Could this be the year Messi leads Argentina to world glory?

Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni has named his 26-man squad for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. As expected, the eyes of the world will be on their captain Lionel Messi. At 35 years old, this is likely his last chance to add the glitter of the World Cup to his impressive individual and team honors. Now at his fifth world cup, Messi enjoys the company of a team that is a hot favorite for the title. The favorite tag is backed by an impressive 35-game unbeaten streak from 2019 and polished up by a Copa America triumph in 2021. But it has not been easy sailing for the Albiceleste.

The team reached four Copa America finals between 2004 and 2016 and the World Cup final in 2014 and lost all of them. Messi has endured much criticism for his inability to lead Argentina to the trophy. Like his predecessor Maradona, high expectations lie on this footballing spectacle to lift this most coveted trophy. The 2021 Copa triumph was a welcome relief but many believe he can do one better and clinch world glory. Seen by many as the best football player in history, winning the world cup will open doors to the Pantheon of football gods.

Soccer Football – International Friendly – Argentina Training – Al Nahyan Stadium, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – November 14, 2022 Argentina’s Lionel Messi during training REUTERS/Amr Alfiky

Messi has been in red-hot form for PSG season racking up 28 goal contributions in 19 games. Surely, this is the time for Messi and Argentina, if not now, when? He’s already stated in numerous interviews that this will be his last World Cup. One last dance for the best player to ever paint this great gallery of the game, to go on and put a stamp on his venerable title, GOAT.


Giovani lo Celso is the notable omission from the squad. The midfielder has been integral in the Argentina cog and misses out due to a hamstring injury. Lo Celso and Rodrigo De Paul have formed a successful double pivot for Argentina in midfield making his absence disruptive to how Argentina sets up.

Scaloni had no place for Atletico Madrid Angel correa and Manchester United’s rising star, Alejandro Garnacho. Argentina’s plethora of attackers has squeezed out Correa from a spot in Qatar and the Atleti man, now 27, will be disappointed after missing out in 2018.  Napoli’s Giovanne Simeone is enjoying a stellar season but unfortunately misses out on the squad.

Argentina’s line-up options

The big names are included in the list although Roma’s Paulo Dybala and Juventus’ Angel Di Maria have injury concerns. Di maria is integral to the team given the versatility, experience, and width he offers on the left flank. Inter’s Lautaro Martinez is expected to fill up the No. 9 spot with La Pulga occupying the right-wing of attack. Martinez offers a great link-up play and is deadly in front of goal. Messi has a free role and frequently drifts inwards leaving the right back to provide width.

In midfield, Lo Celso’s absence means Rodrigo de Paul will settle for either Enzo Fernandez or Alexis Mac Allister as a partner in the double pivot. Leandro Paredes, on loan at Juventus from PSG, will be a mainstay in the midfield.  The center-back pairing of Nicholas Otamendi and Christian Romero will be Scaloni’s go-to option. However, Manchester United’s Lautaro Martinez has been faultless this season and could stake his claim to one of the spots.

Finally safe in goal

Argentina has struggled in goal often relying on unconvincing performers. Nowhere is this more apparent than in their calamitous 2018 world cup with Willy Caballero pulling off a few howlers. However, Aston Villa’s Emiliano Martinez has risen from obscurity to provide a safe pair of hands for the Albiceleste, especially in their Copa America triumph of 2021.

Potential formation and setup

Argentina is built around Messi. He provides the beginning, link-ups, and often the final touch of many attacks. This time he is surrounded by a well-oiled machine that presses high and places demands of quality and athleticism on the players. Scaloni prefers a 4-3-3 which will likely feature Martinez; Molina, Otamendi, Romero, Tagliafico; Paredes, De Paul, Rodriguez; Di Maria, Messi, and Martinez.

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Full 26-man squad

Goalkeepers: Emi Martinez (Aston Villa), Franco Armani (River Plate), Geronimo Rulli (Villarreal).

Defenders: Marcos Acuna (Sevilla), Juan Foyth (Villarreal), Lisandro Martinez (Manchester United), Nicolas Tagliafico (Lyon), Cristian Romero (Tottenham), Nicolas Otamendi (Benfica), Nahuel Molina (Atletico Madrid), Gonzalo Montiel (Sevilla), German Pezzella (Real Betis).

Midfielders: Angel Di Maria (Juventus), Leandro Paredes (Juventus), Rodrigo De Paul (Atletico Madrid), Alexis Mac Allister (Brighton), Enzo Fernandez (Benfica), Exequiel Palacios (Bayer Leverkusen), Guido Rodriguez (Real Betis).

