Leicester will hope to pile the pressure on Marco Silva while keeping up the title chase on Everton’s Merseyside rivals with victory on Sunday.

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Posted in EPL, FA Premier League

As ever, this represents our estimation of Gareth Southgate’s thoughts. And we feel like we know him well. Numbers in brackets pertain to this ladder from October…

 

1 (2) Harry Kane
Twelve goals and five assists in eight qualifying games. His goal against Kosovo saw him become the first England player to score in every game of a qualifying campaign and it also took him back to the top of this ladder, mostly because he has never grabbed somebody by the throat in a canteen. Or at least he has never been caught grabbing somebody by the throat in a canteen.

 

2 (1) Raheem Sterling
Oh you daft bugger. There is no defending that. He is still England’s second-best source of goals and best source of running really fast and scaring the sh*t out of full-backs, mind.

 

3 (5) Harry Maguire
The only player to feature in all 720 minutes of European qualifying. And yet he still looks about half a second from dropping a bo**ock and a full second slower than most strikers he faces.

 

4 (4) Jordan Pickford
His place is safer than his hands.

 

5 (6) Marcus Rashford
Three goals in his last three England games as part of a really encouraging return to form. We would be astonished if Rashford is not in every England squad for which he is fit until the end of the next decade at least…

 

6 (3) Jordan Henderson
Two victories in his absence have damaged his cause a little, but it still feels like Henderson + 2 in that central midfield.

 

7 (7) Trent Alexander-Arnold
Remarkably, that’s the first time he has started back-to-back England games. Even more remarkably, ‘he’s yet to produce a performance for his country which doesn’t look like this one did – distracted, inaccurate, lacking in the locked-in intensity which seems as standard at Liverpool’ (and I absolutely agree with Seb Stafford-Bloor).

 

8 (10) Ben Chilwell
Perhaps those three assists against Montenegro – and solid defensive performance against Kosovo – will put an end to Gareth Southgate’s lingering and needless flirtation with Danny Rose. Chilwell is and should remain England’s first-choice left-back.

 

9 (18) Harry Winks
Six England caps, six England wins. And a goal and a man-of-the-match performance against Kosovo. It might well be Henderson, Winks + 1 with Declan Rice hopefully sidelined until he learns some of the basics of defensive midfield play.

 

10 (13) John Stones
‘Needs to play football. Absolutely needs to play football,’ is what I wrote last month. Now back in the Manchester City side and an England recall duly followed. 

 

11 (16) Nick Pope
Confirmation that he is England’s No. 2. And a clean sheet is lovely.

 

12 (17) Joe Gomez
What has become very clear is that Southgate has picked his four centre-halves and Gomez is on that list despite not playing a great deal of Premier League football. Luckily for him, Liverpool have an awful lot of games coming up. He might still be the big man.

 

13 (8) Jadon Sancho
His form has dipped for Borussia Dortmund
and he failed to pad his stats against Montenegro; just one assist from 90 minutes on the wing is not a compelling return from a 7-0 victory. Right now, he has slipped some way behind Rashford.

 

14 (15) Tyrone Mings
And there’s centre-half No. 4, who has (slightly awkwardly) claimed another cap and another clean sheet. He is literally the big man.

 

15 (9) Ross Barkley
It’s telling that he has played more minutes in this qualifying campaign than any other midfielder bar Henderson and yet almost nobody thinks he should start for England. Will he eventually be ejected like a stockier Ryan Bertrand? The initials are a clue.

 

16 (11) Declan Rice
As I wrote last month: ‘He is only 20, so there are caveats, but right now he looks far from good enough to anchor that England midfield. Still, we persuaded him not to be Irish anymore, so his squad place is probably safe for the foreseeable.’ We wanted him to be so much better than Eric Dier; he isn’t.

 

17 (12) Mason Mount
He has played a part in England’s last six games so he is clearly integrated into this England squad. Unfortunately for him, he has started twice and struggled twice. Fortunately, he can do this from the bench…

 

18 (14) Kieran Trippier
Called up but then left on the bench. It could be worse; he could be Kyle Walker.

 

19 (20) Tammy Abraham
His first England goal and confirmation – were it needed – that he is Southgate’s first-choice back-up to Kane.

 

20 (22) Fabian Delph
Even grown men need a comfort blanket. Let it go, people, let it go…

 

21 (19) Danny Rose
Clinging onto a place in the squad but for how long? Until Luke Shaw gets and stays fit, you should think. Right now, Rose is holding off Aaron Cresswell and Matt Targett in the battle to be the left-sided fireguard with the thinner chocolate coating.

