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July 31, 2019

Christian Pulisic Scores First Two Goals for Chelsea in Friendly vs FC Salzburg (VIDEO)

July 31, 2019

With goals in the 20th and 28th minutes, Christian Pulisic netted a brace against FC Salzburg on Wednesday. The goals were his first two since transferring to Chelsea.

Pulisic also drew a foul that led to penalty kick converted by Ross Barkley in the 23rd minute.

Christian Pulisic’s first Chelsea goal

Pulisic’s first Chelsea goal was delivered by a perfect through ball from Pedro in the 20th minute. The American coolly finished a shot from the center of the box.

Pulisic’s second goal was a clever chip in the 28th minute. A similar through ball, this time by Barkley, led to the goal.

It was noted that Pulisic made many of the same runs in behind the line against Reading earlier this week, where he started and played the first half, but seemed to be missing the quality in pass and play from teammates on the field. Today however, the runs were met with the quality expected from a Champions League side, with the expected results.

The new Chelsea manager had this to say following the match.
“He is a big signing for us with big potential but the big question is he has to adapt to a different league,” Lampard said. “But I have seen already a really good attitude and a willingness to listen to information. He is 20 years of age so we have to remember he is young. I am happy to work with him, I want him to improve him.”

“He showed his quality and I love the nature of his goals where he has an intention to run behind the line and not come short, and the finishing was good,” Lampard said. “It is what he is going to have to do because he is going to play in the Premier League and the Champions League, this is the top end. A winger has to have the desire not just to be tidy but to be getting in behind people and then with his quality he can be a really big player for us.”

The big question remains. Will the young “Captain America” start for the Blues against the Reds come the opening fixture?

MLS All-Star Game Odds: Who Is Atlético Madrid and Why Are They Favored?

High Press 10 July 31, 2019

What: MLS All-Star Game
When: July 31st 8pm ET
Who: MLS All-Stars vs Atlético Madrid

The 2019 MLS All-Star Game is tonight!

The game takes place at Exploria Stadium in Orlando at 8pm ET and will air on FS1. MLS’ best will take on La Liga side Atlético Madrid.

About Atlético Madrid

Atlético Madrid is a perennial fixture in La Liga’s top 4 and the Champions League. They have performed well in their pre-season friendlies. Their 7-3 smashing of Real Madrid the past week grabbed global soccer headlines.

For US fans unfamiliar with the squad, Atléti are more recently known for their impenetrable defense. However, they’ve added some new attacking pieces that are transforming the team.

Their record-setting purchase of 19 year-old João Félix is already looking like a smart buy. Expect him and fellow forward Diego Costa to provide a couple of “wow” moments.

US soccer fans may be familiar with England international (and former Tottenham Hotspur) Kieran Trippier as well. The recent right-back transfer will help build from the back and provide some offensive spark.

Atlético goalkeeper Jan Oblak is regarded as among the best in the world.

Many US fans would’ve be familiar with French striker Antoine Griezmann. He recently transferred from Atléti to Barcelona.

Regardless, even without Griezmann, Atléti is consistently one of the best 10-12 clubs in the world. Their new players are meshing well early. They’ll play entertaining soccer tonight.

MLS All-Star Game Odds

You can legally bet online in New Jersey and Pennsylvania on the MLS All-Star Game. DraftKings Sportsbook NJ has Atlético Madrid as the odds-on favorite.

If needed, for a refresher, visit how to bet on soccer.

MLS All-Stars +245Draw +330Atlético Madrid -118

Oddsmakers expect this to be a relatively low-scoring game for a friendly/exhibition. While over 3.5 goals is the favored outcome at -117, it’s not a heavy favorite. Under 3.5 is priced at -105.

However, it’s important to note that the last time a MLS All-Star Game produced 4 goals was in 2013 (with AS Roma as the opponent). These are historically low-scoring affairs.

So this is mostly a gut call, but we’re due for a more open game. With the new talent trying to earn minutes at Atlético, don’t be surprised to see 4-5 total goals in this one. If you’re feeling really adventurous, look at the 5.5 over at +440.

Transfer Grade: Arsenal Sign Nicolas Pepe for £72 Million ($89M USD)

Chops July 31, 2019

Who: Nicolas Pepe
From Where: Lille
To Where: Arsenal
For How Much: £72 million ($89M USD)
Grade for Arsenal: B
Grade for Lille: A

Nicolas Pepe to Arsenal Overview

So much for that supposed £45M ($55M) transfer budget!

Arsenal wasn’t expected to do much this summer. Instead, they’ve done some really smart business and strengthened their squad.

Nicolas Pepe tore up Ligue 1 last year. On one hand, that’s like saying you’re the prettiest girl on the Isle of Man. On the other, no one denies how talented Pepe is.

Pepe won’t solve Arsenal’s defensive issues (we like 18 year-old center-back William Saliba, but it may take a year of growth and adjustment before he makes an impact and that’s after he spends another year with St. Etienne on loan). With new arrival Dani Ceballos, as well as existing menaces Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, Arsenal may score so much now that their defense doesn’t matter.

Who is he?

Pepe, 24, was one of the most sought-after players of the transfer window. He was linked to many major clubs, including Liverpool in the Premier League.

