Football Flakes With Emmanuel Nwachukwu

Liverpool are on yet another campaign to break what now seems as a Premier league title curse. After an impressive opening day at home to Norwich, they visit Southampton, hoping that the Champions and title favourites drop points at home to Tottenham.

Lampard fell terribly short on his Premier league managerial debut at Manchester United, now, he hopes to make the bridge the sort of fortress it was in his playing days as Chelsea host Leicester City.

Monday night sees the Devil try to barnish his demons as Manchester United goes away to battle Wolves.

Emmanuel, previews all 10 games and makes predictions.

Arsenal v Burnley

The Burnley team were very impressive in their 3-0 win over Southampton last week. Last season saw Burnley play with the handbrake and most time got lost between defending and attacking. Last week, they were brave with their attack, got more men into yet kept shape behind. That will trouble a few teams because Wood and Barnes will cause problems in the box and can guarantee you double digit goals.

I think Arsenal was controlled in that slim but comfortable win at Newcastle, kept the ball well and looked dangerous despite not close to full strength. At the Emirates, Arsenal always look like a different animal and few teams can cope with them at home. With Lacazette, Ozil back in the team, and Pepe with Ceballos getting closer to full fitness, i think they will be too much for Burnley to handle.

Emma’s prediction: 3-1

Aston Villa v Bournemouth

I think Aston Villa were very good for long periods against Tottenham and the 3-1 scoreline flatters the London side. Villa will look at that defeat blame themselves for losing a game they were the better tactical side to costly individual errors. Playing against a Bournemouth side which tends to leave spaces behind while implementing their attack-driven strategy, I think that Grealish, Wesley, Kodija and McGgin will find spaces to run into.

In midfield and up front, Bournemouth are a threat to almost all teams in the league, but defensively, I am always unsure as to what exactly is the shape and strategy of Eddie Howe. They always look panicky at the back, like they are not sure when to pass or just kick the ball away.

I expect both teams to score, and I also expect Villa to win

Emma’s prediction: 3-2

Brighton v West Ham

I am still surprised that Brighton not only defeated Watford away, but, scored 3 goals from the 6 yard box and conceded non. Watford were unbelievably poor that evening, but credit when due, it was an impressive display from the Seagulls. It’s just a game, so I’ll be careful not to expect this to be the new way, but, Potter made very good investments in attacking and creative players in the summer, so, maybe they will go for it in games a lot more this season.

West Ham is every pundit’s nightmare, you just don’t know if it will be West Ham or the Hammers turning up.  West Ham were just taken apart by Manchester City so easily. Yes, Pep’s side are miles ahead of every other team in the league, but, with the squad and manager at West Ham, you at least expect to see a team in shape and with some purpose. 

Brighton will be greatly encouraged by the performance and results of both sides, and they are at home. I will go for a home win.

Emma’s prediction: 2-1

Everton v Watford

Everyone expects Everton to play a more expressive style of football win more points and push the top six teams all the way for a Europa league place, and this is why i have Silva is one of the first three managers to get the boot. On their day, the Pensioners are a force to be reckoned with, Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin, Bernard, Theo, Iwobi, Tosun, Gilfyi all have the capacity to bring goals, but they all also can be frustratingly inconsistent. Everton backline are always looking like they are ready to concede.

Watford’s home defeat by Brighton was a bad result, one I think was a bad day at the office. Usually compact, physical and mobile, i am sure they will look for a response. Deeney has got the ability to trouble Mina and Keane, and hope that Deulofeu, Gray and Sarr have a better game.

Think both teams will score but will end in a draw

Emma’s prediction: 2-2

Norwich v Newcastle

Norwich impressed and disappointed me in equal measure last week at Liverpool. They attacked like Premier league champions but defended like some neighbourhood five a side team. If they play like they played last week, i think they will score more goals, just not sure Newcastle has got the clinical players to profit from the Canaries generous defending.

