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Sunday, December 10, 2023

Chelsea, Man Metropolis’s eight-goal epic, Bayern and Barca win, extra

Nicely, nicely, nicely: heading into the worldwide break, we have been served up a deal with throughout European soccer this previous weekend and lots to speak about till league play returns in 10 days. Chelsea and Manchester Metropolis performed out an exhilarating and chaotic eight-goal sport, Bayern Munich briefly flirted with catastrophe in opposition to Heidenheim (and Harry Kane scored twice), whereas Barcelona shrugged off some powerful performances with a comeback win over Alaves that also leaves loads of questions on Xavi and this squad.

Elsewhere, there have been speaking factors galore for Arsenal, Liverpool, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, Borussia Dortmund and plenty of extra.

– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga & extra (U.S.)

It is Monday, and Gab Marcotti reacts to the largest moments on this planet of soccer.

Chelsea 4-4 Man Metropolis was entertaining, error-strewn and epic

The legendary Italian soccer author Gianni Brera used to say that the right sport is at all times 0-0 as a result of there are not any errors. Errors, nonetheless, are a part of soccer, and a part of taking part in nicely is forcing your opponent to commit errors: heck, that is the entire level of the excessive press. What struck you about Sunday’s wild 4-4 draw between Chelsea and Manchester Metropolis at Stamford Bridge is what number of unforced errors we noticed from individuals who do not finally make them.

Suppose Josko Gvardiol within the buildup to Raheem Sterling‘s purpose. Suppose whoever was supposed to choose up Thiago Silva for his purpose. (Not that it wasn’t an amazing header: it was.) Suppose Thiago Silva misjudging the flight of the ball and letting Manuel Akanji get a free header for his purpose. Suppose Éderson parrying the ball straight again into Nico Jackson’s path for his purpose. After which, essentially the most grotesque mistake of all: no matter Rúben Dias was attempting to do when he felled Armando Broja for the penalty that Cole Palmer transformed within the fifth minute of harm time.

You possibly can nitpick and discover extra. And by the way in which, this by no means diminishes what Chelsea achieved within the sport. The penalty incident with Haaland may simply as simply gone the opposite means, whereas Rodri‘s purpose was the results of a double deflection. It does elevate the query of whether or not all these particular person blunders — particularly, Metropolis’s, as a result of we’re much less accustomed to them — are a operate of happenstance or if there’s one thing deeper happening.

I might lean in the direction of the previous and, if that’s the case, Pep Guardiola has much less to be involved about. Errors will occur, even to high performers, and, in some methods it is higher to get a bunch of them out of your system in a single sport, particularly in case you can come away with some extent. If, however, this was all the way down to Metropolis in some way not being ready or taking Chelsea too evenly? Nicely, then it is one other matter. Guardiola and the employees will know.

As for Chelsea, this needs to be a draw that appears like a win not due to the incidents, however due to the depth, cohesion and effectiveness of what Mauricio Pochettino got down to do. There is not any query the gamers are shopping for into it — although it is not exhausting to get motivated in opposition to Manchester Metropolis — however performances like these additionally give a buzz to the house crowd, and that issues to a fan base that is seen them document only one league win out of their final seven video games.

I get a little bit skeptical, although, when people begin getting carried away about this being a younger crew that may develop collectively, as a result of I genuinely do not assume the ceiling for a few of these gamers (Robert Sánchez, Jackson, Axel Disasi) is kind of as excessive as some imagine. However the vibe is nice, Pochettino has proven the power to attach with people (Raheem Sterling, Connor Gallagher… Mykhailo Mudryk and Marc Cucurella) who, for one motive or one other, have been considered broken items, and he is given Chelsea an identification. Perhaps one which’s decidedly extra blue collar than you’d count on given the cash spent, however, nonetheless one they lacked for a lot of final season.



