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Stringer

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  1. Game of The Round Everton v Arsenal The tie this round certainly looks to be Everton v Arsenal. The Gunners have just acquired a new man at the helm and while in second place now can he keep them there and even catch Liverpool? If he wants to then he will need to start by showing it with a win here at Everton. The Gunners though have been inconsistent in the league of late having lost two and drawn two before winning their last outing albeit under the old stewardship. As it is tight from second down to the bottom a run of a win and two draws can lift you, as it has Arsenal, to second place but it won't keep you there if you don't keep winning as everyone behind you needs but a win to catch. Everton also have lacked the consistency they had last season and have a run of win then lose over the last five games in the league. They did though go on a second half season run last year that saw them end in second but so far this have not shown anything like that form and that is why they currently lie 5th. A win here may lift them into the top four but would certainly tighten it at the top and let those above know that Everton still means business. With a new manager at Arsenal and Everton's inconsistent league season this game will be hard to call. As Game of The Round this is a betting shop match (should you wish to bet) Home Win 3/1 Away Win 3/1 Draw 5/1 Too close to call this one it could well be the draw is the best punt but you never know.
  2. Game of The Round 4th placed Manchester_City v Burnley 3rd Placed This could be a hard fought contest with Manchester City aiming to push on for promotion back to the Premier League. They haven't lost in their last four outings with three draws and a win. There though lies one of City's major problems, they draw a lot and really need to convert more into wins if they want to achieve promotion. In fact they have had six draws so far this season although Burnley are close behind with five. Burnley have had a lost one of their last four games so are on a slight roll themselves but they have been up higher this season and like City want to return to the Premiership. In honesty this is a tight division only six points separating the top eight teams. Places are going to be hard fought this season and both these will know that a game like this is one they need to win if they have real intentions of winning the league or achieving promotion. This game of the round is a betting shop match and odds are: Home Win 5/2 Away Win 3/1 Draw 4/1 With two teams that have both drawn so many games the draw odds look well worth a punt.
  3. Well the U23 cup has rumbled on and we are now left with the final four in the semi finals. Newcastle United U23 v Everton U23 and Southampton U23 v West Ham United U23 . There will definitely be a new name on the cup as both of last years finalist have gone out. Newcastle though have been in the big game before reaching the final in season 9 when they lost 3-1 to Liverpool U21. That experience will make them favourites from the last four but they have a hard task. They face Everton U23 who made the semi finals last season and are here again. They want to get a step further and win it. This semi will be a real battle of two youth teams but who can prevail and get to the final. Then we have Southampton who have turned themselves around from last season. A new manager and a change in squad and they find themselves in the last four compared to the second round last year. It doesn't get much tougher for them as they face one of last seasons beaten quarter finalist in West Ham United. The hammers are riding high in second place in division one as they try to get to the top division where the Saints are mid table in the premiership. Could the battle for promotion hit the Hammers in the cup or will they have the will to win this one? Cup Odds: Newcastle United U23 2/1, Everton U23 3/1, West Ham United U23 7/2, Southampton U23 7/2.
  4. The FMFA Under 23s Cup has now reached the quarter final stage and we have already lost the current holders Burnley U23 as they went out in the last round. In fact we are now left with eight teams who have never won this trophy which now means this season will see a new name on the cup. Possible favourites will be last season’s runners up, Crystal Palace U23, who will be looking to go one stage further and lift the trophy. First though they need to get through a tough quarter final against West Ham United U23. The hammers went out at this stage last season to Everton and will be looking to not see lightning strike twice at this stage. Everton U23 did make the semis last time but lost to eventual winners Burnley at that stage. That is the furthest they have got in this competition and to get there again they will need to see off Aston Villa U23. Villa have got further this time after not getting past the first round in Season 12 but can they make it all the way? Newcastle United U23 are the only other team in the last eight that have made the final before and will no doubt be second favourites behind Palace to win it. They reached the final in season 9 where they lost. Last time out they lost to Wolves at this stage. They face Watford U23s if they want to go further. The hornets though will have ambitions of their own having also gone out at this round last season to Palace. The remaining tie sees Tottenham Hotspur U23 take on Southampton U23. Both teams fell early in season 12 as Spurs went out in round one and Southampton in round 2. Both then have improved and one is destined to get to the last four but who? Cup Odds Latest (based mainly on last year’s performance) Crystal Palace U23 3/1, Newcastle United U23 7/2, Everton 4/1, West Ham 9/2, Watford 9/2, Southampton 5/1, Tottenham 11/2, Aston Villa 11/2.
