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Transfer Window 2015: How did your club do?

With the Summer transfer window now slammed shut for Premier League sides, it’s time to reflect on the increasing, surely unsustainable spending that’s occurred during two crazy months.

Arsenal

Total spent: £11m
Notable addition: Petr Cech (Chelsea, £11m)
Notable departure: Abou Diaby (Released)

Arsenal addressed the need for a top quality custodian by acquiring Chelsea’s second choice stopper, Petr Cech, who promises to add stability to the set-up. Unfortunately they still look a striker and midfield destroyer short of challenging for the title, and an additional central defender wouldn’t have gone amiss.

Aston Villa

Total spent: £52.5m
Notable addition: Jordan Amavi (Nice, £10m)
Notable departure: Christian Benteke (Liverpool, £32.5m)

Christian Benteke’s departure was inevitable, but Fabian Delph’s transfer to Manchester City was a little more contentious, with the England midfielder, having rejected City’s initial advances, pledging his allegiance the Villains, only to perform an about turn and join the Eastlands club less than a week later. Villa have raided France, bringing in some promising talent; most notably Jordan Amavi from Nice.

Bournemouth

Total spent: £23.8m
Notable addition: Max Gradel (£6.8m, Saint-Etienne)
Notable departure: Brett Pitman (£1.2m, Ipswich Town)

The Cherries have picked up from where they left off last season, playing aesthetically appealing football and getting decent results along the way. On paper their squad looks short of quality, although the likes of Max Gradel and Tyrone Mings are astute additions. With Eddie Howe at the helm anything seems possible, and perhaps their best piece of business was retaining the talented Callum Wilson.

Chelsea

Total spent: £69m
Notable addition: Pedro (Barcelona, £21.4m)
Notable departure: Petr Cech (Arsenal, £11m)

A quiet, by Chelsea standards, transfer window, coupled with some disappointing results, has emphasised the need to reinvigorate a declining squad. John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic in particular have looked as if they’re on the slide. The ultimately fruitless pursuit of Everton’s John Stones will have left Jose Mourinho bitterly frustrated.

Crystal Palace


Total spent: £25.3m
Notable addition: Yohan Cabaye (PSG, £12.8m)
Notable departure: None.

Palace have quietly assembled one of the most thrilling squads in the Premier League, having enjoyed an excellent transfer window, whilst remaining under the radar. Their capture of Yohan Cabaye could be one of the deals of the summer; the diminutive playmaker already having made an impact for the Eagles.

Everton

Total spent: £21.75m
Notable addition: Ramiro Funes Mori (River Plate, £9.5m)
Notable departure: None.

Everton have decided to keep their powder dry for the most part this summer, adding five new faces without spending (relative) big bucks. Keeping John Stones away from Chelsea may prove a short-term victory; that said, a reported £40m offer for the defender was exorbitant, and unlikely to be matched in future, less frenzied times.

Leicester City


Total spent: £25m
Notable addition: Shinji Okazaki (Mainz, £7.2m)
Notable departure: Esteban Cambiasso (Released)

The unexpected departure of manager Nigel Pearson left a gaping hole in the Foxes’ recruitment drive in the early weeks of the window, but that soon picked up when former Chelsea boss Claudio Ranieri took the reigns. The ‘Tinkerman’ has made half a dozen useful signings, the best of which looks to be talented Japanese marksman Okazaki.

Liverpool

Total spent: £80.5m
Notable addition: Christian Benteke (Aston Villa, £32.5m)
Notable departure: Raheem Sterling (Man City, £49m)

The Reds started the summer as if they planned to purchase an entirely new squad, perhaps with one eye on the impending departure of Raheem Sterling to Manchester City. Benteke has the ability to become a club legend, and the signings of Danny Ings, James Milner and Nathaniel Clyne provide value for money, although none are exactly marquee purchases.

Manchester City

Total spent: £154m
Notable addition: Kevin De Bruyne (Wolfsburg, £55m)
Notable departure: James Milner (Liverpool, free)

The Citizens have resumed the spendthrift stance that was temporarily foiled as a result of the club besmirching FIFA’s “Financial Fair Play” regulations. Stockpiling players once again, they appear to have all bases covered, and anything less than European glory will probably result in Manuel Pellegrini receiving his marching orders.

