‘Arsenal’s front-three can fire them to top four in the Premier League’, says TOTTENHAM legend Clive Allen

18 Sep

Tottenham legend Clive Allen is backing Arsenal to claim a place in the Premier League’s top four this season – although hopefully not at Spurs’ expense!

The Gunners will kick off their third straight campaign in the Europa League this week as they face German side Eintracht Frankfurt in their first group match, and talkSPORT brings you full LIVE commentary of the clash at the Waldstadion.

Unai Emery’s side blew their last remaining chance to seal Champions League football last season as they lost to Chelsea in the Europa League final, after also finishing outside the Premier League top four.

Unai Emery could not win the Europa League for the fourth time as a manager last season
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But former Tottenham striker Allen believes Arsenal’s new-look front three of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Nicolas Pepe and Alexandre Lacazette – who is currently on the sidelines with an ankle injury – can fire the club back to Europe’s top table this term.

He admits, however, that it will all depend on whether Emery can fix his issues in defence after a poor start to the season.

“Who will get fourth spot? I think it’s a fascinating question,” he said on Wednesday’s Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast.

“Liverpool and Manchester City are ahead of everyone else and Tottenham are the best of the rest.

“But fourth spot? I think perhaps it will go to Arsenal because of their firepower.

Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have seven goals between them already this season
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“They’ve got to address their defensive problems, but if they solve that and you look at their attacking firepower compared to the other teams chasing that fourth spot…

“For me, it will be Arsenal.”

Listen back to Clive Allen on the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast IN FULL above

Arsenal summer signing Nicolas Pepe withdraws from Ivory Coast squad to focus on his fitness

6 Sep

Arsenal star Nicolas Pepe has withdrawn from the Ivory Coast squad to focus on his fitness.

The £72million club-record signing allegedly suffered an injury while with the Gunners, and he’ll return to their training base ahead of next weekend’s Premier League clash with Watford.

Nicolas Pepe joined Arsenal from Lille during the summer transfer window
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Pepe was late to start pre-season following his involvement in Ivory Coast’s Africa Cup of Nations campaign during the summer.

And the winger has been eased into life at Arsenal, starting two of his first four games in a Gunners shirt.

Pepe has shown signs of promise, but is yet to find the back of the net for his new club.

The former Lille talisman had met up with the Ivory Coast squad during the international break, but Arsenal and the Ivorian Football Federation agreed it was best he did not play in friendlies against Benin and Tunisia.

A statement from the governing body read: “Nicolas Pepe, injured with his club, came in to declare it late on Wednesday afternoon.

“As a reinforcement, the coach appealed to Bagayoko Mamadou.”


Check out all the live commentaries coming up across the talkSPORT network this week

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Last month, Pepe praised Arsenal boss Unai Emery for helping him settle in to his new surroundings.

He said: “It’s been really good because he speaks French and it has been much easier for us to communicate.

“I am new, the strategy and tactics are new and it really helps that I can get the coach’s assistance. Now I need to learn English and this is something he is helping me with also.

“I chose to come here because it’s a club with a lot of ambition. They have the dream of coming back to the Champions League and I am also an ambitious person, so the choice was very logical.

“I am attracted to the Premier League because it is an extremely intense championship and the best league in the world.

“The idea is to win the Europa League and that is a goal of ours. It’s a European event and our goal is to do better than last season. I believe I will.”

The most expensive Premier League summer transfers rated so far, including Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea stars

5 Sep

The Premier League has paused for the international break so now is the perfect time to assess the early-season form of some of the new signings in the division.

Having seen four matches so far, we can safely say some of the business done has been excellent and some of it has been mystifying.

Ndombele was brought to Spurs from Lyon earlier this summer for £55million
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There are always winners and losers in the transfer market as not every club can keep hold of their best players and also sign improvements.

