• In a surprise defeat against Jordan, South Korea’s semi-final exit at the Asian Cup means captain Heung-Min Son should be available to play for Tottenham against Brighton on Saturday.
• After several conversations at Arsenal last weekend many agreed with me that Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp made an error which he has repeated several times recently.
Arsenal midfielder Jorginho has a contract until May but Mikel Arteta is hoping to persuade him to stay at the Emirates. Jorginho started for only the fifth time this season but Arteta was quick to praise his performance in the 3-1 victory over Liverpool on Sunday.
He signed an 18-month contract after moving from Chelsea in January last year but has only been able to feature in 22 matches due to a foot injury.
There is no doubting that Jorginho has the ablility to thrive in Arsenal’s midfield alongside Declan Rice and Martin Odegaard. Arteta is also aware that he can influence and help younger players given his two European trophies and a European Championship medal which he won with Italy in 2021.
Arteta now has to decide how he will line up against West Ham this weekend because Jorginho stepped in for Kai Havertz, who moved forward in place of Gabriel Jesus, who could return this week. If Jesus is fit to lead the line, Arteta will decide after Friday’s training on whether he plays Havertz or Jorginho.
Thomas Partey suffered another setback in his recovery from a thigh injury and this could give Jorginho more opportunities as the Ghana international often moved up from right back into the midfield. Partey has been out since September and the club are considering selling him at the end of the season.
Son flies back hoping to play
In a surprise defeat against Jordan, South Korea’s semi-final exit at the Asian Cup means captain Heung-Min Son should be available to play for Tottenham against Brighton on Saturday.
Son returned to the UK on Wednesday and went to the London Stadium to meet manager Ange Postecoglou. He is fully fit and only jet lag will prevent him from leading out his Tottenham team.
The problems at Chelsea
Mauricio Pochettino didn’t exactly jump out of bed with joy on Monday morning as he prepared to hold yet another inquest at the Cobham training ground following a 4-2 home defeat to Wolves. He could still hear the Blues' fans chant of “We want Mourinho back” ringing in his ears.
The owners’ representatives have said they would stick by Pochettino for now but things have to improve and there would be a review at the end of the season. An FA Cup mid-week win against Aston Villa has slightly eased the pressure on Pochettino but this is not a true picture of where Chelsea are this season.
Cup games do not reflect how the week-in, week-out Premier League games are being played. The Cup is a one-off knock-out game and Villa are more concerned with their league position and the possibility of qualifying for Europe next season.
Just to get things straight here are the hard Chelsea facts: 1. Players are struggling to understand exactly what Pochettino’s tactics are. His defence is changed every week, players are left out without explanation and the coach does not seem to know what his best team is. The team fails to press high, chase balls, move into positions that give opportunities and there is little motivation in league games.
2. Recruitment has been appalling with the new owners throwing money around like confetti in a sport they clearly do not understand. They bought some talented players who are individuals but who rarely work together playing under Pochettino’s guidance. This has left the coach with a poor Premier League squad in terms of success. A typical example is Nicolas Jackson who rarely fails to disappoint having missed considerable goalscoring chances this season. He did at least score one in the FA Cup win.
3. Conor Gallagher is captain one week, left out of the team the next and was top of Chelsea’s list to be sold. He is still there, in and out of the team, not quite knowing how he fits into Pochettino’s so called strategy.
4. Thiago Silva and Cole Palmer are the only guaranteed Premier League game starters.
5. Chelsea owners fear sacking Pochettino and his large backroom staff — who would cost over £10million — which means the club, currently fighting off possible charges of breaking the financial fair play rules which limits losses to £105million over three years, would need to sell expensive players to keep themselves compliant.
Their disappointment of not selling home grown Amando Broja on a permanent deal becomes ever more relevant. Chelsea have already spent £10million paying off Thomas Tuchel and the previous coach, Graham Potter, is due another £13million.
Make no mistake…Chelsea are in a mess. Pochettino and Boehly have put their faith in buying youngsters. The only starter over 30 years of age was Thiago Silva. In previous years Chelsea had the backbone of John Terry, Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba and Petr Cech to guide the youngsters and deliver silverware. That experience is needed on the pitch now but isn’t available.
It isn’t that the players dislike Pochettino. They are disheartened and training at Cobham underlines that perfectly. When training ends the players leave immediately, no one stays to do extra work and their luxury cars can be seen leaving hurriedly and almost in convoy.
Can Chelsea kick on and use their FA Cup win to inspire them to perform in the Premier League? Monday’s game at struggling Crystal Palace is one they should win and could provide the answer but on Feb 17th they travel to Manchester City and that game will reveal whether Chelsea can unlock their true potential.