Forwards: Julian Alvarez (Manchester City), Joaquin Correa (Inter Milan), Paulo Dybala (Roma), Angel Di Maria (Juventus), Nicolas Gonzalez (Fiorentina), Lautaro Martinez (Inter Milan), Lionel Messi (Paris Saint-Germain)

Southgate unveils team to represent England in Qatar

England manager Gareth Southgate has released the much-awaited 26-man squad for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Given the popularity and media scrutiny football enjoys in the UK, pressure on The Three Lions is immense. England have not won a major tournament since their World Cup of 1966 but recent positives such as fourth place finish at the 2018 World Cup and a second-place finish in Euro 2020 have raised cautious optimism. As with many squads, players who missed out make the biggest headlines.

Notable absentees

Perhaps the headline absentee is Jadon Sancho. With lackluster displays for the Red Devils, he has subsequently failed to convince Southgate why he deserves a place in the squad for Qatar. Fikayo Tomori also failed to make the cut despite stellar performances with AC Milan since he made his move from Chelsea. Many have questioned why Tomori did not make the squad despite playing regularly. Harry Maguire, who endured a torrid time with The Three Lions in the UEFA Nations League has been on the bench for Manchester United for much of the season. His inclusion and the exclusion of Tomori have raised concerns of bias and misjudgment by Southgate.  Other absentees include Marc Guehi, James Ward-Prowse.

Notable absentees due to injury include Reece James, Ben Chilwell, and Emile Smith-Rowe. The pair of Chelsea fullbacks will be dearly missed given their great performances last season for the Blues.

Following the hamstring injury he sustained against Dinamo Zagreb, Ben Chilwell will miss the World Cup.
Following the hamstring injury he sustained against Dinamo Zagreb, Ben Chilwell will miss the World Cup. Image: Rex

New faces

James Maddison highlights the most notable inclusion in the squad. The Leicester midfielder last made an appearance for England in 2019 but his scintillating form this season has earned him a call-up. It is hoped he could add a dimension of creativity to the England midfield which was lacking in their disastrous UEFA Nations league campaign.

Callum Wilson has also had a decent start to the 2022-2023 season with Newcastle. The Magpie’s frontman has netted six times and Southgate is convinced he could partner or cover for Harry Kane alongside Marcus Rashford. Wilson’s inclusion has been at the expense of the likes of Tammy Abraham and Ivan Toney. Abraham has found the going tough this season at Roma while Toney is loving life at Brantford. It would be a lingering question for long as to why Toney missed out given his outstanding displays this campaign.

Manchester City players Kyle Walker and Kalvin Philips are also included despite injury concerns. Jude Bellingham, Mason Mount, and Conor Gallagher offer the team a blend of youth alongside the likes of Kalvin Philips.

How will England line up?

Southgate still has the difficult task of picking a starting XI. With a 3-4-3 formation, he could choose Pickford, Walker, Maguire, Stones, Trent, Bellingham, Rice, Trippier, Sterling, Kane, and Grealish.

An alternative would be 4-2-3-1 with Pickford, Walker, Maguire, Stones, Trippier, Bellingham, Rice, Saka, Mount, Sterling, and Kane.  With several wise forwards available, Southgate has the added task of setting up a competitive and effective team if they are to go all the way.

The England squad is not short of talent. Further, the squad has a combined 820 caps, the second highest for a Three Lions squad. England is one of the favorites and maybe this is the time that football finally comes home.

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26-man England squad

Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Newcastle), Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal)

Defenders: Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), Eric Dier (Tottenham), John Stones (Manchester City), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Newcastle), Conor Coady (Everton), Ben White (Arsenal), Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)

Midfielders: Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Conor Gallagher (Chelsea), Declan Rice (West Ham), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Kalvin Phillips (Manchester City)

Forwards: James Maddison (Leicester), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Manchester City), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Raheem Sterling (Chelsea), Callum Wilson (Newcastle), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United)

Tite reveals his 26-man team as Brazil prepare for the World Cup

On November 8, Five-time FIFA World Cup champions Brazil announced their 26-member World Cup squad for the 2022 World Cup to be held in Qatar from November 20. Brazilian head coach Adenor Leonardo Bacchi, known as Tite, selected his 26-man team to represent the country in the much-anticipated tournament.

The list includes;

Three (3) goalkeepers

 Alisson Becker (Liverpool)

 Ederson (Manchester City)

 Weverton (Palmeiras)

 Eight (8) defenders

 Danilo (Juventus)

 Dani Alves (Pumas)

 Alex Sandro (Juventus)

Alex Telles (Sevilla)

Thiago Silva (Sevilla)

Marquinhos (PSG)

Eder Militao (Real Madrid)

Bremer (Juventus)

 Six (6) midfielders

Casemiro (Manchester United)

 Fabinho (Liverpool)

Bruno Guimaraes (Newcastle)

Fred (Manchester United)

Lucas Paqueta (Westham)

Everton Ribeiro (Flamengo)

Nine (9) attackers

Neymar (PSG)

Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid)

Gabriel Jesus (Arsenal)

Antony (Manchester City)

Raphinha (Barcelona)

Richarlison (Tottenham)

Gabriel Martinelli (Arsenal)

Rodrygo (Real Madrid)

Pedro (Flamengo)

Frustration after elite players missed the world cup in Qatar

The team selection brought joy to many Brazilian footballers who got lucky to be picked. However, some huge names missed the list, including Arsenal defender Gabriel Magalhaes, who has performed at a top level for Arsenal this season. Gabriel scored the only winning goal for Arsenal on the weekend when they played Chelsea at Stamford bridge.

