Are Liverpool Overrated? Champions League Heroes and Zeroes Game Week 4

Hero – Atletico Madrid

For redeeming themselves after their horrific defeat at the hands of their opponents in their last meeting. They beat Borussia Dortmund 2-0, thanks to goals from Saul and Griezmann. Before complimenting how good Simeone’s men were in this half, let’s discuss just how bad Dortmund were. They didn’t manage a single shot on target. They have been pretty good in attack, while overachieving in some sorts. So seeing them not even test the keeper is disappointing. Anyways, on to Atletico Madrid. They were back to their best in the Champions League after their biggest defeat in the competition. They only managed 32% possession, yet dominated the game. They blocked Dortmund out completely, and reminded Europe why they are so difficult to beat. Their stand out player in the game was comfortably Saúl Ñíguez. The Spaniard played on the left side of midfield, and not contributed in attack, with him scoring the first, but also had 2 shots and created 2 chances. While his form in the league can vary, no one can question he has been one of the best players in the Champions League. Felipe Luis is another who stood out on the night. Simeone is an expert at getting the best out of his players. 2-3 years ago you could say that the Brazilian was the best left back around. Now 33, his ability is dropping but he is still a solid defender in this system. He put in 4 tackles and 5 interceptions. He also created 2 chances and got an assist. After all their summer spending, it’s good to see Atletico looking like the prospect I thought they would be.

Zero – Liverpool

Who else to talk about her. The reds suffered a humiliating defeat to the hands of Red Star Belgrade. This was actually the Serbian side’s first ever win in the competition, which was just mind boggling to find out. Liverpool were truly terrible. While they had 23 shots, they only managed 4 on target. Salah and Van Dijk were the only ones who managed to test the keeper, meaning 8 other out field players didn’t even manage to get a shot on target. It’s crazy to think that a team with such an apparent good attack, failed to have many stand out chances against a side that they walked over at Anfield. Two players were pretty disappointed, being Sturridge and Wijnaldum. Sturridge had the chance early on to put his side ahead, but missed a simple chance to give his side the lead at that point. It was a chance for him to challenge Firmino for a place in the side, and failed. I really dislike Wijnaldum as a player. I just do not think he offers enough to justify the amount of games he starts. This game perfectly shows this. In a game where you want your most advanced midfield to help the attack, he offered nothing. That isn’t necessary true. He had 2 shots and made an interceptions. You just want so much more in a game where attacking is all you’ll be doing. It serves another example of when Wijnaldum vanishes in away games. A poor day all round for the Reds, and will need to finally step up this season.

Hero – Harry Kane

Spurs were in a bad place before this game. After consecutive loses in their first two, and a draw against PSV, it left them in a difficult place. They had to win against PSV and Inter if they wished to have any chance of progressing. After falling behind thanks to a great header from De Jong, they had a mountain to climb. But as usual, it was their captain who dragged them through it. Kane was the reason why Spurs were even able to win the game. He was absolutely sensational and seemed to be be back at his best pre ankle injury. He had a monsterous 8 shots in this game, which means he had a shot roughly every 6 touches. That is just incredible. He also completed 3 dribbles as well, which is impressive for a guy who seriously lacks pace. Kane hasn’t been at his best this season. Thanks to a world cup hangover and spurs suffering an injury crisis, he has had to sacrifice a lot of his game. He has still managed 6 goals in the league and is now on 4 in 4 in Europe’s competition. He has brought his A-game when he needed to and credit needs to be given to him for that.

Zero – Thierry Henry

Oh Monaco. They went quickly from Europe’s new hipster club, to a side in serious trouble. After Jardim decided he couldn’t do anything else with this side, Henry was brought in to try and salvage something out of this season while there was still plenty of it. To say he’s had a bad start is an understatement. He’s been in charge for 5 games and has now only managed 2 points out of a possible 15. Of course it’s hard to judge a guy who has only been charge for a month, and I do sympathise with him. He’s under an immense amount of pressure, and is probably quite unsure what to do with these players. Monaco signed a lot of players in the summer, using their model of recruiting prospects and hoping they work. After underwhelming France last season and losing Fabinho, Lemar and Moutinho, all key players, they are really struggling. Their game against Club Brugge might be their worst. They lost 0-4 to Brugge, which is their biggest defeat in the Champions League. There nearly had as many chances as Brugge, having 6 efforts on target to Brugge’s 7. But conceding the goals they did must have drained them of confidence. Antonio Barreca blatantly handballed it and allowed Brugge to sit back and defend the goals they already scored. It’s such a shame to see a team once seen as one of the most exciting in Europe, to now struggling to stay in their own league.

Hero – Real Madrid

For the first time in Champions League Heroes and Zeroes, we welcome Real Madrid. The European champions looked to finally show why they even have that title, with a comfortable 0-5 victory against Viktoria Plzen. After the sacking of Julien Lopategui, Santiago Solari was brought in temporarily, until a replacement was found. He has definitely got Madrid playing much better, and due to this, results have definitely picked up. They have won every game under Solari, and are creating much better chances. Speaking of creating, Toni Kroos was outstanding. He was one of many players who completely dropped off near the end of Lopategui’s reign, and is back to his majestic best. At point, he was the best midfielder around. But thanks to his legs beginning to go and Kroos generally doing less defensive work, he has lost that title. He was magnificent against Plzen. He created 6 chances, had 3 shots and completed every long ball he attempted. He also capped his performance off with a delightful finish to chip the keeper. Another player who performed well is Benzema. The Frenchman has been on the decline for years now. He was criticised heavily last season for lacking in goals, but that was because he was making space for Ronaldo. This season however, the pressure is on him. He wasn’t actually great in this game, scoring with every shot on target he had. I have credited other players in the past for being that clinical, but for a Madrid player, they need be taking so much more shots when they are dominating games. Kroos, Bale and Ramos all had more shots than Benzema. He seems to be getting in less goal scoring positions, and it just shows how much he is decreasing by the season. He has been a good servant, but he will need serious replacing. A good performance from Madrid, and it’s good to see the champions showing why they have won it 3 times in a row.

Zero – Juventus

While Manchester United do deserve credit for somehow getting 3 points, when they didn’t deserve it at all. Juventus deserve plenty of criticism for not putting this game to bed, and failing to deal with United’s changes. Juventus had 23 shots compared to United’s 9. Dybala, Khedira and Cuadrado all had chances to seal the win, yet failed to take it. The worst of all was actually Allegri. He has been incredible in recent years, for getting the most out of aging players, and being smart when on the pitch. However his decision to bring on Barzagli, and switch to a 3 in the back was what spurred United on to win the game. It gave so much more space for United to get near the box. They won the game from set pieces. They are areas you expect an Italian side to be able to defend. They truly struggled to deal with the aerial threat of Fellaini. If they wish to win the Champions League, they cannot allow a weaker side to take advantage of them like this.

