Puel hails battling Foxes

Leicester City boss Claude Puel was pleased with his team's fighting spirit as they clinched their first victory of the season by beating Wolves 2-0.

The visitors started well at the King Power Stadium, with Raul Jimenez and Joao Moutinho both hitting the woodwork.

However, the Foxes rode their luck and a Matt Doherty own goal gave them the lead before James Maddison doubled their advantage.

Leicester secured their first three-point haul of the campaign despite having Jamie Vardy sent off in the second half.

A delighted Puel said afterwards: "It was a tough game against a good team. They played well and they have a system in their play. It's difficult to defend against this team and, in the first 20 minutes, we were not in a good position.

"But I am happy about our fighting spirit. We scored two times and we had other chances to score. I am happy about our solidity and fighting spirit because, without this mentality, it was not possible to win this game."

Leicester, 8/13 to finish in the top half of the Premier League table this season, can be backed at 15/8 to win their next game of the campaign against Southampton.

Bielsa relieved to extend record

Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa admitted his side had not been at their best on Saturday in the 2-0 derby victory over Rotherham United.

Second-half goals from Luke Ayling and Kemar Roofe made it four wins out of four for Leeds who are 13/8 to be promoted this season.

However, Bielsa accepted that the Millers, 11/10 to be relegated from the Championship in 2018/19, were the better side in the first half and could easily have been ahead at the interval.

"The problems we had during the first half were more linked to our own goal," said Bielsa. "The first half would have been better if Rotherham didn't have the offensive action that they had.

"We built too much from the back, it was not easy for us to go from a defensive position to an offensive one. Unlike the two first games, this looked more like a Championship game.

"We could have ended the first half conceding goals, Rotherham had three clear moments where they could have scored a goal and these actions were provoked by the mistakes we made.”

Prolific Baggies please Brunt

Chris Brunt sees no reason why free-scoring West Brom cannot make an immediate return to the Premier League.

The Baggies thrashed QPR 7-1 on Saturday and have now scored 13 goals in the first four games of the Championship campaign.

Darren Moore's team are 2/1 to be promoted this season, while Leeds United can be backed at 13/8 and Stoke City at 3/1.

Matt Phillips and Jay Rodriguez both scored twice for Albion while Kieran Gibbs, Dwight Gayle and Hal Robson-Kanu were also on target.

"We've done well this season in the transfer window to hold on to our attacking players. We've also brought in Dwight Gayle and Harvey Barnes and we've seen immediately how much of an impact they can have," said a delighted Brunt.

"To get out of this league you need to score a lot of goals and we've certainly done that in the last couple of games.

"Hopefully over the next couple of weeks, with no midweek game this week, we can work on a few things in training.

"We've got a good squad of players that are capable of doing well this year – of doing really well – so hopefully that's just the start of it."

Hazard rules out August move

Belgium international Eden Hazard has made it clear that he will not leave Chelsea this month but has not ruled out the possibility of a move next year.

The 27-year-old hinted last month that he could leave Stamford Bridge and there were suggestions that he would be following his international team-mate Thibaut Courtois to Real Madrid.

However, even though the Spanish transfer window is open until the end of the month, Hazard has dismissed the possibility of leaving last season's FA Cup winners.

He said: "You know what I said after the World Cup. I'm happy here, I do not want to talk about that yet.

"Many things have been said – nonsense and everything. For now, I'm happy. I still have two years of contract [left] and we'll see what happens. I will not leave [this year].

"The transfer window in England is already closed. We can sell but we cannot sign players. It would be a bit strange for [Chelsea] to let me go and not recruit another player.

"We could see [against Arsenal] that the fans like me a lot. I feel good here. We'll see what happens in a year or two years."

Chelsea beat Arsenal 3-2 on Saturday and can be backed at 12/1 to win the Premier League title this season and at 1/2 to finish in the top four.

Emery has reasons to be cheerful

Arsenal boss Unai Emery insists he took plenty of positives from his team's display in the 3-2 defeat to Chelsea on Saturday.

