Manchester United have been drawn against, Real Sociedad in the Europa League, they are first in La Liga and that speaks volumes about their strength.
United often struggle against Spanish teams because they are more technically gifted, and the game is all about short passes and moving up the pitch into spaces. A poor record like United’s against Spanish team can affect your mental side of the game. It can me you thinking: “Oh my God, another Spanish team, we’re going to have a tough time.”
Another significant factor could be ex-Man City legend David Silva, who returning to Manchester with Sociedad. He is not the only force that is making Real Sociedad play so well but he is driving the team to perform better with his vision of the game and passing. It is going to be a tough game and a challenge for United.
Every match in Europe will be a challenge for United so they have to be very well prepared. Real Sociedad are first in La Liga at the moment for a good reason.
Manchester derby was ugly and boring – especially for strikers
Saturday’s Manchester derby was an ugly and boring game. There was not much risk taken and players seemed afraid of making the wrong pass. Both teams basically looked happy to take a point. We all want to watch entertaining football, but when you are down there on the pitch, especially if you are the manager, you are going to go more tactical from time to time and that makes a boring game. That one point can sometimes be a big difference.
Games like that are a nightmare for strikers, as you need to run back to stop the space and be compact. There is no room for improvisation or taking a chance or risks. When you are a striker you want to have freedom to express yourself.
I’m backing Spurs to beat Liverpool
The biggest game of the week is almost upon us as Spurs take on Liverpool at Anfield. Liverpool are missing key defenders so, if Jose is brave enough and wants to surprise the opposition, maybe he will try a new approach. But when you think about it the other way, it is a big game for both teams, because at the moment Spurs are first and Liverpool are second.
If the game finishes a draw it will be a good result for both team. Three points is obviously the best outcome, it is a long season and everyone will make mistakes. The points difference between the first five teams is so small and that makes the title race very interesting.
In big games like this, sometimes player don’t want to take risks – as we saw in the Manchester derby. Liverpool v Tottenham could be a boring game unless we see a goal in the first 10 or 15 minutes which can shake things up and make the other team take more risks. I’m backing Spurs to win though.
Ozil should come back into the Arsenal team
I watched the Arsenal game against Burnley. I saw the red card, own goal and chances Arsenal missed. Sometimes when you have all this combined, you are going to suffer. You can get a red card, but when it is happening too often and that particular player Granit Xhaka is making too many mistakes and not learning from them, you need to take some action, because the whole team suffers.
Arsenal need to start performing soon otherwise there will be a serious problem. It would shocking if Arsenal were in a relegation battle.
Fighting to stay up is never a good feeling for a player. For a big club, it is going to be surprising, disappointing and make you angry. However, at the same time, it can drive you to play better and take responsibility. Opposition teams are going to provoke you and the Burnley game showed that. When you are close to relegation at a big club, you are fighting for survival instead of trophies. Therefore, for smaller teams, they have a bit of an advantage as they have been in this positions before.
I’m so surprised to see Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. There is more pressure on him to score goals as the captain. Maybe Mesut Ozil should come back into the team, you need someone creative who can come up with solutions when things aren’t going well in the final third.
Sympathy for Arteta
I don’t think Arteta is losing control. You can be demanding and strict and keep the discipline but if the player’s personality is a bit different and he thinks he knows everything and can do everything because some of today’s football players are like this. They have an “I know everything” mentality. Sometimes you can see that on the pitch. The manager then struggles to keep control of the player and the whole team suffers.
I sympathise with Arteta. I know I was difficult to manage at times, all players go through this phase. Hopefully he can get the dressing room in order. He needs to be prepared to take drastic measures if necessary because at the moment things aren’t looking good for Arsenal.
Lewandowski should win FIFA Best Award
I’m surprised Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi are among finalists for the FIFA Best award as I’m not sure they deserved to be there. I think they should give it to Robert Lewandowski. It would be unfair if he didn’t win it. I think it was unfair the Golden Ball didn’t happen this year as he was my favourite and a lot of people’s favourite. I think he should have got that award and hopefully wining the FIFA award will be compensation. But sometimes unfortunately football is about business and the PR agents have more say in these decisions behind the scenes than many people realise.
For me, Lewandowski is up there with the best strikers in modern football. This is a subject about which nobody can agree. Harry Kane, Messi, Ronaldo and Serigio Aguero have been scoring goals for many years and are among the best. There are others but, for the way he plays the game and moves around the pitch, Lewandowski is in my top three strikers. He is great.