How Andrea Radrizzani brought a new era to Leeds United

In May of this year Andrea Radrizzani was celebrating being in charge of Leeds United for 3 years, and what a time it has been for the club and the Italian owner.

There have been highs and lows but compared to the past 14 years that preceded him coming in the last 36 months have mostly been bliss for the club and the fans. Winning the Championship and gaining promotion back to the Premier League, the first time in 16 years is obviously the highlight, but after a few possible naive mistakes all the cards are starting to fit for Radrizzani and the club.

Those mistakes were infuriating the fans when the club sold Ronaldo Vieira who looked like the most promising player that the club had on their books for some time. Then there was the controversial change of badge. Not many owners can mess with a clubs traditional badge and get away with it. And his plan fell short when over 77,000 fans signed a petition that they were less than impressed.

But compared to the good times at the club since he came in and then bought 100% of the shares the above feel like small stories. A few managers came and went until Leeds found their balance and then two key figures arrived and they would be head hunted by Radrizzani himself.

The first was bringing in Marcelo Bielsa the eccentric but brilliant and detailed coach. The Argentinian arriving at the club was seen as a big surprise, one would think if Bielsa was coming to England it would only be to manage in the Premier League. But Bielsa recognised quickly how the history of English football and Leeds were joined at the hip, history always counts in football. He also took it up as a challenge.

The second key in the puzzle was the signing of Patrick Bamford, the striker came in for £7m which was the most the club had spent on a player since Robbie Fowler in 2001. Bamford has been exceptional with the club scoring 29 goals in all competitions for them, including 16 league goals in the Championship. This season in the Premier League was his big step up and he has already scored 3 goals in just three games.

Leeds have started the season well too. With 2 wins from their opening three games, and even when they were defeated it was away to champions Liverpool in a 4-3 thriller. There is something about Leeds under Bielsa and with Radrizzani behind the scenes the club will be hoping to capture the beauty, toughness and essence of their glory days once again.

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The new handball rule is outrageous and ruining football

The new handball rule has been affecting Premier League games of late as no one seems to know what is going on.

Goals have been disallowed and penalties have been given, too many it seems. There has been 5 already given adjudged for a player to have handled the ball, and we are in the first month of the league. Last season there was 19 the whole season. The rules have without a doubt changed what is happening on the pitch- but for the wrong reasons.

There were plenty of controversial moments just this weekend. The game that sticks out is Tottenham v Newcastle. The home side were pretty much dominant for the whole game, creating plenty of chances, although deep into injury time the score was only 1-0. That was until Andy Carroll headed the ball towards Eric Dier’s arm, Dier was looking away at the time, and whilst Newcastle appealed for a penalty, the referee waved it in. For him it wasn’t a penalty, and he had made what looked like to be the correct decision.

Yet a few minutes later, the game was recalled back because VAR had got involved. Once the referee went to the on screen monitor and checked again, he changed his mind. The question is did he change his mind because he was told rules are rules or did he change his mind because he genuinely thought he had got ti wrong? Newcastle got the penalty and scored- it was their first shot on target the whole game. They had been poor and deserved nothing from the game but because of the new rule which states even if a player handballs by mistake off of another attacker a penalty should be awarded.

There were other incidents too. Everton won the game at Crystal Palace due to the same incident at Tottenham. Yes there was handball but it was very clear that it wasn’t intentional. And then why was nothing said when Kai Havertz handled the ball in Chelsea’s run up goal which gave them a 3-3 draw at West Bromwich Albion?

It makes very little sense, if on one hand the rules stay and there not good for the game, then at least make them consistent. But that has always been the problem, and whilst the rules are mostly to blame so is VAR. Had VAR not got involved in the Tottenham game and respected the referee’s decision Tottenham would have won the game. And there are plenty of sides to the argument. For example if Tottenham were 2-0 up and the penalty was given, would this even be a story?

The IFAB who approve the rules need to take a long hard look at themselves. They and VAR should never be the star of the show, just like before VAR, the referee should be respected but never seen, it’s an art. Since when did we suddenly forget the job the referee does?

If this continues it seems clear that the referee’s job will be obsolete soon. No officials are complaining as of yet but as time goes on who wants to keep being overruled in the biggest decisions?

