VAR: Everything that you need to know

For ages the footballing world has been debating whether or not video assistant referees should be brought into the game. It has been a topic of much controversy and last week VAR made its debut in English football in the Brighton vs Crystal Palace FA Cup third round game at the AMEX stadium. Below is everything that you need to know about this technology which could change the game we know and love, for the better.


When will it be used?


There are 4 instances within a game where VAR can be used and they are:

  • Goals


  • Penalties


  • Straight reds


  • Cases of mistaken identity


When will it not be used?


  • Second yellow cards


  • Referees are not able to be unsure on a decision and say “ I want to look at a replay”, they have to make a decision and if its wrong it will be overturned by the VAR


How will we know when it is being used?


There are 3 ways in which us watching at home or sitting in the stadium will know it is being used:


  1. A word in the earpiece:


This was demonstrated in the Brighton v Palace game where referee Andre Marriner and the Video Assistant referee Neil Swarbrick spoke via the earpiece over 11 decisions throughout the match, one of which was Glen Murray’s winner. None of the decisions made were wrong and therefore there was no need to stop the game to look at a review.

The Chief of referees, Mike Riley, has said that this method may cause confusion amongst fans in the stadium as they will struggle to understand what is going on. He has said that they will review how to communicate what is going on to ensure that all fans are exactly clear on the situation.

Martin Atkinson also used the earpiece in the Carabao Cup semi-final 1st leg between Chelsea and Arsenal, a match which ended 0-0 at Stamford Bridge. Atkinson asked the video assistant referee, Neil Swarbrick, about two potential red cards and two potential penalty decisions. He was satisfied with the information given to him by the VAR and therefore did not overturn his decision.


  1. VAR decides:

This process has not happened yet at the trial games but hen an actual video review is needed, the ref will “draw a rectangle with his arms”, signaling the use of the VAR.

If the decision is clear, for example if a player has scored a goal using his arm, the VAR will inform the referee of this and therefore he will overturn his decision without using a further replay. The referee will then make a “TV screen signal” and change his decision.

Either the referee or the VAR can decide whether or not an incident needs reviewing.

The TV signal that referees have to make
  1. On-field review:

It is similar the situation above, however this is for decisions that are less clear. In these scenarios the VAR will encourage the ref to look at pitch side monitors for an “on the field review”

Following their review, the referee will once again make a “TV screen signal” to communicate the final decision. The fans that are inside the stadium will be unable to see the replays that the ref will see, however fans watching at home will be able to see every single one of the camera angles so it will be clear to see whether or not it is the correct decision.

The pitch side monitors

What has the reaction been from the trials:

Overall managers have been very impressed with the use of VAR in the trial games. Crystal Palace Manager Roy Hodgson praised the officials and the VAR system, despite losing the game. As well as this both Arsene Wenger and Antonio Conte also praised the use of VAR in their semi-final 1st leg draw.


However, VAR did not stop the Crystal Palace players confronting the referee after the game against Brighton. They were clearly unhappy about Glen Murray’s winner which they felt went in off the player’s arm. Players should be aware that they can still receive punishments for questioning a referee or demanding the use of the VAR.

As well as players, managers who strongly appeal for VAR, or try and influence the decision of a referee, will also be sent off.

The Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri has publicly made it known that he feels as though the use of VAR will delay the game and he fears that the game is “turning into baseball”


When will VAR be used next?

VAR is being used again in the FA – Cup 3rd round replays between Chelsea and Norwich, as well as Leicester City and Fleetwood Town. As well as this, VAR will be used in every round of the FA Cup depending whether or not the game is televised and whether or not the ground hosting the match is of a premier league side. VAR will also be used again in the second leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Chelsea.

Unfortunately, VAR can only be used in Premier League stadiums where there is a direct link back to the Premier League studios. This is due to the fact that this is where the VAR has access to between 12-15 camera angles which includes 4 in each goal.


David Luiz to Van Dijk: Top 10 fees for defenders

On the 27th of December, Liverpool gave their fans a late Christmas present in order to try to amend a leaky defence that has already conceded 23 goals this season. They announced the signing of Centre back Virgil van Dijk from Southampton for £75 million, a world-record fee for a defender. Van Dijk immadiately secured a place in the hearts of Liverpool fans with the winning goal in their FA-Cup 3rd round derby game against Everton. The Dutchman has really impressed in his short 2 and a half years in the Premier League, earning him a move to Liverpool however it is the fee that has got everyone talking this week. It broke the previous record by over £21 million pounds and many people have questioned whether or not Van Dijk will be able to live up to this hefty price tag.


