Premier League Review Round 15: Superb Silva, dominant De Gea and safe Sam

Prem 2017


Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to December. Welcome to the feasts, festivities and the family feuds. Most importantly, welcome to the football. On this final month of 2017, the Premier League will delve into 6 rounds of tantalising drama. Apologies for the lack of PL Review for the previous match day; December can be one of the most busy as well as most wonderful times of the year. But fear not, this week we reflect on a round of fixtures which arguably produced the crowning battle of the season thus far…

Superb Silva

This was the weekend we look to the top of the tree. Manchester City were victorious (*systematically repeats) against David Moyes’ West Ham United. The Citizens have now recorded 13 straight victories in the league, matching the feat of Antonio Conte’s Chelsea last season, ironically who went on to lift the trophy in May. 8 points clear already going into December, they obtain a fantastic team-spirit, work-ethic and the resoluteness required to triumph in May. Another City comeback was required, quite the hallmark these days. Nicolas Otamendi equalised, but one player stood out amongst the talent.

Jamie Carragher on Sky Sports produced a bold statement. In spite of the magnificent Kevin De Bruyne and City’s prowling forward line, he singled out David Silva – the match winner – as the man for Pep’s side. Carragher claimed that Silva was Manchester City’s all-time greatest player. Frankly, no one can begrudge him of such accolade. There are an array of legends to choose from; Summerbee, Bell, Aguero, Toure, Goater. But Silva has been the linchpin in the most decorated era of City’s history. Since his arrival from Valencia in 2010, Silva has consistently showcased such a claim; look at his passing, his vision, the way he can weave between midfield and defence and how, on many an occasion, he has bamboozled opposition defences contributing goals and assists aplenty. His winner against West Ham, a sumptuous flick past a star-jumping Adrian after a superb burst onto a De Bruyne assist, demonstrates his willingness to work and synergy with fellow maestros. Carragher’s claim is a rightful one. Just look at Pep Guardiola’s reaction to Silva penning a new deal to 2020 this week, shaking his hand mid-signing. Guardiola like all of us see’s how vital Silva is to City’s interchanging fluidity, but also realises how lucky City and ultimately we are, to have him in the Premier League. The City faithful label him El Mago – the Magician. He is producing the spells that could lead City to the pinnacle, heights even Dumbledore himself dare dream of, a treble?

Some appreciation must be paid to West Ham and Moyes as well. They came to The Etihad and didn’t just park, they had a plan to prey on City’s chinks in armour. Dealing with balls into the box is becoming a bit of an issue for Guardiola, Southampton should have scored twice from corners in midweek and Angelo Ogbonna netted with a bullet header on the stroke of halftime. The energy of the side to get into Manchester City’s faces, plus better defensive organisation and counter attacking instinct can help Moyes to lift his side from a sombre defeat. Adrian was mesmeric between the sticks, providing a generous headache for Moyes on his goalkeeper selection for the upcoming London Derby against Chelsea. It was a display which hinted that The Hammers could have the iron to drag themselves away from trouble. However, as displayed at Everton, they can’t show a soft underbelly when falling behind, like they have on oh so many an occasion already.

Dominant De Gea

Arsenal versus Manchester United. Last season, it was fair to say this classic didn’t live up to the heights of the previous battles of old adversaries. But this season, oh my. An absolutely sensational game, the best of the season. The 3-1 defeat was unlucky on Arsene Wenger’s side. In attack they were slick and opened up Mourinho’s United rearguard on many an occasion. With 33 attempts on goal to United’s 8, Wenger can be right to feel aggrieved. He stated that United rode their luck at times, but acknowledged United’s counter-attacking ruthlessness, spearheaded by two goals from a rejuvenated Jesse Lingard, himself off the back of a mesmeric solo effort against Watford on Tuesday. There was one thing – for once – that Wenger and Mourinho could agree upon; the brilliance of David De Gea.

