Manchester United have to be flexible to get the best out of Anthony Martial

There is no doubt about the scary potential that Anthony Martial has. Even if the last two to three seasons have been really difficult for him at a personal level, where he has had issues ongoing off the pitch and has not been a regular starter under either Jose Mourinho or Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

However, after receiving his number nine jersey once again and following the departure of Romelu Lukaku, he is expected to play on a more regular basis and will be hoping to reach 20-25 league goals this season. The Red Devils will be hoping for a much better season as a whole, as they failed to be constantly effective on both sides of the pitch last season, from being defensively reckless to limited and predictable on the attacking area of the game. And if they can do that, their hopes for a top four finish is surely not impossible.

Focusing more on Martial, he’s been scoring on a few occasions over the last couple of weeks, with two goals in two games against Partizan Belgrade to help United qualify for the knockout stages of the Europa League, as well as a crucial and much needed goal away at Norwich City. He’s come in at the right time with the goals as both Daniel James and Marcus Rashford have gone quiet recently.

Since his debut for the club in August 2015, he has gone on to score 50 goals for Manchester United, more than any other player within the squad from the beginning of the period. Just on that note, one can immediately understand the qualities and abilities he brings to the team, especially in the final third of the pitch and his impressive personal composure whilst having his back to goal.

It has taken some time to find out the player’s best position, given that he can be effectively and deadly either as a left-sided winger or a lone centre-forward, thanks to his movement on and off the ball and his creativity in the dangerous areas of the pitch. On top of that, he has shown what he offers to the team when he isn’t scoring, as he notched two key assists recently against Brighton.

As long as all the attackers stay fit and in fine form, Ole will need to keep a consistent and dominant attacking setup from now till the end of the campaign, with Martial as the number nine and both Daniel James and Rashford as the wide players being the ideal idea. If this does happen, it would allow Martial to be freed from his defensive duties and be utilised within the advanced areas.

The 23-year-old’s standout attribute just happens to be his one on one dribbling and his intelligence to take on two to three players within the matter of seconds, as he has the pace as well as the trickery to be the difference on the flanks. However, when he is played in this role, he can easily be marked by two players and left isolated, forcing him to remain unknown for the rest of the game.

Given that both Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez left Old Trafford in the summer, without the club bringing in a replacement at all, Martial’s qualities and potential is more required through the middle than the flanks. His goals and assists in all competitions have come from the central position, where he has the much needed licence to roam and move around to lead the side’s attack and build-up play.

Overall, Solskjaer should not use his favouritism of Rashford and push Martial back out onto the wings, as the former is not a clinical goal-scorer and is unable to bring other players into the game whilst the latter is arguably the side’s best forward in front of goal. Martial is one of the most important players in the squad and has the quality to be a game-changer or match-winner when required, and he can start or continue to be one for the Red Devils as long as he is used centrally.

Where Next for Moise Kean?

Since joining Everton, Moise Kean has struggled to acclimate himself to his new surroundings and has since found himself on the outside looking in due to reported disciplinary issues. With Richarlison, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Cenk Tosun all competing for one spot up top, it’s difficult to envisage a situation that the former Juventus man breaks through in England. Which leads us to a very important question: Where next for Moise Kean?

After breaking onto the scene with Juventus last season, Kean was tipped as Italy’s saviour in the final third. Scoring goals in his Italy debut as well as his second game, it seemed he was ready to live up to the hype. When the Italian champions decided to sell him this past summer, many were left perplexed by their decision as the young forward impressed on every occasion. Let’s now evaluate some options for Kean.

Roma: 

Paulo Fonseca’s men are reportedly interested in Kean and will be among his suitors come January. Given his lack of playing time, he should be available on the cheap or even on loan. This season, Roma have impressed at every turn and have done so with many Italian youth talents in their side. Whether it’s Leonardo Spinazzola, Gianluca Mancini, Nicolo Zaniolo or Bryan Cristante, Roma are committed to developing youth. As a result, Kean would not be out of place one bit in the nation’s capital.