So who do talkSPORT.com believe has been the best signings so far? Find out below…

15. Ismaila Sarr (Stade Rennais – Watford) – £27m

After a summer spent at the African Cup of Nations with Senegal, it is understandable that it has been a slow start for Sarr at Vicarage Road.

However, Hornets fans caught a glimpse of his quality after he netted a beauty against Coventry in the Carabao Cup and he is sure to have many more chances to prove his worth.

Sarr will need time to adapt to the Premier League
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14. Joao Cancelo (Juventus – Manchester City) – £60m

Cancelo missed pre-season and therefore Pep Guardiola has been reluctant to hand him a first start as he gears up his fitness for the Premier league.

The Portuguese has looked assured off the bench and the full-back will surely become a first-team regular after the international break.

13. Ayoze Perez (Newcastle – Leicester) – £30m

Perez started in the opening three matches of the season but struggled to make an impact in the side and was subsequently dropped by Brendan Rodgers for the match against Bournemouth on the weekend.

Competition has never hurt anyone and the ex-Newcastle striker will have to prove his worth to his boss in the coming weeks to get back into the side.

Perez has struggled to make an impact so far for Leicester
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12. Pablo Fornals (Villarreal – West Ham) – £25m

Fornals will need time to adjust to the Premier League and it looks like the more he plays the more he is adjusting to the tempo of the English game.

He had a run out in the Carabao Cup and scored against Newport County but will be looking to break into the first-team in the league in the coming weeks.

11. Tanguy Ndombele (Lyon to Tottenham) – £55m

Ndombele had a good start in the Lilywhite shirt after netting his side’s equaliser against Aston Villa with a beauty of a strike.

However, injury has forced him out in recent weeks but he will be looking to continue his solid start after the international break.

10. Nicolas Pepe (Lille to Arsenal) – £72m

Arsenal’s club record signing has looked dangerous at times and is proving to be a real handful for defences.

The Ivorian just needs a goal to kick start his his Gunners career and so far he hasn’t shown composure in front of goal but he has plenty of skill.

Pepe has shown signs of promise in the early stages of his Arsenal career

9. Joelinton (Hoffenheim – Newcastle) – £40m

Newcastle had a difficult start to the campaign and the Brazilian struggled to make an impact as they were dominated by Arsenal and Norwich, but he has now seemingly come into his own.

Against Spurs he was a constant menace up front, holding the ball well and making direct, effective runs, reaping the rewards of his efforts with a goal.

8. Alex Iwobi – (Arsenal – Everton) £28m

The ex-Gunner has looked dangerous for the Toffees whenever he has been called upon and he scored his first goal for the club over the weekend against Wolves in an impressive performance.

He will now be hoping to kick on and have his best season in the Premier League to date.

Iwobi netted hist first goal for Everton on the weekend
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7. Mateo Kovacic (Real Madrid to Chelsea) – £40m

Kovacic was Chelsea’s only signing of the summer due to their transfer ban as he was already registered to the club following his loan move from Real Madrid in 2018.

The Croat has started this season very well, impressing with his surging runs from midfield and dribbling ability.

6. Rodri (Atletico Madrid to Manchester City) – £63m

Rodri has had a couple dodgy moments but on the whole he has looked an assured presence in the midfield when called upon by Guardiola.

At just 24 years old, he is the natural successor to Fernandinho and you sense he will be mightily impressive in the role given what we have seen of his technical ability so far.

Rodri is seen as the heir to Fernandinho
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5. Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Crystal Palace to Manchester United) – £50m

Wan-Bissaka looks unbeatable in one-on-one situations but the Man United defence is still leaking goals due to the midfield being overrun.

Solskjaer needs to find cover for the back four as they are more than capable than defending well but just need more protection higher up the pitch.

4. Harry Maguire (Leicester to Manchester United) – £85m

Maguire had a brilliant debut performance against Chelsea but results have turned sour since then.

He will undoubtedly prove to be a good acquisition for the club but as previously mentioned, Solskjaer needs to sort out his midfield otherwise the defence are left with too much to do.

