Lukaku, Chelsea too good for Arsenal. PLUS: Ronaldo drama at Juventus?

Football

What a weekend of enjoyable we had throughout Europe! There have been large wins for Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City within the Premier League, an enormous combat in Ligue 1 that may resonate for a while, and a few off-field drama involving Cristiano Ronaldo‘s standing at Juventus. Additionally we noticed Barcelona, Man United and Real Madrid battle to irritating attracts, a bit of excellent luck for Atletico Madrid and a few gentle panic (possibly) for Bundesliga front-runners Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.

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It is Monday, and Gab Marcotti reacts to the largest moments on this planet of soccer from the previous weekend in Europe.

Soar to: Lukaku rocks Arsenal | Ronaldo drama? | Nice-Marseille brawl | Man United’s bad habits | “New” Inter roll | Elliott stars for Liverpool | Real Madrid’s wild night | Abraham a hit for Roma | Barcelona stumble | Gnabry rescues Bayern | Man City OK without Kane? | Correa leads Atletico | Alli steps up for Spurs | Dortmund shouldn’t panic


Lukaku seemed like an immediate match for Chelsea as Arsenal free-fall

Thomas Tuchel probably could not have requested for a greater debut from Romelu Lukaku, his dear new attacking juggernaut.

It is not simply the truth that the Belgian worldwide road-graded and rag-dolled Pablo Mari and Rob Holding seemingly at will, or that he held up play and disbursed service simply as marketed. It is the truth that Chelsea went from having Timo Werner and Christian Pulisic within the entrance three to Lukaku and Kai Havertz with out lacking a beat. When you’ll be able to seamlessly swap in two gamers with completely totally different traits and keep your tactical form and urgent patterns kind of seamlessly, that is a “W” for any coach.

– Report: Lukaku scores, Chelsea ease past Arsenal
– Olley: Pressure’s on Arteta after Arsenal’s summer spending

Defensively, Chelsea have been largely untroubled, bar a number of events after the break, and in midfield, Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho seemed in management as typical. Chelsea appeared equally snug with or with out the ball, and it felt as if they may flip it up a number of notches seemingly on command. No matter else you consider Tuchel, his means to impart enormous quantities of tactical data in a brief interval time (like he did at Paris Saint-Germain) is spectacular. The problem now will likely be making the suitable selections by way of man administration and sport administration for the remainder of the marketing campaign.

In fact, some will level out that it is exhausting to inform the place Chelsea’s prowess ends and Arsenal’s deficiencies start.

Most disconcerting to me was how unprepared they seemed in coping with two primary bread-and-butter Chelsea threats. Marcos Alonso and Reece James are attacking wing-backs — it is advisable make allowances for that, whether or not by having a central midfielder drop into the backline and your full-back come throughout, or by having a winger monitor again or, in some instances, your holding midfielder go huge. Far too usually Arsenal did none of these issues, notably on Kieran Tierney‘s flank, and he was far too uncovered towards James, who notched a aim and an help.

– Weekend overview: Lukaku, Depay stand out and Kane returns

The opposite was the ball into Lukaku. The variety of instances Chelsea discovered him not via the air, however with bog-standard north-south balls alongside the bottom, was frankly disconcerting. Sure, he is large and powerful and in case your central defender tries to chop in entrance of him, there’s an actual threat that he’ll flip you. However that is why you could have one other plan, whether or not by dropping a central midfielder to assist in entrance or by placing extra stress on the ball up the pitch, which, I assume, is what Mikel Arteta was attempting to do. Solely none of it occurred.

In Arteta’s protection, there have been plenty of absentees, from Thomas Partey to Gabriel, from Ben White to Martin Odegaard (who was registered too late for kickoff after his transfer from Real Madrid). However these have been tactical flaws, not simply shortcomings by way of particular person high quality (although there was loads of that too).

