Pochettino is right, the Premier League summer transfer window is a farce

Mauricio Pochettino, the Tottenham manager came out with a suggestion that the transfer window should stay open as long as in the rest of Europe and he is absolutely right.

The window closed on August 8th in England just a couple of days before the Premier League season kicked off. In theory this makes perfect sense. Close the window and start the league, that way no players can feel unsettled- however this is only the case in England. In the major top European leagues their windows do not close until September 2nd, and that means that the likes of Real Madrid can pursue for example Christen Eriksen from Tottenham and Tottenham won’t be able to replace him.

It makes no sense at all that the windows are closing on different dates. One solution could be that foreign clubs cannot buy any players from the Premier League once the window closes in England, but with big money involved you can see clubs going to court about that.

In England the window used to close around September 2nd in line with all other top European leagues and it was only decided a few seasons ago to stop this. The idea being that players feel unsettled starting the season with one club and ending the month at another. But closing the window before the beginning of the season doesn’t make any sense unless all other major European leagues do the same. If not surely England has to revert back to the end of the month?

From a fans perspective what has been good about the window closing early is that we can close the book on  any silly rumours flying about- except with European clubs able to take your clubs best players for an additional 3 weeks, you can’t.

In essence closing the window early in England has to go down as one of the biggest mistakes in the history of the Premier League, and this season it could come back and haunt some of the clubs, namely Tottenham and that is why Pochettino is obviously so concerned. But other clubs should be too- it might not be this season that your club is affected, but it could be the next.

Pochettino has voiced his concerns and said that he hopes the Premier League will change their stance. Of course it will be interesting to understand how fans feel about this, but the current situation does seem incredibly wrong.

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Brilliant Lyon emerge as the team to stop PSG in Ligue 1

Well what a start to the Ligue 1 season it has been for Lyon, who have won their opening two games of the season. But what has caught the attention is the way they are winning their games.

On the opening day of the season they made light work of Monaco playing them away from home they ran out 3-0 winners. Then yesterday they played their first game at home and sent their supporters to their homes happy beating Angers 6-0. It means that Lyon have secured first position and have scored 9 goals from two games and have yet to concede. Could there be any better start to a season?

What has made this one special is that the club have had so much change during the summer. First long time coach Bruno Genesio  left his position and was replaced by Sylvinho taking in his first managerial job. Arsenal fans will remember Sylvinho fondly with his time spent at the club in the 2000s.

Quality players have been sold on such as Tanguy Ndombele who went to Tottenham and Nebil Fekir who was sold to Real Betis, this has raised nearly 100m euros for the club. But Lyon haven’t just sat around and it was inevitable that they were going to buy players. In came Jeff Reine-Adelaide from Angers for 22m euros, Joachim Andersen from Serie A outfit Sampdoria for 21m euros and Thiago Mendes from Lille who had performed so well last season for 19.8m euros. And so from the sale of Tanguy Ndombele Lyon were able to bring in 3 fresh and quality players. Right now it is paying dividends.

Memphis Depay and Moussa Dembele scored two goals apiece and it just shows that there are goals all over the pitch for this Lyon side. The real surprise has been the impact that Sylvinho has had on the team especially with his lack of management experience. This season was always going to be a turning point of sorts for the club, but it seems for now to be turning in the right direction.

With PSG’s shock loss, Lyon are top of the table though we shouldn’t get too carried away after just two games it is the clubs application, confidence and goals which has lit up the league in its earliest of stages.

In the next month Lyon will face some tough competition having to play the likes of Montpellier and PSG, and by the end of September we will have a clearer picture if Lyon will be a genuine threat to PSG’s dominance over Ligue 1. For now they certainly are.

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Barcelona need Messi back as they lose first game of La Liga season against Bilbao

Barcelona don’t usually lose too many games and in recent seasons they have gone 4 or 5 months into the season without a defeat but they opened up their La Liga campaign with a 1-0 loss against Athletic Bilbao last night.

