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Liverpool lead the Premier League. What must the “Big Six” do to catch them?

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Eight games into the 2019-20 Premier League season, Liverpool have made a record start by winning all eight fixtures so far to sit eight points clear of the chasing pack heading into the international break. For Jurgen Klopp’s team, the season could not have gone any better, and Liverpool are now overwhelming favourites to win the English title for the first time since 1990.

But what about the rest of the so-called “Big Six?” Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester United have all had their problems during the early weeks of this campaign, with Spurs and United seemingly in a downward spiral.

MANCHESTER CITY
2019-20: Second place, 16 points, +18 Goal Difference

The reigning champions and last season’s domestic Treble winners have made their worst start to a season since Pep Guardiola took charge at the Etihad in 2016. At times, City have looked unstoppable, hitting five past West Ham on the opening day and then recording their biggest-ever top-flight win with an 8-0 rout of Watford, but defensive frailties have led to two defeats, against Norwich and Wolves, that have left them so far adrift of Liverpool in the early going.

City’s defensive shortcomings were identified by Guardiola during the summer when, after the departure former captain Vincent Kompany to Anderlecht, he tried and failed to sign a replacement. It left the team short of experienced cover for Aymeric LaporteJohn Stones and Nicolas Otamendi, and with Laporte and Stones now on the sidelines, City have big problems at the back.

Solving those will be easier said than done, but Guardiola needs to find a way to make City more robust at the back, especially at set pieces, before they return to action at Crystal Palace on Oct. 19.

ARSENAL
2019-20: Third place, 15 points, +2 GD

With Arsenal sitting in third position after eight games, Unai Emery is arguably overperforming with a squad that remains imbalanced and in need of extra defensive quality. But with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring seven of the team’s 13 league goals so far, the Gunners possess a striker who could prove the difference between success and failure in their primary objective of qualifying for the Champions League.

Emery is gradually making Arsenal more durable and organised, with the continued absence of Mesut Ozil and a pointer towards the coach’s determination to make his team more competitive, but so much rests on Aubameyang being fit and in form.

Furthermore, Emery must also not allow Arsenal’s current position to distract from the reality of their winless run against “Big Six” opponents so far this season. In games against Liverpool, Spurs and United, Arsenal have taken just two points. They need to find a way to beat their biggest rivals to cement their top-four ambitions.

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Burley: Lampard’s Chelsea flourishing with youth

Craig Burley says Frank Lampard has rejuvenated Chelsea with youth after the Blues’ 4-1 win over Southampton.

CHELSEA
2019-20: Fifth place, 14 points, +4 GD

A 4-0 defeat against Manchester United at Old Trafford on the opening weekend was the worst possible start for manager Frank Lampard, but Chelsea have bounced back from that setback to climb to fifth position going into the international break.

It’s true that Chelsea have been inconsistent, but with the club unable to add to their squad during the summer due to a two-window worldwide transfer ban, the inability to sign new players has enabled Lampard to give chances to youngsters such as Mason MountTammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori. All three academy products have now been called into the senior England squad as a reward for their progress, which has been a highlight of Chelsea’s season so far. Abraham, in particular, has stood out by scoring eight league goals to stand alongside Sergio Aguero in the race for the Gold Boot.

Lampard’s challenge from this stage is to build on the momentum and ensure that experienced players such as N’Golo KanteMarcos Alonso and Cesar Azpilicueta are able to influence the youngsters on the pitch to the extent that the team finds some winning consistency.

TOTTENHAM
2019-20: Ninth place, 11 points, +2 GD

Spurs have collected just 22 points from their past 20 Premier League games — their worst run since 2008-09 — so it is not just the start of this season that will worry Mauricio Pochettino and chairman Daniel Levy.

The run to last season’s Champions League final papered over cracks that had begun to appear all over the pitch for Spurs — Hugo Lloris and Dele Alli‘s alarming loss of form, poor performances in defence, inconsistency in results — and the new campaign has merely seen them exacerbated, with the serious arm injury suffered by Lloris in the weekend defeat at Brighton potentially ending the French goalkeeper’s season.

Pochettino has done little to quell speculation over his future, and there are too many question marks over the Spurs futures of players such as Christian EriksenJan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld. The biggest question hanging over Spurs relates to Pochettino’s future, but if he remains in charge, the Argentine must restore unity to an unhappy dressing room and get Eriksen on the pitch and performing again, otherwise we may be approaching regime change at the club.

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Man United were ‘utterly abysmal’ vs. Newcastle

Now winless in five matches, Craig Burley says Manchester United look like a team going nowhere.

MANCHESTER UNITED
2019-20: 12th place, nine points, +1 GD

The biggest challenge at Manchester United is not to pinpoint what is going wrong, but rather to identify what is going right under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Sunday’s 1-0 defeat against Newcastle at St. James’ Park was United’s third of the season, and it left them languishing in 12th position, just two points above the relegation zone.

