Chelsea’s unsuitable strategy vs. Man Metropolis, Arsenal thump Spurs, Ansu Fati’s return a lift for Barcelona

The European soccer weekend provided up a ton of tasty speaking factors, as per regular. We had classes galore from Manchester City‘s win over Chelsea and Arsenal‘s derby rout of Tottenham, whereas Barcelona welcomed again a star in Ansu Fati after an extended harm layoff — oh, and he scored in a confidence-boosting win. There have been considerations for Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool, plus frustration for Jose Mourinho’s Roma and for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Man United.

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It is Monday, and Gab Marcotti reacts to the most important moments on the earth of soccer.

Soar to: Man City beat Chelsea | Real Madrid woe? | Arsenal smash Spurs | No excuses for Dortmund | Barca’s blueprint | Mourinho rages | Brentford, Liverpool fun | Juventus win, but also lose | Solskjaer whines | Atletico have issues | Maldini scores for Milan | PSG stay perfect in Ligue 1 | Inter’s Barella is a star

Man Metropolis near flawless in win, however Chelsea’s strategy would not assist

The outstanding factor about Pep Guardiola is how typically we throw out cliched criticism and the way typically it seems to be unsuitable. We used to say his Manchester City facet have been suspect defensively: effectively, they’ve conceded as soon as within the league this season, and up to now 4 seasons, they’ve had the stingiest or second-stingiest protection within the Premier League.

We used to say (to be honest, some nonetheless do) that they want a “acknowledged striker” — effectively, they practically received a Quadruple final 12 months with out one (and, no, Gabriel Jesus just isn’t a “acknowledged striker,” no matter meaning).

Return and there are lots extra examples. Bernardo Silva has gone off the boil, Rodri is simply too gradual, Kyle Walker is not technical sufficient for a Guardiola workforce, Joao Cancelo cannot defend, no person is aware of who Ruben Dias is. Nicely, Bernardo Silva was arguably man of the match in Saturday’s 1-Zero win at Stamford Bridge, Rodri, Walker and Cancelo are fixtures on this workforce, and it is secure to say everyone is aware of who Ruben Dias is.

Metropolis got here into the Chelsea sport after a lacklustre draw towards Southampton (a sport they may have misplaced) and easily pressed the stuffing out of the European champions. Phil Foden and Kevin De Bruyne confirmed that work price, creativity and timing out of your attacking midfielders means you possibly can play no center-forward — or higher but, rotating center-forwards — and never a miss a beat.

Aymeric Laporte returned subsequent to Dias in central protection and took care of Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner as if he’d by no means been away. Gabriel Jesus pinned Marcos Alonso — Chelsea’s solely actual outlet as soon as Reece James had come off — manner again in his personal half. With out that “acknowledged striker” of us like to speak about, they managed 11 photographs on objective from inside the field.

(More and more, I am coming round to the notion that Guardiola’s pursuit of Harry Kane wasn’t right down to him being an important striker, however right down to him being an important footballer … and I am not so positive he would have performed him as a quantity 9. In reality, it is telling that when the Kane transfer went up in smoke, Metropolis did not spend cash on one other center-forward. They in all probability will in some unspecified time in the future, perhaps in January, however I believe it is going to be a teenager with an upside or some sort of bodily “Plan B” — if not “Plan C” — slightly than any person one tier down from Kane. Within the meantime, Ferran Torres or the set-up we noticed Saturday shall be greater than sufficient.)

My colleague Julien Laurens described their formation as 2-4-4, which isn’t a misprint: it did really feel as if Dias and Laporte have been one-on-one with Werner and Lukaku. Nevertheless it did not matter, as a result of Metropolis had a lot possession and a lot strain on the ball.

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel took duty after the match, saying they could not discover a approach to play by way of the press or get the entrance pair service with lengthy balls. After I noticed the lineup, I imagined he was taking a web page out of the Antonio Conte playbook from final season: a 3-5-2 formation, with Werner standing in for Lautaro Martinez alongside Lukaku. That labored for Conte at Inter Milan, and it acquired the perfect out of Lukaku as a creator in addition to a finisher. However Conte labored on it for 2 years; this was Werner’s first time alongside Lukaku. (And, in contrast to Martinez, he is not nice at dropping off and hitting balls across the nook.)