Hero – Gabriel Jesus

Because of the monsterous form of Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus’s minutes have been limited. He’s only started 2 games in the league, but has started 3 games in the Champions League. Pep seems to trust Aguero more in the Premier League (where he is performing at an incredible level) and is using Jesus in competitions where Aguero can be rested. This could be the last season where this can be used. Jesus will want more minutes as he gets older. Pep probably does have a solution in how to use him, but I’m unsure how long Jesus will remain happy with this role. He was truly amazing for City, scoring his first hat trick in the Champions League, and being only the third Manchester City player to score a hat trick, joining Negredo and Aguero who also have scored hat tricks. He must have reminded Pep why he was brought in to begin with. His movement and off the ball work is still top level, and is a great box predator. He is reminiscent of Icardi some ways. He doesn’t need too much of the ball to have an effect. He managed 28 touches in the game, the least out of any player who started for the Champions. However he still managed 6 shots, 4 on target and made 2 key passes. He’s just so effective whenever he plays. It’s the game he needed. Pep now has a dilemma. He has two strikers in red hot form. Pep only had this dilemma because of Jesus’s incredible game, so credit to the Brazilian.

Zero – Lyon

Last time Lyon and Hoffenheim met, I said it was by far one of the best games in the Champions League so far. Their second battle was still a spectacle, with the game ending 2-2. While last time I gave credit to anyone who was able to watch the game, it is time to look at it with more of a critical eye. Lyon are zeroes here, because they squandered a 2 goal advantage. What makes it even more disastrous is Hoffenheim were down to ten men. Lyon could have won this game rather comfortably. They comfortably had more shots, 28 to Hoffenheim’s 16. The goals they conceded were soft. Kramaric was given room to shoot freely, and they drew due to a set piece, an area where they had an advantage. Both teams have been impressive in this Champions League so far, but this game was Lyon’s for the taking.

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UEFA Champions League 18/19 Preview – Group B

Now onto the group of death. Let’s look through by far the toughest group this year.

Barcelona

The La Liga champions go into the tournament as one of the favourites for not only their group, but for the whole tournament. Barcelona have a very good squad, but there are some issues still there. Their midfield is still very old and their over reliance on Busquets is too obvious. That cannot keep happening when Busquets is now 30. He needs to be rested for these games now. Valverde is also a clear weakness. Barcelona won the league because of their tight defense (that seemed to vanish in the last couple of months of the season) and Messi just reminding the world why he is the best around. Valverde did not give their fans the entertaining style seen under Pep and Enrique. But Barcelona have a huge advantage this time around. Coutinho and Dembele will both be eligible for the Champions League, giving them much better options going forward. It’ll mean their best creators can flourish and help them beat teams, like Roma, who played very well defensively. They do have a good of going all the way. But it’s down to Valverde, and if he is able to approach the toucher games with less of a pragmatic way, but they will definitely top this group.

Inter Milan

A return of a European giant. Inter make their first appearance in the Champions League since 2012. They arrive with some very good elements in their team. They have one of the most consistent goal scorers in Europe in Mauro Icardi. They have very good depth in their centre backs in De Vrij, Miranda and Skriniar. They also shockingly signed Sime Vrsaljko on loan from Atletico Madrid. There are good components to a great team here, and will feel very unfortunate to draw the group they did. While I do like their team and Spaletti in charge, I don’t think they are ready to compete with Barcelona and Tottenham just yet. Inter are looking old, with Nainggolan, Miranda, D’Ambrosio, Valero, Candreva and Handanovic all over 30. While they could easily surprise me, the Europa League is where they will end up.

PSV Eindhoven

The Dutch champions come into this group as the weakest team, but still possess the ability to cause some real damage in this group. Unlike Spurs or Inter, PSV are unbeaten so far this season, even beating Willem II by 6 goals to 1. They have some real talented players in their side as well, most notably Hirving Lozano. The Mexican forward has been an instant hit since making his move to Europe, not only contributing to 25 goals in 29 appearances in the Eredivise, but also being a huge bright spark in a Mexico side who shocked the world by beating the world Champions Germany in their opening game in Russia. If PSV are to do anything, they need to make their home advantage count. Spurs’s away record against the top 6 in England is not great, which means that they can be beaten when out of their comfort zone. They have a chance too, but because of the quality of the other teams, they will finish rock bottom.

Tottenham Hotspur

Spurs are in a strange place right now. After beating Manchester United at Old Trafford, they then go and lose to Watford away from home. It shows how Spurs seem to constantly tire themselves out in their big games, and then fail to turn up against lesser teams. This is why they will finish 2nd in this group. While many can question their consistency. It is hard to argue that Spurs fail to turn up when they put their mind to it. They always get ready for the big games, as seen with their wins over Dortmund and Real Madrid last season. League form is irrelevant when discussing this competition, meaning Spurs will probably get through okay. Barcelona are beatable, Inter are still trying to fit in many players, and they have a more talented side than PSV. The only worry is Harry Kane. The golden boot winner has looked so poor at the start of the season. He should not be playing in league games if Spurs want the best out him in the group, because has looked off the pace since his injury back in March. It’ll be a second place finish for the London side.

Final Table

1. Barcelona

2. Tottenham

3. Inter Milan

4. PSV

Every Premier League Club’s Best Signing

Now with the transfer window coming to a close, and most clubs getting all of their business done, it’s time to look every clubs best summer signing. Most of these will be very brief, as I will be discussing 20 transfers and so not want to drag it on. Enjoy! (I will update this list if a certain club makes a better signing)

Arsenal – Lucas Torreira

Even with Arsenal signing 6 players, Torreira is the only exceptional bit of business. Torreira is a player I have praised all summer, for not only being a defensive machine, but also being an excellent passer, completing the most for Sampdoria last season. He will give Arsenal that bit of bite they have been missing since Gilberto Silva left the club. He will finally make Arsenal’s midfield look solid and will help them in their quest for top 4 again.

Bournemouth – Diego Rico

I still find it crazy that Bournemouth do not get more criticism than they should get. Last season was easily their poorest in their 3 years in the division, and no thanks to their defense. Bournemouth ranked bottom for tackles won, and 19th for interceptions. Their defenders were poor (besides Ake, who was pretty good) and it was their downfall in progressing from their 9th finish in 2016/17. The Cherries have brought in Leganes defender Diego Rico. Who had a very good season for the Spanish club. While Bournemouth were poor in a defensive sense, Rico was not. He was averaging an outrageous 5.5 tackles and interceptions per 90, which is a vast improvement over Ake’s 2.7. Hopefully Rico will add some solidarity to the back four and it might to an improvement compared to last season.

Brighton – Bernardo

Full backs are by far the most important position in football right now, which makes it crazy why there aren’t many to choose from in the world right now. Brighton, however, have added a very solid one to their ranks. The versatile defender Bernardo has signed from RB Leipzig, and is a very good addition. The Brazilian is excellent in the air, winning 2.8 aerial duels, while also completing 3.7 tackles and interceptions. He doesn’t offer much of an attacking threat however, but his versatility and defensive strength could be a real asset for seaside club.

Burnley – ?

As of the 30th of July, Burnley are yet to sign a player, which is confusing considering they could be playing Europa League football next season. This will be updated if they do sign a player however.