Manchester United

Total spent: £115.8m
Notable addition: Memphis Depay (PSV, £24.4m)
Notable departure: Angel Di Maria (PSG, £44.8m)

A whirlwind deadline day saw United secure the services of prodigiously talented teenage attacker Anthony Martial from Monaco for an initial £36m and a deal to trade David De Gea to Real Madrid thwarted by tardy paperwork. Despite all of that, their best business was agreed before the window opened, with exciting winger Depay swapping Holland for England.

Newcastle United

Total spent: £48m
Notable addition: Georginio Wijnaldum (PSV, £13m)
Notable departure: Jonas Gutierrez (released)

The Toon Army have (finally) been treated to a host of exciting additions, as well as a much needed revamp in coaching set-up and management. Wijnaldum is, literally and figuratively, the biggest name addition to the group, although both Chancel Mbemba and Floran Thauvin have impressed thus far. Aleksandar Mitrovic should become the number nine supporters have long craved… If he can stay on the pitch for long enough.

Norwich City

Total spent: £12m
Notable addition: Robbie Brady (Hull City, £7m)
Notable departure: Mark Bunn (Aston Villa, free)

Norwich haven’t managed to attract anyone particularly exciting to Norfolk, but what they have done is embellish their midfield with stable top-flight performers. Irish full-back/winger Robbie Brady is a gifted player who deserves the chance to fulfil his undoubted ability, but there is a feeling that the Canaries will end up relying heavily upon the jet-heeled Nathan Redmond.

Southampton

Total spent: £42.5m
Notable addition: Jordy Clasie (Feyenoord, £10.5m)
Notable departure: Morgan Schneiderlin (Man United, £27m)

Saints have had a wonderful knack in recent seasons of getting top dollar for outgoing players and replacing them with better, cheaper alternatives. Jordy Clasie may prove to be another coup, although he’s not in the Schneiderlin mould just yet. Nataniel Clyne is a loss, but hanging on to Spurs target Victor Wanyama on deadline day was vital, while the late addition of Virgil Van Dijk is savvy.

Stoke City


Total spent:
£29.8m
Notable addition: Xherdan Shaqiri (Inter Milan, £12m)
Notable departure: Asmir Begovic (Chelsea, £8m)

The evolution of Stoke City continues apace, with the addition of skilful innovators such as Xherdan Shaqiri and Marco van Ginkel to the ranks. Mark Hughes has assembled a quality squad at the Britannia Stadium. The departure of the brilliant Asmir Begovic has afforded the promising Jack Butland an overdue opportunity.

Sunderland

Total spent: £25m
Notable addition: Fabio Borini (Liverpool, £10m)
Notable departure: Connor Wickham (Crystal Palace, £9m)

The Mackems don’t appear to have sufficiently addressed their leaky defence, conceding 13 goals in their five league and cup matches so far this season. The additions of Fabio Borini, Jeremain Lens and Yann M’Vila have at least given Dick Advocaat’s men a previously absent cutting edge.

Swansea City


Total spent:
£15m
Notable signing: Andre Ayew (Marseille, free)
Notable departure: Nathan Dyer (Leicester City, loan)

The Welsh side have been among the shrewdest Premier League operators this summer, picking up high calibre signings with minimal or zero transfer fee attached. Andre Ayew has immediately settled, while Eder provides important backup for on song target man Bafe Gomis.

Tottenham Hotspur

Total spent: £51.3m
Notable addition: Son Heung-Min (Leverkusen, £22m)
Notable departure: Aaron Lennon (Everton, £5.2m)

With Spurs fans crying out for additional fire power, Daniel Levy was only able to conclude deals for support acts and defenders. The club have done well to trim much of the fat from an inflated squad, but may rue the as of yet fruitless pursuit of West Brom’s Saido Berahino.

Watford


Total spent:
£31m
Notable addition: Etienne Capoue (Tottenham, £6m)
Notable departure: None

The most active top-flight team in this transfer window, the Hornets made no less than 15 signings during the summer. On the surface it appears to be a case of quantity over quality, although the likes of Etienne Capoue and Valon Behrami at least have the capacity to supply sufficient ammunition for Troy Deeney and co. to trouble the scorers.

West Bromwich Albion


Total spent:
£33m
Notable signing: Salomon Rondon (Zenit, £12m)
Notable departure: Joleon Lescott (Aston Villa, £1m)

The Baggies have had a successful window, retaining the services of star striker Saido Berahino against his will, while adding real quality in the shape of Salomon Rondon, Johnny Evans and James Chester. Tony Pulis has steered clear of panic deals, upgrading key areas. With Rickie Lambert now on the books, Albion have a mouthwatering three-pronged front-line available if they can get Berahino to stop sulking.