Klopp’s mistake with Mac Allister
After several conversations at Arsenal last weekend many agreed with me that Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp made an error which he has repeated several times recently. I have witnessed time and again that when Klopp plays Mac Allister in the centre midfield role he struggles and regularly loses the ball.
Against Arsenal he was caught in possession too many times and he gave the ball away far too often. There is no doubting that he is a good player but at No6 he is put under pressure which he cannot handle. Arsenal’s Jorginho on the other hand, also playing at No6, did not give the ball away once and he tackled with authority and made accurate passes.
It was a crucial part of the game and in many ways dictated who won and who lost. Mac Allister lost possession too many times in the first half and often in deep positions which put his back four under pressure. He is a much better player further upfield.
Martinez will miss Manchester derby
The latest word from Manchester United is that Lisandro Martinez’s injury is confined to a collateral ligament in his right knee. The original diagnosis was an anterior cruciate ligament which would have meant being side-lined for the rest of the season.
Fortunately the 26-year-old does not require surgery and it will be up to the medical staff to nurse him back to full fitness. He will probably miss eight league matches including the Manchester derby on 3rd March.
Erik Ten Hag has Harry Maguire, Jonny Evans, Raphael Verane and Victor Lindelof from which to choose as Martinez’s replacement for this weekend’s tough match against high-flying Aston Villa.
Guardiola answers Haaland rumours
Pep Guardiola has taken the unusual step of dismissing reports claiming striker Erling Haaland is unhappy at Manchester City. Pep says Erling has no plans to leave.
Real Madrid are the team who have been making noises about signing him with the Spanish press going into overdrive claiming Erling is on his way to Spain.
“Not true” according to Guardiola. Real wanted to sign the Norwegian from Dortmund in 2022 but City won that race. Haaland then scored 52 goals in one campaign and the Blues won the treble…not a bad addition to the Haaland trophy cabinet.
Hodgson clings on by fingertips
Another coach clinging on to his job by his fingertips is Crystal Palace veteran Roy Hodgson. Thumped by Brighton 4-1, Palace defender Joachim Anderson had to be pulled away from the visiting fans who had chanted abuse throughout the game against the coach, the players and the management.
Ironically the last coach who led Palace to defeat at Brighton was Patrick Viera and he was sacked two days later. Four wins in 17 games have left Palace only five points above the relegation zone.
To make matters worse for Palace their star winger Michael Olise is facing two months out with a hamstring injury sustained in the 4-1 defeat at Brighton. He had limped off during the match against Sheffield United complaining of pain but was thought to be fit enough to sit on the bench at Brighton but Hodgson decided to risk him and has been heavily criticised for the decision given that Olise had to come off again after pulling up in pain.
Sunday’s game between Palace and Chelsea is a must-win for both managers and defeat could well spell the end for Hodgson. Sacked Nottingham Forest boss Steve Cooper has been spoken to by Palace but he says he does not want to take over a club midway through the season.
Bailey deserves new contract
Leon Bailey has been an important member of Aston Villa’s meteoric rise to the top of the Premier League. Coach Unai Emery is therefore delighted that the winger has agreed to improved terms and a new contract which will run until 2027. Jamaican-born Bailey, 26, has scored ten excellent goals this season across 31 games in all competitions. Bailey originally signed from Bundesliga club Bayern Leverkusen in 2021.
Trippier heading for Germany
Newcastle captain Kieran Trippier has been permitted to talk to Bayern Munich about a summer transfer. I am told he has agreed personal terms and conditions. The 33-year-old’s sale would give Newcastle more opportunities to work within the financial fair play rules as it releases funds they would not otherwise be able to spend.
Chelsea loanees blow hot and cold
The move across town for Amando Broja from Chelsea to Fulham on loan was the highlight of deadline day in the January transfer window. The hype ended there with a quiet performance against Burnley which ended in a 2-2 draw.
It was another Chelsea loanee, David Fofana, who caught the eye as he led Burnley and scored a fine header. The 21-year-old Ivorian forward then equalled the scores with an extra time goal leaving coach Vincent Kompany pleased with the club’s transfer business. Fofana spent last season on loan at Bundesliga side Union Berlin and it was that experience which earned him a chance at Burnley.
Lingard heads east
After failing to secure a new club in Europe, Jesse Lingard sacked his agents which included members of his family. After a trial with Steven Gerrard’s Al-Ettifaq club in Saudi Arabia he decided to go further east and has joined South Korean club Seoul.
The 31-year-old has been searching for a home since leaving Nottingham Forest last June. He has completed a medical and starts work immediately for his new club.
Postecoglou the comedian!
A quick quip for football and Formula One racing fans…When asked who he would liked to have signed in the January transfer window, Tottenham boss Ange Postecoglou said, “I thought we had a good opportunity but the club didn’t agree and he signed for Ferrari!”