This Week’s Definition of the Premier League’s Big Five (Gameweek 3)

The Premier League

Another weekend of Premier League action has now come and gone. The world’s most-watched league is 3-games old and its table is gradually taking shape. Some will try to counter and say it’s still early days. That’s true but then again, there’s something about the early birds, right?

No, I’m not picking favorites to win the league just yet. After all, “nine points after three matches is nothing different… because we did that last season,” a famous manager said over the weekend.

With the Premier League set to take the backseat for international football and the grand finale of the long summer transfer window, I present to you this week’s edition of the definition. I will be taking a closer look at how the big teams in England fared, probably suggest encouragements for the superb ones and “medications” for the ailing ones.

Okay. That was just me joking. Let’s get to the meat of this article.

Ozil reacts after Arsenal lose 4-0 to Liverpool.

  1. Arsenal: Disastrous

Seeing my description of the Gooners, you’d think it’s harsh and unforgiving. But when you think of how others used words like “abject,” and “a bunch of schoolboys,” you’d rethink your judgment of my own description.

It was as if the Arsenal players had never seen Liverpool play. It was a shambolic performance by Arsene Wenger’s men. And some fans are looking past players like Ozil, Sanchez and Chamberlain and pointing accusing fingers at the French gaffer, blaming him for the heavy loss.

Why field players whose hearts are already miles away from the Emirates?” one said to me after the game. Names like Alexis Sanchez may be suspect for a poor showing on the day but, what of Hector Bellerin’s miscue that led to the third goal?  And how do you begin to explain not registering a single shot on target in such an important game?

Arsenal failed to attempt a single shot on target against Liverpool

Thierry Henry was right when he said they were “unwatchable.” Moves have to made, and quickly too, or else, the downward spiral may just have begun.

Chelsea vs Everton: The statistics

  1. Chelsea: Comfortable

What else is more comfy than beating your opponents? Maybe outscoring them on the day and making sure they don’t come anywhere near “your yard.”  And that’s what exactly Chelsea did.

In a bid to put the “blues” of losing to Burnley behind them, Antonio Conte’s side scored two first half goals – for security reasons I guess. It was all Chelsea from then on as the Evertonians could only manage three touches in the opposition box before the 85th minute and four in the final five minutes (and injury time).

Oh, there was little case of Morata setting a Premier League record too.

  1. Liverpool: Fast, Furious and Dangerous

Famed for the blistering fast attack that they boast, names like Mane and Salah didn’t hesitate to put Arsenal to the sword when the chance presented itself. In all honesty, I thought Liverpool and its shaky defense would concede at least a goal.

But the reverse was the case as the stats showed. Jurgen Klopp took full advantage of a dysfunctional side and successfully scored 2 in each half. If it was a case of Arsenal being the worse of the two sides is hard to tell.

But, it was Liverpool’s 3 points on the day. And boy did they win it in some style.

Saved by Sterling

  1. Manchester City: Struggling

For a while now, Pep has been accused of overly complicating things at and for Manchester City. Maybe that’s what made him switch to a back four against Bournemouth, playing a four-man midfield behind Gabriel Jesus.

With all the quality they possess, they still struggled to breakdown the Bournemouth defense and needed a 97th-minute Raheem Sterling goal to seal the deal. Maybe Eddie Howe’s side sat in too deep for City’s comfort. Maybe I can blame Man. City’s poor performance on that.

Bu then again, why did De Bruyne have to play so deep? Why can’t Bernardo Silva play 90 minutes? Can Yaya Toure play more often? These are just some of the questions – plus the others I asked on my Instagram page – that makes it obvious Pep Guardiola’s side are struggling.

Apart from killing games off as quickly as possible, the players need to soak up Pep’s philosophy as quickly as possible. Or maybe Pep should just learn to be flexible and switch his style of play.

But we all know Pep won’t change his style of play.

Jose Mourinho is the man.

  1. Manchester United: Marching On

In his post-match conference, Mourinho said, “I think we played well.” In all honesty, it’s hard to tell whether he was playing down the importance of 3 wins on the bounce or he really meant what he said.

The Red Devils put another foot forward in the right direction with a 2-0 win over Leicester. Unlike their last two games, it wasn’t the most glamorous of wins but then again, 3 points is all that matters, right?

Jose Mourinho’s men are being touted as favorites for the 2017/2018 Premier League title already. Why not? After playing 3 games, scoring 10 goals and keeping three clean sheets, it’s hard to argue about their title-winning chances.

There will be no Premier League games this weekend as it’s time for the international break. I’m looking forward to seeing how the Super Eagles of Nigeria and the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon will fare against each other. Hopefully both games will produce good football and I shall be entertained.

Which of the international games are you looking forward to seeing? Leave me a comment and lets get talking!

Video: The Goal That Broke Judas’ Heart Side Comments (#CHEMNU)

So many words, I’m speechless. You caption this .

It’s unsure what to have expected at the Stamford Bridge on Monday night with a depleted Manchester United side facing a full fledged Chelsea side.

That was a joke. Everyone expected Jose Mourinho to suffer not only boos from Chelsea fans, but also a loss to Conte’s men because of his lack of strikers.

The game ended 1-0 in favour of Chelsea who ran the Red Devils ragged for the most part of the game. Just in case you missed the solitary goal scored by Kante, see it below:

The sending off of Herrera was a game killer. Please don’t ask me if it was worth a red card as I’m still unsure of why a player’s first two tackles in a game will earn him two yellow cards.

Maybe I’ll have time to do a comprehensive analysis of the quarter finals of the FA Cup and an analysis of the things to come in the semi-finals later in the week.

Just maybe.

That being said, you can add this other name to Jose Mourinho’s long list of names: Jose ‘Judas’ Mourinho. Nice one Blues! Thanks for giving us something to talk about throughout this week.

