How Much Longer Can Cech Keep Going?

Source: Petr Cech via Facebook

Petr Cech is one of the great goalkeepers of the Premier League era, and has been plying his trade in England’s top flight since Chelsea signed him from Rennes in 2004. At 35 years old, it’s a wonder how long the Czech can carry on being Arsenal’s stalwart between the sticks, but for now at least, he’s showing no signs of stopping. The question is, can he emulate his Stamford Bridge success at the Emirates?

Cech played 333 games for Chelsea and became one of the legends of the Roman Abramovich era, alongside players like John Terry and Frank Lampard. However, during Jose Mourinho’s second spell at the London club, the Portuguese decided to bring in the younger Thibaut Courtois to be the Blues’ first-choice goalkeeper. This meant that Cech only played a small part in the Premier League win of the 2014-15 season, which ended up being his last at the club. During his time in West London, the goalkeeper picked up four top-flight winners’ medals, lifted the FA Cup on four occasions, the League Cup three times, and was a key component of the Champions League winning team of the 2011-12 season.

When Mourinho relegated Cech to the bench, it seemed that the legend’s playing days may have been about to come to an end. But luckily for the player and for Arsenal, Arsene Wenger wisely snapped him up and installed him as the first choice shot-stopper at the Emirates. This has easily been one of the Frenchman’s greatest transfer decisions in recent years, as the 35-year-old has slotted in seamlessly and recaptured his best form in North London. The question is how long Cech can keep going for, and whether he can help guide the Gunners to success.

Now in his third season at Arsenal, Cech has managed to win the Community Shield twice in 2015 and 2017, along with the FA Cup at the end of the 2016-17 campaign. Whether Cech can claim silverware this term remains to be seen. Football tips have Arsenal as 100/1 outsiders to win the Premier League due to Manchester City’s domination of the division, but there is a chance that Wenger’s men may claim a prize in Europe. The Gunners topped their Europa League group by some margin, and are easily one of the stronger sides in the competition.

Since joining Arsenal, Cech has produced just over 35 clean sheet performances for the club and, in each season, has averaged over 2.2 saves per game. He is showing no signs of slowing down, and at this rate, he could easily be playing for the club for another five years.

Cech has the opportunity to improve on the legendary status he earned at Chelsea and become a hero for Arsenal. Goalkeepers have a tendency to stay in the game much longer than outfield players, with the likes of Edwin Van Der Sar, Shay Given, and David Seamen all playing past the age of 40. For the Gunners, it would be excellent news if Cech was able to follow in their footsteps.

Will the Addition of Cenk Tosun Help Allardyce Begin Writing Everton Legacy?

Source: Everton Football Club via Facebook

When Sam Allardyce signed Cenk Tosun in the January transfer window, Everton’s hopes of finishing in the Premier League’s top six this season were slim. There was a 12-point gap between the Merseyside outfit and Arsenal in sixth, who are unlikely to give up that position and are hoping to climb. But there is a chance that Everton can end the season on a high, and finish as the best team outside of the big six. This would stand Allardyce in good stead to continue at the club for the foreseeable future and possibly begin to write his own legacy there.

Considering that Everton were facing a relegation battle in the early stages of the campaign when Ronald Koeman was at the helm, the turnaround under Allardyce has been extraordinary. The manager who has famously never overseen a side dumped out of the top flight arrested the Toffees’ decline immediately after arriving at Goodison Park. In Allardyce’s first seven games in charge across all competitions, Everton’s goal was only breached twice. The former Sunderland manager picked up vital wins against fellow basement-dwellers Newcastle United and Swansea City, and managed to hold top four hopefuls Liverpool and Chelsea to draws.

Since this dramatic upturn in form, Everton are now facing up the table rather than down, and are no longer considered among the Championship-threatened sides. It’s Stoke City, West Bromwich Albion, and Swansea City who are now favoured for the drop and, at the time of writing, the Swans are odds-on at 10/11 in the football betting to finish rock bottom.

Now that Allardyce has seemingly already fulfilled his job as “Fireman Sam” with Everton out of the danger zone, the 63-year-old may be looking to build a legacy in the Northwest. He has frequently been seen as a saviour to clubs in the top flight, but rarely a long-term prospect. If he can get Everton playing some attractive football and winning a high proportion of games in the second half of the season, Farhad Moshiri may be wise to keep the Englishman at the helm in the next campaign.

This is where new signing Tosun should come in. The Toffees have been crying out for a prolific goal scorer since they sold Romelu Lukaku to Manchester United for £75 million last summer. Since then, and prior to the arrival of the Turkish striker, Everton had only managed to notch 25 goals in the league – nine fewer than Leicester City who were one place above them.