Barca were expected to cruise as ever to a win and pick up three points and though they were the better team having a lot of attacking intent, there was always a feeling with the clock running down and the match still at 0-0 that Bilbao would get their one good chance to put this game to bed, and they did.

It happened in the 88th minute and it wasn’t just any old scrappy goal. No this was a thing of beauty and it was scored by Artiz Aduriz. That the winning goal would go to him was extra special given that he is a legend at Bilbao and he is 38 and probably playing his last season with the club. Nobody beforehand could have written the script and believed that Aduriz would be the matchwinner. For Bilbao the party went into the night and this will be a very special result for them.

Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid who are expected to challenge Barca this year for the title would have been looking on at that result- could this be one of those seasons where the football doesn’t click for Barca?

Well Lionel Messi wasn’t playing and it is fair to say that at least with his club he is THAT good that when he doesn’t play he is missed. Messi currently has a calf strain and could miss all of the games this month, which is terrible news for the current La Liga champions.

This is when new signing Antoine Griezmann is expected to step up but that didn’t happen and the club will now be focusing on returning back to the Nou Camp, the question though in everyone’s minds afterwards is is this is a one off blip or is it a sign of things to come?

As usual Barca had the more possession bringing in over 70% but at the end of the day they only had 2 shots on target, that simply isn’t good enough.

Barcelona will play Real Betis next weekend at home and that will gage for us just how strong this team will be, they usually score a few goals against them, but Betis have bought well this season including getting in Nabil Fekir who has been brilliant with Lyon for several seasons.

What is clear is that the pressure is now immediately on Barcelona not to drop any more points in the next few months, that is how consistent it can be in Spain, and they will be praying that Messi can come back sooner rather than later.

Business as usual as Manchester City and Liverpool get off to flying starts in the Premier League

So the Premier League has kicked off and it seems that it is business as usual as both the title favourites Manchester City and Liverpool got off to flying starts. Not only did they win their respective games they scored 9 goals between them.

Liverpool got the ball rolling (pardon the pun) when they beat Norwich 4-1 at Anfield on Friday night. It was always going to be extremely difficult for Norwich who have just been promoted from the Championship to take on the European champions and last seasons runners up in the league and so it proved. With ease Liverpool scored 4 goals and Norwich showed their naivety.

At the same time it wasn’t all plain sailing for Jurgen Klopp’s team and Norwich played some tidy football and created quite a few clear cut chances. If Liverpool who have arguably one of the best defences in Europe defend like they did on Friday night against a top 6 team they will suffer. Plus Alisson went off injured and Klopp will be hoping that his Brazilian goal keeper is only out for a limited time. Still it was a great start for Liverpool who will be looking to win their first league title since 1990.

The next day at lunchtime ended up being a miss match, when champions Manchester City went to West Ham and didn’t break sweat as they scored 5 goals with no reply. Raheem Sterling was deservedly the man of the match after he started his campaign with a fantastic hattrick. West Ham were toothless and unlike Norwich gave no fight and no hope as to how they will pick up points this season. Of course the Hammers have had some hyped arrivals in the likes of Pablo Fornals and Sebastian Haller and even though Fornals only came on from the bench in the 2nd half, he made almost no impact except for a teasing cross.

City were simply breath taking on the ball and the pace and fitness was evident compared to West Ham who are set for another frustrating season. The only other story to take from the game is VAR. It was used no less than 3 times and on each occasion got the decision right but there has to still be a question of is VAR good for football? Wasn’t the game supposed to be a simple one, that would include human error? After all England would not have become world cup champions in 1966 had VAR been in place.

True there has been shocking decisions in football, but it can work for and against your team. Maybe VAR takes that moment away in football.  Now when your team score, you will celebrate but perhaps have one eye on the referee and his assistants just in case. What will happen this season is penalties being retaken. It happened in the West Ham game when players encroached the area and it will happen when the goalkeeper leaves his line, and we can expect many penalty problems as a result.

The one damning verdict of West Ham’s defeat was the roar the fans gave as if they had scored a goal. They hadn’t, instead VAR had ruled out a City goal. Is that what teams outside the top 10 will be cheering about in the future?