West Ham United


Total spent: £35.6m
Notable addition: Dimitri Payet (Marseille, £10.7m)
Notable departure: Stewart Downing (Middlesbrough, £5m)

A new manager and a dozen additions to the playing staff may seem excessive, but the Hammers needed revolution rather than evolution this term. Multiple deadline day deals so often spells impending disaster, but the quality of players such as Alex Song and Victor Moses can’t be questioned. Dimitri Payet holds the key to unlock any defence in Europe.

Did we nail it? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Festival season 2015: Who’s playing where this summer?

With the UK music festival season rapidly approaching, there are now more choices than ever before for the weekend raver. Dom Kureen takes a look at some of the most notable events and how they’re shaping up so far.

June

Fleetwood Mac
Fleetwood Mac will kick off festival season on the Isle of Wight.

 

Isle of Wight Festival

Venue: Seaclose Park, Isle of Wight
Dates: 11-14 June
Weekend camping price: £208

Headline acts
Fleetwood Mac, Blur, The Black Keys, The Prodigy, Max.Lyrical.

Isle of Wight Festival website
Kureen 2014 Isle of Wight Festival review 

Download Festival

Venue: Donington Park, Leicestershire
Dates: 12-14 June
Weekend camping price: £215

Headline acts
Muse, Slipknot, Kiss, Faith No More, Motley Crue

Download website

Glastonbury Festival

Venue: Worthy Farm, Pilton.
Dates: 24-28 June
Weekend camping price: £225

Headline acts
Kanye West, Lionel Richie, Foo Fighters

Glastonbury website
Kureen 2014 Glastonbury review

Wireless 10

Venue: Finsbury Park, London
Date: 28 June
Day ticket price: £76.45

Headline acts
Drake, Rita Ora, Chance the Rapper, Katy B, Public Enemy

Wireless 10 website

July

Drake
Drake goes Wireless in July

Wireless Festival

Venue: Finsbury Park, London.
Dates: 3-5 July
Weekend camping price: £209.50

Headline acts
Drake, Jesse J, Avicii, Mary J Blige, David Guetta

Wireless Festival website

T2015

Venue: Strathallan castle, Perthshire, Scotland
Dates: 10-12 July
Weekend camping price: £194

Headline acts
Kasabian, Sam Smith, The Libertines, Kasabian, The Prodigy

T2015 website

Latitude Festival

Venue: Henham Park, Southwold, Suffolk
Dates: 16-19 July
Weekend camping price: £200.50

Headline acts
Portishead, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Alt-J, Alan Davies, Jon Richardson 

Latitude website

Love Box

Venue: Victoria Park, Tower Hamlets, London.
Dates: 17-18 July
Weekend camping price: £93.50

Headline acts
Snoop Dogg, Rudimental, Bonobo, Jessie Ware, Cypress Hill

Love Box website

Secret Garden Party

Venue: Mill Hill Field, Abbots Ripton
Dates: 23-26 July
Weekend camping price: £190.50

Headline acts
Jungle, Public Service Broadcasting, Palma Violets, Menace Beach

Secret Garden Party website

August

Sam Smith
Sam Smith: Far too clean looking for the festival crowd

 

Boomtown Fair

Venue: Matterley Estate, Winchester, Hampshire
Dates: August 13-16
Weekend camping price: £155

Headline acts
Stephen Marley, Gogol Bordello, Flogging Molly

Boomtown Fair website

V Festival

Venues: Weston Park, Staffordshire / Hylands Park, Chelmsford
Dates: August 22-23
Weekend camping price: £189

Headline acts
Calvin Harris, Stereophonics, Sam Smith, Tom Jones

V Festival website

Reading and Leeds Festival

Venues: Richfield Avenue, Reading / Braham Park, Leeds
Dates: August 28-30
Weekend camping price: £205

Headline acts
Mumford and Sons, The Libertines, Limp Bizkit, Metallica

Reading Festival website
Leeds Festival website

Creamfields

Venue: Alex James’s Farm, Kingham, The Cotswolds
Dates: August 28-30
Weekend camping price: £154.50

Headline acts
Paloma Faith, Grandmaster Flash, Groove Armada

Creamfields website

September

Chemical Brothers
The Chemical Brothers sent in the clowns last summer

 

