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?

Challenge the best EPL Fantasy Managers at www.fantasy-premier.com

Is Atletico Madrid’s La Liga title in danger after Kieran Trippier’s 2 month ban?

Kieran Trippier has been one of Atletico Madrid’s best players this season but there has been bombshell news as he is now set to miss the next 2 months with an English FA ban.

That ban is related to alleged inside knowledge of the football world that could have been used as an advantage to then bet on that market. It must be said that Trippier has denied all of these allegations from the English FA, but for now the ban stays.

Trippier’s name has been cleared on some charges but not all and in line with UEFA’s rules it means that Trippier has been banned from all football activities for the next 14 weeks. Because of the Christmas period that means that Trippier won’t be back in action until the very end of February, and this is obviously a blow for his club.

Trippier has been a success for Atletico since his switch from Tottenham and this season so far seemed to have been his best. With 52 points so far Trippier is the best ranked defender for Atletico Madrid where he has helped keep an impressive 9 clean sheets already. Though he hasn’t scored yet that isn’t his job but he has assisted in 4 goals. Overall Trippier is only 2nd to Jan Oblak, the goalkeeper who has 61 points.

Trippier’s contribution to the team simply cannot be underestimated and of course one of the problems was his key presence, and how that will be missed. Under Diego Simeone Trippier has become a stable figure in the team and the last year has felt like a second coming for the club who were so successful in the 2010s.

Could Trippier’s ban trip up Atletico Madrid in the league and Champions League? pardon the pun. Currently the club are looking at their first La Liga title in seven years and are in 1st place with 29 points. Real Madrid their rivals and neighbours have the same points however Atletico have played 2 games less.

There is also the question that up until a few weeks ago Atletico had conceded just 2 goals, and even now it is only 5. Sure the team are full of great defenders in the likes of Mario Hermoso and Felipe but Trippier is seen as the one where the players look to both on the pitch and in the dressing room.

Trippier is pleading his innocence and will appeal and coach Simeone and thousands of fans will be hoping that his charge can be overturned, if not this could be an act of trying to get his sentence shortened.

The next few weeks after the Christmas season will be intriguing between London and Madrid and could get rather tense, watch this space.

Think you know Spanish football? Play https://liga-fantasy.com now!

 

 

 

 

 

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has become a reflection of Arsenal’s dire form

Arsenal sit in 15th place with 30% of the Premier League completed, it is their worst start to a campaign in 40 years and perhaps this season for the Gunners has been building up for some time. There have been hints even in the last few seasons with Arsene Wenger in charge- the major difference though is that Wenger’s Arsenal never ever got this poor.

Despite the difficulties since Wenger’s departure, and the travails of both Unai Emery and Mikel Arteta there has been one drop of stardust that everyone at the club could count on, one superb player that stood up, scored goals and ultimately won games for Arsenal and that man was Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

The French born Gabon international was the real star of Arsenal, he was the Thierry Henry of this generation- a driving force and a natural winner, and it was his goals that inspired the Gunners to what felt like a surprise FA Cup win last season, a surprise yes but also a deserved one as Arsenal rolled back the years in that competition.

Aubameyang shouldn’t be questioned on the face of it since he has scored some very important goals, if he scores, Arsenal win games, at the very least they remain in the match with a chance.

It is worth noting just how many goals Aubameyang has scored for the Gunners, it currently stands at 74 in all competitions. In the league he has netted 56 goals from 97 appearances. This summer when Arsenal were quiet in the transfer market all the fans could talk about was if Aubameyang was going to sign a new contract, if the answer was no then he would be available to leave for free next summer meaning that Arsenal may have cashed in on him before this new delayed season had started.

And Arsenal waited and waited, contract negotiations had been on going we were told since March 2020 and yet Aubameyang finally put pen to paper on September 15th, three days after the new season kicked off. He had made Arsenal sweat but at the end of the day the club are known to be notorious for offering lucrative contracts for players over 30. Aubameyang is 31 but his class was so much that Arsenal were willing to give him a new 3 year contract with improved rates.

Arsenal looked like a new team at times last season under Arteta, more creative, more demanding and with more passion that was sadly missing in the last few months with Emery, and the FA Cup win simply seemed to underline that Arteta was the right man to take Arsenal forward. But three months into the new season it is painfully obvious that Arteta isn’t the right manager.