Below we will be taking a look at the top 10 fees paid for defenders:


Eliaquim Mangala – £32m


Mangala moved to Manchester City from Porto in August 2014 but it hasn’t been the easiest ride for him at City. He was unable to nail down a spot in the first team due to the likes of Kompany, Stones, Otamendi and therefore in 2016 he was loaned to Valencia. However, he has slowly become backin line for a place in the starting XI. Mangala has started 9 games since an injury to John stones, with City winning all 9 and keeping 3 clean sheets.


Thiago Silva – £33m


Silva moved from AC Milan to PSG in the Summer of 2012 in a double deal which also saw Zlatan Ibrahimović move to the Parisian Club.  In the 5 and a half years he has been at the club, Thiago Silva has been an imperative part of their success winning the Ligue 1 title four times, the Coupe de France three times and has been included in Fifa and UEFA teams of the season a few times.


David Luiz – £34m


The Brazilian moved back to Chelsea from PSG in September 2016 due to new Manager Antonio Conte’s strong interest in the Player. Luiz originally moved to Paris from Chelsea in 2014. Since returning he played a major part in Chelsea’s title winning side last season.


Shkodran Mustafi – £35m


The German International and World cup winner, moved to Arsenal from Valencia in Summer transfer window of 2016. He has since cemented a first team place in the Arsenal team and went on to win the FA Cup and Community Shield in his first season at the Club.


Leonardo Bonucci – £35.2m

In August 2017, the Italian made the move AC Milan from Juventus after winning 6 Serie A titles and 3 Coppa Italia’s in Turin. He had many offers from Premier League Clubs but rejected all of these in order to play for the 7 times Champions League winners. Unfortunately, Bonucci is yet to make an impact in Milan with the club in 11th place, 14 points off 4th .


John Stones – £47.5m

Stones moved from Everton to Man City in August of 2016 in new Manager Pep Guardiola’s first window in charge of City. In his first season, Stones came under heavy criticism for not living up to his extremely high price tag and could only help City to finish 3rd in the League. However, this season, he has been an integral part of a City team which is so far unbeaten in the League and has only conceded 12 goals.


David Luiz (again) – £50m

Luiz Moved from Chelsea to PSG in June 2014 after falling out of favour in West London. He joined PSG just before the World Cup where he Captained the Brazil side that lost 7-1 in the Semi-finals to Germany.  He went on to Win 2 league titles and various cup winners medals.


Benjamin Mendy – £52m

The Frenchman, played a huge part in Monaco’s success last season which included winning the league and reaching the semi-finals off the Champions League. The left back, who is known for his love of social media, joined City from Monaco in last summer’s transfer window. Unfortunately, after impressing early on for City, he was ruled out for the rest of the season after suffering a knee injury in September.


Kyle Walker – £54m

After starring at Right back for Spurs for many years, the Englishmen joined Man city in July of 2017. Between him and Mendy, City spent over £100m on full-backs in the summer, a clear weakness outlined from last season by Guardiola. Walker has nailed down a regular place in the City team which so far has not lost a game and he is continuing to prove his substantial price tag week in week out.



Van Dijk – £75m


Victor Moses: From the streets of Nigeria to PL Champion

Both starring at right wing back in Chelsea’s title-winning season and being nominated for BBC African Player of the Year 2017 are arguably two of the biggest achievements in the career of Victor Moses.

However life hasn’t always been simple for the 26-year old from Nigeria. From becoming an orphan to being sent out on loan continuously, Moses has had to overcome a great deal of hurdles and has had to show significant amounts of perseverance to be where he is today.

His disrupted childhood

In 2002 ,whilst he was playing football in the streets, both his Mother and Father were tragically killed in religious clashes in Nigeria. Almost immediately, the rest of his family managed to summon enough money to send an 11-year old Victor Moses to England as an asylum seeker. Upon arrival in England, Moses was given Foster parents. They sent him to a school in South Norwood, which was close to an asylum support and immigration Centre in Croydon.

In an interview with BBC Sport, Moses explained “It was tough in the beginning – being suddenly thrown into a different culture and stuff like that”. He went on to say that making friends was extremely difficult for him especially as when he first arrived he could not speak the language.

Moses also told the BBC that it was difficult to start with but he ‘survived’. I strongly feel that it was this surviving through the toughest times that has lead him to be the player and the man that he is today.

