Eberechi Eze’s persistence paid off as his top-flight journey is underway

Eberechi Eze of Crystal Palace and Allan and Andre Gomes of Everton in action during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Everton at...

Released by Arsenal, Fulham, Reading and Millwall while still in his teenage years, Eberechi Eze endured failed trials and questions over his languid attitude. Over the weekend, Roy Hodgson gave the 22-year-old playmaker his first Premier League start for new club Crystal Palace and judging by how he’s handled adversity in the past, it’s likely the first of many to come.
Continue reading “Eberechi Eze’s persistence paid off as his top-flight journey is underway”

Archives, Specials

History revisited: Who are the youngest goalscorers in Premier League history?

Where do Fabregas and Rooney rank among the Premier League

As England’s top-flight prepares to resume the 2019-20 season next month, I take a look at the division’s youngest goalscorer in history. They include Cesc Fabregas and Wayne Rooney – who have since achieved legendary Premier League status… Continue reading “History revisited: Who are the youngest goalscorers in Premier League history?”


Karl Robinson on Dan Agyei, an angry second-half and Oxford’s spirited effort at Burton

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Last night’s 2-2 draw means Karl Robinson’s men have one win in their last eight games across all competitions, but the boss remains pleased with his team’s efforts on a difficult away night – marred by injury, family bereavement and more besides. Continue reading “Karl Robinson on Dan Agyei, an angry second-half and Oxford’s spirited effort at Burton”


Charlton promoted to Championship with late 2-1 win over Sunderland

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Charlton, powered by on-loan Arsenal defender Krystian Bielik, made history by coming from behind to win, securing promotion into next season’s Championship with a dramatic 2-1 win over Sunderland at Wembley. Continue reading “Charlton promoted to Championship with late 2-1 win over Sunderland”


How the Coventry City supporting slayer reacted to his deadly double

Walsall matchwinner Luke Leahy described their last-gasp 2-1 win over hometown rivals Coventry City as the best feeling of his career, having netted two stoppage-time goals on Saturday.  Continue reading “How the Coventry City supporting slayer reacted to his deadly double”


Analysis: Walsall grab surprise win at pivotal time with tough fixtures to come

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Two stoppage-time goals completely changed the complexity during an otherwise frustrating collective display from Walsall on Saturday. It was evidenced by matchwinner Leahy’s comments post-match, admitting Coventry were the better side in their last-gasp 2-1 win. However, the result said more about their resilience – leapfrogging Saturday’s opponents into the top half. Continue reading “Analysis: Walsall grab surprise win at pivotal time with tough fixtures to come”


Arsenal 3-1 Sunderland: Gunners turn on the style to seal sweet victory

Arsenal 3-1 Sunderland: Gunners turn on the style to seal sweet victory

Goals from Joel Campbell, Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud helped Arsenal to seal a much-needed victory, and progress into the fourth round of this year’s FA Cup.

Arsenal started the defence of the FA Cup with a much-needed 3-1 victory over fellow Premier League side Sunderland, despite a nervy hour or so at the Emirates.Goals from Joel Campbell, Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud helped seal their passage into the Fourth Round past Sam Allardyce‘s men – who played well but were unable to cope with moments of magic and general build-up play in the final third from the hosts.

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Manchester City 4-1 Sunderland: Sterling and de Bruyne star as Citizens cruise to victory

Manchester City 4-1 Sunderland: Sterling and de Bruyne star as Citizens cruise to victory

The Citizens gave their home supporters a Boxing Day treat with a comprehensive victory over one of the League’s strugglers – and it could’ve been a much more comfortable scoreline in truth.

Manchester City got back to winning ways in comprehensive fashion with a 4-1 victory over Sunderland, giving their home supporters a well-earned Boxing Day treat.

A goal apiece from Raheem Sterling, Yaya Touré, Wilfried Bonyand Kevin de Bruyne helped the sky Blues to seal a morale-boosting victory, but another frustrating injury – on Vincent Kompany‘s return to action – understandably put a dampner on proceedings in the final twenty minutes.

Team news

It seemed to be a welcome return back to the matchday squad for club captain Vincent Kompany, who, alongside Sergio Agüero andJesús Navas, was amongst the substitutes’ bench for their clash with one of the League’s strugglers.

As for Sunderland, it was a particularly intriguing starting XI from them too. With a 433 formation, Danny Graham, Steven Fletcherand Fabio Borini were chosen as the visitors’ frontline, meaning that both Jermain Defoe and Duncan Watmore – amongst other key players – were surprisingly starting from the bench.

