Southampton continued their fine start to the season after a 1-0 win over Stoke City that helped them to move into second place. Manchester city’s defeat earlier in the day meant that Southampton came into their home encounter against Stoke with a real possibility to go second in the table. They also had the chance to move within three points of table leaders Chelsea with Jose Mourinho’s men not taking to the field until Sunday. Even with such a pressure on their shoulders, Southampton managed to ride above the expectations and get three points.
The win against Stoke, though, was in sharp contrast to last week’s 8-0 win over Sunderland. Manager Ronald Koeman has said that such huge margins of victory are clearly not possible to achieve every week even when the opposition are not at their best. He said that Southampton were fully deserving of the three points after they created more than five great opportunities during the 90 minutes. The real test for Southampton will come in the next few weeks, as Stoke do not represent the cream of the Premier League. Mark Hughes’ team have been highly inconsistent this campaign, although they have done well enough to keep themselves out of relegation trouble.
“It was difficult because we didn’t kill the game. We created eight good chances and you know if you don’t score the second one it’s difficult. Stoke put everything in, changed the system after an hour and with the physical strength that they have it was difficult. Football is strange because the first half was much better than last week. I think it was one of the best first halves of the season. In the second half we lost sometimes too easy our position,” said the Southampton manager. Southampton are once again up against Stoke in the next match, but this time in the League Cup.
Sunderland parted with a substantial amount of money in order to get Chelsea defender Patrick van Aanholt during the summer. The 23-year-old Dutchman had failed to secure a regular first-team spot at Chelsea. Despite having been at Chelsea since 2007 at various forms of playing levels, he had made only two Premier League appearances for the West London outfit. He has been on loan at various clubs like Coventry City, Newcastle United, Leicester City, and Wigan Athletic during this period. However, his loan spell with Vitesse Arnhem last season has been the most productive.
He made 34 appearances and scored five goals in all competitions for the Dutch outfit and this earned him a place in the professional 30 man squad for the World Cup 2014. Even though he did not make it into the final squad chosen by the Dutch manager Louis van Gaal, this has been seen as a remarkable improvement by the 23-year-old. However, Chelsea decided not to keep him for much longer and sold him to Sunderland for an undisclosed transfer fee. Since joining the north-east outfit, the defender has had a mixed time. Even though he has featured in most of the matches, he was at fault for a few goals scored by the opposition.
Manager Gus Poyet has said that he is a player who needs time to settle at the club. “There’s things he needs to do all the time and that’s the mentality we create in training. In one training session a week ago, I stopped it because of Patrick and said ‘here, every day, every single ball, whether you are ill or not’. He needs to get into that mentality and it takes time. Some people get it in two days, some take three months,” said the Sunderland boss, whose team were defeated 1-0 at QPR last weekend.
Trevor Francis has claimed that Liverpool need to bring in at least one £ 30 million striker before the end of this transfer window if they are to challenge for the Premier league title. Liverpool recently brought in Ricki Lambert for around £ 4 million, as the replacement for Luis Suarez. The Uruguay striker was sold to Barcelona for £ 75 million. He was the club’s top scorer in the league last season after getting 31, which was one of the best in Europe top five leagues. This is despite the fact that he missed the first few matches of last season due to a suspension.
It is clear that replacing a player of Suarez’ ability will not be easy, but Francis says that Lambert was not in the ideal signing that the club should have signed. The former Southampton man has struggled to impress during pre-season and Francis says that the style of play at Liverpool does not seem to suit the 32-year-old. Prior to the move, Lambert was one of the reasons for Southampton staying in the league. His impressive form also led to the World Cup 2014 call-up, although the striker failed to impress in Brazil.
Francis says that Liverpool should consider signing a top-class centre forward rather than look for bargains signings.
“He would have expected more from Lambert. He will try and gloss over it in the best way possible because he wants to keep his confidence high, but this is a player who at the moment is struggling. I’ve watched him in three or four games and in one game he was taken off at half-time and today he struggled throughout. He didn’t look comfortable playing in those surroundings. He is desperate for a goal,” said the pundit after seeing Lambert in the first few pre-season matches.
Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini has stated that FIFA should consider banning Luis Suarez from the game. The Uruguay striker bit Chiellini in the shoulders during a match between Uruguay and Italy in the group stages of the World Cup. Uruguay won the match 1-0 and progressed to the last 16 of the World Cup. The victory, however, was marred by footage showing Suarez biting into the shoulders of Chiellini. Even though the 28-year-old complained to the referee almost immediately, the 27-year-old was not punished.
However, it is believed that FIFA will be opening investigations into the matter, as it is the third time that the player has been found biting into a document. He has been punished in the previous two occasions serving a suspension for 17 matches in total. The last high-profile incident involving Suarez came in 2013 when he bit Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic in the arm. Several sports psychologist have stated that Suarez is unlikely to become a changed man as a result of a ban. FIFA regulations stated that they can ban a footballer for up to 2 years or 24 matches.
Several Italy players protested against the incident and water to the player to be sent off, but Uruguayan players did not show the same feelings. The manager, Oscar Tabarez, was also astounded as to how Suarez has been treated by the British media. “Suarez has bitten me and the referee saw it, but then there is the need to have the courage to take decisions. We will see if there is the courage to utilise the TV images to ban him. It’s a shame. Today’s game has been decided by the referee. We take our responsibilities, but the referee has been bad,” said Chiellini.
The result, though, saw Italy knocked out of the World Cup at the group stages for the second consecutive time.