Wins change Burnley perspective

Sean Dyche suggests two wins in a week have changed the perspective on Burnley after they overcame Cardiff 2-1 on Sunday.

Sam Vokes scored the winning goal in the second half for the Clarets as Cardiff saw their winless start to the season extended despite the Bluebirds having played well at home.

Vokes stooped to head home a Johann Berg Gudmundsson cross with 20 minutes remaining to move Burnley up into 12th place as they backed up last weekend's 4-0 home win over Bournemouth.

Gudmundsson had headed Burnley in front with his side's first effort on target six minutes after half-time.

Cardiff responded when summer signing Josh Murphy scored his first Premier League goal on the hour but the defeat leaves Neil Warnock's men above only Huddersfield in the Premier League table.

Joe Hart, impressive against Bournemouth last time out, made some excellent saves before Burnley went in front and manager Dyche feels back-to-back wins have quickly changed the outlook for his team.

"A week ago there were a few stories knocking around. Now we've won two in a row – one at home, one away – and the stories change," said the Burnley boss.

"There are a lot of things to be pleased with, particularly the three points. It was a mixed bag and in the first half Cardiff did so well, we couldn't get a foothold into the game.

"Over a season you won't dominate every week, you have to show a willingness to fight, a desire to win. There are no easy games against Neil Warnock sides and we knew that would be the case. Winning home and away changes the mentality…belief comes back into the group."

Burnley are 11/10 to make it three wins on trot when they host bottom-of-the-table Huddersfield on Saturday, while Cardiff are 14/1 put their first win on the board away to Tottenham.

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Guardiola wary of Reds’ threat

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has admitted to feeling threatened by Liverpool ahead of next weekend's mouthwatering clash at Anfield.

The reigning Premier League champions took over top spot on Saturday after defeating Brighton 2-0 at the Etihad Stadium, while Liverpool's 100 per cent record fell by the way side as they were held to a 1-1 draw at Chelsea.

City lead Liverpool by virtue of a better goal difference going into the clash on Sunday, but they have not beaten the Merseysiders in any competition since 2013 and have lost on their last six trips to Anfield.

Guardiola claims his players won't let that record affect them, but he acknowledges that Jurgen Klopp's men are a credible title rival this term.

He said: "I believe too much in that team, in those guys. I know how they fight. Go to Anfield, win, lose, whatever. It's a long time ago Man City was able to win at Anfield. What I want to see is the team alive, and we are alive.

"If they beat us three times, they are a good side. They lost the first game in the Carabao Cup (against Chelsea last week) but at Anfield they score a lot of goals, they don't concede."

In the meantime City have to focus on the Champions League as they travel to Germany to face Hoffenheim in Group F looking to bounce back from the surprise opening home defeat against Lyon.

City, who are 4/11 to defeat the Bundesliga outfit, are priced at 9/5 to win at Anfield, while Liverpool are 11/8 to come out on top and the draw is available at 5/2.

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Livermore issues warning to rivals

Jake Livermore has warned West Brom's rivals that "there is a lot more to come from us" after they went to the top of the Championship table.

Darren Moore's side took advantage of Leeds United's 1-1 draw at Sheffield Wednesday on Friday and Middlesbrough's inability to win at lowly Hull City to take over at the top thanks to a 3-2 win at bottom side Preston on Saturday.

Jay Rodriguez, a Ben Davies own goal and Dwight Gayle scored the goals at Deepdale as the Baggies made it three wins in succession to move them a point clear of Leeds, Boro and Sheffield United.

And, while Livermore insisted that the players were delighted with the win and to go top, he is adamant that they have yet to find their best form this season.

He told the club's website: "Most importantly it was a massive three points but we know within ourselves there's a lot more to come from us.

"This team has more to offer. Our mission today was to come out and get the three points. But we probably played better in the opening game of the season against Bolton and came away with nothing.

"It's good we're finding ways to win games now. So credit to the boys and the coaching staff and it was fantastic to get the win.

"We're under no illusions this season we're going to face teams who make it difficult for us to come and play. We may have to adapt the way we play but the most important thing is we come away with a win. By no means were we at our best but the main thing is the result and all in all it was a good day's work."

West Brom, who are 9/4 to win the Championship this season, can maintain their place at the top of the table on Wednesday when they travel to Sheffield Wednesday.

The Baggies are 1/1 to win at Hillsborough, while the Owls are priced at 13/5 to win with the draw 5/2.

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Howe: Palace are more than Zaha

Eddie Howe claims his Bournemouth side will not be just focusing on the threat of Wilfried Zaha when they face Crystal Palace on Monday.