Laurens: Guardiola can be horrified by Man Metropolis’s efficiency vs. Chelsea

Mark Ogden joins Gab & Juls to react to Manchester Metropolis’s 4-4 draw in opposition to Chelsea.

A ultimate phrase on Palmer. I didn’t assume he’d be such a pure match at Chelsea, however his technical potential, imaginative and prescient and funky head are precisely what they wanted. Past that, the story of the Mancunian boy who enters Manchester Metropolis’s Academy at age eight, progresses by means of the ranks into the primary crew, leaves at age 21 and, in his first sport in opposition to his outdated membership, converts a penalty to get a outcome deep in harm time is sort of too good.

It is tales like these which might be a part of what make us love the sport.

Three factors, however a lot to fret about for Barcelona

I am within the minority who assume Barcelona performed moderately nicely within the Clasico, so with the 2-1 win over Alaves I make it three straight video games of underperformance. That they received two of these three video games with late strikes (Ronald Araújo scored in harm time in opposition to Actual Sociedad, whereas Robert Lewandowski‘s two targets gave them the victory over Alaves) dampen the ache a bit, however Xavi must be involved.

They went down immediately in opposition to Alaves when Samu Omorodion scored within the first minute — and Barcelona had been those to kick off — and he may have had a hat trick by half-time. Defensively, Jules Koundé actually struggled, as did Iñigo Martínez. The midfield provides little or no with out Gavi, even with João Cancelo stepping inside from his emergency left-back place.



Why are Barcelona struggling below Xavi this season?

Gab & Juls debate why Barcelona are struggling to copy their type from final season.

Lewandowski’s good header and subsequent penalty introduced house the three factors — and it is a good signal that his purpose drought is over after 50 days — however in case you’re Xavi’s Barcelona, you merely cannot create simply 0.59 price of open play xG in opposition to a aspect like Alaves. It may have been worse if, late on, Abdel Abqar hadn’t been offside when Oriol Romeu dealt with within the ball in his personal penalty space.

Xavi admitted that Barcelona want to enhance and discover their “positional play.” That is a part of it, however I believe it is a personnel problem as nicely. A few of the guys — together with João Félix — who have been carrying the aspect a month in the past are struggling now. He has choices on the bench; it is only a query of discovering the appropriate ones to make all of it match collectively.

Even with second string and making foolish errors, Bayern too sturdy for Heidenheim

Thomas Tuchel combined it up — partly by alternative, partly by necessity — for the go to of Heidenheim. We noticed Bouna Sarr (at left-back) make his first league begin in two-and-a-half years, we noticed the wunderkind Aleksandar Pavlovic make his first begin ever, we noticed Serge Gnabry get one other crack forward of Kingsley Coman. We did not see Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka, Matthijs de Ligt or Jamal Musiala, which is one other means of claiming this is not “correct Bayern.”

And but it regarded straightforward as two Harry Kane targets propelled Bayern to a 2-0 lead — really easy, in truth, that you simply marvel concerning the two blunders within the house of three minutes that allowed Heidenheim to make it again to 2-2. By that time, Tuchel had already made three substitutions and he checked out irritated on the prospect of his crew needlessly making issues exhausting for themselves. However Bayern’s second-string — and the holdovers nonetheless on the pitch, from Kane to the magnificent Leroy Sané — shortly righted the ship, with targets from Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting and Raphaël Guerreiro sealing the 4-2 win.

Takeaways? For all of the accidents and inconsistencies, Bayern are deep. A match Guerreiro is usually a sport changer. Konrad Laimer, scoffed at by some for a couple of of his early performances, provides you legs and tactical intelligence. Choupo-Moting and Matys Tel are legit hanging choices off the bench. In different phrases, there’s loads of margin for error, which can clarify why, regardless of the tensions and errors, they’re nonetheless second within the Bundesliga and able to pounce.

