Newcastle United Opinion: Nikola Vlasic would be an excellent signing for the Magpies
According to The Shields Gazette, Newcastle United are plotting a raid on Everton for out-of-favour Croatian starlet Nikola Vlasic this summer, with reports claiming that manager Rafael Benitez is keen to bolster his attacking ranks.
Vlasic is not the only attacking player on Newcastle’s radar, though, with the Magpies also weighing up a move for Birmingham City striker Che Adams. (h/t Shields Gazette)
The 21-year-old Croatian international spent this past season on loan at CSKA Moscow in the Russian Premier League and his scintillating run of form away from Goodison Park means that interest in the attacking midfielder is likely to be high this summer.
Vlasic registered an impressive 8 goals and 7 assists in 31 appearances for CSKA Moscow in all competitions and earned rave reviews for his consistently impressive displays in the midfield and final third.
However, it looks unlikely that the talented youngster has a future at Everton and The Shields Gazette claims that he is keen to secure a permanent move away from Goodison Park, with a fee of £12 million thought to be enough to seal the deal for any potential suitor.
Newcastle United are set for a very busy summer this time around, amidst talks of a £350 million takeover by Dubai-based Bin Zayed Group. The Magpies are yet to sort out the future of manager Rafael Benitez, with the Spaniard’s contract at Tyneside set to expire at the end of June.
However, those factors haven’t stopped them from monitoring potential targets ahead of the upcoming season and Newcastle continue to be linked with an array of players from different leagues across Europe. Newcastle’s links with Nikola Vlasic certainly makes a lot of sense, given the lack of depth, creativity and firepower in the club’s attacking ranks.
With West Brom loanee Salomon Rondon unlikely to return to St.James’ Park on a permanent basis and Ayoze Perez linked with moves to Spain and Italy, Benitez, or whoever comes in for that matter, would need to bring in substantial reinforcements to bolster the attack.
Suffice to say, Newcastle are likely to find themselves short of cover in the attacking third next season and someone like Nikola Vlasic could help them solve a lot of problems. It is very apparent that they need more quality in their ranks to challenge for a top-ten finish next term and a versatile attacking midfielder certainly fits the bill.
Essentially a central attacking midfielder by trade, Vlasic is also capable of playing in a more withdrawn No.8 role in the midfield and out wide on the right as a wide player. A highly creative player noted for his good turn of pace, sharpness, exceptional close control, sharpness, flair and trickery on the ball, the 21-year-old excels with his incredible vision and remarkable speed of thought.
Vlasic is not only capable of setting up goals with defence-splitting through balls but he is also more than capable of adding that much-needed energy and unpredictability to the midfield. He is the sort of player who always seems to have that match-winning pass up his sleeve and he has proven his ability to chip in with valuable goals as well.
The 21-year-old showcased his ability to deliver the goods against top-quality opposition in the Champions League this time around, with his performances against Real Madrid drawing praises from fans and pundits alike.
Newcastle splashed a club-record amount to bring in Paraguayan international Miguel Almiron in January, and while he has shown strong signs of promise, the Magpies need to bring in another quality attacking midfielder to complement him.
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Young and talented with a potentially good resale value-Vlasic perfectly fits the profile of players that the Magpies like to target in the window and he could take them to the next level in the Premier League in the years to follow.
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Match Preview, Team news, Predicted XI and more
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Match Preview, Team news, Prediction and more
Liverpool host Arsenal at Anfield on Saturday with both teams hoping to extend their 100% domestic record with the third win of their Premier League season.
The Reds thrashed Norwich 4-1 in the Premier League curtain-raiser before edging past Southampton 2-1 on Saturday. Sandwiched in between was their UEFA Super Cup triumph against Chelsea in Istanbul, Turkey.
The Gunners have also enjoyed a perfect start to their season, thanks to wins over Newcastle and Burnley, but the trip to Merseyside will represent their first acid test of the new season.
