Leicester are in trouble. Bigger clubs have spent fortunes bringing in top quality talent whilst the Foxes are the only Premier club without a signing in this transfer window. Injuries to Harvey Barnes and Ricardo Pereira forced manager Brendan Rogers to change his game system for the opening match against Brentford which they were lucky to draw. Brendan intended to play a 4-1-4-1 formation focused on bringing the ball out through the full backs. The achilles tendon injury to Pereira ended that plan. With Barnes out and a lack of wingers, Rogers had to change his system to 3-5-1-1 at the King Power Stadium. Ademola Lookman was hoping to become one of the Leicester stars this season but he has now signed for Atalanta. I cannot understand why goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel has been let go and despite many media enquiries Leicester are keeping very quiet about the transfer.
The story will eventually be told to me but I believe Kasper is one of the very best goalkeepers in world football even at the age of 35. James Maddison, Wesley Fofana and Youri Tielemans all impressed Rogers during the Brentford game however all three are being tracked by some big clubs and Leicester will have to fight to hold on to them. Chelsea are interested in Fofana for £80million and Newcastle have offered £60million for Maddison. Leicester must hold onto those two or I have heard that Rogers could quit the club. I have been privately assured that signings will be made and fresh talent arriving but at the moment there is no clear plan and the top clubs could well pull well away at the top of the Premier table, even at this early stage of the season.
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One winner and one loser start the season
The start of the season arrived last weekend and two high profile arrivals saw Premier League action for the first time. There was one clear winner and one clear loser. Erling Haaland showed us what he is capable of with a couple of goals which brought his total over the last three years to 89 during 90 games. Pep Guardiola commented that he is Alan Shearer, Cristiano Ronaldo and Thierry Henry all rolled into one body. Praise indeed! New coach Erik ten Hag on the other hand was shown what it is to compete in the world’s top league and he failed miserably with Manchester United suffering a 1-2 defeat to Brighton at Old Trafford. On Monday morning training there were smiles at the Etihed Stadium but the atmosphere was one of gloom and reflection at United’s Carrington Road.
Liverpool hit by injuries
Jurgen Klopp faces the next few games without 31-year-old Thiago. I was told he is having more scans on the hamstring injury which forced him to miss Liverpool’s opening game. After a thorough examination by the Red’s medical team he went for a scan but has now been referred to a second specialist. Rumours had spread that Thiago would be out for six weeks but club assistants are hoping a three to four week course of physio will repair the damage however at the time of writing initial tests had not provided enough information about the extent of the damage. Klopp is confident that he has enough cover in midfield despite Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain being told it will be several months before he is likely to return to the squad. Like Thiago he sustained hamstring damage. The injuries will give youngsters Curtis Jones, Fabio Carvalho and Harvey Elliott a chance to make the starting line-up. Naby Keita missed the first game of the season through illness but he is back in training and Curtis Jones will be available next week. The ever reliable James Milner offers Klopp the perfect stand in for several midfield and defensive positions.
*I have been told that Jurgen Klopp will concentrate on lowering the age of his midfield this summer.
United need to be organised
United’s coach Erik ten Hag brought about his own disaster with their loss to Brighton. The fault was his and visiting owner Avram Glazer was not impressed. During their pre-season tour United played with a traditional centre forward who was Anthony Martial because of Ronaldo’s absence. What did Ten Hag do against Brighton? He started Eriksen, an attacking midfielder, at the front and had no recognised central striker because he left Ronaldo on the bench. Martial regrettably had picked up an injury. Later in the game, when Erikson dropped back to play deeper and Ronaldo came off the bench, United were stronger and scored but it was too late to salvage anything from the game. Ten Hag has spent this week concentrating on organisation within his team and divided them into groups. Each group had to work on positioning, passing and playing together. Whether it worked or not will be seen when United take on Brentford who turned in a decent result drawing at Leicester. All my colleagues agreed on one thing after the game. United need Ronaldo more than Ronaldo needs United.
Lampard strengthening Everton
I am astonished that Wolves would let Conor Coady leave the club but Everton have snapped up his services on loan. Coady joined after completing his medical and said “I‘ve grown up around the area and I know how big Everton is. I am desperate to come here and play for this club and I have friends and family in the city who are massive Everton fans.” Frank Lampard has succeeded in bringing in Amadou Onana from French club Lille and is still working on bringing Idrissa Gueye from PSG however this is proving difficult and the Toffees are also looking at Red Bull Salzberg midfielder Mohamed Camara. Lampard confirmed that he is relieved to have Coady because defender Ben Godfrey has sustained a broken leg. Lampard prefers a back five which Coady is used to operating in at Wolves however this season coach Bruno Lage has changed his tactics to a two-man central defence with £20.5million arrival Nathan Collins and Max Kilman preferred to Coady who had previously played in all but one of 152 games for Wolves. I understand that when and if they are successful with Gueye, Lampard will attempt to sign a new striker to help the pressure put on Salomon Rondon to score goals now that Dominic Calvert-Lewin is injured. Negotiations with Chelsea to bring in Armando Broja are ongoing.
Tottenham expect a challenge at Chelsea
This weekend Chelsea tackle Antonio Conte’s Tottenham Hotspur and the match will show exactly where both teams are for the new season. Spurs captain Hugo Lloris says that it will be a big test for both teams. Both started the season with impressive wins and Lloris said, “It is a big challenge for us at Stamford Bridge and we’ll try in the same way to respect our philosophy and the way we want to play. Obviously when you face that kind of opponent it’s a good moment to judge yourself, Chelsea are a very strong team, very competitive, they will probably be a contender for the title and it’s good for us to go there and challenge them.”
Mings has a fight to regain his position
Bournemouth manager Scott Parker has confirmed the signings of Barcelona goalkeeper Neto and Feyenoord’s Argentine centre back Marcos Senesi. Former club captain Tyrone Mings has fallen out of favour with manager Steven Gerrard and faces a fight to retain his place in the team. The 29-year-old was omitted from Villa’s 0-2 defeat to Bournemouth which caused many at the club to question Gerrard’s decision. Mings, who cost £20million, played for Villa in a training ground match against Fulham last week but was then left out of the starting line-up although I am told he has sustained a groin injury which is causing him some pain and this week he had a scan which revealed bruising.