 

 

Wayne Rooney has made a good choice to join Derby but has not treated DC United fairly

Wayne Rooney has always said that he wanted to start coaching once his career was coming to an end and the latest news is that he will become a player/coach for Derby County in England’s Championship.

But how does that leave DC United, Rooney’s current team in the MLS?

The choice that Rooney has made is good for him and in some ways understandable but at the same time it does leave a question of loyalty to his American club. Rooney has made a fantastic impact in the MLS, Where DC United have gone from being near the bottom of their conference to mixing with the top teams, they will make the final play-offs this season as they also try and win their conference. On top of that Rooney has been amazing on and off the field. Scoring brilliant goals, linking up well with the team, being influential in the dressing room and the fans have absolutely loved him. Had he stayed it could be argued that he would have made a much bigger impact on American soccer than even David Beckham.

Rooney had signed a 3 year contract with DC United and that is set to be terminated after 18 months. Just half his time, and yes there is a question of what do contracts actually mean?

Of course there are two sides to Rooney’s switch. The first is that the move should be good for him. He obviously wants to coach and that is going to start in his home country England. Derby has been a good starting point, after all it worked for Frank Lampard who stayed just a season before getting the high profile job at Chelsea. Rooney will learn from current manager Phillip Cocu and will also play for the club possibly for six months, maybe a season and a half.

Still with Rooney’s career and time on his side from a coaching perspective ahead, DC United have the right to feel aggrieved about his decision. They haven’t said anything at this point, but he was so popular with the club and fans, that they thought he would be around until at least the summer of 2021. Instead Rooney will leave at the end of the year. That is something because at least he will be playing for them when the crucial play-offs come up. Had he left now, it would have been very wrong.

Rooney has made a good choice, but his swift decision is still evidence that footballers seemingly live on a very different planet to the rest of us, where sadly some of the loyalty and passion and a further bridging gap between fans and players has developed.

Are Everton heading for an average season yet again?

There has been lots of talk within Everton about bringing in new players and improving on last season, but as it stands Marco Silva’s team look like they are stalling with just 4 days of the transfer window left.

There has been talk about splashing the cash. It started with the possible transfer of Wilfried Zaha from Crystal Palace but that seems to have fallen apart. Palace are holding out for £80m for a player that has not scored more than 10 goals in any given league season. While Zaha has many good qualities about it, but the price tag seems too much but there lies the problem and why the price is too much. Palace would have to give Manchester United his former club up to 20% if any deal went through, and that is why his price has been inflated.

Everton are offering around £55m for Zaha but Palace look like they won’t budge. It did look at one point that Zaha would go to Arsenal but that fell through again over money, but then Arsenal signed Nicolas Pepe from Lille and the rest is history.

Everton’s next choice seemed to be Juventus forward Moise Kean who looks impressive. Kean was given a chance in the team when Juventus had in theory wrapped up the league and for the last 2 months he played well, scored goals and looks very promising. His price tag of under £30m also looks like a stunning bargain. But the talk has gone quiet and this is not a great time to be an Everton fan.

Also Everton were hit with new signing Fabian Delph getting injured in a friendly match only five minutes into his career with the club. The injury is not thought to be serious but he could still miss the beginning of the season- and he has a history of getting injured.

Truth is for Everton that when it is all said and done the only real signing of merit the club have made is Andre Gomes for £22m who was already at the club on loan last season. There has simply been no progress in the transfer market for the club. Yes Tottenham have got away with that for a few windows, but they had and have a quality team, Everton don’t.

Also let’s not forget how the club let Idrissa Gueye join PSG for only £26m. Gueye had proven to be a stalwart in Everton’s midfield last season, and the feeling is that they have let a very good player go for too cheap.

There is still until the end of the week for something to happen, and Everton fans will be hoping it does, because it does not look good for the club next season who might end up having a very average one if the board don’t act quick.

 

Nicolas Pepe signing can change Arsenal’s fortunes

Arsenal have surprised the football world by splashing the cash and signing forward Nicolas Pepe from Lille for a cool £72m, and the player has all of the tools to put the Gunners back on the map again.

