Premier League mid-season review: Who wins the title? Who gets top four? Best signing?


“Will Arsenal hold off the challenge of Manchester City to win their first Premier League title since 2004? Who has been the best signing of 2022-23? And what about the worst? What’s been your goal of the season? And how about your favourite game? We asked a group of our writers to review the Premier League season so far — and their responses feature a lot of Mikel Arteta and Erling Haaland… ”
The Athletic

Advertisement

Arsenal’s clever corners and their importance in the Premier League title race

“On April 10, 1993, Manchester United needed a win to regain top spot in the inaugural Premier League season. A draw against Sheffield Wednesday would not have been enough to return to the summit with only five games remaining afterwards. The final minutes of that game played a major role in United’s first Premier League title. …”
The Athletic

Diogo Dalot and the role of the modern fullback


Positions are constantly evolving in modern football. Or rather, there are no new ideas in football. Just new contexts in which old ideas seem revitalised. None more so than the role of the full back. Liverpool’s Robertson and Alexander-Arnold appeared to have redefined the modern full back, but more recently we are seeing ‘inverted’ full backs. And some full backs, like Diogo Dalot can be like Robertson and Alexander-Arnold, and invert. Jon Mackenzie explains how. Marco Bevilacqua illustrates.
YouTube

Why Man United’s poor organisation out of possession was likely to end in tears


“If Arsenal’s 3-2 victory over Manchester United on Sunday afternoon felt particularly momentous, it’s because it was essentially two types of big win combined. On one hand, it was about Arsenal completely outplaying United, dominating possession and territory, and creating far more chances. On the other, there was the drama of a late winner providing a definitive, exhilarating moment. …”
The Athletic – Michael Cox
The Athletic – Arsenal 3-2 Manchester United analysed: Are Arteta’s men really going to win this title?

Manchester United head into season’s second derby transformed by Ten Hag


“Manchester United’s turnaround between October’s derby with Manchester City and the return fixture on Saturday suggests Erik ten Hag can be the man who finally casts Sir Alex Ferguson’s gilded era in sepia. At the Etihad Stadium United were blitzed 6-3 by the champions, going 4-0 down before half-time and 6-1 down after 64 minutes, on a dark afternoon for the club that featured hat-tricks from Erling Haaland and Phil Foden. …”
Guardian

Ornstein: Arsenal hire ‘Tekkers Guru’, Zaha to stay at Palace, Hazard talks, West Ham in for En-Nesyri

Arsenal face an FA Cup third-round tie at League One side Oxford United tonight, as Mikel Arteta’s men attempt to continue their progress in a campaign that has seen them become Premier League front-runners. Arteta is at the centre of a rebuilding job which, after a troubled period, appears to be turning the side into a competitive force once again — and the efforts to improve show little sign of abating. …”
The Athletic (Video)

Why Man Utd are for sale

Manchester United are for sale. After years of conflict between supporters and owners, the Glazer Family, who have held majority control of the club since 2005, are searching for a buyer. But why now, and what will happen next? How much are Manchester United worth? Who could afford to buy United? Laurie Whitwell and Dan Sheldon explain, Craig Silcock illustrates.
YouTube

Arsenal excellent, Tottenham flawed: When the ‘Big Six’ splash the cash, has it worked?


“The summer of 2021 brought Arsenal’s new recruitment strategy into sharp focus. Just over £140million ($168.4m) was spent transforming a squad that had staggered to an eighth-place finish in the previous Premier League season and not one new arrival was over the age of 23. It was all premeditated, all part of a plan. In came Ben White, Aaron Ramsdale, Martin Odegaard, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Albert Sambi Lokonga and Nuno Tavares, each bringing more potential than an obvious pedigree. ‘That has to be Arsenal,’ said Edu, the club’s technical director. …”
The Athletic

The Premier League returns … do we all remember what was going on?


