Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Could Save Spurs Season!

When you look at the Premier League table and Tottenham Hotspur’s position within it, one thing instantly catches the eye and that is that Mauricio Pochettino’s men aren’t scoring enough league goals.

The Lilywhites have only scored twenty-three league goals in fifteen games, that’s significantly less than any other top six side. Premier League leaders Manchester City have actually already scored double that of Spurs and eighth placed Watford have even bettered Tottenham’s goal tally.

Defensively Tottenham have been very steady and secure, so scoring the goals and struggling to kill games off is definitely the main problem this year.

The North London club are currently in the midst of a four game run without picking up a victory in their domestic matches. They lie in sixth spot and now the once potential title chasers find themselves four points away from a top four position.

After Man City manager Pep Guardiola referred to Spurs as “the Harry Kane team” Pochettino responded by saying:

“It’s important that different players score goals too.”

Centre forward Harry Kane has once again scored the majority of his side’s strikes. He has banged in ten goals in fourteen top flight fixtures, only Liverpool’s Mo Salah has produced more so far this term.

But after Kane, no other Spurs player is scoring regularly enough.

Dele Alli, Christen Eriksen and Son Heung-Min have all chipped in with three apiece but boss Pochettinho was probably hoping for more from the trio.

Summer signing Fernando Llorente hasn’t scored yet but the Spanish striker has only played ninety minutes in the league this term and that’s over nine substitute appearances.

Mauricio has flirted with the idea of playing two up-top this term but neither Alli nor Son are perfect foils for Kane in the forward role. Veteran Llorente is more of a back-up than an automatic starter, I think Harry would prefer a more mobile striking partner. Other sides have found favour with a three man frontline and that might be another formation change for Poch to consider.

Pochettino has been quick to say that his side can’t compete with Europe’s superpowers when it comes to transfer fees but the Argentine needs to ask his chairman to push the boat out and bring in another prolific goalscorer.

One man that could be of interest is Borussia Dortmund forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Spurs have faced the Gabon international twice in the Champions League and while they’ve been victorious in both encounters, Aubameyang would have let the defenders know that they’ve been in a game. He scored in one of those games and also struck against Real Madrid. 

Domestically Dortmund have the same issues with inconsistent form as Tottenham but Pierre-Emerick has been in terrific goalscoring form!

In all competitions so far in this campaign, the striker has scored seventeen times in nineteen appearances.

Aubameyang is a clinical finisher and he can also hold onto the ball in tight areas. He also has electric pace and that could be very effective in and around Kane. It would also be benefit Pochettino’s team when on the counter attack in the bigger games.

At Dortmund, the hitman is used to playing with fellow attackers near him. He also has the versatility to play in wider areas, which could see him moved if the game calls for it tactically.

The Bundesliga outfit refused to let the forward leave Signal Iduna Park in the summer, with Chelsea reportedly very interested in his services.

But maybe BVB’s mind on the twenty-eight year old’s status could have shifted since that transfer window. They’ve suspended the attacker after he arrived late to training and many blamed Pierre-Emerick for getting sent-off against Schalke, Dortmund were four up at the time and then the capitulated after the red card and ended the game drawing 4-4.

Tottenham will have to go all out if they want to tempt the talismanic striker to their project. Fellow English top six side Liverpool have been heavily linked with the frontman, while Chelsea have again been mentioned as potential suitors.

One man that might need convincing will be chairman Daniel Levy.

The Gabon international will come with a hefty price tag, probably nothing less than £40m will get Dortmund around the negotiating table. Spurs might want a player at a smaller fee and who would have a better resale value. The player himself will want considerable wages and we know Levy runs a tight ship when it comes to balancing the books. The ill discipline this term might also put the chairman and his manager off.

One thing Levy will have to ask himself is ‘does he want to have Champions League football in the new stadium next season’? 

If the answer to that is yes, then they might have to speculate in the winter transfer window to accumulate. If they aren’t scoring enough, then they will continue to drop points and that will put their top four place under threat.

Could Liverpool & Everton Battle Over Sevilla’s Steven N’Zonzi?