 

22 (32) Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Back-to-back England starts for the first time since March 2018, when he was set to start in England’s World Cup midfield before injury struck. “We’ve a huge belief in him,” said Southgate. “Whether it’s as a midfield player – where he’s excellent with or without the ball, provides a goalscoring threat, works hard for the team and presses well – or a wide player or a forward player, we’ve got huge belief in him.” And that versatility might well be what keeps in this 23 ahead of more vaunted competition.

 

23 (23) Tom Heaton
The old man completes the 23. For now.

 

24 (21) Callum Hudson-Odoi
Reclaimed and then lost his Chelsea place, while his 59 wasteful, hesitant minutes against Kosovo suggested that he might be better getting some more England experience with the Under-21s this season while he searches for his form.

 

25 (24) Callum Wilson
Nobody takes three strikers for a one-striker system. Especially when the third striker on the list has stopped scoring.

 

26 (26) James Maddison
Most chances created by Englishmen this season:
Trent Alexander-Arnold (42)
Jack Grealish (25)
James Maddison (24)
Mason Mount (23)
Raheem Sterling (22)

Sorry James, but we don’t think Gareth likes the cut of your gib. Or the gib of…

 

27 (35) Jack Grealish
Though at least Southgate hinted that Grealish could be the next cab off the attacking midfielder rank. That’s progress.

 

28 (25) Kyle Walker
Sip sliding away. Slip-sliding a-way.

 

29 (31) Fikayo Tomori
They definitely didn’t bring him on for a few minutes to claim him from Nigeria (oh yes they did). But most importantly for this ladder, he was in the squad ahead of the falling Michael Keane.

 

30 (30) Dean Henderson
England’s…No. 4. England’s, England’s No. 4.

 

31 (29) Aaron Wan-Bissaka
Clearly, Southgate is not a fan of a 90s-style full-back.

 

32 (34) Dele Alli
Back in the Tottenham side at least. Shame it’s a really poor Tottenham side.

 

33 (27) Michael Keane
We may never see him in an England shirt again.

 

34 (28) Jesse Lingard
We may never see him in an England shirt again.

 

35 (33) Eric Dier
We may never see him in an England shirt again.

 

36 (40) Phil Foden
We will surely see him in a (senior) England shirt soon, but first Pep Guardiola needs to give him more than Carabao Cup football.

 

37 (NE) Aaron Ramsdale
The Bournemouth goalkeeper is making a compelling case for a long-term battle with Henderson.

 

38 (36) Ruben Loftus-Cheek
Love the player, hate the injury.

 

39 (37) Luke Shaw
Love the player, hate the injury. And the body type.

 

40 (42) Dwight McNeil

 

41 (41) Rob Holding
42 (38) Angus Gunn
43 (39) Ryan Sessegnon
44 (43) Max Aarons
45 (NE) John Lundstram
46 (NE) Harvey Barnes
47 (44) Reiss Nelson
48 (45) James Tarkowski
49 (47) James Ward-Prowse
50 (50) Phil Neville

 

Sarah Winterburn

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Moise Kean’s move to Everton has been labelled a mistake by the striker’s father.

The Italy Under-21 forward joined the Toffees from Juventus in a £27million move last summer but he is yet to score a goal for his new club having played just nine games.

The 19-year-old was omitted from last week’s win at Southampton after reportedly being late for a team meeting. 

Speaking to Centro Suono Sport, Jean Kean revealed a hope for his son to return to Italy ‘as soon as possible’.

“Sending my son to England was a mistake, because he’s still too young,” he said. “He’s not feeling good at Everton, I didn’t like this transfer.

“I hope he can come back to Italy as soon as possible, I hope he goes to Rome, but the important thing is that he comes back here.”

Kean Sr also revealed his unhappiness at agent Mino Raiola’s influence on his son.

“I don’t have a relationship with Raiola, I have never met him, I don’t think he even wants to see me.

“He demanded my son’s power of attorney when he was 14 and together with my ex-wife he wanted to take him to England.

“At Everton, where he is playing now, he is not settling in well. I think he was supposed to wait a few more years before he had an experience abroad.

“If there is a possibility for him to come back to Italy, I hope he can do that, so as not to ruin him.”

