It’s the turn of Man Utd and Chelsea in Champions League

Man Utd v Sevilla: After David De Gea came to Man Utd’s rescue once again in the first leg, can the attacking players Lukaku, Pogba and Rashford settle home nerves and score the goals to secure a win?

£20 on Man Utd to win and both teams to score returns £76 & £20 on Man Utd to win and over 3.5 goals nets £100. Find these bets in the specials section in full list of match markets.

Barcelona v Chelsea: Barcelona sit top of La Liga and with Messi in top form having net the equaliser in the first leg and the winner in the League match v Atletico Madrid, he will be looking to score again and compound the misery on Conte. £20 on Barcelona to win and over 3.5 goals returns £61.

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Enjoy the midweek action at Energybet.

Blue on Blue

Champions Chelsea host former champions Leicester City

Current EPL champions Chelsea entertain former champions Leicester City in one of the ties of the weekend. Chelsea will be looking to leapfrog Manchester United into second place, whereas Leicester will be hoping to make up some ground on Burnley and Arsenal having had some poor results over the Christmas period.

Chelsea are one of the teams in my weekend acca, together with Tottenham, Newcastle and Watford.

A £20 stake returns £77

 

New Year – Newcastle

Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez is looking to add to his squad in January to give them some fresh impetus for the New Year. One of the players he is reportedly looking at is former Newcastle and Liverpool forward Andy Carroll. Carroll, who maybe now regrets ever leaving Newcastle could be a good addition for the Geordie side if he is able to maintain a decent level of fitness. Either way with or without the pony-tailed forward Newcastle should be too strong for Swansea this weekend.

 

Southampton want their players back

Southampton is another side looking to dabble in the transfer market this month. Boosted by the recent £75 million sale of full back Virgil van Dyke, manager Mauricio Pellegrino wants to bring back former academy player Theo Walcott to St Mary’s. Pellegrino needs a goalscorer from somewhere if he is to keep the fans off his back. Unfortunately, he is unlikely to find one by Saturday, which is why I have Watford down as one quarter of my weekend acca.

 

Out with the old, in with the new. Kane and Rooney face off

Tottenham and England superstar Harry Kane goes up against former United and England superstar Wayne Rooney. Who will win? Who knows! This match could be the game of the day though, with Tottenham looking to grab fourth spot from Liverpool and Everton seeking to establish just how far they have come under Sam Allardyce. This has all the makings of a classic. Tottenham to shave it though and complete my weekend acca 😊

 

Can Liverpool succeed where all others have failed?

Without question the game of the weekend should be, Liverpool against Manchester City. Liverpool, playing at home, will want to keep their recent excellent form going with victory over the league leaders. It will be a major challenge for the Reds as they look to hold onto fourth spot ahead of Tottenham.

City have only won thirteen times at Anfield in eighty-four attempts. Liverpool have won forty-nine times with twenty-two draws. However, a Coutinho-less Liverpool will not want a repeat of the result from their last meeting back in September which city won 5-0!

Sunday Special: 16:00 Liverpool 21/10 v Manchester City 6/5

Liverpool to win and both teams to score. £20 stake returns £87

City to win and both teams to score. £20 stake returns £65

Wenger Makes History As Gunners Beat Blues

Arsenal beat favourites Chelsea in the FA Cup Final at Wembley by 2 goals to 1 as Arsene Wenger made history by lifting the coveted trophy for the seventh time.

 The Gunners were deserved winners and had a game plan that worked brilliantly as they closed down Premiership Champions Chelsea who appeared tired and looking forward to their holidays by the sea.

 This was the third time in four years that the North Londoners have lifted the FA Cup and makes the ideas of Arsene Wenger leaving this week after 21 years with the Gunners look absurd.

 Arsenal were out of the traps like a rat down a drainpipe as Chelsea struggled from the off with the red and white’s pace and excellent distribution of the ball.

 The Gunners had only last week missed out on the Champions League and Chelsea had been hot favourites with the bookies to complete a remarkable debut season for manager Antonio Conte but were not at their clinical best as Arsenal, who finished fifth in the league rained on their parade.

They have now won it a record 13 times while manager Arsene Wenger, who is yet to say whether he will be extending his 21-year reign, is now the most successful manager in the history of the competition with seven wins.

The Blues made a dreadful start and were behind after four minutes thanks to Alexis Sanchez’s controversial opener but when Diego Costa levelled in the 76th minute it seemed they would complete a memorable season.

However, Conte’s side had to play the last 20 minutes with 10 men after Victor Moses was red carded following a second yellow card for diving.