The Magpies are a team in transition and I think Steve Bruce is still unsure what his first team is and how best to setup his team. In Joelinton, they have a centre forward built for the EPL, but now Bruce needs to get Saint-Maxim, Almiron, Atsu closer to him as he is not such a prolific striker yet.

I am going to enjoy watching Farke’s Norwich this season, they are safe bets to score goals and also concede.

Emma’s prediction: 2-1

Southampton v Liverpool

After Wednesday’s Super Cup in Istanbul against Chelsea that stretched into extra time and penalties, Klopp has a decision to make on some players for this game. Fabinho looked in pain as the game ended, Mane just back from AFCON exertions and a few others have now played about 220 minutes of football in 6 days. But, such is the demand at the top.

Klopp will take comfort in that the next opposition is Southampton. No disrespect, but Hasenhuttl side looks to me like they are in for a relegation scrap. I thought they needed to shore up the attack over the summer, but they did not. They look short in about all the department quality wise.

Against Burnley, they were all over the place and very unimaginative. I know they will be looking to respond immediately, but, unfortunately, it is Liverpool next.

Liverpool are a wrecking bull with an obsession to win the EPL. I see a very comfortable win

Emma’s prediction: 0-4

Man City v Tottenham (17:30 BST)

I think Tottenham were poor at home to Aston Villa last week. Really struggled to create much and opened up easily by the guys from the Championship. You may say that they found a way to get the job done, but they now play Manchester City and can’t afford to be poor again and hope for a Harry Kane moment to get out of jail. I think that the absence of Son is telling and Spurs needs to get more dangerous in the wide areas. Ndombele looks decent on the ball, but may need to make decisions a lot quicker.

City were in cruise control last week against West Ham, but I am expecting a much stronger and more dangerous opposition  because Spurs have got the weapons to hurt them on the break or even press them high. Rodri will be targeted by Poch as he appears to still be struggling with pace.

This definitely going to be a very interesting game with both teams going at each other. I still expect Pep Guardiola’s side to win as I also expect the game to produce about 5 cards and quite a few VAR moments to talk about.

Emma’s prediction: 2-1

Sheff Utd v Crystal Palace

When i saw  Billy Sharp score to earn Sheffield United a point last week, I remembered some great predatory strikers like Inzaghi, Batistuta, Nisterooly. You can’t see what else they bring to the team, but, you know that as long as they are on the pitch, a goal is likely to be scored.  I think the Blades were really brave and unrelenting last week at Bournemouth and fully deserved the draw. The 3 at the back allowed the midfield to protect the back while giving support to McBurnie and McGoldrick upfront. Bramall Lane will be a full house and there will be a great noise and you will expect to see a super charged Blades.

Wilfried Zaha should start for Palace. I think Palace looked better when he came in last week and they would need him focussed this season to stay afloat. Palace has got the physicality to cope with the Blades energy levels, but i worry for their pace. Palace will be put under huge pressure, especially in the middle. Captain Milivojevic was lucky not to get a red against Everton, if they lose their heads to the noise and energy levels of the Blades, then, they may drop points here.

Emma’s prediction: 1-1

Chelsea v Leicester

Chelsea looked an attacking threat at Old Trafford on Sunday, but you could see the tactical naivety from Lampard. Some say the  4-0 scoreline faltered the Red Devils, i say they took a gift from Chelsea and ensured they thanked their guests very well.

They are going to have to be a lot tighter defensively and be a little less cavalier in their approach, especially as they are in transition.

Lampard really needs  players like Willian and Antonio Rudiger and N’golo Kante back to full fitness to provide leadership and quality to the team.

Leicester will be tricky opponents. Rodgers is a good coach and has made some decent signings. Really shocked that Rodgers has not brought in another striker, hence, will rely on Vardy for goals.

I watched Chelsea against Manchester United and Liverpool and they really appear to lose steam in the second half. Rodgers will unleash pace at Chelsea and target players like Azpilicueta, Zouma, Jorginho.

