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November 5, 2019

Kepa’s Diving Header Own-Goal Is A Scott Sterling Moment (VIDEO)

High Press 10 November 5, 2019
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Poor Kepa Arrizabalaga. He deserves better than to have his very own Scott Sterling moment leading to an own goal. Ooof.

Or frame-by-frame:

Chelsea Player Ratings vs Ajax – Champions League Matchday 4

Avatar November 5, 2019
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Chelsea hosted Ajax in the UEFA Champions League matchday 4 game looking to retain their place as toppers of Group H. Frank Lampard’s side barely achieved that with a 4-4 thriller. They were in for an early shocker when Quincy Promes’ 2nd-minute free-kick was put into his own net by Tammy Abraham’s botched clearance. Immediately afterwards, Christian Pulisic won them a penalty which Jorginho converted to make it 1-1!

However, the visitors took control once again when Promes headed in from Hakim Ziyech’s pitch-perfect cross in the 20th minute to go ahead. Ziyech then created a moment of magic when he swirled in a brilliant free-kick in the 35th minute over Kepa Arizzabalaga’s head to make it 3-1! Well, it hit the Spaniard so it’s his own-goal. 

 Chelsea threatened a comeback with a fiery start to the second half, but then Ziyech assisted again to allow Donny van de Beek to score an expert strike in the 54th to make it 4-1! Chelsea then pulled one back in the 63rd minute when Abraham’s inward header was tapped into the net by Cesar Azpilicueta. 

Ajax then had both centre-backs Daley Blind and Joel Veltmenn sent off around the 70th minute and Jorginho also converted the second penalty Chelsea received to make it 3-4! Chelsea then scored again in the 74th minute to make it 4-4 with substitute Reece James scoring his debut goal blasting past a sea of bodies! This was a crazy game. Think of it as Arsenal 5-5 Liverpool one on steriods. 

Chelsea Player Ratings

Manager

Frank Lampard (7.5) –

Lampard took a big gamble going with an attacking style against the dangerous Ajax. When it was 1-4, it looked he had done a stinker. But his never-say-die attitude then triggered his side to reach superhero levels of confidence. Lampard’s inspired substitutions fueled his side’s comeback and his tactics worked wonders again. The way he allowed his boys to relentlessly attack was a good thing to see. He’s building something special here. 

Goalkeeper

Kepa Arrizabalaga (5.0) –

After his late heroics against Watford, Kepa was in for an early shocker when Promes’ free-kick whirled into his net in the 2nd minute!  Could do nothing about the second either. But he should’ve saved Ziyech’s twirling free-kick which zoomed over him, hit the bar, smacked his face and went in. Own goals galore tonight! Well his hilarious own-goal has already become viral

Saved his graces somewhat with a solid diving save in the 86th. But this will always be remembered for THAT own-goal. 

Defenders

Cesar Azpilicueta (6.0) –

Captain Azpi foolishly gave away an early free-kick with a horrible challenge, eventually leading to Ajax’s strike. Again at fault for the second goal allowing Promes to surge past him to score an easy goal. Saw a yellow-card before half-time for a blatant obstruction on Tagliafico.

Somewhat redeemed his defensive frailties by tapping in from one yard out in the 63rd minute. He looked a change man attacking through the left and seemed to have scored a second from close range in the 78th, but it was ruled out. 

Fikayo Tomori (5.0

The hero at Amsterdam isn’t the most convincing at his own yard. The youngster’s been turned inside out a couple of times already early on. Booked for a lunge on Neres whilst covering for Alonso. Outmuscled and outmanoeuvred by Neres leading to the 4th. Ajax forced him out of his comfort zone repeatedly and gave him a harsh reality check.  

Kurt Zouma (6.5)-

Zouma looks among the more composed in this frantic encounter. Made a few strong challenges early on to ease the tension. Could do very little to deny the goals, but almost scored a sensational goal when he found his inner Maradona, dribbled past multiple players but scuffed his shot over like a true defender. 