Arteta continues to speak of a spirit that “cannot be damaged” and stays bullish. He is proper to take action; getting depressed does no one any favours and clearly, there are deeper points by way of how this squad was put collectively, which is why he cannot be the one scapegoat. However what Arsenal want now’s an enchancment of efficiency of their subsequent outing — enhancing outcomes will likely be robust given they’re taking part in Manchester City — reducing out a few of the primary errors which have price them expensive so far. After that, it is Burnley and Norwich, and if issues nonetheless do not flip round by that stage, it should get very ugly in a short time.


Juventus drop factors, Ronaldo benched… however ‘nothing to see right here’?

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Gab Marcotti analyses the switch rumours surrounding Cristiano Ronaldo and explains how this saga would possibly conclude.

From the second the lineups have been introduced, there was a single talking point within the Juve-sphere forward of their sport away to Udinese: why was Cristiano Ronaldo benched?

The membership mentioned it was a “shared choice,” with Ronaldo and coach Max Allegri deciding that he shouldn’t be within the beginning lineup as this could have been his first sport for the reason that Euros, and he wasn’t fairly match-fit but. In the meantime, membership official Pavel Nedved insisted there was no backstory and it had nothing to do along with his future.

– Report: Ronaldo denied game-winning goal by VAR as Juve draw

There are two causes few purchased his clarification. One is that (as golf equipment usually do) if you are going to bench somebody like Ronaldo, you usually temporary the media the day earlier than and even that morning, simply to take the sting out of the hypothesis. The opposite is that there was the small matter of Ronaldo’s Instagram post (the one which talked about Juventus zero instances) and the El Chiringuito report.

Ronaldo got here on with half-hour to go and, in so doing, confirmed that not solely was he match, however that any suggestion Juve have been sparing him to keep away from scuppering some hypothetical transfer away was nonsense. He scored what he thought was the winner with one in all his trademark, completely timed headers, but it surely was dominated out for a marginal (although appropriate) offside.

Afterward, Allegri mentioned the benching was his choice: “I figured it’s extremely early. Like many different gamers, he is not but at 100%. In opposition to Udinese we would have liked fast forwards who may run behind … so I informed him to sit down out and he was effective with it.”

Is the hypothesis over? In all probability not. For the explanations outlined in my column final week, it is unlikely it will go quiet similar to that. Ronaldo is just too large, and there may be an excessive amount of cash concerned. However equally, except he decides he needs to depart and might discover a membership keen to fork out a price — possibly not fairly the roughly $30m Juventus want to interrupt even on his amortization, however not nothing, both — odds are he’ll nonetheless be a Juve participant come Sept. 1.

As for the sport itself, Juve’s evening was marked by two dreadful errors from Wojciech Szczesny, which resulted in two objectives conceded. You’ll be able to’t legislate for particular person errors, particularly ones this craven, so you progress on. Paulo Dybala, nonetheless ready for a brand new contract, seemed very sharp and Juve confirmed loads of mettle. The midfield stays a problem, but it surely ought to enhance as soon as Manuel Locatelli begins, slightly than merely coming off the bench.


After the ugliness of Sunday evening, we want solutions about Nice vs. Marseille

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Gab & Juls clarify the punishments they’d wish to see after crowd bother forces Good vs. Marseille to be deserted.

We’ll see how French authorities cope with the fallout from the abandoned game between Good and Olympique Marseille Sunday evening. There is a fierce rivalry between the golf equipment and issues got here to a head after Marseille’s Dimitri Payet was struck by a bottle thrown from the stand containing the Good Ultras. Payet threw it again into the stands (after which adopted up by throwing one other, for good measure), which led to a pitch invasion and a full-blown melee involving gamers from each groups in addition to some Good supporters.

Ligue 1 clash abandoned as fans storm pitch

You could find the video if you’d like, however suffice to say no one lined themselves in glory right here.

