The monthly Premier League Awards for the ongoing 2021/2022 season has been released, with Englishman Trent Alexander-Arnold winning the Player of the Month prize for November while Spaniard Pep Guardiola emerged Premier League Manager for the month of November.
We start with the big one where Liverpool and England right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold beat all comers to the monthly award. The 23 year-old shone brightly during the past month by producing a goal, four assists and two clean sheets across three matches in the league.
He began the month by scoring a delightful free-kick and notching up an assist in Liverpool’s 3-2 defeat at West Ham United and provided two more assists and a clean sheet as The Reds thumped Arsenal 4-0 at Anfield. He then wrapped up the month by providing another assist as Liverpool destroyed Southampton 4-0.
It is the second time that Trent Alexander-Arnold will be winning the monthly award and the first since December 2019. Also, it is the second consecutive month that a Liverpool player will be claiming the award, after Egyptian Mo Salah took the honours in the month of October.
The 50 year-old who currently manages defending champions Manchester City, scooped the Award after The Cityzens won all three of their Premier League fixtures for the month of November. City began the month by overcoming neighbours and fierce rivals Manchester United 2-0 in the Manchester Derby at Old Trafford, then they saw off Everton 3-0 at the Etihad Stadium before accounting for West Ham United 2-1 also at home. Those results coupled with their displays in the month of December has seen City go top of the Premier League, one point ahead of second-placed Liverpool.
Guardiola has now won 10 Manager of theMonth Awards since his arrival in England. He is joint-third on the all-time list with David Moyes of West Ham United. Only Sir Alex Ferguson (27)and Arsene Wenger (15) have won the Award more times than the Spaniard.
In the Goal of the Month category, Manchester City midfielder Rodri claimed the gong following his long-range effort from 25 yards in the 3-0 victory against Everton at the Etihad Stadium. It is the first time that Rodri will be winning the award and the first Manchester City player to claim the prize since Belgian midfielder Kevin de Bruyne last did so in July 2020.
It is yet another exciting weekend of football across Europe and Apex Football is here to cover all the action so you do not miss anything. From Gerrard’s return to the hallowed grounds of Anfield to the Madrid derby, there is just so much to look forward to this weekend. Without further ado, let us look at some of the games.
FRIDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL (BRENTFORD VS WATFORD):
The Game Week begins as London outfit Brentford welcomes Watford on Friday night. The Bees began the campaign in an impressive fashion but performances and results have stalled a bit and they will be disappointed with the late equalizer from Patrick Bamford which ensured Brentford played out a 2-2 draw with Leeds United at Elland Road last time out.
The Bees can take solace in the fact that Friday’s opponents Watford have been inconsistent themselves, and they present the best chance of scooping all three points this weekend. Failure to do so against a lesser light might make things difficult for themselves, as they play Manchester United next – which is almost guaranteed that there may not get anything from that fixture.
SATURDAY FRENZY (MAN CITY VS WOLVES, ARSENAL VS SOUTHAMPTON, CHELSEA VS LEEDS, LIVERPOOL VS ASTON VILLA, NORWICH VS MAN UTD):
Action on Saturday begins with an early lunchtime fixture between defending champions Manchester City against Wolverhampton Wanderers. Pep Guardiola’s men will be looking to bounce back, following their 2-1 loss away to RB Leipzig in the UEFA Champions League in midweek, while Wolverhampton Wanderers have been impressive in recent weeks after a bad start to the season. Bruno Lage will be seeking to put a spanner in the wheels of the league leaders and propel themselves into contention for a Top Four placing on the standings.
Gunners vs Saints
North London outfit Arsenal will welcome Southampton to the Emirates Stadium, looking to return back to winning ways. The Gunners endured a disappointing 2-1 defeat away to Everton at Goodison Park last time out. Despite scoring first through Norwegian midfielder Martin Odegaard, they let their lead slip as Brazilian forward Richarlison and an injury-time effort from Demarai Gray helped seal the points for the Toffees while the Gunners failed to move up to fifth on the table as a result of the loss. Arsenal gaffer Mikel Arteta will be banking on home turf and hope that his players rise up to the occasion in their pursuit of European football next season.