A ultimate phrase on Harry Kane. It is now 21 targets in all competitions, which means he has handed the 20-goal mark for the tenth consecutive season. His most prolific goal-scoring marketing campaign was in 2017-18, when he notched 41 in 48 appearances; his 21 so far have are available simply 16 video games, and he is on tempo to shatter that mark.

Manchester United intestine it out in opposition to Luton and Ten Hag is optimistic



Dawson: Man United look weak regardless of Luton win

Rob Dawson nonetheless has considerations for Manchester United regardless of their 1-0 win vs. Luton City.

Manchester United might have their flaws — and let’s face it, there are lots of proper now — however on Saturday, they confirmed the power to get right into a scrap and overpower a newly promoted opponent on their very own turf. And no, as Erik ten Hag will let you know: “Even after all of the setbacks we take care of, we’re nonetheless able close to the highest 4 … that is motive to be optimistic.” He is clearly a glass half-full sort of man and, to be honest, there’s little level to producing extra negativity at this membership.

Luton did what you’d count on a newly promoted membership with a shoestring funds to do away at Previous Trafford: they have been bodily, they sat deep they usually scrapped. United did not play notably nicely, however they did not panic — even when Rasmus Hojlund missed a sitter, even once they have been pressured to defend tooth an nail in harm time. That is one thing or, as Ten Hag may say, that is “not nothing.”

The winner got here from Victor Lindelöf (mind-blowing stat: the final ahead or winger to attain within the league for United at house is … Jadon Sancho) who poked house a rebound. At this stage, you will take it, particularly since that “close to the highest 4” factor is a little bit of a stretch — 5 factors with lower than a 3rd of the season gone shouldn’t be “close to” — and this group’s season (and presumably Ten Hag’s future) will probably be decided by what occurs in Istanbul in opposition to Galatasaray in a must-win Champions League sport after the break.

Dimarco’s goal-of-the-season contender powers Inter previous Frosinone

If you have not seen the spotlight, test it out. Fede Dimarco’s strike — and sure, it was a shot on purpose — from the left touchline traveled an unbelievable 56 meters with goal to provide Inter the lead. It is the type of purpose you solely rating in case you have oodles of confidence (each in your self and out of your coach) to go along with your potential, and it despatched Inter on their technique to a 2-0 lead over Frosinone that sees them keep high of Serie A.

Dimarco’s strike will rightly overshadow nearly the whole lot else, but it surely’s price noting how, proper now, Inter’s midfield is working at a distinct stage. And this regardless of the departure of Marcelo Brozovic, the person who supposedly made the whole lot tick, for Saudi Arabia in the summertime.

Hakan Çalhanoğlu has stepped into his sneakers and Inter have not missed a playmaking beat. Credit score Calhanoglou and credit score Simone Inzaghi for making the tweaks to a transition that, on paper, regarded removed from seamless.

Arsenal present persona and bounce-back-ability vs. Burnley



Do Arsenal actually have the firepower for an additional title problem?

Shaka Hislop opinions Arsenal’s efficiency after they received 3-1 win vs. Burnley.

It is not simply that they beat Burnley or a free-falling Sevilla this week. It is extra the truth that, for a membership lacking some key items — Martin Odegaard and Gabriel Jesus spring to thoughts — and coming off the traumatic defeat to Newcastle (replete with Mikel Arteta’s post-match rant and membership assertion the following day), these have been bigger hindrances than they seem. In each instances, the membership put collectively a convincing efficiency to go along with the wins.

Credit score Arteta for navigating this second nicely. He could also be cussed on some points (the goalkeeping scenario is not the one one), however the flexibility he has proven in midfield, bringing again Jorginho as a playmaker and pushing Declan Rice ahead alongside Odegaard (when match) or Kai Havertz (in opposition to Burnley) was a logical and much-needed step. Rice is a large expertise, however he lacks Jorginho’s expertise and creativity and in opposition to sure opponents, they’re non-negotiable.

A phrase on Fabio Vieira: that pink card was each silly and pointless. He is 23 — now not a young person. He has an actual likelihood of getting significant minutes in Arsenal’s midfield rotation, however he will not get there with poor selections like that one.