Reckon this will be an open game with both teams scoring. I am going with a home win, but not without a scare

Emma’s prediction: 3-2

Wolves v Man Utd

4-0 win against a rival is probably the perfect start to any campaign. The trio of James, Rashford and Martial has got the pace and goals to put any team to the sword. But, they will need a midfield that can win the ball, hold and find them with good balls behind the opposition backline.

I think the Pogba and Scott were easily passed over by Chelsea last week and Manchester United were saved by poor choices by the Blues in the final third. Wan Bissaka will need to repeat his performance thus far, while Shaw needs to show more awareness.

Wolves is a very tricky customer with movements on and off the ball so exciting to watch but difficult to track. I suspect the trio of Moutinho, Neves and Dendocker will win the better share of the ball in the midfield. How quickly United midfield can track runners, win the ball back and transition to attack will be key.

I think we are in for an exciting Monday night football, but how much fun Manchester United will have is what I am unsure of. If Wolves turn up as they do against top teams, it could be a long night for Ole.

Emma’s Prediction 3-2

Emmanuel is @emma-dele on twitter

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FG Excited About Nigeria’s Prospect Of Hosting Next FIFA U20 Women World Cup

The Federal Government is excited about the prospect of Nigeria hosting the next FIFA U-20 Women World Cup in 2020.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN dropped the hint today while receiving a delegation of FIFA Inspection Team at the Presidential Villa, adding that the government is actively supporting the bid of the Nigerian Football Federation, NFF, to host the female soccer competition.

“Going round this country you will have noticed that practically every Nigerian is a football fan. We are excited about the prospect of hosting the competition,” the VP told the FIFA delegation, while also noting that Nigeria has indeed participated in all FIFA’s female competition and that the country has the number to effectively host the sporting event next year.

According to the Vice President, “the Federal Government is backing Nigeria’s bid fully and we are prepared to do all that is required for the adequate comfort of our guests and fans.”

Prof. Osinbajo added that the Federal Government is not just interested in the business of hosting the sporting event satisfying the needs of the people who have over the years, demonstrated uncommon love for football.

“Nigeria’s love for football is a mark of well-being, and it is also culturally important to us. It is a unifying force for the people… We politicians don’t even compete with footballers, they are far more famous than us,” the Vice President stated.

Speaking earlier, the head of the FIFA Inspection team, Mr Kaj Heyral observed that the team was impressed with the facilities they have seen and expressed appreciation for the hospitality shown by Nigeria during their two-week stay.

A decision on Nigeria’s bid to host the event will be taken next month.

Mr Amaju Pinnick, the President of the Nigerian Football Federation, NFF, who noted that hosting the competition will further boost Nigeria’s positive image, said the FIFA team inspected six stadia, 13 training sites, nine hospitals and about 10 hotels in the country.

He added that Nigeria’s hosting of the sporting event “is about the future of Nigerian football; it is about the future of our youths; it is about the future of our female players.”

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Wilder Turns Down $100m Joshua Fight

World Boxing Council (WBC) heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder is reportedly set to reject a 100 million-plus deal from US broadcaster DAZN.com.

The news comes as a blow to fans hoping for an undisputed title bout between the American and the Briton, Anthony Joshua (AJ).

Joshua holds three of the four crowns in heavyweight boxing – International Boxing Federation (IBF), World Boxing Association (WBA) and World Boxing Organisation (WBO).

Talksport reports that an agreement by Wilder would have ensured that the fight between the two giants of heavyweight boxing took place in 2019.

Last week, fans were given what turned out to be false hope as it emerged that Wilder would be meeting with the streaming service – who also broadcast AJ in America.

It was reported that the WBC heavyweight champion was offered upwards of 100 million Dollars for three fights against Dominic Breazeale, Joshua and then AJ again in a rematch.

However, it is now understood his team will reject the offer and, when asked about this, the American explained why.

“So many people try to dictate my career and tell me, ‘I should do this, I should do that, I shouldn’t do this, I shouldn’t do that’,” Wilder said.

