Why Liverpool should keep Nathaniel Clyne when he comes back from loan spell
Liverpool let go of Nathaniel Clyne to Bournemouth on a short-term loan deal in the recently concluded January window. The Englishman wasn’t getting much game time and hence, manager Jurgen Klopp gave the green light to this move. (h/t Express)
While the 27-year-old is starting on a regular basis for the Cherries, the Reds are barely able to manage without him. Trent Alexander-Arnold got injured in the Brighton game early last month and has only played against Bayern since then. The youngster is still not completely fit, which is part of the reason why he didn’t start against Manchester United.
Joe Gomez, who can play at right-back or centre-back, has been out for the past two months now and is doubtful to return before the latter stages of this season. (h/t Liverpool FC)
As a result, James Milner has been deputising in that position. While the former Manchester City man is doing a good job, it is clearly visible that he is not a natural right-back. He was taken to the cleaners against Wilfried Zaha in the Crystal Palace game and his final ball delivery at Old Trafford wasn’t even up to half of the standard set by Alexander-Arnold.
Hence, the Reds shouldn’t rely on their young right-back and Gomez to cover up the right-back slot. Instead, they must keep hold of Nathaniel Clyne when he returns from his loan spell.
Klopp should let Trent and Clyne fight for that position, allowing Gomez to concentrate at centre-back and continuing a good job alongside Virgil van Dijk.
Furthermore, Liverpool are in a title race this season and they should be aiming to win more competitions from next year onwards. For that to happen, squad depth should be in function throughout the course of the campaign.
From Clyne’s point of view, it would be good for him to stay at Anfield and fight for his place in the team. The former Southampton man should see the bigger picture and stay with a team that is progressing under Klopp. Due to the latter, every player involved in the progressive journey gets better as well. Hence, it will help the player’s development going into the latter stages of his career if he sticks with this Liverpool team for as long as possible.
2018-19 season rewind: Top 4 strike partnerships in the Premier League outside the top-six
2018-19 season rewind: Top 4 strike pairings in the Premier League outside the top-six
The 2018-19 season of the Premier League lived up to the expectations and produced some enthralling encounters, incredible individual performances, moments of sheer brilliance and pure ecstasy, as Man City successfully defended their Premier League title by fending off a strong challenge from Liverpool.
However, the most interesting thing was that the 2018-19 season proved to be the most prolific season in the history of the Premier League, with a total of 1072 goals being recorded over the course of the campaign.
Christian Eriksen’s equaliser for Spurs against Everton on the final day registered the 1067th goal of the season, eclipsing the previous record of 1066 goals scored in the 2011-12 eason.
Unsurprisingly, City were the highest scorers in the Premier League this past season with 95 goals, 11 short of what Pep Guardiola’s side had managed over the course of their triumphant 2017-18 campaign.
Liverpool were the second-best in that aspect with 89 goals, as the likes of Sadio Mane and Mo Salah shared the Golden Boot with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Salah didn’t quite manage to replicate his feat of scoring 32 goals in the Premier League but his tally of 22 for the season wasn’t bad either, and more importantly, he finished as the top-scorer alongside Mane and Aubameyang, which shows he is right up there with the very best when it comes to finding the net.
The trio of Salah, Firmino and Mane for Liverpool, Aubameyang-Lacazette for Arsenal, Heung-min Son and Harry Kane for Spurs and the title-winning combination of Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero up front for Man City all produced amazing numbers in terms of goals and assists.
However, it is definitely worth taking a look at some of the less acclaimed strike forces from the 2018-19 season of the Premier League, featuring players from outside the top-six clubs.
Leaving the heavyweights aside, here are 3 combinations that became a force to reckon with in the division last season.
1. Callum Wilson, Josh King and Ryan Fraser
Bournemouth’s leaky backline and poor defensive record might have only secured them 14th-place finish in the Premier League last season but the front trio of Callum Wilson, Joshua King and Ryan Fraser earned plenty of plaudits for their consistent, impressive displays up front.
