Do Manchester United Need New Signings In January?

Back in the summer Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho stated that he ideally wanted to bring in four new faces to strengthen his squad.

When transfer deadline day passed Man Utd had brought in three signings and then also announced that they had retained Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

£75m striker Romelu Lukaku has been in scintillating form since his arrival, scoring eleven goals in his first ten games for the Red Devils.

Holding midfielder Nemanja Matic has also walked into the first eleven at Old Trafford and played remarkably well. He does an excellent job protecting the defensive line and is great with ball retention too. The Serbian international looks well settled in his new team and certainly adds much needed balance in midfield.

United also brought in Swedish defender Victor Lindelof. He has taken longer to get to grips with life at United. The twenty-three year old has yet to make his Premier League debut but has played in the League Cup and the Champions League. He’s had to wait for his chance in the league due to the impressive form of Phil Jones and Eric Bailly. He normally plays centrally but he can also find himself in the right-back slot.

So do Manchester United really need to add anymore faces this January?

Well they have been in terrific form so far in this campaign. They’ve easily negotiated their Champions League fixtures and they are joint top of the Premier League with rivals Manchester City.

They seem to have one of the strongest squads in England’s top flight and also have great strength in depth. Jose is also very keen to fill his pool with versatile players who can play in various positions and he has that with this United squad.

They are creating chances and more importantly they’re taking those chances.

While Lukaku is obviously the main goalscorer, others in the squad are also getting on the scoresheet with United having ten different scorers recording goals so far this term. Not bad given the fact that they’ve still got Zlatan to comeback from injury to help things up-top.

At the back, Man United have a world-class goalkeeper in David de Gea and regularly play in a stable back four. In the league their mean defence have only conceded twice in seven league outings.

It was suggested that Mourinho really wanted to bring in another winger to improve the squad further. That being said Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard have all provide assists from wide positions. While Juan Mata offers craft and vision as well as experience from the righthand side.

Paul Pogba has been in fantastic form this term, with goals and assists to his name. The Frenchman seems to relish playing with the freedom starting alongside Matic gives him. But unfortunately for Pogba he has suffered from a hamstring injury and that has kept him out of the team in recent weeks. Fortunately for Mourinho and the club players such as Marouane Fellaini and Ander Herrera have came into the side and filled the void left by Pogba with ease.

Ask most Man United supporters if there was a position that they were still unconvinced by then I’d guess that the left-back position would be mentioned the most.

Luke Shaw is still looking for full fitness and a return to form. Daley Blind can be seen as good defensively and can also provide a very decent cross but question marks arise when he comes up against an extremely pacy winger. Matteo Darmian will give you his all but he’s really better on the right-side. Ashley Young seems to be a player Jose trusts in that position but he’s never too far away from a spell on the treatment table.

As for left-backs, United still have Marcos Rojo to return from injury. He was hitting his stride last season before his knee ligament injury. So while they don’t perhaps a world class left back, Man Utd still have plenty of players that can do well in that area.

United boss Jose Mourinho stated at the start of this campaign that he had to have a strong squad:

“Everybody’s in the plan,”

 “The plan is to have a good squad, not to have a good team.”

I believe he currently has that at Old Trafford and probably doesn’t need to dip into the transfer market come January. That being said, he will have the funds if the right world-class star were to become available or if they suffer from any injury crisis between now and the winter window!

Whether they do or don’t purchase anyone in January, I believe Man United will be challenging for the title come May.

Five Managers That Might Interest Everton At The Moment

Big spending Everton have struggled so far this term. They’ve been less than impressive on the park and they find themselves in sixteenth spot in the Premier League (only two points away from the relegation zone) and that’s simply not good enough.

That has seen the pressure mount on boss Ronald Koeman and the Dutchman is now favourite to be the next English top flight gaffer to lose his job at odds of 5/6 (at time of writing).

I thought I’d look at five possible managerial candidates that may interest the Toffees board, if they do indeed decide to replace Koeman.

CARLO ANCELOTTI

Well Carlo Ancelotti has just left Bayern Munich and he has previously made it known that he’d like to work in the Premier League again.

