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I don’t know why United fans are so unhappy, they’re only six points from the top of the Premier League. That’s the closest they’ve been for over a year.
Initial Chelsea v Liverpool thoughts
Well, 2020 has been an odd year – I genuinely cannot believe Liverpool played Thiago and James Milner in central midfield, but here we all are.
Was also painful to see Fabinho extract Werner’s soul like that.
The oddest thing, though, is how comfortable Liverpool were throughout, especially in the first half. Chelsea offered very little, which surprised me.
Up the Reds.
Nick Glover, Scouser in Brum
Liverpool did not have to be great…
In the first half I wouldn’t describe our domination as sterile but it also didn’t penetrate as much as we normally would. We were all fart no poo. The red card changed the game but it’s completely correct and to some extent made certain because of the players involved. Mané is so fast and would’ve definitely been first to the ball, if it was Firmino running through then I could possibly understand a yellow as it would’ve been less clear cut who would’ve won the foot race. Tierney saw how close he was and rectified his mistake at least. I saw something on the bastion of truth (Twitter) suggesting that last season Tierney had 45% of his key decisions overruled by VAR. If true, does that imply he’s quite a poor ref when it comes to the big moments?
Fabinho was man of the match and made Werner look ordinary. He didn’t panic and made Werner’s pace count for very little. That said I wonder what Havertz and Werner think of Lampard so far. Before the red card they didn’t look remotely threatening, maybe Lampard was too focussed on not getting smashed like last season but that ultimately played into our hands. I think their first shot on target was the penalty which says a lot about how well we handled them.
I felt bad for Kepa. Probably his last significant game for Chelsea and he got totally mugged by Mané. Doesn’t seem like a bad person; he just seems really young and like the pressure of the English media and the price tag may have got to him. I think he would benefit moving back to Spain where I bet he would rediscover his form.
First look at Thiago – He’s a sexy little reincarnation of Xabi Alonso. If he grows a handsome beard then I may leave my wife. I’ve written some pretty homoerotic closing lines to this strand of thoughts and keep deleting them. But you know.
Arsenal next week is huge. We have lost to them the last two times we played them and both times they looked great. They really capped our threat well and looked so threatening themselves. Arteta is very astute and I think it’ll be a really tough game. Aubamayang is probably also still really happy with his new contract and they seem to be really positive right now.
…After watching Sunday’s game and reading 16 conclusions, I find it very difficult to accept the following regarding Werner’s impact on the game- ‘Liverpool did not struggle then but failed to answer every question Werner posed with the ball at his feet’. Fabinho absolutely dominated him. He was taken down in the box and all credit to him for the run but the idea that Liverpool could not contain him is just wrong. If flaring a ball wide from nothing and winning a penalty in 90 minutes is the evidence of masterclass of higher order questioning are we not just lowering the bar to accommodate the name on the back of the jersey? The shot was described by Martin Tyler as ‘rolling past the keeper’ and Gary Neville said ‘it looked scuffed”.
Out of nothing? He latched on to a breaking ball and ran at the goal and mishit it. Tyler also said that an offside flag spared him his blushes after he completely skewed an effort wide. There was talks of 5aside football between Mane and Keita and Werner’s shots today were akin to the astroturf lad who should be playing for the local first team because he is wicked fast except he just doesn’t have the end product and enjoys the smokes. You know the guy, he has a joker tattoo on his shin.
Anyway, I have no doubt that Werner will do great things, but on Sunday he was well and truly marshalled by Fabinho. Conclusion no. 4 suggests that it was an even contest between Fabinho and Werner. If it was an even contest, we cannot say that Liverpool failed to answer every question he asked and the conclusions go on to say ‘The Brazilian rose to the challenge with a couple of excellent early tackles, with Werner getting the better of him about as often’. If you give ‘excellent’ answers in the from of tackles, then you cannot be accused of failure unless the same unfair metric for predicted grades is being applied to the Werner test.
Just to say I think that Thiago looked excellent and really has the feel of a world-class player which the midfield was lacking. It is an exciting time to be a Liverpool fan, this must be how United fans felt over the years. There is no substitute for class players who are hungry for success.
Some Chelsea positives
Liverpool leave a quiet Stamford Bridge with all three points in the end but oh how it could’ve been so different, during the first half I felt Chelsea had their moments but just didn’t show a killer instinct in front of goal, to many balls being passed back toward our own half etc, then the moment that changed the entire game, Red Card for Christensen, no complaints it was stupid and would’ve made any NFL defensive player proud.
