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August 8, 2019

West Ham United vs Manchester City Matchday 1 Preview

August 8, 2019

Who: West Ham vs Manchester City
When: Saturday, August 10th @ 7:30am ET on NBC Sports
Where: London Stadium
Line: West Ham +1100| Draw +550 | Man City -435

The 2019-20 Premier League season kicks off tomorrow. Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City aims to do the threepeat this time, something they’ve never achieved in their pre-21st-century history (which wasn’t much to speak of, in fairness). Who said oil money can’t build a legacy?

However, their title defence isn’t starting with an easy fixture. Former manager Manuel Pellegrini stands in their way, with West Ham United ready take down the champions. The Hammers have themselves made impressive summer signings and will not at all back down without a fight. If City wants a win on opening weekend, they’ll have to produce their absolute best to get it done.

West Ham United likely XI:

Fabianski, Fredericks, Diop, Balbuena, Masuaku, Rice, Noble, Fornals, Lanzini, Anderson, Haller.

West Ham United’s big-money signing Sebastien Haller is expected to make his much-anticipated Premier League bow against the champions. Exciting Spaniard Pablo Fornals should also be involved, as both players are going to be crucial towards spicing up their attacking rhythm. New striker Albian Ajeti, meanwhile, is not expected to feature after being signed on deadline day.

Manchester City likely XI:

Ederson, Walker, Stones, Laporte, Zinchenko, Rodri, Gundogan, B.Silva, De Bruyne, Sterling, Aguero.

Manchester City’s newest signing Joao Cancelo is unlikely to feature after having arrived in England very recently. Their record-midfielder Rodri is set to make his Premier League debut after impressing in the Community Shield game. Sergio Aguero and Ederson, both who were on the bench on Sunday, should be in contention for starting while Fernandinho is still not quite match-fit.

West Ham United vs Manchester City preview

While this isn’t exactly a David & Goliath match-up, West Ham really needs to chug hard to reach City’s level. Pellegrini’s created a competitive squad with quality acquisitions, but his team isn’t perfectly gelled together like City. Guardiola’s side knows every little detail of each other’s strengths, making them even scarier to face.

For the Spaniard, the record-breaking deal just never ends since he arrived at England. He’ll become the first foreign manager to win the Premier League thrice in a row (Jose Mourinho did it twice consecutively) if he manages to repeat the feat this time around. However, for me, their defence could cause internal problems in their game this season.

Inability to replace Vincent Kompany could lead to defensive hiccups. However, to me,  City are just too strong going forward to be fazed defensively. Kevin de Bruyne and Bernardo Silva are already looking unstoppable as their creative midfield core. Sergio Aguero along with Raheem Sterling’s goal-scoring phenomenon will blow away West Ham as well as others going forward.

Manuel Pellegrini has done well to keep his core, even though it’s meant to sell striker Marko Arnautovic. He’s implemented an exciting, fast-paced attacking style which sees West Ham create beautiful goals, but doing so against City is difficult.

Of course, new signing Haller will have every fan’s attention with his incredible physical attributes making him a menace in the box. Along with Pablo Fornals, Manuel Lanzini and Felipe Anderson tormenting defences with their clever movement as well as clinical work going forward, I think the Hammers could end up causing multiple headaches for City.

Prediction

As much I’d love to say the champions are suffering a shock, I just can’t see it happening. City are just too strong right now. Even though West Ham’s attack could trouble them, their attacking force should consolidate an emphatic victory to start the title defence.

Oddsmakers Think Christian Pulisic Will Score 10 Goals and Serve Up 10 Assists This Season for Chelsea

High Press 10 August 8, 2019

It’s the question on all US soccer fans’ mind as the 2019-20 Premier League season is about to kick off: how will Christian Pulisic do for Chelsea?

Oddsmakers think he’ll do pretty damn good.

