Category Archives: Leicester City

THE PREMIER LEAGUE DEBUTANTS – WHO IMPRESSED?

The first week of Premier League fixtures has passed and we got a look in into some of the new talents that will be on offer during the season. In this article I’ll go over some of the more impressive debuts team by team.

Newcastle United – Jeff Hendrick and Callum Wilson

Newcastle have done some tidy business this summer, and two of their signings scored both goals in a comfortable win over West Ham United.

Hendrick was impressive all round with his work rate and passing from midfield, his efforts were rewarded with an emphatic strike to seal their win in the dying minutes. Callum Wilson caused issues with his forward runs and looked fairly decent up front with Andy Carroll.

His goal really showed off his poachers instinct and how crucial he could be for the Toon this season. Getting the first goal helped the team push on and he could be that man for them this season.

Arsenal – Willian and Gabriel Magalhaes

Wow. What a debut for these boys.Arsenal wanted some Brazilian flair and they certainly got it. Gabriel made a fairly slow start to the game, looking shaky on the ball and not full of confidence. He soon, however, grew into the game and even scored from a corner just after the break.

His defensive prowess shined through further as he made himself difficult to get past and was calm and composed in possession. He certainly looks value for money in Arteta’s system.

The catalyst to their goals against Fulham was of course Willian, who grabbed three assists in his first match as a Gunner. After making the switch from Chelsea on a free many fans questioned the decision, few probably would’ve held the same opinions after this game. The winger was unplayable and Arsenal fans will be hoping for more of the same.

Everton – Allan, Abdoulaye Doucoure, James Rodriguez

This midfield really could be something special for Everton this season. After all the issues they had in the middle of the park last year they could have really struck gold this time around.

Doucoure and Allan offered ways to frustrate Spurs and broke up play very well. Doucoure offered an outlet throughout the pitch with a more box to box display, whilst Allan was superb as a defensive anchor.

The team looked more solid as a unit with them playing and with their technical ability (very underrated aspects of their game) they were able to transition with greater effect.

The biggest name was of course James Rodriguez. A player Everton wouldn’t have dreamed of signing five/six years ago, but he was certainly what they’d hoped for. Technically gifted and fantastic in possession, his vision and talent was clear to see – he was even close to getting a goal on a couple of occasions.

Carlo Ancelotti looks to have built an impressive first team, whether they have the depth to compete is yet to be seen.

Leicester City – Timothy Castagne

Castagne was superb at Atalanta last season, and he made a great start in the Premier League too as he contributed heavily to their 3-0 win over West Brom.

Castagne scored the opening goal of the game and was a threat throughout the game offering a great outlet from full-back. He looks like a player that will adapt well to the league and is an exciting addition to what is a talented attacking Leicester team.

Wolves – Fernando Marcal

Fernando Marcal was part of the Lyon team that impressed so much in the Champions League last season, and his defensive rashness made it a strange choice for Nuno to start him at Left-wing-back. He played best at the left of a back three last season.

The Brazilian gave an assured and defensively solid performance and his side strolled to a 2-0 win over Sheffield United. With Jonny out injured Wolves would’ve been reassured with this performance, and Marcal’s experience could prove very important in such a young side.

Chelsea – Timo Werner

The hype surrounding Timo Werner has been no secret, the striker was superb during his time at RB Leipzig and plenty of fans are excited to see him perform in the Premier League.

Whilst he didn’t score on debut, he was lively and caused Brighton all sorts of issues with his pressing and direct runs in between their centre- backs.

He even won the penalty that Jorghino scored to give them the lead, and continued to look a constant threat. He’ll be a useful player to press teams back as his pace will force opponents to take caution. Out of the debutants he was the real bright spark as Kai Havertz flattered to deceive.

He’ll come good in front of goal and this was a good start for him.

five youngsters to watch in the Premier League

As the Premier League season kicks back into full gear with everyone in action this weekend, what better time than to look at five youngsters who could be set for breakthrough campaigns in 2020/21.

Rhian Brewster – Liverpool

Liverpool player for now, but a lot perhaps depends on where the 20-year-old does end up. Should he remain with the Premier League champions? It is unlikely the former Under-17 World Cup Golden Boot winner will get the game time required to have an impact, however, should his much talked about departure come to fruition – this could well the year Brewster makes it on the biggest stage.

