How will Liverpool react to losing in the Premier League?

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For the first time this season it finally happened, Liverpool after 21 games lost a game in the Premier League.

It was a fantastic run which saw some fantastic results including only a week ago demolishing Arsenal 5-1. But the run came to an end when the Reds visited the Etihad the home of current champions Manchester City and lost 2-1 in a quite frenetic game of football.

Liverpool still have the advantage in the league and lead by 4 points as they try to win England’s top domestic competition for the first time since 1990. But now that they have lost how will Liverpool react? History has told us it is how you finally react to a loss that defines you as a champion. In the league we will have to wait another week given that cup matches take over England this weekend.

One wonders if that is a hindrance or actually a good thing for Liverpool. On one hand it’s frustrating as the team want to play their next league game, win it, and prove that the City loss was just a tiny blip. On the other hand if they can get a good FA Cup win then that could restore some confidence going into the next league match. So that remains interesting to see.

Liverpool will play Wolves and the game is away from home which could be a tricky 90 minutes for the club. The fact that they have been paired with a Premier League team at this stage of the cup is not to their advantage. But of course they will still be favourites to win. But if they did lose then a serious question will be asked, ‘are Liverpool losing their bottle?’ It has happened before and manager Jurgen Klopp will have to field a strong side and get the victory over Wolves- that match does not take place until Monday.

In the league Liverpool’s next games are against the likes of Brighton, Crystal Palace and Leicester and the last two games are at home. These are all winnable games for the club, but at the same time, you never quite know in regards to the Premier League.

It seems that February will be a big month for Liverpool where towards the end of it they will have to play Bayern Munich in the Champions League and then follow that up with an away match against Manchester United who have been in terrific form, and the Merseyside derby follows just a week after that.

There is all to play for and of course Manchester City and Tottenham will have to keep winning too, but Liverpool are under real pressure again to produce the goods when it matters. That is how hard it is to win the Premier League nowadays.

 

 

Niko Kovac’s job looks safe at Bayern Munich after shaky start

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Niko Kovac looked like he was out of his depth for much of this Bundesliga season with German giants Bayern Munich. But the Croatian seems to have turned things around at the club after Bayern went on a five game winning run before the traditional Christmas break in Germany.

In the process after being as low as 5th this season Bayern have roared back and are just six points behind league leaders Borussia Dortmund. The league does not start again until January 18th.

It has been quite a rollercoaster few months for Kovac with the pressure meter constantly at 10, but the club have responded and it is thought that club directors are more than happy with Bayern’s performances. This is bad news for Arsene Wenger, with the former Arsenal manager having been linked to the club. Jose Mourinho was directly linked also after he was sacked from Manchester United last month.

If anything Kovac has bought himself some time and it seems with Champions League qualification also in his back pocket that he won’t be sacked this season at least.

Kovac has had much to say about the campaign claiming that teams around Bayern have improved and this has been a much tougher season than the last one. Kovac said Bayern’s official website. “I feel we’re the Bayern from the start of the season again, that we’ve restored our ease and confidence – and that the lads are fired up to give it everything and put up a fierce fight against Borussia Dortmund. It was a half year with many facets, very emotional, and certainly not boring. We had many good periods but also had to weather difficult ones. However, taken altogether we’re on a good track, and at the end of the day our conclusion to the six months is positive.”

Kovac continued, “Of course we wished for a good start. We worked very hard for it during pre-season. We dominated the matches. The lads wanted to assert themselves after the arrival of a new coach. The performances in training and in matches were correspondingly strong.”

With Bayern pulling three points clear of 3rd place Borussia Monchengladbach it seems that the league has turned into a two horse race and at least it will be an exciting finish in Germany this season. As for Kovac if Bayern do not win the league his job does look like being in the balance, because 2nd just isn’t good enough for a club like Bayern.

Still after a difficult start at least Kovac has won the first round and is looking good to steer Bayern to silverware this season, against for some, all the odds.

Who will strike first for Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembélé?

Promised by many as the next big thing, Ousmane Dembélé appears to be at a crossroads in his career at the tender age of 21 years old.

