Traditionally poor March could cost Spurs Champions League qualification

Tottenham have had a fairly successful season and optimism was flying high until Sunday’s League Cup Final defeat to Chelsea and elimination from the Europa League against Fiorentina three days earlier dampened the spirits.

Spurs can now solely focus all their attention on trying to secure a top-four Premier League finish as they’re also no longer competing in the FA Cup after they suffered a shock fourth round exit at the hands of Leicester City back in January.

The North London side welcome a Swansea team that will be a tough nut to crack at White Hart Lane on Wednesday night and Mauricio Pochettino has got a big task on his hands to try and motivate the players after such a disappointing week.

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A victory for Spurs in that fixture would go a long way to boosting the morale, but recent history makes for slightly worrying reading for those affiliated with the club.

The month of March has proved a stumbling block for Tottenham in the past, so they will need to improve on recent seasons at this time of year if they are to have any hope of finishing in any of the Champions League slots.

Tottenham’s Premier League results in March since 2011:

Tottenham's form in March

Tottenham have managed just four wins from the 15 games they’ve played in March over the last four seasons, picking up 16 points from a possible 45 available.

As it currently stands, Spurs are six points off Manchester United in fourth place, but they do have the advantage of having a game in hand because of their League Cup commitments at the weekend.

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Failure to beat Swansea would be a major blow for the Lilywhites as not only would they lose pace in the European qualification race, but the Swans would then only be one point behind them in eighth position, which could really pile the pressure on Pochettino’s men.

If Tottenham’s Premier League form in March doesn’t improve on recent years, then they could find themselves in real trouble to make the cut for the Champions League places.

Will Tottenham finish in one of the Champions League qualification spots this season?

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Are Crystal Palace on course for their best ever Premier League season?

Crystal Palace enjoyed their third consecutive away victory in the Premier League when they beat West Ham 3-1 at Upton Park on Saturday and have been in fine form since Alan Pardew took over as manager at the beginning of January this year.

The Eagles travel to Southampton tonight and a positive result at St Mary’s would certainly leave Palace pondering over the possibility of achieving the best Premier League finish in the history of the club.

Considering last year’s unbelievable turnaround under manager Tony Pulis, many would have predicted that Crystal Palace would struggle this season after he walked out just days before the first game of the campaign.

When Pulis quit, Keith Millen briefly took over before reverting back to assistant manager when Neil Warnock was appointed. Warnock struggled for results, picking up just three wins from the 16 games that he was in charge and was consequently shown the door, which made way for Alan Pardew’s arrival from Newcastle.

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Pardew has been an instant hit both with the players and the fans and has been welcomed with open arms as many can probably still recall his playing days for the South London side in the late 1980’s through to the early 1990’s.

He has re-instilled belief and positivity at Selhurst Park, and generally brought a feel good factor back in to the Holmesdale air.

The 2013/14 season was the club’s best ever Premier League finish, but breaking down the numbers of Crystal Palace’s form under Alan Pardew shows there is a real chance that the red and blue army can make history for the second year running.

Palace in the Premier League

Palace eventually managed to survive relegation comfortably last season and in doing so, consecutively maintained their Premier League status for the first time since its inception. They had never avoided the drop when competing in the Premier League and they now look set to further establish themselves in England’s top division.

Crystal Palace's Premier League record under Pardew

If Pardew ensures Crystal Palace continue to pick up points at the same rate they have done since he took over, then they will amass 50 points come the end of the season – five points more than they did in last year’s record-breaking campaign.

It’s certainly a big ask to maintain such consistent form, but it isn’t out of the question and Palace fans may be pinching themselves at how well the team are performing.

You only have to cast your mind back to May 2010 and this was a club not only struggling in the Championship but also on the verge of extinction due to extreme financial issues. A 2-2 draw away at Sheffield Wednesday on the final day of the season that year under the management of Paul Hart almost certainly saved Crystal Palace from going under.

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Palace were in administration at the time and demotion to League One would’ve had a huge financial impact that they may not have been able to recover from. They battled through some bleak times with incredible spirit and determination and it’s been onwards and upwards since then.

Recognition and credit must be given not only to Pardew for the most recent turnaround, but also to everyone involved with the club over the last five years.

Can Crystal Palace record their best ever Premier League season this year?

