Premier League: September 2019

Premier League: September 2019

3 became 1 in September as Liverpool were the only team to go through to the end of September still unbeaten, while Manchester City and Leicester both fell to defeats at Norwich and Manchester United respectively. That win was United’s only one in the league during the month as a loss at West Ham and dismal 1-1 draw at home to Arsenal left with just 9 points, well off the pace of their rivals. Liverpool are already beginning to look pretty comfortable at the top of the table, and while you imagine City will still be safe in 2ⁿᵈ place, the rest of the top 4 and European qualification spots look very much up for grabs at the moment. Meanwhile at the bottom, Watford have already changed managers, with Quique Sanchez Flores returning in place of Javi Gracia but they still find themselves rooted to the bottom of the table, while Villa and Newcastle closed the month in the bottom 3, 1 point away from safety.


Premier League Round-up


Backup needed

It was a classic tale of David versus Goliath. Defending champions Manchester City came to Carrow Road in Round 5 and it would have been only the most optimistic/deluded Norwich fans that would have thought they could come away with a win. Norwich had Patrick Roberts unavailable as he was on loan from City and an injury list almost long enough to create a starting lineup, to the point that they had 2 keepers on the bench just to fill all the spots – even Tim Krul and Ben Godfrey were playing hurt. The Canaries’ starting XI had been assembled for £6.45m, compared to City’s lineup in excess of £400m. There was only one way this match was going… 2 hours later, City were walking off the pitch with an L beside their name, courtesy of a 3-2 shock victory.

While this was an incredible result, the big feature of this match was the awful play at the back from City. With Aymeric Laporte out injured until 2020, John Stones and Nicolás Otamendi were paired together at the back with disastrous results, as mistake after mistake gifted Norwich chances. Then things got even worse midweek as Stones was ruled out for up to 6 weeks with a muscle injury.

When Vincent Kompany moved on in the summer, I thought it was an odd decision not to bring in a 4ᵗʰ centreback. Stones and Otamendi have often appeared to have costly mistakes in them, but more importantly it was leaving them dangerously short. In their absence, Fernandinho has had to fill in at CB and while Rodri’s introduction has meant he hasn’t been missed so much in the midfield, he is still a midfielder playing out of position, which is going to cause issues.

In my opinion, City need to bring in another centreback in January. I’m not saying they need to break the bank to bring in a superstar, but they need to bring in a specialist at the position so that they have suitable cover when their starters aren’t available. In a title race as close as it looks like this one could be, the decision to not bring in a replacement for Kompany could be the difference.

Play the kid!

Chelsea have had a mixed start to the season, but with the transfer ban, they deserve a lot of praise for their willingness to use young English talent. Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori have been key players in the opening months of the season, while Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi look certain to have key roles on their returns from injury.

By contrast, Phil Foden has made just 1 appearance off the bench in the first 2 months of the league, for just a handful of minutes. Foden has looked an incredible talent, but he is not getting the minutes he requires to take a step forward and is now being overtaken by other players in terms of promotion to the senior national team.

Now, he is surely learning and benefiting from the tutelage of Pep Guardiola and training with so many superstars, but it’s hard to believe that he will trusted to take over from David Silva with very little topflight experience if there are other big names available at the right price. He needs to get minutes under his belt now to prove that he can cut it at the top level. For me, Foden needs to look at a move away from the Etihad and to another Premiership club in January. He needs to sit down with Guardiola and see where he fits in the team’s plans. If they can guarantee him a significant place in the squad for next season, then he needs to look at a loan move to prove he deserves those minutes; if they can’t make any promises then perhaps it is time to look at a more permanent move, as Jadon Sancho did.

Pick one… Manager chopping block

It took just 4 rounds of Premier League football before we got our first managerial casualty of the season: Javi Gracia was sacked at the start of the international break following 1 draw and 3 losses, being replaced by former manager Quique Sanchez Flores. Inspired by this, my “Pick One” for this month is: who will be the next Premier League managerial casualty?

First up is Frank Lampard. This will be pretty short as I don’t see there being any chance of Lampard being removed from the job midway through the season barring an awful series of results. He has been hampered by the transfer ban and loss of Eden Hazard, but is doing a great job of bringing through young English talent to build the team around for the coming seasons.