“This season’s Premier League. Remember it? It kicked off back in August before taking a six-week hiatus so we could all enjoy the first ever winter World Cup. Well, it’s back on Boxing Day, so now seems as good as time as any to provide a quick primer for readers who, like this column, may have been so preoccupied by events in Doha they’ve been being paying scant attention to goings on closer to home. …”
Guardian

Cristiano Ronaldo – banished from a United squad ready to leave him behind


Cristiano Ronaldo is the one Manchester United player who knows how it looks and how it feels inside the dressing room when a legendary player burns his bridges. He was there, as a 20-year-old, when Roy Keane eviscerated several of his team-mates, assistant manager Carlos Queiroz and, finally, Sir Alex Ferguson before the captain’s contract was terminated in November 2005. … And, on both occasions, the young Ronaldo breathed a huge sigh of relief — just as several of his team-mates will, along with Erik ten Hag, when the Portugal forward’s unhappy second spell in Manchester comes to end. …”
The Athletic
NY Times: Cristiano Ronaldo and the Long Walk
Guardian: Traits that made Cristiano Ronaldo great now hasten his painful decline

Football has elevated time-wasting into a sophisticated art form

“As a pastime, or indeed lifestyle, time-wasting is undervalued. To do nothing takes real imagination; to produce nothing requires a strong moral core. The idle person does not, among other things, perform unnecessary cosmetic surgery or release an album of swing covers. The most courageous way of experiencing time is through inaction – to remain quite still and feel the minutes crawl across the face. Time-wasting in football, however, is the preserve of knaves and shysters. …”
Guardian

How Manchester United dominated Tottenham by stifling their three-man midfield

“On August 21, 2008, Metallica released The Day That Never Comes, the lead single from their ninth studio album, Death Magnetic. The music video for that song depicts soldiers in a hostile situation, but the song itself is about forgiveness and redemption, as drummer Lars Ulrich later explained. … Watching Manchester United throughout the last decade, it has always felt like they are waiting for the day that never comes — the one where they once more win football games with complete, dominant performances, even against the top sides in the Premier League. …”
The Athletic

Every 2022-23 Premier League third kit rated

“Yes, we’re into the second half of October but only now can The Athletic rate the good, the bad and the ugly of this season’s Premier League third kits, as it’s taken this long for them all to finally be unveiled. Bizarre colour schemes, tributes to bridges and digital front-graphic panels, third kits are usually a heady cocktail of the experimental and the sublime, and this year is no different. …”
The Athletic

Manchester United top the table (in paying off departed managers)

“The relentless pursuit of success comes at a cost. For Manchester United, the cost is an estimated £60million spent on sacking managers and their backroom staff since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in May 2013. David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick all received compensation. This financial outlay is more than Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur have spent changing their manager in the same 10-year timeframe. …”
The Athletic

Manchester United’s flawed press made life far too easy for City

Manchester City were irresistible in attack throughout their 6-3 victory over Manchester United on Sunday afternoon. They constantly showcased the patterns we’ve come to expect: Kevin De Bruyne overlapping and then crossing, Bernardo Silva dropping deep in midfield and then pushing into the channel, Phil Foden drifting inside from the right, Jack Grealish storming forward from the left, and Erling Haaland banging in the goals. When City work the ball into the final third, they sometimes feel unstoppable. …”
The Athletic – Michael Cox

Watching three Premier League derbies in three days


Arsenal fans make their way to the Emirates from Gillespie Road on derby day
“Super League proposals, globalisation, games potentially being played abroad, the hunger for European football… it’s felt for a while that this might be the future of the game. Ask your typical English football supporter which fixture they first look for in June and chances are they’ll say their team’s local derby. …”
The Athletic

Manchester City played digital football. United are a dial-up version


“… With 44 minutes gone at the Etihad Stadium Manchester City scored a goal that brought the usual cheers and roars, but also something else, the urge to laugh. City had already spent the first half playing football that seemed to have benefited from an operating system upgrade, demonstrating the latest miracle processor against a batch of red-shirted patsies. The move to make it 4-0 was a moment of super-compression, lines cut in a perfect zigzag from outside City’s penalty area to the far left-hand corner of the Manchester United goal without friction or drag or loss of scale. …”
Guardian (Video)
NY Times: How Do You Stop Erling Haaland? You Don’t. (Video)
The Athletic (Video)

The Crisis Clubs: a Weekly Guide to Premier League Turmoil

“In case you hadn’t noticed, each week the Premier League has a specific team in crisis. Bad form, shock results, poor management, unforced errors; some or all of these factors can plunge one of the division’s 20 sides into momentary turmoil, transforming them into the main character in Premier League narrative for that week. More often than not the crisis club will be a member of the Big Six but not always and, no matter who it is, the next set of fixtures will invariably throw up a new team to take up the crisis mantle, and the nation’s attention will pivot instantly to the league’s new whipping boys for the week. Here, then, is an ongoing guide to the Premier League’s crisis clubs in 2022-23. …”
The Analyst

Premier League Big Six – when did they have their best days?

