Liverpool were great champions but they need to stop making excuses for this season

Last season was so phenomenally brilliant for Liverpool that it will be etched into the memory banks for some time to come. But this season has seen the champions fall from grace in quick time. It can happen, we have seen it with Chelsea only a few seasons ago. But Liverpool have to stop with the excuses which are doing nothing but cheapen the club.

Liverpool have been the kings of Europe so to speak for the past 18 months, winning the league title and reaching 2 Champions League finals and winning one of those. A 60 odd unbeaten run at home followed. The incredible talents of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino up front were simply devastating, even scary. Their goals reigned supreme, here was a team who were built more like a machine- and then 2021 happened.

This has been the year to end Liverpool’s cycle, what a cycle it was, but it was short lived, of course at one point Liverpool will come back and will be a threat once more, but the fall off has been huge.

The club lost six games in a row at home, that is something that has actually never happened in the clubs 139 year history. A few of these defeats have been against teams you would have expected the club to beat in the likes of Brighton and Fulham. Liverpool even lost against derby rivals Everton at Anfield something that had not occurred since 1999.

Hopes of winning back to back titles were dashed within a month and suddenly Jurgen Klopp was wondering if his team were even going to finish in the top 4? Currently it’s possible that the Reds will not achieve that status and they could be playing in the Europa League next season as clubs such as Manchester United, Leicester and Chelsea have moved on. Liverpool also face stiff competition for places against Tottenham, West Ham and Everton.

The drop off has been huge and then the questions are inevitably asked as to why Liverpool have fallen out of form. Of course one could point to Virgil van Dijk’s injury earlier in the season, which has ruled him out of the majority of the season. But let’s not forget that van Dijk was part of the Liverpool team that lost 7-2 at Aston Villa, the signs were already there that Liverpool were going to struggle this season.

Mental fatigue has been thrown about and it has been accepted by many as a fine excuse. Yes Liverpool have been relentless in their pursuit of trophies and you can’t always win games. But the champions losing six in a row at home and probably finishing with 35 points less compared to the season before is just unthinkable.

The term mental fatigue is easy to throw around. But one has to look at other champions from the past to see what is happening in the present. Did Manchester United in their 20 years of dominance ever complain of mental fatigue? Sure United didn’t win the league every time in those 20 years and with 13 titles that was still an incredible achievement. But even when United failed to win the league, they remained a threat and they consistently qualified for the Champions League. There was no significant drop off not even in the mid 2000s when hundreds of millions was injected into Chelsea to make the Blues competitive. Soon after United won 3 league titles in a row and then beat Chelsea in the Champions League final in 2008.

Even Arsenal who remained in United’s shadow but still were a fantastic team did not drop off in their prime. If they were losing the title to United then they were finishing in 2nd place. One can look at Chelsea’s drop off in 2016 after winning the title in 2015 but that was more to do with manager Jose Mourinho losing the dressing room and the players going directionless as a result. Klopp has not lost any dressing room, so we can’t blame the manager and we shouldn’t be using mental fatigue as an excuse.

Perhaps quite simply the truth is that the players are not performing to their best. Maybe they are simply missing the famous stadium being filled up to the brim with fans and hearing the passionate Kop fans screaming their names and singing ‘you’ll never walk alone’. Then again how does that account for the fact that Liverpool have reached the quarter finals of the Champions League?

Surely if one is mentally fatigued then one is not even going to get out of their group stage? That isn’t the case and for whatever reason Liverpool have found a nice distraction from domestic football. Indeed if Liverpool were to reach the final that would be their 3rd in just four years, win it and much of this season could be glossed over.

As it stands excuses need to stop. Liverpool are where they are in the league because the players we expect to perform are having average to poor seasons and there is nothing wrong with admitting that. Liverpool could still finish 4th or win this seasons Champions League and have the last laugh, but the excuses need to stop.

