Leeds Promoted To English Premier League

Leeds United supporters gather outside their Elland Road ground to celebrate the club's return to the Premier league after a gap of 16 years, in Leeds, northern England on July 17, 2020. Paul ELLIS / AFP
Leeds United supporters gather outside their Elland Road ground to celebrate the club’s return to the Premier league after a gap of 16 years, in Leeds, northern England on July 17, 2020. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Leeds United were promoted to the Premier League on Friday after West Bromwich Albion’s 2-1 defeat at Huddersfield ensured the Championship leaders will end their 16-year exile from the top-flight.

Marcelo Bielsa’s side were able to celebrate promotion without kicking a ball as second placed Albion’s failure to take three points guaranteed Leeds will finish in the top two.

“We are back. Leeds United are Premier League,” the club said on their Twitter account moments after the final whistle.

Leeds are five points clear at the top and they can clinch the Championship title with a draw against Derby at Pride Park on Sunday.

Albion’s defeat means third placed Brentford will reach the top-flight for the first time in 73 years if they win their last two games.

A tense 1-0 win over Barnsley at Elland Road, secured by Michael Sollbauer’s own goal, had moved Leeds to the brink of promotion on Thursday.

Now they can look forward to renewing old rivalries with Manchester United and Chelsea next season.

Leeds United supporters gather outside their Elland Road ground to celebrate the club's return to the Premier League after a gap of 16 years, in Leeds, northern England on July 17, 2020.  Paul ELLIS / AFP
Leeds United supporters gather outside their Elland Road ground to celebrate the club’s return to the Premier League after a gap of 16 years, in Leeds, northern England on July 17, 2020. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

“It’s unbelievable and it’s still not sunk in,” Leeds captain Liam Cooper said.

“Our club, our fans and our players have sacrificed so much. We’ve been in the doldrums for 16 years.

“To lead this team to promotion back to where we know we’ve always belonged is unbelievable. We deserve it. We’ve been the best team all season.”

Bielsa has earned iconic status in west Yorkshire after the Leeds boss finally put his club back on the football map.

Midfielder Kalvin Phillips saluted Bielsa’s contribution, saying: “When the manager first came in I never thought I would be in this position two years down the line.

“He’s the best in the world. There’s no manager I would rather be under than Marcelo Bielsa.

“The Premier League is the best in the world and after 16 years we’re back in there.”

Despite warnings from Leeds owner Andrea Radrizzani to stay at home amid the coronavirus pandemic, Leeds fans gathered outside Elland Road to celebrate, but their emotion was understandable.

Leeds are one of England’s biggest clubs, with their legion of fanatical fans following them around the country and regularly attracting home crowds of over 30,000 despite years of underachievement.

Rich history

Their long-awaited return to the top tier completes a turbulent journey that saw them become a laughing stock when they languished in third tier obscurity.

Leeds have been away from the Premier League for so long that Twitter and Instagram didn’t exist the last time they played in the top-flight.

So it was fitting that Leeds goalkeeper Kiko Casilla took to Twitter to celebrate, writing: “We are BACK! We are in the Premier League! Yessssssssssss!

“Many days dreaming of this Day. We deserve it. Proud of this TEAM, proud of our supporters.”

Liverpool midfielder James Milner, who started his career at Leeds, tweeted: “Congratulations LUFC. Back where you belong.”

Leeds United supporters gather outside their Elland Road ground to celebrate the club's return to the Premier League after a gap of 16 years, in Leeds, northern England on July 17, 2020.  Paul ELLIS / AFP
Leeds United supporters gather outside their Elland Road ground to celebrate the club’s return to the Premier League after a gap of 16 years, in Leeds, northern England on July 17, 2020. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Leeds went through 14 different managers following their 2004 relegation from the Premier League, until the sleeping giant was awoken by former Lazio and Marseille boss Bielsa.