Despite scoring six goals (6) and assisting three (3) after twelve matches (12) in the PL this season, Liverpool’s no. 9 Roberto Firmino failed to make the list. Firmino had the most goals among the PL attackers called up for the Brazil national team, outscoring Gabriel Jesus, Martinelli, and Richarlison. Richarlison got called up despite having zero (0) goals in the PL this season and two (2) assists. Firmino went out to social media to express his anger.

Atletico Madrid forward Matheus Cunha was also not included in the squad; following his transfer to Atletico from Hertha Berlin, many Brazilian argued he could’ve moved to another European club since Simeone’s style of play doesn’t suit him. Matheus was evidently disgruntled by his exclusion, and his reaction after the realization said it all.

Matheus looking devastated after learning of his absence in the Brazil squad
Matheus looking devastated after learning of his absence in the Brazil squad. Credit: Twitter / BrasilEdition

Gabriel Barbosa also missed the squad; the Flamengo striker wasn’t Tite’s choice despite shining in the Copa Libertadores final and scoring the winning goal against Athletic Paranaense.

Excitement all round following call-up news

Every Brazilian player called up for the national team was gassed up, including Neymar, who already knew, not only getting called up to Brazil’s squad but representing the team at a world cup is one of the biggest goals for most Brazilians growing up. Most of the players posted videos of their reactions on the internet. Newcastle midfielder Bruno Guimaraes was over the moon after earning his first world cup call. He has been arguably one of the outstanding midfielders in the premier league this season.

Brazil’s style of play

Samba is Brazil’s signature playing style. Samba dance, an identifier of Brazilian gameplay, entails leg movement with knee bending. There is an imperceptible movement of the feet, which, when mixed with a ball, equates to dribbling. In a bid to match Germany’s gameplay, Brazil divulged from full flair samba. This was meant to be a remediation after they lost seven nil to the European opponent in the 2014 cup, but it didn’t work well for Brazil. The team lost its balance, implicating further failures.

They have now resorted to restoring the style for the forthcoming cup. We also need to bear in mind the unique composition of the squad. Tite has Utility players like Neymar can serve both as a winger and number 10. His natural spot, the LW, can be taken by the brilliant young talents Vini Jr. and Martinelli.

Age balance

Dani Alves, currently at 39 years, breaks the “oldest Brazilian” in the world cup record. Djalma Santos has held this record for 25 years since he played the tournament at 37 years in 1997. An exciting aspect of the squad is that several players will have their final chance at the tournament and bring the glory home. Thiago Silva, currently 38 years is one such player.

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Will Brazil bag their 6th world cup?

After losing to Argentina in the Copa America final, Brazil went on fifteen (15) games winning streak; their world cup squad is stacked with talents. They are the favorites to win the world cup this year. Brazil set a new World Cup qualifying record with 45 points, Tite’s team broke Argentina’s record of 43, which was set in qualifying for the 2002 World Cup” The Qatari climate is likely to favor teams from the tropical countries.

Mohammed Salah on the double as Reds beat Tottenham

Liverpool players celebrating after scoring against Tottenham. Image: Liverpool

The encounter between Tottenham and Liverpool is one that looked to carry the day after the earlier London derby brawl at Stamford Bridge. With Liverpool having been out of sorts for a great part of this season, a win seemed highly unlikely for the Reds. Their previous fixture against Leeds last weekend ended in defeat, in a match where Leeds looked the better. However, they managed to turn that around in midweek with a 2-nil victory against Napoli. That win could have momentarily restored confidence in Klopp’s men, but given their unpredictability in the league this season, defeat could not have been ruled out easily.

On the other hand, Tottenham were coming at the back of successive victories, with last-minute goals in both matches, indicating good luck was on Conte’s men. Spurs have been strongly condemned this season for their rudimentary football, lacking the guile but still getting the reward. The implication, however, is that even without playing their best football, they can still manage to grind out results out of matches, and that would have been their strongest suit against Liverpool.

Salah scores twice to hand Liverpool first away win

The game ended in a 2-1 win for the Reds, with Spurs putting in a fight up until the very end. Two first-half goals from Mohammed Salah saw Liverpool carry the day in a win that seemed shaky but still bore the anticipated feeling for the Kop. The first goal was a quick low shot towards the bottom corner, following a Nunez cutback, which left Lloris static. Salah then capitalized on an Eric Dier mistake to make it two for Liverpool. Following a long ball from Allison, Dier made a pig’s ear of a header that then allowed Salah a 1v1 with the keeper, with a finish deftly dinked beyond Lloris.