Vito Mannone was opted to start in-between the sticks instead of usual first-choice Costel Pantilimon, although there was no hint of a possible pre-match injury sustained by the latter, which would have influenced Sam Allardyce‘s decision.

A fast-paced start

The hosts started quickly and with intent, and after just six minutes, could have broken the deadlock as well as a penalty in their favour. However, the score stayed goalless with Sunderland struggling to get themselves into the match itself quickly enough in the early exchanges.

Kevin de Bruyne played a defence-splitting through ball toward the path of Raheem Sterling near the far post, but the 21-year-old was unable to latch onto his neatly-weighted pass, with Vito Mannone scrambling to get in position.

Raheem gets his reward

Then, referee Anthony Taylor brandished the game’s first yellow card with seemingly no hesitation. Sterling – and his City teammates – appealed for a penalty after he’d weaved his way in the box and was brought down clumsily by Billy Jones, but the man in the middle felt as though Raheem overexaggerated the contact, and booked him for simulation.

It wasn’t too long though, before the hosts got what they deserved. Sterling himself, ironically, broke the deadlock in the 13th minute with a power header after a teasing ball was fizzed toward his path by de Bruyne from the far side.

A quick-fire double

Four minutes later, the lead was emphatically doubled. Yaya Tourédrove through midfield and, as we’re all used to seeing him do, rifled one home from range into the bottom corner.

The result was virtually sealed though, when Wilfried Bony got himself on the scoresheet. A freekick delivery was swung into the area, and the powerful Ivorian had no trouble flicking goalwards from de Bruyne’s cross, leaving Mannone with no chance despite his diving effort to push the ball to safety.

A three-goal cushion and a lead to protect, it could have easily been more – or less – before the interval. Danny Graham had a golden opportunity to grab one back for Sunderland, but watched on in disbelief as his header from close-range flew inches wide of Joe Hart‘s far post.

Visitors have chances of their own

Steven Fletcher had a promising chance of his own, too, but for a last-ditch defensive intervention to stop the Scotsman in his tracks with a potential one-on-one opportunity on the cards. Fabio Borini tested Hart from close-range, his effort was on-target and would have crept in at the near post if not for the quick reflexes of City’s number-one, who was ultimately unlucky not to keep a clean sheet.

As the half-time whistle blew, City were in the ascendency and knew fully well that they were dominating. Sunderland paid the ultimate price for their slow start to proceedings and despite fashioning some chances of their own, didn’t look particularly convincing defensively.

An interesting second-half

Damage limitation, some might have suggested. As the second-half began, it became clearer that the complexity of the match would be determined by the substitutes warming up on the sidelines.

Sunderland looked increasingly tentative at the back, as though they could make a mistake at any time. Billy Jones was the unfortunate man to help set-up City’s fourth, after his sliding interception bounced up nicely in the path of de Bruyne, who cooly slotted home from close-range inside the area.

Just after the hour mark, a succession of four changes were introduced – two for each side. Lee Cattermole and Jeremain Lenswere brought on for the visitors, whilst Fabian Delph and Vincent Kompany were given a warm round of applause as they entered the fray.

The visitors themselves grabbed a goal, albeit a consolation, courtesy of Fabio Borini. Hart made a great initial block to deny the Italian forward after the ball was unintentionally fizzed into him at pace by substitute Cattermole, but was unable to stop the rebound shortly afterward from nestling into the bottom corner.

Super Silva

David Silva was beginning to prove that game-by-game, his fitness is improving. He, alongside de Bruyne and Sterling, added some creative sparks to City’s attack going forward and Sunderland struggled to get near him at times, simply because you couldn’t predict where he was going next.

His slaloming run forward, beating three players whilst dribbling, epitomised that. Despite two teammates screaming for the ball in space, the Spanish maestro went all the way and curled his effort goalward, only for the ball to swerve narrowly wide of the post. Slightly selfish, yes, but it was a sign that Silva is getting back to his best.

Another blow for Kompany

Less than ten minutes after coming on, the club captain limped off the field, shaking his head in frustration as he suffered what has been reported to be a reoccurence of the calf injury that has given him so much trouble recently. It seemed typical that given all of the side’s defensive troubles, something like this would happen – but no-one had expected it, a real shock to see.

Understandably, the atmosphere began a hushed one for the remainder of the game. Many supporters on social media have already voiced their discontent, and suggested that perhaps, Vincent Kompany is no longer able to compete at the highest level – if he’s having so many persistent injuries.

The timescale of his fresh blow is believed to be around a month, but we are patiently waiting for confirmation. The captain, leader and City legend will be hoping it’s nothing too serious and he can return to action injury-free very shortly.

