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Liverpool offering a new deal to their £120,000-a-week speedster is an absolute no-brainer – agreed?

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Liverpool Opinion: Reds should offer Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain a new deal

According to the Daily Mail, Liverpool are set to offer Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain a 12-month extension to his current deal, just days after the England international made his much-awaited return from a long-term injury that had kept him on the sidelines for more than a year.

Oxlade-Chamberlain suffered a lower leg fracture last season in the UEFA Champions League semi-final clash against Roma and he returned to action as a substitute in Liverpool’s 5-0 victory over Huddersfield Town at Anfield on Saturday last week.

The crowd at Anfield welcomed him back with a standing ovation, acknowledging all the hard work that he has put in his rehabilitation to get himself back in contention at such a crucial stage of the season.

The Daily Mail understands that Oxlade-Chamberlain will put pen to paper on a 1-year extension to his current £120,000-a-week contract in the next few days, which should secure his future at Anfield until the summer of 2023.

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A youth product of Southampton, Oxlade-Chamberlain accumulated 20 goals and 32 assists for Arsenal in all competitions before completing a £35 millionmove to Liverpool in the summer of 2017.

The 25-year-old, who has 6 goals from 32 appearances for England, played a key role for Jurgen Klopp’s side in the midfield in his inaugural season an Anfield, registering 5 goals and 8 assists from 42 appearances in all competitions.

Well, it would be an understatement that the Reds badly missed the services of the electric and versatile midfielder earlier in the season.

He established himself as one of Klopp’s trusted lieutenants upon his arrival at Anfield a couple of seasons back, proving himself to be an indispensable component of the team under the manager’s high-intensity pressing philosophy.

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Liverpool brought in Naby Keita from RB Leipzig last summer to cover for Oxlade-Chamberlain’s absence but the Guinean has hardly had a positive impact, barring his sudden upturn of form in the last five games or so.

He hasn’t managed to fill in the boots of the Englishman and Liverpool have been forced to rely heavily on the likes of Georginio Wijnaldum, Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and James Milner.

Goals and assists from central midfield are always crucial to a team’s success and even more so when a team is challenging for the title.

That is one aspect of the game where Liverpool have lagged behind Man City and one cannot help but feel that Oxlade-Chamberlain’s creativity could have made a telling difference.

He is one of those players, who can play anywhere in the midfield or attack and his versatility,work-rate and vision have always been the hallmarks of his game. The 25-year-old is likely to play a big part in the first-team in the years to come.

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Conclusion

The fans have every reason to be pleased about Oxlade-Chamberlain’s return and the news regarding his new contract should make them even happier.

Liverpool’s decision to offer him an extension can be seen as a vote of confidence in the player, following his return from injury and the Reds should reward him with a new deal without any further delay.

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Arsenal

3 Winners and 3 Losers from PL gameweek 5 including Tottenham and Arsenal

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3 Winners and 3 Losers from Premier League gameweek 5

Premier League action returned with a bang after the end of the first international break of the season and Round 5 of the 2019-20 campaign produced some mesmerizing football for all sets of fans to savour and admire. 

Man City’s shock 3-2 defeat away at Norwich City was arguably the hottest talking point from this weekend, while a few of the other big-six clubs, including Man United, Liverpool, Spurs and Chelsea should also be happy with how things panned out for them in Round 5.

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Arsenal blew away a two-goal lead at Vicarage Road to share the spoils in a 2-2 draw against Watford, while top-six hopefuls Everton were beaten 3-1 away at Bournemouth. 

Watford and Wolves once again finished the week as the only two sides in the Premier League who are yet to register a single victory thus far. 

Without further ado, let us take a look at 3 winners and 3 losers from Round 5 of the Premier League:

Winners

1. Liverpool 

Jurgen Klopp’s side stretched their lead over defending champions Man City to five points at the top of the table, as a first-half brace from Sadio Mane followed by a third goal from Mo Salah in the second half guided the Reds to a comfortable 3-1 comeback victory over Newcastle United. 

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Jetro Willems put the Magpies in the driver’s seat early in the game with his pile driver from the edge of the box but heroics from Mane, and Roberto Firminio who came on as a substitute for Divock Origi midway through the first half ensured that Liverpool stretched their winning run in the Premier League to 14 games in a row, becoming only the fourth team to achieve such a feat. 