Cardiff City – Bobby Reid

I’m tipping Cardiff as relegation candidates. The Welsh side are probably the worst side that were promoted. Both Fulham and Wolves look more like Premier League sides, while Cardiff seem to be unable to possess the same quality. However I will give credit where it is due, with Bobby Reid being an excellent bit of business. The forward was excellent for Bristol last season, looking like a real all around forward. Finished the season playing every game, scoring 19 and assisting 7. He was averaging 1.9 shots per game. What is notable is where he is taking these shots from, with 1.2 coming from inside the penalty area, showing how he gets into very good areas. He also isn’t afraid to do some hard yards for the team, putting in 1.1 tackles per 90. If Reid can adapt immediately to the league, it could be the difference between survival and relegation for Cardiff.

Chelsea – Jorginho

Even though the Italian is the only signing Chelsea have made, he is still an excellent addition. For Sarri to impliment his system effectively, he needs a player who is excellent at controlling a game. Fabregas could do that, but his legs are gone. Who else to bring besides the guy who performed so well for Sarri’s last team, Napoli. The midfield maestro is a pass machine, averaging over 80 passes per 90 with a 90% accuracy. Chelsea have went from having an imbalanced midfield, into having one of the best in the league. That is how good of a signing Jorginho is.

Crystal Palace – Max Meyer

What an absolute bargain of a signing for the eagles. After some issues with the Schalke board, the young German was not given an extension on his contact, and was allowed to leave for free. Meyer was very good last season, topping the league with 2.8 interceptions. He was moved deeper last season, to take advantage of his ability on the ball, and it worked in his favour. He averaged an 89% pass accuracy last season, and ended the season with 4.3 tackles and interceptions. An improvement on his 1.2 in the 2016/17 season. Palace have given all of the creative burden to Zaha. Now with Meyer, it could allow Palace to be even more of a threat.

Everton – Richarlison

At the time of writing, Lucas Digne is very close to completing his move to Everton, however I still think Richarlison is the best signing of the window so far for the toffees. The young Brazilian looks like a real promising player. When many young wingers arrive in the premier league, they are usually incredible dribblers but do not contribute enough in front of goal (Adama Troare is the perfect example). Richarlison is not a great dribbler, however he is excellent in getting in goal scoring positions. While seeing the player not score a goal after November can be quite worrying, he is still very young, and his finishing will improve. A great signing all round.

Fulham – Jean Michael Seri

One issue many promoted teams face when arriving in the premier league is making that step up, to have the quality to stay in the league. Fulham have so far done a very good job in buying good level players, the likes of Mitrovic, Schurrle, Le Marchand and Fabri are all effective in showing the intention that Fulham are going for. However their best addition by far is Ivory Coast international Jean Michael Seri. Seri is a very good midfielder, not great, but is definitely an improvement on what they have. Seri averages 90 passes per game, with 2.1 key passes. He will add that extra bit of spark to the London side, and hopefully enough to stay up.

Huddersfield – Terence Kongolo

After looking at Huddersfield’s recruitment so far, I was very impressed. Selling Tom Ince and bringing in Sobhi is pretty good business. Diakhaby will give them another option, Eric Durm is a no risk signing, that could pay off. However getting Kongolo on a permanent was excellent. The Dutchman didn’t get much of a chance for Monaco, but he has excelled since arriving in Yorkshire. He was averaging 5 tackles and interceptions for Huddersfield, and even won a very good 2.2 aerial duels won. He doesn’t contribute much going forward however, but Wagner clearly is happy with the solid defensive work he does for the team. A great addition to the team.

Leicester – James Maddison

Replacing a player with Mahrez’s quality is a difficult challenge. The Algerian was an all rounder. He was able to create, dribble and also assist. The foxes made two great moves in doing this. The first being the acquisition of Portuguese full back Ricardo Pereira, a player with outstanding defensive and attacking numbers. The other was the signing of up and coming attacking midfielder James Maddison. The ex Norwich playmaker was absolutely excellent for them last season. Ending the season with 14 goals and 8 assists, making him one of very few players in the championship to end the season with over 20 goal contributions. His attacking numbers are actually very difficult to believe. He was averaging 2.8 key passes (David Silva averaged 2.2 last season), 2.6 shots, (Lukaku averaged 2.5), and 2.4 dribbles, more than Mahrez. A brilliant signing that could be the real push for Leicester.

Liverpool – Naby Keita

While the signings of Fabinho and Allison are both excellent in their own right, it is hard to compare to Naby Keita finally arriving at the club. The Guinean is one of the best box to box midfielders in Europe, and bringing him in for a bargain £50m (yes bargain) is excellent. Keita is a player who excels in all departments, being solid defensively, a good creator, an excellent dribbler and a player who will help massively in the final third. One void that Coutinho left when he departed to join Barcelona was his incredible dribbling ability. While Keita might not be as effective from distance, he still will be an brilliant player to give the ball to. Liverpool have lacked a player in midfield who can help against teams who sit back. Having Keita and Fabinho will help the reds break these teams down, and finally begin to launch a real title challenge.

Manchester City – Riyad Mahrez

Another signing here based on lack of options. Mahrez is a really good player, but they have spent a lot on a player who might not even play a majority of the games. This trick in bringing in league winning talent in every position has worked for Pep before. At Barcelona he had the choices Villa, Sanchez, Messi and Pedro. At Bayern he could choose Koman, Costa, Robben and Ribery. He likes to fill his team with players all at the same level, to increase competition to ensure every player is doing their best. the difference here is price. At Bayern, he used Costa and Koman as competition, who both costed less than £30m (Koman was on loan during Pep’s time as manager), and at Barca, Sanchez and Villa were not brought for much money at all. While I did think their wide talent did need strengthening, it was prominently their left side. However he will still perform very well for City and should help them retain the title.

Manchester United – Fred

I recently discussed the signing of Fred, but to reiterate, he is very good one. He might not be the flashy Brazilian signing we see in the modern game, but he is still a quality player. Fred is a very good box to box midfielder, able to fill in multiple roles, being able to play as a number 10 and a number 6. His biggest strength is his versatility. One issue United have been facing is how easy they are to suppress in big games. By just keeping Pogba out of a game, United always looked so much weaker and struggled to break teams down. Putting men on Pogba meant that he would have to come deep to receive the ball, basically making the Frenchman a zero threat. Having a player who also has good quality on the ball will mean the team will have more than one outlet of attack. Fred could be one very important signing.

Newcastle UnitedKenedy

While I like the permanent signing of Dupravka, I think bringing Kenedy back was a good move. I mentioned how much I liked Kenedy last season. He gave Rafa a real perfect winger. A guy who was able to put in some real defensive work, while also beating players and helping the team in a creative sense. Bringing him in for another season can only benefit the team. Newcastle are definitely going to struggle next season. They haven’t recruited in the right areas. They have failed to bring in a striker yet, with Mitrovic gone, and Gayle not performing last season. The magpies bringing back Kenedy will hopefully help them in their battle for survival.

Southampton – Mohamed Elyounoussi

Southampton’s biggest issue over the last couple of seasons has easily been their lack of goals. Charlie Austin was their top scorer last season with a small seven. While fixing the striker would be the easy solution, the goals from around the rest of the team just aren’t good enough. Nathan Redmond ended the season with only a single goal to his name. The worst part about that was he had 48 shots. The players are clearly needing competition. Bringing in the Norwegian international is very important. In 65 appearances in the swiss league, he got a goal contribution every 100 minutes. He was extremely impressive for Basel. He will add creativity, as well as a goal threat to a Southampton team in dire need for some.