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Send your mails to theeditor@football365.com…

 

Liverpool – Perception v Reality
I have noticed an odd narrative developing around Liverpool this season and I couldn’t help but vent my frustration about it.

The narrative is best exemplified by Ian Watson’s piece this morning “Comebacks alone cannot sustain Klopp’s ‘mentality monsters…” Well written as usual, but the article itself is a classic straw man argument in my opinion. The title and the piece itself suggest that Liverpool and their impressive progress so far this season are being sustained on comebacks. It’s a nice idea, just not actually true. You know, like with facts and stuff.

Liverpool have played 20 competitive games this season (if you count the Community Shield – no sniggering at the back) and of these I could only identify 5 where anything resembling a ‘comeback’ was needed. That’s 25%, for clarity, which is hardly reliance by any standards. Chelsea in the UEFA Super Cup involved coming from behind to win on penalties, which is barely even a ‘comeback’. The win against Newcastle involved falling behind early but being back in front after 40 minutes and never really looking in danger. Against Man Utd a 1-0 deficit was turned into a 1-1 draw, which again is hardly a comeback when a win was expected by most. Spurs and Villa in recent weeks are probably the two matches where I would agree the comebacks felt far from certain and if Liverpool were relying on those kind of results for their current position I could see the argument. But they evidently aren’t.

This narrative (sorry, everything is a narrative these days but it works in this instance) seems rife across most media. Last night on the BT Sport coverage, Jake Humprey argued that Liverpool do not look as convincing as last season and seem a bit shaky in defence. This is quite obviously a ludicrous argument given that after 11 games in the Premier League only 2 sides have conceded fewer goals than Liverpool, who are also unbeaten in all competitions this season. This doesn’t stop this idea being trotted out again and again though.

To me, Liverpool’s form and results this season are overwhelmingly a positive indicator for the rest of the season and beyond. The rampant (and arguably more outwardly convincing) bulldozer of last season has largely been replaced by a team with the kind of immovable confidence and will to win that, to borrow a cliche, is usually only seen in title winners (or at least clear contenders). During Man Utd’s dominance in the 90s and 00s they squeaked results and had the sort of comebacks that are apparently now unsustainable on a regular basis. Coming from behind, late goals, plenty of ‘luck’ (with luck in this case being the inevitable by product of dominance and creating lots of opportunities). These are all things that used to annoy the hell out of me with Utd under Ferguson, as a lot of the time it was hard to explain how they managed to get a result given the way the match panned out.

At some point the penny will drop that Liverpool are now just an outstanding football team, breaking records and currently arguably putting the most expensively assembled squad in the history of football in the shade. If they are doing this with late goals, comebacks, borderline decisions or anything else that is apparently ‘unsustainable’ then all the better. These are the circumstances that breed winners and give teams more and more belief going forward. The things Man City have done in recent years seems to have distorted people’s perception of what a title challenging team should look like. If that continues to feed the fawning over City and the cynicism around Liverpool’s form then all the better in my mind.

And please, before writing the inevitable “boo hoo we aren’t getting the credit we deserve” response, read again.

The Reds are on the march!
Gaz

 

Stop comparing everyone to Klopp
Can we stop with every other top club using Klopp as a barometer for giving their manager time??
Give OGS/Lampard/Emery time,look at Klopp.
You are comparing apples/oranges/bananas.

6 months before Klopp came in Liverpool lost 6-1 away to Stoke. Gerrard had left when he took over. Coutinho & Lallana were his 2 best players when he took over (Firminio was only there 2 months,the jury was out). His centre backs were Sakho & Skrtel,his midfield had Allen & Lucas Leiva in it,the bench had Jordan Ibe & Adam Bogdan on it.

In 15/16 he took the squad to 2 cup finals(would have won both but for Moreno & Mignolet) & the team got improved results.
In 16/17 Liverpool were top of the league by Xmas but tailed off when Mane went to the African Nations & the squad was threadbare(Lucas at centre back for gods sake!!) but he made top 4.
In 17/18 they got to the CL final-Karius howlers,Salah injured,Bale freak goal- & would have finished second but Klopp rested players for the CL quarters & semis and took 3 points from 12 v Stoke,WBA,Everton & Chelsea & finished 6 off second.
They also sold Coutinho mid season.
Last year they lost 1 league game,they won the CL.
They managed a points total that would have won the league the year the invincibles won it,even would have won it when teams played 42 games.

