EPL Week 19 – Controversial Decisions, Mackay Sacking and much more
EPL Week 19 – Controversial Decisions, Mackay Sacking and much more avatar

NEWS

Cardiff sack Mackay

Malky Mackay has been sacked as manager by Cardiff City after a meeting of the club’s board of directors.

Cardiff produced a statement on their website saying a new first team manager would be appointed in due course.

Mackay’s dismissal comes less than 24-hours after Cardiff’s 3-0 home defeat to Southampton.

The dismissal brings an end to the bitter saga that began with a public row with the club’s billionaire owner Vincent Tan, who wrote to Mackay on December 16 asking him to resign or be sacked.

The 41-year-old Scotsman refused ‘100% to resign’, and led Cardiff out against Liverpool and Southampton.

Mackay joined Cardiff in June 2011, guiding them back to the top-flight of English soccer after a 52-year absence when they won the championship title last season.

Malky Mackay was finally fired by Tan.  (Getty Images)

Malky Mackay was finally fired by Tan. (Getty Images)

But trouble seemed to be brewing in October when the club’s director of recruitment Iain Moody—a long-term friend and colleague who worked with Mackay at Watford—was sacked and replaced by 23-year-old Kazakh Alisher Apsalamov who is a friend of Tan’s son.

Initially there was no reason given for Moody’s removal, though it later emerged that Tan felt Moody was responsible for an alleged overspend of $22.5m on the club’s transfer budget.

The latest row appears to have been sparked by Mackay’s comments after Cardiff’s 1-0 away win to West Brom where he said he would like three more players in January.

Those comment produced a strident response from Tan, who emailed Mackay accusing him of overspending, questioning his record and ability as a coach, and issuing him with an ultimatum to resign or be sacked.

 

FA to investigate Rodgers’ comments

The Football Association is to investigate comments made by Brendan Rodgers following Liverpool’s 2-1 defeat away to Manchester City.

Rodgers criticized referee Lee Mason, calling the performance of the match officials ‘horrendous’.

Brendan Rodgers during the Manchester City and Liverpool game. (Getty Images)

Brendan Rodgers during the Manchester City and Liverpool game. (Getty Images)

The 40-year-old was left fuming after Raheem Sterling’s goal was wrongly ruled out for offside and felt Luis Suarez was denied a late penalty during the Boxing Day match.

“I never go on about officials but I thought they were horrendous,” he said.

“The linesman gave Raheem offside in the first half but they were not even on the same cut of grass. If you are working at this level, you have got to get those right.

“I’m asking young players to make those runs, he does it perfectly, and is given offside.

“There was another incident in the second half when Luis should have had a free-kick on the edge of the box and arguably there was a penalty late on.

“Luis can’t jump because (Lescott’s) tugging at his shirt.”

Rodgers also questioned the appointment of Bolton referee Mason.

“I was surprised that we are playing in Manchester and we had a referee from Greater Manchester,” he added.

Rodgers said: “Hopefully we won’t have a Greater Manchester referee with Liverpool-Manchester games in future.”

He added: “We had nothing that went our way at all.”

The FA must decide if  Rodgers has breached rule E3 (1). The rule legislates for comments made about a match official which imply bias, attack the officials’ integrity or which are personally offensive in nature. However, any FA action would be likely to happen next week.

 

Predictions

Week 18

Score

My Predictions

BOXING DAY
Hull City v Man Utd 2-3 0-2
Aston Villa v Crystal Palace 0-1 1-1
Cardiff v Southampton 0-3 1-2
Chelsea v Swansea 1-0 2-0
Everton v Sunderland 0-1 3-0
Newcastle v Stoke 5-1 2-1
Norwich v Fulham 1-2 1-1
Tottenham v West Brom 1-1 2-1
West Ham v Arsenal 1-3 0-2
Man City v Liverpool 2-1 3-2

A correct result is worth ONE point. A correct score earns THREE points.

Yesterday I got SIX correct results with ZERO perfect score to give me a combined score of SIX-points.

