elsewhere, it will be interesting to see whether Mesut Ozil or Aaron Ramsey feature during the second leg next week after they were completely excluded from the matchday squad for the Borisov trip.

While Ramsey has been struggling with a knee problem, Ozil appears to have been left out purely due to tactical reasons after taking part in full training with his teammates in the lead up to the BATE clash.