Tottenham Hotspur – Harry Kane

While it isn’t technically a new signing, keeping their best player is so important, with Madrid looking for a new goal machine to replace Ronaldo. Spurs have put themselves in a position where they can never get rid of him. While they haven’t signed anyone, they don’t really have to. Everyone are saying they are weakened because of their lack of activity. But even if they do not sign someone. They have managed to keep Alderweireld and Rose, to players who were seemingly on their way out. Pochettino and Daniel Levy have managed this core group of players excellently. They are not in desperate need for a player, but some improvements could be useful. Maybe a back up to Eriksen could be handy to take the creative press off him (Grealish could fill that role) and a replacement for the aging Dembele (maybe going all out for Thiago Alcantara would be perfect). Spurs aren’t desperate for players, but improvements could definitely be made.

Watford – Gerard Deulofeu

Watford just seem so lackluster going into this season. They are in need for a new centre half, and most importantly, a striker. I am not expecting much from the hornets at all, however the signing of Deulofeu is still a good one. The Spaniard arrives at the club after joining them on loan back in January. After the loss of Richarlison, Watford now look like less of a threat in an attacking sense. Deulofeu and Richarlison are not similar players in the slightest. Richarlison is excellent at getting into the box and finding good areas, while Deulofeu is better at bearing his man and stretching the defense. Deulofeu makes them a bit less unpredictable. Let’s hope it’ll be enough for them to stay in the division.

West Ham United – Felipe Anderson

I’ve spoke about West Ham in another post, so I’ll keep this one short. Felipe Anderson is similar to Dimitri Payet in the sense of it gives West Ham a player with an ability to unlock a defense. I’m starting to love the fact that every team seems to be getting a top six standard player, and the Brazilian fits the bill. He is an incredible dribbler and is great creativily and in front of goal. West Ham needed to add goals to the rest of the team, and to add overall quality to match the aspirations of the owners. Anderson could definitely be that player to put them back into entertaining us again.

Wolves – Rui Patricio

No question in this choice. Wolves have signed a player (with the help of a certain super agent) who has not only won league titles, but has won a European trophy with his country. One area that recently promoted teams struggle with is defensively. Premier league teams attack in multiple ways, and it can expose a defense all sorts of ways. Having a goalkeeper who has played against and with some of the best players around, can only be beneficial. One of the best signings of the summer right here.

5 Talking Points from England Vs Tunisia

I’ve said before that I genuinely believe this England team is a very good team, and while I am not an England fan myself, it was good to see all these talented players get some real credit. Let’s go through 5 talking points from last night’s game.

A rocket of a start

England began the game brilliantly. They pressed high up the pitch and and quickly moved the ball up the pitch. It was the way they were bound to play. With players like Lingard, Alli, and Sterling, you are given players who are great at finding space and at moving zones. The first 10 minutes were great signs. Lingard has a couple of chances which he probably should have stuck away, but it was different to what I have ever seen an England team do, have a plan. My issue with England over the past 16 years is they seem to not have any sort of tactic on how to approach the game. They seem to just rely on star players like Beckham and Gerrard, hence why they seem to jam them all in a team even though it didn’t work. This England team however has so much balance. The midfield highlights that pretty well. You have two solid defensive midfielders in Henderson and Dier, two good ball carriers in Lingard and Loftus-Cheek, an energetic midfielder in Delph and a good creator in Dele Alli. This midfield worked so well and it is mainly because of a certain Geordie.

Henderson – MOTM?

While Kane will get all of the headlines, and rightly so, Henderson does definitely deserve a lot of credit. Henderson is a player I have never loved, but I do understand why managers seem to like him. In this game he showed why. His passing was very impressive. Whether it was a simple ball to Alli or Lingard, or a long ball straight to the full back, he constantly kept things ticking. It was great to see him do so well. I’ve also mentioned how I don’t understand why Shelvey was even considered an option. Henderson had a much better pass accuracy and completed the most passes in the premier league last season. He has the quality and gives England a real shield for the defense. While I like Dier’s tenacity, Henderson definitely has been the right pick.

Solid Defense?

On paper, a 3 man back line of Maguire, Walker and Stones would be okay, and it was. The biggest positive with all three of these players is their ability on the ball. All definitely have confidence when in possession, and are able to carry the ball out effectively. This could be seen multiple times, with Walker slipping in a very good ball to Trippier in the first half, and John Stones always keeping that back four very calm. However there were moments that did show their inexperience. Kyle Walker had a moment of madness and elbowed the Tunisian forward, and Maguire misplaced a simple that could have lead to a goal. This back four contains a defender that has a never played at the top level, another who is still very young, and another who usually plays fullback. It will have its sketchy moments, but overall very positive.

Harry Kane

The new captain began his first world cup with a bang, and scored 2 goals that won his team the game. Before this tournament, Kane has been very decent for England. He managed to get only 5 goals in qualifying. This was a very low number when comparing to other top strikers, with Lewandowski banging 16, and Cristiano Ronaldo scoring 15. Like England, he wasn’t too impressive. But tournaments can bring the best out of a player, and so far it has. While Kane’s involvement in the game was pretty limited, with most of ball going to the two central midfielders or the full back, he still managed to get in that right place at that right time to back both goals. We always want the modern striker to get involved in the game and keep the ball to assist teammates, but sometimes a pure goal scorer is what they need. If he keeps it up, he could be remembered just as fondly as Lineker or Shearer.

Positive changes

I was very impressed with Southgate’s changes in the game. He took of Sterling, who didn’t have the best of games, and brought on Rashford. The United winger had a great impact on the game and gave England so much energy and was willing to take on players with his speed and strength. The next change was Loftus-Cheek for Dele Alli, who got a slight injury in the game. He gave quite the direct replacement, offering an incredible dribbling ability, and because of his size, was so hard to get off the ball. Dier for Lingard was right at the end, but that was just to waste time. Overall I thought Southgate is making the right decisions regarding making changes to the game.

2018 World Cup Debutants XI

The world cup is easily the biggest competition in the world, and on the big stage, it is a big chance for players to make a real impression. I will not be including players under the age of 23, because that will be saved for another list.

GK: Marc Andre Ter-Stegen

It’s actually quite incredible that this will be the first world cup for Ter Stegen. The Barcelona stopper has proven himself to be one of the stoppers around, making an already solid Barcelona defense into an absolute wall. With the big injury to Manuel Neuer, not only will he be on the plane, but he might also be starting.

RB: Dani Carvahal

This is by far the craziest addition, just because of the high level that Dani Carvahal has been playing at for the past 3 years. It is understandable why he wasn’t including. He only arrived back at Madrid half way through the season, after a successful loan spell at Bayer Leverkusen. The four time champions league winner is now one of the best right backs in the world, and now instantly starts for his team.

CB: Marquinhos

The next two players just about qualify for this, but still are eligible. While I don’t rate him as highly as he seems to be, I think he is still a very good defender. This Brazil team, defensively, seems to be going through a transitional period. Thiago Silva and Miranda are both near the ends of their long careers and Dani Alves seems to be finished for Brazil. Marquinhos is still only 24. He has a long career ahead of him in the middle of this strong Brazil team. He needs to be apart of this defense, to add some structure. He could be very valuable for Tito’s side.