Signed by Barcelona for an eye-watering £105 million from Borussia Dortmund last summer, the France international has been a visitor rather than a difference maker for the Spanish giants. Dembélé has failed to make a lasting impact so far and his off-field distractions, such as gaming, has landed him in trouble on more than one occasion with the leaders of Barça.

There is no denying that Dembélé is a generational talent, with his quick feet, dizzying runs and raw ability, but unless he hones it with discipline and improves his work ethic, there is a possibility that Barcelona might cut ties with him so early on in his career. Reports are already coming out suggesting the La Liga giants are considering allowing the Frenchman to leave as early as January.

The facts are that Dembélé has only featured in 16 appearances this season, scoring seven times and assisting on two occasions. While his overall game has been largely disappointing, he does continue to help Barça come up with late finishes that saves games – just as his most recent goal salvaged a point against Atlético Madrid.

In truth, the move to Spain with Barcelona in particular was possibly too soon in his career. He made the right decision to leave France for Dortmund, where he was excelling, but it was too short of a period for Barça to launch that type of money at him. Of course, no player is going to reject a move to one of the biggest clubs in the world, but it was always going to be a risk given how raw he was and still is.

If the reports are to be believed and Barcelona are truly open to either loaning him out or selling on a permanent transfer, Dembélé will not be short of suitors. The most obvious destination would be England, but which Premier League club will strike first?

England

The Premier League has a number of clubs who can not only afford the fee should Barça be inclined to sell permanently, but also his wages, which are considerable to say the least.

Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and even Arsenal would all make room to sign the France international, which puts Dembélé in a very strong position indeed.

Pep Guardiola’s City have a whole host of mercurial talents on their books and it is slightly difficult to understand where Dembélé would fit into his side; however, that has not stopped the Spanish manager before when recruiting and if Dembélé is available, the Citizens are likely to be joining the queue. It goes without saying that they are in a position to cover any proposed deal financially.

The Red Devils have been crying out for a right winger for multiple years and so this could be a blessing in disguise. With Dembélé’s nationality being French, he would settle well into the first-team with the likes of Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba by his side, along with other French-speaking players in the dressing room.

Man United find themselves off the pace so far this season and Dembélé could well provide the spark needed to reinvigorate their season and qualify for the Champions League next year. It will be a hard sell convincing him to join over other clubs who can offer immediate success, but as seen with Alexis Sánchez, money sure does go a long way to helping make a decision.

Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea would be open to the idea of the Frenchman coming to Stamford Bridge, but only if they manage to sell Willian. It was no secret that Barcelona were willing to sign the Brazilian last summer before they opted for Bordeaux’s Malcom, and so a swap deal might be on the cards if Ernesto Valverde’s team are still open to that idea.

Liverpool will probably be the most difficult sell for Dembélé due to their front three already being at an elite level with no glaring gaps. Mohamed Salah plays on the right, so there is little to no chance of the former Rennes player leapfrogging the Egyptian, while Sadio Mané is on the left and Roberto Firmino through the middle as a false nine. The Reds would possibly sell the idea as a first substitute, but for the type of money being talked about, it’s likely they’ll look elsewhere as they did with Xherdan Shaqiri.

Arsenal are the other frontrunner in landing Dembélé due to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s close relationship with the France international. Friendship does not always materialise in transfers, but there is no chance that Unai Emery would not be interested in signing him to bolster the right-hand side of Arsenal’s forward line.

Arsenal’s Director of Football, Raúl Sanllehí, used to be one of the leading members on Barcelona’s board a few years ago, and so can use that relationship to harness any potential deal for Dembélé.

Italy

While England seems the obvious choice given the money involved, Italy might not be so abstract given Juventus’ new, £88 million signing in Cristiano Ronaldo.

While the Bianconeri are unlikely to be interested given their wealth of talent within their stable, but a team like Inter might well be. A loan deal is the only feasible nature of this given Financial Fair Play is burdening the Milanese club, but if Barça prefer to only send Dembélé out for a year, then Inter might well be the perfect destination.

Napoli and Milan will be interested, but with club president Auerlio di Laurentiis favouring Edinson Cavani as their wage buster and Zlatan Ibrahimović returning to the latter, both remain unlikely destinations.

