Chelsea confirm five key players are out vs Valencia

Chelsea vs Valencia

Frank Lampard faced the press on Monday ahead of Chelsea’s match against Valencia on Tuesday.

This will be Chelsea’s first Champions League match of the season.

Of course, Chelsea played Europa League football last term.

The Blues beat Arsenal to lift the Europa League trophy in 2018-19.

Chelsea: Five key players are out

Antonio Rudiger made his long-awaited return to action for Chelsea’s first team on Saturday.

However, the German centre-half suffered an injury in the first half against Wolves.

Rudiger was subbed out the Wolves game, and, on Monday, Lampard has confirmed the defender is back on the injury table.

When will Rudiger return to action? Right now that’s unclear.

N’Golo Kante is also set to miss out against Valencia as well.

Lampard confirmed that the French dynamo isn’t match-fit for Tuesday.

Two other Chelsea players lack match-fitness: Callum Hudson-Odoi and Reece James.

Both Hudson-Odoi and James were in action last Friday night for Chelsea U23s.

Finally, Emerson is also out of the Valencia game.

Other updates before Chelsea vs Valencia

Also see: Chelsea vs Valencia betting tips: Champions League match preview & predictions.

Pep Guardiola jokes that Liverpool are champions after Norwich beat Man City.

Wolves: The strange reason why Ryan Bennett was dropped vs Chelsea

Wolves 2 – Chelsea 5

Watford and Wolves are still winless in the Premier League this season.

Wolves slumped to a terrible 5-2 home defeat to Chelsea last weekend.

A long-range stunner from Fikayo Tomori opened the floodgates for the Pensioners.

Tammy Abraham scored twice in 7 minutes to hand Chelsea a 3-0 half-time lead.

After the break, Abraham completed his hat-trick, before the forward later scored an own-goal.

Patrick Cutrone scored a second for Wolves, before a late Mason Mount fifth for the Blues.

Why Ryan Bennett was dropped vs Chelsea

One of the big talking points for Wolves fans after the Chelsea game has surrounded Ryan Bennett.

Bennett is usually a mainstay in Wolves’s three-man defence.

However, against Chelsea, not only was Bennett not in the XI, he was left out of the matchday squad.

When asked about Bennett’s omission, Nuno Espirito Santo said the following:

It’s a decision. We decided to play Jesus (Vallejo), Coady and Saiss. It’s about the profiles, we had Max (Kilman) on the bench because of that. I have a solution where Dendoncker can come back and do that.

It’s about the right profile and the shape of the team. Boly, Saiss, Max (on the left), on the right side Jesus, Bennett, Dion Sanderson. It’s about shape, organisation.

Bennett’s no-show vs Chelsea: ‘It’s a mystery’

However, in The Athletic on Monday, reporter Tim Spiers has noted that it’s still rather unclear why Bennett was axed versus Chelsea:

Bennett’s exclusion was a mystery. 

The Athletic understands the experienced defender only found out he wasn’t in the squad on the day of the game, with no reason given.

Will Bennett play vs Braga?

Wolves are back in action on Thursday night in the Europa League.

As the group phase of the competition kicks off, Wolves welcome Braga to Molineux.

On Bennett’s involvement against Braga, Nuno said:

I don’t know, I can’t answer that question yet.

Also see: Chelsea: Tammy Abraham injury update after Wolves.

Luis Suarez’s Xana tribute, who is Ansu Fati & Valencia admit they’re ‘suffering’ before Chelsea.

Liverpool & Watford expose Unai Emery’s love for diamonds

Analysis of Watford 2 – Arsenal 2

In The Athletic on Monday, Michael Cox has looked into Arsenal’s tactics following Sunday’s 2-2 draw at Watford.

The Gunners blew it against the Hornets having been 2-up at the break.

After a first-double from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Watford levelled in the second-half thanks to two terrible errors.

Firstly Sokratis Papastathopoulos gifted a goal to Tom Cleverley.

David Luiz then fouled Roberto Pereyra in the 81st minute in the Arsenal box, and Pereyra scored from the spot.

Don’t blame Sokratis & David Luiz

Swimming against the tide, Michael Cox has sought to absolve Arsenal’s centre-halves of too much blame:

Yes, Watford’s goals were ultimately the result of disastrous errors from Sokratis Papastathopoulos and David Luiz but Arsenal had invited pressure throughout the second half. 

