3rd season syndrome arrives without the 2nd!

#JoseMourinho goes through 3 phases with all the clubs he manages:
Year 1: He focuses on winning a domestic trophy, to get the team to start stringing together a winning mentality. 
Year 2: He wins the title. Each time.
Year 3: It all starts imploding. He picks fights with the players, with the Board, with the Press, with the staff. The team starts playing without purpose and you can see they don’t want to fight for him anymore. The results start to crater. A bunch of boring draws ensue, interspersed with a few shock defeats. The club hierarchy finally lets sense supersede his reputation (yes, he was one of the best managers in world futbol, but that has been history now for more than a few seasons/clubs) and he ‘leaves’, to go on and manage the next super club with more money than sense.
Rinse. Repeat.
But things have changed since his last stint at #Chelsea. At #United he won domestic silverware (and that all important #ChampionsLeague qualifying #Europa trophy) in his first season, in what was an otherwise drab and unsuccessful #PremierLeague season. He started this season quite well, staying in touch with high-flying #ManchesterCity, who under #PepGuardiola are currently experiencing Jose’s 2nd season syndrome. Since then, it’s all gone horribly wrong. After yet another toothless goalless draw today at #OldTrafford to a visiting #Southampton, he seems to be racing to his 3rd season syndrome in year 2 itself. His star players are playing like they couldn’t be bothered. He’s managed to get the worst out of otherwise amazing players like #Mkhitaryan and company and he’s already battling the fans, the press, referees and apparently, the CEO, #EdWoodward.

Hey Ed. I know most #RedDevils fans have made fun of you, mocked your nonsensical negotiations for mediocre players (cough Fellaini cough) and wondered how you were ever made CEO of the worlds commercially most powerful club. But they’ll all forgive you if you do ManchesterUnited and the rest of the Premier League a huge ass favor and do as #Roman did 2 years ago – pay him his millions and have him go on to ruin #PSG next.

#Liverpool, on the other hand, are headed in the right direction after a come from behind 2-1 win to visiting #Leicester thanks to a double by their super-signing of the summer #MoSalah. With their 75 million purchase of #VirgilVanDyke, arguably Europe’s finest available center back, the #Reds are one proper goalkeeper away from being just as good as the half of Manchester, that’s moving in the right direction. If they can keep #Coutinho this winter, bring #Keita in as planned (he’s as good as #Kante) and bring in a reliable keeper (there’s a few that are available), #Klopp’s attacking 4 are as good as the #Sterlings #KDBs #Silvas and #Jesus/#Aguero of #City.

#Chelsea continue their stop-start performances this season with a 5-0 thrashing of #Stoke and #Conte’s side look more likely than not to finish 2nd to a Champions-elect ManCity.

The signs are that the top 4 will include City, Chelsea, #Spurs and Liverpool with the season ending bitterly for both United and #Arsenal.

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Dele & Kane will need to prove their £100+ value now!

The #ChampionsLeague 2017/18 Group Stage draw was a kind one to the resurgent #ManchesterUnited with them being drawn in a pool with a weakened #Benfica, #Basel and #CSKA in Group A, which they should win quite easily, especially with the extra firepower that the re-signing of the fit again #Zlatan (how the hell did he go from a torn ACL to match-fit in under 6 months?) adds to an already potent looking strike-force. From CL wilderness to a team most of Europe’s elite will want to avoid, the #RedDevils will go some distance in the competition this year.

#BayernMunich were paired with a #Neymar powered #PSG, who will push them to the hilt for 1st place in the group and if current form is anything to go by, succeed. With #Celtic showing that they might just belong and #Anderlecht rounding out Group B, this might be a group that throws up some fun games but will end with a PSG – Bayern top 2.

#Chelsea were dealt a much harder path to top spot in Group C, what with perennial Champions League semi-finalists #AtleticoMadrid (how yummy if #Costa makes it back to Atleti and downs the Blues in both their games?) and Italian giants #Roma in their way with little known #Qarabag to complete the Group. #COnte’s side will need to be at their last-season best to come out on top of this group, with #Simeone and his battlers prepared to give their lives on that pitch it would seem.