The Cherries chief is looking for his side to rediscover their top form to bounce back from last weekend's 4-0 Premier League drubbing at Burnley.

A much-changed side defeated Blackburn 3-2 in the Carabao Cup in midweek, but Howe is set to revert to the majority of the players who have won three of their opening six league games.

Palace will arrive at the Vitality Stadium having lost just once in five with Zaha again proving to be their talisman this season with three goals in the bag to date.

However, Howe claims it is unfair to label Roy Hodgson's side a one-man team and he is wary of a number of Eagles' players who will provide a threat to Bournemouth.

Howe told Sky Sports: "He [Zaha] is an outstanding player. He did well against us in the two games last year, we found him difficult to deal with.

"From our prospective that is something we will look to improve. As I would say with any team it is not just him.

"Yes we need to deal with, be aware of and you have Andros Townsend on the other wing who has had a good start to the season.

"When [Christian] Benteke plays he is a focal point for them, they have got excellent midfielders, a lot of experience.

"So there are a lot of areas that they manage very well. But of course we have good players the other way. We know if we are at the top of our game we are a match for anyone."

Bournemouth are 5/4 to win on Monday, while Palace are 12/5 to come out on top, with Zaha 2/1 to score at any time and the draw is 5/2.

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Champions League: Is this Too Early for Ajax?

Bayern Munich vs Ajax

The big Champions League clash in Group E sees Bayern welcome Ajax to the Allianz Arena in a game which may turn out to be men against boys.

That’s no disrespect to Ajax, but Dutch football has been going through a period of transition, and the national team has often reflected the fortunes of their most famous club side. And while Erik ten Hag’s team is showing promise, Bayern are very much the Bundesliga finished article.

Both teams started with a win in Group E, and Ajax have high hopes of joining the German champions in qualification. However, they have a mammoth task in Munich this week. Bayern are one of the favourites in the Champions League 2018 betting markets as they sit fourth at odds of 7.50, only a little bit behind favourites Manchester City.

But there is a chink of light for Ajax as Bayern are suffering a rare, albeit minor, dip in form.

Talking Points

Can Bayern Munich secure their second consecutive win in Champions League

Bayern Munich players aim for a comeback after losing against Hertha

Bayern recently had a five-match winning streak halted by Augsburg, and it got worse at the beginning of the weekend when they lost to Hertha Berlin—in front of 75,000 fans—to allow BVB to take the top spot in the Bundesliga.

Although the champions have an injury list which includes Leon Goretzka and Corentin Tolisso, they’ll still be wondering how they finished empty-handed at the weekend. They had 65 percent possession and 24 shots to Hertha’s six, but there’s only one statistic which really matters and that’s 0-2.

That’s encouraging for Ajax, but it could also be a real danger, as with a little pain to add to their undoubted talent, the Bundesliga champions could take their frustration on the next unfortunate eleven which comes into view.

Niko Kovac’s team had a comfortable start to their Champions League campaign, beating Benfica 2-0 with goals from the prolific Robert Lewandowski and Renato Sanches, returning to Germany after a disastrous season at Swansea.

And they will be after more blood on Wednesday.

It will be big Champions League 2018 news indeed if Ajax can spring a surprise in Munich. And they won’t be short in confidence after getting their European campaign to a fine start with a 3-0 home win over AEK Athens—with wing-back Nicolas Tagliafico scoring a brace and impressive young midfielder Donny van de Beek adding a third.

Ajax are trailing PSV Eindhoven in the Eredivisie by six points as the leaders have won seven in seven, but Ten Hag does have proven quality in his side to complement the youth. Dusan Tadic joined Ajax in an £11 million move from Premier League club Southampton in the summer, as did former Manchester United defender Daley Blind. Furthermore, in attacking midfielder Hakim Ziyech, the Dutch team has a real livewire.

History

Champions League 2018 betting fans are predicting a home win as Bayern host Ajax

Robert Lewandowski celebrates scoring goal against Benfica

Both teams come into this match with five wins from seven, though Bayern’s two slip-ups have been their most recent games while Ajax arrive on back-to-back wins.

It has been 14 years since these two giants of European football met, for the only time in the Champions League, with Bayern coming out on top after a draw in Amsterdam and a convincing 4-0 home win.

Niko Kovac has taken over a team which has dominated on its home front and fought tenaciously in Europe. But Bayern won the last of its five Champions Leagues back in 2013, and their fans believe they are overdue another success.