  5. The opening match saw league leaders Arsenal at home to Manchester United in fifth place, although only four points separated the teams. With the game at one all at half time the second half got really interesting as two third of the way through the game United’s Varane got his marching orders and then five minutes later the ten men went in front. Could the league leaders recover and get the win with fifteen minutes left? They didn’t get the win but recovered to get an equaliser to get a point from the game. In the other big match this round we had fourth placed Aston Villa at home to second place Liverpool. Villa knew a win in this one would stamp their credentials as a contender in the title hunt as they would go level with Liverpool on points. Sadly they shot themselves in the foot a bit as both Emerson and Garcia slotted home in their own net to give the reds two goals and the win. That due to Arsenal’s draw saw Liverpool go top and Arsenal drop to second. Manchester United’s point away at the Emirates actually saw them move up to third. Elsewhere Crystal Palace who were third at the start of play lost ground as they lost to a Neymar brace as Newcastle won away 2-0. Everton faced bottom club Chelsea at Goodison and a first minute penalty gave them the upper hand, with them adding a second just before half time to seal a 2-0 victory. In the rounds other game there were no goals as Leicester and Sunderland played out a bore draw. Round eight will see a couple of interesting games as we get the Merseyside derby at Anfield as Liverpool look to extend their lead at the top. The two teams that swapped league places after round 7 face each other as Man Utd host Crystal Palace.
  6. The League Cup in its third year is starting and last season’s winners Manchester United will not be defending their trophy as this season they qualified for the Anglo-American Trophy. In fact last season saw them beat Crystal Palace in the final and they also qualified for the Anglo-American Trophy. That means we will see two new teams in the final and have a new name on the cup and a good chance it is a team that has not won it before as the only team in the tournament that has won it is Wolverhampton Wanderers. They will face off against premier ship Arsenal to try and win the trophy again. It is Arsenal’s first time in the cup can they win it at the first go? The only other team in this time to reach a final is Sunderland and they start off against Manchester City in their bid to win it. City on the other hand has never got further than the Quarter Finals in this competition achieving it in both the previous years. They will want to see if they can go beyond that this time. Last season’s beaten semi-finalists will both be looking to see if they can reach a final. Stoke City start their cup campaign against West Ham. The hammers have never got beyond the first round so can they do it this time? Queens Park Rangers, the other semi-finalist, start out facing Burnley at home and the Turf Moor mob’s best in this competition is a quarter final last season. Elsewhere we have Leicester taking on Southampton and both these teams have managed the quarter finals before. Then we have Newcastle against Chelsea which sees cup first timers Newcastle against a team that hasn’t yet gone beyond round 1. Next we have Watford versus Aston Villa and these two met in Season 11 in the quarter final with Villa coming out on top, can they beat Watford again? The final game sees Tottenham pitted against Bournemouth in a game of two teams that have fallen at the first round whenever they have been in this cup? Just who will make the next round and who will lift the trophy? The battles start on Sunday.
  7. And they are off! The season begins with the Division One teams fighting to get up to the Premiership. In a quirk of the fixtures the two teams that got relegated last season faced off against each other in their bids to go straight back up. Burnley were at home and were the dominant team in this game but they didn’t deliver a goal even when QPR were reduced to ten men. QPR will walk away the happier of the two teams with a point and Burnley will need to sort out their finishing if they want to get back up. In another odd fixture match up we had last season’s bottom two teams against one another and both teams will be looking to improve on their position from last season. In this one though it will be Southampton who are the happier as they got the three points in a close tie with Bournemouth. Wolves who last season just missed out on the play offs were at away to Manchester City. Wolves will be looking to get to at least the play offs if not better this season. The game though had two teams that matched each other in nearly every department and so it was no surprise it was honours even with a goal each. Another two teams desperate to improve on last season were Tottenham and West Ham. Spurs have invested in a striker for their attempt to get out of the division while West Ham decided it was their defence that needed investment. Unfortunately for Spurs the defence took the honours . Time will show which was the better investment but for now it is one to the defence. Finally last year’s third in Watford took on fourth in Stoke at home. This was another game where there was little to choose between them and it was that way at half time with honours even at 2-2. In the end it was Watford who got the decider in the second half to edge the encounter. One game in and not learned a great deal. We do know there are a lot of teams that look very equal and it may be hard to separate them all come the end of the season.