Until new proof emerges, there should be critical bans for plenty of Marseille gamers, together with Payet, Matteo Guendouzi and Alvaro Gonzalez — to not point out Jorge Sampaoli, who at one level, appeared intent on combating anyone inside attain. (It is a good factor OM legend Basile Boli was round to maintain him at bay.) And there must be stiff motion towards Good, after all. A factors deduction and, sadly for his or her supporters, the closure of the Allianz Rivera for a very good variety of matches feels just like the minimal right here.

So let’s permit the investigators to do their factor. Within the meantime, in addition they must clear up what occurred when Marseille refused to return again on to the pitch. Punishment for not coming again out — except you’ll be able to someway show that circumstances had modified — appears extreme.

French soccer in all probability needs to overlook this evening of infamy, however the one manner you progress on is with a full, clear investigation of the type that holds everybody to account.


Man United present dangerous habits towards Southampton

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Julien Laurens performs the function of Paul Pogba’s agent and presents his finest recommendation to the midfielder.

The issue with United final season was that too usually, they have been a facet that allowed the opposition to set the tone. Typically, it was effective, as a result of they’ve higher gamers than most of their opponents. Typically, it was OK as a result of it is a good counterattacking workforce with fleet-footed forwards and set-piece specialists. However different instances, it turned an issue as a result of United could not make their areas of benefit rely, and that is just about what occurred within the 1-1 draw towards Southampton.

– Report: Man United held to draw at Southampton
– Man United scores: Greenwood to the rescue
– Ogden: Pogba has his future in his hands

Ralph Hasenhuttl’s workforce are, on paper, a lot diminished following the departures of Ryan Bertrand, Danny Ings and Jannik Vestergaard and but, slightly than controlling the tempo, United allowed them to impose their frenetic tempo on to the sport, particularly in midfield. And so Fred and Nemanja Matic ended up doing issues they don’t seem to be superb at doing (merely put). Throw in Anthony Martial having a stinker and a foul mistake from Harry Maguire towards the tip, one that would have price them the sport, and it was a Sunday to overlook.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must discover a components for video games like these matches in which you’ll be able to’t permit the opposition to tug you all the way down to their stage. Certain, issues will presumably enhance as soon as Jadon Sancho begins to begin often and as soon as Marcus Rashford returns. And sure, possibly with totally different personnel selections — like taking part in Mason Greenwood up entrance — this might have turned out totally different too. However the overriding sense is that, except they rating first and hit on the counter, it’s extremely troublesome for United to dominate video games like these. It has been a foul behavior they’ve had since Solskjaer arrived, and it is one which’s troublesome to shake.

Any positives? Paul Pogba confirmed, once more, that he could be a difference-maker. However then, most of us already knew that …


Antonio who? Romelu who? Inter Milan begin with a bang

Inter aren’t my preseason option to defend their Serie A title. It is not a knock on them; it is merely the truth that, as I pointed out on the FC show, there’s a complete sequence of downgrades all through the workforce. Edin Dzeko, Denzel Dumfries and Hakan Calhanoglu are unlikely to supply as a lot as Lukaku, Achraf Hakimi and Christian Eriksen. And Simone Inzaghi, particularly in his first season, is unlikely to match Antonio Conte’s second season.

That mentioned, they have been devastating out of the gates towards Genoa, profitable 4-0. Admittedly, they are a facet who aren’t superb to start with and, on high of that, are largely incomplete, however nonetheless, because the previous cliché goes, you’ll be able to solely beat what’s in entrance of you.

– Report: Inter off to hot start, score four vs. Genoa

Whenever you rating twice within the first quarter-hour, issues abruptly get lots simpler, however give Inzaghi credit score for insulating Inter from numerous the off-the-pitch issues they went via this summer time. Additionally: regulate Stefano Sensi. Accidents restricted him final season, however he might be an actual value-add this season, whether or not in a extra superior place, like on Saturday, or in midfield.


Liverpool‘s Elliott exhibits that labels are simply that

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With objectives in back-to-back Premier League video games, Janusz Michallik says Jota has to begin vs. Chelsea.