 “I love being a free agent, I love being able to move about doing what I do and we’ll see what the future holds,” he added.

Wilder is set to announce his next fight – which will be against Breazeale regardless – Tuesday.

Speculation suggests it will be broadcast on Showtime pay-per-view in the US, as was his previous bout against Tyson Fury.

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JUST IN: Jose Mourinho Sacked As Manchester United Manager

Manchester United have sacked Jose Mourinho as manager after two and a half years in charge.

The Portuguese, 55, won the League Cup and the Europa League at Old Trafford.

But United are sixth in the Premier League, 19 points behind leaders Liverpool, who beat them 3-1 on Sunday.

“A caretaker-manager will be appointed until the end of the season while the club conducts a thorough recruitment process for a new, full-time manager,” United said in a statement.

“The club would like to thank Jose for his work during his time at Manchester United and to wish him success in the future.”

United’s haul of 26 points after their first 17 Premier League games, is their worst tally in the top flight at this stage since 1990-91.

They are 11 points off the top four and closer to the relegation zone than the top of the table.

Mourinho’s sacking comes after a fall-out with £89m record signing Paul Pogba, who was an unused substitute for the defeat at Anfield on Sunday.

And it continues his run of never completing four consecutive seasons in charge of a club.

Only once has he made it into a fourth campaign, but he left Chelsea on 17 December 2015 during his second spell at Stamford Bridge.

BBC

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FIFA Rankings: Nigeria Now Fourth In Africa, 44th In The World

Nigeria is now placed fourth in Africa and retains its 44th spot in the world with 1427 points as against October’s 1431 points in the FIFA/Coca Cola Rankings on released on Thursday.

Tunisia that led the continent’s teams in the last rankings dropped to second place behind Senegal, with the North African side dropping four places, now 26th in the world with 1493 points.

Senegal now top the CAF teams with 1505 points and placed 23rd in the world, while Morocco rests in third place with Congo DR in fifth after garnering 1440 and 1420 points as 40th and 49th placed respectively.

Belgium, France and Brazil remained unchanged as the highest ranked in the world with 1727, 1727 and 1676.

According to FIFA website, “www.fifa.com’’, defeats for the leading duo in the UEFA Nations League resulted in both dropping six ranking points.

Brazil, though still 50 points behind France added seven after wins over Uruguay that is seventh ranked and 55th placed Cameroon.

Meanwhile, the big climbers included African quintet of Mozambique (117th, up 5), Angola (125th, up 5), Sudan (127th, up 8), Comoros (143rd, up 5) and Gambia (166th, up 7).

The rise of Kosovo (131st, up 6) was also notable as it took them to their highest position ranking to date.

The next FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking will be published on Dec. 20.

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Super Eagles Move To 44th In FIFA Ranking

The Super Eagles of Nigeria have moved up by four spots to the 44th in the world in the October FIFA – Coca Cola Ranking.

In the ranking table published on the website of the world football governing body on Thursday, Nigeria garnered 1431 points as against 1415 it had in September.

The movement has now placed Nigeria as the third in Africa behind Tunisia and Senegal.

It could be recalled that it was during this period that the Eagles thrashed Libya 4-0 (home) and 3-2 (away) in the African Cup of Nations qualifiers.

Tunisia is ranked 22nd in the world and Senegal 25th. Congo DR (ranked 46th and Morocco (47th) are the other African countries among the top 50.

On the global scene, Belgium are now ranked world number one, ahead of France with the narrowest of margin–just one point in the new the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking published on Thursday. The Belgians have 1733 points to France’s 1732 points.

In September, the two countries were tied on the first spot.

The top two remain out in front after a month in which each of them enjoyed a win and a draw, with Belgium and France beating Switzerland (8th, unchanged) and Germany (14th, down two) respectively in the UEFA Nations League. Brazil are third with 1669 points, Croatia fourth with 1635 and England fifth with 1619 points. Leo Messi’s Argentina are ranked 12th in the world.