Week 19

My Predictions

 SATURDAY
West Ham v West Brom 0-1
Aston Villa v Swansea 1-1
Hull City v Fulham 1-2
Man City v Crystal Palace 2-0
Norwich v Man Utd 1-2
Cardiff v Sunderland 1-1
SUNDAY
Everton v Southampton 3-2
Newcastle v Arsenal 2-3
Chelsea v Liverpool 1-2
Tottenham v Stoke 2-1

Preview

SATURDAY

Manchester City vs. Crystal Palace

Manchester City beat Liverpool 2-1 to maintain their 100% home record in the EPL this season.

City did not have the game all their own way though and had to fight their way back from a goal down to overcome the Reds, with Vincent Kompany getting the equalizer and Alvaro Negredo scoring the decisive goal.

The Sky Blues have now won nine from nine at home scoring an impressive 37 goals in the process and will want to continue the run into 2014.

Dwight Gayle (L) shooting and scoring the winning goal against Villa. (Getty Images)

Dwight Gayle (L) shooting and scoring the winning goal against Villa. (Getty Images)

However, to do so they will have to overcome 17th placed Crystal Palace, who beat Villa away 1-0 with a last-gasped wonder goal from young striker Dwight Gayle.

The Eagles have improved immensely since Tony Pulis took over as manager—Crystal Palace have taken nine points from the six Premier League games Pulis has been in charge of them – two more than Ian Holloway and Keith Millen won combined from 12 matches.

City may recall fit-again defender Matija Nastasic, but Martin Demichelis, Sergio Aguero, Micah Richards and Stevan Jovetic are all still out.

Crystal Palace forward Marouane Chamakh is available after suspension, though he may have to settle for a place on the bench after Yannick Bolasie impressed in the 1-0 win at Aston Villa.

City have won every game at home in the EPL this season and will be heavy favorites to continue that run against Crystal Palace, especially as the Eagles have lost their last three trips to Manchester City and are winless in seven attempts since a 2-0 top-flight victory on 22 December 1990. However, I think this game will be a lot closer and competitive than most will expect.

Prediction: 2-0

 

Norwich vs. Manchester United

Norwich will be hoping they can leave 2013 on a high note when Manchester United visit on Saturday.

The Canaries took a 1-0 lead over Fulham thanks to a deflected Gary Hooper shot, but eventually lost the game 2-1. The result was compounded by away wins for Sunderland and Crystal Palace which drew Norwich further back into the discomfort zone.

Rooney (R) shooting and scoring his goal against Hull. (Getty Images)

Rooney (R) shooting and scoring his goal against Hull. (Getty Images)

Manchester United found themselves 2-0 down after only 12-minutes against Hull, but managed to produce one of their trademark comebacks to win the game 3-2, with Wayne Rooney scoring the pick of the bunch.

The Red Devils may be on the beginning of a good run, with three consecutive wins that have put them back into the margins of the title race and, more realistically, closer to fighting for a top four finish come the end of May.

Norwich defender Michael Turner is suspended after receiving his fifth yellow card of the season in the 2-1 defeat against Fulham.

Manchester United have defensive problems with right-back Rafael being doubtful after coming off with a groin injury against Hull and Phil Jones out for a two-weeks with a knee injury.

Antonio Valencia is also suspended after picking up a red-card against Hull, with Adnan Januzaj likely to replace the Ecuadorian.

Norwich have beaten the champions on their last two visits to Carrow Road in the EPL, though United won 4-0 the last two times that the teams have met, including in the League Cup in October.

Norwich are usually strong at home and they should give United a good game, but I feel the Red Devils will just about edge this one.

Prediction: 1-2

 

SUNDAY

Everton vs. Southampton

Everton were heavy favorites to win on Boxing Day, but surprisingly went down 1-0 at home against a dogged Sunderland side.

The Toffees were attempting to go the whole of 2013 unbeaten at home, but their attempts came unstuck in the 25th minute when keeper Tim Howard was sent off for bringing down Midfielder Ki Sung-Yeung, with Ki slotting home the resulting penalty.

Howard will miss the game due to suspension. (ISI Photos/Kieran McManus)

Howard will miss the game due to suspension. (ISI Photos/Kieran McManus)

Despite being reduced to ten men, the Toffees still managed to boss the game and would have found themselves back in the game if not for the heroics of Black Cats keeper Vito Mannone, who produced a flurry of great saves.

Southampton bounced back from a 3-2 defeat against Tottenham with a good 3-0 win away to Cardiff City. The win was their most comprehensive of the season and helped them bring an end to a poor run of six winless games and eight without a clean sheet.