The Italian veteran has a vast amount of experience and won plenty of silverware at illustrious clubs such as Real Madrid, AC Milan, PSG, Chelsea and Bayern. So if Everton really want to break into the top four and are looking for a top class coach then that’s what they’ll get in Ancelotti.

Carlo would come in and sort out the defence and try and make Everton hard to beat. He would instantly command respect within the dressing room.

The issues would be could he solve the goal scoring problems at Goodison? Would he want to make an immediate return to the game after his brutal sacking in Germany? Does he have the hunger to prove that he’s not over the hill?

LAURENT BLANC

The French boss won Ligue 1 titles with Bordeaux and PSG. The Bordeaux title success might be very encouraging to the Everton hierarchy as it proves he can over-succeed at clubs.

At PSG he worked with huge superstar names and did his best to keep them in check and won the league title in each of his three seasons in charge at the Parc des Princes. He also oversaw his side in Paris to three quarter-finals in the Champions League.

Has had a break since his 2016 sacking, so could be itching to show the world what he can do again. He was the French international boss between 2010-12, so his knowledge of the Premier League should be decent but he’s never managed outside of France.

Seemed to struggle tactically at times and Everton might want a safer pair of hands. Plus he has been recently linked with the Bayern vacancy as well as the Lille job.

SEAN DYCHE

Dyche’s Burnley side were the latest team to get three points against the Toffees at Goodison last weekend.

The forty-six year old has worked wonders at Turf Moor and they are currently succeeding above their own expectation levels. The Englishman has shown that he is capable of spotting talent and getting the most out of said talent. That includes recent Everton arrival Michael Keane plus the likes of Tom Heaton, Andre Ward and Kieran Trippier.

His ability to have a good working relationship with Joey Barton, shows us that he’s capable to gaining respect from his players and dealing with big egos. I don’t doubt Dyche would jump at the chance to work at a bigger club and show that he can handle the pressure. He’d certainly kick a few arses in the home dressing room.

Sean would be concerned that domestic managers don’t get a chance at European challenging side. Plus would he leave Burnley during a campaign?

LUIS ENRIQUE 

Like Ancelotti and Blanc, Enrique would bring a trophy laden CV. He brought the Champions League back to the Nou Camp in 2015. You’d bet your bottom dollar that Toffee’s owner Farhad Moshiri would see bring in the former FC Barcelona boss as a real coup for the Merseyside club!

Likes to see his side playing the Barca way; which is obviously fast, high pressing and attractive. Managed a very temperamental squad at Barca, so he will have no problem asserting himself at Goodison.

I’d be a bit wary of him coming in and expecting his style to be able to work straight away, it could go a bit like it did with Frank de Boer at Crystal Palace as you can’t get away from the fact that Everton have a slow and unconvincing frontline.

Plus the Spaniard has no experience in English football and would he really fancy the Everton job?

DAVID MOYES

Moyes offers an interesting option. The Scot obviously managed the Toffees between 2002 and 2013 and knows the club inside out. A lot of Everton’s success in recent years has been down to the stability and foundations he brought to the club during his tenure in charge.

The fifty-four year old obviously still has a great relationship with chairman Bill Kenwright and that could be a factor in him returning to Merseyside. David also knows a few of the current backroom team that work at Finch Farm training centre.

He has had two spells working with Wayne Rooney plus was always one that would bleed youngsters into the first team.

I think that the fans would be extremely angry and disappointed to see Moyes back in the Everton dugout. He looks to be tainted after poor records at Manchester United, Real Sociedad and Sunderland. The Toffees faithful wouldn’t want to go back and would prefer a new face if Ronald Koeman leaves.

Mourinho’s Trust Is Getting The Best Out Of Mata & Fellaini At Man United

Jose Mourinho is starting to look more like the Special One that arrived in England back in 2004.

His Manchester United side are playing scintillating football and they look like genuine title contenders. The players are playing with plenty of confidence and a lot of that is down to Jose trusting and backing his squad.

Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini are two stars that typify the spirit that United are currently playing with and they have impressed due to Mourinho’s trust in them to follow his instructions.

