EPL & European Domestic League Round-up

5th Sept 2019

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So nobody expected Manchester United and Chelsea to challenge for the Premier League title this season, but at this rate they will be lucky to finish in the top 4. Both clubs have failed to get off to good, positive starts and the worry is that it could continue.

Frank Lampard was never going to have an easy time as manager of Chelsea. With just one professional season behind him as manager of Derby in the Championship and a summer transfer ban, the odds were stacked against him. A 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Manchester United actually hasn't been their worst result. The focus should be the clubs results at home, in two games so far at Stamford Bridge they have drawn both. If this was against a direct top 4 rival at this stage of the season it could be accepted but the draws came against Leicester City and Premier League newcomers Sheffield United. What was so disheartening about the results, 1-1 against Leicester and 2-2 against Sheffield United is that in both cases the Blues were in the lead.

This isn't the Chelsea side of the past decade and even that team had its ups and downs just ask Jose Mourinho. But it's a worrying trend that Lampard's Chelsea keep getting clawed back. On a positive note and much like Manchester United, the team are playing some wonderful football and have lost just once this season.

Obviously it's early days and that is what Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is trying to tell himself. It's why he announced after the 1-1 draw at Southampton that his team are going in the right direction. It's true that United are playing some good football and on the attack they look super quick. Daniel James looks like a good buy and one for the future and he is scoring goals too. But there is no glossing over United's poor form and apart from their victory over Chelsea they have no wins in 3 games now. One can worry for United in the fact that they were so poor towards the back end of last season, and even if their play and tactics have improved on the eye, their results haven't.

Solskjaer and Lampard will be looking forward to the international break- unless key players get injured but it will give them a rest bite and hopefully come back stronger. Judging clubs and managers too harshly at the beginning of September seems churlish, but if things have not improved by mid October the pressure will be on them both. The Top two positions in the league will surely be reserved for Liverpool and Manchester City but 3rd and 4th do look up for grabs. United are priced up at 2.63 to finish in the top 4. Earlier this decade that price would have been closer to 1.30. Whilst Chelsea the champions in 2017 are 3.50.

The North London derby felt like a match of errors but at the same time Arsenal will take more from it than Tottenham. The game ended 2-2 at the Emirates which is two points dropped at home for the Gunners but what was impressive was Arsenal's response and they came back twice in the game to level. Both clubs still feel like taking each match cautiously trying to rack up the points and in Arsenal's case it is about returning to Champions League football, they are 1.72 to finish in the top 4.

It was interesting to see Everton manager Marco Silva go for it and go all out attack when he started with Richarlison, Alex Iwobi and Moise Kean, it paid dividends as not only did the Toffee men score 3 goals they beat a good team in Wolves in the process. There might be concern at the back as the final score ended 3-2 and with the 2-0 loss at Aston Villa the week before it means that Silva's side have conceded 4 goals in two games. But he won't mind if his side continue to score goals. Alex Iwobi in particular looks like being the clubs best buy from the summer. Kean is showing flashes but evidently it will take the Italian a little time to settle in.

Liverpool and Manchester City had routine wins, 3-0 for Liverpool over Burnley and the champions eased to a 4-0 win over Brighton. The only real negative story was Sadio Mane's reaction to his team mate Mohamed Salah who failed to pass to him when Mane was in a good position. Mane was then rightly substituted by Jurgen Klopp as he was so aggrieved. Liverpool will play the incident down as passion, but unless Salah and Mane can make up by the next game this one could run and run.

Sebastian Haller is doing very well at West Ham, he now has 3 goals already this season and could well be the missing link that the Hammers have needed over the years. Haller who came from Eintract Frankfurt scored again at the weekend as West Ham beat Norwich 2-0. Haller is odds of 41.00 to finish as top goalscorer. And it's tough at the top as Manchester City's Sergio Aguero has started what many believe to be his final season with the club, and he has already bagged 6 goals. Aguero is the favourite at 3.75.

Finally a big round of applause needs to go to Leicester City who looked good at the back end of last season and have started positive in this one with Brendan Rodgers in charge. They are unbeaten after 4 games and in 3rd place with 8 points, scoring 5 goals in their last two games and have already gone to Chelsea and claimed a draw.

In Spain Gareth Bale was the centre of attention again as Real Madrid could only draw 2-2 against Villarreal. However Bale got both of Madrid's goals, that was the good news for Zinedine Zidane. The bad news is that he let everything get to him and rounded off his one man match by getting sent off. Still Zidane had praise for him, and that seemingly broken relationship looks on the mend. A proper rival not just for Real Madrid but also Barcelona is Atletico Madrid. They stunned Eibar by coming back from two goals down to win 3-2, and scored a goal in the last minute. They have gone top of the league as a result. Atletico are 8.00 to win La Liga and that looks like a great price.

In France what was expected never happened and Neymar will stay with PSG at least until January but more likely the whole season. Barcelona and Real Madrid the two teams reported to be interested in him could not offer PSG what they wanted and a stalemate ensued. Some stories are suggesting that Neymar was willing to personally pay 20m euros to get himself out of Paris. But how will Neymar staying affect the club? It should on paper be a positive one, and they need him with injuries to Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani. However there is clearly friction between Mbappe and Neymar and Mbappe wants to be seen as the main player at the club. Also how will fans feel - are they just supposed to switch themselves back on and cheer on a player, who, no matter how technically gifted does not want to play for the club.

Domestic football will take a break until mid September as the Euro 2020 qualifiers take place amongst some friendlies. On Friday Germany will take on the Netherlands in what looks to be the pick out of the first batch of games. Club football will be back with a bang from September 17th as the Champions League and Europa League return.

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