Another manager in a rebuilding phase at an elite club is Ole Gunnar Solskjær. The Norwegian is overseeing a horrible period at Old Trafford as the team tries to rebuild, with players like Antonio Valencia, Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez moving on. While there were a few big money signings in Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka, the rebuild is going very slowly, with a lack of new faces and a focus on the existing players and youngsters coming through. While United are goig through a bad series of results, they have been missing a number of star players like Paul Pogba, Luke Shaw and Anthon Martial, but it is clear that there are holes in the squad, such as an experienced striker to lead the line and score 20+ goals per season. For me, the issue goes beyond Solskjær to Ed Woodward and he should be the one to go, but the chances of him falling on his sword are minimal. Woodward is currently saying United will be patient, so I think the former United striker is safe for now, but if pressure continues to build on Woodward, I’m sure the situation will change rapidly.

The best placed manager at risk is probably Unai Emery. Arsenal may be in the top 4 but they are already will off the pace of Liverpool and City and even find themselves behind Leicester City. The Spaniard is in his second season and has just broken Arsenal’s transfer record on Nicolas Pépé, who has struggled to match the performances of 18-year-old academy graduate Bukayo Saka. All the while, the defence that has been the clubs obvious issue for years continues to be a liability. With Chelsea, Spurs and United struggling, this was Arsenal’s chance to shine… and they aren’t doing it.

Staying in London, and if Emery is in trouble then Mauricio Pochettino is definitely in danger. Spurs came into the season the team likeliest to challenge Liverpool and City for the title, but find themselves (at time of writing) in 6ᵗʰ, behind Leicester and West Ham. Too many key players seem miles off their best as their contracts come towards an end, while Pochettino has not seemed satisfied with the way things are being ran, stating a few months ago that he is only the coach and has no say in transfers. Results and performances need to improve soon, otherwise if Pochettino isn’t sacked, he may choose to walk.

While all of these managers are in some degree of danger, the man who I feel is currently on the hottest seat is Marco Silva. The former Watford manager as been at Everton since May 2018 and the club has worked hard to put together a quality side, yet they finished behind newly-promoted Wolves and 7 points from 7 matches leaves them just 2 points above the drop zone with a worse goal difference than Aston Villa. For a club of their stature to be in this position is unacceptable and I honestly can’t see him lasting far beyond the international break.

Who do you think is most at risk?

Nuclear Fallout: Who Will Manage in Season 7?

Nuclear Fallout: Who Will Manage in Season 7?

Following Mike Kalinowski’s defeat of Jeannine “The Machine” in the latest Schmoedown Throwdown, Chairman Kristian Harloff released the first information of the Nuke. Initially teased and proposed by Robert Meyer Burnett during his run as Commissioner, the original plan was apparently heavily revised by the chairman to become what was announced: Season 7 will begin with a draft, with 10 managers taking turns to pick 10 players each from the Schmoedown roster in a shake-up that suddenly makes Season 5’s Anarchy like child’s play.

Personally, I’m excited to see how this goes. But the first thought I had on hearing this was that we’re going to be getting new managers, as there aren’t currently 10 active managers in the league. So who will we see managing next year?

The current crop

As one of the original managers way back in Season 3, I can’t imagine Tom Dagnino not being one of the managers. The impact he has on his teams can maybe be questioned and his run in the Horsemen has had limited success, but he led one of the most dominant factions in the Lion’s Den and has managed 2 of the best/most successful teams in the history of the league: Who’s The Boss and the Patriots. Able to do a job on a mic, it takes the pressure off a competitor pre-match and you’re bound to have a few fun lines sticking in your mind.

mts Jay-Washington-Brianne-Chandler-Stacy-Howard-Missfits-1024x576Another of the earlier managers still going strong is Jay Washington. Often going under the radar due to limited success at the top level, Jay has done a great job of helping his teams find their feet in the league, going as far as to turn up for Jeannine’s debut just days after having vital surgery! With his comedic and wrestling background, Jay is a pro on the mic and will do whatever he can to take the pressure off his competitors.