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Arsenal v Tottenham: Why the referee was wrong to award a penalty and why Lacazette should have been cautioned

Michael Oliver had to stand up and make a decision in an inevitable heated north London derby between Arsenal and Tottenham. With the game locked at 1-1 and time running down, Arsenal had an appeal for a penalty, and got it.

Alexandre Lacazette was put through on goal and it looked fairly obvious that he was going to score, the crowd if there was one were about to go wild, instead that was confined to living rooms up and down the country. Lacazette was about to score the winner, his 10th of the season, except he made an error. Instead of lashing the ball past Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, he instead swung at the ball and missed it. Chance over, not quite. After the miss kick Tottenham defender Davinson Sanchez clambered into Lacazette and of course the Arsenal striker went to ground. A penalty was awarded.

Sanchez was booked, Tottenham protested, Jose Mourinho on the touchline had to watch the replay on an Ipad, all were in agreement, no penalty. Of course anyone associated with Tottenham will go down the no penalty route, but plenty of seasoned pundits felt the same. Andy Gray, Richard Keys and Ruud Gullit could not believe that a penalty had been given.

Let’s rewind a bit and try to figure out why referee Michael Oliver gave the penalty. On first glance at full speed and from where he was it did look like a penalty. However fair is fair and VAR flagged it up for Oliver to have a few looks on the monitor but Oliver wasn’t changing his mind. One could believe that Oliver came to his decision because he saw a foul, even after the incident. The problem with that is that if one says there was contact between Sanchez and Lacazette then it was minimal and the contact would have affected Lacazette’s right leg- so why was the Arsenal forward clutching his left leg when he went down?

If anything Lacazette played on the contact to earn a penalty to spare his blushes for the miss kick. A kick that has been forgotten about now. Imagine he had made that miss kick and Sanchez was 5 yards behind, it would be on a blooper reel for years. Instead he was able to sweep that incident under the carpet and score from the penalty spot.

Lacazette ended the game as the hero but he should have been booked for feigning injury on his leg. Everyone of course has different opinions of the incident, but it is sad to see such incidents that can split opinions either way in such big games.

Oliver believes he was right, maybe he won’t in a years’ time. But the very big games should be decided on quality not petty moments like this.

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In Europe Manchester United are bullish and brilliant but in the Premier League they have lost direction

The difference seemingly can’t be measured when Manchester United play in Europe and then switch to domestic football. Here we have a club whose form this season in the Premier League has been amongst the best, but United under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer keep having their dips in form.

Every team of course has form problems and can go on an average to bad run, the problem with Manchester United is that it seems to hang around longer. The flipside to this is that they can pull out 5-6 game winning runs. But in this moment it feels as though the Red Devils have lost some direction in the Premier League.

Perhaps this is down too the fact that their city rivals Manchester City have shot away from the rest of the league and are now 14 points in the lead over United who are in 2nd place. It seems as if United have given up the chase and let’s face it they will not claw those points back now. However at the same time any United fan and anyone associated with the club would love to see them finish 2nd if being champions was always going to be too much for them to achieve this season.

The truth is, at this point, United will have a challenge on their hands to finish in the top four. Currently they are in 2nd and have 51 points and the gap to 5th where Liverpool currently are is 8 points. The Reds have a game in hand and those points could be reduced in midweek.

Manchester United have won just once in their last 5 games and have earned just 15 points from their last 30. With their standing that just isn’t good enough. Leicester could be poised to take 2nd place from United too and they have a chasing pack of West Ham, Chelsea, Liverpool, Everton and Tottenham to contend with. Jose Mourinho’s side do not look a threat at present being 12 points behind United but they have 2 games in hand and all could change rather quickly if teams find more consistency.

In drawing 0-0 with Crystal Palace, United also have gone their last 2 games without a goal and when one looks at their strike force including Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Bruno Fernandes and Edinson Cavani one would expect better. After all Palace were not fighting for anything when the clubs met this week.

