2023/24 Premier League & General Football Discussion

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Messi won it, Haaland second with Mbappe third, five Man City players in the top 10.

Bellingham won young player award, Emi Martinez won best keeper, Haaland won best goal scorer, Aitana Bonmati won Women's Ballon D'or.
 
Sheffield Wednesday scored a goal for the first time in ten hours and won a match for the first time in five months.

That is all.
 
Saudi Arabia look likely to be hosts of the 2034 Men's World Cup after Australia withdrew from the bidding process, leaving Saudi as the only bidding nation - much to the anger of many people on the Internet.

Of course, from a purely practical perspective, Saudi are the only country to bid and thus therefore it is absolutely logical that they will be awarded the Tournament.
But in reality, why is the deadline 11 years before the event? Surely they could leave it for another couple of years to see if a better candidate appears ready? FIFA are probably thrilled because Saudi can give them a load of money, but at the same time Saudi could say "We are the only bidders so why spend all that money on you?"

Nobody is questioning why Australia pulled out of the race. Did they get a payoff from Saudi? Did they think they wouldn't ever beat Saudi, or were there other reasonable problems that made them withdraw from the process?

In the end, the Qatar World Cup went pretty smoothly once it started, which will help Saudi's arguments.

TL;DR If you're the only bidder is it a crime to win?
 
Maybe it wasn't a payoff, but a threat that they'd give 20 failsons some flight lessons.
 
Saudi Arabia look likely to be hosts of the 2034 Men's World Cup after Australia withdrew from the bidding process, leaving Saudi as the only bidding nation - much to the anger of many people on the Internet.

Of course, from a purely practical perspective, Saudi are the only country to bid and thus therefore it is absolutely logical that they will be awarded the Tournament.
But in reality, why is the deadline 11 years before the event? Surely they could leave it for another couple of years to see if a better candidate appears ready? FIFA are probably thrilled because Saudi can give them a load of money, but at the same time Saudi could say "We are the only bidders so why spend all that money on you?"

Nobody is questioning why Australia pulled out of the race. Did they get a payoff from Saudi? Did they think they wouldn't ever beat Saudi, or were there other reasonable problems that made them withdraw from the process?

In the end, the Qatar World Cup went pretty smoothly once it started, which will help Saudi's arguments.

TL;DR If you're the only bidder is it a crime to win?
11 years from now, Saudi Pro League will be the "Mecca" of Footballing anyway.
 
A few interesting topics from the weekend.

Perhaps the biggest one was another VAR row, this time involving Arsenal who felt that the ball had crossed the line and gone out of play in the build up to Newcastle's goal, there is no conclusive proof that the ball did go out of play, nor was there any for the alleged foul and offside in the same play but that didn't stop Arteta's rant and the fairly embarrassing statement from Arsenal after the game.

A couple of surprise results yesterday, Forest beat Villa 2-0 and Luton drew 1-1 at home to Liverpool, Luton took the lead but it was Luis Diaz who got the equalizer which is a great story in itself, can't imagine what he has been going through for the past week or so. The game was sadly marred by tragedy-chanting from some Luton 'fans', the Police and FA are investigating.

It was the first round of the FA Cup over the weekend, some shocks including non-league Aldershot beating Swindon 7-4 away from home and they were 7-0 up, top of the National League Chesterfield beat top of League One Portsmouth, non-league sides Horsham and Slough Town got replays out of Barnsley and Grimsby and so to did Cray Valley Paper Mills (which is they're actual name) they went down the road to Charlton and got a replay.
 
Still no place for Raheem Sterling in the latest England squad, he hasn't been picked since the World Cup despite being one of England's best players in recent years, 80 caps with 25 goals and 27 assists is a bloody good record. Southgate said the door is still open for him and the reason he gave is that they have played so well in recent qualifiers that he found it difficult to leave anyone out, I think that might be it for Sterling with England.

England have already qualified for next summers Euros and face the weaker opposition in the group in Malta and North Macedonia, Reece James is the only other notable omission as he has only recently returned from injury and hasn't played 90 mins yet this season, Callum Wilson is the only recall.
 
Another International break has begun, its the last one until March though.

It has been a bit of a mad weekend in the Premier League, ending with that great 4-4 draw between Chelsea and Man City yesterday.

Sir Bobby Charlton's funeral has taken place today in Manchester Cathedral, thousands lined up outside Old Trafford as the procession drove by.
 
The battle at the top is looking great in the Prem. Top 5 separated by 3 points and none look bulletproof so far. Tottenham have fallen off recently with injuries, Villa are dark horses and Arsenal are carrying on from last year. Man City Vs Liverpool after the International Break will be telling.

The relegation "battle" looks already pretty sealed on as the three promoted teams though.
 
In shocking news, football is bent unless you buy your way to being a big team.
 
Its does seem harsh, from what I understand your only allowed to record a loss of a certain amount and Everton were £19.5 million over the amount for that period. That does seem like a lot but to give them an immediate 10 point deduction is excessive.

Plus the Man City thing as well...
 
Wales doing Wales things in Internationals, beat Croatia 2-0 last time but got a crap 1-1 in Armenia today, it means that whilst Wales do go above Croatia into second in the group Croatia are currently beating Latvia. Croatia place Armenia in their last game with Wales at home to already qualified Turkey.

Might be time to part ways with Rob Page.
 