Last night there was a panic meeting where a back tracking IFAB admitted that referees and VAR could use leeway in how they judge their decisions for penalties from now on. Wrong decision, the new rule should have been abolished there and then, watch this space because the recent meeting will change nothing, in fact it will bring even more controversy.

One final harrowing thought is on cheating. We know that even the best professional players in the heat of the moment can cheat, mostly to wind up a player to get them sent off or dive for a penalty, we don’t like talking about it, but it does happen.

How long will it be until skilled players going for a header, choose to head towards a defender’s hand and not the goal, knowing that they can get a penalty from a useless situation? It is worth thinking about.

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Premier League’s Game of the Week: Manchester City 2-5 Leicester City

If any of Manchester City and Leicester were going to win 5-2 then 99% of the chance it would be Manchester City, at the weekend we saw the rule to that exception.

In a stunning result Leicester who have started the season in style put 5 goals past Pep Guardiola’s City side, champions in two out of the last 3 seasons as they sailed to a stunning 5-2 victory at the Etihad.

And no one could have seen it coming. In City’s first game of the season they made light work of Wolves beating them 3-1. Whilst Leicester had started well they were knocked out of the Carabao Cup in midweek against Arsenal, though Brendan Rodgers was able to leave a few regulars out.

As for the game it looked over almost as soon as it had started as Riyad Mahrez the former Leicester player, who else? gave City the lead. This was now going to go to script surely and City were supposed to wipe the floor with the unbeaten Leicester, but that didn’t happen.

Leicester made their presence felt and James Maddison was all over the pitch, there was a sense that this game wasn’t all going to be about City. Then before half time Leicester were awarded a penalty and Jamie Vardy scored his 3rd goal of the season. The half ended 1-1, and still even with 45 minutes gone nobody could have predicted the outcome.

It was early in the second half that the change happened. Vardy scored again a brilliant flick that put the Foxes in the lead, and then just five minutes later it was another penalty, again for Leicester and in the space of 21 minutes Vardy- the top goalscorer last season had completed his hat trick.

At 3-1 the game wasn’t over and yet it felt it like the home side despite their quality had been winded. The game rolled on and City tried but the minutes ticked away and then the brilliant James Maddison smashed a long range shot right into the back of the net, it was 4-1, the game was over for City, but the game wasn’t over.

New signing for Guardiola’s team Nathan Ake got a goal back to make it 4-2 near the end, could there have possibly been a crazy comeback? In the Premier League you can really never say never but that wasn’t happening today.

A third penalty confirmed that when Youri Tielemans converted, the score was now 5-2. It was an incredible result and even though there were 3 penalties there was nothing controversial about the decisions, no one complained everyone accepted even Guardiola had to, his team had been well and truly beaten and he was right to be annoyed with his defenders after the game, basic errors at this level left viewers stunned.

With the win Leicester the 2016 champions are top of the league once more, they have scored an incredible 12 goals. For City this feels like deja vue in that they started slow last season and dropped too many points as their rivals Liverpool started strongly, the gap is already six points between City and the champions.

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Premier League: Best 11 Players for Matchday 3

Another 29 goals were scored at the weekend in the Premier League from 8 games, keeping a frantic and exciting goal average up since the beginning of the season. The stunning result was Leicester travelling to Manchester City and beating them 5-2, as a result Brendan Rodgers side are now top of the league.

Chelsea and Tottenham could only draw their games and West Ham finally put in a great performance to condemn Wolves to their 2nd defeat in a row.

So which players performed the best this past weekend, are they in your team, look below to find out.

Formation: 4-4-2

Goalkeeper: Lukasz Fabianski- West Ham 7pts

Lukasz Fabianski didn’t have a lot to do but made some good saves and kept himself composed as he kept a clean sheet. He really got over his instructions to the back four also, and played his part in a fantastic win for the Hammers. He now has 3 points overall as was in the minus points after a poor start from the club.

Defender: Arthur  Masuaku- West Ham 7pts

With Masuaku earning 7 points at the weekend for his clean sheet in West Ham’s 4-0 win over Wolves he now has the most points for any defender at the club with an overall score of 6 points his value is 5.5m. Masuaku capped off a great match by assisting for the clubs 4th goal.

