Aleksandar Mitrovic at Fulham: Will it be third time lucky?

Fulham are close to signing Aleksandar Mitrovic on a permanent deal. Can the Serb replicate last season's Championship heroics in the Premier League?

Aleksandar Mitrovic played an integral role in Fulham‘s Premier League promotion last season. He scored 12 goals and created 15 chances in 15 Championship appearances. His performances were made more impressive by the fact he had only joined on a deadline day loan deal from Newcastle.

Considering he scored more goals in fewer games for the Cottagers than during two previous seasons on Tyneside, it makes sense they want him on a permanent basis. In today’s inflated market, the estimated £20million price tag isn’t expensive for a powerful forward who quickly asserted himself as Fulham’s focal point in attack. With just over two weeks before the transfer window closes, the deal is expected to happen. It begs the question: Will it be third time lucky for the Serbian international?  Continue reading

Why Jonjo Shelvey deserves England selection for Russia 2018

Jonjo Shelvey has come into his own under Rafa Benitez's tutelage. He deserves a place in Gareth Southgate's World Cup squad.

It’s been a difficult few years for Jonjo Shelvey. When your youth career takes you from Arsenal to West Ham to Charlton, it may not be a surprise you must mature the hard way. He wasn’t ready when Liverpool signed him in 2010.

Eight years on, Shelvey is one of Rafa Benitez’s best players. He and Jamaal Lascelles could represent the Geordie Nation at this summer’s World Cup in Russia.

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Watford 2-1 Newcastle United: Hornets end losing streak despite nervy finish

Watford 2-1 Newcastle United: Hornets end losing streak despite nervy finish

Goals from Odion Ighalo and Craig Cathcart helped seal a much-deserved victory for the Hornets, despite a nervy finish in the final twenty minutes – courtesy of Jamaal Lascelles’ first goal for the visitors since his summer move.

Watford went in search of their first Premier League victory in six games, as they hosted a tricky Newcastle side – who themselves are eager to maintain a run in order to avoid the relegation dog-fight they’ve been predicted to languish amongst for the rest of the current campaign.

After narrow defeats against Manchester City and Tottenham, Quique Sánchez Flores‘ men also succumbed to away losses against Southampton and Swansea in quick succession – with many critics suggesting that their bubble had seemingly burst, and they were destined for a mid-table finish.

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Manchester City 6-1 Newcastle United: Agüero shines as Citizens thump Geordies on home soil

Manchester City 6-1 Newcastle United: Agüero shines as Citizens thump Geordies on home soil

Sergio Agüero cemented his place in the history books with a fantastic five-goal haul, as Manchester City thrashed Newcastle rather comprehensively – an eyewatering 6-1 thrashing at the Ethiad this afternoon.

Having scored a late dramatic winner to seal all three points against Bundesliga side Borussia Mönchengladbach on Wednesday night in the UEFA Champions League, Agüero was undoubtedly hoping that goal would help him get back into his razor-sharp form – having endured a tough start to the 2015/16 campaign in all competitions.

Newcastle start well, but Agüero steals the headlines

He did just that too, as the sky Blues leapfrogged local rivals United ahead of their tricky away task against Arsenal tomorrow afternoon. However it was not all plain sailing for the hosts, despite Kevin de Bruyne forcing goalkeeper Tim Krul into an early save after just seven minutes from his curling free-kick effort. Fernando had two opportunites to slot home from close-range, but mis-timed his attempts and the Dutchman was able to clear the danger away from goal.

Aleksandar Mitrovic netted his first goal in the English top flight, after a flick-on into his path by Georginio Wijnaldum. The whole move was orchestrated by Kevin Mbabu, who accelerated down the flank past Pablo Zabaleta, before his teasing cross was partially cleared by Eliaquim Mangala – straight into the oppositions’ path.

City’s defensive frailties were emphasised once more in the 24th minute. Some patient build-up in the final third was finished off at the far post by Mitrovic, but his finish was ruled out for an offside call – as he was marginally offside as the ball was played on the right-hand side. Replays showed it was the correct decision, and although the linesman’s choice was justified, it was a wake-up call for the hosts.

Agüero saw a sweetly-struck effort flash narrowly wide of the far post, after a marauding run forward by Fernandinho in midfield. Then on the stroke of the interval, City levelled the scoring in some style, too. David Silva weaved his magic on the edge of the box, before lofting a ball into the area – which Fernandinho headed goalwards. Agüero was lurking to his right, and was quickest to the ball to head home from close-range.

City lucky not to be behind at the break, and take advantage

Manuel Pellegrini‘s men went into the break with the scores level, and they could have easily been two or three goals down. So in that respect, the Chilean would have been grateful they didn’t have a deficit to overturn.

They flexed their counter-attacking muscles shortly after the second-half began though, as Agüero scored his second of the game in the 49th minute. A limp pass by Chancel Mbemba was sniffed out by de Bruyne, whose lay-off to Silva allowed the talented Argentine through towards the edge of the box.

His strike deflected off Yoan Gouffran – and the flight of the ball deceived the dive of Krul, nestling into the bottom corner of the net within seconds afterwards. A minute afterwards, City made it a quick-fire double, with Agüero completing his hat-trick within a flash.

de Bruyne’s inch-perfect through ball fed the run of Sergio, and his deft flick over Krul floated into the net – sending City supporters into sheer delight. Then, the talented Belgian netted one for himself, from a teasing delivery by substitute Jesús Navas on the flank, whose looping half-volley kissed the top of the net below the crossbar. 4-1 and cruising, the Citizens continued to power themselves in-front. Agüero scored his fourth and fifth of the goal, first with a curling effort, then a simple sliding strike at the near post.

Newcastle supporters, unsurprisingly, were seen walking out of the stadium in their droves as the scoreline continued to pile on the misery – just a week after a positive result saw them draw 2-2 at home against defending champions Chelsea.

It was a day to forget for the Geordies, and rightly so too. Having started so well, they were completely obliterated by City’s attacking prowess and the counter-attacking speed at which they manoeuvered was a joy to see – unless you were a Newcastle fan ofcourse.

The impending international break comes at another frustrating time for Pellegrini’s men, again. The last one, disrupted their plans going into a crunch round of fixtures in September, and the same applies this time around. But, a 6-1 victory will silence their title doubters. For now, at least.