Thursday, 5 March 2020

Sheffield United vs Norwich

With the Blades very much looking to find a place in the UEFA Champions League – something unthinkable at the beginning of the season – fellow promotional team Norwich City are at the other end of the table. The Canaries are in a poor run, despite putting out Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup. Can the Blades find the form they need to make sure that they can keep their dreams of not only European football, but Champions League football, alive?

Sheffield United News

The Blades are in one of the best places they have been all season in terms of injuries. Not a single player has so far been reported as missing for them. While the likes of John Fleck and Enda Stevens were a bit touch and go, both players are expected to make it for this game.

Sander Berge could start in midfield, while Chris Wilder is likely to give David McGoldrick another game up top. Despite only scoring his first goal of the season in midweek, he’s generally performed well.

Norwich City News

The Canaries are gong to be without their star creative player in Emiliano Buendia. The little Argentine playmaker will miss out, while they might also be without a few other key players. Timm Klose, Sam Byram, and Onel Hernandez are definitely out. Christoph Zimmermann is not expected to recover in time for this one.

They will need to try and shuffle an already small squad around to try and make this a contest.


While the Blades aren’t prolific, they don’t concede too many either. Norwich, meanwhile, score a fair few and concede even more. We can see the Canaries struggling here; while both teams went to extra time in the FA Cup, there’s something to play for at Bramall Lane. For Norwich, survival feels an unrealistic prospect now – simply building confidence for a potential FA Cup run should be their primary concern now

Monday, 17 February 2020

Player Profile - Christian Eriksen

For years, the name of Christian Eriksen has been on the tips of the tongue of scouts across the globe. Now 25, the Middlefart-born Dane is one of the most impressive creative players in the world. With a deftness of touch that wouldn’t look out of place in a Brazilian national side to a vision and general temperament on the ball that makes him almost impossible to frustrate, Eriksen is easily among the leading lights in the entire Premier League.

The Spurs man started out at AFC Ajax, like many of his fellow Danes. He quickly became a key man at Ajax, thriving as the key cog in a resurgent Ajax side led by Frank de Boer. With some exceptional performances domestically and in Europe, including rampaging performances on English soil, Eriksen was a player that most teams in the world would have taken a chance on.

It was a surprise, then, when he made a move to Tottenham for just £11m in 2013. The move was seen as a massive coup for the club, as he joined a mini revolution at Spurs. While at first he was somewhat slow to get started, despite an assist on debut, he quickly established himself as a player who could lift the tempo of a math seemingly at will.

With the ball under his control almost permanently, he’s become a player noted for important goals, including wonderful free kicks. He’s also a player who is known for his top quality link-up play, having become a key foil for teammates Harry Kane and Dele Alli and, at international level, alongside the likes of Lasse Schone and Kasper Dolberg – fellow Ajax players.

For many, he’s among the most underrated players in the world and, just 25, could yet establish a career to rival Danish legends such as Michael Laudrup.

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Player Profile - Loris Karius

For many, German goalkeeper Loris Karius was the wrong choice for a club the size of Liverpool. The 24-year-old German, though, has shown in 2018 that he has more than enough to handle playing for a top club. After all, there’s a reason why he was voted among the finest keepers in Germany prior to his arrival at Anfield!

He started off at VfB Stuttgart after a series of moves around smaller youth clubs like SSV Ulm 1846. He then made a surprise move to England, when he joined recently cash-rich Manchester City. He was signed for City in 2009, but never made a single appearance for the Citizens despite costing an “exorbitant amount of money”, according to Thomas Albeck, the Stuttgart youth co-ordinator.

A move to Mainz 05 came next, where he stayed for four years. In his time at the club, he quickly established himself as a keeper of some repute, playing regularly for the Zero-Fivers. He quickly became a key player following coming on for Christian Wetklo. Wetklo was injured and, at 19, he became the youngest Bundesliga keeper of all-time.

From 2013-2016, he was a key player for the club and was voted the second best keeper in the Bundesliga in 2015-16, keeping nine sheets. He came second only to the great Manuel Neur.

Then, he made his move to Liverpool. While he’s only begun to establish himself at Anfield after 18-months, the German looks to be coming into his own and really establishing a legacy for himself. Now the number one keeper at Anfield, he appears to have the back of players, coaches and fans as he continues an impressive renaissance.

While he might not be among the elite keepers in the league just yet, a rich history and potential for development says that, at just 24, that could change quickly.

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Joe Linton

It’s not often that you hear of Newcastle United splashing the cash. So, when the club managed to spend over €40m on Joelinton from TSG Hoffenhiem, fans were naturally excited. The 22-year-old has been around the German game for a couple of years now, as well as having spent time out on loan in Austria. An explosive and exciting talent, does he have the means to make the Premier League a little less challenging for the Toon?

What makes him so special?

Joelinton is a lot like another former Hoffenheim forward in Roberto Firmino in that he does not necessarily stick up top. He works hard in harrying the opposition defence, and he loves to link-up with his teammates. He gets involved in the defensive side of the game before getting his teammates involved in the play – that might explain a rather lacklustre goals return.