He was unlucky to see his thunderous header strike the post in the 73rd, but fortunate to see James score off the rebound. In a day when defending was forgotten about, he was probably the best defensively. 

Marcus Alonso (4.0) –

Alonso just doesn’t look able to comprehend Ajax’s pace tonight. Too lacklustre dealing with Ziyech and not closing him down quickly enough to stop crosses. Horribly concedes a needless free-kick leading to the 3rd goal after the half-hour mark. Looked absolutely clueless against the tricky Neres and provided very little in attack. Subbed at half-time. 

Midfielders

Jorginho (7.5) –

Jorginho showed nerves of steel by calmly converting his 4th-minute penalty to bring some composure to the frantic start. He repeated his heroics in the 71st with another stunning pen. He just doesn’t miss them! The Italian’s distribution was on point and he led his side forward with diligence. Proved why he deserves the captain’s armband. 

Mateo Kovacic (6.5) –

Kovacic is working as the ultimate workaholic in midfield. He’s brought that flair in kick-starting their attacks with stylish link-up play. Swifted past bodies with elegance on occasions, doing especially well to create a chance for Abraham with a beautiful through-ball in the 52nd minute.  Worked his socks off, destabilized Ajax and brought something exciting whenever on the ball. 

Mason Mount (5.5) –

A fiery figure marching the Blues forward. He cleverly found Pulisic inside the box leading to the penalty. Mount wasn’t short of energy, but lacked that cutting edge in creating chances. Unfortunately clashed with Van De Beek and subbed off before the hour mark. 

Forwards

Willian (8.0)

Willian seems determined to do something special tonight. Moving into the right positions and made some surging forward runs in the first half-hour. Swerved into the Ajax box cleverly in the 38th, but his low cross was cleared. Willian’s been an engine fuelling Chelsea’s attacks with his menacing crosses and link-up play. 

His never-say-die attitude inspired his side to mount the comeback and he kept on creating chances himself and encouraging others to do so until the very end. 

Tammy Abraham (6.5) –

Tammy’s game began in nightmarish fashion when he scored into his own net by botching Promes’ free-kick past Kepa’s reach.  Scored in a one-v-one situation with Onana in the 13th, but that ruled out! Luck isn’t on his side today. 

His headed clearance from another set-piece in the 27th just brazed past the goal. Someone tell him the opposition goal is on the other side! Nearly redeemed himself with a clinical run in the 52nd minute, but his shot was expertly saved. Put in a brave header to orchestrate Azpi’s strike. Then showcased his striker’s instincts by getting Blind sent-off. Bit unlucky not to get a goal for himself. 

Christian Pulisic (7.0)- 

After tormenting Ajax in Amsterdam, Pulisic brought his electricity to Stamford Bridge. He superbly raced into the area and forced a challenge from Veltmenn to earn Chelsea’s avenging penalty. Causing Ajax major problems with his incisive, pacy sprints into their box.

Found himself in the thick of things and put in a clever cross for Abraham’s header leading up to the 2nd goal. Thrived under the intensity and provided that spark whenever required going forward. 

Substitutions

Reece James (7.0) –

A breath of fresh air ever since coming on. He floated in inviting crosses and scored his first Chelsea goal in style with a vicious attempt to complete the comeback. Deserves more game-time. 

Callum Hudson-Odoi (6.5) –

The youngster buzzed right from the get-go since coming on. Made some super dribbles through the left and linked well with his team-mates. Brazed a powerful shot agonizingly wide in the 89th minute. 

Michy Batshuayi (N/A) –

The winner at Amsterdam was robbed off a goal when his decisive strike was saved incredibly by Onana. Then had his stoppage time shot go just wide. 

MAN OF THE MATCH

Jorginho scored a brace so he must be MOTM right? Well I think not. Willian might not have had an assist or goal, but he was extremely influential with his relentless driving presence. He gets my MOTM. 

Liverpool Player Ratings vs Genk – Champions League Matchday 4

Chops November 5, 2019

The 2019-20 UEFA Champions League rolls along this week with Group Stage matchday 4. Liverpool host Genk at Anfield. A win here puts Liverpool at 9 points and realistically just needing one draw in their final two matches to advance. 