Judas!

Have I mentioned how Hazard was unplayable, Rojo’s Man-of-the-Match performance, Valencia, Diego Costa’s new ‘acting role‘ and The Touchline Bust up?

 
About Author

Rotimi Daramola is a freelance football writer, football analyst and football content creator that is in love with the beautiful game. You can keep up with all of his writing and also engage with him on twitter @rotdav

There is Something Mysterious About the 2016/2017 Premier League Season

Enigma!

Enigma!

The Premier League, on any good day, is an interesting league, one of the most exciting (if not the most exciting one). One moment, you know what’s coming. The next, you’re left in awe of what just happened.

The Premier League is majorly a standout league for one reason: any club in the league, size and league table position regardless, can come visiting and steal 3 points from right under your nose, sometimes effortlessly, sometimes with the last kick of the game.

This, and not the famous English Fourth Estate (they play their part too) is what makes the league notoriously exciting. But the 2016/2017 season has been different.

No, I’m not talking about that 5000/1 kind of different. I’m talking about the 6th-position-for-months, Conte-nious-table-topping-performances, Pep-ppered-on-all-sides-by-Everton-and-Bravo kind of different.

Chelsea’s rise, Pep’s choice of Bravo despite those dangerously negative statiatics, Arsenal’s ‘upandan‘ season, Spurs, the Leicester blow-up, to mention but a few, have been mysterious and unexplainable!

There’s “almost” been more than enough excitement this season (enigma too!). Every week and matchday seems to have it’s own special surprise for all and sundry.

And in this article, I’ll be focusing on this week’s episode of mysteries served up by a mysterious season.

1. KARMA

It is believed that the world is run by a set of people, that keep the world in balance to prevent her from shutting down. For every good, there must be a bad, For every bad? A good. Its what keeps the world okay. It may seem a farce but, it is a reality which Jose Mourinho must come to terms with.

The 54-year old stormed out of his post-match TV interview apparently disgusted at the result, but it was one which had his own blueprint. Hull sat deep, refused to be bullied and had answers to all the questions United asked of them.

It was a classic Mourinho print, one reminiscent of his Inter days. He shouldn’t have been angry. He was simply being paid with his own kind of coin. His team had done the same earlier this season at Anfield.

Often times, snatching a win could be the sweetest thing in football but you being the victim? Leaves scars. However, it wasn’t the case here. Maybe Mourinho should applaud Hull’s resilience and be proud of them than putting up hypocritical behavior.

Mysterious Record: Welcome to a weird Premier League season

Mysterious Record: Welcome to a weird Premier League season

Have I mentioned the 6th place mystery? It’s been so enigmatic that I’ll just let this infographic emphasize how deep this mystery is.

 

Pep's Strongest Manchester City side yet?

Pep’s Strongest Manchester City side yet?

2. SANE, WILLY & JESUS, Guardiola’s Saviour

It doesn’t come everyday, the chance to say how much a goalkeeper saved Pep Guardiola on a Matchday. It’s usually the Spaniard’s frontment wrecking all the havoc and breaking down barriers.

But in recent times, just like a wardrobe malfunction, a “goalkeeping malfunction” has not saved Pep. It has made him look surprisingly terrible. Don’t get me wrong. The tacts have been fine.

Jesus comes from Brazil, gets a goal, an assist, runs away with the Man of The Match award and comfortably fills in the shoes left by Kun Aguero’s absence – all on his first Premier League start.

Sane’s trickery, run-ins, innovation and youth makes Man. City look alive again! I mean, Sterling is being greatly helped by the young German.

So, It’s obvious the Pep Tacts are intact. But no team can hide, for long, the pain of a bad (actually, terrible’s the word) goalkeeper.
And the Philosopher had been suffering this pain for some time. So, he decides to take a pill to alleviate his pain by replacing Claudio Bravo with Willy Caballero. The result?

Manchester City beat West Ham 0-4! No goals were conceded. Mysterious treatment of that “goalkeeping headache.”


3. THEIR OWN WORST ENEMY

Man is often said to be his own worst enemy. The architect of his downfall. And Arsenal are edging towards that spectrum.

Disastrous decision making in the stands courtesy Arsene Wenger, moments of naivety courtesy the Arsenal defence and a twirl of fate all combined to perfection against Watford. They lost the game

Being Arsenal, a loss to Watford may not entirely be a mystery. But, isn’t the mystery of CONSISTENTLY losing the “title ambitions” steam around this time of the year mysterious enough?

Season after season, the story has been the same: September to November, an Arsenal side that’ll kill all in sight. From Santa’s arrival, to his departure and the first month of the new year inclusive, you have an Arsenal side that just can’t help themselves from caving in.

They often play as if they are scared to win and while they have scored the most late goals this season, they must realize fortune will only favour the brave. It won’t hurt if they grow more cajones and played like champions. They already have the core!


4. ThE OTHER MYSTERIES

Chelsea fans have to forgive me for adding your beloved club to this list, instead of making it a point on it’s own.

Well, it seems no one else is interested in catching up. Since that unbeaten run, the only thing that can be a mystery is Chelsea losing. I’ve adjusted to this “type” of Chelsea. Nothing new to see – erm, can I mention that mysterious David Luiz goal?

Mysteriously, Liverpool were able to slow down that Chelsea train whose next stop sems to be the Premier League title. Mane is back. As such, the poor run of form should stop now.

Peter Crouch is still a prolific scorer. Scoring 100 Premier League goals is a mystery because not many made it that far. But Crouch did and celebrated the feat with his famous Robot Celebration.

Leicester’s season has been so confusing. It’s like the force of overcoming a 5000/1 odds is still with them, but this time, in a negative form.