This isn’t a critic on Arteta who may well turn out to be a fine coach, but the timing seems wrong. Why would a club like Arsenal opt for Arteta who had no experience at managerial level? It seems that being Pep Guardiola’s number 2 at Manchester City and the fact that Arteta played for Arsenal was enough qualification. And yet a club like Everton who have been in the shadows of Arsenal for decades appointed one of the best and respected managers in world football in Carlo Ancelotti, that just seemed to speak volumes about how far Arsenal have fallen and that is just one example.

But back to Aubameyang, the free scoring brilliant striker who signed THAT contract extension. It may amaze to find out that despite playing this season Aubameyang has not scored a single goal since he signed his new contract. He has scored just 2 goals this season from 12 games which came in the Gunners first match of the season, a 3-0 win over Fulham, since then there has been nada as Arteta would say in his natural tongue.

In the past we have seen when Aubameyang does the business so do Arsenal. He is the clubs guiding light not just in getting goals but encouraging the team to do better and believe more in themselves. There just seems to be a lack of purpose at the club presently, as if the Gunners are waiting for Aubameyang to get that first goal which could spark some sort of revival. He will have to hurry up as Arteta’s job is surely on the line though.

Mesut Ozil will ask for forgiveness if he is smirking at what is happening at Arsenal after the play maker was frozen out of the squad by Arteta. Ozil could point out that when everything clicked he provided assists for Aubameyang something that the Gambon international is certainly missing. At the same time Ozil did disappear in many games.

The cure for what is happening is a simple goal, a little luck which in turn could start a winning run. But it has been an unfortunate turn of events, the new contract signed and then up until now nothing to show for it.

Arsenal’s next two games are against tough opposition in Southampton and then Everton, lose both of those and everything could come to ahead. We could be speaking about a possible relegation battle. But football can turn on a sixpence is the old saying, and win those matches with a few Aubameyang goals and everything changes. For now though these are worrying times for Arsenal, Arteta and Aubameyang.

Challenge the best EPL Fantasy Managers at www.fantasy-premier.com

 

Why didn’t Manchester United’s Paul Pogba believe he was already at a huge club?

Early on Monday morning, on a weekend following another Manchester United comeback as they beat West Ham 3-1, Mino Raiola dropped the news: Paul Pogba wants to leave Manchester United.

It was news and it wasn’t news, because anyone who has followed football for the past few years could see that Pogba wanted out almost the moment he stepped back in at Old Trafford. Pogba isn’t the type of person who could play poker successfully, he can’t hide his body language and his despair almost an dis-attachment in his face was there for all to see for a long time.

It could well be the right time for Pogba to leave Manchester United and the Frenchman would have spent five seasons at the club by next summer. But it wasn’t the right time to announce it. Pogba’s agent Raiola said that the player wanted to leave the club in the summer, right before one of United’s biggest games of their season, their Champions League match against RB Leipzig. The club went on to lose that match 3-2, and the irony of course is that Pogba scored.

The timing though feels like a lack of respect for the club and its values, why did Pogba’s agent come out with the news then? Why not wait at least until the week after, after the Manchester derby. Would it have been that hard to do?

But another question must surface and that is why didn’t Pogba believe that Manchester United are a huge club? Why couldn’t he understand that it might not get any better than being at United? True United haven’t been the same since Sir Alex Ferguson retired but they have still maintained an air of quality, and players from around the world are still happy to sign for the club knowing that the Red Devils are one of the biggest clubs in the world.

Could it be that Pogba transferred from Juventus and saw the old lady and Serie A as simply better in every department? Could he believe that he was therefore taking a step down when he re-joined United? When you analyse his performances it does come across like this. Of course his obscene fee of £89m doesn’t help matters but at the same time the price tag isn’t Pogba’s fault. He probably wasn’t worth half of that but that is the nature of the football business.

In hindsight United would have done good business had they sold Pogba just after the 2018 World Cup where, with France he won. Pogba was electrifying in the knock-out stages with his pace and power. Indeed he produced in 2 weeks with France what he couldn’t do in five years with United. But at the World Cup Pogba seemed like a man possessed, like he had a mission, and he did. But with United had he kept to this theory he could have helped land United a title in his time at the club and gone down as a club legend.