Wilson (14 goals, 9 assists) tops the list with the most goal contributions, while the likes of Ryan Fraser (7 goals, 14 assists) and Joshua King (12 goals, 3 assists) are not far behind.
As a matter of fact, only Chelsea’s Eden Hazard bettered Fraser’s tally with 15 assists to his name. The trio contributed with a total of 33 goals in the Premier League, which accounts for 58.93% of Bournemouth’s grand total of 56 goals last season.
Fraser’s influential presence in a wide role on the left allowed Eddie Howe the luxury of using the likes of King and Wilson up front to spearhead the attack, with all the three players flourishing under the manager’s quick passing and counter-attacking philosophy.
Wilson’s stellar run of form earned him his first England cap last year, which is certainly a barometer of the kind of impact he made for the south coast club.
The 27-year-old netted a brace in the 3-0 victory over Fulham in October and was heavily involved in the 5-0 demolition of Brighton, where he claimed two assists and a goal, although his most productive outing came in the 3-3 draw against Southampton, with Wilson scoring twice and assisting another.
Bournemouth’s prolific front trio couldn’t replicate the numbers of their counterparts from Liverpool and Man City but they won a lot of hearts, nevertheless.
2. Troy Deeney and Gerard Deulofeu
A 4-1 defeat at the hands of West Ham on the final day saw Watford miss out on a top-ten finish but Javi Gracia’s side put up a number of impressive displays in the Premier League and were one of the teams to beat outside the top-six over the entirety of the campaign.
The likes of Troy Deeney and Gerard Deulofeu were the key men up front for the Hornets, as the duo chipped in with valuable goals and assists, not only in the Premier League but in the Hornets’ run to the finals of the FA Cup as well.
Deulofeu contributed with 10 goals and 5 assists while Deeney wasn’t far behind with 9 goals and 5 assists, as the duo racked up a total of 19 goals in the Premier League last season. Watford finished the campaign with a grand total of 52 goals, with Deulofeu and Deeney involved in 36.5% of that tally.
Deolufeu’s pace, trickery and movement made him a constant threat in the final third, with Deeney playing more of a target-man role as the focal point of the attack.
The Spaniard struck braces against Huddersfield Town as well as in the FA Cup semi-final against Wolves, although his hat-trick and an assist in the 5-1 humiliation of Cardiff City was his most productive outing.
Despite the duo’s best efforts, the Hornets were unlucky to miss out on the Europa League qualification spot.
3. Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood
Burnley only managed a 15th-place finish in the Premier League after hovering around the relegation zone for large quarters of the campaign and the Clarets’ scoring record of 45 goals in 38 games was the second-worst outside the bottom three, with Dyche’s side only bettering Brighton’s tally of 35 in that regard.
Well, we all know that Sean Dyche’s old-school defensive approach and long-ball philosophy doesn’t make Burnley a particularly exciting team to watch but as a matter of fact, they too had some standout performers.
While teenage sensation Dwight McNeil made the headlines in his impressive breakthrough season at Turf Moor, the likes of Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes chipped in with some crucial goals up front.
Barnes bagged 12 goals in the Premier League and finished as Burnley’s top scorer, whilst Wood also managed to hit the 10-goal mark in successive seasons.
Now, it doesn’t require a rocket scientist to justify the inclusion of Wood and Barnes in this list. The fans might argue that they aren’t the best of players to watch on the field but their combined tally of 22 goals accounted for 49.88% of the total goals Burnley scored in the Premier League last season.
4. Gylfi Sigurdsson and Richarlison
Everton finished 8th in the Premier League last season and fell three points adrift of Wolves for the Europa League qualification spot, with the lack of a prolific centre-forward proving to be a massive stumbling block in Marco Silva’s pursuit of a top-six finish.