The relegation cloud is hovering dangerously and that, my friends, is a mystery for a club that is the reigning champ.
Did I omit any other “mysteries”? Do you have some of yours? Please let me know by leaving a comment below. I’d love to talk football with you. 😉
About Author

Rotimi Daramola is a freelance football writer, football analyst and football content creator that is in love with the beautiful game. You can keep up with all of his writing and also engage with him on Twitter @rotdav

This Week’s Definition Of the EPL’s Big Five

This Premier League weekend had too much to offer in terms of action. It was almost impossible to keep up with actions and reactions the world over. How about the big five?

Arsenal: Vintage
The Arsenal win over Chelsea was the classic case of being run over by the better team on the day. Arsenal simply ran Chelsea over, scored those goals via running faster than the sluggish Blues and ran away with the win. You can now understand how the Gunners scored 3 against a Chelsea side, in 45 minutes.

Special Credit to Mesut Ozil (for losing Kante) and Alexis Sanchez for that third goal. Even more special credit to Mustafi and Koscielny for giving it their all to keep a clean sheet. It was an amazing performance which made Conte look so ordinary and sent Kante disappearing. Speaking of Chelsea…

Chelsea: Sixes and Sevens
The last time I saw a Chelsea defense this confused was against PSG. Any Conte-led side is usually known for their water-tight defense. But this side seemed to let open the floodgates between the 10th and the 15th minutes of the first half.

Looking past Cahill’s gift, how about this for a full comprehension of the disarray in the side:

You’ll be wondering what those three Chelsea players were doing attacking just one player in the upper part of that image. You must also be wondering how Chelsea just caved in dramatically, right? I think I’ve got some suggestions.

One: Maybe it’s because Michael Jackson is now the HNIC, not Antonio Conte.

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Two: Maybe because Chelsea, according to Sky Sports, have lost 38% of their games in which John Terry did not play. Or maybe, according to Ivanovic, it was because the players failed to follow the manager’s instructions. Who knows!

Liverpool: Five Star
It’s been said that a team has to make mistakes or errors before the other can win. But what happens when the opposition is just more than you can handle? We’ll have to know what exactly can be too much for a Premier League side to handle. To do that, let’s see the Match Stats via BBC:

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A 74% ball possession by the other team is already headache enough. You can’t do much without the ball. Add to that 32 shots, (the highest total by any side, in a game, in the Premier League this season), and you can already see the big picture! In addition, according to Mirror, Liverpool created 24 chances during the game. Rampant doesn’t get any better than that!

Manchester City: Unfamiliar
Fans of Manchester City must have had a pretty battle on their hands so far, as regards getting to fully understand their new gaffer and his methods so far. Pep has turned City inside out. And this has rattled all sides they’ve played against so far this season. Except Swansea.

Playing against them midweek seemed to give them this strange courage to go all out against the Cityzens. They were bold enough to come back from conceding an early goal, by scoring one of theirs almost immediately. Guardiola’s men were obviously rattled! They looked forlorn. Even though they eventually won, it may just be the beginning of things to come, with Spurs up next weekend and Kevin de Bruyne picking an injury.

Manchester United: Pogba + 4 In One Half
How else do you silence your critics? Those loud bags who have been running their mouth about your bad patch of form? Well, if you’re Jose Mourinho, you just make one hell of a tactical change to your team. Bench your captain then ask the rest of the team to score 4 unreplied goals, in the first half, against the current league champs.

What if you’re a certain Paul Pogba, who has been called just an expensive Seyi Olofinjana? Whose goals seem to have deserted him? Well, you just bully your way through the opposition’s defense, connect your head with your teammate’s corner kick and score your first English Premier League goal via a header. Then you run off to the corner flag, confused at first, on which celebrations to display, before choosing to just stare down those haters.

Then of course, share a dab with a teammate.

screenshot_2016-09-24-16-04-34-1

About Author
Rotimi Daramola is a freelance football writer, football analyst and football content creator that is in love with the beautiful game. You can keep up with all of his writing and also engage with him on Twitter @rotdav

This Week’s Definition Of the EPL’s Big Five

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It’s not very often that derbies, in any football league, end without a trace of controversy in sight after the game. Well, whatever controversy there could be was quashed by the way Pep Guardiola’s men played the first half and how Jose Mourinho’s army responded in the second.

Even though there were more than enough talking points this weekend (the referees stole the show), yes, I had to start with the biggest game of the weekend. The big one.

Liverpool and both Manchester clubs impressed. Arsenal and Chelsea struggled. Now let’s take an in-depth look at each club’s performnaces over the weekend.

Arsenal: Intensive
I think the saying that, “you play at the level of your opponent,” has an iota of truth in it. Southampton came to the Emirates with a fast game plan. Redmond, Jay Rodriguez and Virgil were the fast guys.

The only way to counter them was simple: Play faster… and intensely! The intensity of the Gunners was needed to cope with the pressure of the Saints and also create something going forward. Even though a 93rd-minute penalty was needed to win the game, the Gunners gave the fans an intense display.

Chelsea: Latecomers
And for the umpteenth time this season, the Blues needed an 80-somethingth minute goal to garner points. Let’s just say it’s becoming a habit for Antonio Conte’s men. Maybe it’s some sort of game plan. Who knows!

Yes, the fans had legitimate cries as regards the officiating of this match and the performance of some of their players. That FERocious kick (okay maybe more glaring than ferocious) on Cahill? The dilemna of a bicycle kick to the head of a defender before a goal? What was Courtois thinking? But I’m sure most of them will be happy they’ve got Cesc Fabregas on whom they can always call on.

Liverpool: Spot On
I’m not sure what it is about this Klopp side but, when they turn the switch on, every other thing must bow. Yep, that’s right. I was expecting a tight game against Leicester. But the Reds had other ideas.