Festival No.6

Venue: Portmeirion, Wales
Dates: September 3-6
Weekend camping price: £170

Headline acts
Grace Jones, Belle & Sebastian, Ghost Poet

Festival No.6 website

Bestival

Venue: Robin Hill, Isle of Wight
Dates: September 10-13
Weekend camping price: £195

Headline acts
Chemical Brothers, Underworld, Duran Duran

Bestival website
Kureen 2014: 10 local acts you won’t want to miss

OnBlackheath

Venue: Blackheath, London
Dates: September 12-13
Weekend price: £89

Headline acts
Manic Street Preachers, Elbow, Madness

OnBlackheath website

Let us know which festival catches your eye, in the meantime here’s ‘Never going back again’ from the legendary Fleetwood Mac.

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

In Defence of Kanye

So it came to pass approximately 72 hours ago; another headliner announced, another bout of apparent outrage from picket wielding, apoplectic masses.

Kanye West

Glastonbury Festival purists have long vocalised their displeasure at bill-toppers they don’t deem fit for the privilege. In 2008 it was Jay Z who was pelted with bottles and ushered towards a prematurely aborted set, in 2011 Z’s better half Beyonce Knowles overcame initial scepticism with an action packed set, and as recently as 2014 no less than Metallica found themselves on the receiving end of the flak from disgruntled ticket holders.

To understand what this is all about, we need to delve into the Glastonbury archives, with the likes of The Kinks, Joan Baez and David Bowie headlining the inaugural events in the early 1970’s –all legends in the making who remained on the ascent, all far removed from predictable pop or mainstream hip-hop.

The trend of selecting upcoming, talented acts that hadn’t started to dim continued well into the 1990’s, with such luminaries as relatively niche duo Happy Mondays and World Party topping the bill.

It was this series of unpredictable, unaffected acts that apparently allured Glastonbury’s legions of loyalists, but inevitably as the scale of the festival grew so did the desire to appeal from a commercial standpoint, hand in hand with those notorious performers themselves craving the UK’s premier musical limelight en mass.

While it’s not entirely surprising that Mr West has had been the subject of petitions to have his name removed from the line-up, it seems that this 60,000 strong (so far) rejection is based almost entirely on the fact that the man himself is a bit of a tool, and shockingly not related to the ridiculous auto-tune voice machine he carries around in his bejazzled man bag.

True, his recent output hasn’t come close to emulating the creative grandeur of College Dropout and 808’s and Heartbreaks respectively, but he remains an instantly recognisable franchise player within an increasingly facile industry, seemingly populated by skinny jean wearing children moulded at the knee of wealthy men with faces full of botox.

“My greatest pain in life is that I will never be able to see myself perform live,”

Kanye pompously stated ad nauseam in the early parts of this decade with his tail feathers gleaming, and although he has refrained from repeating that particular quote recently, his general mind-set remains as haughtily one dimensional as ever.

Kanye West

West is a musician who would deep throat himself on an hourly basis if he was limber enough, and never seems far away from a meltdown, with his perma-glazed disposition, as if he’s gradually transformed from the ventriloquist into the dummy.

2013 album Yeezus was an overly manicured, unashamedly commercial release that dimmed the star of a man who had a few years previously sparred on the same level as hip-hop heavyweights such as Jay-Z, Talib Kweli and Eminem.

Now he finds himself under fire from UK fans, although he’s likely to revel in the vitriol and put on a show that gives a proverbial (and possibly literal) middle finger to the Pyramid Stage’s mosh masses. Every urine sample tossed in his direction destined to be swatted from sight with disregard rather than disgust.

There’s no doubt that based on his musical back catalogue, profile and brand strength, Kanye West is good value for a lead role at Worthy Farm, and, much like Metallica last time out, the dissenting voices and Facebook chain letters will mean little now that every ticket has been sold.

Always controversial, the man who opted to name his child North West may segregate audience opinion, but love or loathe him there’s no denying his value as the kind of legit superstar that these stages fit like a bespoke designer suit, an apt metaphor for a society obsessed with fame and aesthetics.

Over to you Kanye.

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Premier Predictions: Round Four

Last weekend Dom Kureen secured a second successive tie in the third instalment of Premier Predictions, ending all square at 9-9 with internet super stud The True Geordie.

Uri Geller: Predicted every score at the World Cup only weeks after it was over.
Uri Geller: Predicted every score at the World Cup only weeks after it was over.

This weekend it’s the turn of blues singer/guitarist and Liverpool buff, Kelvin West, a mainstay of Greece’s two premier practitioners of the genre, Nick and The Backbone and Blueswire.

