Brighton and Hove Albion continue to roll through the Sky Bet League Championship, with 11 wins, 9 draws, 0 losses, and 42 points from their first 20 games in the 46-game season. The Seagulls’ run of play has not gone unnoticed in the Premier League, as the secret has gotten out regarding Tomer Hemed. This past weekend saw scouts from Swansea City in the stands to see the Israeli striker in action in Albion’s 2:2 draw at Derby City, with an eye towards perhaps a move in the January transfer window. While Hemed going to the Premier League would be interesting, Swansea is in 16th place in the EPL, barely above relegation, so the concept is not super-exciting. I’d rather see the Seagulls run the table and win promotion with Hemed and Beram Kayal both still on the squad. Football fans may remember Itay Schechter’s brief and frustrating stint with Swansea a few years back, so if they do come calling for Hemed, here’s hoping that he gets a legitimate chance to compete for playing time.
Maccabi Tel Aviv Channels Their Inner Ariana Grande
In Ligat Ha’al, a late, LATE winner from John Oguchukwu four minutes into second-half extra time gave Hapoel Be’er Sheva a 2:1 win over Kiryat Shmonah on Sunday afternoon in the northern Negev. The win temporarily moved them in to first place, but on Monday Night Football, Maccabi Tel Aviv handled B’nei Sakhnin with ease, dispatching them 2:0 with both goals coming from Eran Zahavi. Because who else scores for Maccabi. That’s 14 goals in 14 games for #7, and with all of Maccabi’s attention now focused (haha, there’s the Ariana Grande for you) on domestic play, expect his goal-scoring rate to only go up. It’s shaping up to be a two-horse race for the title between Maccabi and Be’er Sheva, with Beitar Jerusalem, Hapoel Ra’anana, Maccabi Petach Tikvah, and Maccabi Haifa duking it out for the rest of the European qualification spots that are up for grabs.
An Israeli At The Emirates?
At Celtic Park, Nir Bitton continues to mature and become great before our adoring eyes, as the Hoops appear to be heading for yet another league championship this spring. Celtic, with their 13-3-1 record/42 point/+32 goal difference, have some breathing room between them and Aberdeen (12-2-4/38/+10) and Hearts (9-4-4/31/+11). And while Bitton looks great in the green-and-white of the Scottish champions, transfer rumors are circulating about a potential move to Arsenal. Now that would be something, Nir Bitton sporting a "Fly Emirates" Arsenal kit. Dare to dream.
Alpine Update, Swiss Edition
It’s not really a two-horse race in the Swiss Super League, but Moanes Dabour has kept scoring goals for second-place Grasshopper, and with 11 goals in 18 games from Dabour he is second in the league in scoring. Grasshopper owns an impressive 10 wins, 3 draws, and 5 losses thus far, and with 33 points trails perennial champions FC Basel by 10 points in the standings. Will this be the year he leaves for greener, and more lucrative, pastures in Italy or Germany?
Alpine Update, Austrian Edition
In Austria, Omer Damari continues to find his way on the pitch for first-place FC Salzburg, who are two points clear of Austria Wien at the top of the table. Damari has bounced from Austria Wien, to RB Leipzig, and now back to the Austrian Bundesliga for with Salzburg. Damari’s four goals this year are good for 4th place on the team in the goal-scoring department.
Winter Break In Russia
11-4-3 CSKA Moscow is in 1st place in the Russian Super League, three points clear of second-place Rostov, and Israeli-Circassian midfielder Bibras Natchko is comfortably ensconced in the regular starting XI. Natchko had a spectacular last year for the Russian champions, scoring 14 goals in 34 games, but the new season has been a grind, as he has found the new only twice in 24 games in all competitions, including none since August 9. A mid-October concussion found him off the pitch for a stint, but after the winter break let’s hope he resumes his 2014-5 form. League play resumes on February 29.