Chelsea's Sterling excels but Caicedo exposed

The problem for Mauricio Pochettino is similar to what happened to Fulham and Nottingham Forest in recent seasons.

In Summary

• Callum Hudson-Odoi and Romelu Lukaku are expected to leave the club whereas Connor Gallagher and Trevor Chalobah’s future is still undecided.

• Tottenham manager Ange Postecoglou is quickly becoming known as Mr Cool in the Premier League.

Chelsea's Raheem Sterling celebrates with teammates during a past match
Chelsea's Raheem Sterling celebrates with teammates during a past match

New owners, new coach and £800million spent in 12 months. Chelsea should be fighting at the top of the table but things are going far from well.

A new team packed with youngsters who were mesmerised by West Ham’s Lucas Paqueta with his tricks and skills and Chelsea’s latest signing Moises Caicedo could not get anywhere near him. The problem for Mauricio Pochettino is similar to what happened to Fulham and Nottingham Forest in recent seasons.

A club spends and spends, brings in a whole host of new players but they are not a unit, no cohesion and playing more as individuals. I am sure Pochettino, given his experience, will sort this out but Mykhailo Mudryk missed clear chances and Caicedo looked horribly exposed.

The one bright light for Chelsea is the current performance of Raheem Sterling. Pochettino was quick to praise his winger in a press conference and he explained how Sterling had spent a lot of time in his office and they were working very well together. He was their best player and is performing on the level that used to terrorise defences.

Two more players coming in are goalkeeper Djordje Petrovic from New England Revolution for £12.5million. Forward Deivid Washington has already taken a medical and will be announced this week.

Callum Hudson-Odoi and Romelu Lukaku are expected to leave the club whereas Connor Gallagher and Trevor Chalobah’s future is still undecided.

A ghastly knee injury sustained against West Ham by star forward Carney Chukwuemeka needed surgery and he will be out for six weeks minimum which brings Chelsea’s injury list to eight players.

Chelsea have contacted Arsenal regarding Folarin Balogun and the idea is for Pochettino to boost his attack before the transfer window closes. Chelsea failed to create any good chances against West Ham. The Arsenal man was on loan at French club Reims last season where he scored 21 goals in 37 league matches.

The Gunners want £50million and Chelsea face competition from Fulham, who lost their main striker Aleksandar Mitrovic to Saudi club Al-Hilal. Chelsea are also considering Nottingham Forest forward Brennan Johnson, Ajax midfielder Mohammed Kudus and Lyon winger Bradley Barcola.

Pochettino has had to adjust his plans radically with Christopher Nkunku out for six weeks with a knee injury. He insists he still has faith in his two strikers, Nicolas Jackson and Armando Broja, who is nearing a return after knee surgery in December.

Liverpool forward Luiz Diaz
Liverpool forward Luiz Diaz

Update on Liverpool’s training this week

Liverpool’s Luiz Diaz and Trent Alexander-Arnold were both cleared to join training this week ahead of the away match against Newcastle. Both players suffered niggling injuries against Bournemouth last weekend.

Curtis Jones was not present at training and is unlikely to be available due to an ankle injury which forced him to miss the Bournemouth game. Jurgen Klopp is going to give an update in his Friday press conference.

New signing Wataru Endo joined his teammates in Tuesday’s training session and is available. Klopp was overjoyed that Alexis Mac Allister’s red card at Bournemouth was overturned on appeal this week and he will be back in the team at Newcastle.

Two headaches for Erik ten Hag

Manchester United’s Erik ten Hag is another manager who desperately needs another top striker. He is hopeful Kobbie Mainoo will be fit in September to ease Manchester United’s midfield problems but a new striker is his main concern.

How Ten Hag wishes he could have achieved his first choice Karry Kane. Two games into the season and United could only manage 37 shots against Wolves who had lost 4-1 the previous week. Anthony Martial was only fit enough to complete seven minutes and he continues to be a problem.

Ten Hag pointed out that the ingredients for a successful title challenge are more or less complete but he still needs a striker and midfielder but despite the team showing better shape and a more pressing approach to last season, they are far from a finished product.

United were overrun by Wolves despite the 1-0 win and were exposed in the 2-0 loss to Tottenham. Casemiro is United’s only current specialist defensive midfielder and he was left isolated when other players moved upfield and United are vulnerable to counter attacks. Mainoo sustained an ankle injury in a pre-season friendly and has not featured since. Mason Mount is likely to miss possibly four matches with an injury picked against Spurs.

Ten Hag said: “It is a new midfield and we have to step up there. We have to improve. We were not good in possession and it had to do with rules and principles. It is what we practice in training. We didn’t match those rules and principles in our possession game and therefore we didn’t have a good game. Last year, McTominay played that defensive role so he is capable of doing it. But I know he is not there at this moment but Kobbie Mainoo, who we saw against Arsenal, is ready to take that role.”