He’s already proven capable of finding the back of the net in Italy and wouldn’t need an adaptation period. Learning from Edin Dzeko, Roma may just be an ideal landing spot for the 19-year-old.

Milan: 

Recent reports have also suggested that Kean’s agent, Mino Raiola, is exploring all opportunities for the young striker’s next move and have linked him to Milan. The rossoneri are currently a side in disarray but have a number of interesting young players on deck. Given Krzysztof Piątek’s struggles this season, Milan could use a more mobile number nine; one that could create space for himself. In addition, Kean’s arrival would increase the competition for places, perhaps igniting a fire under Piątek.

The only worry, however, is that after an initial honeymoon period, most Milan strikers tend to struggle due to a lack of service. While returning to Italy with Milan wouldn’t be his worst option, they aren’t the best fit for the 19-year-old as of right now. In this sense, Roma are a much better option.

Staying at Everton:

While we tend to link struggling players with a plethora of teams, a plausible option is that he stays in England with Everton. Despite their early struggles this season, the Toffees have a number of interesting pieces in the final third and could benefit from Kean’s return to the lineup. All it takes for a striker to feel at home is a few goals and an extended run of games; an opportunity Everton boss Marco Silva would be wise to afford Kean before the January transfer window opens.

Kean’s play is suited to the Premier League, and after an initial adaptation period, the young striker could start punishing defences. While this option is the unlikeliest at the time given recent reports, both parties should seriously consider moving forward together. Everton could use Kean and Kean could use regular football to make Roberto Mancini’s Euro 2020 roster. It’s not impossible he stays, however, let’s not forget, it’s Raiola pulling the strings.

Whether Kean returns to Italy or remains at Everton remains to be seen, however, it’s clear there will be an update shortly. Given his incredible talent and ability to find the back of the net, it’s only a matter of time before Kean finds a place to call home again. However, his disciplinary issues remain a slight concern. In any case, Italy could definitely benefit from Kean’s return to form and hope it comes sooner rather than later…

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The best 11 performing players in the Premier League 2019/20 so far

The 2019/20 Premier League season is 3 months so what better time after a quarter a third of the season gone that we look at the top performing players for each position based on European Fantasy football points. This is a great way to get your fantasy team back on track and to figure out who is performing and who isn’t. This is a team dominated by Manchester City and Leicester players with a few surprises in between.

Goalkeeper: Kasper Schmeichel

Dad Peter would be very proud of his sons start to the Premier League campaign with Leicester. Schmeichel is heads and tails above other goalkeepers and has 33 points already. He has kept 5 clean sheets which is the equal best so far.

Defender: Ben Chilwell

We stay with Leicester, and the best defender with the most points is Ben Chilwell. He has 33 and has had a solid start to the season, assisting in 3 goals, scoring himself and keeping five clean sheets. He earned another valuable 5 points at the weekend too as Leicester beat Arsenal 2-0.

Defender: Edna Stevens

Not many people would have put Edna Stevens down to be one of the best performing defenders this season. But Stevens has got off to a brilliant start with his club Sheffield United.  He has been part of a back four that has kept five clean sheets plus he has assisted in a goal.

Defender: Jonathan Evans

Maybe Evans isn’t talked about much, but the Leicester defender is having a very good season. He has 23 points so far and picked up another 4 at the weekend. He has set up one goal and helped keep 5 clean sheets. If you are looking to do some online football betting and have an interest in researching more then you should check out LSM which can offer you a suitable tool to engage in football betting.

Defender: Andrew Robertson

Liverpool’s Andrew Roberson has been one of the best defenders in the league in the past 18 months and he is proving that again as Liverpool are in 1st place. He has only kept 2 clean sheets, but has set up 4 goals and scored one already.

Midfielder: Kevin De Bruyne

Manchester City’s deadly attacking midfielder has accumulated the most points in his position and has 38 so far. From 10 starts he has scored 3 goals and assisted in another 8 for a great record after such a short period of time.

Midfielder: Raheem Sterling

Staying with Manchester City is attacking midfielder Raheem Sterling who has bagged 7 goals so far and assisted in one goal. He currently has 36 points and is just two behind his teammate.