Beleaguered #Barcelona were pitted against “new” arch enemy #Juventus in Group D, and the 2 will battle it out for top spot with #SportingLisbon and #Olympiakos merely playing fillers. The #OldLady remain as strong as last year, while the poor Catalans are literally and psychologically weakened by the loss of Neymar and the farcical summer pursuit of #Coutinho and #Dembele to fill his rather large shoes. Barca won’t canter to top spot.

#Liverpool were dealt a much easier path to the knock-out stages in their Group E, being paired with #Sevilla (their only real competition to top spot) #Spartak and #Maribor. Anything but winning the group should be considered failure for #Klopp’s men.

#Monaco, with or without #Mbappe, should be able to go through Group G, getting past #Porto #Leipzig #Besiktas with the Germans sneaking in right after them.

#ManchesterCity have only #Napoli to navigate as they ought to make their way to the top of Group F, with the Italians battling #Shakhtar and #Feyernoord to second in the group.

And finally, in the customary ‘group of death’, the #EPL’s 5th entrant #Tottenham were slotted in with Europe’s best team #RealMadrid (they will finish top, obviously) and German giants #Dortmund with little #APOEL from Cyprus rounding out Group H. The likes of #HarryKane and #DeleAlli have been spoken of in £100million+ valuations and if there ever was a time for them to prove those numbers true, Group H is it. What they do have going for them, is that #BVB is weaker than they’ve been in the past years and if they do lose the prodigious talent of #Dembele to Barcelona for the rumored £130 million that they’ve been offered, Spurs will have just too much firepower to not come in 2nd in the group.

May the mid-week games begin!

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Sack time at Arsenal

And it isn’t #Wenger who needs to go (he probably will and it won’t be undeserved) – it’s most of this gutless, spineless mediocre bunch of players that have done nothing but to embarrass themselves over the past month or so, losing games against opposition they should have beaten and getting absolutely hammered by opposition so far superior to them (*cough #BayernMunich cough*), that the outcome was never in question. The #WengerOUT #InWengerWeTrust debate will continue to rage amongst the #Arsenal faithful – the fans who want his head will point to #Leicester’s stunning reversal under caretaker boss #Shakespeare after winning their 4th on the trot today, winning at #WestHam 2-3; those supporting him will point to the struggles of #ManchesterUnited in their search for re-establishing themselves as the European powerhouse they were under their long-term manager #SirAlex, and the difficulty in finding someone to fill Arsene’s 20-year old shoes. Missing in this argument is just how utterly rubbish this Arsenal side can be. Sure, Wenger has been ‘out tactic-ed’  by his top 6 rivals and out muscled by the likes of #WestBrom, who beat them 3-1 at the #Hawthorns today, thanks to 3 set-pieces (the way the #Baggies score all their goals) but the way this team has capitulated over the past 2 months or so, there isn’t much poor Arsene can do on the field about. When (not If) they finish outside the top 4 this season, they will struggle to get back in and losing #AlexisSanchez and possibly, #MesutOzil will make any sort of recovery even harder. Just as the likes of #Everton continue their rapid rise into contention with yet another convincing win, a 4-0 thrashing of relegation-headed #HullCity.

At the opposite end of status and future prospects, London’s biggest club (yes, I know that hurts Gunners fans) #Chelsea and #EPL champions-elect now, showed just why they are the English powerhouse with a last gasp 1-2 win at #Stoke, in a difficult and tight game that lesser mortals would have dropped points in. But this #Conte managed side can dominate when on song and grind out results when not – you know, the stuff title-winning sides are made of. Kudos Blues. When you win this title, not one fair-minded human will begrudge you your victory. Not one. Not just in London but Arsenal aren’t even the biggest club in North-London anymore (yup, that hurts you Gunner-faithful again, but #Tottenham have surpassed you a few seasons ago already)

Wins for #Bournemouth against #Swansea (2-0); #Palace vs #Watford (1-0) and a boring-assed 0-0 draw between #Sunderland and #Burnley rounded off EPL Saturday.

