Mo Salah’s Timely Return To Form Could Guide Liverpool To Their First Premier League Title

It’s been a pretty gloomy 2019 for Mohamed Salah, especially when you compare his form to that of 2018.

Yet in the last few weeks the Liverpool forward has shown us that he could be on there verge of becoming a talismanic figure again for the Anfield side and it could be happening at a perfect time for the club as they head into the final stretch of the Premier League title race.

We all know Liverpool haven’t won the Premier League since it’s formation in 1992 and the Reds are currently vying for England’s top price with current champions Manchester City.

Jurgen Klopp’s men hold a slight advantage as they are two points ahead of their rivals but City do have a game in hand. It could be vital for both sides that they don’t slip up between now and the end of the season.

With that in mind, you need your best players to flourish and see you through the harder encounters that you come up against.

That’s why Salam’s most recent performances in the league could give Liverpool a massive boost as they prepare for their final four league games this term,

The Egyptian star had gone six games between the 10th of February and the 5th of April without hitting the back of the net. The forward was snatching at chances and looked to be at a low ebb. The constant questioning about his form from the media didn’t help things. Obviously that kind of form would’ve also worried the Reds support and the rest of his teammates.

Thankfully Sadio Mane has been in fairly consistent goalscoring form in 2019.

But against Southampton in the 5th of April, Salah grabbed the game’s second strike as Liverpool beat the Saints in a 3-1 victory. You could see that the goal took a weight off of Salam’s shoulders.

Yesterday was a huge game as The Reds welcomed Champions League chasing Chelsea to Anfield. Man City had won earlier in the day and that put the pressure onto Klopp’s men as they looked to restore their points advantage over Pep Guardiola’s side.

Chelsea came with a game plan that ensured they’d be tough to beat and breakdown.

You could tell that Liverpool were struggling to do just that in the first half as they couldn’t finish any of the various chances they created. Eden Hazard almost sucker punched them but his effort came back off of Alisson’s post.

I’m pretty sure Reds boss Klopp would’ve told his stars to do more of the same and the goals would come.

That’s exactly what happened as Mane struck in the 51st minute. That goal eased the tension.

Then a few minutes late Salah struck a wonderful shot from outside the box with his left foot, giving Chelsea keeper Kepa no chance as it rocketed into the roof of the net. The goal showed that the attacker is back on form and in the right mindset.

In fact you could tell that for most of the game leading up to that moment. Salah continuously looked to get on the ball, run at opposition defenders and try and create openings for himself. He was always buzzing in and round the righthand side of Chelsea’s penalty area.

According to football stats website Whoscored; no player made more shot attempts at goal or had as many as Mo’s three attempts hit the target. He also made four successful dribbles and completed 36 accurate passes.

After the win Jurgen Klopp said this to the Liverpool Echo:

“I said before when you ask me about I have concerns (about Salah).”

“The answer for football is always work-rate, and the work-rate of all three up front today, again, was outstanding.”

That shows you that the German gaffer has never doubted Salah’s ability and always backed him to get back amongst the goals. It’s crazy to think that people have criticised Mohamed’s scoring form this season, yet the forward has scored nineteen league goals and no one has actually bettered that tally!

Mohamed Salah was a live-wire and once again proved that he could handle the big occasions. He delivered when it mattered and that’s what Liverpool need from him and his teammates for the remainder of the season.

His performance against his former employers on Sunday will have the red half of Merseyside once again dreaming and even believing that they can finally end the wait for a Premier League championship triumph!

Spurs’ Alderweireld Could Be As Successful As Campbell If Arsenal Get Him

According to reports in Sunday’s media columns, including in the Daily Mail, Arsenal are plotting a shock summer swoop for Tottenham Hotspur defender Toby Alderweireld.

Looking at it from a purely footballing point of view, you’d suggest that the Belgian international would be making a mistake if he decided to swap White Hart Lane for The Emirates stadium next season.

