Sam Vokes scored a stunning long-range header for Burnley against Newcastle, in what was the furthest headed finish for 3 seasons. Paul Dummett was not in the Newcastle squad.
17.65 – Sam Vokes' goal was scored from 17.65 yards out, the furthest distance for a headed Premier League goal since Jamie Vardy for Leicester against Sunderland in August 2015 (18.03). Neck. pic.twitter.com/vWDi3H9EsP
Harry Wilson was on hand to score his third league goal for Derby on Saturday with an excellent volley in the 18 yard box. Ash Baker and Morgan Fox started for Sheffield Wednesday in the same game, both in full-back positions. Tom Lawrence was brought on for Derby for the last 15 mins.
Just another contender for @HarryWilson_'s personal Goal of the Season competition. 🙃
Although he was absent from the Wales squad last week, Ben Davies was back in the Spurs starting 11 as they beat Chelsea 3-1 at home to go third in the Premier League, behind Manchester City and Liverpool.
Wayne Hennessey put in a stellar performance to keep a clean sheet at Old Trafford against Manchester United. Hennessey was tested throughout the game but made some excellent saves to earn Crystal Palace a 0-0 draw away from home.
Gareth Bale started for Real Madrid in their shock 3-0 loss away at Eibar. Meanwhile, Aaron Ramsey unfortunately continues to be used sporadically by Arsenal manager Unai Emery, only playing for 10 minutes on Sunday.
Swansea were hammered 4-1 at home by league leaders Norwich, but the main consolation was for Dan James, who tapped into an empty net for his first league goal for the Swans. Joe Rodon and Connor Roberts also started in the game, while Declan John was an unused sub.
After winning his first cap in midweek, Keiron Freeman grabbed an assist for Sheffield United on the weekend in their 2-2 draw with Rotherham. Ben Woodburn, who was absent from the Sheffield United squad again, put in an excellent display for Liverpool U23’s in a 1-0 win over Everton.
It was pleasing to see Chris Gunter back in the starting line up for Reading at right-back, following his record 93rd cap for Wales against Albania last week. Reading drew 0-0 with Wigan, for whom Lee Evans was an unused substitute.
James Chester and Neil Taylor both got 90 mins in the Second City Derby, as Aston Villa beat Birmingham 4-2 at home. Chris Mepham withdrew from international duty before the Denmark game last Friday, but he was back in Brentford’s team on the weekend, losing to Tony Pulis’ Middlesborough 2-1 at home.
And finally, new Wales-capped James Lawrence came on as a sub in Anderlecht’s 4-2 loss against Saint-Truden.
Gwion Edwards was back amongst the goals this week in a 2-2 draw with Reading. Edwards opened the scoring for Ipswich after 5 minutes with a perfectly struck low first-time volley. Chris Gunter was an unused sub.
Paul Dummett will go into the international break with another 90 minutes under his belt. He is more than likely going to start against Denmark on Friday because of Ben Davies’ absence through suspension. David Brooks played 90 minutes for Bournemouth in the same game in the no.10 position, after his excellent showing last weekend.
In the other Premier League matches, aforementioned Ben Davies played at left-back for Spurs in their 1-0 win over Wayne Hennessey‘s Crystal Palace. Sam Vokes played 73 minutes for Burnley but didn’t score in a 0-0 outing with Leicester.
Aaron Ramsey technically got an assist in Arsenal’s 1-1 tie with Wolves, giving the ball to Mkhitaryan to setup a stunning finish. Ramsey started on the bench again and only played the last 15 minutes of the match.
In the Steel City derby on Friday night, Keiron Freeman was the Welshman on the Sheff United side, while Ash Baker and Morgan Fox were part of the Sheffield Wednesday 11. The game finished 0-0; clean sheets for all of the Welsh defenders here, but none of whom are in Wales’ international squad this week. However, Ben Woodburn, who did not make the Sheffield United match day squad has been called up for Wales.
Connor Roberts and Joe Rodon were part of the Swansea defence that earned another clean sheet for Swansea. Dan James started again on the wing, but without a goal or assist this time around.
After making the squad for the first time under Ryan Giggs this week, Neil Taylor went off at half-time because of an injury in Aston Villa’s 3-0 hammering against Derby. James Chester was at the heart of defence for Villa with another clean sheet, while Tom Lawrence and Harry Wilson were off the pace for the home side.
