Parker: Klopp must handle Kabak and Davies with care

Paul Parker believes Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has to take care of Deadline Day signings Ozan Kabak and Ben Davies if his side are to mount a renewed challenge for the Premier League.

At United there were two standout winter arrivals in my time at Old Trafford: William Prunier and Andy Cole.

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I played with Prunier in that 4-0 loss at White Hart Lane, but it just wasn’t real. People just don’t believe what happened when we discuss it. Cole’s time with the club showed what’s more likely to happen to Ben Davies and Ozan Kabak, and how Jurgen Klopp can make sure they settle in as quickly as possible.

When Cole came to United, we already had our own way of playing. At Newcastle United, they had theirs. He was used to running in behind, and there were always crosses coming in from the wings for him to attack. The ball was in front of him. But when he came with us he had to change, because we’d have to play the ball into feet and work from that, and from that he was able to give back to the team.

Klopp: Matip injury a ‘big, big blow’ for Liverpool

I think Cole was clear that there were times that he was struggling to fit in. But what happened was that the boss didn’t just give up – there was a long-term plan to get Cole in and get him buzzing in our side. By signing for United it opened him up to improving his game. He was respected more as a player when he was able to show everyone that there were was more to his game – and he was helped by the fact he knew he wasn’t the finished article when he arrived. Kabak and Davies will have to be helped through and will have to embrace a new way of doing things, and be prepared to learn in order to improve. They’re at a big club too now, and they must be open to showing there is more to them.

How well you adjust, I think, depends on the individual. It’s definitely possible to step up from the lower divisions and make a success of it. I came from two divisions down to join QPR. More recently, Dele Alli joined Spurs from League One. I think what’s most important for Davies is that Klopp doesn’t use his move up as an excuse not to play him.

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Klopp needs to be brave enough to put him in straight away – that’s how you learn. You learn when you’re on the job, and he might be raw but it will do him no good to be stuck playing inconsistently in the under-23s. In the first team he’ll have experienced players around him, and he’s used to regular football, so he can’t miss out. That means it’s up to his boss to help him with any personal troubles he might have as he adjusts.

Klopp will also need to be on hand for Kabak. He’s come from another country and you don’t know how many, if any, of his family are going to make the journey with him. He shouldn’t be left out of the team for too long. If players come from abroad without friends and family then it’s best they are allowed to play and feel like they’re part of a team.

The way Liverpool looked against West Ham, I don’t think anyone can write them off. They applied themselves well, and after beating Spurs I think they might have turned a corner. With some of their young players coming through, then they have added some depth, and perhaps some more belief. If Jordan Henderson can come good again they could be a dangerous side for the second half of the season.

Mohamed Salah of Liverpool scores their side’s second goal past Lukasz Fabianski of West Ham United during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Liverpool at London Stadium on January 31, 2021 in London, England

Image credit: Getty Images

If you look at the way Liverpool are, with their strengths and weaknesses, they have got more about them than United have. In the transfer window, United needed to add to their front line. They might get away with it defensively this season, but they need more for Bruno Fernandes to play off. Another experienced player alongside Edinson Cavani, someone who would run to open up the pitch rather than wait for a pass, could have made the difference for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Manchester City are the favourites despite Liverpool’s transfer window. They’ve tightened up at the back, they’re physically and mentally more resilient. In the past they’ve crumbled against Liverpool, and I don’t think that will happen again – but we’ll find out soon.

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Gabriel Jesus makes it 12 in a row for Man City

Gabriel Jesus’ 10th minute goal was enough to give Premier League leaders Manchester City victory over Sheffield United at the Etihad Stadium.

In as comfortable a 1-0 victory as you will ever see, the Blades never looked like repeating the victory in Manchester they enjoyed over Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side on Wednesday night.

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The goal came after Ferran Torres bamboozled Ethan Ampadu and Jayden Bogle on the City right flank before squaring for Jesus all alone on the six-yard box and he slotted home low past Aaron Ramsdale.

City failed to create clear-cut chances thereafter and had a late scare when John Fleck’s 25-yard strike had Ederson scrambling across his line in fear as the ball flashed just wide of the target.

