Manchester United v Aston Villa: For anyone who might be curious, the reason there are two lunchtime fixtures in the Premier League tomorrow is that the game between United and Villa has been brought forward because Mancunian musicians The Courteeners are playing at Old Trafford cricket ground tomorrow night.
“So, basically the Premier League will move kick-off times to accommodate middling indie bands but not to help clubs have a little bit longer to rest before European games,” mused one sportsdesk wag who shall remain nameless.
Manchester United v Aston Villa: Having gone out of the Carabao Cup on penalties to Chelsea, who also beat them in the Premier League two weeks ago, Aston Villa face another tough assignment at lunchtime tomorrow when they face Manchester United at Old Trafford.
“Our job is to go there and go toe-to-toe with them like we did at Chelsea,” said Dean Smith. “The Chelsea Premier League game was the catalyst – we went toe-to-toe with them and created big chances. A mistake killed the game for us in that one.
“We took that positivity into the game against Everton and it was a bit of a chess game for 60 minutes but once we got our first goal it was all guns blazing and a comfortable win in the end.
“We feel like there’s a lot of confidence and belief in the group and we feel like we’ve got a talented group, so there’s no reason why there shouldn’t be.” Smith is without Axel Tuanzebe, who cannot play against his parent club, Leon Bailey (quad) and Morgan Sanson (hamstring).
Norwich City: It’s early in the season but having lost their opening five Premier League games, all available evidence suggests that Norwich City are going to struggle to avoid a quick return to the Championship following their promotion as champions last season. They need to start winning, quickly.
Derby County: Football finance expert Kevin Maguire was a special guest on yesterday’s Guardian Football Weekly podcast, where he provided an incisive, easy to follow analysis of the current mess in which Derby County find themselves after going into administration earlier this week. If you’re not already a listener, ou can hear his musings by clicking below, or signing up to Football Weekly on all the usual pod platforms.
Watford v Newcastle: Steve Bruce has been chatting ahead of his side’s visit to Vicarage Road tomorrow afternoon and cynical Newcastle fans, of which there are one or two, might argue he’s getting his excuses in early. “We’ve got a couple of problems,” he said. “Joe Willock picked up an injury in training and Jamaal Lascelles hurt his thigh against Leeds so they unfortunately go on to the injury list which makes it five or six we’ve got out.
“Joe Willock’s was a complete fluke. He kicked the ground and damaged his toe. He’ll not make this week and it’ll be touch and go for next week as well. Jamaal Lascelles’ is a muscle injury. He tried yesterday but it was no good so it’ll be a couple of weeks.”
Asked if he thinks Newcastle will be able to hold on to their star player, Allan Saint-Maximin, he played a precdictably straight bat. “I haven’t had that conversation, and I don’t want to have that conversation as you can imagine,” he said. “We don’t want to lose our best players. Allan has stayed fit and well. I think it was his fifth 90 minutes and he didn’t do that through all of last season. You can see he’s playing at the top of his game but we need to find a threat from other positions too.”
Saint-Maximin is contracted to Newcastle until June 2026, which means that any club who fancies their chances of prising him away from St James’ Park will have to pay top dollar for the Frenchman.
Another interesting insight: Here, by contrast, in a similar experiment, are several Arsenal players from the late 1980s slinging a load of very loud effs and jeffs into former referee and Harrow house master David Elleray.
An interesting insight: Further to our more recent post, here is video from Fox Sports in Australia which has been doing the rounds for years. They mic-ed up Jarred Gillett for his final A-League game, during which somebody with far too much time on their hands worked out that he had awarded his 4,600th career foul. He looks a decent ref and the interaction between himself his Video Assistant Referee and the players around him is quite interesting.
Watford v Newcastle United: Watford boss Xisco Munoz is pleased to be involved in history on Saturday when Australian referee Jarred Gillett takes charge of their match with Newcastle but joked he would reserve judgement until after the game. Queensland-born Gillett will become the first referee from outside the British Isles to officiate a Premier League fixture at Vicarage Road this weekend.
The 34-year-old first moved to England in 2019 after success in the A-League in his native Australia and has continued his upward trajectory in the UK with promotion to the Select Group 1 of referees by the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) before the start of the season.
Gillett’s involvement in the Premier League so far in the 2021-22 campaign has been limited to being at Stockley Park to assist with VAR but that will change when he leads out Watford and Newcastle.