Almost every goal conceded is the result of an individual error. That doesn’t mean there’s no root cause.

Liverpool & Unai Emery’s love for diamonds

When it came to pinpointing Arsenal’s biggest problem at Watford, Michael Cox focused on Arsenal’s formation.

That drew the analyst to recall how Arsenal lost 3-1 at Liverpool in week 3 of the season.

In short, Unai Emery is criticised for playing a diamond formation against Liverpool and Watford:

Emery persisted with a diamond midfield that exposed Arsenal’s back four consistently.

When they used this system at Anfield in August, Arsenal were constantly exposed by crossfield balls towards Liverpool’s full backs, particularly when the diamond had been dragged across to one side.

Emery… was supposed to make Arsenal better tactically.

In many respects, Emery hasn’t got the balance right. 

Social media reaction to Arsenal’s diamond formation

Also see: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang slams Arsenal’s defenders & the weird reason Dani Ceballos was subbed at Watford.

Four key talking points from Arsenal’s draw with Watford.

What Kevin De Bruyne thinks about Man City’s chances of beating Liverpool to the Premier League title

The Sun & Kevin De Bruyne

In the Sun on Monday, readers come across an article regarding Kevin De Bruyne’s reaction to Saturday’s defeat at Norwich.

The headline in the Sun reads as follows:

History Repeated: Man City star De Bruyne sends warning to Liverpool: ‘We’ll catch you, just like last season’.

There’s just one major problem with the Sun’s headline.

KDB never said any of those seven words.

What KDB actually said after Norwich beat Man City

The Sun do actually report what De Bruyne said after the Norwich loss.

Does the Belgian believe City can beat Liverpool to win the Premier League title? De Bruyne commented:

We can still win with the same points at the end of this season. You don’t need to win by 15 points as it is the Premier League. It happened once.

It is so tough and you want to finish first – it does not matter how you do it.

Last season, we were seven points behind. It happens. Of course we want to win every game but it is difficult.

The season never stops. It is our job and sometimes it is hard but you have to take it on the chin.


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Without struggle there is no progress

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Liverpool vs Man City

Liverpool have a perfect record in the Premier League.

The Reds have five wins from five matches.

Liverpool are five points clear of Man City, who are second in the standings.

Also see: Everything Liverpool fans need to know for Monday’s FIFA Club World Cup draw.

Pep Guardiola jokes that Liverpool are champions after Norwich beat Man City.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang slams Arsenal’s defenders & the weird reason Dani Ceballos was subbed at Watford

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang slams Arsenal’s defenders

It’s fair to say that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang wasn’t happy after Arsenal drew 2-2 at Watford on Sunday.

Speaking to French broadcasters Canal Plus after the draw at Vicarage Road, Aubameyang fumed:

I feel like we are literally giving goals to the opposition.

It is up to us to progress. I don’t want to accuse anyone, but you could say that us, the attackers, could have killed the game off and score a third goal so I am not going to say it is someone’s fault.

Obviously we didn’t expect that. We knew that they were going to try & come back with good intentions, of the kind they demonstrated in the second half.

Sadly, we were not able to deal with them well.

Why Dani Ceballos was subbed at Watford

On the hour mark, with Arsenal 2-1 up at Watford, Unai Emery made a change.

Joe Willock replaced Dani Ceballos in the Gunners midfield.

Ceballos had impressed against the Hornets, especially as he played a key role in Arsenal’s opener as he won possession on the halfway line.

So why did Emery sub Ceballos out the match? Because of the heat.

The Arsenal boss said:

Today it was very, very hot. We needed in the second half, some fresh players.

We were struggling second half and I was thinking how we can improve with three players, fresh players, for give us more energy and give us also more capacity to be strong physically and tactically and also technically.

Arseblog on the Ceballos substitution

It’s fair to say some Arsenal fans had a problem with the explanation about the Ceballos switch.

Arseblog, for example, noted the following:

(Ceballos) comes from basically the hottest part of Spain, so is well used to high temperatures, but the head coach insisted the team needed fresh legs during a second period in which Arsenal found themselves under more and more pressure.

