Was Andrew Robertson more deserving of the PFA award than van Dijk?

Andrew-Robertson-844002(1)

Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk won the PFA award a few days ago and not many people involved in the game and fans could really disagree with that result. Given that the award is voted by professional players it simply added even more weight to the fact and in the process van Dijk has become the first defender in the Premier League to win the award since Chelsea’s John Terry back in 2005.

Still some were surprised that the award was not given to Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling instead who has grown from a very good player to a World class one. He got bizarrely in the end the Young player of the year, which given he is 24 just seemed odd, and he has been around of course for many years. It felt like a sympathy vote in the second thought- but alas that argument is for another day.

Another argument that we can put to one side is why would an award celebrating the best players of the season be handed out before the season has ended? van Dijk no matter how good he has been may end the season empty handed. An argument could be that the next 2 games will not yield a different and superior player but these voting cards were given out in mid March with still 10 games left to play. Thus a player should not be judged on 75% of the season- again an argument for another day.

But something that should not be overlooked is the fact that van Dijk’s team mate Andrew Robertson was. Robertson has been superb this season and was last season too for the Reds. It is interesting why he was overlooked given how solid he has been and given that fellow ex professionals rank him so highly. Phil Neville once said that Robertson was the best left back in the world. Maybe that was a stretch, but he has arguably been the best defender in the Premier League for this season.

Robertson has had a personally brilliant season and that is reflected also in the Premier League fantasy rankings. In the defenders Robertson is currently in 1st position with 114 points and is beating van Dijk by 3 points. While both players have been rocks in defence it also worth noting that Robertson has yet to score a goal- van Dijk has 3, but at the same time Robertson is not employed to score goals. However he has incredibly assisted 11 times this season to van Dijk’s 2.

One could be cynical and say that van Dijk got the awards nod because of the huge transfer fee involved when Liverpool bought him from Southampton for £75m in January, 2018. That fee attracted instant pressure on both the player to perform and manager Jurgen Klopp- had he for example taken a gamble? In contrast Robertson joined the Reds for under £10m.

Big performances from big fee players have always attracted positivity just like they do in the negative sense when it all goes wrong, and let’s be fair van Dijk has been superb in the Premier League this season. It is also hard to argue with professional footballer players whether a certain player deserves the award or not.

Let’s just say that Robertson was unlucky this season, perhaps in the future he will get even more credit if his performances remain the way they have been.

6 classic Chelsea vs Liverpool matches since 2000

Ahead of Chelsea’s trip to Liverpool this weekend, we recall six classic clashes between the two clubs since the turn of the millennium.

Chelsea 2-1 Liverpool, Premier League (2003)

This seemed like a hugely important game at the time, but only in hindsight has it become clear just how crucial it was for Chelsea. The two sides were level on points heading into the final day of the season, but the Blues’ superior goal difference meant Liverpool needed to win at Stamford Bridge to clinch the final Champions League qualification spot at their opponents’ expense.

Continue reading

Aaron Wan-Bissaka should be Manchester United’s main transfer target in the summer

AWB

Majority of Manchester United supporters will feel that their voices where heard when they wanted Jose Mourinho to be urgently sacked in the middle of December. However, due to lack of activity in the previous summer window and the lack of quality players in the squad as a whole, the next demand will be a convincing transfer spree that will help the side to challenge in all competitions.

If Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is to become the permanent manager of the football club, the board and Ed Woodward cannot set him up to fail, which can only be prevented if they work on bringing in a director of football, providing a good amount of money to spend and also not targeting any marquee players that are not required at the moment.

Focusing more onto the types of players the club should target. Crystal Palace’s Aaron Wan-Bissaka has to be one individuals the team should be going all out for in the summer, someone who has really stamped his marker on the top-tier of English football so far this term. Given that he will be wanted man in the summer, a figure between £35million and £45million may be just enough to sign him up for in the current market.

The 21-year-old is currently playing in his first full season in the Premier League, yet his bright and consistent performances makes it feel like he has been playing for quite some time. Defensively composed, intelligent movement on and off the ball whilst having the stamina to run constantly up and down the pitch, he certainly has the much needed assets to become United’s star player at right-back for the next five ten years.

With Antonio Valencia not receiving a contract extension by the club and Matteo Darmian expected to leave in the summer window, it would leave Diogo Dalot as the only natural right-back left remaining within the dressing room. Even then, the Portuguese international is not ready to play on a regular basis, and his recent performances may see him as a perfect wing-back or arguably as a direct winger.

If that is the case, it makes more than sense for Manchester United to splash the cash on someone who has been regarded as one of the best upcoming right-backs in the Premier League and in Europe. He may not be as complete of a full-back like Benjamin Mendy or Jordi Alba, but he is still in his early days of his professional career and will only improve, whilst being a major upgrade on the options the club currently has.

It is no secret that United’s defence is still lacking some actual quality and energy to challenge for the league title on all fronts, whether that is obviously through the middle or out wide. To be brutally honest, Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young have been playing as the side’s main full-backs for the last couple of years, but it is time for a change and a turnaround, where the club utilises the players in their favourite position.

Spending his early days within the Crystal Palace academy as a winger, there should be no doubts at all about Wan-Bissaka’s ability to create a new dimension in the side’s attack as well as his capability to dribble and cross consistently. When you look at the role that Jordi Alba respectfully plays in Barcelona’s attacks and Andrew Roberston plays in Liverpool’s rapid counter-attacks, the same could be expected from himself.