The win, the 12th in succession, keeps City’s title charge on track while the Blades remain ten points away from safety at the foot of the table.

Talking point – City are duller but stronger

Pep Guardiola’s side can still smash a side when they defend horrifically, as West Brom did in the 5-0 defeat in midweek, but in the main the days of them destroying sides week in, week out are gone.

Compared to close to three goals a game over the last three goals, they are averaging less than two now.

The difference is teams would always feel they would have chances to score at the other end previously. Not anymore.

The two changes in personnel in the back four with Joao Cancelo and John Stones replaced by Kyle Walker and Aymeric Laporte did not matter whatsoever. The Blades did not have a sniff at goal until Fleck’s late effort from 25 yards out.

The acid test will be in Europe, but finally in his fifth season at the Emirates he has a side with defensive shape and personnel that is as impressive as his best players in the last third.

Player ratings:

Manchester City: Ederson 6, Walker 6, Dias 7, Laporte 7, Zinchenko 7; Fernandinho 8*; Gundogan 7, Bernardo 7, Torres 7, Foden 7; Jesus 6.

Subs: Rodri 6.

Sheffield United: Ramsdale 7; Baldock 6, Basham 6, Egan 7, Ampadu 6, Bogle 6; Lundstram 6, Fleck 7, Norwood 6; Burke 6, Brewster 5.

Subs: McGoldrick 6, Sharp 6, McBurnie 6.

Match highlights:

10′ GOAL FOR CITY! Torres beats Bogle and Ampadu far too easily and Jesus can’t believe his luck when the ball is slid to him six yards out and he composes himself before slotting home.

16′ Almost a goal for Bernardo Silva. A stupid header back to his own goal by Norwood, after Ampadu had initially cleared, and Bernardo glanced his own header as the ball looped back goalwards but didn’t get enough contact on it and Ramsdale collected gleefully.

72′ Fantastic strike from Zinchenko after a lay back from Foden but Ramsdale is equal to it pushing it away to his left.

87′ Not far away! Sharp takes a long ball down on his chest and Fleck hit a beautiful left-footed half volley just wide of the goal with Ederson beaten.

90+2′ Great save from Ramsdale. Foden runs with the ball forty yards before perfectly teeing up Jesus but the Blades keeper dives to his left and pushes the ball away to safety.

Key stat:

500 – Pep Guardiola has completed half a thousand wins as a manager.

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Parker's Picks: Arsenal to beat United, Chelsea to win

Eurosport’s resident football expert Paul Parker has made his predictions for this weekend’s Premier League action, and sees a tough time for Manchester United.

The Eurosport expert believes that Manchester City will fight past Sheffield United, and Chelsea will beat Burnley in Thomas Tuchel’s second game in charge.

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He also thinks that an in-form West Ham have the pressure off and should beat Liverpool at the London Stadium, and that West Brom will earn a point against Fulham.

Do you agree with Paul’s picks for this run of Premier League games? If not, let us know on Twitter… @Eurosport_UK

Manchester City v Sheffield United – Saturday 15:00

Lightning isn’t going to strike twice in the same town, and Manchester City are in too good shape to fall into the same trap that United did. They have a more experienced manager who can trust his players not to make mistakes.

They are stronger defensively and have more resilience, and this City side can match Sheffield United for strength and stamina.

Pep Guardiola’s men also are able to score without centre forwards. They have the tactical sophistication to break through their opponents’ defence, but they will have to work hard. In Sheffield United they face a team that works for their manager and will keep them honest.

Prediction: 3-0

West Brom v Fulham – Saturday 15:00

Against Brighton, Fulham looked like they were never going to score. They only had a couple of decent counterattacks, but they did manage to improve when they introduced Aleksandar Mitrovic.

The thing about Mitrovic is that he’s an old-fashioned striker, like the ones we’re used to from the 1980s, but he has modern technical ability, so he can make something happen.

West Brom, meanwhile, struggle at home and, when they returned from the coronavirus break, they were even having a hard time when they were promoted last year. Since then, they’ve been vulnerable at the back and there’s been no change since the appointment of Sam Allardyce.