Bielsa has turned the tide at a tortured club infamously labelled the ‘Damned United’ by novelist David Peace and forever remembered as ‘Dirty Leeds’ in the minds of fans who saw their no-holds-barred style in the Don Revie era.

The 64-year-old Argentine led Leeds within touching distance of promotion in his first season, but they crumbled in the final weeks and were beaten in the play-of semi-finals by Derby.

Notorious for working his players so hard in training that they often burn out by the end of the season, Bielsa has benefitted from the coronavirus hiatus allowing his players to come back refreshed for the final furlong of the promotion race.

Champions of England in 1969 and 1974 under Revie, then in 1992 when Howard Wilkinson called the shots, Leeds have a rich history.

But since being relegated from the top tier, Leeds have stumbled from financial disaster off the pitch to despair on it.

Describing the club’s ascent to the heady heights of the Champions League in the early 2000s, former chairman Peter Ridsdale claimed he had “lived the dream”.

Their subsequent fall was a never-ending nightmare that hit its lowest ebb in 2007 when Leeds went into administration and were relegated to the third tier for the first time.

No wonder the much-travelled Bielsa, nicknamed El Loco for his intense personality, is so beloved after just two years in charge.

 

AFP

Pogba Shines As Manchester United Thrash Leeds

Manchester United’s Paul Pogba (L) fights for the ball with Leeds United’s Adam Forshaw (R) during their pre-season friendly football match at Optus Stadium in Perth on July 17, 2019.
PHOTO: TONY ASHBY / AFP

Paul Pogba shined as an under-pressure Manchester United stepped up their pre-season campaign with a 4-0 thrashing of old rivals Leeds on Wednesday.

United had faced criticism after an unconvincing 2-0 victory over a depleted Perth Glory on the weekend.

In a much-needed tonic, the Red Devils clinically dismantled Leeds, who have high hopes of returning to the English Premier League for the first time since 2004.

Pogba, who has been linked with a move to Juventus and Real Madrid, starred in United’s dominant first-half and was part of a pretty chain of passing to set up 17-year-old Mason Greenwood’s first senior goal in the seventh minute.

Greenwood’s energetic performance has the teenager in the frame for thesid Premier League opener against Chelsea on August 11, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said.

“He’s got a chance. He’s more than capable and he’ll always be there in and around the box creating chances,” he told reporters after the match.

Moments later, a powerful strike from Pogba was well saved by goalkeeper Kiko Casilla.

But it was only a matter of time before United broke through with a moment of magic in the 27th minute from Marcus Rashford, a livewire in the first half.

After a wondrous dribble past the lead-foot defence, the 21-year-old expertly tapped it past Casilla.

Solskjaer changed his entire lineup at half-time in a repeat of Saturday’s match against Perth.

United continued to dictate, with Phil Jones scoring a thumping header from a corner kick in the 51st minute.

Anthony Martial rounded out a spectacular performance in the 68th minute by converting a penalty after Tahith Chong was taken down in the box.

The first clash in eight years between the one-time bitter enemies fizzled out, but a near capacity Perth Stadium crowd of 55,000 underlined the rivalry’s stature.

Romelu Lukaku was once again absent fuelling speculation he had been dropped from the squad amid reports he was close to securing a move to Inter Milan.

United said the Belgian suffered a knock at training.

“He’s missed two chances to play 45 minutes and at this stage of the season it’s important to get everyone fit, so hopefully he’ll be available soon,” Solskjaer said.

Illness kept out goalkeeper David de Gea, who is reportedly close to signing a new five-year deal with United in excess of £350,000 ($435,000) a week.

United will have further pre-season games against Inter Milan in Singapore on July 20 and Tottenham in Shanghai on July 25, while Leeds will head to Sydney to face Western Sydney Wanderers.

Frank Lampard’s Derby County Beat Leeds 4-2 To Reach Championship Play-Off Final

 

A Frank Lampard inspired Derby County have secured their place in the Championship play-off final after beating Leeds United 4-2.