Pulisic is odds-on favorite to tally at least 10 goals and 10 assists, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

Christian Pulisic Goal and Assist Prop Bets

Here are Christian Pulisic goal props:

Over 9.5 -134Over 12.5 +320Over 15.5 +1600
Over 17.5 +5000Over 19.5 +15000

In 4 seasons at Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga, Pulisic netted 13 goals (15 total in all competitions). Last season, Pulisic battled injuries and Jadon Sancho for playing time. In 924 minutes, he recorded 4 goals.

Scoring 5 goals, let alone 10, would be unprecedented for Pulisic. He’ll be more featured at Chelsea, is older and more skilled now, and has looked fantastic in preseason. But let’s temper our expectations here.

Also, Pulisic won’t be the featured penalty taker. That will likely fall on Ross Barkley. Not getting those 5-7 opportunities for taking one from the spot make hitting double digits all the less likely.


Here are Christian Pulisic assist props:

Over 9.5 -223Over 12.5 +200Over 15.5 +800
Over 17.5 +2500Over 19.5 +7000

The most assists Pulisic recorded at BVB was 6…in 2016-17. 

However, if Pulisic is hitting the over on either of these, expect it to be on the assists. 

What can we expect from Pulisic?

If the preseason is any indication, Pulisic will be just fine at Chelsea. He’ll feature and do well. Expecting 10 and 10 from the 20 year old isn’t realistic. Not this year.

A 7 goal, 11 assist performance is more in line with reality. It would also be a helluva debut season.

Transfer Grades: Arsenal Bolster Defense with David Luiz, Kieran Tierney Signings

August 8, 2019

Who: David Luiz
From Where: Chelsea
To Where: Arsenal
For How Much: £8million ($9.7M USD)
Grade For Arsenal: B
Grade For Chelsea: B+

Who: Kieran Tierney
From Where: Celtic
To Where: Arsenal
For How Much: £25million ($30M)
Grade For Arsenal: A
Grade For Celtic: C

David Luiz to Arsenal Overview

Deadline day was crazy in North London, wasn’t it? Some outrageous deals were completed throughout the Premier League. However, there aren’t many more than David Luiz moving cross-London to join arch-rivals Arsenal from Chelsea.

So Frank Lampard wasn’t convinced with the Brazilian’s ability, hence granted a sale to a desperate Arsenal. Luiz has now joined up under Unai Emery in a fluid, attack-minded system which will also complement his aggressive style.

He’s an expert when it comes to playing out from defence, shooting blazing free-kicks and emphatic headers, but questioned have questioned his defensive capabilities. Can he curb his error-prone nature for Arsenal’s benefit? The Gooners hope so.

Who Is He?

David Luiz, 32, is a Brazilian international who has enjoyed two separate stints at Chelsea. His first one was from 2011-14, while the second one started in 2016, after which he won the league.

In 160 Premier League appearances, he’s scored 11 times and helped Chelsea keep 56 clean-sheets. At his previous club, Paris Saint-Germain, he made 56 Ligue 1 appearances, also winning the league title twice.

At the international level, the Brazilian has also made 56 appearances for his national side. American fans might remember him for all the wrong reasons, as he was a major culprit in Brazil’s embarrassing 1-7 loss against Germany in the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Luiz is an aggressive tackler, who tends to lose his senses on one-too-many occasions.

Kieran Tierney to Arsenal overview

Well, this deal finally gets done! Arsenal had been chasing Kieran Tierney through the entire summer window, having multiple offers rejected before finally nailing a deal with the Scottish champions.

The Celtic fans are left fuming over losing such a gem of the player. When you see his work in the field, can you really blame them? Unai Emery had been chasing Tierney for a long time and, for me, landed a future star.

What is Celtic’s loss is their gain, as Arsenal’s left-back position is finally secured with an all-round star. Tierney is a nightmare when he bombs forward down the left, but his defensive capabilities have kept men double his side quiet in recent years. The Gunnars will surely hope he keeps the Premier League wingers at bay.

Who Is He?

Tierney, 22, is a Scottish International who has been at Celtic for the past 14 years.

The Scotsman joined Celtic when he was 7 years old, eventually working up through their youth system into the senior team. He won the Scottish Treble Treble(their domestic league+cups competitions three years consecutively!) in recent years.