Midfielder: Sadio Mane

Sadio Mane is simply ever consistent and a thorn in many peoples sides. The Liverpool winger has already scored 7 goals and has two assists. He has 35 points and it would only take one good week to see him fly into 1st position.

Midfielder: Bernardo Silva

So 3 of the four best midfielders are from one club Manchester City which says a lot about the champions quality. Silva has started 8 games but has scored 5 times already, assisted in a further two goals and when he has played City have kept five clean sheets, that’s pretty good going from the Spaniard.

Forward: Jamie Vardy

The Leicester forward has been wonderfully consistent since being with the Foxes, but this season the 32 year old is on course to have his best of his career, at least stats wise. Vardy has racked up 49 points in fantasy football, easily the best in the league and has scored 11 times and assisted in two further goals. He is pure gold right now for the club

Forward: Tammy Abraham

The Chelsea forward has been a revelation this season under Frank Lampard and has started the season like a world class forward. He has 44 points and has scored 10 goals and assisted in two others. He is already the surprise player of the new Premier League season.

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Moise Kean has not shown his professionalism with Everton

When Everton announced the arrival of Moise Kean this summer from Juventus a few eyebrows were raised. This was the Moise Kean who when given a chance with Juventus excelled, scored goals and looked frighteningly brilliant in attack. Surely Everton had landed a massive bargain and all of this for a teenager that Juve wanted less than £30m for. But therein lies the catch.

First you had to wonder why other clubs didn’t come in for Kean? Then you’d have to wonder why if he was that brilliant Juventus were willing to sell him for such a low fee in today’s money? After all Kylian Mbappe cost PSG £200m and whilst one isn’t comparing the two there is a still a difference of £170m give or take between the two players valuations.

Kean has in a nutshell had a nightmare start with the club where from 11 games played he has failed to score. In truth most of those games have started from the bench but when he has had game time he has had just 1 shot on target in what equates to 288 minutes. This isn’t the Kean that lit up Serie A last season that’s for sure.

No one is denying that Kean is a quality player, you don’t get to come through Juventus’ ranks otherwise and you certainly don’t get first team football where you can call your teammate Cristiano Ronaldo. At the same time we can let slip that Kean hasn’t scored goals for the club, it would in time happen one suspects. But the real issue here has been with the players attitude.

Recently the Everton manager, Marco Silva, who is under pressure to keep his job dropped Kean entirely for the game against Southampton. It has only now come out that he didn’t select Kean as punishment for turning up late to a team meeting. And if reports are to be believed it isn’t the first time Kean has done this. Now we can talk about a 19 year old having culture shock, Turin to Liverpool can give you that, just ask Ian Rush who did the opposite in the 80s only to come hurrying back soon after.

But this is an excuse. How many people are forced to leave their country after a problem or a job related one, and must just get on with it? In Kean’s case the moment he arrived at Everton he would have been greeted with respect and time and a huge salary. The least he could do is act with some professionalism. So yes he has started slow but how about getting into training that much earlier, getting on time to team meetings and trying his best to show Silva what qualities he has? In short how about showing some passion, grit and determination? Is that too much to ask for a 19 year old? If so the club need to sell Kean on and try and learn from this experience.

To hammer it home it’s not all about the lack of goals and contributions he has made, not at this time and it would be unfair to criticise him on this after just 3 months. But the least he could do was act with some pride, he has a job that local footballers who will never make it would die for, it’s a no brainer to start showing his qualities or scamper back to Italy.

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Can Everton rise to the challenge after Gomes’ horrific injury?

For a club that couldn’t buy a win and seeing one of your regular players in Andre Gomes receive an horrific injury was just the icing on a cake that no one wants to eat. It’s fair to say that it’s been a tough opening campaign for Everton football club, but could the injury to Gomes which will almost definitely see the player miss the rest of the season actually give Everton an extra gear?