The reasons why 2014 was the most entertaining MLS season for nine years

Fans of the game don’t need to be told how entertaining the most recent Major League Soccer campaign was in terms of the tension, adrenaline, jubilation and despair that it created.

Having been through the emotional roller coaster of supporting your club through a season, most will now be at peace with how their team performed in 2014 – whether they are pleased or disappointed is another question entirely.

In terms of entertainment value, MLS has come up trumps once again as the 2014 season saw 924 goals hitting the back of the net – the most ever scored in a regular season.

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Since 2012, MLS has seen more matches being played over the course of the season due to more teams being in the league and format adjustments, so it would be easy to say that the only reason we’ve seen the most goals is because there are more games.

While that is true, it’s important to bear in mind that 2014 managed to produce the highest average goals-per-game ratio since 2005 and that the standard of play in the league is now far higher than nine years ago.

MLS, year by year:

mls season stats

A closer look at the numbers will also tell you that the 2014 season saw the highest average attendance in the history of Major League Soccer.

The average attendance is up by 554 on last season and is 341 higher than the previous record of 18,807 that we saw in 2012.

With New York City and Orlando City joining in 2015, it’s clear for all to see the growth of MLS and if ever there was proof needed that the league was on the rise, then the attendance figures for this year just about confirm that fact.

Is Major League Soccer becoming one of the biggest leagues in the world?

West Ham continue their best ever start to a Premier League season

West Ham United continued their best ever start to a Premier League season with a 1-1 draw against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light this weekend.

The Hammers have amassed an impressive 28 points from their opening 16 games, which is their best total in the top flight at this stage for 29 years.

Their previous best start came when they had 29 points from their opening 16 fixtures in the 1985/86 season.

To put it in to perspective, Diafra Sakho, their top goalscorer in the Premier League at the moment, wasn’t even born when that happened.

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Manager Sam Allardyce has come under pressure in the past and a stuttering start to the season made it look like he was going to be in for another year of being questioned, but a run of ten games with just one defeat has turned the tide.

They are currently now sitting nicely in fourth position in the table and are well on course to mount a serious challenge to try and qualify for Europe next season, although they will face stiff competition from those around them.

West Ham’s top five best starts to a Premier League season:

WHU start to season

They host Leicester City next weekend before a tough Christmas test arrives in the shape of a trip to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea on Boxing Day. They then welcome Arsenal to Upton Park two days later.

If the Irons find themselves sitting in the top four come the new year, then they will certainly fancy their chances of maintaining their form for the second half of the campaign.

Can West Ham United qualify for European competition?

Bradley Wright-Phillips cements place in MLS history with tied goalscoring record

Bradley Wright-Phillips made history on Sunday as he fired himself in to the record books by becoming the joint highest goalscorer in an MLS season.

His brace in Kansas helped New York Red Bulls to a 2-0 win and in the process took his tally to 27 goals – a number only previously achieved by Chris Wondolowski of San Jose Earthquakes in 2012 and Roy Lassiter of the now dissolved Tampa Bay Mutiny in 1996.

Out of the three strikers that share the record, he managed to amass his goals in the least game time with 2,573 minutes spent on the pitch compared to the 2,813 minutes and 2,580 minutes that it took Wondolowski and Lassiter respectively.

He started less games and also managed to record the highest number of shots-on-target out of the three.

BWP StatsOther than one great season at Charlton Athletic in the 2011/12 campaign, Wright-Phillips was a player struggling to find his feet in the English game and the epiphany to join Major League Soccer must be a moment he looks back on with great fondness having now established himself as one of the sport’s truly great players.

Crossing the Atlantic is undoubtedly one of the boldest but greatest moves he has made in his career and now he’s reaping the rewards as well as hunting down MLS Cup glory with New York Red Bulls.

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Winning the golden boot and equalling the record is a wonderful achievement for the Englishman but his work for the season is far from over as attentions turn immediately to the Eastern Conference knockout round where New York will take on Sporting Kansas City at the Red Bull Arena on Thursday.

The way he performs in the knockout round and the further potential playoff games will be vital to the Red Bulls if they are to stand any chance of making the MLS Cup Final on Sunday 7th December.

Can Bradley Wright-Phillips fire New York Red Bulls to MLS Cup success?