Germany

The only realistic option for Dembélé is Bayern Munich given the lack of funds elsewhere in the division. While Niko Kovac is struggling this season and a player of Dembélé’s quality could help him magnificently, Karl-Heinz Ruminegge has never been one to splash an absolute fortune on players and with a manager whose position is uncertain, it’s unlikely that tune will change.

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In conclusion, they most likely outcome is that Dembélé will come to the Premier League, should he be given the green light, with Manchester United and Arsenal leading the way to land him. With his technical ability and direct approach, the French star will be an asset to either team and should add real quality where it has been lacking.

Should Bayern Munich make a move for Arsene Wenger?

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You could be forgiven for having to look at the current standings in the German Bundesliga and take a double look and what you see. Bayern Munich, the great Bayern Munich are not in first place, but their not even 2nd or at a push in third. No try 5th place.

It has been a stunning start to this German league campaign for the Bavarians but not for the right reasons. Under new coach Niko Kovac the side are experiencing one of the most difficult seasons in recent memory. They are 9 points behind league leaders Borussia Dortmund and have only won 50% of their games so far in the league and have not won a game for their past 3 encounters.

Kovac is under serious pressure with many fans and pundits believing that he is a good coach but is simply out of his depth at such a club as Bayern. Kovac got the job mostly through leading Eintract Frankfurt to the DFB Pokal Cup last season. He does have a win rate of 63% this season which would be good for most clubs, but with Bayern you have to be aiming for closer to 70%.

So could Kovac lose his job. To be honest it is surprising he hasn’t already. If he was coach at Real Madrid or Barcelona it would be almost certain that he would have. But Bayern have given him the luxury of some time. And yet surely this form can’t go on too much longer without it costing him his job.

There have been rumours circulating that a one Arsene Wenger could take over at the club. Some media are against it, seeing Wenger as a has been and yesterday’s man, but Bayern do have a tendency to bring in older coaches, like Ottmar Hitzfeld and more recently Jupp Heynckes. Bayern see coaches through years of experience and even Kovac had 9 before joining the club.

Wenger himself has spoken out, not directly about Bayern but by saying that he will return to a managerial position and that his hopes are to do so by the beginning of 2019. He seems very adamant on that which is a surprise, does he know something that we do not? Wenger surely would not coach a team that isn’t a recognised top 4 of 3 club in a major league and would love nothing more than to finish his career on a high with trophies. In that respect Bayern and Wenger could be the perfect match.

 

Lyon star Fekir once again linked with move away

fekirLyon star Nabil Fekir looks once again set to depart the Ligue 1 outfit – and will hope that this time the deal can make it over the line. The 25-year-old had previously looked set to depart France for a move to Premier League side Liverpool, and had even recorded an interview for LFC TV. On top of that, the Merseysiders held a photoshoot of Fekir in the Reds’ home kit, with the move having looked all but done. However, Liverpool pulled the plug on the transfer at the last minute, leaving Fekir to return to the club he thought he had left to ply his trade once again in the 2018-19 campaign. Suggestions have risen up, meanwhile, that not one, but two top European clubs are keeping tabs on his progress.

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Are Bayern Munich in crisis?

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Just one goal in three games isn’t your typical Bayern Munich. This is an elite European club that has won six consecutive Bundesliga titles and if things don’t change imminently, there could be real problems ahead. Continue reading

Bayern Munich’s first defeat is just a minor setback

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It all seemed to be going so well for Bayern Munich but after dropping five points from an available six, questions surely must be asked of Niko Kovac’s side. Conceding a late equaliser to Bavarian rivals FC Augsburg kicked proceedings off before succumbing to a 2-0 defeat against Hertha BSC on Friday night. Continue reading

Bundesliga Fantasy Game Predictions – Round 6

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Hertha Berlin vs Bayern Munich

After a 1-1 draw against Bavaria rivals FC Augsburg, Bayern Munich will want to rectify their mistakes after dropping points for the first time this season. They welcome Hertha Berlin to the Allianz Arena on Friday night with the capital club themselves enjoying their start to the Bundesliga campaign. Three years of steadying the ship, Pal Dardai’s Hertha are finally up in the top half of the table while challenging for European football could be a real possibility this campaign after beating the likes of Schalke and Borussia Monchengladbach. Continue reading

Can anyone stop Bayern Munich?

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