A good passer and a fine dribbler, too, Joelinton can take players on and make a positive impact when he’s on the ball. The fact he has no issues working back is a big boon, too, as the Premier League demands high intensity forwards.

Though Newcastle fans might expect more goals from a striker who cost so much, he offers so much in various other parts of the pitch that, if they can supply him with good teammates, he could be of great value to Newcastle.

Any concerns or doubts?

However, part of the problem with Joelinton is that he’s often in so many places, he’s not in the right one when it matters. Goals are an issue, as is fouling the opposition. He has a habit of reliving pressure by being too aggressive on defenders, which can be a problem.

Also, given that he spends so much time outside of the box, he often shoots from distance instead of getting in close to finish chances off. In a team that does not create as much as many of their competition, that barren nature that can strike Joelinton could be problematic.

If they can build the team around him without expecting him to a static striker, though, Newcastle should profit from the purchase of the Brazilian.

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Max Aarons

When Norwich City managed to win hearts and minds in 2018-19, a large part of it came from their rambunctious style. They don’t hold back, and are rather cavalier to the point where they would win plenty of high-scoring games by a single goal. A big part of their exciting nature is their aggressive full-backs, and young Max Aarons is a fine example of that ambitious style.

What makes him so special?

There isn’t much that could be said about Aarons that stands out – and that is part of his magic. At just 19, he plays like a senior professional. You wouldn’t say that his passing was any better than his defensive prowess, for example. Nor would you say that his dribbling is any worse than his ability to constantly win tackles – tackles won often without going to ground.

The strongest part of his game is his dribbling, but his main specialty is his well-rounded nature. For a 19-year-old full-back, he shows immense variety in his game. For Aarons, the main thing that stands out is the fact he can do so much for one so young; his versatility in playing style makes him an excellent player to watch.

Strong and with plenty of energy but without the propensity to lose the ball, Aarons is a rare talent.

Any concerns or doubts?

The main thing he suffers from is being bullied at the posts when defending aerial passes. However, what can be done about that? At 19, he could still take a growth spurt. Given many full-backs are aerially weak, too, this should not be something that limits his career progress.

Should he become a bit more consistent with his cross selection and timing, Aarons will become a better defender by proxy of being able to better judge balls. Given the issue is more down to height and experience, though, there’s relatively little to be worried about with Aarons. The potential is easily there to go to the peak of the Premier League.

Thursday, 19 September 2019

Dwight McNeil

It’s not often that we see a club often fighting in the bottom half of the Premier League producing exciting homegrown talent. In Dwight McNeil, though, Burnley have a young player who has the potential to be among the most exciting in the league.

What makes him so special?

His composure and his ability to handle the breakthrough. Thrown into a Burnley side that looked burnt out and exasperated, McNeil began to produce regularly impressive performances. He’s shown an impressive ability to get his teammates on the ball, and has a decent range of tricks in his locker.

Crossing, shooting, and dribbling are all key skills in a wide player and McNeil has them all in abundance. He’s strong on the ball, he does not mind getting stuck in, and he has a good decision making process when he is on the ball. It’s not often that a young player is so good at creating chances for his teammates, but he seems to have a strong understanding of both his role in the team and what his teammates need from him.

For Sean Dyche, this maturity allied to a natural work ethic should be very exciting.

Any concerns or doubts?

For McNeil, there aren’t too many concerns outside of a propensity to give the ball away. His passing is quite minimalistic at times, and even then the decision making can be poor. The fact that he coves so much ground and gets involved defensively means that, when he does get the ball, he can often make the wrong choice to spring an attack.

However, for McNeil, these are small issues that will be improved upon with time and more gameday experience in the Premier League. For Burnley, this must be the most exciting youth prospect they’ve produced in some time: McNeil looks like he has the tools to reach the very top.

Thursday, 15 August 2019

Reiss Nelson

Having spent a year on loan with Julien Nagelsmann at TSG Hoffenheim, Arsenal youth starlet Reiss Nelson arrives back in London with a point to prove. At just 19, he has the world at his feet: the main question for Nelson is can he keep out the cadre of attacking stars that Arsenal have lining the bench for long enough to make an impact?

What makes him so special?

For us, Nelson impresses due to his coolness in front of goal. For a 19-year-old wide forward, he shows a lot of composure when the ball drops to him. Despite having less than a shot per game for the German outfit last year, Nelson managed to pick up an impressive 7 goals in just 630 minutes – not bad for a youngster who only made 5 starts in the season.

He’s composed and he has a good idea of shot selection, too, which is quite rare. Often, players of his experience and position are exciting, creative dribblers with poor decision making. Nelson shows good decision making and consistency, completing around 86% of his passes last year for Hoffenheim – that’s a solid return for a young player in a creative position.

Any concerns or doubts?

Nelson stands out due to his decision making, but one thing that he has to improve upon is how often he gets involved in a game. When he’s part of the game he is effective, but he’s suffered from an ability to drift out of games without much fanfare. As he ages, this will have to improve – he’s not yet decisive enough to get away with failure to participate in big matches.

The main concern is also going to be making the most of the gametime he gets. Despite starting the opening day of the season, chances could be somewhat limited for Nelson; he needs to take every chance he is given which, given his propensity to vanish from games, could be tough.