July 29, 2021



Few questions remain for English Premier League

8 min read

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We’ve already established that Manchester City will win the Premier League. And sadly, the relegation places look almost set in stone already too. Which leaves the only drama from now until May centred around who finishes second through fourth in the Champions League spots.

Manchester United and Leicester are sitting pretty right now but the big question is can West Ham who are fourth or charging Everton get into Europe’s top competition.

It was pretty laughable how Everton celebrated a long-coming win over rivals Liverpool last week and I think that small club mentality will see them falter in the long run.

West Ham have a litmus test this weekend taking on Manchester City. Even if they lose, it’s more about how they compete that will tell the tale.

As they were pushing for the Top Four a month ago they got whacked by Liverpool 3-1 at home in what looked to be a revival of last year’s champions before they came crashing back down to earth. So are West Ham really a good bet to finish in the top spots?


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City have won 13 straight in the league and have given up just three goals in that time.

We’ll get to see who The Hammers really are not just this weekend but in the next few weeks. While they have lost just once in their last 11 Premier League games their next six fixtures are: at Man City, vs. Leeds, at Man United, vs. Arsenal, at Wolves, vs. Leicester.

One interesting feature of West Ham’s revival is the addition of Jesse Lingard on loan. The once-promising attacker, who started for England in the last World Cup semi-final, was rotting on the bench at Manchester United but since landing in East London he’s added a cutting edge to West Ham’s goal-scoring threat.

The other big match to keep an eye on this weekend is Chelsea hosting United on Sunday. While both clubs got off to ropey starts, and Chelsea even sacked manager Frank Lampard, they’ve played themselves into good positions. Chelsea have been a little more pragmatic under new manager Thomas Tuchel, and have been a tighter operation than United, who still look somewhat vulnerable at the back. This one might end up in a cautious draw, as United’s manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer seems reticent to take risks against the other big boys, but if either one wants to swing for the fences and go for all three points I believe it would be there for the taking.

Saturday: Man City vs. West Ham; West Brom vs. Brighton; Leeds vs. Aston Villa; Newcastle vs. Wolves;

Sunday: Crystal Palace vs. Fulham; Leicester vs. Arsenal; Spurs vs. Burnley; Chelsea vs. Man Utd; Sheffield Utd. vs. Liverpool.


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Monday: Everton vs. Southampton.

You can watch all games streamed live, along with analysis shows, highlight packages and UEFA Champions League Games at https://www.dazn.com/en-CA/home.


I’ve always been clear in my writings I’m a diehard Liverpool fan, born and bred so I try to recognize my biases. But anyone who can’t recognize the adversity they’ve faced this season and see how that has impacted where they are is kidding themselves. Of course, it started with losing their best and most important player Virgil van Dijk for the season back in October, closely followed by his centre-back partner Joe Gomez being lost to a knee injury while with England. The solution was to pull back their best two midfielders Fabinho and captain Jordan Henderson. Fabinho is currently out with his third hamstring injury while news came this week that Henderson’s groin injury from last weekend’s loss to Everton will keep him out a minimum of 12 weeks, and maybe event through to the start of next season.

Now if that’s not bad enough news — on top of other long-term injuries to Naby Keita, James Milner, Joel Matip and Diogo Jota — then the Reds were hit with the cruellest of events on Thursday. Goalkeeper Alisson Becker learned his father died in a swimming accident in Brazil.

Jose Becker, 57, had been swimming at a dam on a lake on his property when the accident happened on Wednesday afternoon in the town of Bage near the Brazil-Uruguay border. He dove in off the dam and never resurfaced. There’s no word on if Alisson will travel to Brazil yet but it’s clear that sport will be secondary as his family deals with such a tragedy.


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After a crushing 3-0 defeat to city rival Internazionale last week, AC Milan don’t find the road any easier taking on fourth-placed Roma on Sunday (also streaming live on https://www.dazn.com/en-CA/home).

AC Milan have been front runners all season but now find themselves four points back of Inter and have lost three times in their last five league matches.

With a win on Sunday Roma would pull to within two points of Milan whose season will need some intervention to get kickstarted again.

Don’t expect Inter to slip up as they face mid-table Genoa, but the story of the last part of the season may be how far Milan fall with hard-charging Juventus (who face Verona on Saturday) also breathing down their neck.

The Italian press has been hinting at a change for Milan, who have been sticking stubbornly with a 4-2-3-1 and have seen goals hard to come by. Tuttosport claims they are considering a switch to 4-3-3 or even 4-4-2, but the issue is injuries, and frankly age, with their strikers. Zlatan Ibrahimovich got off to a flying start but hasn’t been fully healthy for weeks and no one else has really stepped up to fill the net.

With Mario Mandzukic and Ismael Bennacer still injured that means the stuttering trio of Rafael Leao, Samu Castillejo and Rade Krunic are going to have to lead the attack for a couple more weeks.


Wow, what a weekend we have for La Liga in front of us as all the teams in the Top Six face each other. While I’ve written off Barcelona so many times this season, they’ve clawed their way back into the conversation. Leaders Atletico Madrid have done their best to let them, as Atletico has only won two of their last five while Barca have four wins and a draw and sit in third five points back of first. Real Madrid, despite losing last week are still just three points back themselves.


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This weekend will tell us who’s ready for the stretch drive, as Barca play fourth-place Sevilla, Atletico face sixth-place Villareal and Madrid host fifth-place Real Socieadad on Monday.

Spanish fans will be happy to have an interesting domestic campaign as their European Champions League hopes look pretty dire. Madrid beat Atalanta 1-0 this week in the first leg of the knockout rounds and are the only Spanish team to win. Barcelona are all but out of Europe after being thrashed at home by PSG last week, Chelsea beat Atletico 1-0 on Tuesday and Sevilla are down after losing to Dortmund. The last time no Spanish teams made the quarterfinals of the competition was 2004-05.


While Lionel Messi still leads La Liga in goals, and Cristiano Ronaldo now tops the tables in Italy, there are a lot of people looking to this summer for the next generation to take over. PSG’s Kylian Mbappe has been rumoured to be on the move with Real Madrid and Liverpool the two most mentioned destinations. COVID’s impact on finances is the biggest determining factor there. But the other goal-scoring rival to Mbappe, Dortmund’s Erling Haaland, has a release clause in his contract and has proven the step up from RB Leipzig is one that he’s handled with ease. Barcelona has been rumoured to be putting in a bid, but Haaland’s agent Mino Raiola said this week there are four EPL teams already lining up bids, including Manchester United and Manchester City.


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The Euro 2020 tournament is still scheduled to be going ahead this summer (England has suggested that they could house 90,000 fans at Wembley for the tournament if vaccination proof is offered) and it could be a handing off the torch to the next two dominant powers of world soccer. Where they play will massively influence their standing as they need to be competing for Champions Leagues to be considered for the Golden Boot as Ronaldo and Messi were.

 Send all comments, feedback, requests, insults on this column, and also any funny chants about Everton to [email protected] or on Twitter @paulchapman_


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