Rodri has potential, but could be Man City’s Fabinho

Having spent somewhere close to £1 billion on new players in the past decade, this summer has been somewhat quiet for Manchester City. They have, by and large, left the transfer market bluster to others around them. They did, however, break their club transfer record to sign Rodri from Atletico Madrid.

The Spanish international looked like the perfect fit for Pep Guardiola’s style. He is good on the ball, possesses excellent positional awareness and a sharp footballing brain. Indeed, Rodri is a footballer built in the mould of the Catalan coach. It wasn’t a surprise that Guardiola was interested in him.

The 23-year-old made his competitive debut in the Community Shield win over Liverpool on Sunday. There were moments that hinted at the potential of the former Atleti midfielder, but he was also caught on the ball a few times. For all that Rodri’s brilliance cannot be doubted, it might take him a while to get used to his new surroundings.

He could find himself in a similar situation to that of Fabinho last season. He too was a big money summer signing designed to slot into Liverpool’s central midfield. However, the Brazilian was kept out of the starting lineup by Jurgen Klopp for a number of weeks as he adjusted to his new team. Rodri might experience the same thing.

“I think he has lots of talented players but maybe one of the things the team can get is more physical,” Rodri explained in an interview during Man City’s pre-season tour of Asia. “We have lots of players that are great or small and you never know if it’s good or bad, but having a mix of players is always good.

“Football is changing now. It’s getting more physical. It’s good for me to have that physique in the position I play. I noticed years ago that I had to become both a defensive and an attacking player if I wanted to be good enough to be in Manchester.”

The physicality is just one aspect Rodri will need to adapt to. He seemed somewhat surprised by the high pressing game of Liverpool in the Community Shield, losing the ball more than a couple times as a result. Man City face this on a near weekly basis in the Premier League and so Rodri will need to get better in this sense as well.

Fabinho ultimately played a crucial role in what was an historic season for Liverpool. Rodri has been bought with one eye on the long term future. He is seen as the natural successor to Fernandinho, but it might be a while before he fully embraces that role.

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Fabinho the key for Liverpool in the Champions League Final


Of the numerous impressive individual performers across this past season for Liverpool, Fabinho fell under the radar somewhat. The Brazilian earned credit but not to the extent some of his teammates received.

Yet, by the end of the campaign, Fabinho was as important a player as any in the starting line up. Alisson, Virgil van Dijk, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andy Robertson, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane are the types of players that shone brightly. Fabinho was as important as them but did it in the quiet, efficient manner that separates the best defensive midfielders from the rest. And when Liverpool take on Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League Final in Madrid on Sunday, it is Fabinho who will play a pivotal role. Continue reading

Barcelona victory proves Klopp status among football’s best

 Jurgen Klopp Liverpool

Basking in the glory of the win over Barcelona, it’s fair to say Jurgen Klopp’s standing has been higher. Victory over Messi and co confirmed the Liverpool manager’s status as one of the best in world football.

Look around Europe’s top five leagues, and there is an argument there is nobody better than he. Pep Guardiola is the obvious rival, He continues to shine with Manchester City and is one of the greatest coaches of his generation. Yet, his team are only one point ahead of Liverpool in the Premier League. They lagged far behind them in the Champions League. Klopp has matched and outperformed Guardiola at times this season. The win over Barcelona was another example of the world-class coach he is. Continue reading

Five summer signings who are yet to adjust to the Premier League

Fabinho Liverpool

Premier League clubs spent £1.2bn during a busy summer transfer window before the start of the 2018-19 season.

Chelsea were among the big spenders, splashing out £71m on Kepa Arrizabalaga from Athletic Bilbao and £57m on Jorginho from Napoli, while Manchester City paid £60m to Leicester for Riyad Mahrez.

Liverpool were also busy, spending £55.8m on Alisson, £50m on Naby Keita and £39m on Fabinho.

Continue reading

Why the Premier League could possibly go to Liverpool or Chelsea

Last Sunday’s display from Chelsea and Liverpool could be christened as the best game so far this season. Both teams exhibited creativity in attack and resilience at the back. The season is still young, but on the evidence of what we witnessed could any of these two beat City to the league title this season?