We had seen Rodrigo and Vinicius collectively up entrance this season, however at all times with Jude Bellingham behind them. So it was fascinating to see what it will seem like with Brahim Díaz — who’s a real attacking midfielder with an entirely completely different talent set — changing the Englishman.

The ultimate rating — a 5-1 win, with Vinicius and Rodrygo bagging two targets every and the latter additionally recording two assists — would recommend issues labored very nicely and for lengthy stretches, they did, though with each Vinicius and Diaz gravitating left it did really feel lopsided at occasions. Nonetheless, on the attacking finish, it is enjoyable to see that chemistry develop.

On the flip-side, Valencia may have scored a pair extra targets if not for some sterling work from Andriy Lunin, filling in for Kepa Arrizabalaga (who’s, in fact, himself filling in for Thibaut Courtois). His two close-range stops from Hugo Duro proved decisive in conserving the house aspect with their nostril in entrance.

Throw in an amazing purpose from Dani Carvajal — it is at all times good to see a fullback showcase “No.10” sort abilities — and it is not shocking that Carlo Ancelotti was beaming after the sport: “I’ve so many good gamers that generally it feels unfair to different managers…”

Not many coaches would say stuff like that and imply it.

Darwin Núñez is unconventional, but it surely works for Liverpool



Why Liverpool’s season continues to be solely 7/10

Steve Nicol has his say on Liverpool’s season after they beat Brentford 3-0 at Anfield.

I am not a pure Darwin Nunez man. It is nothing private; it is simply that I usually like my center-forwards to be cool finishers, and that is probably not his factor. And if they don’t seem to be cool, prolific finishers, then I can reside with them being inventive, clever passers like Roberto Firmino, the man who performed up entrance for Liverpool earlier than him.

Nunez is neither, however what he brings to the aspect is dimension, physicality, unusual pace and a prodigious work-rate. It fits Liverpool to a tee, and it is no coincidence that Jurgen Klopp waxed lyrical about him after the 3-0 win over Brentford. Lining up alongside Mohamed Salah and Diogo Jota (each of whom scored), he was the lynchpin of a trio that wreaked havoc to Brentford’s buildup, protected the midfield and usually wreaked havoc on a day when Liverpool have been much less easy than ordinary.

So what if he strays offside or snatches at probabilities? There are many different guys to attain targets, and his presence makes them higher. Some see Nunez as some sort of unpolished gem who will develop right into a Uruguayan Erling Haaland or one thing. I am unsure he’ll, however his worth to Liverpool will solely develop alongside along with his chemistry with Salah and others.

Kylian Mbappé baggage a hat trick in opposition to Reims, however Luis Enrique needs extra from him … and he is proper

On the floor, there’s nothing to see right here. Paris Saint-Germain beat Reims 3-0 on the street to regain high spot in Ligue 1 and Kylian Mbappe scored all three targets: a worldie to begin, after which two extra to complete off counterattacks. Some coaches would coddle their celebrity in these circumstances, particularly since he is as a result of turn into a free agent in June and has scored 15 targets in 15 video games in all competitions this season.

Luis Enrique shouldn’t be most coaches. He wasn’t essentially important of Mbappe, however he talked about how he needs him to do extra and contribute extra, particularly off the ball. And to me, it is smart. Not simply in a “challenge-your-star-to-be-the-best-possible-version-of-himself” type of means, although there’s that too.

The truth is that for PSG to retain Mbappe, they might want to make an enormous monetary dedication. Luis Enrique getting Mbappe to function as a cog in his machine — somewhat than a cherry on high who wins video games singlehandedly — goes to maneuver the needle when it comes to what the membership are ready to supply. If Mbappe does not rise to the extent his coach expects, it will likely be simpler to say “adieu” come subsequent season.

Juventus make it 5 wins in a row, however is that this what Allegri needs?