Inter additionally had an attacking juggernaut like Achraf Hakimi down the best flank; as soon as Reece James went off inside half an hour, Chelsea had Cesar Azpilicueta who, at this stage of his profession, is mainly an undersized center-back. Plus, inter’s midfield trio included passers like Nicolo Barella and Christian Eriksen; anyone would have struggled towards Metropolis’s press, however Mateo Kovacic and N’Golo Kante aren’t these forms of gamers.

Wouldn’t it have been a distinct story if James hadn’t gotten injured, if Mason Mount had been out there (and, ergo, Chelsea would not have performed three holding midfielders) and if Kai Havertz had began? Perhaps: we’re within the realm of second guesses right here.

What is obvious is that Tuchel’s strategy did not work. In any respect. And whereas they received three straight video games earlier than this one within the league and Champions League, Chelsea have actually solely impressed for 45 minutes towards Spurs (one thing many sides handle to do) up to now 4 weeks. There’s work to be finished.

Does 0-Zero draw imply Real Madrid want to return to the tactical drafting board?

Actual Madrid supervisor Carlo Ancelotti continued his experiments towards Villarreal, maybe in an effort to evaluate his facet additional… or maybe to try to shock Unai Emery.

We noticed Fede Valverde at right-back, Nacho at left-back (forward of Miguel Gutierrez), Marco Asensio in midfield and two real wingers in Rodrygo (forward of Eden Hazard) and Vinicius. It is the kind of set-up that required an efficient press to work, and on the night time, it fell aside. Actual Madrid did play excessive up the sphere, however once they misplaced the ball, it was far too simple for Villarreal to interrupt the press and, certainly, Thibaut Courtois needed to make some large saves.

Karim Benzema had an off day, Asensio did not repeat the heroics of his final outing and neither Valverde nor Nacho (for various causes) have been efficient within the fullback roles. In reality, if not for the truth that Emery appeared content material with the draw within the second half, this may need even been worse.

It felt prefer it was an excessive amount of, too quickly for this workforce. Valverde is required in midfield, the place Casemiro goes by way of a tough interval and there is a lack of dynamism. The apparent repair there’s to play Nacho on the best and belief Miguel Gutierrez on the left till Dani Carvajal and Ferland Mendy return. Asensio deserved enjoying time, however with out an efficient press forward of him, he was uncovered.

Let it’s a reminder that there is nonetheless work to do, however equally, credit score Emery and Villarreal. He might not be everyone’s cup of tea, however as his assortment of Europa League titles exhibits, in particular person video games, he is a really robust out for anybody when he will get it proper.

Higher late than by no means: Arteta’s imaginative and prescient comes collectively vs. woeful Spurs…



Mark Donaldson and Steve Nicol mirror on Arsenal’s gorgeous 3-1 win vs Tottenham on the Emirates Stadium.

After three defeats to open the marketing campaign, Mikel Arteta and Arsenal have notched three straight wins, none extra spectacular than the 3-1 pasting of Tottenham within the North London Derby on Sunday. (Particularly the primary hour or so.) They moved the ball rapidly and exactly, they performed with aptitude and organisation, and so they appeared like a workforce that’s solely going to get higher.

Performances like this purchase you time and get followers excited for the longer term. Eight of the beginning XI have been 24 or youthful. A few of us have been saying this a 12 months in the past (and getting blasted for it), however why not embark on this rebuild sooner slightly than extending Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang‘s contract, signing Wlillian, screwing round with David Luiz or not making a call on Alexandre Lacazette? Did they actually assume they have been shut sufficient to prime 4 that it made sense to spend cash on dear older gamers?

Final 12 months appears like a wasted season in that sense, however what’s finished is completed. And whereas the large monetary commitments are nonetheless round — and can seemingly curtail the pace at which this workforce might be additional strengthened — Arsenal are lastly transferring in the best path, with the best set of gamers.

As for Tottenham, there’s not a lot to say after one of many worst performances in current reminiscence. The screws are clearly turning on Nuno Espirito Santo, himself a late, last-ditch managerial appointment. It is not all on him — there was the Harry Kane scenario, and an absence of readability in recruitment that did not assist — however it’s pretty evident that he was a part of the issue and never a part of the answer on Sunday.

Accidents aren’t an alibi for Borussia Dortmund at Gladbach



Janusz Michallik sees Borussia Dortmund’s loss to Borussia Monchengladbach as a worrying prediction for a future with out Erling Haaland.