Both Mata and Felliani would have questioned their futures at Man United when Jose was announced as the ‘Red Devils’ new gaffer in the summer of 2016.

Spanish maestro Mata had dealings with the Portuguese boss during their days together at Chelsea. The international attacking midfielder went from being Chelsea’s player of the year and being a Champions League winner to being bombed out of Stamford Bridge after Jose decided he didn’t really fit into his plans in London.

While everyone and their dog would have told Belgian big-man Felliani that he wasn’t Jose’s type of player. He didn’t seem to do enough to warrant a place in the team and he had struggled to make an impact at Old Trafford since his £27.5m move from Everton in 2013.

Both players were linked with moves away from the club and journalists and fans alike were convinced that neither would get a proper chance under the new regime.

But that wasn’t the case and Jose has actually made the two a big part of his plans at Old Trafford.

Mourinho relies on Mata to bring composure to the team as he can be trusted with the ball at his feet. Last seasons the Spaniard played in twenty-five Premier League fixtures and had an average 89% passing success rate.

He was a player that was called upon in the biggest of games because he followed instructions and he offered a great outlet with his vision and craft. His ability to find space in the opposition’s half is a quality every forward craves to have!

This term, Mata has started six out of the seven league games and he came off the bench during the other fixture. He managed to grab his first of the season in the weekend’s big 4-0 victory over a struggling Crystal Palace side.

Mourinho likes players with a winning mentality, who will listen to him and who can make an impact with their experience in the big games and Juan Mata offers all that.

Mourinho has since opened up about how Mata has adapted his style at United and how that has improved their relationship.:

“Mata has adapted to the football I want to play. I knew since the beginning he would be an important player.

“I think he feels that confidence in me, that confidence in the game we want to try to play. So, he is happy. He is happy on the pitch and you can see it the way he plays.”

It’s a slightly different situation for Belgian midfielder Fellaini.

If everyone is fit then chances are Marouane will find himself on the bench when a game starts. Yet that doesn’t mean that Jose doesn’t rely on the strongman because when it counts and the team needs something to change or to keep things tight, it’s Fellaini that gets the call from his manager.

You’ve seen it time and again during this campaign when United are in search of a goal or are looking to hold onto a lead, Mourinho flings on Fellaini. That shows you the respect that the United boss has in his player.

Fellaini offers big presence in either box and he’s also ideal at winning headers for flick ons in the middle of the park. His peers hate playing against him and that’s a big sign that he’s doing good things for his team. He’s a player who brings an edge and he’ll work hard for his teammates and his manager.

The Belgian has seen more game time since Paul Pogba’s injury and he has repaid his gaffer’s faith in him with four goals in all competitions this season and with two man of the match performances in his last two outings. The seventy-six times capped battler has even won over the majority of United supporters.

Mourinho seems to love him:

“He had to be a strong character. He is a fighter, a guy with lots of pride and I am really pleased I helped him reach this level and change the perception the fans have now. I’m really happy for him.”

Both Marouane Fellaini and Juan Mata have been given chances by Jose Mourinho and both have taken those opportunities with great aplomb. They are key for Jose’s plans to become more successful at Old Trafford this season.

They offer vast experience, a strong work ethic and the ability to carry out the manager’s instructions. Others in the Man United squad should look at their example and follow it, if they want to get in Mourinho’s good books and more importantly break into his starting line-up!

Raheem Sterling And Leroy Sane Are Purring At Manchester City

By starting both Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane against Premier League champions Chelsea, you can tell Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has a lot of confidence in the young pair.

They rewarded their manager with yet another fine performance as City walked away from Stamford Bridge with a 1-0 win and in truth they bossed the encounter.

The duo were clearly told to stay wide and to stay up and that pinned Chelsea’s defence back. They’d press their opposition at every opportunity and that caused mistakes within the Blues ranks too.

By staying out on the wings that allows more space inside for Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva. Those two are magicians and Sane and Sterling offer them space and an out-ball at all times. Opposing defenders get confused and have no idea who to mark.