The truth is that Pogba’s time at United will be more remembered as a simple footnote, which is a tragedy in itself given what quality the player has in his locker. The problem with Pogba is that it doesn’t matter where he goes next, the team will receive Pogba, the player that shows flashes of brilliance, the player that gives 100%, the player that raises his voice above others in the dressing room and gets the team hyped and ready for the game ahead, but all of this happens in 2 games per 10, and that is his problem in a nutshell.

Pogba’s future could be linked to PSG, a return to France and with a club who look guaranteed to win trophies could fit Pogba fine. Real Madrid have been linked with the midfielder for some time, but maybe they will take a rain check if they were to look at his overall form. Barcelona’s era is ending and they have a lack of funds so they won’t be a player. Other choices could see a return to Juventus or maybe somewhere like AC Milan who have improved and are currently in 1st position in Serie A.

Pogba is going to leave United at the end of the season this looks absolutely certain now. Fans knew it was going to happen, but it seems when it does Pogba may not get the goodbye he could have deserved and on reflection his transfer to United feels like a wasted moment for both parties.

Challenge the best EPL Fantasy Managers at www.fantasy-premier.com

 

Edinson Cavani: From pure brilliance with Manchester United to FA enquiry in 3 hours

The irony cannot be lost on anyone at Manchester United that manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has, up until now, refused to start new signing Edinson Cavani in any of Manchester United’s league games so far.

Solskjaer himself known as the baby assassin for his uncanny brilliance to be in the right place at the right time equalled by his boyish looks which at 47 he still retains, is there to make the decisions. But Solskjaer was also known as the super sub. There were countless times Sir Alex Ferguson called on him from the bench to save the day, the most famous of course in the 1999 Champions League final when the Norwegian came on with 9 minutes remaining and scored the winning goal.

This season Solskjaer, gone from super sub to manager at Manchester United is channelling the great Ferguson. Cavani at 33 has been involved in 5 of United’s nine games so far and has been involved in four goals already, scoring three times and assisting in another. While Cavani scored his debut goal against Everton at Goodison Park for the Red Devils at the beginning of November the Uruguayan ‘arrived’ in the Premier League for good and bad this weekend. First let’s concentrate on the good.

Cavani replaced Mason Greenwood on the 46th minute. It wasn’t that Greenwood was having a terrible game, but Solskjaer made the decision at 2-0 down to replace inexperience, (Greenwood being 19) with Cavani. Though Greenwood may have been livid with the timing, he would have to accept that Solskjaer made the right choice at the final whistle. And Cavani’s impact was almost immediate.

It took Cavani 13 minutes to get into the game and set up Bruno Fernandes for his seventh goal of the season. The Portuguese wonder is far and away United’s best player this season in the fantasy rankings and has earned 34 points overall, 19 more than second placed Marcus Rashford. Cavani on the wing on the right hand side and with all the time in the world passed the ball into the centre right to Fernandes feet and the midfielder had no chance.

But it was the way in how Cavani took the ball. He didn’t seem urgent with his club 2-0 down, he was just professional. Solskjaer’s faith was being paid off. If Solskajer produced a wry smile at that he may want to have adopted the Uruguayan when his header equalised the game with a quarter of an hour to go.

A cross came in and Fred struck the ball, which deflected from a Southampton player and it was the pure super quick reaction of Cavani, the menacing of all strikers, throwing back the years, unravelling the swashbuckling comebacks which are in fact deeply ingrained in the side that he is playing for. Southampton looked mentally finished, in a game they were cruising, 1,800 seconds from victory and now it was being snatched away from them. It may have been 2-2 with fifteen minutes to go but one could sense that United were going to go on to win it.

And yet the time ticked by with chances for both clubs, United could smell blood and most importantly three points, Southampton once in a state of victors were simply happy to get a point at this stage. But it would be a stage set up for Cavani. At the death Rashford swung a ball in and Cavani channelling another player of yesteryear in Jurgen Klinsmann sliced the ball in with his head with all the professional pomp you would expect of a player who has worked so tirelessly playing for some of the biggest teams in Europe over the years. It was 3-2, he slid on his knees and the game was over. Manchester United have won their third game in a row and moved up to 9th place.