The surprise element comes in different packages for Arsenal who have become famous for not spending over the odds on a player and also because they are a club who love to haggle for a price. But in Pepe’s case that was non existent and the deal was seemingly one of the smoothest the club have made in years. They enquired, they offered the money and terms and the player is now wearing the famous red shirt.

Arsenal only had to fight off Napoli for his signature in the end but that shouldn’t deter from how good Pepe is and the club have signed a world class player. Pepe had an excellent season at Lille where he scored 22 goals in 38 games but that only tells one side of the story. His goals, commitment and excellent play helped Lille finish runners up to PSG and qualify for the Champions League. He also made PSG run ragged and scored a few goals when Lille thrashed the eventual Ligue 1 champions 5-1 a few months ago.

Pepe has that quality about him where you feel at 24 he has matured and has the potential to become a world class player. Up until his signing it was looking like a quiet period for a club the size of Arsenal who had only brought in some loans and splashed out on Gabriel Martinelli for £6m, a Brazilian forward, unproven but young but comes without the wow factor- in Pepe they now have that.

But here is the deal clincher- he will almost certainly be paired up front with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who was excellent last season in finishing as the Premier League joint top goal scorer with 22 goals. Now can you imagine the potential of both of these players together? Arsenal suddenly have arguably the deadliest strike force in the league. What this means for Alexandre Lacazette is anyone’s guess, but if these two hit it off then Lacazette’s career with the Gunners could well be coming to an end.

As for the long suffering Arsenal fans this could finally be the signing that signals a positive change at the club. While they are too far off from league titles, a good league run, and  a cup run and or win is certainly on the cards as the club try and get back into the Champions League where they will feel they belong. Roll on next season.

Will Arsenal’s season be bleak after scant transfer signings?

If Arsenal fans thought that life under Unai Emery would be different in the transfer market, then think again, because on the evidence of it Arsenal are not going to be breaking any banks soon.

The Gunners who missed out on Champions League football last season despite reaching the Europa League final have been very quiet in the transfer window.

Though six players have come in, there is a catch to most of them and in truth Arsenal have failed to bring in a big name. How else will they be able to expect to break into the top four for next season?

The clubs most eye catching capture has been Real Madrid’s Dani Ceballos but the midfielder only comes to the club on a strict one year loan deal that is reportedly costing them a cool £15m, on top of that it is believed that the contract does not include an option to buy if the player has a successful debut season in the Premier League.

Ceballos only ranked 35th in La Liga midfielders for last season in the stats although he started just 13 matches and then played another 10 from the bench in a largely forgettable season for the club. He could do well for the club, but well enough in one season to make a difference is questionable.

On the same day Emery got to finally sign Saint Etienne’s William Saliba for £27m and he is thought of as being one of the players to watch in the future. That is all well and good but doesn’t this sound a tad bit like Arsene Wenger’s final days, scooping up very young talent, that might one day make it? Well be that player that the fans have been wishing for or not Saliba has been directly loaned back to his former club, so Gunners fans won’t get the chance to see him until the 2020/21 season anyway.

There is another three signings that went through the radar mostly because these players will join the Academy. And then there is Gabriel Martinelli, a player that mostly nobody has heard of and he was bought for £6m from Brazil.

The season coming up looks rather bleak for a club whose rivals have spent big and just look that much better equipped to deal with the season even if they hadn’t splashed out. Last season Arsenal finished 5th and just a point behind Tottenham and yet they never really looked like securing a top 4 place.

Lest we forget that in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Arsenal possess the joint top goal scorer from last season, but even with that taken into account, surely fans were expecting a big budget and some big names coming into the club? Some players namely Mesut Ozil have not been pulling their weight and look too comfortable in the side.

This season could, on paper, and as It stands be one of Arsenal’s worst for some time. After all they have been on the decline for the last few years and have seen Tottenham over take them, they are now failing on a regular basis to qualify for the Champions League too.

Emery has his work cut out.