Arsenal’s recent visits to Anfield have been embarrassing, to say the least. Liverpool have scored 22 goals out of 30 in some staggering victories against the north London club in recent times. So, Unai Emery has a mighty task of changing the scenario at the weekend.
For Liverpool, Alisson Becker has a suspected grade two tear and is not expected to be fit for the Arsenal game. Naby Keita has a muscle problem and will miss Saturday’s game, while Nathaniel Clyne is a long-term casualty.
Arsenal’s Hector Bellerin is continuing his recovery from a cruciate ligament injury, although he won’t be available anytime soon. New signing Kieran Tierney remains unavailable due to a groin problem but Rob Holding has participated in full training with the first-team squad.
Granit Xhaka could return after missing the Burnley win while Mesut Ozil was absent due to illness and is back in full training now.
Liverpool (4-3-3): Adrian; Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joel Matip, Virgil van Dijk, Andrew Robertson; Fabinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Georginio Wijnaldum; Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane.
Arsenal (3-5-2): Bernd Leno; Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, David Luiz, Nacho Monreal, Sead Kolasinac; Matteo Guendouzi, Granit Xhaka, Dani Ceballos; Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette.
Jurgen Klopp should go with his usual 4-3-3 formation on Saturday. Adrian will continue to deputise in goal, with Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk and Robertson forming the back-four.
Having Fabinho as the shield in front of the back-four, the likes of Wijnaldum and Chamberlain should get the free license to join the attacks often and cause problems to the Arsenal defence.
Liverpool’s high press is very difficult to contain and the onus will be on Chamberlain to help drive the attack from the midfield.
The Reds are powered by their front three of Mane, Firmino and Salah. They are slowly starting to hit form but given their fantastic record at Anfield against Arsenal, Klopp will expect his fiery front three to deliver the goods.
Unai Emery, on the other hand, could revert to a back-three system on Saturday. It is a system in which many of the Arsenal central defenders feel comfortable.
David Luiz is the best ball-playing defender of the lot and he will be accompanied by Sokratis and Monreal at the back, with Maitland-Niles and Kolasinac as wing-backs.
The Gunners will look to use the width while hitting Liverpool on the counter as full-backs Alexander-Arnold and Robertson are defensively suspect and provide a lot of space behind them due to their natural attacking mindset.
Guendouzi has started the season encouragingly and should be partnered in the midfield by Xhaka, and Ceballos, who royally impressed with his performance against Burnley. It’ll be vital for Arsenal’s midfield to nullify the threat of Wijnaldum and Chamberlain while in transition.
As record-signing Pepe is still being eased in, Emery is expected to go with the two-pronged attack of Aubameyang and Lacazette. Liverpool have been shaky at the back so far in the new season, which could present Lacazette and Aubameyang with some chances to pounce on.
It’ll be a wild contest in front of the ever-boisterous Anfield crowd. Expect Liverpool to dominate possession, press very hard, force mistakes and pounce on it.
Also, expect their backline to make a couple of errors and get punished by Arsenal’s attack. Nevertheless, the game should end in favour of the Reds.
Prediction: Liverpool 4-2 Arsenal
Arsenal? Manchester United? – Which of the big clubs will achieve a top-4 finish in the PL this season?
Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham, Man United- who will miss out on top four?
The 2018/19 Premier League title race went down to the wire, with Manchester City beating Liverpool to the crown by just a point. The team that followed them were Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United respectively.
The new season is just two games old and Liverpool and Arsenal are the only teams to have enjoyed a 100% record thus far, after Manchester United dropped points in the 1-1 draw with Wolves at Molineux on Monday.
We saw an entertaining battle between Manchester City and Tottenham end in a 2-2 draw at the Etihad last weekend, with VAR’s intervention denying the champions a late winner. These are early days but the Premier League table is shaping up very well.
Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham, Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal have comprised the table’s top six in each of the previous three seasons.
Considering City and Liverpool are set to battle it out again for the Premier League title, which two teams amongst Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United will make it to the top four this time? Let’s have a look.
Just two games into the new season, Chelsea manager Frank Lampard is already under pressure to find some tactical answers as he is still seeking his first Premier League victory.