Final week I talked about how Liverpool would possibly fill the void left by Georginio Wijnaldum. Certain, Fabinho is now free to play in midfield, however you continue to should cope with Jordan Henderson (who’s a 12 months older), James Milner (who turns 36 in January), Thiago Alcantara (who has barely began half his membership’s league video games over the previous two seasons), Curtis Jones (who continues to be younger) and the duo of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita who, for various causes, have contributed little.

– Report: Jota, Mane score in Liverpool win
– Liverpool scores: Henderson, Alexander-Arnold superb

Given how demanding (and vital) the midfield is in Jurgen Klopp’s set-up, how far Liverpool go this season would largely rely upon how usually he can discover a viable trio out of the names talked about above, however Saturday’s 2-0 win over Burnley launched one other candidate into the combination: 18-year-old Harvey Elliott.

Chances are you’ll keep in mind Elliott because the youngest participant ever to look in a Premier League sport when he got here on for 2 minutes for Fulham towards Wolves in Could 2019, aged 16 years and 30 days. Again then, he was a slight winger and that is the place he is principally performed since, together with final 12 months’s mortgage spell at Blackburn. However towards Burnley, he was in a midfield trio with Henderson and Keita and flourished.

I don’t know if that is the place he’ll make his profession, however let it function a reminder that, particularly with younger gamers, we too usually get caught on labels and overlook that footballers are there to be molded.


Actual Madrid endure wild evening vs. Levante

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Alejandro Moreno dives into Vinicius Junior’s efficiency in Actual Madrid’s draw with Levante.

For the impartial, Sunday evening’s 3-3 draw between Actual Madrid and Levante was entertaining. For the Madridistas, not a lot. Actual Madrid took a 1-0 lead within the first half (Karim Benzema organising Gareth Bale when he in all probability may have completed himself) and, apparently, Isco (regardless of being out of contract, regardless of his peculiarities) was working the present in midfield: proof that Carlo Ancelotti will work with what he has and no one will likely be frozen out.

– Report: Real fight back at Levante in six-goal thriller
– Actual scores: Vinicius Junior the ‘super sub’ stands out
La Liga on ESPN+: Stream LIVE games and replays (U.S. only)

Then got here the defensive horror present (coupled with a common lethargy on the different finish) that noticed Levante go 2-1 up (the second was a very good end, certain, however observe how Lucas Vazquez completely loses Jose Campana). Vinicius Junior got here on and equalised, and also you anticipated Madrid’s winner… however as a substitute, one other defensive blunder and Levante have been forward once more, earlier than one other Vinicius aim — this one a elegant end — levelled it at 3-3. It stayed that manner even after Levante went all the way down to 10 males and needed to put an outfield participant between the posts.

You do not count on gamers like Casemiro, David Alaba or Nacho to make these kinds of errors, and also you count on it even much less after they all are available in one sport. My guess is that it will concern Ancelotti lower than the final drop in stage and depth after the break, when Madrid appeared to cease taking part in for a very good quarter-hour or so. Amid the positives (Isco and Vinicius having already equalled his objectives complete from final 12 months’s Liga), that is the one unfavourable to fret about.


Abraham delights Mourinho and Roma

Not like the man who (in some methods) changed him at Chelsea, Tammy Abraham did not rating on Sunday in Roma’s 3-1 win over Fiorentina. However he did nearly every little thing else, organising two objectives, hitting the woodwork, tying up defenders and offering a steady and bodily menace behind the back-line. A “handful” is what you’d name it in layman’s phrases.

Roma off to winning start in Serie A

It is precisely what Mourinho needed from him, and the prospect of Abraham teaming up with 20-year-old Nicolo Zaniolo (who was harshly despatched off) has Roma followers dreaming large. The sport did arrange properly for Roma since Fiorentina keeper Bartomej Dragowski was despatched off within the seventeenth minute although, as Mourinho identified, they carried out higher 11 vs. 11 and 10 vs.10 than they did with a person benefit.