Perhaps the lack of fans is a problem, with no uplift from the change in mood with a new manager. I think both of them will struggle to score.

Prediction: 0-0

Arsenal v Man Utd – Saturday 17:30

The Sheffield United result had been in the post for a while for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

United seemed a little complacent. It seemed like at 1-1 they assumed it would be destined that they would eventually win, but they let it go again with some slack defending. Defenders failed to close the ball down, and instead they just put their hands behind their backs and stood still. You might be worried about handball, but you have to defend properly and only then worry about how the rules are going to be applied.

Arsenal had a poor time in the FA Cup against Southampton, and it was a poor decision from Mikel Arteta. He should have tried harder to retain a trophy, but took the game for granted instead. He made amends a few days later with a comprehensive win against the same opponents, and their Premier League form remains excellent.

I think that Arsenal now go into the weekend’s game as the favourites over United.

Prediction: 2-0

Chelsea v Burnley – Sunday 12:00

Burnley are on a roll. They’ve once again got themselves into the second half of the season and find themselves ready to kick on.

You can never write Sean Dyche’s side off, and their fightback against a decent Aston Villa side was evidence of that.

Chelsea struggle to break down resolute sides as we saw in their game against Wolves and Burnley have a solid defence, but I don’t think that will be enough at the weekend.

It sounds crazy but one point after two games would put the pressure on Thomas Tuchel at Chelsea. He can’t afford a poor result and that’s why I think the home side will take all three points.

Thomas Tuchel, Manager of Chelsea embraces Mason Mount of Chelsea during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Stamford Bridge on January 27

Image credit: Getty Images

Prediction: 2-1

West Ham v Liverpool – Sunday 16:30

I think there’s a belief at West Ham that they are unbeatable. They’ve been on a run that has taken them to fourth in the Premier League and could even end the season in the Champions League spots, which would be their best finish in years.

It was against Doncaster Rovers, admittedly, but their win in the FA Cup was instructive. David Moyes brought some reserve players into the team and they were ruthless. They had a good attitude, and could have won by more. They were frighting in attack and dominated throughout.

I wonder if West Ham are one of the sides who are getting a benefit from the coronavirus restrictions. The fans at the London Stadium have always been negative since the move from Upton Park, and without them now the atmosphere has changed. They can play with freedom now, and they are playing collectively and individually consistently.

Most importantly, Michail Antonio is fully fit and I think with him, West Ham can beat Liverpool, who were much improved against a ragged Tottenham on Thursday night.

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Prediction: 1-0

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El factor Ferran y las claves de la 'remontada' de Guardiola

El Mánchester City acumula 11 victorias seguidas desde que empató ante el WBA el 15 de diciembre. No pierde desde el 21 de noviembre, ante el Tottenham (2-0). Sus datos son demoledoes: sólo ha perdido ante Tottenham y Leicester. Además, es la defensa menos goleada de la Premier League con sólo 13 goles. En las cinco grandes ligas sólo Atlético (ocho) y PSG (11) han encajado menos. Mientas que en la fase ofensiva los números también acompañan: segundo mejor ataque, 36 goles sólo por detrás del Liverpool (37) y empatado con el Manchester United.

El español Ferran Torres está dejando buenas sensaciones después de superar el COVID por segunda vez. Sin ir más lejos, en la goleada ante el West Brom (0-5) participó durante los últimos 40 minutos y ante el Cheltenham en FA Cup volvió a marcar consiguiendo un pleno puesto que ya ha anotado en todas las competiciones. Ya son ocho goles para Ferran esta temporada (sin contar los cuatro que ha firmado con la Selección con el hat-trick ante Alemania incluido).

Foto de Ferrán Torres

Su predicción se cumple

El Manchester United de Rashford y Bruno Fernandes, el Liverpool, el Tottenham de Mourinho, incluso el Everton de Ancelotti y James Rodríguez, han acaparado por momentos los focos. Recién llegado, tras las primeras semanas de entrenamiento, Ferran vio claro que el City podría ganar la Premier League bien si todos los jugadores estaban a su nivel. El tiempo le está dando la razón.