Pepe is fast. He’s very skilled and has a nose for the goal. Pepe tallied 22 goals and 11 assists for Ligue 1 runner-up Lille last year.

The Ivory Coast international was by any metric (or in this case, WhoScored) one of Ligue 1’s top performers last year.

Is the price fair?

For a team that reportedly wasn’t going to spend much, Arsenal backed up the Brinks truck for Pepe.

As we did with the Moise Kean to Everton transfer, it’s worth looking at Joelinton to Newcastle for £40m and Luka Jovic to Real Madrid for €60M. And for that matter, Sebastien Haller to West Ham for £45 million.

Most would agree that Pepe is the better player of the four listed above. But is he £25 million+ better than Haller?

Arsenal paid a premium for Pepe. The good news for the Gunners is he’s just entering his prime and if he ends up a perennial Gold Boot threat, nobody in Emirates Stadium will be complaining.

What impact should we expect?

Arsenal have whiffs of 2017-18 Liverpool now.

That squad played heavy-metal football to its most extreme degrees. However, defensive woes (at least until Virgil van Dijk arrived) and goalkeeper issues kept Liverpool from reaching their full potential. Arsenal have that same vibe now, assuming no further transfers in occur.

Pepe is going to form a terrifying trio with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette. Yes, PEA and Lacazette are both getting long in the tooth and may start dropping off in quality–but both are still elite goal scorers. Combine their veteran savvy with Pepe, and wow.

As indicated by his assist tally, Pepe is wonderful at weaving through balls. He will open up nearly as many scoring opportunities as he’ll finish himself. Liverpool will rue not signing Pepe. He’s exactly the type of player they needed to compete for multiple trophies.

The Grades

Arsenal (B): Hats off to Arsenal. They’re going for it. Only get docked a letter grade because of the price. They paid a premium that will be hard to recoup. All of the pressure is on them to make a top 4 finish this year.

Added bonus for Arsenal is this will likely pressure Manchester United to overspend on Harry Maguire.

Lille (A): They got maximum value. Hate to see a club that made an unexpected and impressive run lose their key player, but they were paid handsomely.

Transfer Grade: Everton Steal Moise Kean from Juventus for £29M ($36M USD)

Chops July 31, 2019

Who: Moise Kean
From Where: Juventus
To Where: Everton
For How Much: £29 million ($36M USD) plus add-ons
Grade for Everton: A
Grade for Juventus: D

Moise Kean to Everton Overview

Another day, another team outside the Premier League Big 6 throws down the gauntlet!

Everton continues to build on a strong summer by snagging talented striker Moise Kean from Juventus.

The deal is for a relatively modest £29 million. It’s a good bit of business for Everton. They’ve now spent around £62 million ($75M) on transfers this summer–or over £60M more than Merseyside rivals Liverpool.

Who is he?

Moise Kean is a 19 year old striker from Italy.

He made his senior team debut with Juventus as a 16 year-old in November 2016. He was loaned to Verona for the 2017-18 season before returning to Juventus.

Kean was stuck behind Cristiano Ronaldo on the depth chart, but he still managed to net 6 goals in only 536 minutes (8 games / 5 starts) for Juventus in Serie A. He’s also scored 2 goals in 3 caps for the Italian national team.

Is the price fair?

Yes. Very.

Two worthy comparables are Joelinton to Newcastle for £40m and Luka Jovic to Real Madrid for €60M.

Joelinton and Jovic — both 21 — were more productive in larger roles for lesser squads. In a more limited / less featured role, Kean scored at a Divock Origi-esque goal per 89 minutes.

In limited national team action, he’s also near a goal per 90.

The kid will get goals. So at that price and age, yes, it’s a good deal.

What impact should we expect?

It’s never easy to project how a 19 year-old, born in Italy and used to the annoying and overly dramatic histrionics of Serie A football Italian style of play will adapt to the colder, damper, more physical Premier League. However, his talent is undeniable. His fast and has a proper striker’s mentality of getting goals at any cost.

That’s good, because other than penetrating and finishing, he’s still a work in progress. You’ll notice a lack of assists on his stat sheet. That’s because he doesn’t really link up well. Or look to even. While 6’0, he’s not a beast on aerials or a set piece threat yet.

Regardless, he’s 19 and can improve there. How he’ll fit with Everton is obvious: he’ll combine with young and inconsistent but talented Richarlison and the Icelandic af Gylfi Sigurdsson to form a potent attack.

Richarlison and Sigurdsson each netted 13 goals last campaign. The next closest on the squad had 6 (Dominic Calvert-Lewin).

If Kean integrates well with the squad, he could give Everton three double-digit goal scorers. Combined with world-class left-back Lucas Digne, center-back Michael Keane, and goalie Jordan Pickford–this Everton team can challenge for a top 6 spot.

The Grades

Everton (A): Kean made every “top under 20 player in the world” list you saw last year. Everton needed another goal scoring threat. To get him at such a fair price is a major coup.

Juventus (D): Unless there is something going on behind-the-scenes with Kean that Juventus saw and didn’t like, this deal makes no sense. And even then, it still doesn’t make much sense.

Ronaldo is old and not getting better. Kean is young and only getting better. Why give up on him now? Did they need the money? This may be a move Juventus ends up regretting in a major way years from now.

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