no to racism,

Saturday FA Cup Round up

In a season, that started late due to the ongoing Covid situation, this year’s FA Cup third round got under way, pretty much as per usual.

Marine, Chorley and Stockport are three sides from Non-League football and have done brilliantly to get this far.

At time of writing, Lancastrians Chorley shocked the footballing world with a 2-0 win against Championship side Derby.

Upon further reflection, it can be argued that this result for Chorley, isn’t that much of a shock due to The Rams’ first team squad being depleted . This has been due to a Covid outbreak in the East Midlands side first team.

The fourth round and fifth round draw, will be taking place later on today. Manchester United who are one of the most successful teams in the FA Cup , put their name into the hat for round four with a hard-fought 1-0 win against Championship play-off chasing Watford.

Despite The Hornets having plenty of good moments in the game, Watford weren’t able to fashion too many good chances and can arguably see this as a chance lost in getting to round four.

Holders Arsenal, beat Newcastle 2-0, to carry on their recent good form. The Gunners left it late, and they need Extra Time to get through.

Andy Carrol had a great chance in normal time for The Magpies , but the striker missed a chance, which can only be described as a sitter.

West Brom, are still yet to win under new Head Coach Sam Allardyce, after his West Brom side were beaten on penalties by League one side Blackpool.

Fellow Premier League strugglers Sheffield United won for the first time in six months, after they beat League two side Bristol Rovers 3-2.

There’s plenty more action to commence later today, with matches including Marine vs Tottenham, Newport vs Brighton and Manchester City vs Birmingham.

Here at ayyazmalik.com, we will be providing a round up of today’s matches this evening. See you then!

The Vaseline Beard

Hello and greetings it’s me your Bearded Captain leader of all beards, and flag-bearer of all beards on digital and broadcast media.

I am that beard who tries to make you laugh, and I am that beard that tries to make you smile. My brothers, I hope you’re looking after yourself and your beards!

Brothers, I want to talk about today’s issue, the issue of the Vaseline Beard. Brothers, now for those of you who have been loyal to my blog and been avid followers, The Captain thanks you.

I have still been here, my site ayyazmalik.com has had more blog updates, but it’s been more of the sports side.

Don’t worry guys, the beard side of the blog is still here. Today’s issue the Vaseline Beard is an issue which you might think didn’t need raising.

My soldiers, don’t knock it before you have tried it. Usually, I would say apply Beard Oil, Beard Balm or Beard Cream. But Vaseline on a beard? Yeah, don’t knock it before you tried it.

Vaseline is of course, for your face and body but it adds a shininess to it. Your Beard is of course apart of your body, Vaseline is for the body as we know.

I am also suggesting Vaseline to be used on the under the chin of your beard.

If your beard is like mine, it can get dry if not looked after properly. I would off the back of that, use Vaseline to help dry skin.

Guys, you’re welcome. It’s over and out from The Bearded Captain.

A season like no other

After Leicester City, shocked the footballing world by winning the Premier League title against the odds, this year’s title race is promising to be something similar to that of four years ago.

To emphasise that point, just four points are separating joint league leaders Manchester United & Liverpool and Everton in seventh.

Champions Liverpool, are due to face United this month, in what will be a crucial game for both sides.

But the unpredictability factor has been there too. Southampton have been top of the Premier League, for the first team in their history . Tottenham also have been top of the league, which is something they haven’t done for some time.

What has made this season, stand out however is that there have been some surprising results, there is a perception of more of an even playing field.

Aston Villa’s 7-2 mauling of Liverpool comes into mind and The Reds’ 7-0 thrashing of Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.

That result for Liverpool in South London is a result not to be sniffed at, as Roy Hodgson’s men are no pushovers.

Many observers see the Premier League as the best in the league, but at the top of the Premier League, it tends to be a foregone conclusion (last year for example).

The season before that, we witnessed what was arguably one of the best title races in years. Manchester City narrowly edged out rivals, Liverpool, by a single point. That year was special as both teams got above 90 points.