Pese a que el calendario será muy complicado, especialmente a partir del encuentro ante el Liverpool… FA Cup ante el Swansea, Tottenham, Arsenal y la ida de la eliminatoria ante Gladbach, Ferran confía y tiene razones. En un mes cumplirá 21 años y vive su primera temporada en la Premier teniendo competencia, de la misma forma que tiene rol y la confianza de Guardiola. Ya está demostrando que puede abrir el campo y tejer sociedades al igual que vale para definir en el área.

Ampliar

A la vista está que Guardiola está exprimiendo su especialidad de extremo y su versatilidad. Por esa razón ya ha jugado en distintas posiciones: extremo por izquierda y derecha, segundo punta y delantero, donde ha amortiguado la ausencia de un killer en plantilla con apariciones quirúrgicas ante el gol. Uno de los grandes alicientes del exjugador del Valencia es su asociación con Phil Foden, otra de las perlas de la generación 2000. Un Foden que lidera el casillero goleador de la plantilla junto a Sterling y Gündogan con nueve goles, mientras que en el segundo escalón aparece Ferran con ocho.

Volcado en su lado más humano

Ferran está encontrando atajos competitivos a partir de las mejoras que está produciendo Guardiola, desde su actitud profesional y humilde, desde su ambición y gen luchador. El español está viviendo solo en el centro del Mánchester, únicamente en Navidad recibió la visita especial de su círculo más cercano. Ahora está recuperando los dos kilos de peso que perdió por el COVID. El ‘21’ está haciendo que lo difícil parezca fácil. Hace unos días posteó en redes sociales un vídeo paseando por la playa con su familia y sus perros. Eso son los momentos que echa de menos, por eso, mantiene su implicación activa en el cuidado de los animales y el medio ambiente como su participación en la causa de Kick Out Plastic (fundación sin ánimo de lucro enfocada principalmente a los plásticos de un solo uso). No hay duda de que Ferran tiene valor añadido, en todos los sentidos, como lo tiene este City y así lo refleja la tabla.

‘A few home truths needed to be said’ – Allardyce locks players up for an hour

West Brom boss Sam Allardyce says he was “shocked” by the manner of his struggling side’s 5-0 Premier League defeat to Manchester City, which led to a dressing room inquest which lasted an hour at the Hawthorns.

The former England, West Ham and Bolton boss says a “few home truths” needed to be said, with Albion second from bottom of the table and seven points from safety ahead of Wednesday night’s games.

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Two goals from İlkay Gündoğan, plus strikes from João Cancelo, Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling took City top of the table for the first time this season, though head coach Pep Guardiola has put a lid on any talk of winning the title, urging his players to “be calm”.

‘I really don’t care’ – Guardiola on going top of the table

Allardyce’s team have one win in 10 top flight matches, stretching back to when his predecessor Slaven Bilic was in charge, and have crucial fixtures coming up next against fellow strugglers Fulham and Sheffield United, but he won’t accept another performance like their display against City.

Man City smash West Brom to go top for first time

“A few home truths needed to be said, it had to be done now because there’s a short period of time before the next game,” said Allardyce.

“These next two games really stand high in what we need to do. I needed to get my feelings to the players out of the way. They needed to air their views, which is fine as we are all in it together.

I was disappointed in the performance and to get it out the way means we can learn from it and we don’t see it again. I can accept defeat but not like that.

Allardyce believes their next two matches will be key to whether they stay in the Premier League: “What will determine our fate comes in the next two games. A win and a draw is the least we have to try to get.

“We have got to work out what it is, playing at home. There’s no pressure from the fans so we have to work out what.”

For City, top of the table at least until Manchester United play Sheffield United on Wednesday evening, it’s now 11 wins in all competitions, but Guardiola says it’s far too soon to think about lifting any silverware.

“The last thing I’m thinking of is the table. Now I want to come back home safely, have a few days off and Sheffield United is all I’m concerned about”, he said.

We still have 19 games to go in this incredible marathon. We are going to drop points and lose games but the important thing is to be calm, like we were when we were 12th in the table and understand why we didn’t win that game and immediately win the next one.

“This is all I’m concerned about now. It’s the Premier League, it’s so tough for everyone. You know it’s competitive but we have had a good run.”