Everton acquired Tosun from Besiktas for a reported £27 million, and if he managed to fill the big Belgian’s shoes it will be an excellent bit of business. Allardyce claims that the 26-year-old is the hottest property in Europe right now in that price bracket, and the Germany-born forward racked up 41 goals in 96 league appearances at his former club.

Toffees supporters will want to see their side continue to keep clean sheets, but also to impress at the other end of the pitch. Tosun has the potential to make an instant impact at Goodison and, if he manages to hit the ground running, could help to shape Allardyce’s long-term future at the club.

Can Manchester City win the quadruple?

We have reached the halfway point of the season and it already has a feel, and probably is, a one-horse race to the title. For a league that has over the years gained areputation of being fiercely contested, often the race for the title boiling right down up to the final whistle, this reinforces the dominance of the team leading the premier league, Manchester City.

They say numbers don’t lie, and going along with this saying, it’s conclusive to say Manchester City are destined for the English Premier League title. Currently, Manchester City are sitting on 55 points having won all but one of their 19 games. They only dropped 2 points, during the first weeks of the season surprisingly, to a struggling Everton side. They have scored a record 60 goals in 19 games conceding mere 12 goals thanks in part to the brilliant form of new arrival, Ederson.

The impressive form of Manchester City is not limited to the Premier League, they have been doing the job nicely in other competitions too i.e. the Champions League and the Carabao Cup (formerly the League Cup) while in January they won their first game in the FA Cup as the journey to Wembley started. Pundits have already started to compare this Manchester City squad to other great Premier League squads of the past. The comparison, however, leads to one question, which is how many trophies this squad will win because it’s the number of trophies a team wins that determines if it is a great or just a good team.

A good starting point for how likely they are going to succeed is looking at the betting markets. Several bookies have opened specific betting markets solely on Manchester City and these markets include predicting if Manchester City will win the quadruple this season of the English Premier League, the Champions League, FA Cup and the Carabao Cup. The odds can be found here for this and other dedicated Manchester City betting markets.

 

Let us assess the chances of Manchester City winning the quadruple this season.

English Premier League

Leading the second-placed team by 14 points at the midway point of the season, it seems reasonable to say the title is Manchester City’s to lose. A brief look at the history of the Premier League since its inception in 1992 shows that 2 out of every three teams that have been on top of the league on Christmas day have gone on to lift the title, and that includes teams leading by a couple or even a single point. Considering these statistics, the premier league is there for City’s taking.

Another factor to take into consideration is the strength-in-depth of the Manchester City team. At the start of the season after Benjamin Mendy suffered a season-long injury, many raised concerns that City would suffer as a result as they did not have another natural left back, however, those fears were quashed as midfielder Fabian Delph seamlessly fitted straight into the role.

Looking at the Manchester City bench they have match winners. IIkay Gundogan won the Bundesliga and reached the Champions League final during his time at Borussia Dortmund. Bernado Silva was instrumental as his former team Monaco won the Ligue 1 title and reached the semi-finals of the Champions League last season. Claudio Bravo won every possible title in Spain including the Champions League as has Yaya Toure.

Crucially in Pep Guardiola they have a manager whose DNA is winning.

Champions League

In their six matches in the Champions League, Manchester City won all but one. They lost their final match against Shakhtar Donetsk which was a dead rubber as they had already topped the group. For topping the group, Manchester City received a favourable draw, as they will play against the Swiss champions, FC Basel.

Manchester City are favourites to progress but they should be waryof the Swiss champions who are playing some good football in their domestic league sitting just two points off the top.

However, the chances of reaching the final are increasing all the time for Manchester City as Real Madrid and PSG play each other so one of the big teams will fall by the wayside. At the current level of Manchester City you would give them a good chance against the biggest teams in Europe.

FA Cup

The biggest cup in England started in January. For Manchester City, the chance of winning the FA Cup is very high and they already came from behind to beat Burnley convincingly. As the competition progresses, there are higher chances of them meeting the top teams. However, unlike other teams they can afford to play their strongest team in the competition as they have a nice gap in the league.

Carabao Cup

Already in the semi-finals against Championship team, Bristol City, it’s looking likely that they will be in the final. Bristol City shocked Manchester United in the quarterfinals but a repeat against another Manchester giant looks very unlikely. If they reach the final, they face either Chelsea or Arsenal and against either team, Manchester City will fancy their chances of winning.

Battle for the top four is fiercer than ever

As we approach the halfway mark in the Premier League season, Manchester City have stormed to the top of the table and look unstoppable. 16 consecutive wins on the bounce has seen the Citizens firmly establish themselves as favourites for the title but there is other battles taking place.