Everton keeper Joel Robles is set to make his first EPL start in place of the suspended Tim Howard.

Gareth Barry also serves a ban after being booked for the fifth time this season on Boxing Day, but Leighton Baines could return from a broken toe.

Dejan Lovren, Nathaniel Clyne and Dani Osvaldo are in contention to return from injury and illness, but Artur Boruc and Victor Wanyama are out.

Everton are unbeaten in their last seven Premier League meetings with Southampton, in fact the Saints have only won one of their 14 Premier League trips to Goodison Park, a 2-0 victory in November 1997.

This game should be an enthralling encounter, as it pits two of the most exciting and up and coming managers in the EPL. Both managers like to play a continental style of soccer, pressing high up the field and passing the ball on the ground.

This should be an exciting game, but I think home advantage will just edge this game in Everton’s favor.

Prediction: 3-2

 

Newcastle vs. Arsenal

Newcastle thumped Stoke City 5-1 at home, though they were helped out by red cards for two Stoke players. However, that should not detract from their recent fine form where they have won seven out their last nine games, picking up 21 points out of a possible 27.

Arsenal's Podolski (R) looked impressive in his first game back since recovering from his long term injury. (Getty Images)

Arsenal’s Podolski (R) looked impressive in his first game back since recovering from his long term injury. (Getty Images)

Arsenal bounced back from a three game winless streak coming back from a goal down to beat West Ham 3-1. Theo Walcott scored two goals and now has four goals in his last two games, but it was the introduction of the fit again Lucas Podolski that changed the make-up of the game. The German international created the second and scored the third, and could help to relieve the work load on fellow striker Oliver Giroud.

There were 11 goals in the two meetings between these sides last season, so there could be lots of goals on Sunday, though only one came at St James’ Park, where Arsenal won 1-0, with the other 10 coming in the Gunners’ 7-3 win at the Emirates.

Newcastle are in good form, but they are playing the side that are top of the league and who have the best away record in the EPL. Many have questioned Arsenal’s ability to win the EPL, but they have accumulated the most Premier League points in 2013, and their current 79-point tally in the year cannot be surpassed by any other side. But the EPL is not decided over the calendar year and if Arsenal want to win the EPL then this is the sort of tough game they will have to win.

Prediction: 2-3

 

Chelsea vs. Liverpool

2013 draws to a close with blockbuster of a game as third placed Chelsea take on fourth placed Liverpool.

Chelsea maintained their impressive home form with a 1-0 win over Swansea. The blues have won eight and only drawn one of their nine games at Stamford Bridge this season. In fact, Mourinho has won 54 and has not lost any of his 69 Premier League matches as a manager at Stamford Bridge.

Raheem Sterling has looked good for Liverpool and can count himself unlucky his onside goal being disallowed. (Getty Images)

Raheem Sterling has looked good for Liverpool and can count himself unlucky his onside goal being disallowed. (Getty Images)

Liverpool dropped from top position in the EPL following a 2-1 defeat away to Manchester City. The Reds played well and actually took the lead through Coutinho, but a headed Kompany goal followed by poor goal keeping allowed City to take the lead. However, Liverpool continued to look threatening with Sterling hitting over from only six-yard out.

The appearance of Luis Suarez at Stamford Bridge is certain to provoke the home fans into a chorus of disapproval—the Uruguayan received a 10 game suspension for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanović in the reverse fixture last season.

Chelsea midfielder Ramires is suspended after receiving his fifth yellow card of the season against Swansea.

Liverpool’s Jon Flanagan may miss out again with a hamstring problem, though Steven Gerrard, Jose Enrique and Daniel Sturridge remain out until the new year.

Chelsea have won only two of their last 13 Premier League matches with Liverpool (W2, D4, L7), though five of Chelsea’s last seven league wins against Liverpool have come under Jose Mourinho.

Chelsea have a tremendous home record, but they are struggling to kill teams off at the moment and I think their problems in front of goal could haunt them against this ever improving Liverpool side.

Prediction: 1-2

 

 

 

About Anthony Ta

Anthony Ta is a writer for the GotSoccer Magazine, specializing in Premier League, Champions League and the Euros.
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