Whereas this season, arguably won’t be a season like that pointwise, the excitement is most definitely there, due to the anyone being able to beat anyone affect. In Europe, it’s been the same too.

Usual league leaders of Germany Bayern Munich, maybe top, but they just don’t seem like themselves, in France PSG, are third.

Yes, the champions may only be a point behind leaders Lyon, but it’s a surprise that any other team are compete against The Parisians this year.

In Scotland (predictable Scotland), Celtic are not top! The top spot goes to Rangers who built up a 19 point lead at the top.

There may be three games in hand for The Hoops, but they still have to win those games. In Italy, Juventus who have won their domestic title for the past seven seasons, are languishing in sixth.

The Old Lady’s win against leaders AC Milan might have revived a faltering title charge, but this year has been a year like no other.

No one will forget 2020 in a hurry that’s for sure.

FA Cup third round preview

It’s a pandemic that has swept the nation, not just our nation, but all across the world. So football will be taking a backseat in terms of priorities right now.

It’s emerged that the third round FA Cup game between Aston Villa and Liverpool will be going ahead, despite initial concerns.

The Villains will be playing with their youth side due to several members of their playing being struck with COVID.

This game, just like a series of games has been taken over by COVID this season. Arguably, this game in particular isn’t about the result, but rather to ensure the game goes ahead safely.

Other ties see in this years third round of the FA Cup sees joint top of the Premier League Manchester United take on stuttering Watford of the Championship.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United side will be looking to take out their recent semi-final disappointment on The Hornets. My prediction Manchester United 3-1 Watford.

Cross- city rivals City take on Birmingham. Although a potential banana skin, I expect The Citizens to pass this test with flying colours. My prediction Manchester City 2- Birmingham 0.

Last but not least in the games I want to cover is Arsenal against Newcastle. The Gunners have come back to form of late, and are heading up the right direction in the table.

The Magpies on the other hand, have badly missed the impact of Alan Saint Maximan, and have duly struggled in the process too.

My prediction Arsenal 2-1 Newcastle, and that’s my predictions. The FA Cup third round matches are to be played over this weekend.

City give United winter blues

Holders Manchester City progressed through to yet another Carabao Cup final, and they did so again at the expense of neighbours Manchester United winning 2-0.

The hosts United, came into this one in terrific domestic form. Eight successive wins, has put The Red Devil’s joint top of the Premier League with arch-rivals Liverpool.

So arguably, The Reds were favourites going into this semi-final, despite losing three semi-finals last year.

But write City off, at your own risk. This is Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, a team that got 100 premier league points and goals.

This is the same Man City, who have had a strangle hold on this tournament for the last three seasons, winning it each time.

In the Premier League, City have been resurgent and the 3-1 win over Chelsea sees them move up to fifth.

Key to this resurgence has been the defensive partnership of John Stones and Ruben Dias. Stones in particular, has been in brilliant form of late and it was he who opened the scoring.

The hosts United after conceding the first, were chasing the game, but it would be Fernandinho who would score City’s second, ending the game as a contest.

Disappointment for United, but sheer joy for City who are through to yet another final. Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham are in the way for a fourth successive triumph for Manchester City.

The final, which will be contested on 25th April, promises to be a classic. The final will be held then, to try and accommodate fans, with the hope the virus can be controlled and be ended by then.

I for one can’t wait!

New Zealand vs Pakistan 2nd test; tourists well beaten

New Zealand, kept their World Test Championship campaign, with a resounding 2-0 test series win against former world number one side Pakistan. The kiwi’s who were brilliant in the first test, were just as good in the second.

On reflection of the game, some might argue that tourists Pakistan were poor more than The Black Caps, being good. Kane Williamson (238), Henry Nicholls (157) and a maiden ton from all-rounder Daryl Mitchell (102), really put the tourists’ attack to the sword, but to rub salt in the wounds, Pakistan dropped Williamson three times and Mitchell too.

Those errors proved costly. Opener Shaan Masood, capped off a very poor game, with a pair and three dropped catches in the New Zealand innings, which will naturally put pressure on the left-hander come the upcoming South Africa series which starts at the end of the month.

