Preview – Liverpool vs Arsenal.

Tonight’s stand out match comes from Anfield with the showdown between Liverpool and Arsenal, kick off at 8:00pm. Arsenal will be trying to extend their lead at the top of the table whilst Liverpool with be looking for an invaluable home win to kick start a run of form. Since Jurgen Klopp’s arrival Liverpool have been up-and-down as even though the German orchestrated a fantastic 4-1 away win at Manchester City, he has also seen his side lose against Watford and Newcastle among others. Last time out in the Premier League Arsenal staggered to an unconvincing 1-0 home win against Sunderland whilst Liverpool went down 2-0 at Upton Park against West Ham.

Going into tonight’s game, Liverpool will be buoyed with the returns of defensive pair Mamadou Sahko and Kolo Toure whilst loan signing Steven Caulker could make an appearance for the Reds having signed from QPR on loan on Tuesday. Jordan Henderson, Jordon Ibe and James Milner could also all be back for Jurgen Klopp’s side.

Steven Caulker
Steven Caulker has recently moved on loan to Liverpool from QPR until the end of the season.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will look to recall stand out performer of the season Mesut Ozil after resting him for the clubs FA Cup clash with Sunderland at the weekend, this is the same scenario for Per Mertesacker who too miss the match due to being rested. However Alexis Sanchez is not yet fit enough to return for the Gunners, while Santi Cazorla, Francis Coquelin, Danny Welbeck and Jack Wilshere remain out for Arsene Wenger’s men.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp: “Arsenal and Arsene have their own style; it’s possession football, so it’s clear that if we want to play the same way we will be without a chance because they’ve been doing it for longer. Arsenal are not only a good possession team, that’s the problem, they have good counter-attacks too and that’s what you have to be aware of. It’s a job – but it’s a really nice job – to think about solutions and how to stop them coming through with their plan. I like things like this.”

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: “Every time we go to Anfield, we face a team who is up for it. It’s always a ferocious battle, no matter who the manager is. They had a very strong manager before (Brendan Rodgers), they have a very strong one now and Klopp has the personality to do well there.”

A draw is on the cards tonight at Anfield in my opinion which will suit both Arsene Wenger and Jurgen Klopp to be perfectly honest. A draw would see Arsenal maintain top spot regardless of if Leicester can get a result away at in form Tottenham whilst for Liverpool it would move them joint seventh with Crystal Palace and within striking distance of 4th placed Spurs.

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Transfer of Christian Benteke to Liverpool agreed.

It is been reported this morning that Aston Villa’s Belgian striker Christian Benteke is on the verge of signing for Premier League rivals Liverpool in a deal eventually worth £32.5 million. It is said that the Anfield based club have triggered the strikers release clause that was in his Aston Villa contract and that the forward is due to travel to Merseyside for a medical early next week, likely to be on Monday.

Christian Benteke is expected to join Liverpool early next week in a transfer worth around £32.5 million.
Christian Benteke is expected to join Liverpool early next week in a transfer worth around £32.5 million.

Ian Ayre, Liverpool’s chief executive, worked through into the early hours of Sunday morning in Australia, where Liverpool are on their pre-season tour, in discussions with Aston Villa chief executive Tom Fox in order to strike a deal for the forward and hand manager Brendan Rodgers the player he has coveted all summer and whom he has admired for more than 18 months. Liverpool’s club doctor Andy Massey will now fly back to Liverpool to oversee the tests in London and should all go according to plan, Christian Benteke will be able to start his new career with Liverpool at their Melwood training base.

It has been decided it would be asking too much to fly Benteke out to Malaysia to join Liverpool’s squad for the final game of their pre-season tour in Kuala Lumpur on Friday and instead he will work with Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho, who are due back at Melwood on Wednesday.

The Belgian striker has been a massive success at Aston Villa where he has managed to score 49 goals in 100 total appearances for the club. This represents a ratio of just under a goal in every two appearances at the Midlands side.

Christian Benteke in action last season for Aston Villa.
Christian Benteke in action last season for Aston Villa.

Although a massive transfer fee is being touted in order for Liverpool to sign the striker, it represents a great outlay of funds for the club. This is due to the fact that Liverpool need a big name striker to play alongside and fill in for the injury prone Daniel Sturridge who can bag plenty of goals during his stay at the club. Christian Benteke is already a proven Premier League striker and his conversion rate in front of goal  will only increase playing in front of star names such as Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Jordan Henderson. Expect Benteke to make an impact at Anfield if this transfer is completed.

