Despite Tottenham’s impressive start to the season manager Nuno Espirito Santo got his tactics badly wrong against Crystal Palace. After the game, talking to some of the fans, they were quick to point out where the team selection had gone badly wrong. Going into the game with three holding midfielders was crazy. The England national team has two holding midfielders which gives the wing backs the opportunity to use the width of the field and progress forward with speed. Arteta did not do this and using Oliver Skipp, Harry Winks and Emile Hojberg in the centre just killed off Spurs’ creative chances. Harry Kane tends to drop deeper these days but with the three in midfield it left him stranded and he could not go back further than them. As a result he was severely restricted in his options. I remember Nuno’s first press conference before the start of this season when he said, “To Dare is To Do, I love the motto. It is what we want to do. We want to try things. To dare to do, to be unique. I love it.” That means creative, inventive football but I think many Tottenham fans will be wondering what happened to that strong statement given the team’s display against Palace.
Arteta feels the stress
The usually unflappable, quiet and reserved Mikel Arteta opened up this week and revealed the enormous pressure he has been under due to Arsenal’s dreadful start to the season. The 1-0 win against Norwich is hardly reassuring the fans that all is well but at least it prevented end of match booing and calls for the manager to be sacked. Arteta was physically relieved and admitted it was only the support of the Arsenal board and his family that has got him through a difficult period. He explained how bad he felt because of the relentless criticism. He admitted that after the City 5-0 loss, “I was probably at my lowest point. Then you start to try and analyse things, you hear different opinions. The importance of the family I have, the wife and kids I have, the parents and the friends I have. In difficult moments they show their commitment in supporting me. After that it is every person who works in the club, from top to bottom, the energy they try to prove, the communication they have with me and the people who make the big decisions. How encouraging it is to see them with the hunger to change the situation and support me. All those people, unlike the media, don’t blame me, they look for solutions. You also have the players giving even more energy to change things and it is overwhelming.”
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Tottenham duo to replace Tanganga and Dier
Tottenham have defensive problems this weekend against Chelsea. From the training ground I have learned that either or both Davinson Sanchez and Cristian Romero will step in to replace Japhet Tanganga and Eric Dier. Tanganga is suspended and Dier still has a dead leg. Sanchez and Romero have been isolating in Croatia after completing international duties with Columbia and Argentina. They have been working with a conditioning coach and will have spent only one day in London before possibly playing on Sunday.
Well done Ronaldo by the boss
Speaking to Ole Gunner Solskjaer after United’s win against Newcastle, the Red’s boss was overjoyed at the performance of Cristiano Ronaldo. He pointed out that the Portuguese super striker has pace, experience and leadership and is a predatory striker who will always get goals. He said the same thing when United signed Edinson Cavani from Paris St-Germain and personally I cannot wait to see the two play together…enough to strike fear into any opposing team.
Ederson fancies himself in midfield!
After a good training session, Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson joked he should be given the chance to play in the team’s midfield in place of Kevin de Bruyne! The 28 year-old Brazilian is very good with his feet and often plays a part in manager Pep Guardiola’s tactic of playing out from the back. He has started attacks and is accurate with his passing ability. Ederson also thinks he should be included in taking City’s penalties. A video of him scoring one in training was sent out on social media and went viral. Was he joking with his outrageous claim? I am not too sure.
Jamie no longer automatic No1
Before the start of the game against Wolves, Brendan Rodgers said Jamie Vardy may no longer be his automatic No.1. Rodgers hinted that Kelechi Iheanacho and new signing £23million Patson Daka might be above Jamie in the pecking order. However, Rodgers stressed that he needs all three and said, “They can increase the intensity of the game and keep the pressure up. They can play together or they can all be individuals. It is great to have that choice.”
Solskjaer admits burning out Fernandes
Ole Gunner Solskjaer has admitted he might have played Bruno Fernandes too often last year. The energetic, aggressive midfielder suffered burn-out at the end of the season. The 26 year-old played more times than any other at Old Trafford with 51 games started and seven coming off the bench. The Portugese playmaker scored 28 goals and assisted with 18 more. Solskjaer says he has Anthony Martial back from injury, a reignited Jesse Lingard and new signing Jadon Sancho all of whom will relieve Fernandes. “I have a lot more to work with now,” said Solskjaer. A fit and more muscled Donny van De Beek has impressed teammates and trainers with his pre-season work and Solskjaer added, “He had last season to learn about English football and he’s used the summer well. However, a certain Mr Ronaldo has arrived which has also changed the options at United.”
Traore could be world class
Even Jurgen Klopp describes him as unplayable! Wolves fans love Adama Traore with his explosive runs, clever dribbling and the way he strikes fear into defenders every time he gets the ball. He can score, he can pass and he can give his team that extra edge. The problem is that he does none of these things with any consistency. Several of my envious Premier League trainer friends have said to me, “If Traore had a coach who could spend time refining his skills and making him a more complete player he would be in the same class as Ronaldo, Messi, Mbappe and Cavani.” He really is that good but he drifts in and out of games, often fails to complete his run with a final pass or makes a pass when he should have gone for goal. Traore could have joined Nuno Espirito Santos at Tottenham but a last minute attempt to sign him ended in failure because Wolves demanded in excess of £50 million.
Andros Townsend giving back to the fans
I was impressed with Everton winger Andros Townsend last week. Instead of spending time off with friends and his family (Andros has two children), he joined the McDonald’s Fun Football Festival to kick around and teach youngsters. The Evertonians have taken to the likeable Andros with chants of “Andros, Andros, Andros”. I leave you with this thought…last season Andros was the most accurate crosser of the ball from the wings and Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored the most headers with seven! And on Monday evening Andros scored the most glorious goal from 30ft. Everton fans can look forward to a productive season.