feat mts Movie-Trivia-Schmoedown-Robert-Meyer-BurnettAs the brains behind the first version of the Nuke, it’s hard to imagine Robert Meyer Burnett not being one of the 10. “The Captain” has had a good degree of success since returning to the league with The Family, bringing in former Teams Champion Drew McWeeny and upcoming Innergeekdom star Brandon Hanna. Prepare for some very loud rants as he drafts his competitors.

mts Movie-Trivia-Schmoedown-Grace-Hancock-Ken-Napzok-KOrruption-1024x576Another former member of the Lion’s Den who has gone on to manage another faction is Grace Hancock. Returning to take charge of KOrruption, “The Lioness” has overseen the capture of Stacy Howard and Tim Franco and the rise of Mikey 2 Belts. Expect her to keep working with Ken Napzok who has become the mouthpiece of the faction.

mts Movie-Trivia-Schmoedown-Roxy-Striar-1024x576Though she has had experience managing a faction previously, it has been since she joined up with the Odd Couple that Roxy Striar has really come into her own. You just have to listen to Andreyko and Sneider talk about the impact she has had on them over the last year, so much so that she is one of the frontrunners for Manager of the Year. Though she may not feel able to compete herself, she clearly knows the game well and will always be there to support those on her side.

One of Roxy’s biggest rivals for Manager of the Year, John Kaiser has been one of the big additions to the league this season. Coming in along with Kevin Smets, the pair have looked almost unbeatable, while he has also created an underrated team in the Loose Canons and got a Champion in his first season with Paul Oyama’s victory in the Singles Division. Another who is great on the mic, it will be interesting to see if he drafts Smets… or if someone snatches “The Smasher” before Kaiser has the chance.

mts jonathan harris lon harris harris brothersAnd the final existing manager from this season is Jonathan Harris. Harris had his ups and downs competing but has looked good as a manager when given the mic pre- and post-match. He’s had limited experience managing this year but a strong draft could see him become a key component of the league in Season 7. Now how high does he draft brother Lon…?

So that’s 7 managers (if we count the Grace/Ken partnership as 1 manager), but Kristian said there would be 10 managers. So who else could we see?

A grand return?

mts Movie-Trivia-Schmoedown-Emma-Fyffe.jpg2018 was the season of the Fyffe Club and Emma Fyffe was a deserved Manager of the Year, however her role as Commissioner of the Teams and Innergeekdom Divisions meant that she had to give up managing a faction to avoid a conflict of interests. Perhaps the pressures of running 2 divisions (3 if you count picking up much of Samm Levine’s work in the Singles Division) will see her choose to step down as Commissioner and go back to managing. Only Marc Andreyko remains of her old faction, but I feel that the work she did to bring the old Fyffe Club together could be replicated on a grander scale in Season 7.

mts Movie-Trivia-Schmoedown-Clarke-Wolfe-1024x576If Emma Fyffe chooses not to step down as Commissioner, perhaps one of her old faction will step into the role. Enter Clarke Wolfe, who has stepped away from competing but has talked about remaining involved with the Schmoedown. We’ve already seen her appearing on the desk, but perhaps she will choose to take on a more active role and pass on her experience as a former champion.

Change of focus

feat mts Movie-Trivia-Schmoedown-John-Rocha-The-Outlaw-LiveCompeting at the top of the Schmoedown is a hard task and requires a lot of time and focus, so it is no surprise that so many former champions have stepped away from competing or had a hiatus from the league. One man who has been competing since Season 2 without a break however is John Rocha. “The Outlaw” and teammate Dan Murrell will be putting their partnership on the line in their Championship Match against KOrruption, who included the stipulation that the Founding Fathers must split up if they lose. Perhaps if this happens, Rocha will take some time out from competing and pass on his experience by becoming a manager. He has the knowledge of the game and the ability on the mic to be a great manager and with the limited success of the Horsemen this year, it could be just what he needs to build a new successful faction.