Reports in Spain suggest Sevilla star Steven N’Zonzi has fallen out of favour with manager Eduardo Berizzo. It’s been claimed that the midfielder has been made to train alone following an argument during the the club’s 3-3 draw with Liverpool in the Champions League.

You wonder if a return to the Premier League could be on the cards for the twenty-eight year old, he had shone in England previously at Blackburn Rovers and Stoke City.

The player himself has stated just how much he liked the English top flight  last month:

“The Premier League? I love it, I really like English football and that is where I began to really improve as a player.”

“I had a great time in England but I don’t know what is going to happen in the future.”

That and his apparent problems with Los Rojiblancos head coach seem to suggest a move back to England could be on the immediate horizon.

I think both Merseyside clubs could be interested in his signature, if he were indeed to become available during the next transfer window.

The midfielder has already been linked with a move to Goodison Park.

N’Zonzi worked under new Everton boss Sam Allardyce and Big Sam even checked to see if he could call up the Frenchman for the England squad in 2016.

The Toffees haven’t had the best of times of it this term and another man in the engine room might be welcomed, especially if Allardyce decides Morgan Schniederlin no longer has the required desire to star in the Premier League.

Steven is obviously a player the Toffees gaffer admires and trusts, so it might make sense in him going for the player to start his era at Goodison. He’d add extra passing stability in beside Idrissa Gueye.

Liverpool on the other hand might be thinking more about next season when it comes to bringing in N’Zonzi.

Reds manager Jurgen Klopp must be thinking that countryman Emre Can will more than likely leave the Reds on a Bosman in the summer.

While RB Leipzig’s Naby Keita is set to join in July, you’d still imagine that Klopp will want another central midfielder in to add more competition for places in the squad.

For Liverpool, it might make sense to bring in N’Zonzi during the January window and give him time to get used to the team’s tactics and style. He’d be cup-tied for the Champions League but he could come in for Can during the league and FA Cup encounters.

Question marks continue to surround Philippe Coutinho’s future at Anfield and I’m not sure Georginio Wjinaldum has been the dynamic player that Klopp and Co were hoping for.

While the midfielder hasn’t had the greatest of campaigns so far this season, he has impressed greatly in La Liga and in Europe since joining Sevilla in 2015. The player’s form won him his first international caps for the French national team last month.

Currently his passing success rate is up at 90.5% and it averaged at 89.9% last year in the Spanish top flight. Not many in European football beat Steven’s passing success stats.

He also adds height into the middle of the park and he uses that well with his aerial ability. This season he’s winning on average 3.1 headers per La Liga match and that stat was 3 per game last season.

N’Zonzi is a man who can defend and get the ball to the more creative forces in his team. Both Merseyside clubs could do with that in their sides. Both have been questioned defensively this year and having Steven’s height on the park would be advantageous.

Being calm and composed on the ball would also benefit either Merseyside club, if they chose to enquire about his availability. He starts moves rather than just stop them.

The tall middle-man is also very athletic and can often charge into the opponent’s half and his runs are often not picked up. He works hard to be as good as he is and that’s admirable.

Other teams such as Juventus, Manchester City and Arsenal have all been linked with the player recently. That’s how highly regarded he is.

So it wouldn’t necessarily be a straight fight between Liverpool and Everton but both Merseyside clubs should be earmarking him as a midfielder who can help make their sides better.

January is set to be an interesting month for Steven N’Zonzi, a move back to the Premier League seems to be his ideal destination.


Brendan Rodgers Has James Forrest Flying Again At Celtic!

Under Ronny Deila, James Forrest didn’t seem to be able to get back into the form that caused everyone at Celtic to praise him when he broke into the first team at Parkhead in 2010.

At one stage the forward was linked with a £9m switch to Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur, without doubt injuries and poor form have plagued his career.

Many wondered if the inconsistent winger would be dumped by Brendan Rodgers when the manager arrived in the summer of 2016.

Yet Rodgers has stuck with the twenty-six year old and his faith has been well and truly repaid by the Scottish international this season.

When Patrick Roberts rejoined the Hoops in the summer on yet another season long loan, it was automatically assumed that he’d play more often than not and Forrest would have to make do with the super-sub role.

Yet James has worked hard, got himself in the team, taken his chance and played consistently well this term.