“Over the past few years, we have supposedly seen the ‘best ever’ club sides in the Premier League and even Europe. When Liverpool and Manchester City went head-to-head in 2019, some were quick to proclaim them the greatest of all time, but in 2019-20, City fell short and a year later, Liverpool’s defence of their Premier crown was rather tepid. The real test of a great team is consistency over a period of time and both of these clubs have shown they have that quality. …”
Game of the People

“Cup Sides”: Do they exist?

“Some sites are just good, right? They’re in the race for the most trophies most years, and while they invariably meet some disappointment along the way, the pots and pans usually start to pile up. Now think of Manchester City or Manchester United under Alex Fergurson or Liverpool in the 1970s and 1980s. However, other teams seem to do better as pure cup sides. A look back to the 1970s and 1980s and a look at the two major domestic cup competitions seems to confirm this. If we start our last ‘ah, those were the days’ in 1970 and look at that decade’s FA Cup competition, for example, we see certain teams with a distinct ‘cup pedigree’. …”
UK Daily

Bruno Fernandes exclusive: Manchester United’s ‘ghosts of the past’ and marking the referee

“Thirty-five minutes into the second assignment of the Premier League season and the scoreboard reads Brentford 4-0 Manchester United. An optimistic pre-season tour under new manager Erik ten Hag has given way to a season-opening defeat by Brighton at Old Trafford and then comes United’s most dismal half of football in recent memory in west London. …”
The Athletic (Video)
W – Bruno Fernandes

Manchester United showed why passing backwards to go forwards is so valuable

Manchester United’s opening goal against Arsenal was a thing of beauty. It wasn’t simply that the goal featured all 11 players, or the fact United cut through Arsenal’s lines smoothly. It was about how they created the situation — playing four backwards passes and going from level with the opposition penalty area right back to their goalkeeper. It was a perfect demonstration of the value of going backwards. …”
The Athletic: Michael Cox

Money to Burn: Lessons From the Premier League’s Transfer Window

“… This is what the Premier League does every year, of course: Every summer, and most winters, its clubs descend on Europe, the cash from infinitely spiraling television deals burning a hole in their pockets, and proceed to hose an entire continent with money. They swamp it, they flood it, they drown it with their wealth. And then, at the end of August, they go home, armed with a few more Brazilian playmakers and Swedish strikers, ready to play the games that will earn the money for them to do it all over again in a few months. …”
NY Times

Is this the worst Premier League foul ever?

“Some fouls leave you wincing. Some are debatable. And some leave players with lasting damage. The Premier League is widely regarded as the most competitive league in the world, so naturally, there have been some hefty challenges. But which is the worst foul committed in the Premier League? Seb Stafford-Bloor writes. Philippe Fenner.”
YouTube

Milner vs Van Dijk: Who was to blame for Manchester United’s opener against Liverpool


Jadon Sancho’s composed opener had only just hit the back of the net, but the inquest had already begun. As he rolled the ball past James Milner, Sancho only had Virgil van Dijk between him and the goal. Van Dijk held his ground, hands behind his back as he looked to cover the space, before Sancho slotted in the bottom-left corner. … The question is, who was right? Could Van Dijk have done any more, or did Milner have a point? …”
The Athletic (Video)

Manchester United Powers Through in Win Over Liverpool Amid Transfer Chaos, Protests