You word that Marco Reus, Erling Haaland and a bunch of others have been out injured, and also you’re tempted to offer Borussia Dortmund a move for the defeat at Borussia Moenchengladbach, particularly when you think about Marco Rose’s homecoming and all of the dangerous karma that brings. However then you definitely marvel if, perhaps, what we noticed in Saturday’s 1-Zero defeat is the actual Dortmund, and having Haaland and his goal-a-game-plus strike price is only a manner of papering over cracks.

You hope not, as a result of Rose’s crew appeared limp towards an aggressive opponent whereas additionally exhibiting their indiscipline on the unsuitable moments (witness Mahmoud Dahoud foolishly getting despatched off within the first half). And for all the important thing absentees, that is supposedly one of many deepest squads within the Bundesliga, to not point out that Gladbach additionally had gamers lacking.

Some are questioning Rose for the various accidents; there is no want to do this. If you are going to discover criticism, simply watch Dortmund play and word the kind of errors they make — not ones borne out of lack of high quality, simply lack of group, self-discipline and preparation.

Ansu Fati and La Masia carry Barcelona: the blueprint’s clear (for now)



Steve Nicol discusses the massive expectations on Ansu Fati after he returned from harm with a particular objective vs. Levante.

After three video games with out a victory in all competitions, a collection of abject performances and Ronald Koeman’s press convention antics by which he read a prepared statement asking for support after which walked out of the room, Barcelona wanted three factors and a smile from the sport towards Levante. They acquired each in a 3-Zero win.

With out Frenkie De Jong, Ousmane Dembele, Martin Braithwaite, Sergio Aguero, Pedri, Sergi Roberto and Jordi Alba — and with Philippe Coutinho and Luuk De Jong beginning — it appeared as if it was going to be an extended afternoon. Koeman gave two youngsters from the academy the beginning (Nico and Gavi), and the latter particularly appeared vibrant as they raced to an early lead and by no means appeared again. By the top of the sport, after Ronald Araujo, Riqui Puig and Fati had come on, the La Masia graduate rely for the day stood at 9.

Chucking on the children when issues are going badly is a simple manner for managers to alleviate strain, particularly at a membership like Barca, the place La Masia (and its affect on the workforce) is spoken of in hushed tones. And positive, you might be cynical about Koeman, however extra realistically, he had little alternative. At full-time, there have been solely three guys left on the bench: reserve keeper Neto, Samuel Umtiti (who’s product of glass) and one other child from the youth workforce. When it really works, although, the narrative is massively highly effective and it is as much as Koeman to channel it now.

Fati is his personal narrative. After three surgical procedures and practically 11 months on the sidelines, the wonder-kid got here on, scored, celebrated by embracing the workforce physician and proudly wore the No.10 shirt vacated by you-know-who. He is nonetheless 18 years previous, and also you wish to proceed with warning. Even giving him the “10” appeared extreme; he ended up with it after Aguero and Coutinho, seasoned professionals, turned it down.

We do not know what Fati can do; perhaps he can carry the facet. What we do know is he will want most help from the membership and the veterans on his workforce, and that his mere presence has given Barca followers a large enhance.

Mourinho fuming after Lazio win the Rome derby

Jose Mourinho placed on a present on the remaining whistle following Lazio’s 3-2 win over Roma within the derby. It was virtually as entertaining as the sport, which was itself a charming spectacle. Lazio do not fairly play “Sarriball” of their supervisor, Maurizio Sarri — not but, anyway — however they have been devastating on the counter, courageous within the sort out and customarily did every little thing a supervisor would need from them. The truth that Pedro, launched by Roma in preseason solely to maneuver throughout city, acquired on the scoresheet solely made issues candy.

Mourinho stored his gamers on the pitch on the remaining whistle, telling them how proud he was of their efficiency earlier than heading out to thank the supporters. Roma, defensive wobbles apart, did play effectively: within the absence of skipper (and full-blooded Roman Lorenzo Pellegrini) it was Nicolo Zaniolo who took on the management function, and he did it with high quality and depth.

What incensed Mourinho — and he let the world understand it — was what appeared like a transparent penalty (Elseid Hysaj on Zaniolo) that wasn’t given. Lazio marched up the pitch and Pedro scored to make it 2-0. From a attainable 1-1 to 0-2 down is tough to take, particularly once you’re Mourinho.

Is he enjoying to the gallery, as his extra cynical critics, say? Presumably, however it’s working. This Roma facet look extra galvanised and energised than they’ve shortly. And if he can proceed to get the perfect out of Zaniolo, there is no cause they can not compete on the prime. The extra cynical on the market will level out that we have seen this movie earlier than — he began out vibrant at Spurs and Manchester United as effectively, solely to lose the plot. That is all true, however generally of us study from their experiences.