The Red Devils and Spanish Number 1 was bewilderingly excellent. He made a joint Premier League record of 14 saves in a game. The tagline ‘Dave saves’ could never be more appropriate. His performance in the view of his manager was ‘a world’s best’ and that’s hard to dispute. I’m unsure of De Gea’s ancestry, but with those reflexes a cat of some sort must be in there. There are too many masterpieces to select from, but his double save from the brilliant Alexandre Lacazette, palming away a firmly struck low effort with one strong wrist before sticking a foot out to deny Alexis Sanchez’s certain rebound was the pick of the best. He had no right to save the follow up, but De Gea simply has no regard for the norm. A truly awesome goalkeeper, worthy of being in the same ilk as Peter Schmeichel. It was vital for United to gain 3 points, it provides a glimmer of hope in their title aspirations. But their biggest test is to come, in a mouth-watering Manchester Derby at Old Trafford on Sunday. The dismissal of Paul Pogba was a dampener for Mourinho’s delight under the North London lights.

For Arsenal, Saturday’s defeat no matter how harsh was their 5th out of 15 league games. Despite the performance, they now have lost to Liverpool, United and City and drew at Stamford Bridge, taking 1 point against the current Top 4. For all attacking flair defensive frailties and – with dilly-dallying from Shkodran Mustafi which led to the second goal – arrogance was there for all to see. There was one example on Antonio Valencia’s opener in which 5 Arsenal defenders are drawn to the ball leaving Valencia in acres to drill home. I don’t understand how – with the defensive rock Steve Bould was in his playing days as Wenger’s assistant – Arsenal seem so unorganised. The form of Alexis Sanchez must also worry Gunners fans, his all round play wasn’t up to his exceptionally high standards and showcases a mind wondering elsewhere. The appreciation between Mesut Ozil and Jose Mourinho also reasserts being a matter of when, not if, the former Real player and manager will be reunited at United. A successful season for Arsenal must be either the Top 4 or Europa League and a Cup, the league even in December looks long gone.

Safe with Sam

Big Sam. Win on a Saturday, clean sheet, pint of vino, repeat. Did we expect anything different with Sam Allardyce returning to management? In the week he returned to Everton, The Toffees have scored 6 times and conceded no goals. An upturn in the form of Wayne Rooney – on the back of an inspired hattrick and an utterly stupendous halfway line effort against former gaffer Moyes – Gylfi Sigurdsson and Dominic Calvert-Lewin (both of whom netted against The Terriers) has helped to fill the supposed void left by Romelu Lukaku. At the back; in Jordan Pickford The Blues have an outstanding goalkeeping talent on their hands, one that should surely protect the English goal come the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Everton are still a way off where they want to be, considering the expenditure spent in the summer, but this is a start. Now in the Top 10 and looking upwards rather than below, they can go into Sunday’s Merseyside Derby with hope.

For David Wagner’s Huddersfield, it was another defeat on the road. I mentioned in the last review how in awe I was of the togetherness of the club and the energy and willingness displayed by the players, but ultimately they need to start showing ruthlessness in front of goal to prolong their Premier League fairytale. They have scored 9 times this season, nowhere near enough to survive, a lot of faith in The Terriers surviving will go on a stalwart defense. But if the opposition score first, Town haven’t shown much character or threat in getting back in the game, especially away from The John Smith’s Stadium. Huddersfield already have a ‘six-pointer’ coming up at home to Brighton on Saturday. Chris Hughton’s side also tasted a Merseyside masterclass from a ruthless Liverpool on Saturday, they like Town will be vying for revenge. If Wagner wins over Hughton, Huddersfield will be on 18 points, not a bad return approaching the halfway point. They need to capitalise, a defeat will leave Town fans feeling humbug rather than jolly coming into a packed festive calendar.


If you have a passion for sport and would like to write or design for S57onSport contact us today by clicking here.

Advertisements

Premier League Review (Gameweek 12)

Prem 2017


Welcome to S57 on Sport’s inaugural Premier League Review. Throughout the course of the remainder of the season, we promise to provide a concise and informative reflection on the weekend’s talking points. Minus Garth Crooks, his pretentious analysis, and 24 years worth of experience as a professional footballer.


Wenger keeps North London Gunning for more

At 14:30 on Saturday afternoon I was completely perplexed. It was not because the form book was flung from The Emirates window, it was the manner of Arsenal’s performance. I had not expected The Gunners to compress Tottenham’s supposed dominance and excerpt themselves in a top-of-the-table clash. In counteraction to their inept display against seemingly champions-elect Manchester City, Arsene Wenger produced a tactical masterclass which bewildered the Lilywhites.

Look at Alan Shearer’s synopsis on Match of the Day. Arsenal pressed in packs; buoyancy from a scintillating forward line of Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Alexandre Lacazette gives hope that this season can bear fruits for the red of North London. Defender Shkodran Mustafi’s return shored up a frail-looking defence, but it was Ozil who was undoubtedly Arsenal’s star.