City could have scored three or four more in the final twenty minutes, but the scoreline remained 4-1. Bony missed a penalty, Eliaquim Mangala came close and all in all, the result was a deserved one in truth.

But with more fears over Kompany’s fitness, it’ll be a step back in their title charge for sure in the long run.

Kompany is consoled by both Kolarov and Fernandinho as he trudges off injured. | Image: Getty

Sunderland 1-0 Newcastle: Defoe’s fantastic screamer settles Tyne-Wear derby

Sunderland 1-0 Newcastle: Defoe's fantastic screamer settles Tyne-Wear derby

Fierce rivals Sunderland and Newcastle went head-too-head in the season’s second Tyne-Wear Derby on Sunday afternoon with more than three points on the line for both. Bragging rights were also up for grabs, as Sunderland have won the last FOUR derbies in a row. Both sides would move up two places with a victory today, Sunderland into 15th and Newcastle 11th respectively, but neither side was going to give up without a sufficient fight.

It was also the first Tyne-Wear derby for the two managers Dick Advocaat and John Carver, so it’d be a fascinating game to see if either side would prevail at the Stadium of Light.

Sunderland dominated proceedings in the early going, having their fair share of half-chances on-goal, but were unable to make any count. Connor Wickham came closest to breaking the deadlock near the half-hour mark, having a headed effort from a corner-kick deflected away from goal by midfield duo Moussa Sissoko and Jack Colback before the linesman flagged for a goal-kick; much to the discontent of the home supporters.

The game itself had a scrappy nature attached to it, a few goalmouth scrambles cleared away, long-ball deliveries comfortably caught by Costel Pantilimon and Tim Krul in their respective goals, whilst a few petulant fouls went unpunished as the referee Mike Dean tried to keep the game flowing as much as possible – uneventful in the end.

Jermain Defoe came narrowly close from having a goal-scoring opportunity after being set through towards goal with a neat through ball from Fletcher. He sped past the Newcastle backline but was unable to control the ball properly;

Sebastian Vergini was given the first yellow card of the game in the 39th minute for a deliberate tug on Ayoze Perez after the young forward span past him with ease near the byline, and he was pulled on the back of his shirt. Then, Ryan Taylor was booked for leaving his foot in with a late challenge on Steven Fletcher as tempers flared with the half-time whistle approaching.

Wickham came close again with a shot at Krul’s near post, but the effort stung the Dutchman’s gloves as he parried the ball to safety. As the clock was ticking down and the fourth official signalled for just one minute of stoppage time to be added on, Sunderland broke the deadlock with a moment of individual genius from Defoe who rifled a powerful volley into the top corner of the net from 25 yards out – from virtually nothing.

The second-half started with neither side making any changes, and the game increased in terms of attacking intensity. Fletcher came close on a number of occasions, but was unlucky not to test Krul – much to the discontent of his manager Advocaat.

Yoan Gouffran was replaced by Emmanuel Riviere in the 57th minute as Newcastle needed to improve attacking-wise, having only recorded one shot on-target since the referee’s first whistle. Jordi Gomez was the next player in the referee’s book, for a late challenge on Daryl Janmaat where he got nowhere the ball. Then just moments later, Colback was booked for a late tackle – which was greeted by raucous applause from the home supporters. The referee brandished yet another yellow card, this time for Patrick van Aanholt after a sliding challenge on Taylor near the byline.

Sunderland continued their attacking assault of the Geordies as full-back van Aanholt had a fierce shot hit the side netting after a quick counter attacking move by the hosts, before Fletcher had a one-on-one opportunity fired over the crossbar.

Pantilimon made a good diving save to his left to parry away a shot on the edge of the box from Riviere, which was curling towards the far post. Adam Johnson, fresh from his off-the-field incidents, was introduced with ten minutes left to play, to a mixed reception from the Stadium of Light crowd. Mike Williamson made a crucial block to deny Sebastian Larsson‘s close-range effort, before Perez had a half-volley flash over the crossbar as the clock ticked down on the visitors’ chances of equalising. The fourth official signalled for five minutes of stoppage time to play, much to the annoyance of the home fans wishing for the full-time whistle to blow, and Newcastle suddenly started to ask a few questions of Sunderland’s defensive capabilities. Perez drove into the box with potential in a move, but was thwarted by a physical challenge from midfielder Lee Cattermole in the area.

The Black Cats held on to prevail through some cheeky time-wasting tactics and robust defending to record their FIFTH straight derby day victory over Newcastle, sending all of their supporters into sheer exhilaration. The visitors will be wondering what went wrong, as they did not create enough goal-scoring opportunities to warrant beating Pantilimon in the Sunderland goal.