Of course, Ajax have a rich tradition in European football, but we have to look a little further back to the early 1970s when they won three European Cups on the run, between 1971 and 1973, as the great Johan Cruyff burst onto the world scene. With four titles in total, they are just one behind their hosts…but maybe this year is a little early for Ten Hag’s team to challenge again.

Betting Tip

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Bayern Munich vs Ajax Ajax Asian Handicap +2.00 @ 1.99
October 03, 03:00 (GMT+8)

Ajax are at a massive 14.00 to win in Munich and we won’t go that far with our us predictions, but Bayern’s recent stuttering form will give the underdogs some hope.

If the Dutch can keep it tight in the first 20 minutes, then they can quiet the home crowd. But we know how ruthless the Germans can be when they get their noses in front.

There should be goals in this game with Over 3.50 at 1.94, and Under 3.50 at 1.96…so take your pick.

Can Ten Hag’s boys frustrate the Bundesliga champions? Only time will tell, but it will be a fascinating watch.

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It’s Time for Man City to Shine in Champions League

Hoffenheim vs Manchester City

Pep Guardiola takes his Manchester City to Hoffenheim this week in the second round of the Champions League, and it’s fair to say he needs a result.

Both teams have regrets from their opening Champions League 2018 results, with Hoffenheim conceding a late equaliser and Manchester City losing their game. And that makes this fixture rather more important, particularly for the English champions as they try to shake off their reputation as European new boys.

Talking Points

Manchester City are the current Champions League 2018 betting favourites vs Hoffenheim

Pep Guardiola’s men are eyeing a win after ending their last UCL match in a draw

Pep Guardiola’s team has a lot to live up to in the Premier League, but they are yet to be established as a major force in Europe.

The Champions League 2018 betting markets have installed them as early favourites; however, a shock home defeat to Lyon in their first foray of the season has cast doubts over their European credentials once again.

The Sky Blues are still favourites to lift the trophy next May at odds of 5.50 with us football, but the long-suffering City fans must have wondered whether they were catching a Euro cold yet again. Guardiola spent the game against Lyon in the stands after he was handed a touchline ban, and that maybe shows just how important the coach is to his players.

They have been in impressive form in the league, drawing just one game against a dangerous Wolves team and returning back to the top of the Premier League with a 2-0 win over Brighton on Saturday. Sergio Aguero was on target again and the Argentine striker just seems to be getting better and better.

Pep will tell his players they can make up ground quickly in Group F as Hoffenheim drew 2-2 in their opener, with Julian Nagelsmann’s men surely disappointed after dropping points despite leading twice against Shakhtar Donetsk.

Nagelsmann’s team has an attacking threat, primarily in the form of Andrej Kramaric who scored a late penalty in a 1-2 home defeat to RB Leipzig this weekend. The Croatian striker has quick feet and an eye for goal, and he has a good foil alongside him in six-foot-four target-man Adam Szalai who has also been in the goals this season.

Die Kraichgauer have shown they can be a big player in the Bundesliga, winning a Champions League place for the first time in elevated company. And although it has been a mixed start to the domestic season with just two wins and seven points from the opening six games, they can boast that they took a point against the highly fancied BVB.

History

Champions League 2018 results,

Julian Nagelsmann’s side are aiming for their first UCL win

This is the first meeting between Hoffenheim and Manchester City, primarily because the Germans haven’t been around the high echelons of football for long. They are not the most popular team in the Bundesliga, having benefited from the huge investment of software billionaire Dietmar Hopp. But since arriving in the top division, they have improved steadily and finished third last season.

Moreover, in Nagelsmann, they have one of the best young coaches in world football—though he is set to head off to Leipzig in the summer.

Ask any Manchester United supporter and they’ll point out the similarities between Hoffenheim and Manchester City. After decades in the wilderness, the Sky Blues landed huge investment in 2008 when the Abu Dhabi group took over, and over the past ten years, they have become one of the best and most powerful clubs on the planet.

City fans will remind us, of course, that their beloved team won the League in 1968, and who can begrudge them their present success after living in the shadow of their neighbours for so long?

Hoffenheim have won only one of the nine European matches they have played in, and the only time they hosted an English side, it came out on the end of a 1-2 defeat to Liverpool in last year’s Champions League play-offs.

But the Sky Blues have not always travelled well in Germany, winning just once in ten attempts, losing six and drawing three.

Betting Tip

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Hoffenheim vs Manchester City Under 3.25 goals @ 2.03
October 03, 00:55 (GMT+8)

I think Die Kraichgauer will give the favourites a good game. Still searching for their first Champions League win and with home advantage, they will not roll over.