Ramsey’s header in the 79th minute knocked the stuffing out of Conte’s side and Arsenal could even have extended their lead in the closing stages as Chelsea finally buckled.

Wenger, who failed to finish in the top four for the first time since taking charge in 1996, celebrated with his players in front of the massed red ranks of Arsenal fans at the end.

Wenger said “We had an outstanding performance from the first minute onwards. This team has suffered. They’ve united and responded. I said last week this team will be in the championship with one or two good buys. They showed strength and unity and played spectacular football today.”

Underdogs Arsenal enjoyed a dream start although there was huge debate about whether Sanchez’s effort should have stood. Most pundits thought it shouldn’t. When Sanchez initial attempt to chip the ball into Chelsea’s area was blocked, he appeared to knock the rebound forward with his arms before running through and shooting past Thibaut Courtois despite Ramsey standing in an offside position.

Full confusion reigned as the goal was initially disallowed but after consulting with his assistant Gary Bewsick who had raised his flag, referee Anthony Taylor awarded the goal. Chelsea were hard done by and the goal in many senses killed the game,

Chelsea never really recovered from that duff decision and Arsenal could have been out of sight before half time as they fully exploited the referee’s weakness and Chelsea’s disillusionment.

Mesut Ozil had a shot brilliantly back-heeled off the line by Gary Cahill while Chelsea had an amazing escape when Danny Welbeck’s header thumped against the post and Ramsey bundled the ball back against the same upright.

Despite being all at sea Chelsea did threaten with Costa denied by a perfectly-timed tackle by Per Mertesacker who was making his first start for Arsenal for 13 months and was exceptional for the Gunners.

Arsenal keeper David Ospina also bravely denied Costa s Chelsea came into the game with Hazard more to the fore.

Chelsea started the second half with more tempo and Footballer of the Year N’Golo Kante warmed Ospina’s fingers with a deflected drive from distance before Moses brought a fine save from Ospina after Costa played him in.

Chelsea were required to play the last 20 minutes a man down after referee Taylor’s second big call of the day, deciding that Moses had thrown himself to the floor under no obvious contact from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Chelsea staff were furious as Chelsea fans sang ‘12 man Arsenal’ in obvious reference to the referee seemingly biased towards the Gunners.

Just when it seemed their double hopes were slipping away, Costa equalised when his weakly-hit shot brushed off the excellent Mertesacker and past the diving Ospina.

However almost immediately, Arsenal had the last laugh when Chelsea’s defence went absent again, allowing Ramsey the freedom of the box to head substitute Olivier Giroud’s astute cut-back past Courtois.

Ramsey’s second goal in a week and his only two of the year was enough to win it for Arsenal. So thanks to Ramsey, Arsene Wenger became the most successful manager in the history of the FA Cup on Saturday.

He moved one ahead of George Ramsay who won six FA Cups with Aston Villa.

Here is a list of Wenger’s seven FA Cup triumphs.

1997-98 – Arsenal 2 Newcastle United 0
2001-02 – Arsenal 2 Chelsea 0
2002-03 – Arsenal 1 Southampton 0
2004-05 – Arsenal 0 Manchester Utd 0 (Arsenal 5-4 on pen)
2013-14 – Arsenal 3 Hull City 2
2014-15 – Arsenal 4 Aston Villa 0
2016-17 – Arsenal 2 Chelsea 1

Overall Arsenal deserved the victory but sadly the referee will be remembered for a couple of dicey decisions.

Well played Arsene Wenger, lets hope with his experience the man will be given the deserved plaudits and will still deservedly be at the Arsenal helm next season.

Man City And Liverpool Make It As Arsenal Miss Out On Champions League

There were goals aplenty on the final games of the domestic league season as Arsenal missed out on  the Champions League qualification as Manchester City and Liverpool qualified instead.

A whopping 37 goals were hammered in, in what was to prove to be a super Sunday for some Premier League teams but not for others.

With the three relegation places secured for want of a better expression and the title and runners up spots already filled by Chelsea and Spurs then all that was to be played for were 3 teams Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City chasing two Champions League places.

There had to be a loser and this time it was Arsenal who miss the Champions League for the first time in donkey’s years.

The Gunners put in a good performance and their 3-1 win over Everton was not enough to secure Champions League qualification and, to make matters worse, Arsene Wenger faces a potential selection crisis ahead of the FA Cup final.

Gabriel, Alexis Sanchez and Laurent Koscielny could all miss Saturday’s Wembley clash with Premier League champions Chelsea following a desperately disappointing day for the Gunners at Emirates Stadium, despite their victory.