Over in the #Bundesliga, #Dortmund moved within sniffing distance of 2nd place #RBLeipzig with a narrow 1-0 win against #Ingolstadt (a performance that would have given #Monaco a lot of hope for their QF #ChampionsLeague tie – as much as BVB are a threat in attack, their defending is shambolic. If the forwards at Ingolstadt hadn’t been utterly rubbish, they would have conceded about 5 goals. Monaco will score a 100 if they aren’t careful!) while Leipzig were hammered 3-0 at #WerderBremen.

And in the #LaLiga, #RealMadrid moved 5-points clear of #Barcelona after a 1-2 graft at #Bilbao, making #Barcelona’s slip up last week hurt them significantly in their bid to retain their title. After that amazing comeback against #PSG, it’s not surprising if the catalans are putting a greater price on the ChampionsLeague trophy over the LaLiga this year.

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Same same but different!

The #ChampionsLeague quarter-final draw is out this morning and the matchups could not be more interesting and more appropriately matched.

3 outright favorites will definitely be whittled down to 2 at the maximum with #BayernMunich taking on holders #RealMadrid in a match up of #Ancelotti and his favorite disciple #Zidane, both coming off the experience of recent titles with Real. Both these sides are quite similar in the way they are setup and boast solid, consistent defenses, powerful midfields and lethal attacks. This will be a low-scoring cagey set of ties, with the possibility of the away goal rule deciding the one that goes through. Definitely not the tie that either of the teams would have been hoping for.

After #Barcelona’s incredible 6-1 last gasp miracle win against #PSG, they will go up against one of the most consistent and solid teams in Europe, #Juventus, a repeat of the 2015 final that the Catalans won. Juve are a side that rarely concede goals but also have goals in them thanks to their potent Argentine strike force of #Dybala and #Higuain. Barca are a side that concede a lot of goals, it seems, but my gosh golly can they ever score a busload. However, if they falter away in Turin like they did in Paris, there won’t be a mushy scatter-brained defense for them to plunder – the #OldLady will be very hard to break down.

Perennial semi-finalists #AtleticoMadrid are the hardest of the teams for #Leicester to have been matched up with. Their style of play and their compactness in defense do not lend well to the rapid counter-attacking ‘smash and grab’ approach that Leicester won their 2016 #EPL title on. They will find instead an unbelieveably well-drilled defense that keeps it’s structure at all times, combined with the goal-scoring capabilities of #Griezmann #Saul and company extremely hard to contain. This one has an outright favorite and it ain’t the #Foxes.

The funnest tie, by a country mile, has to be the #Dortmund vs #Monaco matchup. A baseball scoreline at the end of both fixtures won’t be surprising at all. 2 teams that do very little on the football pitch other than score goals, makes for a mouth-watering tie for the neutrals. This one will come down to how disciplined #BVB can be at Dortmund. If they can keep the young stars of the Principality from scoring (a few) in Germany, they might just be able to do enough on the Riviera to go through. But you’d be hard pressed to put your money on it!

Over in the #EuropaLeague, or as #ManchesterUnited supporters call it ‘The only way left to get back into the Champions League’, the #RedDevils will play #Anderlecht, a team they should get by quite easily on paper. And if that is what #Mourinho and his ‘tired’ stars believe, the can expect a rude surprise. If #Zlatan and #Mhkitaryan stay fit, they’ll get by, just about.

Predictions:

  1. Bayern – Real : ugh. This is a 50:50. Away goals decide.
  2. Juventus – Barcelona : Barca scrape through.
  3. Atletico – Leicester : Atleti, easily.
  4. Dortmund – Monaco : BVB, by a hair.

