With the domestic leagues taking a break attentions have turned to international football and the second edition of the Nations League. England made the semi-finals last time out but have been knocked out at the group stage this time. The final straw came with a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Belgium.
Gareth Southgate's team had beaten the Belgians 2-1 at Wembley last month but this latest defeat put England into 3rd place and it seems that the teams 1-0 defeat against Denmark last month was telling. So whilst it is disappointing news that England have exited a competition it should be big news and Southgate should be getting criticised by the media as per se. However that hasn't materialised. Could it be that truly no one really cares about the Nations League? The column inches by the UK media not deliberating and going through minute by minute analysis as to what went wrong with England in the competition is speaking volumes.
One could argue that no one wants to talk about failure, but that is not how the media works, they can at times almost revel in failure of the national team, and it seems as though Southgate and England have simply been given a pass- maybe the Nations League is just one competition too many in an ever increasing fixture list.
It is a competition that does seem already deflated and next year does not help given that the genuine 'Nations League' Euro 2021 will be taking place in the summer. This means that the Nations League semi finals and final, which would usually take place in June has been pushed back to October. So if one takes the group stages as some kind of quarter final path to the knock out stages then the qualifying nations will have to wait almost a year to play again. Make of that what you will.
The defeat by Belgium did overshadow the friendly win over Republic of Ireland, a good 3-0 victory that saw Harry Maguire open the scoring and recently called up Dominic Calvert-Lewin scoring another international goal.
The Premier League is back this weekend and we take this opportunity to look at the best 4 performing players for each position so far this season:
Goalkeeper: Rui Patricio-Wolves
Wolves - Only 3 goalkeepers have kept 4 clean sheets this season and one of them is Rui Patricio of Wolves. In 50% of his games he has not conceded a goal and at home Wolves have one of the best defensive records in the league conceding just four times.
Defender: Ben Chilwell- Chelsea
There were a few contenders for best defender but hats off to Ben Chilwell making the move from Leicester to Chelsea where there is a lot of expectation this season and he has played like he's been at the Blues for several seasons. He's helped keep 3 clean sheets and scored 2 goals and also assisted in a further two.
Midfielder: Jack Grealish- Aston Villa
There has been hype surrounding Jack Grealish for some time, but this season we are seeing the best of the player. He has been Villa's best player during a superb start to the campaign for the club. Grealish has already scored 4 goals and set up another five and he has transferred that form into the England national side too. His team mates will be hoping that he can stay consistent this season and have a memorable one.
Forward: Harry Kane- Tottenham
Even though Heung-Min Son, Jamie Vardy and Dominic Calvert-Lewin have 1 more goal than Kane, there can be no denying Kane's overall influence on Tottenham this season that has the media wondering if the London club can win their first league title in 60 years. Kane has scored 7 goals but also assisted in a stunning 8 more and we haven't played 9 games yet. He could be in line to have his personal best season of his career so far.
Finally the world of football lost a legend of the game at the weekend when Ray Clemence passed away aged 72. Clemence spent the majority of his playing career at Liverpool winning an incredible 16 trophies which included 3 European Cups and 5 league titles. He also played over 200 times for Tottenham and is remembered fondly at both clubs. Ray Clemence R.I.P.