On the international stage, Tierney’s made 12 appearances for Scotland. He’s actually the understudy/backup to Liverpool’s Andy Robertson! Could we see a tug-of-war for a national team spot in the Premier League? You bet we can!

Tierney, at 5’10’, is a relatively smaller lad but has the heart for days to run oppositions ragged.

Are The Prices Fair?

Let’s all agree that the reported £45 million budget for Arsenal was probably the biggest myth of the summer?

After bagging in Nicolas Pepe for a club-record fee, the Gunnars have showcased an extremely shrewd nature with their next double acquisitions. At only £25million ($30M), Tierney is, to me, an absolute steal. He’s already proven to be a hard-working left-back at Celtic, but surely has his best years ahead.

It could take time for him to adapt. But once he gets accustomed to Premier League’s surroundings, he’ll not only neutralize top wingers, but also become an absolute menace down the left-wing to prove himself a steal for the reported amount.

Not so defensively agile is David Luiz. Over the years, he’s been the butt for many defensive jokes. Once he can put in a wondrous defensive performance, but follow it up with a disaster-show the next week. However, for £8million ($9.7M), which is considered cheap at this market, Luiz’s experience along with fearless factors should work in Arsenal’s favour.

What Impact Should We Expect?

After having conceded cheap goals like flies last season, there was an immediate need to solidify Arsenal’s defence. Kieran Tierney should fit into Unai Emery’s four-line or even five-man backline seamlessly because of his versatility.

The 22-year-old can operate as a full-back or a wing-back, playing to his side’s strengths after having read the situation. When necessary, he’ll sit back defensively, make crucial challenges to fend away danger. When his side needs him, he’ll race upon forward. He isn’t one-dimensional like Saed Kolasinac or Nacho Monreal, which is obviously a good thing.

The workaholic left-back still has much to learn, but is a passionate lad ready to play his heart out for the badge. Knowing Tierney’s limitless ability, I feel Emery could churn him into among Premier League’s best left-backs for the years to come.

While Tierney’s clearly a long-term buy, David Luiz is anything but one. At 32 years of age, retirement’s bound to come calling his name. However, the positive Brazilian never allows his age to wear him down, always putting in hyperactive performances to dominate proceedings.

That does lead to defensive breakdowns occasionally, but Luiz is a positive influence on the youngsters. He’s a cheery lad with a fiery attitude, tough-tackling nature and an unflinching attitude. Luiz’s positivity should cloud over his defensive vulnerabilities, while I think his leadership traits might strengthen their backbone.

The Grades:

David Luiz:

Arsenal (B)

Of course, Luiz isn’t the ideal centre-back Arsenal would’ve wanted in this window, but he’s the only one who was willing to make the jump. The Gunnars are desperate for some experience in their backline and are getting just that with the confident 32-year-old. He’ll integrate into the system seamlessly to help work the ball out their defence better. Emery just needs to pray his tendency to change games with his silly mistakes is toned down.

Chelsea (B+)

Call me nuts, but I think Chelsea are actually getting a great deal. Frank Lampard didn’t really care for a temperamental defender like Luiz. Now he can easily integrate the youngsters into his starting XI. They could be short in experience, but at least that everlasting worry off something going wrong isn’t hovering over their heads anymore.

Kieran Tierney:

Arsenal (A)

Believe me, but Kieran Tierney could end up a better buy for Arsenal than Nicolas Pepe! The left-back is packed with the potential to become something big. Looking at how Andy Robertson rose through at Liverpool, Tierney can experience a similar rise. A complete left-back with that cutting edge in his game, the Scotsman is easily the permanent left-back for the Gunnars over the next decade.

Celtic (C)

Celtic, on the other hand, obviously don’t feel so good on losing Tierney. He was a vital part in their unprecedented domination in the Scottish Premiership for years and one of their own all the way through. Producing another committed, determined asset like him is nearly impossible, as the Scottish Champions could experience left-back problems of their own now.