“Always it is important to have the referees,” said Xisco. “No, it is perfect. I wish him all the best. It is very well when we have this history and I am sure we have a very good game with him. After the game … maybe I can change the answer but right now it is like this.”
Meet E10Mess, who is baffled by the fact that a major media organisation might want people to read its free content. The same E10Mess who is so bemused by the pointlessness of this Friday build-up blog that he or she felt compelled to not only read it, but post an accompanying comment. E10mess clearly has no interest in the fact that 15 different Premier League managers will be taking questions from the press today ahead of the weekend’s action. And that’s OK.
While everyone is welcome to read it, I feel compelled to stress for the benefit of E10Mess and other similarly exasperated readers that this is not compulsory. There is lots of other stuff to read, watch or listen to on the Guardian website. Or you could just go for a walk. Or watch the Ryder Cup.
This is a point of view I’m inclined to agree with … depending on what kind of game you’re attending. As an occasional non-League match-goer, games where drinking in your seat or standing area is already allowed, I enjoy a pint during the game.
However, in a packed stadium, where drinking during the game means people are constantly leaving their seats to either get the beers in at the bar or get the beers out in the toilets, I will happily go without and would prefer if everyone else did too. But then, I’m old and cranky. Your thoughts.
A World Cup every two years. It’s the subject that just won’t go away and the European Club Association has warned that Fifa’s latest plans for the future of football would have a “direct and destructive impact” on the club game, .
World football’s governing body has been accused by the ECA, which represents 247 different clubs across the continent, of trying to “railroad” through its controversial plans – which include playing a World Cup every two years – without proper consultation.
Its powerful statement also reminded Fifa of its “legally-binding obligations” to ensure clubs are consulted over the structure of the international match calendar (IMC).
“ECA has followed with grave concern and alarm FIFA’s launch of active PR campaigns and much pretence, apparently seeking to railroad through reforms to the IMC,” it read. “Particularly the introduction of a biennial World Cup.”
Let’s raise a glass (or plastic cup) …
Football’s long-standing ban on fans drinking alcohol while watching matches could be lifted if the recommendations of the former sports minister Tracey Crouch’s fan-led review are accepted, it says here. A good idea? Let us know in the comments section.
Leeds v West Ham: Yet to win a game in this season’s Premier League campaign, Leeds host West Ham at Elland Road tomorrow in one of the weekend’s more eyec atching Premier League fixtures. Marcelo Bielsa’s side have taken three points from their opening five matches and the Argentinian says performance levels must improve if they are to beat West Ham tomorrow.
“Our project to play is the same as last year and I don’t see the opponent has any different antidotes to those used last season,” he said. “But now that we’re not able to win means that our game needs to evolve, evolving in the sense that we need to make better what we want to do.
“Even when we receive few goals, we receive more chances than we should and in the games we’ve not only had problems with efficiency, but also to elaborate more chances that create danger. So we have a margin for correction in both aspects.”
Asked about the dip in form of Stuart Dallas, last season’s Leeds players’ player of the year and fans’ player of the the year, Bielsa had this to say. “His performances have not been at the same level as last year, I think you know this when you ask me about it. There are reasons to understand why it is that way and every game he plays a little bit better than the previous one.
“But I have every confidence that next Saturday, or the following Saturday, or in a short space of time, he’s going to come back to his high level. It’s not that I have confidence, I am sure of it.”
Leeds go into tomorrow’s game with further injuries to key players. Patrick Bamford has not recovered from an ankle injury which ruled him out of the midweek penalty shoot-out win over Fulham in the Carbao Cup, while Raphinha (hip), Luke Ayling (knee) and Jack Harrison (Covid) are all doubtful. Diego Llorente (muscle strain) and Robin Koch (pubis) remain sidelined, while their fellow defender Pascal Struijk serves the final game of a three-match ban.
Thank football it’s Friday …
The weekend starts here, as we gear up for another weekend of hot, sweaty football action. With managers thge length and the breadth of the UK sitting down to face the press ahead of the next three days’ fixtures, we’ll bring you asll the news that’s fit to print and much that almost certainly won’t be, as well as keeping tabs on any breaking news, scandal or tittle-tattle across Europe and beyond. Your comments, as always, are welcome, so feel free to post them below.