The Gunners are without a point after two matches having lost 2-0 at home to Manchester City, 8/13 to win the Premier League title once again this season, last weekend.

Arsenal fell 2-0 behind in the first quarter of the match at Stamford Bridge with Pedro and Alvaro Morata scoring for Chelsea, but they were level at half time thanks to two goals in four minutes by Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi.

After a tighter second half, Marcos Alonso scored Chelsea's winner, and Arsenal are now 13/5 to finish in the top four of the Premier League this season.

Former Valencia and Paris St-Germain boss Emery said after his side's London derby defeat: "First, it's whether you win or lose. We lost. The result is important.

"We want to win. This is always the way but it is clear that defensively we suffered three goals but also we had chances to score more goals. I think the result is 3-2 but we also think we did [have] chances to score more.

"But it is one process. In the second half we played with two midfielders who were 19 and 21 years old. They improve and are continuing. I am happy without the result."

Pellegrini pleads for patience

Manuel Pellegrini has blamed West Ham United's poor start to the 2018/19 campaign on problems that stemmed from last season.

The Hammers lost 2-1 at home to Bournemouth on Saturday after slumping to a 4-0 defeat at Liverpool last weekend.

West Ham had taken a first-half lead against the Cherries through Marko Arnautovic's penalty, but goals by Callum Wilson and Steve Cook handed the three points to the visitors.

Under Slaven Bilic and then David Moyes last season the Hammers struggled, only moving away from relegation danger in the closing weeks of the campaign.

When asked whether or not the experiences from last season had caused West Ham's current woes, former Manchester City boss Pellegrini said: "I think so, yes…yes.

"That is one of the reasons why in the second half we changed so much trying to keep it 1-0. What they need is to try to work the 90 minutes in the way they did [the first] 45.

"We knew before that we need time when you have so many new players, a new manager and style of play.

"But, most of all, we need to forget about last season. We need to recover the trust in each player and what they can do. We need to recover the trust as a club and that is what me must do this week."

West Ham are 5/1 to be relegated this term and 13/2 to beat Arsenal in their next Premier League clash.

La Liga Match Report: Get the Ball to Messi!

For the first time in almost a decade in La Liga, us fans don’t have the top two players in the world to drool over.

However, the magic of one remains and was evident as champions Barcelona launched the defence of a title which they are favourites to retain—certainly according to La Liga 2018 betting odds

Highlights of the game

Lionel Messi has once again proven his greatness after leading Barcelona to a 3-0 La Liga season opening victory

Lionel Messi celebrates with fans after leading Barcelona to a 3-0 victory against Alaves during La Liga season opening game

The magic of Lionel Messi remains alive and well.

That was evident, even if Barcelona did leave it rather late to secure a hard-fought victory.

In many ways, the spirited-but-limited Alaves were perfect opponents, failing to muster a shot on target and laying the red carpet out with a guard of honour—in recognition of Barca’s title triumph last season and their Spanish Super Cup success earlier later in the week.

To their credit, the Basque said set themselves up so they were difficult to break down, with lines of four and five frustrating the hosts who naturally dominated possession.

Just as frustration was notching up a level and the Catalan giants were meeting resilience at every turn, Alaves’ defensive code was breached.

A superb free-kick under the wall after 64 minutes—remember this one at Russia 2018—opened the scoring from the little No.10 talisman who had earlier hit the crossbar from a free-kick.

Then half-time substitute Philippe Coutinho, for whom so much is expected as he starts his first full season in Catalonia, sealed the victory when he curled home a second seven minutes from time.

Messi, of course, had the final word in stoppage time when he trapped the ball with his chest, held off the attention of two defenders and steered a low shot into the bottom corner.

Looking ahead, there is a feeling that boss Ernesto Valverde has shipped out some of the players who probably weren’t up to scratch for a top squad, namely Andre Gomes, Yerry Mina and Marlon.

