SOCCER

Non-Soccer News Dominates As Premier League Gears Up For Weekend Of Great Matches

May 7, 2021, 10:34 AM | Updated: 10:35 am
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 02: 'Love United Hate Glazer' and '50+1 Glazer Out' banners are seen on a...
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 02: 'Love United Hate Glazer' and '50+1 Glazer Out' banners are seen on a tied onto railings outside Old Trafford prior to the Premier League match between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford on May 02, 2021 in Manchester, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Charlotte Tattersall/Getty Images)
(Photo by Charlotte Tattersall/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Well, another weekend passes by and we have non-soccer results to talk about. We anticipated the North West rivalry to kick off on Sunday morning between Manchester United and Liverpool, it did kick-off, but not how you would expect.

In a protest against United’s ownership that was likely exacerbated by the fall out of the European Super League, the United faithful broke into Old Trafford a few hours before the scheduled kick-off to make their feelings known. What seemed a boisterous protest to start off, turned ugly after the police turned up. Leading the postponement of the game by the English Premier League, and after a few days, and a little bit of juggling the fixtures, will now be played on Thursday, May 13, forcing the Red Devils to play four games in eight days.

In other news, Manchester City and Chelsea overcame Paris Saint Germain and Real Madrid respectively to make it an all-English affair in the Champions League final this season. UEFA announced there will be 25,000 fans in the stadium for the final in Istanbul, Turkey. Which excited me until I read that 4,000 tickets will go to each team, leaving 17,000 going to who? Do you still think UEFA are the good guys?

After a weekend of social media shutdowns, from media companies and clubs in a show of solidarity to stop abuse online, Raheem Sterling was racially abused online after City’s CL game on Tuesday. When will it end? Honestly, it feels like we’re banging our heads against a brick wall. I hope that there is a continued presence of “outing” those who make those horrendous comments online and that punishments become more severe for those who are convicted of such abuse. And whilst I don’t believe a social media boycott over one weekend will eradicate the problem, I hope a consistent message will eventually help stem the tide in the future.

Manchester City v. Chelsea

On Saturday we get to watch a warm-up for the Champions League final, but there is much more on offer for the 10:30 a.m. kick-off on KSL 5. Mainly the fact that with a win, City will be champions. A most deserved title.

But, they’re up against Chelsea, a team that is so far removed from what we saw under Frank Lampard that we can only wonder what the title race would’ve been if Chelsea had snagged Thomas Tuchel from PSG earlier, chances are Man United would be second.

This is absolutely the fixture of the weekend. So much talent on show. With City favoring a 4-3-3 system, and Chelsea using a 3-4-3. Both teams are comfortable on the ball, both moving it quickly and producing a spectacle. Both defensively organized. As you can tell, I’m pretty excited for this one. The impact of Ruben Dias at City has been the key piece to City’s title charge, and Mason Mount’s continued development at Chelsea has seen him come up huge in the biggest of games.

There isn’t too much else to talk about, but with the talent on offer and the soccer styles being slick to watch, you won’t need me to sell it to you, the talking will be done on the pitch at the Etihad.

Prediction: The only downside of this matchup is that it will only be 90 minutes long. Attractive soccer will be on offer, with one team fighting to secure the title regardless of other results, and the other looking to lock in a top-four position. I think it might just be a draw, it’s that close I can’t call a winner.

West Ham United v. Everton

A 9:30 a.m. kick-off on Sunday, which you can find on NBCSN. West Ham have been one of the stories of the season. David Moyes has done a great job this season, the belief in this team is for all to see. They just keep rolling and going forward, it’s one of the more positive stories in the EPL this season.

Currently in fifth, just three points behind Chelsea, they might just fall short when it comes to Champions League soccer next season, but Europa League is very much on, and a fitting reward for their efforts this season Michail Antonio was back on the scoresheet against Burnley on Monday, with his double sealing all three points. They didn’t have Declan Rice or Mark Noble, and chose a bold strategy of Antonio, Fornals, Lingard, Benrahma and Lanzini, along with Tomas Soucek, with Soucek being really the only true recognized central midfielder. They attacked plenty, but with a team like Everton coming in, who are expected to play on the front foot a bit more, they might have to have a rethink. Either way, the attacking aspect from the Hammers and their refreshing approach must be pleasing for the West Ham faithful and neutrals alike, as they try to break up the usual top six suspects.

Everton comes into London stadium trying to keep their slim hopes of Champions League soccer next season alive as well. This is why it’s such a good match-up.

There have been some improvements for the Toffee’s under the guidance of Carlo Ancelotti, but there are inconsistencies, along with injuries that have stopped them being a little further up the table, I still think they’re missing a couple of pieces to really make moves up the league table, but under Ancelotti, much like West Ham under Moyes, they are a team that is defensively organized, happy to soak up pressure and explode on the counter-attack.

They have the ability to mix it physically, but also move the ball swiftly through the midfield and into the likes of Richarlison and James Rodriguez. The two attacking options are the ones that the team looks to, sadly, the latter once again is struggling with injury, a third separate calf injury could see him miss his 12th game of the season, it’s a tale of what could’ve been if he had been available more often this season. But they need more from others around them. Dominic Calvert-Lewin was back on the scoresheet, even though it was in the loss to Aston Villa. But they’ll need him to step up more in a quieter 2nd half of the season from the England International.

Prediction: This is a tough one, Everton might have the better in the midfield battle, but West Ham have the attacking options. It’ll be close, but I think the Hammers can get all three points.

Until next week.

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Non-Soccer News Dominates As Premier League Gears Up For Weekend Of Great Matches