While it was more of a regulation victory for Liverpool, the fans at Anfield have every reason to hope that Man City’s stumble at Carrow Road proves to be one of the title-defining moments later on in the season.

Nevertheless, for the time being, Liverpool have a lot of breathing space with a five-point lead at the top of the standings.

2. Chelsea

It was a treat to watch how Chelsea’s young guns completely whitewashed an underwhelming Wolves side 2-5 away from home on Saturday, with Tammy Abraham’s hat-trick making him the youngest Blues player to achieve such a feat in the Premier League. 

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Frank Lampard’s side had come under criticism for blowing away a two-goal lead at home against Sheffield United prior to the international break but the Blues absolutely demolished Wolves in ruthless fashion to get back to winning ways and finished the week placed 6th in the standings.

While Abraham stole much of the limelight with his hat-trick, fellow academy graduate Fikayo Tomori also got the crowd off its feet with an absolute stunner from 35 yards out, as did Mason Mount, who bagged his third goal of the league season.

3. Tottenham Hotspur

Having lost 1-0 to Newcastle United and drawn 2-2 away at Arsenal prior to the international break, Spurs came into the game against Crystal Palace with only a solitary victory in their first four games. 

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However, the home fans will be relieved after the Lilywhites produced arguably their best display of the season thus far and cruised to a comfortable 4-0 victory over Roy Hodgson’s side, who dropped down to 12th place in the standings after that defeat. 

An own goal from Patrick van Aanholt, sandwiched by Heung-min Son’s brace and Erik Lamela’s strike made the score 4-0 before the interval and though Spurs moved up to 3rd place in the standings this week, they still have plenty of catch-up to do if they are to get back in the title race. 

Losers

1. Man City

It was always going to be interesting to see how Man City would cope with the opposition in the Premier League following Aymeric Laporte’s injury and the defensive blunders against Norwich City are sure to have Pep Guardiola scratching his head to find a solution for the upcoming fixtures. 

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Some poor marking allowed Kenny McLean to head home the opener for the Canaries early in the first-half before Teemu Pukki took advantage of some ineffective coordination at the back to set up Todd Cantwell for the second. 

Sergio Aguero pulled one back just at the stroke of the interval but a horrible error from Nicolas Otamendi allowed Pukki to make it 3-1 in favour of the hosts. It stayed that way until Rodrigo found a late goal. City struggled to hit great heights against a Norwich side that ran them ragged with their never-say-die mentality on the pitch. 

Undoubtedly, Man City’s defeat comes as the first big twist in the title race and Guardiola will be aware that his team cannot afford such slip-ups if they are to keep themselves within striking distance of Liverpool at the top of the table.

2. Arsenal

Arsenal didn’t have the worst of results in Round 5 but Unai Emery is likely to be disappointed to have come away with just a draw from the trip to Watford, with the Gunners blowing away a two-goal lead in the second half to somehow salvage a point. 

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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s brace in the first half was cancelled out by goals from Tom Cleverly and Roberto Pereyra after the interval, the latter coming from the penalty spot after the Argentine was tripped by David Luiz inside the box.

A victory over Watford would have propelled the Gunners to 3rd place in the standings, ahead of Spurs, who currently hold that position, but some poor defending and lack of resilience at the back cost Arsenal heavily once again.

3. Everton

A victory over Bournemouth would have seen Everton finish the week in the top four but instead, the Toffees currently find themselves outside the top-ten, languishing at 11th place in the standings after suffering a 3-1 defeat to the Cherries away on the south coast.

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Callum Wilson’s opener was cancelled out by Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s header just at the stroke of the interval before Ryan Fraser made it 2-1 with a free-kick and Wilson put the game to bed with his second goal midway through the second half. 

The Toffees failed to capitalise on their chances and this defeat definitely comes as a big blow to their hopes of challenging for a top-six place. 

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Leicester City

3 Talking points from Man United 1-0 Leicester City ahead of PL gameweek 6

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3 Talking points from Man United 1-0 Leicester ahead of PL gameweek 6

Man United triumphed 1-0 over Leicester City at Old Trafford in the Premier League on Saturday, as the Red Devils ended the Foxes’ unbeaten run and registered their first victory in the league since the 4-0 hammering of Chelsea on the opening day of the campaign. 