“Football has a remarkable habit of making fools of us all. When it was pointed out after Liverpool’s surprise draw against Crystal Palace last Monday that Manchester United could go above Liverpool if it beat Jürgen Klopp’s side, it was with a smirk. Even after Liverpool’s patchy start to the season, such a thing seemed implausible. After all, United had beaten Liverpool only once in the last 12 league meetings, Liverpool had lost only one game—the Champions League final—all year and United had produced probably its worst performance in half a century at Brentford last Saturday. And yet United was good value for its 2–1 win. …”
SI – Jonathan Wilson
Guardian: Why have Liverpool made such a slow start to the Premier League season?
Liverpool’s Biggest Rival in 2022-23 is Father Time

Cox: United played like Solskjaer’s underdogs — but Sancho goal was typical Ten Hag


“They say the form book goes out of the window in big matches like Manchester United versus Liverpool, but if anything, it was Erik ten Hag’s coaching handbook that went out of the window. Last night, we learnt very little about Manchester United’s future direction under the Dutchman but learnt a lot about Ten Hag himself. This was a deeply pragmatic tactical approach from Ten Hag, designed with the opposition and United’s previous performances in mind. Overall statistics can be misleading considering United led from the 16th minute and the onus was on Liverpool to dominate. …”
The Athletic

Premier League at 30: How football has changed


“‘Football didn’t start in 1992.’ It did not, but it did change forever. Next week marks the 30th anniversary of the Premier League replacing the Football League First Division at the top of the English football tree. Here is what has happened in those 30 years and how the Premier League and the world has changed. …”
BBC (Video)

Manchester United – what the rest of football thinks about a club in crisis

“No club in English football sets tongues wagging like Manchester United. Love them or hate them, in good times and bad, they are a source of endless intrigue and debate. As much as that applies to fans of every club, it applies to those who work within the game. For much of the past nine years, the entire industry has looked on with a sense of fascination — at times morbid fascination — as the empire Sir Alex Ferguson built has crumbled. …”
The Athletic (Video)
NY Times: Manchester United Isn’t for Sale, but a Piece of It Might Be

Manchester United fallout: Running, strained relations and Ten Hag changing mind on Ronaldo


“On Wednesday morning, Manchester United’s players reported for training and began work on a tactical plan devised by manager Erik ten Hag for the weekend trip to Brentford. Ten Hag’s first fixture in charge, a 2-1 home defeat by Brighton the previous Sunday, had constituted a major setback and he informed his players of two substantial tweaks to his line-up. The first was to restore ageing superstar Cristiano Ronaldo to the starting line-up after only being on the bench against Brighton, which in turn facilitated the second alteration, which would see new signing Christian Eriksen end his brief, befuddling spell as a false nine and instead operate far deeper as a defensive midfielder. As such, two positions were tweaked but only one player dropped out of the side beaten at Old Trafford — midfielder Scott McTominay. …”
The Athletic (Video)

Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action

“… 3) Hammers looking to find rhythm. David Moyes was in no mood to deliberate after West Ham slipped to a second successive defeat, though it was not for the want of trying at Nottingham Forest; they had a goal disallowed, twice hit the underside of the crossbar and Declan Rice saw a penalty saved. Moyes said he hopes their Europa Conference League playoff first leg at home to Viborg on Thursday will help them establish some rhythm after a disappointing start. …”
Guardian

Manchester United are a mess. It’s not new, but it is deeply shocking


“… Yes, we know, Cristiano Ronaldo’s most recent episodes of self-importance have left everyone suspecting that he would rather be just about anywhere else than wearing the lime green cocktail number that qualifies as United’s new away kit. Yes, we know, Donny van de Beek only appears from the United substitute bench after the clock has passed the 80-minute mark. So, yes, we know it all. We have heard it all. We have seen it all. And yet, somehow, each week manages to conjure a new sense of stupefying shock. At half-time, Brentford, who had not beaten Manchester United since 1938, led their opponents. And this was more than a lead. This was 4-0 and deservedly so. And there was, in the press box, almost a numbing madness to it all. Brentford’s supporters, too, stared at one another, open-mouthed. …”
The Athletic (Video)
BBC – Brentford 4-0 Manchester United: ‘A joke’, ‘bullied’ & ‘rotten’ – are Man Utd at rock bottom? (Video)
Guardian: Erik ten Hag says Manchester United players put tactical plan ‘in the bin’ (Video)