Ozil has come under considerable criticism in his time in England since his £42 million switch from Real Madrid 3 years ago, but this was debatably his finest hour in an Arsenal shirt. Pulling the strings from midfield and dissecting Spurs backline at ease, it was the German’s tenacity in helping his side press and run Tottenham into committing an array of errors which impressed me, condescending critics views that he does not ‘graft’ enough for his side. His weight of delivery, albeit from a controversially awarded free-kick, was a joy for Mustafi to plant his head onto giving his side what would become an unassailable lead. It was his 45th assist in 4 years in England, more than any other player.  Genius underappreciated.

As for Tottenham, it is another heavyweight clash where they have fallen short away from home. Already this term, they have lost to Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal and they hold one victory at the Emirates Stadium in 10 seasons. Tottenham need to show signs of progress and begin the deliver, otherwise Pochettino’s men, for all their credit, will be looked back on as the ‘what if’ side.


Pogba supplying Mourinho’s va-va-voom

If Ozil’s genius is under-appreciated, their can be no denying Paul Pogba’s influence on this Manchester United side. With the game etching in Newcastle’s favour, it was Pogba with the addition of shimy and cross who found Anthony Martial inside the penalty area to nod home and ignite a comeback. The Frenchman also added a goal to his performance after an astute head down from Marcus Rashford. But it is Pogba, and his sharpened red locks who will rightfully steal the limelight. In each of the 3 matches United have comeback to win under Jose Mourinho, Pogba has either assisted or scored in every one of them, signifying his importance in riling up his side for the fights that will ensue throughout a busy festive calendar.

The return of the charismatic Zlatan Ibrahimovic, as well as Romelu Lukaku’s first goal in seven games, has returned a sense of optimism to the Theatre of Dreams, especially after a compounding defeat to Chelsea before the international break. The performance echoed the confidence displayed by the Red Devils at the season’s opening, conveniently whilst Pogba was pulling the strings.

For Rafa Benitez, he can be inspired by his team’s first-half performance. An impressive showing from £10m signing Jacob Murphy demonstrates reasons to be cheerful, but the second half collapse was concerning. The Geordie fanbase was probably the highlight of Newcastle’s evening under the floodlights; the 3,100 travelling army provided rapturous support. They realise their side, considerably lacking in Premier League quality, will need all the help to preserve their Premier League status come May. A takeover and a transfer kitty may be done for January, the Magpies need it, quickly.


Pulis put out of his misery

It surfaced on Monday afternoon that Tony Pulis had been dismissed of his managerial duties at West Bromwich Albion. The appearance of the club’s Chinese owners symbolised unrest within the hierarchy, now they require a replacement. Assistant coach Gary Megson will take charge of affairs until a new appointment is made. After Saturday’s performance, it’s an understatement to say whoever comes in has an almighty task to hand.

Chelsea battered The Baggies. Despite feeble attempts to suppress the talent of Eden Hazard and co, it eventually showed. Hazard bagged a brace, coupled with Alvaro Morata’s 8th goal in 11 league games for The Blues and a Marcos Alonso effort which consigned Pulis’ fate. But is the manner of Alonso’s finish, in acres of space from a Fabregas delivery, which showcased defensive frailties unreciprocal of Pulis’ ethos. There was no effort to save the manager’s skin, although no win in 10 games is a statistic that can’t be saved.

Pulis will find work, with his nous of never being relegated as a manager, don’t be surprised of seeing his at a Premier League struggler soon. Heck, West Brom would do with help at the moment. With fixtures away to Tottenham and Liverpool and Manchester United visiting The Hawthorns in the next 6 matches, don’t expect a miraculous upturn in fortunes anytime soon. Worrying times for Albion fans, but at least you don’t support West Ham.


If you have a passion for sport and would like to write or design for S57onSport contact us today by clicking here.

De Gea racks up 100 United clean sheets

DDGMU


It has been an unbelievable few years for Manchester United’s Spanish shot stopper. Save after save clean sheet after clean sheet. His form saw him win the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year (the name of the Manchester United Player of the Year award) three times in a row between 2013 and 2016. He became the first goalkeeper to claim the prize and the first player to win it three times in a row. A 4-0 win against Everton at Old Trafford saw him bring up his century of clean sheets. It has been a great journey for David De Gea which did not start with the same joy as it provides now.