While both teams have potent attacks, I expect Nagelsmann to set his team up to frustrate. Hoffenheim are at very long odds of 8.00 to win this home game, but that could be quite a temptation given Manchester City’s struggles in Germany. The Sky Blues are at 1.36 with the draw at 4.70.

Manchester City don’t always make it easy for themselves, particularly in Europe, but their fans will feel more relaxed if they can take control of the game early on. A Half Time/Full Time result of Away-Away will pay them odds of 1.79.

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Bale injury worry for Real

Gareth Bale is a doubt for Real Madrid's Champions League clash against CSKA Moscow after suffering an abductor injury against Atletico Madrid.

The Wales international was substituted at half-time in the frustrating goalless La Liga derby draw at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday with Los Blancos coach Julen Lopetegui claiming it was a precautionary measure.

The severity of Bale's injury will become clearer following a scan, but at the moment it looks likely that he will not be involved in the Group G encounter in Russia on Tuesday night.

Losing the 30-year-old would be a big blow to Lopetegui given that he is already without several key men.

He said: "Bale had discomfort in his abductor at half-time and as a precaution he didn't come out for the second half.

"We will test him on Sunday and we'll see."

He added: "Isco had appendicitis, which is a shame, and we hope that Marcelo is back in a few weeks.

"It's not good that we've got injuries and we will look for solutions."

Real Madrid are 4/9 to win at CSKA Moscow, while the hosts are priced at 11/2 and the draw is available at 7/2.

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Salah wins Klopp support

Jurgen Klopp is in no doubt that Mohamed Salah will rediscover his goalscoring form for Liverpool after his disapointing display at Chelsea.

The Reds boss substituted the Egypt international after 66 minutes of Saturday evening's 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge with the closest he came to scoring being in the first half when he had an effort cleared off the line by Antonio Rudiger.

Salah, who has scored three goals in his opening seven league outings, does not look like the same player who scored 44 goals in all competitions last term and picked up the Premier League golden boot with 32 in 36 games.

However, Klopp is refusing to press the panic button as the German can see Salah's game gradually coming together.

He said: "It was not Mo's best game of his career, 100 per cent.

"In a game like this constantly in situations he comes in, that makes you a world-class player. You fail, you miss, whatever, that happens.

"He wants to be decisive, he wants to score in these situations. The first ball he missed it was not the right position. The next one he passed. Why? He could've finished again.

"It's like riding a bike. It's not like you wake up in the morning and you cannot finish any more or cannot ride a bike any more.

"That's how it is, you only need to work for these moments when it's clicking. That's the period he is in, no problem with that, so all good."

Salah, who is 13/2 to finish top scorer in the Premier League again this term, will get a chance to get on the scorehseet in midweek when Liverpool travel to face Napoli in the Champions League.

Liverpool are priced at 1/1 to win the Group C clash and Napoli are 13/5 to come out on top with the draw 5/2.

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Champions League: One More Chance for Mourinho, Manchester United

Manchester United vs Valencia

Jose Mourinho and Manchester United are in a mess, but they still have a chance to get things right and recover from their recent slump when they play Spanish side Valencia in the Champions League.

The Red Devils need a win right now, especially after their embarrassing defeat to West Ham United last time out. The club is in chaos—with fans and pundits alike pointing the blame to manager Jose Mourinho—and only a victory will ease things for them, even just a little bit.

Struggling Valencia seem to be the perfect opponents for United at this point in time, though Marcelino and his men will also see the game against the English outfit as an opportunity to hit the ground running.

Talking Points

More pressure on Jose Mourinho

Mourinho’s days of being “special” seem to be over, and the Portuguese boss appears to be a mere shadow of his former self—struggling to find an answer to save his team and guide them back to relevance.

Manchester United have lost four and drew one of their last nine games in all competitions, and the future isn’t looking particularly bright for them with a three-game winless run.

They drew with Wolverhampton two weeks ago and everything has been in a downward spiral since then. The Red Devils bowed down to Derby County in a penalty shoot-out in the Carabao Cup before losing 3-1 to the Hammers at London Stadium.

While the team could have been forgiven had they played with intensity, that was not the case as Mourinho appeared to have lost the locker room. As what numerous outlets reported, the team played with no real desire and hunger against West Ham, and it’s all the manager to blame.

The pressure is indeed on Mourinho, and he needs to deliver if he wants to stay at Old Trafford. He still has the support of the club’s top brass and, perhaps, some of the fans. However, it remains to be seen how long can their patience last. After all, this is Manchester  United we’re talking about.

Lifeless Pogba, Ineffective Sanchez

While all fingers point to Mourinho for United’s slump, Manchester United’s top players should also share the blame.