Maguire will eventually become a great signing for United
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3. Raul Jimenez  (Benfica – Wolves)  – £34m

This signing has gone under the radar because it was agreed in January but what a coup for Wolves it is nonetheless.

Jimenez was one of the best strikers in the league last season and he is continuing to prove a handful up top this term, having scored his first of the campaign against Everton on the weekend.

2. Youri Tielemans (Monaco – Leicester) – £40m

Despite impressing in each match so far, Tielemans only got off the mark in the 3-1 win over Bournemouth over the weekend.

The Belgium international was a revelation for the Foxes in the second half of last season and he has picked up where he left off this campaign.

Tielemans impressed during his brief loan spell at Leicester last season
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1. Sebastien Haller (Eintracht Frankurt – West Ham) – £35m

Haller had a difficult start to life at the London Stadium but in the last two games he has really come into his own.

He seems be in the right position at the right time constantly, and having netted twice from close range against Watford and against Norwich – West Ham have seemingly signed a real dime in the Frenchman.

Haller found the net again for West Ham against Norwich
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Check out all the live commentaries coming up across the talkSPORT network this week

  • Germany vs Netherlands (Friday, 7:45pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • MK Dons vs AFC Wimbledon (Saturday, 12pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Sunderland vs Burton Albion (Saturday, 3pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • England vs Bulgaria (Saturday, 5pm) – talkSPORT

Saturday is GameDay on talkSPORT and talkSPORT 2 as we become your go to destination for all the Premier League action.

We’ll bring you LIVE commentary of Premier League games across all three time slots on Saturday – 12.30pm, 3pm and 5.30pm – delivering award-winning coverage to more GameDay listeners than ever.

Top 20 most expensive transfers in Europe’s top five leagues this summer

4 Sep

The transfer window across Europe slammed shut on Monday until January with dozens of deals completed by the deadline.

Across Europe’s top five leagues, 1903 deals were completed worth £5.24billion.

Harry Maguire became the world’s most expensive defender this summer
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The transfer window for Premier League clubs shut before the season started in August while teams in Spain, Italy, France and Germany having longer to do their business.

English clubs could still sell but were not able to bring in replacements until the start of the next window.

There were several high profile deals that never materialised with Tottenham no doubt delighted that Christian Eriksen remains with them, for now.

Despite some not going through, there was still a huge amount of money changing hands with plenty of clubs wanting to get their business done early.

Here are the 20 top deals completed by teams in Europe’s top five leagues.

20. Youri Tielemans – £40m (Monaco to Leicester City)

Tielemans is Leicester record signing
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19. Joelinton – £40m (Hoffenheim to Newcastle United)

Joelinton cost Newcastle £40m
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18. Mateo Kovacic – £40.2m (Real Madrid to Chelsea)

Chelsea activated their clause to purchase Kovacic from Real Madrid after the Croatian was on-loan at Stamford Bridge last season
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17. Sebastien Haller – £40.7m (Eintracht Frankfurt to West Ham)

Sebastien Haller is the new marksman at the London Stadium
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16. Ferland Mendy – £44m (Lyon to Real Madrid)

Ferland Mendy was signed by Real Madrid for £44million
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15. Eder Militao – £44m (Porto to Real Madrid)

Eder Militao cost Real Madrid £44million
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14. Aaron Wan-Bissaka – £45m (Crystal Palace to Manchester United)

Aaron Wan-Bissaka joined Manchester United in the summer
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13. Tanguy Ndombele – £55.5m (Lyon to Tottenham)

Ndombele arrived for £55.5m from Lyon
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12. Luka Jovic – £57.5m (Eintracht Frankfurt to Real Madrid)

Jovic scored 25 goals for Eintracht Frankfurt last season
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11. Joao Cancelo – £60m (Juventus to Manchester City)