Spurs are currently in a higher position in the Premier League and have been for the majority of this term, plus they’ve also been highly impressive in this season’s Champions League (a competition The Gunners have failed to qualify for in the last two years)

But football isn’t just a sport these days and players aren’t as committed to teams like they once were, that means that swapping one fierce rival for another isn’t as big a deal to modern day footballers especially if the money is right!

A perfect example of this is when former Spurs captain Sol Campbell left the Lilywhites in the summer of 2001 and signed a Bosman deal to join Arsenal. It was a deal that really worked well for the player and the Gunners as he helped them win two Premier League titles and two FA Cups.

Now the biggest reason if Toby were to end up at The Emirates would be that the wage packet is greater than the one he’s currently getting at Tottenham.

The Belgian has so far failed to agree a new deal with his current employers and in the summer his contract will have a £25m release clause inserted into it.

That’s a fairly modest sum for a top defender these days and the fact that he’s got plenty of English top flight experience will attract clubs like Arsenal too. That lower fee will also mean that potential suitors can dedicate more money to the player’s wage and signing on fee.

Being thirty years of age now, you’ve got to think that Alderweireld will be thinking of getting another lucrative contract before he enters the final years of his career.

I also think that Arsenal’s project under Unai Emery this year will be enough to attract good players like the Belgian international.

The Gunners are just three points away from the top four positions in the Premier League and are still going strong in the Europa League. So if they can secure a place in next season’s Champions League then they’ll again stand a better chance of bringing in better talent.

The club look to be on the up, they’re playing good football and are picking up results in the bigger games too.

They still need another top class centre-half and that could see them push the boat out to get the best possible target into the club.

Emery stated to Talksport back in January that he needed to see improvements in his defence in 2019:

“Our challenge now is to improve defensively,”

“We need defence also to take more balance and improve. We need to work. We need to prepare for the second half of the season.”

I think the Spaniard will still want to bring in a new face to improve that department when the summer transfer window opens.

Other sides might be interest in Toby Alderweireld but Arsenal might head up the queue as Chelsea have been served a transfer ban by FIFA (which they’re appealing) and Manchester United could be looking at younger prospects.

Tottenham Hotspur have to decide if they can offer the Belgian centre-back the deal that he wants or risk watching him play for their rivals.

Arsenal might get a player in Toby Alderweireld (if they sign him) that shores up their defence and if he can do that then he could be as successful as Sol Campbell was for The Gunners.

It could be an explosive signing but it wouldn’t be one that surprises me.

Man United Need Players Like Scott McTominay

Copyright – @mctominay10 

I often think that young players need to do more to get love from the home support.

Some fans feel that it’s much easier to criticise the younger talent rather than blame the star player that cost the club a fortune when things go wrong.

I think that’s sometimes been the case with Scott McTominay at Manchester United. I also think that the midfielder wasn’t helped by the fact that Jose Mourinho often played the Scottish international and complimented him no matter what.

United often looked poor under Jose during his last few months at Old Trafford and you could see that Scott’s confidence was low at that time too.

But like so many others, McTominay has improved again under new boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The Norwegian decided to sell Marouane Fellaini in January and keep Scott, who was being linked with a loan move at the same time.

The young midfielder has had to wait for his chances but he has impressed in recent weeks when he’s been called upon.

When Man United were up against it in the Champions League against PSG, McTominay stood out as a defensive stalwart that helped turn the tie around. In that game (according to Whoscored) no player made more successful tackles than McTominay’s five and no United player bettered his 96% passing success rate either.

He gave a mature performance in a huge game and that helped get the fans back on his side.

The Red Devils youth product followed that up with a decent showing in United’s recent Premier League loss to Wolves, where he’d grab his first goal for the club.

Then on Wednesday night, Scott had a standout performance against the mighty FC Barcelona in the Champions League. His high energy approach and harrying of opponents were moments that really caught the eye.