  8. The first games are done, the new season started and just what do we know? Well title favourites and reigning champions Liverpool blasted away a Manchester United team who were all at sixes and sevens under the assistant manager. A plus for Liverpool and maybe warning for other teams is the fact there two main strikers both grabbed a brace each. United though will write this off no doubt and hopefully be back under the managers guidance for the next game. Newly promoted Chelsea, who came up as division one champions, faced off at home to a Crystal Palace who finished third last term. This would show what if anything Chelsea might have as a threat in the top league and they delivered a draw. With both teams scoring early it perhaps is too early to assess Chelsea’s ambition in the top division but they will be pleased with their effort and the number of shots they created. Palace may see this as a point dropped but facing a promoted team first is never easy as Arsenal also found out. The Gunners were at home to new boys Villa in what turned out to be a dire goalless draw. One shot on target all game was all there was to excite fans. Villa will thank their luck that have a point from this encounter as they delivered little with no shots at all and will have to up their game if they expect to have an impact in the premiership this season. Elsewhere last season’s runners up had a 2-0 win at home to Leicester. The score line showing a comfortable victory but those who were there no it was not as easy as it looks on paper as Leicester had more than their fair share of possession and plenty of shots at Everton’s goal. The difference came down to the better finishing in the end. The final game saw a tight Tyne/Wear derby that had, on the day, two even sides facing each other. It was decided by the one goal for the home side which was given to them by their opponents. Sunderland will be considering themselves unlucky not to have got anything from this match. Of course it is all early days and only one game in and a lot to play for but so far Liverpool look like they maybe the side that are the ones to beat again this season
  9. The U23 cup gets underway this weekend with 8 clubs hoping to get through into the last 16. The first tie will see Chelsea take on Manchester United. last season in what was then the youth cup both teams only got as far as the last sixteen of the competition. Chelsea were in the first round and got through to the last sixteen whereas United had a bye to the last sixteen. Both teams will want to do better this season but one is destined to fall at the first hurdle. Next Wolves will host last year's finalists Crystal Palace. Last season these two met in the youth cup semi-final and Palace embarrassed Wolves with a 7-2 hiding. This season they meet in the first round and Wolves will no doubt be out for revenge for last season. Can the winner of this tie get to the semis again? A London derby takes place in the third tie as Arsenal take on Tottenham Hotspur. Both teams did not do fantastic in this competition last season as Arsenal went out in this round last season and Spurs with a bye to the last sixteen fell at that point. A fiesty affair this could be as both want to make it to the last sixteen and beyond. Finally the last first round tie sees Sunderland face off against Aston Villa. Villa went out to Chelsea last season in this round and will want to at least go one better by making it to the next and into the last sixteen. Sunderland are another team that went out in the last sixteen and it will no doubt have bitter memories as they went out to rivals Newcastle. Can they get further this season? It is of course a two leg affair and so after the first leg it may still be all to play for but one or two tricky ties there and just who will go through?
  10. Who Will Go Down? Who will go down? Well with two games left there is nobody down yet. That said QPR do have a battle on their hands to stay up as they will need to win both games and hope the two teams above them Burnley and Sunderland don’t win. With Crystal Palace at home to start with that won’t be easy as Palace are fighting to get into the Anglo-American Cup for the first time. Then they have second placed Everton away to contend with, so not an easy run in to get six points from. Burnley are the other team currently in the relegation zone and are three points off safety and to be certain of staying up they also will likely need to win both games. First up they are at away to Arsenal who are not mathematically safe and a defeat here to Burnley would see them firmly in the mix on the final games. Get past Arsenal and it gets hard for Burnley who then have Manchester United at home. It gets tricky because United are also like Palace battling to make the Anglo-American Cup and finish top four. Should Burnley managed a win or even two then just above that drop zone are Sunderland just three points ahead of Burnley and with the same goal difference. That goal difference straight away could mean a win is not enough for Sunderland and to be certain of being safe they will currently need four points. What is worse for Sunderland is they face Liverpool next, with their only saving grace being they are at home. A point or three is needed from that before they face Newcastle away. Newcastle are not mathematically safe but with their goal difference they are perhaps all but. To be absolutely certain they just need a draw and Sunderland may well be hoping they get that against Everton who they face first but even if they did will they relax for a derby game? That coupled with the fact they still could achieve one of the final two Anglo-American Trophy spots and you are thinking not a push over then. The final team in the mix is Arsenal on 19 points. They need two points to be mathematically certain of playing in the Premiership next season. So beat Burnley and they are safe, lose and they need to beat Liverpool at Anfield in the last game. Of course it may not come to that as after the penultimate games the picture could be a lot different but one thing is for sure the fight to stay up is an interesting one and two games await to decide the relegation fate.
  11. A New Name On The League Cup Wolverhampton Wanderers exit at the hands of Burnley in round two means that the cup holders are out of the competition. The engravers will be looking at placing a new name on the trophy this year but who is left to claim the cup? Queens Park Rangers v Southampton Well last year’s Runners-Up Southampton are still in the last eight but could they go one step further this year? To do so they will have to beat Queens Park Rangers if they want to reach the semi-finals. That won’t be an easy task as Rangers who are in the competition for the first time will want to be in the semis, if not better this year. Stoke City v Watford Last season’s quarter-finalists Stoke will face new boys Watford. Watford weren’t in this competition last season as they are new to the league. So Stoke City will face a slight unknown quantity in Watford then. That said Watford are shaking a few trees in the league and sit second above Stoke. In their only meeting this season as well Watford took the honours as they ran out 1-0 winners in the Britannia in the league. Crystal Palace v Manchester City Crystal Palace of the Premier League take on Division One Manchester City in the Quarter Finals. This could be difficult to call over two legs. Palace are doing well in the league and will fancy progression to semis over two legs in this one. That said City managed to reach the quarter finals last year where Palace went out in the first round. Maybe there could be an upset then? Burnley v Manchester United An all premiershipship clash this. Burnley who are bottom now face second placed United knowing they are massive underdogs. Burnley will have nothing to lose then and will see this as a cup final. In fact as they sit bottom in the league this may well be their best chance of silverware this season.