However, Sigurdsson, who played as an auxiliary striker in that No.10 role in the manager’s 4-2-3-1 formation, put in a number of standout performances to finish as the most productive attacking player for the Toffees, with 13 goals and 6 assists to his name.
Richarlison was often drafted in as a centre-forward and also played out wide on either flank, with the Brazilian also registering 13 goals for the season.
Both the aforementioned players formed a deadly goal threat up front for Everton, with each of them registering their personal-best goal tally (13) in the Premier League.
Sigurdsson, in particular, was always a key presence in the final third with his creativity and the Icelandic international scored some absolute screamers, whilst Richarlison often tormented defences with his pace, power and clinical finishing.
Richarlison and Sigurdsson scored 26 out of Everton’s grand total of 54 goals in the Premier League last season, which comes to direct involvement in 48.15% of the goals.
5 instances in the recent past where promoted PL sides recruited heavily including Bournemouth
Revisiting 5 instances in the recent past where promoted Premier League sides have recruited heavily
It is not very often that we see a promoted side in the Premier League splash the cash as extravagantly as Fulham did last summer.
The Cottagers apparently had little trust in the squad that got them promoted to the top-flight and owner Shahid Khan didn’t hesitate to loosen his purse strings to bring in radical reinforcements through the door at Craven Cottage.
As a matter of fact, Fulham signed anybody and everybody as a part of their summer spending spree, with as many as 15 new players arriving at the club prior to the start of the 2018-19 season.
The Cottagers made the headlines multiple times during the transfer window, with deals for Aleksandar Mitrovic, Jean Michael-Seri, Alfie Mawson, Joe Bryan and Maxime Le Marchand, while several others like Andre Schurrle, Luciano Vietto, Callum Chambers, Sergio Rico and Timothy Fosu-Mensah came through the door on loan.
Well, the result was there for everybody to see, as Fulham went straight back down to the Championship following a dreadful run in the Premier League this past season which saw the Cottagers finish 19th on the table.
Despite boasting of one of the strongest squads outside the top-six in the entire division, Fulham managed only 7 victories over the course of the campaign and finished with a humiliating defensive record.
The sidelining of several of those who had played a key role in the promotion-winning campaign and the subsequent unplanned recruitment of stars from the foreign leagues proved to be the major reason behind Fulham’s decapitulation in the Premier League.
Slavisa Jokanovic, Claudio Ranieri and Scott Parker tried their level best to bring all the new signings together and assemble a functioning unit but they failed miserably.
Fulham hardly learnt from their mistakes in the summer and brought in a few more players during the January window, with the likes of Havard Nordveit, Ryan Babel and Lazar Markovic joining the crew of a ship that was more than half-sunk by that time.
Things hardly changed for them and Fulham’s 2018-19 debacle in the Premier League proved to be a classic example of what sort of an approach any promoted team should avoid in the transfer window.
Interestingly, it has been seen in the recent past that mass recruitment can actually pay the dividends if things are planned correctly.
It is true that there is no guaranteed recipe for success as far as the promoted teams are concerned, with some opting to show confidence in the bunch that get them promoted, while others choose to bring in radical reinforcements in order to enhance their chances of survival.
As unforgiving as the Premier League can be for the newcomers sometimes, it is important for all teams to establish the right kind of balance between investing in fresh faces and getting the best out of the existing ones, something that Fulham failed to do.
Let us take a look back at some of the instances in the recent past when promoted teams chose to splash the cash heavily and their corresponding consequences.
1. Huddersfield Town (2017-18)
David Wagner guided Huddersfield Town to the Premier League via the playoffs at the end of the 2016-17 season and the Terriers brought in as many as 13 new players in the summer prior to the start of the 2017-18 Premier League campaign.
The spending spree included deals for the likes of Aaron Mooy from Man City and Steve Mounie from Montpellier, while Laurent Depoitre, Elias Kachunga, Mathias Jorgensen, Tom Ince, Scott Malone and Abdelhamid Sabiri arrived too.