CB: Samuel Umtiti

Another who just about qualifies for this XI. Samuel Umtiti has turned into one of the best defenders around. With a Gerard Pique who might be cultured on the ball, but lacks the positional play at times. Having someone so athletic and so confident in the tackle is so handy to have. If he is partnered alongside the equally brilliant Raphael Varane, France should have no issues in Russia.

LB: Danny Rose

While he hasn’t been at his best in recent months, it is still clear Rose is one of the best left backs in the Premier League. His solid athleticism and brilliant contribution in the final third has shown him to be a perfect modern left back. His place is for some reason, still up for debate, but if Gareth Southgate has a brain of any sorts, he is a must start.

CDM: Nemanja Matic

Since Serbia did not qualify for the 2014 world cup, it means this will be Matic’s first World Cup, and about time. The Serbian veteran has been a brilliant defensive midfielder over the years, and now will be his time to serve his country. He has such an excellent ability of reading the game, and most of all, composure. He is such a calm presence, and in a team full of young players, it will be a perfect addition, and a perfect addition in this team.

CM: N’golo Kante

With Kante’s relevance only appearing in 2015, there would have been no chance for him to be selected in the previous world cup. But after his terrific campaigns with Leicester and Chelsea, it is now time to add his brilliant aggression and tenacity to a France squad full of quality. What’s changed since the Euros is his improved quality on the ball. He has went from a very good destroyer, to a pretty good passer on the ball. With this clear improvement, it will add extra to an already well rounded defensive midfielder.

CM: Isco

Another player who was surprisingly left out of the last Spain squad. Even during that season, he was apart of the Madrid team that won La Decima. He has now transformed into one of the best attacking midfielders on the planet. His ability to find those small gaps, and use his close control ability to dribble past opposition players. He has been invaluable to Madrid in recent seasons. His contribution in front of goal had sky rocketed, and proved that staying and fighting for your place is the way to do it. When Verrati says that playing against Isco is harder than playing against Messi, that should tell you enough.

RW: Nabil Fekir

Another France player who didn’t have similar potential to other young players, Fekir has had the season of his life. Even with a horrific injury, he still was able to score 16 goals in the league. He is an absolutely powerful player who defines attacking at full speed. His place in the squad is completely deserved.

ST: Harry Kane

One of the best strikers in the world is going to his first world cup. Kane arrives as one of the most hotly anticipated players. With his future at Tottenham in slight doubt, clubs like Real Madrid might be watching this to see how he handles the big stage, to see if he is the Galactico they definetly need. Even though he didn’t get the golden boot, he still scored 30 goals, which puts him in the top 10 goalscorers in premier league history. He is leading the line for a very interesting England side. This could br his chance to show the world, just like Michael Owen.

LW: Mohammed Salah

Speaking of golden boots, Salah will be his countries hope in a competition they haven’t played in for 20 years. Salah is the talk of the world right now. With his record breaking season, and brilliant performances in Europe, everyone knows the name Mo Salah. He scored the winning penalty to send his country to Russia. He is able to handle the toughest of pressures. With him alone, they could go from scraping to get out the group, to getting to the quarterfinals.

How England Should Line Up for The 2018 World Cup

I keep seeing many doubt the current England team. Pundits and fans say that this is the worst group of players England have had in years. I disagree completely. I think this is the most balanced England team I’ve seen. It has quality and versatility all over the pitch. So let’s go through what team I would start on the first game of the season. The formation will be a 4-2-3-1, to make sure the best players are able to fit in.

GK: Jordan Pickford

Strangely this is the best group of goalkeepers I think I’ve seen England have. So let’s go through the four obvious candidates and why I’ve chosen mine. Many would choose Butland, but I’m still not so keen with his positioning. Joe Hart has not played enough minutes this season to warrant a start, but would definitely be on the plane, and Forster has not been good enough either, compared to his performances a couple of seasons ago. Pickford gets my pick. He’s shown this season, that even in a very poor Everton team he can still come out as the best player, again. He’s a vocal young keeper, who has an incredible shot stopping ability. The criticism I have of his game is his distribution isn’t at a top level. But this tournament is still a stepping stone. He’s a young player, with plenty of years left. He won’t be able to understand the big occasion unless he plays in one.

RB: Kyle Walker

Even though he does has some competition in a surprisingly consistent Kieran Trippier (who is definitely getting on the plane), I think Walker has this position nailed down. He has definitely been the best full back this year. He’s continued his great form from his days at Tottenham, by also adding a much better player on the ball. Walker has improved in his decision making in the final third. Walker still has a few mistakes in him, but England couldn’t really ask for a better right back.

CB: John Stones

The player that definitely gets on the plane. Stones has not only improved on the ball, but he’s finally solved his defensive issues, being used as the sitter next to Otamendi (the destroyer). Otamendi has a tendancy to run out to receive the ball. It does win him a lot of tackles, but on the small chance of him mistiming the tackle, having Stones next to him to clean up is vital. This is perfect for the player I’m playing next to him, who also has a tendancy to do this. Having someone with such a high ceiling is always beneficial.

CB: Gary Cahill

If I was choosing this based on talent, he wouldn’t be on the plane. I’m not the biggest fan of Cahill. I tend to believe he has been gifted as a player, being partnered next a great defender in John Terry and a great players in David Luiz and Azpiliqueta. It has made him look more capable than he is. He seems to struggle in one on ones, and consistently looks nervous on the ball. Talent wise I would rather have Harry Maguire or Phil Jones. Both have shown this season that they are more than capable of performing at a high level. Cahill does have a lot of experience in winning and playing in these tournaments. England need at least a few players who understand how to get through those tough games where not everything is going your way. If the manager does not have faith in him however, I would gladly pick Maguire instead.

LB: Danny Rose

Strange how this position does not have as many good performers as right back. Danny Rose starts because of talent. Ryan Bertrand has not performed well this season in a very poor Southampton side. Rose has not been near as good as he has been in recent seasons, but is slowly finding his feet after a lengthy injury. Having both Walker and Rose on each side will guarantee England have full backs who are willing to push up. Easy choice in a position that doesn’t have many.

RDM: Eric Dier

Even though I do not believe he should be at another top club, I still do like Eric Dier. He has kept his place in a team where his competition are clearly more talented than him. The manager clearly sees something in him that helps him get a start. I like his aggression and the conservative style he brings. Every teams needs a player who isn’t too fancy.

LDM: Harry Winks

Winks is a sort of player that England haven’t had since a young Michael Carrick. The issue with most of England’s midfield options is rather they’re too defensive, or have injury problems. Winks has an incredible passing ability for such a young player. The more I watch him the more I notice him learning and improving his game. Having Eric Dier next to him means a guaranteed short pass, while also someone who will able to recover if by any chance he loses the ball. He reminds me of a younger Tony Kroos. Someone who is able to move his team further up the pitch. He should play for England because it seems that the three lions want this current crop of players to win something. England should do what Germany did, which was make this current crop learn each others style with a similar team and system, until they look ready to win. For spurs this season he has a 90% pass accuracy while making 3 long balls per game. With the powerful and direct full backs England have, Winks could easily take advantage of one of England’s biggest assets.