As for West London side Chelsea, the pain of losing 3-2 away to fellow Londoners West Ham United last weekend will be fresh on their minds, as that loss saw them lose their grip at the top of the standings. The Blues also surrendered top spot to Italian Serie A giants Juventus in Group H of the UEFA Champions League round-robin stage, courtesy of a 3-3 draw away to Russian opposition Zenit St. Petersburg in midweek. Manager Thomas Tuchel will be looking to go back to what has made his team formidable since his arrival at Stamford Bridge which is – the solidification of the defence. Chelsea have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last four games across all competitions and have shipped in six goals in their last two matches, which isn’t encouraging coming into the tie with Leeds.
Homecoming for Steven Gerrard
Over at Merseyside, Liverpool will take on Aston Villa at Anfield. This tie is significant not because it is a domestic fixture but the Reds faithful will welcome one of their own in the person of former player and skipper Steven Gerrard – who is now the manager of Aston Villa. It has always been rumoured that Gerrard is the heir apparent to take over at Liverpool, once current boss Jurgen Klopp steps down from the role. But away from sentimental views, Liverpool look primed to continue their impressive run of form with Mo Salah being at the forefront of everything that is good for the Reds. Villa have not been bad either, they have won three out of four matches since Steven Gerrard took over from Dean Smith at Villa Park but the sheer firepower of Liverpool will be too much for the Villans to handle on Saturday.
Godfather at the wheel
Saturday’s fixture line-up will see a rejuvenated Manchester United visit Carrow Road to take on their hosts Norwich City. The Red Devils will fancy their chances against the Canaries who are currently locked in a battle to survive relegation in the ongoing campaign. Three points seem destined to go with United at the end of hostilities, as new interim boss Ralf Rangnick looks to continue his unbeaten run at the helm. In fact, the Red Devils are unbeaten since former coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was relieved of his duties – five matches in all across all competitions.
More Moyes Miracle?
Sunday’s fixture schedule will see Burnley tackle West Ham United. The Hammers will hope to continue their good form this season, which has seen them gate-crash the Top Four ahead of the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspurs. Coach David Moyes had the chance to rest his entire squad in their 1-0 home defeat to Croatian outfit Dinamo Zagreb in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday, having sealed progression into the knockout rounds and he hopes his trusted key players will do the job against a not too great Burnley side.
Pressure mounts on Leicester and Rogers
Elsewhere at the King Power Stadium, Leicester City plays host to Newcastle United. The Foxes have had an inconsistent campaign thus far compared to previous seasons but can use this game to launch their bid to qualify for continental football next season. Leicester have been knocked out of the UEFA Europa League, after losing 3-2 away to Italian outfit Napoli in Naples on Thursday but still have another crack at European football – this time in the UEFA Conference League Playoffs, having finished third in their group. Newcastle United, on the other hand, will be buoyed by their first win of the season last weekend and will be looking to continue the trend on Sunday, as they try to climb out of the drop zone.
Can Everton turn the tide?
Our final match preview will see Crystal Palace welcome Everton at Selhurst Park. Everton snapped their eight-game winless run with a hard-fought, come from behind 2-1 victory over Arsenal on Monday night and will hope that it will start the revival of their fortunes while relieving the pressure off manager Rafa Benitez. Meanwhile, Palace under the management and tutelage of Patrick Vieira will be aiming to continue their upward trajectory since the arrival of the Frenchman.
Which colour would rule MADRID?
Los Blancos have lost only once in their first 16 league matches and have opened up a commanding lead atop LaLiga, ahead of Sevilla by eight points, nine over Real Betis and 10 over Atleti and Real Sociedad. Real Madrid is currently the best attack in Spain courtesy of Carlo Ancelotti’s tactical genius. Diego Simeone on the other hand is trying to change his formation after sticking to 4-4-2 for a long time. We cannot wait to see how the game would unfold but the editors at Apex Football would be leaning towards a Real Madrid win.