By having the widemen pressing further forward for the majority of the game, Pep can then have his wing-backs running directly through the middle. That again can terrorise opponents, who simply don’t expect that to happen. Sterling and Sane will then help striker Gabriel Jesus to press and double up on the central defenders and Chelsea simply weren’t as efficient with the ball as they are used to, mainly down to City’s imposing tactics.

Sterling in particular was dangerous with the ball at his feet yesterday. He linked up well with the midfield maestros Silva and De Bruyne with some neat exchanges at the edge of the box throughout the game. The English international also provided some terrific balls into the box and he probably deserved to grab an assist on his return to London.

The former Liverpool attacker has aided his club’s cause with five Premier League goals in his six appearances. He has joined the action from the bench in Man City’s two Champions League matches and he popped up with a goal in the tie against Shakhtar Donetsk.

I’ve stated for a while that the twenty-two year old needed to score more and he’s now adding that to his game. He’s playing with confidence and looks to be comfortable in this City side. I also think Sterling is becoming more disciplined within the team’s structure, which will delight Pep!

I think Raheem needs to start providing more for his teammates. Against Chelsea he was direct and he did provide great opportunities, if he can do that in every game then I’m sure the assists, like the goals, will come thick and fast.

Twenty-one year old Leroy Sane has been used more sparingly so far this term but he’s made the most of the chances that he has been given. In his seven domestic league outings Sane has only had three starts but he has contributed with three goals and two assists.

Leroy’s brace against Liverpool showed he’s a player who can make an impact on the big occasion. The attacking winger also grabbed both goals in the ‘Citizens’ League Cup win over West Bromwich Albion. He’s a player who is intelligent and picks the best times to run in behind defences.

His game time will no doubt go up in the next few weeks as Sergio Aguero recovers from his car accident.

The German has an 86% passing success rate, and that kind of stat will keep you in Guardiola’s good books:

“It’s a guy who is improving the simple things. Don’t lose the ball.

“He scores a lot of goals, has great chances, gives assists, he’s a young player. He is so important for us.”

His form so far this term has helped him win a recall for the German national team.

Sane now needs to consistently go through the season playing in this kind of exciting form.

Both players may have wondered about their game time this term and if their boss truly fancied them but those doubts should now be eased as Pep Guardiola obviously trusts them when they are in form. They have played their part as Man City have impressed both domestically and in Europe in this campaign.

Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane could play huge roles if City are going to challenge for the biggest honours this season but both will need to continue to improve as they have done at the beginning of this season.

Is Tottenham Striker Harry Kane World Class?

 

As I’ve said many times in the past, people in football love a good debate.

This week many have stated on social media that Harry Kane is a world class striker, while others don’t believe he’s hit that level yet.

Even the pundits have had their say on the issue.

Thierry Henry, who was clearly a world class striker in his time, believes Tottenham’s Kane isn’t world class yet:

“For Kane, unfortunately for him, it was a short Champions League campaign with Spurs and a short Europa League. The Euros were short also for him.”

While his Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino clearly believes that his hitman is indeed world class:

“He was fantastic. To score goals in the Champions League means he will get the credit he deserves. He is one of the best strikers in the world.”

Now the real problem is that the whole debate is purely subjective and down to individual opinion. There’s no definitive stat or attribute that makes a player world class.

 

Of course we know the likes of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo are all world class but after that people will argue who deserves to be classed above the rest.

 

For example the amount you score doesn’t necessarily mean you are of the highest quality. No one would have called Kris Boyd world class even though he would score plenty in Scotland’s top flight. Some will say that the standard of league matters but players can score plenty in a strong league without being considered true world greats like Athletic Bilbao’s Aritz Aduriz and former Udinese hitman Antonio Di Natale.

 

People will also state that you cannot be world class star unless you’ve got the medals to prove it.
That’s a hard one. I see where people are coming from but can you judge a player on team honours? Alan Shearer was a superb striker and surely one of the highest order but while he was prolific in front of goal, he wasn’t as prolific at picking up trophies. Yes he won the Premier League with Blackburn Rovers but that was his only significant club triumph,

Another question mark surrounding Kane is his standard at international level. Now the England man has a decent record of ten goals in twenty-one caps but he hasn’t exploded at a major tournament like a World Cup or a European Championships.