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Ballon d’Or 2018: Salah, Mane Among Nominees

Liverpool FC of England duel of Mohammed Salah (from Egypt) and Senegalese international Sadio Mane are among the nominees for the 2018 Ballon d’Or.

In the same shortlist are England and Tottingham striker Harry Cane, Barcelona and Argentina star lionel Messi, Portugal and Juventus striker Cristiano Ronaldo and the Wales and Real Madrid of Spain forward Gareth Bale.

But the thirty-man list is dominated by Champions League winners Real Madrid, who have eight players nominated, including Croatia international Luka Modric.

Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and Manchester City’s Kevin de Bruyne are among eleven Premier League players on the list.

Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero is a contender, as are Liverpool keeper Alisson and forward Roberto Firmino.

Paul Pogba, of Manchester United, Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante and Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris are also selected.

The African pair of Salah and Mane are the only contenders from the continent.

Last season, Salah’s superlative performance, in which he scored forty-four goals in all competitions for Liverpool, earned him a top-chart position in the EPL, as well as the African Player of the Year.

His Senegalese strike partner, Mane, also scored over a dozen goals for the Mersey side club, and both players were instrumental in their countries’ Russia-2018 World Cup qualification, although neither the Senegalese Teranga Lions nor the Pharaohs of Egypt made it beyond the first round.

The Ballon d’Or, first presented in 1956, is given to the best player of the year.

A ceremony to announce the winner of the prestigious award will take place in Paris, France, on December 3, when a women’s award will also be presented for the first time.

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NFF Bans Super Eagles Coach For One-Year, To Pay $5,000 Fine

Following a documentary in which Super Eagles’ Chief Coach Salisu Yusuf was seen accepting 1,000 US dollars from an undercover reporter disguising as a player’s agent, the  Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Committee on Ethics and Fair Play has banned the Coach from all football–related activities for one year with immediate effect.

The four-man committee’s decision was announced in a statement by Ademola Olajire, NFF’s Director of Communications and made available to the News men on Wednesday in Abuja.

Olajire said that the Mallam Nuhu Ribadu-led Committee made the following submissions:

“Established from the admission of Coach Yusuf and also found as a fact from the documentary and video evidence before it, that he accepted the cash gift of 1,000 US dollars offered by Tigers Player’s Agency, an undercover reporter, purportedly interested in acting on behalf of Players Osas Okoro and Rabiu Ali, for their inclusion in the list of players for 2018 CHAN Competition in Morocco.

“The Committee found as a fact that it was not an error of judgment on the part of Coach Yusuf but a conscious and deliberate decision to have accepted the cash gift of 1,000 US dollars from the decoy player agent/undercover reporter, purportedly interested in acting on behalf of Players Osas Okoro and Rabiu Ali, even though the evidence before the Committee did not establish that his conduct influenced the choice of the two players.

“That the two Players could have made the team to 2018 CHAN Competition in Morocco on the basis of their talent and performance.

“That Coach Yusuf did not accept the offer of 15 per cent of the anticipated transfer fees of the said players, as there was no follow–up action on the promise.

“That the act of the Coach, which was widely published on the British Broadcasting Corporation, has a damaging effect on the reputation and integrity of Nigerian Football, as he ought to have conducted himself more professionally in line with the Code of Conduct signed alongside his Contract with the Nigeria Football Federation, as his conduct in public and in secret should be exemplary, since coaches are role models.

“That the FIFA Code of Ethics, NFF Code of Ethics and FIFA Disciplinary Code, did not contemplate negligence or error of judgment as a defence to violation of any of the provisions as contained therein, as punitive measures must be adopted to serve as deterrent to other intending offenders, even though, that he is a first time offender.”

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Victor Moses Retires From International Football

Super Eagles and Chelsea forward, Victor Moses, has announced his retirement from international football.

The 27-year-old, who made the announcement via his twitter handle said he made the decision after much thought. He explained that the aim is to focus fully on his club career and his young family.