Joao Cancelo joined Man City from Juventus
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10. Rodri – £62.6m (Atletico Madrid to Manchester City)

Rodri has become a star for Man City
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9. Frenkie de Jong – £65.3m (Ajax to Barcelona)

Frenkie de Jong helped Ajax reach the Champions League semi-final
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8. Matthijs de Ligt – £67.8m (Ajax to Juventus)

Matthijs de Ligt is one of the best centre backs in the world
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7. Lucas Hernandez – £68m (Atletico Madrid to Bayern Munich)

Lucas Hernandez joined Bayern Munich for £68million
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6. Nicolas Pepe – £72m (Lille to Arsenal)

Nicolas Pepe is Arsenal’s record signing
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5. Romelu Lukaku – £74m (Manchester United to Inter Milan)

Romelu Lukaku scored on his debut for Inter Milan
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4. Harry Maguire – £80m (Leicester City to Manchester United)

Harry Maguire is the world’s most expensive defender
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3. Eden Hazard – £88.5m (Chelsea to Real Madrid)

Hazard joined Real from Chelsea earlier this summer
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2. Antoine Griezmann – £107.6m (Atletico Madrid to Barcelona)

Antoine Griezmann joined Barcelona after they activated his release clause
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1. Joao Felix – £113m (Benfica to Atletico Madrid)

Joao Felix is already impressing at Atletico Madrid
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Adrian Durham and Darren Gough question whether Arsenal have overpaid for club record signing Nicolas Pepe

2 Sep

The signing of Nicolas Pepe was seen by Arsenal fans as a statement of intent for the future.

The Gunners board decided to part with a club record £72million to bring the exciting talent across the Channel.

Last season at Lille, Pepe scored 22 goals and recorded 11 assists in Ligue 1 to solidify his reputation as one of the most dangerous forwards on the continent.

Ppe cuts in from the right against Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates
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But against Liverpool and then against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, the Ivory Coast international showed he still has much to learn before he can make it in the Premier League.

The 24-year-old showcased glimpses of raw pace and pure talent, but will need to finesse his attributes.

The talkSPORT Drivetime presenters watched the north London derby where Pepe had a quiet game and questioned whether or not the winger’s dependence on his strong foot could prove to be his undoing.

“Everyone is excited about Pepe and I get it,” Gough said. “He’s young, he cost £70million and people suddenly think they’re getting a world beater.

The physicality of the Premier League can often unsettle foreign imports
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“What they’ve signed, they’ve probably paid over the odds for a youngster who has got potential to turn into a £70m player.

“But they’ve paid that to get him now over a few years. So they’ve paid over the odds because they’re paying over a few years.

“Realistically, he is probably worth £40m and he could turn himself into £70m plus with the right coaching, the right team and everything else that goes with it.

“He will turn it on at times this year; you could tell with his pace, he loves running with the ball at his feet.

“The thing is, he has got to use his right foot at some point. If you remember one point, he was running down the right and he was going further and further away from goal because he didn’t want to use his right foot.

“Now you can be superstar and use your best foot all the time, Messi does it. But he still does use his right foot now and again. It looks like Pepe does not want to use that right foot whatsoever.

“But when you’re playing alongside Lacazette and Aubameyang, you’ve got to improve surely as a player?”

Although the two claimed to be friends, Pele always insisted Diego Maradona could not head the ball or shoot with his weaker right foot.

However, it did not stop the former Argentina captain going down in history as one of the greatest players of all time.

While Pepe is no Maradona, his insistence on using solely his left foot is a trait Adrian Durham feels could hinder the youngster from achieving his potential.

“I was surprised at how ineffective Pepe was,” Durham added. “To pay that much money for somebody who is so one-footed has to be a risk.

“I don’t think he is going to have that many wonder games, I think he’ll have some special moments, he will do some special things in games.

“But to impact a game to the point where you’re the difference and you make up to 12-15 points a season that can make Arsenal challengers, I think they are expecting a bit too much from him.”