Manchester City: Planning already well underway for next season

manchester-city-v-sunderland-premier-league_a2bac0ca-61fa-11e6-93fe-9ac2f090b545(1)

Manchester City returned to the top of the Premier League after Pep Guardiola’s side dominated possession against Bournemouth in a 1-0 victory on Saturday while Liverpool failed to beat Everton in the Merseyside Derby on Sunday afternoon.

The table makes good reading for City fans with the club now one point ahead of their title challengers, Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool, who have spent most of the campaign top while the Citizens have an easier run in compared to their counterparts. Continue reading

Manchester City rampant as they climb above Liverpool

Sergio aguero

The difference in class between Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City and Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea was clear on Sunday afternoon. Irresistible in the first half, City’s five shots at Kepa Arrizabalaga’s goal resulted in four of them hitting the back of the net after just 25 minutes.

Raheem Sterling had the hosts a goal up inside after just three minutes with an emphatic finish at the far post and while Sarri called for concentration after conceding so early, it should have been two just seconds later, only for Sergio Aguero to miss seconds later from a yard. Continue reading

Manchester City can forget the title if they lose to Arsenal

Bernardo-on-kdb

Defeat at Newcastle United on Tuesday night has put Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola in an unpleasant situation. Their fourth defeat of the season, the Citizens find themselves five points behind their title rivals after Liverpool’s draw with Leicester City. A defeat against Arsenal on Sunday afternoon could well put a huge dent in their title aspirations with Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool looking much more consistent. Continue reading

Manchester City can’t afford to be complacent against Wolves

Manchester City v FC Barcelona - UEFA Champions League Group Stage - Group C

With nine dropped points in December, Pep Guardiola will be eager to keep the pressure on Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool when his Manchester City welcome Wolves to the Etihad Stadium on Monday night.

Being labelled as giant killers, the visitors have recently beaten Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool and so Guardiola will warn his team against complacency, despite coming into this fixture on the back of a morale boosting wins against Rotherham (7-0) and Burton Albion (9-0) in the FA Cup and Carabao Cup semi-final. Continue reading

Bernardo Silva: His importance to Manchester City

Bernardo Silva

Manchester City’s Portuguese magician Bernardo Silva put in a performance of a lifetime against Liverpool to keep their Premier League title hopes alive on Thursday night, just months after he was almost shipped out after struggling during his first season in Manchester. Continue reading

Manchester City gear up for busy Christmas period

Pep Guardiola is expected to make changes ahead of Manchester City’s Premier League clash against Bournemouth on Saturday afternoon as the reigning champions enter their Christmas period which includes nine games in December alone.

Gabriel Jesus, Ilkay Gundogan and Bernardo Silva all face a race against time to be declared fit and will undergo a late fitness test while Kevin de Bruyne remains on the sidelines with a knee injury he picked up in early November, with Manchester City’s match against Bournemouth coming too soon for the Belgian. Continue reading

Is Jose Mourinho on a losing battle with Manchester United’s stars?

Jose-Mourinho-Glum-848938 (1)

Manchester United somehow and finally qualified for the knock out stages of the Champions League as a last minute goal from Marouane Fellaini was enough to see out Young Boys a team that at Old Trafford United were expected to score 3 or more goals against and ease into a victory.

Instead and yet again United underwhelmed and yet a victory is a victory and Mourinho punched the air with delight. He didn’t mind a 1-0 win, but there has to be serious doubts over this United team. One does get the feeling that Mourinho is trying to mould this side into the great Inter Milan team that he coached for 3 seasons. A dogs of war side that won 3 Serie A titles in a row and a famous Champions League title, their first for 45 years. The problem is that there was a major difference between that team and this United one, which was the players believed in Mourinho’s project and had thick skin.

Thick skin has been quite the subject this week too as Luke Shaw who Mourinho wants to be his lieutenant in the side just like Javier Zanetti was all those years ago at Inter said in a recent interview that you need thick skin to be in this side. He is absolutely right because Mourinho unlike most coaches will publicly criticise you if you don’t perform- Shaw included. His methods seem alien in a footballing world where the megastar player has been pampered too. Are Mourinho’s methods right? One could believe there is no definite answer, except they are his way of approaching things and he isn’t going to change now after all of the trophies he has won.

Romelu Lukakau the striker who has faded this season has stuck up for Mourinho lately, suggesting that players need to man up, and Mourinho himself has said that if some players are nervous they should just watch United’s games on the TV.

But Mourinho isn’t blameless in United’s start to the season, which forgetting the odd very good result, not losing to Chelsea away from home and victory over Juventus in Turin and has not been a good start to the new football campaign. After all he was the one that bought Paul Pogba, a player he is clearly at odds with and can’t seem to work with him. The other is Alexis Sanchez, an outrageously talented footballer who now plays like a journeyman under Mourinho he plays one week and not the next tactics.

Manchester United have not been the club we know since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013 and it does feel that whatever Mourinho will try with this club just won’t stick. Of course he has won the Europa League and League Cup with them, so is by far the most successful coach at the club since Ferguson left. But that is going on for 2 seasons ago now.

United have zero chance to win the Premier League this season and the big one for them now is the Champions League. It is where the teams concentration and priority will be focused on. After all if they can beat the tournament favourites Juventus away, then why not? For now United are not a club worth watching, which is the saddest aspect of Mourinho’s time here.