With two goals and an assist it had been a perfect day for Cavani, even some fans who may have doubted him signing for United in what is supposed to be his twilight years could hardly deny the sheer quality that he brought to the team in this match. He won United a duel destined for defeat and Cavani could feel happy about himself. That was until a Twitter post and a few hours later.

A follower on twitter who is now believed to know Cavani congratulated the striker on his performance. Cavani replied with “gracias negrito”! And that is when the FA launched their enquiry. The translation is tricky because we are talking about different meanings for different cultures but it roughly would translate to thanks black. One can only presume the original post came from a black person.

To their credit the FA have a zero tolerance attitude to racism unlike some countries and crack down heavy on it. At the same time no one can suggest that Cavani is a racist, far from it in fact. This doesn’t feel like racial slurring but more about not being educated in English culture as to phrases which simply cannot be accepted in England anymore. For that it is hard to accuse Cavani, who has only been in the country for a few months, he is adapting and the last thing on his mind would have been this. For foreign footballers making the switch to England it is football, football and language probably in that order.

However it is good that the FA have made an enquiry and Cavani has apologised. He may well not fully understand why, but he has made the right decision. Now it is time for the FA to act accordingly. Normally something of this nature can invoke a two to three game ban. However maybe the FA need to think outside the box for this case.

Wouldn’t it be better if they set up an education type of program for foreign players coming to play in the Premier League? Again this isn’t about accusing anyone of racism and hate but more about educating players in the different culture in which they are now playing. It would be refreshing to see the FA act on this and make it count, rather than to see Cavani handed a 3 game ban, hamper his own team and have no lessons learned for the future.

Challenge the best EPL Fantasy Managers at www.fantasy-premier.com

 

 

 

 

 

Is it the end of the line for Pep Guardiola at Manchester City?

Are Manchester City in decline? Not exactly but there is a sense that the club need to hit that F5 button and refresh and that could mean waving good bye to Pep Guardiola.

Two significant things happened in the summer that seem to have led to the Manchester City that we have now. One was influential midfielder David Silva leaving the club for Real Sociedad. Silva had been with City for 10 years and it seemed that him leaving was a natural step to take in his career. But the gap hasn’t been filled by Silva’s invaluable experience and in some games this season it has looked telling.

The other is that one senses City still have a hangover from their Champions League exit last season. Now had they exited the competition in a normal year this would have taken place back in April. This being the year of the pandemic the quarter finals were played of course only in August. And after knocking out Real Madrid in the previous round it seemed inevitable that City would overcome Lyon to reach the semi-finals. But while the game was very close Lyon did a number on City and Guardiola was outnumbered and out manoeuvred but a Ligue 1 side who failed to even qualify for Europe for this season.

That Lyon loss just seems to have got under the skin of Guardiola, it is just one game, but a defeat in that manner in the Champions League feels like a bug that just cannot be shaken.

Let’s make no mistake Guardiola was brought into City to win the Champions League and countless trophies. But City do not look like a side who are going to win this league in this. Pep’s 5th season. If they don’t then he has won 2 league titles from five. This is a fantastic return for most clubs, but the bar is so high with what Guardiola demands and the money spent on the club in that time period so much that actually a 40% winning return doesn’t seem that impressive in league titles.

To suggest that Guardiola has failed at City if he ends this season without silverware feels like a step too far. One must remember that under Guardiola Manchester City have won 8 trophies, however five of those have been split between the League cup and Community shield. His best season was in 2018/19 when he completed the magical domestic treble of winning the league title, FA Cup and League Cup. That season was also memorable for how City fended off a relentless challenge from Liverpool.

Under Guardiola City have recorded records and played some of the greatest football England has seen. He has created so much in such little time albeit with deep pockets but at the same time you still have to know the right players who are going to come into the side and get the job done.

Guardiola has loved to open the cheque book too and some of his signings have been real gems for the side like Benjamin Mendy, Ederson the goal keeper and Barnardo Silva have done good jobs. But can one say that Riyad Mahrez has shone consistently since his arrival from Leicester? Rodri is a good player but one would expect more of the club record signing.

There has been a tendency at City and it can work for a club with such a budget to, in theory, throw money at the problem but that doesn’t always work, and perhaps we are seeing that this season.