More clean sheets for Ashley Williams‘ Stoke against Nottingham Forest on Saturday evening, Joe Allen was also in the same side. Meanwhile, Chris Mepham‘s Brentford conceded three against QPR, where Joel Lynch scored a rare goal for the home team.
Hal-Robson Kanu scored in a 4-1 hammering against Tyler Roberts‘ Leeds. Roberts only played 25 minutes of the game in the second half.
Third-choice goalkeeper, Adam Davies kept his place for Barnsley’s 4-0 win against Notts County in the first round of the FA Cup. Ryan Hedges came on as a late substitute.
New call-up James Lawrence played 90 minutes at centre-back in their 2-0 win on Sunday and Matt Smith played the full match for FC Twente on Friday night. Our other foreign export, Gareth Bale, came through seemingly unscathed against Celta Vigo on Sunday evening. He will meet with the squad in South Wales on Monday.
Ryan Giggs announced his squad for the final Nations League clash against Denmark and an away friendly in Albania to finish 2018. The biggest surprise was the call-up of the unknown defender, James Lawrence. Neil Taylor returns to the squad, as does Dan James and Tom Lockyer.
Who is James Lawrence?
“We were made aware of him over the last six months or so. He’s played the majority of his career abroad.
“Albert [Stuivenberg] has watched him a couple of times, I’m looking to see him up close in training.”
“He fits the profile of what I want to play, he’s good with the ball at his feet. He’s playing regular football and fits exactly how we want to play.”
“His grandmother is from Haverfordwest, that’s how he qualifies for Wales.
“Someone at the Welsh FA made us aware of him, we will always check them out and see if they’re good enough.”
• Qualifies through Haverfordwest-born grandmother • Someone at the FAW made the senior team aware of him six months ago • Wales assistant, Albert Stuivenberg, has watched him play for Anderlecht a number of times • He is a ball-playing defender who fits Giggs' style of play
Chris Gunter potentially winning record caps this month:
“When he does get there [93 caps] and beats the record, it’ll be a fantastic achievement. He is someone who deserves all the plaudits he gets.
“He’s been brilliant to have around the squad, a good pro and is ready to be called upon like he did against Ireland. He’s a valuable member.”
“There’s great competition for places – during the week in training; it’s what I had as a player and we have that in our camp at the moment.
“It will be on my mind for Chris to break the record against Albania, but we have to look at the overall picture. Whether it will be in November or March we will have to wait and see.”
Neil Taylor’s return:
“Taylor has been unlucky for the past few squads, I know him and have played with him.
“He’s a popular member of the squad and playing regular football for Aston Villa. It gives Ben Davies a chance to have a rest over that period [because of his suspension].”
“Ben was disappointed not to be involved with Albania, but there’s a chance for him to take part in light training with Tottenham and get some rest.
“He’s played constantly since the summer, so it will be good for him to have a break.”
“Paul Dummett and Neil Taylor are very good replacement players for us to have when Ben is not available.
“Paul would have played in the last set of matches, it’s a shame he had to pull out because of his injury.”
Tough time for Gareth Bale in Spain:
“I’ve not seen many of the Real Madrid games this season, but we’re talking about a world-class player who never lets his country down. Hopefully, he’ll be meeting with us on Sunday.”
“He doesn’t need extra help, he’s been at Madrid for 5 years, I had stick at times at Man Utd. That’s something Gareth is used to dealing with.”
“He can’t wait to join up with the lads and be a part of the game. He’s an experienced player, he’s been there and experienced most things as a player.”
Dan James’ excellent form and embedding young players:
“He’s on fire at the moment and he’s someone who has got genuine pace. He’s exciting and he could start or act as an impact sub.
“We had him in the training camp before Mexico, he was unlucky to not travel to LA, but it will be good to have him with us now.”
“You always want players joining the squad who are playing regularly, especially forward players; if they’re confident and doing well it can make the difference.”
“It’s important to get the balance of the squad right [with youth and experience]. Exposing the younger players to play against Ireland in Dublin and Spain at home will hopefully stand us in good stead.”
“You saw with Matt Smith who made the mistake early on, he was helped by the more experienced players through the game.”
Matt Smith potentially missing Albania for a club game:
“That’s something we have to monitor in the next week or so.
“It’s a juggling act because we have a massive game on the Friday against Denmark and he’s a huge part of our squad.”
“We’ll have dialogue with Matty and the club and see how it goes.”