RM: Raheem Sterling

A shoehorn into this side. Sterling is easily the second most inform player for England. He has stepped his game up to a level I never thought he could reach. Sterling is currently City’s second top goalscorer. He has contributed with 20 goals and 6 assists for the soon to be champions. He’s averaging around 2.4 shots per game, which is nearly as much as a striker usually has. Sterling has fixed one of my biggest issues with him, that being his finishing. He is currently taking 1.6 of his shots in the penalty area, meaning he is getting in very good positions. Pep has made Sterling into one of the best wingers on the planet, and England have to take advantage of it

AM: Dele Alli

No matter how much I would love to say Jesse Lingardino ( who has improved so much this season), Alli is the best option here. Overall Alli has definitely taken a step down from last season, but he should still be in this squad. Alli is still a young player and this always happens. Young players from time to time will run into these blips in form. But he is still an incredibly talented player. This England side needs player who remain in the squad, to ensure that the squad has guaranteed starters, so the team will function the same way. At Spurs, one obvious tactic that they play is strangley long balls into the channels. Alli has been excellent when these balls are played in. Alderweireld is key to this, and with Stones having a similar passing ability, it could be replicated. Lingard has his purpose, but Alli is key for this team.

LM: Marcus Rashford

Not including the centre backs, the wide positions could be argued as the another position without much options, Rashford is picked here based on his work rate. Successful sides always have a player who is willing to the do the hard yards, and Rashford can fit into that category. The forward line here also excel on the counterattack. Rashford has pace to burn, and with the amount of stamina he has, he will ensure keep running at defenders, and causing a nuisance for the opposition full back. We have seen before that Rashford is good to have when your full backs overlap. He is unpredictable, and it gives the full back enough space to take advantage (as seen with Blind and Young in previous years). Mourinho playing him on the wing has actually turned beneficial. England now have two young wingers with pace to burn. It’ll cause a real pain for the defences. A must start.

ST: Harry Kane

The best striker England, the premier league and the world have to offer. Kane is a must starter and key to the team. Kane has now turned into an elite forward. He is a guy who takes a lot of shots, roughly 5 per game. That’s Messi and Ronaldo numbers. The only difference here will be the creativity behind him. While Winks and the full backs will give him chances, it won’t be near as useful as what Eriksen can give him. Kane will have to make sure to keep possession much or often and attempt to hold the ball more. England have such quality players around him and need to give them chances as well. No debate he should start, but definitely in how he should play.

Key Substitutes

Kieran Trippier: having an incredible season and has an excellent cross. Could be useful for a plan B

Jack Wilshere: very good in the ball. It will give England a good option if they need a midfielder to move the ball forward

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlein: a player who is available to play in a number of positions. Very useful if a good press is needed.

Jesse Lingard: as mentioned before he does have a place in this squad. He can play all around the front line and has incredible off the ball movement.

Jamie Vardy: offers something different to Kane. A good finisher and a real poacher.

My 2017 Team of The Year

With the year at a close and Uefa releasing another terrible team of the year, let’s correct it as usual.

GK: Gigi Buffon

Easy one here. No matter how good De Gea is, Buffon did have a great year for Juventus. He reached another champions league final and won domestic double. He was part of another brilliant Juventus team that continues to perform at the highest level. Buffon might be retiring soon, but will be remembered as the best keeper of all time.

RB: Dani Carvahal

The best right back in the world and one of the most consistent players on the planet takes his place in the squad. Many just choose Dani Alves because of his name, not his quality. Carvahal takes his place with ease, being one of Madrid’s best players this year.

RCB: Sergio Ramos

He is here for being himself. Ramos has an amazing ability to perform at the perfect moment. He scored 11 goals last season, and while Madrid haven’t been good enough this season, winning another champions league deserves a mention for the captain.

CB: Georgio Chiellini

Bonucci would have been here, hadn’t his move to Milan not happened. So Chiellini, the other part of a partnership takes his place in the middle. Chiellini isn’t as intelligence at reading the game as his Italian counterpart, but with his pace and tough tackling, he deserves a place for keeping out some great attackers in the champions league.

LB: Marcus Alonso

Okay here me out. While Marcelo will be most people’s choice, Alonso has had one brilliant year. He has proven to be the best left back in the premier league and added a premier league medal last season. He’s continued his blistering form this season, scoring 5 goals already. He’s owned the left side for Chelsea and deserves more credit.

DM: Thiago Alcantara

Thiago took his game to another level last year. He finally stopped getting those pesky injuries and consistently showed his quality going forward, and surprisingly defensively. Thiago has turned from a good creator into an all around midfielder, a main stay in a team full of quality players.

RCM: Kevin De Bryune

While I have said complained about Pogba not earning enough credit when he producing just as good as the Belgian this season, during the whole year De Bryune has been sensational. He quietly finished the season with 18 assists, the joint third best in league history, and has helped city start the season with a huge bang. He has the joint most assists this season as well and just keeps getting better even adding defensive work to his game. Another great season from the magician.

LCM: Luka Modric

The best midfielder of all time is obviously getting into this team. Even with age he keeps getting better. Not much needs to be said, since it’s Luka Modric and everyone is aware of his greatness.

AM: Lionel Messi

Not a question. Another year another 50 goals from Messi, if it wasn’t for a certain Spurs player he would be top as usual of the goalscoring charts for Europe. The best of all time will always get a place in this team.

RS: Kylian Mbappe

The breakout star of 2017 did have one hell of a year. He is the highest scoring teenager in champions league history, the first unofficial £100m player, and won Monaco their first league title for a long time. No matter how much I wanted to put Cavani here, I just couldn’t overlook the best young player since Messi.

LS: Harry Kane

The top scorer in Europe easily gets into this team. He added another level to his game in 2017, being the amount of shots he takes. He takes the same amount of shots as Messi and Ronaldo, meaning he’s at an elite level of centre forwards. He also scored 7 hat tricks in 2017. That is just absolutely insane. He is now Tottenham’s top scorer, overtaking Sheringham in 102 games less. No one can argue with the quality of Kane at this point. He takes his place up front.

5 Talking points from Manchester United 1-0 Spurs

Another game where we were just bad and still got the three points, but in this situation it was needed. Spurs were on level points after our horror show down in Yorkshire, so a win was needed. Let’s go through the talking points.

A New Formation

United for the first time this season played a 3-4-1-2, and for the most part it didn’t work. From Mourinho’s perspective it would make sense. It gives you a solid defence to work from and have 2 upfront, which I just love. It did seem like the formation was still new for the players, but overall is was enough to clinch the win. We still did get out ran in the midfield but Spurs didn’t take advantage of it. The more this formation is used the more the players will adapt. It’s great to have multiple because it helps deal with different oppositions, like Chelsea next week.

Ashley Young isn’t good enough

It’s as simple as that. Many after the game were saying he was the best player on the pitch, and it makes me wonder which game they were watching. Ashley Young did irritate Dele Alli, a player who was just being a pathetic child, to another level. But he was so poor on the ball. On one occasion he lost the ball in his own and could have gave spurs a chance to score. It just seems a premier league winning player doesn’t know when to run with it or to pass. It worries me that the left back situation is this bad were playing Ashley Young there, in 2017. It just amazes me. This is an issue we needed to fix in the summer but just didn’t. When we don’t have a consistent player in a position it makes the whole team unsettled. Instead of buying a left back we decided to spend £38m on Lindelof, when we already have a player in the academy who is ready and is better than him. I just have to question why this position wasn’t sorted out by now.