Going Live

Collider Live has become important viewing for Schmoedown fans in 2019 with a healthy dose of Schmoedown content. From talking about the recent matches and live events, to a number of announcements. Roxy has started and built on a number of her feuds this year on the show, but perhaps it will be the source of the next manager.

mts brett sheridan free4all3Fan favourite Brett Sheridan made his Schmoedown debut at the Free 4 All and may choose to take on a more active (but not competing) role as a manager. Like many of the managers above, his comedic background gives him a great presence on the mic that will be so helpful for a competitor who would rather focus on their performance at the table.

mts cody hall lon harrisCody Hall is arguably the MVP of Collider Live every week but has rarely featured on the Schmoedown since the old fantasy stats segments with Josh Macuga and his match against Lon Harris to kick off Season 5. Though having recently having a child may limit his availability, his quick wit and comedic timing would surely make him a fan favourite manager.

 

Looking even further into recurring members of the Collider Live group, Dorina Arellano and Kate Mulligan have been regulars on the show so would not feel out of place if they transferred over to the Schmoedown as a new manager, while they would also be able to create new characters for themselves due to not being already established in the league.

If you can’t beat them…

mtscoyFollowing on from the suggestion of Clarke Wolfe becoming a manager, there were a few other competitors who came to mind as potential managers. Coy Jandreau’s record as a competitor isn’t great, but he has always been such a great personality in matches and I thought his promo at the LA live event during Anarchy did a great job of highlighting his ability on the mic.

Winston Marshall has also had a limited impact on the league since Eric Zipper brought an end to the World’s Finest, but he always did a great job on the mic. He has made a few appearances on Collider Live and in the early SEN live streams that will surely be adding to his popularity. Another who always seems seconds away from a great line, he is another with great mic skills and I am confident that he would also do a great job switching to a managerial role.

mts Movie-Trivia-Schmoedown-Joseph-ScrimshawThe final name that came to mind was that of Ken’s old rival in the Star Wars Division: Joseph Scrimshaw. With a number of new faces appearing in the Star Wars Division and only a few matches per season, he may decide that management is a good way to take a more active role in the league, while his previous matches have highlighted his ability on the mic that will again alleviate the pressure for a competitor who wants to focus on the trivia rather than the showmanship.

The great unknown

And finally… we could have some new personalities that we don’t yet know about. Kaiser wasn’t even part of the league a year ago and now he has a faction with 3 competitors, including the current Singles Champion. The great news about the Schmoedown is that it is still growing and therefore there is a great chance of us finding not just great new competitors, but also great new managers.

 

Let’s see who comes out on top in the nuclear fallout…

Anarchy Round 1

Anarchy Round 1

The 2018 Ultimate Schmoedown is underway and as its name suggested, the Team tournament has been anarchy. For those of you who have missed a big chunk of this season (you’re missing out and really need to go back and watch what you missed), all teams were disbanded and picked from a hat, leading to 16 new teams – well technically 15 new and the Wildberries – and a number of new managers. Following the Shirewolves’ victory to earn the Team Title and a few other issues with the original selections, the 16 teams were confirmed along with the bracket and the tournament kicked off at the 3rd live event.

The Round 1 results were:

  • Founding Fathers beat Wait, I Know This! by TKO 20-17
  • The Paddington Two beat War Machine by TKO 23-21
  • The Odd Couple beat Team Seb’s by TKO 20-10
  • Who’s the Boss? beat Crazy Eighty-Greats 28-27
  • Cinemaniacs beat Franchise Force by TKO 26-19
  • KOrruption beat Inky and the Brain 19-18
  • Take the Cannoli beat The Self-Righteous Brothers 35-31
  • Evil Geniuses beat Wildberries by TKO 25-15

Now rather than try to do a write-up for each match as I did for the Innergeekdom Tournament, as many of these teams may not have much of a future I have decided instead to give my overall thoughts on the round instead.

Who stole Kal?

Ben Bateman was famously thrown out of Collider Collision II by Commissioner Thadd Williams after evidence suggested he was responsible for the theft of Kal the Schmoe Dog, which left Mark Reilly unable to attend fellow Horseman Dan Murrell’s match against Andrew Ghai.

mtskalgonebenIt became clear ahead of his first match with Ben as part of Who’s the Boss? that Reilly has not forgotten or forgiven “The Boss” for this. But Bateman once again declared his innocence and I’m still inclined to agree with him. It still seems far too convenient to me that Thadd was sent a picture of Kal in Bateman’s car as he was stood with Team Action.