A chance to win the Nations League group v Denmark:
“I already knew they were a very good team, but we were in the game up until the penalty.
“It’ll be tough for us and Denmark, but we’re back at the CCS with a great atmosphere. It’s a really important game for us because we have a chance to win the group.
“I’m looking forward to it, as are the players to make it as difficult as possible for Denmark.”
“We are looking for the players to perform, it is a cup final – if we win, we top the group. There’s another chance for the Euro’s, we’ll be in Pot A and there’ll be financial rewards as well.”
“I’ve really enjoyed the Nations League, the fans have as well because it’s been really competitive.
“Like I’ve said, it gives us a big opportunity to win things if we win this game.”
James Chester put in an outstanding performance for Aston Villa on Friday night. He scored the second goal to seal a 2-0 win for the home side, but it was a phenomenal clearance off the line that wowed spectators everywhere.
How has that not gone in!? 😳
Unbelievable defending from James Chester to hook the ball off the line!
Though Bournemouth lost 2-1 at home to Manchester United, David Brooks put in another strong 90 minutes for the Cherries from a no.10 position.
Gareth Bale went without a goal or assist in the 70 minutes he played for Real Madrid and Aaron Ramsey was only used as a second half substitute for Arsenal.
Paul Dummett played 90 minutes at left-back for Newcastle, as did Ben Davies for Spurs. Elsewhere in the Premier League, Sam Vokes played 72 minutes for Burnley, but they got beat 4-2 by West Ham.
There were clean sheets for Chris Mepham (Brentford), Ashley Williams (Stoke), Neil Taylor (Aston Villa) and Adam Davies (Barnsley).
It was a second assist in as many games for Dan James, but there was no clean sheet this time for Joe Rodon. Connor Roberts played for Swansea in the higher position on the right, Declan John still doesn’t make the match day 18.
George Thomas has become a regular for Scunthorpe since featuring for Wales last month and scored the second in a 3-3 draw, as well as setting up the first goal.
Chris Maxwell was sent off for the first time in his career after a second bookable offence for Preston. Wayne Hennessey was in goal for Crystal Palace’s 3-1 loss on Sunday and stopped Alvaro Morata getting his hat-trick in injury time.
Ben Woodburn returned to the Sheffield United side with a 10 minute substitute appearance. Chris Gunter came on for the last 5 minutes in Reading’s 3-2 win over Bristol City.
FC Twente’s Matt Smith was again on hand to put in another match winning performance in their 3-1 victory.
It was a third goal in four games for Bournemouth winger David Brooks, who scored the second in a 3-0 victory against Fulham. The playmaker has been something of a revelation in recent times for Eddie Howe’s side after a goalless start to the season.
With three goals in 10 games, David Brooks has already scored as many goals for AFC Bournemouth as he did in 37 games for Sheffield United.
Paul Dummett kept a clean sheet at the back for Newcastle in a 0-0 draw with Southampton, as did Ashley Williams for Stoke as they beat Bristol City 1-0 away from home. Joe Allen assisted the only goal of the game with a headed pass.
There wasn’t much action for Aaron Ramsey, who only came on for the last 15 minutes of Arsenal’s 2-2 draw with Wayne Hennessey‘s Crystal Palace. Sam Vokes, who played an hour for Burnley, was part of the team that lost 4-0 at home to Chelsea.
Dan James continued his very impressive form on the left wing for Swansea, grabbing an assist for a second goal to seal a 2-0 win at home. Connor Roberts played in an advanced role on the right, Joe Rodon kept another clean sheet at the back and Declan John came on for the final few minutes in a rare appearance since joining in August.
Tom Lawrence and Harry Wilson played 90 minutes for Derby, but were unable to impact the scoreline of 1-1 with Tony Pulis’ Middlesborough side. Chris Maxwell and Andrew Hughes both played 90 minutes for Preston, as did Chris Mepham for Brentford, but neither could keep a clean sheet.
Ben Woodburn returned to the bench for Sheffield United and didn’t make an appearance, however, Keiron Freeman played 90 minutes in their 4-2 win against Wigan. Another Welsh full-back, Morgan Fox popped up with an assist for his club Sheffield Wednesday, but they lost the game 3-1 against Birmingham.
Wes Burns netted his fourth of the season for Fleetwood, and 24-year-old right-back Liam Shepherd scored his second goal of the week for League Two team Forest Green.
