Weekly football conversation since 2009, with Graham Sibley, Jan Bilton and Terry Duffelen. Listen on Acast, Apple, Google, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn or your podcatcher of choice.

Weekend Boxset: Give it Rooney



There are still ten more days before the transfer window closes but will it be managerial moves that dominate the headlines? Is Wayne Rooney the perfect fit for Everton, or should he stick with the chasing a miracle at Derby?

Seven great matches to take you from Friday to Sunday. It’s the Sound of Football Weekend Boxset.


All times are GMT


Friday

La Liga: Espanyol v Real Betis
20.00 on LaLigaTV and FreeSports
Betis have been busy this last week. Los Verdiblancos are through to the next round of the Copa del Rey thanks to a victory at home to city rivals Sevilla, last Sunday. The game took two days to complete because it was suspended after Sevilla player Joan Jordan was hit by a missile thrown from the crowd during the game at Estadio Benito Villamarín. The match resumed the following day behind closed doors and Betis have been told to play without fans for their next two home games. This shouldn’t detract from Betis’ great league season so far. Arsenal fans should be aware of the great form of Hector Bellerin. The Arsenal loanee was one of the men of the match in his team’s 4-0 win over Alaves on Tuesday which took the club to third in La Liga. While a native of Barcelona, Bellerin is the son of a son of Sevilla and his dad is a Betico. He’s playing as a right-back and this authentic, all-action player is like the proverbial pig in shit. Espanyol are still comfortably in mid-table following their promotion from the Secunda last season. The man to watch at RDC is RDT: Raul de Tomas has 11 goals this season. The dynamic centre forward can be lethal in front of the goal and poses a real threat to sloppy defences in La Liga. TD


Saturday

Championship: Nottingham Forest v Derby County
12.30 on Sky Sports Football
Were this not on at the same time as Everton taking on Aston Villa at Goodison Park (over on BT Sport 1), this game might well have attracted a few curious Toffees fans, interested in checking out two credible candidates for the vacant manager role, following the sacking of Rafa Benitez. Steve Cooper is fast becoming a choice for any role for people who like to appear as if they can spot a decent outsider. His side’s match-winning display in the FA Cup against Arsenal served as a reminder of how well he did taking Swansea to the play-off final last season, and how he’s transformed Forest after taking over at the end of September, when they were in the relegation zone. Wayne Rooney is the most fancied name on the list of potential Everton managers, not just because of the obvious link but because of the incredible job he’s doing at Derby. Having been given a minus 21 point hit they have clawed their way back to a position where they are just eight points shy of safety. Even if they make it, the Rams would still be far from clear of the wolves at the door. The club is still in administration and now they have been hit with demands for compensation from Middlesbrough and Wycombe. The former for missing out on a play-off place in 2019 and the latter for being relegated in 2021. All this pressure is certain to affect performances on the pitch sooner or later. They’ve already lost Phil Jagielka to Stoke as they were unable to offer him a new contract, and this week they lost Graeme Shinnie to Wigan. While rescuing the club might be a great tale to tell, maybe it would serve Rooney best to leave now while he was ahead. GS


Bundesliga: Bochum v Köln
17.30 on Sky Sports Football
Lots to unpack with both teams. Starting with Bochum: a well-drilled group of solid journeymen under coach Thomas Reis. This newly promoted side have earned their mid-table position thanks to the above virtues and the inevitable failings of more established clubs. Top performers are veteran striker Sebastian Polter with six goals and attacking midfielder Milos Pantovic. A graduate of the Bayern Munich academy, Pantovic scored two in VfL’s 3-1 win over Mainz in the DFB Pokal this week and will be worth watching in this game. Speaking of the German Cup, Koln also played in the last round, against second division Hamburg. The game went to penalties and Effzeh were knocked out because the referee chalked off the final penalty. Florian Kaintz’ spot-kick hit the back of the net but he slipped in his run-up and accidentally touched the ball a split second before taking his kick. For a club well known for being the architects of their own downfall, this was peak Koln. Beyond that, Stefan Baumgart’s otherwise generally decent team were debagged 4-0 by Bayern last week in the league and will feel they are due a good result. TD