But who would steal Kal and set up Bateman? Well Finstock is one potential culprit and that could play in great later down the line considering he is now managing this team, but I have a sneaky feeling that Kal’s disappearance was part of a greater corruption… or should I say KOrruption. Kalinowski has made it clear that he is not a fan of factions and the Horsemen are the one faction he has not made clear moves against, while it would have been a great chance to put Andrew Ghai off his game against Murrell (if that was the plan, it didn’t work) as revenge for Action’s win over DC Movie News.

Changes to the Viper Squad?

When it was first announced that Ethan Erwin and Jeannine “The Machine” would be on a team together and managed by Jay Washington, this looked like the perfect opportunity for the Viper Squad to recruit him. Unfortunately, plans may have been scuppered slightly by Ethan having to swap partners due to scheduling issues, but “The Urban Gladiator” managed to sweet-talk Thadd into allowing him to manage both teams. Sadly for Jay, neither of his teams could make it past Round 1, but it looks like he may still have a chance of winning over Erwin as he announced that he will remain as his manager for the remainder of the season.

The Viper Squad have done a good job this year considering two of the 3 competitors are rookies and there are some underrated talents in that faction, but if they can convince Ethan Erwin to join the faction, then that will instantly make their rivals sit up and take notice.

mtsmarkeiaBut will all of the other Vipers still be there? It looks like Jay has managed to keep the peace between Jeannine and Stacy Howard after they were put up against each other and Andreyko at Collision, but “Marvelous” Markeia McCarty appeared to be enjoying her time away from the Viper Squad as manager of Take The Cannoli, saying that she felt smothered and not allowed to shine in the Viper Squad. The Viper Squad could really push into the upper echelons of the factions if they can continue to grow together, if they have to keep rebuilding every year, it will be hard for them to dominate the league.

A star is born

As far as debuts go, they don’t go much better than Chance Ellison. “The Cobra” made his debut alongside Mike Kalinowski as part of KOrruption at the tender age of 20 (I feel old!) and looked instantly at home. Having come up from the fan leagues, people already knew that the knowledge was there, it was just a question of whether he could cope in the top flight with the pressure of the lights and the crowds. Well he’s already popped up onstage at the live event, joined Napzok and Kalinowski in a pre-match scene and won his debut team match.

mtschanceAnd in his debut match itself, he was the top scorer in the opening round, missing a perfect round by just 1 point whilst also correctly answering his solo question in the final round and working well with “The Killer” to work through a poor spin in Round 2. 1 match may be a small sample size, but so far he’s proving the crowd’s chants of “overrated” very wrong. The Founding Fathers will be a much sterner test than Inky and the Brain and there will be no easy matches as they work through the bracket, but if they can carry on through the tournament, Chance could add his name to the shortlist for Rookie of the Year.

One other thing that could help him go for Rookie of the Year would be a strong start to his Singles career. He’s been named as one of the 5 competitors in contention for the final 2 places in the Ultimate Schmoedown Singles Tournament. There are some strong names even in that group of 5 so there is no guarantee that he will progress, but if he can continue how he has started, we may have just seen a new tar enter the league.

mtstptRoom for improvement

The Paddington Two may have beat War Machine and impressed me along the way, but they will have sterner tests as the tournament progresses. They clearly have a strong knowledge of movies but I still worry that (despite Matt Atchity having now played 12 matches and both Free 4 Alls) they will struggle with their knowledge of how to play the game.

When Atchity and Duralde were conferring in Round 2 they were making no attempt to cover their mouths, so if they had got the question wrong, their conferring may have helped their opponents get to the right answer for the steal. Atchity also asked on a steal for multiple choice – not possible as War Machine went for a 2-point answer – which is something that I have noticed he does in most of his matches.