Defender: Jannick Vestergaard- Southampton 5pts

Not many clubs are keeping clean sheets in the league this season, but Southampton did and they won their first game by beating Burnley 1-0 away. Vestergaard was clearly the best defender for the Saints and earned the most with 5pts, in an important victory for the club.

Defender: Liam Cooper- Leeds United 5pts

Leeds had conceded 7 goals before this game and so it was a surprise to see the club keep a clean sheet. Liam Cooper really rose to the occasion to keep Sheffield United quiet and Leeds marched on with back to back wins. Cooper is valued at 6m.

Defender: Aaron Cresswell- West Ham 5pts

It’s been a nightmare time for West Ham, so beating Wolves 4-0 was very welcome. Cresswell was able to keep a clean sheet in the process and made some very daring tackles and set the play up well as the game went on.

Midfielder: Riyad Mahrez- Manchester City 6pts

Manchester City had a nightmare losing 5-2 against Leicester but one bright light was Mahrez’s performance. He scored the opener for the home side and assisted in the clubs 2nd goal, of course by then the game was over. Mahrez is valued at 9.5m.

Midfielder: Bruno Fernandes- Manchester United 5pts

Bruno Fernandes was one of the best players for Manchester United last season. He has started this one slightly quiet but made up for it this past weekend as United beat Brighton 3-2. He scored an injury time penalty which was the winning goal, assisted in the clubs 2nd goal, and got booked though which lost him a few points.

Midfielder: Lucas Moura- Tottenham 4pts

A controversial game saw Tottenham draw 1-1 with Newcastle who were clearly the second best side. Lucas Moura got the goal to put Tottenham ahead and he will hope this is the first of many to come this season.

Midfielder: Jack Harrison -Leeds United 4pts

Jack Harrison had a solid game in midfield for Leeds and capped off his day by setting up Patrick Bamford to get the only goal and winning one for Marcelo Bielsa’s side in the 88th minute. Harrison now has 8 points overall and is valued at 5.5m.

Striker: Jamie Vardy -Leicester 14pts

Easily one of the best Premier League strikers of the decade, Jamie Vardy like a fine wine just keeps getting better and better defying his age. Vardy was remarkable as he scored a hat trick against the mighty Manchester City away from home. Two were penalties but he still had to put them away and then scored a cracking goal in between. Vardy earned a huge 14pts and now has 5 goals already this season.

Striker: Callum Robertson- West Bromwich Albion 8pts

Callum Robertson had a fantastic game as his side took on Chelsea and ended up drawing 3-3. He will feel disappointed given that he had given WBA a 2 goal lead, but the final result shouldn’t distract from his fantastic performance and he makes the team of the weekend. He is valued at just 3.5m.

Player of the weekend: Jamie Vardy- Leicester 14pts

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Brighton 2-3 Man Utd: The Red Devils win the game in the final moment from a Bruno Fernandes penalty

Following the shocking defeat at home to Crystal Palace to start off the new Premier League season, Manchester United were intending on returning to winning ways as they travelled away to Brighton & Hove Albion, who are predicted to have an exciting campaign under the reigns of Graham Potter.

The hosts were dominating the match and were constantly in the opposition’s half, where the movement and pace of Brighton’s wing-backs along with the front three were proving to be too much for the United defence to handle. Not only that, but the Seagulls deserved at least a draw from the game, as they were denied three penalties, as well as the by crossbar and post on five occasions.

Looking at the game as a whole, Brighton had surprisingly experienced more time in possession of the ball, achieving just over 53% of the possession, whilst creating 13 chances throughout the whole game with three of them being big chances. Meanwhile, for United, they had only managed 60 passes in the final third, with eight passes in the penalty box and just one big chance being created.

Graham Potter’s men took the lead from the penalty spot in the 40th minute of the game, through Neal Maupay, as Bruno Fernandes was penalised for bring Tariq Lamptey down in the box. However, the home side’s lead was cancelled out in a matter of minutes, with Bruno Fernandes’ free-kick into the far corner of the box was met by the perfect touch from Nemanja Matic to return it into the danger area, which led to centre-back Lewis Dunk accidentally hitting the ball into his own net.