At house, in opposition to a Cagliari aspect that solely received their first sport of the season simply earlier than Halloween, it was the publish stopped the guests from grabbing some extent in a sport that noticed them 2-0 down quarter-hour from the tip. And this was a the tip of the sport by which Juventus appeared to virtually solely create (and positively solely rating) from set-pieces.

I haven’t got a problem with that sort of soccer — take no probabilities, nick a purpose after which defend like your life is determined by it — when it really works. However Juventus — even with the whole lot they have been by means of, even with the absences of Adrien Rabiot and Danilo, with Dusan Vlahovic and Federico Chiesa half-fit (however when is he ever absolutely match?), and with Paul Pogba and Nicolo’ Fagioli suspended — shouldn’t be hanging on for expensive life on the finish of video games. Not like this, and never in opposition to Cagliari.

They’re second within the Serie A desk after telling everybody that fourth place would already be a stellar achievement this season. Positive. By way of outcomes, they’re getting it performed. By way of efficiency, they’re nowhere close to the place they need to be. And that is a problem as a result of they do not need to be again to sq. one at first of subsequent season.

Enjoyable whereas it lasted? Spurs lose gamers and factors at Wolves



How a lot does late Wolves loss harm Tottenham?

Shaka Hislop joins Mark Donaldson to debate Tottenham’s efficiency after their 2-1 loss to Wolves.

The worldwide break can be a perfect time for Tottenham Hotspur to regroup and determine issues out, as back-to-back defeats over the previous eight days imply they slip from first to fourth. And whereas the highest of the desk is simply two factors away, the lack of momentum is as palpable because the lack of gamers: Mickey van de Ven and James Maddison (injured), plus Future Udogie and Cristian Romero (suspended).

Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Wolves got here after they took an early lead and was totally deserved. By no means thoughts the truth that they conceded two targets in harm time, which is soul-destroying — contemplate the truth that after Brennan Johnson‘s early purpose, a full 48 minutes handed earlier than they took one other shot (Ben Davies‘ header deep into first-half harm time).

Ange Postecoglou’s sport depends on chemistry, and when three of your again 4 are beginning their first or second sport of the season, it may be lacking, simply as Maddison’s creativity was missed. Credit score to Wolves for taking full benefit.

A draw that appears like defeat for rattled Milan

You simply beat none apart from Paris Saint-Germain within the Champions League. You are 2-0 up on the street within the first half in opposition to a aspect, Lecce, that is taken two factors of their final seven video games. And you are the defending champions. Simple-peasy, proper?

Not in case you’re Milan away to Lecce.

The Rossoneri in some way stopped taking part in within the second half, managing simply 4 pictures on purpose for a mixed xG of 0.21. They misplaced Rafael Leão to harm, whereas Olivier Giroud acquired himself despatched off in harm time. By that time, Lecce had battled again to 2-2, and the house aspect practically took all three factors: Milan have been lucky that the referee noticed a somewhat doubtful “foul” from Roberto Piccoli within the buildup to what would have been his game-winning end.

The numbers are ugly: it is now one win in six in all competitions for Milan. And whereas they actually solely performed poorly away to PSG (comprehensible) and at house to Udinese, the truth that they let video games slip away in opposition to Napoli, Juventus and now Lecce stings. Focus has shifted on the various accidents and, certain, that performs a component. However these late collapses cannot be merely all the way down to the shortage of rotation or contemporary legs, can they?

Bayer Leverkusen roll on and it is 49 of a doable 51 factors this season

Yeah, you learn that proper. Xabi Alonso’s crew have received each single sport they’ve performed this season besides one, a 2-2 draw away to Bayern. On Sunday, they dispatched Union Berlin (who, however, have taken one level out of a doable 42 of their final 14 video games in all competitions) to remain two factors clear on the high of the Bundesliga.