Second half, two quick Liverpool goals from Sadio Mane made sure of the result, but yet again we talk about a dreadful mistake made by Kepa, how on earth he will resurrect his career after he leaves will be certainly something to watch because he makes Karius and Roberto look like decent keepers, as Klopp knew with Karius, keep him in the goal and you won’t be lifting any trophies, hopefully Mendy is as good as the last keeper we signed from Rennes.
Realistically Chelsea are missing three key first-team players being Ziyech, Chilwell and Pulisic, I’ll judge the team when they are back fit, looking forward to that day, one final note, wow, Timo Werner is some player, his pace and energy is fantastic, won’t be long before he bags his first goal in the league for us.
…Matt Stead provides absolutely negative/simplistic view of the match from Chelsea standpoint.
Chelsea having £150million-worth attacking players on treatment table against full strength champions … we were just let down by individual mistakes. In fact Chelsea managed game well till the sending off.
Till that time Liverpool had nothing of substance created. Mane might or might not have scored if he was not tackled but with Var being used … I really think it would better to be smart and let Mane attempt to score than to get sent off. One goal down is so much better than being a man down.
Also, I saw no one blaming Klopp for the mistake by Virgil last week or Guardiola being flayed for issues with his defense or Bielsa being hammered for conceding four. Why blame Lampard for individual mistakes in second game of the season against full strength champions.
It’s obvious that it will be a few months before the full strength Chelsea team can play to its potential. Surely Timo Werner should be asked to take future penalties. And I guess Kepa issue is being remedied at the moment.
We need to look at the performances after first 12-15 games and if even then the team is on ropes against top teams then we need to be critical of the manager. Until then it’s time to be supportive and watch with anticipation for the team to start clicking .. I have a feeling with 4-2-3-1 ..Timo up top with Havertz as 10 , Pulisic and Hakim on the wings and Kante + Kovacic as DM ..We will rip teams apart.
B Cfc (Poch will be my top pick if it ever comes to Lamp being let go)
A few points on the Man Utd mailbox
1) Where is SG?
2) Who is OJS?
3) I’ve defended VAR to the hilt saying it needs time to bed in and the officials using it need to better understand…well, understand reality.
4) …and understand football.
5) After the Palace penalty fiasco it’s clear that they understand neither.
6) Palace thoroughly deserved to win.
7) To a Man, Utd were awful.
8) Daniel James is an above-average sprinter, but a below-average footballer.
9) Woodward is a disgrace to our club.
10) And this is point which wasn’t really picked up on in the previous mailbox, Utd went into that game ludicrously cold. Palace had four pre-season games, plus a competitive game last week. Utd had one pre-season game. That’s it.
Take away the adrenaline gained from a packed stadium and it was clear Utd were worryingly off the pace. I know that’s the same for all teams, but the differences allowed for preparation in a league where losing one game can cost you the season now, it’s absurd that this disparity has been allowed to happen. Same goes for City.
11) Phil Neville.
Marky B. MUFC
Conclusions after the Palace game
It can only get better. Looks like we had the squad together for 7 days for full training at best. That back four wont be lining up again. Defo time for Henderson to have a shot in the nets. It’s a miracle we weren’t punished by De Gea punt like we were for the Everton game.
Don’t let VAR mask anything. Both that and the overall team performance was abysmal.
Van Der Beek looked eager and was composed for his finish. More from him now! Dan James is Championship and Carabao squad level at best.
Is there any reason why we won’t look at Adama Traore is a solution on the RHS?
Loved Evra’s honesty. Can’t help but think Zaha would be a lovely addition. Possibly that Sarr also just to get us through what are going to look like long and heavy UCL meets.
If having to bring on Greenwood at half time isn’t a strong enough msg, the mess at the back has to be the final straw for us to open the cheque book!
But FFS unless you’re going to Germany with the correct approach just leave Sancho the hell alone and add some other players who want a sodding challenge together with that wall of a bloke, Upemacano.
Chris (Realistic)Utd fan
Some of this is Ole’s fault
Ole, to be honest, has set up quite a good team, transfer or no transfer. There were issues however, blatant to see, which could have been sorted out last year itself, let alone this weekend. That’s what frustrates me most.
Lindelof has no physical presence, loses headers and is generally slow. He’s clearly been the architect of at least six of our losses last season and you can add Saturday’s match to the pile. So why is Bailly not being played? The few games he’s played he’s hardly conceded anything and was superb in one of our Europa League games where I was left wondering why he gets left out, inexplicable.