The easy thing to do, would be to carry out the post mortem , straight after the game and have a knee jerk reaction. But, these two defeats for Pakistan have been more damaging, especially with the poor performances with the bat.

Fawad Alam, did make an emotional century in the second innings of the first test, and Faheem Ashraf made 91 in the first innings, but there hasn’t been too much to shout about. Azhar Ali in the first innings of this test made 93, but there’s not been a sizeable contribution from any Pakistan batsmen.

This maybe a tad harsh, especially since Williamson, wouldn’t have gone to make the scores he did, if the Pakistani’s would have taken their chances. Credit, must be given to New Zealand who are lead brilliantly by Kane Williamson, who in this test became just the third person to reach 7,000 test runs for New Zealand.

For Pakistan, it’s evident they have some soul searching to do in preparation for their upcoming series against South Africa. New Zealand on the other hand, they now look forward to a series of limited over and T20 games against arch-rivals Australia.

Asda pizza an unsung hero

Hello and good evening, I hope you’re all well, looking after yourselves and keeping safe in these testing times. Ladies and gentleman, here is another food blog for you. The last post we did on food, was on Dixy chicken’s many variety of burgers.

The burgers I tried in that branch of Dixy’s was fantastic! I do digress, but back to the topic and talking of fantastic I want to talk of the fantastic pizza that’s on offer at my local Asda. Now, having checked many Asda stores across my home city (Manchester) this appears to be the only branch that has this kind of pizza.

Now, I am not referring to their Goodfellas range (that’s frozen pizza), no I am talking about the pizza they serve in their canteen. What made their pizza all the better tasting was that I stumbled across the fact that they even sold pizza like this.

Cheese and tomato, with a 14 inch diameter …. it’s to die for! Made with a lot of love and care (which is evident from the taste), the Asda pizza us drizzled with oil and the pizza base is soft with a superb texture. Cheese and tomato is a safe option, but the way it’s blended together is the stuff of fantasies.

Everyone dreams of a perfect love story, boy meets girl, or some would argue girl meets girl or boy meets boy … but no, the most perfect love story is you and Asda pizza. In a 14 inch diameter, arguably there’s a lot of space to work with.

If you don’t know how to use the size, it could be 20 inch and still not taste to perfection. There are meat options available too such as chicken pizza, but it’s the cheese and tomato that’s the flagship.

There was us thinking Asda is a supermarket, they can’t do such delicious tasting pizza, but who would have thought this very same supermarket would now sell mobile phones and a decent pair of jeans.

Texture perfect, dough perfect, base perfect and nicely drizzled with oil on top of the cheese and tomato, my God, please make lockdown end, coz I need Asda pizza! Don’t just take my word for it, try it yourself and you too will be amazed.

At just £7 for six 14 inch slices, tops it all off.

Tottenham, are through to final after Brentford win

Tottenham Hotspur booked their place in the final of the Carabao Cup after a 2-0 win over Brentford. The West London side, did beat Premier League side Newcastle 1-0 in the last round to get here.

With that in mind, it was evident that The Bees would be no pushover in this game. Brentford have had to rebuild after the sales of Said Benrahma and star forward Ollie Watkins.

To their credit after an arguably slow start, are competing within the higher reaches of the Championship again.

Key to this, has been Ivan Toney, the 26-year old former Newcastle and Peterborough striker has scored and impressive 16 goals this term.

The homeside Tottenham, knew that if they were to progress in this one, they will need to keep Toney quite and star forwards Harry Kane and Son Heung Min will need to perform.

Perform they did. Despite Brentford having, bright moments in this game, Spurs through goals by Mohammed Sissoko and Son, are through to the final, at the expense of the visitors Brentford, who were in their first competitive semi-final in their history.

A red card for Brentford’s Josh Da Silva, effectively ended any chance that the visitors had in progressing to the final.

For Tottenham, this is their chance to get their hands in silver for the first time since 2008, when they won this competition by beating Chelsea 2-1 that day.

Despite losing this semi-final, Brentford exit this tournament, with their heads held high.