Again United may have lost that match but the central midfielder was composed, he was quick at closing down his illustrious opponents and he was good in the air too.

After the game, United boss Solskjaer was quick to praise to McTominay’s attitude and performance against Barca (Source – Daily Mail):

‘Scott comes into the training ground every day with a fantastic attitude and that’s the way to improve,’ 

‘Every game he plays, he grows and grows – and he was one of the first ones to take the ball down and settle us’

Talk is that Man United are going to be losing midfielders Juan Mata and Ander Herrera in the summer. The future of Paul Pogba is also up in the air.

United may be in need of more midfield recruits come the next transfer window but at least they have a dependable defensive performer in Scott McTominay who can keep his discipline and win the ball back in the engine room.

I’m not saying that the twenty-two year old will be a star player or be an automatic starter at Old Trafford but I do believe that he could become a dependable squad player that can excel in the bigger games much like Darren Fletcher, Phil Neville and John O’Shea did in the past under Sir Alex Ferguson.

McTominay is a young footballer that will give you his all and that will be enough to matter when it really counts!

The Ajax Ace That Could Brighten Up Tottenham’s Right Wing!

Tottenham Hotspur will no doubt be looking at strengthening their squad when the summer transfer window opens.

The Lilywhites have finally moved into their new stadium at White Hart Lane and that’s given the club a much needed lift. But before the big move Mauricio Pochettino’s men had been in a bit of a slump as they went from Premier League title contenders to fighting to stay in the top four.

The North London club recently posted record profits of £113m for the 2017-18 season (Source BBC Sport).

Having not spent a penny in the last two transfer windows. you can tell that the Spurs squad need a bit of a face lift.

A position that could need looked at, as far as manager Pochettino’s concerned, is the attacking right wing role.

After a bright start to the campaign, Lucas Moura has suffered from a slump in form. While Erik Lamela has still struggled to break back into the starting eleven.

Maybe Spurs could look to Ajax in their bid to find a new right sided sensation in David Neres.

The Brazilian attacker is versatile enough to play on either wing, as a number ten or even as a central midfielder. Tottenham coach Pochettino is a keen admirer of young versatile stars. They buy into his project, listen to his instruction and are hungry to prove themselves.

Neres has been particularly strong on Ajax’s right flank. He can cut in onto his left foot or take the ball down the line.

The twenty-two year old is a very exciting talent. He has a good first touch, is very direct, has pace and great dribbling skills that see him get beyond opponents.

This season in thirty-six Ajax appearances, he’s managed to score ten goals and created ten assists. Only Christian Eriksen has created more assists for Spurs this term and only Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min have grabbed more goals.

He produced a very mature performance in his club’s sensational win over Real Madrid in the Bernabeu, helping Ajax knock-out the current Champions League holders in the process. Neres would escape his marker with a smart run, take the ball in his stride before rounding the Real goalkeeper and getting himself on the scoresheet.

His form for the Eredivisie giants has seen the youngster receive his first call-up for Brazil and winning his first cap last month!

Now it should be remembered that the youngster is still a raw talent. He’s came off the bench ten times so far in this campaign, showing us that Ajax are still nurturing his talent and protecting him from the rigours of being a full time regular. Pochettino is a manager known for giving youngsters the chance to shine and still be protective too, a good examples of this is Dele Alli and Harry Winks.

His pace will cause danger in counter attacks and if he were in a Spurs jersey, he’d get the ball into the final third faster and Kane would benefit greatly from that. The Brazilian is also smart enough to thread excellent balls into dangerous areas and that would benefit the Spurs attack, if he were to join them.

If Spurs are looking for a new, young attacking talent that can shine on the wing then I think they should definitely look at bringing in David Neres. He could be a spark that excites fans and gets more goals for the team.

Atletico Madrid Star Could Be An Ideal Man United Signing

Manchester United could be looking at another summer where the top priority is finding midfield reinforcements.