I think times have changed and it has become harder to peak at the big international tournaments. Has Cristiano or Messi really thrived in those competitions? I’d argue that they haven’t, yet many claim that they are the best that the game has ever seen. Yes Ronaldo won Euro 2016 with Portugal but they were ropey in the group stages and he wasn’t outstanding in that month. While Messi was good in the 2014 World Cup but again he didn’t really peak there.

In my own opinion, and that is all it is, I think Harry Kane is a world class goalscorer but he still needs to do more to become a world class all rounder.

The hitman scored another brace today as Spurs swept Huddersfield Town aside in a 4-0 victory. That has taken his club tally to eleven goals in nine games so far this campaign. He can score a variety of different kind of goals and when on form, no team seems able to handle him.

Last season he notched up goals against Manchester United, Chelsea, Everton and Arsenal and that shows you he can score in the bigger games. This term he has already scored five in his first two Champions League outings and that’s a competition that he knows he needed to score more in. It will be interesting to see how the forward does in the Real Madrid ties.

I think his link-up play can be improved upon and his decision making isn’t of the highest quality yet either. Kane needs to learn that he can’t shoot at every opportunity and when it’s better to pass to a teammate.

If he can improve on those things then I don’t see why he cannot become truly world class and I also think he can help Tottenham secure trophies in the next couple of seasons.

 

We should just enjoy the qualities that he brings to the game and watch his game evolve to even greater things.

Celtic’s Dedryck Boyata Shines In Brussels

Celtic produced one of their best ever away performances in the Champions League era as they swept aside Anderlecht 3-0 at the Stade Constant Vanden Stock.

It was once again a sign of progression for the Glasgow giants under Brendan Rodgers as the Hoops brushed off a nervy start to then win with style in Brussels.

A nice passing move allowed hitman Leigh Griffiths to tap in at the back post for his side’s first strike.

A fortunate deflection helped Patrick Roberts claim the club’s second of the night, after the winger tricked his way into the penalty area.

Forward Scott Sinclair then found the net with fantastic hit and that was all she wrote.

All in all, it was a fine team performance.

Defensively they looked solid and that’s a big plus at this level, especially when you consider Celtic’s poor form away from home in European competition.

I think Dedryck Boyata deserves a special mention.

The Belgian looked very composed at the back and his partnership with Jozo Simunovic must have given the rest of the Celtic team a huge confidence boost. They worked well as a tandem and rarely gave Anderlecht a sniff at Craig Gordon’s goal.

I was one of those commentators who felt it was a mistake for the Scottish Premiership champions not to sign another centre back during the last transfer window and I stand by that claim. But I did say that it would be less of an issue as long as two of Boyata, Simunovic and/or Erik Sviatchenko could stay fit. Celtic do have a good core of central defenders at Parkhead, they just struggle to keep them away from the treatment table.

Boyata’s stunning performance back in his homeland is even more remarkable given that he only played in two previous games this season, both coming in the last last week. He didn’t show any signs of ring rust and Celtic look all the better having him in the back four.

The twenty-six year old former Manchester City man also helped his side by venturing further forward with the ball and calming some nerves with his fine passing from the back. He kept the ball with a 93% passing success rate and that helped Celtic boss the game with their superior possession stats.

Defensively he made a key interception, won three aerial duels and made seven clearances against Anderlecht.

Boyata’s boss Brendan Rodgers believes the defender has the qualities to go with his national side to next year’s World Cup:

“Dedryck’s history coming through with Belgium is very good. He obviously made a move to Manchester City and didn’t play so much there, so that has hindered him. But he has come out of that now, and if he can keep a level of fitness and availability, then there’s no doubt for me that he will be in the World Cup squad.”

Last night Dedryck Boyata showed Red Devils coach Roberto Martinez that he can perform on the biggest club stage and his timely return couldn’t have come at a better time for his club side, who will now look forward to facing a deflated Bayern Munich side at the Allianz Arena next month. That game will provide a sterner test for the Belgian internationalist but it will no doubt be a game that he’ll relish to be apart of!

Arsenal & Spurs Should Be Competing For Dries Mertens Signature

Napoli have a rich history in finding good players and making them top class performers.