Out of all of Celtic’s creative wide talents, for me Forrest has been the standout attacking player.

Roberts has picked up injuries, Scott Sinclair hasn’t had the same impact he had last term (although he has picked up as of late) and Jonny Hayes hasn’t really made enough of his limited minutes on the pitch.

Brendan decided to rest Forrest for the third match against Motherwell in a week, yet even though he started on the bench James still came on and scored a brace in the final twenty-two minutes and could have even grabbed a hat-trick.

His opener against the Well, was typical James Forrest. The wee wide-man came in from the right and took the shot excellently with his left foot. It curled around Motherwell keeper Trevor Carson and nestled into the back of the net.

It was very similar to his goal the weekend before against the same goalie but last week’s was more special as it helped the Glasgow club to win the Betfred Cup. That was his third goal in a Hoops jersey in a winning League Cup final and no one has done that since Lisbon Lion Bobby Lennox. That’s some feat!

His second strike in yesterday’s Scottish Premiership fixture was a very nice finish with the outside of his right-foot. He steadied himself before accurately steering his shot beyond Carson yet again.

After the 5-1 home win over Well, Brendan Rodgers praised his scoring substitute:

“He is a goal threat – inside of his left foot, outside of his right, two brilliant finishes,” 

“And, like I say, he is high in confidence and I’m delighted to see it because he is a big talent and still so young, so much ahead of him.”

The Hoops boss will also enjoy the fact that the Ayrshire native offers versatility to the squad as he can also play on the left wing or up as a second striker.

The forward has direct pace and quick feet, that terrorises defences. He can stay wide and he can cut-in and that fluidity on the flank confuses defenders. Rodgers seems to have got Forrest focused and concentrating on the positive aspects in his game and keeping things on the front foot.

The internationalist is also a big game player as his League Cup final record suggests. He has also grabbed goals against FC Astana and Rosenborg in the Champions League qualifiers.

Forrest already has ten goals to his name this season and it’s not even Christmas yet. Before this campaign the Celtic man had never struck double figures before.

There’s still room for improvement, James can score more this term and as a direct winger I’d like to see him create more assists for his teammates.

That being said, Brendan Rodgers seems to be getting more and more from James Forrest and we are finally seeing him as a top performer again. He’ll hope that he can keep this run going and reach his full potential before the season finishes!

David De Gea Is Still Manchester United’s Goliath

If David de Gea isn’t the world’s best goalkeeper, then the Manchester United man is certainly up there in the top three.

The twenty seven year old was in tremendous form once again yesterday as United defeated rivals Arsenal 3-1 at the Emirates. That result secures United’s position as main title challengers in the Premier League table.

While the Gunners were poor defensively at times, and the away side punished them for that, they were sharp and exciting when they attacked the United goal.

In total Arsenal hit thirty-three shots and fifteen of those were on target, so Spanish number one De Gea had a very busy evening as he made fourteen saves!

Whether efforts were low, looping or hit with power De Gea was there to keep the majority of them out.

A standout moment was when French hitman Alexandre Lacazette controlled the ball inside the Man Utd penalty area and drove his low shot in at goal. It was well struck and seemed destined to give his side an equaliser, yet David got down and clawed the ball back away from his goal-line. If that superb save wasn’t enough, the rebound headed towards Alexis Sanchez but before the Chilean could execute the finish De Gea was up again as quickly as a cat and cleared the ball with his right leg, in a wonderful challenge come save!

Before that United’s number one had to react brilliantly with a one handed effort that saved United striker Romelu Lukaku’s blushes when the hitman saw the ball spin off him towards his own net. It was an instant reaction to an unexpected situation and that is the difference between a good and a great goalie.

In those incidents, the Spaniard proved why so many insist he’s a top class goalie. It’s all about fine shot-stopping, determination, awesome reaction/reflexes and faultless concentration levels.

When Arsenal finally breached the Red Devils goal it was with two of their attackers getting in behind the United defence and coming up against an unprotected Man United goalkeeper.

So far this term no English top flight side has conceded less that Manchester Utd’s nine strikes. that is testament to their terrific keeper, the defence and manager Jose Mourinho’s approach.