De Gea joined United in 2011 after long term number one Edwin van der Sar retired. Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted he was going to move for Manuel Neuer before a member of his scouting team strongly informed him that the young Spaniard would be a better option. Signed for £19 million from Atletico Madrid De Gea endured a torrid start in Manchester and struggled to adapt to the Premier League. His skinny frame and lack of good decision making from set pieces and crosses was evident to see and a weakness for United.

It was a difficult first year for De Gea but Ferguson and Manchester United kept faith in the young goalkeeper. They were proven right as after the retirement of long term boss Ferguson the keeper was the most consistent and brightest star. Every manager that has come into the club since the departure of the Scotsman has done everything within their power to keep him at the club. Even though the defence has chopped and changed De Gea has stayed and steadied the ship.

https://twitter.com/s57onsport/status/907861741324947456

The attraction of Real Madrid, who are consistently interested in the goalkeeper, has turned his head at times. The attraction of ‘Los Blancos’ and Barcelona is such an attraction for Spanish players. De Gea has been reported to want the Madrid move, which could have materialised if it was not for a faulty fax machine. De Gea remains at Manchester United and seems happier than ever now the clubs fortunes have turned around. Credit has to be given to Jose Mourinho for the job he has done at United but pleasing De Gea is the most important thing he has done. Champions League football must have played a huge factor in the keeper staying and Mourinho was able to achieve that.

With De Gea nothing is beyond the realm of possibility. He makes saves that he just should have no right in even thinking about. His agility and reactions single him out as the best goalkeeper in the world. Lets not forget that the United player is only 26 years of age and is coming into the prime of his career. He has ironed out the weaknesses in his game since arriving at Old Trafford and developed his game.

His distribution is another part of his game that sets him apart from the rest. His comfortable receiving back passes and his range of passing is far superior to many outfield players. Now he has a solid team in front of him with Eric Bailly and Phil Jones being selected at centre back together. Nemanja Matic also provides excellent cover in the midfield. Even though he is now being asked to do less in games for his club his concentration is still on point. He can have two or three situations to deal with in a game but he still performs at the highest level.

De Gea seems to be in Manchester for good. Madrid have not attempted to sign him as aggressively as they have in the past. United seem to have sorted out their issues and Mourinho has now said after three years of standing still the club is moving forward. That must be music to the players, fans and directors ears. It must also satisfy De Gea’s ambitions. Reaching 100 clean sheets is a great achievement, there will be more – he may even be eyeing Peter Schmeichels 180 clean sheet record. But for now enjoy what De Gea has already done!


If you have a passion for sport and would like to write or design for S57onSport contact us today by clicking here.

Why Fellaini is vital at Old Trafford

Felliani (1)


He has had his critics since signing for Manchester United after he followed David Moyes to Manchester from Goodison Park. A lot of it has been fair as at times the criticism is for good reason but the player remains at Manchester United. So what does he bring to the table? It must be substantial because it was not only Moyes who was happy with the Belgian internationals contribution as Louis Van Gaal and Jose Mourinho have utilised Marouane Fellaini regularly. After a fantastic performance in the Champions League opener Felliani will be looking to build on it with Paul Pogba sidelined.

Before the case is made for Fellaini’s influential presence at United it is important to mention why he attracts criticism. The former Everton man makes some strange decisions that baffle fans and pundits. Whether it be making a needless tackle two minutes after coming on to give away a penalty or his evident love for controversy with silly disciplinary outburst he attracts negative headlines. Off the pitch controversy also follows the Belgian star which negatively affect his public image. If all this is added to the style of football he plays, which it would be difficult to describe as playing ‘the beautiful game’, it becomes clear why his reputation is such.

The fact remains – there is not one other player at the top level of European football who is anything like Fellaini. His style is unique. It may be primitive in its nature but used in the correct way it is useful. If you look around the United squad Mourinho has added height in the central midfield position. The signing of Pogba last summer and Nemanja Matic this summer increased the size in the middle of the park. Fellaini uses his height much better than the two new signings. Pogba brings great vision and drive from midfield and Matic has a calming influence and quality defensive skills. Other midfield options in the squad include the smaller Ander Herrera has a versatile game but cannot do the job the big Belgian can. The ageing Michael Carrick is also an option in the position but it seems he will not feature heavily this season.