Yes I’ll admit I didn’t see the wide margin coming. Firmino, Lallana did run riot. There was the slight case of Sturridge but it didn’t hurt them too much this time around. Hopefully, they won’t be brought back down to earth by another shock away loss next weekend.

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Manchester City: Tireless
The first half of the Manchester derby was entirely dominated by Guardiola’s men. The domination was so severe that the Red Devils needed a Bravo fumble to score. This domination looked simple on T.V.

But no domination comes just like that. Domination of a game this big involves a whole lot of running, (off and on the ball). And Pep’s men did this so effortlessly.Two men in particular gave the game their all: Kevin de Bruyne and Otamendi. Tireless attacking by the former which won a half, tireless defending by the latter which saved the other half.

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Manchester United: Half-Beaten
While the world showers Guardiola with all the praise for beating Mourinho in yet another derby, a Jose Mourinho commendation is due. How he and his boys managed to survive that first half is still a mystery.

His selection let him down the entire first half and he was bold to make changes that paid off immediately in the second half. Rashford’s introduction swung the game’s pendulum in United’s favour. City may have won the game but, Manchester United won the second half by a large margin, even though they still ended the game pointless. Fair or not?

About Author
Rotimi Daramola is a freelance football writer, football analyst and football content creator that is in love with the beautiful game. You can keep up with all of his writing and also engage with him on Twitter @rotdav and on LinkedIn

Manchester United vs Manchester City: What The World Is Saying About The Manchester Derby

pep-guardiola-jose-mourinho

This season’s Manchester derby has been called all kinds of names already. From the “Monster Derby” to the “Mother of all clashes,” the first Mancunian derby of the 2016/2017 English Premier League season has been the talk of the town.

And why not? Any game that involves Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola locking horns is one that gets a lot of people talking. Throw a Zlatan-like spanner into the mix and you have a “Manchester Derby Fever.”

To be honest, it already feels like another El Clasico game with a red card lurking somewhere in the corner for one of Jose’s men (remember those days).

Jose and Pep have stolen the headlines (forcing Ibrahimovic to come up with an advertorial just to get some of the spotlight on himself). Everybody is talking about what who will do to outsmart the other, and win.

And so, for this post, I have searched through the internet to find out what people are saying in anticipation of the almighty Manchester derby. Here’s some of what I found out

“For me, the big games are the ones that trigger you. They’re the games everyone speaks about. I have played in many derby games, I’ve played in El Clasico, the Inter-Milan derby, Ajax and Feyenoord, which was the big one there, and PSG-Marseille. I have played in all of them, the only one I missed was this one. This is coming on Saturday and I am very well prepared, confident and focused, and there is a lot of hard work behind that. We are prepared and we are ready. We just wait for the game now.” – Zlatan Ibrahimovic

“They must have studied every move and it’s going to be a beautiful show on the touchline, the pitch, everywhere. City will base their game on possession even though Guardiola has not been there for too long. Mourinho will be more practical. It’s going to be beautiful to watch, and I’ll watch it too.” – Luca Toni via Express

“We talked about it before, if City play with a false nine and that player is dropping, Pogba will have that false nine behind him, so how do you cope with that ball always going behind you? The two centre-backs won’t be able to come, because the two wingers might be inside the centre-back and the full-back. So if they put the ball in behind, you’re going to have to drop.” – Thierry Henry via SkySports

“Sergio Aguero is obviously a massive miss for City and his suspension tips the balance in United’s favour. Kelechi Iheanacho is rumoured to be replacing him and I’m sure he is capable of performing on the big stage but nobody can replace Aguero really.” – Harry Redknapp

“If any player is to score in Saturday’s
Manchester derby, it’ll be him,” said the former City midfielder. He’s a big game player and Jose Mourinho is the reason that he is at Old Trafford. As a player, Ibra oozes confidence, and Mourinho will big him up so much that he will enter the pitch on derby day feeling 15 feet tall.”
– Didi Hamann

“The height and power of United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic will make Saturday a big test for City’s entire defence, not just their keeper. As I said in my analysis on The Premier League Show, United under Mourinho get the ball into the box far earlier and far more often than they were doing last season. This season they have already made 53 crosses from open play, compared to 29 in the final three games of last season. The reason they are doing that is their aerial threat, not just through Ibrahimovic but also the physical prowess of Paul Pogba and Marouane Fellaini when balls are delivered into the box. They will play the same way against City – looking to get the ball out wide and then crossing it into the danger areas for someone to put their head on it.” – Alan Shearer via BBC

“Let’s try not to derive too much meaning from this encounter. It’s just too early, not only in the season as a while, but also the new managers’ Mancunian history, to take any sign as symbolic of either’s spell in their new surroundings. Both stories of José and Pep in the north west of England are unwritten, not even in progress, so it’s impossible to take out any judgment from this game as definitive.” – Tancredi Palmeri via WhoScored

Well, I think I saved the best quote for last! Regardless of the hype that has gone on before this game (round of applause for the English media please), both managers, Mourinho and Guardiola, have only started a very long journey.

No, I’m not trying to take anything away from this derby. A derby will always remain one: bragging rights are always at stake! Plus, this time around, the chance to have the pendulum swing heavily towards your direction, in terms of winning the league.

But this derby is only the fourth game of a young season. As much as a lot is being expected, the season has only just started, this time, with a bang.

All that being said, what do you think? Who will win this derby? Mourinho’s army? Guardiola’s Philosophers? Or, will both teams settle for a point each, while leaving the remaining point for the ref? Leave your comments below and let me know what you think?

About Author
Rotimi Daramola is a freelance football writer, football analyst and football content creator that is in love with the beautiful game. You can keep up with all of his writing and also engage with him on Twitter @rotdav and on LinkedIn

This Week’s Definition Of the English Premier League’s Big Five

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The new Premier League season has started with a bang. It’s just a MatchDay old but there’s been a lot to talk about already.

