2017/18 EPL: Who Loses Out As 5 Teams Battle For 3 Spots to Join Man City In The Top 4 (concl) | Nigeria News
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2017/18 EPL: Who Loses Out As 5 Teams Battle For 3 Spots to Join Man City In The Top 4 (concl)

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EPL
EPL

Top stars of the EPL

This is the concluding piece of Nigeria News analysis of the top four battle of the 2017/18 EPL season. For the first instalment, please click here.

Tottenham Hotspur

Last season, Spurs pushed eventful champions, Chelsea, right up to the wire. It was felt that this season they would go one better as the bulk of the team was still intact and following their year on year trajectory as the most improved team in the EPL.

Even though Spurs lost Kyle Walker to City, Manager Mauricio Pochettino had already shown his preference for Kieran Trippier in the right full back position. Spurs even brought in a backup full-back with the purchase of Serge Aurier from PSG.

Spurs play some of the most exciting football in the EPL. The critical issue is the poor away form against the big six. The match against Man City at Wembley on the 14th of April and the away match against Chelsea on April fool’s day are the standout fixtures in the run in.

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If Pochetino can manage to keep the energy levels of the players high, Spurs would make it to the top four. Key here for them, especially in the games against Chelsea and City, is the fitness of Moussa Dembele. He is the one that keeps things ticking nicely for them in midfield while Ericsson creates the chances for top scorer Harry Kane.

Chelsea

The defending champions’ league campaign got off to a rocky start. Off pitch matters completely sabotaged the team’s ability to win a second successive title under Antonio Conte.

First was the Diego Costa situation. The acrimonious relationship between coach and player reached a head when Costa made public a damning text he received from Conte. In the text, Conte informed the striker he was not in the coach’s plan for the new season. Despite several mediations, Costa refused to come back; but instead forced a transfer back to Athletico Madrid.

Then there was the dilly-dallying in player transfer. To say the least, the summer transfer was botched spectacularly. This was unusual for Chelsea who are very good at working the transfer market.

In a puzzling deal, Matic, one of their best midfielders, was sold to rivals Manchester United. In came Tiémoué Bakayoko to fill that hole. But he hasn’t justified the huge transfer fee paid to Monaco for his services.

Mike Emenalo, the long-time Chelsea director in charge of recruitment and transfers was the first casualty of the mess. He left in November 2017 to join Monaco.

However, they still retained the bulk of their championship-winning squad. It is likely the disillusionment felt by Conte over the transfer window affected his zeal. In matches to mid-table teams, the team simply did not show up. The nadir was the 1 – 4 lost to Watford at Vicarage Road on the 5th of February.

Morale at Standford Bridge is at a low point to match the freezing temperatures. Eden Hazard cuts an increasingly isolated figure on the pitch; scampering around trying the win matches singlehandedly.

Alvaro Morata, the man brought in the replace Costa is battling with fitness. He is a different player from Costa; and he is still coming to terms with the physical demands of the EPL.

The one bright spot is the sparkling form of Willian lately. Just like in Mourhino’s last stint, he is the man Conte is turning to to salvage a deplorable situation. But it could be too little too late in the race for a fourth-place finish.

The more important task for Conte and the players is to give the Champions League a real go. Though overturning a 1-1 first leg home result against Barcelona could be a step too far, it is not impossible. Chelsea seem to have Barcelona’s number in the Champions League. Who knows, they might just scale the Barcelona hurdle and go all the way to the finals. Only a few are writing them off.

Chelsea currently lie two points off Spurs in fifth. There are still lots of matches and points to play for.

Arsenal

Once upon a time, Arsenal would have been in the mix for a top 4 finish. But such is their decline that the biggest story around the club is whether the Manager, Arsene Wenger, would be sacked. Even desperately poor results are not discussed as much as what the once-revered figure would do come the summer.

Arsenal are stuck in sixth, unchallenged by anybody below them and too far off fourth place. That is where they would remain after the last match of the season against Huddersfield at the John Smith’s Stadium.

