• Despite Best Intentions, Chelsea’s Youth System Is Still Misfiring

    January 20th, 2017 At the end of most seasons, Chelsea’s youth team usually win something. Each success is met with glances toward the senior squad and the perennial discomfort around the lack of academy graduates in the first team. The truism of John Terry as the last academy boy to make a lasting impact persists. For all the youth success, the complex system of loans, the partnership with Vitesse and the investment into the academy, Chelsea have largely failed to utilise their youth system for its main purpose: to develop first-team players. ...

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  • Liverpool: Academy Investment Informing Transfer Strategy?

    January 20th, 2017 “We didn’t have to be too brave to bring him, we thought he was ready for it and he proved it.” So spoke Jurgen Klopp recently, highlighting the performance of teenage right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold, who made his full league debut against Manchester United, of all teams. While his first Premier League 90 minutes might not quite go down in Liverpool folklore in the way Rob Jones’ did—same position, same opposition—it shows both the progress made by the 18-year-old and also the faith in him from the coaching staff. ...

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  • Chelsea Must Not Get Swept Up In Other People’s Drama

    Karl Marx once said “history repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce” but I don’t think he realised his quote would be pilfered for a discussion about the 2017/18 season. I’ve borrowed a bit of the former Soho resident’s thinking because of a seemingly endless problem with the analysis of English football. Progression into a world where I can watch the French, Italian, German and Spanish leagues all at the tap of my touchscreen phone is still not enough to stop history repeating. ...

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  • Arsenal’s Expiring Contracts May Force Wenger Out Of His Comfort Zone

    Arsene Wenger has been softening the ground for most of the summer. “When you are a football player you perform until the last days of your contract,” he said at the end of July, when asked about the various members of the Arsenal squad entering the final year of their current deals. “I think the performance on the day does not depend on the length of the contract. If that was true we would sign everyone for 20 years and be happy." ...

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  • Nemanja Matic, Manchester United And A Win-Win Transfer

    It's too early to claim Nemanja Matic's move to Manchester United as a success. In fact, it's too early to claim it to be anything at all. One Premier League game, even one brilliant Premier League, doesn't make a season. What does seem more certain, though, is that Matic will play a different role for United than the one he was occupying at Chelsea. Under Antonio Conte, the Serbian was on sentry duty, patrolling the middle of the pitch with N'Golo Kante and building the block which kept so many of the team's opponents locked within their own half last season. ...

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  • Olivier Giroud Is Inverting The Traditional Substitute Dynamic

    Shirt numbers are increasingly irrelevant in the modern game, or so we are often told. They can be status symbols, numerical references to dates or anniversaries, tributes to favourite players or family members, or just random curiosities. Yet every now and then one acquires a certain significance. ...

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  • Will Chris Hughton Finally Get The Credit He Deserves This Season?

    Even if Chris Hughton was a bang-average manager he would still be a very welcome addition to Premier League touchlines. This is a man who rarely resorts to banalities either in the football he presides over or the discussions about it afterwards. Throw in unflinching honesty and unswerving decency – the 58 year old is widely considered to be one of the nicest guys working in football today – and the Brighton boss is always worth listening to. While his peers content themselves with regurgitating clichés extended from a narrow bias in their post-match interviews, Hughton thoughtfully dissects the game almost – but not quite – with neutrality and if this is a commendable trait in itself it also makes him that rare breed of coach who assumes intelligence in supporters. Rare? Make that unique as it is perfectly possible to split other top flight coaches into two opposing camps: those who pretend to be cleverer than they are and those with fierce acuity who feel the need to dumb down their reasoning for us laymen. ...

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  • Olivier Giroud: Arsenal’s Very Own Cockroach

    It’s often said that cockroaches would be the only living species to survive extreme nuclear fallout. Their simple bodies and slower cell cycles resist radiation, which is fatal towards beings with more active biological sequences. Olivier Giroud has the opposite of what could be considered a ‘simple body’, and while I don’t have his exact anatomical figures to hand, it’s unlikely he’d survive extreme nuclear fallout. But no matter what is thrown at him, whatever alternatives are tried, the Frenchman keeps clawing his way back to score goals and rescue his team-mates with regularity. Arsenal’s very own cockroach. ...

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  • Diego Costa Is The Aggressor In His Chelsea Divorce

    The reporter knocked, and waiting behind the door was Chelsea's AWOL striker: watching the match on the telly in his front room. No payments, no pre-arrangements, no lawyers acting as brokers, no spin doctors – all of which would, of course, be an almost certain breach of Costa's Chelsea contract – the player was ready and willing to spill the beans, mano y mano. ...

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  • How Did Manchester United’s Defeat Of West Ham Rank In Post-Ferguson History?

    Pickings have been pretty slim when it comes to really great Manchester United performances since Sir Alex Ferguson retired. Many of the wins that have come since have been reasonably attritional, and, of course, there have been fewer of those wins than United fans had become accustomed to during the great man's reign. So when United tore West Ham United apart, beating them 4-0 at Old Trafford in Sunday's season opener, the idea that this was the best performance they had put in since Sir Alex strode off into the sunset gained some traction. ...

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