Sky Sports claims that Spanish midfielders Juan Mata and Ander Herrera could both be about to leave Old Trafford when the transfer window reopens. It’s claimed that FC Barcelona are looking at bringing in Mata, while Herrera is being heavily linked with a Bosman move to Ligue 1 champions PSG.

Speculation is also still rife regarding the future of French World Cup winning midfielder Paul Pogba. The player himself has done little to dampen that speculation as he recently came out in the media claiming that Real Madrid are a ‘dream club’ (Source – BBC Sport):

“Real Madrid is one of the biggest clubs in the world. I’ve always said it is a dream club for every player.”

So with all that being considered, it does seem likely that new Man United permanent boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will look at bringing in a midfielder or two to help the team fight for trophies next season.

British media outlet The Metro have recently reported that United are targeting Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez.

First off the Spanish international is a very versatile midfield star. As well as being able to play as a central midfielder, Saul can also play on the lefthand side and on the right. He can sit in as the holding midfielder and as a makeshift left-back if needed.

Niguez might be young at twenty-four years of age but he’s already a vastly experienced performer. He has won two Europa League titles and a Copa del Rey too. The middleman has also won fifteen caps for Spain and it looks as though he is going to be a key player in Luis Enrique’s set-up.

The Atletico star can be a tenacious ball winner, this can sometimes become enthusiastic and see the player get too much attention from the officials. He can also play as a box-to-box type and be a player that can dictate things from the middle. He is good at being the player that transitions the ball from deep to an attacking position with great effect.

Niguez is also developing good timing, when it comes to bursting forward. He probably doesn’t get the amount of goals he should but that could come in time, given his ability to pick the right times to get into the box and shoot from distance.

Man Utd need a versatile player that can read games.

In Nemanja Matic, they have a very disciplined defensive midfielder and in Pogba they’ve got a maverick who likes to venture forward and can’t always be relied upon to stick to a defensive position.

Saul could give Solskjaer the perfect option as the Spaniard can be disciplined when needed but he can also venture forward when called upon too. He would probably offer the Red Devils more balance in midfield when compared to either Mata or Herrera.

The Spanish star is also good in the air and can be efficient when he’s passing the ball. He has a pretty impressive engine that sees him cover every inch of grass during the ninety minutes.

Can Manchester United get the deal done? 

This could be a difficult question to answer.

I bet that the club are interested in the player, as I’ve already stated he has all the attributes needed to improve the United midfield.

But the stumbling block could come in the terms of the fee. The Metro state that the La Liga side will want the full £128m release clause if they are to let the player go and that’s a huge price, maybe just too rich for Man United’s current tastes especially if they don’t reach next season’s Champions League.

In 2017, Saul signed a nine year deal to stay at Atletico and he’s viewed as a cult hero by the Atleti support. That suggests that the Madrid club have the ball firmly in their court when it comes to a potential move involving Saul.

That being said, the player himself has recently moved agents (Via Marca) and that might be a sign that Niguez is eyeing up a move.

It could become an intriguing summer for the young Spanish international.

If Manchester United can get a deal done, then they’d be bringing in a supreme talent in Saul Niguez and a midfielder that would strengthen the Premier League giants no end, in my opinion.

Scottish Duo That Could Keep Arsenal Going In An Upward Trajectory

As summer approaches and teams prepare for the transfer window to open, Premier League side Arsenal have already been linked with a clutch of new players.

Two Scottish stars are rumoured to being topping the North London club’s wanted list.

The Metro have stated that The Gunners want to bring in winger Ryan Fraser from AFC Bournemouth, while The Sun reported last month that Arsenal boss Unai Emery was looking at Celtic and Scotland left-back Kieran Tierney.

Both players would be welcome additions to the Arsenal cause, in my opinion.

Ryan Fraser can play on either wing but has predominately shone on the left-side for The Cherries this season. The Scottish international is also versatile enough to play as a number ten.