The players will be feeling distraught about what has happened to Gomes, and when he injured his ankle in what was a freak accident against Tottenham, we saw a different character to this Everton side, one of determination not arguably seen since Roberto Martinez’s first season in charge of the club. The club suddenly forced themselves into the game and 1-0 down they searched for and got the equaliser through a thumping Cenk Tosun header.

This past weekend was another huge game for Everton away to Southampton. On paper one could have made Everton the favourites given that Southampton had come into the game conceding 14 goals in their last 3 competitive matches, but with Everton you just never know. They took the lead early on but as the game continued Southampton got back into it and then Danny Ings ex-Liverpool player equalised and that seemed to be it for the Toffees. In normal circumstances their confidence would have evaporated but something different happened at the weekend and a team who are supposed to be low on confidence took the game by the neck and scored again through Richarlison to win 2-1.

The victory was only Everton’s 4th of the season and 2nd in 10 matches and lifted the club to 15th place with 14 points, 6 points from the bottom three. Manager Marco Silva has been under pressure to keep his job but it does seem that every time his P45 is being prepared his side manage to get a win. He will be hoping that Gomes can be some sort of lasting influence on the club- do it for Gomes not only in the league but in the Carabao Cup where Everton have reached the quarter finals.

Everton’s next game is against Norwich who have been very poor and the club will be favourites to win that game at home and win they must because December will be their hardest month of the season. As Christmas comes Everton will have to play the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool, and could well end up with 0 points.

Can Silva turn on the magic once more or is his job back on the line?

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Man Utd 3-1 Brighton: Ole’s men enjoyed a straightforward afternoon at Old Trafford

Although the main focus of gameweek 12 was the head-to-head clash between Liverpool and Manchester City, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United had a must-win match of they own as took on Brighton & Hove Albion, with the aim of turning their form and momentum in the league around. This was the perfect chance for the Red Devils to pick up the win with a solid display.

When looking back at the game as a whole, the hosts were without a doubt the most dominant and attacking-minded side and were on top on both sides of the pitch, whilst the visitors were sat quite deep in their own half and were unable to create enough chances or moments. Nevertheless, United played on the front foot straightaway and it allowed them to gain full control of the end outcome.

The Red Devils got the lead through a good move which went from defence to attack in the matter of seconds, as Andreas Pereira’s shot took quite a deflection before going into the back of net. And then a few minutes later, United got their second from a set-piece which was poorly defended by Brighton, with the loose ball in the penalty box being put into the wrong net by Davy Propper.

Graham Potter’s men were able to pick themselves up from the floor, as they grew in confidence and began to work well on and off the ball for the remainder of the first half. With the tactical changes being made and utilised during the half-time break, the Seagulls were able to get a goal back through Lewis Dunk, who dominantly headed Pascal Gross’ corner passed David De Gea.

Fortunately for Solskjaer and United, Marcus Rashford impressively managed to get the third and final goal for the hosts, which was once again worked well by the team to prevent the visitors from coming up with a potential comeback. Had the side been more ruthless in the final third, they could have ended the match with five to six goals, something that hasn’t happened in quite a long time.

In the end, the Red Devils picked up the much needed three points and their third league victory at home this season as they go up to seventh-place in the table. Meanwhile, Brighton and Hove Albion sit comfortably in eleventh-place, currently seven valuable points away from the relegation zone.

Here are the three valuable factors we learnt from United’s latest league fixture…

One of the best attacking displays at Old Trafford this season

For sure, the goals in the first half came down to a bit of luck and Brighton’s overall quality is not the greatest, but no one could deny the intensity and movement on and off the ball that United had showed, which had been lacking for quite some time. However, if it wasn’t for this early and positive mindset, the side wouldn’t have had the two important goals before the half-time break, something they haven’t shockingly completed for the first time at Old Trafford since the middle of January.

The Red Devils ended the match with five big chances created, 21 shots attempted and with 11 of them going on target. If the team are able to keep this up on a regular basis, especially once the injured players are back from the sidelines, then there should be no doubt that they could possibly push for a top four finish from the middle of the season as well as compete in the domestic cups.