What is happening at Arsenal is puzzling. They have talented players who are coveted by top clubs. Wenger in his prime was famous for getting his players to punch above their weight. Since winning the league in 2004, the perennial cracks appearing have finally broken the team and the manager.

This is Wenger’s 22nd year as Manager, if he can’t bring the best out of players like Mesut Özil, Hector Bellerin, Danny Welbeck, Alexandre Lacazette, etc.; he has to accept that his methods don’t work anymore.

Even the addition of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to compensate for the departure of Alexis Sanchez has proved a false dawn.

The belief in many quarters is that this season would be Wenger’s last year in charge, bringing the curtains down on a 22-year Managerial career.

Verdict

The most interesting battle would be about who takes the last champions league spot between Spurs and Chelsea. With the way both teams are playing, the odds favor Spurs to make it. If you have to bet on it, the smart money would be Chelsea and Arsenal missing the Champions League next season

So it is Man City, Man United, Liverpool and Spurs to occupy the top spots in that order.

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BREAKING

All EPL New Rules For The 2019/2020 Season

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All EPL New Rules For The 2019/2020 Season

The International Football Association Board, IFAB, has affirmed English Premier League, EPL new rules and changes for the 2019/2020 season. The new principles would influence the Freekicks, Handball, Substitution, Drop ball and cards for coaches, NIGERIA NEWS reports.

The Video Aide Ref popularly known as VAR would so be implemented by next season in the English Premier League, EPL. The aforementioned areas where there would be new implementation would surely have a great effect in the league.

 

EPL New Rules Ahead 2019/2020 Season…

 

SUBSTITUTION

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The rule that would be implemented under this is that there would be no chance given to any players to waste time on the pitch anymore, as substituted players would have to leave the pitch at the closest side of the pitch and card may probably be awarded for wasting time.

PENALTY KICKS

The Goalkeepers would, therefore, have to have a foot put on the line and would not be allowed to touch the goal posts before the shoot out of the penalty kicks. In this manner, no Goalkeeper would be able to exploit any chance to avert an opportunity to lead.

COACHES CARDS

The coach would also have to be carded by the Referee in a similar as players were being carded during a match. Both yellow and red cards would also be applicable to coaches as well as starting from next season.

HANDBALLS

  • The goal would be denied if the ball actually strikes any player’s hand during the development to have a goal.
  • If any player should make any favourable moves in handling the ball outside the penalty kickbox, even if it regarded unintentional, freekicks would be awarded.
  • The IFAB dispose of ‘manufactured’ restarts if there be any drop balls.

The IFAB make it clear that:

“The current dropped ball procedure often leads to a ‘manufactured’ restart which is ‘exploited’ unfairly or an aggressive confrontation.

“Returning the ball to the team that last played it restores what was ‘lost’ when play was stopped, except in the penalty area where it is simpler to return the ball to the goalkeeper.

“To prevent that team gaining an unfair advantage, all players of both teams, except the player receiving the ball, must be at least 4m (4.5 yds) away.”

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Naijanews

VIDEO: AFCON Mascot pictures and full details

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AFCON 2019 Mascot

African Cup of Nations, AFCON 2019 organisers on Sunday shows the world the 2019 Mascot with video obtained by this online medium of Facebook

The video was posted on the official account of the football team of the continent a few hours ago as they unveil the 2019 AFCON Mascot in video on Youtube

The Organizing Committee of the 2019 African Cup of Nations has revealed the AFCON 2019 Mascot; The child “Tut” followed by the Pharaoh King Tutankhamun.

The competition for the AFCON 2019 is to start by June 21, about a month from today

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The competition will see 24 countries for the first time competing for the cup against

NIGERIA NEWS reports that Cameroon who was initially tipped to hold the competition lost it to Egypt as a result of lack of enough preparation when the supervision officers went for an inspection early January

Earlier, Eypyt and South Africa were considered for the competition but Mohammed Salah country won the bid

 

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