According to him, the decision is also to allow the next generation of football stars the opportunity to ‘step up and flourish.’

Nigerians, however, took to social media in reaction to this announcement with many expressing surprise at such a decision at the age of 27.

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Chelsea Midfielder Bakayoko Joins AC Milan On Loan

France international Tiemoue Bakayoko has signed on loan for AC Milan, the resurgent Serie A side announced on Monday, bringing an end to the midfielder’s frustrating spell at Chelsea.

Milan have signed the 23-year-old for a reported inital five million euros ($5.7 million) with an option to buy for a further 35 million euros next summer.

Bakayoko leaves Chelsea after making 29 Premier League appearances for the Blues but failing to recapture the form that prompted the London club to pay Monaco a reported £40 million for his services last summer.

He was left out of the squad by new coach Maurizio Sarri for Chelsea’s opening fixture at Huddersfield on Saturday as his replacement Jorginho scored in a comfortable 3-0 win.

Milan hope Bakayoko will help them reclaim their position at the top of the Italian game following years of strife on and off the pitch.

AFP

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Super Eagles Goalkeeper Carl Ikeme Retires From Football

Wolverhampton Wanderers and Nigeria goalkeeper Carl Ikeme confirmed his retirement from professional football on Friday following a battle with acute leukaemia.

The England-born player, who was capped 10 times and named as an honorary 24th player in the Nigeria squad at the recent World Cup, revealed last month he was in complete remission from the disease.
“The support has been incredible,” the 32-year-old, who has been with Wolves for his whole career, said in a statement on the club’s website.
“Every day someone has asked me how I am for a whole year. It’s incredible to think people actually care so much that they’ll do fundraisers in my name.”
“I spoke with the doctor and he suggested I should retire, because of the toll the treatment has taken on my body,” he added. “He thinks it’s what is best for me and I can’t really risk trying to come back — my health is the priority.”
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Stranded Nigerian Fans: FG To Prosecute Travel Agents For Russia Violations

The Federal Government has vowed to arrest and prosecute the airline travel agents who cancelled the return tickets of 230 Nigerian football fans stranded after the 2018 World Cup Tournament in Russia.

The Nigerian Ambassador to Russia, Prof. Steve Ugba said this in an online video statement made available by the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr Tope Elias-Fatile in Abuja on Sunday.

Ugba made government’s position known while addressing the stranded Nigerians in Moscow, Russia before their departure to Nigeria.

Over 150 stranded Nigerian football fans besieged the Nigerian Embassy in Moscow on July 12, for assistance at the end of the 2018 World Cup tournament.

The fans had alleged that their return tickets were cancelled abruptly by airline agents, resulting to their being stranded in Russia without any hope of returning to Nigeria.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on July 16, directed the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama and his Aviation counterpart, Hadi Sirika, to evacuate the Nigerians to Abuja immediately.

Sequel to the directive, a chartered Ethiopian Airline had on July 20 conveyed the 155 stranded Nigerians back to Abuja.

The envoy in the 21 minutes video, expressed gratitude to the president for ensuring that the stranded fans returned safely to the country.

Ugba, who said that the Federal Government did not want the culprits to go free, urged the victims to produce any document they had to enable the government crackdown the agents.

“Give us any document that you have about the people who deceived you, or the people who scammed you, who did you 419 so that we can have them picked up and prosecuted in Nigeria.

“We do not want them to go free. So, give us any document you have that will tell us who these people are.

“We are waiting for them in Nigeria because the kind of behaviour that you exhibited here shows that you have character, shows that you have respect for yourselves, and shows that you have respect for Nigeria,” he said.

“It is not a crime for you to come and at the end of the show, you want to go back. It is not a crime.

“But it is a crime for the person who sold you tickets and then, the second leg of going back you do not have tickets anymore. So, it is not your fault.

“We want to hold those responsible for this terrible behaviour to account for their action so that next time, they will not do the same,” he said.

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