They have never lost a home european tie under Klopp,never lost a 2 legged european tie under Klopp,haven’t lost a league game at home in two & a half years,haven’t lost at home at all in over a year & have lost 1 game out of their last 49 league games.
They have played sublime,swashbuckling football every season.

OGS lost to PSG at home(& has already lost more league games then Klopp has despite managing 105 fewer games).
Lampard has lost at home to Valencia & lost more league ganes this season then Klopp has in his last 50.
Don’t even get me started on Emery.

My point is every single season Klopp improved,got results & delivered.
Anyone with half a brain could see that even though trophies weren’t being delivered they were getting there & they were challenging.
He improved the defence immeasurably culiminating in last season having the best defence in the league & the CL.

He managed this with a net spend of 80m(20m per season).
If Pep sold KDB,Sterling,Silva & Aguero for a combined £400m he still would have spent more then Klopp…would City be challenging for the league??..I highly doubt it.

Klopp didn’t get a free pass,he delivered season in season out.Don’t forget Feb 2018 was the first time Liverpool made the knockout stages of the CL in 10 YEARS!!

Now people are complaining if it takes Liverpool to the last game to get out of the group.
Ferg, Cork

 

Arsenal are a shambles
How sad to see the once proud and globally respected Arsenal Football Club in such a shambles. The rot started when the American owner, whose only interest was in empire building and money making, became involved and things have gone downhill from top to bottom.

Traditionally the Board was renowned for doing things in the proper, efficient, and sensible way but how that has changed ! Firstly, with great respect for what he had done for the club , why did they give Arsene Wenger such an extended contract when clearly the game had overtaken him both on and off the pitch and to extend it for a further two years was foolhardy and irresponsible. Did they really expect him to achieve something in two years after ten years of failure ? It is now becoming abundantly clear that severe doubts must be expressed regarding their choice of the replacement manager as this appears to be yet another ill considered Boardroom mistake. Over the past eighteen months the quality of the football, the achievement of results , and the reputation of the club is simply not acceptable for a club of the stature of Arsenal.

Mr.Emery may well have been a successful manager in the middle regions of Spanish football but he is clearly not up to the standard required for the English Premier League (or PSG.) The same applies to Granit Zhaka who played well in the German league and  indeed as captain of Switzerland but he is not EPL material. This is not a unique situation as several other players have come from overseas with a good reputations to  other clubs but have not made it over here.

Football has always been my main source of entertainment  but as well as the demise of my own club the game as a whole is not what it used to be. The overall quality has declined, there is so much cheating with diving and faking injuries, the ridiculous, childlike goal celebrations, and the last straw VAR which should be consigned the dustbin along with the man who runs it- Mike Reilly , without doubt the worst referee of his generation.

For these reasons attendances throughout the game will continue to recede as they already have at the Emirates.
Macca ( thank goodness for fond memories), Herts.

 

Integrity compromised
I have written before about how the FA Cup has gradually been eroded in its importance over the last 30 years for numerous reasons . Now it seems that the League cup in its various guises whilst always being a “secondary” competition is now on dangerous ground as regards its future.

The decision for Liverpool to play the quarter final one day before a game of arguably more importance on another continent is wrong. I appreciate that this is the clubs decision as much as the authorities due to fixture pile up , and basically the club has given up on the competition as it gets to the final stages.

There are rules in place to stop clubs playing weakened teams to ensure the integrity of all the competitions.In this instance there is no conceivable way that LFC can play a team that even resembles the one put out in the last round against Arsenal. Assuming LFC take 20 players for the two games Club World Cup that means the likes of Gomez , Ox , Keita , Lallana , Origi and Milner who all started in the game against Arsenal will be unavailable as they will be in Qatar.

This essentially means a LFC under 23 side will play against Villa. Now it is normal for the bigger clubs with their larger squads to play a few youngsters in the early rounds of the league cup to give them experience and then if the team progresses to gradually increase the number of senior players as the prospect of winning a trophy comes nearer.  Chelsea and Man City particularly have monopolized this competition over the last few seasons , bedding in a few youngsters and using the trophy as a springboard to push on to other successes.

There is also the issue of the fans who have paid full price to essentially see a reserve side play. Fans can go and see the reserves at any point but no doubt ticket prices will not be reduced in this instance despite a different but arguably lesser quality side on show.

