Chelsea Break Away

Chelsea’s season just went from good to even better. The Blues did not even have to defeat Liverpool last night to extend their lead over their rivals. A 1-1 draw was more than enough to keep Arsenal and Spurs away. In fact, the Blues afforded missing a penalty late on in the game and it probably won’t come back to haunt Antonio Conte.

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Arsenal had the chance to make use of Chelsea’s draw but instead they trembled. The Gunners saw themselves two goals down before pulling back a consolidation goal to end the game with a 2-1 loss at home to Watford. Elsewhere, Tottenham failed to make use of both results as they themselves were stuck in a 0-0 draw against struggling Sunderland. Arsenal should have done better on several occasions and they were lucky to scrap results against the Premier League’s small sides: scraping a 2-1 home win against Burnley last week with a penalty seven minutes into injury time, a last-gasp 3-3 draw away to Bournemouth after trailing 3-0 and an 86th minute winner against West Bromwich Albion meant that a loss to a small side was inevitable.

While Chelsea continue to fly at the top of the table, a new battle is about to emerge. The fight for the Champions League spots will probably go down to the very last week. Only a single point separates second placed Tottenham from 5th placed Manchester City while Manchester United are just four points away from the fourth spot. The battle for the top four will be an interesting one. It will be interesting to see how Arsenal and Manchester City will cope with the pressure of having to play Champions League football without compromising their performance domestically.

Chelsea are nine points clear from their closest rival after just 23 games. The Blues are not having a great season at Stamford Bridge, they aren’t playing their best football. However, they have shown their resilience and strength by doing what is needed to win consistently. The title race is far from over but we have all the reasons to believe that Chelsea will hold on to their lead until summer. The real questions is, will Conte guide Chelsea to European success or is the league title enough?

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Manchester United – Liverpool: An All Red Rivalry

Following a series of bad season, England’s top two teams are back to being competitive this season. Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool find themselves in the second spot just five points behind Chelsea in the Premier League table. On the other hand, Manchester United are unbeaten in the last 15 games in all competitions, boasting a nine-game winning streak. However, they are still sixth in the table behind all of their rivals.

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United’s position in the league table matters little at the moment. The team is enjoying its best form in years and the upcoming game against Liverpool at Old Trafford may be a season-decider. Jose Mourinho spent a £150 million on transfers last summer and he’s determined to bring United back into the top four in his first season. It seems that Jose Mourinho’s plan is finally coming together at United and Jurgen Klopp has plenty to fear.

In terms of names, United’s team is definitely better on paper and highly likely to grab a win in front of its home crowd. Nevertheless, Klopp cannot afford to drop any points at this stage. Tottenham and Manchester City are just two points behind the Reds and Arsenal is not that far behind. The rivalry between Manchester United and Liverpool is bigger than any other in England and if Liverpool are to maintain their top four spot, then they need to put a stop to Jose Mourinho’s momentum.

Earlier this season the reverse game ended in a boring 0-0 tie. Jose Mourinho’s side resorted to an extremely cautious tactic in hopes of stopping high-flying Liverpool. Three months later, a lot has changed. Both teams have been playing well and both have a lot to win and a lot to lose. We have all the reasons to believe this will be an exciting game and much different to the one before. A draw is probably as bad as a loss for any team but a win could be season as a good omen ahead of 2017.

Liverpool – Manchester United: All At Stake

Club football is set to resume following the international break with a big Premier League clash. Liverpool host Manchester United at Anfield. The huge historic rivalry between the two will open up a new chapter, Klopp vs Mourinho. Both sides need a win at all costs if they are to keep up with Manchester City’s pace but which side is the favorite to win ahead of the game?

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United have a crucial week ahead of them. Jose Mourinho’s side will face Liverpool, Fenerbahce and Chelsea in one tight-scheduled week. A win against the Reds could help United build momentum but a loss could demoralize the Red Devils. Mourinho really cannot afford to drop points again especially this early in the season. The international break came at a bad time for United, it was right after a 1-1 draw with Stoke City that left them five points behind pace-setters Manchester City. Now an away win at Anfield is a must at all costs.

On the other hand, Liverpool have been the best team in teams of creativity and goal-scoring chances but their defensive record has put them down to fourth in the league but enough to keep them three points above United. iverpool have created a massive total of 112 goalscoring opportunities in their seven matches so far this season, which is a massive 19 more than any other side. Scoring goals has not been an issue at all this season for them. Their problem has been in failing to keep a single clean sheet so far.

United’s success this season depends on Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s success on the field. After all, Mourinho is building his team around Ibra who is better physically equipped than Wayne Rooney to take on opponents in the final third. The Swede had a pretty impressive start to the season notching six goals in 11 games but he scored only once in the past 470 minutes of football and that was against Zorya in the Europa League. Liverpool’s porous defence could be a chance for Zlatan to return to scoring ahead of United’s big week.