Following Hector Bellerin’s early opener, Koscielny was shown a straight red card for a wild lunge on Enner Valencia and, after Sanchez had doubled the lead, Gabriel was taken off on a stretcher with a left knee injury after an awkward fall.

Sanchez then hobbled off midway through the second half, in what may yet prove a further blow to Arsenal’s hopes of salvaging something from their season.

It took to the last minute of the last game of the season for Aaron Ramsey to get his first goal of the campaign but the Welshman’s sublime 91st-minute strike at least enabled Wenger’s men to finish their league campaign on a stylish note. Earlier Romelu Lukaku had halved Everton’s two-goal deficit with another well taken penalty. This was the Belgian forwards 25th Premier League strike of the season but it was still not enough to win him the Golden Boot award as Harry Kane was causing pain elsewhere.

However, after taking their place at European club football’s top table in each of the past 19 seasons, Arsenal end 2016-17 in fifth place. Everton finish seventh in Ronald Koeman’s first campaign in charge miles away from Manchester United in 6th and miles ahead of the clambering pack from 8th place downwards.

Arsenal were hanging on prior to their third goal, but began the match brightly and were ahead as Mesut Ozil combined with Ramsey and found space on the left byline, where he squared for Danny Welbeck.

Welbeck took an age to control and pass the ball as it fell perfectly for Bellerin to rifle home into the unguarded net.

The Gunners suffered a setback just six minutes later, though, with Koscielny dismissed for his reckless challenge as Valencia raced away down the right.

Ronald Koeman introduced Ross Barkley in place of Tom Davies to exploit the extra space available, but within two minutes Arsenal doubled their advantage with another touch of fortune.

Sanchez’s shot from outside the box struck Welbeck and, as the Everton defence appeared to stop, the forward had time to tee up Sanchez to tap home with Joel Robles stranded.

Ramsey’s deft chip in the 91st minute finished the match beautifully but despite missing on Champions League football Arsene Wenger will hope his team don’t get too down in the doldrums with Saturday’s final with Chelsea looming.

Instead it was Liverpool who secured a Champions League return with a 3-0 final-day win over already relegated Middlesbrough to claim the vital fourth place in the Premier League.

Jurgen Klopp’s side will regain a seat at Europe’s top table although initially in the qualifying play-off round after sitting out the competition this season, Sunday’s ultimately convincing triumph ensuring Arsenal’s result against Everton proved immaterial in the race for a top-four spot.

Liverpool were nervous in the first half though and fingers were crossed they could make a breakthrough against an absolutely dire Middlesbrough outfit.

The Reds’ only two home league losses this term came against lowly Swansea City and Crystal Palace, but despite Boro frustrating them for most of the first half, the north-east side succumbed to Georginio Wijnaldum’s thunderbolt on the brink of half-time and boy was it needed as Wijnaldum’s strike took the roof off the net and the roof of the stadium.

Little did Middlesbrough have in the tank though and Philippe Coutinho curled home a superb set-piece strike early in the second half to give Liverpool breathing space that was increased by Adam Lallana against a visiting side who are now winless in 22 top flight trips to Anfield.

With an instant return to the Championship already assured, Steve Agnew’s men offered nothing in response to Liverpool’s onslaught as their dismal campaign concluded with a league low of just five wins to their name with a team who wouldn’t know how to find the net if they went fishing.

Only a complete mess up by Manchester City and other results going against them would see City not make the Champions League and they were in no mood to miss out as they stuffed a dismal Watford team that were dreadful beyond belief.

City cantered home at Vicarage Road by 5 goals to nil and it was as easy as apple pie for the sky blues as Manchester City emphatically made sure of their place in the group stages of the Champions League next season by thrashing Watford 5-0 at Vicarage Road.

Pep Guardiola’s side made the most of an abject showing from their hosts, with the home crowd making it clear that departing head coach Walter Mazzarri will not be missed.

Looking to tighten their grip on 3rd place City did it in style after captain Vincent Kompany headed a fifth-minute opener and Sergio Aguero’s first-half brace took him to 33 goals in all competitions this term.

Fernandinho made it 4-0 before half time as Watford were booed off the pitch and Gabriel Jesus – the latter making it seven goals in eight Premier League starts rammed home the 5th.

It meant City answered their manager’s call to be more clinical in front of goal as he contemplates the first campaign of his coaching career without a major honour.

At least the win ensures that City have Champions League footie for next season, something Arsenal couldn’t quite manage.

Could these three results make Arsene Wenger pack his bags and wave goodbye to the Emirates faithful? We shall see.

 

 



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