*All matches kick off at 3pm, Saturday unless otherwise specified.

Manchester City vs Crystal Palace

Dom: 3-1
The Eagles are no pushovers under Neil Warnock and in the shape of Yannick Bolasie possess one of the season’s most unpredictable, captivating attackers. City are on such a roll that it’s difficult to see them dropping points at home to the relegation battlers and they should experience a comfortable afternoon.

KW: 2-0
Comfortable home win for City even with some of their top stars absent through injury. Neil Warnock is doing a good job at Palace, but the Champions will be too strong at the Etihad.

Aston Villa vs Manchester United

David De Gea: Imagine how many clean sheets he could keep with a half decent defence.
David De Gea: Imagine how many clean sheets he could keep with a half decent defence.

Dom: 1-2
United appear to have rediscovered the happy knack of winning ugly under Louis Van Gaal, with their potent strike force and exceptional goalkeeper leading the way. Although Aston Villa are a different proposition with Benteke fit, they still won’t be able to hold off their in-form opponents.

KW: 2-2
Villa have been much improved recently, with the return of Benteke and Agbonlahor likely to give United’s makeshift defence some problems, but with Van Persie looking like his old self and confidence high among Van Gaal’s squad I think a draw is on the cards.

Hull City vs Swansea

Dom: 1-0
Hull’s woeful recent form has been compounded by the premature termination of Hatem Ben-Arfa’s (disastrous) loan spell from Newcastle. The Swans aren’t the best travellers though and will succumb to Steve Bruce’s men, who should just have enough to secure a much needed success.

KW: 1-2
Hull are struggling and Swansea are looking better after an indifferent patch of form. Wilfried Bony is always a danger and will have too much movement for a somewhat static Hull defence who have been shipping goals aplenty recently.

Queens Park Rangers vs West Bromwich Albion

Dom: 2-1
Amazingly ALL of QPR’s 14 league points thus far have been secured at Loftus Road, a tally that should be increased against an inconsistent Baggies team. The talismanic Charlie Austin has a niggle, but I expect him to recover and nab another brace.

KW: 2-0
With Bobby Zamora leading the line, the Hoops should have enough to see off West Brom. Rangers may be without Austin due to injury, and with Vargas and others looking dangerous and Joey Barton bossing the midfield will continue their excellent run at the intimidatingly tight Loftus Road ground.

Southampton vs Everton

"Solomon got fired from The Apprentice?... F##k!"
“Solomon got fired from The Apprentice?… F##k!”

Dom: 2-2
The Saints have endured five consecutive defeats in all competitions, slightly negating their exceptional and unexpected start to the campaign, although they do still occupy a top-six berth. Everton are beginning to pick up, albeit not quite at the level of last season. This should have bags of entertainment and a well earned point apiece.

KW: 1-1
Southampton seem to be slipping away from their lofty perch and tumbling towards a more realistic league position. Everton’s solidity and efficiency will keep them comfortably in the top half of the table with Lukaku always a danger to any opposing defence.

Tottenham Hotspur vs Burnley

Dom: 5-2
Spurs finally released the shackles in mid-week, thumping Newcastle United 4-0 to reach the semi-final of the League Cup on Wednesday. Burnley have been much improved in recent outings, but rely heavily on the goal poaching of star youngster Danny Ings. This one will be full of goals and defensive blunders.

KW: 3-1
Despite better results recently, Burnley will struggle to stay in the top division and opposing the top six sides will test their mettle to the full. Spurs, inconsistent as they are, have too much quality on home soil to slip up against the Clarets.

West Ham United vs Leicester City

Dom: 2-2
Big Sam is blessed with an embarrassment of attacking riches now that Andy Carroll has returned from his latest spell on the sidelines. Despite their lackadaisical showing in the last couple of months, my instincts tell me that The Foxes are due a big performance and £7.2m front man Ulloa due a goal or two, so they might just take a point.

KW: 4-0
The Hammers are flying at the moment with Big Sam getting them organised in their new formation. Andy Carroll looks to have come back with a vengeance and can be a nightmare for any defence with his aerial prowess. Leicester are desperate for points and appear to be firmly rooted to the foot of the division. I cannot see them getting anything bar another morale sapping hiding from this game.

Newcastle United vs Sunderland
Sunday, 1.30pm

Janmaat: Returns from suspension for the Toon.
Janmaat: Returns from suspension for the Toon.