Having David de Gea playing in between the sticks gives the defence confidence, as they know they have a world class performer playing in behind them and that he alone can save games and win points. That confidence seems to get the defence focused and playing with good intent.

Mourinho knows that by having a reliable goalkeeper, he can change his defensive tactics and that it won’t phase his keeper in anyway.

Mourinho and his opposite number, Arsene Wenger, rarely agree on anything but yesterday they were in full agreement that De Gea produced a fantastic match winning performance.

Jose stated:

“I told De Gea after the match, what I saw today was the best from a goalkeeper in the world.”

While Wenger had this to say:

“Their keeper as well had an outstanding game.”

Next weekend the immovable object comes up against the unstoppable force as second placed Man United host Pep Guardiola’s Premier League leaders Manchester City at Old Trafford.

If Jose Mourinho’s men are to close the gap on neighbours, then you’ve got to expect a wonderful performance from their goalkeeper. At least with David de Gea in their goal, they stand a chance of keeping out City’s majestic forwards out!

Is Chelsea’s Eden Hazard The Only Thing Standing In Man City’s Way?

Eden Hazard produced another scintillating man of the match performance as he helped Chelsea beat Newcastle United 3-1 at Stamford Bridge.

The result sees The Blues go level on points with second placed Manchester United and go eight points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City, although both Manchester sides have a game in hand.

Unfortunately for Chelsea they missed Eden at the start of the current campaign as he was rehabbing after ankle surgery. That meant the playmaker missed preseason, so even when he returned to the first team he wasn’t instantly up to speed.

In the last month and a half, Hazard has once again returned to full fitness and with that his form has improved vastly.

There’s no doubt in my mind that the Belgian maestro is a world class talent. The twenty six year old has won the Premier League title twice with the London side and in those two seasons he was his club’s best creative force. He provided plenty of assists and also bagged himself thirty goals in those seventy-four league winning fixtures.

When Hazard’s in top form; he glides across the turf, dribbles beyond numerous opponents and finds key passes with ease. Somehow the hottest talent on the park manages to continually find space and pick out teammates with his excellent vision and superb passing ability.

The forward also doesn’t go missing in the big games. He’s always buzzing around and looking for the ball, especially in the dangerous areas of the pitch. He was a star against Man United and Liverpool, a constant threat and he had his opponents on edge.

So far this term the forward has scored five league goals and made two assists, in just eight starts and four substitute appearances. He’s also scored a further three in the Champions League and had a hand in another two assists.

In his last five outings, Eden has scored five times and had two assists. Chelsea haven’t lost in that run of games either. That shows you that he’s starting to hit top form and it’s making a big impact on the rest of the Blues squad too.

After today’s victory over the Magpies at the Bridge, Chelsea boss Antonio Conte praised the attacker:

‘I think he enjoys playing this type of game. He is an important player as we can change our system’

You can tell the maverick talent is enjoying his football as he’s playing with a smile and scoring Paneka penalties. His self-confidence is admirable and when he’s happy on the park, he’s almost unstoppable.

No English top flight player has a better successful dribbles per game ratio than the Chelsea number ten. Eden also has an 84% passing success rate and makes around two key passes per game.

In this current campaign, Man City’s Kevin De Bruyne has been the Premier League’s standout player. He too possesses great vision and can craft wonderful passes for teammates.

Pundits and punters alike have been purring over De Bruyne and his City side this season. It’s obvious why when you see them sweep every side they’ve faced aside without much fuss. De Bruyne in particular has looked majestic, especially with the ball at his feet.

I think Eden Hazard will be happy to see his Belgian teammate do so well but a part of the forward will be thinking I’m the real star here and I want to show everyone that I’m the better footballer. That’s how the mind of world class player works.

The rivalry between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo has spurred the two superstars on and has made them the best in the world. Eden’s former Blues manager Jose Mourinho stated that the creative forward can be as good as either Messi or Ronaldo.

Belgium’s two gifted playmakers should look to out do each other and prove themselves as the best. The both of them could rip the rest of the league apart, with sensational performances. A friendly rivalry between the two of them could possibly get to the same level as Messi and Ronaldo.

