Martin Laurence

Author's details

Name: Martin Laurence
Date registered: December 17, 2014
URL: http://www.theguardian.com/football/qpr

Latest posts

  1. The best player from every Premier League club this season — May 17, 2017
  2. The players Tottenham should sign to boost next season’s Premier League bid — May 12, 2017
  3. Champions League and Europa League: previews for the four semi-finals — May 2, 2017
  4. The full-backs Manchester City should sign to help them win a trophy next season — April 25, 2017
  5. Who will win the Europa League? Rating the chances of the eight quarter-finalists — April 20, 2017

Author's posts listings

May 17

The best player from every Premier League club this season

Eden Hazard – not N’Golo Kanté – was the best performer this season, closely followed by Alexis Sánchez, Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku and Roberto Firmino

By Martin Laurence for WhoScored?, part of the Guardian Sport Network

The second highest rated player in the entire league, Alexis Sánchez has carried Arsenal for much of the season, scoring 23 goals and laying on 10 assists, all of which have come from open play. He is the only Premier League player to register double figures for both. His workrate has been clear to see once more, winning possession the second most times in the final third (29).

Related: David Squires on … Chelsea winning the Premier League title

Related: The players Tottenham should sign to boost next season’s Premier League bid

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/who-scored-blog/2017/may/17/premier-league-clubs-player-season-eden-hazard

May 12

The players Tottenham should sign to boost next season’s Premier League bid

Spurs were third last season and look likely to end up second this year. They cannot afford to waste more money this summer if they are to take that last step

By Martin Laurence for WhoScored?, part of the Guardian Sport Network

For the second successive season, it seems likely that Chelsea will come between Tottenham and the Premier League title. Chelsea came from 2-0 down to earn a draw in the tempestuous Battle of the Bridge last year and hand Leicester the title, though their fans will be even happier if they beat West Brom on Friday night to wrap up their own title triumph.

Spurs can at least point to progress this season, having overtaken Arsenal on their way from third to second. They have comfortably usurped their total of 70 points last season and edged closer towards winning their first title since 1961. This season they have come up against a rampant Chelsea side – who are on course to win a record number of games in a Premier League season – but the form of other teams can no longer be an excuse for Spurs. Instead they must address the shortcomings of a squad that will be expected to do far better in next season’s Champions League, so doing better in the summer transfer window is a must.

Related: ‘Maradona is immortal here’ – Napoli fans 30 years after winning their first Scudetto

Dennis #Bergkamp who?

Meet Patrik #Schick. pic.twitter.com/AMhKsTMVe4

Related: Tottenham set for friendly in Hong Kong before starting their summer break

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/who-scored-blog/2017/may/12/tottenham-hotspur-sign-transfers-premier-league-spurs

May 02

Champions League and Europa League: previews for the four semi-finals

All the facts and figures for the four big ties this week: Real Madrid v Atlético Madrid, Monaco v Juventus, Celta Vigo v Manchester United and Ajax v Lyon

By Martin Laurence for WhoScored?, part of the Guardian Sport Network

There will be no repeat of the 2014 and 2016 Champions League finals, though at least one side from Madrid is sure of a place on the grand stage for the third time in four years. Real Madrid are aiming to make Champions League history and retain their crown, having broken the record for consecutive semi-final appearances (seven) by successfully navigating their way past Bayern Munich, albeit in controversial circumstances.

Related: How Nice beat all the odds – and PSG – to challenge for the Ligue 1 title this season

Related: Luke Shaw could miss start of next season because of foot ligament injury

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/who-scored-blog/2017/may/02/champions-league-europa-league-previews-semi-finals

Apr 25

The full-backs Manchester City should sign to help them win a trophy next season

Pep Guardiola will want to buy three or four full-backs after an underwhelming debut season in England. These are the players he should be targeting

By Martin Laurence for WhoScored?, part of the Guardian Sport Network

Pep Guardiola’s first season at Manchester City has been thoroughly disappointing. His team can no longer win any silverware after their defeat to Arsenal in the FA Cup semi-finals. They were knocked out of the Champions League at the last-16 stage, didn’t make it beyond the fourth round of the League Cup and may not finish in the top four.

