Tag: everton

England’s winner and losers Premier League Week 2

Winners

Phil Jones

Who’d have thought it, Phil Jones has been excellent this season. Fitting neatly into Mourinho’s land of the giants Jones has benefited from his manager’s unwillingness to trust new boy Victor Lindelof. He’s kept 2 clean sheets almost got a goal and has yet to do anything clumsy or stupid. Yet.

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Harry Maguire

Maguire was the one defender who looked competent in Leicester’s opener with Arsenal. Against Brighton he was masterful, defending solidly, pushing forward, spraying around some nice passes and scoring. If there’s such a thing as a £17m bargain Maguire is it.

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Jack Butland

Exceptional against Arsenal, Butland will surely be between the sticks against Malta when he may require a chair.

Nat Chalobah

Quiet last week, Southgate would probably have called him up to make a point about the need to play every week rather than sit on a champions league bench. No need for such politics based on his commanding display at Bournemouth. Except for that ‘Leave it’ incident, that was sh$te.

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Dominic Calvert-Lewin

Gave the best performance of his fledgling Everton career at the Etihad. He has pace, provided an outlet an played Rooney in for Everton’s goal. Significantly he was picked to start over Alex Sandro.

Raheem Sterling

It wasn’t looking good for Sterling or City when Pep Guardiola sent him on at half time against Everton. His blast over the bar when it looked easier to score pointed to familiar failings but his fine finish for the equaliser suggested he’s learning. Looked sharp and creative as the 10 men searched for a goal.

Losers

Joe Hart

Moved to West Ham to reassert his authority, West Ham have conceded 7 goals in 2 games. Hmm.

Daniel Sturridge

Got a start and his big chance, he didn’t play badly but never looked like scoring in the 61 minutes he was on. 12 minutes after taking him off Liverpool got the break through with subs Mo Salah and Dom Solanke prominent in getting the Reds over the line. Sturridge may be waiting until the League Cup for his next chance.

Jesse Lingard 

2 games into the season and Jesse Lingard has played 2 minutes of premier league football.  Worse still Anthony Martial has come off the Manchester United bench twice to score, relegating Lingard to plan C meanwhile United are being persistently linked with a late transfer move for a wide man, uh oh.

 

 

 

 

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Man City 1-1 Everton: Rooney makes his point

The first Monday Night Game of the season started with fireworks before kick off leading to a hazy smog around the Etihad Stadium. But the expected fireworks on the pitch gave way to a tactical chess match between ex Barca teammates Guardiola & Koeman, City as expected dominated possession with Guardiola bravely opting for Leroy Sane at left wingback.

Meanwhile Koeaman shrewdly opted for a fiesty midfield dropping playmaker Davy Klaassen for the more energetic Tom Davies and relying on the pace of Dominic Calvert Lewin to break, often down City’s left in the space vacated by Sane.

Within 25 minutes both Davies and Morgan Schniederlin had picked up bookings, setting the tone for a feisty encounter. City’s first big chance came when Jordan Pickford saved a Nicolas Otamendi effort only to paw the ball into the path of Sergio Aguero who couldn’t finish clinically and Phil Jagielka tidied up.

City started to build momentum on the half hour mark and a De Bruyne break put Aguero through but Jagielka managed to keep him at bay, moments later David Silva struck a thunderous drive against the foot of the post. But Everton broke and an awful attempt at back tracking from Sane gave Calvert-Lewin space to pick out Rooney from the edge of the area, the Man United legend smacked the ball against the legs of Ederson and into the City net 0-1.

But just as the watching Gareth Southgate was preparing his Rooney recall speech for next week, Rooney gave the ball away in midfield and Silva forced a smart stop from Pickford.

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With a few minutes left in the  half City were preparing for a siege of the Everton box when Kyle Walker was harshly sent off for a second yellow. Walker backed into Calvert-Lewin, it was soft but not the smartest move from a man who’d been booked minutes earlier.

For the second half Guardiola brought on Raheem Sterling for the ineffective Gabriel Jesus. Despite their numerical disadvantage City gradually built momentum with Everton keeping them at arms length for the first 15 minutes of the second half.

Seeing his side dropping off too much Koeman took off Davies & Ashley Williams for the more dynamic Klaassen and record signing Gylfi Sigurdsson for his debut, Guardiola countered with the introduction of Danilo & Bernardo Silva.

For all the doubts over Ederson’s command of his penalty area his distribution is first class and a long clearance on 70 minutes ended in a clear sight of goal for Bernardo, 4 minutes later Sterling showed his usual composure in the box to blast over from 15 yards. Sterling almost made amends 2 minutes later with beautiful bended ball for Danilo who forced a great save from Pickford. Then On 82 minutes Sterling found his shooting range as the otherwise excellent Mason Colgate’s tame defensive header fell for Sterling who volleyed home from the edge of the box 1-1.