With a massive match-up against Manchester City looming this weekend, Jurgen Klopp was expected to give some players rest. AND HE DID. 

But first…

Liverpool utterly dominated the first half. 76% possession (felt like more). 15 shots on goal with 3 on target. Genk had two shots on goal with 1 on target. Genk had a total of 3 touches in Liverpool’s box during he first half. So of course the score is 1-1 going into the half. 

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain gave Liverpool the 2-1 lead with a fantastic finish off an even better set-up from Mo Salah. That score holds. Thanks to the Red Bull Salzburg – Napoli draw, Liverpool move to the top of Group E with 9 points.

Liverpool had 28 shots with 8 on target. Genk had 6 / 3. However, this match never felt secure. Something is off with the squad right now. Genk was pressing at the end like they were…Liverpool. Not a good sign heading into the weekend against City. The defending in particular has got to be better.

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Liverpool starting XI vs Genk

Interesting line-up selection by Klopp today. Rotation was expected, but not necessarily like this. 

Liverpool Player Ratings

Manager

Jurgen Klopp (6) – At this point, it’d be silly to question the boss for his selections. Sitting Salah seems like the right play today but as I’ll write a few times in this, he may be hoping Mo scores some and gains confidence heading into City. More reps for Dejan Lovren and VVD also would make sense, but maybe Gomez is showing better in training. Hard one to judge. Didn’t think he made the right subs (based on performance). Has got to work on the lads not giving up so many big chances defensively. A more clinical team like City will kill us there. 

Goalkeeper

Alisson (8) – Good effort on the Genk leveler. Decent distribution in first half. Critical save in the 81st minute to help preserve the lead. Comes up huge in the 86th minute as well. 

Defenders

Trent Alexander-Arnold (7.5) – Written this a few times the past week but TAA is playing in a different gear right now. So much confidence, particularly when driving up the field. Awesome defending in 40th to kill a dangerous cross. Does the same in the 51st moment to kill a real threat (though it was eventually called off-sides). Led the team in possession by a fairly large margin. Again, our best defender.

Virgil van Dijk (6) – Left unmarked twice in first half on corners but couldn’t convert. Some huge headers at the end to secure the game. Still, something feels off. Too many opportunities conceded. 

Joe Gomez (6) – While not hurting us, is drifting back a little too much. Should hold line higher. Defending just isn’t back to last year’s form. Did win 8 aerials.

James Milner (6.5) – Good to see Milly get some run in a spot he’s excelled at. Robbo could benefit from some rest. He’ll run himself ragged vs City. 

Milner looks strong again. He won’t get credit for the assist to the Gini opener, but his feed in directly led to the goal. Shifted to midfield when Robbo came on. 

Midfielders

 Georginio Wijnaldum (7) –  Kind of like Gini on the right so far. Tried to find Origi on an ambitious ball in at the 7th minute but it wasn’t weighted well enough. AND HE SCORES THE OPENER. A very proper and opportunistic strike from Gini to put Liverpool ahead 1-0. Definitely a “good Gini” game.

Fabinho (6) – As usual, always where he needs to be. Hockey assisted the second goal. Otherwise a little more quiet than usual. 

Naby Keita (6) – Could’ve struck his close-range shot in the 23rd better, wasting a big opportunity. Having said that, looks pretty good. If we played Genk every game then Keita would be playable.  He was active and stuffed the stat sheet. Three completed dribbles, three tackles, five shots on goal. Also completed 94% of his passes.

Still isn’t where we all hope he could be. Subbed off for Andy Robertson 74th. 

Forwards

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (8.5) – A deserved start for Ox. He’s been more effective in that mid-field attacking role but let’s see how he does as part of the front three. Best part of seeing Ox back is the extra gear he’s hitting. Often looks Mane-fast. Freaking gorgeous goal to give Liverpool the 2-1 lead. Another great showing. Subbed off for Sadio Mane in the 75th.