Salah with the dink to score his second against Spurs. Image: Goal
Salah with the dink to score his second against Spurs. Image: Goal

In the second half, Tottenham showed great resolve to fight back and had Liverpool on the back foot for huge parts of that period. Salah had the opportunity to score a hat-trick and put the game beyond Spurs, which he failed to capitalize. The substitution of Kulusevski in the second half threw a lifeline for Tottenham, with Kane’s goal stemming from his assist. Klopp’s men were, however, relentless to hold on until the final whistle and steal a win from Tottenham in their own stadium.

What next after this outcome?

This win now makes it the first away win for Liverpool, an outcome they will hope is indicative of a strong comeback. They are now 7 points off Tottenham, who sit fourth in the table. A win against Southampton next weekend would enliven their spirits and give life to their top 4 hopes going into the World Cup.

Tottenham and Chelsea remain the only big six teams who haven’t yet managed to take points away from big six opposition. This defeat, however, would not inflict significant damage to Conte’s men, with their grasp on the top 4 still firm and solid. They face Leeds next at home, who have been stellar against top-six opposition. They will have to work their tails off if they are to go into the World Cup with a smiley face.

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Captain Harry Maguire, the victim to daily online onslaught

Harry Maguire looks on during United's past game vs Aston Villa in the Premier League.

If you are a football fan and have been paying attention to social media in the last year or so, you must have heard of Harry Maguire. It’s impossible to avoid. The Manchester United defender might not be the most charismatic figure in the game right now, but he is the daily subject of online onslaught. No day goes by without the United captain being the focus of memes, jokes, or even downright insults.
But why is that? Many people, brands, and sites have jumped into the trend, constantly pulling jokes about Maguire that often punch below the belt. If the poor form was the cause, why are other players not getting a similar level of abuse? Today we will address a lot of other stuff regarding Harry Maguire and his current status in football.

Where was he born?

Jacob Harry Maguire was born in Sheffield on March 5th of, 1993. He developed as a player in the city’s biggest club, Sheffield United. Interestingly, he was part of the Sheffield Under-21s side that played against Manchester United in the 2011 FA Youth Cup final in Old Trafford. This final featured the likes of Jesse Lingard and Paul Pogba on the opposing side.

Maguire even had to be taken off the pitch as he clashed with United midfielder Ravel Morrison during a header. This collision resulted in him getting a standing ovation from the supporters in the stadium when leaving the pitch and received a letter and a visit from then-United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, wishing him a speedy recovery. According to Maguire, many years later, while he didn’t grow up as a United supporter, those gestures made the club a lot more special.

Maguire at Sheffield United

He would go on to play with Sheffield’s first team in the lower divisions of English football until he signed with Hull City in 2014 on a £2.5 million deal. After a short spell on loan with Wigan Athletic in 2015, Maguire would be a key part of Hull’s promotion to the Premier League in the 2015/16 season. The England defender, went on to give very interesting displays in the sole season he spent with Hull in the top tier division of English football.

Sadly, Hull got relegated back to the Championship in the 2016/17 season. Still, the defender’s
performances allowed him to sign for Leicester City in a £12 million deal with the possibility of rising to £17 million when considering the add-ons. During this period, he started to make waves in the Premier League with the Foxes, and his marvelous displays with England in the 2018 World Cup also helped greatly with that.

Above: Harry Maguire celebrating with his fellow Leciester teammates at the time after he had scored a goal against Manchester United. The game was a 2:2 draw vs the Red devils.
Above: Harry Maguire celebrating with his fellow Leicester teammates at the time after he had scored a goal against Manchester United. The game was a 2:2 draw vs. the Red devils. Photo Credits: Mark Hoagh

As an interesting fact, then-United manager Jose Mourinho has admitted that he wanted to sign Maguire after his World Cup exploits in the summer of 2018. However, the club’s hierarchy was not in favor of spending the money that Leicester City was demanding. This would prove to be quite ironic when the following United manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjær, signed Maguire in the summer of 2019 at a record fee of £80 million, making him the most expensive defender in the history of the game. Moreover, they agreed on weekly wages amounting to £189,904 (although it’s worth pointing out that Man United’s wages are not public knowledge, so this is based on leaks and reports rather than 100% factual information).

This was when the problems started for Maguire.

The captaincy controversy

There was already a lot of controversy surrounding Maguire when he signed for Man United in 2019. The 80 million pounds fee was deemed way too excessive for a player that didn’t have a major record of success (as of this writing, he hasn’t won any trophies with United). While his performances with Hull, Leicester, and England had been quite interesting, they didn’t warrant such a fee. Some people compared it to Virgil van Dijk’s move from Southampton to Liverpool, but that only added unnecessary comparisons to Maguire’s United career.