Klopp is correct , the fixture list needs looking at . Clearly this year is compounded by LFC taking part in the Club World Cup but they are representing Europe in this instance so it has to unfortunately take precedence over the Carabao Cup . Perhaps next year if an English side is fortunate enough to win the champions league they will be excused from league cup duty , however this is not ideal as UTD’s( not their fault) enforced abscence from the FA Cup some 20 odd years ago demeaned the competition overall.

The authorities need to sort this out but I doubt anything will be done , competing interests from the premier league , UEFA , FA etc will all fight their corner as they push their product at the detriment to others .

The league cup is at a crossroads not entirely of its own doing. Its needs to be looked at or it’s integrity is doomed.
DL , LFC , Geneva

 

Prisoner’s Dilemma
I really enjoyed Banjo, Prague’s proposal to give teams who play a score draw of 3-3 or higher 2 points each, as well as the Editor’s hypothesis that this would lead to the teams just agreeing to score 3 goals each before the game really began.

You guys have basically just set up the Game Theory scenario, The Prisoner’s Dilemma.

Other mailbox contributors probably understand Game Theory better than I do, but my feeling is that if two teams agreed to each score 3 goals before the game really began, the team who scores the 3rd goal first would have a rational reason to betray their opponents and prevent them from scoring their own 3rd goal. This in turn would affect the next iteration of the scenario, and so on. Its hard to predict exactly what would happen in the long run – my guess is that most teams would eventually revert back to not allowing each other to score at all.
Oliver (hey, at least this was more interesting than discussing Conflicts of Interest + Separation of Duties) Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland 

 

Pretty sure the fun in crazy scores is at least partially due to the fact that they’re rare events. If you make them commonplace, you’ll ruin football. Think about 6s in a T20 cricket game.
Rahul, India

 

It’s not double jeopardy it’s playing advantage
Kwab said it was unfair that Ajax were hit with double jeopardy misses the point. Blinds foul was noted but rightly the advantage was with the attacking team was allowed to play on. Play is still ‘live’ the defender handles the ball a penalty called and defender then abuses the referee receives a 2nd booking and is off. Blind who committed a bookable offence is sent from the field.

It’s not the refs fault that Ajax’s discipline was so poor. Blame lies squarely with Ajax not the ref.
Anon

 

Chill out, Winty…
Hi Guys,

Could someone please tell Sarah Winterburn to chill the f**k out.

Nobody with any sense is saying this Chelsea team is the finished article. There is a lot of work to be done and we do need to replace a few aging and outdated players.

That being said we are exceeding the expectations of almost everybody and the positives far outweigh the negatives for the time being.

May I also remind Sarah/F365 that Lampard didn’t declare himself the new Fergie so please stop using it as a stick to beat Chelsea/Lampard with.

Cheers
Conor, Dublin

 

Help save WSC
To all mailboxes and 365 staff,

I’m an extremely busy man, I often find myself thinking up a decent mail to send in on a current topic only to get sidelined by work etc and never getting around to it. But today I’m making sure I find the time to write on something very close to the heart.

I’m sure a lot of people here have heard of the wonderful When Saturday Comes monthly football magazine, and I’m sure there are fellow subscribers out there. In these days of the world wide interweb print writing is very much struggling. Progress some might say. While there are some excellent sites about, this one especially, there is a lot of dross drowning out the more traditional format which, because it is not free to access, has to be extra special to survive.

In this months copy the editorial spelt out just how difficult they are finding it to keep afloat. I dread the thought of it going under. I urge all readers to buy a copy of this months When Saturday Comes. You will not regret it. Most of you would consider a subscription for yourselves or as a great Christmas gift (this is how I got my first copy, Christmas present from mum in 2007).The writing is fantastic. It has helped launch the careers of many writers like Barney Ronay and Harry Pearson. It even played a part in campaigning against the implementation of football fan ID cards in the 80s

Please help keep a much loved institution in business and enjoy some top quality journalism to boot!

Yours hopefully,
Will (the analysis of Roy Keane on itv had me in stitches) CFC

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Tottenham attacker Son Heung-min has travelled with the squad for the Champions League trip to Red Star Belgrade.

The South Korean has been receiving support from his club following his involvement in the challenge that saw Everton midfielder Andre Gomes suffer a broken and dislocated ankle on Sunday.

Son, who was sent off for the tackle, was visibly distraught after seeing the extent of Gomes’ injury and was inconsolable after the match.

That led to some doubt over whether he would travel with Spurs for their vital Group B clash in Serbia, but he was part of the group that left from Stansted Airport on Tuesday lunchtime.

