Juventus: Miralem Pjanic (thigh) and Gonzalo Higuain (head) were ruled out. while Rodrigo Bentancur, who hurt his ribs, is good to go. Douglas Costa has resumed practicing fully and might return to the squad either here or on Sunday, while Aaron Ramsey is still limited, but he is the squad list.
Juventus: Danilo is the only injured player returning, while Aaron Ramsey, Mattia De Sciglio and Douglas Costa need more time, even though the first two have resumed practicing fully.
Inter: Alexis Sanchez underwent surgery to repair some torn peroneal tendons in the left ankle and will miss up to three months. Danilo D’Ambrosio fractured a toe while with Italy and should be out for four weeks. Continue reading
Lazio-Atalanta: the formula for the Biancocelesti never really changes, as Ciro Immobile is going like gangbusters this year, while Luis Alberto has been their second-best player, especially thanks to his playmaking, as he has already provided five assists. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Joaquin Correa have both broken the ice, but they have yet to turn into consistent scorers. The ancillary contributors like Manuel Lazzari and Adam Marusic have been stuck in a timeshare, while Senad Lulic’s fantasy appeal is limited.
The Goddess lost Duvan Zapata for some time due to a muscular injury, so it now will have to be Luis Muriel’s time to shine as the primary go-to-guy. He has scored three times in five appearances despite the irregular playing time and, despite the different skillset, they might not take a big hit there. Continue reading
Atalanta: Luis Muriel returned in Champions League from his tonsillitis and thus they have no injuries to worry about.
Bologna: Roberto Soriano is suspended, while Mitchell Dijks is trying to come back from a ribs contusion, but he has yet to resume practicing fully.
Cagliari: Charalampos Lykogiannis is dealing with some Achilles soreness, while Ragnar Klavan has some thigh muscle fatigue. They are iffy for the weekend. Christian Oliva and Simone Pinna are under the weather. Among these, only Oliva has been able to recover enough to be called up. Continue reading
Samir Handanovic: Inter have given up just one goal so far and he has been a fabulous final bulwark, pulling off amazing saves as per usual. They will square off against Sampdoria on Saturday, which have managed to score only three times so far.
Takehiro Tomiyasu: Bologna will travel to Udine in this round and, while a road game is inherently tricky, the Bianconeri have been unable to find the target in the past three matches and have done it just two times so far, which is the worst clip in the League. They will not get Rodrigo De Paul back either, so it could make sense to pick from the Felsinei back-line and the Japanese fullback has the most upside. Continue reading
Brescia-Juventus: two questions loom large on the game, one for each side. Mario Balotelli is eligible to return after the suspension, but his conditioning might be a problem after skipping the summer preparation, so he might be initially be kept on the bench. Cristiano Ronaldo has been ruled out due to muscle fatigue and it is new situation under Maurizio Sarri; they also do not have Douglas Costa, so they lack a pure left-wing player. Federico Bernardeschi could certainly be adapted there, but he has struggled so far, so the coach might try new solutions, like for instance fielding Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain together. Whoever ends up starting up front will have to shoulder a bigger load sans Ronaldo. Continue reading
Juventus-Verona: the Old Lady had a subpar performance in Florence but obviously will be in a much better spot this week at home against a relegation struggler. Cristiano Ronaldo usually does not go scoreless for long and Gonzalo Higuain is not a bad pick either, as for now the coach has refrained from using Paulo Dybala there. Douglas Costa, who was their go-to-guy so far, will miss time, so Federico Bernardeschi and Juan Cuadrado will return to prominence. Until the coach entrusts one of the newcomers, Aaron Ramsey in particular, Sami Khedira remains the most appealing midfielder for his offensive dexterity. Their defenders are surely worth consideration. Continue reading
With the title race continuing to hot up, this weekend’s Premier League action saw contenders Liverpool going toe-to-toe with rivals Manchester United, while champions Manchester City took the weekend off from league action to battle Chelsea in Sunday’s Carabao Cup Final. At the lower end of the table, Newcastle hosted Huddersfield in what could be described as a relegation six-pointer. With that said, let us take a look at which players performed the best for their clubs over the past few days.
For most strikers, failing to score in three consecutive games wouldn’t be a cause for concern. For £56 million Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, however, it had a visible effect on his confidence.
In Arsenal’s first three Premier League games of the season — the defeats to Chelsea and Manchester City and win against 17th-placed West Ham United — he looked isolated, with his involvement limited. For the most part, he couldn’t be blamed for his lack of active contribution, though, with the new managed Unai Emery then figuring his best formation and lineup out. Continue reading
Many believed that Arsenal had got the better of the deal. That Manchester United, in their desperation to get one over rivals Manchester City by signing Alexis Sanchez, failed to take stock of what they were actually agreeing. Some thought Arsenal had actually pulled one out of the bag.
While Sanchez headed to Old Trafford, Henrikh Mkhitaryan made the switch in the opposition direction to Arsenal. Given that Sanchez was in the final six months of his contract, set to leave for nothing at all in the summer, it didn’t look to be the worst of deals for the Gunners. They might not have got a fee, but Mkhitaryan was deemed to be worth around £30 million on the open market.
Jose Mourinho was glad to see the back of the Armenian. Signed in the summer of 2016, the former Borussia Dortmund playmaker had been a disappointment at Old Trafford. There had been glimpses of his brilliance, most notably in Man Utd’s 2016/17 Europa League run, but Mkhitaryan never quite blossomed into the maestro so many thought he would be.
But it wasn’t just Mkhitaryan’s on-field performances that irked Mourinho. The Portuguese was unconvinced by his mentality, particularly on the big occasion. Arsenal believed that they could address this, that they could spark a renaissance in their new signing, returning him to the sort of level he frequently reached in Germany.
So far, though, the Gunners have been wrong in this assumption. Mkhitaryan, picking up where he left off for United, was impressive for Arsenal in the Europa League last season, but has generally failed to make his mark on a team that is in desperate need of leadership and direction.
Against both Manchester City and Chelsea, Mkhitaryan was largely missing in action. Arsenal needed players that would impose themselves on the opposition, but the Armenian was extremely passive. Even against West Ham last weekend, when the absence of Mesut Ozil opened up more space for Mkhitaryan, he struggled.
Quite simply, Arsenal need more from their January acquisition. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, another player signed in the mid-season window, has settled in quickly at the Emirates Stadium, even if he has drawn a blank over his first three appearances of the new season. He showed enough in the second half of last season to suggest he will come good again.
But his partner in crime, the player who did so much to provide him with the right service earlier in his career at Dortmund, has still to reach the same heights. What’s worrying for the Gunners is that Mkhitaryan is showing many of the same traits he demonstrated in his short time at Man Utd. So was Mourinho right about him all along? At a difficult time for the Portuguese, can he at least claim to some foresight on that one?
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