I, for one, am prepared to offer him the good thing about the doubt. Plus, it is complete heck of numerous enjoyable to observe.



Janusz Michallik displays on Liverpool’s thrilling 3-Three draw away vs. Brentford.

Brentford’s 3-Three draw with Liverpool on Saturday was a wild, entertaining affair that stored you riveted till the final minute… if you happen to have been a impartial. If you happen to have been Jurgen Klopp or a Liverpool participant, it seemingly wasn’t a lot enjoyable in any respect.

It is not that Liverpool performed poorly — they did not, and it would not have been a scandal in the event that they’d scored that fourth objective — slightly it is a reminder that match-ups matter in soccer and Liverpool merely do not match up effectively with Brentford, which is why it is a good factor they will not see them once more for some time.

Everyone is aware of Trent Alexander-Arnold is a marauding full-back and a key a part of Liverpool’s assault, however that additionally means he leaves area behind him when he advances. By enjoying a entrance two of Bryan Mbeumo and Ivan Toney to lock up Liverpool’s center-backs, leaving Rico Henry excessive and vast left (with Vitaly Janelt close by), and mercilessly pumping balls into that space whereas matching their opponents for depth and tempo, Brentford exploited this like few groups we have seen in recent times.

It is nonetheless soccer. High quality and expertise matter, which is why Liverpool did not get blown away, and I am undecided Brentford’s blueprint would work for different golf equipment. However on the day, it confounded Klopp and people are two large factors dropped.

Juventus win marred by accidents and errors

The excellent news is that Juventus had their moments within the 3-2 win over Sampdoria, the much-maligned midfield really carried out effectively — particularly Manuel Locatelli and Rodrigo Bentancur — and that they are now at the least within the left hand facet of the Serie A desk.

The dangerous information? How lengthy have you ever acquired?

Begin with the accidents, that are past Max Allegri’s management, however which he wanted like he wanted a gap within the head. Paulo Dybala and Alvaro Morata each got here off and after the match, Allegri mentioned we can’t see them once more till after the break. Which, you presume, means extra Moise Kean and possibly a change of formation, simply because the pair have been hitting stride.

Then there’s the defensive efficiency. Juventus have not stored a clear sheet for 20 consecutive Serie A video games, the longest such streak since 1955. And whereas the main focus for the workforce’s woes has been the center of the park and the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo, perhaps we should be zeroing in on the facet’s incapability to maintain opponents out, particularly after taking the lead (which they did once more on Sunday, going 2-Zero up).

It is not simply Leo Bonucci, crushed by Maya Yoshida within the air. (Severely!) Sampdoria, below Roberto D’Aversa, aren’t precisely Brazil 1970 — in truth, they’re constructed to defend deep and counter and are certainly not snug chasing video games — however Juve appeared to shrivel and invite them ahead.

This Juve workforce proper now cannot do the old-school factor of taking a lead and managing the sport. They should preserve enjoying and too typically, that is not what they do.

Whining about refs would not swimsuit Solskjaer… particularly after a good efficiency in residence loss



Janusz Michallik assesses Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s techniques in Man United’s 1-Zero loss towards Aston Villa.

Manchester United made it three defeats in 4 video games, falling to Aston Villa 1-Zero at Outdated Trafford on Saturday. Sure, that is the headline, however it’s value trying a little bit bit extra intently at these defeats.

They have been poor towards Young Boys within the Champions League, particularly towards 10 males. The League Cup is solely irrelevant: it might say it is United vs. West Ham, however once you change 21 of 22 gamers, no person is fooled: it is probably not them. And the Villa sport might have simply gone the opposite manner, which is why it was a bit shocking to listen to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer complain — once more — concerning the officiating.

Did Ollie Watkins impede David De Gea for Kourtney Hause’s header that made it 1-Zero Villa? Perhaps, however De Gea wasn’t attending to it anyway. Was it annoying that Bruno Fernandes needed to wait ages earlier than taking — and lacking — his late penalty that might have made it 1-1? Certain, however it’s in all probability not why he blasted it into the stratosphere. (And, Solskjaer himself mentioned it “did not get into Bruno‘s head,” which raises the query of why he even introduced it up.)

This comes on the again of his phrases on Klopp and penalties on Friday when he suggested that the Liverpool boss’s feedback final January led to a discount within the variety of penalties awarded to United.