City face Sheffield United next, before trips to Burnley and champions Liverpool.

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How did we forget about Man City? And the Tuchel sweepstake – The Warm-Up

WEDNESDAY’S BIG STORIES

The music has stopped

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First came Arsenal, fans daring to chime “the project” after one successful outing. It was soon the turn of Brendan Rodgers’ outstanding Leicester City, before Everton briefly became our second favourite team… until Jordan Pickford killed Virgil van Dijk (RIP) and Liverpool seized the narrative. Next were Southampton – they lost 9-0, did you know? – who snuck in just long enough to get a commemorative mug on the shelves. Then Tottenham‘s bus rolled in – “Mourinho had it right all along!” they cried – until 1-0 became 1-1 for the 400th time. That allowed Frank Lampard (remember him?!) and Chelsea to buy their ticket before Liverpool restored order for a while. But over in the East, a strange phenomenon was occurring – the PE teacher could actually manage and Manchester United swooped in.

And then, in this crazy game of musical chairs, came Manchester City. The ninth leaders of the Premier League in this chaotic season and quite probably the last. Amid all the squabbling, we forgot about Pep Guardiola. After all, they couldn’t defend, couldn’t score. It was a hopeless combo. So when they embarked on their 11-match winning run, we forgot to pay attention. Turns out, big mistake.

John Stones is peak Beckenbauer. Ilkay Gundogan is Xavi 2.0. Joao Cancelo is a Cafu-Pirlo hybrid. Who cares if they haven’t got a striker and their best player is out for six weeks? The music has stopped. City have grabbed the only chair. This is their Premier League to lose.

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The Tuchel sweepstake

At the time of writing, Thomas Tuchel is still the manager of Chelsea. If he survives the rest of today, fingers crossed, he’ll be in the dugout for the match with Wolverhampton Wanderers at 20:15. Bet he was hoping for an early kick-off, just to be sure.

Has he been appointed because he’s German and the club’s two biggest flops are German? And more pertinently, has there been a more reluctant announcement than an 18-month contract “with the possibility of an extension”?

So let’s kick off the sweepstake – how far will Tuchel get? Christmas? June? January 28? A 26-day period straddling February and March will likely decide his fate, which sees the Blues face Atletico Madrid (twice), Manchester United, Everton, Leeds and Liverpool.

For what it’s worth, the Warm-Up actually thinks this will work. Until January 2022. Then a phone will ring somewhere in Russia. A man will drag himself out of the pool, haul a towel around his waist, and hobble over. “Guus, how’s retirement? It’s happened again.”

Mourinho sorry for Lampard being a victim of the ‘modern brutality of football’

Saka bucks the trend

We’ve definitely been here before but, somehow, this time it feels different.

Carlos Vela, Jack Wilshire, Shkodran Mustafi, Nicolas Pepe, Granit Xhaka, Gabriel Martinelli have all punched us with the hype train, then disappeared (Gabriel, you alone can prove us wrong). And yet a young lad from Ealing is making us rethink our scepticism towards Arsenal’s breakout acts.

Every ounce of us is screaming “don’t hype him, this will surface in five years when he’s just missed an open goal for Rotherham”, but we can’t get enough. Bukayo Saka’s individual heroics are threatening to save Arsenal’s season. Forget what’s come before, this kid is going to the top. Bookmark this now if you must.

IN OTHER NEWS

Zlatan v Lukaku

One benefit of supporters being banned from football stadiums is being able to hear what’s being said. Unless you’re Romelu Lukaku’s mum or Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s wife.

We have to add the usual disclaimer – don’t fight kids – but let’s not pretend that this wasn’t an enjoyable watch. Lukaku earned a points victory in the Milan derby, by virtue of not being sent off and a last-gasp winner from Christian Eriksen. Mad to think these two were team-mates at Manchester United. We eagerly await the rematch.

IN THE CHANNELS

Anyone else think Sterling was going to sky it?

COMING UP

FIVE Premier League matches on the menu, including Chelsea 0-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers (18:00), Everton 0-1 Leicester City and Manchester United 0-1 Sheffield United (both 20:15).