Fellaini is an aerial threat both in the box and helping the team move the ball up the field quickly if the deeper players are under pressure. With Romelu Lukaku claiming the main striker position in the team having him and Fellaini as targets gives two players to hit if the goalkeeper or defender need to. The United players ability in the box also creates a chaos for opposition defenders. It feels more threatening to have Fellaini in the mix from set pieces and he scores and wins headers often. The midfielder has played 138 times for Manchester United scoring 17 times and creating 10 for his team mates.

Fellaini is a high intensity player and his defensive skills are straight to the point. He does not have the cultured defensive skills of new midfield partner Matic, the Belgian midfielder goes in hard and does not mind leaving his opponent on the ground if it’s necessary. You could the United number 27 as a bull in a china shop, little thought goes into how he operates in the middle of the park but he chases the ball and shows great desire for the cause.

One part of Fellaini’s game that is underrated is his first touch and ball control. Because he looks relatively clumsy due to his frame (similar to Peter Crouch in this way) it often goes unnoticed that he has these skills. In fact a fan made video likening him to the great Zinedine Zidane circulated.



It is not easy settling into a new team and when you come for a huge fee it just adds more and more pressure. This situation faced Lukaku this summer. Of course having Pogba at the club, the two are by all accounts good friends, helps. But having a player of the same nationality also aids the settling in process. This is another reason Fellaini is key to the squad. Considering he also made the same switch Lukaku did in terms of clubs he can also help United’s new goal getter adapt to life at a bigger club. The pair will have played together for their national team as Fellaini has been used regularly representing Belgium 79 times scoring 16 times.

All in all Fellaini provides a service at Manchester United. It may not be the most attractive kind of football the legendary club has ever seen but it gets the job done. He will get into trouble, he will get into spats with opponents and he will do things on the football pitch which makes everyone viewing the game scratch their head. But what he will do is give you 100% every game and use his unique skill set to cause problems for his opposition. Love him. Hate him. One thing is definite. Fellaini is a United player and an important one at that.


If you have a passion for sport and would like to write or design for S57onSport contact us today by clicking here.

Mourinho marches Man Utd into European battle

Utd Champs Lge


Some sporting names are synonymous with the Champions League. Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus, Inter, Bayern Munich – but since Sir Alex Ferguson left Old Trafford to enjoy his retirement the famous Manchester United have not had the same influence on the competition. The three time winners have struggled since the legendary coach has left but Jose Mourinho is looking to reassert them as a force in the competition.

After taking over last season it was meant to be the return to old times United fans were used to. It did not end up being that easy. A team that Mourinho recently said stood still under David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal as other evolved around them. Man United have come a long way since Mourinho has taken charge. Marquee signing over the summer Romelu Lukaku has started well and Nemanja Matic has settled in well. The use of their first summer signing Victor Lindelof has been sparse as he settles into English football. Mourinho claimed the Europa League in his first season which meant that it was considered a success. Now he has his eyes on Europe’s premier prize.

David Moyes carried his United side into the Champions League in 2013/14. In fact he did well in the initial stages which contrasted his fortunes in the league campaign. Four wins and two draws saw them win the group and go through to the knockout stages. Then the cracks began to appear. A 2-0 defeat away at Olympiacos saw United on the brink of an embarrassing exit. Saved by a Robin Van Persie hat-trick back in Manchester saw Moyes release some of the pressure that he found himself under. Unfortunately for the former Everton manager his success in Europe was not to last.

He took United into the next stage against Bayern Munich. Securing a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford and Patrice Evra scoring a memorable goal just before the hour mark it seemed that Moyes may be making United great again. The lead lasted 2 minutes and they went on to concede two further goals in the next 16 minutes. It saw ‘the Red Devils’ crash out 4-2 on aggregate.

With Moyes gone Louis Van Gaal was not faced with the issue of European football after United’s seventh place finish. The Dutch manager did secure a fourth place finish in his first year in England giving United a chance to qualify for Champions League football in his second year. The Manchester club breezed through 7-1 on aggregate against Club Brugge including a hat-trick for United’s all time top scorer Wayne Rooney.

The impressive start soon faded as Louis Van Gaal could only lead his United side to a third place finish in a group which consisted of; PSV Eindhoven, Wolfsburg and CSKA Moscow. Not exactly the types of teams Man United would be fearful of facing in years gone by. United then failed in the Europa League when they struggled away at Midtjylland before hammering them at home. They eventually went out to local rivals Liverpool after losing 3-1 on aggregate.