The first steps of an illustrious football career

Once he had settled into life as an orphan, in a completely different world to what he was used to, Victor Moses took his first steps in becoming the player that he is today.

He began playing football for fun, however due to his constant enthusiasm and his clear footballing talent, he caught the eye of a local team called Cosmos 90 FC who played in a nearby youth league. This was Moses’ first feel of organized football and it was clear to those that were observing him that he had a great footballing ability.


One particular story that stood out from the youth career of Moses was told by Youth team manager Tony Loizi. Loizi said “… Victor goes up to the goalkeeper, puts the ball through his legs, turns around chips it back over his head and then beats him again. The kid was in tears he absolutely humiliated him”. He then went on to explain that the mother of the child came onto the pitch and starts hitting him over his head with her handbaf as he humiliated him. Loizi says “ It doesn’t matter how good you are, you have got to be humble”

At the time Moses joined Cosmos 90, they weren’t in the best of form and were clearly struggling in their division. However, the arrival of the young Nigerian managed to change the clubs fortunes and the name Victor Moses was suddenly. Due to this increased attention, he was snapped up by Crystal Palace after an impressive trial. This was only the start of a career that has now consisted of a Premier League winners medal, a Europa League winners medal and a cap in the World Cup.

The handbag story

According to his biography and, at 13 years old, Victor scored so many goals against the opposition that after humiliating the goalkeeper, the boy’s Mum ran on the pitch and started hitting him over the head with a handbag.


His professional career

Moses made his first team debut for Palace at the age of 16 on 6 November 2007 in a 1–1 draw with Cardiff City. He kept his place in the side thereafter and scored his first senior goal on 12 March 2008 in a 1–1 draw with West Bromwich Albion. Moses went on to play 58 times for Palace, scoring 11 goals before sealing a 2.5 million pound transfer to Wigan on the final day of the 2010 January Transfer window.

After playing for Wigan 78 times and scoring 8 times, Moses caught the eye of Chelsea. Chelsea had 4 bids turned down for the player before having a fifth bid finally accepted on the 23rd August 2012.

Prior to the arrival of Antonio Conte in 2016, no manager at Chelsea other than Rafa Benitez had given Moses a sniff of first team action. However, Conte had seen something in the Nigerian that nobody, even Moses himself, had spotted.

Moses was thrust into Chelsea’s starting line up for the first time in 3 years in October 2016 playing in the unfamiliar position of Right wing back. He Adapted to the unfamiliar role so well that not only was he named man of the match in that game but he also went on to play 22 games in a row after that.

Moses told BBC sport “ I had never played in that (wing-back) position before and when the manager came in, he talked me through it and then put me there”. He also added “It was good to have the manager’s support, and he backed me and gave me the confidence to go out there and express myself”

Moses played a huge role role in the title winning team of Chelsea last season, calling the day they won the title as ‘one of the happiest in his life’.

Victor Moses has had to overcome both personal heartbreak and repeated setbacks within football to be where he is today, being able to play at a level where surely nobody thought that he would ever reach.

Football must learn to deal with Mental Illness

Mental health in football is a topic rarely spoken about. There is the occasional footballer who’s illness goes public, in which case there is a flurry of conversation for a few days/weeks, but then it is back to square one. It becomes taboo again and the stigma continues. But things must change, and football needs to learn how to deal with mental illness.

Football’s ‘Lad’ Culture

A large reason for football’s struggle with mental illness is due to the ‘laddish’ culture embedded in the sport. Mental illness is seen as a weakness and players fear for their jobs if they come forward. One such example is of a player who wrote a piece for the Telegraph, in May 2017, as ‘the Secret Footballer’. This epitomises everything wrong with football’s battle with mental health. There is a realisation that mental illness is real, but the player suffering is afraid of the repercussions and, thus, feels the need to hide their identity.

The life of a professional footballer is glorified, and the vast majority of people have little sympathy towards them. There is a notion that footballers, or anybody with fame and money for that matter, is immune to darkness. But, in reality, they are human just like the rest of us. They have emotions and suffer from issues. In addition to this, they are prone to huge pressures and stress as they are lumped into the public eye before they even know how to deal with it.

And above all, football is such a testosterone driven game that players are encouraged to bury their feelings and show no weakness. Therefore players hide mental health difficulties from those who are responsible for their welfare and well-being. These include coaches, managers, and, most importantly, medical professionals employed by football clubs.