Many will see the run that Chelsea went on last season as they overcame a sloppy start to the season to claim the league crown. It will need a similar run for them to get close to Man City this time around and for Chelsea the form of Hazard will be paramount if they’re going to have any real success this term!

Rangers: Dave King Must Know That Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Rangers Chairman Dave King seemed to manage the club’s AGM with ease.

Admitting mistakes in transfer policy, especially in the case of Barrie McKay, placated some in the audience. Blaming the Easdale brothers for his troubles with the takeover panel will have got the crowd onside.

Talk of stadium improvements, a potential new share issue and a new kit supplier will have also gone down well with the side’s fanbase.

Lines like ‘Getting back to number one is the only sure way to create sustainable value for all our shareholders’ and ‘The Board consists of experienced businessmen who, despite all wearing large supporter hats, will always make decisions in the best immediate, intermediate and long-term interests of the Company’ are all very well and good but the support needs to see progress both on and off the park.

Former Gers owner Sir David Murray loved a soundbite and would often say things that would get the fans backing but in the end the supremo rode roughshod with the club finances. The support for much of that time didn’t hold their chairman to account and would let him do what he wanted without questioning the consequences.

The Gers support needs to understand that they can’t allow that to happen again and they need to constantly question the board.

An interesting quote from King at yesterday’s AGM was:

“If I’m making an executive appointment to one of my companies in South Africa it might take me three months to find somebody,”

“It’s a very, very important position.”

I have some issues with this statement.

Firstly, this is football and it’s a very different business to anything else Dave King does in South Africa. In football, you need to have a first team manager in place and you can’t take too much time when making a decision to appoint a new one.

The uncertainty that comes with not having a gaffer brings inconsistent performances and results. The players don’t seem as focused and the fans become a bit despondent too.

Graeme Murty is a fine footballing man and has handled the task of interim boss with dignity but let’s be honest the job is too big for him. So you need a full-time manager in there to get the best results and the most out of the playing squad.

Another thing I’d like to add about this line is that Mr King didn’t actually take part in the process of hiring former boss Pedro Caixinha. There’s no point telling everyone how important a decision it is to bring in the right guy and that it takes time and then not take part in the actual process. As the club’s chairman he needs to be more hands on with the next appointment, in my opinion.

Listen I am not slating Dave King or his board, they’ve done some good things during their tenure as the club’s custodians but they need to do more and they need to start getting the bigger decision right!

Words mean hee-haw if you can’t back them with worthwhile actions.

Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil Needs To Turn On The Style Against Man United

Mesut Ozil had yet another great game for Arsenal this week as the German helped his side beat Huddersfield Town 5-0 at the Emirates Stadium.

The World Cup winner provided his team with two assists and a goal against The Terriers. That has taken his tally to five Premier League assists and two strikes so far this term.

Ozil’s current Gunners deal runs out in June 2018. It’s almost as if the maestro has rediscovered his best creative form as his contract runs down in the summer. He has certainly been linked with a host of top sides in the last few weeks.

One of those teams has been Manchester United, Arsenal’s opponents this weekend.

Mesut played under United boss Joss Mourinho at Real Madrid and Jose seemed to get the best out of the attacking midfielder. It would make sense for the Portuguese coach to be interested in his former playmaker, as the player possesses the vision and craft that can unlock stern defences.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has came out and explained that his player will put all talk of a possible move to Old Trafford to one side and do his job for the North London club:

“Look, that’s all speculation, you cannot interfere with that,”  

“There’s only one way to show how much you are committed, that’s your attitude on the pitch. And when you see him play, one thing you cannot question is the way he wants to play for the team.”

Whether Mesut Ozil’s upsurge in form is down to a committed outlook or because he wants to attract potential suitors to make lucrative offers in January, doesn’t actually matter as long as he keeps putting in top class performances.

One thing that might put off major European sides from bidding for the creative midfielder’s services could be his form in the bigger occasions.

During Ozil’s Arsenal career the twenty-nine year old has often gone missing. That upsets the fans at the Emirates and it won’t have gone unnoticed when world-class managers have taken a look at him. These bosses demand consistency and that’s still a question mark surrounding the German.

He had a terrible outing against Liverpool earlier in the campaign, as did all the Gunners that played that day, and he did nothing of note against Manchester City.