Only Eden Hazard and Christen Eriksen have created more than Fraser’s ten Premier League assists this term. He also managed to shine in a Scotland jersey, playing in two Nation Leagues games and scoring once and creating three more assists!

Scotland have a rich tradition of producing quality wingers but as of late the Scots have struggled to bring through consistent attacking wide-men in recent years.

But Ryan has shown us in the last year that he can be a star in England’s top flight. He has also managed to grab six goals. His pace and directness have cause plenty of problems for many a defence this term.

His presence in the Gunners team would give them a a great outlet to either push forward during counter attacks or push stern defences further back when his team are on the front foot.

At Bournemouth, Fraser’s ability to get the ball accurately into the penalty area has seen Cherries boss Eddie Howe get the best out of striker Callum Wilson. If Arsenal were to bring the winger to the Emirates, then Emery would hope that he could create even more chances for prolific hitmen Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette.

The twenty-five year old has told Sky Sports News that he was extremely flattered to be linked with a move to The Gunners:

“I’m not going to lie, it’s very nice. It means you are are doing something right,”

“They are a huge club, a massive club. When you see your name thrown around you always think to yourself that you are a Bournemouth player and you try to do well.”

“I’m not going to lie, you do feel good, especially when it’s a massive club.”

Arsenal will definitely be losing Aaron Ramsey come the summer. Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan haven’t been on-song this season and both have had their futures questioned in the last six months. While loanee Denis Suarez hasn’t done enough to merit a permanent move.

So the London giants will almost certainly need more attacking reinforcements come the next transfer window. Ryan Fraser, being a star turn in Premier League this year, would give the Gunners a boost in the final third!

I’m also sure that Unai Emery will be on the lookout for a new left-sided full-back.

Nacho Monreal isn’t getting any younger and the thirty-three year old’s contract comes to an end in the summer. Fellow left-back Sead Kolasinac has been a bit of a liability when tasked with more defensive duties.

Celtic star Kieran Tierney is a highly regarded left-back and maybe he could answer Arsenal’s problems.

The twenty-one year old has been a mainstay in the Scottish Premiership champions team for the past four years.

As well as being comfortable when going forward, providing extra width and a good ball into the box, Tierney is also tenacious and disciplined when defending.

Andrew Robertson has been a sensation at Liverpool and many a Scottish fan will tell you that Kieran Tierney also has a lot of talent. There’s not a lot between the two left-backs.

The youngster has also given a string of very competent performances on the European stage, both in the Champions League and Europa League. In 2017, Kieran was named in UEFA’s breakthrough Champions League team of the year!

He’s a player that will give his team 100% every time and who’ll always develop a bond with his club’s support because of his ability and determination.

In the past, Arsenal have had Scottish stars who gave their all for the red and white. Frank McLintock, George Graham and Charlie Nicholas all played for The Gunners with distinction.

I believe that Ryan Fraser and Kieran Tierney could be two current Scottish internationals that would shine at the Emirates if given the chance!

Juventus Defender Leonardo Bonucci Deserves To Be Ridiculed Over Poor Racism Stance

After Juventus recent win over Cagliari, centre back Leonardo Bonucci criticised his own team-mate Moise Kean for his celebration after the striker scored a late goal.

The young forward was being racially abused, scored his goal and celebrated by raising his arms aloft looking at the Cagliari support. That celebration saw Kean receive even more abuse.

After the game, instead of supporting his teammate Bonucci stated (Source – BBC Sport):

“Kean knows that when he scores a goal, he has to focus on celebrating with his team-mates. He knows he could’ve done something differently too.”

“There were racist jeers after the goal. Blaise heard it and was angered. I think the blame is 50-50, because Moise shouldn’t have done that and the Curva should not have reacted that way.”

I am sorry but that’s a ridiculous statement.

Firstly, Bonucci grabbed the game’s first goal and actually ran away from his team-mates. So the veteran didn’t lead by example.