The chemistry between Martial and Rashford is growing once again

After both Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukuaku had left the club in the final days of the transfer windows, majority of Manchester United supporters were quite concerned about the quality and depth available in the attacking department, as no replacements were brought in at all. Though, with Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford getting into their stride recently, the side are now able to counter-attack effectively through the pace, movement and understanding they offer to the team.

If we’re being honest, neither of Martial and Rashford have been consistent goal-scorers week in and out, but as long as they work off one another and get into good positions, there shouldn’t be a problem in both players chipping in with 30-35 goals in the league together. United’s attacking options are quite thin at the moment, but they will be hoping that the current individuals will be able to guide them till the end of the year, with the hopes of signing someone in January being high.

Brandon Williams will make the left-back position his own very soon

It had seemed like United had some rising issues in the left-back area, given the injury problems that Diogo Dalot and Luke Shaw have been having as well as Ashley Young’s time as a regular player coming to an end. On the other hand, Brandon Williams’ recent introduction has worked wonders for all parties, as he slotted into the position like a glove and is beginning to stamp his own mark.

He may not be seen as the next big thing or the finished article as of yet, but the 19-year-old has been showing his quality and potential on both sides of the pitch, being able to defend with composure, play confidently with both feet and prove to be a threat going forward. If he can continue to perform on a consistent basis and get into the good books of Solskjaer, then the Old Trafford faithful will definitely see the younger be on the team sheet more often than predicted.

Pep Guardiola fumes as Manchester City lose ground in title race

Manchester City missed the chance to close the gap to Premier League leaders Liverpool at Anfield after the video assistant referee once again providing the narrative for such an important fixture.

Liverpool took the lead through Fabinho after just six minutes when the Brazilian’s 25-yard strike nestled its way past Claudio Bravo. It wasn’t until VAR checked for a handball against Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold in the build-up. After consultation, the goal was given, to Pep Guardiola’s distain. Continue reading

Is Manuel Pellgerini’s time up at West Ham?

Ask West Ham fans at the beginning of the season if Manuel Pellegrini was the right man for the job and they would just have stared at you as if you were missing a few brain cells. Of course he was the man.

At that time Pellegrini had just overseen a difficult season with the Hammers finishing in mid table, and having some good spells along the way. But Pellegrini was given a pass by the fans because A- he was likeable and B- they realised that most of the team he wanted to play were out with long term injuries.

In the summer he brought in some prospects like Pablo Fornals from Villarreal and Sebastian Haller up front, who had done so well the season before with German side Eintract Frankfurt. Both have been utterly disappointing. Haller did score a few at the beginning of the season but has gone off the boil and Fornals has been very poor often now starting from the bench and not getting much game time.

But fans have become frustrated with Pellegrini’s tactics, which remain the same no matter which club they play and that means the opposition know exactly how to read them and do so. Some fans have claimed that their club is ‘the gift that keeps on giving’, largely in part due because if your team is in poor form don’t worry you will play and beat West Ham.

Pellegrini has now emerged as one of the favourite managers in the Premier League to be sacked and that was hammered home (pardon the pun) when the club lost 3-0 away to Burnley at the weekend. It all felt so predictable and it is true that very little has changed for the club who look to get between 40-50 points every season.

The Burnley defeat was the clubs 5th of this season and they have only won 3 games. The Hammers have dropped to 16th place and have 13 points and recent form is one of the worst in the league picking up just 1 point from their last available 15.

The problem that West Ham have is firstly if they sack Pellegrini who do you bring in that will improve the club? There doesn’t seem many managers around at this time that can recover the situation for the club. Also what are their ambitions with the players they have this season? Surely an overhaul is needed, and the club don’t seem or don’t want to give much money away. And money is a key issue here given that Pellegrini is the 3rd highest paid manager in the league, that in and of itself feels like a bad joke and he would have to be paid quite a pay off sum.

The future prospects for West Ham look very bleak indeed. Some players will have to step up, but it feels very questionable if they will.