Liverpool probably made the best recruits in the English Premier league this summer, bolstering their midfield with Naby Keita and Fabinho and another creative option in Xherdan Shaqiri. The Merseysiders have a world class goalkeeper in Allison Becker, who continue to provide great reflexes in the post. Liverpool have enough quality to compete against anyone for the league title this season and they’ve shown that in their last seven league games.

We saw how they conquered Tottenham Hotspurs at Wembley. It wasn’t just about the results, but the football on display has been mesmerizing. And talk of performance their 3-2 victory over Paris Saint Germain was a testament of their mental fortitude.

Not only have Jurgen Klopp reinvigorated the side that lost to Real Madrid in the Champions League finals last season, there seems to be an oomph about them this season. Established players James Milner, Georginio Wijnaldum, Roberto Firmino, and Jordan Henderson et al are playing at a level a notch higher that we saw in the previous campaign.

This season Mohammed Salah is not showing the same sophistication with opportunities that have come his way. The Egyptian has scored three goals from a total of 20 shots on target. But Sadio Mane seems to have taken much of the responsibility when it comes to goals. So far adorning the number 10 jersey has yielded four, with Roberto Firmino on two.

James Milner has proven that he still cut it for the premier league with his tireless work in midfield, but Gini Widnaldum is currently Liverpool’s most improved player so far this season. The Netherlands international is playing with a lot confidence, hardly giving the ball away. And guess what, he doesn’t look flustered by the presence of Naby Keita on the bench.

The decision to bring Daniel Sturridge back from loan has proven to be an astute one. In the absence of Roberto Firmino, Sturridge can step up and play an important part in Liverpool’s campaign this season as we’ve seen him score vital goals against PSG in the Champions League and Chelsea in the league.

One significant decision by Kloop, is the center back partnership between Van Dyke and Gomes. The pair have started all seven of Liverpool league games and have conceded just three so far. They share the tag of the best defense with the league leaders, Manchester City.


The great thing about Chelsea this season is the arrival of Mauricio Sarri. His style of play is one that Eden Hazard thrives in, and the Belgian is currently in red hot form as he is beginning to replicate his 2015 performance that won him the PFA player of the year. Also, Hazard is buoyed up his inclusion in the FIFPro World Eleven. The Chelsea forward had a great World Cup tournament with his country, winning the bronze medal.

Chelsea meanwhile occasionally telegraphs fear at the back as Antonio Rudiger and David Luis sometimes struggle against quicker attackers. But in midfield enforcer Jorginho, Matteo Kovacic and Ngolo Kante, Chelsea should be able to dominate and control games. There are still concerns about how Sarri is using a Kante’ in midfield. Despite the French man’s reputation as being destructive, the Italian manager prefers a ball playing holding midfielder in Jorginho who currently top the charts for the number of passes in the league and the most in a game.

Willian and Pedro are great attacking outlets for Chelsea. The Spanish forward has found the net three times while the Brazilian ability to carve open compact defense is proving crucial for Chelsea in when in search of a goal. Chelsea do not boost a striker with the quality of Sergio Aguero as both Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud are not quite reliable. Sarri may require a proven goal scorer in the January transfer window.

Manchester City are favorite based on their performance last season and Pep Guadiola’s reputation for winning back to back league titles, but the Citizens look beatable this season and it’s hard to envisage them go on a winning run as we saw last season. It will take a Miracle for Manchester United to win the league this season as tensions between Mourinho and Pogba is beginning to have a debilitating effect on the other players. The red devils will probably be fighting a Champions League spot.

Meanwhile Arsenal seems to have turned the corner after their earlier struggles, but despite winning their last four games are not convincing given the defensive vulnerabilities and how wasteful they can be in th attack. Tottenham Hotspur will be hoping to maintain fourth spot by the end of the season.

As it stands Chelsea and Liverpool look set to deny Manchester city a second straight league cup.

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James Milner providing Jurgen Klopp with welcome headache

James Milner

James Milner is not usually a player who creates headaches for his manager. This season, though, that has changed. His early season form has provided a big problem for Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp.

After the Reds impressive summer spending spree, Milner would have accepted he was set for a peripheral role this season.