Manuel Pellegrini won a trophy, took City to the semi-finals of the Champions League and secured a top-four finish in his final season with the club, so the team have clearly failed to live up to expectations under their new boss. Any other manager may have faced the chop, though Guardiola has never really been in danger, with the club accepting that the squad isn’t capable of carrying out his intense demands.

Related: Christophe Galtier is Ligue 1’s longest serving manager. But it’s now time to go

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/who-scored-blog/2017/apr/25/manchester-city-players-sign-full-backs-pep-guardiola

Apr 20

Who will win the Europa League? Rating the chances of the eight quarter-finalists

Manchester United are the outstanding favourites but Lyon pose a big threat and Celta Vigo will be keen to extend Spain’s dominance over this competition

By Martin Laurence for WhoScored?, part of the Guardian Sport Network

After the first leg of the Europa League quarter-finals all eight sides have realistic hopes of progressing to the final four. Manchester United conceded a late equaliser in Anderlecht but were the only side to get a positive result away from home. Celta Vigo take a 3-2 lead to Genk; Lyon go to Besiktas 2-1 in front; and Schalke have a little more to do after a 2-0 defeat in Ajax. We take a look at the remaining sides’ prospects of winning the trophy – and earning a place in next season’s Champions League.

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/who-scored-blog/2017/apr/20/europa-league-quarter-finalists-manchester-united-lyon-anderlecht

Apr 11

Champions League quarter-finals: previews for the four ties this week

A look forward to Juventus v Barcelona and Dortmund v Monaco on Tuesday, plus Atlético Madrid v Leicester and Bayern v Real Madrid on Wednesday

By Martin Laurence for WhoScored?, part of the Guardian Sport Network

In a repeat of the 2015 final, Juventus will be hoping to exact revenge on a Barcelona side that lost at Málaga at the weekend. Their 2-0 defeat was the latest in a long line of underwhelming results away from home Barcelona, who haven’t won more than two games in a row on the road since September. Their most memorable disappointment, of course, came in Paris before they completed a remarkable comeback to reach this stage.

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/who-scored-blog/2017/apr/11/champions-league-juventus-barcelona-dortmund-monaco-madrid-leicester-bayern

Mar 29

Crystal Palace are in sparkling form. With their run-in, they need to be

Mamadou Sakho has helped Crystal Palace win their last three games without conceding a goal. With 10 tough fixtures to come, they need him to keep it up

By Martin Laurence for WhoScored?, part of the Guardian Sport Network

What a difference a month makes. When Crystal Palace travelled to Middlesbrough at the end of February, they were three points adrift of their opponents and above bottom club Sunderland by virtue of goal difference alone. Three games, three clean sheets and three wins later, Sam Allardyce’s men are now out of the relegation zone, six points clear of Middlesbrough and eight in front of Sunderland. However, a look at their run-in suggests they may need every one of those points come the end of the season.

Palace have to face each of last season’s top eight in their remaining 10 games. Four of their five remaining away matches are at Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United – and the other is at Southampton, where Palace lost 4-1 last May. Palace are far from safe, sitting just four points above the relegation zone, but they have improved in recent weeks – thanks in large part to a January signing who is often under-appreciated.

Related: Mamadou Sakho puts drug test and Klopp behind him at Crystal Palace

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/who-scored-blog/2017/mar/29/crystal-palace-chelsea-premier-league-fixtures

Mar 21

Will Tottenham finally finish above Arsenal in the Premier League this year? | Martin Laurence

Arsenal are no worse than they were last season but Tottenham have improved again. Will Spurs finish above their rivals for the first time in 22 years?

By Martin Laurence for WhoScored?, part of the Guardian Sport Network

When Arsenal lost for a fourth time in five league games at West Brom on Saturday, Spurs fans sensed another opportunity to extend their lead over their local rivals. Arsenal’s 3-1 defeat reduced the pressure on Mauricio Pochettino’s team before their game against Southampton the following day, which they won 2-1 – their fourth victory in five league games – to establish a nine-point lead over Arsenal, who have now fallen to sixth in the table.

Arsenal have a game in hand on Tottenham but, given their current form and the overriding sense of uncertainty at the club, there is no guarantee that they will be able to reduce the gap. Aside from Manchester United’s win at Middlesbrough, it was an excellent weekend for Tottenham – if you accept that Chelsea are now out of reach at the top of the table.

