Paul Pogba’s Hamstring, A Couple Of Unusual Events And Liverpool’s Achilles Heel (Oh, And The Europa League Kicked Off As Well)

Posted: September 14, 2017 in Arsenal, Champions League, Chelsea, Europa League, European Football, Everton, Football, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Opinion, Tottenham Hotspur
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The first thing to point out is that Paul Pogba’s injury, which may keep him out for a month or even six weeks depending upon your daily rag of choice, is not the end of the world.

Yes, he is one of the first names on the teamsheet and has been in good form recently, even scoring a couple of goals in the opening games, and yes, he will be missed.

He will probably be replaced, however, by Ander Herrera in some games and Marouane Fellaini in others and, occasionally, by both. The way the pair have been playing recently means that the loss of Pogba will not be felt quite as much as it might have been at a different time of the season.

Both of these players bring different qualities to the team so we certainly don’t expect any let up in performance or results from United just because a player is injured.

Following on from yesterday’s column in which we asked if a British club could actually go on and win the Champion’s League this season, it seems that there is another possible contender judging by the latest results.

Manchester City

Manchester City managed, at the first attempt, something which they failed to do throughout last year’s competition, they won away from home. Not only that, they won emphatically against a team who are unbeaten in the Dutch league and are, consequently, the current leaders.

Goals from the usual sources of Sergio Agüero and Gabriel Jésus were complemented by goals from their new scoring sensation, John Stones, who got two.

If City can maintain this standard of performance they have as good a chance as any of going a long way in the tournament and, whisper it quietly, maybe even winning it.

Chances of winning the competition – 6/10

Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham Hotspur showed that all this fuss about them not being able to play at White Hart Wembley was really just an extended April Fool’s joke.

Thanks to a couple of goals from Harry “Thank God It’s Not August” Kane and one from Son Heung-Min Spurs ended up with a flattering 3-1 victory.

Things could have turned out very differently had Dortmund not had a perfectly good goal ruled out for offside when the score was 2-1 but maybe that was the bit of luck needed to finally bring to an end the hoodoo of Wembley.

In conclusion, Tottenham will still do well to qualify from this group and cannot be considered as one of the favourites for the trophy.

Chances of winning the competition – 4/10

Liverpool

Liverpool, or more precisely, Jürgen Klopp, still insist on sending everybody forward at every available opportunity. This may he a very attractive tactic to the watching scousers but it means that they concede many more goals than they should.

Had they had the discipline to keep players back when winning 2-1 against Sevilla at Anfield, then they probably would have gone on to win the game. As it was, they were caught short on a counter-attack and Sevilla left with a point.

This shouldn’t really affect qualification for Liverpool as the other game in the group also ended up all-square but, to have a better chance they need to learn how to defend, and quickly.

Chances of winning the competition – 4/10

Tonight saw the return of Thursday night football as the Europa League began in earnest. Everton were sunning themselves in Italy whilst Arsenal were being rained on in London.

This is a competition which we expected Everton to take seriously and try to win but, judging by their performance against Atalanta where they lost 3-0, they obviously want to be out of it as soon as possible.

It is also a competition we expect Arséne Wenger to continue to treat with the disdain he has already shown for it.

He will rest players, rotate others and generally go out of his way not to win it because he doesn’t think that a champion should play in the Champions League, or that the winner of a lower league should be promoted to the next level. He would prefer to finish fourth in the Premier League, (which he won’t), and qualify by winning absolutely nothing but hey, that’s just the type of guy he is!

Purely for the record Arsenal beat Köln 3-1 at The Emirates.

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