2019-20 Premier League Preview: Tottenham and Arsenal

Chops August 8, 2019

We’re nearing the end of our 2019-20 Premier League previews. Today’s focus is on the High Press Soccer consensus 3rd and 4th place clubs, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur.

First, to recap:

Also be sure to check out our 2019-20 Premier League Predictions.

Alright, here’s a rundown of Tottenham and Arsenal’s odds and outlook.

Arsenal 2019-20 Premier League Preview

Last Season: 5th in Premier League
Last Time Champions: 2003-04
Stadium: Emirates Stadium
Nickname: The Gunners
Manager: Unai Emery
Key Additions: Nicolas Pepe, Kieran Tierney, Dani Ceballos, David Luiz, William Saliba (though loaned back to St. Etienne)
Best Player: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Can Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang challenge for the Golden Boot again?

Yeah, so, Arsenal. They really turned their summer around, right?

The Gunners were already giddy about their upcoming season after snagging Ligue 1 stars Nicolas Pepe from Lille and William Saliba from St. Etienne (he won’t be joining until next year). Their defense was still pourous, but they were going to score enough that it didn’t matter.

Then at the deadline, they pull off a coup, securing David Luiz from Chelsea and Kieran Tierney from Celtic.

While that’s still not enough to challenge Manchester City or Liverpool for a title, it should be enough to firmly plant their flag in the top 4. 

A bit of Arsenal history:

  • They were founded in 1886.
  • They’ve been consecutively in England’s first division longer than any other team.
  • Arsenal has won the first division 13 times (the last being 2003-04).
  • That season Arsenal did not lose a game in the Premier League (the Invincibles year).
  • They also hold the record for most consecutive matches without a loss (49).
  • They’ve won the League Cup twice.
  • Their 13 FA Cups is a record.
  • They have 1 European title (1993-94). 

Why you should like Arsenal:

  • The Gunners is a pretty badass nickname. That wouldn’t fly in America (see: Bullets)
  • This will be an exciting squad. They’re going to score. 

Arsenal betting odds: (odds via DraftKings Sportsbook NJ)

  • To win Premier League: +5000
  • To finish top 4: +125
  • To finish top 6: -400
  • Relegation: +100000

Arsenal Outlook:

Of the big 6 teams, Arsenal was the surprise club of the summer. Early reports indicated they’d have a meager transfer budget. Then they spent $163M.

Their purchases were both splashy (Pepe) and opportunistic (Luiz).

This team will score. Emery will get them properly organized. And on the deadline day, they’ve improved their backline–which was easily their biggest weakness.

Arsenal still have the worst odds of the big 6 for a top 4 spot (+125). That’s absolutely worth a look. This team is for real.

Tottenham Hotspur 2019-20 Premier League Preview

Last Season: 4th in Premier League
Last Time Champion: 1960-61
Stadium: Wembley Stadium
Nickname: Spurs
Manager: Mauricio Pochettino
Key Additions: Tanguy Ndombele, Ryan Sessegnon, Giovani Lo Celso
Best Player: Harry Kane

With some new additions around him finally, expect Harry Kane to do some damage.

Tottenham’s 2019 was uneven at best. They were 11th in Premier League points from January on, but gutted their way to a Champions League final. 

Their lack of depth hurt them considerable down the stretch, as Harry Kane and Heung-min Son both missed chunks of time. 

After two summers with no transfer activity, Spurs went for it this year. New additions Tanguy Ndombele, Ryan Sessegnon, and Giovani Lo Celso are impact players. Are they enough for Spurs to challenge for their first ever Premier League title?

A bit of Spurs history:

  • The club was founded in 1882.
  • They have two first division titles, the last being 1960-61. 
  • Spurs have won the FA Cup 8 times (1990-91 being the last) and League Cup 4 times (2007-08 being the last).
  • Their sole European title was in the 1961-62 season.
  • Wolves claim 2 League Cups, with the last coming in 1979-80.