Florent Hadergjonaj, Jonas Lossl and Kasey Palmer arrived on loan deals to add extra depth and quality to the squad.
Huddersfield’s ploy of mass recruitment paid immediate dividends in their quest for survival as the Terriers racked up back-to-back victories against Newcastle United and Crystal Palace in their first two games.
Despite suffering a dip in form towards the end of the year, the Terriers strung together victories against West Brom and Brighton, whilst also completing a giant-killing feat against Manchester United.
In January, they once again dipped into the transfer window to bring in Alex Pritchard and Terrence Kongolo, as three wins since the turn of the year proved enough to steer the club to safety.
Truth be told, manager David Wagner played a key role in preserving the club’s top-flight status and the German-American’s feat of rare charisma and brilliance earned him plaudits.
2. Watford (2015-16)
Watford’s impatience with managers is well-known and it was once again evident from the way they went about things in the Championship in the 2014-15 season.
A combined effort from four different managers Beppe Sannino, Oscar Garcia, Billy McKinlay and Slavisa Jokanovic, coupled with Odion Ighalo’s heroics in front of goal propelled the Hornets to automatic promotion.
Owner Gino Pozzo and the hierarchy showed little confidence in the existing players and the club opted for a massive overhaul of the squad, although most of the players came either came in on free transfers or for thrifty figures.
Watford’s summer business included the acquisition of Juanfran from Real Betis, Jose Holebas from Roma, Etienne Capoue from Spurs, Steven Berghuis from AZ Alkmaar, Valon Behrami, Adlene Guedioura, Adalberto Penaranda, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Allan Nyom, while others like Miguel Britos and Sebastien Prodl arrived for free.
Nathan Ake and Victor Ibarbo, as well as Italian international Alessandro Diamanti, came through the door at Vicarage Road on season-long loan deals. Quique Flores was entrusted with the job of assembling a rather new-looking Watford side and he didn’t disappoint.
Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney’s strong performances ensured that Watford didn’t face a relegation scare, with the Hornets racking up as many as 8 wins and 5 draws before the end of the year to virtually guarantee survival.
Despite a late slump in form, Watford cruised to a mid-table 13th-place finish and proved that mass recruitment with a measured approach can actually produce positive returns.
3. Bournemouth (2015-16)
Bournemouth’s blistering run of form in the 2014-15 season of the Championship saw them finish as the undisputed winners and the Cherries secured promotion to the Premier League for the first time in their history, thus marking the beginning of an unprecedented rise in English football.
Callum Wilson’s 20-goal season was one of the main reasons behind their success but Eddie Howe chose to bring in reinforcements in a bid to preserve the club’s newly-acquired top-flight status.
A summer of heavy spending that marked the arrival of signings like Tyrone Mings and Max-Alain Gradel, while others like Joshua King, Lee Tomlin and Glen Murray came in for thrifty amounts.
Artur Boruc and Sylvain Distin were brought in on free transfers to add experience to the ranks, while the likes of Christian Atsu, Filippo Costa, Joe Bennett and Tomas Andrade made their way to the Vitality Stadium on loan deals.
The decision to bring in too many new players seemed to backfire as the Cherries only managed two victories until the end of November.
However, a remarkable upturn of form in December inspired the team to victories against Man United, Chelsea and West Brom before they spent big once again in January to bring in the likes of Benik Afobe and Lewis Grabban from Wolves and Norwich respectively.
In the end, Bournemouth huffed and puffed to a 16th-place finish as Howe somehow managed to steer the club to safety and in the process, laying down a solid platform from where they could carve out a reputation for themselves in the Premier League.
4. Middlesbrough (2016-17)
Middlesbrough secured promotion to the Premier League for the first time since their relegation back in 2008-09 but their stay in the top-flight proved to be nothing more than a passing shower, as their transfer policy of signing established and successful players failed to pay the dividends.