The game, which was regarded as one of the main attractions of Round 5, turned out to be something of an anti-climax in the end, and the overall lack of creativity over the ninety minutes was quite ridiculous considering the quality of players in action. 

There was hardly anything to separate the two teams in what turned out to be a rather dull and boring game of pretty ordinary standards, with Marcus Rashford making all the difference with his goal from the penalty spot early in the first half. 

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Overall, it was a story of how both the teams failed to live up to the hype surrounding the game, with Man United lacking the composure to keep hold of the ball long for long enough to carve out anything meaningful and Leicester just not showing enough creativity to find a way through a stubborn United backline led by Harry Maguire.

Nevertheless, Ole Gunnar Solskajer should be happy with those three valuable points and more importantly, against a side that has been tipped to overtake them in the race for the top-six. Here are 3 talking points from the dull 1-0 encounter:

1. Maguire gets the better of Vardy

This was the first time that Harry Maguire was facing his old club in the Premier League since his move to Man United earlier in the summer and the Englishman was always going to be Solskajer’s best bet in trying to keep an in-form Jamie Vardy at bay. 

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And the towering central defender, who seemed to be fully aware of Vardy’s tricks and strengths in the final third, didn’t allow his former teammate to even get a sniff of the goal on Saturday.

Maguire’s flawless reading of the game and his knowledge of Vardy’s strengths were instrumental in United’s efforts to drag the ultimate opportunist out of the game and though it wasn’t a very creative display from the Red Devils, they certainly deserve plenty of credit for a clean-sheet against one of the most potent attacking units in the division.

2. Soyuncu’s bubble finally bursts 

Caglar Soyuncu, who has taken over the reins from Maguire at the heart of Leicester’s defence, was showered with praises for his performances in the first four league games heading into the international break but the youngster turned into a villain at Old Trafford this weekend.

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Soyuncu’s needless clip on Marcus Rashford’s heels inside the box early in the first half allowed United to open the scoring from the penalty spot and that, ultimately, would go on to be the decisive moment of the game.

Indeed, he has done a fair job at the back but his sudden rush of blood on Saturday, which eventually cost the Foxes the game, would have reminded Rodgers that the Turk is still quite young and relatively inexperienced at the Premier League level. 

3. Scott McTominay the standout performer for Man United

On a day where both the teams lacked creativity and finesse in the middle of the park, Scott McTominay put in arguably his best performance of the season so far and repaid Solskjaer’s faith in his abilities. 

Playing alongside Nemanja Matic as a part of a double pivot in the midfield, the Scottish international completely bossed the midfield with his tireless running up and down the pitch, while his physical presence put off the likes of Hamza Choudhury and Youri Tielemans. 

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McTominay broke down the play really well with his tackles and interceptions, carried the ball forward with intent and was always at the right place and at the right time to safeguard United from Leicester’s forays. 

The 22-year-old won 9 out of 16 duels on the ground, 3 out of 3 duels in the air, completed 2 out of his 2 attempted tackles and chipped in with 2 interceptions and 3 clearances.  

Apart from that, he was instrumental in circulating possession in the midfield and switching the play, with the youngster registering 60 touches on the ball and completing 31 passes (accuracy rate of 79.5), including 6 successful long balls. 

McTominay has shown signs of maturing into a powerful defensive midfielder this term and Man United have every reason to be pleased with his rapid development. 

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Arsenal

3 Talking points from Watford 2-2 Arsenal ahead of PL gameweek 6

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3 Talking points from Watford 2-2 Arsenal ahead of gameweek 6

Arsenal and Watford played out arguably one of the most enthralling encounters in the Premier League so far this season, as the Hornets came back from two goals down to salvage a point at Vicarage Road in their first game following the return of Quique Sanchez Flores as the new manager. 

Arsenal had more of the possession in the first half and went into the interval with a two-goal advantage, thanks to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s brace.

Sead Kolasinac set up Aubameyang for the opener with a driving run while Mesut Ozil’s wonderful pick-out paved the way for Ainsley-Maitland Niles to assist the Gabonese for his second.