The club are understood to have appealed against the red card, which was awarded by VAR for “endangering the safety of a player which happened as a consequence of his initial challenge”.

Gomes received lengthy treatment on the field and underwent successful surgery on Monday, with Everton saying he is expected to make a full recovery.

Harry Kane was also part of the group that travelled, fit again after he missed the Goodison Park clash with a virus.

Erik Lamela was not present as he battles a thigh injury, while Hugo Lloris is also a long-term absentee.

Boss Mauricio Pochettino will face the media at the Rajko Mitic Stadium this evening.

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Wilfried Zaha has mocked the Daily Mail on social media over a report claiming the Crystal Palace winger was ready to sue his agent over a failed summer move.

Zaha was expected to leave Selhurst Park at the end of last season after helping keep the club in the Premier League during a second stint at the club that lasted five years.

The winger outlined his desire to leave in April and was thought to have held meetings with club chairman Steve Parish over his future.

But Zaha stayed at Palace after neither Arsenal nor Everton could match a valuation that seemed to fluctuate with each week, with £80million reportedly demanded at one point.

And the Daily Mail claimed on Monday evening that Zaha was ‘taking legal action against his agent’ over his ‘failure to secure him a transfer from Crystal Palace last summer’.

However, Zaha moved to deny the allegations on Twitter by laughing them off, he wrote: “do you lot sit and literally wonder what I’m up too then just make up stuff about me.”

 

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Calum Chambers
“I’m delighted Calum has extended his stay with us,” said Unai Emery in July 2018. “He played an important role last season and will be part of my plans this season.”

What the Arsenal manager failed to disclose is that his “plans” involved Calum Chambers taking his new Arsenal contract with him across the city to Fulham. But as strange as the apparent U-turn was, Emery’s justification that a second loan spell “will be an important part of his development” seems particularly pertinent.

While the 24-year-old added a second Premier League relegation to his CV at Craven Cottage, the boy returned as a man. A campaign that started with him featuring at centre-half included some brief sojourns at right-back before carving out a role in defensive midfield. Upon his being named Fulham’s Player of the Season, the club’s official website described him as ‘one of our most popular ever loanees’.

And so to Tuesday, where Chambers was in sensational form against Nottingham Forest, assisting a goal apiece from either flank and balancing his new-found attacking instincts with a defensive resolve not often seen in these parts. His physical improvement in particular was eye-opening.

Rob Holding, Kieran Tierney, Joe Willock, Reiss Nelson and Gabriel Martinelli all impressed at the Emirates, but only one player was “amazing” enough to be singled out by the manager. He might well have earned a start against Manchester United in their 12-12 draw on Monday.

 

Taylor Harwood-Bellis
‘Man City already have a Harry Maguire-style centre back in Taylor Harwood-Bellis’ read the Manchester Evening News summer headline. But if one performance in a League Cup third-round game against lower-league opposition is anything to go by, the 17-year-old will surpass his new city brethren within a month.

The comparison carries little weight beyond height, of course, with Harwood-Bellis marrying obvious aerial prowess with calm and comfort on the ball against Preston. Only fellow central defender Eric Garcia completed more passes (90) than his 84, and his partner on Tuesday was making a fourth League Cup start of his career, having appeared in last season’s quarter-final and semi-final.

Pep Guardiola saw fit to praise both of his “exceptional human beings” after the 3-0 win, but for a player who only turned 17 this year, a professional first-team debut was a monumental step forward.

Regular Premier League football remains a distant objective, and Fernandinho will likely return by the weekend. But Harwood-Bellis at least justified his place in the central defensive queue, even if it is towards the back after pushing in front of Guardiola himself.

 

Danny Ings
It’s safe to say that Danny Ings expected his Southampton career to go a little differently. His gentleman’s bet that he would outscore Mo Salah was “just a bit of banter” with no money involved, but a final result of 7-22 won’t have been great for his confidence.

There was a silver lining of 23 Premier League starts, a tally beaten only by his first campaign in the competition with Burnley in 2014/15 (35), and almost four times as many as he made throughout his entire Liverpool career (6). With those injury issues thankfully and hopefully behind him, the 27-year-old is looking to push on.

Ralph Hasenhuttl ensured to freshen his competition this season with the signings of Che Adams and Moussa Djenepo, but Ings has risen to the challenge. Two goals in the derby win over Portsmouth takes his seasonal tally to three with one assist and a respectable return.