Jamie Shackleton – Leeds United

Leeds born and raised. Jamie Shackleton made 22 Championship appearances during the Whites title-winning campaign and could be set to have a big impact on the highest level. An England Under-20 international with a forward-thinking nature from midfield, the 20-year-old who possesses bags of energy could well be one to impress from the eye-catching Marcelo Bielsa side.

Tyrick MitchellCrystal Palace

The left-back from the Palace academy. After joining at a young age from Brentford, Mitchell looks set for a big season in Roy Hodgson’s squad. The 21-year-old looks set to put serious pressure on Patrick van Aanholt for the number one choice and started in the absence of the Dutchman in the opening day win against Southampton at Selhurst Park.

Khanya LeshabelaLeicester City

South African born 20-year-old who has been around the first-team squad during pre-season. To date Leshabela’s appearances have been restricted to Under-23 outings, however, do not be at all surprised to see his name make its way onto at least Brendan Rodgers’ bench during the season. A powerful runner who is tricky on the ball and blessed with pace and can play both centrally and out wide.

Regan Slater – Sheffield United

A product of the Blades youth system who has captained numerous academy sides at Bramall Lane. There are extremely high hopes Slater. The 21-year-old made his first-team debut way back in 2016 against Grimbsy Town, becoming the youngest Sheffield United debutante in the process. Slater has since spent successful loan spells at Carlisle United and Scunthorpe United, expected to stay with Chris Wilder’s squad this time and could have a major impact on the season.

When you are forced to put these lads in your FPL team later in the season, don’t say we didn’t warn you!

Wanted man: a profile on james tarkowski

As the bids pour in from West Ham United for Burnley centre-half James Tarkowski, what better time than to profile the centre-half, who could end up fetching a hefty fee this summer, with a release clause apparently set an eye-watering £50 million.

A 27 year old Tarkowski may be no spring chicken, but unlike many top flight footballers his rise to prominence came rather later in his career than most.

Now a mainstay in Sean Dyche’s solid Burnley XI, it is safe to say Tarkowski earned his stripes before making it in the big time.

Early Life

Born in Manchester and with Polish family blood, hence the surname, Tarkowski joined the academy at Blackburn Rovers before his release at the age of 14 at his own request.

Following a spell of toughening up in adult football in the North West Counties league for Maine Road, the no nonsense defender was signed by Oldham Athletic when he left school on a two-year scholarship, and was handed a professional contract in 2011 at Boundary Park.

The now Burnley man’s first taste of pro senior football came on  22 January 2011 when he appeared as a second half substitute for the Latics.

Lower League Sensation

Tawkowski went on to make 89 appearances for Oldham in all competitions, but in truth he was showing signs of a far greater level than the club could offer.

Despite this, Oldham attempted to keep their man by offering him a new contract, before a then League One Brentford came calling in 2014. Soon-after the Tic was a Bee after the two clubs agreed an undisclosed fee and the centre-half put pen to paper on a three and a half year deal.

After playing a bit-part role in Brentford’s promotion to the Championship, it was in the second tier of English football when the Englishman began to show his true potential.

His form across his 57 Championship outings in two seasons brought the attention of multiple clubs, with Sean Dyche’s Burnley ultimately being the lucky side to secure his signature.

On 1 February 2016, Tarkowski signed a three-and-a-half-year contract with a promotion chasing Clarets side for another undisclosed fee.

In truth the defender hasn’t always been first choice at Turf Moor, suffering a watching brief for large portions of his early time at the club, until the departure of Michael Keane to Everton opened up a position in the heart of the Burnley defence, Tarkowski has never looked back.

Since 2017/18 he has played 103 Premier League matches, including appearing in each of Burnley’s 38 games last term, underlining his new found importance to Dyche’s side. No wonder the rough speaking manager is desperate to keep hold of his man.

England Honours

Having been eligible to play for Poland through his grandfather, On 15 March 2018, Tarkowski was named in the England squad for friendlies against the Netherlands and Italy, making his debut on 27 March at Wembley Stadium starting in a 1-1 draw with the Italians.

A man of currently only two caps, there is no doubt more will come should he continue his outstanding form in the future, wherever he plies his trade.

Where Next?

With reported major interest from West Ham, including two rejected bids to date, and with Leicester City seemingly monitoring the situation, where next for James Tarkowski? If anywhere.