Who could have thought that a team managed by Guardiola would be in 13th place after 8 games. True one could say it is early in the season but over 25% of the season has been played. Also the way Liverpool have rose the bar means that they won’t be dropping many points this season. And unlike last season City have two more rivals that have emerged in Tottenham and Chelsea. When one can think that winning the title for City is beyond them, one could even stretch that idea and wonder if they will finish in a top 4 position?

Presently City do have a game in hand but that would only take the club up to 8th and they would be 5 points behind the leaders. Now that isn’t a big gap and of course there is time to catch up but the problem for City as aforementioned is the new threat of Tottenham and Chelsea together with Liverpool.

At the moment there shouldn’t be alarm bells just yet for City but if they can’t make in roads up the table and put pressure on the top 2 by the Christmas period this could end up being a long hard season for such a fluent and brilliant side.

So failure for Guardiola at City seems to be over-hyping what is happening at the club but whisper it when you consider the money spent, the value of the team estimated to be at £1 billion and the quality one normally associates with Guardiola, his time at City may just be looked at as the manager who under achieved with what he had.

Challenge the best EPL Fantasy Managers at www.fantasy-premier.com

 

Did Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah really dive against West Ham and should he be punished?

The big controversy over the weekend in the Premier League was when Liverpool played West Ham. The Reds came back from a goal down to beat David Moyes side 2-1. But their equaliser came by the way of a penalty, which many media pundits and ex footballers believe should never have been given.

Inside the box Mohamed Salah tries to take hold off the ball but West Ham’s Arthur Masuaku clearly caught the striker on the sole of the foot and Salah went down. In theory this was always going to be straight forward and the referee awarded a penalty. The problem is how Salah went down.

Salah seemed to turn into a 180 degree angle and it looked like he almost threw himself to the ground. Was their contact? Yes, did it warrant a player to go down as Salah did? This is what is questionable.

At the end of the day whilst pundits and the media are saying that there was no penalty to be had- there actually was. Masuaku’s challenge was clumsy, one can’t even point to the fact that he was going for the ball as his foot was nowhere near it, it was a silly challenge and disputing whether it was a penalty or not does not seem correct, 100% in the rules of the game this was a penalty and Masuaku had clearly made an error. But that doesn’t make what happened right.

It doesn’t feel like a natural way to go to the ground and it could have been in Salah’s mind that he knows he has been touched but to make it 100% convincing to the referee he must go down in a ‘Hollywood’ style way. And he did. So yes Liverpool deserved the penalty but maybe Salah as a consequence of how he went to ground deserved a yellow card.

Salah has a history of going to ground quite easily, and it is not a good character strait of his. He is without doubt one of the best forwards in the Premier League and one of the best in Europe. His impact at Liverpool can’t be measured. And of course because of this he is seen as a role model. That is why the more you look at how he went down just feels wrong, Salah is a role model to many kids growing up who will undertake the game and say quite rightly that they were influenced by Salah.

But players do not seem to get cautioned if they have been fouled against- that seems to make sense, but there are cases like Salah where it could be an exception to the rule. As an example everyone remembers when Brazilian star Rivaldo feigned injury in their 2002 World Cup match against Turkey- it’s a long time ago but it is a great example. Rivaldo was technically fouled as the ball was shot on purpose at him. It actually hit him as he was about to take a corner on the arm and partial stomach, and yet Rivaldo touched his face, screaming and went down. A foul suddenly meant a sending off for Turkey because of Rivaldo’s overreaction. It was an anti football moment by such an incredible player.

Salah’s foul in the penalty box just felt the same way. Of course Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has defended the Egyptian and he said that he had marks to prove he was fouled. No one is denying this, because Salah was fouled. It is the reaction afterwards that feels that the game of football has been let down once more.

Challenge the best EPL Fantasy Managers at www.fantasy-premier.com

 

What’s happening to the Premier League after Project Big Picture, the Super League and pay per view?

As far as public relations go it hasn’t been a great month for the English Premier League. From meetings involving only the elite clubs or the so called big six, to a super league and now pay per view TV fans and clubs will rightly be questioning just what is going on with the most popular league in the world?

Project Big Picture was halted in its tracks earlier this month but as most observers have commented it isn’t dead in the water and will most probably resurface with different negotiations. But something else has now surfaced from those initial meetings with the big six clubs which is that the other 14 Premier League clubs were not notified of the first meeting. Simply being kept in the dark, which is odd in that in this day and age that is a hard thing to do, and so it proved. There is also a feeling of us and them and that cannot be good for the league even if it is good for the big six.