Perseverance – and a quite wonderful first touch – laid on his first strike against Pompey, while the deft finish applied to Michael Obafemi’s excellent through ball made for a rather pleasing second, and a boyhood dream realised.

Hasenhuttl has started Adams as a lone striker and alongside Nathan Redmond in Saints’ last two Premier League games, with Ings afforded 16 and 13 minutes as a substitute. He will fancy his chances from the start against a panicky Tottenham on Saturday.

 

James Justin
Somewhat lost amid Leicester’s excellent start to the season is that continuity, not revolution, has been the key. The eight Foxes with the most minutes played were all at the club in 2018/19, with Ayoze Perez the only player in the top 13 not to have been signed this summer – January arrival Youri Tielemans notwithstanding.

While Dennis Praet will need more than one Premier League start and one and a half League Cup games to prove that his purchase was not at least a little pointless, James Justin will be afforded a considerable amount of time. The 21-year-old joined under no pretences: two of the Premier League’s best full-backs are well ahead of him and Ricardo Pereira and Ben Chilwell would both take some shifting. The versatility of being able to play on either flank mattered not.

So it proved. Six Premier League games have passed with Justin acclimatising to the bench as an unused substitute in each. Even against Newcastle in the League Cup second round he watched on from the sidelines. But when former club Luton played host to Leicester on Tuesday, Brendan Rodgers gave him the nod.

A goal, four chances created, two tackles, two clearances and what the Leicester Mercury described as ‘a dream debut’ justified the call. The opportunities for such a naturally gifted and supremely talented player will come, particularly if he makes a habit of taking them in such an impressive manner.

 

Dominic Calvert-Lewin
The standard of the opposition will likely be used as a stick to beat him rather than praise him with. There always tends to be an asterisk next to the name of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who is constantly willing but not always able.

Perhaps a Premier League defence would not have afforded him the freedom of Hillsborough to score his first goal, nor would they have suffered the lapse in concentration that preceded his second. But Calvert-Lewin showcased both a fine touch and unstoppable finishing technique, as well as an awareness and instinct to put Everton through to the next round.

It will take more than that to convince many of the sceptics, but only a fool would suggest the 22-year-old is responsible for a shoddy record at set-pieces and an inability to win away. Richarlison (17) and Gylfi Sigurdsson (15) are the only other Toffees to register double figures for goals in all competitions since the start of last season, with Calvert-Lewin – who neither cost upwards of £35m nor has been allowed to settle into one position – on 11.

Whether he is part of the solution remains to be seen – although every club tends to have a similar style of player in their ranks somewhere. But Calvert-Lewin is most certainly not the problem.

Matt Stead

 

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A tale of three managers
After yesterday’s fixtures it made me wonder who will be the first to leave their managerial post, Quique Sanchez Flores at halftime, Mauricio Pochettino after Spurs lose another lead or Marco Silva after yet another poor Everton performance.

Answers on a postcard of course.
Mikey, CFC 

 

And a fourth
Well that was the last straw.  I’ve stood by this City team through thick and thin but that was an utter disgrace.  I’m sorry but I can’t defend these overpaid, bone idle Prima Donnas anymore.  We mere mortals actually have to do REAL work for a living in order to pay through the nose for inflated ticket prices.  If we’re going to cough up these huge sums, then the VERY LEAST the team can do is entertain us.  What did we get yesterday instead?  Five goals in 18 minutes which was sort of all right, but they then go and make us wait a full 30 MINUTES for another goal?!  I mean, what planet are these players, sorry jokers, on?  Hang your head in shame Bernardo you lazy git and a certain someone needs to pull his finger out for more than just one in every 10 or 12 games.  Yeah, looking at you Kevin!

Guardiola needs to fine the whole lot two weeks wages and put ‘em out training with the kids for a month.  See how they like that.  And if Pep hasn’t got the cojones to do it then he can f*ck off as well and take his so-called ‘system’ with him and good riddance.
Mark (I mean, what has Guardiola ever done for us?  Apart from the trophies and the hundred points and losing just one PL game in the last 8 months and ……………….) MCFC.

 

Son’s crying
I advocated for VAR when others dismissed it’s positives before it was implemented.

But…

If Son is offside in the build up to Aurier’s goal, then I don’t want any part in this new reality.
James F, BCFC KRO

 

We were robbed.

The goal was quite possibly going to be the sucker punch to take the wind from Leicester’s sails, but instead, the Foxes got a new lease of life and new energy. Props to them for using it effectively, but for our part, don’t talk to me about professionalism or Spursy; it would be difficult for any human being to get over the unfairness of it.