United fans will know this form isn’t just a blip, not under Solskjaer who has had a good 5 dips of form since becoming manager of the club, those dips have stretched out for two months at a time. And that form would have cost Solskjaer his job at many clubs especially a club like Chelsea which Frank Lampard found out just a few weeks ago.

So in the Europa League when United were pitted against Spanish side Real Sociedad it was thought that the club were going to struggle and could get knocked out of the competition. Sociedad had led La Liga this season for several weeks and had taken points from the bigger teams. In Portu Sociedad have their own Bruno Fernandes, a versatile attacking midfielder who also scores plenty of goals. Just last weekend his goal helped the club to take 2 points from Real Madrid away from home as that match finished 1-1. In short Sociedad are a very good side. And yet Manchester United in poor form beat Sociedad 4-0 and knocked them out of the Europa League.

It feels as if United have that fire in the belly and man for man one could say that United have the better team than Sociedad, but one would also have to agree that they thought this match up would have been very close and not settled with such a large score. In Europe in this cup competition under Solskjaer United seem to have found their footing, their place where everything clicks and they should be among the favourites to go on and win the competition.

The players seem more focused in Europe and there is a goal to reach, and perhaps domestically United understand that they need an extra push to stay in the top 4 but apart from that not much can be achieved now, but in Europe and also the FA Cup the fire in the belly remains.

United will play Milan in the quarter finals of the Europa League and should be content in the fact that this isn’t the Milan of 15 years ago. Milan are a good side of course but United over two legs, one would think, would have too much for the Italians.

But Solskjaer needs to be mindful this his side do not lose focus in the Premier League, it is a tough and competitive league that takes no prisoners. If you start to lag and stop winning you will be punished and United are not certain for a top four place. They would be foolish to put all of their eggs in one basket and go for the Europa, they need to maintain some desire to pick up points in the Premier League also.

The next few months will reveal the story more and Solskjaer will be well aware that his job despite an overall good season is far from safe.

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Why this seasons Champions League has been tarnished

The Coronavirus pandemic has affected the world like something we could never have imagined and of course this means that football has suffered as a result too. Players being tested twice a week and no fans at grounds for almost a year bar in very rare instances it has been an odd time for the game we all love.

The biggest European competitions have been affected too, especially the Champions League. And this season the most elite club competition of them all feels like it has been tarnished, and simply feels very unfair.

Let’s explain.

The games affected have all involved English teams, Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City. Some EU countries have said that persons from England cannot travel to Germany and Spain because of the new variant, which means in effect that the football clubs cannot travel to these countries to play their first legs.

This in itself is a real head scratcher given that players and coaches are tested twice a week and they will be the only personnel entering the countries. We are not talking about fans being present, so one has to wonder where the problem lies? Of course the other side of the argument would be, why would football players be given special access and not members of the public?

So for English clubs playing in Europe their first leg matches were directed to Budapest, Hungary. But this is wholly unfair on the likes of Atletico Madrid, RB Leipzig and Borussia Monchengladbach. It is unfair because the 2nd legs will all take place in England at the respective clubs grounds. What happens in that instant is the most elite competition loses its integrity and gamesmanship- and no sport should be losing either of those.

Of course there will be arguments against and that at the end of the day it is not the clubs fault that England are allowing German and Spanish nationals into the country and it isn’t like this in the opposite direction. But it is unfair on the clubs.

Some will say that Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City will give up their home advantage anyway because the 12th man- the fans- will not be allowed to attend the games. But hang on one second. What about the extra travel time for the away sides having to arrange drives to the airport and planes, hotels etc. What about the familiarity of the home teams ground, players have a connection to that even without the fans. When Atletico visit Chelsea they are not in Madrid anymore.

It is odd to think that UEFA have not stepped in. If English based players cannot play in Germany and Spain then there is nothing wrong with playing in Budapest as a neutral venue. But why not also have the 2nd legs take place in the country too. Why change and have one team have an advantage by playing in their backyard so to speak, even if the advantage is decreased by a lack of fans, there is still some there.