And who are the big six? Liverpool historically are and certainly in the last 18 months have reinforced that fact by winning .the Champions League and the league title, but it took them 30 years to win the latter. Manchester City would have been laughed out of the big six room 8 years ago, but wealth has landed them a meeting, and true they have won plenty of league titles now to be included. Chelsea’s strengths seem more fitted to the 2000s than the past decade and indeed in the present day but there are enough kids donning their shirts and the club still has the power to buy some of Europe’s best players.

Manchester United are with Liverpool the biggest club in England, so it feels like a no brainer to include them, but they have also been a shadow of their great sides for the past seven years. And then we have the curious cases of both Arsenal and Tottenham. History is putting them in that room because Arsenal have not won a league title for 16 years and next year Tottenham will be celebrating 50 years without a league title. Whilst a club like Everton for example may not be in favour wouldn’t the Merseyside team have a good shout of being in the room compared to Tottenham?

There is also talk of a European Super League. Money is king in football and the clubs taking part will become mega rich, winners of the competition could walk away with over £100m. In essence a super league would feel like the present day Champions League except there is one sticking point, there will be no relegation or promotion. Whilst one could expect the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona to participate,what value do the other teams have, except for being really good in this present time to qualify?

With no promotion though it means that teams in Europe who do not make the elite cut will always feel second rate and will always end up with second rate players. There will be no hope although domestic leagues could become more competitive as teams out of the top 5 would strive to upset the ‘balance of the elite’. Also going back to England, they have initially been quoted 5 clubs for the Super League. So which big six club misses out? Questions questions. A Super League wouldn’t mean the end of the Champions League though but a re branding where the top teams simply would not take part. But UEFA will be frustrated and sadden if this goes ahead, as they will lose sponsor power and an undermining of their elite competition- but how can they react?

There is an agreement in place until the 2024 edition of the Champions League so one would think that a Super League couldn’t start until 2025, but this is football and anything can happen.

Finally the pay per view nonsense has to stop, and this isn’t in favour of the fans. In England Sky and BT have never shown every Premier League game live and the PPV is only about showing those extra games that wouldn’t normally be shown live to fans for an extra fee. There seems little wrong with it, although the price does seem unfair. At £14.95 per game that seems quite steep to just watch one match on television. One hopes that the price will be lowered but die hard fans are not helping that fact given that PPV viewing figures are showing that 40,000 are watching each game- so for the clubs this is a huge success. The aim was always to have roughly the same viewing figures as the attendance in grounds.

A future worry for PPV would be if clubs get greedy with television and decide that the biggest games will no longer be free. After already paying a subscription to a service this would feel like a hard slap in the face. Could we for example have a PPV situation where Manchester City and Liverpool are playing each other in a title crunch game?

Given that even the Champions League final isn’t shown on terrestrial TV anymore nothing can be ruled out of a game which has sadly turned to opportunism and greed bang in the middle of a pandemic.

Challenge the best EPL Fantasy Managers at www.fantasy-premier.com

Are Liverpool right to be angry with Jordan Pickford and Richarlison after fiery Everton clash?

Liverpool were furious after their derby clash with Everton at the weekend as the Toffeemen seemed to dish it out on Liverpool’s players as the two teams drew 2-2. But should Liverpool hold resentment for what happened and are they justified? If so should Everton be reprimanded and face any FA action?

It all started when a high ball was contested by Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk who had come surging forward looking for the loose ball. Pickford went into van Dijk who went down in pain and tried to continue but couldn’t. There were screams for a penalty since the incident happened in the area but that was rendered obsolete given that van Dijk had been offside. But should Pickford have been punished for his challenge?

Though thoughtless and controversial Pickford was looking up at the high ball and not at Van Dijk and that is why despite the outcome it would have been harsh to have sent off Pickford which would have been the initial reaction- but the officials decided to do nothing and again that feels wrong. There didn’t seem to be any intent but to have let off Pickford completely didn’t make any sense. The player should have been booked and talked too. After all it was a reckless challenge. Even after the game the FA did want to review the incident but couldn’t because their own rules state that if the referee didn’t bring it up during the game then there is nothing that can be done.