With respect, they are all players of calibre (and Gerard Deulofeu and Lucas Digne have more promise than the aforementioned), but Barca now seem to have more quality in key areas. The recruitment of Malcom and Arturo Vidal seem good business now, while the return from injury of Rafinha is a boost.

This match seemed to prove that point.

There’s also the fact some players who have not had a pre-season due to their exploits at the World Cup will need time to get up to speed, notably Ivan Rakitic and Samuel Umtiti.

Meanwhile, the likes of Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele, who showed plenty of promise here, will be looking to start their Barca careers in earnest.

Fans even got the chance to see two of their new recruits in the second half, with Arthur and Vidal brought on while fellow summer arrivals Malcom and Clement Lenglet remained on the bench.

In a post-Cristiano Ronaldo era at Real Madrid, Barca are the team to beat, even if they will miss Andres Iniesta at some point.

Whether it will be quite the margins of last term—a 14 point advantage over second-placed Atletico Madrid and a 17-point gap between themselves and arch-rivals Real Madrid—is highly unlikely, but they have started in style.

Messi, Barcelona’s top scorer last term with 34 goals, is up and running too!

Key statistics

Messi’s opener was Barcelona’s 6,000th La Liga goal. He also scored the club’s 5,000th league goal in 2009.

As well as scoring twice, the diminutive Argentina international also struck the woodwork twice.

Interestingly though, Messi has now scored in 15 consecutive La Liga campaigns. Furthermore, he alone has scored just over six percent of Barcelona’s top-flight goals in the club’s history with 385.

Alaves were the last club to win a league game at the home of Barcelona. They defeated them 2-1 at the Nou Camp in September 2016.

This was Luis Suarez’s 200th appearance for Barcelona since he joined the club in 2014.

Barcelona have only lost once at home on the opening day of the season (against Espanyol in 1939).

What’s next?

Next up for the champions, who will feature in plenty of La Liga 2018 highlights, is a trip to newly promoted Valladolid.

They then welcome another newly promoted side to the Nou Camp in Huesca on September before the international break.

Alaves’ first home match of the campaign is against Real Betis next weekend.

It’s a double-header for the hosts who then entertain Espanyol on September, again directly before the international break.

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Serie A: Brilliant Comeback as Napoli Open New Season in Style

Lazio 1-2 Napoli

Napoli gave Juventus a tough time in the Serie A last year, pushing the Bianconeri all the way to the final weeks before they were able to secure the Scudetto. Now, the Partenopei are back and ready for another chase.

Carlo Ancelotti and his new charges made sure to prove that point in the first big game of the 2018/19 season as they beat last year’s fifth placers, Lazio, in a thrilling three-goal contest at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

Napoli could have scored more in the tightly contested affair, but they would still be delighted getting maximum points after going down by a goal in the early proceedings of the match.

Highlights of the game

Lazio moved ahead in less than 30 minutes behind Ciro Immobile, who top-scored the Italian top-flight last campaign with 29 goals. However, their lead didn’t last until halftime after Arkadiusz Milik converted from close range to equalise.

Napoli continued to dominate in the second half, and their efforts paid off big time as Lorenzo Insigne scored the winner just before the hour to put them ahead for good.

Simone Inzaghi’s men threatened right from the off, with Martin Caceres given two opportunities to score in the opening five minutes. Nonetheless, it was not until the 25th minute that they were able to finally find the back of the net.

Immobile broke the deadlock following a long pass from Francesco Acerbi. The 28-year-old striker collected the ball and shook off three Napoli players to find some space for a curling left-footed shot to the top-left corner.

Napoli fought back mightily and thought they were able to level matters before halftime through a Milik strike, but a foul in the build-up of the goal—reviewed by the VAR—cancelled the equaliser.

The Partenopei, and Milik, won’t be denied though as the 24-year-old Pole made sure to finish the job in first-half stoppage time. Jose Callejon crossed the ball into the box and Milik wasted no time as he quickly fired home.