Fans of the clubs will care little of course, and probably won’t see the argument either. But surely if you’re in love with the game and value fairness within it, this way of playing this seasons Champions League could feel like the soul just got ripped out of it.

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Have Everton really progressed under Carlo Ancelotti, or is time running out for the Italian?

It’s still brilliant to think that one of the best managers ever in the game is in the dug out at Everton, a club who have struggled for the past few decades and haven’t won any silverware for the past 25 years. That put into context would make one wonder what Ancelotti is doing at the club. This after all is a man who has won everything at clubs like Real Madrid, AC Milan and Chelsea.

Ancelotti saw a challenge and ambition at the club and in owner Farhad Moshiri that means that Everton have some money too, not on a Manchester City level of course but they do have funds available.

Carlo Ancelotti is certainly the man and it would take something for the Italian legend to be sacked. Of course the word sacking and his appointment at the club are, at the moment, worlds apart and in general Everton fans must be happy with Ancelotti, but let’s face it if we are being critical maybe fans would have expected more from the club since Ancelotti got the job back in December 2019.

Ancelotti’s win rate feels like a problem, it is currently at 50% this is his lowest since managing Parma back in 1998. Though critics could point to the fact that when you are in charge of teams such as Real Madrid and Bayern Munich you’re winning rates are going to be higher- this is true but the argument then surely exposes the manager’s overall qualities.

The Italian was able to earn Everton 32 points from 22 games managed last season, this would average out to around 55 points over the course of a season. It is only slight improvement of where Everton were before Ancelotti was appointed. Does his salary and the money he has been given justify the club to earn on average 5 extra points? If it was five extra for every season then yes, but the way the current one is working out he is due to arrive on about 60 points. So this could be good news, the problem is Ancelotti probably won’t be at Everton long enough to see the fruits of his labour.

There are many positives at the club and Ancelotti and his team have improved striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin from an average to poor striker to a very good one. Calvert-Lewin’s game has been brilliant under the Italian and he has scored 13 goals in the league so far that is off the scale to his usual meagre return and this has been one of the crowning glories of Ancelotti as a manager for the club.

He has been shrewd his buys too. Allan from Napoli has been solid in midfield. It’s true he only has 2 points in the fantasy rankings but he has missed quite a few games through injury. James Rodriguez was the big transfer for the club from Real Madrid. He can remain frustrating because one week he looks like he is amongst the best players in the world and the other seems to be auditioning for the invisible man role but still he has 25 points so far and has been involved in 8 goals- scoring 5 and assisting in three.

But the problems have persisted for Ancelotti, he is in favour of crowding out the midfield even when Everton play at home and there have been countless times when the club has started games very slowly. That is fatal in the Premier League and Everton have been badly exposed at home because of it.

Everton have won under 30% of their games at home and their recent loss against Fulham by 2-0 really underlined how Ancelotti is failing overall to motivate his players. Beating a team in 18th place whilst you are trying to finish in a Champions League one, one must wonder what motivation is needed to do that?

For now Ancelotti is showing his class but it does feel that it is in sprinkles and not full on. He has done well in moments and given Everton hope. They have two huge games coming up which could define their season. First up is the game against the likely champions this season in Manchester City and then it is the derby against Liverpool.

Can Ancelotti change the mindset for his team and get them over the final hurdle? Even a Europa League qualification would be welcomed at the club and let’s not forget Everton are also in the quarter finals of the FA Cup, however they will have to get past Manchester City to reach the semi’s.

Time may not be running out for Ancelotti just yet, but one has to wonder if Everton’s season peters out and the start of the next is a slow start Ancelotti could be facing the end of his Everton career by the end of 2021.

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Cheating in football led to Mike Dean’s bizarre decision to send off West Ham’s Tomas Soucek

One of the biggest stories that came out of the Premier League this past weekend had to do with VAR, which isn’t a surprise but also the English referee Mike Dean who made an error in sending off West Ham’s Tomas Soucek.

The incident was during the Fulham vs West Ham game which ended 0-0 and the game was so dire that the red card, in a way elevated it to the back pages and all over the internet.