Sadly for Van Dijk he has damaged his knee and cruciate ligaments and could miss the rest of the season which would be a huge blow to Liverpool. Though the best case scenario is that the player could be back as early as February. Still what  a miss for the champions.

Whilst the Pickford incident grabbed all of the headlines perhaps it should have been Richarlison’s tackle on Liverpool’s new signing Thiago Alcantara later in the game that did. It was a badly mistimed moment from the Brazilian which saw his studs slam straight into Thiago’s shin and could have meant the end of the ex Bayern Munich players season. It was that bad. Gladly justice was served on this occasion and Richarlison was shown a straight red card, he will miss the next 3 games which will be a blow for Everton and he has let his team mates down.

The good news for Thiago is that he has escaped serious injury, and officially has a knock and will be assessed for the clubs up coming games, for him he somehow escaped serious injury.

But the fall out of what has happened looks like it will linger for much of the season. Whilst both clubs do have a rivalry it seems to be much more intense this season given how well Everton have started the season, and after this game they remain top of the league. It also seems that the blue half of Merseyside are not exactly happy that Liverpool are finally champions after having to wait 30 years and herein lies Everton’s response; to start this season as well as they can, and it certainly is the clubs best start to a season in a generation.

There is a determination for the club to make an impact and they are fed up of being in Liverpool’s shadow and seeing the red half of the city not only win the league but also last year’s Champions League. Enough is enough, and we saw that Everton are trying their best to compete with Liverpool on the field. How many times for example would we have seen the club crumble when going a goal behind and so early on against their neighbours? And Everton came back twice to do that.

The downside to Everton though is their aggression. Of course derby games have always had that added spice and passion but there is also a line that shouldn’t be broken. No players should be missing of the season because adrenalin is running high and because of that Liverpool do have a point in being angry with Everton and the fires do seem to have been stoked.

Liverpool will not remain quiet about what has happened at the weekend and that is fair enough. But football isn’t just a physical game but a psychological one and the Reds wil keep up their fury until the teams meet again later in the season. By going all out that they were the victims in the first game they may end up getting the sympathy vote in the second if Everton step out of line.

As it stands Everton got away it when you also include that Liverpool appeared to have scored a winning goal and yet it was ruled offside. That just rubbed the salt into Liverpool’s wounds some more.

Roll on when the clubs meet again, it should be very interesting indeed.

Challenge the best EPL Fantasy Managers at www.fantasy-premier.com

 

Chelsea back on track but is star striker Timo Werner struggling?

After Chelsea destroyed a very good Crystal Palace side 4-0 the Blues look back to form and focused after a shaky start. The victory has put Chelsea into 7th place and they are now just two points behind the top four. It was a game that means the club have gone unbeaten for the last two.

The 4-0 score line was obviously one sided and Chelsea deserved their win but without looking at the scorers list you could have been forgiven that at least one of the goals had come from star striker Timo Werner, but sadly that wasn’t the case. One has to bring up the question is Germany’s number 1 choice struggling in the Premier League?

True it is very early days and some strikers do take time to adapt. Chelsea have brought in so many different faces that as a team the club are expected to take time to gel together, but football is a business and sport that doesn’t allow too much time. The league is a month old and Werner has hardly made an impact.

Werner has scored in the Carabao Cup but in the Premier League he is yet to register a goal. Is that cause for concern? Many would say no, but the player himself just like any other striker will be worried that he hasn’t got that first goal. Strikers live for goals and it is what gives them confidence to get more and play better.No Chelsea fan wants to be reminded of the likes of two great strikers who failed at the club in Andriy Shevchenko and Fernando Torres. And that is the key here just because you are a world class striker doesn’t mean every club and every league can fit into your game.

Werner has 1 assist for a goal in the four games that he has played and most damning could be if you have the German in your fantasy team as he has zero points so far.

The critics have been kind and Werner has received no negatives despite going a month without a goal in the league. This is because he is a new signing and he will be allowed time. But if we are in November and he still hasn’t registered the pressure will start to build. At the same time Werner has proven in the last few years that he is a top striker and the betting would be that he will end up having a successful season with Chelsea.

For now the money spent on the player has not been justified and manager Frank Lampard may have to switch his system which has seen Werner play a slightly deeper role to a more advanced one if he wants to see the goals. Only time will tell.

Challenge the best EPL Fantasy Managers at www.fantasy-premier.com