Related: Sérgio Conceição turned Leicester down – and now he is turning Nantes around

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/who-scored-blog/2017/mar/21/tottenham-finish-above-arsenal-premier-league-season

Mar 15

The five outsiders who deserve to be called up to the England squad

Gareth Southgate should consider Jordan Pickford, Harry Maguire, Michael Keane, Ross Barkley and Nathan Redmond before posting his squad on ThursdayBy Martin Laurence for WhoScored?, part of the Guardian Sport NetworkGareth Southgate has a number of de…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/who-scored-blog/2017/mar/15/england-squad-gareth-southgate-five-outsiders

Mar 07

Manolo Gabbiadini has Southampton scoring again. Now to bolster the defence

Manolo Gabbiadini has become the first Southampton player to score in his first four games for the club. Their next job will be buying an equally poised defender

By Martin Laurence for WhoScored?, part of the Guardian Sport Network

Southampton went to Vicarage Road on Saturday and beat Watford 4-3, a scoreline that flattered the home team. Southampton were comfortably the better side. They dominated possession, with 62%, and were productive with it, hitting the target with 11 of their 20 shots. The victory marked only the second time – and the first since September – that they have recorded back-to-back league wins this season, after their 4-0 demolishing of Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.

Scoring four goals at Watford was the perfect response to their disappointing League Cup final defeat to Manchester United – for which they received plenty of plaudits, most notably from José Mourinho. Southampton have struggled on the road recently – they lost away at Swansea, Burnley, Southampton in January – but the arrival of Manolo Gabbiadini on deadline day has emboldened the team.

Related: How Partizan Belgrade overcame QPR after losing the first-leg 6-2 at Highbury

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/who-scored-blog/2017/mar/07/manolo-gabbiadini-southampton-nathan-redmond

Feb 28

Newcastle’s three away games in a week will shape the Championship title race

In the next seven days Newcastle will travel to Brighton, Huddersfield and Reading to play the three clubs in the Championship with the best home records

By Martin Laurence for WhoScored?, part of the Guardian Sport Network

Newcastle were top of the Championship when they welcomed 20th-place Bristol City to St James’ Park on Saturday afternoon. With three tough away fixtures coming up after the visit of Lee Johnson’s team, the Newcastle players would have been looking for a simple afternoon’s work. It didn’t turn out that way.

Bristol City had taken just two points from the last 33 available on their travels, but they raced into a 2-0 lead within 21 minutes. Newcastle came back to secure a 2-2 draw but Rafa Benítez will consider it two points lost rather than one gained as his team looks forward to a week that could define their season.

Related: Brighton promotion would be bigger feat than taking Newcastle up, says Hughton

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/who-scored-blog/2017/feb/28/newcastle-championship-title-race-brighton-huddersfield-brighton

Feb 21

Champions League last-16: previews for the big midweek matches

A look forward to Bayer Leverkusen v Atlético Madrid and Manchester City v Monaco on Tuesday, plus Porto v Juventus and Sevilla v Leicester on Wednesday

By Martin Laurence for WhoScored?, part of the Guardian Sport Network

Eighth in the Bundesliga faces fourth in La Liga in what, on paper, looks like one of the more underwhelming ties of the round of 16. Atlético were considered one of the best teams on the continent at the start of the season – they had reached two of the last three Champions League finals after all – but Diego Simeone’s side have not lived up to their previous standards over the last six months. The manager squeezed every drop of quality out of a team that performed well above its means but perhaps he has taken them as far as they can go.

Related: Pep Guardiola a big fan of Monaco and wary of their Champions League threat

Related: Revitalised Samir Nasri comes up smiling in Sevilla’s latest reboot

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/who-scored-blog/2017/feb/21/champions-league-bayer-atletico-man-city-monaco-porto-juventus-sevilla-leicester

Feb 16

Aston Villa have not won a match in 2017. Are they in danger of another relegation? | Martin Laurence

Aston Villa have lost four games in a row and are now much closer to the relegation zone than the play-offs. Surely they couldn’t go down to League One?