Who would win a fight between Marcus Foley and Andi Thomas? That’s right, and that’s why Mr Thomas is here tomorrow.

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Se pegan por Alaba

La delicada coyuntura a causa de la pandemia sitúa a David Alaba como una opción de mercado difícilmente igualable. El defensa austríaco de 28 años, una vez rechazado de plano el ofrecimiento de renovación del Bayern el pasado mes de octubre, acaba contrato el próximo verano y se debate entre ofertas de envergadura del Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, PSG y el Real Madrid. A día de hoy, el club blanco mantiene una posición privilegiada para acometer el fichaje. La sintonía entre ambas partes es muy positiva y existe un diseño de acuerdo trazado que alcanzaría los cuatro años de contrato y un salario alrededor de los 11 millones de euros netos. Sin embargo, pese a algunas informaciones, nada está cerrado. Desde el Madrid niegan tajantemente el acuerdo, al igual que desde el entorno más directo de Alaba, que emplaza a los meses de abril y mayo como fechas clave para decidir y anunciar el futuro del jugador.

Foto de Alaba

El Madrid está en la pole por Alaba, pero la subasta sigue. Los parámetros de la propuesta económica de la entidad madridista no cubren las pretensiones iniciales del defensa, que exigía al menos al Bayern 13 millones netos por curso y cinco años de contrato. Otras ofertas que tiene sobre la mesa sí se acercan e incluso rebasan este montante. “El Manchester City llega a los 14 millones, sin contar los bonus y la comisión. Es casi el doble de lo que da el Madrid”, confirman fuentes cercanas a las conversaciones. El Liverpool, a petición de Klopp, tampoco rebaja su insistencia, pero el principal problema es que la suma de dinero que pide Alaba le colocaría como el mejor pagado de la plantilla por encima de Salah y esa realidad puede generar suspicacias en el vestuario red.

Escudo/Bandera Real Madrid

En el Bernabéu, en ningún caso, van a entrar en una guerra de cifras. Están dispuestos a asumir una cantidad cercana a los 11 millones de euros, aun a riesgo de apartarse de la línea de austeridad impuesta por el coronavirus y de alojar al jugador austríaco en el tercer escalafón salarial solo por detrás de Hazard (14 millones), Ramos si sigue (12) y Benzema (12). Ese desembolso ya se cree un esfuerzo más que apropiado. De ahí que todas las partes mantengan la cautela ante lo que pueda pasar.

Escudo/Bandera Bayern

La principal ventaja del Madrid es su estatus respecto a otros equipos y también la vieja aspiración de Alaba de jugar en el fútbol español. En las últimas temporadas han sido varias las ocasiones que el interés lógico en un futbolista de su categoría traspasó la frontera de la simple monitorización y se intentó seriamente su incorporación. Tanto el Madrid como el Barcelona dieron pasos en este sentido junto a George Alaba, el padre del jugador. En aquellos momentos era la persona encargada, bajo la ayuda de intermediarios y abogados, de llevar los asuntos contractuales de su hijo. Ahora, el célebre representante Pini Zahavi, al que el presidente de honor del Bayern Uli Hoennes ha calificado como “piraña codiciosa”, dirige el destino del jugador, siempre bajo la supervisión de George Alaba. No se trata esta de una cuestión menor, entre otros motivos, por la comisión que solicita cobrar el agente israelí. Algunas voces dicen que reclama hasta 15 millones.

La presencia de la contradictoria figura de Zahavi, que ya pretendió sin éxito guiar a Lewandowski al Madrid, provoca que nada se pueda dar por hecho nunca. Es ahí donde aparece el Barcelona, en una clara condición de inferioridad por las tensiones de su tesorería. Con todo, no se puede descartar ahora mismo la remota posibilidad, “casi imposible” según diversas fuentes, de que Alaba acabe en el Camp Nou. A instancias del poderoso agente, aguarda el resultado de las elecciones blaugranas antes de comprometerse con nadie. De Zahavi se conoce tanto su fama de duro negociador como la buena relación que mantiene con Joan Laporta. El candidato a la presidencia del Barcelona confía en poder dar un giro a la situación y sondea fórmulas de ingeniería financiera para hacer posible el fichaje. Víctor Font, otro de los candidatos, también ha entablado conversaciones directas con Zahavi.