Brazilian flair, Cruyff turns, lovely through balls, incredible free kicks, outrageous goals from distance and some breathtaking piece of footwork have been the order of the day.

Of course there’s also been some open-eyed rantings, back slapping, hugs, fists bumping and exciting celebrations.

But, after Matchday 1, how have the big names performed? How did they fare?

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Arsenal: Not Ready… Yet
Arsenal lost their opening day game against Liverpool. And it did not exactly come as a surprise (especially if you’re an Arsenal fan). What more can a team that almost did not function in the transfer window do? And although the mart is still open, it’s unsure if Wenger will splash the cash.

And that is what the Gunners need, now that the Arsenal infirmary is getting filled again. After Wenger’s men succeeded in conceding 3 goals in the first 16 minutes of the second half against Liverpool, it’s obvious that plenty of work still needs to be done. “Arsenal are not ready physically for the title,” Wenger said. And, so far so good, he’s

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Chelsea: CONTEgious
As witnessed against West Ham, Chelsea’s new manager showed all of the above. After his team’s 89th minute winner, he went bonkers! It’s said that a man’s true creation will carry a mark that identifies with his character. And Chelsea’s display yesterday, – their urgency and decisiveness – against one of the teams that performed very well last season, showed marks of Conte’s organisation and ruthlessness.

Certainly if you’re being coached by the man that threatened to kill his players during the Euros (it’s not just a game), you’d definitely play to instructions, whether you’re Hazard or Costa. We’ll definitely see more of his energy being replicated amongst the Chelsea squad or… just maybe he’ll kill someone after all.

Liverpool: Deadly… and Conceding.
Jurgen Klopp’s men scored 4 goals against Arsenal… in just 20 minutes. And that was only their first game of the season. You can see where I’m going with this one, right?

Liverpool started the season with a powerful statement: “We’re now a team!” The build-up to Lallana’s goal, the break-neck pace of Mané and the jubilation that followed, will make them a nightmare for any club this season. And although the three goals conceded was a dent on the side, Liverpool, so far, have proved that they can outscore their opponents. Watch out!

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Manchester City: A New City
When Manchester City starts their Premier League campaign with their new and expensive signings, it’s not much of a surprise. But when the Cityzens kick off a Premier League campaign without Yaya Toure and Joe Hart, then you know something’s up!

Pep Guardiola is what’s up! The Philosopher has transformed the Man. City side and has turned it into his own team. Players like Fernandinho played in defense against Sunderland, Caballero was the first choice goalie, there was the 3-man defense formation and the “keep the ball” play. They needed a McNair own goal to win but it’s obvious: Manchester City is a different team now.

And given that they scored four goals in an European competition, for the first time, under Pep, it’s sign enough that this City is a brand new one.

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Manchester United: A Winning Start
New Man. Utd coach, Jose Mourinho, kicked things off with a win against Bournemouth. It was one that was expected and the Red Devils did not disappoint. What’s more, their big names shone bright… except one.

Zlatan got his debut goal, maintaining his record of having scored a debut goal at any club he’s joined. Bailly performed well. But the expensive did not feature. #PogBanned was all over social media as Pogba was not eligible to play for United. He was to serve a one-match suspension for getting two yellow cards in the Coppa Italia final. José has started well. And he’ll want to keep it up!

2016/2017 English Premier League Season: 51 Questions To Be Answered (26-12)

We’re now down to our last 26 questions that will be asked and hopefully, answered this new English Premier League season.

Wondering where the other questions are, you can quickly read them up here and here.

Done reading them? Let’s continue…

Q26: Tottenham: Flash In the Pan Or…?
After the performance of Pochettino’s men last season, how they chased after Leicester, knocking down every opppsition in the process, this question will definitely be asked. Yes, Mauricio has proved himself a good coach. But it remains to be seen if he can do the same with the Spurs in the Champions League.

Q25: Who Will be the Pressing King?
Gen gen pressing or pressure play? Klopp’s version or Pochettino’s way? There is also Southampton (not sure about life under Puel though), and maybe Everton (say Koeman) in this mix to relentlessly pursue and hassle their opponents.

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Q24: Was Mourinho’s Bus Destroyed at Chelsea…
…or did he bring it along to the city of Manchester? You’ll remember how José knew how to “park the bus” back at the Blues, right? Is he going to deploy such tacts at the Theatre of Dreams? When the going gets tough, we will find out.

Q23: Crazy Bets: Are You In?
Last season, it was all about that Leicester fan who put his money on his team to win the league, journalists betting with the hair on their heads and fans promising to walk around naked if their team lose. Will there be more of the crazies? Who knows! Just in case you’re wondering, Burnley’s at 1000/1 to win this season’s English Premier League trophy.

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Q22: Best Dressed Coach?
Leaving Jurgen Klopp out of this one, the contestants will be names like Antonio Conte, Pochettino and Mourinho (if his outfit in the Community Shield game is anything to go by). Of course the race for the gold in this one will be between Senõr Pep and err… Alan Pardew. Who will come out tops?

Q21: Clash of the Titans?
When the big teams and big coaches square up against one another, will it feature excitement that will get us through the season or will it feature a bus and fury at referees? I’m almost certain there’ll be no talks of character… or maybe there will?

Q20: What Next For Swansea Now?
After Stones left for Manchester City, Everton quickly swooped on Ashely Williams. He was obviously the replacement they had in mind with the way they went about the move. That being said, how will the Swans cope with the absence of their captain? Add to that the absence of Andre Ayew, and it may not be hard to see the Swans swimming in relegation waters this season (pun intended). Or maybe not?

Q19: Flop of the Season?
Who will rival supporters laugh at? Which of the big money names will be scorned or become a punchline? Will it take players like Pogba, as long as his transfer took, to settle in?