After the half-time break, the situation between both sides had remained the same, where the visitors were lacking the aggression and intensity to keep the home team contained and isolated. Despite Brighton’s missed chances and inconsistent end product, United were able to pounce effectively on the counter, as Bruno Fernandes was able to set Marcus Rashford through on goal, who had perfectly cut in and out on Ben White before smashing the ball into the back of the goal.

The last 10 to 15 minutes of the game was the main highlight of the fixture. Brighton continued to constantly attack United around the penalty box, leaving Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with no option but to move to a defensive stance, as Eric Bailly and Fred came on from the bench for Mason Greenwood and Paul Pogba. On the other hand, Graham Potter had to change the game around and went all out with the attacking options, as both Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Pascal Gross entered the pitch.

Brighton were able to pick up a last-minute equaliser through Solly March, who was a very busy player down the left flank and was causing problems for Aaron Wan-Bissaka time after time. Though, eight minutes into stoppage time, Maupay handled the ball in his own penalty box when trying to block the headed attempted from Harry Maguire, which resulted in a crucial penalty for the visitors, leading to Bruno Fernandes scoring from the spot to give his side the much needed three points.

The situation was controversial, given that the referee had blown the whistle for full time, with the Brighton players believing they have earned the crucial point that they deserved. However, the United team complained instantly, meaning that the referee had to do his job and refer to the replay of the incident in the penalty box, which resulted in the match being called back for the penalty.

Overall, Graham Potter and his men will be absolutely gutted that they could not pick up a point. And for a United point of view, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will surely be concerned about the side’s fitness and performance as a whole, but will be content with picking up their first league victory of the season. On that note, The Red Devils sit in 14th place whilst the Seagulls remain above them in 12th place.

 

Why Manchester United could have a nightmare start to the Premier League in 2020/21

There has been a clear pattern with Manchester United since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over the club in December 2018, the Red Devils are either brilliant or poor. There’s been no in between and maybe that has cost the club a trophy or an extra league position.

The Norwegian manager and United great currently has a 54% win rate with the club, which is very decent. Jose Mourinho who Solskjaer replaced had a 58% win rate. So there is certainly room for improvement. However the way United finished last season left everyone slack jawed. It was a fantastic run that saw the club not only qualify for the Champions League but leap frog Chelsea and finish 3rd.

However new season and perhaps a new United. The club at home in their first game lost against Crystal Palace 3-1. The score felt like a big loss for the club, this was a game that was supposed to be made simple, they have the players and yet all that goal scoring talent in Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes could not pull them back into the game. True they did have 17 attempts on goal but only 4 shots on target at home is not good enough. Palace finished with more shots on target and the first surprise result of the season had been sealed.

United fans will be hoping that it is a one off and that the club will win their next few games and be able to move on. But that isn’t how Solskjaer teams have worked up until now. A blip quickly turns into a few games. Now when we look at the clubs upcoming fixture list it isn’t going to be an easy ride for them.

This weekend United will play Brighton who, like last season have started brightly. Even when they lost against Chelsea many observers said that they were the better team. Graham Potter’s side made amends with the defeat against the Blues by beating Newcastle away from home 3-0. That was a statement win and the club will be up for producing another upset.

After that game United will face the likes of Tottenham, Newcastle, Chelsea, Arsenal and Everton. Many tricky ties in there plus the beginning of the Champions League will kick off in October adding further games and travel for the club.

Could it be that United will start the campaign off poorly and lose touch to the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City so early on that they will have no touching distance and chance of a league challenge?

Of course it is still early days but their fixtures do not look to have piled up well for the club. History says they will come good, but only after they have gone through the ‘Ole’ struggle once again.

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Premier League’s Game of the Week: Southampton 2-5 Tottenham

Our memories of the beginning of the 2020/21 Premier League season will be about goals, there has been over 60 of them already with a goal average of 3.6 per game. You want lots of goals, come to the Premier League and the match between Southampton and Tottenham would be no different.

