Do PSG have the best front three in Europe?


Having signed Neymar and Kylian Mbappe in the summer transfer window Paris Saint-Germain, the French side now has one of the best threes, writes Sam May.

The addition of two of the most expensive players in history has suddenly turned PSG’s attacking trident into one of the Champions League’s most terrifying. They surely have the most tantilising-attacking trio on the planet.

In total they cost the Ligue 1 club 467 million euros and already they seem to be gelling, having scored eight goals between them, the last coming in the 5-0 thrashing over Celtic in the UEFA Champions League.

Spending that kind of money and the fact they thrashed Metz in their first game playing together and slaughtered Celtic in their second, doesn’t mean they have the best front three, does it?

Some would say that Real Madrid’s front three of BBC, Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo have been the best, having helped Los Blancos to three Champions Leagues title in the past four years, so they must be considered the best around?

Having signed Ousmane Dembélé from Borussia Dortmund, Barcelona have a deadly front three of the Frenchman, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, a glittering array of stars, teams will fear.

There is also, Juventus’ trio of Paulo Dybala, Gonzalo Higuain and Mario Mandzukic, Chelsea’s Alvaro Morata, Eden Hazard and Pedro, Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus, Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne and then Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Marcus Rashford.

Messi, Suarez and Dembele combined for 101 goals in the 2016/17 season, which is the highest tally of any attacking trio in Europe, just ahead of the 95 goals which Mbappe, Neymar and Cavani managed at Monaco, Barcelona and PSG respectively.

Some distance behind were Tottenham’s Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Son Heung-min with 78 strikes, Napoli’s Dries Mertens, Jose Callejon and Lorenzo Insigne with 71 goals between them and the 70 of Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski, James and Arjen Robben. Real Madrid’s BBC also netted 70 times in 2016/17 on their way to lifting the European Cup in Cardiff, the prize which all of these front threes will truly be targeting.


Analysis: Liverpool 2-2 Sevilla – Reds defence a laughing stock yet again


A beautiful sunset created the scene for what would be a tantalising fixture, Champions League football returning to Anfield. Liverpool got off to an electrifying start last night however, the home team’s greatest weakness had unveiled itself, as a low driven cross misjudged by Dejan Lovren lead to Sevilla’s opener.

Liverpool’s defence had looked nervous all night especially Lovren and the young Joe Gomez, the latter would go on to get sent off for a second yellow. Redemption for Alberto Moreno whose attacking play lead to the equaliser, his performance showing great improvement – but still not up to the required standard.

The Reds attacking was fluid as usual, and beautiful bit of pressing play led to Liverpool’s from Mohammed Salah, the Egyptian with his fourth goal in his 7th appearance. Sadio Mané, who is ineligible for the weekend’s Premier league game against Burnley, did well to win a penalty which was easily Liverpool’s best chance to make it 3-1 and perhaps secure the victory. But unfortunately, it rattled the woodwork as Roberto Firmino missed out on his second of the game, meaning Liverpool went into the break leading 2-1.

After the interval, it was rather disappointing from a Liverpool perspective. A drop-in energy was clear to see, the home side still lacking clear cut chances. The Merseyside club would go on to regret missing that spot kick as Sevilla equalised with exquisite attacking play from their young Argentine forward Joaquín Correa.

Enter Phillippe Coutinho, a man who has come under much question after attempting to force a move to Barcelona. The Brazilian seemed lazy, he had no desire to track back and the pace at which Liverpool played seemed to have decreased further. Liverpool’s defence came into further scrutiny yet again, conceding two goals from three attempts on target.

Jürgen Klopp’s side were lucky to have taken the point after the sending off of Joe Gomez and a near miss from Luis Muriel. His side may attack with fabulous style but there’s always a doubt around Liverpool’s backline and attempting to constantly out score teams, which will continue to haunt them if not changed.

Calm heads and good leadership are clearly absent costing the Reds once again.

Who are Qarabağ FK?


Chelsea the current Premier League Champions face the almost never heard of Qarabağ FK in the first round of this year’s UEFA Champions League competition tomorrow night. But who are they? Sam May gives you the rundown of all you need to know…

Known as the “Ghost City” or ”Hiroshima of Caucasus”, they are an Azerbaijani club which originates from the city of Agdam, but have been based in the capital Baku, since 1993 due to the Nagorno-Karabakh war. Azerbaijan has borders with Turkey, Russia, Iran, Armenia and Georgia, and its capital Baku where Qarabağ play, sits on the Caspian Sea.