After the opening day mauling at the hands of Manchester United at Old Trafford, Chelsea’s performances improved in the UEFA Super Cup defeat to Liverpool and the 1-1 draw with Leicester City at the weekend, although Lampard’s men were lucky to escape with a point.
The Blues’ transfer window embargo meant Lampard couldn’t strengthen his squad in the summer. The 41-year-old had to be content with the squad set up by Maurizio Sarri but without Eden Hazard, who joined Real Madrid.
Hazard contributed directly to half of Chelsea’s league goals last season, and their attack was almost totally reliant on him. The Belgian’s departure has left a huge void and that coupled with the exits of experienced defenders Gary Cahill and David Luiz, Lampard’s Chelsea are set for a long season.
Prediction: There have been more negatives than positives in Chelsea’s first two league games and while Lampard will take time to give his side a fixed style of play, it’s difficult to see the Blues making it to the top four.
Against all odds, Tottenham reached the Champions League final last season only to fail at the final hurdle. A combination of their European exploits and a failure to make new signings saw their Premier League form suffer.
However, Spurs spent heavily this summer, signing players like Tanguy Ndombele, Giovani Lo Celso and Ryan Sessegnon.
Pochettino’s side have started the new campaign well, taking four points out of a possible six. Despite the departures of Kieran Trippier, Fernando Llorente and Vincent Janssen, Tottenham have been boosted by their new signings and can better last season’s finish.
Prediction: If Pochettino can keep Harry Kane fit throughout the season and get the best out of his new signings, Tottenham can threaten to make it a three-horse title race this time around.
There is a real buzz at Arsenal because of the arrival of new faces at the Emirates and the rollicking start they have made to the new campaign.
Victories over Newcastle and Burnley means that the Gunners have enjoyed a perfect start, although a trip to Liverpool beckons at the weekend. Considering their recent visits to Anfield, it could be all doom and gloom for the North London giants.
Nevertheless, Unai Emery will be happy with the start and would expect things to get better. On loan from Real Madrid, Dani Ceballos made quite an impact on his full debut against Burnley, while the fans also saw glimpses of quality from star man, Nicolas Pepe.
But the Gunners still look defensively shaky and that was visible in the game against Burnley.
David Luiz’s acquisition from Chelsea on the transfer deadline day was a coup but his track-record of clumsy and erratic defending will hardly fill Bernd Leno with confidence.
Then there is the error-prone Shkodran Mustafi, an ageing Sokratis Papastathopoulos and a not-yet-fit Rob Holding in central defence.
Prediction: While Pepe has given a different threat and dynamism to the Arsenal attack, Emery’s defence could again plot his downfall. They’ll miss Aaron Ramsey’s midfield vigour and big-game performances. Frankly, the Gunners won’t make it to the top four this season.
Despite a frustrating transfer window, Manchester United brought three new players in Daniel James, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire. And all three of the new signings have made an impact in the first two weeks of the new season, helping the Red Devils bag four points out of a possible six.
Ever since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, Manchester United have only made the Premier League top-four twice. This shows just how far they’ve fallen from grace.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants to bring the glory days back at Old Trafford by promoting young players and playing relentless attacking football.
United were defensively shambolic last season and Solskjaer strengthened his backline with the additions of Maguire and Wan-Bissaka. They lacked natural width as well and Solskjaer addressed it by bringing in the explosive Daniel James, who is also direct in his style of play.
The United boss has let go of Romelu Lukaku to Inter but didn’t sign a replacement. This seems like a plan to promote academy starlet Mason Greenwood.
Prediction: Going by the first two games, the Red Devils look more composed and secure at the back. Solskjaer’s army looks weak in the midfield and an injury to either Paul Pogba or any central midfielder could see them sweat.
Genuinely, though, the players seem sharper and fit, attacking with pace and hitting opponents on the counter. Despite some obvious weaknesses, the Red Devils’ immediate objective of steady improvement and a return to the top four seems possible.
