Connect with us

Premier League

Man City get a head-start to their title defence

Published

on

Premier League - Manchester City v Chelsea - Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain - May 21, 2023 Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith/File Photo

The start of a new Premier League season is always a time of hope and dreams, even if defending champions Manchester City will probably be three points clear before their main rivals have kicked a ball this weekend.

Pep Guardiola’s treble-winning side travel to promoted Burnley, with former City captain Vincent Kompany now in charge at Turf Moor, on Friday night as they start the chase of a fourth title in a row and sixth in seven years.

Arsenal, runners-up last year after leading for much of the campaign, host Nottingham Forest in Saturday’s lunchtime kickoff while fourth-placed Newcastle United are at home to Aston Villa in the evening.

Liverpool, fifth last season, are at Chelsea on Sunday while Manchester United, third at the final whistle last May, must wait until Monday for their opening game at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Manchester City lost the Community Shield on penalties to Arsenal at Wembley last weekend, hardly a bad omen given that they also lost the previous two and still ended the season as winners.

Advertisement

For Arsenal, however, it was an important statement.

“It’s a marker to know we can go and beat Manchester City in a big game when it matters,” said goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale. “I’m not sure what it’ll be like this season. But that mental block is gone.”

City still start as clear favourites and when they played Burnley in an FA Cup quarter-final at the Etihad last March they ran out 6-0 winners with goal machine Erling Haaland scoring a hat-trick.

There will be plenty of interest elsewhere in the performance of big-money signings and what kind of results new managers bring.

Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal splashed around 100 million pounds on signing England midfielder Declan Rice from West Ham, as well as 65 million on bringing Kai Havertz from Chelsea and 40 million on defender Jurrien Timber from Ajax Amsterdam.

Advertisement

Former Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino will be making his Chelsea league debut, with Blues fans eager for signs that last season’s nightmare is over but facing an immediate big challenge against Liverpool.

“We are in a good way; we are building something special I think,” he said at the weekend.

“We know we are Chelsea and even if young players are involved against Liverpool, the mentality is to win.”

Juergen Klopp has lost captain Jordan Henderson and Fabinho to Saudi Arabia but the Liverpool boss still has plenty of ammunition as he too seeks to put behind him the failures of the previous year.

Chelsea, who finished 12th last season, have Reece James as their new captain after Cesar Azpilicueta left in a general clear-out.

Advertisement

Over at Spurs, Australian Ange Postecoglou takes up the baton with a trip across London to Brentford, with or without England captain and record goalscorer Harry Kane after repeated approaches from Bayern Munich.

Wolves also have a new manager, with former Bournemouth coach Gary O’Neil appointed only on Wednesday after Julen Lopetegui abruptly left.

Promoted Sheffield United are at home to Crystal Palace on Saturday while Luton Town are at Brighton & Hove Albion for the Hatters’ first game in the top flight since 1992, pre-Premier League.

Everton host Fulham also on Saturday, with West Ham United travelling to Bournemouth.

-Reuters

Advertisement

 

 

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Premier League

Sancho back in training with Man United after positive meeting with Ten Hag

Published

on

Jadon Sancho was back training with Manchester United for the first time in 10 months, with a club source confirming the winger and manager Erik ten Hag have resolved their differences following their public fallout last year.

Sancho and Ten Hag had a positive meeting at Carrington Training Centre and the two have decided to draw a line under last season’s drawn-out argument, the club source said.

The 24-year-old Sancho made just three appearances for United last season, spending the second half of the campaign on loan to Borussia Dortmund after his relationship with Ten Hag soured in September.

Ten Hag had left the winger out of his squad for United’s 3-1 loss to Arsenal, saying Sancho’s performances in training had not warranted a place in his team. Sancho immediately lashed out on social media, accusing Ten Hag of making him a “scapegoat.”

He was banished from the first team and trained with United’s youth squad before returning to his former club Dortmund in January, where he shone during their Champions League semi-final victory against Paris St Germain, earning praise from Ten Hag. Dortmund were beaten by Real Madrid in the final.

Advertisement

“(Sancho) is a very good player… he showed why Manchester United bought him and he showed he represents a high value for Manchester United, which is good,” Ten Hag told reporters following Dortmund’s 1-0 win over PSG in the first leg.

“I’m happy for Jadon, for the performance, and we’ll see what is going to happen in the future.”

Sancho will not travel with the team to Norway for their pre-season opener against Rosenborg since he began training later than the other players but the club source said he would be available for selection after that.

-Reuters

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Premier League

Another Nigerian blood replaces Ndidi at Leicester

Published

on

Wilfred Ndidi who has just left Leicester City will have another Nigerian blood replacing him.

Leicester has never been without a Nigerian since Ahmed Musa joined in 2016. Ndidi and Kelechi Iheanacho joined in 2017.

Another Nigerian blood, Caleb Okoli, a centre back, has just been signed from Italian  Serie A side Atalanta on a five-year contract. Born in Itali, Caleb Okoli is Igbo and Yoruba by descent.

The 22-year-old, who spent the last season on loan at Frosinone Calcio, represented Italy at the European Under-21 Championship last year.

“I think now is the right moment (for me) to make a step forward and a very big one. I’m very happy with the choice I made, so I’m very excited to start in the Premier League,” Okoli said in a statement. The clubs did not disclose financial details of the deal.

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Premier League

Ruud van Nistelrooy returns to Man United

Published

on

United legend Van Nistelrooy is expected to be announced as one of Erik ten Hag's assistants

Manchester United legend, Ruud van Nistelrooy has been spotted being driven into Carrington, the training ground of Manchester United.

Ruud van Nistelrooy (left) and Rene Hake arrived at Manchester United’s training ground

Reports have it that the Dutchman is set to be appointed as one of Erik ten Hag’s new assistant coaches.

He played for Manchester United from 2001 to 2006.

Now  48, he reportedly turned down job offer from Burnley to return to his old club, having previously led PSV Eindhoven to second place in the Eredivisie and victory in the Dutch Cup.

He is being joined by Rene Hake, 52, who was persuaded to give up his job as Go Ahead Eagles manager despite leading the Deventer-based club into Europe for only the third time in their history.

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Most Viewed