Below them, a number of sides are fighting it out for the three remaining Champions League spots- which carry more significance this season as UEFA’s changes mean that all top-four clubs in the Premier League automatically qualify for the group stage, which means that we won’t see games like Liverpool’s victory over Hoffenheim.

That makes the passage on the continent for England’s top sides slightly easier but the battle for the three spots is fiercer than ever; with Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur going toe-to-toe, with at least two of those sides sides set for disappointment.

As it stands, United, Liverpool and Chelsea are in the driving seat but just seven points separate second-placed from seventh, which adds another twist to the exciting Premier League campaign and increases the importance of the weeks ahead.

Crucial Christmas

As is customary with English football, the Premier League calendar is rammed full of fixtures over the Christmas and New Year period, where the depth of the squad available to the sides within England’s top-tier is truly put to the test.

Each side has three games to play before the New Year, with another game then following in quick succession in 2018 before a week off from Premier League action for the FA Cup. Clearly, there is no room for mistakes and there is a number of huge clashes that could have quite an impact.

The first sees an in-form Arsenal tackle another side on top-form this season, Liverpool, in a showdown at the Emirates Stadium. Just a single point separates the two English giants and losing could open the door for those below them to take advantage, as well as handing a crucial boost to their opponents on Friday evening.

Chelsea also face a difficult final game before Christmas against a rejuvenated Everton side, whilst Manchester United and Tottenham could face challenges in their clashes against Leicester City and Burnley- the latter of whom are currently in the hunt for European football.

The early games of 2018 will also provide a huge impact, with Liverpool facing Burnley, Chelsea going head-to-head with Arsenal and Manchester United travelling to Everton. By mid-January, the battle for the top-four will be starting to take shape.

The leading men

What has made the Premier League most exciting this season is the array of talents across the division, with each top-side boasting players who could be in with a shout to be Player of the Year at the end of the campaign.

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah has scored twenty goals across all competitions already this season, whilst Arsenal have seen Mesut Ozil enjoy a spectacular period of form. At Chelsea, Antonio Conte’s squad have found a leader of their attack in Alvaro Morata whilst Romelu Lukaku is getting back-on-track with Manchester United, having scored in each of his last two appearances.

Tottenham, meanwhile, still have England’s finest in the form of Harry Kane and there’s other players within Mauricio Pochettino’s side, and the rest of the teams in the top seven, who can provide a huge impact- including the likes of Alexandre Lacazette, Sadio Mane, Dele Alli, Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante.

Keeping these players fit and in-form is crucial, which is why the busy festive period is challenging as the games come thick and fast. Fortunately, the majority of the top sides have ready made replacements ready to step-in but finding a player capable of filling the void left by someone like Salah or Kane is a real challenge.

What to expect

The landscape at the top of the table can change in the blink of an eye but the likelihood is that Manchester United will finish in the top-four this season, as the Red Devils are enjoying their best campaign since the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson retired.

Defending champions Chelsea also look strong, although a Champions League double-header with Barcelona in the Spring could provide problems, whilst Liverpool and Tottenham could endure similar struggles- especially as, on paper at least, they seem to lack the depth that their rivals boast.

Arsenal will benefit from an absence of Champions League football and have repeatedly shown they’re capable of stringing a late run of results together to force their way into the top-four, although this year there’s far less room for mistakes and the Gunners will need to find consistency.

Overall, what we can expect is a thrilling battle for Champions League football and all the pointers suggest it will last for the entire season.

The Premier League weekend of derbies

This weekend is set to be one of the most exciting in the 2017-18 Premier League season. Whilst the Merseyside derby is always an exciting fixture, the majority of people will be focused on Sunday’s Manchester derby instead. There are plenty of Betfair bets on Premier League you may want to consider placing this weekend, and the derbies are no

The Premier League action also kicks off with a London derby as David Moyes’ West Ham United take on defending champions Chelsea at the London

At the start of the season, most pundits and fans’ Premier League predictions had both Manchester City and Manchester United competing at the top of the table. While the two clubs occupy the top two positions in the table, Pep Guardiola’s side have already opened up an eight point lead at the top and have the opportunity go 11 points clear of their neighbours with a victory at Old Trafford this weekend. Manchester City have managed to gain this impressive advantage thanks to sensational performances from world class players such as Kevin De Bruyne, Sergio Aguero and Leroy Sane. United players such as Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku have performed well for their club, but their inability to pick up a win away at other ‘Big 6’ clubs has led to City gaining a huge lead at the top of the

Both clubs have managed to afford these players thanks to the large sums of money they have available to spend. Since the Abu Dhabi takeover of Manchester City in 2008, both clubs have been spending large sums of money. It’s only been in the last few seasons where both clubs have increased their spending by regularly spending over £100 million in new players every season. The infographic below looks at the transfer spending of both clubs and the players they have spent it on in the past decade.