Why the through ball is becoming a dying art in European football


“The number of through balls in the UEFA Champions League dropped 50 per cent between the 2018-19 and 2021-22 seasons. In Europe’s top five leagues, the number of through balls dropped on average 30 per cent over the same period. In the Europa League, it dropped 24 per cent. The through ball is not extinct, but it is endangered.Before examining why, we need to define the term. FBref data define a through ball as a: ‘Completed pass sent between the back defenders into open space.’ It is a complex pass to complete, hence the number of through balls is never particularly high and is in fact lower than the goals-per-game total in Europe’s top divisions. …”
The Athletic (Video)

What you may have missed on the Premier League’s opening weekend


“The Premier League is back — and it was a dramatic opening weekend with promoted Fulham holding would-be champions Liverpool to a draw, Erling Haaland scoring two goals on debut for Manchester City and Manchester United losing at home, with Cristiano Ronaldo starting the visit of Brighton on the bench. But away from the main talking points, our The Athletic staff have picked out some of things you may have missed from the first round of 10 matches. Let us know what you spotted in the comments section below. …”
The Athletic

The Adrien Rabiot paradox: What exactly would Manchester United be getting?

“Veronique Rabiot believed her son, Adrien, would have made a fine fencer. It’s a discipline the French have a strong tradition in, going back to the 1896 Athens Olympics, and it’s not too much of a stretch of the imagination to see a tall white-jacketed figure advancing up the piste, a balestra here, a fleche there, ready to pull off his mask at the end of a bout to reveal Adrien and those long, wavy locks. Unfortunately for sabre-rattlers, he chose football instead. …”
The Athletic

The Ted Lasso fan’s guide to the Premier League: Your starting point for the 2022-23 season


“We’re not sure when Ted Lasso’s third and (maybe) final season will drop, but it’s never too early to start preparing for how you’ll fill the void once it ends — and this week provides the perfect opportunity. AFC Richmond won promotion back up to the Premier League at the end of the show’s second season, but the real thing kicks off on Friday for another year with plenty of comedy and drama of its own. So if you’re one of the many Ted Lasso fans who haven’t gotten invested in the real-life Premier League just yet, now’s the time to dive in — if only so you’ll be prepared for all the new details sure to be included in season three. Ted Lasso’s landmark licensing deal with the Premier League means lines between the two will be blurred more than ever when it does return. …”
The Athletic (Video)
BBC – Premier League 2022-23: Everything you need to know as new season starts (Video)
NY Times: They Got to the Premier League. Staying? That’s the Hard Part.

Predicting the transfer market: Nunez, Haaland and league exchange rates


“It was hardly surprising that at least three of the Premier League’s leading clubs were interested and, ultimately, that one of them ended up taking the plunge. The striker had scored freely in his domestic league, was a good age and, on the face of it, had all the attributes — physical in particular but technical too — to succeed in England. … Either way, it is interesting to cast your eye down the table below and wonder what the numbers will look like for Manchester City’s Erland Haaland and Liverpool’s Darwin Nunez — the Premier League’s two biggest imports this summer — at the end of their first season in England. Nunez came off the bench to score in Saturday’s Community Shield victory whereas Haaland missed a sitter late on, but how will their contribution be viewed in May next year? …”
The Athletic (Video)

What is Arsenal? Why are teams called United? What is a Hotspur? A history of English football names


“There are 13 clubs known as United in English football’s top four divisions. Aside from its array of Citys and Towns, ‘the 92’ also include three Wanderers, five Rovers, a couple of Athletics and a Rangers. There are a trio of Albions and just as many Countys. In contrast, as those from a corner of Devon will insist, there is only one Argyle. On top of all those suffixes can be added, among other quirks, an Arsenal and a Vale. There are names to conjure images of elegant stately homes or gleaming palaces of glass, all memories from yesteryear… as well as a day of the week. …”
The Athletic

Premier League owners: Who is in charge of your club?