Ranking the Premier League summer transfers that are already completed #2

We once again look at some more of the transfers that have already been completed by Premier League clubs so far this transfer window period.

Radamel Falcao – Chelsea

Starting with a somewhat controversial transfer for Chelsea who have signed Colombian international striker Falcao from AS Monaco on loan for a season similar to the decision Manchester United made last summer.

Chelsea signed Monaco striker Radamel Falcao on a season-long loan deal, with the option to make the deal permanent at the end of last month in a move by Jose Mourinho to give Chelsea some strength in depth going forward. The 29-year-old Colombia international spent last season on loan at Manchester United where he only managed to score four goals in 29 appearances for the Red Devils.

Falcao now links up with former Atletico Madrid team-mates Thibaut Courtois, Filipe Luis and Diego Costa at the London club with Croatian midfielder Mario Pasalic, 20, going the other way on loan for the season to the French outfit. Upon agreeing to join Chelsea for a season, Falcao said: “I am very happy to be joining Chelsea. I can’t wait to start training, to help with our aim of retaining the league title and being successful in Europe.”

The striker scored 62 goals in two seasons for FC Porto between 2009 and 2011, before joining Atletico Madrid. After 70 goals in two prolific seasons with the Spanish side, Monaco signed him for £50m in 2013.

Colombia's Falcao celebrates his goal against Belgium during their international friendly soccer match at King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels

Although many won’t agree, I believe that this could be a great move for both Falcao and Chelsea and here’s why. Firstly for Chelsea, money is no objective, regardless of the size of Radamel Falcao’s wage, Chelsea and Abramovich can easily accommodate whatever the Colombian demands in terms of a weekly wage. Further, although Falcao struggled massively last season at Manchester United, many argue that class is permanent and it wouldn’t be surprising if the forward managed to grab 15+ goals next season for the Premier League champions.

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Nathaniel Clyne – Liverpool

Nathaniel Clyne signed for Liverpool from Premier League rivals Southampton for £12.5m. The young English right back had been courted by various Premier League outfits according to media reports prior to his transfer to Anfield.

Initially, the Reds had a £10m bid for the England right-back rejected but decided to make another further improved big of around £12 million which persuaded Southampton to cash in on the young defender. The 24-year-old agreed a five-year deal with the Premier League side that will keep him at the club until the 2020/2021 season. “I’m delighted and it’s a dream move for me to come here and play for such a big club with all of its history,” Clyne told the club website. “As soon as Liverpool showed their interest in me, I was happy and just wanted the deal to go through.” Clyne, who had a year left on his Saints contract, admitted.

Clyne’s former boss at Crystal Palace, Neil Warnock , has spoken out about the right back stating that: “For me, he’s the best defensive right-back that we’ve got in England – by a mile. And now he’ll move up a gear, he can go to the top level. It doesn’t bother him, it doesn’t faze him.”

The signing of Nathaniel Clyne is a fantastic acquisition for Liverpool as the right back position was one that the club have struggled to fill. At first Glen Johnson played well there but his performances tailed off during his Anfield career which ultimately led to his departures this summer and sign for Stoke City whilst the loan signing of Javier Manquillo from Atletico Madrid didn’t work out for the Reds.

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Etienne Capoue – Watford

For a club record transfer fee, Premier League new boys Watford have signed France midfielder Etienne Capoue from Tottenham Hotspur on a four-year contract. The move outlines the Hornets ambition to avoid relegation in their first season back at the top level of English football since the 2006-2007 season.

The 26-year-old joined Spurs from Toulouse in 2013, but only made 24 league appearances over two seasons. He has further been capped seven times by his country, scoring once against Belarus in 2012.

Although struggling to make an impact at Tottenham in his time at the club, Etienne Capoue could be a welcome addition to the Watford side. His power and strength coupled with his good passing ability will come in handy for the promoted side as he can break up opposition play, especially alongside Watford’s other new midfield  signing Valon Behrami.

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Petr Cech – Arsenal

In a deal reported to be worth around £10 million, Arsenal have signed goalkeeper Petr Cech from Chelsea. The Czech Republic goalkeeper, who played more than 400 club games in 11 seasons at Stamford Bridge, has joined the Gunners on a four-year contract. Cech, 33, made only seven league appearances last season after losing his place to Belgian Thibaut Courtois at Stamford Bridge as he looks to overtake Wojciech Szczęsny as Arsenal’s number one stopper.