On Saturday we witnessed Everton come from behind to beat West Bromwich Albion 5-2 and the same scenario was repeated on Sunday when Tottenham travelled to Southampton. This was an edgy game of sorts even before a whistle was blown given that both clubs had lost their opening games. Southampton went 1-0 down to Crystal Palace and Tottenham were beaten by the same scoreline at their ground against Everton. A win was needed by both clubs, though you sensed Jose Mourinho at Tottenham was under more pressure to get it.

This was a game that felt like it had everything. Three goals, one for the home side and two for Tottenham were disallowed early on, Harry Kane thought he had put Spurs in front as early as the 3rd minute but VAR stepped in and it also denied Danny Ings for a handball. At the half hour stage the game was end to end but still 0-0 and nobody could have foreseen that there would be 7 goals to come on this Sunday afternoon. When Kane had another goal ruled out for offside it did seem like it was going to be one of those days.

But the Saints opened the scoring, their first goal of the campaign through Ings who got it right this time. Ings was one of the revelations of last season and he will hope to have a 2nd season just as good. Tottenham were able to equalise on the stroke of half time through Heung-Min Son and you have to wonder just how important that goal was for the Tottenham dressing room atmosphere.

In fairness Southampton seemed good to go in at half time in the lead because Tottenham on reflection had been the second best team in the first half, they managed just 1 shot on target. Still at 1-1 it felt that the psychology of the game had shifted, and with that goal which was Tottenham’s first of the season it seemed to be the switch that they were looking for. Within 2 minutes of the restart Son had pounced again to make it 2-1, Kane had assisted again. This was vintage Spurs or at least what fans had been expecting from the deadly duo in the first game.

If Tottenham were toothless in the first game then in this one they had teeth like a great white shark and they started to take the game to the home side. But Son completed his hat trick just after the hour mark. A fourth goal came ten minutes later for Son, by far the man of the match and yet again it was Kane who supplied the final ball. When Kane scored himself to make it 5-1 it felt that the team had come full circle and the defeat against Everton could be truly forgotten.

A small blip near the end of the game let in Southampton for a penalty in which Ings converted, but it was just a consolation goal, and there would be no miraculous comeback even in a season so far filled with goals.

It’s incredible in how just over a week Tottenham’s fortunes have changed, a win in the Europa League qualifiers and a league win is icing on the cake. But also the return of the prodigal son, one of Tottenham’s genuinely great modern stars, Gareth Bale is complete. Bale has joined the club on loan from Real Madrid. Injured at the moment, you get the feeling that the players have just welcomed him in the most perfect way possible.

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Premier League: Best 11 Players of the Weekend: Matchday 2

The Premier League is leaking goals, there have been 56 so far and that means an average of 3.7 per match. Last season that average was 2.7, and it has certainly been a fun start to the season.

Another round of games have been played so let’s look at who made the final cut in the team of the weekend, did you have any of the players?

Formation: 4-4-2

Goalkeeper: Alisson- Liverpool 7pts

It wasn’t going to be long until we saw Alisson make the team of the weekend and it’s only taken the 2nd week. Alisson collected 7pts and kept a clean sheet away to title rivals Chelsea in an important win for the champions Liverpool. He made some saves and was ever a presence. This will be the first of many player of the weekend selections for the Brazilian.

Defender: Virgil van Dijk- Liverpool 5pts

There were only 2 teams who didn’t concede at the weekend one was Liverpool and Virgil van Dijk was at the heart of the defence once again to ensure the club kept a vital clean sheet away to Chelsea in their 2-0 win.

Defender: Dan Burn- Brighton 5pts

With so many goals conceded during the weekend defenders were taking the brunt of losing points and the best was just 5. Dan Burn starred for Brighton who like Liverpool did not concede any goals at the weekend. Brighton beat Newcastle 3-0 and Burn had an excellent commanding game at the back.

Defender: Andrew Robertson- Liverpool 5pts

Robertson can sometimes be the unsung hero of a brilliant Liverpool defence but he put in a great mature  and solid game again to help earn Liverpool a clean sheet.

Defender: Fabio Tavares- Liverpool 5pts

Fabio Tavares may not get as many games as he would like for Liverpool but he earned the points as part of their defence from midfield and manager Jurgen Klopp will be keeping a keen eye on the player after a good performance away to Chelsea.