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The second half has commenced, with Chelsea trailing Zenit 2-1.
46′ MIN: The Old Lady makes their first substitution as Alvaro Morata comes on for Paulo Dybala. Second half underway!
At the Turin Stadium, the opening half sees Juventus lead Malmo 1-0.
Chelsea have conceded seven goals in their last four matches, as much as they have let in their previous 19 encounters.
HALF-TIME: The hosts take a 2-1 lead going into the break. Chelsea won began the game brightly must now come up with a response in the next 45 minutes.
The Blues lose the ball in midfield as Sardar Azmoun beats the offside trap, rounds Kepa Arizzabalaga to slide home. After VAR checks, the goal is allowed to stand as it was adjudged that Christensen played Azmoun onside.
The Russians have turned it around!!!
41′ MIN: Zenit 2-1 Chelsea (Sardar Azmoun)
Poor marking from Chelsea sees Claudinho head in Douglas Santos’ cross from the left.
Timo Werner puts the Blues in front. Mason Mount’s corner is helped on to the path of the German by Danish international Andreas Christensen, as Werner slots into an empty net.
2′ MIN: Zenit 0-1 Chelsea (Werner)
We are underway………..
Juventus have lost four of their last nine matches across all competitions.
Juventus line-up will see Argentine forward Paulo Dybala and Moise Kean partner upfront in attck, while Leonardo Bonucci will be the man to rely on in the heart of defence.
The Old Lady of Turin will take on already-eliminated Swedish outfit Malmo in their last group match. The Bianconeri are through to the knockout rounds but can still pip leaders and current defending champions Chelsea to the top spot – if they better whatever result the Blues might play out in their own fixture.
JUVENTUS VS MALMO:
Blues gaffer Thomas Tuchel has tweaked his squad, following last weekend’s 3-2 defeat away to West Ham United in the Premier League. The German tactician has made eight changes to the Matchday line-up, with Belgian hitman Romelu Lukaku starting for the first time since he got injured.
Also, strike partner Timo Werner, midfielder Mason Munt and right-back Reece James are all in the Starting XI.
The Blues will file out in a 3-4-2-1 formation in tonight’s encounter.
Holders Chelsea are back in action tonight as the 2021/2022 UEFA Champions League group stages comes to a close. The Blues face Russian opposition Zenit in their final group game needing to match Juventus’ result, in order to top the group.
Here are the final scores: AC Milan 1-2 Liverpool, Porto 1-3 AtleticoMadrid, Dortmund 5-0 Besiktas, RealMadrid 2-0 Inter, Shakhtar 1-1 Sheriff, Ajax 4-2 Sporting.
Liverpool and Atletico Madrid progress from Group B, with Porto entering the Europa League and AC Milan crashing out of Europe entirely.
Real Madrid progress as Group D winners with Inter as runners-up.
What a night!
Consolation for Porto
Mario Hermoso trips Evanilson and Porto get a spot-kick at the very end of the game. It’ll be a consolation… Sergio Oliveira scores but it’s too little, too late.
Atletico Madrid progress to the next round!
Porto 0-3 Atletico !!!
Rodrigo De Paul fires in a third for Atletico, and it’s hello Champions League last-16!
Porto enter the Europa League and AC Milan are booted out of Europe.
GOAL FOR ATLETICO
GOAL! Angel Correa scores a second for Atletico Madrid in the dying minutes of regular time to firmly secure their progression to the next round. It’s devastating for Porto, but a result of pure joy for the Spanish side.
THE BATTLE IS RAGING IN PORTO
72, Wendell sees RED
Tempers are flying in Estádio do Dragao, Wendell sees red card for violent conduct.
67′ Yannick Carrascosees RED
Carrasco sees red for Atletico Madrid, leaving Atletico down to 10 vs. Porto, with a 1-0 lead, 67th minute.
56′ ORIGI MAKES IT 2 GOALS IN 2 GAMES!
