How To Improve Nearly Perfect: Liverpool’s Ideal Offseason

Liverpool just capped a season in which they amassed 99 points (2nd most in history), won three trophies including their first Premier League title in 30 years, and seem destined to be title contenders for the next few seasons at least. So, the fan base is happy and satisfied, surely?

https://twitter.com/LFCLiverbird96/status/1290369067925340160?s=20

tenor

Look, I get the frustration. A lot of people simply want a top tier team like Liverpool, one of the 10 or so biggest brands in any sport in the world, to go out and buy top tier talent, without worrying about the owners’ purse strings. That’s all well and dandy, but FSG run a business first, and they won’t spend money unless it’s a smart investment. How on earth people can not comprehend that blows my mind to Kingdom Come. You also understand the flip side, that the fans don’t want the owners to be complacent and say “Job well done” and simply stop investing. If you can say anything about Liverpool fans, it’s that everything they do comes from a one-two combo of deep-rooted love for their club and fear of being hurt by them.

So, with all of that said, how does a team that just had a near perfect season carry that momentum into the offseason? Below I take a look at some transfer targets that both fit the mold of an FSG buy and Klopp player profiles.

Left Back

Today, Melissa Reddy reported that Liverpool have made contact over a $10 million purchase of Jamal Lewis. Naturally, this is where Liverpool have done some of their best business of late, snatching up Gini Wijnaldum and Andy Robertson from relegated sides. Speaking of Robertson, let’s compare the two:

Screen Shot 2020-08-04 at 8.16.41 PM

These numbers compare Lewis’ season to that of Robertson’s 16-17 season with Hull City. While not quite the attacking force Robertson is, he does complete a higher number of passes, has shown a willingness to carry it forward with his passing, and actually created the same number of big chances despite 1/3 of the crossing rate. While not particularly suited to be a starter, he’s more than capable as a reliable cover, magnified by the fact that outside of Robertson, Liverpool have had no true left back behind him.

Centre Back

With Dejan Lovren out of the picture, having moved to Zenit St. Petersburg in an $11 million move, Liverpool will need another man in the middle to replace him. Ki-Jana Hoever and Sepp Van Den Berg are tantalizing prospects, but still a few years away from making a true impact in defense. So, who is there to replace him? There are a number of options that would be cheap and reliable. Malang Sarr would represent brilliant business, as the left-footed centre back can also play left back (versatility is a big plus for a Klopp profile). He’s currently a free agent after playing his entire career with Nice in France, and to get him on a Bosman would be shrewd, as the player is currently linked to Arsenal and AC Milan. He has a similar passing skillset to Joe Gomez, and comes with plenty of experience with over 100 matches under his belt, including playing in both UEFA competitions.

Mohamed Simakan would also represent a good piece of business, and with the defender valued at around $13 million, would be right on the edge of the bargain bin. Like Sarr, he has versatility (having also plied his trade as a right back) and he fits the age profile, having just turned 20 years old. While not blessed with great pace – a potential issue given how high a defensive line Klopp likes to play – he’s more than capable as a 4th centre back behind Matip as he develops.

Midfield

Okay, let’s get the obvious one out of the way. Thiago Alacantara would be a ridiculous addition to a pretty stacked midfield. While he actually represents the antithesis of an FSG purchase (29 years old, injury history, bought from a big club), he would add another dimension to the Liverpool attack. While Naby Keita is now the creative force in this midfield, he can’t be trusted to stay healthy at the minute. Thiago would represent an elite option in midfield with the ability to unlock defenses unlike anybody Liverpool have had since Coutinho’s departure. The biggest benefit of Thiago would be that it adds another way for Liverpool to attack you. Everybody knows that Liverpool aim to break you down with aggressive counter-pressing and through their full backs, but Thiago adds that extra bit of oomph to a midfield that can – at times – struggle for creativity. After a relatively uninspiring season, I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Reds pass on him for somebody else if Bayern will not accept their terms.

Who else could they bring in? Good midfielders don’t come cheap, so one player that could be worth splashing the cash on would be Rodrigo Bentancur from Juventus. The 23 year old Argentinian had a solid season, amassing 7 assists in 30 appearances. He’s a hard worker who can play at the base of a midfield if necessary, and while his effort gets him in trouble (he also had 9 yellow cards in those appearances), he does everything a Klopp player should do, however he would likely come in at about $40-$50 million, so don’t exactly count on this. If you’re looking for a cheaper option, might I present Wendel from Sporting Lisbon. The Brazilian U-23 player made 28 appearances for the Portuguese giants this season, scoring 3 times and assisting twice. While he was outshone by his partner Bruno Fernandes, he was more the thunder to Bruno’s lightning. His hard work off the ball made a lot of Fernandes’ skillset work for Sporting. Given that he would only likely cost $20-$30 million, he would be an excellent replacement for Gini Wijnaldum, who is going into the last year of his contract.