The football club was formed in 1951, so using the date of independence it was once in the Russian Premier League. Known as The Horsemen, they are used to travelling in Europe and have experience playing against the likes of FC Twente, Borussia Dortmund and Eintracht Frankfurt.

How do they play and who to look out for?

They have two Brazilian’s for instance, Richard Almedia and midfielder Pedro Henrique, as well as two Spaniards in Míchel who joined the club in 2015 from Maccabi Haifa as previously played in England with Birmingham City in 2010. As well as winger Dani Quintana, all ensuring its attractive pass and move football.

Captain, Rashad Sadygov is comfortable on the ball and assured. They are known as the “Barcelona of the Caucasus” so expect lots of short passing and players changing positions. They won’t be as strong as their London opponents, but expect them to surprise.

Nobody is in any doubt that Chelsea will gain the win and comfortably, but what about the return leg? Again, the actual result should not be in doubt, a Chelsea win, however, comfortable? Probably not. In playing terms yes, but in comfortable terms maybe not so. Why you might ask? Firstly, the flight. Five and a half hours and three hours ahead of London, to the Caspian winter is not ideal. The game is being played towards the end of November where temperatures usually hover just above freezing, but it has been known to also sit about -8C.

The wind of the Caspian will be cutting. The Tofic Bahramov Stadium holds 31,000 and not too many Chelsea fans, so again it will be hostile. Baku is a capital of just over 1,000,000 so everyone will know where Chelsea are staying, so expect a good old “knees up” right outside the Chelsea hotel the night before the game.

A win is inevitable, and should be the case in the return fixture, but at what cost to the upmarket high flyers!

Five Premier League debutants – Will they fit in?


With the transfer window well and truly shut until January, and all the hype around Philippe Coutinho, Alexis Sanchez, Riyad Mahrez and Diego Costa now subsided – and none moved clubs, Sam May takes a look at the ones who got into the Premier League under the radar and assesses how they might fair.

Managers are under pressure after three games now – just ask Slavan Bilić and Frank De Boer, so with the trap door only opening 18 league games away, or almost half of the season, the new recruits will have to make a mark quickly.

Serge Aurier as replacement for Kyle Walker may be great business at half of Walkers fee, but the man from the Ivory Coast is not without crossing the line – not on the pitch, but off it. Outbursts against former players and coaches will not be tolerated by Spurs or the FA. He looks a good prospect, but the Premier League is not the easy street Paris St Germain enjoy in France – so expect fireworks.

Renato Sanchez’s move to Swansea, has raised many an eyebrow. But Paul Clement knows him from old and has opened the door for the midfielder to showcase his abilities in the toughest league in the world, with an average outfit. Expect flashes of brilliance, but will he track back at Turf Moor on a wet Wednesday in winter, I doubt it. Welcome to the real-world Renato.

Davide Zappacosta joined fellow countryman Antonio Conte as a second choice behind Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who chose Liverpool, and the last-minute move might work out if the Champions get into full gear. One things for sure is when Conte bellows orders at least Davide will understand him.

Aleksandar Dragović, yes, I here you say, who’s he? Well he was the player sent off in Austria’s first game in the 2016 Euros and then missed a penalty against Iceland, England’s slayers. He helped his country to bottom of the group. The Premier League and Leicester are waiting.

Brighton’s new boy Ezequiel Schelotto has been to more clubs than Wayne Rooney, so expect the Seagulls to be just another one on the list. At 2.8 Million though he may prove to be the best buy of the five on the list.

All are professionals, but they are all in for a fiery baptism.

Ben Gibson: The Virgil van Dijk alternative for Liverpool


Defensive woes are still the problem for the Reds and Jürgen Klopp should make a move for Middleborough defender Ben Gibson, writes Sam May.

Liverpool have been trying to sign Virgil Van Dijk for several months but have so far been left frustrated in their attempts. A move for Gibson would be seen as alternative to the Dutchman, who looks likely to remain on the South Coast.

Having had a standout season last campaign, Gibson would be the perfect addition at Anfield. He is a leader, and somebody who can command and take charge of Reds crumbling back four. The 24-year-old was exceptional despite his sides struggle for survival, which resulted in his team being relegated last season.

Gibson’s performances have been rewarded by England manager Gareth Southgate, who gave the player his debut against Lithuania back in March, replacing the injured Chris Smalling. He also played every minute of Boro’s games last season.