As ever with Mourinho at this stage of his profession, you are unsure what you are going to recover from the long-term — it isn’t misplaced on anybody that his relationships are inclined to go south after a pair years, generally sooner. However for now, he is hitting all the suitable notes and clicking with the Roma followers, and Abraham is an enormous a part of that.


Barcelona stumble and Koeman faces Messi challenge

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Alejandro Moreno shares his ideas on Barcelona’s 1-1 draw vs. Athletic Bilbao in LaLiga.

Per week in the past, many people have been filled with reward for Barcelona’s first Lionel Messi-less league efficiency (and a 4-2 win) towards Real Sociedad. On Saturday, they traveled to San Mames, to tackle one other high quality facet in Athletic Bilbao, and it was a wake-up name.

In opposition to an opponent who, regardless of a bunch of absentees, have been undoubtedly fired up — partly by the return of supporters, partly as a result of, effectively, it is Athletic Bilbao — Barca struggled not simply to impose themselves, however to get out from the again. Some will say that Eric Garcia — who was informed earlier than kickoff that his grandfather had handed away — mustn’t have performed. Properly, he did, and he was poor. Issues bought worse when Gerard Pique needed to come off after half an hour.

Inaki Williams, who appears to do every little thing effectively besides end, may have had a hat-trick. Because it occurred, someway, Barca have been nonetheless within the sport late on and will even have escaped with the three factors. Memphis Depay scored an incredible aim (and missed what seemed like a better probability shortly thereafter) and Frenkie De Jong hit the crossbar, however a draw was a more-than-fair consequence.

– Report: Barcelona battle to 1-1 draw
– Barcelona scores: Depay, De Jong lead the way

After the match, Ronald Koeman was requested whether or not Barca’s opponents really feel extra assured realizing going through them now that Messi is gone. “It is true. I do not wish to hold speaking about this, however he is the most effective on this planet. Rivals are extra fearful going through a workforce with Messi. You discover he is not there. We all know this, however we won’t change it,” he mentioned.

Questions like these are lose-lose for Koeman. The one approach to reply them are both by mendacity or by sounding like Captain Apparent (he selected the latter). The earlier he can get sufficient out of his workforce that he is not requested about Messi, the higher. And in Bilbao this weekend, they took a number of steps again.


Sane booed, however Musiala and Gnabry rescue Bayern Munich

Bayern supervisor Julian Nagelsmann made his house debut in entrance of supporters towards Cologne and issues didn’t go to plan… to the purpose that there was booing after a scoreless first half (with Leroy Sane notably focused, which he described as “not useful”). We noticed the primary tactical tweaks — Tanguy Nianzou at right-back, however actually forming a de facto again three with Niklas Sule and Dayot Upamecano central — and it is one thing that understandably nonetheless wants work. On the different finish, we noticed little within the first half, apart from a Thomas Muller probability on the counter.

Enterprise picked up after Jamal Musiala got here on for Sane and, after going 2-0 up, you figured Bayern would cruise to a snug win. As an alternative, within the area of a 3 minutes it was 2-2 because of some wretched defensive errors. Gnabry then scored the winner, however there’s loads for Nagelsmann to consider.

There have been considerations about Bayern’s depth final season and, in that sense, issues have hardly improved. It feels as if the concept is to place religion in Nagelsmann’s means to conjure up tactical options or push kids. Little question it is (partly) a operate of the pandemic, but it surely solely makes his job more durable and, for it to work, it should require extra endurance — the type you do not at all times get at Bayern.


Man Metropolis simply effective with out Kane… at the least towards Norwich

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Janusz Michallik assesses Jack Grealish’s house debut, and picks out his star participant.

An open “footballing” facet like Norwich have been at all times going to be fodder for a Manchester Metropolis workforce with a chip on their shoulder following the opening day defeat at Tottenham. And so it was, as Pep Guardiola’s crew cruised to a 5-0 win towards an opponent that managed only one shot on aim.