Forwards

My favorite link to the Reds by far is Ismaila Sarr, from recently relegated Watford. Sarr is a good friend of Sadio Mane, who famously told Troy Deeney to “take care of his boy” after a Liverpool victory in December. Sarr then took care of Liverpool, eviscerating them and keying the victory that ended Liverpool’s perfect season. While not a perfect player, he’s the archetype of a Klopp player.

Screen Shot 2020-08-04 at 9.16.28 PM

Given the gulf between this year’s Watford side and a 15-16 Southampton team that finished 6th in the league, it might not be fair to compare Sarr’s season to Sadio Mane’s last year on the South shore, but there was a lot of promise. Sarr put up comparable assist totals, big chances created, and pass completion percentage, and actually put more balls in the box than Mane (who did play as a striker at times that season, to be fair). Given Watford’s relegation, it would make sense for Liverpool to bid at around $24 million, and hope that Watford bite as they begin clearing their wage bill for the Championship. Sarr is a less direct player than Mane, but his game changing speed can rip teams open, as Mane made clear to Andy Robertson before last season.

Were Sarr not to be available, look for one of Bayer Leverkusen’s brilliant wingers Leon Bailey and Moussa Diaby to be an option. Both players have pace to burn, and Bailey has an extra bonus of being a set-piece taker on his left, which would give Liverpool a dearth of options with him and Trent Alexander-Arnold. Bailey is a genius with the football, and his intelligence can not go understated. Bailey has been linked to every top club under the sun, but Diaby is a bit more understated, and would probably come at a cheaper cost. A final option could be Goncalo Guedes, otherwise known as the man opposite Ferran Torres, Man City’s newest winger. Guedes can play up front as well which would be a big add given Divock Origi’s likely hit his ceiling and Rhian Brewster may need one more loan spell, and Guedes has a silky touch that’s reminiscent of Bobby Firmino that would really help link play.

 

And that’s it! Tune in later this week as I run through each Premier League team’s ideal offseason.

Matchweek 4 Recap

Burnley 0-3 Liverpool

Liverpool went to Turf Moor and came away with a relatively easy 3 points. Burnley is not a fun place to play, and they double down on their defensive style against teams in Liverpool’s mold. Liverpool’s high line stifled Burnley’s counter attacking chances, while their front 3 were clinical on the attacking end. Liverpool did what they do best—force teams to make mistakes and then crush them under the pressure and finish your chances. 12 points out of 12 is the start the Reds needed if they were going to push Man City this season, and they’ve done so perfectly. Oh, and don’t overreact to the Mane-Salah row. Every player wants to score, and having that selfish and biting attitude can help, as long as the bomb is diffused and the squad remains focused.

Southampton 1-1 Manchester United

What a brutal game. Even after Southampton went down to 10 men, there was never really a feeling that the Red Devils would capitalize. Daniel James continues to be a revolution for the Mancs, providing pace, creativity, and—most importantly—goals. For Southampton, they conceded early, then weathered the storm and fought back to grab an equalizer, and then followed that up with resiliency when they went down to 10 men with almost 20 minutes left in regulation. A promising sign after a rough start in the league for them. United look to be in real trouble, and OGS’s seat continues to heat up.

Chelsea 2-2 Sheffield United

Sheffield United, Comeback Kings? Apparently! They’ve now scored an 80th minute or longer equalizing goal in 2 of their first 4 games of the year. You love to see a team have that never-say-die mentality, especially from a promoted side. They went down 2-0 at Stamford Bridge and fought back to get a point. As for Chelsea, Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham continue to look the part and fulfill their potential. The manner in which they lost points is concerning, but these types of mistakes are to be expected with a new manager and a young squad. Time and experience are the best teachers, and they will grow from this.

Crystal Palace 1-0 Aston Villa

Okay, where to start. Jordan Ayew is actually quite good, and is proving to be better business than originally thought. He’s clearly a better player at the moment than the incumbent Christian Benteke, and he’s bagged a goal in his last two games. Now, Villa have every right to feel like they were robbed here. The yellow card for simulation given to Jack Grealish was horrible, and Villa were robbed of a late tying goal after fighting so hard with 10 men. The signs are there that this is a fine Premier League side, but luck has just not been their forte. They’re going to need some good fortune to keep them at this level.