High Profile Suffering

But in recent years a number of high profile players have come forward with their sufferings. These include Steven Caulker, Clarke Carlisle and Stan Collymore. Stan Collymore, especially, has been a big advocate in helping others going through similar issues and is very public about his own suffering.

And more recently, Aaron Lennon, stopped playing for a while due to mental health. The 30-year-old Everton winger was taken to hospital in May after suffering from a stress-related illness. He is now back playing for Everton, and to a pretty good level, but only because of the support he received.

This emphasises the importance of managing those with mental health issues in the best way possible, making the story of the “Secret Footballer” even more baffling. He recalls the first time he told his manager he was going through depression and the incredible reaction of his supposed mentor. “I can remember the first time I told my manager that I was suffering with depression. I was almost in tears, but he didn’t flinch. Finally he leaned forward in his chair and said, “if at any time you’re not feeling quite right upstairs, then you must tell me.” It was such a relief and I was grateful for his understanding. Then he said, “because we have other players that can play.”

Moving Forward in Football

This kind of attitude is unacceptable and must be stamped out. Studies have shown that professional footballers’ work is characterised by uncertainty due to contracts, injuries and relocation. They also suffer from loneliness, superficial working relationships and mistrust of others. And on top of that, the constant pressure they are under is unlike any other job.

More high-profile people, most notably Prince Harry in recent weeks, have come forward to share their struggles with mental health. This goes a long way to resolving the misconception that status and wealth act as protection against mental ill-health. Mental health, like all illnesses, is indiscriminate.

The loosening of the stigma around mental health in our culture is certainly a positive development and now its time for the world of football to follow suit.

Who are the best teams in the Premier League era?

Manchester City are obliterating everything that comes in their way and, with 18 games gone, they have accrued 52 points from a possible 54. Currently undefeated, they are simply running away with it, and breaking records with ease. But the question on everyone’s mind now is whether they could be considered the best team in the Premier League era? There have been some brilliant teams in the past so here are the teams City will be competing against.

Arsenal, 1997-98

Wenger’s first great team at Arsenal ended United’s dominance of the 1990s by winning the Premier League and FA Cup in 1998. And many believe this team were better than the ‘Invincibles’. They had an incredibly resolute defence and one of the best central midfield partnerships the Premier League has ever seen. Patrick Vieira and Emmanuel Petit complemented each other so well, whilst bullying teams along the way. They claimed 15 wins from 16 Premier League games at the turn of the year and, with an FA Cup thrown in for good measure, will be considered by some as Wenger’s best team.

Gary Neville is one of those that believes this Arsenal team was better than the team in 2003/04. “The side that I regard as their greatest ever [is] not the Invincibles of 2003, but the 1998 double-winning team,” said Neville. “They were the strongest domestic team I have ever played against… by far. They were experienced and strong, both mentally and physically. They were tough. They didn’t have the touch of arrogance that would come in the Henry years when their attitude was ‘you can’t touch us, we’re French and we’re brilliant’.” The Invincibles had a “soft centre” according to the experienced Neville.

Manchester United 1998-99

The Treble winners are arguably United’s best team of all time. It included greats such as goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel, the so-called “Class of 92” in David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Gary and Philip Neville and Nicky Butt, as well as the likes of Roy Keane and Eric Cantona. They had such resilience, as well as a whole range of personalities that worked so well together. All United teams under Ferguson have fought until the death, but this team took it to another level. Much like City this season, United in ’99 had the ability to win games when the clock was ticking down to its final seconds. And the most famous example of this was, of course, the two goals scored against Bayern Munich in added time to secure the Champions League.

It remains a truly remarkable feat, and Sir Alex Ferguson paid testament to their spirit for achieving this impossible task. He said, “The most important thing was the spirit of this team. They just never gave in, they don’t know how to. They’ve got that beast inside them and they found it when it mattered. People will never forget this team.” Too right we won’t.

Arsenal 2003-04

Arsenal’s “Invincibles” of 2004 are the next obvious comparisons. They are the only Premier League side to go a season undefeated but City will have one eye on this record after their impressive start. Arsene Wenger’s side had an incredible balance to their team. And with the likes of Lehman, Campbell, Viera and Henry, had possibly the strongest spine of all time. Add to that the flair and brains of the players around them, and you could say they had it all. But in terms of the number of points and games won, the Blues are currently outperforming them. City have secured 10 more points and scored 22 more goals than their counterparts at the same stage of the campaign and will be relishing the challenge of going undefeated for the season.