The Rashford and Martial team

These two are a real double act! I thought Rashford was our best player until he was taken off. I should have been a little annoyed, but I just knew Martial was going to score. Spurs were so poor at this stage of the game that it was so easy for United to just get the goal, and ensure the win.

No Quality

The biggest complaint as usual is the midfield. After 3 games now it still doesn’t work. Matic and Herrera just seem to not work at all. They both have no chemistry and don’t give us enough strength in the midfield and offer nothing going forward. Both Matic and Herrera are great players but just terrible together. Pogba or Fellaini seem to work better together with either Matic or Herrera. It’s an issue that can’t be resolved until the injury situation is gone.

Kane’s injury isn’t an excuse

Many spurs fans and pundits will all say united only won because of Kane’s injury. It amazes me after 4 years now that is still a reason for a lack of success from Spurs. They’ve had years to resolve their status as a one man team but fail to do so. They bought Llorente when the logical choice was to buy Iheanacho. To question Spurs’s over reliance on Kane is to question their transfer policy. They should have solved this issue the summer when they realised they had no other option. While the lily-whites were poor going forward, they also were poor defensively. For Martial’s goal the Spurs defence turned off completely, giving Lukaku and Martial the chance to get involved in the game. Spurs could have easily got something out of this game, but according to the pundits, press and basically everyone, apparently a draw away at a rival is a bad result, when in reality it isn’t.

Analyzing the top 7 in the EPL

With the new season looking even more competitive than the last. Let’s view each team’s situation nearing the start of the season, and predicting where they will finish this season. It’ll be in order from where they finished last season.

Chelsea

Chelsea have been a real mixed bag in the transfer market. On one hand, they’ve signed some good players in Rudiger, Bakayoko and Morata. But on the other hand, they’ve let so many players go and still haven’t addressed some of their biggest issues. Chelsea needed 2 centre backs, 1 wing back on each side and 2 midfielders. They have not addressed their full back area in the slightest. Chelsea haven’t prepared for the extra games that will be played in Europe. Moses and Alonso cannot play 50 games, they will need a break at points. What makes it worse is the players they sold. Pushing Diego Costa, one of the best strikers in the world, away from the club and replacing him with a striker Chelsea spent a lot of money on. Selling Matic to United, although a great move on United’s side, was a terrible decision on Chelsea’s part. They’re starting the new season with only 2 fit midfielders, with Bakayoko out till October. But the players who I was most furious at Chelsea for letting go was Chalobah, Ake and Traore. These three players were academy graduates of the club, and were hoping to finally be given a chance by the manager. But the club decided to sell these academy players, players who would of been able to play a part in the club and cost nothing. As a united fan who believes in giving youth a chance, it does hurt to see a club of Chelsea’s size disregarding players from their so called top academy. Because of all these reasons listed, this will be a difficult season for Chelsea, showing a clear downgrade from last season, with the possibility of Conte getting the sack.

Predicted Position: 7th

Spurs

This has been a quiet summer for the lilly whites. Besides selling Kyle Walker, they have engaged in zero business this summer, and they have no need to. Their clear priority was to keep hold of their best players, and with only a 27 year old full back being the casualty, they’ve done good this summer. They have something that no other team has. Stability. They are at a good stage right now and want to use more of their youth. They just need to ensure that they use all their players at their disposal. They have a deep squad full of quality, and if the likes of Kane, Alli and Eriksen can stay fit, they should have a good season. I don’t believe Wembley will be a huge issue for them, eventually their fans and the players will adapt. It will have no effect on their season overrall.

Predicted Position: 3rd

Manchester City

While Spurs had no need to add to their squad, Man city had plenty to add and sell to their talented squad. They began by signing Ederson and Bernardo Silva for a combined £78m, and that was only the beginning. Man city then went to fix their fullback area by spending £122m on Kyle Walker, Benjamin Mendy and Danilo. Many have complained about their insane spending here but it makes sense. Pep even said that they haven’t bought new fullbacks for years and all this sudden spending makes up for years of not buying new defenders. After their spree of spending, they have definitely turned themselves back into title favourites. They’ve finally bought fullbacks that Pep can trust and added more to that insanely talented attack. But they still have some issues that signings might not be able to fix. That defense, mainly at centre back, still isn’t good enough unless Kompany is playing. He’s became famous for having very dodgy knees, meaning he can’t play a full season anymore. Another issue that they share with their rivals is their lack of ability to kill a game off. Whether it’s Pep or his players, their were some big games where they failed to kill a game off. 3 come to mind, at home against Chelsea, away against Monaco and against Arsenal in Wembley. They struggled to take their lead to a point where they could sit back. They let Monaco and Chelsea back in the game when they had complete control. Even with these issues, I can see their big squad having a good season next season. A team with De Bruyne, Silva, Aguero and Jesus cannot be underestimated in the slightest.

Predicted Position: 2nd

Liverpool

Liverpool just about got into that top four, and will be looking to stay there. Last season they were able to play their fast pressing style because they only had one game to prepare for. They could play the same team every week because of their lack of games. But with the extra game it’ll give Klopp more to think about. If they don’t buy Van Dijk, then it’ll be a bad summer for them. Adding Salah, Solanke and Robertson are good for squad depth, but without some options in defense, they will struggle this season. Currently they don’t have enough defenders to be able to put out a difference defense each game. Like Chelsea, their squad still hasn’t got enough depth, and even though they have kept their best players, unlike Chelsea. They still need more a few squad players and a good midfielder and centre back. But if I was a Liverpool fan, I’d still put plenty of faith in Klopp. He’s a manager, like Mourinho and Ferguson, who can get the absolute most out of his players. He just has to ensure that he doesn’t burn these guys out. He has a young squad and must ensure these players last. I do think with Liverpool will get champions league. With a good manager and other team’s circumstances, they should be fine next season and build upon what they’ve done last season.

Predicted Position: 4th

Arsenal

Oh Arsenal. I don’t like talking about a team that still isn’t a threat and that hasn’t even added much to their squad but still, let’s discuss. After 2 years of chasing, they finally signed Lacazette. He will be an instant improvement on what they have already. He is more mobile than Giroud and doesn’t have the injuries of Danny Welbeck. It seems that they are keeping Sanchez which of course is a huge boost for them. But what all these idiotic Arsenal fans aren’t considering is Europa League. As a united fan watching his team crawl to the trophy, it takes so much out of you. I keep hearing arsenal fans wanting to bottle the competition but I wouldn’t recommend that. The top four is becoming increasingly difficult to get, so if Arsenal can win a European competition for the first time and get champions league football, it’ll be a good season. But that will involve them struggling in the league.