Leicester 3-1 Bournemouth

Leicester continue to impress. With so many uninspiring sides—especially in the Big Six—Leicester have shown tremendous consistency to start the season. In fact, they’re rated by Sky Sports as the third best team in the league at the moment. Forget about breaking into the top 6, Leicester look like a legitimate Champions League threat at the moment. Bournemouth’s slow start continues, as they have now only amassed 4 points so far. The Cherries should be fine moving forward, as their slate of games is not particularly daunting, but you have to be concerned if they find themselves in a similar place at the end of September.

Manchester City 4-0 Brighton

Ho-hum, City dominance. Their brilliance is so routine that it’s almost becoming underrated, not unlike Sergio Aguero. The Tottenham debacle aside, they’ve started the season right where they’ve left off after the last 76 games of Premier League action. That’s a frightening preposition in what’s starting to become a legitimate domestic dynasty. I don’t have much to say about Brighton here. It’s not their fault they wandered into the world-beating machine that is Manchester City. Newcastle away is their next league fixture, and they have to get a point there to continue their feel-good start to the year.

Newcastle 1-1 Watford

Are Watford going to be relegated? It’s starting to trend that way after the first month of the season. Now sitting on one (1) point all year, their September starts with a home match against Arsenal and a trip to the Etihad. I’d say that’s daunting. Newcastle showed up, conceded immediately, equalized before half, and that was the end of that. A rather dull affair in a weekend filled with other tantalizing games.

West Ham 2-0 Norwich

Don’t look now, but here come the Hammers! Two wins on the bounce and a September filled with games against down-on-their-luck Villa, a crumbling Manchester United, and Bournemouth mean that they could very well be on a 5 game streak heading into October. Sebastian Haller looks the part of a killer striker in the league, and West Ham holding a clean sheet are great signs moving forward. Norwich gave their all but alas, Teemu Pukki couldn’t get on the scoresheet. They’ve had a good start to the season, and after their trip to the Etihad they get Burnley and Palace. They should be able to get some more points in those games moving forward.

Everton 3-2 Wolves

This was an incredible game, it had everything. A late winner, high scoring, even a red card! Everton have to be feeling good right now, and Richarlison came through for them as he did so often last year. They want to rely on him less, but it’s always nice to see your star produce like he did with his brace. Wolves played well and didn’t break, but another tough result leaves them in a difficult place with European football on the horizon. This was built up as a match between two evenly matched teams trying to break into the upper echelon of English football, and they showed just why that’s the case. Promising signs from both sides, but you’ve got to be feeling better if you’re a Toffee’s fan.

Arsenal 2-2 Tottenham

The game of the week. The North London Derby. The Big One. And it lived up to all of the hype. Tottenham looked inferior until they got their first to break the deadlock, and it looked like it could get extremely ugly at The Emirates once it became 2-0. But Arsenal showed a type of fight that we haven’t seen from them since the Prime Wenger years. It was that type of fight that stopped Liverpool from blowing them out at Anfield, and they used it again to dig deep and come back in an emotional hard fought game, though it has to be disappointing to have conceded the goals in the manner in which they did (Leno error and Xhaka being Xhaka).

Tottenham have got to be disappointed, and quite frankly, have struggled tremendously. They might not yet be the title contenders we all thought before the season, and Poch might have brought this team to its ceiling. The Eriksen deal is clearly weighing on him, and the squad just doesn’t seem confident as they usually do. Poch has to right the ship and soon, because it’s starting to get worrisome as more and more teams continue to show the gulf between the Big Two of Liverpool and City and the rest of the pack.

 

Premier League Matchweek 3 Recap

Aston Villa 2-0 Everton

Aston Villa finally got their season off the mark with a win over a generally listless Everton side at Villa Park. For Villa, Tyrone Mings and Jota absolutely bossed this match from the beginning. Everton couldn’t get past the brawny Villa center back, and Jota was a menace on the right wing, constantly troubling the Toffee’s with his pace and trickery. It’s good for Villa to finally get the result that their performances have warranted, and can now turn their focus to staying up. For Everton, who want to consider themselves a big club, and have the financial backing to do so, but in order to break into that upper echelon of clubs you have to go on the road and win these games. They didn’t and frankly weren’t all that close to doing so. Another disappointing performance leave them asking questions on the blue half of Merseyside, and left a lot to be desired. Andre Gomes got the run-around in the middle of the park, and there was a distinct lack of clinical finishing up front.