In the past you’ve seen Edinson Cavani, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Gonzalo Higuain shine bright at the Stadio San Paolo.

They still have the talismanic figure of Marek Hamsik pulling the strings for the Partenopei, while Jose Callejon and Lorenzo Insigne continue to impress. Defensively Kalidou Koulibaly has all the attributes to become one of the best centre-backs in the game and Faouzi Ghoulam has been highly impressive on the left this term in Serie A.

But for me, the star man at the moment is Belgian forward Dries Mertens. His relatively recent hot form will have had scouts around Europe looking at him and asking Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis about his availability next summer.

Now the small dynamic forward will be solely concentrating on trying to win the Scudetto with Gil Azzurri.

If that doesn’t happen at the end of this term, and let’s face it Juventus don’t seem ready to give up their title, then I fully expect Napoli to cash in on their talent and for Dries to at least show an interest in what else is out there for him.

I think that two sides in London; Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur could do with an attacker of Merten’s calibre.

Anyone who has seen the Gunners this term will understand they still need more creativity and players that can turn it on in the big games.

If they lose Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil next June for nothing (it looks extremely likely), then they will need a readymade replacement to come in and become a game changer.

Tottenham have a wonderful squad but they probably still need another world-class talent to help take some of the pressure off of Harry Kane’s shoulders. They will want another great attacking player to help them push for trophies in their new stadium in 2018.

So why should they chase internationalist Mertens?

Well the thirty year old is in terrific form. He smashed in thirty-four goals in forty-five appearances last term, that included an incredible twenty-eight in Serie A. This season, he’s already picked up six league goals in six matches.

Last night he shone in the Champions League against Dutch champions Feyenoord as he helped the side from Naples to  a 3-1 victory. Dries was composed to make the most of a defensive mistake to smartly finish one chance and then he provided an inch perfect through ball for Callejon to add a third goal.

The striker can play anywhere in the forward line. He might be small in stature but Mertens is superb at leading the line. He has great close control, loves to dribble and has the pace plus the brains to get away from his markers. Napoli’s number fourteen doesn’t mind getting into defender’s faces, he has all the confidence in the world and doesn’t mind taking shots on from anywhere in and around the penalty area.

It will be interesting to see how diminutive forward performs agains Manchester City in the Champions League in the next few weeks but I certainly won’t be surprised if he causes City quite a few problems with his exciting style.

Another big plus for Dries Mertens is that he can go out on the wings and provide chances as well as goals for his team. He has a great eye of a pass and players like an Alexandre Lacazette or a Harry Kane would love to have the Belgian playing near them. Last season he provided teammates with sixteen assists!

Yes he’ll be thirty-one years old next season but that means very little if he’s scoring for fun and impressing in Italy’s top flight.

Dries signed a deal in May, keeping him at Napoli until 2020 but that could mean that his club could be tempted to sell next summer as he enters the last two years of his contract especially if a hefty bid comes in. It could be all down to the player if he leaves the San Paolo.

It should be noted that Napoli supremo De Laurentiis stated that his maestro was keen to insert a release clause into that new improved contract:

“Dries will stay with us for a few more years, unless of course he wants to go to China and next year someone pays the release clause that he wanted introduced and I cannot refuse.”

Clubs like Arsenal and Spurs should go all out and try and persuade the Belgian hitman that he can  spearhead their frontline and help them challenge for trophies!

Celtic Strikers Need To Shine In Brussels Against Anderlecht

The form of your forward line can be a massive advantage in the Champions League.

In the first week of fixtures; Edinson Cavani, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar destroyed Celtic in Glasgow. A Lionel Messi brace broke Juventus hearts, Harry Kane produced the goods against Borussia Dortmund and Cristiano Ronaldo netted twice in Real Madrid’s successful start to their title defence.

In this second round of ties, Celtic travel to Brussels to face Belgian league champs Anderlecht. It’s widely assumed that these two will be battling it out to finish in third place in Group B. They both suffered heavy defeats in their opening games, so the games against each other could be huge if they want to remain in Europe beyond Christmas!

