Premier League returns following international break

Sancho has disappointed since his move from Borussia Dortmund but Ten Hag will consider him because of his limited options.

In Summary

•Pep Guardiola has made good progress following his hospital surgery for a back problem and he has been involved in training preparations for the match against West Ham this weekend. 

•Newcastle tell me that Sandro Tonali is a possible doubt because he received a painful knock playing for Italy.

Newcastle United manager Eddie Howe
Newcastle United manager Eddie Howe


Eddie Howe is determined to get Newcastle back to the top of the league and was concerned that three of his South American players would not return from international matches in time to play against Brentford at home this weekend.

He went to see the club’s management, who authorised renting a private jet to bring back the Brazilian pair of Bruno Guimaraes and Joelinton and Paraguay’s Miguel Almiron. The plane took off from Venezuela where Brazil were playing and then went to collect Almiron in Lima, Peru, 3,000 miles away. The plane then flew to Newcastle. The cost was £150,000.

Newcastle tell me that Sandro Tonali is a possible doubt because he received a painful knock playing for Italy.

Brazil’s other big Premier League star, Tottenham striker Richarlison, intends to get psychological help on returning to north London. The 26-year-old has not scored for his country since the World Cup and his form at Tottenham has not been up to his high standards having scored only once in 31 matches.

He said: “I went through some difficult times off the pitch during these past five months. Now things are a bit more stable at home. Things are going to flow now and I’m certain that I will have a good run at Tottenham and will make things happen again. I’m going to return to England and seek psychological help to strengthen my mind.” Tottenham resume in the Premier League against Sheffield United.



Erik Ten Hag is probably the toughest disciplinarian in the Premier League. Cross Ten Hag and you will likely come out second best. Jadon Sancho has learned the hard way. Players not involved in international football returned for training at the Carrington facility on Monday and Jadon returned on Tuesday.

Ten Hag originally made his comments about dropping Sancho to provoke a positive response from the midfielder to make him raise his fitness levels and train harder but, regrettably, Sancho decided to attack his boss on social media and from then on, there was only going to be one outcome.

Ten Hag was also supported by the dressing room because several players felt Jadon had not been giving 100 per cent. A meeting between the coach and player last week did not resolve their differences.

It looked likely that Sancho had played his last game for United but the abuse accusations against Anthony has resulted in his absence from training and he is unlikely to be considered for the start against Brighton on Saturday.

With Anthony absent, Ten Hag has only one recognised right wing, Facundo Pellistri but he has made only one start and eleven sub roles off the bench.

Sancho has disappointed since his move from Borussia Dortmund but Ten Hag will consider him because of his limited options.



Christopher Nkunku is sidelined with a knee injury and Chelsea coach Mauricio Pochettino sat in his Cobham training office this week considering his attacking force for Sunday’s away game at Bournemouth. He is hoping his medical team can return Armando Broja to training after he had surgery for an ACL injury.

Word around Stamford Bridge is that when the January transfer window opens Chelsea will once again go in search of new talent for the front line and Brentford’s Ivan Toney is top of their list.

The 27-year-old is halfway through an eight-month ban for breaking betting regulations. He cannot return until January 17 and many clubs have him on their shopping list but none more than Chelsea.

Toney scored 20 goals last season and finished only behind Erling Haaland on 35 and Harry Kane’s 27. Brentford will fight to keep the striker. However, I am hearing that they would want a minimum payment of £70m should he leave.

Midfielder Carney Chukwuemeka is facing another month out of action with a knee problem. Benoit Badiashile returned to training during the international break and Trevoh Chalobah is slowly recovering his fitness.

However, Pochettino is not likely to include him in his squad this weekend as the club are still angry at the defender’s failed attempts to leave in the transfer window.


Jurgen Klopp has been applauding Dominik Szoboszlai throughout the international break and clearly views the £60m signing as a pivotal player for Liverpool.

Klopp described Szoboszlai’s performance against Aston Villa as “close to perfect”. The former RB Leipzig attacking midfielder and Hungarian captain opened the scoring in the match and Klopp said that each of his four performances so far have been impressive.

The coach said: “He is a machine, eh? That is four games in which he has impressed me. He is tactically smart and absolutely ready for the dirty part of the game. He is really hardworking when it is not the offensive stuff – shooting, crossing and running forward. He is really good at closing down opponents”.