Midfielder: Neal Maupay- Brighton 12pts

What a weekend it was for Neal Maupay, not only did his side Brighton beat Newcastle 3-0 he was involved in every goal. He scored a penalty after just 180 seconds and had grabbed a brace by the 7th minute. It was evident that this game was going to be a special one for him and he assisted in the clubs 3rd goal, easily the man of the match.

Midfielder: Sadio Mane- Liverpool 10pts

Cometh the man cometh the Mane. Another 2 goals for the Liverpool player and these were two very important ones that broke Chelsea’s resistance and saw Liverpool beat the Londoners 2-0 away. A fantastic victory for the champions who like like they are on a roll once more and Mane is going to be a big danger again this season.

Midfielder: James Rodriguez- Everton 6pts

James Rodriguez has only been playing for Everton for 2 games but has put in two very good performances. He earned 6 pts at the weekend as he scored a cracking goal in Everton’s superb 5-2 win over West Bromwich Albion. He then assisted in Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s last goal, which was a hat trick.

Midfielder: Wilfried Zaha- Crystal Palace- 8pts

A brilliant double for Wilfried Zaha scoring against his old club Manchester United. He slotted home a penalty and then scored late on to kill the game off as Crystal Palace stunned United at Old Trafford and won 3-1. Zaha now has 14pts and has started the season in incredible form.

Striker: Heung-Min Son – Tottenham 18pts

After having a quiet frustrating game on the opening weekend of the season Heung-Min Son showed his real qualities as he scored an incredible 4 goals for Tottenham who beat Southampton away from home 5-2. Son picked up an incredible 18 points and was absolutely relentless at the weekend.

Striker: Harry Kane- Tottenham 12pts

It’s a double for Tottenham up front with Son and Harry Kane taking the plaudits. It was really incredible team work to see Son score 4 goals but Kane set up all 4 and then score the 5th one, certainly Roy of the Rovers stuff, and Kane has had a superb weekend and bounced back from last weekend with a vengeance.

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Man Utd 1-3 Crystal Palace: The Red Devils begin the new season with a defeat at home to the Eagles

Manchester United begin their 2020-21 Premier League season with a defeat at home to Crystal Palace, who were a unit defensively, composed in defending within their own half and were impressive on the counter against a very poor backline.

Given the lack of rest that the Red Devils have had from the previous campaign, as they reached the Europa League semi-finals before being eliminated by Sevilla, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his men have not had the necessary rest and ideal pre-season football in order to return to normal fitness levels.

Looking into the game as a whole, the hosts were in full control when it came to dominating possession of the ball, achieving 75% possession, creating two big chances during the match and completing 230 passes in the attacking third. On the other hand, the hosts managed only 43 successful passes in the final third, and still went onto scoring three goals throughout the game.

The Eagles took the lead in the 7th minute of the game, through Andros Townsend, who had beaten Luke Shaw at the far post to meet onto Jeffrey Schlupp’s low cross, and put it past David De Gea and into the back of the net. In all honesty, there was not much action following Townsend’s goal, as United were sloppy and slow on the ball whilst Palace were quite comfortable within a low-block.

Crystal Palace were giving a huge opportunity to double their lead just half way through the second half, as Martin Atkinson pointed to the penalty spot after reviewing the footage of Victor Lindelof handling the ball in the box. Wilfried Zaha stepped up and calmly slotted the ball from the spot.

United were able to get a goal back through Donny Van de Beek, who able to convert his attempt on goal after coming on from the bench for Paul Pogba. However, it was too late to attempt a potential comeback, as Zaha was able to outdo Lindelof and place his shot into the corner away from De Gea. Following the 3-1 defeat at home to Crystal Palace, Manchester United are currently in 15th place whilst Roy Hodgson’s men sit comfortably in 5th place, winning their first two games of the season.

Here are the three things we learnt from United’s first league fixture of the campaign…

Victor Lindelof continually proves to be a defensive liability

For sure, he wasn’t the only individual that was struggling and was absolutely poor from start to end, but it was the defensive mistakes produced by Victor Lindelof that had resulted in Crystal Palace walking away from Old Trafford with the three points. The Swedish international has shown time and time again, that he is unable to deal with one on one situations with a forward or a winger, as the latter are able to dribble, power and stride past the centre-back without any serious issues.