Dom: 1-1
Newcastle’s injury list grows by the week, with them now down to a single senior goalkeeper, 21 year old Jak Alnwick, who was terrible against Spurs in mid-week. Sunderland lack inspiration, but have dominated the Tyne-Wear derby in the past few seasons; Darryl Janmaat to score, ex-Mackem Jack Colback to be heckled by away fans throughout and Connor Wickham to head home an 82nd minute equaliser!

KW: 2-2
The Tyne-Wear derby is always hard fought and this will be no different The Geordies look to have a goalkeeping problem through a spate of injuries, though with Sissoko back and looking sharp, they will trouble the Sunderland defence. I just think this has a draw written all over it, with neither side wishing to surrender bragging rights.

Liverpool vs Arsenal
Sunday, 4pm.

Dom: 2-1
Liverpool’s defence was once again exposed in the League victory against Bournemouth, with only the Cherries’ profligacy in front of goal aiding a clean sheet for the Reds. Steven Gerrard’s legs have gone, but his set pieces remain untarnished, and with 5 foot 10 Matthieu Debuchy deputising in central defence Liverpool will exploit the Gunners’ deficient back line.

KW: 2-0
With my heart ruling my head on this prediction, I see Liverpool building on their performance against Bournemouth (and their 52-pass opening goal) and if their dodgy defence, in particular Sakho, can keep a grip on Sanchez then they should just about scrape a home win against the inconsistent Gunners.

Stoke City vs Chelsea
Monday, 8pm.

Dom: 1-3
Chelsea responded well to their first defeat of the season with a routine 2-0 home victory against Hull City last weekend and Capital One Cup success on Tuesday night. The Brittania Stadium is once again beginning to resemble a fortress for The Potters, and although they’ll give a decent account of themselves here Chelsea will slice through them on a few occasions.

KW: 1-0
A forecast more from heart than head. The Potters will always make it difficult for anyone at who visits the Brittania, but if anyone can undo them then it’s Chelsea (much as I hate to admit it!) I’m hoping that my friend Crouchy will manage to give the Blues… the blues.

Let us know your thoughts and stay tuned to Kureen to find out if Dom can finally nab the victory he craves, or either he or Kelvin can defeat DJ Rees’ 11 point tally from week one!

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Premier League D-Day preview

Can Norwich manage the great miracle escape at West Bromwich Albion’s expense? Can Liverpool rip the title from Manchester City’s affluent clutches with a helping hand from West Ham? Dom Kureen takes a look at the today’s decisive Premier League fixtures.

Premier League logo

Cardiff City vs Chelsea

Bluebirds fans have endured a miserable sequence of results since unpopular chairman Vincent Tan dispensed with the services of Malky Mackay and appointed the relatively unproven Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – resulting in an inevitable relegation that was confirmed last weekend.

Chelsea on the other hand would have probably won the title with a top notch goalscorer among their front line – Demba Ba, Samuel Eto’o and Fernando Torres managing a combined total of 18 league goals and only exhibiting fleeting prowess.

It begs the question: Why did they loan out the exceptional Romelu Lukaku to Everton?

 

Prediction: 1-2 – Chelsea should have too much for a Cardiff side already planning for next term.

Fulham vs Crystal Palace

Past it: Brede Hangeland is one of many 30-somethings on Fulham's books
Past it: Brede Hangeland is one of many 30-somethings on Fulham’s books

You would have got long odds on The Eagles staying up at the start of the season, with Ian Holloway deciding to quit after a handful of belief sapping drubbings.

That proved to be the catalyst for a remarkable change of fortunes, with new chief Tony Pulis transforming Palace into a rugged mid-table outfit and resurrecting floundering individual careers at will.

Fulham have employed three different full-time managers this season, in a futile attempt to retain Premier League status, although current boss Felix Magath has done a reasonable job of utilising a squad bursting with decrepit and erratic flops.

 

Prediction: 2-1 – Neither team has anything on the line, but Fulham will be desperate to give their long suffering fans a happy Summer send-off.

Hull City vs Everton

Two teams that have exceeded pre-season predictions. The Tigers could bounce from 16th to 12th with a victory, leapfrogging a cluster of sides directly above them.

Everton have used the loan system more efficiently than anyone else, securing the services of Romelu Lukaku, Gareth Barry, Gerard Deuolfeu and Lacina Traore over the past two transfer windows.