United Captain

In that regard, and with the benefit of hindsight, Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s decision to make him United captain a few months after signing for the club was probably not the best. Looking back, there was a bit of logic: the United side of that period was fairly young, lacking a lot of experience, and veterans such as Nemanja Matic, Juan Mata or Ashley Young were already squad players. David De Gea, who has been suggested as club captain by supporters for years due to his longevity at the club, has never been too keen in having the armband and doesn’t seem to be a leader or at least a major one.

Maguire was in his peak years, a major piece in the England squad that made it to the World Cup semifinals in Russia. Moreover, he had worn the armband for his national side from time to time, so there was a bit of logic in Solskjær’s decision at the time. Despite all this, it massively backfired: making Maguire captain only drew more unnecessary spotlight towards him, with fans, pundits, and many more pointing out that he wasn’t United captain material whenever things didn’t go well, or Harry had a poor performance.

Varane and Maguire at the back

This was only exacerbated by the arrival of players such as Bruno Fernandes, Cristiano Ronaldo, and even Raphael Varane. The aforementioned players possessed more expressive and fiery behaviors and personal records which generated a lot of debates among supporters about them having the armband over Maguire. This is something that goes on even to this very day. It can be argued that the armband situation, even more so than the transfer fee, has had a bigger impact on the online trolling that has been going on with the former Leicester defender in recent years.

Current status. Is he injured? Why has he been on the bench?

Under the guidance of current manager Erik Ten Hag, Harry Maguire is
performing as a squad player in this United side after being a secure starter since his signing in 2019. Despite still retaining the United armband, the solid performances of the Lisandro Martinez/Raphael Varane partnership have moved Maguire to the sidelines. He contributes from time to time as a rotation option.

There have been a lot of controversies with the supporters as a large portion of the United
fan base wants him sold. However, both Ten Hag and Maguire have been quite diplomatic about it, and with no major rumors about a sale, at least as of this writing. The former Sheffield man has been quite professional. He has never voiced any discomfort at being benched this season, which suggests that his relationship with the Dutch manager is cordial, at least.

Is Maguire now a bench player?

Will he leave United? It’s hard to say right now, but if the player wants a starting role, there is a good chance he may have to leave. There is also the element of online trolling and constant abuse that may take a toll on him, leading him to a change of scenery to have a bit of peace of mind and a fresh start. But right now, it’s hard to start.

However, despite a rocky beginning of the season at his club, Maguire seems poised to be a starter in England’s squad in the World Cup in Qatar this year. Manager Gareth Southgate is a huge fan of the defender, and the player has rewarded his faith in him with tremendous
performances. Notably, in the 2018 World Cup and the 2021 Euros. It’s safe to say that Maguire has earned to play this tournament with England, at least based on his performances with his national team.

Online abuse and insane escalation

Due to all the aforementioned reasons (his transfer fee, the armband, and the comparisons of success and character with other United players), the online trolling and abuse have gotten out of hand with Harry Maguire. While there is a lot of room to criticize his performances, which last season were less than stellar, many lines have been crossed to troll the player.

Pictured above: Harry Maguire, has been a subject of criticism from a number of Manchester United fans. WIll the defender feature for the England World cup squad?
Pictured above: Harry Maguire has been the subject of criticism from some Manchester United fans. Will the defender feature for the England World cup squad? Photo Credits:

For example, Maguire has been the subject of many out-of-context images to be blamed for the negative results United was getting. Last season they drew 1-1 against Southampton at Old Trafford. Still, the image everywhere on the internet was Harry Maguire getting turned due to a dribble made by Soton striker Armando Broja… which resulted in absolutely nothing afterward, and Maguire eventually retrieved the ball. But he was the one that got the blame for the result.

While Maguire has always been the subject of criticism since his arrival, his two first seasons with United were quite decent, and the out-of-context images were not so prominent. Much like the images, the captaincy issue wasn’t either, but it escalated as time passed. It was during the 2021/22 season, due to the awful season that United as a whole had and the extra media attention that the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo brought to the club (not blaming the Portuguese for this, but his presence alone generates a lot more media attention), that Maguire went through as something that could be akin to character assassination.

Harry Maguire bomb threat

A great example of how things have escalated drastically was when he got a bomb threat in his own home near the end of last season, and several supports, YouTubers, etc., were trying to minimize the situation when this is a human being whose physical integrity and his family’s could have been hurt due to football. It’s illogical how things have reached this point with Maguire, whose only sin seems to be playing poorly, wearing an armband, and costing a lot of money–as if that is enough to warrant being mocked, booed and insulted every single day and every single match.