Now Manchester United are back. Mourinho seems to be breathing a feeling of hope and glory back at the club. A great start to the new season seems them top of the league on goal difference after three wins and one draw. Manchester United will be looking to go deep into the tournament this season with players that have come in like; Paul Pogba, Lukaku and Henrikh Mkhitaryan starting to find their feet and players coming through the youth system such as; Jese Lingard and Marcus Rashford adding excitement to the squad. It feels like they are going to make a real push towards major trophies this season.

United will face Basel in their first game back in the Champions League. They will also have to face Portuguese giants Benfica and CSKA Moscow who were in their group on the ill fated last Champions League campaign. While the games are tricky they should not be the type of games that United and Mourinho should lose sleep over. A club the size of United, the quality of player they have and the depth of the squad should see they cruise through the group.

Are they ready to face the European top boys? On any night they could beat anybody. They pushed last years champions Real Madrid to the brink in the European Super Cup early in the season, losing 2-1. Barcelona have had issues of late but are still formidable and will push for the title, Lionel Messi could single handedly destroy any team on his day. Bayern Munich are always looking to compete in Europe and their spell of dominance in the Bundesliga is unbelievable. Other teams like Juventus and PSG will all be looking to lift the trophy. This is not even taking into consideration the domestic rivals they could face.

The Champions League will feel more like its usual self now that United are back in contention. Mourinho loves the competition and seems to feel comfortable with the level of pressure he is under at Old Trafford. There are clearly teams with more recent experience to face but the squad at the Manchester teams disposal will make sure that nobody can take them lightly. The excitement is evident from the club players and fans.


 

https://twitter.com/FULLTIMEREDS/status/907543433195212801


If you have a passion for sport and would like to write or design for S57onSport contact us today by clicking here.

Players to watch 2017/18 – Magician Mkhitaryan


It was a strange season at Old Trafford last season. As it was for their new creative force Henrikh Mkhitaryan. An indifferent start to his Manchester United career saw him substituted at half time in the first Manchester derby of the season and then disappear from the teem sheet for a considerable amount of time. He played well in the Europa League and was vital in the club winning the trophy and with United back in Europe’s elite competition, the Champions League, he will be needed to do the same in Europe this season. So why is the Armenian man who signed for £30 million going to be a force this season?

Mkhitaryan spent three years at Shakhtar Donetsk playing 72 times and scoring on 38 occasions. His reputation grew at the Ukrainian side hence the interest from Borussia Dortmund. He made the switch to the German side in 2013 for just over £20 million. He started well and his first two seasons were solid. His third year at Dortmund saw him step his game up to a higher level. At the end of the season he was voted the Bundesliga Player’s Player of the year, not bad considering the wealth of stars in German football. A big factor in him winning the award were the 15 assists he amassed that season.

Then came his big move. Footballing giants Manchester United and Jose Mourinho moved for the Armenian superstar, his move made him the first player from his country to play in the Premier League. Little injuries and lack of defensive work rate were the major reasons he struggled in his first year. He may have struggled but he returned some good statistics. ‘The Red Devils’ had a long campaign so he played in 41 games in all competitions. In that time he scored 11 times and notched up five assists. While he struggled he put in some great performances showing signs that he had what it takes.

Many players coming from different leagues struggle to get used to the type of football played. Especially players like Mkhitaryan who are technical players. The Premier League promotes players to be physical and have blistering pace, technical players often fail to make an impact straight away. Another issue was that the former Dortmund man was mainly utilised in wide areas. Mourinho opted to play a 4-3-3 with a holding midfielder. Mkhitaryan excels when he plays behind the striker and is allowed to move in between lines. From there he can use his agility, wonderful balance and acceleration to cause problems. If he is offered this role this season he could become a leading star in the Premier League.

However, it does not look good for the United number 22 getting the role behind the striker. With the signing of Nemanja Matic and the fact United already have Paul Pogba and Ander Herrera it looks as if this trio will form the midfield trio. Meaning that Mkhitaryan will more than likely be forced out wide again. He can still have an affect on the game from there but United will not get the best out of the player. This is similar to what happened when Alex Ferguson signed Shinji Kagawa from Dortmund. Kagawa is another smaller more technical footballer who was forced to play out wide at Old Trafford. He did not succeed and returned back to the German club.