The player himself has previously stated his desire to move back to the Premier League and with Van Dijk looking unlikely, the Reds should make a move for the £30 million rated defender. Gibson helped his side to 10 clean sheets when in the Premier League due to his blocks and clearances.

Last season he averaged an 85% pass success rate, which will be appealing to Liverpool due to the fact they like to play the ball out of the back. His ranking meant he was among the top 10 of the Premier League’s first-choice defenders.

Recently, Manchester City have highlighted Gibson as an alternative to Jonny Evans – with West Brom holding out for a staggering £35 million for the former Manchester United defender. This means Liverpool would have to act fast to secure Gibson’s services.

For Liverpool, Gibson is a much better alternative, he is younger, left footed which would balance up the back four and half the cost of the inflated Van Dijk. Klopp should make a move, before it is too late.

Is David Brooks the latest starlet to come from the Sheffield United conveyer belt of Premiership stars?


Yet again the Sheffield United conveyer of future stars has been in action, writes Sam May.

David, born in Warrington, Cheshire, had joined Manchester City’s academy at the age of seven, and spent 10 years learning the basics only to be let go at 17-years-old. In stepped the Blades renowned academy of excellence. The left sided midfield maestro has developed rapidly, and now is an integral part of the Championship sides set up.

At this summer’s Toulon Tournament where he represented England, he helped them to win the competition, scoring and beating Ivory Coast in the final. He was also voted player of the tournament. A great achievement for the Englishman, which in itself was no mean feat – as he was named in the Wales squad first for the same competition, but switched to the England set up prior to the start. Other teams included Brazil, France and the Czech Republic so lots of talent to beat, to the top player award. Wales’s loss and England’s gain you might say.

Blades boss Chris Wilder sees him as having all of the attributes to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Phil Jagielka who moved to Everton, and is a full England international. Kyle Walker and Naughton, both went through the Blades set up together. They have both represented England, and now Walker has become the most expensive full back in football with his £50 million move to Manchester City this summer. Naughton hasn’t done too badly either, securing a big money move to Swansea City.

In Aaron Ramsdale, Bournemouth now have a real aspiring talent between the sticks. The England Under-19 you guessed it, was bought from Sheffield United.

Harry McGuire an England Under 21 International, and recent big money mover to Leicester City from Hull, is also a Blades graduate, as is Dominic Calvert-Lewin who moved like Jagielka, to Everton last year, and also represents England.

So, what next for David Brooks? It is no wonder that Ronald Koeman of Everton is interested in bringing Brooks to Merseyside given the Jagielka and Calvert-Lewin connection. It would no doubt be a great move for the player, but for now he is happy learning his trade in Yorkshire. The Blades don’t need to sell him either as they have money pouring in from slices of the above transfers. But at some point, one of the big boys will make a move, and have no doubt – David Brooks will be ready.

Javier Hernández is perfect for West Ham United


The smiling assassin with the schoolboy looks could well be signing for West Ham United this week in a £13 million deal, with the Hammer set to activate his release clause in his contract. Sam May takes a look at who they are getting and why they want him.

West Ham have been frustrated in their attempts to land their targets so far this summer with Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud, Chelsea’s Michy Batshuayi and Manchester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho all linked with moves to the London Stadium, but they are optimistic of landing Hernández.

His looks hide his age and experience. At 29-years-old Hernandez as player brings a wealth of experience – and goals back to the premiership. Plucked from his home team Guadalajara in Mexico and thrust into the limelight, and pressure cooker of Old Trafford, he quickly became a fans favourite.

Injuries didn’t help his cause though. In his four playing years with the Red Devils he made 103 appearances, far too many as substitute, but still managed to register thirty-seven goals. That’s a goal every 3.5 games nevertheless.

He then went on a surprise load to Real Madrid for a year scoring seven times in twenty-three appearances, again a goal every three games. His permanent move to Beyer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga in 2015 rejuvenated him and his career. Twenty-eight goals in fifty-four appearances has shown a goal every two games- and it’s that which have triggered the Hammers to come calling.

Last season they took a “punt” on unknown and untried Premier league hopefuls Simeone Zaza, Gökhan Töre, Jonathan Calleri and Sofiane Feghouli, who? You might ask, exactly. Hernández scores goals. At less than 15 million – even with a hundred grand a week wages, he could be a real bargain if he continues on his goal every two games ratio.

A perfect foil for Andy Carroll expect him to make a larger than life impression for the Hammers this season.