Serie A: Lazio v Atalanta
15.00 on BT Sport 3
Atalanta finally ended Inter’s winning run in midweek, holding the champions and league leaders to a goalless draw in Bergamot. The result opened a door for Milan to retake top spot, which they fluffed, the following evening, at home to lowly Spezia. Lazio sit on the same number of points as Roma and Fiorentina, in that position which is comfortably removed from the bottom half but also where the race for the Champions League is something happening to other people. While Sarri’s side were limping through the group stage of the Europa League, it was assumed that Thursday night football was affecting their league form, but even after getting over that hurdle the indifferent performances go on. Not that they’re a bed watch - only the Milan sides have scored more. For the neutral they can put on a great show especially at home, as seen in the recent 3-3 with Empoli and the 4-4 against Udinese. Which sets this game perfectly, as Atalanta are deep in the Champions League race and can still harbour notions of making a push for the title, should Inter slip, but are also more than aware of a recovering Juventus snapping at their heels. It will take a special performance in the Stadio Olimpico for the home side to take all three points - Le Dea are the only side in Serie A who are unbeaten on their travels. GS


Sunday

Premier League: Crystal Palace v Liverpool
14.00 on Sky Sports Premier League & Main Event
When previewing this preview on the pod I erroneously suggested that this fixture has been tasty in recent years with both teams taking a bite out of each other. But following a review that suggestion is total hogwash. The last time the Eagles beat the Reds was in April 2017 at Anfield. Palace have not won at Selhurst since November 2014. I think the point I was trying to make was that Palace have scuppered Liverpool’s plans somewhat in recent years. ’Crystanbul’ is one example (that being a dramatic 3-3 draw which more or less ended LFC’s title challenge) and Steven Gerrard final appearance at Anfield the following season which Palace ruined by winning 2-1 lol. But in the fast-moving world of Soccer this is ancient history. Both teams are missing key players who are still at AFCON and the spectre of Covid looms large, particularly over Liverpool. Consider also that Klopp’s team are struggling a little in the league. Only one win in their last four games and that was against Brentford. Add to that the emerging tactical nous of Palace coach Patrick Viera and the continued emergence of Michael Olise and maybe Palace can get something from this game. TD


Premier League: Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur
16.30 on Sky Sports Premier League & Main Event
Today’s Super Sunday primetime spot sees Antonio Conté return to Stamford Bridge for the first time in the league since his dismissal in 2018. Yes, there was the League Cup game, but this is the one that really matters. As expected from a coach of his pedigree, since his appointment in November last year, Spurs are yet to lose a Premier league game. Indeed, their spectacular midweek win away to Leicester City shows just how much he has improved the North London side. A win today will see them move right back into contention for a top-four spot with games in hand over forth-placed West Ham. Chelsea’s disappointing form continued with a draw at Brighton on Tuesday night. Despite a blistering start to the campaign, Tuchel’s side have won once in the last month; form like this isn’t going to bring the title back to Stamford Bridge. Something isn’t right, if you ask me: a side with one of the most sought-after coaches in the game, with an embarrassment of riches at his disposal, should be battering everyone he comes up against. They certainly should be managing more than one shot on goal against City in more than three hours of football. Spurs win. JB


Africa Cup of Nations 2021 Round of 16: Nigeria v Tunisia
19.00 on Sky Sports Mix
Having won all three of their group games in Garoua, Nigeria remain in the city which is just over the northern reaches of the 1200 mile border their country shares with host nation Cameroon. Indeed many of the Nigerian supporters in the stadium for their games have been refugees, displaced by Boko Haram terrorism in their home country, now settled in the area or still in the camps further north. On the pitch, things couldn’t be going much better for interim head coach, Augustine Eguavoen. He captained the Super Eagles to their win in this tournament in 1994 - a team of legends including Finidi George, Rashidi Yekini and Jay Jay Okocha. He’s looking after the side before he goes back to his role of technical director and hands the keys over to incoming head coach Jose Peseiro (who obviously has a preference for managing countries that are members of OPEC having previously been in charge of Saudi Arabia and most recently Venezuela). That said, there are reports emerging that the Nigerian Football Federation could go back on their plans and keep Eguavoen in post. Tunisia already knew their win against Mauritania would be enough to see them through before they took to the pitch for their last group game against Gambia. They would still have finished third in the group even without conceding an injury time winner from Ablie Jallow, but having failed to score in two of their three opening games they’ve yet to show they’ll be able stand up to this Nigeria side. The winners will remain in Garoua to face either Burkina Faso or Gabon in the quarter finals. GS


Whatever you watch, have a great weekend.

Terry, Graham and Jan

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