This is a man that posts an image doing charity work and gets tons of insults from United “supporters” simply because they don’t rate him as a player. It’s one of the most intense cases of online sports abuse in modern history and one that has gotten way out of hand.

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The question: Is he a good player?

The most interesting part about this Harry Maguire situation is how it keeps people from doing actual, unbiased football analyses about his performances and qualities as a player. You Tubers, social media influencers, and out-of-context images would make you think that this is the worst defender that has ever graced top-level football. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

The then Manchester United captain celebrating his goal earlier on in the Premier League. Photo Credits: Getty Images

Maguire does have his flaws: he takes a bit too long to pass the ball. Notably, sometimes he mistimes his role as the aggressor in the defense. When the defensive structure loses balance, he is one of the first to look poorly because he needs to rely on his teammates. It would be fairly dishonest to claim he is a perfect player or that some criticism he is getting isn’t warranted.

Having said all that, you don’t make it to Manchester United and reach a World Cup semifinal and a Euros final as one of the tournament’s best players without being good at football. At his best, Harry Maguire is a top-class ball-playing defender with a strong physical edge to his game and a very strong heading, which makes him a complete option for a lot of teams.

Some coaches wanted to sign Maguire.

Managers such as Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho, and Mauricio Pochettino have admitted that they wanted to sign him. It’s very difficult to believe that three highly regarded and successful managers, with three very different styles and understandings of the game, could be wrong about rating Maguire. And when looking at his United career with unbiased glasses, his first two seasons were solid. The end of the second one was so good that the vast majority of supporters were heartbroken that he lost the 2021 Europa League final against Villarreal.

In a way, Harry Maguire is a bit of a cautionary tale about what happens when online abuse goes too far and how it can cloud people’s opinion from a player in a very unwarranted manner.

Chelsea and Arsenal set to lock horns in the London derby

On 6th November this Sunday, Chelsea and Arsenal are set to battle it out with each other in yet another London Derby. Michael Oliver will take charge of the game at Stamford Bridge, with Jarred Gillet on VAR duty. Kick-off time 1200Hrs GMT.

This will be the first time the two sides will be meeting this season and surely the first time Arteta will face Potter as Chelsea manager. The last time the two managers met, Potter managed to steal all three points from Arsenal at the Emirates. The upcoming contest, however, is one of a different dynamic, with Arteta’s men looking revamped. Having faced a setback in their previous match against Brighton, Chelsea will be hoping that a setback is all it was and they can shake that off.

Injury situation

It has been a precarious season for the Blues, who currently sit 6th on the league table. They are befallen by a number of injuries affecting some of their most important players. Reece James, Wesley Fofana, Kalidou Koulibaly, and N’Golo Kante are all out, a factor that has presented a significant challenge for the Blues. With the new boss still in the process of figuring out his preferred 11, facing the Gunners in this form would be perilous.

Fofana injured his knee in a challenge with Rafael Leao
Chelsea defender Wesley Fofana injured his knee in a challenge with Rafael Leao. Photo Credit: Getty

For Arsenal, these are giddy days, indeed. This great establishment has on today its broadest smile, its sharpest suit, its dancing shoes. They are playing some tantalizing football, with their key men fit and firing. Saka limped off injured in their previous match against Nottingham Forest. However, Arsenal and England fans will be pleased to learn that their star man is fit and even ready to face Zurich in their Europa League clash on Thursday. Alex Zinchenko and Mohammed Elneny are also back, which is a major boost for the league leaders. The Ukraine international had missed the Gunners’ last eight games, including the Europa League defeat to PSV. His presence now will be vital for Arteta’s men.

H2H Statistics

It is worth noting, however, that Chelsea are unbeaten at home this season, with three wins and two draws in five home games. The Gunners, on the other hand, have lost two matches in all competitions, with both defeats coming away from home. Their draw against Southampton also came on the road, and Arteta would be aware of this statistic.

Last season, the two teams shared three points each, out of the possible six, with both wins coming away from home. Arsenal were the better of Chelsea in pre-season, with a 4-nil win in the Florida cup. If previous statistics and current form are anything to go by, the Gunners will be going into this match as the favorites. Potter will hope to have steadied his ship before then if they are to walk out of that encounter in a joyous mood.

Every outcome and its implication

A win for Arsenal will put a firm hold on their title endeavors, and there will be a strong belief that they can carry on with their heroics till the end. A win for Chelsea presents a way back for Graham Potter to get his house in order and confidently compete for the top four. Defeat, on the other hand, will be the cause of worry at the Bridge, and profound criticism will go in as to whether Potter has got a hold on his team. For Arsenal, losing this match will mean relinquishing the top spot to Man City, who are difficult to chase once on a title charge.