Q18: How will the Champions Fare in the Champions League?
New additions yes.. but departures can upset the balance of a team. It will be interesting to see how the champions of England handle their self-esteem against Europe’s big boys. Will they play like all’s at stake? Or will they go out there to have fun?

Q17: Which Will Be the People’s Team?
The year of the enigma called Suarez, it was Liverpool(though they didn’t win). No matter how you hated the club, it was just fun to watch SAS play. Last year, it was Leicester and they went on to win. Which team will be the peoples team this season?

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Q16: What Now for Rashford?
Ibrahimovic and Martial are the big names. No one really knows Rooney’s position. Plus Mourinho’s record with youngsters is impeccable (like he’d like us to believe). Will there even be room enough for Rashford to prove to the world that last season wasn’t a fluke?

Q15: OLIVIER twist For Giroud: Will Arsene Regret It?
A certain Frenchman playing at the Emirates took a long vacation from his goal-scoring activities last season. He just would not score… no matter how important the game was. The fans obviously didn’t like it and some called for his head. But the coach seemed undisturbed. And with his transfer dealings this summer transfer window, he seems to trust (and want more of) his fellow countryman. Will this move come back to haunt him when January and February arrive? An Arsenal fan has described his beloved club as, “…not only standing still but we are in reverse.” Will Arsene Wenger prove him wrong?

Q14: The Pep Evangelism: Who Will Be Converted
One of Josep’s strong point is his conversion skills. No he’s not a striker. But he knows how to take a midfielder and make him into a world-class defender (hello Javier). And he knows how to reverse the above-named reaction: take a defender and convert him into a midfielder (sound the aLAHM for this great guy!). Now that he’s in the City, who will become what? Who will have to adapt to a new position? Fernando or Fernandinho in central defense? John Stones in midfield? Toure on the bench position or the “Straight Outta City” position? Speaking of Manchester…

Q13: Will Manchester be United or Will it Remain the Same Old City?
This is like asking: Pep Guardiola or Jose Mourinho? Red or Blue? Or, in simple terms: Who will dominate Manchester? Who will come out on top in the derbies? Who will finish above who?

Q12: Will We Crumble After December?
This one’s a yearly question that highlights the situation among the fans of the Gunners. They’re always hoping injuries and bad luck don’t reear their ugly heads and ruin their chances, again! Will this season be different?

Demba Ba, New Jersies and more Talking Points from #FootballThisPastWeek

It’s that time of the football season where everywhere’s quiet. Golf and other sports kick football to the back of the news queue and only ‘short scenes’ instead of ‘season-long movies’ are the order of the day.

But of course, with football, even short scenes are major sells thanks to the news media and social media. From friendlies to transfers and all, football never really gets quiet.

So, what has been happening over the past week?

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High Flyers: Iceland benefitted from their surprising display at the Euro 2016

– The Latest FIFA Rankings
FIFA, as usual, released its latest rankings of football-playing countries across the globe. Argentina, Belgium, Colombia, Germany, Chile, Portugal, France, Spain, Brazil and Italy made up the top 10.

One of the biggest movers on the rankings was Venezuela that jumped 31 spots to 46th. Thanks to the Euros, Croatia, Poland and Iceland jumped up 12, 11 and 12 spots respectively to now occupy the 15th, 16th and 22nd positions. Wales jumped 15 sppts to the 11th position.

On the other, Austria dropped 11 spots to the 21st position while the Netherlands dropped 12 spots to 26th.

Nigeria? Sliding down the list as they’re now ranked the 70th best football-playing nation in the world.

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Cross-Country Move: Chelsea FC confirmed the capture of N'Golo Kante from Leicester City

– The Transfer Mart
There have been major movements in the football supermarket:

* Newcastle made its fifth signing of the summer.
* England seem to want Sam Allardyce.
* Kante joined Chelsea from Leicester (this one still baffles me).
* The 50m Pound of Stones: Everton will not sell their star defender for anything less.
* Leroy Sane moved to a new City in Manchester.
* Antonio Conte completed his move to Stamford Bridge. He came along with his record: In his three seasons with Juventus, his side never conceded more than 24 goals. It’s the first time he’s coaching outside the Italian Serie A but his “work” mantra may just work out fine for him.

Of course that’s just a little of the whole news, this one transfer market is bubbling.

– The Friendlies Season
Clubs resumed from their various hiatuses and needed to get the engines rolling. Of course, playing friendly games is the way to go!

Jose Mourinho and Manchester United started off with a win over Wigan while Antonio Conte could not get the better of Austrian side, Rapid. So much for taking charge of your first game just after two days of becoming a coach.

But of course we know the obvious: friendlies are important but they don’t determine how well a club will perform in the season. Louis van Gaal knows this too well

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New Jersies: Necessary or not? Photo credit: BleacherReport

– The New Jerseys: How Necessary Are They?
So many clubs have unveiled new kits to be used for the upcoming season. Some, great while some weren’t exactly so great. Since it has been a tradition to have new jerseys for new seasons, the question arises: Why does there have to be a new one? If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it, right?

Most times, the jersey used by the club the season before does not become obsolete. Most fans still love it: partially because it’s their club and partially because they’ve bought it for their closet.

Now, the club goes ahead to change the style, outlook or colour of the existing jersey. It’s simply a “reformation” or “refurbishment” or “simple improvement” of the existing one. But it comes with all the fuss of a new one. Sales tactics if you ask me.

The fans (loyal, die-hard ones though) go on out there and snap them up. The “old” jersey becomes history. The trend continues over the years.

The question arises again: Is the “New Jersey for a New Season” really necessary?

