Assistant Keane leaves Villa
Aston Villa assistant coach Roy Keane has left the club with immediate effect.
Keane relinquished the role with Villa after struggling to juggle it with similar responsibilities with the Republic of Ireland as Martin O’Neil’s assistant.
“Ultimately, my roles with Villa and Ireland and combining my commitment to these have become too much. It isn’t fair to either Villa or Ireland, so I’ve made this decision,” Keane said.
The 43-year-old former Manchester United player only joined Villa in July, but the club’s spokesman revealed he had also been struggling to find enough time to spend with his family.
Villa Manager Paul Lambert said the club would try and find a replacement as soon as possible.
“Roy came to me this morning and he informed me that, ultimately, the difficulty of combining both roles has prompted his decision, which I respect totally,” he said.
“In the brief period we have worked together he has been great in the role and I understand his reasons for leaving.”
Villa made a good start to the season winning three of their four opening games, however, they have not won a game since then and now lay in 16th place, just two-points above the relegation zone.
Rooney Rule good for England
Introducing a form of the Rooney Rule in English soccer to increase the numbers of ethnic minority coaches might be “a good way forward” according to FA chairman Gregory Dyke.
The rule was introduced in to the NFL in 2003 and requires all NFL clubs to interview minority candidates for head coaching positions.
Dyke said: “The FA inclusion advisory board is looking at it.
“I think there probably will be the equivalent [of the Rooney Rule].”
There are currently just three black managers working in clubs in the top four divisions of English soccer, while a recent study found just 19 BME coaches in 552 top coaching positions at professional English clubs.
And speaking at the University of Manchester, Dyke said: “The people running football all recognise there’s a problem and that was probably not where they were two years ago.
“[The Rooney Rule] might be a good way forward.”
Dyke said he hoped that there would be between 50 and 100 top-level BME coaches in England within five years.
“I think we will succeed,” he said. “We’re in the institutional phase where we know there’s a problem and we have got to find the solutions.
|Chelsea v West Brom||2-0||2-0||3-0||4-1||4-0||3-0|
|Everton v West Ham||2-1||2-1||2-1||2-1||3-1||2-0|
|Leicester v Sunderland||0-0||1-1||0-1||2-0||2-1||1-0|
|Man City v Swansea||2-1||3-0||3-1||3-1||2-1||2-0|
|Newcastle v QPR||1-0||2-1||2-1||2-0||3-0||2-1|
|Stoke v Burnley||1-2||2-0||3-1||2-0||1-1||1-0|
|Arsenal v Man Utd||1-2||2-2||2-1||1-1||2-2||2-1|
|Crystal Palace v Liverpool||3-1||1-1||2-2||3-1||1-1||0-1|
|Hull v Tottenham||1-2||1-0||1-1||1-2||1-3||1-1|
|Aston Villa v Southampton||1-1||0-1||0-2||1-1||0-1||1-2|
A correct result (picking a win, draw or defeat) is worth ONE point. Getting the exact score correct earns THREE points.
Last week, I got FIVE correct results, including TWO perfect scores to give me a total of 9-points, which would be a good enough score to win most weeks. However, challengers Mabs got SEVEN correct scores, including FOUR Perfect scores to give him a whopping 15-points—this highest tally so far this season.
Do you think you can do better? If so, feel free to leave your predictions at the bottom of the page.
|West Brom v Arsenal||1-2|
|Burnley v Aston Villa||2-0|
|Liverpool v Stoke||1-1|
|Man Utd v Hull||2-1|
|QPR v Leicester||2-0|
|Swansea v Crystal Palace||2-1|
|West Ham v Newcastle||1-1|
|Sunderland v Chelsea||0-2|
|Southampton v Man City||1-2|
|Tottenham v Everton||1-2|
West Brom v Arsenal
Both these sides have lost their last two EPL games and will be hoping to bounce back with a good result and performance on Saturday.
West Brom lost 2-0 away to Chelsea last week and were glad they only conceded two, as the Blues gave them a masterclass in EPL soccer. However, the Baggies won’t be too disappointed as they did play the majority of the game against the best team in the EPL with only 10 men, after Claudio Yacob was sent-off for a dangerous challenge on Diego Costa.
West Brom’s opponent, Arsenal, also had a miserable day last weekend losing 2-1 at home to Manchester United. The Gunners thoroughly dominated the first-half and should have scored 3 or 4 goals before the break, but they conceded an unlucky goal early in the second-half and then left gaping holes at the back as they went in search of an equalizer, which allowed the Red Devils to double their lead. The only positive of the game was the return of Oliver Giroud, who marked his return from a broken leg with a thumping goal into the top corner. However, his goal could not prevent the Gunners from losing their second successive game, which condemned them to their worst start to a league campaign since 1982.
West Brom top scorer Saido Berahino is available despite being arrested midweek on suspicion of drinking and driving.
However, Claudio Yacob is banned, Jonas Olsson is out with injury and James Morrison and Sebastien Pocognoli are doubts.
Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere is out for three-months following ankle surgey and joins Theo Walcott, Mesut Ozil, Mathieu Debuchy, David Ospina and Abou Diaby who all remain sidelined.
Captain Mikel Arteta also seems set to miss out with a calf problem, while Wojciech Szczesny, Danny Welbeck and Yaya Sanogo are all nursing injuries and will be assessed.
Neither of these teams are in good form at the moment so this game could go either way, but Arsenal have only lost once in eight visits to the Hawthorns (W5 D2 L1) and with the extra quality they have in attacking areas I think they will just about edge this one.
Liverpool v Stoke
Liverpool’s miserable November continued with a 3-1 away defeat to Crystal Palace. The Reds made a terrific start to the game taking the lead inside two-minutes, however, despite thoroughly dominating the play—Liverpool had 64% of possession—they failed to muster anymore chances and in the end were fortunate to concede only three goals, as Palace seemed to open them up every time they went forward.