Sadio Mane’s shot is saved and Divock Origi heads in on the rebound! AC Milan 1-2 Liverpool
56′ GOAL FOR ATLETICO
Atletico takes the lead with a close range tap-in from Antoine Griezmann. Kondogbia flicks on a corner and the Frenchman is on hand to score his third UEFA Champions League goal this campaign
UPDATE ON SUAREZ
SECOND HALF IS UNDERWAY!
The battle of Group B continues with 45 minutes left to decide the fate of Porto, Milan and Atletico Madrid.
It’s have time at San Siro and Estádio do Dragao!
20 goals for Salah this season. It’s not even Christmas yet!
36′ SALAH SCORES FOR LIVERPOOL
A shot from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is saved and Mohamed Salah finds the net on the rebound! Ac Milan 1-1 Liverpool.
AC Milan, as it stands, would drop down to the Europa League should the scores remain – they are sweating.
29′ GOAL FOR AC MILAN!
Fikayo Tomori gives AC Milan the lead! Alisson is slow to grab the ball but Tomori is there to tuck the ball in. AC Milan are primed to qualify second in Group B ahead of Porto and Atletico Madrid as long as they seal this win.
BAD NEWS FOR ATLETICO
Bad news for Atletico Madrid, who have to make do with Luis Suarez coming off the pitch against Porto due to an injury. It’s a blow for the Liga side, who are still holding onto hope of qualifying for the next round this evening.
Both games are underway! At the end of 90 minutes we would know who ill join Liverpool in the next round.
Porto, Milan and Atletico Madrid all battle to qualify from Group B.
We know Liverpool are through as group winners, but second place is still up for grabs.
Porto currently sit second in the group on five points as they prepare to play Atletico Madrid, who are on four.
Milan, meanwhile, are also on four, leaving it all to play for as one of those three teams will be knocked out of European competition entirely based on Tuesday’s result.
The new interim manager wants his team to press their opponents high up the field and was impressed by the Portugal star’s work up front
Ralf Rangnick has praised Cristiano Ronaldo for his work off the ball as the German coach’s reign at Manchester United started with a 1-0 win against Crystal Palace.
A goal from Fred in the second half of the clash at Old Trafford was enough to see the Red Devils secure the three points in the first match under the new interim boss.
Rangnick was pleased with the way they played, and highlighted Ronaldo’s effort as United got their first taste of the new pressing system the manager is looking to implement.
What has been said?
“I am very happy with the way the team performed, especially the first half-hour, with the pressing, it was exceptional. The only thing missing was the 1-0 or 2-0,” he told BBC Match of the Day.
“The way we defended, we had control of the whole game, the clean sheet was the most important part.
“These are the things we must improve. We need to keep clean sheets. With just the one training session, I was really impressed. We did much better than expected.
“We always tried to be on the front foot. We were never not apart from maybe the last five minutes. At all other times we were trying to keep them away from our goal.
“We wanted to play with two strikers, especially in the central position. By the way, Cristiano Ronaldo’s work off the ball, chapeau.”
What do Man Utd players think of Rangnick’s style?
Much has been made of the playing style the former RB Leipzig and Hoffenheim coach is expected to introduce at Old Trafford, with the team expected to press teams high up the pitch.
United star Bruno Fernandes was delighted with the start they had against Palace as they closed their opponents down and played at a high tempo.
“It depends on the game,” he told Premier League Productions.
“Sometimes you have to press a little bit more, sometimes you have to press less and everyone knows that it’s one of the things that the manager wants from us. More pressure, to be more aggressive. We tried to do it [today].
“I think the first 25 minutes from us was unbelievable, great tempo and we don’t give any space to them. We recovered a lot of balls high up the pitch. We could have scored many times in the first half I think, at least three times we could do a little more.
“But we got the three points and that’s the most important thing.”
Fred’s long-range winning goal against Crystal Palace capped off a hugely encouraging first outing for the Red Devils under their new interim boss
Ralf Rangnick went into his first Manchester United game with two aims: to win, and to oversee a controlled display from his new team.
On Sunday, he succeeded on both counts.