The Schmeodown has come on so far from its beginnings, movie trivia will get you so far but you need to be able to play the game if you are going to rise to the top. I can’t see them pulling off a result against The Odd Couple.

mtscoyMore please

One of the best bits of Round 1 has been seeing some other competitors reborn as managers. I’ve been a fan of Coy Jandreau’s happiness and enthusiasm when he is on the Schmoedown and I was so happy to see him named as a manger in this tournament. He didn’t disappoint at all with his Jeff-Goldblum-inspired promo at the live event and while I was happy as a Horsemen fan to see the Founding Fathers win, it was disappointing knowing that Coy’s time as a manger in this tournament would be over.

Jonny Loquasto is another who I have really enjoyed this year as a mouthpiece for his competitors and again it is a shame that his time in the competition was over almost as fast as his time at the announcer’s desk at Collision.

Markeia looked energised managing Take the Cannoli – who can blame her with competitors like Drew and Brianne! – and Ricky Hayberg was a wonderful addition to the Wildberries.

I really hope that the Anarchy tournament leads to some of these guys deciding to stay as managers as they have not all found success competing but all bring something to the league. They don’t all need to start factions, but even just being as mouthpieces for unaligned competitors would bring a new dimension to the league, whilst also ensuring it wasn’t the same 4 or 5 people competing in the Manager Bowl every year at Spectacular.

Predicting the Quarterfinals

I wrote this during the week before the quarterfinals started but due to a combination of work and travel, it is likely that the first match will have aired by the time this goes up.

The Odd Couple v The Paddington Two: Assuming Sneider and Andreyko can continue to work together, I think their better knowledge of the game will give The Odd Couple the victory

mtswtbCinemaniacs v Who’s the Boss?: Plenty of pedigree in this match with the current Singles Champion and former Team Champion facing off against the former 2-time Singles Champ and one of the best prospects in the game. Reilly is getting over his rust and I think the way that he and Bateman are gelling will see them make it to the semis

The Harris Bros v Take the Cannoli: It’s such a shame that JTE has had to step back from the Schmoedown for the rest of the season as he recovers (get well soon JTE!) as it looks like the Evil Geniuses could have been dangerous. I don’t know anything about Lon’s new competitor other than that it is his brother, so I have to lean towards Take the Cannoli

UntitledFounding Fathers v KOrruption: Putting aside all Horsemen bias here, I’ve still got to pick the Founding Fathers as they have experience on their side. That said, if Chance can put in another great performance and the categories fall right for Kalinowski, this could easily go against the former champions

What did you think about the first round of the tournament? Who stood out to you and who are you expecting to win in the Quarters? Let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading!

Premier League Ramble – 2017/18 Round 22

Premier League Ramble – 2017/18 Round 22

Round 22 is in the books (and the leftovers from Round 20) and the battles for position continue throughout the league. Manchester United’s win at Everton put them back into second ahead of Chelsea, who drew 2-2 at the Emirates. Liverpool currently hold a 3 point lead over Spurs for the final Champions League spot after their Ragnar Klavan’s late winner against Burnley, who are going through a hard spell of games and now sit 5 points behind 6th placed Arsenal. Towards the bottom of the table, West Ham’s win over West Brom lifts them out of the relegation zone to 16th, while Stoke, West Brom and Swansea currently occupy the bottom 3 with Southampton just ahead of stoke courtesy of goal difference.

On the hot seat

Mark Hughes took a gamble by fielding a heavily weakened side against Chelsea in Round 21 with a view to starting his top players against Newcastle, a game that looked much more winnable. However his Stoke team were routed 5-0 at Stamford Bridge and lost to the Magpies 1-0. His team selections made this a must-win game and as defiant as he was in interviews afterwards, I can’t help but think that his time with the Potters is coming to an end. He may not have had the best of luck with injuries at the back this season, but Stoke’s 47 goals conceded is the most in the league despite having a prospective England international goalkeeper in Jack Butland. With the sale of Marko Arnautovic, they are struggling to put the ball in the net at the other end, leaving them in the bottom 3 by way of goal difference.

pltab
The Premier League table after 22 rounds – From http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport

The team directly above them, Southampton, are likely also considering a change of leadership at the moment. For so many seasons, the Saints have continued to impress in the league despite selling the vast majority of their players to Liverpool other clubs and also losing a couple of successful managers to bigger and better things. Claude Puel was unpopular last year and got the sack after just one season despite an 8th place finish, yet his replacement Mauricio Pellegrino has not lived up to his predecessors and their loss at home to Crystal Palace leaves them flirting with the relegation zone. There was always going to come a time when Southampton’s heavy turnover would catch up with them, but under Pellegrino they look a shadow of their former selves. It wouldn’t surprise me if the board are considering alternatives.