That team were voted as the Best Team in the Premier League’s 20 Seasons Awards, back in 2012. And Patrick Viera recalled the keys to success. “We had a commitment, we worked really hard, we had momentum and overall the spirit between the players and in the football club was so positive. It was all about believing in ourselves that we were going to win a game or at least take a point. Our self-belief as a team was fantastic. At the time we didn’t really think we were part of something special because you never know you are going to do it until the end.”

Chelsea, 2004-05/05-06

Jose Mourinho‘s Chelsea sides of 2004/05 and 2005/06 rocked the Premier League. They set the record points tally (95) for a Premier League season and were so dominant for those two years. Their season was based almost entirely around a solid defence – conceding just 15 goals and recording 25 clean sheets. Records which still stand to this day. Claude Makelele – synonymous with the defensive midfield role – was the crucial part of Chelsea’s 4-3-3 formation. A formation which swept teams aside, thanks to the counter-attacking brilliance of Arjen Robben and Damien Duff. Not forgetting the integral parts Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba played.

And when Sky Sports asked Terry if that Chelsea team would beat City, he added: ‘Yes, yes. We were never afraid to say: “They’ll have more possession than us,” but we were set, comfortable. The full-backs would always go up the pitch, and [Claude] Makelele would always sit, which was great for us centre-backs. But we had great legs, great power, and we had the big man up front. Didier [Drogba] made such a difference. We had that ball into Didier, and he could hold it up, with the runners off him and [Frank] Lampard would be box-to-box game after game.’

Manchester United, 2007-08

The Manchester United team between 2007-2009 won three consecutive Premier League titles, and a Champions League as well. They were an utterly dominant force and their breathtaking counter-attacking abilities with Ronaldo, Tevez and Rooney going forward tore teams apart. This was Ronaldo’s best season in English football, scoring 42 goals in total, and was the best United team since the treble-winning days. But for a surprise FA Cup quarterfinal defeat at home to Portsmouth that year, United probably would have gone on to win a second treble, recording more history.

And former Manchester United legend Wayne Rooney believes the current City side still have a long way to go to match up to Sir Alex Ferguson’s 2007/08 team that lifted the Premier League and Champions League double. He said: ‘I’m not sure they are quite there. They would have to keep going and do a lot more. I would go with the United team from 2008. There are so many great teams throughout the years in the Premier League. This City team need to win trophies and do it for a longer period to be in that bracket.’

On This Day in 1983: The Curious Case of the Stolen Jules Rimet Trophy

On this day 34 years ago, a remarkable story unfolded that still leaves the footballing world in utter mystery. The Jules Rimet Trophy, awarded to the winner of the World Cup, was stolen by some Brazilian thieves in a simple, but daring, theft. And it was never recovered.

History of the Jules Rimet Trophy

The Jules Rimet trophy trophy was originally called “Victory” but was renamed in 1946 to honour FIFA President Jules Rimet who had initiated the competition in 1929. It was designed by Abel Lafleur and was created in gold with a base in semi-precious stones. The original trophy depicts Nike, the Greek Goddess of Victory, holding some sort of cup/vessel.

The trophy is seeped in history and was first awarded to Uruguay after their triumph over Argentina in the 1930 World Cup. It was was then lifted by the Italians for successive tournaments. And following on from the Second World War, returned to Uruguay in 1950, before West Germany won their first of three titles four years later. But the next 25 years of the trophy’s history was all about Brazil. It represented a combination of Brazilian elation and eventual heartbreak and embarrassment.

In 1930 Fifa agreed that, should any nation win three finals, they would be given the trophy for good. Brazil achieved this in 1970, following their thrashing of Italy in Mexico. And therefore, the trophy was presented to the Brazilian Football Confederation.

Burglary in Brazil

This is where it remained until one night on the 19 December 1983, the trophy was stolen. Two thieves (some say three) tied-up the nightwatchman and forced open the wooden frame of the bulletproof-glassed display box that held the trophy. They swiped the trophy and ran. To this day no-one was ever charged with the robbery and, as such, it remains elusive, despite a countrywide manhunt (and trophy hunt) and a few arrests.

Brazilian idol Pele, sympathised with the criminals, blaming the robbery instead on ‘desperation’ due to the country’s widespread poverty at the time. Others, however, were not so sympathetic and in 1989 one of those arrested suspects – Antonio Carlos Aranha – was found dead having been shot seven times.

What happened to the trophy after the theft?