De Gea being a great shot stopper doesn’t work anymore. It does if you have world-class defenders in front of you but with Ole’s insistence on Lindelof, he won’t do. It’s time for him to be dropped and for Henderson to come in, period.
Rashford is wasted on the wing, it’s easy to see. He’s getting double marked. United need to play with two up front, a plan which keeps getting scuppered due to their defensive ineptness.
Wan Bissaka needs to play every single game. If he’s unable to cross, he needs to be taught how to. Sometimes I fail to understand why big clubs only rely to top-ups as their source of improvement and are clearly incapable to improving a player themselves. Sign of the times really.
Then there’s the likes of Fred, Lingard and Mata who are not being used cleverly enough as subs, one of the most important aspects of coaching.
Wouldn’t like to mention anything about our ineptness during transfers as it’s gone on for multiple seasons now, but for Ole to rise to the challenge he needs to do the basic/easy things well. Else there needs to be someone who can.
Saby MUFC Swindon
Covid-19 no excuse for Man United woes
We have been reading in the news about the tendency to use Covid-19 as an excuse for transfer failings and OLE alluded to this excuse recently. I beg to differ. The question I keep asking is – is United the only club affected by Covid-19? Of course the answer is no. Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs and other clubs are investing heavily and signing excellent players albeit all those clubs are existing in the same Covid-19 environment. The question must further be asked – is United a serious football club wanting to win titles or money making entity? You be the Judge.
Professor David Achanfuo Yeboah
Remember the awful decision
I am a Liverpool fan but the penalty against Manu and subsequent retake were two of the worst decisions I’ve ever seen. I know everyone is playing this down with talk of things evening out and Palace being the better team but goals make games and who knows… if United grab an equaliser at 1-0 it’s a different ballgame. The point is that it was only the first game of the season and it contained an absolutely shocking decision that put the result beyond the home team. As a pool fan I’m reminded that sometimes when things are going against you the luck also runs down the loo. Mark my words, however badly they had played up to that point, it was one of the worst (double) refereeing decisions ever!
Let’s talk Tottenham
I was penning one of my mid-game musings regarding Sonny but thought, naw, let me see how the game pans out. If we’d reverted to norm, been shit and lost then my email would have had a different dynamic.
As it is, Southampton’s high line has done us a massive favour and made a very pedestrian midfield in front of a very questionable defence look like they’ve had a good result. Really, it’s Sonny and his 2nd in command (Harry ‘motivational speaker of the century’ Kane) who took advantage and rescued us today. Throw in Bale on the right and it’s a salivating prospect for the future for our front 3.
Kane has just scored to make it 5-1 so it may come across as a bit odd for me to question the performance but the Saints could have been well ahead before we kicked into gear and look at their goal! Dier has zero idea what’s going on. He is terrible.
Anyway, let me get to my point which is linked to the above. The elite Son blended with terrible defending is why we won. So how are the world’s elite teams not linked with Son? Like, ever? He is an unbelievable player and you can imagine him playing for City and Liverpool before we even mention Barca, Madrid, Munich and, well, someone who could actually win one those shiny things awarded to teams who recognise great success…..what is it again….ah yeah, a trophy.
I’m pretty objective as a Spurs fan. I recognise mediocracy when I see it. Dier, Sanchez, Davies, Winks, Aurier, Moura. I’m even know to jump on Kane at time’s. Alli is also a waste of time, generally speaking. But Sonny? Jeez. He is the star boy, the main geez, the cream of the crop. I love this guy and whist I’ll never understand the lack of transfer links against his name, I’ll appreciate that’s the case.
On the future, it’s a catch 22. Sergio and Gareth and great additions. Our starting 11 could be tasty and I can only imagine what it could achieve. Under Pochettino. Mourinho will always hold us back but he is also the reason we have some of these players, especially the last 2 signings.
I want Tanguy to succeed, so much, but Le Colso is our main man in the middle of the park. He’s incisive, disciplined and a bit of a bastard to boot. Let Pierre settle in and that’s a solid midfield 4 of Doherty / Le Celso / Pierre / Sergio behind Son / Kane / Bale. Even Lloris looks a decent keeper since he’s come back from his injury. All we need to challenge the top 4? 3 decent centre backs.
This is Tottenham though so let’s enjoy a dog shit defence with a, potentially, exquisite forward line and all the joy and pain that comes with it.
That penalty though. Who’s making the rules? Jokers.