“With the 2022-23 campaign quickly coming into focus and the summer transfer window in full flow, many Premier League owners are in the spotlight once again. Following the Chelsea takeover and the promotion of Fulham, Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest, there will be some new faces at the table this season. So, who owns your lot? See below for a breakdown of the ownership structure and board make-up of all 20 Premier League clubs…”
The Athletic

Three Tales From the Transfer Market

“Let’s try something different in this week’s newsletter: A journey through modern soccer in three (vaguely related) stories. … 2. Lessons Do Not Get Learned. … Nobody watched Manchester United flailing in the Premier League and said: Yes, the issue here is the in-form left back. Nonetheless, the first signing of Manager Erik ten Hag’s tenure at Old Trafford was a left-back: Tyrell Malacia, to be exact, drafted in from the Dutch club Feyenoord. He will soon be joined, it seems, by Lisandro Martínez, an Argentine defender, and Christian Eriksen, a Danish midfielder, and Frenkie de Jong, currently with Barcelona, and possibly even the Brazilian forward Antony. …”
NY Times

Premier League five-a-side teams: who would you pick for your club?


“… We tasked our Premier League reporters with picking a five-a-side team from the club that they cover. There are some obvious picks — and some less obvious ones. The rules: *The ball is not allowed over head height  *Slide tackles are forbidden *Each team must have a goalkeeper and they can’t come out of the area *Outfield players are not allowed in the area *They can score from anywhere outside the area. Here we go then. Please feel free to disagree wholeheartedly with their picks in the comments section…”
The Athletic

Premier League winners and losers: set pieces, sprinting, nutmegging and fouling


“Manchester City are champions, Tottenham Hotspur grabbed the final Champions League spot and Mohamed Salah and Son Heung-min share the golden boot trophy. The main prizes have now been handed out, but take a look under the bonnet and there are plenty of alternative awards to be handed out to players and teams. Some of them are insightful, some of them are utterly pointless. All of them are fun. Here we go… ”
The Athletic
The Analyst
Guardian – Premier League 2021-22 season review: our writers’ best and worst
***ESPN: How VAR decisions affected every Premier League club in 2021-22 (Video)
***W – 2021–22 Premier League

Introducing playstyle wheels – The Athletic’s way of capturing ways a team play well (or not)


“There are a lot of numbers in football that measure success. Goals and points are the original analytics, and newer stats such as expected goals and possession value are just increasingly fine-grained ways to model how likely goals are to happen. They’ll give you the bottom line: is this team or player doing things that help put the ball in the net or keep it out? Basically, are they good at football? It’s harder to measure how they’re good at football. …”
The Athletic

Sean Dyche, Ulla Klopp and whoever saves Everton: Who deserves a statue at your Premier League club?


“Ten years on from ‘Aguerooooooooo!’ and Manchester City’s first Premier League title win, the club yesterday unveiled a statue of their former striker at the Etihad Stadium. Aguero’s iconic stoppage-time winner in their 3-2 victory against Queens Park Rangers on the final day of the 2011-12 season will be remembered forever by City fans, so it is only right that he has been immortalised in galvanised steel. But who deserves a statue at your Premier League club? And who will be next at City? We’ve asked our Premier League club reporters to explain their choices and if you think they’ve got it drastically wrong then please let us know in the comment. …”
The Athletic

The Most Decisive Goals in Premier League History


“Today marks 10 years since Aguero. You remember: 93:20. Balotelli’s assist. The Goal That Changed Everything. The Match That Had Everything. Joe Hart on throw-in duties. Joey Barton’s long walk off. A surprisingly iconic QPR away kit. I think Edin Dzeko did something or other. Drink it in. I swear you’ll never see anything like this again. Sometimes goals are so iconic that they don’t need a date or a time. Just a single name. Michael Thomas, Jimmy Glass. Aguero. …”
The Analyst (Video)

When Were the 2021-22 Premier League Teams Last Relegated From the Top Flight?