North London derby: ‘Tottenham are rocking and Arsenal’s big guns can take advantage’, says Gunners legend Martin Keown

30 Aug

Arsenal legend Martin Keown has urged Unai Emery to take advantage of the unrest at Tottenham by ‘bringing out the big guns’ in this weekend’s north London derby.

Speaking ahead of Sunday’s crunch clash at the Emirates Stadium, the former defender told talkSPORT the Gunners players used to call Spurs’ home ground ‘Three Point Lane’, such was their confidence of beating their arch rivals.

Tottenham go into Sunday’s north London derby with uncertainty over a number of their key players as well as manager Mauricio Pochettino
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Keown admits the balance had shifted in the years since.

Arsenal’s dominance has faded and Tottenham have become the superior power in north London in recent seasons, with Spurs finishing about the Gunners in each of the last three Premier League campaigns.

But Pochettino’s team have begun the new term under a dark cloud, with uncertain futures hanging over a number of their top players.

Even the boss has admitted this is the ‘most unsettled’ his Tottenham squad has been in his five years in charge of the club, with the likes of Christian Eriksen, Jan Vertonghen, Serge Aurier, Danny Rose linked with departures before the summer transfer window closes.

And Keown says the Spurs’ dip has given the Gunners have a big opportunity to take back north London, and has urged Emery to start Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and summer signing Nicolas Pepe in a three-pronged attack for the first time.

Speaking to talkSPORT host Jim White on Friday, the former centre-back said: “At White Hart Lane, you just looked into the crowd and you saw the whites of the eyes of the opposition fans trying to create a fear in us, but all they did was strengthen our resolve to go there and get something.

“We simply weren’t welcome in that period. In that period Tottenham were just trying to take points off us to stop us from winning the Premier League or from running with Manchester United.

“It became about playing with your heard and not your heart and making sure you got three points on the board.

Martin Keown won three Premier League titles with Arsenal and says his old Gunners team loved playing against Spurs
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“We joked it was called ‘Three Point Lane’ whenever we went there.

“It’s changed an awful lot since then, but Spurs are coming into this game rocking.

“It was an incredible story for Tottenham last season – they were without a home, made hardly any signings and they make it to a Champions League final with top players and with a top manager – but it feels like they’re at a crossroads.

“Arsenal should be going into this game full of confidence because Spurs are dipping a little bit. [The balance in north London] is ebbing and flowing and tomorrow it’s all on the line because Arsenal could snatch it all back under Emery.

Keown is hoping to see summer signing Nicolas Pepe start alongside Aubameyang and Lacazette in attack against Tottenham

“I want him to play the three big guns up top and really go after Tottenham.

“Now we have a front three that can trouble any defence in the Premier League, so Emery should play the big guns. Play Pepe, play Lacazette, play Aubameyang.

“It’s an opportunity for Arsenal. Spurs look vulnerable. They don’t go there with any confidence, but of course this is the kind of game that if you get a win, you can put that right overnight.”

Listen back to a clip of Martin Keown on talkSPORT above

Arsenal vs Tottenham: Gunners boss Unai Emery hints at starting Nicolas Pepe, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette in north London derby

30 Aug

Nicolas Pepe, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette are set to start for Arsenal in the north London derby.

The Gunners will be aiming to continue their good start to the season when they host Tottenham on Sunday.

Nicolas Pepe has shown signs of promise in the early stages of his Arsenal career


Check out all the live commentaries coming up across the talkSPORT network this weekend...

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  • Southampton vs Manchester United (Saturday, 12:30pm) – talkSPORT
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  • Chelsea vs Sheffield United (Saturday, 3pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Burnley vs Liverpool (Saturday, 5:30pm) – talkSPORT

Aubameyang and Lacazette tormented Spurs in the same fixture last December, with both strikers finding the target in a 4-2 win.