 

 

Top Premier League Goalkeepers in 2018/19: Vicente Guaita

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Vicente Guaita finished 7th in the fantasy rankings for Premier League goalkeepers but he must have been amongst the very best value players to have in your team for season 2018/19.

Guaita was valued at just 2m as he kept guard in goal for Crystal Palace for 20 games and that was enough to have him easily placed in the top 10 goalkeepers in England.

Whilst Guaita only accumulated 23 points he also kept an impressive 7 clean sheets, keeping the score at zero for 35% of his games. He conceded 25 goals in his games and received 2 yellow cards.

Guaita had spent his career in the Spanish league up until he joined Palace last summer in a free transfer joining from Getafe after making over 100 appearances for the club. It was always thought that Guaita would be a back up for Roy Hodgson’s Palace team, which he was. He finally made his debut for the club in December almost half way through the season.

Guaita’s first match for Palace ended in a 1-0 victory for the club when they beat Leicester, in the process he kept a clean sheet in his first game and earned 7 points. His next game is simply unfortunate for a goalkeeper, as Palace pulled off an incredible 3-2 victory at Manchester City. But because he conceded 2 goals and got booked he ended that game personally with -3 points.

But Guaita bounced back earning 14 points from his next 3 games and his signing seemed completely justified by Hodgson even on a free transfer for the 32 year old.

He had a few matches he’s rather forget- the defeats against both Manchester teams yielded 6 goals shipped and as a result in those two games he lost 8 points. And then there was a poor run that begun in mid April to the end of the season. True this run also involved the keeper picking up 7 points after he kept a clean sheet against Everton in a match that finished 0-0. But also taking those final 5 game into account Guaita did not earn any points in 4 of those games and earned a total of -5 points in that period.

What could be taken from Guaita’s half season of games is that he rarely went many matches without earning points. And Palace greatly improved as a team in the second half of the season and Guaita was certainly a key reason for that. The Spanish keeper is set to remain at Palace for next season as he initially signed a 3 year deal with the Eagles and it sure that his value will rise here from 2m. A shrewd player may just surprise themselves by a next season purchase of him.

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Top Ligue 1 Goalkeepers in 2018/19: Benoit Costil

Benoit Costil’s career will always be remembered by his time at Rennes but since 2017 he has been guarding the goal of Bordeaux and this past season he had a decent campaign with Bordeaux finishing in the top half of the league and for him he finished 7th with 35 points.

During the season he kept 9 clean sheets which was impressive for the 32 year old and he ended up being the only goal keeper from the top 9 in Ligue 1 that was neither sent off or booked for the whole season.

Costil’s went into last season with a value of 8m. While Bordeaux struggled at times, they did find enough form at one point in the season to think they could challenge for a Europa League finish but it quickly became evident that it couldn’t be the case for this year.

Costil started the season with by earning -4 points in his opening two games as the club kept conceding goals. In fact it wouldn’t get easier for him at the beginning of the season as in the next games Bordeaux beat Monaco but conceded with that match finishing 2-1 and the following game ended in a 2-0 loss to Rennes. The next match was a thriller but for Costil it did his points total no favours as Bordeaux drew 3-3 with Nimes. The next match ended in a 3-1 win over Guingamp but again Bordeaux had conceded. It meant that Costil did not earn any positive points until his 7th game of the season. But once he started he couldn’t at least for a while stop.

The great run begun when Bordeaux beat Lille and Costil kept 3 clean sheets in a row to earn 21 points. While he would gain some more consistency it was this run which started at the end of September and ran until the first week of October that ended up being the goal keeper’s best run of the season.

His single worst game points was against Nimes, Saint Etienne and Lyon were in those fixtures he earned -4 points on each occasion.

Costil ended the season much like he had begun it and earned no points in his last 6 games with a total points haul of -10.

This wasn’t a great season for Costil, although in some games he was outstanding, but Bordeaux simply were not strong enough and it showed. Still Costil beat his total from the season before which was 31,and he will be hoping to improve in the points stakes and try to keep a few more clean sheets next season.

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