Finally running out in the steam in late April, the rise of English prospects such as John Stones and Ross Barkley has been another bonus and a major reason why European football will feature at Goodison Park in 2014-15.

 

Prediction: 1-3: Two sides whose form has petered out as of late, Everton should nonetheless be able to gain a convincing victory.

Liverpool vs Newcastle United

King Luis: Suarez has hit 30 league goals this term to keep Liverpool in contention
King Luis: Suarez has hit 30 league goals this term to keep Liverpool in contention

Steven Gerrard’s untimely slip against Chelsea, followed shortly after by Liverpool’s capitulation at Crystal Palace, will mean that the Reds are probably more concerned about events at the City of Manchester Stadium than what’s unfolding before their eyes.

Brendan Rodgers’ boys must win and hope that West Ham do them a solid against Manchester City, who only need to draw their home match to secure a resting place at the summit.

Newcastle’s 3-0 win against Cardiff last weekend eased the pressure on Alan Pardew somewhat, but their horrific form since selling Yohan Cabaye in January has undermined what was developing into a hugely promising campaign.

 

Prediction: 4-1 – Rodgers knows that it’s win or bust. With more than 40,000 fervent home fans roaring the home side on they’ll dispatch a troubled Toon side without too much resistance.

 

Manchester City vs West Ham United

Fans favourite: Yaya Toure has been Man City's key player
Fans favourite: Yaya Toure has been Man City’s key player

Dispensing with Roberto Mancini in favour of Manuel Pellegrini in the summer, City have added flair and guile to an already high calibre group, in the process hammering home a remarkable 100 league goals (one more than Liverpool.)

Yaya Toure has struck 20 of those from midfield, establishing himself as the English football’s most intimidating presence in the process. The Ivory Coast international’s availability will be key against a Hammers team with an at times painstakingly direct philosophy.

Kevin Nolan and Andy Carroll are key to ‘big’ Sam Allardyce’s ethos and could cause major discomfort to City’s back line, most notably error-prone Argentinian Martin Demichelis.

 

Prediction: 2-2 – Big Sam will be keen to disrupt this party and increase his job security as a bi-product, this will be far from a cake walk.

Norwich City vs Arsenal

The Canaries have faltered in the final third of the season, not helped by an horrendous fixture run-in. Chris Hughton’s dismissal has failed to vastly improve matters and a brave 0-0 stalemate against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last week was too little, too late.

Norwich could still mathematically stay up… If they win 10-0 and West Bromwich Albion lose at home to Stoke by eight or more goals (or results to that effect.)

Arsenal’s recent resurgence ensured that they fended off Everton for the coveted fourth Champions League qualifying slot. With an FA Cup final to come, expect the Gunners to rest a clutch of first team regulars.

 

Prediction: 2-3 – Norwich will hope to exploit some weaker links in Arsene Wenger’s selection, but their own flaws should once again be more deeply exposed come the final whistle.

 

Southampton vs Manchester United

Van The Man: Man United have lined up Louis Van Gaal as their next manager
Van The Man: United have lined up Louis Van Gaal as their next manager

Saints have been terrific this season, utilising their young English talent, whilst augmenting the squad with a few high calibre additions. In boss Mauricio Pochettino they also possess one of the most exciting young managers around.

Manchester United may be eight points above today’s opponents, but an alarming fall from grace necessitated David Moyes’ dismissal less than ten months into the role – leading to club legend Ryan Giggs taking over at the helm for the conclusive quartet of contests.

Expect United to promptly clear out around a dozen players who have long been living off past glories.

 

Prediction: 3-3 – Giggs and Pochettino will both be keen to attack from the off, meaning that this should be an end-to-end festival of reckless, exciting football.

 

Sunderland vs Swansea City

No team has defied logic like Sunderland over the past month. Sitting seven points from safety with a formidable set of fixtures to come, they proceeded to gain 13 points from a possible 15 to secure their seat among the elite.

Swansea have been grateful of £12m summer acquisition Wilfried Bony’s 24 goals, which have proven integral to their survival. Fellow close season arrival, Jonjo Shelvey, has pulled the strings in midfield.

With only one point separating these sides in the table, both will be relieved to have belatedly hit their stride after earlier turbulence.

 

Prediction: 3-1 – Sunderland are on a roll, expect that to continue against the Swans.

 

Tottenham Hotspur vs Aston Villa

Big Ben: Villa have struggled in Christian Benteke's absence
Big Ben: Villa have struggled in Christian Benteke’s absence

Andres Villa Boas’ Tottenham tenure was ill-fated from the start and his replacement, Tim Sherwood, was always going to be a temporary patch on a wound that eventually required major surgery.