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On 88 minutes the heated temperature saw Schneidlerlin sent off for a challenge on Aguero. Earlier City players felt Calvert-Lewin had made a meal of the Waker challenge, if that was the case Aguero made a 5 course banquet of this clutching is leg theatrically ensuring the referee reached for his cards. As the minutes ticked down Everton almost got Calvert-Lewin clean through whilst a touch from Klaassen denied Silva a clear cut chance for City.

1-1 was ultimately a fair result that showcased City’s slick attacking play but raised other concerns for Guardiola. Ederson remains a worry in goal with City facing greater defensive examinations on the road. Another surprisingly is Aguero who continues to look short of his usual confidence in the box. One big plus for City remains the return to fitness of Kompany, Otamendi & Stones looked more secure with the club captain in the backline although the back 3 is clearly still a work in progress,  whilst Guardiola will be counting the days until Benjamin Mendy is fit to take over the left back position.

As for Everton the result confirms they are a coming force likely to challenge for the top 6 and a cup rather than the title itself. Rooney was magnetic in the first half but his powers faded in the second, the England recall debate will fill plenty of column inches this week although the pacey Calvert-Lewin might have made a stronger case for inclusion.

The fact City’s opening game lead to more talk about Guardiola’s chinos than anything that happened on the pitch spoke volumes about the routine nature of that win. This match was hardly a disaster for City but with with Mourinho’s thunderous start to the season across town there’s plenty for Pep to ponder.

 

 

 

 

 

England’s fullback options

Probably the strongest unit England have at present there should be strong competition for places between now and the World Cup:

Leftbacks– One player is nailed on, but there’s a lot of competition behind him.
1. Danny Rose– Developed beyond anyones expectations last season with Tottenham, looks the best left back in the Premier League and unassailable for England. Will miss the September internationals but will be guaranteed the start on his return.

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2. Ryan Bertrand- Solid and dependable at club level, Bertrand has looked at ease with international football and remains England’s best left back going back towards his own goal. Not great with set pieces though.

3. Luke Shaw- Since being hailed as Ashley Cole’s heir apparent Shaw has endured a rotten time at Man United through poor form, horrific injury and worst of all the wrath of Jose Mourinho. Will miss the start of the season with injury but will be favourite for the left back slot at Old Trafford following a softening of his manager’s stance. If this season doesn’t work out a January transfer wouldn’t be a shock.

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4. Joe Gomez- Another young player who’s suffered with long term injuries, the difference being Gomez has the confidence and support of Jurgen Klopp. With only the more attack minded Andy Robertson as a direct rival Gomez should get plenty of starts this season, a first cap might not be far behind.

5. Aaron Cresswell- The good news is he finally got a game against France, the bad news is Southgate didn’t trust him with anything more than a cameo. At 27 it’s hard to see him improving much and the defensive concerns are not likely to go away. Has 2 caps though!

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6. Leighton Baines- Great going forward, useful with a dead ball, flawed in defence, only an injury crisis would see him recalled.
7. Ben Chilwell- Had a good tournament with the Under 21s this summer. Chilwell has a good chance of dislodging the wonderfully named Christian Fuchs at Leicester this season. Defensive work needs improvement but a fine crosser of the ball, more likely to stay in the Under 21s for now.

8. Ryan Sessegnon– The 17 year old was England’s star man in the Under 19s summer triumph. Sessegnon is a special talent but the World Cup will probably come too soon. Either through promotion or transfer Sessegnon will be a premier league starter in a years time, by which time he’ll have 70+ senior game behind him. A starter for England at Euro 2020.

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Right backs– in truth this looks like 2 from the top 3, but there’s plenty of young talent coming through the ranks.
1. Kyle Walker-  He’s worth £50 million! In reality he isn’t but he has developed into a top class right back. Walker will start at City and with England, has power and pace although does suffer the odd brain fart. A World Cup certainty.Kyle+Walker+England+v+Netherlands+International+7lnMl2Kgwiol
2. Nathaniel Clyne- Needs to improve after an underwhelming year at Liverpool. His last good game I remember was against Slovakia at the Euros! Currently injured and may have to fend off Joe Gomez to regain his Liverpool place. On uncertain ground.

3. Kieran Trippier– impressed on debut and usurped Walker at Spurs toward the end of last season. Has Superior crossing ability to Walker & Clyne but defensive concerns continue, will be under the microscope this season.