As the more experienced player if Leonardo truly believed that Moise did something wrong, then he should have had a private word but back him wholeheartedly publicly. To basically tell a young player to ignore racist chants, tells you too much about the Italian centre-half and his lack of a moral compass.

He let off the Cagliari fans and has since been ridiculed for his stupid comments.

Leonardo Bonucci has followed that up with a wishy-washy Instagram story that has a picture of the defender and Kean in Italy tops with text saying ‘Regardless of everything, in any case… No to RACISM‘.

It’s all too little too late I’m afraid. You showed your true colours and that you’re not a worthy teammate with your initial response.

The tailor-made PR Insta post is all down to the response from the footballing world (including a sizeable portion of Juve supporters).

England international Raheem Sterling was quick to point out the stupidity of Bonucci’s comments (Via Adam Digby Twitter):

Unfortunately Leonardo’s comments were actually backed up by Juventus boss Massimilano Allegri (Source: The Sun)

“He shouldn’t have celebrated in that manner.”

“You need great intelligence to deal with these situations and should not go to provoke people”

Allegri has thrown his player under the bus. It wasn’t even an over the top or disrespectful celebration. Moses was clearly fizzing and I’m glad he got his goal.

The manager hasn’t been in that situation and can’t relate to it. He may have now damaged his relationship with the young international hitman.

It’s disgusting that in 2019 we can’t all come together and call out racists for being the scum that they are!

Juventus as a football club need to get everyone in and tell them that at Juve you can’t tolerate or justify racism. You also need to back your players and teammates!

The whole club looks bad and it has garnered worldwide attention too.

As institutions I believe Juventus and Serie A need to step forward and back Moise Kean!

Losing My Footballing Inspiration

Our passion for football always comes from somewhere.

For many it’s via a parent or from a sibling or maybe it’s when we reach school age and meet new friends.

It was my grandfather who sparked my interest in the sport that I so obviously adore. He bought me my first strip and he would always find time to talk to me about all things football.

Football helped cement one of the strongest bonds I’ve ever had in my life!

George Johnston unfortunately died this week at the age of eighty-eight. Thankfully it was a peaceful end. My family are understandably devastated. He was a such great man.

But as I come to terms with such a terrible loss: no more arguments about rich footballers, no more debating contentious refereeing decisions and no more talking of the good old days, I smile and realise that this is the time to remember the best of times and proudly tell you all about my wonderful grandfather.

He was born and grew up in the city centre of Glasgow in the early thirties. He’d be evacuated during the second World War, leave school at fourteen and realise his dream of becoming a bookmaker and owning his own bookie shop. He would marry the love of his life and they would be together for over sixty years!

Football was a constant in his life.

His father hailed from Edinburgh and supported Hearts. My grandpa decided Rangers were the club for him, while one of his bothers supported Celtic and another followed Partick Thistle. They seemed to have it all covered.

As he became a very successful bookie he would become friends with a lot of the footballing crowd. He was particularly friendly with Willie Henderson, Jim Baxter, Alex Smith and Big George McLean.

As a boy growing up, my grandfather would tell me his stories about being friends with these famous footballers. He introduced a young Willie Henderson to Dover Sole and the future Gers legend would state it was the best fish he’d ever tasted.

My grandpa would love talking about his trips to Copenhagen and Blackpool to see Messrs Baxter and Henderson playing for world select teams. He would see world-class stars like Eusebio, Lev Yashin, Sir Stanley Matthews, Jimmy Greaves, Dennis Law, Alfredo Di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas.

He always had a wry smile on his face discussing how in one such game, Di Stefano wouldn’t pass the pass to Willie. Afterwards at the hotel bar, Jim Baxter would pull up the Real Madrid superstar and tell him off for not passing the ball to the best player on the park!

My grandpa would always follow that up by stating that Puskas was a lovely fella that would buy a round for everyone.

He remembers Yashin being escorted around by Soviet soldiers and spending all his appearance money on toys for his kids and perfume for his wife because he no need for the money back in his homeland.