The moment happened in the final minute when Soucek and the Fulham player Aleksanader Mitrovic seemed to collide. What had happened is that Soucek and Mitrovic were near one another and anticipating when the ball was going to be crossed in. Instead of getting caught up with Mitrovic, Soucek attempted to get clear and raise his arm intending not to hit Mitrovic but to raise it over Mitrovic’s head. He failed in doing that as Mitrovic of course moved at the same time and his elbow hit Mitrovic in the face.

This is where it gets interesting.

Replays show that Mike Dean had a view of what had happened but the game was going to carry on, then of course VAR stopped the game and asked Dean to go to his monitor, which he did. It was there that Dean reportedly viewed the incident 21 times, at least according to most media pundits he did. This is where, for most, the confusion sets in.

Dean had that opportunity to keep watching the replay, now if you are going to watch 21 times or at least he did watch many many times you must have a doubt. Were we not told at the beginning of the season that the incident had to be clear and obvious? So even if Dean did think an elbow was intentionally involved why did he hesitate?, he must have had his doubts.

Let’s make it very clear Dean made an error, a really poor mistake for a referee who has overseen over 500 Premier League games. But he isn’t fully to blame. Other factors were involved which the media have decided to ignore.

The first being that Soucek’s other hand was clenched like a fist when he struck Mitrovic. The second is that Mitrovic when struck went down too easy like he had been struck badly. The third is that cheating in football has got to such a level that we have seen the Soucek incident happen in every country that plays football where the elbow was very much intended. This incident is not as clear cut as it sounds, and West Ham manager David Moyes was emphatically wrong to say that VAR should not have brought it to the attention of Dean in the first place. Isn’t that what the tech is there for to look into incidents.

The bottom line is that Dean made an error and the FA have rescinded Soucek’s red card. The problem for Dean is that it is his 2nd rescinded card in a row after he sent off Southampton’s Jan Bednarek by mistake. These are errors despite his experience that are building up and one wouldn’t be surprised if he quit his job soon. The eyes and cameras will be burning up every time he officiates a game now.

Criticism from fans is fair enough and the pressure will now be on Dean at every incident he looks over and every card he gives out, even a booking will be questioned. However some ‘fans’ have crossed the line and Dean has reported to the police that death threats have been made against him. This goes too far and whilst most of the threats are simply being made by keyboard warriors, there needs to be a zero tolerance attitude to such behaviour. It is after all just a game of football. Of course nothing has been affected by it either as the sending off happened in the final seconds of the game, changed nothing and Soucek has been rescued by the FA.

Such has been the pressure on Dean that he has requested to the FA not to referee any Premier League games this weekend and the request has been granted. However all eyes will be on the Leicester and Brighton FA Cup match which takes place tonight- the referee, Mike Dean.

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David Luiz’s bizarre sending off puts the spotlight back on VAR

Arsenal were back to losing ways again in midweek as they were defeated by Wolves 2-1 but none of that will matter as the game was overshadowed by a controversial incident.

As Wolves player Willian Jose broke clear and had a chance on goal Arsenal defender David Luiz tried to follow him but in all honesty didn’t have the pace. Then Jose’s leg brushed Luiz’s from behind and Jose seemed to go down theatrically as if the brush and it really was that made him miss kick his shot. Not only were Wolves given a penalty but Luiz was also sent off which changed the complexion of the game. It is a decision which has left everyone in the game puzzled.

Some officials have said that the referee made the right decision as Luiz was near to the defender and influenced that action. Still puzzlement on everyone’s faces. Officials have also said that Luiz would have avoided a red card had he made a challenge and would have been booked instead although a penalty would have still be given. So in essence because Luiz did not make a challenge he was sent off. There was no VAR involved and one has to wonder in such a big incident on the pitch why the technology wasn’t used? An answer could be that the referee by the laws of the game made the right decision. But everyone from professional players, managers and the fans remain puzzled.

