Three NPFL Talking Points


Death, taxes and Junior Lokosa breaking a mini-drought. Kano Pillars’ near unstoppable hitman found himself caged last weekend, but returned with a vengeance this week.

In Aba, Fatau Dauda was restored to the Enyimba line-up and ‘rewarded’ his coach by getting sent off for violent conduct.

Those two and other juicy bits from last weekend in the Nigeria Professional Football League …

Junior Lokosa: Last weekend, flaming hot league leading scorer Junior Lokosa saw himself smothered by Lobi Stars as the league leaders ran away 1-0 winners. So disappointing was the striker that he had to be substituted, a rarity.

But only one match day later, he was making amends. Lokosa hit goals number 15 and 16 of the campaign to help Pillars claim a 2-0 win against bottom side Heartland.

While the strikes may have compounded the misery of the Owerri-based Naze Millionaires, they put Lokosa in a good position to challenge a recently-set league record.

Enyimba striker Mfon Udoh holds the league scoring record which stands at 23 goals from 2014. Last season, it seemed like MFM FC’s Kingsley Odey was on course to equal or even break it, until he first saw his goals dry up in the second half of the season, and then headed off to Europe.

That is not the case for Lokosa, who is looking just as blazing hot in the second half of the league as he was in the first. He is now just six goals away from Udoh’s record and, if he keeps this up, could not only equal the record, but actually shatter it. My money is on the Pillars man.

Lobi Show Character: Solomon Ogbeide, who used to coach Sunshine Stars, returned to a familiar ground and was so confident in the strength of his squad that he left his side’s top scorer Samad Kadiri on the bench against his former charges.

Despite benching his most potent weapon for an entire half, the table toppers still kept their hosts at bay for nearly the entirety of the game, and even created plenty of opportunities to win the game. But Kadiri, who also used to be employed by Sunshine, was not to be denied and found the net with a few minutes to play.

Lobi were almost running away with the road win and thought they had it, especially after seeing Sikiru Alimi’s spot-kick saved by Olufemi Kayode. It was not to be, however, as Jide Fatokun struck deep into injury-time to help Sunshine Stars scrape with a 1-1 draw.

Lobi stay top of the table, but their lead is now down two points to four.

Dauda Costs Enyimba Dear: Nigeria’s World Cup-bound goalkeeper Ikechuwku Ezenwa returned from injury last week to post a Man of the Match performance for Enyimba.

In what appears to be rotational goalkeeping, Fatau Dauda was restored to the starting line-up, and proceeded to splash egg all over the face of his coach, picking up an unnecessary red card for violent conduct in their home game against Akwa United.

Dauda was spared more embarrassment when Akwa United failed to take advantage to claim all three points, with the game played just an hour away from their own home ground at Enyimba’s temporary home of Calabar.

Defender Ifeanyi Anaemena admits that it could have been worse: “The match plan got spoilt when we got the red card. Everything changed in the match plan but we were able to come out with a draw and we thank God for it,” he told

Premier League relegation run-in which clubs are going down?

The Premier League relegation battle hots up this weekend as Brighton face Manchester United on Friday Night Football, Stoke take on Crystal Palace in Saturday’s early kick-off, and Huddersfield travel to Manchester City on Super Sunday.

There are sure to be twists and turns ahead, but which of the relegation candidates have the toughest run-ins? And who’s heading for the drop?

From 14th-placed Brighton to bottom-of-the-table West Brom, we take a look at each club’s prospects. Keep reading for the expert verdict of Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville.

  • Brighton vs Man Utd – May 4, 2018, 7:30pm
  • Form: LLDLDD
  • Remaining fixtures: Man Utd (h), Man City (a), Liverpool (a)
  • Average league position of remaining opponents: 2nd


Brighton’s five-point cushion on the drop zone should be enough, but a combination of stuttering form and a daunting fixture list means they can’t relax yet.