Lindelof has had this rising problem since he had moved to the Premier League a few years ago, and it’s a concerning weakness that has allowed the opposition to specifically target him on the counter-attack. Given the current situation that is presented to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he was to drop Lindelof to the bench anytime soon and replace him with Eric Bailly, who is more dominant and complete, but is battling his own issues in terms of injuries and full fitness.

Nemanja Matic’s absence was costly for the team on and off the ball

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer fielded a three-man midfield of Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes, which was lacking the much-needed balance in front of the defence and the ability to win the ball high up the pitch. Without Nemanja Matic, who had returned to training only on Monday and was not prepared to play on Saturday at Old Trafford, the side had great difficulties at protecting the inconsistent backline, being fluid on the ball and remaining calm under pressure.

The 32-year-old may no longer be at his best or have the legs to cover enough area of the pitch, however, his invaluable experience and the balance and composure he brings to the midfield is second to none. Unfortunately, for the manager and the club, they do not have a similar player to Matic, which does mean that they will have to rely heavily on him once again this season.

The lack of business for Manchester United is starting to slowly hurt them

Manchester United have only made one signing so far this window, in Donny Van de Beek, which is not good enough when you are trying to finish in the top four in back-to-back seasons for the first time since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson. Not only that, but the board have failed to deliver a left-back and a much needed right-winger, two areas that needed addressing urgently and have not been done so in recent years, resulting in the side’s lack of development and progress as a whole.

The likes of Everton, Spurs and Wolves have been very proactive in the window, and it would not be a total surprise to see either of these three teams finish above the Red Devils in the Premier League. Unless Ed Woodward, the Glazers and the other key individuals within the board make some drastic signings in the final weeks of the transfer window, it will be very difficult for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United to finish in the top four again, looking at the serious competition around them.

Who can stop Liverpool this season in the Premier League after Thiago capture from Bayern?

Liverpool were magnificent last season and it looks like it could be rinse and repeat albeit in super style as they have announced the signing of Thiago Alcantara from European champions Bayern Munich.

Alcantara has been snapped up for just £27m a steal in today’s game given his experience and how good a player he is and he is only 29, so has a good 3-4 years left at the very top.

One has to hand it to Jurgen Klopp and the recruitment team at Liverpool who have been making all the right moves for a good 3 years now, and all the hard work is paying off.

Liverpool have been quiet on the transfer front this summer but at the same time after their utter dominance in the league last season there was no need to go out and splash the cash. They are that good.

But Alcantara will be a welcome addition in midfield. He has played in the Bundesliga for Bayern since 2013 and has made 235 appearances for the club scoring 31 goals, though goals isn’t what he is about. He holds the play up well and keeps possession and is simply a brilliant buy for the Reds and he will strengthen the club even more this season.

It’s incredible to think that Alcantara has won 16 trophies with Bayern Munich alone but not many people will remember that he was also a part of the brilliant Barcelona side a decade ago. There he won a further 8 trophies bringing his haul to 24 and that includes winning the Champions League twice with different clubs.

It is so early in the league but one has to wonder who will stop Liverpool this season? No one is expecting the club to be as consistent as they were last season, that was almost uncanny. But they won the league by over 20 points and had their foot off the pedal by the end of the season.

Liverpool showed how good they were in their first game against Leeds United. Yes they conceded 3, but Leeds played their best football in 15 years let’s make no mistake, they went at the champions with zero fear, and yet still conceded 4 goals and lost the game. It was seen as a crazy game, first games of the season usually are, Liverpool will settle down and will become a force once more. Don’t expect them to be conceding 3 goals every week, do expect them to be scoring 3, 4 or more goals most weeks.

Not many can imagine Klopp’s reign at Liverpool ending with just one league title, there will be more. He is the rarest of managers who see’s his clubs weaknesses and can adapt, he rarely makes mistakes in buying players, and him and his backroom staff need to be acknowledged for this.

The Premier League title has just started, but Liverpool look on track to win the title again.

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