Defensively, United have conceded fewer goals than Manchester City, but the impact of summer signings Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka has been drowned out by the failings ahead of them in midfield and attack, where Solskjaer’s team have scored just nine goals in eight games.

Solskjaer has allowed his squad to be cut too deep with the summer exits of Romelu LukakuAlexis SanchezAnder HerreraChris SmallingAntonio Valencia and Matteo Darmian, choosing to hand opportunities to youngsters such as Mason GreenwoodTahith ChongAngel GomesAxel Tuanzebe and Brandon Williams. Too many of the kids are not ready for Premier League action, though, and their experienced teammates are underperforming or simply not good enough.

Solskjaer simply has to steady the ship, rely on his senior players and hope United are not in the bottom half by the time the January transfer window opens.

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Football

Carlo Ancelotti left Everton to become head coach of Real Madrid for a second time

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The 61-year-old Italian, who oversaw Real Madrid for a very long time somewhere in the range of 2013 and 2015, has left Everton following year and a half in control at Goodison Park.

He succeeds Zinedine Zidane at Real and the move leaves Everton looking for a 6th perpetual supervisor in five years.

Ancelotti has marked a three-year bargain at Real and said the move addressed “an unforeseen chance”.

He added: “I have total regard for everybody related with Everton and expectation they can accomplish the energizing chances they have before them.

“While I have appreciated being at Everton I have been given a startling chance which I accept is the correct move for me and my family as of now.”

Genuine will introduce Ancelotti to the media on Wednesday, while Everton said they “will start the way toward selecting another supervisor right away”.

Everton will have been left paralyzed by the speed of advancements just now as proprietor Farhad Moshiri’s “Hollywood” chief leaves.

Ancelotti’s appearance was viewed as a genuine upset by Moshiri, convincing one of the game’s generally enriched and regarded figures to come to Merseyside to reestablish Everton to previous wonders.

The 61-year-old’s rule has been a mishmash with loathsome home structure offset by results like their first success over Liverpool at Anfield since 1999 – in any case a tenth spot finish in his first full season was a failure.

Ancelotti, in any case, was as yet held in immense respect by Everton allies, who have been left sharply disillusioned by his choice to withdraw.

The fierce truth is that for all Moshiri’s money and aspiration, Everton actually can’t view themselves as anyplace close to the first class, which consistently makes them helpless against clubs, for example, Real Madrid setting sights on their prize resources.

The typical suspects are being connected, for example, Eddie Howe after he turned down Celtic, previous Wolves supervisor Nuno Espirito Santo and ex-Everton manager David Moyes – albeit that is probably not going to occur after he verbally concurred a three-year bargain at West Ham in the wake of bringing them into Europe. Moshiri, however, is something of a special case and may have thoughts of his own.

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Ahmed Musa to play without monthly salary at Kano Pillars

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Ahmed Musa won’t be paid in his short stretch at Kano Pillars in the Nigeria Premier Football League.

Musa, 28, finished paperwork for the four-time Nigerian heroes under the Elite Players Program of the League Management Company, which urges top Nigerian internationals to play for neighborhood clubs.

As indicated by LMC manager Shehu Dikko, the program works twoly.

A club can distinguish and sign such players, or the LMC itself can sign the player and appoint them to a club of their decision.

It was the last for Musa.

“We addressed him about returning home to play, and as somebody who is consistently prepared to offer in return, he didn’t stop for a second,” Dikko told ESPN.

“When the arrangement was marked, the decision of which club to play for was up to him. Various clubs needed him. We put everything before him and he settled on the choice to go to Kano Pillars.”

Musa has been a free specialist since October 2020, when he left Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr, with whom he won the Saudi Pro League title and Super Cup in the wake of going along with them from Leicester City in 2018.

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AFCON

Super Eagle Teslim Balogun Stadium Training Camp Adhere To COVID-19 Protocols Ahead Of Lesotho Clash

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The Super Eagles will hold their last exercise at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Surulere, Lagos on Monday evening, beginning from 1800 hours.

Their last instructional meeting which will be administered by director Gernot Rohr is available to the media for just the initial fifteen minutes, at that point everybody will be compelled to leave the arena.

No columnist will be permitted into the arena when the Lesotho public group have a vibe of the Teslim Balogun Stadium turf because of COVID-19 conventions set up.

Besides, there will be no authority pre-match public interview because of the Covid pandemic.

The Super Eagles players and authorities were up toward the end of last night since they had to go to an occasion out of appreciation for Nigerian Federation president Amaju Pinnick following his political decision into the esteemed FIFA board.

Nigeria are ensured to top Group L of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers paying little heed to the result of their last match against Lesotho as they are as of now on 11 focuses, four more than the Republic of Benin, who are second in the standings.

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