Woolwich Arsenal, playing at Highbury, in the Second Division, in 1913. Crazy but true.
“The demotion season is upon us. In the next few weeks three teams will drop out of the Premier League, to be replaced by Fulham (promoted this week) and two others. As it stands it will be Norwich City, Watford and Burnley going down, but just how long is it since each of the 20 clubs currently in the Premier League last experienced relegation? Because make no mistake, they all have, just some more recently than others. …”
The Analyst (Video)

United’s pitiful goal kicks, Liverpool’s triangles and a difference in desire


“Four minutes on the clock and Liverpool have the first goal kick of the game. Thirteen passes later and Liverpool have scored the first goal of the game, too. That passage of play proved to be yet another example, both with and without the ball, of the chasm between these two teams. Manchester United had three goal kicks inside the opening 25 minutes. David de Gea kicked two balls straight out of play — Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool’s manager, had to take cover on one of them — and on the third occasion, when United tried to play out from the back, it was car-crash football. If we’re being generous, United managed three complete passes across those three restarts. …”
The Athletic

Manchester United short on the intensity the modern game demands


“It is a mark of what a sorrowful environment Manchester United has become, a place of mournful noises, clanking chains, shouts through the wall, that the only idea to have met with near-unanimous approval in the past few months was the prospect of bulldozing Old Trafford into the ground and starting over. There are at least some notes of comfort before the Premier League meeting with Liverpool on Tuesday night. …”
Guardian

The education of Erik ten Hag


“Erik ten Hag’s family home is in Oldenzaal, a small town about seven or eight miles outside Enschede, not far from the Dutch-German border. It’s one of those places where you can tell there’s a bit of money kicking around, but people aren’t flash about it. It’s an incredibly peaceful town. You can’t really tell whether it’s rush hour on a Monday morning or 3pm on a Wednesday, and you’re more in danger of getting knocked over by a bike than a car. …”
The Athletic (Audio)
W – Erik ten Hag

FA Cup and Premier League: 10 things to look out for this weekend


Brennan Johnson puts an arm round Ryan Yates after the midfielder
“… 4) Saints must take heart from City dates. Southampton will draw considerable strength from previous results this season against the Premier League leaders. They shared the points home and away with Pep Guardiola’s side, a head-to-head record bettered only by Crystal Palace and Tottenham. No reason to feel intimidated then, especially with Manchester City’s usually smooth engine spluttering ever so slightly. On the downside for Southampton, arguably the best prolonged spell of form since Ralph Hassenhüttl arrived has been abruptly ended by three straight defeats in the league. Booking a place in the FA Cup semi-finals would be just the tonic. …”
Guardian (Video)

In Derby Without Drama, City Wins a Laugher



“There was no tension in the last few minutes. It had gone long before the fourth goal arrived, marking the point at which victory turned into a rout. So had what little anxiety, what scant fretfulness might still have lingered. Instead, in the final few minutes of a derby, Manchester City’s fans could let go and enjoy themselves. Theirs was not a vicarious joy. There was pleasure, of course, to be had in the sight of Manchester United, once again, reduced to chasing shadows, grasping hopelessly at air, its players’ heads hanging and its fans silently trooping away. But as the minutes ticked by, the Etihad Stadium grew a little tired of crowing. …”
NY Times
Guardian: Manchester United flounder without foundations to build upon – Jonathan Wilson
BBC: Manchester United players ‘not good enough or don’t care’ – pundits react to derby defeat (Video)

Premier League: 10 things to look out for this weekend


Douglas Luiz midfielder Aston Villa
“… 4) Gerrard seeks Villa midfield spark. Steven Gerrard has lost more matches than he has won as Aston Villa manager. There were redeeming qualities in the defeats to Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea, but nothing to admire in last week’s awful performance at Newcastle. The centre-backs performed competently but their attackers were hardly involved, principally because Villa’s midfield allowed Jonjo Shelvey and Joelinton to run the show. That is damning of John McGinn and Douglas Luiz and helps explain why Gerrard was so keen to sign Brighton’s Yves Bissouma in January. …”
Guardian

Premier League without VAR: Arsenal in Champions League places; Everton soar to safety


“It’s now five long years since Arsenal last played in the Champions League, and in fact this season is their first without any kind of European football since 1995-96. Mikel Arteta is trying to put that right, but finds his team in sixth place which, at best, is only going to be good enough for a place in the Europa League — where the Gunners were marooned for the past four seasons. But ESPN can reveal that without the decisions of the VAR, Arsenal would already be sitting pretty in fourth spot and dreaming of that place back among Europe’s elite. This season we’re looking at all VAR (video assistant referee) decisions across the Premier League, and seeing how they might have affected the outcome of games. …”
ESPN (Video)