Although against London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, he was superb. He created an assist and importantly he didn’t shirk out of challenges and he went looking for the ball.

It seemed crucial that he was in the same team as Alexandre Lacazette and Alexis Sanchez in the 2-0 win over Tottenham. They worked well as a fluid, attacking unit. Lacazette offers runs that Ozil can either find with a quality pass or he can run into the space that the French forward has vacated.

In the match up against the Red Devils on Saturday, the hungry Ozil that dismantled Spurs and Huddersfield needs to turn up.

If he can shine for Arsenal against the English top flight’s current second placed outfit, then those interested in him will be more willing to send his agent a contract offer early in the New Year.

In all honesty, the playmaker also owes his current employers and their support a consistent season and a few more strong, high end performances against the Premier League’s best sides.

I can’t wait to see what Mesut Ozil decides to show up on Saturday, will it be the exciting creative force or the ghost that cannot make his presence felt in the important encounters?

What Big Sam Needs To Do At Everton!

Everton have finally turned to troubleshooting manager Sam Allardyce as they look to get themselves away from a relegation battle this season.

Watford boss Marco Silva seemed to be the Toffees first choice for the Goodison hotseat but the Hornets resisted Everton’s eager approaches.

Now with just twelve points from their opening thirteen Premier League fixtures, lying in seventeenth place and with a Europa League campaign in tatters, the club’s hierarchy have decided that the former England boss is the man to get them out of trouble.

It should have been so different for the Merseyside team. They seemingly had a talented gaffer in Ronald Koeman and had spent very big in the summer transfer market. As well as bringing back club legend Wayne Rooney, they also brought in exiciting England prospects (Jordan Pickford & Micheal Keane) and established Premier Leagues star Gylfi Sigurdsson.

In total, over £140m was spent on the squad as Everton chased the dream of breaking into the top four.

Alas it has been a miserable campaign for the Blues of Merseyside. Koeman was sacked and caretaker boss David Unsworth hasn’t managed to turn things around. It looks as though Unsworth is too close to the squad and isn’t feared by the players.

Big Sam will have a huge job on his hands when he takes over at Goodison.

It’s not a task he isn’t used to. He’s famous for saving the likes of Blackburn Rovers, Sunderland and Crystal Palace from the dreaded drop zone. At Everton the rewards will be greater and he should have better foundations to build from, as long as he changes the team’s on-field fortunes.

Allardyce has stated recently that the first thing to do when turning things round at a club is fixing the defence.

“Clean sheets give you the platform to be successful in a season. You can’t always score two or three goals.”

He used his transfer window at Palace to bring in stronger, better defenders and it worked perfectly.

Everton have conceded the most amount of goals (28) in the English top flight so far this term, so Allardyce will have to once again rebuild the backline first.

There’s plenty of experience in the Toffees defence, that’s not in question. But with ageing defenders like Leighton Baines, Phil Jagielka and Ashley Williams you can see a distinct lack of pace in the back four. Even new recruit Keane doesn’t possess a great amount of speed.

These veterans should be leaders, yet whenever I’ve seen Everton this season they seem to shout a lot but are they making any real points? Plus are they taking ownership of their own mistakes?

You’d like to think that Sam can at least organise them and have them well drilled to stop them being quite as leaky. I’d imagine he would still want to strengthen that area when the winter transfer window opens.

I also wonder about Morgan Schniederlin. Does he have the heart and desire to become one of the best holding midfielders in the Premier League again?

You watch on as Idrissa Gueye charges across the park trying his upmost to tackle and win the ball back, sometimes his high work-rate has a negative impact on his own game. But is he working like two men at times because Morgan isn’t pulling his weight?

The French internationalist looks to have been harmed by his spell at Manchester United but he needs to buck his ideas up or he’ll end up going from club to club and dropping down the leagues.

The new manager will have to workout what’s wrong with Schniederlin and will probably have to put an arm around him and coax the best out of him.

With the defence being slow and weak, it becomes essential that you have two defensive minded midfielders who have legs, passion and that are smart enough to plug any gaps.