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£54 million in savings to boot

If you saw #Chelsea dominate 10-man #ManchesterUnited in their narrow 1-0 #FACup win to go through to the semi-final where they play #Tottenham, you likely also saw the best player in the #EPL from this and last season, the midfield machine that is #NgoloKante completely dominate the United midfield, especially one #PaulLabilePogba.

United have regressed over the past few months, after a period of much progress, that saw them go unbeaten for a long period and string together a series of impressive wins. Even their draws were dominant. All that seems to have disappeared and their #EFLCup win was lucky, to say the least. They’ve looked pedestrian in their last 3 games – a 1-1 at #OldTrafford to #Bournemouth, a 1-1 away in the #Europa at #Rostov (yeah, yeah the pitch was garbage) and this 0-1 loss to Chelsea to end their defense of the FA Cup.

Look at the stats in the image though – it tells you so much of the story. The #SpecialOne ain’t the most #ExpensiveOne – he’s actually the diminutive frenchman who’s taking his second blue side to an EPL title in consecutive years. Brilliant!

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Sanchez thrashed in Munich, Barca heartbroken in Paris!

Poor #AlexisSanchez. He battled hard but in the end he was overwhelmed by mighty #Bayern 5-1 at the #AllianceArena thanks to goals by #Robben (watch this goal – gorgeous) #Thiago #Lewandowski and #Muller, making the return leg of their #ChampionsLeague in London all but irrelevant. This is the 7th time in a row that #Arsenal have been knocked out in the round of 16. To be clear, it was Alexis Sanchez against Bayern today – the rest of this Arsenal side is just a waste of space and gear – they don’t have the ability or the mental strength to compete at this level. It’s a crying shame to watch everyone crumble in a 10-minute flurry of goals that has ended this tie in this 1st leg itself. The #WengerOut brigade is getting louder and bigger by the game.

#Barcelona suffered similar plight at the hands of a rampant #PSG as they destroyed them 4-0 in Paris yesterday, making a comeback in Barcelona in the return leg incredible unlikely and nothing short of miraculous. Based on what was on show yesterday, that is not going to happen, even if they do win the game. Paris looked deadly on the break but classy in possession as well. They won’t crumble in Catalunya – not like this.

#Real came from behind in #Madrid to beat #Napoli 3-1 and put one foot into the next round. Napoli were impressive. They took the lead thanks to a stunning first-time strike from #Insigne and it needed a #Benzema equalizer followed by lovely strikes from #Kroos and #Casemiro to take the upper hand in this tie.

In the other game from yesterday, a struggling #Dortmund fell 1-0 at #Benfica with #Aubameyang missing a penalty that could have given them the advantage going into the return leg in Dortmund. #Tuchel will be telling his boys they can turn this around quite easily.

But really, this week is all about the #WengerOut debate – today didn’t help that one tiny bit.

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The Wenger conundrum!

#Arsenal are in a state of relative unrest – their fans are openly brawling in the stadium (google: Arsenal fans fight amongst themselves at Chelsea), they are brawling on Twitter and Facebook and comically on their favorite rant channel – #ArsenalFanTV. It’s a battle over their long-term manager #ArseneWenger and his failure to win meaningful silverware over the past 12 years. After a very brief period of success, culminating with the incredible season of the #Invincibles, this club has won no titles in the #EPL and #ChampionsLeague and have made the yearly chase of 4th place, their gold standard. For the faithful, this is beyond blasphemous, especially given the rise and rise of #Chelsea #City and now #Tottenham. By itself, that’s a fair grievance.