Pepe, a £72million club-record summer signing from Lille, made his full debut in Arsenal’s 3-1 defeat to Liverpool last weekend, alongside Aubameyang.

However, Lacazette was only fit enough for the bench after nursing an ankle knock since pre-season and the trio have yet to play in the same XI.

That could all change this weekend, though.

When asked if he knew about the plea from fans to start all three attackers against Spurs, Emery said: “Yes, but be calm. My decision in each moment is thinking about how we are.

Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have a good relationship on and off the pitch

“For example with Lacazette he had a problem with his ankle. This week is the best week of the last three weeks. He’s getting better and feeling better with his ankle, it’s very positive.

“With Pepe, he came here later than the others but he is getting and feeling better in each match.

“Aubameyang is very important for us, he scores two goals in the first two matches, he had two or three good actions in Liverpool.

“The most important thing for me is to have chances and after with players like Aubameyang, Lacazette, Pepe, Mkhi (Henrikh Mkhitaryan), Reiss (Nelson), (Dani) Ceballos and Mesut (Ozil) we can score with different players.”

Chelsea starlet’s the real deal, Crystal Palace are having a brilliant 2019 and one positive for Arsenal – what we learned in the Premier League

26 Aug

The Premier League once again did not fail to disappoint over the weekend with twists and turns that only this division could produce.

Manchester City and Liverpool unsurprisingly secured three points, while Chelsea boss Frank Lampard claimed his first win in charge of the club at Norwich.

Klopp’s side continued their flying start to the campaign
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The shocks of the weekend came at Old Trafford and the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, where Crystal Palace and Newcastle secured famous wins on the road to kick their season into gear.

But what did we learn from the weekend’s action? talkSPORT.com highlights some of the key take aways from Gameweek 3…

Mount is the real deal

Frank Lampard has showed faith in his youngsters this season and he finally reaped the rewards of his selection over the weekend.

The Blues’ line-up was their youngest starting XI since 1994, with Tammy Abraham striking twice while Mason Mount’s scored a brilliant goal to secure a narrow victory over Norwich.

And now, pundits are starting to realise that Mount is a star in the making.

Mount made it two goals in two games and was later chosen as man of the match by talkSPORT’s Dean Ashton
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Not only did he expertly dispatch his goal, he was pretty much everywhere the whole game, pressing the opposition off the ball and driving forward with intent in possession.

His knack of choosing forward, rather than sideways or backwards passes, is a refreshing sight for Chelsea fans, who often had to endure meaningless spells of possession under Maurizio Sarri last term.

Mount, who filled in for Pedro on the flanks after the Spaniard picked up an injury in the warm-up, embraced the challenge with confidence and guile – and the Blues look to have found a real homegrown diamond on their hands.

Pochettino must bring Eriksen back

Another thing we learnt from the weekend’s action is that Tottenham must do everything in their power to keep Christian Eriksen at the club.

Despite boasting almost 80 per cent possession, the Lilywhites could only muster up two shots on target – which will be hugely alarming for Mauricio Pochettino.

Eriksen was frustrated as Spurs were beaten 1-0 by Newcastle at home on Sunday
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Even with an explosive front four of Harry Kane, Lucas Moura, Erik Lamela and Heung-min Son, Spurs lacked any sort of creative spark and Newcastle were able to deal with the threat with relative ease.

Eriksen was finally brought on for the remaining half hour and the game changed.

He saw passes that no one else on the pitch could, and Spurs genuinely looked like a threat again.

Had the Dane started, it could have been a very different result – and despite the playmaker’s desire to move on, Poch must play him in every match while he still has him at the club.

Hodgson is doing a remarkable job with Palace

Incredibly, aside from Man City and Liverpool, no team has taken more points in the Premier League since February than Crystal Palace.

In fact, the Eagles would be fifth in the division had the table started this year – a remarkable achievement from Roy Hodgson’s side.