De cualquier modo, el Madrid enfila con tranquilidad los pasos definitivos de la operación. Su oferta está ahí y no va a caer en ninguna puja que dispare el precio. A nivel deportivo, el consenso de la conveniencia de apostar por Alaba es total, tanto en Zidane —lo pidió en 2016— como en las oficinas. Se valoran sus capacidades técnicas y físicas, su madurez y, sobre todo, su polivalencia al poder ejercer como central, lateral o centrocampista. Con la renovación de Ramos en duda, aunque su llegada no está supeditada en un principio al adiós del capitán madridista, el Madrid ha movido ficha por el jugador del Bayern. La oposición de otros grandes europeos y la propia tesitura del mercado impiden asegurar que Alaba vista de blanco el próximo curso. No hay nada decidido. El City, el United y el PSG no se rinden, el Liverpool busca la forma y el Barcelona es una incógnita que no puede ser eliminada. Ningún club, eso sí, está mejor colocado que el Madrid en estos momentos.

La controversia del reconocimiento

El entorno de David Alaba desmiente que haya pasado ningún reconocimiento médico con el Real Madrid —hecho que sería ilegal, afirman— y sostiene que el chequeo al que se sometió se hizo para concertar un seguro privado en caso de lesión antes de resolver su futuro, además de como prueba certificada del buen estado de salud del futbolista de cara a los clubes interesados e inmersos en la negociación. 

El Manchester City golea al West Brom, pone la directa y es líder

El Manchester City ya ha puesto la directa. Y por lo visto en los años anteriores cuando ha pasado esto, ningún equipo es capaz de seguir este ritmo. La marcha más fuerte de los ‘citizens’ es una marcha imparable, más todavía viendo que el Liverpool no es capaz de mantener esos números. Los de Pep Guardiola ya suman 11 victorias consecutivas entre todas las competiciones y un total de 18 encuentros sin perder. Y, sobre todo, son líderes de la Premier League con 41 puntos y los mismos partidos que todos sus rivales.

Escudo/Bandera WBA

El apabullante triunfo contra el West Brom (0-5) se certificó en un primer tiempo donde sólo hubo un color. Un gol de Mahrez, uno de Cancelo y dos de Gündogan, que ya suma siete en liga y es el pichichi de los ‘citizens’, una irrupción goleadora inesperada. El centrocampista alemán no es que juegue más cerca del área que nunca, porque sigue partiendo de la posición de ‘8’ como siempre ha hecho, sino que llega al área en cada jugada. Y cuando el balón le cae en los pies está demostrando ver la portería más grande que nadie. Además, la facilidad con la que Cancelo está generando ocasiones, así como su presencia garantizada en tres cuartos para combinar, hacen de este Manchester City un mix ofensivo incontenible para equipos que tratan de defenderse en su mitad de campo. En la segunda mitad, ya con 0-4 en el marcador, Sterling hizo el suyo y finiquitó a los ‘baggies’.

Escudo/Bandera M. City

El West Brom no tuvo opción. Su único peligro llegó en los primeros dos minutos de partido, en dos jugadas a balón parado, y después se fueron hundiendo poco a poco para seguir confirmándose como uno de los favoritos al descenso. Los de Sam Allardyce son penúltimos y están a cinco puntos de la salvación.

Cambios

Bartley (45′, Robinson), Ferrán Torres (51′, Foden), Laporte (51′, Gündogan), Phillips (58′, Snodgrass), Gabriel Jesus (59′, Bernardo Silva), Robson-Kanu (63′, Karl Ahearne-Grant)

Goles

0-1, 5′: Gündogan, 0-2, 19′: Cancelo, 0-3, 29′: Gündogan, 0-4, 46′: Mahrez, 0-5, 56′: Sterling

Tarjetas

Arbitro: Chris Kavanagh
Arbitro VAR: Craig Pawson
Robson-Kanu (83′,Amarilla) Dara O’Shea (91′,Amarilla

Clasificación