At the cost of annoying many of my Arsenal supporters (just know, I do love all of you) let me help recalibrate that grievance a tad. For 12 years now, Arsenal have been a mediocre team and a mediocre club. Everything their leadership has done, every team their manager has put out, every transfer they’ve made (#Sanchez being the only outlier) shows they behave no different than an #Everton or #WestHam or #Southampton during their surges of temporary success. That brief history of success though, make Arsenal faithful believe that Arsenal are an elite European club and hence must compete for the title and  the Champions League. (I can hear folks in Munich and Madrid and Turin snickering at this thought) But the truth is that Arsenal have been run like a mid table team with a mid table mindset that has actually consistently outperformed this status – year after year. if you look at it from that perspective, #Wenger looks pretty darned good, doesn’t he? Before you get all mad at this “mid-table” accusation, lets look at some facts.

After the era of the Invincibles, Arsenal have never had a team that fielded a title winning side in entirety. It’s always been one or two stars (#RVP #Fabregas and so on) but not 11 who had the talent or the mental strength (or the experience of winning trophies) to win the title. And just when it seemed like a team was brewing and just needed 2 world-class additions to make them title-worthy, boom, they sell their prized asset to #Barcelona or #United or now #City, while bringing in a #Sonogo or another 12-year old French kid. That ain’t a lot different from what #Spurs or Southampton or Everton have had to do. Sure, the #Emirates was built and paid for in this time (bravo?) and what we don’t know for sure is whether the frugality that came with it were Wenger’s calls, Management calls, Owner calls or all of them in concert with each other. It would be surprising if they were just Arsene’s calls alone, don’t you think?

#SirAlex went through a phase where he had to do the same thing because of the massive debt the f*#cking #Glazers put onto #United in the purchase of the club – he sold #Ronaldo and bought no one of note for 5 years, helping the Glazers run down their massive debt. But #SAF (love him or hate him) was something else clearly, and he took an average team and still somehow got them to win a bunch of shit for 5-6 years. But you saw what happened right after. The next few coaches just had nothing to work with. Utter mediocrity. And they bought stupidly. And look where it got them. But #United are a different animal. Commercially they are untouchable – now even surpassing #Real and #Barcelona in club value. They could afford to be utterly moronic for those 3-4 years, miss out on CL and yet buy whoever they desire at any goddamn price they want. Let’s ignore them for now.
Wenger has kept a mid table Club in the top 4 for the last 12 years. That’s something.
Still in 4th place this season (although not for long, I fear) this side (aside from the brilliant #Sanchez) would likely not have even one player that would make it to the Chelsea, United, City or Spurs starting 11. Goalkeeper, nope – #DeGea, #Courtois and #Lloris are certainly superior. Defense, meh. Midfield – heavens no! (#Ozil can do wonderful things but you wouldn’t rely on him in a tough game, would you?) Upfront – #Giroud, #Welbeck and #Iwobi – in place of #Ibra #Costa #Kane #Lukaku and even #Defoe – not a chance. So it’s just Sanchez, isn’t it?
Wenger is over-achieving for what this club has become. And yes, it’s a valid argument that he’s played a key role in making it so – and his departure might well be warranted. But be careful what you wish for – because here is the thing, who comes in? #Simeone has been most supporters wet dream and I can see why. What he’s done at #Atletico is nothing short of miraculous. But there is no guarantee he will want to come. (He’s often spoken of his dream of coaching his beloved #InterMilan and they now have the financial muscle to support him and his grand ambitions). There is also no guarantee he’ll succeed with this type of Arsenal squad and you cannot change all 11-15 players in one go.
Simeone’s success at Atleti has been built on exceedingly solid players, physically strong, a willingness to lay their bodies on the line and a mental strength that we haven’t seen in most clubs.  Respectfully, Arsenal have only 1 player like that in Sanchez and who knows if he’ll even stay put. You just can’t replace a whole side in even 4 summers – just ask the bumbling #Moyes and the Philosophy Van Gaal! These Arsenal players tend to fade away when the heat is turned on! The best visual for this was that Hazard goal the other day. (Ozil jogging back, #Coquelin – the defensive enforcer getting thrown off like a rag doll, #Koscielny falling off like an amateur and #Hazard scores from a situation he had no business scoring from)
So if Simeone did come, he’d likely fail initially. The rebuild will take a long time. And in the EPL there isn’t a long time. Contrast this with what happened at Chelsea. Conte is a lot like Simeone. He needs physically and mentally strong players. Willing to give everything on that field. With a drilled discipline to execute the tactics he lays out. Mourinho already had exactly that setup at Chelsea. Whatever went wrong last season, the fact is that the 15-16 core group at Chelsea met all those requirements, already. Tough mofos!
So let’s be more objective. Who can take this Arsenal side and do what’s necessary to take it from where it’s at to winning the title . And do it all within 2-3 seasons?
It’s become even harder now because you have to compete with the 3 super clubs – United, City and Chelsea (money and status wise) and you have to compete with the fast growing Spurs and a nouveau riche Everton with a very good manager. You can’t just throw more money at this than these super clubs.
So there are 2 choices – find someone who can preserve that core Arsenal DNA and most of the existing players and bring more of a winning mentality and see if they can take them a few levels higher (in terms of title mentality) OR you stay the course with Wenger and hope for the best. Tactically he’s been outwitted by the top managers for a while now though, hasn’t he?
Option 1, since most people are baying for change, seems to be the popular choice come this summer. 
So let’s be more practical then. Who helps achieve this for Arsenal? It’s easy to say Simeone. Because there are only 5-6 elite managers – let’s call them super managers and they are all in their clubs of choice – Mou, #Klopp, #Pep, #Conte, Poch, #Carlo are taken.
Klopp certainly had the right DNA to take over from Arsene. But he’s knee-deep in doing what he’s trying at #Liverpool and look how long and hard it’s been? For a second then, let’s look beyond these names.
Who plays the Arsenal way but also has a winning mentality and is young and hungry? 
Within Arsenal history, I’ve heard folks say – Thierry Henry. Sure. That’s one romantic option. And then pray it ends like the #Zidane hire at Real has (so far). The other option would be the actual heir to the Arsenal throne from past player picks – #Vieira. That might be one way to go. Hand the team to the last guy at Arsenal who actually had a spine and has been in Management for a few years now – he would come happily too, I’m sure. Can’t see a Vieira led team wilting at #OldTrafford or #StamfordBridge. No sir. He’d personally strangle each one of his players if they did.