Hodgson is doing a brilliant job at Palace

The win at Old Trafford on the weekend – their first win at the stadium since 1989 –  has demonstrated just how well Hodgson is running the club and this has somewhat gone overlooked.

Palace spent approximately £5m this summer – the least of any club in the Premier League – and also cashed in on Aaron Wan-Bissaka without replacing him.

Furthermore, the Eagles’ away record against the top six is astonishing.

Palace have claimed away victories at Man United, Man City, Arsenal and Liverpool in recent seasons.

Pepe could be Arsenal’s main man

Liverpool once again tormented Arsenal at Anfield but there was one positive to take from the defeat for the Gunners and that was new summer signing Nicolas Pepe.

The Ivorian forward looked a threat throughout the match and had he taken one of his first-half chances, Arsenal may have come away with something to show from their display.

The 24-year-old constantly tried to bear his man with pacy, direct runs and, while he was ultimately well shackled by Liverpool, he showed more than enough to suggest he’ll be a huge player for Arsenal.

Pepe looked extremely dangerous on his first start for Arsenal
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Solskjaer has plenty to prove

If we learn’t anything from this game, it’s that there are still huge problems that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs to solve this season.

For the second consecutive match, the Red Devils spurned a spot kick, with Marcus Rashford smashing his effort onto the post with the score still at 0-1.

After a promising start to the season, United fans now feel like they have gone straight back to square one – and their failure to recruit a goalscoring midfielder is seemingly haunting them with every match.

Solskjaer will have been disappointed by Uniteds performance against Palace
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Summer target Bruno Fernandes, who was reportedly deemed too lax in possession by Old Trafford chiefs this summer, provided three assists for Sporting this weekend.

There is clearly a lack of creativity in midfield and Solskjaer must solve this problem sharpish if he wants his side to make the top four – perhaps a gambling on Tahith Chong or Angel Gomes could be an option?

Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk is FINALLY dribbled past as Arsenal record signing Nicolas Pepe breaks Premier League record

24 Aug

Virgil van Dijk has FINALLY been dribbled past in the Premier League.

The Liverpool defender is considered one of the best in the world, but he has finally been beaten.

Nicolas Pepe looked extremely dangerous on his first start for Arsenal
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Nicolas Pepe became the first player to successfully dribble past Virgil van Dijk in the Netherlands defender’s last 50 appearances in the Premier League, since Mikel Merino in March 2018 for Newcastle.

Arsenal’s record signing prompted a silent gasp from the Anfield crowd after drifting past the colossal centre-half.

Picking the ball up on the right touchline, the former Lille winger managed to show Van Dijk a clean set of heels as he darted past the onrushing Liverpool defenders.

However, normal service was soon resumed as the 28-year-old caught up with the Ivory Coast international and nicked the ball from the forward.

More to follow…

Arsenal’s attack scored more than Liverpool’s last season – but can Gunners become genuine title contenders like Jurgen Klopp’s men?

23 Aug

Liverpool and Arsenal go head-to-head at Anfield this Saturday evening, LIVE on talkSPORT.

Both teams have enjoyed a faultless start to the Premier League season, winning both of their games to date.

Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have fired Arsenal to wins over Newcastle and Burnley in the Premier League
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Jurgen Klopp’s men are set to challenge for the title again after falling agonisingly close last season as Manchester City pipped them to first place by just a single point.

Meanwhile, Unai Emery’s first campaign in charge at the Emirates saw the club miss out on Champions League qualification for a third season in a row, while they were thumped 4-1 in the Europa League final by Chelsea.

Despite that, the north London side’s attacking trio of Nicolas Pepe (while at Lille), Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang managed more goals between them last season than Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane.

Roberto Firmino’s goal on 71 minutes proved to be the decisive moment for Liverpool in their last game at Southampton
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It therefore begs the question that with such an exciting attacking force at Emery’s disposal, can Arsenal turn into serious title contenders like Liverpool have done?

talkSPORT.com assesses those chances, and both teams’ attack, ahead of the early season encounter.