Norwich 2-3 Chelsea

Pesky Norwich is going to have a lot of these types of games this season. Seriously, start hammering their overs until they show you otherwise. Teemu Pukki has now scored or assisted on 100% of Norwich’s goals this season. That’s *checks notes* very impressive, sample size be damned. If he goes down with a knock, it’s hard to see Norwich getting much out of the rest of their squad. For Chelsea, Frank Lampard finally gets his first managerial win. His plan is in place and the trust that he’s shown his younger players is really starting to pay dividends, with Tammy Abraham netting a brace and Mason Mount scoring for his second consecutive game. There will be ups and downs this season, and Chelsea’s defending looks not too far off from a Sunday league team’s, but there are positives. A net positive for everybody involved in this game, as Norwich have hung with two of the “Big Six” with a solid second half performance against Liverpool and now a good showing against Chelsea.

Brighton 0-2 Southampton

A moment of silence for my Brighton To Win The Premier League future bet. After being ousted by Southampton, I’m not feeling uber confident in that. But truth be told, they were due for a letdown, and it’s unfortunate to have come against a struggling Southampton team desperate for points. It would have been nice for Brighton to have 5 or even 7 points going into the Etihad this weekend, but not all hope is lost–they’re still undefeated when they have 11 men on the field! Southampton, on the other hand, now have some momentum going forward after a difficult couple of weeks, and can breathe easy now that they’re on the board. They were again unimpressive, but now have some points to hold onto, which is the most important thing when you think about being a potential relegation candidate.

Manchester United 1-2 Crystal Palace

How about the Eagles? Crystal Palace conceded a late equalizer, and it looked like their torrid start might continue, but they came to Old Trafford and squeezed the life out of the game for large portions, and found a winner from their marauding left back Patrick van Aanholt. Now, onto Manchester United. Is this bad? A lot of people are saying this is bad:

Yeah, that’s bad. OGS now finds himself FIRMLY on the hot seat in Manchester, and it only took 3 games. None of United’s stars came to play, and it took an equalizer from a 21 year old kid from Swansea to give ANY semblance of energy to the crowd. It’s a lot of doom and gloom at Old Trafford this season already, and bringing Mason Greenwood off the bench as your first sub (talented as he may be), shows the lack of depth at United. Apparently, Harry Maguire can’t fix everything overnight.

Sheffield 1-2 Leicester

It wasn’t overly impressive, but Leicester have their first win in a hugely promising season. They’re still clicking, and it seems Brendan Rodgers is still figuring out his best team, but they absolutely have the pieces to wreak some havoc. Ayoze Perez was a stellar signing and James Maddison has “Future Star” written all over him. Their back 4 is still a major issue (sans Ben Chilwell), but they can hit anybody on the counter and have started to evolve into a much better possession-based team. Sheffield tried, but they just didn’t have the firepower to get a second goal, and they lack the strength at the back requisite to holding onto results against sides like Leicester. They have fight and spirit in spades, and they’re going to need every bit of it week-in and week-out to stay up.

Watford 1-3 West Ham

West Ham are finally on the board. In the battle of the winless, the Hammers finally got their win. Sebastien Haller looked every bit of the physical, dominating presence they were hoping for up front when they broke their club record fee to sign him, and was clinical in his finishing. This might be the breakthrough they were hoping for and can now turn their attention to moving up the table with Norwich’s shaky defense and Aston Villa around the corner. As for Watford, they are now the sole team to have 0 points through three games. After so many mid-table finishes, Watford are now leaking at the back and having serious trouble scoring, and they seem to be in very real trouble. Only 3 games in, but it’s time to worry. Last year, 2 teams were winless through three games. The now relegated Fulham and West Ham, so it’s not all bad, but they need to right this ship quickly. Newcastle next week is now a must-win, because they cannot go into a 3 game stretch of Arsenal-Man City-Wolves with no points.

Liverpool 3-1 Arsenal

Some things are temporary – pain, high school relationships, the denim phase we all had in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. Some things are permanent – scars, college relationships, and Anfield being a House of Horrors for the Gunners. Unai Emery came into Merseyside playing a diamond midfield and a front two, and promptly got run out of the building by the Liverpool fullbacks and the brilliant Mo Salah. This result is disappointing considering the optimism at Arsenal, but there’s no shame in losing at Anfield. You just wish it was because the squad got outclassed on the day, not tactical decision making that did it.