For the Scottish Premiership leaders to be successful at the Stade Constant Vanden Stock then they will need their strikers to excel when leading the line and for one of them to grab the vital goal(s).

Hoops boss Brendan Rodgers will have to choose between in-form hitman Leigh Griffiths and young French striker Moussa Dembele.

I think Griffiths will be favourite to start as he has really impressed in recent months both for club and country.

The Scottish internationalist has scored six times in thirteen club appearances so far this term. That includes a goal in Celtic’s recent 2-0 victory over Rangers this past weekend.

His all round game has improved too.

Leigh can run into the channels, cause problems with set-pieces and his hold up play has come on leaps and bounds. His finishes are usually smart and he can find space in the penalty area, which is a great commodity for any striker.

On the minus side; sometimes his hard work ethic takes him away from the penalty area, he doesn’t have a great record in the Champions League group stages and his temperament can be a bit suspect.

With all that in mind, Rodgers might be inclined to give Dembele the striker’s starting jersey.

Moussa banged in a whopping thirty-two goals in forty-nine matches in his debut season at Parkhead. He smashed in an Old Firm hat trick and he also helped himself to five goals in twelve European ties last term. He particularly impressed in games against Manchester City and Borussia Monchengladbach.

His fine form continued when he won a call-up into the French U21 side, he has four goals in six caps for Les Bluets. That’s why some of Europe’s biggest clubs were looking at the twenty-one year old with a view of purchasing him from Celtic for a vast sum.

Dembele can finish with either foot, he also has a great turn of pace, is a big game player who is fully composed in front of goal and has the belief that he deserves to be playing at the highest level.

He returned to the first team after a hamstring injury to find the net against Ross County but will he be fit enough to start in the Champions League crunch tie?

Boss Rogers has been very vocal in his support of both players.

After the win over Gers at Ibrox he said this about Griffiths:

“To come into a club like this and score that number of goals in 100 games, it’s brilliant,”

“He goes into every game he plays believing he can score.”

During his epic season last year Brendan was quick to compliment Moussa Dembele:

“I worked with Didier Drogba at Chelsea and I think Moussa’s of that ilk,”

“He’s a big-game player and he has a belief. He is a boy who can get to the top but there are some things to work upon yet.”

We know that the Celtic gaffer believes in both of his forwards and will trust either of them to lead the line. He also has the raw skill-set of Odsonne Edouard to call upon too.

No matter which of them starts against Anderlecht, they need to be at their best if the Hoops are to bring the points back from Belgium.

The Belgian giants have suffered from an iffy start to their season so far.

They sit in seventh place in the Jupiler Pro League with three wins, three draws and two defeats to their name. In those opening ten league outings Anderlecht have concede ten times. In a home clash they conceded three strikes in a defeat by Sint-Truiden.

If that inconsistent form continues then Celtic could create some chances and if they do then one of their hitmen needs to find the net to give their side the best chance of victory.

It should be noted that the Purple & Whites have had a bounce under caretaker coach Nicolas Frutos and haven’t lost in their last three matches.

That being said, Celtic will offer up sterner opposition and if they have a goalscoring striker leading the line then I’d not be surprised to see the Glasgow side pick up the vital three points on Wednesday night!

Rangers Need To Forget Celtic Result

I think only the most deluded of Rangers fans would have been expecting a win over Celtic on Saturday.

When the teams were announced you could see that there’s still a gap between them, especially when it comes to squad strength in depth.

That being said Rangers did look slightly better than they did for most of last term against their main city rivals. They looked more organised for the most part and worked that wee bit harder. But in the end the Hoops once again showed their superiority and they also made their confidence count as they eased to a 2-0 victory.

In all honesty it won’t be about the Old Firm fixtures for the Gers this term.

Yes I expect them to improve against Celtic but in terms of going for second place they need to find consistency against everyone else in the Scottish Premiership.

The loss to Celtic has left Rangers sitting in fifth place and they’re now six points behind second placed Aberdeen.

The Dons held on to secure a win over Motherwell at Fir Park on Sunday. They didn’t dominate proceedings and the Lanarkshire club will be disappointed not to have at least received a point from the game.