Although coming close to scoring on Sunday, Gareth Bale‘s Real Madrid were beat emphatically in El Clasico at the Nou Camp 5-1. Another Welsh expat, Matt Smith, is having a much better time with FC Twente. The Dutch side won again on Friday, taking them to third place in the league table.
Christian Doidge was the only notable Welsh player in the top divisions on the scoresheet this week. He signed for Championship side Bolton Wanderers from Forest Green Rovers on deadline day in August and netted his first goal against Rotherham on Saturday, after coming on as a second-half substitute.
26-year-old Doidge was a prolific goal scorer in the lower leagues but has never featured for Wales at any age grade.
It was fantastic news for Cardiff City on Saturday, winning their first Premier League game of the season in a dramatic 4-2 win over Fulham. Jazz Richards was brought on in the last 15 minutes to see out the victory.
Ben Davies was back in action for Spurs and played 90 minutes as they beat West Ham. Other Welsh left-backs, Paul Dummett, Andrew Hughes and Neil Taylor also played 90 minutes for Newcastle, Preston and Aston Villa, respectively.
David Brooks and Sam Vokes once again had Premier League starts and both were subbed around the hour mark. Aaron Ramsey came on for ten minutes in his return to the Arsenal squad.
It was a strange weekend for on-loan Sheffield United player Ben Woodburn as he turned out for Liverpool U23’s instead. Woodburn has not had much game time this season under Chris Wilder and it is thought that there’s a clause in his contract to guarantee a certain amount of games throughout the season.
Despite a solid performance for Liverpool U23’s, it was Welsh U21 international, Isaac Christie Davies who got his name on the scoresheet in the 77th minute.
Swansea gave a debut to youngster Cian Harries on Saturday in a 1-0 loss against Aston Villa. He played alongside regular Joe Rodon in a back three and was replaced by winger Daniel James around the 50 minute mark. Connor Roberts played his usual 90 minutes at right wing-back. James Chester was back to captain the Villa side under new manager Dean Smith.
It was a bad weekend for Chris Mepham as he was sent off for a second bookable offence for Brentford. Joe Allen and Ashley Williams played 90 minutes in Stoke’s fifth loss of the season, meanwhile, Gareth Bale came on at half-time to try and salvage a win for Real Madrid, but ended with another defeat.
Lee Evans and Harry Wilson played 90 minutes for Wigan and Derby in their sixth league wins of the season. Tom Lawrence was brought on in the 36th-minute for Derby.
Matt Smith started for FC Twente and was brought off after an hour as they went 4-0 up. They ended up winning emphatically away from home; the game finished 6-1.
Joe Rodon has become a common name on the lips of Welsh football supporters in the past year, but even more so in the past three months, since cementing a first-team place for Swansea at centre-back. He was deservedly called up to the Wales senior squad for the first time for the matches against Spain and Rep. of Ireland this week, replacing Paul Dummett because of injury.
Standing at 6ft4 and great with the ball at his feet, Rodon has the attributes that every top manager wants from a modern-day centre-back. He is not shy of a strong tackle or a hard header and is a very assured passer of the ball – qualities that are in demand for today’s game.
Joe has been surrounded by football from a very young age. Unofficially, he has been amongst Swansea City FC circles from the age of five or six, where his older brother Sam was playing at the time. He was formally signed to the club in 2005, at the age of eight and has been there ever since.
He comes from a footballing family; his grandfather and uncle were both professional footballers. Grandfather Peter Rodon, who passed away when Joe was very young, started his career with Swansea Town in the 1960s. After a fall out with the first team manager, he ended up joining Bradford City and played for them as a centre-forward/inside-left between 1964-1967 in Division 4 (now League Two).
His uncle Chris Rodon started his professional career with Brighton and Hove Albion in the 1982/83 season, the same season Brighton played Manchester United in the 1983 FA Cup Final and lost after two legs. Chris was homesick and told the manager at the time, Jimmy Melia he wanted to return to Wales and ended up joining Cardiff City on loan for six months in 1983.
His brother Sam Rodon (25) currently plays for Penybont in Welsh Division 1 as a centre-back too. He’s also had Welsh Premier League spells with Haverfordwest and Aberystwyth, as well as playing for West End in the year they won the Welsh Division 1 title.
The family grew up in a small village just a few miles north of Swansea called Llangyfelach. He was a Swansea season ticket holder with his dad by default and played for Swansea City through every age grade. Joe often played ahead of his year group and became a regular for Swansea U21s (now 23s) at the age of just 16.
