I asked the question “why has Arsenal signed Jakub Kiwior from Spezia.” He became Mikel Arteta’s second significant incoming player joining Brighton’s Leandro Trossard. A fee of £17.5million was paid to the Italian club for Kiwior but the contract provides for a further £3.5million in bonus payments based on performances and appearances. The initial deal lasts until 2027 with a further optional year. Kiwior’s position with Spezia was usually on the left-hand side of a back three but he can also be used in midfield. Arteta said the answer to my question is that signing Kiwior solves two requirements needed in his squad. He will be used as a deputy to cover Gabriel Magalhaes at the back and provide competition for William Saliba but also with his experience at Spezia, he could step in for midfielder Thomas Partey when needed. Arteta said, “He is a young versatile defender who has shown huge potential and qualities with Spezia in Serie A and also at international level with Poland. Jakob is a player who will bring extra strength and quality to our defensive unit.”
Conte wants new players at Tottenham
Tottenham coach Antonio Conte has been scratching his head to come up with a new defensive formula to strengthen his team. Finally he gave up and told chairman Daniel Levy that he cannot progress with the current players employed at the club and he needs to bring in fresh talent. During 65 matches since taking charge at White Hart Lane, Conte has used his favoured three centre backs combined with wing backs. Following the Manchester City collapse after leading 2-0 at half time, hundreds of supporters have called upon Conte to change his defence at the back. Conte responded that he would like to try something different but he does not have players with the right characteristics and he is fielding his best current option. To play four at the back he said requires specialist defenders and he does not have those. Shock news for Eric Dier, Ben Davies and co. He pointed out, “In my career, I’ve played with a back four and won two championships with a 4-2-4 at Juventus. So I am open to change the current formation but in order to that I need different players.” Tottenham have conceded 31 goals already this season after 20 games which is worrying Conte and Spurs’ supporters. The coach suggested that his strikers are an even more important challenge and said, “The most important area for us is the strikers. In this squad I have to create support for Sonny (Heung-Min Son) and Harry (Kane) and Kulusevski or Richarlison. Conte hinted that he might use all four of his forwards in the same line up very soon and perhaps a 4-2-3-1 formation with Harry Kane as a No10.
Mudryk makes impressive start for Chelsea
After making several mistakes and attracting criticism from fans and the media, Chelsea owner Todd Boehly finally looks to have got something right. Injured Reece James, Noni Madueke and Trevor Chalobah all sent positive messages to newly signed winger Mykhailo Mudryk after he came off the bench and impressed with his intense energetic play against Liverpool. James sent a lightning emoji showing how impressed he was with the Ukranian’s speed, ability and overall performance. The Chelsea players have already taken to Mudryk as one of their own and congratulated him in the dressing room after the Liverpool match. In all 6,000 fans sent messages of support and coach Graham Potter said, “He’s not played since November, hasn’t had any game time, so it would have been a risk to play him from the start. He was really good. He’s only been with us for a few days and he will get even better. He is dangerous in one-to-one situations and his dribbling is excellent and he knows where the goal is.”
Everton fans blame directors
Fans at Everton have recently protested against their board of directors. Coach Frank Lampard was another target (although he had a hard core of supporters) amid complaints that the directors do not communicate enough with fans to keep them informed as to what is happening within this failing club. The board took five hours to release a statement that Lampard had been sacked earlier in a phone call at 3pm. The call was made by owner Farhad Moshiri. Fans however were not told until a statement was released five hours later at 8.15pm. This was more ammunition for the supporters to claim that the club is “chaotic and dysfunctional”. They have organised more protests to take place before the match against Arsenal on February 4th. Marcelo Bielsa is Everton’s preferred choice to replace Lampard with Burnley’s ex-coach Sean Dyche and Mauricio Pochettino also being considered. Moshiri approached Bielsa himself but at the moment the board of directors have not backed him publicly. Bielsa said in an initial conversation that he has studied the current players and does not consider them able to play his style of football. He wants to inject more pace into the team and is also wary of the toxic atmosphere within the club. Other possible candidates mentioned include sacked Southampton coach Ralph Hasenhuttl and Carlos Corberan who is leading a revival of West Brom’s fortunes in the Championship League. Firefighter Sam Allardyce’s name has cropped up alongside Wayne Rooney. Bielsa is very much attack minded whereas Dyche organises his teams based around defensive tactics and playing out from the back. Thousands of fans went on social media to comment on the current situation at the club and they put the blame on Everton’s leadership and not Frank Lampard which is a small crumb of comfort for the ex-Chelsea legend.
Wan-Bissaka responds to Ten Hag’s coaching
The newly revived form of Manchester United’s right back Aaron Wan-Bissaka has delighted coach Erik Ten Hag. After a challenging time at Old Trafford all the signs were that he would be shipped out either by transfer or on loan in January. However, Wan-Bissaka has responded to Ten Hag’s coaching skills and improved considerably. With the rise of United and the form of Marcus Rashford, Wan Bissaka’s performances have often been overlooked but not by Ten Hag who now sees him and Diogo Dalot as his first choice right backs. Wan-Bissaka positions himself much better on the pitch after learning from Ten Hag and he is more of threat going forward with some good runs up the right-hand side of the field in every game he has played recently. At last he is justifying the £50million spent on buying him in 2019.
Players feed Haaland for his hat-trick
As I wrote last week, Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola spent time with his midfield and forward line in training where he demanded that more balls were fed through to Erling Haaland who was often being left stranded alone upfront. The response was immediate and Grealish, De Bryune and Mahrez constantly put balls into the striker’s path against Wolves with Haaland scoring three in a 17 minute blistering display. Guardiola said after City beat Wolves 3-0, “He has to get the ball delivered into him as much as possible, we have fantastic players around him but the first goal was because he is there in the right place and the ball from Kevin (De Bruyne) was fantastic. If he receives the right passes he will do the rest.”