Rowan’s Final Day Premier League 2019/20 Predictions: July 26th

Some thought we would not get here but Project Restart has come to its conclusion and it is the final day of the Premier League season, some 351 days since it started last August. With Champions League and Europa League positions to be determined as well as relegation, it is set to be an emotional day for some.

This week, Leeds United secured their return to the top flight for the first time in 16 years as Champions while West Brom secured top-flight status as runners up. The play-offs to determine the third promoted side take place in the next week with Brentford Town, Fulham, Cardiff City and Swansea City (who required a five-goal swing to qualify) battling it out. read more

Hamilton takes a dominant 8th win at the Hungaroring: 2020 Hungarian Grand Prix Review

On the outskirts of Budapest, the Hungaroring hosted the third part of the opening triple-header to the much-changed 2020 F1 season. The rain has rarely had an impact on proceedings at the circuit at this time of year; given only two of the previous 35 Hungarian Grand Prix have been run in wet conditions.

Despite the possibility of rain most of the weekend, there was minimal running in the wet FP2 and while qualifying was dry, the threat of rain remained constant throughout the race. In the event, other than a tricky opening few laps on Intermediate tyres [shown above; Image from Reuters, Kamar], the track eventually dried up and we saw some good racing. Track records fell in both qualifying and the race, Red Bull showed some decent race pace on a disappointing weekend, Ferrari were expected to be stronger and the intrigue in the driver market keeps on coming. read more

Rowan’s Premier League Predictions 2019/20: 20th-22nd July

The Premier League is now on the home stretch of Project Restart with seven league games in the next three days before the final round of games next Sunday. This weekend saw Harry Kane back to his best as he scored a brace against Champions League-chasing Leicester City. Already relegated Norwich were beaten 2-0 by Burnley including an unfortunate own goal by Ben Godfrey while Bournemouth are staring into the abyss after losing the south coast derby with Southampton.

In this round of fixtures, we will know more in the relegation battle as well as the battle for European places. Wolves and Sheffield United who are chasing the Europa League spots face Crystal Palace and Everton this evening while in the next few days the teams involved in the FA Cup final play. The Semi-finals produced some surprising results. A Pierre Emerick Aubameyang inspired Arsenal defeated holders Manchester City as Mikel Arteta beat Pep Guardiola for the first time. Then, Frank Lampard’s Chelsea swept past Manchester United to set up a 7th all-London final and the third such of those occasions it has been Arsenal vs Chelsea. read more

Rowan’s Premier League and FA Cup Semi-Final Predictions 2019/20: July 18th-19th

We are getting nearer to crunch time as the Premier League reaches its conclusion In the push for the Champions League places, Chelsea, Leicester City and Manchester United recorded wins over Norwich Coty, Sheffield United and Crystal Palace. Jose Mourinho [Pictured above; image from BBC.com] got his first league win at St James’ Park as his Spurs side beat Newcastle; even more remarkable that Serge Aurier played on only days after the death of his brother. Bournemouth were beaten by Manchester City, Liverpool tripped up in their search for the record Premier League points haul at Arsenal while Aston Villa will be ruing letting their second-half lead slip at Everton especially after West Ham beat Watford.

This weekend, the penultimate round of fixtures begins with only one game on Saturday and two on Sunday including a big south coast derby between Bournemouth and Southampton. The Cherries could have their relegation confirmed on Sunday if they fail to win at the same time Leeds United have had their return to the top flight after 16 years confirmed as Champions. There are three games on Monday night with the pick of the matches being Sheffield United vs Everton at Bramall Lane. The lack of league games this weekend is due to the FA Cup Semi-Final weekend with the last four FA Cup winners all in action at Wembley. read more

Austria Round Two sees Lewis Hamilton dominant and another dramatic late charge by Lando Norris: 2020 Styrian Grand Prix Review

For the first time in Formula One history, a circuit has held successive races in the dame season and the Red Bull Ring in the Styrian hills hosting the first-ever Styrian Grand Prix and it did not disappoint. We did not get a carbon copy of the previous weekend. Due to the weather Qualifying was in doubt so the second practice times could’ve been used to set the grid. The treacherously wet qualifying we did get was intense and mixed the grid up with a few drivers out of position setting up an intriguing race with multiple teammate squabbles which ended in tears for Ferrari.

While the ten F1 teams remained in Austria we did see some developments with the first regarding the addition of two more races to the already scheduled 8 and the surprise return of Fernando Alonso to the sport with Renault in 2021. I will pass comment on them later but first, for the reigning World Champion, racing at the Red Bull Ring in successive races represented a redemptive weekend. read more

Rowan’s Premier League predictions 2019/20: 14th-18th July

What an explosive weekend of Premier League action at the bottom of the table that was! Aston Villa recorded a big win to stay in the fight for survival by beating Crystal Palace but it was followed by a magnificent 4-1 victory for Bournemouth over Leicester City which was totally unexpected. They needed the win after Watford and West Ham, the two teams immediately above the relegation places recorded wins over Newcastle and Norwich. Michel Antonio [pictured above; image from ESPN] was the star of the show as he scored all for goals for West Ham in a result that condemned Norwich to relegation back to the Championship.