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4. Mason Holgate- Underwhelmed with his crossing at the Euro Under 21s but retains a strong chance of a regular start at Everton. Will stay with the Under 21s for now.
5. Jonjoe Kenny- Had a great summer with the Under 20s but yet to make a first team impression at Everton. May need a loan move to the Championship this season but looks a future star.

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6. Carl Jenkinson- Desperately needs a move having failed to make an impression at Arsenal, perhaps he moved up the leagues too soon, but there is a good player there for someone. Has been sat on a solitary cap for 5 years.

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7. Ainsley Maitland-Niles– It’s way too soon to be in line for a senior call up but could be a breakout player this season. His talent is clear to see but for now it’ll be Europa League group games and the league cup.

 

How Southgate’s change in policy is shaping the transfer window

Like most fans I find the transfer window a guilty pleasure. With little in the way of games to watch to scratch the football itch trying to work out who’ll be a hit and who’ll be this years Angel De Maria is a summer game. It’s fun to watch even though we all know the sums of money being thrown about make it a vulgar spectacle.

Sadly it’s also become the time of year when the number of English players in the premier league receives a fresh cull with the depressing statistic trotted out in the autumn of how few English players are actually playing football.

This year has been a little different. So far amongst the imports a lot of English players are moving to a new Premier League club (see the list below of England hopefuls who have moved thus far);

Jermain Defoe, Charlie Taylor, Jack Cork, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Jordan Pickford, Michael Keane, Wayne Rooney, Scott Malone, Tom Ince, Kasey Palmer, Harry Maguire, Dominic Solanke, Kyle Walker, Josh Tymon, Tammy Abraham, Tom Cleverley, Will Hughes, Nathaniel Chalobah, Sam Howes & Jay Rodriguez.

More will follow in the week ahead (starting with Joe Hart) whilst numerous young English players are trying their luck in other high level european leagues, most notably Reece Oxford who’s joined Borussia Monchengladbach on a season long loan.

OK there are plenty of names on that list that won’t get near the England squad and some are leaving relegated teams in order to stay in the Premier League. But a striking number have moved from a big club in order to guarantee regular first team football.

I do think one of the reasons players are more willing to do this is Gareth Southgate’s proclamation that players need to be playing for their clubs to get picked for England and a willingness to pick players at less fashionable Premier League clubs.

Wayne Rooney is of course the highest profile example, Rooney was peripheral at Manchester United last season, even in the midst of a late season injury crisis Rooney largely found himself on the fringes of Jose Mourinho’s side. Rooney could easily have sat out the remainder of his United contract on the fringes of the first team or disappeared to the MLS or China. Instead he rejoined Everton partly due to his attachment to the club and partly to restart his England career after being dropped.

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The players Southgate will be most pleased to see move will be Under 21 midfield duo Chalobah and Loftus-Cheek. Chalobah has long been touted a future England star playing 97 times at the various youth levels for his country, yet he only made his Chelsea debut this season. Club mate Loftus-Cheek got his Chelsea debut 2 years ago and was hailed a future star at Stamford Bridge but the last 2 seasons have seen him go sideways

Both made enough appearances (mostly as sub) for Chelsea to win Premier League champion medals, but with Chelsea close to signing Tiemoue Bakayoko they were looking at being 4th & 5th in the pecking order to be Chelsea’s centre midfield pair (even if they sell Nemanja Matic). At Watford & Crystal Palace respectively they will get a first team chance. Of course merely playing should not be enough to get either a call up to the senior side but- they will have to actively improve 2 of last seasons worst teams.

Promising players leaving a Champions League side (albeit on loan in Loftus Cheek’s case) would never have happened under some previous England managers on the grounds that being a squad player at a top club was deemed good enough. Conversely star performers at smaller premier league sides were consistently overlooked.

Prime examples in Sven Goran-Erikkson’s reign saw Wes Brown, Joe Cole, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Emile Heskey and most bizarrely Theo Walcott picked whilst not getting regular games for top 4 clubs. The most telling examples of players from a smaller clubs being overlooked were strikers Andy Johnson & Darren Bent (then of Crystal Palace & Charlton) who despite 20+ goal seasons barely got capped and when Johnson did he was played on the right wing.

Last season saw Rooney & Theo Walcott both dropped after losing their places in their club sides whilst Southgate called up in-form players from Sunderland, Burnley, West Brom and Southampton. Some will point to the inclusion of Chris Smalling & Alex-Oxlaide-Chamberlain as squad players at big clubs but both got into the England team having been recalled by their clubs and starting major cup finals (Smalling was admitedley helped by injury and suspension to others).

There are plenty of reasons to doubt if the likes of Jake Livermore and Tom Heaton are good enough for international football but at least these players should be analysed from a position of starting regularly for their clubs.