Ajax, Barca, Bayern among Europe’s great treble winners


“The Bavarians’ success was remarkable given they changed their coach earlier in the campaign, appointing Hans-Dieter Flick as head coach. Flick had been the number two at Bayern and had filled similar roles with RB Salzburg and the German national team. Prior to that, he was coach of Hoffenheim in the regional league. While Flick inherited a team, he rekindled the fire at Bayern and won three major prizes. Bayern Munich joined eight previous winners of the ‘treble’. …”
Game of the People

Mason Greenwood, Harriet Robson, and a World Designed to Protect Assaulters


“… In light of the video and audio clips published by Harriet Robson, implicating Mason Greenwood of physical assault and rape, Manchester United’s statement reads: ‘We are aware of images and allegations circulating on social media. We will not make any further comment until the facts have been established. Manchester United does not condone violence of any kind.’ This isn’t new territory for Manchester United. Their star player, a constant presence on social media channels, and team leader — Cristiano Ronaldo — has a pretty compelling case waiting against him in the United States. The world was different in 2009, and Cristiano’s case got neatly brushed under the carpet and everyone moved on. …”
Football Paradise
W – Mason Greenwood

Newcastle Are Moving Fast and Breaking Things in a Bid to Stay Alive


“Look: Manchester City will win the Premier League title. If you’d like to foster the belief that alternative outcomes are possible, then by all means characterize the two-point swing in the title race just before the international break as ‘significant’ or even inconvenient for the reigning champions. Southampton’s Kyle Walker-Peters darting across City’s back line and striking a blow against Pep Guardiola’s Goliath; Hakim Ziyech’s magnum opus against Tottenham; Liverpool triumphing over Crystal Palace in a must-win game amid penalty controversy—this is all the kind of blockbuster stuff that suggests the pulse of the title race is quickening. It amounts to City now being just nine points clear at the top of the table now. …”
The Ringer

How do you value a player?


“Last year a Premier League club invited their scouts to a training day where one of the exercises focused on valuations, starting with the price of a large latte from Starbucks. Everyone had to log on via an app and enter the value. A pint of beer in the local pub was next, followed by a four-bedroom detached house in a particular town in the north west. … What is Mbappe worth with six months remaining on his contract? Actually, what is any player worth? …”
The Athletic

What if every Premier League club could make one exciting (but plausible) signing before the deadline?


“Each club in the Premier League has different needs in the transfer market. Some are constrained by finances. All are constrained by time. But what if they weren’t? We’ve gone through every single Premier League side and come up with one signing they would love to make before deadline day. …’
Squawka

The Aston Villa Revolution Will Be Televised


“You’ll be shocked to learn that a lot of soccer coverage, maybe even most, is results-driven. For instance, we were exactly 22 minutes away from another dispatch on the fragile Manchester United restoration project; Ralf Rangnick’s vulnerable, developing creation meekly pressing its head out of an awkward cocoon stage against lower-table opposition. They were winning 2-0 at Villa Park, and the second Bruno Fernandes goal, thumped in off the crossbar, felt like something wriggling free. But United still lack the ability of other big clubs to put the game out of sight, and Aston Villa are surprisingly resilient. …”
The Ringer (Video)

A trip to Dubai, ‘Yellow days’ or time off: What will your club’s players be doing during the Premier League break?


“It has snuck up on us in a whirl of postponed fixtures, the FA Cup’s third round and the Carabao Cup semi-finals but this weekend is the last push before the Premier League takes a two-week break. Don’t worry, there’s going to be plenty of football to keep us going in the meantime — with the EFL continuing, the Africa Cup of Nations’ knockout phase, World Cup qualifiers and the FA Cup fourth round to keep us entertained — but it’s an opportunity for many Premier League squads to get some time on the training pitch or simply take a well-deserved rest. Ralf Rangnick has opted to give his Manchester United players six days off, and the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea will also have extended breaks. But Newcastle United (Saudi Arabia) and Arsenal (Dubai) are off to warmer climes. Here, The Athletic’s club writers give you the rundown of what your lads are going to be up to over the next couple of weeks…”
The Athletic
W – 2022 EFL Cup Final