Whilst there is no doubt his form and levels of consistency make him worthy of a move to perhaps the slightly upper echelons of the Premier League, £50 million seems a little extortionate, although for for £10 million less you’re getting half the player Harry Maguire is, and the 27 year old Burnley man certainly isn’t that.

The West Ham link seems a strange one, not because David Moyes’ squad wouldn’t benefit from the centre back, because they would. More because it’s somewhat of a sideways, arguably backwards move for him. Despite the perceived size of the clubs, the claret and blue of Burnley finished a full six places higher than the claret and blue of West Ham last term.

It could easily be argued the Leicester switch is a more desirable, viable and perhaps suitable one. A team who certainly threatened the top four for much of the season, have Europa League football, and will compete in the domestic trophies, is perhaps whereabouts Tarkowski should be aiming.

Ready For The Elite?

TalkSport host Ally McCoist did recently question why some of the big boys in the top flight weren’t making their enquiries, however a crack at the very elite levels may just be one tiny step too far for the twice capped England man.

That said Tarkowski did make the WhoScored.com European team of the season a line-up is based purely on statistics as Burnley kept the same number of clean sheets as champions Liverpool in 2019/20, largely down to that man leading the defence.

Premier league 2020/21: WHO CAN WIN IT?

The new Premier League season begins this weekend, unbeleivably as it seems like only yesterday we were waving goodbye to the last season.

Ahead of the 2020/21 season, we have some questions surrounding the top of the table. Can Pep’s Manchester City rid themselves of last years frailties and compete for longer this time? Or will Liverpool continue their consistency and defend their title?

Let’s not rule out the possibility of Manchester United’s continuing their progression and it would be almost insanity to dismiss Chelsea, given their spends, wouldn’t it?

Here’s how I think the teams involved in the upper echelons of the Premier League title race will play out in 2020/21…

Liverpool

The reigning champions. Jurgen Klopp’s side may have ended the season in somewhat bizarre fashion as they rather limped over the line following lock-down and title celebrations. That should not take away from the sheer dominance the Reds imparted on the Premier League.

While many people question the business, or lack of business done by the champions up until now, its my belief only minor changes are required, if any at all.

Natural left-back cover for Andy Robertson was required and has been found in Greek international Kostas Tsimikas.

One saga, which rumbles on is the Thiago Alcantara links, now joined by the Gini Wijnaldum to Barcelona rumours. Whilst many Liverpool fans may argue why not have both? I’m not sure there is room both in the current group, a squad that already boasts a plethora of central midfield options and the two players are of a similar mould.

The main bone of contention continues to be the back-up options to the starting XI. Should Klopp face a long-term injury to his front-line options the understudies may not be of a level required, although in truth that is the case of almost every team in world football. Not many can be a suitable understudy to Virgil van Dijk.

Overall, I believe Liverpool will go on to retain their title, the relentless nature in which Klopp has his squad churning out results is very difficult to keep up with week on week. Don’t be surprised by the growing influence of some of the younger players, in particular Curtis Jones, and also Naby Keita may finally find his feet in English football.

Manchester City

The main contenders to take Liverpool’s crown, Pep Guardiola’s well furnished Man City side.

There is little doubt 2019/20 can be viewed as somewhat of a failure from a sky blue perspective in Manchester. As glorious a victory as the Carabao Cup may have been, a side comprised of such talent and expenditure is expected to finish closer than 18 points off the summit. Not to mention the dismal UEFA Champions League exit.

That, however, was last term, how about now? The arrival of Nathan Ake certainly plugs a crack in the issues faced at City, a forced to be reckoned with going forwards, just ask Watford, but defensively they were often found wanting, just ask Adama Traore. However, I’m not sure Ake is the answer, for one the Dutchman is very much a left-sided centre-back, similarly to Aymeric Laporte. On top of which, despite being a more than decent operator at Premier League level, he isn’t elite, and City are operating amongst that level.

Elsewhere, the club has seen the departure of David Silva from the Etihad, a fine servant to the football club who leaves with the knowledge he will be forever immortalised in statue form. On the field, in a more mobile capacity, Silva is likely to be replaced by the much praised but lesser seen Phil Foden.

Pep has also spent £20 million on former Valencia man Ferran Torres, a 20 year old right winger who arrives with plenty of plaudits and provides competition to the likes of Rihad Mahrez, Bernado Silva and Foden himself.