Why you should like Spurs:

  • Because there’s no reason not to like them? They’re like vanilla ice cream. It’s rarely someone’s favorite flavor, but nobody hates vanilla ice cream either. 
  • Mauricio Pochettino is a helluva manager. 
  • Son is a helluva player to watch. 
  • Harry Kane likes the Patriots. He wants to kick field goals in the NFL one day.

Spurs betting odds: (odds via DraftKings Sportsbook NJ)

  • To win Premier League: +1800
  • To finish top 4: -200
  • To finish top 6: -1000
  • Relegation: +200000

Spurs Outlook:

Even had Spurs not made any purchases this summer, they’d be a consensus top 4 team. With their additions, this could be the strongest Spurs team we’ve seen since…well, 2016-17.

That team was fantastic, ending the season with 86 points and a second place finish. With so much depth in the Premier League this season, and considering the strength of Liverpool and Manchester City, it’ll be hard for Spurs to hit the upper 80’s. However, the squad itself may be better than the ’16-17 version. 

Spurs are capable of beating anyone on any day. They’re safely a top 4 team. They’ll be awesome. Yet…they’ll still be a tick below Liverpool and City. 

 

Transfer Grades: Romelu Lukaku Leaves Manchester United for Inter Milan

August 8, 2019

Who: Romelu Lukaku
From Where: Manchester United
To Where: Inter Milan
For How Much: £73 million ($88.7M USD)
Grade For Inter Milan: B+
Grade For Manchester United: B

Romelu Lukaku to Inter Milan Overview

So it’s finally done. After a long-stretched summer saga involving Romelu Lukaku training with Manchester United, controversially leaking their training stats and then going on strike to train with another club, he’s finally received his dream move.

It needed some forcing to do, but good luck to him in Serie A! He should take to the Italian league fairly well having united with a long admirer Antonio Conte. The Belgian never really got kicking at Manchester United, but now leave the Premier League for a new journey.

United are losing a natural striker, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s already indicated he’s not exactly fond of his style. Inter, on the other hand, receive the natural striker they’ve been hunting for all summer long to replace disgraced former captain Mauro Icardi.

This seems a match made in heaven. Just for their fans’ sake, hope it doesn’t turn out sour for Inter as it did for United.

Who is he?

Romelu Lukaku, 26, is a Belgian international who has featured for Manchester United since the 20187-18 season.

In all, he netted 28 goals in 66 appearances for the Red Devils. He was a bit more productive at his previous club, Everton. In 110 appearances from 2015-17, Lukaku tallied 53 goals.

He’s produced at a similar level for the Belgium national team as well, with 48 goals in 81 caps. American fans might remember him from the havoc he caused in the 2014 World Cup Round of 16 against the USMNT. Coming on as a sub, he assisted on Kevin de Bruyne’s goal and scored the winner in the 105th minute.

Lukaku is a bruiser. He’s 6’3, physical, and as he tweeted out recently, faster than you’d think.

Is the price fair?

The total cost, including add-ons, climbs up to a hefty £73 million. Even in this inflated modern market, that is no joke!

However, if the 26-year-old plays to his strengths and guides Inter to some trophies or challenging with Juventus, he’ll be worth the fee in the long-run. To his benefit, Conte will angle his attacking style around the Belgian, not allowing him to fluff chances or expose his hilarious first-touch.

Conte’s style should suit him better, as it tenders to require the strikers to just focus on the goal-scoring. With a packed midfield and creative players behind him, Lukaku should find his confidence back. Considering his bullish physical aspects along with goal-scoring versatility, the more tactical Serie A should, for me, unleash his best traits.

As long as he keeps scoring goals, the 26-year-old can keep the doubters silenced. To Inter’s credit, the Belgian is yet to hit his peak, something he can achieve under a mentor like Conte. If he fulfils his prophecy of banging in goals consistently, it’ll be a gamble well taken from the Nerazzurri.

What impact should we expect?

For Inter, Lukaku’s the last piece to complete Conte’s new puzzle. After a long chase, the Italian gaffer now plans on getting the best out of him. He’ll be the centrepiece in Inter’s 3-5-2- formation, which is slowly being integrated.