So that's this International break done and no more until March! Top flight football resumes this weekend.

Just a round-up of Euro qualifiers as that has finished, only three spots left which will come from the play-offs which take place in March.

Here are the nations who have qualified from the group stage.

Albania, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, England, France, Germany (as hosts), Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Scotland, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkiye.

Here are the teams in the play offs.

Georgia, Greece, Poland, Kazakhstan, Luxembourg, Wales, Israel, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Finland, Ukraine, Iceland, Estonia.

Play off draw takes place tomorrow at 11am GMT and the group stage draw for Euro 2024 take place this Saturday.

The play-offs now seem pretty confusing as it involves the Nations League and some nations have got a play off spot because of their performance in that competition and not the qualifiers.
 
So the Premier League returns this weekend and it could be a big one, here are the games.

Saturday.
Burnley v West Ham
Brentford v Arsenal (5.30 TNT)
Luton v Crystal Palace
Man City v Liverpool (12.30 Sky)
Newcastle v Chelsea
Nottingham Forest v Brighton
Sheffield United v Bournemouth

Sunday.
Everton v Man United (4.30 Sky)
Tottenham v Aston Villa (2pm Sky)

Monday.
Fulham v Wolves (8pm Sky)

City v Liverpool, Newcastle v Chelsea and Spurs v Villa all big games, not confident at all for that trip to Goodison Park on Sunday!
 
Cristiano Ronaldo: Al-Nassr striker asks referee to overturn penalty he won

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Al-Nassr had already qualified for the knockout stages before the match in Riyadh.

 
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So Brighton last night bear AEK Athens 1-0 to guarantee safe passage through to the knockout phase of the Europa League, the European dream continues! We host Marseille at the AMEX in 2 weeks to decide who goes through as group winners.

Liverpool and West Ham also confirmed their places in the knockouts with wins over LASK and TSC respectively.
 
In Scotland,

Celtic lost out to Italian side Lazio 2-0, meaning it is confirmed that they will play no part in European football in general after Christmas. The Glaswegians dominated during spells, but the clinical finishing of a Ciro Immobile brace meant that the Buoys will finish last in their group. Celtic will play their last group game in the UCL against

Ross McCausland scored his first goal for Rangers as they forced a 1-1 draw with Cypriot side Aris Limassol. This results secures Rangers will play in either one of the Europa knock-out stages after Christmas, with one game to play against group leaders Real Betis.The Cypriots goal came against the run of play, with Shavy Babicka netting, and the game was played firmly in the Aris half, but Rangers lacked the clinical finishing of an Europa league knockout team, and stumbled to a deserved draw.

A much changedAberdeen played out their second draw against Finnish champions HJK Helsinki, with an Angus McDonald thunderbolt being the highlight of a 2-2 thriller. The Dons had to come from two behind, as Hassane Bande and Santerri Hostikka got the bottom team of the group off to an ideal start. However, McDonald had other ideas, with an incredible goal from well outside the box getting them back in the game. A 52nd minute equaliser from Duk, who has been out of form this season, meant that the points were shared in Helsinki. Aberdeen will finish their European campaign against Eintracht Frankfurt at Pittodrie, and they are already out of the group, with PAOK also progressing.
 
Everton have submitted their appeal to the 10-point deduction.

A couple of big games at the bottom this weekend, Burnley v Sheffield United and Forest v Everton, City v Spurs and Newcastle v Man United are the big games towards the top. There are league game on in mid week next week too with all of them being on Amazon.
 
EURO 2024 groups have been drawn.

Group A: Germany, Scotland, Hungary, Switzerland

Group B: Spain, Croatia, Italy, Albania

Group C: Slovenia, Denmark, Serbia, England

Group D: Play-off winner A*, Netherlands, Austria, France

Group E: Belgium, Slovakia, Romania, Play-off winner B**

Group F: Turkey, Play-off winner C***, Portugal, Czech Republic

*Poland, Estonia, Wales, Finland, Estonia

**Israel, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Ukraine, Iceland

***Georgia, Greece, Kazakhstan, Luxembourg

Hosts Germany will open the tournament against Scotland at the Allianz Arena on June 14th.
 
FA Cup third round draw.

Luton v Bolton
Shrewsbury v Wrexham
Arsenal v Liverpool
Stoke v Brighton
Norwich v Crewe/Bristol Rovers
West Ham v Bristol City
Tottenham v Burnley
Fulham v Rotherham
West Brom v Aldershot/Stockport
Southampton v Alfreton/Walsall
AFC Wimbledon/Ramsgate v Ipswich
Peterborough v Leeds
Millwall v Leicester
Watford v Chesterfield
Sunderland v Newcastle
Sheffield Wednesday v Cardiff
Crystal Palace v Everton
Middlesbrough v Aston Villa
Nottingham Forest v Blackpool/Forest Green
Wigan v Man United
Man City v Huddersfield
Blackburn v Cambridge
Gillingham v Sheffield United
Swansea v Morcambe
Chelsea v Preston
QPR v Bournemouth
Coventry v Oxford
Brentford v Wolves
Plymouth v Sutton
Maidstone v Stevenage/Port Vale
Newport/Barnet v Eastleigh
Hull v Birmingham

Some big ties there, Arsenal v Liverpool and Sunderland v Newcastle, ties will be played on the weekend of the 5-8th January.
 
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