Allardyce has to be wary of the talented youngsters he’ll have at his disposal at Goodison. He cannot rely on them, especially at this juncture. If you give them too much exposure, when the teams playing so poorly, it can have a detrimental impact on their progression as footballers.

Big Sam will also need to deal with Wayne Rooney.

The former England captain still has something about him but what’s his best position? You also have to workout if he’s a distraction or an influence to those around him.

Even though Everton were thumped at Southampton on the Sunday, I think it was clear to see that major summer signing Sigurdsson is best as a number ten. On the left the former Swansea City man is wasted and he goes missing, The Icelandic international can be a match winner in the hole and needs to play there and to do it regularly.

The team as a whole lacks pace. So it will be a huge boost to have Yannick Bolasie return to full fitness.

Another big issue that Allardyce has to solve is the main striking position.

Rooney can play there but does he offer enough of a threat? Sandro hasn’t settled into life in the Premier League yet and Oumar Niasse offers endeavour but can he really be your top scorer and get you out of trouble?

Everton didn’t invest wisely enough and replace hitman Romelu Lukaku.

The Belgian guaranteed the Merseyside club goals and they’ve no longer got that in their ranks.

Christian Benteke is already being linked with the Toffees as he worked previously under Sam at Crystal Palace. I think Everton should enquire about Chelsea forward Michy Batshuayi’s availability. You’d imagine the champions might loan him out if they can get someone else in during the window.

Andy Carroll and Theo Walcott are two other names being linked with the club at the moment and they’d offer different options up top.

It will be interesting to see if Sam Allardyce can once again save another team from a grizzly fate. The Evertonian supporters will take to him as long as he brings positive results. Can he then make them a top half force again?

Well first things first, he has a whole lot of problems to solve at Goodison and he needs to solve them fast!


Ashley Young Is Rolling Back The Years At Manchester United

Manchester United have a good recent history in moving wingers to the wing-back role and seeing them blossom in those new defensive duties.

Antonio Valencia did it with ease and he’s still the club’s standout right-back. Before that, Quinton Fortune managed to do it during his stint at Old Trafford and Lee Sharpe was often used as a left-back whenever Denis Irwin was missing during the early nineties.

Current United manager Jose Mourinho has decided that Ashley Young is now better off in the left full-back slot instead of his customary position on the wing.

The Englishman has taken to his task with relish and has impressed in that role. You get the feeling Young is just eager to play and will try his upmost to please Jose.

Being thirty-two years of age, Ashley probably isn’t as explosive as he once was but what he does offer is vast experience. He’s now a veteran of this Red Devils squad and he along with Michael Carrick and Valencia they are key members of the pool that can say they were there during the Sir Alex Ferguson glory years. They have the the winners medals to prove it.

Young has proven himself disciplined in the role and that will please his current United boss. He can get forward. as any modern day fullback needs to, and he has managed three goals in his last two Premier League outings. Those goals have been vital in Man Utd’s pursuit of rivals Manchester City in the title race, his brace against former side Watford helped the side to a 4-2 away win at Vicarage Road and his strike at the weekend secured a 1-0 victory over Brighton.

It should be noted that he’s also picked up two league assists so far this term.

After last night’s won over the Hornets, Mourinho stated:

“At his age, Young’s playing better than ever and I couldn’t be more happy with him.”

The wily veteran is now ahead of younger stars; Marcos Rojo, Matteo Darmian, Daley Blind and Luke Shaw in the left-back pecking order.

He seems to give the team more balance and extra stability. In truth, I also think Mourinho trusts him more than his counterparts.

Young has even impressed with his defensive duties.

He gets back quickly, is disciplined at sticking to his task and he’s also winning the ball back for his team, The thirty two year old is using all his experience as a winger to his advantage, he knows the way a winger’s mind works and that is key. He’ll often stand off pacy speed merchants and he will show others onto their weaker foot, knowing that’s the last place they want to be. Essentially he’s beating certain wingers with his past experience and his smart thinking. No United player is averaging better than Young for interceptions and his 1.6 tackles per game stat is pretty healthy too.

Another attribute that Jose will love about his ageing foot-soldier is Ashely’s willingness to play anywhere for the team. He has filled in at right-back and on the left wing this season and if needed he can play on the right wing or even as a central midfielder.