He met Eusebio in Clarkston in Glasgow, at Benfica’s team hotel through Henderson. Euesbio, who liked a whisky, called everyone amigo.

George had no time for any of the Old Firm nonsense, he didn’t see divides.

He was really close to Billy Craig, who was a squad player for Celtic. and they remained close till my grandpa’s dying day. Through Billy, he would meet and become friendly with Celtic legend Sean Fallon (who married Billy’s sister). Through Sean, my gramps would meet Jock Stein. Jock would often invite my grandpa to his office for a cup of tea.

My grandfather made sure I was a Rangers fan, that’s the strip he bought me. But as soon as he knew I was hooked, he’d wind me up and tell me my team where rubbish or were lucky if they won a 4-0 game or that Celtic were the better team. I soon realised that being a supporter of a club didn’t mean that you had to be biased and blinkered. You can accept defeat, if the other team’s better on the day!

I’ve always gravitated towards friends that were Celtic fans, and I think that’s down to my grandpa and him winding me up as a kid. It made me stronger and appreciate the argumentative banter you can have with rival supporters.

I started this blog post worried that I wouldn’t do George Johnston justice. He really was a magnificent man and generous to a fault. Yet the one thing that kept me going was thinking of him because even in his last few months my grandpa was always proud of me and in particular this blog.

He’d constantly ask ‘What are you blogging about this week?’

He was blind at the end but he’d still always ask and even had an app on my dad’s phone that would read out the articles to him. He would also watch every single video I produced. listening to them and complimenting me on them!

While I’m sad that I’ll never speak to him again and discussing the glory days of British football or his past adventures, I know that I am extremely lucky to have had him in my life for thirty-four years.

He has many legacies that have and will continue to burn deep inside my heart and I am all the better for it.

I have a passion for football and for that I will be entirely grateful to my grandpa as he was the one that ignited that passion!

I dedicate this and the entire website to him.

Thank You!

For more on his brilliant football anecdotes visit these pages:

Football Anecdotes: A Glasgow Bookie and World Superstars

Football Anecdotes: A Glasgow Bookie, The Old Firm & The Current Day

Kristoffer Ajer And Odsonne Edouard Are Stars That Celtic Can Rely On In Big Games

After a fiery win over nearest rivals Rangers, Celtic have moved ever closer to securing their eighth Scottish Premiership title in a row.

Current Hoops boss Neil Lennon and the Celtic faithful can take a lot of heart from their winning display at Parkhead. The team battered The Gers in the first half and managed to regain their composure as well as their lead in the second half as Rangers became a bit stronger in the second period.

For me, the biggest takeaway was the outstanding performances from young stars Kristoffer Ajer and Odsonne Edouard.

At the back, Ajer remained strong and resilient throughout. 

As the more experienced Dedryck Boyata made his all too familiar slip ups and errors, Kristoffer Ajer gave a defensive masterclass. Even when Boyata hobbled off with an injury and left The Hoops with a man short at the back, you’d not have noticed given the fact that twenty year old Ajer still remained a rock in front of goalkeeper Scott Bain

The Norwegian’s performance was typified with two standout moments.

In the first half, he skilfully dribbled beyond three opponents before playing a nice ball forward to an attacking teammate. As the Gers defence used the ball like a hot potato, Kristoffer was unflustered and finding teammates for most of the game. 

Then in the second half as Rangers pushed full pelt to score another equaliser, The Light Blues managed to create another opportunity. It looked like Joe Worrall would tap in the ball before Ajer excellently lunged in and diverted the ball wide. 

At the other end, twenty-one year old striker Odsonne Edouard gave an equally mature performance in attack. 

As Gers hitman Alfredo Morelos lost his discipline and failed to connect with anything other than Scott Brown’s face; Odsonne would expertly hold onto the ball, come deep freeing space in behind and playing off passes to teammates. 