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Arsenal shine to go back top of the table

After beating Nottingham Forest five goals to nil, Arsenal returned to the top of the premier league. An early goal from Martinelli in the fourth minute gave Arsenal the lead. The gunners went on and scored four goals; Reis Nelson came on from the bench to replace injured Saka on the 27th minute and scored a brace. The fourth goal was a screamer from Thomas Partey. Martin Odegaard scored the fifth goal. The midfield pivot of Partey and Granit Xhaka has been sensational this season. After twelve games, Arsenal are still top of the PL.

Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard celebrating after scoring the fifth goal against Nottingham Forest. Image: The Sun
Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard celebrating after scoring the fifth goal against Nottingham Forest. Image: The Sun

Race for the Premier League title

The premier league is taking shape after 12 matches; the games are so competitive; bottom teams are going toe to toe with the top six. The results of matches are increasingly becoming unpredictable. Chelsea lost to Brighton; previously, Brighton had not won any of their last five games; Liverpool also lost to Leeds United in the closing stages of the game. After a tough fight with West Ham, the red devils managed to get three points, with the only goal scored by Marcus Rashford. Manchester City won their game against Leicester after a stunning free kick from De Bruyne. Haaland’s absence made it slightly difficult for Pep’s men to convert their chances, but they managed to see the game through thanks to the individual brilliance of their other star players. They are two points behind Arsenal, with the title competition now shaping up for a fierce rivalry. On the other end, Tottenham won their game after coming from two goals to nil, scoring three goals against Bournemouth to complete the comeback.

Manchester City aim for their 3rd EPL title in a row

So far, Arsenal have emerged as the only team to rival City for the Premier League title. However, it takes consistency and excellent squad depth, which Arsenal lack, to challenge for the title. Following a series of games due to the world cup in less than three weeks, an injury to one important player can make them struggle to amass points. City has a great squad depth; therefore, they are considered favorites to win the title. Arsenal’s next game in the premier league is against Chelsea, which will be a massive test in their pursuit for the title. City welcomes Fulham at the Etihad. The cottagers have been playing well since coming into the premier league and will offer the right challenge for Guardiola’s men.

The Revival of Newcastle United

Since the Saudi takeover, Newcastle now look a completely different side winning six of their thirteen matches played this season. They have drawn six, and only lost one. The appointment of Eddie also seemed to be a watershed for the Magpies, making significant impact with very few big signings. They now sit fourth in the premier league table, unbeaten in their last eight matches. Their previous game against Aston Villa ended in a 4 nil thrashing, sending the message that they might just be back.

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Brighton defeat Chelsea by 4 goals to 1

Brighton players celebrating after scoring against Chelsea. Credits: CBS

Graham Porter was on the road for the first time to face his former side since his move to Chelsea. The Blues boss anticipated a memorable return with a win against the Seagulls on their own ground. Having played nine games under Porter without losing a single match, Chelsea were confident to walk back home with all 3 points. They would have loved to shake off their disappointment against Manchester United, missing the win by a whisker in that game.

Brighton, on the other hand, had played 5 games under De Zerbi without a single win. There was a little bit of worry on the ground that the team was missing their former manager. However, with difficult first fixtures for De Zerbi, there was no desperation to amass victories. Brighton were coming into this match as the underdogs. Anything but a win was the expected outcome for the Seagulls.

Brighton dominant in first half

Following an enthralling encounter between the two sides, Brighton emerged victorious thrashing Chelsea 4 goals to 1. Trossard opened the scoring for Brighton before own goals from Loftus-Cheek and Chalobah saw the Seagulls go three nil up. All these came in the first half, with Brighton exhibiting a dominant display against the Blues.

Brighton winger Leandro Trossard celebrates after opening the scoring. Image: Brighton
Brighton winger Leandro Trossard celebrates after opening the scoring. Image: Brighton

Game evens out in the second half

The beginning of the second half saw the introduction of Mendy, with Kepa staying in the dugout injured. Chelsea started out with a resurgent mood, with Havertz scoring to reward their renewed attitude. The Blues kept on knocking on the door forcing Sanchez to make good saves to keep Brighton’s lead secure. De Zerbi’s men managed to whither the storm and keep Chelsea at bay for the remainder of the match. Towards the dying embers of the game, Gross finished a rebound shot parried by Mendy to make it 4 goals for the Seagulls.

What this outcome means

This defeat makes it the first for Potter as Chelsea manager while handing De Zerbi his first win as Brighton coach. Brighton needed a win to herald them in the right direction, and this win will do just that. Chelsea will have to go back to the drawing board as their previous displays have been far from set standards. Their defeat today is a culmination of successive underwhelming performances, and Potter would want to correct that.

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Champions League knock-outs: Barcelona kicked out

Distraught Xavi following Barca's elimination from the Champions League

During the early kick-off game, Inter Milan beat Viktoria Plzen. The Nerazzurri won the match by four goals sinking Barcelona’s hope to qualify for the round of sixteen.