The most widely believed theory is that the Jules Rimet was melted and sold as bullion. But football writer Simon Kuper has voiced his reservations about this theory. He pointed out that the original trophy wasn’t actually made of solid gold, but of silver coated with gold.

“The story has holes,” Kuper claims. “For a start, the Rimet couldn’t be melted into gold bars because it wasn’t solid gold. Most likely, the German replica wasn’t all gold either. Moreover, the police had no evidence the trophy had been melted down. Indeed, the convicted Argentine gold dealer Juan Carlos Hernandez testified that he didn’t melt it down.”

And thus the mystery goes on. There is still very little evidence and knowledge of what happened to the trophy that night. But one thing is for sure: it wasn’t the only time the trophy had been stolen.

Previous Mishaps

The Jules Rimet World Cup trophy was also stolen while on exhibition in London just before the 1966 finals. On that occasion, however, the trophy was recovered. Pickles the dog came to the rescue seven days after the theft, discovering the trophy wrapped in newspaper outside the front garden of a house in South London.

The FA commissioned a replica trophy to be made in time for the tournament and rumours surfaced that the trophy England handed back in 1970 was indeed the replica. They had it checked and confirmed the one returned to the Mexico World Cup was the real one. The ‘replica’ was then sold in an auction in 1997 and purchased by FIFA for a staggering £254,500. FIFA later admitted they did this due to the possibility that the replica could actually be the real one. It wasn’t, and they forked out a quarter of a million on a replica.

Comedic Film

The incident has become so comical that a comedy-drama has been created based on these events. “Jules and Dolores” follows the thieves behind the 1983 theft of the legendary Jules Rimet trophy in Rio de Janeiro.

Man City Odds To Be Unbeaten All Season

We are almost halfway through the season, and the impossible is slowly starting to become possible once more. After Arsene Wenger’s Invincibles of 2003/04 we never thought we would see that again in the Premier League. But Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City might just replicate Arsenal’s achievements and become even better Invincibles – the stats point in that direction at least.

After their victory over Manchester United on the weekend, City broke the Premier League record for the most consecutive victories in a single season- with 14. And should they beat Swansea City tonight, they could break the longest winning run in the Premier League ever. They are currently equal with Arsenal, who won 14 successive matches between February and August 2002 – over the course of two seasons. But achieving it in a single season will be a far greater feat.

Blistering Start!

Their blistering start to the season has seen them head and shoulders above their rivals- and analysing almost any metric will back this up. They have won the most matches, scored the most goals, conceded the fewest, and dominated possession in every match, whilst completing the most passes. They have blown away almost all of their competitors, averaging 3 goals a game. And they are surpassing all sorts of records after 16 games of a Premier League season.

The Blues have dropped just two points in the league so far, which is eight fewer than Arsenal did in their invincible campaign at the same point in the season. With City currently on 46 points, they are projected to become the first Premier League team to break the 100 points in a season tally (109), record the largest winning margin (26) and score the most goals (114). This is by no means a guarantee as they would need to continue at their incredible rate. But just the fact that we are taking about this so early in the season is testament to their performances this season.

There is still a long way to go and a lot of tough fixtures to play, including a difficult match-up with last season’s runners up Spurs on the weekend. But if they are able to come out of the Christmas/New Year period unscathed, then they have a great chance of achieving this.

Manchester City Odds

Manchester City’s odds of going the season unbeaten have been slashed after their win at Old Trafford on the weekend. Bet 365 held their odds at 10/1 before the weekend but have now reduced them to 6/1 following the impressive victory. And they have also reduced the odds of City winning the league by a record margin to 4/1. After the fairy-tale of Leicester City a couple of seasons ago, the bookies are now far more cautious with their odds.

5 Stats Pointing City in the Right Direction

  1. Chelsea hold the record for the most points won in a Premier League season, racking up 95 in 2004-05. After 16 games of that campaign they had 39 points. City have 46 from their 16 games. That would have been enough to earn them eighth place last season.
  2. Antonio Conte’s Chelsea set the record for most wins in a Premier League season (30). City already have 15, three games before the halfway point.
  3. Chelsea also hold the record for most goals scored in a season, notching 103 under Carlo Ancelotti in 2009-10. They had scored 40 after 16 games of that season, eight less than City have managed so far.
  4. City are on track to set a new record for the best goals difference. Chelsea finished +71 in 2009-10 but were only +27 after 16 games. City are already +37.
  5. City set a new record for average possession in a season in Pep Guardiola’s first year (60%), but they are at 66% after 16 games of this season. That’s more than seven per cent higher than anyone else in the Premier League (Tottenham 58.7%) and more than any other team in Europe’s major five leagues.