Derby County had lost the semi-final first leg 1-0 at Pride Park, however, events took a different turn on Wednesday with Jack Marriott bagging a brace, Chelsea’s Mason Mount netting and also Harry Wilson netted a penalty for the Rams.

READ ALSO: Lazio See Off Atlanta To Win Seventh Coppa Italia

Lampard’s side will now face Aston Villa in the final at Wembley on May 27.

Norwich Promoted To Premier League After Three-Year Absence

Photos: twitter.com/NorwichCityFC/media

 

Norwich City secured promotion to the English Premier League after a three-year absence with a 2-1 win at home to Blackburn Rovers on Saturday.

The victory left Championship leaders Norwich nine points clear of third-placed Leeds with just six left to play for in the final two regular-season games and only the top two assured of a place in English football’s lucrative top-flight.

The Canaries kicked-off at Carrow Road knowing just a point would be enough to secure promotion.

Norwich went ahead in the 13th minute through Marco Stiepermann thanks to the German midfielder’s low shot from 20 yards.

The East Anglian club moved closer to a place among the elite through an even more spectacular goal, Mario Vranic’s strike from 25 yards flying into the top corner in the 21st minute.

But two minutes later Blackburn threatened to spoil the party thanks to Lewis Travis’s goal.

That, however, was as good as it got for the visitors with Norwich seeing out the game to return to the Premier League for the first time since they were relegated in 2016.

Earlier, second-placed Sheffield United all but assured themselves of promotion with a 2-0 win over basement club Ipswich — Norwich’s local rivals.

The Blades took the lead after 24 minutes through Scott Hogan and they doubled their lead against already-relegated Ipswich after 70 minutes via Jack O’Connell’s header from a corner.

Sheffield United are now six points clear of Leeds, who play Aston Villa on Sunday.

With the Blades boasting a far superior goal difference to Yorkshire rivals Leeds, only a freak combination of results can now deny them automatic promotion.

Fallen English giants Leeds now appear destined for the post-season play-offs, with the teams finishing third to sixth battling it out for the final promotion place.

AFP

Four-Goal Leeds Return To Top Spot In English Championship

Leeds United moved back to the top of the Sky Bet Championship table with an emphatic victory over fellow promotion rivals West Bromwich Albion. Credit: Leeds United Website

 

Leeds ran out impressive 4-0 winners over promotion rivals West Brom on Friday to return to the top of the English Championship.

Pablo Hernandez opened the scoring after just 17 seconds while Patrick Bamford doubled the advantage before the break at Elland Road.

Bamford added his second midway through the second period with Ezgjan Alioski making it 4-0 in stoppage time.

READ ALSO: Premier League: Tottenham Hold Arsenal To A Draw At Wembley

“For me the most important thing was the effort, attitude and state of mind of the whole team during the whole game,” Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa told BBC Radio Leeds.

Leeds have a one-point lead over Norwich who go to struggling Millwall on Saturday.

AFP

Casilla Leaves Real Madrid For Leeds

Kiko Casilla. Credit: @SkySportsNews

 

Real Madrid confirmed the sale of their third-choice goalkeeper Kiko Casilla to Leeds on Thursday.

Casilla has fallen down the pecking order at Madrid following the arrival of Thibaut Courtois last summer, with Keylor Navas already at the club.

After coming through the ranks at Real, Casilla spent eight years at Espanyol before returning to his former team in 2015.

Leeds, currently coached by Argentina’s Marcelo Bielsa, are four points clear at the top of the Championship table.

A Real Madrid statement read: “Real Madrid and Leeds United have agreed to the transfer of the player Kiko Casilla.”

A statement from Leeds read: “The experienced 32-year-old goalkeeper has signed for four and a half years until the summer of 2023.”