Nicolas Pepe was strong on the wing (he became the first player to dribble past Van Dijk in FIFTY GAMES), but Aubemeyang was virtually invisible. His only serious impact was a blocked shot on goal that was only blocked because he was run down by Joel Matip, who is unequivocally the most exciting player in the world (though he was probably offside anyways). It was the Mo Salah show for Liverpool though, as he eviscerated Arsenal time and time again. David Luiz is probably still looking for him after that turn for Salah’s second goal that ultimately sealed the game. Also, Roberto Firmino did this…in the middle of a game… against Real Madrid loanee Dani Ceballos… who many people were saying looked like Santi Cazorla the week before. Liverpool are now the only Premier League side that’s perfect through 3 weeks. 42 straight unbeaten at Anfield, the place is a fortress.

Build him a statue and immortalize this, because had this been a goal the entire city of Liverpool might have collapsed inside itself like a dying star, or a sinkhole in any random Florida county.

Bournemouth 1-3 Manchester City

Good for Pep Guardiola, who needed this win desperately after finding himself on the hot seat after last weeks draw (I kid, obviously). Another win in the books for the sky blues. Kevin de Bruyne could pick a pass out of a coffin, and Raheem Sterling only scored one goal. Sergio Aguero remains one of the three (two? One?) best strikers in Premier League history, and will never slow down. I don’t have much to say about Bournemouth, who certainly made a game of it for a while, which is impressive in it’s own right against the class of the league, so instead I’m going to show you this clip and hope that you never stop watching it.

I’ve thought about this goal twice an hour every day since it happened. Harry Wilson only scores screamers.

Tottenham 0-1 Newcastle

Oh, Tottenham. If you look at their season from a wider perspective, these are how their first 3 games line up:

Matchweek 1 – needed a Christian Eriksen masterclass to squeak by newly promoted Aston Villa.

Matchweek 2 – outshot 30-3 and got a point based off of an incredibly tight and controversial rule.

Matchweek 3 – lost. At home. To Steve Bruce’s Newcastle.

They could just as easily have 0 points. They need to figure things out in their midfield, get Christian Eriksen to sign a contract by any means necessary (or sell him, but it’s too late to do so with the window closed in England), and get their back line in order. The fullbacks have been thoroughly unimpressive, and the front line wildly inconsistent, even with the return of Son.

Newcastle weren’t lucky here. They were incredibly compact the entire game and frustrated the life out of Tottenham from start to finish. They capitalized on their best chance of the game, and constricted a Tottenham attack that had no idea how to create elite chances (bar one cross from Harry Kane to Lucas). They fully deserved all 3 points, and deserve even more credit for getting them amidst the very real turmoil at the club.

Wolves 1-1 Burnley

The less said about this game the better, but a big shout out to Ashley Barnes. He remains a deadly striker, and can absolutely kill a team with minimal chances to do so.

Wolves have looked uninspiring to start the year, and they need to start winning some games before their European obligations start kicking in. I’m not worried about them as I am a team like Watford, but I think expectations were a little fluffed for a team that didn’t do too much to strengthen their best XI.

-Jared Gosule

Matchweek 2 Recap

Arsenal 2-1 Burnley

Arsenal continued their bright start to the season with another one-goal victory, this one over Sean Dyche’s Burnley. Arsenal’s Big 2 up front each netted a goal, but this is more about their much maligned defense. Ashley Barnes and Burnley presented a tough, physical threat, and though Barnes got on the scoresheet with a 43rd minute equalizer, Arsenal’s defense held its own for the most part. The big takeaway here is that Dani Ceballos is as good as advertised, and slotted perfectly into the Arsenal midfield. His emergence along with his preferred style of play is good for the Gunners, but bad for Mesut Ozil, who suddenly seems very much on the periphery of Emery’s plans.

Aston Villa 1-2 Bournemouth

Villa gave their fans hope late, but two crucial mistakes at the back gifted Bournemouth two goals. It’s a sure sign that they are still adjusting to the quality of the Premier League, but they do seem to be growing into it, though their fans would naturally expect more after a summer in which they spent a lot of money in order to bring in Premier League level talent. For Bournemouth, it was good to get their first win of the league season after a disappointing late draw with Sheffield last week. It is worth keeping an eye on their defense, which has now conceded two goals from leading positions late in matches over two weeks.