  12. They all say it's early days but is it? We are over a quarter of the season in with 5 games gone out or 18, in fact nearly a third of the way through and teams are shuffling in the Premiership to avoid the drop and relegation. After five games we have just one point between the bottom six teams or over half the league. Amazingly five teams all sit on 5 points and are separated by goal difference or goals scored. All the bottom six are alike in that they all have only won one game so far. The fun fact here is that as six teams are involved they can't all have played the teams at the top but must have played some of their counterparts. That says they are even more alike and deciding who goes down this season may come down to goal difference in the final analysis. What may be more worrying for two of the teams is that they were in the top four last season and now both sit in the bottom three. Is that just a quirk? Is it teams coming up and in the Premiership are becoming closer in their abilities and players? Is that these two teams, Arsenal and Newcastle by the way, have played a couple more games as they are in the Anglo-American Cup that started early in the season. If that is the case will a good cup run for some of the others put them in greater jeopardy? Another thing to consider is goal scoring....what you say, well I'll say it again goal scoring. Sides need a proven goal scorer and laugh as you may I would just draw your attention to the top three teams who by the way are the only teams averaging more than a goal a game! All three of these teams have at least 4 goals if not more from their strikers this season and over 50 per cent are coming from the from line. Now look at the seven teams below these three and the most goals from any team is three and that is for the whole team. Six of the teams have 2 or less goals which is under a goal in every two games. One thing is certain you wont win games if you don't score goals. It seems to be clear then that a finisher or scorer is required and getting that elusive goal scorer may well make the difference in staying up. Will the bottom two come from these teams? Well last season three of the top four after 5 games finished in the top four. The team at the bottom was the team at the bottom after 18 as well. The team third bottom after five was relegated. So last season two of the bottom three after five games went down. It may seem doom and gloom but things can change as Manchester United were second bottom after five games and they turned it around to climb to 5th at the season end.
  13. The Cups get underway this season with the first round of the FMFA League Cup. The current holders Wolverhampton Wanderers kick off the defence of their title with a home tie against premiership opposition in Burnley and while they are currently mid table Wolves will think they have a good chance as Burnley sit in the bottom two in their division. The runners-up from last season also have a home tie and will no doubt be looking to go one better than last season. Southampton will host Aston Villa in a repeat of last season’s semi-final, so Villa will also wanting to be going further this season and believe they can start here. However it may just go either way as these two are only four points apart in the league. The other semi-finalist last term was Leicester City but can they make the final this season? To do it they will need to start by beating the new boys as Watford visit them. Watford have finally got a rhythm going in the league and sit second in Division One and will no doubt give themselves a chance over two legs against a mid-table premiership team. Can the premiership side show their class in this one though and let Watford know that life won’t be easy in the FMFA? Elsewhere we have some premiership sides kicking off in this round. Firstly fourth in the league Sunderland face off against Division One Manchester City. City currently third bottom in Division One will want to try and contain Sunderland in this first leg to have a chance of progression. Next we see Queens Park Rangers at home to West Ham United in a tie that might be one to watch as the Hammers sit in the top three of their league with Rangers in the bottom four of theirs. Premiership new boys for this season Crystal Palace travel to Bournemouth for the first leg. With Bournemouth bottom of Division One they will need to produce in the home tie if they want to be in that second round after the return leg. The other Premiership team left is Manchester United who face a Tottenham Hotspur side under new management. Spurs will have their work cut out in this one and doubly so having to travel for the first leg. The final game sees an all Division One clash as Stoke City host Chelsea. Chelsea are currently top of the division and will be looking to get in a good first leg but will Stoke surprise them?
  14. Stringer

    COMPETITION

    Right the final counts were 1: West Ham 11 2: Everton & Burnley 5 3: Sunderland 3 4: Liverpool 2 5: Arsenal 1 The only team who managed 6 to qualify for draw was West Ham. @macca will get the youth player added to his roster. The rest get a free injury/suspension pack for entering and will be added to their totals for use when they wish.
  15. Stringer

    COMPETITION

    We will extend the competition over the Easter Weekend so you have Good Friday to Easter Monday as well to submit stories to get to six. Updated to Yesterday Totals are: West Ham 6 (qualified for draw) Everton 5 Sunderland 3 Burnley 3 Liverpool 2
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