Whilst the transfer window remains open there is always the chance City could strengthen further, although the Lionel Messi links have now subsided, as things stand in the week of the season’s opening day they haven’t addressed the areas of the squad suitable to overcome an 18 point swing.

Manchester United

Despite the obvious improvement in the past six months, particularly since Bruno Fernandes arrived back in January, there are still areas of weakness at Old Trafford.

Ole Gunnar Solskjær is learning on the job somewhat and with that there is bound to come mistakes, certainly when up against seasoned campaigners over a prolonged period.

Despite the frailties, however, it should be another year of progression for the red half of Manchester, who have already bolstered their midfield ranks with the arrival of Donny van de Beek from Ajax. One or two more signings, particularly in defensive positions and they should find themselves cutting the gap to the top two.

Chelsea

Who haven’t they signed? One thing is for sure is the Blues are set to be an enthralling watch with the attacking prowess in their currently huge squad.

Boasting the likes of Kai Havertz, Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech, to name but a few, Frank Lampard’s side will give anybody a match on their day, but it’s consistency they may lack to begin with.

They shipped goals all too regularly to maintain prolonged title challenge last term and as things stand that won’t change too much, despite the arrival of the vastly experienced Thiago Silva, it’ll remain a difficult ask to breach the gap to the top two.

Any Other Contenders

Whilst the Premier League has seen Leicester City win the title against the odds, it seems unlikely 2020/21 will see another Claudio Ranieri and Jamie Vardy shaped fairy-tale, but you never know. The main protagonists would of course be Tottenham and Arsenal, although the rivals may be best focusing on breaking into the top four instead of harbouring serious title ambitions.

Outside of the North Londoners, perhaps Wolves could be considered for a tilt for a time being, however a 38 game threat seems unlikely at this stage.

With over a month left in the transfer window anything can happen (Messi), but for now it’s back to back Liverpool glory. After-all, top flight domestic titles are like Mersey Ferries, you wait 30 years for one and two come along at once….

Odsonne Edouard- Celtic’s ‘French Eddy’ Who is Ripping Up the SPL

Celtic kicked off their charge for a record breaking 10 Scottish Premiership titles in a row by dismantling Hamilton 5-1 at home.

French forward Odsonne Edouard picked up where he left off last season by netting a hat-trick, and picking up the man of the match award after another impressive display.

The 22 year old is subject to Premier League interest, with Arsenal the latest club to be linked to the striker, seeing him as an ideal replacement for Aubameyang should the Gabonese international choose to leave the Gunners this summer.

Celtic are still confident of hanging on to Edouard, with their hopes of becoming the first Scottish side to win 10 league titles in a row, largely hinging on the forward staying at Celtic Park.

This is because Edouard has become such a pivotal figure for Celtic since first arriving at the club on loan in 2017 from PSG.

A relatively unknown entity at the time, aged just 19, Edouard had risen through the ranks at PSG but had failed to break into the first team at the Parc de Princes.

This was through no fault of his own but rather the star studded line up at PSG blocking his path to the starting eleven.

He first showcased his evident talent on a big stage in 2015, when he was named player of the tournament and was top goalscorer with 8 goals as France won the U17 European Championships.

After a failed loan spell at Toulouse the season after, the Frenchman swapped Paris for Glasgow, agreeing a season long loan switch to Brendan Rodgers’ side with an option to buy at the end of it.

A goal on his debut against Hamilton would set the tone for Edouard’s time on Glasgow’s East End to date. He made 29 appearances that season, netting 11 goals and providing 4 assists, a decent return for his first full season in senior men’s football.

The highlight of his and many Celtic fans’ campaign was undoubtedly his winner at Ibrox in March at the Old Firm game, which was a glimpse of what was to come from the Frenchman.

Celtic had come from behind twice in the game before being reduced to 10 men in the second half. With 69 minutes on the clock Eduoard received the the ball on the left hand side. He darted into the area before dropping his shoulder and cutting inside, curling an effort into the far corner to send the travelling Celtic faithful into hysterics.

A month later he would bag a brace against the same opposition, to really endear himself to Hoops fans as Celtic romped to a double treble.