The Nerazzurri have already made a flurry of transfers assured to benefit their new striker, with wingers Mateo Politano, Valentino Lazaro both capable of churning chances one after another for strikers. Nicolo Barella’s the creative midfielder to find the Belgian’s forward runs. Influential players like Ivan Perisic, Stefano Sensi would only amplify his effectiveness.

Of course, Lukaku’s prime objective will be to take Serie A by storm, contributing towards goals in possibly every game. Considering that he’s scored in double digits consecutively for their past few seasons, there’s a belief he’ll be netting 20+ strikes this time around as well.

More than just the scoring aspect, he’s also proven to work in a two-man forward line. This means good things for rising star Lautaro Martinez, with whom he’ll probably create a dynamic partnership knowing their similar traits.

Moreover, the Belgian’s crossing ability as well as work through the wings will add another dimension to stretch Conte’s attacking plans. If he hits his stride and finds his ability to make an impact in big games, I think Lukaku can definitely eclipse Icardi’s goal-scoring phenomenon at Inter.

The Grades:

Inter Milan (B+)

Of course, breaking their club-record for Lukaku shows ambition on Inter’s side. As long as he can maintain consistency while also stop making blunders on the pitch, the Belgian should be a brilliant buy for them. He’s a game-changer, can win them many points, while also being capable of adding that fear-factor back into their game with his lethal goalscoring ability.

Manchester United (B)

As weird as it’d be to say this is a profitable deal for both clubs, I think Manchester United will be pleased to get such a high fee for the erroneous Belgian. He never really hit his peak at Manchester, always fluffing in big games as well as struggling to maintain his rhythm. He never suited OGS’s style anyway, as if United sign a top-quality striker with the received amount in winter, it’ll also be a win-win for United.

NYCFC vs Houston Dynamo Match Preview and Odds

Peter Nolan August 8, 2019

Who: NYCFC vs. Houston Dynamo
Where: Yankee Stadium – Bronx
When: August 8 – 7:00 PM ET
Line: NYCFC -210 | Draw +335 | Houston +540


STREAMING: MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US, on DAZN in Canada

New York City FC returns home to the cozy confines of Yankee Stadium Thursday night following last weekend’s disappointing 3-1 loss at Real Salt Lake. With all of their rivals playing over that same weekend, NYC retained games in hand over the four teams above them in the standings.

A win on Thursday would, therefore, see NYC climb to third in the East with 38 points, one behind Atlanta.

NYCFC comes into this match in a feisty mood, led by coach Dome Torrent who is none too happy with the league for deciding to play his star Maxi Moralez versus Atletico Madrid in last week’s All-Star game.

Here is what Torrent told NYCFC radio broadcaster, Glenn Crooks (@GlennCrooks):

Dome Torrent, missing his 10, isn’t happy w/ #MLS: “I don’t understand why @MLS decide to play w/ Maxi Moralez. Everybody knows he was injured. He played 70% walking all the time. I’m not sure if he’s ready to play the next game. And look-he played in All-Stars.” #RSLvNYC #NYCFC

Given that we saw Moralez limp off of the Etihad Pitch at Yankee Stadium on July 26, just four days before the All-Star Game, and given further that Moralez did not dress for New York’s 3-1 loss to Real Salt Lake on August 3rd, Torrent would seem to have every reason to be angry.

The status of the MLS assist leader is uncertain for Thursday.

NYCFC vs Houston Dynamo Preview

Houston comes to the Bronx without a goal on its side of the ledger over its past 180 minutes, dropping a pair of 1-0 losses at home to Chicago and Seattle. Wilmer Cabrera’s side has to go back to July 20th for a goal-scoring memory, when the Dynamo put three into the Toronto net in a 3-1 victory.

Former NYCFC fan favorite Tommy McNamara notched one that night. The Rockland County native has become an important piece for Cabrera both from the start and off of the bench.