The question now for Southgate is when he has a qualification campaign behind him, will he pick players on club form or qualifying performances? A trap that previously ensnared Fabio Capello & Roy Hodgson. Let’s wait and see!

Rooney- Lessons from Raul

It looks almost certain Wayne Rooney will be an Everton player next season. Rooney’ s decision to take a pay cut to return to his boyhood club rather than earn a fortune in China is admirable, it also keeps the dying embers of his England career alive.

Rooney has already stated he intends to play on with England to the next World Cup, the big question is should England keep him around, for me the answer is a resounding no.

Rooney has been a great servent to England but baring a miraculous return to form I fail to see a recall working out well.

Rooney has always been a polarising figure, on the one hand England’s record goal scorer on the other a big time player who’s never delivered in a major tournament.

In many ways Rooney reminds me of former Real Madrid & Spain forward Raul. Raul was the founding member of Real’s Galacticos combining a prolific goal scoring record with a rare creativity spark. He spent 16 years with Real setting a new goal scoring record of 220 strikes in an era when the lesser lights of La Liga provided more competition than the cannon fodder for Ronaldo, Messi et all we see today.

After making his full Spain debut aged 19 Raul was hailed as Spain’s great hope and at 21 was expected to light up France ’98- as it turned out he scored in Spain’s opening game but they lost and were scuttled out in the group phase.

The hype continued into Euro 2000 where Raul scored 1 goal in the group but then missed a last minute penalty in the quarter finals as Spain went down to eventual champions France. Raul then lead Spain to a group stage exit at Euro 2004 and by the time of the 2006 World Cup he was playing a peripheral role in a squad featuring then dynamic youngsters David Villa & Fernando Torres hinting at a more promising future.

Raul eventually played 102 times for Spain, setting a new goal scoring record of 44 strikes along the way.  He was Spain’s best player in a comparatively average era of Spanish football, a great player of his day but ultimately not quite in the class of Zidane, Figo & Henry. It’s hard not to see the parallels with Rooney.

But the key lesson to note for England came at the very end of Raul’s Spain career. His last game for Spain was in September 2006 a 3-2 loss to Northern Ireland in Euro 2008 qualifying- seen at the time as a new low for Spanish Football.

In the aftermath Raul was dropped although he didn’t retire from international football and in the run up to Euro 2008 many in the Spanish press campaigned for his recall. Despite the pressure Manger Luis Aragones decided to stick with the trusted pairing of Villa & Torres and Raul was ommited, Spain played on into history and nobody demanded a Raul recall for the 2010 World Cup.

I’m not suggesting the current England is on par with the Spain of 2008 but resisting the temptation to recall Raul and sticking to an established plan was clearly a factor in Spain’s triumph- even though the logic for picking Raul was sound- here was a team ready to win a tournament and packed with talent so why not add one more gifted man player to the mix?

In hindsight it’s clear why Aragones didn’t bring Raul back- bringing him into the team would mean dropping one of Torres or Villa: losing some of the teams forward thrust or reshaping the midfield to accommodate Raul in a deeper role with Xavi & Iniesta likely moved into wider midfield roles.  In a squad that offered goals from Torres, Villa there was no need for a slower creative forward especially when the creativity could be provided by any combination of Xavi, Iniesta, David Silva & Cesc Fabregas there was simply no place for Raul.

For Gareth Southgate his England team is still at the embryonic phase- the one element of the team that looks established is the attack.

Currently England have one of the worlds top Number 9s in Harry Kane, behind him one of Europes most promising number 10s in Dele Alli- two players forging their partnership together at club level. Out wide England have the creativity of Adam Lallana and the pace of Raheem Sterling. Further down the pecking order are 2 pacey forwards in the dynamic Marcus Rashford and more direct Jamie Vardy, on the wing there’s the power of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and in Jesse Lingard a ‘do a job’ player with a tendency to score in big games.

The only role possibly open to Rooney is a very junior one where England have the more in form Jermain Defoe and plenty of young emerging talents looking to kick on (Dominic Solanke, Tammy Abraham & Demarai Gray to name a few). And as we’ve seen many times Rooney isn’t suited to the super sub role where adapting quickly to the pace of a match is key- something Vardy in particular is very good at.

Age isn’t a barrier to entry in an international team- Miroslav Klose proved vital in Germany’s 2014 World Cup squad aged 36. But Klose had a specific role in a team short of centre forwards and Klose was a key part of Joachim Loew’s plan from day 1. From day 1 of Southgate’s reign Rooney has been a minor player in the squad or out of it all together.

As Raul’s career with Spain proved it’s usually better to move on rather than going back to the well once too often.