Chris Hughton’s side seemed as good as safe when their 2-1 win over Arsenal in March made it three wins from five, but they have taken just three points from a possible 18 since then.

One more win would confirm their survival, but with Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool to come, they will hope they do not need it.

  • West Ham (15th, Pld: 35, Pts: 35, GD: -24)
  • Form: LWDDLL
  • Remaining fixtures: Leicester (a), Man Utd (h), Everton (h)
  • Average league position of remaining opponents: 6th

West Ham

West Ham is looking nervously over their shoulders after just one win in eight. Confidence is low after consecutive 4-1 defeats to Arsenal and Manchester City, and a training ground row between David Moyes and Andy Carroll points to unrest behind the scenes.

Saturday’s game against an out-of-sorts Leicester might be their best hope of claiming a vital victory from their last three games. They then face Manchester United and Everton at home. Their old boss Sam Allardyce is unlikely to go easy on them on the final day.

  • Huddersfield (16th, Pld: 35, Pts: 35, GD: -29)
  • Form: DLLDWL
  • Remaining fixtures: Man City (a), Chelsea (a), Arsenal (h)
  • Average league position of remaining opponents: 4th


Huddersfield, level on points with West Ham, has tough games to come and the second-worst goal difference of the bottom seven sides behind Stoke.

Getting any kind of result from their final three games would be an impressive feat. Manchester City will be eager to lift the Premier League trophy in style on Sunday, then there is a trip to Chelsea before they face Arsenal in Arsene Wenger’s final Premier league game in charge.

David Wagner’s side will be eager to cause an upset or two along the way, but they will also have their fingers crossed that results elsewhere go in their favour.

  • Swansea (17th, Pld: 35, Pts: 33, GD: -25)
  • Form: DLDDLL
  • Remaining fixtures: Bournemouth (a), Southampton (h), Stoke (h)
  • Average league position of remaining opponents: 16th


Carlos Carvalhal lifted Swansea out of the relegation zone with an impressive start to his Liberty Stadium tenure following his appointment in December, but fast forward four months and their situation is perilous.

Swansea have not won in six Premier League games, leaving them just one point above the bottom three with three games to play.

The meetings with Southampton and Stoke, the two teams directly below them, are likely to be decisive. Carvalhal’s side will need to make their home advantage count.

  • Southampton (18th, Pld: 35, Pts: 32, GD: -19)
  • Form: LLLLDW
  • Remaining fixtures: Everton (a), Swansea (a), Man City (h)
  • Average league position of remaining opponents: 9th


Southampton blew the relegation battle open with their 2-1 win over Bournemouth on Saturday – their first in the Premier League since the start of February – but there remains a big job ahead.

They face Everton at Goodison Park before the vital trip to Swansea next week, and with Manchester City the visitors on the final day of the season, they might need to have their safety already assured.

Stoke (19th, Pld: 36, Pts: 30, GD: -33)


Remaining fixtures: Crystal Palace (h), Swansea (a)

Average league position of remaining opponents: 14th

Stoke City

Three points adrift of safety and with only two games left to play, Stoke’s prospects look bleak.

Paul Lambert has been unable to inspire at turnaround at the bet365 Stadium, with the Potters without a win in their last 12 games.

Their dismal goal difference compounds their problems, but end their winless run at home to Crystal Palace on Saturday and they can at least give themselves a chance.

  • West Brom (20th, Pld: 36, Pts: 28, GD: -24)
  • Form: LLDWDW
  • Remaining fixtures: Tottenham (h), Crystal Palace (a)
  • Average league position of remaining opponents: 8th

West Brom

West Brom’s resurgence has surely come too late. The Baggies have drawn two and won two of their four games under caretaker boss Darren Moore, but they remain five points off 17th-placed Swansea with only two games to play.

They will hope to continue their upturn in form against Tottenham and Crystal Palace, but it would take a minor miracle for them to escape from their current predicament and it is surely only a matter of time until their relegation is mathematically confirmed.

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