Talent Radar Young Midfielder Rankings: Dele Alli enters the mix

Julian Weigl
“Judging the calibre of a young player is often a tricky task. Perceived potential has an important bearing in any consideration and is just one of the many parameters to consider when trying to quantify the ability of football’s young stars. To add a basis to what may be a leap of faith, it is useful to look back and trace the growth, or indeed lack thereof, in young players.” Outside of the Boot


English game lacks Champions League quality – but at least it is unpredictable

“Two down, two to go. Chelsea’s exit from the Champions League means half of the Premier League’s four entrants have gone and, barring something miraculous in the Camp Nou next week, Arsenal will join them, leaving only Manchester City, assuming they finish the job against Dynamo Kyiv. Had it not been for a tough knockout draw for Italian sides this season, the Premier League’s fourth Champions League slot might have come under serious threat from Serie A for 2017-18. As it is, England has picked up half a point more than Italy so far this season and, with only two Italian sides left in European competition one of them Juventus, who must go to Bayern Munich after a 2-2 draw in the home leg, that advantage should be increased. Given the Premier League’s wealth – it has 17 of the 30 clubs with the highest revenue in the world, according to the latest Deloitte report – the fact that the coefficient is even an issue is faintly embarrassing.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Eintracht Frankfurt’s New Coach – Niko Kovac

“Eintracht Frankfurt have signed a new head coach to replace Armin Veh. From now on Niko Kovac, 44, will be the man at the side-line together with his brother, Robert Kovac, as assistant coach. The brothers were born in Berlin, and Niko played 241 matches for Hertha BSC Berlin, Hamburger SV, Bayer Leverkusen and FC Bayern München. Eintracht Frankfurt is in danger to be relegated after a disastrous sequence of losses, as Die Adler are 16th in the Bundesliga table, sliding downward as they haven’t won in their last seven matches.” Bundesliga Fanatic

Why fly when you can walk on water? Arsenal FC v Hull City FC – Part One

“Sitting having my haircut this morning, in the few moments I can hear myself think over the brash man talking loudly about the tires on his Rolls-Royce, his Russian wife, or white water rafting with his Mother-in-Law, who he talked about in the manner akin to that of Alf Garnett, I consider my approach to today’s game. I respect the etiquette of the hairdressers perfectly, not saying a word except for the garbled instructions of what I would like done, and then keeping schtum, smiling occasionally when I make eye contact in the mirror with the barber.” backpagefootball – Part 1, Part 2

The referee’s a…..?

“I write this while happening to find myself on the same aeroplane as a current, high profile Premier League referee for the second time in as many weeks. I’m not usually one for fraternising with strangers on trains, planes and automobiles but I feel that, had I been sat next to the said official (who was, incidentally, with his wife/girlfriend and child), we could quite easily have bonded over the copy of When Saturday Comes I had just purchased from the terminal’s branch of WH Smith’s; and also, not least, because he and I briefly opened the batting together for Blyth Cricket Club second XI some twenty or so years ago. He won’t remember me from that; my time at the crease at the opposite end was generally short and uneventful.” Football Pink

Liverpool, Manchester United appear to be rivals heading on opposite paths

“The only good news for Manchester United is that it was not worse. It wasn’t just that Louis van Gaal’s streak of four straight wins over his club’s bitterest rivals came to an end, it was the manner of the defeat. United was thoroughly outplayed in the 2-0 loss to Liverpool in their Europa League last-16 first leg. United was grateful to David De Gea for keeping the score down, and, while it’s not inconceivable that the deficit–the result of a Daniel Sturridge penalty and another goal from Roberto Firmino–can be made up at Old Trafford next week, it would take a radically improved performance even to be possible.” SI – Jonathan Wilson