Story of the 1930 World Cup

The 1930 FIFA World Cup was the inaugural FIFA World Cup, taking place in Uruguay from 13 July to 30 July 1930. A large reason FIFA selected Uruguay as host nation was due to their upcoming centennial celebration of its first constitution. Additionally, they were considered to be one of the best teams in the world at the time, having just won successive Olympic golds, and Jules Rimet, president of FIFA at the time, liked the idea of the host being the strongest team.

Brief History of FIFA

FIFA, the international governing body of football, was formed in 1904. Prior to the World Cup, they generally organised the Olympic football tournaments, with their first gig coming in 1908. And due to the success of the tournament, FIFA expanded their membership to non-European countries as well. The first of these countries to join were South Africa, Argentina and Canada. With Chile and the United States joining shortly after.

But the tournaments at the Olympic games were only open to amateurs and FIFA disagreed with the IOC  over this, so football was dropped from the Games for the 1932 edition. As a result, Jules Rimet took it upon himself to organise the first World Cup tournament. A tournament where both professionals and amateurs are included.

Who Qualified?

There was limited time to get teams invovled, and as such, the 1930 World Cup became the first and only tournament that was played without qualification. All 41 members of FIFA were invited to participate in the competition and given until February 28 to either accept or decline. Countries in the Americas were keen to participate, whilst those in Europe were far less so – mainly due to the long and costly trip.

No European entries were received before the February deadline but thanks to some persuasion from Rimet, four teams agreed to travel.  And after some teething troubles and withdrawals, 13 teams were eventually confirmed. All the European nations – Belgium, Romania, Yugoslavia and France – traveled to South America on the same ship, picking Brazil up on the way. In total, seven teams from South America, four from Europe and two from North America participated.


All matches were played in the Uruguayan capital, Montevideo, due to a lack of facilities around the country. And the majority of these matches were played at the Estadio Centenario, which was built specifically for the tournament. The stadium hosted 10 of the 18 matches, including both semi-finals and the final and had a capacity of 90,000. At the time, it had the largest capacity of any stadium around the world, apart from those on the British Isles. The other stadiums used were Estadio Pocitos, and Estadio Parque Central.

Tournament Format

The teams were drawn into four separate groups – three groups of three and one group of four. A round-robin format was played, with two points awarded for a win and one point for a draw. And the four group winners progressed to the knockout semi-final stage, with extra-time being played in these matches if needed. Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, and the United States were seeded, and were kept apart in the draw.

Let the games begin!

The first two matches of the tournament started at the same time on July 13 1930 with France beating Mexico 4-1 and the United States beating Belgium 3-0. Frenchman Lucien Laurent scored the first goal of the tournament, whilst the first World Cup hat-trick was scored a few days later by American Bert Patenaude in their 3–0 win against Paraguay.

Argentina, Yugoslavia, Uruguay and the United States were the tournament’s semi-finalists. But both matches ended up one sided affairs. Uruguay smashed Yugoslavia 6-1, whilst Argentina repeated that scoreline over the United States a day later.

And in the first World Cup final, held on July 30, 1930, 93,000 spectators looked on as Uruguay defeated Argentina 4–2 in a rematch of the 1928 Olympic gold medal game.

How Premier League Players Train

Once you become a professional footballer, the hard work does not stop. In fact, it probably gets even harder. And as a Premier League player it is vital they continue training off the pitch in order to see the positive results on it. Here are some snippets of how certain players improve on their strength, speed and avoid stiff muscles. Courtesy of FourFourTwo.


Players need to have a solid base of strength throughout their body, giving them a platform to build speed and power from. This includes, weightlifting, core strength and suspension training.

Romelu Lukaku, currently at Manchester United, is one of the strongest players in the league. And he told FourFourTwo the kind of exercises he goes through to build this up. “I’m a striker known for my power and pace and in the gym the core and TRX stuff helps me, especially with holding my man off using my arms.
“Most of the time when I run at full pace and the defender tries to push me off I don’t have to do anything because I’m that strong.”

 Tom Cleverly, another Premier League player, has been looking to improve his strength so he can run the game more effectively from the middle of the pitch. He splits his strength sessions into two – upper body and lower body. With each lasting no more than 30 minutes. He does lots of different exercises with a minutes rest in between each one.
“It’s a circuit so I’ll do one set of a chest exercise like bench press, for example, then move to a different body part after a minute’s rest.” He also advises “to have at least two or three days between your lower body routine and your next match. If you do it right, the lower body routine should really take it out of your legs – obviously not a good thing just before a match.”