Alex Grimaldo confirmed his standing as top-of-the-line goal-scoring fullbacks round, taking his seasonal complete as much as eight, whereas Nathan Tella got here off the bench to attain one other gem late on.

That little blip we fretted about a couple of weeks in the past of their video games in opposition to Freiburg and Hoffenheim? There was no signal of that on Sunday, although possibly it is as a result of Union actually are that unhealthy proper now.

Atletico Madrid‘s subs make all of the distinction in comeback win vs. Villarreal

Atletico have been at all times going to be favoured at house in opposition to a Villarreal aspect who had simply sacked their supervisor, Pacheta, and but they took an early beating. Goalkeeper Jan Oblak was pressured to make a number of massive saves, whereas Gerard Moreno gave the guests the lead after a shocking crew purpose that must be proven to anybody questioning why groups construct from the again to interrupt the press.

Axel Witsel grabbed the equalizer simply earlier than the half, but it surely was Diego Simeone’s substitutes — Marco Llorente, Samuel Lino, Ángel Correa and Pablo Barrios — who actually kicked it up a notch within the second half, enabling Atleti to attain twice extra en path to a 3-1 win.

Diego Somebody has a deep bench and actual choices and in the event that they win their sport in hand, they leapfrog Barcelona into third place. He’ll want it in the event that they’re to mount an actual problem in LaLiga.

Dortmund hammered by Stuttgart as Guirassy returns (and scores)

I think some people somewhat overreacted to Borussia Dortmund’s win over a depleted Newcastle aspect within the Champions League final midweek. Towards Stuttgart, Dortmund regarded much more just like the crew that acquired thumped by Bayern — solely worse, in some respects. When Dortmund are like this, they do not press they usually do not look snug sitting both, which is horrid place to be.

Even after Niclas Füllkrug gave them the lead with their solely shot of the sport, they regarded doomed and if something the 2-1 scoreline to Stuttgart was beneficiant — Stuttgart missed a penalty and a number of different probabilities.

So it is again to the drafting board for Dortmund supervisor Edin Terzic, although credit score Stuttgart and Serhou Guirassy, who got here on and notched the much-deserved winner. Solely Harry Kane has scored extra league targets than Guirassy in Europe’s Large 5 leagues this season, and he is had the advantage of three extra begins.

Girona come from behind once more… they simply will not go away

Sure, they’re nonetheless high of LaLiga and, sure, they as soon as once more got here from behind. Míchel‘s upstarts conceded away to Rayo Vallecano inside of 5 minutes, however then subjected their opponents to a barrage of pictures and finally got here away with a deserved 2-1 win that sees them keep in first place. Oh, they usually might have over-performed Anticipated Objectives in earlier outings, however there isn’t any argument right here: they put collectively an xG of 4.02, totally dominating Rayo.

The query of “can it final?” will endure all season lengthy, so let’s take the simple means out right here, lets? Each crew they’ve overwhelmed this season ranks eighth or beneath in LaLiga. The 2 time they’ve confronted sides within the high seven, they misplaced to Actual Madrid and drew with Actual Sociedad. I am withholding judgment till they’ve performed all people no less than as soon as.

Rudi Garcia’s time is up at Napoli … but it surely wasn’t Sunday’s defeat that did it

You might assume dropping to little Empoli at house after conceding a purpose deep in harm time and enduring the insults of a livid Stadio Maradona is what led to Rudi Garcia’s sacking. I get the sense he may need gone even when that they had drawn and even received that sport. Napoli could also be fourth within the Serie A desk — and with out Victor Osimhen — however lest we neglect, they have been prepared to fireside him going into the final worldwide break as nicely.

Too many breakdowns in private relationships, too far of a drop from the crew that dominated Serie A final season (and actually solely misplaced Min Jae Kim amongst main contributors) and too poor a house document: simply two wins in eight in all competitions, the latest one in September. And when Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis let it’s recognized that Garcia was his “fifth alternative” anyway, you knew this was unlikely to finish nicely.

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