Sure managers discuss refs on a regular basis. Typically, it is a technique. Solskajer would not — or did not till very just lately — which is why it is a bit perplexing. It would not match his picture and certain does him few favours within the public enviornment.

Simeone owns Atletico Madrid defeat, however their issues run deeper

Diego Simeone mentioned that the 1-Zero loss to Alaves who, earlier than Saturday’s win over Atletico Madrid, had scored simply as soon as and misplaced 5 out of 5 Liga matches, was “his duty.” It is good that he acts like a grown-up in contrast to a few of his colleagues, however no, it isn’t all on him.

With out Koke and Thomas Lemar within the beginning lineup, there’s little or no service attending to the entrance tandem of Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann. There little doubt was a time when each might create their very own alternatives, however that is not the case now.

On the again, the likes of Felipe and Stefan Savic appear to be regressing: in truth, the stout defending that was as soon as a stereotypical Atleti attribute appears to have evaporated.

Nonetheless, there are issues he can repair, like beginning Angel Correa when he is on type even when it means benching the 2 Camp Nou exiles, Suarez and Griezmann. (And if there’s one man who has the authority to do it, it is him.) Or engaged on the fundamentals on the again, since clearly some have forgotten what acquired them there.

Maldini scores, the dynasty continues… now transfer on

Proper, let’s get this out of the best way. Daniel Maldini — son of Paolo, grandson of Cesare — made his first Serie A begin and acquired his first Serie A objective in MIlan’s 2-1 win away to Spezia. It is a neat story as a result of his dad and grandpa received European Cups and have become membership legends, however for now, it is solely a bit of trivia. Daniel is a child who turns 20 subsequent month and can write his personal story. He would not want the added strain and, in truth, till he wins silverware in a starring function, there is no cause to deliver up the opposite Maldinis, which is why you will not hear me doing this after right this moment.

That mentioned, he took his objective effectively and appeared solely unfazed on the pitch even if he was enjoying within the playmaking “gap” with lots happening round him. Extra broadly, this was a strong win for a Milan facet that made a bunch of adjustments, trusted in youth and have been once more rewarded with a victory. They appear very very like Serie A contenders and when the starters are all match and enjoying, they’re going to have one other gear to which they will go.

No Messi, however Paris Saint-Germain make it eight for eight in Ligue 1



Julien Laurens explains the now-diffused stress between Neymar and Kylian Mbappe at PSG.

The numbers are gaudy, as you’d anticipate when a workforce takes 24 factors from their first eight outings. Paris Saint-Germain dominated towards Montpellier as you’d anticipate, although the targets got here not from Kylian Mbappe or Neymar, however from the extra blue collar pair, Idrissa Gueye and Julian Draxler.

Mauricio Pochettino’s crew created loads of probabilities, and also you marvel to what diploma which will have needed to do with enjoying three central midfielders — Gueye was joined by Leandro Paredes and Ander Herrera — slightly than two plus Angel Di Maria, plus the large three up entrance. It is one thing Pochettino may wish to take into consideration when Messi returns; generally much less is extra, even when it means sacrificing any person like Di Maria.

The opposite takeaway right here was the TV cameras showing to point out Mbappe on the bench complaining to teammates that Neymar wasn’t getting him the ball. I do not assume it is a large deal — gamers typically vent on the bench, and it would not essentially imply there’s some kind of rift brewing between the 2. Nonetheless, it does imply Mbappe and different PSG gamers have to be smarter in public and easily assume there’s all the time a digicam educated on them, particularly now that they are within the limelight greater than ever.

Inter held by Atalanta in rip-roaring sport, however Barella is the actual deal

Inter and Atalanta served up a beautiful 2-2 draw on Saturday that might simply have gone both manner: Fede Dimarco missed a penalty (a courageous alternative by Simone Inzaghi given he’d by no means taken one earlier than within the league), and VAR accurately (albeit fortuitously, for Inter) dominated out what would have been Atalanta’s winner.

The draw meant Inter would slip to 3rd after the weekend’s different outcomes, however I would not be overly involved. This was an imperious Atalanta — not the gentle contact we would seen earlier this season — and there is no disgrace in going toe-to-toe with them and having to share the spoils. Lautaro Martinez scored an excellent objective, Edin Dzeko confirmed his relentlessness even at 35 however, most of all, Nicolo Barella proved how he could also be the perfect all-around midfielder within the league.

Few gamers mix amount and high quality the best way Barella does, and he is acquired loads of charisma and intelligence as well. Inter are proper to construct the facet round him.

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