By Martin Laurence for WhoScored?, part of the Guardian Sport Network

Three Championship clubs decided to replace their managers in the same week back in October. Cardiff City were second from bottom with only eight points from 11 games, so they brought in Neil Warnock to replace Paul Trollope. Derby County, who found themselves in 20th, having secured 10 points from 11 games, sacked Nigel Pearson and welcomed Steve McClaren back to the club. And Aston Villa, who were level on points with Derby but still had aspirations of a top-two finish, decided to wave goodbye to Roberto Di Matteo and bring in Steve Bruce.

All three clubs enjoyed immediate improvements. McClaren’s return to Derby proved to be an instant success, with the team winning eight of their next 10 league games. Warnock steadied the ship at Cardiff, who have won six of their nine matches in 2017 – including victories over Villa and Derby – as they have moved into the comfort of midtable.

Related: How to win the Premier League: steamroller everyone outside the top six

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/who-scored-blog/2017/feb/16/aston-villa-relegation-championship-steve-bruce-league-one

Feb 08

How to win the Premier League: steamroller everyone outside the top six

Chelsea’s nine-point lead was not built on victories against their closest rivals – but on their record of only dropping two points against the bottom 15 clubs

By Martin Laurence for WhoScored?, part of the Guardian Sport Network

The Premier League title race looks to be over. Chelsea effectively ended Arsenal’s slim chance of becoming champions on Saturday and Liverpool’s defeat to Hull means that only Tottenham and Manchester City are within 10 points of the leaders. Antonio Conte’s team dominated Arsenal at Stamford Bridge, securing some revenge for their 3-0 defeat at the Emirates earlier in the season, but they still don’t boast the best record of teams within the mini-league in the top six.

Given that matches between the top six are often billed as make or break, it poses the question of just how decisive these “big games” are in the title race. This season, it has been Chelsea’s record against teams below the top six that has set them apart. They have dropped just two points against teams from fifth downwards, with Swansea City the only club in the bottom 15 to have taken points from them. Since that 2-2 draw at the Liberty Stadium in September, Chelsea have played 12 games against teams outside the top six and won all of them.

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/who-scored-blog/2017/feb/08/chelsea-premier-league-lead-by-title-rivals

Feb 02

The five Premier League clubs who are too reliant on one player for goals

Jermain Defoe has either scored or set up 70% of Sunderland’s goals this season, but he is not the only player carrying his team

By Martin Laurence for WhoScored?, part of the Guardian Sport Network

An over-reliance on one player is never a good thing but a number of Premier League clubs are going into the final stretch of the season with their hopes pinned firmly on one star man. That’s the case for most of the teams in the relegation battle – and one who hope to make the top four. Here are the five players who have either scored or set up at least half of their team’s goals this season.

Related: West Ham can afford to sell Dimitri Payet but they must keep Andy Carroll fit

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/who-scored-blog/2017/feb/02/premier-league-clubs-rely-one-player-sunderland-middlesbrough-manchester-united

Jan 25

West Ham can afford to sell Dimitri Payet but they must keep Andy Carroll fit

West Ham win more matches, score more goals and are a stronger defensive unit when Andy Carroll is in the team

By Martin Laurence for WhoScored?, part of the Guardian Sport Network

When Slaven Bilic confirmed that Dimitri Payet had expressed his desire to leave West Ham, the club’s fans were understandably devastated. Despite a drop off in form and an increasingly questionable attitude, the France international was still their most creative threat by far in the first half of the season – in fact, he played more key passes per game (4.1) than any other footballer in Europe’s top leagues.

Payet had signed a lucrative contract extension midway through his sensational debut campaign in London and supporters had every right to think he would be at the club for some time but, as speculation about a big-money move in the summer persisted, Bilic’s announcement became almost inevitable. The manager looked deflated by Payet’s decision – saying he was “angry” and “let down” – and the timing could not have been worse, with the news coming after a 5-0 drubbing at home to Manchester City, West Ham’s third defeat in a row.

Related: Claudio Bravo is not the only shot-stopper struggling in the Premier League

Related: West Ham’s striking failure: 32 signed in seven years and still no solution | Jacob Steinberg

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/who-scored-blog/2017/jan/25/west-ham-united-dimitri-payet-andy-carroll

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