Option 2.
A young English manager, with EPL experience and plays the Arsenal way – #EddieHowe. Not a big name so far but showing all the signs of making it to the top one day – why not now?
Option 3.
A guy who already plays the Arsenal way. Has Klopp DNA but is a lot more like Conte/Mou on the tactical front – prepares his team like hell – #ThomasTuchel. To me, the best outside option. He can’t win the #Bundesliga with #BVB. He knows that. #Aubameyang will go to Real or Barca this summer. Tempt him with a top offer – money, budgets, ambition. Give him funds for an enforcer, for a proper striker and see what he can build. Give him 3 years to convert Arsenal into a title winner, so he doesn’t succumb to overnight expectations. Every summer give him funds to bring in 2 stars. By year three he’ll have about 5-6 players he wants to combine with the 7-8 he wants to keep. Oh and don’t sell your stars!
That’s really the best bet, aside from sticking with Wenger. Because there is a very good chance that Arsenal will go the United way after parting ways with him. And Arsenal are no United. If they have the 3 seasons United have had, they will not be able to recover. Not in the near term atleast.
Be careful what you wish for my dear Gunners fans. Just saying.

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Reality is for losers, bigly.

#Liverpool are genuine title contenders, after another brilliant January 2017 result.

#Lukaku doesn’t really have a lot of goals in him. #Overrated.

#BigSam can keep #CrystalPalace from relegation, like he does with all his teams.

#Arsenal are the real deal this year. No seriously. This year.

#HarryKane always has a dry spell in the 2nd part of the season.

#Martial should not be guaranteed a spot when incredible performers like #Rooney and #Lingard have to sit out at #ManchesterUnited.