Having sold Gareth Bale to Real Madrid for a world record fee of £85.3m in the summer, Spurs appear to have squandered the majority of that bunse on over priced flops, although Christian Eriksen has shown glimpses of his pedigree.

Villa have stagnated following a promising conclusion to 2012-13’s excursions. Much of that has been related to a trilogy of circumstances: the regular absence of star striker Christian Benteke, a clutch of dire additions in the past couple of transfer windows and fluctuating form from mediocre youngsters.

 

Prediction: 3-1 – Villa are uninspiring and despite their best form having come away from Villa Park, they are unlikely to trouble Spurs.

 

West Bromwich Albion vs Stoke City

Pepe Mel didn’t have the instant impact associated with a new manager when he replaced Steve Clarke in January, finally gaining his inaugural victory at the seventh attempt.

April successes at the expense of Norwich and West Ham put the boing back in the Baggies’ step though and, barring snookers, survival is assured, although they will hope to improve drastically next time out.

Stoke have progressed significantly under the guidance of Mark Hughes, adding facets of technical play to their long-time sturdy backbone. Potters followers will head into this summer with renewed optimism regarding the future of their club.

 

Prediction: 1-1 – WBA are a pretty ordinary outfit, with a couple of gifted midfielders, while Stoke have made good progress – score draw.

How do you expect it to unfold later today? Let us know in the comments section below.

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Lana Del Rey: West Coast (single review)

Jonathan O’Shea gives his verdict on sultry trip-hop singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey’s newest single, West Coast, set for UK release on May 18th.

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Worthless, tuneless scenester junk? That’s the predetermined tag many cynical pop pundits have readied for Lana Del Rey’s return to the fold. In truth, expectations are divided – some imagine the release of forthcoming album ‘Ultraviolence’ will herald a genuine and concerted push at establishing Ms Del Rey as a credible pop queen for the foreseeable future. Others confidently predict the unravelling of sumptuous style over sonic substance.

It doesn’t help to refute the naysayers when a generic-sounding song title such as ‘West Coast’ pops its head above the parapet. And, naturally, the track was written by previous collaborator Rick Nowels (whose past clients include: Stevie Nicks, Dido, Lykke Li, Belinda Carlisle, and, erm, Ronan Keating) rather than by Lana herself. So far, so what?

Yet the stir created by ‘Born To Die’s release and subsequent mega-success left open the latent possibility that the idyllic package of style and substance could be within her command. And as the first single from the imminent second album (recorded in Nashville; produced by The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach), radio-waves have long been primed for the opening tumbling drum intro of Lana’s latest ‘joint’.

Upcoming album: Lana Del Rey's 'Ultraviolence' is set for UK release this summer
Upcoming album: Lana Del Rey’s ‘Ultraviolence’ is set for UK release this summer

There are faint echoes of both Tori Amos and Feist in the delivery of Nowels’ languid lyrics. She’s even brazenly nicked a bit of The Beatles’ masterful ‘And I Love Her’ riff. And the intermittent ‘You got the music in you’ refrain unfortunately brings to mind the New Radicals late-90s slagging of Courtney Love, Beck and Hanson.

Fortunately for the pouting princess of murk-pop, it all hangs together quite wonderfully. Typically atmospheric, with Del Rey’s trademark breathy vocals, ‘West Coast’ is capable of woozily insinuating itself with even the most jaded listener. ‘Ooh baby’s are ten-a-penny across the vast and all-encompassing tides of music history, but can still sweetly enrapture when delivered with such lushness. Mentions for west coast movies and rock ‘n’ roll groupies inevitably ensue, before curious cadence changes and swooning guitar solos bring the track to a crescendo, with Del Rey crooning devotion to her ‘boy blue’.

Derivative? Naturally. A mind-blowing musical metamorphosis? No. Still, the essence of what intrigues and entices listeners into Lana Del Rey’s harmonious honey-trap remains intact. An air of mysterious otherworldliness underpins a perfect pop sensibility, honed by years of vain endeavour as plain old Lizzie Grant. The release of ‘West Coast’ only intensifies the intrigue.

Written by Jonathan O'Shea

A keen student of sport, music and life. Can generally be found educating small people, bitterly damning Aston Villa's latest attempts at football, or writing nonsense about ephemera.