Stoke’s strange season continued as they lost 1-2 at home to newly promoted side Burnley. In previous campaigns the Potters have been good at the Britannia Stadium and found it difficult on the road, but this season they seem to be better on their travels and worse at home—Stoke have won three of their six away games and lost three of their six home games.
Liverpool will assess Mario Balotelli who has a hamstring problem, though Rickie Lambert is likely to keep his place up top even if the Italian is passed fit, having scored in his last two games.
Reds manager Brendan Rogers could drop keeper Simon Mignolet after a series of poor performances.
Stoke’s preparations have been hit by a virus in the squad with Asmir Begovic, Phil Bardsley and Geoff Cameron all affected, though they should still be available. Victor Moses is out with a thigh problem, but defenders Erik Pieters and Marc Wilson have returned to training and could be involved.
Liverpool have done well against Stoke down the years—Liverpool has not lost to Stoke at Anfield since a 4-3 victory in a Division Two match on 20 March 1959. Indeed, the Reds have never lost a top-flight game against Stoke at home.
However, Stoke is a much-improved side away from home this season and will certainly fancy their chances of causing an upset given Liverpool’s poor form. The Reds are lacking confidence all over the field at the moment and I feel Saturday’s game will be another struggle for last season’s runner-up.
Manchester United v Hull
Manchester United recorded their first away win of the season with a smash and grab victory at Arsenal.
The Red Devils were thoroughly outplayed and looked incredibly open at the back, they reverted back to the 3-5-2 system that had failed them earlier in the season and once again looked uncomfortable and vulnerable with this formation. But Arsenal squirmed their chances and United managed to leave London with a 2-1 win.
A few weeks ago United looked weak at the back, but good on the ball and dangerous going forward. However, with Carrick and Felliani now occupying the center midfield positions United suddenly seem stale in possession and nowhere near as good going forward.
Hull lost 1-2 at home to Tottenham last week and have not won a game since the beginning of October. The Tigers started the season well and after signing quality players during the transfer window many expected them to kick on and do even better. However, it hasn’t really happened and now they sit just above the relegation zone.
Manchester United defensive troubles continue with Luke Shaw joining Johnny Evans, Phil Jones and Rafael on the sidelines. Midfielder Daley Blind also remains out with a knee injury.
However, Radamel Falcao and Marcos Rojo have recovered from respective calf and shoulder injuries and could feature.
Hull forward Abel Hernandez will miss the trip to United in order to be at the birth of his child in Uruguay. While fellow Uruguayan Gaston Ramires also misses out through suspension.
Manchester United got their first away win of the season last week and have now won their last two games since losing to neighbors Man City. However, the Red Devils seem to have reverted to playing the poor passing soccer they did last season since the return of Carrick and Felliani to midfield. If United continue with the pair in the center of the park I think they will find the game against Hull difficult.
The Tigers, however, do not have a good record against United—they have lost all six of their games against the Red Devils in the EPL—and I think they will just come up short once again.
Sunderland v Chelsea
Sunderland stretched their unbeaten run to three games with 0-0 draw away to Leicester. The Black Cats dominated the game and were unlucky not to leave with a win, but they will be happy with a point and look like a team that is a lot tougher to beat than the one that lost 8-0 to Southampton a month ago.
Chelsea stretched their lead at the top of the EPL with a 2-0 win over West Brom. The Blues played some fantastic stuff and were two goals up in 25-minutes. However, once West Brom were reduced to ten men Chelsea seemed to take their foot off the gas and save their energy. However, they didn’t relent in their next game where they beat German side Schalke 5-0 away in the Champions League.
Sunderland could welcome back midfielder Ricky Alvarez who has recovered from a knee injury. Sebastian Coates is also back in contention after a calf problem, but Emanuele Giaccherini, Billy Jones and Patrick van Aanholt are all still out.
Chelsea has a near full squad to choose from with Defender Nathan Ake the only player out with injury.
Chelsea remain the only team in England’s top four divisions that has not lost a game and on paper should easily win this one. However, Sunderland have become Chelsea’s bogey team recently and are chasing their third successive win against the Blues in all competitions. Nevertheless, Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 10 EPL games at the Stadium of Light, winning the last nine, and I expect them to make it ten on Saturday.
Southampton v Man City
This is arguably the biggest game of Week 13 as second takes on third in the EPL. Not many people would have expected this to be a big game at the beginning of the season, however, after Southampton’s great start to the season all eyes will be fixed on this game to see whether or not the Saints are the real deal.
Southamapton drew 1-1 away to Aston Villa last week. The Saints dominated the game, but needed right back Nathaniel Clyne’s goal to get them out of trouble. The draw was the first time the Saints had failed to win since losing away to Tottenham in early October.
Manchester City continued their pursuit of Chelsea and Southampton with a hard fought 2-1 win over Swansea. The champions fell behind midway through the first half, but showed all their character by grinding out a win thanks to goals from Jovetic and Yaya Toure. They then showed their never-say-die midweek against Bayern Munich coming from 1-2 down to win the game 3-2 thanks to two late goals from Sergio Aguero.
Southampton’s only injury worry is Steven Davis who missed the draw at Aston Villa with a hamstring injury.
Vistors Manchester City are without Edin Dzeko and Aleksandar Kolarov, who both calf problems, and David Silva (knee)
Man City will probably be favorites to win this game, but they have struggled at Southampton in recent years—Man City have not won in their last three trips Southampton (L2 D1). In fact, City’s last victory away to Southampton was by 2-0 in 2003.
Nevertheless, City possess the best player in the EPL at the moment in Sergio Aguero and with him in the team they always have a chance of winning any game.