The player is also pretty handy taking set-pieces, as he proved last night. He possesses good vision and uncanny accuracy.

Ashley Young has often been written off during his spell at Old Trafford but he’s a hard worker and a team player. Jose Mourinho is clearly impressed and United have always been successful with versatile unsung heroes in their squads.

Jose has given the veteran a new lease of life in this new defensive position and Young seems to have grasped the opportunity with both hands. His form has been rewarded with a recall to the England set-up and hopefully he can stay clear of injury problems and continue to use his experience to great effect!

Liverpool Hold All The Cards When It Comes To Philippe Coutinho

It is crazy to think the power that footballers and their agents have these days. In most cases they can throw a huff and get their own way, whether that be a new contract or engineering a move elsewhere.

This season has seen more and more top stars allowing their contracts to run down and they’ll be free speak to all interested parties after New Year about a possible summer Bosman move.

In the case of Philippe Coutinho and Liverpool, the club actually hold most of the cards when it comes to the attacking midfielder’s future.

Last summer, FC Barcelona made a big play for the Brazilian internationalist but the English Premier League side held firm and refused to do a deal.

The move didn’t just frustrate the Catalan giants, supposedly the player himself was desperate for the move to go ahead.

At the end of the day, Liverpool gave Coutinho a whopping five year contract back in January, that’s reportedly worth £8m a year and it doesn’t have a release clause inserted into it. All the club are doing now is making sure the forward thinking maestro honours his deal.

Now while Barca were bidding for the Brazilian in the summer, the Reds’ number ten started to suffer from a mysterious back injury, although that problem didn’t seem to stop him from playing for his national side! When the transfer window shut in September, the twenty-five year old was soon back in the Liverpool first-team.

Since coming back into the fold, Coutinho has once again shone in a Liverpool jersey. his qualities have never been in doubt, hence why Barcelona offered so much for him.

In his twelve appearances this term, he has picked up five goals and created four assists. The playmaker has also been awarded the man of the match award four times, more than another Liverpool player.

Philippe has shown when on the park, he doesn’t suffer from any distractions and he’s not bringing any transfer woes onto the field of play.

That means that he has once again become an integral part of Jurgen Klopp’s team and style. His performances in a Reds shirt have justified the German boss and his board’s decision not to sell the player when Barca were offering over a £100m!

In August, Klopp came out and stated his club didn’t need to sell Coutinho at any price and that keeping the team’s balance was the most important thing:

‘From a financial standpoint, there is no price limit to let him go or a price that we are ready to give in,’

‘Our goal is to have the best possible team. So we want to keep our guys and add new ones. That is our plan.’

it was a statement that tightened the manager’s grip on the squad, enhanced his club’s reputation and it ultimately kept the supporters happy!

Now I’m thinking that La Liga side will come back in with another huge bid in the winter transfer window but I also believe Liverpool will once again knock back their advances.

If Liverpool want to challenge in the Champions League and finish again in the Premier League’s top four, then they will need to keep hold of their best players and Philippe Coutinho certainly falls into the category. He is one of the stars in the team that can unlock defences or score vital goals in the bigger games. He is a player that influences those he plays with, scares the opposition and who excites the fans at Anfield.

The club don’t need to sell him, as we already know his contract isn’t running out any time soon. The benefits of keeping him, at least until the summer, and meeting the season’s targets are worth more to the football club than making a quick profit on the midfielder.

It’s also worth remembering that the player himself has big aspirations to star in next summer’s World Cup with Brazil, so I wouldn’t be expecting Coutinho to have another hissy fit if he isn’t sold in January as he can’t afford to be frozen out of the Liverpool first team for any prolonged period.

With all that in mind, I’m pretty sure Liverpool will keep hold of their special number ten and for him to shine in the closing months of the season too. It makes no sense for the club to entertain any bids and it makes no sense for Philippe to make a fuss and rile up his fanbase in Merseyside.

If he needs reminding, this is what the playmaker said when he signed that new contract earlier in the year:

“It gives me great happiness because I was welcomed here with open arms by everyone at the club and the supporters right from my first day. I am very thankful to this football club for everything.”