Both teams had their chances in the second half, but it was Napoli who got the edge come the hour. The visitors withstood the increased pressure from the Lazio frontline and found a breakthrough of their own when Insigne was left unmarked near the corner of the penalty area.

Allan redirected the ball to Insigne who needed only one touch to control the ball and position his body for a curling effort to the right post.

Lazio tried their best to get back into the game with the time remaining. However, in the end, the best they could muster was an Acerbi header that hit the post in frustration of the home fans that thought they were on their way to a winning start.

Key statistics

Lazio fans would be forgiven for thinking they have the game in the bag, but numbers don’t lie and it was clear that Napoli were the better team this time around.

Ancelotti, who made a winning start to his Napoli managerial career, saw his team finish with 65 percent possession and a total of three shots on target. Lazio, on the other hand, had the same number of shots with 10 but only one was on target.

Napoli’s seven corners shouldn’t be ignored too. After all, Milik’s goal that was ruled out by the VAR was a result of a corner.

Napoli also continued their domination over Lazio. The Naples-based team have now won six of their last seven matches against the Rome squad, with the other one ending in a draw.

Ancelotti is also certain to be the headline of Serie A 2018 news, thanks to his near immaculate record in opening day games. The former Bayern Munich boss hasn’t lost in an opening game with a new team, winning six times and drawing the other.

Interestingly for Lazio, it’s the first time that Immobile scored against Napoli since his first Serie A match against the team, way back in 2012 when he was still with Genoa.

Ciro Immobile breaks record as he scores his first goal against Napoli in their Serie A opening game

Lazio’s Ciro Immobile reacts after scoring against AS Roma during their Serie A match in November 2017

What’s next?

Napoli face AC Milan next in what should be another entertaining encounter. The Serie A 2018 betting odds have Napoli as clear runners-up again this year, but our predictions at us have them in a close contest for second to fourth against Roma and AC Milan.

With that said, their Matchday 2 meeting is crucial in their quest for replicating their success last year.

Lazio, meanwhile, have a tough assignment as they play Juventus next. The Bianconeri are coming off a 3-2 win over Chievo in the league opener, but Cristiano Ronaldo failed to score and will surely be determined to be on the scoresheet next week.

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Sarri demands more composure

Maurizio Sarri has told his Chelsea players that they need to keep their focus for 90 minutes after they secured a thrilling 3-2 derby win against Arsenal.

The Blues raced into a 2-0 lead after only 20 minutes thanks to goals by Pedro and Alvaro Morata but some defensive frailties surfaced as the Gunners hit back to level through Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi.

The second half was a tighter affair but Marcos Alonso grabbed the winner for Sarri's side with a late goal after good play by Eden Hazard.

"I think we did really very well in the first 25 minutes," former Napoli coach Sarri said afterwards.

"But we need to continue and press and press and press in the other half. Otherwise, for us it is maybe a problem. I hope that we are able to play 90 minutes like the first 25.

"The 15 minutes at the end of the first half was horrible. I enjoyed the match for 75 minutes, not in the other 15. In the other 15 it was better to smoke, I think."

Chelsea have taken six points from their first two matches and are available at 12/1 to win the Premier League title this season while Arsenal can be backed at 13/5 to finish in the top four.

Premier League Leicester vs Wolves: Ten-Man Foxes Bite the Wolves

Leicester City 2-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers

The Foxes and Wolves both tried their best to play ferocious football against considerably tough competition, and both of them fared well. Wolverhampton split the points with Everton while Leicester almost pulled off a draw against Manchester United.

The Premier League Leicester vs Wolves match was a game the two clubs were hoping to utilise in order to jumpstart their campaigns and get more points on the table. It’s games like this that will decide whether a team stays up in the English top flight or heads down to the Championship with some of the other former Premier League sides.

The kind of match the King Power Stadium crowd saw was a great battle, where two blue-collar sides showed no fear of rough-housing and made considerable tackles. The game got so physical that Michael Dean got busy bringing out the cards out of his pocket.