When did the powers that be decide that VAR offside decisions should achieve better than inch-perfect accuracy? There are several reasons that would be ridiculous:

1) There is no way the picture resolution even allows for such perfectionism.

2) Do they check that the picture used is from the exact millisecond the ball ceased to be in contact with the passers foot?

3) Where does a person’s shoulder end and the arm start, when the arm is in a horizontal position? Or where a person’s buttocks exactly reside in their shorts? The rule itself is hardly accurate enough for this kind of scrutiny.

4) To do it properly with this accuracy, it takes way more time than these checks should take. This pause was already too long, and we can’t be sure they even got it right (see points 1 to 3).

They’re quick enough to find a frame that more or less depicts the offside situation. If that’s indecisive, just call it good. VAR has enough PR problems already without this kind of silliness.
Samuli, THFC, Helsinki (And yes, I do realize City got robbed against us similarly, though subjectively speaking, it may have been marginally less ridiculously perfectionist)

 

The other side
I am sure your still get scads of email about the disallowed Tottenham goal.  But before taking it all out on VAR, take a moment to recall all the horrible offside calls and no-calls that awarded goals or took away goal scoring chances. I’ll gladly take a hyper-legal ruling from VAR to avoid all the unfairness that happened before.

Regards,
David O, California

 

Don’t be Rash
Let me move clear of any rotten tomatoes flung my way by saying that I am not suggesting Rashford is anywhere close to Aguero’s class (Aguero has class while we are still debating if Rashford has quality) .

But seeing Man City’s rout of Watford yesterday I couldn’t help but notice that Aguero too squandered a lot of chances..a chip over the keeper that went the wrong side of the post.. a couple of tap ins at the keeper or into side netting.. but still he finished the match with a goal nevertheless from the penalty meaning his goal/minute ratio remains preserved. And he will finish most matches with atleast a goal purely because of the De Bruyne and Silvas masterclass behind him.

Rashford (or any other United Striker right now) on the other hand feeds on scraps every match.. and why wouldn’t they given the creative ability of the United midfield. Apart from having lesser chances each match to tuck one away its also making the strikers rusty.. its like expecting your first shot in a training session to be your best one..

And its not Rashford/Martial who are the first being accussed of not being clinical in front of goal… we have had some of the better finishers in Lukaku and Falcao also seeming worse than they are in this line up…

Improve this midfield.. and we may find Rashford or Martial or both seeming much more like proper CFs..
Akshay (Tottenham seemed to have joined the Arsenal and United party in doing their utmost to not finish in the top 4)

 

Celebrate good times. Come on!
Dear Sir or Madam,

I’ve had a few and I’m watching Saturday’s highlights.

They’re pretty depressing.

Remember being able to spontaneously celebrate goals?! That was cool huh? And kind of the whole point of being a football supporter…

HA!

Forget about that! Let’s get the rulers and the f*#÷@*  protractors out first. It turns out my GCSE maths teacher was right! Trigonometry IS important!

I was literally looking at a mathematical equation on my screen today when I thought I’d tuned in to watch Spurs play the bin robbers.

I’m at the point where if you remain an advocate of VAR, even a”Ooh it’s the rules that need to change,” defender of VAR, to me (Clive), you’re a tRump supporter! You’re a jolly Brexiteer.  You’re a climate change denier.

You’re trying to ruin something I love.

I wouldn’t want to have a drink with you and I don’t think you really understand what makes football exciting.

You know what? Football isn’t perfect. Refs aren’t perfect. But guess what? Life ain’t perfect. Deal with that. Don’t ruin it. It ain’t broke. Don’t fix it.

Enjoy the things that are joyful. Like f**king celebrating goals.

Peace and love
Al (Goal line tech fine! It’s black and white and it’s instantaneous and it’s fair. NOT a Luddite.) NFFC

 

(It’s because we have limited staff on weekends)
Hi

Is there a reason that F365 and the vast majority of the press isn’t reporting the news that Liverpool paid Manchester City £1m for illegally accessing City’s scouting software?

The Leeds United “spygate” was much much less sinister yet was the lead story on actual news bulletins, not just sport.

I get, as this site points out thankfully, that Liverpool are the Mother Teresa of modern football if you read certain sections of the press, but this blanket of silence is just beyond weird.
Gav, Edinburgh 

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