Pundit Stephen Warnock believes Chelsea’s recent signings might be struggling to adapt because of the ‘difficult’ pandemic we are currently in.

Hakim Ziyech, Timo Werner and Kai Havertz all featured in the 3-1 defeat to Man City yesterday.

Werner looked out of his depth up front, while Ziyech was singled out for criticism by Graeme Souness.

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The defeat revealed just how much Chelsea need to improve in order to become genuine title challengers.

It also put pressure on current boss Frank Lampard, who desperately needs some victories soon to turn their fortunes around.

Warnock has now revealed his take on the situation at Stamford Bridge. Speaking about the selection against Man City, he told Sky Sports: “I think what was disappointing for Chelsea fans yesterday was the fact there was no striker in the team. He put Timo Werner through the middle.

“For me he’s not a striker. He’s a left sided player, that’s where he always liked to play for RB Leipzig to come in off that left wing. He does it for Germany as well.

“He’s not a great link up player, he’s not great with his back to goal. So I think that [selection] frustrated Chelsea fans yesterday.”

Speaking about the summer signings, Warnock said: “Chelsea are obviously having a very tough time of late. Arguably the best player they’ve signed this year didn’t cost a penny, Thiago Silva.

“And you do get judged on your signings and how quickly they can adapt to situations.

“This is a very difficult time for players to settle in though. They can’t go out in the streets and wonder around to get to know their surroundings. They’re pretty much stuck in their rooms trying to protect themselves from Covid-19.

“It must be a very lonely time and a difficult time for them. However, players at different clubs have adapted to the situation.”

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Posted in EPL, FA Premier League

Pep Guardiola has heaped praise on Ralph Hasenhuttl and Southampton before they face off on Saturday at St Mary’s.

The Saints sit third in the Premier League table after 13 games. Their fantastic start to the new campaign has included seven wins, three draws and three defeats.

Hasenhuttl’s side have picked up impressive victories over Aston Villa and Everton. They have also earned admirable draws against Chelsea and Arsenal.

Cheeky tips both Man City and Arsenal to lose

Southampton are unbeaten in three Premier League games, which leaves them four points adrift of Liverpool at the top of the table.

Next up for Hasenhuttl’s men is Man City at home this Saturday. Guardiola takes his City side down to Southampton after consecutive draws in the league against Man United and West Brom.

During his pre-match press conference, Guardiola insisted that Southampton’s great start to the new season comes as no surprise:

“Southampton have an exceptional manager. I know him a little bit from my time in Germany. He was at many clubs, Leipzig played in a specific style.

“He has experience at the back and one of the best midfielders in the Premier League, [Oriol] Romeu. They have James Ward-Prowse, incredible player in set pieces.

“So no surprise in their success. Southampton for many, many years have been working well – so no surprise.”

So with Spurs looking to recover, Leeds looking for satisfaction, Southampton looking to keep going and Arsenal looking for just literally anything, you could call this a Big Weekend.

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Posted in EPL, FA Premier League

Paris St Germain and Istanbul Basaksehir sent a powerful anti-racism message before their rescheduled Champions League match at Parc des Princes as their players all took a knee.

The Group H fixture was halted on Tuesday night after 13 minutes, with both sets of players walking off the pitch 10 minutes later with the score at 0-0 after the fourth official, Romanian Sebastian Coltescu, was accused of using a racist term towards Basaksehir assistant manager Pierre Webo.

Webo, who had been sent off amid the incident on Tuesday, was allowed to take his place on the away bench, with his red card suspended while UEFA investigates what happened.

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The governing body has announced the appointment of an Ethics and Disciplinary Inspector to look into the events and has said it will impose “appropriate sanctions” if the official is found guilty.

A new set of officials were in charge for Wednesday’s game, with Dutchman Danny Makkelie appointed as referee.

Both sets of players and the officials, who all took a knee around the centre circle during the Champions League anthem, wore “no to racism” t-shirts in the warm-up, while anti-racism banners were placed in the stands around the stadium.

The match restarted in the 13th minute with a free-kick to Basaksehir just inside their own half.

PSG, assured of qualification on Tuesday night after Manchester United’s defeat by RB Leipzig in Germany, reached the knock-out stages with a comprehensive 5-1 victory.

Neymar scored a hat-trick and Kylian Mbappe netted twice, with Mehmet Topal getting a consolation for the Turkish champions.

Two first-half goals from Karim Benzema helped Real Madrid to a 2-0 victory against Borussia Monchengladbach as the 13-time winners of the competition finished top of Group B.