VAR has made so many terrible decisions that even supporters of the technology would have to admit that it has had its problems since being introduced. The truth is it doesn’t just affect one or two teams but every team that’s why even when fans agree with VAR when it comes to their turn and their club suffer a consequence of it they seem to wake up more that VAR may not be the answer that we have been looking for.

Of course it’s difficult to be annoyed with the actual technology itself, as it does do its job. The problem is that VAR reports what it sees and then human officials go back to basics and then make their choices, and whilst when it works it’s satisfying there are just too many instances when VAR gets it wrong.

It’s all about the letter of the law of course and the rules and if referees are supposed to follow the rules so be it, but the rules really need to change. One has to ask where did all the common sense go in the game of football which appeals to so many hundreds of millions of football fans around the globe mostly one would believe for its simplicity.

But even when VAR and the officials do make the right decision they can take too long. Now with fans not allowed to attend games because of the pandemic this feels like less of a problem, even though it really is. But with fans in the stadium VAR seems to have ripped the heart and soul out of the game. Waiting 4 minutes is akin to 30 minutes in a football game for a decision.

We have already experienced how painful it is when fans cheer madly for a goal only for it to be scrubbed off because the offending striker had his nose offside. That isn’t even a joke and has happened on several occasions since VAR has been introduced. Now fans cannot genuinely celebrate in the same manner, no matter how many tell you that they can, they can’t. A psychological barrier has been put up.

To conclude one also has to question what other professional sport does not keep its fans in the loop with new rules for each season, even if they are quite bizarre and make little sense?

Football is a beautiful game where only the players on the field should be making the headlines, the officials should feel invisible, sadly they along with technology seem to be taking the limelight and stealing those headlines.

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Did Frank Lampard deserve to get sacked by Chelsea?

The big news in the Premier League over the last few days has been the sacking of club legend Frank Lampard. Lampard was sacked after Chelsea fell to 9th place and the Chelsea board could seemingly take no more.

Lampard lasted 18 months in the job and one has to wonder have Chelsea made the right choice in sacking him, or have they reacted too quickly? After all in his debut season with the club in the dug out he did manage to qualify for the Champions League as the Blues finished in 4th place. He also guided the team to the FA Cup final, although they eventually lost to Arsenal.

This season Chelsea were brilliant in the Champions League group stage and qualified with ease for the knock out rounds in February where they will play Atletico Madrid. In the FA Cup they have made it to the fifth round this past weekend as they beat Luton 3-1, this was incidentally Lampard’s last game in charge of the club.

But it’s the league where the problems mount up for Lampard’s Chelsea side. The club spent big on players last summer over £200m was spent bringing in the likes of Ben Chilwell, Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech. Chilwell has been superb and fitted right into the club. Ziyech has looked quick but has also faced some injuries and Werner has looked lost, confused and puzzled. He has been a huge disappointment.

It has been reported that behind the scenes lies problems, players feel they are not being coached very well and Lampard isn’t up to the job. Of course it is one thing being a superb player for the club but quite another at managerial level. Perhaps the problem in this whole matter is that Lampard was not experienced enough to manage a club side like Chelsea?

One has to ask would Chelsea have appointed a manager who has only had 1 season with Championship side Derby County on his resume? Therein lies the answer as to why everything hasn’t turned out as Chelsea had hoped. It also goes to show that even though Lampard spent 14 seasons at Stamford Bridge and knows Chelsea inside and out, managing players who also may have had egos is a difficult task.

Chelsea do not give the best managers a chance if failure looks like it is creeping up, the likes of Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti have been sacked in the past, so Lampard’s number looked up a few weeks ago. Though how odd is football sometimes because it was only 8 weeks ago that the Blues had gone 2 months unbeaten in all competitions and were challenging for the title.

Ultimately Lampard wasn’t able to get the best out of his players, but Chelsea are to blame too for going in for an unexperienced manager, their though process only concerned with the fact that he used to play for the club. New players coming into the team don’t care about the past when they were still teenagers, only the now and the relationship simply didn’t work out.

