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FA Cup Semi-Final draw, and Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United

Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United

A game that restored my faith in the English Game

And when I say ‘restored my faith’, I don’t mean I’m one of those English fans that hates the Premier League, and always moans about it being so much worse than the other leagues, because I love the Premier League, and it is by far the most entertaining league in the world. It is, however, lacking in quality compared to the big guns in world football (namely Real Madrid and Barcelona).

The number of stars on display in tonight’s game though is reminiscent of the old games filled with the world’s best. We’ve got, in the middle of the park, Pogba vs Kante, Hazard on the wing, Diego Costa up top for the blues, (and there could have been the Swedish giant playing as United’s striker), as well as David De Gea and Thibaut Courtois in-between the sticks for Manchester United and Chelsea respectively. I’m looking forward to this game.

RED CARD  (HERRERA – 36’)

Unfortunately, it looks like the red card is going to kill this game off. Mourinho brings on Fellaini almost instantaneously and it looks as though they’re gonna park the bus from here on out. Debatable whether it was a red or not, but I can see why the referee has given it, there’s been loads of stupid niggly fouls on Hazard so far, and it looks like Michael Oliver has seen enough. It’s tough to see any team in the world beating Chelsea with 11 men on the pitch, let alone 10, so in the 36th minute it’s Chelsea’s game for the taking.

1-0 (KANTE – 51’)

It’s taken a while for Chelsea to break down the defences of United, but we shouldn’t be surprised about that when the team is managed by Mourinho. Kante shows his class once again however, and slots it hard and low in the bottom left corner from the edge of the box. World class finish to beat De Gea after he’s been having an amazing game.

KANTE IS WORLD-CLASS

N’Golo Kante is on another level – and not just in this game, (in which he won man of the match, scored the winner, and worked his arse off yet again) but in the past two seasons. If Chelsea go on to win the league this year, he will be the first Premier League player to win the title two seasons in a row with two different clubs. If you take a look at where Leicester are now, and how vulnerable Huth and Morgan look without him in front of them (they’ve gone from looking world-class to barely Premier League quality), and how the formidable partnership of Vardy and Mahrez has fallen to pieces this year, it is easy to see the impact Kante has on a team. On the flip side, take a look at how Chelsea were doing last season, and where they are now (about to grab the double). I’m not saying it’s all down to Kante, but he’s definitely made the biggest impact in turning Chelsea’s fortunes around.

THE DRAW

Shown below are the ties for the semi-finals of the FA Cup, to be held at Wembley.

Chelsea vs Spurs

Arsenal vs Manchester City

UFC 209: Pre-fight Predictions for Woodley vs Thompson and More

Today’s Monday, and the fact that there was very little (virtually none) MMA action the past weekend, combined with the fact that I’m away from Wednesday (1st March) until Sunday, I thought now would be the time to get my predictions for UFC 209 out.

UFC 209 is the UFC’s first big pay-per-view event of the year after a very successful 2016. You can always credit Dana White to provide a stacked card, and he hasn’t disappointed. The event will take place this Saturday (March 4th) at the T-Mobile arena in Las Vegas. Here are my predictions for UFC 209.

Note – this card is subject to change don’t forget to follow us on twitter for updates.

WELTERWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP – TYRON WOODLEY (C) VS STEPHEN THOMPSON (#1)

This was a cracker of a fight first-time round, and I think both fighters were disappointed with the majority draw. For me, I can see the fight going like last time, with Thompson dominating the stand-up game but just being slightly hesitant due to the power behind Woodley’s right hand. If Thompson is willing to take a few more risks I believe he can do to Tyron what he has done to many of the top contenders in this division. However, the more risks he takes, the higher Woodley’s chance of landing a takedown and getting his own way as we saw at the end of the first round last time. Another 5-round war for me, this time Woodley by decision.

Prediction – Woodley via decision.

INTERIM LIGHTWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP – KHABIB NURMAGOMEDOV (#1) VS TONY FERGUSON (#2)

Ferguson is on a good run of form going into this fight, but I just can’t see anyone getting past Khabib. He might not be the prettiest fighter, but is certainly sending out a message to all fighters in this division about the new breed of Russian fighters.

Prediction – Nurmagomedov, 3rd round via ground and pound.

MIDDLEWEIGHT – RASHAD EVANS VS LUKE KELLY

This is an interesting one – Rashad Evans has only had 2 fights in the past 3 years, and has lost both, but he always poses a threat. For me though, the Australian southpaw looks too strong.

Prediction – Kelly, 2nd round KO.

HEAVYWEIGHT – ALISTAIR OVEREEM (#3) VS MARK HUNT (#8)

I’m not too sure why this fight is so far down on the card. As a Brit, I’d love to see Overeem get the win, and I think he will do just that provided he gets Hunt to the ground. Hunt is a one-trick pony, and should Overeem get past that, he should get the win on the ground. Not a pretty one, but hopefully a win for Overeem.

Prediction – Overeem, 2nd round submission.

EFL Cup Final

Manchester United 3-2 Southampton

The Red Devils scrape past the Saints via a late Zlatan Ibrahimovic winner. The first trophy of the season goes to Jose’s men, with a possibility of three more.

As it happened…

DISALLOWED GOAL (GABBIADINI – 11’)

The first goal of the game came from the underdogs, which was wrongly disallowed – right-back Cedric’s low cross tapped into the net by Gabbiadini, who would have made it 4 goals in his first 3 games for the Saints. The Italian was in fact onside, but Ryan Bertrand, who was behind him – offside. Mourinho’s men got away with that one, and Southampton were encouraged then to press on and give United more problems to deal with (mainly in the form of low crosses).

1-0   (IBRAHIMOVIC – 19’)

A moment of cup-final magic from who else but Zlatan. He makes it his 25th goal of the season from a free-kick. Curled around the wall and into the bottom left corner. What a strike.

2-0   (LINGARD – 38’)

Jesse Lingard had been quiet all game, but manages to double their advantage. Martial, Mata and Rojo played some nice football on the left wing. The ball is cut back to Lingard on the edge of the box and he has an easy job to side-foot the ball into the back of the net. Questionable defending from Southampton, Lingard was given way too much time, and they find themselves 2-0 down.

2-1 (GABBIADINI – 45+1’)

Finally, Southampton have something their own way. Ward-Prowse plays a lovely ball through for Gabbiadini to tuck into the net, through the legs of De Gea. This time he makes it 4 goals in 3.

2-2 (GABBIADINI – 49’)

It’s that man again! No one has ever scored a hat-trick in a league cup final before… that should have been changed today, perhaps not. Southampton right back in it, Mourinho not looking happy. Goal from a corner which United do not clear properly. United looking by far the worse team out there, but with world-class players that they have in their team, that can change in an instant.

3-2 (IBRAHIMOVIC – 87’)

As predicted, United’s class comes through despite the Saint’s best efforts to take it to extra time. Bertrand and Yoshida give the Red’s number 9 too much space in the box, and Zlatan punishes them. He gets United out of trouble once again, a reoccurring theme this season, his 26th whilst no other player is even in double figures.

Round-up

Manchester United match-winner earns his 32nd trophy in his career. Speaking to Sky Sports, he says: “This is a team effort. I came to win and I am winning. This is what I predicted. To many I could not do it. My friend, I keep doing it, I’m enjoying it in England.” You can’t help but feel sorry for Southampton tonight from a neutral point of view – they dominated the game for perhaps 80 minutes of it, and were punished with a few moments of magic from top class players. Typical Jose fashion really. Had Southampton’s disallowed goal have gone in this could have been a very different story, but the first trophy of the season goes to Manchester United.

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