The win cemented their spot in the UCL round of sixteen together with Bayern Munich, who played Barcelona later and won 3 nil.

Bayern's Benjamin Pavard, left, celebrates after scoring his side's third goal during the Champions League Group C soccer match between Barcelona and Bayern Munich at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Joan Monfort)
Bayern’s Benjamin Pavard, left, celebrates after scoring his side’s third goal during the Champions League Group C soccer match between Barcelona and Bayern Munich at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Joan Monfort)

Despite having invested heavily in the summer by bringing in Lewandowski, Kounde, and Raphinha, the Blaugrana couldn’t make it in their group.

Barca president urges fans to back the team

Barcelona’s president Laporta backed Xavi, saying they are still in the process of rebuilding the team and urging the fans to support them during their ups and downs since they are still rebuilding their squad. Notwithstanding their underwhelming CL performance, Barcelona is doing great in La Liga and is second behind Real Madrid.

Barcelona’s rivalry with Chelsea

The elimination of Barcelona brought so much joy to Chelsea fans; before the sacking of Thomas Tuchel, the blues sat last in their group, having lost their first UCL game. Jules Kounde, Chelsea’s summer target, posted on his IG story, “I almost joined them,” referring to Chelsea, who lost their UCL match.

Only Real Madrid qualified as the only Spanish team for the round of sixteen. Sevilla and Atletico Madrid also dropped to play in the Europa League after finishing third in their groups. Atletico had a good chance to keep fighting for the second spot, but Yannick Carrasco missed a penalty in the dying minutes of the game, which denied them three points; the game ended in a stalemate.

Juventus decline

Juventus has been really bad this season in the league and the UCL. They are last in their UCL group after playing five games and eighth in Serie A. Allegri, Juventus’ coach, has a bad record playing against top teams in Europe.

EPL teams shine in the UCL

Three of the four premier league teams have already qualified for the next round; only Tottenham remained since they have to play their last game. Their group has been the toughest: going into the final match to determine the qualifiers. Manchester City and Chelsea topped their group after playing five games. Liverpool finished second behind Napoli.

Ajax dropped to Europa League after losing against Liverpool and Napoli in both legs. Napoli have been so brilliant this season. They topped their UCL group and have not lost any UCL matches; they are also top of the Serie A table.

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Haaland goals guide City to a comfortable win against Brighton

Haaland celebrating with teammates in Brighton match. Credits: Reuters

Erling Haaland opened the scoring in the 22nd minute of their game against Brighton, following a long cross from Ederson. The Norwegian star scored a brace after a Brighton player fouled Bernardo Silva, and the City awarded a penalty. After scoring two goals, Haaland has now scored seventeen premier league goals, making him the top goal scorer this season.

Haaland celebrating his first goal against Brighton.
Haaland celebrating his first goal against Brighton. (Image: Man City)

Brighton fail the Manchester City test

Leandro Trossard later gave Brighton hope of equalizing after scoring a long-range. The Belgian winger has been sensational this season for Brighton scoring six goals and assisting 1 for the Seagulls. His Belgium teammate, Kevin De Bruyne, would later equalize on the other end to put the game to bed.

Brighton are finding it increasingly difficult to win matches under De Zerbi, with this match marking his fifth as Brighton manager without a win.

Haaland continues with his brilliant scoring form

Erling Haaland has been the leading man in the City team. He scored seventeen goals in eleven PL matches and five in the champions league. He only needs to score five more goals to equal last season’s Premier League top scorer; City still have 27 games to go.

Manchester City’s win keeps them closer to the top spot

Manchester City welcomed Brighton at Etihad Stadium on Saturday, as anticipated by many to be a tough match since Brighton started the season with impressive wins, thanks to Haaland, who scored a brace and helped the City beat Brighton three goals to one. On the other end, City has been impressive this season, second in the premier league table behind Arsenal with only two points after Arsenal drew away at Southampton.

Will Haaland help city win its first UCL trophy?

Last season Manchester city failed to reach the UCL final after Real Madrid eliminated them in the semifinal during the last minute of the game. Pep Guardiola argued that they couldn’t compete for the cup without having a natural goal scorer, which led to the transfer of Haaland from BVB after Manchester city activated Haaland’s release clause, which was 60 million Euros. So far, Haaland has repaid the trust his coach had in him after having a brilliant start to the season. Manchester City has not lost their four opening games in the champions league, and Haaland has scored in all the matches he has started for City in the champions league.

Haaland ridiculous form

The Norwegian star has scored and assisted in all his premier league games except the match against Liverpool. So far, Haaland has three hat tricks in the premier league, having broken the record for the most hat tricks scored in the premier league after ten games going with his current form, Haaland can score 66 goals this season in the premier league after three seasons he can equal Alan shearer all-time premier league top scorer.

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