The long-awaited debut

Leicester fans finally got to see Adrien Silva on the field after months of training with the club due to him having not been available for selection until January. The Portugal midfielder was signed from Sporting CP on transfer deadline day in August, however the documentation did not reach FIFA until 14 seconds after the deadline, so he remained ineligible to play until he could be registered once the next transfer window opened.

I’ve heard many people comment on the ridiculousness of Leicester being penalised for the sake of 14 seconds, but deadlines are in place for a reason. If you let it go this time, then you open up a can of worms where you can ask how long after the deadline is still acceptable: 30 seconds? A minute? The deadline should have been known by everybody in the business, so the club should not have been leaving things to the last minute. Get your business done early in the window and there is no need to panic or risk missing a deadline.

If anything, the delay has probably helped him, as it meant he was not involved in the poor start to the season and was also able to spend months acclimatising to the team tactics and building chemistry with his teammates, rather than being thrown straight in at the deep end as most deadline day transfers would be.

That said though, whoever decided to give Silva the number 14 shirt at Leicester deserves a bonus!

Transfer watch

Over recent weeks I’ve noticed a few selection decisions that could be pointing to the intention of some teams in the transfer market this month.

Luke Shaw has not had the best of relationships with Mourinho this season, but in recent weeks has been getting more game time, helped by injury to Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young’s suspension. These appearances are great news for United as I always felt that before his injuries he was destined to become the first choice left back for the national team. These appearances give him a chance to prove he still deserves a spot at United and could help him revitalise his career at Old Trafford, while if he is considered surplus to requirements it is a chance to put him in the shop window and try to recoup more of the £31m the paid Southampton to sign him in 2014.

plres
All the results from the latest round of matches, plus Round 20’s postponed fixture between Spurs and West Ham – From http://www.premierleague.com

Yaya Touré has also come off the bench for Manchester City a couple of times recently. I’d completely forgotten the Ivorian was still even at the club and he seems very much on the periphery of Guardiola’s plans. At 34, he is past his prime but could still have a couple of seasons in him, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see him move on by the end of the month.

If Chelsea don’t look to sign a striker this month then I will be shocked. Michy Batshuayi on paper looks to be second fiddle to Alvaro Morata, but in actuality Antonio Conte has preferred playing Eden Hazard as a false 9 when the Spaniard is unavailable. With Chelsea currently still playing in 4 competitions, they need to have another striker they can rely on and will surely look to bring in some reinforcements. If they do get someone, I would expect Batshuayi to leave Stamford Bridge in search of more regular football.

Outside of Liverpool’s ‘Fab 4’, Dominic Solanke appears to have become Jürgen Klopp’s favoured alternative at the striker position, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see at least one of Daniel Sturridge and Danny Ings leaving Anfield this month. Sturridge is a talented player when on form (though I often feel he is a little too selfish) but he is too much of an injury liability for a club that wants to be winning multiple trophies and I can see Liverpool looking to cash in on him. Ings is the harder one to judge. His last couple of seasons have been blighted by injury, but I am a fan of him and think that at 25 all it may take is a successful loan spell to get him back in Herr Klopp’s plans. If I was Klopp, I would look at loaning him out until the summer in order to get him regular first team football, then make a decision on his future after the season. That said, many teams need a reliable goal scorer this season, so if the offer is good enough I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ings move on a permanent deal sooner rather than later.

 

Round 23 predictions:

Chelsea v Leicester City – Chelsea win

Crystal Palace v Burnley – Burnley win

Huddersfield Town v West Ham United – Draw

Newcastle United v Swansea City – Newcastle win

Watford v Southampton – Draw

West Bromwich Albion v Brighton & Hove Albion – Draw

Tottenham Hotspur v Everton – Spurs win

AFC Bournemouth v Arsenal – Arsenal win

Liverpool v Manchester City – City win

Manchester United v Stoke City – United win