#AlternateFacts

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Feeling blue in the City, Pep?

The only reason #ManchesterCity are in the top 6 is because of that blazing start they had to the season that had ‘pundits’ claiming they could go all season undefeated. They could not have been sillier in their claims – this #City side are a million miles from the finished article that #PepGuardiola’s last 2 clubs have been (you could argue that teams that have messrs #Messi #Iniesta #Xavi #Muller #Robben #Lahm et al are damned near finished articles regardless of who coaches them) and their 4-0 loss at #Everton show just how much work still needs to be done for their multi-millionaires to successfully play the Pep way, whatever that really is. (At Barca is was tiki-taka, at Bayern it was some sort of hybrid between that and quick transitions and at City, it’s just really hard to tell what the philosophy is) Regardless, it does seem that are now out of the title race, dropping a whole 10-points behind leaders #Chelsea, who managed to keep all the drama around the massive locker-room bust up between #Conte and #Costa amid rumors of a 30 gazillion billion dollar offer from China for the Braziliaspanard, to thrash #Leicester 0-3 thanks to a brace from #MarcusAlonso and one from #Pedro.

#Tottenham showed yet again that they are the best equipped side to try and catch the Blues at the top after they followed up their win against them last week with a 4-0 thrashing of #WestBrom, thanks to a #Kane hattrick, which isn’t the least bit surprising since Harry wins his #GoldenBoot awards in the 2nd half of the season, anyways. Spurs are compact in defense (the best in the league as of now), have a fantastic midfield that constantly chips in with goals, Kane and a coach, who is rapidly showing the might well be the best young manager in the business.

The game of the weekend though (atleast on paper), was the historically massive derby between #ManchesterUnited and #Liverpool, which ended in a 1-1 draw, with #Ibra’s (who else?) late header canceling out #Milner’s early penalty. The game was surprisingly entertaining and both teams had chances that could have won the game. United’s came early in the first half and #Mignolet had to keep them in the game with saves from #Ibra and #Mkhitaryan and a big giant miss from #Pogba, who had the worst game of his new United career, giving away a silly handball penalty for Liverpool’s goal. Both coaches and their supporters claimed their team played better with #Klopp accusing #Mourinho of using long-ball tactics and Jose in turn accusing the reds of packing the defense. Neither are wrong, nor are they entirely right. Liverpool did defend in numbers but it wasn’t as simple as that. Klopp employed this clever 3 pronged defensive strategy – his front 3 geggenpressed the hell out of United’s build up, nullifying #Carrick’s passing game; when the ball made it’s way through the midfield, #Lallana acted like a ‘shadow’ to Liverpool’s defensive midfielders, often taking the ball of Pogba and Herrera and finally, in their 3rd, making sure most of their 11 players were back and compact, making it near impossible for Pogba and Mkhitaryan and #Martial to make clever runs or put in devastating through balls. Jose did then shift to a long-ball game, especially when he brought on #Fellaini and tactically, it was the clever thing to do, because there was little way through the fantastic defensive structure that Klopp set up. And it worked for United’s equalizer.

#Arsenal beat #Swansea 0-4 to stay 4th; #Burnley beat #Southampton 1-0; #Stoke thrashed a woeful #Sunderland 1-3; #Hull gave themselves a lifeline with a 3-1 win over #Bournemouth and #WestHam beat #Palace 3-0 without #Payet, who is channelling his inner Frenchman by going on strike!

Pep wasn’t the only big name to suffer this weekend as #Juventus saw their lead at the top cut to just 1-point as they were beaten 1-0 by #Fiorentina and in the #LaLiga, #RealMadrid’s incredible 40-game unbeaten run was abruptly halted by a resurgent #Sevilla side 2-1 and taking them to within 1 point of the Madrid giants and ahead of 3rd placed #Barcelona (when was the last time that happened?) who kept pace with a massive 5-0 thrashing of #LasPalmas.

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