In April 2015 he began training with the Swansea first team when they were a Premier League club with Garry Monk in charge. Welsh internationals, including Ashley Williams & Neil Taylor were at the club and around the same time, he was captaining Wales at U17 and U19 level. His potential has been known quietly for a number of years and is now on full display for everyone to watch.
Playing senior club football
Rodon got his first taste of senior football with League Two club Cheltenham Town at the beginning of 2018 under manager Gary Johnson. If there was one thing Joe’s game lacked before his loan move to Cheltenham, it was the rough-and-ready physicality needed to play men’s football.
In lots of ways, this short six-month spell in League Two became the making of him – he lived away from home for the first time, he learned what three points meant on a Saturday and what it meant to fellow professionals playing at that level. A relegation from League Two could mean playing non-league football, leaving grown men with families and mortgages forced to take huge salary cuts and as a result, struggling to make ends meet.
The pitches in League Two are often poorly maintained due to lack of funds, especially in winter. The training facilities and club operations at Cheltenham are nowhere near to the standard of a Premier League or Championship club.
The quick passing and delicate football he had been playing at U23 level would be a far cry from the long ball games, hard-hitting tackles and smashing headers in League Two. But learning this side of the game has enhanced his overall ability and shown him the tough side of football that young players in the modern game often miss out on.
It was during this season that Rodon made his senior debut for Swansea. He is playing Championship football for Swansea City every week and has formed a strong partnership with Mike van der Hoorn, keeping six clean sheets together at the back so far.
There was a worry at the end of the summer transfer window when Federico Fernández left the club to join Newcastle, leaving Swansea with just one senior centre back until January. However, Rodon stepped up to the mark and his excellent performances have seen him linked with Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, drawing a comparison with centre-back John Stones because of his excellent ability with the ball at his feet and natural pace.
Rodon is out of contract in June 2019 and Swansea desperately need to sign him on a long-term deal. He will undoubtedly have Premier League clubs interested in him and he’ll be able to formally talk with clubs from January, should Swansea hold off negotiations for much longer.
His Welsh international career
A captain of Wales at U17, U19, U20 and U21 level, including the Toulon Tournament in 2017, Rodon has shown maturity and leadership as a teenager that is far beyond his years. He has been Rob Page’s U21 captain for the last 18 months, which demonstrates the faith Wales have put in him.
Continued good performances at youth level earned him a preliminary call-up to the Wales squad in May this year, ahead of the Mexico friendly in Los Angeles. It was disappointing that he didn’t make the final cut of players, but he clearly made an impression on Ryan Giggs – enough to get his full call-up when he replaced injured Paul Dummett for the October fixtures against Spain and Rep. of Ireland.
Rodon found out he was being called up to the Wales squad on Friday afternoon, a day before the official announcement. But he actually heard the news from his mother and not from the FAW directly, because they had sent the message to her on WhatsApp by mistake!
Despite first thinking that it might not have been a genuine text, Rodon and his family were elated when Swansea assistant manager Billy Reid called Joe to congratulate him. Obviously bursting with pride, they had to keep things under wraps for 26 hours until it was officially announced by the FAW, following Swansea’s match on Saturday evening.
Whether Rodon gets his first cap in either game remains to be seen, but Giggs has shown that he has huge faith in his youngsters, just like Sir Alex Ferguson demonstrated to him in the 1990’s.
The likes of David Brooks, Tyler Roberts, Chris Mepham, Harry Wilson, Matthew Smith and George Thomas have played for the U21’s in the last 12 months and are now all involved with the senior squad – most are playing frequently at good levels. Joe Rodon is the latest name of the age group to be called up to the seniors.
It’s a slight shame in one way that all of these youngsters didn’t play together in the latest U21 EURO 2019 qualification campaign; there is no doubt Wales would have qualified for the first time in history.
But the encouraging format Giggs seems to have adopted in giving young players a chance at senior level is only good news for future Welsh teams. There is potential in every area of the pitch – Tyler Roberts becoming the first choice striker, Mepham and Rodon a future partnership at the back, Brooks, Wilson and Woodburn on the wings; it’s only a possibility at the moment, but the action won’t hopefully be far away.
Rodon could make his debut on Thursday, on the same pitch as his idol Sergio Ramos – a dream debut for many players across the world. If he plays for any length of time in either fixture, his performances for Swansea this season have confirmed he has the quality to succeed and the talent to go to the very top for club and country.