Tag Archives: Aymeric Laporte

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….

Aymeric Laporte injury: Guardiola left with central defensive headache

Aymeric Laporte was forced off the pitch with what appeared to be a serious knee injury during Manchester City’s 4-0 victory against Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday afternoon.

The 25-year-old collided with Brighton defender Adam Webster whilst attempting to stop a counter attack in the 34th minute at the Etihad Stadium.

Laporte, who is uncapped on the international stage, had just been called up to Didier Deschamps’ France squad for the first time ahead of their upcoming European Championship qualifiers against Albania and Andorra.

It is thought that the defender could be out of action for a significant period, although the extent of his injury is yet to be revealed. 

A long-term absence for Laporte – who Guardiola recently hailed as the best left-sided central defender in Europe – could have a significant impact on Manchester City’s season, with the defender playing a key role for his side since signing in January 2018. 

The injury adds the Frenchman to a growing list of absentees within the City squad, with fellow defender John Stones, Gabriel Jesus, Benjamin Mendy and Leroy Sane all currently sidelined. 

Stones, 25, has missed City’s previous two matches after suffering a thigh injury and was not selected in Gareth Southgate’s upcoming England squad.

That leaves Nicolas Otamendi as the only recognised centre-back currently fully-fit in Pep Guardiola’s squad.

The summer departure of former captain Vincent Kompany, who re-joined boyhood club Anderlecht in July, could come back to haunt City’s hierarchy having decided against securing a replacement during the summer transfer window.

However, Guardiola claims that City could not afford to sign a new central defender in the summer.

Guardiola said: “We could not buy like opponents or teams offer us or ask for players.

“Of course we spent a lot two seasons ago, but last season one player, this season a little bit more, so we could not pay the money wanted.

“But we have an alternative and sometimes when that [an injury like Laporte’s] happens, the team unites better and we are going to find solutions to do that.”

John Stones could be in contention to return to City’s squad following the international break, while Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho  who replaced Laporte during Saturday’s win  is said to be a further option at centre-half. 

Guardiola added that Kyle Walker could also be utilised centrally, along with academy graduates Eric Garcia and Taylor Harwood-Bellis, despite neither of the youthful pair having appeared in the Premier League. 

Manchester City return to Premier League action after the international break with a trip to newly-promoted Norwich City on September 14.