With countryman Moussa Dembele departing in the summer of 2018 to Lyon for a fee of £20 million, Celtic were able to break their transfer record to bring ‘French Eddy’ (as he is fondly known by Celtic fans) back to Celtic Park on a permanent deal.

The deal was reportedly worth £9 million, a sum which Celtic could quadruple now if they were willing to cash in on Edouard, given his performances over the past two seasons.

With Dembele moving on, the Frenchman was now Celtic’s main frontman, with Rodgers, and his successor Neil Lennon opting to play with just a sole striker in either a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3 formation.

Edouard carried that burden superbly well, registering 22 goals and 8 assists in all competitions as Celtic secured a monumental ‘treble treble.’

He seems like a manager’s dream for a striker. He is strong and his hold up play is great, he can regularly be seen holding off a defender before bringing others into play and continuing his run into the box to get on the end of the cross.

He has an explosive turn of pace, is good at dribbling and in one v one situations and has the eye for a killer pass.

His finishing is first class, he is comfortable on either foot and his goal compilations involve various types of finishes, whether that be long range screamers, curling efforts, tap ins or deft side foot placements into the far corner, Edouard has it all in his locker.

Although in some games he may fend off scraps and be uninvolved in build up play, he comes alive in and around the penalty area. If he is presented with just one opportunity, odds he will pounce.

He showed all these admirable attributes last campaign in what was his best season in green to date. Edouard found the back of the net 27 times and provided a further 19 assists in all competitions.

With the SPL taking the decision to curtail the league with 8 games remaining it is frightening to think how many more goals Edouard could have netted, especially considering his form since the turn of the year.

Lennon’s decision to switch to a 3-5-2 formation after the winter break as well as the up turn in form of full back Greg Taylor all benefitted Edouard tremendously.

Firstly, he struck up a great partnership with fellow frontman Leigh Griffiths. After leading the line on his own for much of the season, having another player around him helped Edouard to become more involved in the game and he linked up really well with Griffiths for a number of his own goals and others scored by the Hoops.

Manager Neil Lennon was full of praise for the duo in February telling Celtic TV:

“He (Edouard) is a mercurial talent. If you look at both his goals at the weekend they are very difficult and he makes them look easy.

“His movement off the ball, I think it helps sometimes having a body around him, him and Griff, particularly at Kilmarnock, the two of them linked up brilliantly. His all-round game is improving all the time.”

Secondly, the three at the back allowed Lennon to deploy the more attack minded full backs Taylor and Jeremie Frimpong further up the pitch, which worked to devastating effect for the champions, and in particular Edouard.

The Frenchman thrives off crosses into the box, and the two full backs are experts at delivering pinpoint balls into dangerous areas.

Given his considerable height he is good in the air but Edouard is also incredibly quick and intelligent. His movement is incredible. He often starts at the edge of the area and makes darting runs across the defenders before arriving on the scene just in time to latch onto the ball and score.

Celtic won nine of their next 10 games after the tactical tweak with Edouard getting on the scoresheet nine times and setting up four other goals, as Celtic landed an unprecedented quadruple treble and Edouard scooped the club’s

Celtic reverted to a back four for their opening game of the 20/21 season, with Edouard again the sole striker, but the outcome was the same, a roaring success as the Frenchman was too hot to handle for the Accies.

Celtic have slapped a £40 million price tag on Eduaord’s head to fend off interest, as they are hell bent on keeping the striker for at least another year, with boss Lennon telling reporters after the game at the weekend:

“We don’t want him to go anywhere!”

Given that the full extent of financial implications of the coronavirus pandemic on clubs have yet to been revealed, it is a hefty price to pay and a huge gamble to take for a Premier League club, especially one like Crystal Palace who are rumoured to be interested, given that that could amount to nearly all their transfer budget.

Edouard will feel indebted to Celtic for giving him his break in football, and he seems settled in Glasgow. He has a great relationship with the fans, who adore him, he is a well liked member of the squad and has embraced the ethos of the club very well, understanding the history and what it means to play for Celtic.

It is therefore difficult to see him leaving this summer with the allure of the opportunity to write his name into Celtic and Scottish folklore looming very large in the background. It will take a huge offer to prise Celtic’s jewel from their all conquering crown.

If a lucky club manages to do so they may have unearthed another gem from Scotland, and Edouard will hope to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Andy Robertson and Virgil Van Dijk before him, fellow exports who have made it to the pinnacle of world football.