Jack Grealish opened his aim account for Metropolis, however in some methods essentially the most devastating attacking participant was Gabriel Jesus, deployed huge proper with Ferran Torres via the center. You questioned if it was a touch that Guardiola sees Jesus extra as a winger and Torres extra as a entrance man at this stage, and he alluded to the truth that “Torres at all times strikes in direction of the aim” whereas Gabriel Jesus “was higher at receiving the ball huge.”

– Report: Man City put five past Norwich
– Dawson: Grealish and Man City get off the mark in style

Does it imply Torres is conserving Kane’s spot heat? Perhaps. However I additionally suspect that, given the shortage of hypothesis round a Plan B, Guardiola will really feel he is effective with what he has even when Kane does not arrive, and it is preferable to getting a center-forward only for the sake of it.


Avenging Angel Correa and a slice of luck energy Atletico Madrid

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Luis Garcia discusses Angel Correa’s fast begin for Atletico Madrid in LaLiga as Luis Suarez returns to health.

It was removed from a classic efficiency towards Elche for Atletico Madrid on Sunday. The truth is, it felt a bit bit just like the Atleti of previous — the grind-them-out type — with the distinction that their solely aim did not come from a set piece or a counter, however slightly a colossal blunder from Elche keeper Kiko Casilla.

– Report: Correa the hero as Atletico beat Elche

Luck? You make your individual, Simeone would possibly say, however any individual must be there to learn and on this case, once more, it was Angel Correa. The Argentine has scored all of Atleti’s objectives this season; he additionally scored some large ones down the stretch as they received the title final 12 months. He is carrying them proper now offensively whereas they look ahead to Luis Suarez to be absolutely match, for Joao Felix to return and for the brand new striker (in all probability Hertha’s Matheus Cunha) to materialize.


Regenerated Dele Alli powers Tottenham

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Don Hutchison delves into what Manchester Metropolis must do to get a deal for Harry Kane over the road.

Tottenham have two wins from two video games in essentially the most minimalist trend. After edging previous Man Metropolis final week, their 1-0 victory over Wolves got here because of a penalty duly transformed by Dele Alli, who feels extra central to the membership’s plans than at any time up to now few seasons.

Alli handled accidents and off-the-pitch points — and let’s face it, he did not appear to be high of Jose Mourinho’s Christmas Card record both — and that is why, after starring underneath Mauricio Pochettino in 2016-17 and 2017-18, he made simply 50 league begins over the subsequent three seasons. However he has versatility, power and high quality (and a brand new haircut), and that is simply what Dr. Nuno ordered by way of linking midfielder and assault.

“Like a brand new signing” is a well-worn cliche (memorably trotted out again and again by Arsene Wenger, normally referring to Jack Wilshere or Aaron Ramsey) however in Alli’s case, it applies. He would possibly even, in standing if not place, assist fill a few of the Harry Kane-shaped gap ought to the striker depart.


Give Dortmund the advantage of the doubt… for now

I used to be able to slam Dortmund for all their shortcomings in Saturday’s 2-1 defeat towards Freiburg.

Loads of sterile possession. A dip in depth off-the-ball (which should not occur with the younger legs on this facet). Little or no creativity in the course of the park (apart from the odd Jude Bellingham second). And the same old defensive wobbles on the again (yeah, Felix Passlack once more, however not simply him).

After which I reminded myself that Marco Rose could not have grow to be a foul coach in a single day (OK, possibly not in a single day, for instance since final January, since he had loads of stinkers at Gladbach too). That many of those guys have had little or no time collectively on the coaching pitch: it isn’t only a health challenge, it is a chemistry challenge. That new ahead Donyell Malen simply arrived. And that, hopefully, Axel Witsel will not be taking part in an excessive amount of extra center-back this season: in some unspecified time in the future, the plan has to incorporate Mats Hummels and/or Emre Can.

So yeah, they get the advantage of the doubt — in the interim, at the least — however Saturday must be a low-water mark and never the norm.

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