They have clearly shown by their performances this year in the Championship and Carabao Cup, they are a very capable team and are a match for any one.

Come May, they will be back in the promotion race for sure.

This Tottenham team, have gone some way to show that they’re now ready to move to the next level. Jose’s back, Manchester City or Manchester United … you’re next are you ready?

Australia vs India; third test preview

After battling back, to win the second test, India have had to make some enforced changes coming into this one. Natarajan, who impressed for Sunrisers Hyderabad in this years IPL, comes in for the injured Umesh Yadav, who injured his calf during the second test victory.

The build-up to this test has been marred by an apparent breach of Covid protocols, where five Indian players (Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Shubman Gill, Navdeep and Pritvi Shaw) were seen in a video circulated over social media where the quintet were seen outdoors eating in a Sydney restaurant.

Despite this breach, it’s believed there hasn’t been any travel restrictions on the five, and they will be able to travel with the rest of the squad for the third test. This match, with the series squared at 1-1 will be crucial. At the top of the order has been a problem for India with Mayank Agarwal and Pritvi Shaw both struggling.

The return of Mumbai Indians skipper Sharma, will give the tourists some much strength needed up top, it will be hoped Rohit Sharma’s return, will take some pressure and the scoring burden off stand-in skipper Ajinkja Rahane, Rishabh Pant and Hanuma Vihari in the middle.

Australia, who were well beaten in the second test have dropped Joe Burns, who has had indifferent series. Burns has been replaced by the returning David Warner, who has shaken off his groin injury. Will Pucovski, has impressed in the Sheffield Shield, but concussion issues have plagued the 22-year old. Selector Trevor Hohns has confirmed that Pucovski has been symptom free for sometime.

Fast bowler and all-rounder Sean Abbott who has recovered for a calf strain, has been recalled. The third test, which begins at 23:30, will be played at Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney.

Unpopular opinion, Liverpool bottle it?

Hello and good evening, I hope you’re all well and looking after yourselves. Thank you for your readership, it’s appreciated for sure. I have written a few pieces in what I call the unpopular opinion series.

The first piece was about Leeds and their chances of staying in the Premier League here it is;. https://ayyazmalik.com/2020/12/24/unpopular-opinion-why-leeds-will-get-relegated/

And Frank Lampard maybe getting the sack? That can be viewed here; https://ayyazmalik.com/2021/01/03/lampard-for-the-sack/

In this article, after Liverpool’s defeat tonight against Southampton, I want to discuss the possibility of The Reds, last year’s Premier League winners, winning the league this year.

Jurgen Klopp’s men after impressing for large parts of the season last year to win the league after a 30-year wait, just have quite been themselves of late.

I am not mentioning the 7-2 defeat by Aston Villa, that was earlier in the season, I am talking about the last month.

Draws against Fulham West Brom and now this defeat to The Saints is showing signs that the Merseysiders are a club struggling compared to their high standards.

This maybe a tad harsh, as during this hectic period The Anfield side have beat Crystal Palace 7-0 at Selhurst Park, and ground out a 2-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield, who have impressed this year.

But, the injuries to Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez, just might be starting to affect Jurgen’s men.

In tonights game, I argue that The Reds lacked the dynamism of Fabinho and the engine of captain Jordan Henderson in the middle of the park. Both were deployed as centre backs, due to the chronic shortage at the back for Liverpool.

Avid readers of my blog, would remember my piece where I was quite critical of Liverpool’s spending.

To their credit Thiago, and Diogo Jota were signed after that article was published, so I will go on record saying I need to apologise for that. That article can be found here; https://ayyazmalik.com/2020/06/26/dear-jurgen-a-letter-from-the-sports-buff/

What I want to stick by, is that Liverpool won’t win this year’s Premier League. The 19 time domestic League title winners, do arguably have the best squad in the country.

Manchester City won the Premier League title back to back, but The Citizens were first team to do this since Manchester United do so, when they had their legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson in charge.

My thinking is, that as good as this Liverpool team has been, their lack of defensive cover will prove costly. Am I wrong? Let me know in the comments.