There are high expectations on Paul Pogba after his expensive return to Old Trafford two years ago, but he is yet to live up to his hefty price tag two seasons later.

Pogba’s conflict with Mourinho has been well documented too, with the Frenchman even stripped off the captaincy duties following his criticism of the manager’s defensive tactics even when playing at home. The 25-year-old midfielder, however, didn’t help his case as he was lifeless and non-impactful in 70 minutes of action against West Ham.

Man United fans expect Paul Pogba to step up and lead the Red Devils when they play Valencia in the Champions League

Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba looking frustrated during a Premier League match against West Ham United

With the clear disconnect between the manager and his best player, their relationship looks like a ticking time bomb. In fact, according to the latest reports, Pogba made it clear he won’t back down against Mourinho and is even willing to stop playing for the Portuguese tactician.

Besides Pogba, Alexis Sanchez’ current form also doesn’t help Mourinho and the Red Devils. The Chilean forward showed flashes of brilliance during the preseason, but he failed to translate that form to top-flight level and has reverted back to his old self.

Sanchez hasn’t found the back of the net so far this season, and Mourinho has run out of patience and decided to drop him from the Starting XI.

The two will be crucial for Manchester United when they play host to Valencia, but the question remains if they are willing to play and if they will be at their best.

Can Valencia take advantage?

With all the off-the-pitch issues surrounding United, Valencia have a great chance to strike and make the Champions League 2018 news.

The team cannot become overconfident as they have only won once in their first seven games in La Liga. Nevertheless, they know they are in a way better form than United right now, and that they have the likes of Michy Batshuayi, Rodrigo, Kevin Gameiro, Santi Mina and Denis Cheryshev who they can lean on in difficult situations.

They lost to Juventus in their UCL opener, but they recently ended their winless skid with a clinical 1-0 win over Real Sociedad in the Spanish top flight.

History

The two clubs have played some close matches over the years, with five of their previous eight encounters—and four of the last five—ending in a draw.

Manchester United have won twice, the latest a 1-0 victory in their 2010/11 Champions League group stage match. Meanwhile, Valencia’s last win over the Red Devils was 36 years ago, a 2-1 win at the Mestalla in the 1982/83 UEFA Cup.

The Red Devils currently lead Group H of the Champions League after their 3-0 drubbing of Young Boys in the opener. Meanwhile, Valencia are third but remain point-less after also losing their opening fixture.

Betting Tip

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Manchester United vs Valencia 1X2 Draw @ 3.40
October 03, 03:00 (GMT+8)

The Champions League 2018 odds at us put Manchester United way ahead of Valencia, but I don’t like their prospects of winning given their issues and current form. Besides, drawing with a team like Wolverhampton and then losing to a championship side aren’t easy to overlook.

I think both teams have an equal chance in this game, and it won’t be wrong to expect a draw at Old Trafford this time around.

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Three-week lay-off for Cech

Arsenal boss Unai Emery expects goalkeeper Petr Cech to be out for up to three weeks after he suffered a hamstring injury against Watford.

The 36-year-old Czech Republic custodian seemed to tweak his hamstring when taking a goal-kick during Saturday's 2-0 Premier League win at the Emirates Stadium and was replaced by summer signing Bernd Leno who made his league bow.

Afterwards, Emery suggested Cech will be missing until after next month's international break and Leno will deputise for the Europa League trip to FK Qarabag on Thursday and Premier League game against Fulham at Craven Cottage next Sunday.

However, the Spanish tactician appeared to suggest that Cech will be restored to the side when he is fit regardless of how well the 26-year-old German plays in his absence.

On leno, Emery said: "He can convince me, but not now.

"He played because of an injury to Petr Cech but I am very happy with him. He has waited for his moment."

Meanwhile, Emery was critical of his side's play despite them securing a seventh successive win courtesy of Craig Cathcart's 81st-minute own goal and a Mesut Ozil strike.

He added: "The first half was not easy but our defensive moments were good. They were more than we wanted but we did well in the first half.

"In the second half, we scored two goals but we conceded two good chances for them. We need more control, we need to continue to improve with the control, with the possession, with the positioning.

"But it's not easy. Each match is very difficult. I am happy because we are becoming more competitive.

"The ball was near our box for a lot of moments and the rhythm of the match is not particularly what we want. Our players in the first half were a little nervous and we need to continue in being calm."

Arsenal are 2/5 to win their next outing against Qarabag in Azerbaijan this week, while the hosts are 15/2 to win the Europa League Group E clash and the draw is 10/3.

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