Glen, Stratford Spur
Let’s talk Everton
-Ah man, it’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed a league game like that. There was a real threat and belief in our attack. Now, I can totally get people getting hacked off with proclamations that now Everton have beaten Spurs and West Brom there’s talk of Top Four – but I think those statements are only really coming from second tier pundits on Sky, Beeb etc; I don’t think that talk is coming seriously from Evertonians. What is coming is genuine enjoyment at what Everton are producing on the pitch in the first two games of the season, and that’s been a while coming and what football is about.
-Last season I compared some of our football to contestants on the Crystal Maze. Keeping with the Challenge TV theme this feels more Like Who Wants to be a Millionaire. Now, to the point above, I’m not saying we are going all Donald Fear, but we came through the first two questions (underprepared Spurs and undermanned Baggies) with wins. There’s harder tasks ahead of us and there’s no point predicting a final spot at this early stage but it’s been straightforward and enjoyable to date.
-One of the biggest benefits of James is he allows Richarlison to play further up the field and not have to start so many moves off. Richy gets a fair amount of stick from opposition fans because he always plays with a snarl/sneer on his face and is always involved in fouls but he puts in a hell of a shift. At times last season he was doing the work of three men – winger, attacking midfielder, forward – James coming in allows him, and DCL, to focus on more focused objectives and therefore perform them much more effectively. Richy missed some sitters against Spurs and deserved a goal yesterday, more goals will come and I think we will see more scorelines like yesterday rather than 1-0s.
-The other reason for that, however, is our defence. It’s not great. Despite having some good shielding via Allan and Doucoure it’s too at risk from individual errors, principally from Pickford and Mina. We have good young centre halves in Holgate, Branthwhaite and Gibson so I don’t think getting another young one is the strategy, rather a plug in and play signing, i.e. a CB version of James. Thiago Silva would have been good but overly ambitious. Can’t think of any names, but that is hopefully the profile they are looking for.
-Repeated hot take of the weekend is that we could all sympathise with Mark Noble after watching the game at Goodison. Diangana looked really good and the interplay with Pereira and Robinson was sharp. It’s just a shame for them that Gibbs got sent off and they couldn’t defend. Given they conceded two penalties to Leicester it looks like they too need to cut out the errors at the back to enable that forward line a platform to earn points from.
-West Brom’s slickness in attack further put Spurs’ performance in a negative light. Spurs forced some good saves out of Pickford in the first half last weekend, but they hardly threatened after we went 1-0 up. Spurs have decided to copy the Everton model and buy a ready to play replacement but in true current Spurs style, he’s not quite ready to play. Couple that with now more weeks of Mourinho negativity before the lift of seeing Bale back and I’ve got to say I’ve a bad feeling about this.
-However, despite Everton proving it does help and Spurs following that, Crystal Palace – our next opponents in the top of the table clash next weekend – offered an example to the contrary. Tactics that rely on getting the best out of your best players (even if that does appear on relying on your keeper to be boss) have sent them to two wins out of two, and it will certainly be the toughest test of our season to date, and in keeping with my tired “… Millionaire” metaphor, we don’t have any guaranteed prize yet.
-Their opponents last night are also looking to buy a plug in and play player, but would Sancho have helped? United were underprepared and have other areas to focus on other than Sancho. Is Woodward brilliant? No. Is he a problem? Yes. Is he to blame for Saturday night? Yes, but because of years of under performing not because he hasn’t bought Sancho. That doesn’t help United fans, but surely watching Palace’s performance shows us all that we don’t just need to rely on buying players in despite how fun and brilliant James Rodriguez is!
Matt, EFC, London
About Aaron Ramsey…
On Friday 18th across Twitter and Mediawatch, F365 described Aaron Ramsey as being an “outcast” and “entirely surplus to requirements at Juventus” in response to a national newspaper describing him being worth £60M, the same as European Cup winner Serge Gnabry.
This Sunday evening, Ramsey starred for Juventus in a 3-0 victory over Sampdoria.
Trusted by new manager Andrea Pirlo to play the entire match (thereby relegating new signing Arthur to the bench) Ramsey completed more than double the amount of key passes than any other player, had the most passes in the opposition half, won the most tackles, and assisted Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal.
His movement and anticipation were exceptional, and had Ronaldo had his shooting boots on, could have had another assist.
Is he “worth” the same as Gnabry? No. Will he be injury free this season? Probably not. But perhaps F365 were a little quick to label him expendable.