On the other hand, United’s defensive record is just slightly better than that of Liverpool. United have only kept three clean sheets so far this season against Zorya, Southampton and Hull City. It is highly unlikely that the Red Devils can stop Liverpool from scoring. Therefore, the only way one of the two teams can win is by trying to score as many goals as possible.

The pair have won 38 English titles between them making them English football’s biggest two in terms of history, but recent years have shown that new forces are dominating the scene. The two sides are hoping for a different season, one that ends with a title. A win is a must for either of the two on Monday night but which sides wants it more?

Still Not Over for Mourinho

Jose Mourinho’s bright start to life at Manchester United has been halted to the surprise of many following three consecutive defeats. However, a win two nights ago against Northampton Town in the EFL Cup might be just what they needed to get back on track in the Premier League. Manchester United’s manager seems to be under a lot of pressure to succeed especially after his failure last season at Chelsea and his mission to bring the Red Devils back to the top of the Premier League is not an easy task at all but United are not in a crisis, at least not yet.

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Today the media and the fans have placed considerable amounts of pressure on both Manchester United and Jose Mourinho especially since both the team and the manager are trying to get rid of recent failure. Manchester City’s success led by Pep Guardiola has not been helping at all either. The blue team of Manchester has won all nine games they’ve played this season and this only puts more pressure on the people at Old Trafford. However, even Pep himself admits that the perfect start could reach an end soon: “I have to recognise that I’m so happy, but I have to tell you I’m going to lose games.”

Two days ago Manchester United returned to winning ways thanks to veteran Michael Carrick who made his first appearance of the season and even scored a goal. At the age of 35 Carrick cannot be expected to play every game of the season but he should feature more often. A start against Leicester City could help add stability to United’s midfield particularly in shielding the defense while Paul Pogba makes forward runs.

There is no crisis at Old Trafford. Manchester United are just one point below fourth placed Arsenal. Nevertheless, it has been Mourinho’s weakest start to a season since managing Porto in 2002. The fact that United spent big on adding new players puts extra pressure on them. These signings require time to improve the chemistry in between them. Zlatan may be scoring goals but he’s yet to become fully integrated in his team’s game. Paul Pogba will do better as he gets used to his new team and position. A lot of factors combined caused Mourinho to lose three games but the Red Devils can get back on track this weekend if they grab a win against Leicester City.

Success requires time and United are not required to win the Premier League in their first season under Mourinho but a top four finish should be the least they aim for. There is no shame in losing games even if it was the derby and at home. However, Jose Mourinho needs to change the way he handles them. He needs to accept criticism and that it’s part of the game, work to improve his team and move on.

13 Teams Broke Their Transfer Records This Summer

The news is no longer a novelty; over £1 billion has been spent in the Premier League only in this transfer window. However, many other teams across Europe have spent heavily on new players. In total, 13 European clubs have broken their own transfer record. Ideally, that could mean that 13 clubs signed the best player in the history of their club this season. Nevertheless, it doesn’t work like that. The market has been inflated and so huge transfer fees do not mean that the signed players are going to be the best out there. In fact, some may feel the pressure and end up being a flop.

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Schalke 04 signed a 19-year-old striker, Breel Embolo. The player is yet to be tested on a big stage. His performance in Euro 16 was average yet the German side had no problem breaking the bank for the young man. Borussia Moenchengladbach sold Granit Xhaka to Arsenal for a huge fee and that set them up to break their own record to make Christoph Kramer’s move permanent. Elsewhere in Italy, Ante Budimir joined Crotone for a club-record £850k. The same player was sold just four days later for £1.53m to Sampdoria.  Staying in Italy, Torino signed former Roma, Inter and Fiorentina forward Adem Ljajic and even Pescara broke their club record twice by signing former Roma midfielder Valerio Verre and Cristiano Biraghi. Even in Spain, newly promoted Deportivo Alaves and Leganes signed Daniel Torres and  Gabriel respectively. In France Angers broke their own record by signing Famara Diedhiou and finally of course, Juventus and Manchester United did the same by signing Gonzalo Higuain and Paul Pogba respectively.

This isn’t going to be an easy season at all. Small and big teams alike were forced to spend in order to improve the quality of their teams and this means that the risk is even higher for all teams. Surprisingly, Real Madrid did very little business this summer while teams like Juventus, Manchester City, Manchester United and Barcelona are under pressure to justify the money they spent but they surely improved their teams significantly. The Premier League title is definitely returning to Manchester this year, whether to the blue side or to the red one. Meanwhile Juventus and Barcelona will be hoping to replicate last season’s success domestically and go one step further in Europe. A big season awaits us, we’ve already seen glimpses of what is waiting for us and it is quite promising.