Predicted Position: 5th

Manchester United

I’m definitely speaking from a biased perspective, but I’m backing my team for the title, and I have some good reasons. The first would be Jose’s second season syndrome. Every team he’s managed has always won the title in its second season, because the players learn his system and that second summer always helps. Second, our signings. Even though I think there will still be another player coming, we’ve done some excellent business this summer. Taking Lukaku from Chelsea was genius, getting Lindelof early was ideal, and getting Matic from one of your rivals was perfect. All these players improve our squad in some way, especially Matic and Lukaku. Matic allows Pogba and Herrera to express themselves more and Lukaku adds a more clinical nature to the team as well as a strong pacey forward. And finally no more Europa league. With us playing in the elite competition stops us from travelling to these insanely distant countries on pitches that aren’t at the top level. And especially no more Thursday night football. It lets the players rest for longer in anticipation for the weekend. Last season we should have challenged, but our focus went further away from the league as the season went on. But this time Mourinho will have full focus on the league, and a focused Mourinho is unstoppable.

Predicted Position: 1st

Everton

It might seem strange to consider Everton a real threat to the big clubs, but with their increased funds and a real manager, they have to be considered a threat. Their main priority was to deal with Lukaku and Barkley, two increasing personalities at the club. They dealt with this by selling Lukaku to United and Koeman telling the press that Barkley has no future. Thn they had to prove that they are a threat, by spending some serious cash. They took the young Michael Keane and Pickford, fixing two issues they’ve had for a while, then buying Ajax captain Davy Klassen. And to add more to the squad , they bought ex Barcelona player Sandro for a bargain £5m and bagging Rooney on a free, and they are still spending, with the Toffees trying to tempt Swansea’s magician Siggurdsson for £50m. Everton have made themselves a threat, and now with a deep squad of talented young players. The only way is up for Everton.

My Premier League 16/17 Team of the Year

Kasper Schmeichel

Kasper Schmeichel has easily been the most consistent player for Leicester. In a team full of disappointments, Schmeichel is easily the only player that will come out of this season with more plaudits than their title winning season. He had kept Leicester in so many games this season, and with them  progressing further in the Champions League, with Schmeichel saving two big penalities, he deserves this place as the leader in the back of this team, like his father.

Honourable Mention: Tom Heaton

Antonio Valencia

I have already spoken about my love for the Ecuadorian, but I might as well compliment him again. Valencia has been the most consistent performer this season for United, and at times being the only player on that right side, with Mata, Mhikitaryan and Rashford cutting in. But he owns that right side. One moment you will see him crossing the ball into the box, the next you’ll see him making an important interception to stop a winger from hurting our defence. He has became a player everyone thought to be sold, to a the first name on the teamsheet. He epitomises the role of a modern day full back, and rightly deserves his name on the team sheet

Honourable Mention: Victor Moses

David Luiz

A member of Football Daily said that if you’re not hearing anything about a defender, then they are doing their job. And that can be said about David Luiz. Both him and Azpilicueta have been phenomenal at the back for chelsea, and that is something i never thought i would see. David Luiz in the past never impressed. He seemed to be too reckless and struggled to keep his head sometimes. But in a back three he is playing brilliantly, being the defender who sits deepest out of the three, and his ball playing expertise flourishes in this role. Conte has got the best out of him, and his the first manager to do so.

Honourable mention: Yan Vertongen

Cesar Azpilicueta

Azpilicueta never stops impressing me. Over the last 4 years he’s established himself as one of the finest right, left back and centre half in the country. The fact he has been able to excel in 3 different positions just shows his talent and attitude, having no problem with switching positions constantly. He’s been a consistent performer for Conte this season and his ability with the ball shows in a back three that would usually show itself to be incompetent. He’s a player i hope continues to perform for the blues for even longer.

Honourable mention: Michael Keane

Marcus Alonso

Alonso was signed for a huge fee for a player who previously played for Sunderland. But he’s came in and impressed massively. His work rate and defensive displays have been excellent. But what’s been most impressive is the goals he chips in with. He’s scored a handful of goals from a position that doesn’t usually get involved with scoring. This position was low on options. With Danny Rose injured for a large chunk of the season and my Honourable mention, James Milner, only being above average. Alonso was the best out of an average group

Honourable mention: James Milner

Sadio Mane

Mane has been short of brilliant. He was the player Klopp needed to bring in. A player who is willing to run at the opposition and has a great sense of movement. Knowing went to stay wide and when to cut in. And it shows, Mane scored 11 goals from the right side of the pitch. Most people have sighted Coutinho or Lallana as Liverpool’s most important player, but it isn’t true. Mane is the only player who will take men on and advance the play quickly. He is by far the most important player for Liverpool and easily slots in to this team.

Honourable Mention: Pedro

N’golo Kante

Kante has proven he’s the best defensive midfielder in the league again. The fact that he’s been able to replicate his brilliant season for Leicester just shows how effective he is. Chelsea’s biggest issue was their midfield wasn’t good enough. Yes it was their midfield that won the league, but what last season taught us that Fabregas doesn’t work had enough in his position and Matic was getting exposed easily. And Kante’s energy and attitude is what they needed. Someone to do all the work while the other players can show their quality. He was the perfect player for Conte and is still the best tackler in the league.

Honourable mention: Ander Herrera

Deli Alli

There hasn’t been a goal scoring midfielder this good since Lampard. Alli just has everything to continue to succeed. He has the mentality, the technique and the intelligence a good midfielder needs. When Kane was injured it was him who filled his goal scoring boots. Alli has turned up some big games this season, especially the Chelsea victory. Both him and Kane have been brilliant this season. If it wasn’t for Kane getting injuries, he would probably be winning the golden boot again and the PFA player of the year, but my vote would to to Deli Alli. For putting a strikers goal output and still being a brilliant midfielder.

Honourable mention: Christian Eriksen

Eden Hazard

The Belgium is back to his very best. On his day you could rank him the breathtaking category you put a player like Neymar, Iniesta or Messi. He can epitomise the love i have for the beautiful game. The way the ball just glues to his feet to the way he can run through a defence, like against Arsenal. The magical Hazard we all love came back after a year long break, and it was good to have him back. He adds so much to that Chelsea team, especially in creativity and goals. When they won the league it was only him and Costa scoring the goals but now more players are contributing. The free role he has been given really shows us all the best he can be, and it has been a pleasure to watch him embarrass defenders again.

Honourable mention: Philippe Coutinho

Harry Kane

I am backing the English forward to break the goal scoring record in this country if he continues scoring his many goals, or at least overtake Rooney. What blows me away with Kane is he’s just so average on paper. Touch isn’t great, isn’t amazing with his head, but he can finish better than anyone. He is so traditional as a striker. Doing his job better than anyone. His game is perfect for Poch. He plays so often and helps bring others to play. Him and Alli almost communicate telepathically. They know each other so well and it is beneficial to spurs to keep them both at any costs. They’ll have a tough season playing in Wembley and need their best players to perform.

Honourable Mention: Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Romelu Lukaku

Lukaku has continued his goal scoring from last season and stepped it up to the next level. He has became a player worth £60m to a player worth £80m. It isn’t the fact that he has been able to improve, it is the fact that he has consistently continued to score goals. Him and Harry Kane have to be some of the most valuable strikers in the world, both being young and very physical strikers and can score over 20 goals for a club. It would definitely be better for Everton to sell him. They can use the money to increase their options and Lukaku deserves champions league football. Koeman is used to dealing with selling players after managing Dutch teams and Southampton and will be able to improve. He has to let Lukaku leave and become one of the very best

Honourable Mention: Alexis Sanchez