The 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace did not mark a blistering start to the new regime at Old Trafford, but this was a performance to bring hope and promise that Rangnick, with a bit more practice, could bring success back to United.
Much like the end result is unlikely to cause major headlines once the dust settles, Rangnick arrived in the dugout for the first time to little fanfare.
He walked out merged in with the rest of the coaching staff, and stadium announcer Alan Keegan made no special declaration that a new manager was in town.
But even those who may have had their heads in the sand for the last three weeks and were not aware that United had made a new coaching appointment would have realised from the off that this was a different side to the one that has struggled through the early months of the season.
He may have picked the same line-up that had beaten Arsenal on Thursday – which given he only had one training session with his new players was hardly a surprise – but the team’s style of play was already markedly different.
Right from kick-off United pressed with purpose. It is not that they had not pressed in the past, but this time there seemed to at least be a structure to it.
Gone were individuals aimlessly hounding opposition players hoping for the best as they did so many times under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Here they pressed as a pack, and it almost bore fruit after just three minutes, as Alex Telles saw a shot pushed out for a corner after the ball had been won back deep in Palace territory.
A switch of formation to Rangnick’s favoured 4-2-2-2 resulted in the team being more direct in their attacking play, too. With half-an-hour gone, Marcus Rashford had created three chances, Cristiano Ronaldo had attempted five shots and Jadon Sancho looked lively as he switched positions with Bruno Fernandes behind the front two.
In total, United managed 12 efforts on goal during the first half, with all that was missing was that final clinical pass or shot.
Rangnick, who spent the majority of the match in the technical area, seemed encouraged by what he was seeing, as he applauded each attempt on Vicente Guaita’s goal. Their pressing was clearly paying off, as across the duration of the match they won possession 12 times in Palace’s defensive third. Their previous best in a league match this season was seven times.
“It has been an average season so far, there is no avoiding that, but the club has players who are much better than the position we currently occupy, and it is my job to improve those players and that position,” Rangnick wrote in his first programme notes. “The first step in doing that is a shift in how the collective approaches games.
“If you want to win a football match, you have to control it, so the aim right now is to help the team control games more. That means being more proactive with and without the ball.”
That proactivity was clear, though the energy levels required to keep that up over the course of 90 minutes is something United’s players will need to reach going forward as they began to flag after just 20 minutes of the first half.
That said, they still recorded season highs for first-half passes into the final third (48), first-half touches in the opposition box (26) and first-half passes into the opposition box (26), among other metrics.
“I didn’t expect us to play on that level after only one-and-a-half training days with the players,” Rangnick told Sky Sports post-match. “The first half-hour was amazing. It was high-intensity, high-speed, high-tempo.
“The way we played against the ball, the whole game was in their (Palace’s half). I was positively surprised.”
Rangnick did his best to maintain his team’s intensity after the break, and could be seen wildly gesturing with his arms on the touchline as he looked for a solution to break down Patrick Vieira’s visitors.
The ex-RB Leipzig boss introduced Mason Greenwood and Anthony Elanga from the bench in a bid to spark his attack back into life, but in the end it was Fred who provided the moment of magic that United required.
Despite the win, this was not a perfect 90 minutes from United. There was, though, clear progress, and having only met his players for the first time 48 hours ago, that is as much as Rangnick could have asked for.
The control he demanded in his programme notes was certainly there as David de Gea was rarely tested on his way to securing United’s first clean sheet at Old Trafford since April, and with consecutive league wins for the first time since September, the fight for a top-four finish is on ahead of what looks to be a forgiving run of fixtures.
The Rangnick revolution has begun, and the signs are encouraging for all those related to Manchester United.
The Red Devils’ new interim manager has been discussing the Portuguese star’s role in his team
Ralf Rangnick has officially taken charge at Manchester United, with the interim boss at Old Trafford revealing how Cristiano Ronaldo figures in his plans and how foundations for long-term success will be put in place.
The German has been cleared to inherit the reins from caretaker coach Michael Carrick, who is walking away completely after three games at the helm, with a visa finally granted.