In the end though all that matters is the win and Aberdeen managed to get that.

Rangers need to get secure more results like that. It’s all very well out-playing teams and having the greater slice of possession but if you don’t put away chances or protect leads then you’ll drop points.

That’s what has happened so far this term for the Light Blues. They’ve played seven times in the league this season and only won three of them.

They had leads against Partick Thistle and Hibs, yet they failed to pick up the victories. Against Hearts they created the baulk of the chances yet couldn’t find the back of the net and it ended in a goalless stalemate.

No team in the Premiership fears going to Ibrox or playing against Rangers, they believe that they’ll get chances and that Rangers will struggle to put away most of their efforts on goal. That needs to change!

I think Pedro Caixianha needs to figure out away to consistently out gun opposing teams. He cannot afford to go down the Mark Warburton route of just waiting for things to change naturally as that rarely happens.

It will help once the team gels a bit more and when new signings such as Carlos Pena and Eduardo Herrera fully settle in to life in Glasgow. You can see glimpses from both of them that they have something about them but they still need to do more and hopefully that will come in time and with more exposure to first team football.

In Alfredo Morelos, Rangers certainly seem to have found a fine goalscoring threat. But they can’t solely rely on the young Colombian to get the goals, others need to step up and score more too.

The defence is still working to find the right balance at the back.

Bruno Alves looks to have settled in from the start but you’d expect that from such a veteran. They missed the Portuguese international against Celtic.

I still think that the full-backs need to work more on their defensive contribution to the side. Going forward they look good but tracking back has been suspect and they leave big gaps.

Pedro still has work to do on the training ground and if he can iron out those slight isues then Rangers will move another step forward.

They really need to now go on a long unbeaten run if they want to succeed this term and they need to start that on Friday against Hamilton Accies. 

Chelsea Need To Dig Deep To Get All Three Points At Stoke!

 

Don’t take any notice of Stoke City’s last two results (two defeats) when it comes to their upcoming fixture against Premier League champions Chelsea.

The Potters are a different animal at home and Mark Hughes always seems to get his troops ready for one of the big teams when they visit the Britannia Stadium, just ask Arsenal and Manchester United who both failed to win at Stoke so far this season.

Antonio Conte will have to make sure his side are playing at their best this Saturday if they are going back to London with all three points to their name.

Chelsea have actually impressed with their away performances during this campaign. They’ve won both of their games away from home and that includes a vital victory over London rivals Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley.

Against Man Utd and the Gunners, Stoke gave away plenty of possession but those two sides weren’t clinical enough to kill the Potters off and they were also weak at the back and Stoke managed to take advantage of that.

There’s no doubt Stoke City get a real boost playing in front of their own fans but Chelsea need to try and take them out of the equation. To do that they will need to try and pick up a quick goal and then try and dictate things for the rest of the game.

New Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata seems to enjoy the physicality that the English game brings and he’ll need to be ready for the test he’ll get at the Britannia. The Spaniard needs to hold his nerve and use his nous in front of goal to grab any goal against a tough opposition.

In the other half of the field the Chelsea back three need to guard against complacency. Stoke showed against Arsenal that they can punish you on a breakaway and then soak up the pressure before seeing out the win.

The Blues won the league last term because they managed to grind out results on a weekly basis. Last week they dropped points against Arsenal and they won’t want to drop further behind the two Manchester clubs who are currently ahead of them in the table. So they’ll be determined to become the first club this term to come away with an away win at Stoke.

Last season Chelsea scored early and ended up beating Stoke City 2-1 at the Britannia and I’m pretty sure Conte would take that result again.

Having Eden Hazard in the squad, even if he starts the game on the bench, will be a big boost as he can make a huge impact as he can find space and create chances for the likes of Morata or Willian.

It will be interesting to see if Stoke go again with three at the back, knowing that Chelsea will have a fluid frontline with two players playing off their main attacker.

I am sure it’s going to be another tough encounter and while Chelsea have to be seen as the favourites they will have to work hard and take their chances if they are going to secure the win. No one will be surprised if the Potters manage to take another scalp at their home venue and that’s testament to their terrific home form.