After spending huge sums though one has to wonder what Chelsea thought would happen this season. A league title? surely not. As any team who has bought so many impact players knows, it always takes some time for the players to gel and click by that time any league chance has gone. Did Chelsea really believe that they would fly past Liverpool and Manchester City, if so that seems like wishful thinking.

At the flipside of that the club were not expecting to be 11 points behind either. Chelsea are 5 points from 4th place and that would have been taking into account too.

Sadly for Lampard Covid-19 and the impact it has made on football hasn’t been taking into account. Chelsea may have won more games at home with fans and the players may have reacted more positively. The pandemic has turned football on its head and we have seen some interesting results to go along with that. There have also been more away wins than any other season, that can’t just be a coincidence.

In an ideal football world Lampard would have been given more time, perhaps until the end of the year if not end of this season. However, if as expected, he had lost the dressing room then there is only one solution for that and that was his sacking. One has to wonder what the future now holds for Lampard? And who knows maybe the club legend will return back in the dugout after gaining years of experience coaching elsewhere.

As for Chelsea they have brought in Thomas Tuchel the ex PSG coach and who knows what will happen there. Tuchel is a good character and of course with PSG had to put up with plenty of egos. But he hasn’t been in this position for a long time where his team are not challenging for honours so it will be fascinating to see how he takes to the job.

Also Tuchel being German might be able to train Timo Werner better and install some confidence in him, let’s see if Werner becomes the striker we all thought he would be in the Premier League.

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Why high flying Wolves could be relegated this season

One of the surprise packages in the Premier League over the past couple of seasons has been Wolverhampton Wanderers better known as simply Wolves. Under manager Nuno Espirito Santo the club hasn’t won any trophies but they have realised personal dreams.

This has included finishing in the top half of the table regularly and even qualifying for the Europa League and doing well in that competition. Last season Wolves really outdid themselves and got as far as the quarter finals before being narrowly knocked out by Spanish side Sevilla.

In the Premier League Wolves have finished 7th in their last two campaigns and have been solid in the league beating teams that finish above them. In short Wolves under Santo have become a team that other clubs even the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City do not look forward to playing. That is the respect that the club have garnered over the last few seasons.

Even in this campaign Wolves had started well and whilst nobody was expecting them to challenge for the league title another top seven finish did seem on. And then December came. But in reality one could go back to last summer when Wolves sold the excellent Diogo Jota. Not only did they sell Jota for just £40m (he was arguably worth between £60-65m) they also sold him to another Premier League rival in Liverpool. It made little sense.

In the Jota deal there was only one winner and it wasn’t Wolves. Of course Jota’s career has been halted at Liverpool through injury, that is just plain bad luck but before his injury he was proving his worth and why Jurgen Klopp wanted him so bad.

Then came a terrible blow in the winter months when Raul Jimenez Wolves’ prolific striker suffered a head injury after a clash of heads with Arsenal defender David Luiz. Luiz only missed a couple of games but Jimenez has been out for 2 months and it has really hurt Wolves. Jimenez scored 27 goals in all competitions for Wolves last season and had scored 4 goals in the league from 10 games before his injury.

Daniel Podence has taken advantage of Jota’s sale and Jimenez’s absence by stepping up and scoring goals and he has been a bright spark for the club although can also be prone to injuries and Pedro Neto is another player who is trying hard for the club.

But there has to be some concern now because Wolves haven’t won a game in the Premier League since December 15th, 2020 when they beat Chelsea 2-1 at home. That was an impressive result and seemed to underline that the club had some back bone to them, much like Leicester for example. But Wolves wouldn’t be able to tie any of the Leicester players boots right now to steal an infamous English saying.

Wolves have earned just 8 points from their last 30 and 2 points from their last 15 and in recent form the club would be 2nd from bottom in the league.