Wolves 1-1 Manchester United – Here’s where it went wrong for Solskjaer’s men
How Wolves drew 1-1 with Manchester United at the Molineux
Manchester United had travelled to the Molineux Stadium on Monday to face Wolves, hoping to build on their winning start to this Premier League campaign.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side made a bright start to the game and opened the scoring in the 27th minute through Anthony Martial, who scored with a powerful finish from a tight angle.
However, the home team came up with a response in the second half through Ruben Neves’ fantastic long-range strike in the 55th minute.
Paul Pogba earned a penalty and had the chance to win it for the visitors, but his spot-kick was saved by Rui Patricio. In the end, Solskjaer’s Manchester United had to settle with a point as the game finished 1-1 at the Molineux.
The build-up to the game
Manchester United headed into Monday night’s game on the back of a fantastic 4-0 victory over Chelsea. Goals from Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Daniel James gave United a perfect start to the season.
Wolves, meanwhile, booked a place in the Europa League play-off after enjoying a thumping 8-0 aggregate victory over Armenian club FC Pyunik.
Solskjaer dropped Andreas Pereira in favour of Daniel James for the only change he made to the starting lineup against Chelsea, fielding his team in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Wolves remained unchanged from their 0-0 draw with Leicester City, as Nuno Espirito Santo stuck to his usual 3-5-2 formation.
United started the game on the front foot and dominated possession straightaway. Wolves were happy to sit back, defend and wait for the counter-attack.
They defended in a low block with minimal space to work in the midfield as their midfielders Ruben Neves, Joao Moutinho and Leander Dendoncker harried and hassled the United players into relinquishing possession.
As the game progressed and United began to control more of the ball, Wolves’ organised defence means it became difficult for the visitors to find any spaces to exploit. Nuno’s side were quite disciplined and well-drilled, clearing anything that came in and around the box.
Wolves’ deep block defence and intense press in the defensive third posed problems for United’s centrally-oriented attacking play. As a result, the visitors struggled to quickly switch play and execute their plans down the wide areas.
Despite Solskjaer’s men dominating possession, they couldn’t create chances to play centrally and even when they did on a few occasions, it was dealt with by the Wolves defenders.
As it happened
Wolves’ plan, however, was disrupted in the 27th minute when Martial fired home the opener after a Luke Shaw run distracted Coady and pulled him away to open up space for the Frenchman, who made no mistake and scored from inside the box with a left-footed shot.
United were utterly dominant and were unlucky not to double their lead before heading into half-time.
Matt Doherty came off at half time after picking up an injury and was replaced by Adama Traore. It was a forced substitution for Wolves but one that worked wonders.
Wolves came out all guns blazing in the second half, as expected, with Traore isolating Shaw and getting past him on a number of occasions with ease.
Nuno’s men started asking questions to United’s backline as Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota – the duo that rarely got any service from its teammates to thrive, became lively. And it was Traore who won the free-kick for Jimenez’s header that struck the post and was later cleared away for a corner.
From the resulting corner, Wolves equalised through Neves. Moutinho supplied a low cross towards the edge of the box to Neves, who controlled the ball and sorted out of his feet before rifling a shot to the top corner of the net, giving David de Gea absolutely no chance to save.
Solskjaer’s side were rattled after the equaliser and they had only themselves to blame. Before Neves’ goal, United had the chance to go 2-0 up when Wan-Bissaka played a simple pass to Lingard in the opposition box. But the 27-year-old failed to control the ball.
The visitors, however, responded well. Wolves had to deal with spells of wide play from United, who looked to increase the number of bodies inside the penalty area and thus prioritised attacking with crosses into the box.
And for all the possession they dominated after the equaliser, Paul Pogba, dancing his way past a couple of Wolves players and into the box, won a penalty after a foul from Conor Coady.
There was a brief discussion between Rashford and Pogba regarding the spot-kick before the latter took the responsibility. But Pogba’s penalty was kept out excellently by Rui Patricio as it was at a nice height to be saved.
What followed later wasn’t anything significant as the game ended 1-1 at Molineux.
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