In a letter to Chelsea fans,  Cech said he thought he would retire at Stamford Bridge, but added: “Life doesn’t always turn out the way you think it will.” He wrote: “Last summer, things changed and I understood I was no longer the first-choice keeper, but I felt it was not the right time for me to go. During the season, it became clear that my situation would not improve and – as I know I am not at the stage of my career where I want to be on the bench – I made my decision to move and look for new challenges.”

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger said: “Petr Cech is a player I have admired for a long time and I am very pleased he has decided to join us.”

Cech, brought to Stamford Bridge from French club Rennes in July 2004, won 13 trophies with Chelsea – including one Champions League and four Premier League titles. During his time, Petr Cech set a club goalkeeping record of 228 clean sheets in all competitions, beating the previous highest total of 208, set by former England international Peter Bonetti between 1960 and 1979.

The transfer was well received by Arsenal’s first team players including midfielder Aaron Ramsey who responded by posting on Twitter saying:  “Wow, what a signing. One of the best Premier League keepers ever.”

Petr Cech 1

The signing of Petr Cech could propel Arsenal into genuine title contenders next season as in recent times the goalkeeper position at the North London club has been a problem area for boss Arsene Wenger. If played over current number one Szczęsny, which is likely to happen, Petr Cech could gift Arsenal valuable points next season in their pursuit of the Premier League title for the first time since the 2003–04 season.

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Georginio Wijnaldum – Newcastle

Last week, Georginio Wijnaldum became the third most expensive signing in Newcastle United’s history after completing his move from PSV Eindhoven. The 24-year-old Holland international signed for a fee understood to be in the region of €20m, about £14.4m, after agreeing a five-year deal with the Geordie outfit.

On his arrival at St James Park for his unveiling, the attacking midfielder said: “I’m delighted to be a Newcastle United player. I felt the time was right for me to move and the club have shown they really want me, so I’m very happy to be here.”

Wijnaldum, a Rotterdam-born player who came through the ranks at Feyenoord, made 130 appearances for PSV and scored 47 goals during his four seasons at the Philips Stadion. Forty of those appearances and 16 of the goals came as captain last season as the club cruised to the Eredivisie title, finishing 17 points ahead of their closest rivals, Ajax. The 24 year old midfielder further has 19 senior caps for the Dutch international team and represented his country at the World Cup finals in Brazil in 2014.

Although a hefty price to pay for a side like Newcastle in the position they are currently in, Wijnaldum could become a very important player for the side. His attacking prowess and ability to pick out world class through balls will give forwards such as Ayose Perez the chances needed to make a mark on the Premier League next season.

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Danny Ings – Liverpool

In a free transfer, Liverpool captured former Burnley striker Danny Ings at the end of June. The England Under-21 international was out of contract at Turf Moor and joined up with Anfield club on the 1st July after passing his medical.

However due to the strikers young age, still only 22, The Clarets are entitled to compensation for the transfer of Ings to Merseyside especially as the clubs have not yet agreed a transfer fee for the striker in question. Ings, who scored 11 goals in the Premier League last season is looking to improve Liverpool’s forward line who could only muster 8 goals between them last season.

Further, although a ‘free transfer’ in essence, Danny Ings’ move to Liverpool from Burnley has become the latest to require a valuation by transfer tribunal. Liverpool are believed to have offered just short of £6m for the player but Lancashire club Burnley, now in the Championship, want something closer to the £10m mark for the forward. A tribunal is only needed when a player under the age of 24 moves clubs having reached the end of his contract. Whatever valuation the tribunal comes up with is non-negotiable. The player has already changed clubs and there is no right of appeal on either side once a figure has been reached.

Danny Ings

Considering this move is likely to cost Liverpool around £8 million in the end, I wonder if this signing is a good move for the club. Last season Liverpool struggled with their misfiring front line and needed goals from midfield to compensate for the no-show of Mario Balotelli and Rickie Lambert in particular. Will Dann Ings realistically come in and bag enough goals to keep the Anfield faithful happy? For this transfer to work in my opinion, Liverpool need to drop Balotelli and Lambert and still bring in a superstar forward to work with Daniel Sturridge meaning there will be far less pressure on the shoulders of Danny Ings to start with.

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