Watford 2 – Arsenal 2

At halftime on Sunday, Arsenal were cruising.

The Gunners went into the break at Watford 2-up thanks to a first-half double from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

However, a terrible effort at playing out from the back gifted Tom Cleverley a goal in the 53rd.

David Luiz then took out Roberto Pereyra in the Gunners box with 9 minutes to go, and Pereyra dispatched the penalty with aplomb.

Also see: Four key talking points from Arsenal’s draw with Watford.

Arsenal’s defensive issues laid bare: Gunners have faced more shots than any other side in Europe’s top-5 leagues this season.

What Man City’s Pep Guardiola said about his ‘Fraudiola’ nickname after Norwich loss

Pep Guardiola brings up his ‘Fraudiola’ nickname after Norwich

Is this a sign that Pep Guardiola is cracking under pressure?

Last weekend, after Man City lost their first match of the season at Norwich, Guardiola addressed his ‘Fraudiola’ nickname.

The moniker is an obvious dig at the Spanish coach.

‘Fraudiola’ intimates that Guardiola’s previous successes at Barcelona and Bayern Munich were down to his players rather than tactics.

Of course, Guardiola has been highly successful in England with Man City, winning the league in his first two seasons.

Nevertheless, Guardiola appears to have a hang-up about the term ‘Fraudiola’, as the Man City boss made the following statement after Norwich:

What Pep Guardiola said about his ‘Fraudiola’ nickname

The Man City boss said the following:

(My players) gave me all the prestige I have in England, when the first season when it was Fraud Guardiola, Fraudiola.

This kind of game here in England – it’s not possible to play because you need to have tackles and you have to play like that – these players gave me the prestige that I have.

And now all around the world people say how good a manager I am – it’s for them, not for me.

Social media reaction

Norwich 3 – Man City 2

In the shock of the season, an injury-plagued Canaries side managed to beat the reigning champs on Saturday.

Norwich were well-worth their win against the Sky Blues, after goals from Kenny McLean and Todd Cantwell put the hosts 2-up after 28 minutes.

Sergio Aguero scored on the stroke of half-time, but Teemu Pukki restored Norwich’s 2-goal cushion after the break.

Rodri’s late goal for City proved to be a mere consolation.

Also see: Pep Guardiola jokes that Liverpool are champions after Norwich beat Man City.

Man United will try to sign James Maddison & Leicester’s price tag revealed.

Man United will try to sign James Maddison & Leicester’s price tag revealed

Manchester United will try to sign James Maddison

According to the Times on Monday, Man United hope to sign James Maddison from Leicester City.

Readers are told the following by reporter Paul Hirst:

Manchester United will test Leicester City’s resolve to keep hold of James Maddison by launching a bid for the attacking midfielder next summer.

The United manager wants to rebuild his team with a young, hungry, British core and Maddison ticks all three boxes. 

What’s James Maddison’s contract situation at Leicester?

James Maddison joined Leicester from Norwich City in June 2018.

The Foxes shelled out 20 million pounds on the attacking midfielder.

Maddison signed a five-year deal to play at the King Power Stadium, and he still has three-and-a-half years to run on that deal.

Accordingly, one suspects that Leicester are in a strong position with regard to retaining Maddison.

Leicester’s Maddison price tag revealed

It feels clear that Man United will have to pay a premium to lure Maddison from Leicester.

With regards to a possible price tag, the Times report:

United would likely have to pay in excess of three times that amount for Leicester to even consider selling Maddison, who has recently broken into the England squad.

Put another way, Man United will need to pay at least 60 million pounds for Maddison.

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🔴🆚🔵 coming up! #MunLei

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Would Maddison want to play for Man United?

This isssue isn’t directly dealt with in the Times report.

However, the assumption is that Maddison would consider a move Man United as a step up in his career.

Leicester, of course, just sold Harry Maguire to Man United last summer.

Man United 1 – Leicester 0

On Saturday at Old Trafford, Man United beat Leicester 1-0.

Marcus Rashford scored the only goal of the game from the penalty spot.

Also see: Aston Villa vs West Ham betting tips: Premier League match preview & predictions.

Everything Liverpool fans need to know for Monday’s FIFA Club World Cup draw.