EPL & European Domestic League Round-up

23rd Sept 2019

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Manchester United and Everton may have started the season with different objectives but their respective managers will now be under some considerable pressure after this weekend. For United they travelled to West Ham and for the second consecutive time lost in London. The final score of 2-0 seemed pretty conclusive and the damning verdict came like wildfire from ex-players turned pundits including Gary Neville and Roy Keane. The problems according to them are in defence, the attitude of the players, and maybe it was a huge mistake in selling striker Romelu Lukaku to Inter Milan.

What they didn't mention was manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's odd decision to leave out Marcus Rojo who had performed well in the Europa League against Astana. Then there was youngster Mason Greenwood who scored his first goal for the club on the same night. Why not, at the very least, have Greenwood travel with the team to London; make him feel involved if nothing else. No Greenwood was left in Manchester to watch on the TV like the rest of us, and that just felt wrong. But the damning statement about United's defeat against the Hammers was that their opponents didn't play particularly well, a claim confirmed by their own fans. What does this mean? Have United fallen so low that teams do not even have to play at their maximum any more to get a result? Roy Keane concluded his anger by saying that no player in his time would have been talking about finishing in 4th place, if United end up in that very position this season it could be akin to a small miracle.

Solskjaer is a great footballing person and will always be loved at Old Trafford but one has to wonder now if he is the right person to lead the club? The statistics are damning. The Norwegian has just a 21% win rate which would average out over the season in United finishing with 34 points, that is clearly relegation form. Whilst nobody is suggesting United have that threat, the second coming as Solskjaer was initially thought of isn't going to happen. He is currently 7.00s to be sacked or leave.

Another manager under pressure will be Everton's Marco Silva who is in fact the favourite to be sacked next at 2.63. Much was expected of the club and they have brought in players such as Alex Iwobi from Arsenal and Moise Kean from Juventus, but it just isn't clicking for the side. Kean is not scoring goals, which it was hoped he would do and the players simply do not seem like they feel comfortable playing with one another. Does Silva know his best team? It's a good question, and it seems as though Everton will get worse before they get better. Losing to the likes of Aston Villa, Bournemouth and at home to Sheffield United just isn't good enough and doesn't bode well for the future. The club will face none other than Manchester City at the weekend, which will be another massive test of character. Whilst teams can expect to lose against City, it is how you do it, and no one wants a Watford rinse and repeat performance.

Liverpool beat Chelsea in the big Sunday game at Stamford Bridge to make it six wins out of six, 15 wins in a row for the Reds and just 1 defeat in their past 45 Premier League games. However many feel the match should have at least ended in a 2-2 draw. This is down to Cesar Azpilicueta's goal, which was then ruled out for offside. Mason Mount had a foot offside in the build up. For many VAR is being blamed and it has now become disheartening to see fans cheer a goal and then realise it isn't. Has that not just taken the instant pleasure out of a 100-year-old game?

However maybe VAR isn't to blame and the real culprit is the offside rule itself. Offside should stay and no one is suggesting otherwise, but when a player has half a foot, a bit of a nose or a hair offside, they are not trying to take advantage, not when it is that minimal. FA or UEFA please change these draconian rules, an inch or two, should not count, and the current rule is arguably ruining some of the game's brilliance.

Comeback of the weekend in the Premier League has to go to Arsenal who looked down and out at home against Aston Villa. Losing 2-1 and with Ainsley Maitland-Niles sent off they looked doomed. But they came back at the death to seal a dramatic 3-2 victory. One of the scorers was top joint goalscorer from last season Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang. Not much press goes out on the 30 year old but he is arguably one of the deadliest centre forwards in Europe right now. He scores goals, that's his job, and that was his 6th goal already this season. He is being quoted at odds of 6.00 to top the chart once again and that could be great value.

In France Neymar fever has gripped the country, the Brazilian is back playing with PSG after it seemed he would leave in the summer. All of this will he go or will he stay was too much for PSG's hardcore supporters, the ultras, who said that it would take a long time for the fans to forgive Neymar. Well it seems to have taken a week. In that time PSG have won two games by the same score of 1-0 and Neymar has got both of the goals, and what goals they were. A brilliant bicycle kick beat Strasbourg in the final minute and a solo effort was enough to see off a direct rival in Lyon at the weekend. Neymar may bring a bloated circus with him and fall down a lot but there is no denying how supremely gifted he is. PSG are lucky to have him.

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