Worthy Mentions
The most exciting game of the 2015/2016 NPFL season was played on Saturday. Akwa United vs Rangers International. The five-goal thriller was a “balanced diet for a football fan’s appetite.” In the end, Rangers won and ended up at the summit of the table.

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Awkward Angle: Demba Ba broke his leg while playing in China.

Demba Ba, 31 years of age, suffered a devastating and heart-wrenching injury where his leg got broken. The sight of the awkwardly-bent leg was a gory one. I ran away from the video and only managed rhe sight of the picture. Get well soon Ba. In other news, after that injury, I’m not sure of his football-playing career.

About Author
Rotimi Daramola is a freelance football writer, football analyst and football content creator that is in love with the beautiful game. You can keep up with all of his writing and also engage with him on Twitter @rotdav and on LinkedIn

Jose Mourinho the Serious One, £100m Pogba, the NPFL and 7 More Talking Points From #FootballThisPastWeek

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Portugal: European Campeons!

I’ve got a confession to make.

Well, let’s just say it’s more of a theory I’d like to prove than a confession.

Want to know what it is? Okay, here we go!

Football is a whole lot about “could haves,” “would haves,” and “should haves.” (you agree with me right?)

Although it’s something associated with sports in general, football (or soccer for the U.S fans) gets more than its own fair share of the “what-could-have-been” tales of the sports industry.

Maybe it’s because of the worldwide reach of the game, which means there’s a massive amount of people to talk about what happened, with plenty of regard to what could have happened.

“What if the German national team was not hit by injuries? They would have beaten France.”

“Manchester United want to buy Pogba for £100m? They shouldn’t have sold him in the first place.”

“Portugal are champions of Europe? They shouldn’t have even qualified out of their group. They were that poor.”

You get the gist?

It is these kind of questions and the assumptions (and presumtions) that come along with them that makes football deep; so deep, it’s hard to cover all about football in one article.

Different opinions from different people watching from different angles. But this is what makes football fun to talk about: the endless possibilities. An ever-growing list of stuff to talk about.

And in the past week, there’s been more than enough to talk about.

From the Euro 2016, to England’s search for a coach, the players leaving and joining football clubs with weird price tags (and weird locations too!), football has been quite eventful.

Let’s review some of the talking points from football this past week shall we?

– The Euro 2016: So Far, So Good…French Hosts, Portugese Champs, French Runners-up
The European championship has come and gone. It brought drama, amazing goals, upsets and surprises.

One of the surprise, and the ultimate one,  was Portugal winning the tournament. Judging by the way they played in the group stages, they were the least-expected country to even qualify for the final.

But, they pulled a Leicester on all and, against all odds (the C. Ronaldo injury included), won the trophy.

Their opponents, the Frenchmen, couldn’t capitalise on their mistakes like they did against the Germans. The host-nation had to settle for second place.

This Euro was the one European tournament that had long-standing records tumbling over themselves. In Euro 2016,

▶ FRA which had NEVER lost an European Championship Final, after winning both the 1984 and the 2000 finals which were their only final appearances, came in second place behind Portugal.

▶ France beat Germany in the semi-final of the competition. That was the first time in 58 years that the French beat their German counterparts in competitive football.

▶ Ronaldo: With 9 Euro goals, Cristiano Ronaldo tied Platini’s 1984 record for most goals, in an European competition.

How about the weird ones?

▶ Portugal didn’t win any game in normal time until they got to the semi-final stage of the competition.

▶ Who would have thought that Griezmann would turn out to be the highest goalscorer of the tournament? Dunno bout you but, I didn’t see him scoring six before the tournament started.

▶ OFFICIAL: Renato Sanches has won the #EURO2016 Young Player of the Tournament award. A star is born. https://t.co/jwo3xnvKyy
Even Sanches could not have seen this one coming.

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Jose 'The Serious One' Mourinho

– The Jose Mourinho Press Conference
The Special One has officially become the HNIC at Manchester United (just in case you’re wondering what HNIC means, search for it a href=”www.urbandictionary.com”>here ). I’ll be waiting for you when you come back.

But after his press conference, the media changed their minds and gave Jose a new name: The Serious One. Why?

Let’s just say some tough statements, aggressive statements and some excerpts from his first press conference as a Manchester United coach:

José Mourinho:

“I was never very good at hiding behind words or hiding behind philosophies.”

José Mourinho:

Man. Utd is a Champions League club. We have to make sure in July 2017 that this club is where it belongs.

José Mourinho:

“I prefer to be more aggressive, to say that we want to win. We want to win everything.”

https://t.co/aLoZB8mmIi

José Mourinho:

“I know the responsibility, the legacy, the history. I know what the fans expect from me.”

https://t.co/zRa8RVZYw5

José Mourinho:

“This is a job that everyone wants and I have it! This challenge does not make me nervous.”

https://t.co/bJvqPYHDSc

José Mourinho:

“I feel a bit frustrated we’re not in the Champions League. Man Utd is a Champions League club.”

https://t.co/TgXDE2fTtY

José Mourinho:

“49 is a lot. One lie repeated many times. Always a lie. If you want names, I give you the names.”

https://t.co/19DD3lGrzO

José Mourinho on why Ryan Giggs left Man Utd:

“The job Ryan wanted is the one I got. He wants to be a manager.”

https://t.co/OUNK1Koh4W

José Mourinho on Ryan Giggs:

“I will never stop him coming back. The club tried to offer him any important job they could. He’s been brave.”

José Mourinho on the advice Sir Alex Ferguson gave him:

“Bring the umbrella! And bring the good bottle of wine.”

https://t.co/MAZRLaOwBA

After using the word ‘I’ 91 times during his introductory press conference, according to DailyMail, you can understand why the media quickly gave Jose a new name.

But with all the huffing and puffing, will Mourinho turn Man. Utd’s fortunes around? Can he actually win all?