Players like Harry Kane and Frank Lampard would never be the fastest, no matter how much they train. But it is still possible to improve on your speed, and be faster on your feet. They both trained hard at it and made significant improvements.

Lampard said, “When I was younger my dad told me I wasn’t the quickest and that I had to work hard on it, so ever since then I have done a lot of speed work. For example, I do five 10-yard sprints from a standing start to work on my speed off the mark. Lampard then explained how important it was to be quick in the mind. “I think if you’re one step ahead mentally you can have the edge. Try to read the game: watch your opponents and team-mates so you can anticipate their next move. When you haven’t got the ball, look around you – know what you’re going to do with it before it arrives.”

Kane also realised how important it was to be able to out-sprint your opponent from a striker’s perspective. Especially when running on to a through ball. And he has trained rigorously at bettering that.
“Being able to out-pace your opponents gives you a huge advantage in football. I did a lot of work in the gym to improve my speed. Strengthening your glutes and hamstrings will give you the power you need to accelerate explosively, but you also need to ensure that your running technique is right. I worked with a sports scientist specificially on arm movement and the mechanics of sprinting. It’s really helped me, especially when I’m chasing a through ball.”

Getting over stiffness

It is even more difficult to continue this training towards the end of your career. Once you are into your thirties, everything becomes a little bit more difficult. Stiffness is a lot more common and it takes longer to recover after matches than it did previously.

Phil Neville experienced this towards the end of his time with Everton, and he found Yoga and Pilates hugely beneficial during this period. It was the first thing he would do when he woke up and again once he got to the training ground. “I get up and perform five sun salutations [yoga] for around three minutes. The movements warm up every part of my body. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and feel stiff, and these essential exercises send energy to my muscles.”

“The first thing I do when I’m at the training ground is a 30-minute yoga session with a couple of the other players. Yoga has 26 poses, and our teacher will concentrate on five or six tailored for the movements of football. I pay particular attention to my hips and my groin.”

Who can English clubs face in the Champions League?

English clubs have made history, becoming the first nation to have five teams in the knockout stage of the competition.

Tottenham and Manchester City had confirmed top spot in game-week 5, whilst Manchester United and Liverpool did so in the final group game. Chelsea were the only English team to finish as runners-up, failing to beat Atletico Madrid in their final game.  And they lost out to Roma on the head-to-head record, after Roma had won once and drawn once against the West-Londoners.

Finishing top of the group usually provides the team with an easier route into the last eight as they are drawn against one that finished second. But this year is different with so many top teams finishing in that position. And there is now a pretty even chance for one of the group winners to get the likes of Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Juventus in the next round.

The English teams cannot be drawn against each other in the next round and, as a result, Chelsea have been placed at a significant disadvantage. Due to the impressive performances of the Premier League clubs, Chelsea can only be drawn against three teams. Two of these are Barcelona and Paris Saint Germain. Whilst the third team is Turkish club Besiktas. This leaves them vulnerable to an incredibly tough match in the next round. Something which could have been avoided.

Who can the Premier League clubs be drawn against?

Manchester United (Group A winners): Bayern Munich, Juventus, Sevilla, Shakhtar Donetsk, Porto or Real Madrid.

Chelsea (Group C runners-up): Paris St-Germain, Barcelona or Besiktas.

Liverpool (Group E winners): Basel, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Shakhtar Donetsk, Porto or Real Madrid.

Manchester City (Group F winners): Basel, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Sevilla, Porto or Real Madrid.

Tottenham (Group H winners): Basel, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Sevilla, Shakhtar Donetsk or Porto.

When is the Draw?

The Champions League draw will take place at Uefa headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland on Monday, 11 December. The draw is set to start at 11:00 GMT, with the Europa League draw immediately afterwards at 12:00 GMT.

Interesting Statistics

  • This is the seventh time in 14 years that all English clubs have progressed to knockout phase of the Champions League. The last time that happened was in the 2013/14 season when Chelsea were the last team standing, losing to Atletico Madrid in the semi-final.
  • The 2013/14 season was the only time an English club failed to make the final after all progressing to the last-16. The best season was in 2007/08 when all four teams made it to the quarter final, three made it to the semi-final and the final was fought out between Manchester United and Chelsea.