Ten Hag is frustrated with Mount and said: “It will not come overnight and it is a process we have to go through. But I am sure he has game intelligence, technical abilities, also good vision on the ball, he has the mentality so all the ingredients are there and we have to put them all together to get the player I believe we were right to sign.”

Tottenham manager Ange Postecoglou
Tottenham manager Ange Postecoglou
Image: FILE

Mr Cool brings entertainment back to Tottenham

Ange Postecoglou is quickly becoming known as Mr Cool in the Premier League. He walked calmly out into the centre of the pitch after his team had beaten Manchester United.

He applauded, very quietly, the assembled Tottenham fans. They roared their approval. Suddenly he changed, as if transforming into another person, leapt into the air and ran over to a section of the crowd where he had spotted his family.

This was his proudest moment. Ange had won his first Premier League match in front of his closest family and he punched the air for joy. The fans also loved him because, for the first time in a very long time, a Tottenham team had played inspired football, entertaining and thrilling to cheer on.

Captain Son Heung-Min revealed the way Postecoglou has been training his squad.

“It’s very early, but we want to possess the ball, create chances, play attacking football. If we lose the ball, we’re going to be counter pressing. It’s really, really fun even to play but I think watching this game is more enjoyable for the Spurs fans,” Son explained.

“100 per cent it’s enjoyable for the players, for the attacking players, I don’t know about the defenders, but for me, it’s playing high, pressing high, it’s an easier job than running 70 metres backwards!”

Lightning fast Doku joins City

Despite being located in Barcelona where he underwent back surgery this week, Pep Guardiola is delighted that Manchester City captured the signature of French club Rennes’ lightning fast winger Jeremy Doku.

His blistering pace and ball control makes him the perfect replacement for Riyad Mahrez. His medical this week seemed to go well but Doku has suffered several hamstring problems in the past.

Both Belgium coach Roberto Martinez and Arsenal legend and Belgium’s assistant coach Thierry Henri described Doku as an exceptional talent.

Everton's Abdoulaye Doucoure and Dwight McNeil celebrate during their match against Brighton
Everton's Abdoulaye Doucoure and Dwight McNeil celebrate during their match against Brighton

Relegation could threaten Everton survival

When I attended a match between Fulham and Everton a few years ago, I was astounded at the noise the visiting Toffees supporters made. They completely drowned out the home side supporters.

These days Everton fans have little to cheer about. A mis-managed club who have at last appointed a strong coach in Sean Dyche. The problem is that he is trying to shuffle almost the same pack who have fought off relegation for the past two seasons and he is desperately short of new talent.

I have learned that if Everton are relegated to the Championship at the end of the season their financial accounts reveal that the club’s future could be in serious jeopardy. Bookmakers have only Luton Town and Sheffield United as more likely to be relegated than Everton and it is something those supporters do not deserve.

The problem with Richarlison

Tottenham have a king size headache. When is Richarlison going to play the way we all know he can?

Harry Kane’s leaving has left a massive hole in the centre of Spur’s striking force and Richarlison has failed to fill it. After 69 minutes of play against Manchester United, he had managed only 28 touches and none of them were shots on goal.

He actually lost possession eight times. He was substituted and showed his usual annoyance. However, it is recognised within the club that Tottenham have to find a replacement for Kane.

Balancing midfield and two strikers

Among my journalist colleagues in the press room at Wolves this week, a very interesting debate took place. The value of a strong tactical pair of strikers is being discussed by every coach in the Premier League.

When Wolves played Brighton last weekend, both teams started with a 4-4-2 line-up. Fabio Silva was put back into the team to play alongside Matheus Cunha for Wolves and Julio Enciso and Danny Welbeck operated together at the front for Brighton and the game was exciting and both teams were open in midfield.

Brighton were the better team and won the day but new Wolves coach Gary O’Neill is convinced this is the way his team should play. The skill of the coach is how to control midfield when you have two players in front of them instead of a single striker.

4-4-2 used to be the way all teams lined up but since the introduction of a 3 player midfield, things have changed and teams have to find a new way of winning.

Brighton's Billy Gilmour
Brighton's Billy Gilmour

Gilmour steps up to replace Caicedo

Brighton are a remarkable club and their recruitment team is superb. Most teams would struggle if they lost £170million worth of players including Moises Caicedo to Chelsea, Alexis Mac Allister to Liverpool and Robert Sanchez also to Chelsea.

Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi was quick to point out that without Caicedo he had to reorganise his playing strategy and relied heavily on Pascal Gross and Billy Gilmour.

De Zerbi said: “Gilmour is a clever player, a smart player. He plays like an older man but is still very young.” So just for the record, Brighton sold £170m worth of players and this week enjoyed top-of-the-league status!

Laporte heads for rich pastures

Manchester City fans have been preparing for the inevitable. Aymeric Laporte is finally set to sign a three-year contract with Saudi Pro League club Al Nassr.

The 29-year-old has been released for £25m to join Cristiano Ronaldo. Aymeric’s salary will be £20m-a-year. After playing in only 12 games last season he was left on the bench for the Champions League final and decided it was time to move on.