Fortunately for the home crowd, Leicester won this Battle of the Predators and secured the three points. This is a great boon for Claude Puel’s men as they try to vie for a better finish this season. Meanwhile, Nuno Espirito Santo will have to go back to the drawing board and see how he will get his squad to work.

Highlights of the game

Premier League Leicester vs Wolves: James Maddison gets one in for the Foxes

Leicester City players celebrate after James Maddison scores their second goal against the Wolves

The match started with both sides poking the defence and attempting to break through for an early lead. The Wolves, with the Portugal national team standing in for the Starting XI, were the first ones to test keeper and Danish guardian deity Kasper Schmeichel.

Joao Moutinho got hold of a loose pass and tried a cannon from the edge of the box. Unfortunately for him, the shot was blocked by a crossbar as it was quickly cleared to safety. Matt Doherty quickly followed up with his own shot in the fourth minute, but a Leicester defender managed to block the shot.

Leicester vs Wolves odds were starting to move towards the favour of the visitors as the match went on. They kept on pounding the backline, trying to break through and find the winning goal. Bullet-like passes were fired by both sides to little success. Raul Jimenez, however, managed to turn one pass into a goal-scoring opportunity after firing his shot to the top-right corner. Schmeichel made a brilliant save to keep the score clean.

It was during the middle of the first half that the Wolves suddenly find themselves in back foot, however. Marc Albrighton fired a corner from the right, hoping that it would turn out to something positive. Doherty hesitated and mistakenly headed the ball to his own net.

This is where the game — and the Leicester vs Wolves highlights — started to pick up. Leicester made the most out of the sudden momentum shift and connected strings of brilliant attacks. Rui Patricio had to make brilliant saves and give precise instructions in order to halt the bleeding. Ruben Neves tried to lead Wolves through with his superb passing.

However, James Maddison sealed the game with a winner of a strike at the death of the first half. Ricardo Pereira’s piercing run from the right opened the space in front of Maddison. Leicester’s No10, who had a strong outing against Manchester United, then fired a shot from just outside the box. The shot was deflected just enough to be out of reach for Patricio.

The second half didn’t see much action in terms of goals. However, Leicester did everything they can to at least bring themselves within striking distance of the game. Adama Traore fired a powerful shot inside the penalty area, but Schmeichel superbly kept his clean sheet.

It was in the 66th minute that the King Power Stadium saw its first red card of the season. Jamie Vardy made an uncharacteristically rough tackle from Doherty, and the danger of the tackle was more than enough to convince Dean to pull out the red card.

The referee brought out the yellow card three more times as tempers flared, but nobody followed Vardy to the showers as the game ended in a resounding Leicester victory.

Key statistics

This victory gives Leicester a five-game advantage over Wolves in their head-to-head scoreboards. The result has also built an interesting pattern: the home team has always won the last four times these two clubs played each other.

Leicester had a tad bit of the ball during the first half, but Nuno’s half-time tweaks during the second half saw Wolves with much of the ball for the remainder of the game. Wolves also took more corner kicks and goal attempts as they desperately tried to salvage a result.

Vardy is the third Premier League player to be slapped with a red card in the first two weeks of Premier League action. He joins Isaac Hayden of Newcastle on the bench as they serve their one-game suspensions. Everton’s Phil Jagielka already did time for his red card during the club’s first game of the season.

What’s next?

Premier League Leicester vs Wolves surely entertain football fans with their intense match

Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo watches his side play Leicester City at the King Power Stadium

Leicester will be headed south as they face Southampton next in the Premier League. With Vardy suspended, Puel will need Shinji Okazaki and the rest of the strike force to be on the ready to play in place of their talisman striker.

Meanwhile, Wolverhampton Wanderers’ season continues to get harder. They face defending champions Manchester City next. us fans may already be writing them off, but super signing Rui Patricio may be able to pull off a surprise result.

 

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