Monchengladbach qualify as runners up after Inter Milan and Shakhtar Donetsk contested a goalless draw at the San Siro.

Atletico Madrid are through after a 2-0 win at Red Bull Salzburg. Goals from Mario Hermoso and Yannick Carrasco saw the Spanish side finish second in Group A behind holders Bayern Munich, who rounded off their group campaign with a 2-0 home success against Lokomotiv Moscow.

Second-half goals from Niklas Sule and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting extended Bayern’s unbeaten run in the competition to 17 matches.

Liverpool sealed top spot in Group D with a 1-1 draw against Midtjylland as Mohamed Salah eclipsed Steven Gerrard as the Reds’ top scorer in the Champions League.

The Egypt international struck after just 55 seconds but Alexander Scholz’s VAR-awarded 62nd-minute penalty denied Jurgen Klopp’s side victory.

Atalanta finished second in the group after Luis Muriel’s late strike gave the Serie A side a 1-0 win at Ajax, who had Ryan Gravenberch sent off shortly before the goal.

Second-half goals from Ferran Torres, Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling saw Group C winners Manchester City round off with a 3-0 home victory against Marseille.

Porto follow Pep Guardiola’s team through after their 2-0 win at Olympiacos – Monteiro Otavio and Mateus Uribe scored the goals for the Portuguese. The hosts had Ruben Semedo sent off late on.

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Man City attacker Ferran Torres scored a hat-trick as Spain battered Germany 6-0, as Portugal left it late to beat 10-man Croatia 3-2.

Alvaro Morata broke the deadlock in the 17th minute with a towering back-post header from a corner – but then saw another close-range effort ruled out for a debatable offside call.

Manchester City winger Torres made it 2-0 after 33 minutes when he volleyed the ball in after Dani Olmo’s header hit the crossbar.

Germany, who had only needed a draw to win the group, fell further behind just five minutes later when City midfielder Rodri nodded in from a corner.

Spain captain Sergio Ramos – who saw two penalties against Switzerland saved – was forced off just before half-time with what appeared to be a hamstring problem.

It was 4-0 after 54 minutes when Spain left-back Jose Gaya made the most of some uncharacteristic wayward German defending to set up another for Torres.

The City winger completed his hat-trick with 18 minutes left when he curled a first-time shot past Manuel Neuer.

Substitute Mikel Oyarzabal knocked in a late sixth to complete a memorable victory for La Roja.

Relegation in the group is still to be decided after Switzerland’s clash with Ukraine in Lucerne has was called off following more positive Covid-19 tests in the visitors’ camp.

France had already made sure of their place in the last-four tournament, and finished off their A3 campaign with a 4-2 win over Sweden, who are relegated to League B.

Sweden had taken an early lead at Stade de France through a deflected shot from Viktor Claesson after just four minutes.

Chelsea forward Olivier Giroud soon equalised, before right-back Benjamin Pavard made it 2-1 in the 36th minute after Marcus Thuram’s shot was blocked.

Substitute Kylian Mbappe teed up Giroud to head home his second just before the hour.

Robin Quaison struck a late consolation for the Swedes, but Kingsley Coman had only been on for a few minutes when he scored a fourth for Les Bleus in stoppage time.

Portugal, the inaugural Nations League winners, scored a late winner from Manchester City defender Ruben Dias to sign off with a 3-2 win over Croatia, who finished with 10 men in Split.

Mateo Kovacic put the home side ahead when he tucked in a rebound after 29 minutes, but Croatia – who themselves could have been relegated if results went against them – had Marko Rog sent off for a second caution soon after the restart.

Manchester City defender Dias equalised in the 52nd minute with his first international goal, with Joao Felix adding a second for Portugal on the hour.

Kovacic hauled the World Cup runners-up level five minutes later, but Dias sealed victory for Portugal when he capitalised on a fumble from the Croatia goalkeeper.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, Montenegro secured promotion as winners of group C1 after a 4-0 victory over Cyprus, who are relegated, while Luxembourg and Azerbaijan played out a goalless draw.

Gibraltar are promoted from D2 after a 1-1 draw at home against Liechtenstein, while the Faroe Islands are also set to move up to League C after a 1-1 draw away at Malta put them top in D1.

Latvia won 5-0 at Andorra, who finished with 10 men and sit bottom of D1.

Just about all of the greatest uncapped Premier League players ever were pursued by England. And only four of them were English.

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