AFP

FA Cup Roundup: Arsenal Dumped Out, Leeds Shocked

 

Arsenal’s English midfielder Ainsley Maitland-Niles reacts after the FA Cup third round match between Nottingham Forest and Arsenal at The City Ground in Nottingham, central England, on January 7, 2018. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

FA Cup holders Arsenal were sensationally dumped out of the competition by Nottingham Forest on Sunday, joining Leeds United as big-name casualties on a day of shocks.

Elsewhere, West Ham stayed alive with a goalless draw at Shrewsbury and Tottenham scored three goals in eight second-half minutes to see off the challenge of League One side AFC Wimbledon.

Championship side Forest revived memories of their glory years under Brian Clough, putting 13-times winners Arsenal to the sword in an incident-packed 4-2 win at the City Ground.

“It was good. My wife told me that if I score a hat-trick at any point this year then I get a dog, so I was trying to get the penalty,” said two-goal hero Eric Lichaj.

“Vaughany (David Vaughan) told me politely — I won’t say what he said to me — to go away.”

US international Lichaj opened the scoring for the home side with a header midway through the first half but Per Mertesacker equalised for the much-changed away team just three minutes later.

However, Forest continued to probe an inexperienced Arsenal line-up and got their reward just before half-time when Lichaj volleyed in spectacularly from the edge of the box.

Arsenal’s French manager Arsene Wenger looks on from the stands during the match 
Oli SCARFF / AFP

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, serving a touchline ban, was forced to watch powerless from the stands as Rob Holding conceded a penalty that teenager Ben Brereton converted in the 64th minute to stretch the home side’s lead to 3-1.

Danny Welbeck gave Arsenal hope with just over 10 minutes to go but Kieran Dowell netted from the penalty spot again to seal a 4-2 win for the second-tier side over the Premier League visitors.

In a breathless final few minutes Forest’s Joe Worrall was sent off but it was too late for Arsenal.

Leeds shock

In the early kick-off, on-loan forward Shawn McCoulsky headed in a dramatic 89th-minute winner for Welsh club Newport to seal a 2-1 victory against 1972 Cup winners Leeds.

Leeds had taken an early lead at Rodney Parade when Gaetano Berardi’s deflected long-range shot found the net.

But Newport, currently 11th in League Two — the fourth tier of the English game — levelled 14 minutes from time when Leeds defender Conor Shaughnessy sliced into his own net.

Infused with fresh belief in front of a passionate Welsh crowd, Newport pressed for a winner, and with a minute to go on-loan substitute McCoulsky rose highest at a corner to head in the decisive goal and send the stadium into raptures.

Much-changed Leeds were then reduced to 10 men when substitute Samuel Saiz was immediately sent off over an off-the-ball incident.

“This is much better beating Championship teams like Leeds,” said Newport manager Michael Flynn. “I don’t want to be winning relegation battles, I want to be winning FA Cup ties and climbing the table.”

Hart saves

West Ham had goalkeeper Joe Hart to thank for keeping them in the Cup with a 0-0 draw after an uninspired performance against Shrewsbury Town of the third tier.

The England goalkeeper, returning to the club where he started his career, made a fine save from Mat Sadler with about 10 minutes to go until the interval and repeated the trick against Alex Rodman to keep the score at 0-0.

“The players are a little bit deflated almost,” said Shrewsbury Town manager Paul Hurst.

“But we have a replay to look forward to,” he added. “We know it will be tough. They will be at home, more comfortable in their own stadium.”

At Wembley, Harry Kane broke the deadlock against AFC Wimbledon with just under half an hour to go before Kane again and Jan Vertonghen made it 3-0 to put the game beyond the reach of the visitors.

On Saturday, League Two Coventry City sent Premier League side Stoke City crashing out, prompting the sacking of Mark Hughes.

 

AFP

How Wizkid, Davido Made Nigeria Proud At MOBOAwards

The 22nd MOBO Awards held on Wednesday night at the First Direct Arena in Leeds, United Kingdom.

The awards saw two Nigerian artistes, Ayodeji Balogun popularly known as Wizkid and David Adeleke called Davido by fans defeat international acts and made Nigerians proud.