Now fans will be worrying if the club are free falling? It has happened before of course in any league and Wolves have lost their last 2 games in row against Everton and more surprisingly struggling team West Bromwich Albion. They conceded 3 goals at home to West Brom, a side who had previously scored just 12 goals from 18 games. Wolves’ defence seems to be going through a lack of confidence and they have conceded 8 goals in their last 3 games.

Wolves have dropped to 14th and one must be wondering is there any good news on the horizon? Well presently despite Wolves’ poor form the club do have a 10 point safety net from the bottom three. Also one would have to believe that with the players they have and despite the injuries that the club have had to endure that they will hit a sweet spot.

That doesn’t mean European football for next season though however the club may just except finishing 10th this season after this scare.

Manager Santos will be worried though because it could be argued that the club haven’t suffered like this over this extended period since Santos has taken charge. He will understand that one win will kick start his team again.

At the weekend Wolves will play a tricky match against Chelsea, however the Blues are suffering much like their opponents for a lack of confidence and belief in themselves, that game should be interesting.

Wolves should have enough in the tank, but no club as they say is too good to go down and if Wolves don’t start to pick up in their next 3 games a relegation fight could be on the cards. What a season it has been because just 8 weeks ago we couldn’t have seen this story coming from Wolves.

The question will be asked who will save Wolves if results do not go their way in the coming weeks and one light at the end of the tunnel could be the return of Raul Jimenez. No date has been fixed for the talented strikers return but just his presence will certainly lift the dressing room, and a huge lift is what Wolves need right now.

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Is Chelsea’s Timo Werner the biggest flop in the Premier League?

When Chelsea announced they had signed Timo Werner last summer eyebrows were raised and there were a few gasps. They were gasps of excitement such was the quality in Werner, a German international who scored goals on a frequent rate. His signing felt alongside Chelsea’s other high profile purchases the final piece in the jigsaw.

But 4 months on after the delayed start to the Premier League due to the Coronavirus pandemic there can be little doubt that Werner has underwhelmed.

He looks like a shadow of the player that scored 34 goals in all competitions for RB Leipzig and helped take the club to the semi-finals of last seasons Champions League. Last season was his personal best by a country mile and one would have thought that he would have simply have built on that.

True his manager Frank Lampard hasn’t always played Werner in his preferred central role as a striker and has experimented with his positions given that the club have a whole host of strikers up front including the young and talented Callum Hudson-Odoi. But coming from the Bundesliga one would have thought with his extra experience that Werner would have started the campaign better.

So far this season Werner has scored 4 league goals from 17 games and 9 in all competitions. He is on course to score about 10 league goals this season about half of what one would have expected from him.

Werner has assisted in another 4 goals in the league games and has therefore been involved in 8 of Chelsea’s goals this season. The Blues have scored 32 so far so Werner has been involved in 25% of the clubs total goals. That isn’t a terrible figure at all and yet there is a huge question mark over Werner this season.

Doubts remain because we were sold an idea that Chelsea were signing a world class player who was going to get even better and he hasn’t really turned up in the big games as yet, he hasn’t been the one to make the difference and he can go quiet.

So why isn’t Werner producing the goods? Part of the problem isn’t with him but with Lampard who prefers to play him more as a winger coming into play. This clearly isn’t working out and time and again we have seen Werner with some pace coming off the wing looking at his options and then being afraid to shoot. It does feel that Lampard is favouring the English duo of Tammy Abraham and Hudson-Odoi.

Werner is still only 24 and a new league and culture is a big thing. However world class players usually adapt much quicker. Though there have been examples of players taking their time, look at Dennis Bergkamp for example who had a poor start at Arsenal but now has his statue in front of the stadium and is regarded as one of Arsenal’s greatest ever players.

Werner’s best years are yet to come but he needs to impose himself on games more especially the bigger ones that count. Whilst question marks are out on just how good he is, there is no doubt that he has the potential to be one of the Premier League’s great players. For now he needs some time, but he will be itching to be put up front in a central role, the question remains will Lampard yield to his request and free up the German international?

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