Last week saw PMGOL, the referees association, trialling new technology to assist the Assistant Referees in making correct decisions over contentious incidents in the future. If the trials are successful, the new system will be adopted into use in 2018.
This week saw the return of UEFA Champions League matches, where the leading EPL teams faced the first of their consecutive home and away matches against the same teams in each of their respective groups, with Tuesday seeing Liverpool travelling to play Maribor in Slovenia, and securing a comprehensive 7-nil victory courtesy of two goals each from Roberto Firmino and Mohammed Salah, and others from Philippe Coutinho, Alex Oxade-Chamberlain and a deflected Trent Alexander-Arnold shot; Spurs travelling to Madrid to face Real at the Bernabeu and drawing 1-all with an own goal from Madrid’s Raphael Varane being cancelled out by a penalty from Cristiano Ronaldo, and aided by some crucial saves from goalkeeper Hugo Lloris; and Manchester City hosting Napoli at the Etihad Stadium and claiming a 2-1 victory with early goals from Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus, with Napoli’s reply being scored by a second half penalty from Amadou Diawara, whilst having seen goalkeeper Ederson save an earlier first half penalty from Dries Mertens; whilst Chelsea faced Roma at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, taking a 2 goal lead through David Luiz and Eden Hazard, before a deflected strike from Alexander Kolarov, and a brace from Edin Szeko, the first a superb left foot volley, gave Roma the lead, but Eden Hazard collecting his brace to give them a share of the points; and Manchester United travelled to Benfica’s Stadium of Light, where United collected their third straight group win, courtesy of Marcus Rashford’s direct free kick from the left wing that the teenage goalkeeper of Benfica unfortunately misjudged and carried over the goalline. SPL Champions suffered a 3-nil defeat at Bayern Munich, after goals from Thomas Mueller, Joshua Kimmich and Mats Hummels.
In the Europa league on Thursday, Arsenal won their third consecutive win with a 1-nil victory over Crvena Zvedza (Red Star Belgrade) in Belgrade courtesy of a goal from Olivier Giroud, to more or less guarantee progress to the next round, whilst compatriots Everton look unlikely to do the same after their 2-1 home defeat to Lyon, leaving them bottom of their group with only 2 points half way through the group stage, with their goal being scored by Ashley Williams, after Nabil Fekir had given Lyon the lead, and with Bertrand Traore scoring their winning goal.
Mike Ashley officially put Newcastle United up for sale after 10 years at the helm with his initial purchase price of GBP 134 million. The most likely purchaser at this stage would appear to be Amanda Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners, though it is thought that other party’s are interested. It is thought that Ashley went public with the announcement of the sale in order to try and flush out interested parties after PCP Capital Partners were thought to have offered GBP 300 million, in the hope of having achieved the sale by Christmas from a substantially increased amount.
Tuesday saw the surprise announcement of second managerial casualty of the season in Craig Shakespeare at Leicester City, having only succeeded Claudio Ranieri as full time manager in the summer, after his temporary appointment as caretaker in the wake of Ranieri’s sacking following a battle with relegation following their title win in 2016, and Shakespeare managing Leicester to retain their Premier League status, but has now fallen after only one win in the season’s 8 matches to date, leaving them in 18th place in the Premier League table and in the relegation places. Michael Appleton takes over as caretaker manager with Leicester’s Thai owners allegedly looking for a ‘big name’ candidate to take over the reins, though its thought that Carlo Ancellotti and Thomas Tuschel, both currently available, are not interested in the position.
The Premier League has announced that no EPL games will be scheduled for Christmas eve, as was once envisaged, giving fans the opportunity to concentrate on the festivities without having to travel long distances to support their teams. The games will now be played on Friday 22nd December, including Arsenal entertaining Liverpool.
The Premier League continues with the early kick off between Arsenal and Swansea at the Emirates Stadium, Bournemouth entertaining Chelsea at the Vitality Stadium, Brighton hosting Southampton at the Amex Stadium, Burnley entertaining Newcastle at Turf Moor, Crystal Palace host West Ham in the derby at Selhurst Park, Leicester City entertaining Everton at the King Power Stadium, Liverpool hosting Huddersfield at Anfield, Manchester United entertaining Spurs at the day’s big match at Old Trafford, Watford host Stoke City at Vicarage Road, and West Bromwich Albion entertain in form and league leaders Manchester City at the Hawthorns.
Allan Jackson has been involved in soccer for more than 40 years as a player, referee, administrator and freelance writer.