The young Frenchman’s movement constantly caused the Gers defence problems and he turned Worrall inside out before lashing home the first goal of the game. 

As the game neared it’s end, Edouard would latch onto a Callum McGregor pass in Rangers half. He would keep his cool before laying it across to James Forrest to find the game’s dramatic winner. 

Hoops manager Neil Lennon has already stated how impressed he’s been with Edouard since arriving back at Celtic Park (Source – The National):

“I’ve been really pleased with his contribution,”  

“He has really good skills. He’s come up with some really important goals. I’m pleased with his progress and I’m sure the club are as well. But there’s more to come from him. He’s only 21.”

Personally I think Celtic can now count on both Kristoffer Ajer and Odsonne Edouard to become cornerstones of their team for next season. 

They might be young but they’ve got the talent to become top performers, especially in the big games. They’re definitely the type of stars Celtic need as they start to seriously think about going for nine in a row! 

You Can’t Blame Callum Hudson-Odoi If He Wants To Leave Chelsea

It looks to be inevitable that Callum Hudson-Odoi will leave Chelsea.

The Blues resisted temptation to sell the youngster when Bayern Munich came calling during the winter transfer window.

The German giants seem willing to play the long-game as they want the young forward to replace the departing Arjen Robben.

It looks like other sides have since been joined them in the queue for the eighteen year old.

The Metro state that Rio Ferdinand believes that Hudson-Odoi would be an ideal target for Manchester United. While The Telegraph are reporting that Borussia Dortmund are rivalling Bayern for Hudson-Odoi’s signature.

Chelsea might want to keep hold of the talent but after today, I doubt Callum will be in any mood for staying.

Munich and other potential suitors will be offering the youngster first team football. That’s something Blues boss Maurizio Sarri just can’t seem to offer the teenager.

The future of star man Eden Hazard is also up in the air. Against Cardiff City earlier today, Sarri decided to drop his maestro. It would have been an ideal time to give Hudson-Odoi his long awaited first Premier League start and a chance to really shine in a Chelsea jersey.

It would’ve been a big signal to the young attacker that he’s the future of Chelsea and the one that they’ll look to if they do indeed lose Hazard to Real Madrid in the summer.

Yet Maurizio persisted in playing the more experienced Pedro and Willian, neither of which have had a particularly strong or consistent season thus far.

This all in the same week that Callum started his first game for England, that’s one more start than Sarri’s given him in the English top flight. In the last international break, Hudson-Odoi played 110 minutes of football and yet he’s only played 119 minutes in the Premier League this entire season.

I can totally understand why the international winger would feel he was better off leaving Stamford Bridge.

Even when Chelsea were struggling in Cardiff, Hudson-Odoi was left kicking his heels on the bench.

For whatever reason the eighteen year old isn’t getting a chance to prove himself at The Bridge and he’s clearly got the talent to be playing elsewhere.

Bizarrely Sarri stated that he only watched a little bit of Callum’s international start (Via The Daily Mail):

‘Only 20 minutes because I had 14 players in the internationals so I didn’t have time to watch 20 matches.’

Now surely it would make more sense to concentrate on the player that you’ve seen least of during this term? The Italian should’ve specifically kept an eye on Hudson-Odoi, to see how he coped in such a big occasion.

To be constantly overlooked, to not get a Premier League start all year and then to hear that your manager didn’t watch your full international debut is going to hurt a young player.

Chelsea and Maurizio Sarri haven’t best served their future or even their present by overlooking such a talented player as Callum Hudson-Odoi.

The player’s contract is up in the summer of 2020 and I doubt he’d even entertain contract talks at this point. He’ll be even more determined to seek out a future elsewhere because nothing this season suggests he’s got a pathway to follow that will see him one day becoming a Chelsea regular.

Be in no doubt that the young forward will see that Kevin de Bruyne, Mohamed Salah and Romelu Lukaku all flourished away from Stamford Bridge after being starved of first-team starts and that he won’t be any different!