This match also offers New York area fans one last chance to tip a cap or raise a glass, or in some way honor the USMNT great DaMarcus Beasley, who has announced that this will be his final season as a professional soccer player.

Along with having one of the all-time great nicknames, Run DMB has represented American soccer since 2000 and through four World Cups, the only American to actually play in four Mundials. He is also the first Yank to have advanced to the UEFA Champions League Semifinal, where his PSV Eindhoven was eliminated by AC Milan.

With six starts this season, Beasley is no longer a regular for Houston, but he is still capable of providing a moment of magic. He did so versus Club America in the inaugural League’s Cup on July 24 when he turned the clock all the way back, raided down the left wing and powered a beaut past the Mexican club’s keeper. Houston lost on PKs but it was a fitting reminder of what Run DMB has provided for the USMNT for so many years.

If Houston is to trouble NYC at Yankee Stadium on Thursday night, then that trouble will likely come from one of Mauro Manotas, Alberth Elis, or Romell Quioto, with Memo Rodriquez and Tommy McNamara on hand to lend support.

But New York will be looking to make up for a disappointing trip to the mountains last week and Maxi Moralez’ status notwithstanding, Torrent’s men should come out on top.

Where to Bet NYCFC in the US

If you’re interesting in betting MLS in the US, 1) you need to be a resident of NJ, PA, or NV, and 2) you need to sign up for an account at DraftKings Sportsbook NJ or FanDuel Sportbook.

All NYCFC games and futures are listed and available.

If Mesut Ozil Goes to DC United, Is He Immediately the Best Player in MLS?

Chops August 8, 2019

Goodbye Wayne Rooney. Hello…Mesut Ozil?

Reports broke today and were confirmed by ESPN FC that DC United will begin holding talks with Arsenal about bringing Mesut Ozil to MLS during the January transfer window.

Who is Mesut Ozil?

Ozil, 30, for a time was considered among the best midfielders in the world. He’s certainly paid like one, earning $22.2M per year.

Ozil joined Arsenal in 2013 and enjoyed a number of elite seasons. His 2015-16 domestic campaign was particularly impressive, as he tallied 6 goals and an absurd 19 assists for the Gunners. That’d be good for second all time, behind Thierry Henry’s 20 in 2002-03.

The German international though has fallen way out of favor with manager Unai Emery. As prolific of an offensive weapon as Ozil can be, he now contributes almost nothing defensively.

Regardless, Ozil has plenty of silverware in his trophy case. He’s won three FA Cups with Arsenal, a La Liga title with Real Madrid (2011-12), and a World Cup with Germany in 2014.

How would Ozil do in MLS?

Frankly, he’d rip the league up.

His lack of defensive work wouldn’t be much of an issue as he’d be so much better than anyone else in the league offensively (see: Ibrahimovic, Zlatan).

The two obvious comparables for how he’d do would be Wayne Rooney and Zlatan.

Rooney’s last season in the Premier League with Everton (2017-18, age 31) saw him tally 10 goals and 2 assists in 2,284 minutes. His 6.64 WhoScored rating was fairly average.

Ibra’s last full season with Manchester United (2016-17, age 34) saw him tear the league up for 17 goals, 5 assists in 2,437 minutes and a 7.41 WhoScored rating.

As noted, Ozil fell out of favor with Emery last season. He still managed 5 goals, 2 assists in 1,742 minutes for a 6.78 WhoScored rating. The drop off with Ozil didn’t appear age related. It was fit.

The pre-Emery ’17-18 season Ozil tallied four goals, 8 assists in
2,164 for a 7.25 rating. This seems a little closer in line to how Ozil would perform in a more featured role.

At 30, he’s still on the tail-end of his prime. He’s a next-level passer at his best. At a less intense speed-of-play, I could see the game slowing down for Ozil like he was Neo at the end of The Matrix. Perhaps being away from the scrutiny and drama he’s faced in Europe recently would also free him up to enjoy the game and buy-in more.

For Ozil, DCU, and MLS’ sake, I hope this transfer happens.

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