Elsewhere, Manchester City romped over Brighton after Sheffield United stunned Chelsea with a magnificent 3-0 win. Earlier, Liverpool lost their 100% winning record at home this season after Burnley managed to hold them to a 1-1 draw. Jose Mourinho maintained his unbeaten home record against Arsenal in the Premier League with his Tottenham side winning the North London derby and Manchester United were held to a 2-2 draw by a very plucky Southampton side. read more

Rowan’s Premier League Predictions 2019/20: 11th-13th July

The games keep coming thick and fast, only four sets of fixtures remain. There remains a lot to be played for in terms of European places and survival after the midweek games. Arsenal and Leicester played out an entertaining draw at The Emirates but it was not without controversy while we had a five-goal thriller between Crystal Palace and Chelsea at Selhurst Park [Image featured above from The Evening Standard]. Liverpool became the quickest side to 30 league wins in a season after they recorded a comfortable win over Brighton while Manchester City romped home putting five past Newcastle and Manchester United recorded a similarly comfortable win at Aston Villa. Spurs were held to a goalless draw at Bournemouth while Watford got a big win which will go a big way to guaranteeing their survival this season over a sorry Norwich side.

VAR has propped its head up again as a major talking point in the past week or so. In midweek, it saw Eddie Nketiah shown a straight red card. I have no problems in the way it was used by referee lee Kavanagh he did not just take it from the official at Stokley Park, he went to the pitchside monitor himself before making the decision. Ultimately, it should be the referee’s decision and if the referee sees the footage before making the decision you can’t really argue with that. The pressure was also added after former referee Dermott Gallagher claimed that VAR got three penalty decisions wrong on Thursday with Manchester United and Southampton wrongly awarded penalties and Spurs denied. read more

F1 returns, Reliability issues galore, Red Bull, Ferrari and Hamilton pain, but it’s Bottas who wins: 2020 Austrian Grand Prix Review

After seven months, 217 days, F1 returned with the first race of the delayed 2020 F1 season at the Red Bull Ring in the Styrian Hills of Austria. We don’t know just how many races we will get in 2020 but judging by the Austrian Grand Prix, the chaotic, thoroughly entertaining races often with twists and turns that defined the second half of 2019 look set to continue.

For a race that saw all 20 drivers finish for only the 9th time in F1 history, reliability was key for the wrong reasons this year as nine cars failed to finish. When asked about it by Sky Sports Martin Brundle, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner cited it being the season opener being a key factor. It has merit. We do see chaotic season openers and nine also failed to finish on the first race of the hybrid era in 2014; only 7 finished the opening race in 2008. The first races of a season can be problematic for reliability but could the extra shutdown with lockdown have contributed? With these sort of races there always going to be loads of stories of missed opportunities. That is certainly what we saw in Austria but the one constant was the race leader [Pictured in the feature image above; image from formula1.com]. read more

Rowan’s Premier League Predictions 2019/20: 7th-9th July

What a weekend of sport that was! The F1 returned and the football did not disappoint either. Southampton pulled off a shock victory over Manchester City after a stunning chipped effort from Che Adams and a ferocious defensive performance from Ralph Hassenhuttl’s side; Newcastle and West Ham played out an entertaining draw, there were goals galore between Manchester United and Bournemouth; big wins for Arsenal, Chelsea and Leicester in the chase for European football as Jamie Vardy eventually joined the Premier League 100 goal club. What an achievement that is! Liverpool responded to their Man City drubbing and Brighton secured a much-needed win against Norwich [featured above, image from BeSoccer] that should all but secure their survival.

The Premier League action continues this week with another round of 10 fixtures before the weekend. Chasing European football, Spurs and Manchester United travel to relegation-threatened Bournemouth and Aston Villa respectively. Those two games are on Thursday. Wednesday sees Liverpool travel to Brighton while newly deposed Champions Manchester City will be hoping to bounce back at home to Newcastle. Wolves travel to Sheffield United in the hunt for a European place while Arsenal host Leicester City later on tonight. read more

Rowan’s Premier League Predictions 2019/20: July 4th-6th

Premier League football keeps coming thick and fast and the midweek action did not disappoint. There were twists and turns with VAR having its devilish impact on proceedings with some awful decisions against Pavel Soucek [Featured above; Image from Sky Sports] and Lucas Moura. At the bottom of the table, there was a dramatic win for West Ham while those around them faltered. Newcastle and Manchester United recorded comfortable wins on the south coast and Manchester City gave Liverpool a guard of honour before romping home to a 4-0 win; the joint heaviest defeat for a reigning champion.

The action continues this weekend with another full set of fixtures with five games including two traditional three o’clock kick-offs on Saturday. Wolves and Arsenal meet in a big game in the battle for European places while on Sunday Liverpool will be hoping to bounce back against Aston Villa while Spurs face off against Everton in the Monday Night Football. read more