Hopefully for the Premier League Mkhitaryan can secure his position in the United side and nail down his favoured position. He could form a beautiful partnership with new striker Romelu Lukaku if given the chance. It is vital for Mourinho to get the best out of his play maker. It could have a major impact on their title charge.

Battle of the 9’s


Manchester United and Arsenal have had some brilliant forwards over the years as they tussled for Premier League glory. Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Ian Wright spring to mind for Arsenal. On United’s side there is, Eric Cantona, Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Wayne Rooney. There are many more for both sides including Robin Van Persie who represented both.

Now it seems the two legendary English clubs both have new marksmen up top. Arsenal have splashed out around £45 million on Frenchman Alexandre Lacazette where as United opted for Everton’s main man Romelu Lukaku in a transfer worth £75 million. But who will perform better? Who will take the headlines? It will surely be a massive question for people picking their fantasy football teams in next few days.

The most notable advantage on either man’s side is that Lukaku has a wealth of Premier League experience already. He arrived at Chelsea in 2011 as an 18 year old was said to have huge potential. He spent three years at Stamford Bridge, he only made ten appearances, before securing a loan move to West Brom. It was a period that sky rocketed Lukaku’s reputation. 17 goals that season, including a hat-trick on Sir Alex Ferguson’s last game in charge of United, led him to be in demand at the end of that season. Another loan move to Everton was successful and the move was made permanent the following season, the man selling him? Jose Mourinho. His time at Everton has seen him develop into one of the top strikers in Europe. He has notched 68 goals in the four seasons he has spent with ‘the Toffees’.

Lacazette has had a slightly different footballing upbringing. From 2003 he has been a Lyon player and from an early age he has had a reputation as a potential superstar. He has worked his way through the ranks at the French club and leaves after making 203 senior appearances and scoring 100 goals for them. His call to a more reputable domestic league has been coming for sometime. With the emergence of Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco, Lyon have been slipping out of contention in France and Europe. Lacazette has been the stand out player at the club for a while and feels as if he has outgrown the club.

Both players have represented their national teams at the highest level. Lacazette at the age of 26 only has 11 caps for France scoring once. 24 year old Lukaku has represented Belgium a staggering 57 times scoring 20 times for his national side. Lacazette may have the advantage when it comes to European club competition experience. He has played for Lyon in both the Champions League and Europa League representing Lyon 40 times in the competitions combined. Lukaku on the other hand Lukaku played 9 times in Everton’s doomed Europa League campaign in 2014/15. With both sides playing in Europe this season it will be Lacazette’s who carries more experience into those games.

Depending on who Arsenal are able to keep around Lacazette will be a huge factor in his success. If he has a supporting cast that consists of players like Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil it could be dangerous for defenders who come up against ‘the Gunners’. If not too much pressure could be put on the new arrival. However, with Lyon he has had high expectations for a number of years now. He has been their talisman and has delivered to a certain extent, without him they would be in a far worse position. He will bring pace and finesse to the Arsenal attack that they have been lacking for a large period of time. He has to be considered a great signing for under pressure boss Arsene Wenger who will have difficult questions to face if he cannot get Arsenal to challenge for the domestic title this year. Lacazette will score goals, that is for certain. Can Arsenal support him and get the best out of him? They are more than likely to do that. If they do Arsenal could have their best season in years.

Lukaku comes into a United team that is in transition. After Ferguson left nobody has been given a sustained period of time to implement their ideas and that showed last year. Mourinho is entering his second year and seems to have the backing of everyone around the club. It feels as though ‘the Red Devils’ are starting to turn it around. They have certainly added goals to the team, something they needed with Zlatan Ibrahimovic being released. The players around him are creative, Juan Mata and Henrick Mhkitaryan both make chances and the pace of Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford will both create space and chances for the new arrival. His strength and ability in the air added to his eye for goal make him the perfect heir to Zlatan’s number 9 shirt.

Both clubs have made their intentions clear with their new goal getters. Lacazette and Lukaku will both be looking to claim the golden boot and their sides will be hoping to lift the Premier League trophy again. Only one of each can do that. It will be interesting to see how the season plays out.

Who will score more goals for their new side this season – Romelu Lukaku or Alexandre Lacazette? The people of Twitter had their say and here are the reulst;

https://twitter.com/S57onsport/status/893151071144742913