The likes of Gaston Ramirez, Victor Valdes, Brad Guzan and Bernardo Espinosa were brought in on free transfers to add experience to the ranks, while Marten de Roon and Adama Traore were regarded as exciting additions to the squad.
Others like Alvaro Negredo and Calum Chambers arrived at Teesside as loanees, with the former going on to top the scoring charts with 10 goals in the Premier League.
Manager Aitor Karanka further invested heavily in January to bring in Patrick Bamford and Rudy Gestede in a bid to bolster his misfiring forward line but that didn’t yield positive results either and Boro finished 19th in the standings with just 5 wins over the course of the campaign.
In the end, Boro bowed out of the Premier League after scoring just 27 goals, leaving many to wonder as to why the club spent so much money to bring in so many attackers.
5. Queens Park Rangers (2012-13)
QPR’s approach in the transfer window upon securing promotion to the Premier League evoked plenty of criticism from the pundits, as the club simply appeared to recruit ageing stars solely based on their past reputation and records.
They signed as many as 18 new players over the course of the campaign, with several high-profile players like Julio Cesar, Andy Johnson, Park Ji-Sung, Jose Bosingwa, Esteban Granero, Loic Remy, Stephane Mbia, Christopher Samba, Jermaine Jenas, Andros Townsend and Robert Green coming through the doors at Loftus Road.
Such a policy was always going to be risky given that most of the players were simply past their prime, while others lacked the quality to make a significant impact.
Harry Redknapp and then Mark Hughes tried to pull the group of ageing legs to safety but they were never going to get anywhere close to ensuring survival as QPR went straight back to the second-tier after finishing at the bottom of the standings.
It was an eye-opener for the other promoted teams and a reminder that bringing in experienced players solely based on reputation can never guarantee success.
Man Utd’s £50m pursuit of this 21-year-old playmaker starring for PL rivals would be a solid move by Solskjaer
Manchester United Opinion: Why Man United should sign David Brooks?
The Wales international, 21, joined Bournemouth last summer in an £11.5m move from Sheffield United on a four-year contract. He enjoyed a fine debut campaign in the top-flight last season, scoring seven goals and assisting seven times and was awarded with a new, long-term deal in March.
David Brooks is the latest name to be linked with Manchester United, who are expected to back Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wholeheartedly in the summer transfer window after a disappointing sixth-placed finish last term. The United manager is plotting a major rebuild of his squad with a particular focus on signing young, exciting and hungrier British talents.
Before signing off for the summer, Solskjaer said he wanted all of his new signings on board and ready to start training when the squad returns on July 1. Yet, the Red Devils have just made one signing so far in the summer transfer window, with Daniel James joining the club from Swansea City.
With Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku declaring their desires to leave Old Trafford this summer, David De Gea out of contract next summer and yet to sign a contract extension and the likes of Ander Herrera and Antonio Valencia have released by the club, further additions of the requisite quality are the need of the hour.
Things must change thick and fast for United and they must not hesitate in splashing the cash to sign David Brooks from Bournemouth. The Welshman impressed in his debut season with the Cherries and could be the player to improve United’s attack next season.
A technically gifted and tactically versatile player, the 21-year-old caught the eye with his work-rate, energy and versatility—playing in the no.10 role, out wide and in a deeper midfield role. That’s exactly what makes Brooks so valuable, as the 21-year-old can fill in at any attacking role very effectively. The no.10 role allows him to assert his creative dominance on the field, helping link the play with midfield and attack.
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The ex-Sheffield United man is excellent from dead-ball situations and has a hammer of a left foot with which he can score long-range screamers. He is only 21 and is a very exciting talent, who has massive potential to develop.
Manchester United have a rich history of nurturing young talents into world beaters and Brooks—a boyhood Red Devil—might see this as an opportunity to help the club take back to where they belong. Even if Bournemouth aren’t willing to let go of the Welshman, Solskjaer and co. must do everything possible to lure him away to Old Trafford.
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