Salah, Firmino and Mane

The attacking trio were on fire for Liverpool last season as they finished on 97 points in the Premier League last season –  just one point behind City.

In total they scored a combined 69 goals, with the Reds also beating Tottenham 2-0 in the Champions League final to lift their sixth European crown.

Salah is the individual genius in Liverpool’s team, capable of creating something out of nothing.

Mane nabbed a goal and an assist in a tough win for Liverpool at Southampton
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While he has endured a quiet start to the season, much like how he fared at the start of 2018/19, Jurgen Klopp will have no concerns that he will hit top form; sooner rather than later.

Mane has an air of unpredictability about him, but his sheer pace and presence is enough to cause any team problems in the top flight.

His trickery and darting runs at goal are a delight to watch, while Firmino is very much the architect.

Mohamed Salah is one of the best attackers in the world
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The Brazilian has an uncanny habit of creating space for himself in tight situations and is without doubt one of the most intelligent footballers in the top flight.

As a threesome, there aren’t any better in the Premier League.

As well as the 56 Premier League goals they delivered, they also provided 15 assists between them.

Not bad, eh…

Pepe, Aubameyang and Lacazette

In contrast, Aubameyang and Lacazette scored 50 goals for Arsenal in all competitions in 2018/19, while £72m club recording Pepe netted 23 for Lille – a total of 71 goals for the campaign.

However, unlike Liverpool’s forward line there is a overriding sense of a lack of balance in Emery’s attack.

Pepe is a wide forward in a similar mould to Mane and Salah, however in Aubameyang and Lacazette they possess two central strikers.

Arsenal won the race to sign Pepe from Lille
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Therefore, for them to play in a front three it means sacrificing one of the trio’s qualities to help accommodate the team – something Liverpool don’t have to do.

In Aubameyang they have one of the most lethal finishers in the planet. The Gabon international is one of only six players to score 25+ goals in each of the last five seasons.

Sergio Aguero, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Robert Lewandowski are the other five.

While he doesn’t creative the creative spark the likes of Salah and Mane possess, he needs to be operated in a central position.

Aubameyang, 30, is one of the most potent forwards in the world.
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Putting him out wide only limits the likelihood of the forward finding the net and getting himself into dangerous positions in the penalty area.

Meanwhile, Pepe can provide Arsenal with something they’ve desperately been lacking for many years, a constant source of dribbling, shots and crosses.

He was second for dribbles in Europe’s top five domestic leagues last term behind his international team-mate Wilfried Zaha, who Arsenal also targeted in the summer transfer window.

Wilfried Zaha was the top dribbler in Europe’s top five domestic leagues last season
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Against Burnley he was able to stretch the play and bring Lacazette into play in dangerous positions on multiple occasions.

More times than not when Lacazette hits the target he finds the net, but he remains a very different profile of striker to Aubameyang, who carves out chances on his own.

There’s no doubting this is a strong Arsenal attack, one of the strongest in years, but it remains to be seen just how far this team can go in what is just Emery’s second full season in charge.


Arsenal aren’t anywhere near ready for a realistic push at the title, yet. They are very much a work in progress, but the signs have been promising so far this season under Unai Emery.

While they possess a top-class forward line, the balance is just not there in comparison to Liverpool.

The Reds can rely on the likes of James Milner and Jordan Henderson to move wide to support the front three, but Arsenal don’t have the same mould of player in those positions to perform as effectively as those two – thus taking the work load of the strikers.

Liverpool are set to challenge for the Premier League under Jurgen Klopp
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A top-four finish, and thus ending their three-season exodus from the Champions League, would represent a good season for Arsenal.

Under the stewardship of Klopp, it would come as no surprise to see Liverpool maintaining another strong push for the title, and maybe just maybe coming out on top against Manchester City this time around.

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