There is much for Rangnick to do in the wake of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s dismissal, particularly how Ronaldo will fit into his plans.
What has been said?
Ronaldo was dropped to the bench by Carrick for the trip to Chelsea, but returned to the United starting XI with a bang as he passed the 800 goal mark for his career in a thrilling 3-2 victory over Arsenal.
Rangnick was in attendance for that game and said at his introductory press conference: ”You always have to adapt your style or your idea of football to the players you have available, not vice-versa.
“Having seen Cristiano yesterday in the second half at the age of 36, an amazing top professional. At his age, I’ve never seen a player who is still that physically fit. He’s still a player who can easily make the difference.
“So, yes, it’s about how we can develop the whole team not only Cristiano. We play in the most competitive league in the world so we need all the players on board.
“What I saw from Cristiano yesterday, he is more than willing to do that, to put his input into the team. His team-mates will have to do the same.”
Why turned down Chelsea?
Ralf Rangnick has confirmed that Chelsea offered him the chance to take over as interim manager last season, before they settled on Thomas Tuchel as Frank Lampard’s permanent replacement.
Rangnick has since been snapped up by Manchester United on a temporary basis, taking over until the end of the season as head coach before he moves into an advisory role for a further two years.
After red tape delayed his appearance on the touchline – the German was forced to watch United’s victory over Arsenal on Thursday from the stands – he will finally be in the dugout for his new side’s meeting with Crystal Palace.
Speaking before that game, Rangnick explained why he turned down a Premier League move with Chelsea before being tempted to England by the Red Devils’ offer.
“When Chelsea contacted me last year, they only spoke about the option to become interim manager for four months, without any prospective to work in the long term together,” he said.
“Now here we are talking about six-and-a-half months, so we only have one third of the games played in the Premier League.
“We have also agreed on a two-year advisory role after those six-and-a-half months. In the end, to be honest, if a club like Manchester United contacts you for such a role you cannot possibly turn it down.”
Rangnick arrives at Old Trafford with United lagging behind his former suitors. The Red Devils currently sit in seventh, 12 points behind leaders Chelsea at the top of the Premier League table.
Will additions be made?
Rangnick has arrived in England with another transfer window fast approaching, but claims to have no recruitment plans in place yet.
He said when asked about possible additions in January: “We haven’t spoken about new players.
“Now is the time to get to know the current squad in detail, the squad is definitely not too small. There are enough players.
“Maybe after Christmas, there will be a time to talk about possible transfers in the winter. In my experience, winter is not the time for sustainable transfers. It will be difficult in the winter.”
There have been suggestions that United will look to use Rangnick’s presence as a bargaining chip to prise Erling Haaland away from Borussia Dortmund, with the 63-year-old having previously spent time working with the Norwegian striker as sporting director at Red Bull Salzburg.
Bonuses are said to be up for grabs if such a deal can be put in place, but Rangnick has laughed off those reports.
He said: “£10 million [$13m] for Haaland, £10m for [Kylian] Mbappe, £10m for [Robert] Lewandowski and £10m for [Joshua] Kimmich.
“This is nonsense. There is no such clause in my contract. There is little point in speculating over new players. I know what kind of player he is, but in the meantime, the whole world has realised how good the player is.
“The offensive players we have here, we have so many top players in the offensive department that we don’t need to speak about any other player.”
How long will Rangnick stay?
For now, Rangnick is eager to keep focus on the present as he has only signed up to six months in the dugout before shifting into an advisory role.
He said of his position: “The people who I’ve spoken with, they have been very clear that it is a six-month role. We have never spoken about what will happen in the summer.
“If they will speak about me with that, we will see. if they ask me about my opinion, I might make the same recommendation that I did at RB Leipzig twice, that it might be better to work with me for one year.
“It’s not unusual that after a long, successful spell, the club needs to find a new pathway. The club has had no continuity in signing new players and sticking to the DNA of the club.
“In the future, the board members and my self have the same opinion. It’s important not to have many changes in management.”