A key match for two managers this weekend is between struggling Arsenal and a misfiring Tottenham. Mikel Arteta has given himself some breathing space with two back to back wins however this will be a much bigger test to assess where his team are heading. Last weekend Arteta set up his team in a 4-1-4-1 formation which gave him an attacking line and five in defence. This week in training Arteta has again been playing practice games using the same set up but concentrating on feeding balls up to his strikers in the hope that the goals start to flow. Tottenham have slipped to seventh in the table and Nino Espirito Santos has spent his time this week working with his magic pairing of Harry Kane and Hueng-Min Son and also defending from set pieces. On the day Tottenham fans honoured their hero Jimmy Greaves we expected Harry Kane to take up the challenge and score a couple in honour of the legend. It didn’t work out that way. I looked down at my stats notebook after the Chelsea game and realised that Chelsea wing back Marcos Alonso had more touches in the penalty area than striker Kane! No wonder Nino has reorganised his training schedules. He said, “I wish I could send our fans a positive message but we have to look at what happened. We started the season with a lot of situations with players away and we built a way to win. Our fans deserve much more than what we gave them against Chelsea. The problems we suffered during the international break. The missing players and low levels of performance. We concede goals from set pieces. There are many problems to solve. Not creating space between players is a current problem. If you are far from other players it is more difficult to receive and pass the ball. We have much to work on.”
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Rashford doing well but not ready yet
I can tell you that despite pictures circulating of Marcus Rashford in training, Ole Gunner Solskjaer will not be hurried into bringing him back into action and his medical team have confirmed they support that position. Ole said, “Yeah, it’s going well but I don’t think we’ll see Marcus until after the international break.” Solskjaer admitted that it was an easy decision to make because he now has a strong forward line available including Ronaldo, Sancho, Greenwood and Lingard. Edinson Cavani is still not match fit. Ole hinted that his intention is to get Marcus ready for the match against Leicester on October 16th.
Secrets of Tuchel’s hand signals
Here are a few secrets of Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel to look out for during the Chelsea v Manchester City game this weekend. Watch Thomas on the touchline and you will see him use an assortment of hand gestures to instruct his players. They are not just emotional, they are meaningful gestures which the team have been working on in training at Cobham this week. Some examples of this are: Holding his nose – this means he wants his main striker to go for goal more often instead of passing the ball around…Pointing a right hand finger through two other fingers on his left hand – this is to indicate that he wants his striker to move between the two centre backs…Holding his ears – this means he wants the players to remember what they had practiced in training and finally A scything gesture, waving his arm across his chest – this means he wants the players to tackle with more commitment and aggression. Don’t tell him I told you.
News of Elliott’s Liverpool operation
I checked up on Wednesday to see how Liverpool youngster Harvey Elliott is doing after his horror injury at Leeds last week. He had an operation to repair the dislocation of his left ankle and although the medical team cannot give any specific timing I am told Harvey will be out of action for several months. He is in good spirits and not in pain with teammates keeping in touch every day. Also on the injury list is Thiago Alcantara with a calf problem and he is racing against time to be fit for the Champions League match next week against Portugese club Porto. Liverpool confirmed to me that he will not play this weekend at Brentford.
Rodriguez does not want to play for Everton
The truth is that Columbian James Rodriguez does not get on with Everton manager Rafa Benitez and he doesn’t want to play for the club either. It is a difficult and sad situation but he has to go. James wants to be a big star in the PL however now that Qatar have made an approach to sign him he will probably go for the big bucks although he does earn £200k at Everton. James has been in Al-Rayyan in Qatar this week discussing a deal. I am told that both AC Milan and Turkish club Basaksehir are also interested. I have urged Everton to issue a statement so you, the fans, know what the situation is.
De Gea tells Henderson “I am No 1”
After saving a penalty against West Ham on Sunday David De Gea has warned his rival Dean Henderson that he is No.1 and will not give up his place anytime soon. Henderson was regarded as No1 last season when De Gea suffered a loss in form and he stepped up, giving impressive displays. However, after starting the season late because of Covid, Henderson has seen De Gea give his best and return to his best form. De Gea said, “I have already played here with many great keepers over my career in Manchester. People like Sergio Romero, Victor Valdes and Anders Lindegaard, great keepers.”
“If the fans don’t want me, I’ll leave” says Guardiola
I was rather astonished when the secretary of the Manchester City supporters fan club criticised Pep Guardiola because he called for more support from the fans. “Stick to coaching,” said Mr Kevin Parker. Pep responded by saying that he never said anything wrong and after the Leipzig Champions League match he simply asked “come and support us against Southampton because it is going to be a tough match.” Pep was right and the Saints held City to a 0-0 draw at Maine Road. Now Pep has said publicly that if fans criticise him and don’t want him he will walk away from the club. I would suggest that the fans remember how lucky they are to have arguably the best coach in football.
Renaldo changes mansions to get some sleep
Well you really have to smile! Cristiano Ronaldo moves into an £6 million mansion near Manchester, unpacks his Ballon d’Or trophies, his medals and his memorabilia that other players can only dream of and what happens? Instead of sleeping soundly in the knowledge that he has returned to perhaps the most famous team in the world on another mega salary, Cristiano finds he cannot sleep in his king-size super upholstered dream bed because there are sheep bleating in nearby fields outside his window. What does Cristiano do? He moves out and into another multi-million pound mansion. I mean, who wouldn’t? (lol).
European clubs eye Rudiger
Chelsea central defender Antonio Rudiger is still negotiating over a new contract because he believes it will be his last chance to earn a large salary. He is currently on £120k a week and wants £200k. At the moment no deal has been finalised which has prompted several top clubs to register their interest should he become available. Real Madrid, Paris St-Germain and Atletico Madrid would certainly be in the running to sign him however Rudiger has voiced a preference to stay in west London and says he is settled in his Chelsea life. Since Thomas Tuchel took over, Rudiger has played in every match and has his total confidence unlike previous manager Frank Lampard.