Brighton 1-1 West Ham

This result leaves Brighton—a team that many had ready to be relegated—in 5th place. Yes, it’s only two weeks in, but it’s a great start from the Seagulls to get consecutive results over “better” teams. For West Ham, it’s their second straight stinker. They added a lot of creativity over the summer specifically to help them beat teams with “lesser” talent like the aforementioned Brighton. For a team with legitimate top 6-7 aspirations, it looks like another ho-hum season might be on the cards.

Everton 1-0 Watford

Bernard struck a beautifully hit ball in the early stages of the game, and Watford never recovered. Everton haven’t hit top gear, but it was good to see them produce a win after a rather lackluster week 1 draw with Crystal Palace. Watford now sit bottom of the table, and have lost 5 of their last 6 games (including friendlies), having been outscored 17-4 in doing so. It’s not yet time to panic, but Watford seem to be in some trouble in the early goings of the season.

Norwich 3-1 Newcastle

PUKKI!!! The league’s top scorer netted a hat trick against Newcastle, and Norwich built off a strong second half against Liverpool. They’ve played well their first two games back in the top flight, and have continued to play free-flowing football that suits them. For Newcastle, this is getting ugly fast. There are already calls for Steve Bruce’s job, and the squad does not look like it belongs in the Premier League at the moment. Over two weeks, they’ve been uninspiring and flat out boring. They need a win—and fast—if they’re going to calm nerves about their…rocky summer.

Southampton 1-2 Liverpool

Liverpool did not look like a 97 point team in the first half. In fact, they were outright dominated by a weak Southampton side that has often been a thorn in their paw. Up step Sadio  Mane, who scored a world class goal to save the first half for the Reds. The second half was a different story, however Southampton were gifted a goal by Adrian’s ridiculous passing, and almost equalized moments later. Southampton at least looked inspired after losing 3-0 in Matchweek 1, and seem to be getting it together a little. For Liverpool, they now have a lot to worry about after Adrian looked shaky on the ball for the entire game. Arsenal’s high pressing presents a huge worry going into next week.

Manchester City 2-2 Tottenham

Okay, let’s just get into it. City dominated the entire match, but Tottenham were clinical with their chances (and were also GIFTED their opener by virtue of City refusing to close down Lamela and Ederson’s…questionable positioning). That’s a little worrying for City’s backline without Kompany this season. That’s the analysis. Now for the fun part: VAR ruled out a last minute goal, and didn’t give City a deserved penalty in the first half. While VAR got the rule right for the disallowed goal, the rule itself is a talking point. The handball was so miniscule and unintentional that you’d be hard pressed to say it’s the reason City scored. Bottom line is that City needed to be more clinical and sometimes you don’t get the result you deserve. That’s the nature of the sport unfortunately.

Sheffield 1-0 Crystal Palace

How about the Blades! Four points through two games is a great return, and they’ve fully earned them. I want to talk about Palace though. They’ve looked awfully uninspiring, and Zaha seems to be incredibly discontent in this team. Meanwhile, Christian Benteke has been a waste of money and is not providing even a quarter of the striker Palace thought they were getting. Worrying times over at Selhurst Park early in the season.

Chelsea 1-1 Leicester City

This was truly a game of two halves. Chelsea played very well for the first 45, seeming to put their Old Trafford nightmare behind them, while Leicester spent the following 45 looking like a team that belongs in the top 6 conversation. Youri Tielemans bossed this game, and James Maddison was the man of the match, causing Chelsea problems with his creativity and vision. If either team can figure out how to put a full 90 minutes together, they have serious potential. Lampard is going to need time to get that out of his young Chelsea side, but things have started to come together over the past week. The vision is there, the execution will come.

Wolves 1-1 Manchester United

The final game of the week made for some great viewing. Ruben Neves’ wonderstrike cancelled out Martial’s gorgeous opener, and in the end this was a very deserving 1-1 draw. Manchester United looked like they’re still struggling to bring everything together under OGS, but the development has been there. The penalty question is nonsense, as OGS said that Pogba and Rashford are their pen takers, and worked it out themselves on the field. Hindsight is 20/20, and Pogba should score, but they clearly have a system in place for that, and right or wrong, that is not up for debate. My key question for them is: when do you move on from Jesse Lingard? He’s no longer a young player with bags of potential, and you need results now. Whether he grew up in their youth system or not, they have to decide whether he is truly a player capable of playing at this level. Since May 2018, he has only scored or assisted in 6 goals, with ALL of them coming in December of 2018. That’s not good enough.

That’s all for the recap of Matchweek 2, keep an eye out for Nico’s Matchweek 3 preview coming later this week.

Twitter: @Oh_My_Gos