I think he can’t win all. What do you think?

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New Citizen in town: Pep Guardiola poses for his first official photos as Man. City coach

– The Pep Guardiola Press Conference
During the week, in the other half of Manchester, Pep “The Philosopher” Guardiola also gave his introductory press conference.

While reading through the excerpts, you will notice a sharp contrast between the words he chose to use and those used by Mourinho. A norm for two coaches known to never have been on the same side of a coin.

Pep on Mourinho:

“I think Jose said pretty well in his press conference that it’s not about me and him.”

Pep:

“The top coaches, and Jose is one, help me reach the next level. They made me better. Like Jurgen Klopp at Dortmund too.”

Pep Guardiola on Yaya Toure:

“I’m counting on them all including Yaya.”

PEP:

“I love to work with young players. Now I realise in a short time working with players from the second team, I’m really impressed.”

Pep Guardiola:

“Antonio Conte is a master tactician. It’s going to be very interesting competing against him.”

https://t.co/QZciP6BeQU

Pep Guardiola:

Manchester City can play ‘beautiful football’ in Premier League

: https://t.co/9ZSj0V9Urq

PEP:

“I will always be grateful to this club for giving me this opportunity to come to the Premier League. I’ll do my best to the last day.”

Pep:

“I think it’s great top managers are here in England. Big managers take me to another level — they push me to achieve things.”

Pep:

“My responsibility here is for the players. The other business is huge so I just focus on my players.”

What is Guardiola up to? I wish I knew. Of course I’d love to hear from you if you know what the Philosopher will do next.

-The Crazy Football Transfer Market’s Getting Crazier!
With the way most football clubs are going about their deals: signing players, selling some, and releasing others for free, there might not be too much to do on that dreaded dealine day.

Clubs like Newcastle made their fourth signing in the past week (English Championship clubs beware!); a signing from Atletico Madrid. Unless they’re aiming to beat Quique Flores’ record at Watford last season, they’ll be very well done with their purchases before August 31 (or is it September 1?)

Players like Pelle of Southampton discovered that the grass is greener on the “Chinese” side. Victor Valdes intends to “pick it up from ground level” again at Middlesborough and Ahmed Musa joined “a family” at Leicester.

But the major transfer news was about a player whose only movement was the movements he was making on the pitch for his country at the Euro 2016.

Paul Pogba is his name. And wherever that name appears now, a price-tag of £100m follows. And Manchester United is the football club making the offer.

And a whole lot has been said by a whole lot of people about this, one of them being Robbie Fowler…

“The former England striker has launched a scathing attack on the Manchester United target, claiming the £100m price-tag is way too much for the 23-year-old France’s Paul Pogba is ‘massively overrated’ and has been average at the European Championships.”

“He’s done OK against pretty limited opposition for France, but what does he bring? Energy and athleticism to midfield, but so does N’Golo Kante.”

– Fowler

Ouch!

But, the question remains: Whose fault is it that an amount that huge is being offered for a player of, erm, let’s just say, that calibre?

Manchester United? Mourinho? Pogba? Who’s to blame?

– Coaching Drama
Guardiola and Mourinho weren’t the only coaches in the news over the week.

England has put a number of coaches in the spotlight with their recent search for a new coach. Roy stepped down after the dismal Euro 2016 showing and now the Three Lions are in search of a new coach.

Jurgen Klinsmann has become one of the front-runners for the job. Can’t blame the FA. Seeing the job that was done by the German with the USMNT, Jurgen presents a fantastic opportunity English football has been waiting for since 1966: a coach that knows how to win. Or at least, a coach that knows how to turn a losing side into a side that will be feared.

An impressive C.V and the opportunity to help develop a predecesor who will take over when he’s gone means Klinsmann is an offer the FA can’t refuse. Seems England may not be needing a ‘Roll of the Allardyce’ afterall. Sorry SkySports.

Still on irresistible offers, Marcelo Bielsa resigned just two days after taking the coaching role at Lazio! This one will go down in coaching folklore.

Bielsa threw all the blame on Lazio but we both know who’s to blame right?

Moving on…

Worthy Mentions
During the past week, a certain Real Madrid player, Lucas Silva, aged 23, was forced to retire from football due to a serious heart problem. https://t.co/HRxK8zPvbL

It’s certainly a sad one for the lad who, going by his age, still had a couple of playing years ahead of him. Hopefully Real Madrid will be able to get him a player-scouting role at the club because… of course a coaching role would be bad for his heart!

This stat appeared somewhere online last week: Hugo Lloris had 33 passes v #GER, only Paul Pogba (35) had more on the French side. Playmaker.

I really dunno where to categorize that.

Kano Pillars, missed out on cash from the Musa-to-Leicester move. Why? No sell-on clauses were inserted in his contract when he moved to Europe.  Maybe our Nigerian clubs need more business orientation. Maybe that alone can make the NPFL a better league generally.

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Tight Battle For the Title: Wikki Tourists, Rangers and Rivers set to make this one a "photo-finish." Photo credit: LMCNPFL

Speaking of the NPFL, Rangers International are obviously giving Wikki Tourists a run for their money. Or should I say… a run for their title. And with both teams on 43 points, Rivers United is lurking around the corner like an hyena, with 41 points, waiting to take advantage of any slip ups.

Who said the NPFL isn’t fun?

Did I mention that Portugal, before the Euro 2016, were 20/1 to win the tournament? I guess it’s safe to say again, THEY PULLED A LEICESTER ON ME! I’m sure they did on you too right?

Don’t forget to share this beautiful read with your friends. I’m sure they’ll love it and will thank you.

About Author
Rotimi Daramola is a freelance football writer, football analyst and football content creator that is in love with the beautiful game. You can keep up with all of his writing and also engage with him on Twitter @rotdav and on LinkedIn