Erik Ten Hag hopes for an early Christmas present with the arrival of Rasmus Hojlund and his instruction to the striker is to score goals. Many fans expect and hope that United flop Anthony Martial will be relegated to the bench on a regular basis with Hojlund taking centre stage.

The player who can help make life a success for the new signing is his fellow Dane Christian Eriksen who, despite Bruno Fernandes wearing the captain’s badge, is the real leader on the field for United. His ability to read the game, make vital passes to open up defences is admired by all at the club. Ten Hag was pleased when both Eriksen and Hojlund were selected to play for Denmark in the Euro qualifiers.

It gave the two players a great opportunity to bond together and Ten Hag is planning on making the pair his main attacking force playing through the middle. Hojlund is bold, aggressive, physical and energetic and Eriksen can pick him out with accurate incisive through balls.  


Pep Guardiola has made good progress following his hospital surgery for a back problem and he has been involved in training preparations for the match against West Ham this weekend.

Guardiola is expected to be on the bench at the London Stadium where I can tell you the coach’s seat is particularly comfortable! However, don’t expect Pep’s usual jumping up and down because that is not going to happen.

Assistant coach Juanma Lillo will be next to Guardiola in the dugout. City have a very crowded schedule with seven games in three weeks including Champions League matches against Red Star Belgrade and away to RB Leipzig and a Carabao Cup match at Newcastle which means midweek matches all the way up to the next international break in October. Guardiola might be back but he is under strict medical instructions not to be too energetic! 


Chelsea supporters can take heart from a club medical team message concerning captain Reece James. Coach Mauricio Pochettino said this week: “It’s a hamstring – it’s not a few days, a few weeks maybe and it is a sad moment because he is our new captain. Reece was excited to learn the news that he would lead the team and was full of energy. We are assessing his progress day by day and he is going to come back even stronger.”

The coach went on to say that he is making good progress and could be back earlier than originally estimated. James himself gave a peace sign and said: “Back soon.”

Pochettino doesn’t have to rush James back into action since Malo Gusto has pleased everyone at the club with his performances as cover for the defender. 


Mateo Kovacic was a Chelsea regular and Pep Guardiola was delighted when Manchester City signed him. Kovacic has adapted to life at the Etihad Stadium very quickly and the fans have embraced him.

The Croatia international was one of four major signings for the Light Blues, who paid only £25m to Chelsea. He stepped into the massive boots of club departed captain Ilkay Gundogan although he was never described as a replacement.

He has played 479 minutes and Pep Guardiola admits it is difficult to imagine the side without him. Kovacic praised his new boss.

“I have only just arrived but you can see straight away that the coach has clear ideas of what he is looking for. It is on another level," he said.

"I came here to learn and I think he is the best coach in the world. To learn from him is a good feeling, especially for a midfielder.”  


Tottenham were often referred to as the Harry Kane team and Crystal Palace were known as the Wilfried Zaha team. However, with Zaha’s move to Turkey, his partner Eberechi Eze has convinced coach Roy Hodgson that he can lead the Palace attack.

The 25-year-old has moved into the primary attacking position with Zaha gone and Michael Olise injured. Hodgson pointed out that he has graceful movement and creates a flow to his play which home supporters appreciate as they did with Zaha. Eze impressed playing for England against Scotland in midweek.


There have been rumours that Jorginho will leave Arsenal following Declan Rice's arrival. However, I can confirm — through his agent  —that the 31-year-old ex-Chelsea midfielder will remain until the end of his contract, which expires next June.

Italy is Jorginho’s main attraction and the former Napoli player has been linked with a move back to Serie A. Turkish club Fenerbahce have also shown considerable interest. Mikel Arteta is planning on playing Jorginho now that Thomas Partey is injured.

His agent said: “This year he stays at Arsenal. We can’t tell what will happen next season. Italy is always in our hearts, never say never.”


Vincent Kompany says he is not worried that Burnley prop up the Premier League with no wins or point yet. Following a winnable game against Nottingham Forest this weekend, the Claret and Blue then face Manchester United, Newcastle and Chelsea.

Kompany said this week: “I think the key is still on getting better as quick as we can and facing the top sides early. I don’t have a problem with that."

"We couldn’t do anything in the transfer window that would close the difference between our Championship side and playing in the Premier League so hopefully we’ll gel better as a team and a club to the level that’s necessary to get results.”