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However, Watford came out with more determination in the second half and took the game by the scruff of the neck. The Hornets completely dominated the proceedings, had more efforts on target and were by and large the better side by a long margin.

Gerard Deulofeu’s clever interception inside Arsenal’s penalty area allowed Tom Cleverly to pull one back in the 53rd minute before a mistimed challenge from David Luiz on Roberto Pereyra inside the box led to Pereyra’s equaliser from the penalty spot nine minutes from time. 

Watford had plenty of chances to wrap up a famous victory at home over the Gunners but Bernd Leno made some smart interventions to save the blushes for the Gunners, who have only themselves to blame for blowing away a golden chance to finish the week in the top 4.

Here are 3 talking points from Vicarage Road:

1. Playing out from the back

The new ruling in the Premier League, which allows players to be inside the box during goal-kick situations, certainly favours teams opting to play out from the back with short exchanges. And Arsenal, who pride themselves in using such tactics to good effect, were the architects of their own downfall on Sunday. 

Watford were very much alive to the Gunners’ tactics and when they tried to play the ball out from the back with short lateral passes. The Hornets adopted a high pressing style to disrupt their rhythm. 

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In the build-up to Watford’s first goal, Leno passed the ball to Sokratis, who apparently thought that passing it to a crowded Matteo Guendouzi was a good idea.

Deulofeu, who was just waiting for a sniff to win the ball back, put out his leg to intercept the ball inside the box and Cleverly made it 2-1 with a cool finish. 

That, however, wasn’t the only time when Arsenal were sloppy when playing out from the back. Guendouzi was robbed off the ball inside his own penalty area in the first half and had it not been for Leno’s fine reflex save, the Gunners would have got some serious stick from their own fans. 

Quite clearly, Arsenal were too slow while playing out from the back and Emery, who knows a lot about the implementation of such tactics, will be aware of the fact that he needs to put in a lot more work on the training ground to avoid such embarrassment in the future. 

2. Watford’s resurgence under Sanchez Flores

The 2-2 draw was probably a fair reflection of the balance of the game but Quique Sanchez Flores would know that his team was ever so close to registering its first victory of the Premier League this term. 

Having failed to win any of their league games since April last season, the Hornets looked short of confidence under Javi Gracia but the appointment of Sanchez Flores has come as a breath of fresh air amongst the players, who put in a lion-hearted performance and showed the audacity to take the game to Arsenal. 

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The writing seemed to be on the wall for the hosts when they went into the interval with a two-goal deficit but the way they fought back to salvage a draw speaks volumes of their character and resilience, highlighting the change in mentality that the new manager has already brought to his unit. 

Looking at the stats, Watford had as many as 31 attempts over the course of the ninety minutes on Saturday, 10 of which were on target, while Arsenal managed to get only 4 out of their 7 attempts on target.  

Furthermore, the Hornets finished the game with 53% possession, which is largely a result of their unrivalled dominance in the second half, while the work rate of the players and the ability to carve out chances on a regular basis were a few other hallmarks of their performance. 

Despite the impressive 2-2 draw, Watford stayed at the bottom of the Premier League table with just 2 points from their first 5 games but they certainly won’t be there for long if they continue their resurgence under Sanchez Flores.

3. Luiz a liability once again

Arsenal’s persistent woes at the back over the past 12 months have been one of the biggest talking points of Unai Emery’s reign at the Emirates and the club’s hasty decision to bring in an impetuous centre-back like David Luiz in the summer has already shown early signs of backfiring, with the Brazilian veteran conceding yet another penalty on Saturday. 

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Luiz was quite horrible with his decision-making and mentality at the back in the games against Liverpool and Spurs, and his clip on Pereyra just inside the box paved the way for the Hornets to equalise in the second half.

Looking back at how things shaped up over the ninety minutes, the very fact that Watford managed to register 31 attempts is a clear indication of the fact that the Gunners just didn’t do enough at the back to close down the attackers soon enough. 

In fact, they were lucky not to have conceded three or four goals, thanks to some goalkeeping heroics from Leno and some poor finishing from the home side.

If Luiz continues to let the team down on such a regular basis, Emery might have his work cut out in guiding the team to a top-four finish this season. 

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