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Jamie Vardy has ensured his legend status at Leicester City after Arsenal are beaten

At the time of writing Leicester are sitting in 2nd place in the Premier League and there are now genuine memories, hopes and wishes of what the club did in season 2015/16 and that is winning the Premier League. The clubs win over Arsenal by 2-0 just reinforced that fact that the Foxes are back.

Leading that title chase is Jamie Vardy. The striker breathes and bleeds Leicester and has been a constant within the teams most successful era of their history, simply put he installs belief, the will to win and most importantly he just keeps on scoring goals.

Vardy opened the game up against Arsenal with just 15 minutes left to play in a match that was terrifically entertaining and end to end stuff but ultimately one that looked like Brendan Rodgers side would end up dropping 2 points at home. It was headed for 0-0 until Vardy’s great goal which crushed Arsenal and then Leicester went onto score a 2nd moments later through the impressive James Maddison.

Vardy’s rise to top goalscorer in the Premier League has been stunning given that he was playing non-league football at the beginning of this decade with Halifax Town. But he is Leicester through and through. He has 11 goals already this season from 12 games and is on course to beat his best Premier League total of 24 goals when the Foxes won the league.

At the weekend he scored his 111th goal for the club in the league and there looks like no signs of the player slowing down. What is remarkable is that his career in the top flight did not kick off until he was 28 and it would felt to him that his football career had simply passed him by. He is an exception to the rule that you can still make it at the very top. One can count on your hand the amount of players that have risen from the ashes to perform well when they have gotten older, Ian Wright would be one of those players too.

Perhaps the British media have given the striker scant praise over the years, and it’s true that he isn’t the most prolific striker in England or Europe for that matter. But he does score goals, and does get himself in the right places in the area- he’s simply always there and always a threat.

Vardy is 32 but at this rate he has another 2-3 seasons with Leicester to keep on proving how important he has been at the club. Surely whatever happens now he has his foothold in the history of the club and also a staute will be awaiting him at King Power Stadium. How long can Leicester keep pushing Liverpool and Manchester City is anyone’s guess.

They remain the league’s outsiders and you get the feeling that Vardy and Leicester will love it that way.

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Unai Emery’s job is under threat at Arsenal

The Arsenal fans have made it clear that Unai Emery is now under severe pressure with some wanting him sacked as manager after just 18 months in charge. This comes after the Gunners have recorded just 2 wins from their past 9 games.

Emery has struggled with Arsenal overall and despite coming to the club with a good resume, winning the Europa League on a few occasions with Sevilla and the French league with PSG it has been difficult for the Spaniard to find the right balance with the team he has. Players on long contracts that he couldn’t sell like Mesut Ozil isn’t his fault and that remains some of the fall out from former manager Arsene Wenger. But fans believe that Emery simply isn’t getting the best out of his players and they could well be right.

What let down Wenger in his final years with the club was not qualifying for the Champions League and their dismal away record and that has continued under Emery. Reaching the Europa League final last season felt like a step in the right direction but what did it matter when they lost 4-1 in the final? No Arsenal fan wants to remember that run after that.

A glance at the Premier League table would see Arsenal in 5th place and wanting your manager sacked for that would seem harsh. But the bigger picture is that the club have slipped 6 points behind Chelsea who have a new young manager in Frank Lampard and have had a transfer ban this past summer.

Whilst the Gunners have only lost two games they have only won 1 game in their past five matches and have gone 3 games without a win. The other damning fact is the way they are losing points at home. Take the Crystal Palace match where they found themselves 2-0 up within 10 minutes. The old Arsenal circa 2005 would have gone on to win that match 5-0. This one let Palace back into the game. Of course one will argue that VAR stopped them from winning 3-2 with a bizarre decision but Arsenal should never have been in that situation in the first place.

Then there was the Wolves game again at home and again winning the match. Wolves were let back in the match and actually could have won it.

This is an Arsenal team who look hollow and without Pierre-Emerick Aubamyang they look devoid of ideas and goals.

The Arsenal fans may want Emery out but the board won’t panic yet. However if the club continue this form he may well be in trouble come the end of the year. Arsenal have a lot of thinking to do as the clubs ‘transition’ period continues for another season.

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