Naby Keita had finally arrived from RB Leipzig and in the process taken one of the central midfield spots. Quick, intelligent and capable in both boxes, Keita is the epitome of the midfielder that Klopp wants in his midfield. His start to life in the Premier League shows why Liverpool were so smart to wait.  Continue reading

Monaco aim to remain competitive in Ligue 1 after another summer of selling

Leonardo Jardim and his talented group of players achieved something remarkable in 2016-17 as they bested Unai Emery’s PSG side for the league title.
That squad couldn’t stay intact for long as major European clubs bought most of the key players in the following summer. It left Jardim with a huge restructuring job ahead of the 17-18 season, but Monaco made a stunning €289 million profit in the transfer window. Continue reading

Salah extension shows Liverpool mean business

Screen Shot 2018-07-02 at 21.44.48

Liverpool have already returned for pre-season training, and there was some good news to come out of Melwood on the first day back.

Far and away their player of last season, Mo Salah announced that he’d penned a new long-term deal, bringing to an end rumours which had linked him with Real Madrid, Barcelona and others.

There was a time, not so long ago, when Liverpool were still something of a laughing stock. Not anymore. Continue reading

Top Ligue 1 Defenders in 2017/18 – Fabinho (Monaco)


Monaco may not have ended up retaining their Ligue 1 title this season, finishing 2nd behind new champions Paris Saint-Germain on the back of a disappointing 13 point deficit. They have, however, qualified for next season’s Champions League after finished two points clear of third place Lyon and three ahead of Marseille. One of the highlights of Monaco’s season has been the continued performance levels of one Fabinho. Fabinho, full name Fabio Tavares (not to be confused with the Rochdale U18 striker of the same name) capped off a great season by sealing a move to the Premier League, where he will join new club Liverpool in July.

Continue reading

Five surprising goalscorers to start the new season across Europe

Uc Sampdoria vs Atalanta Bergamasca Calci

Alexandre Lacazette, Edinson Cavani, Robert Lewandowski, Diego Costa, Antoine Griezmann, and Carlos Bacca scoring a combined 29 goals so far in the 2016-2017 season shouldn’t come as a surprise.

But in the first month of the season, five players have been on fire in a surprising manner, hitting the net more than expected. Let’s see who they are!

Franck Kessie (Atalanta) – 4 goals

Serie A fans were pretty excited about the arrival of Franck Kessie in the Italian top flight. After just four games, the 19-year-old Ivory Coast midfielder has already proven his (super) talent. Kessie scored two goals in his Serie A debut for Atalanta and has already hit the net four times this season (and once in the Coppa Italia). Perfect start, definitely for a new kid on the block who mainly plays as a defensive midfielder.

Joel Pohjanpalo (Bayer Leverkusen) – 4 goals

It’s been a crazy season for 22-year-old Joel Pohjanpalo. The Finland international rejoined Leverkusen this summer after a loan spell at Dusseldorf. He’s received just 30 minutes in two Bundesliga appearances, but scored four goals in games against Borussia Monchengladbach and Hamburg. Pohjanpalo hit a hattrick for Leverkusen against Hamburg, including two goals in extra time to secure a 3-1 win.

Etienne Capoue (Watford) – 4 goals

In 2013 Etienne Capoue joined Tottenham from Toulouse for €11 million. However, the central midfielder was unable to live up to the high expectations at White Heart Lane. Last season, the 28-year-old scored zero goals in 33 appearances for Watford but during the new campaign Capoue has already hit the net four times. Among those are goals against Chelsea and Manchester United.

Fabinho (Monaco) – 3 goals

Monaco have launched a serious challenge at Paris Saint-Germain this Ligue 1 season. They have assembled a talented team, among them Fabinho, for who Monaco paid just €6 million to Rio Ave in 2015. The defensive midfielder has scored three goals in four league games this season, including two against Lille and PSG. The Brazilian 22-year-old also hit the net twice in the Champions League qualifiers against Villarreal.

Leroy Fer (Swansea) – 3 goals

Swansea needed just 11 appearances from Leroy Fer last season in order to decide to make his loan spell for QPR permanent last summer. The Dutch midfielder has a history for scoring a couple of goals every season, but nobody expected the 26-year-old to score three goals in his first five appearances this season. Including one on the road against Leicester and one at home in an encounter with Chelsea.

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