DMW boss Davido emerged as the winner of the Best African Act award, beating fellow nominees Eugy, Juls, Maleek Berry, Mr Eazi, Sarkodie and more.

While Starboy, Wizkid, won the Best International Act, beating top artists like Drake, SZA, Cardi B, JAY-Z, Kendrick Lamar and more.

Wizkid emerged the first African to achieve this feat and Davido, the first African-based Act to perform at the #MOBOAwards.

 

Here is the full list of winners:

Best Male Act: Stormzy

Best Female Act: Stefflon Don

Best Album: Stormzy – Gang Signs & Prayer

Best Newcomer: Dave

Best Song: J Hus – Did You See

Best Video: Mist – Hot Property

Best Hip-Hop Act: Giggs

Best Grime Act: Stormzy

Best R&B/Soul Act: Craig David

Best International Act: Wizkid

Best African Act: Davido

Best Reggae Act: Damian Marley

Best Jazz Act: Moses Boyd

Best Gospel Act: Volney Morgan and New-Ye

Washington Leads Global Women Rallies Against Donald Trump

women protest against Donald TrumpThousands of women protesters on Saturday gathered in cities across the world to demonstrate against what they described as ‘threats to womanhood’ by newly sworn in U.S. President, Donald Trump.

In Washington, protesters assembled at the National Mall, as many as 500,000, to promote women’s rights, in an anti-Trump gathering that threatens to turn into one of the largest marches in U.S. history.

Although it was not pushed as a movement against the new president, most of the causes represented are those deemed under threat from Trump’s administration, including plans to repeal the 2010 Affordable Care Act, which among other things requires health insurers to cover birth control.

Hundreds of thousands of people marched in 161 cities across all seven continents, with focuses extended beyond Trump.

The Guardian reports that in the UK, between 80,000 and 100,000 people joined the Women’s March on London, and another 14 marches took place in towns and cities including Manchester, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Leeds and Belfast.

The London march began at the US embassy at noon, and finished with a rally in Trafalgar Square. Protesters waved banners inscribed: “Special relationship, just say no” and “Nasty women unite”. They were joined by the London mayor, Sadiq Khan, and Labour MPs including Stella Creasy, Harriet Harman and Yvette Cooper.

Protests also held in Norway and other cities in Europe.

Meanwhile, a traditional post inauguration interfaith prayer service has been held in honour of Donald Trump and his family at the Washington National Cathedral.

President Trump has also signed an executive order that targets the signature health care reforms of his predecessor.

Former Stoke City Winger, Jermaine Pennant Signs For Bury

Stoke City, Jermaine Pennant, BuryFormer Stoke City winger, Jermaine Pennant, on Thursday put pen to paper on a contract that will see him wear a Bury shirt for the remainder of the current season.

The Shakers, who confirmed the deal on their website, described the former Arsenal player as one “with Premier League, Europa League and Champions League experience, (and) who has commanded transfer fees of over £10 million”.

The 33-year-old began his career with Notts County in 1998 where he quickly progressed to earn a £2 million move to Arsenal in the January 1999 transfer window.

After five years at the Emirates, where he was loaned out to clubs such as Watford, Leeds and Birmingham City, he was eventually signed by Liverpool for a fee that was reported to be £6.7 million.

At Anfield, Jermaine also had time with Portsmouth on loan, before leaving to join Spanish side Real Zaragoza.

Following a two-year spell in Spain, he returned to join Stoke City with another £2 million fee being paid for his services.

Jermaine also spent time with Wigan and Wolves before heading abroad to play in India and Singapore.

He recently returned to the UK, training with Bury for a number of weeks before being offered, and accepting a short-term deal with the club.

During his career, Jermaine has made over 360 appearances, scoring 22 goals.

Jermaine will take squad number 38 while with Bury, as they wait on International Clearance before he can wear his first Shakers shirt.