Mohamed Salah (7) – Salah is someone who seems like he needs rest. He’s had a dinged up ankle and has been somewhat ineffective lately. The presumption here is Klopp wants Salah to gain some confidence by lighting up Genk. I do like Salah at the center-forward spot. He’s done well there in the past. Firmino-esque gorgeous pass to assist on Ox’s goal.

His final product though is OFFFFFF. We went through this drill last year when Mo couldn’t finish a sentence. He needs to find his shot again by, erm, Sunday.

Divock Origi (7) – Another Red deserving of a start (and against his former youth team). Key pass to Milner on the build-up on the opening goal. Good early showing. Strong on ball and creative. Dispossession defending work in the 23rd springs a counter that almost led to a goal. Particularly strong on ball with five completed showings. Deserved to find the back of the net once. Subbed off late for Firmino.  

Substitutions

Andy Robertson (NR) – Came on for Katy to steady the backline, shifting Milner to midfield.

Sadio Mane (NR) – Came on to secure a game winner for Ox (although Ox was the best attacking player of the day).

Roberto Firmino (NR) – Comes on late for Origi. No time to make impact.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain earns it again. His form is superb. He needs to find a place in the starting XI against City.

Carabao Cup Not Moving Liverpool vs Aston Villa Match: What Liverpool Should Do

Chops November 5, 2019

Remember when Pep Guardiola was belly-aching over Manchester City’s December schedule, complaining how unfair it was? Liverpool heard his baby-whining and said, “hold my beer.”

After defeating Arsenal in a thrilling Carabao Cup round of 16 match, Liverpool were faced with a massive potential issue. The Carabao Cup quarters were scheduled for December 17-18th. However, as reigning Champions League holders, Liverpool is required to play the FIFA Club World Cup.  In Qatar. On December 18th. Surely, accommodations would be made, right?

Well…

Liverpool have two matches scheduled on two separate continents less than 24 hours apart. As big of “mentality monsters” as they are, this maaaay be a step too for the lads.

So now what?

Liverpool will play two different squads. One will play in England. One will play in Qatar.

The club determined this was the most sensible option moving forward.

What should Liverpool do?

What “should” and what “will” Liverpool do are two different things.

Jurgen Klopp has indicated he’d keep the same general squad he’s been using in the Carabao Cup throughout the competition. It’s a good way to keep his younger players motivated. It also gives veterans on the fringes or coming back from injury critical playing time to re-acclimate to the squad.

However, this situation changes that calculus.

Poll Liverpool supporters and my hunch is the vast majority would prioritize a Premier League title over anything else this season. Every decision made should  optimize the potential of achieving that goal. Sending the “A” squad to Qatar when the option to keep them domestically exists does not optimize that goal.

What Liverpool should do: send the primary pieces of the Carabao Cup squad to Qatar for the FIFA Club World Cup. If augmented by the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, James Milner, (maybe?) Naby Keita, and Adam Lallana–that side should compete just fine. Let the core of Liverpool’s preferred XI stay in England, play the Carabao Cup, and save their energy for the remaining grueling schedule they face the following few weeks.

What Liverpool will do: Likely send the A team to Qatar and take the same girl they brought to the dance to the Carabao Cup quarters.

One way or another, this will be a highly debated and second-guessed decision by Klopp and FSG.

Who Replaces Niko Kovac at Bayern Munich? Could American Jesse Marsch Get a Look?

Tyler Everett November 5, 2019

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As we podded yesterday, the game of managerial musical chairs is just beginning. By the end of the ’19-20 season, we might be looking at coaching vacancies at several of the biggest clubs in Europe. At the moment, no one’s seat is hotter than Unai Emery’s at Arsenal. However, he’s one of a number of managers – Mauricio Pochettino, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Zinedine Zidane and Ernesto Valverde – who could be out of work soon.

But it was Bayern Munich’s Niko Kovac who became the unlikely first sacking of the season at a top-tier club. The German side ended his tenure this weekend following a 5-1 loss to Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday.

Depending on where you’re willing to look, you can find just about any name you can think of being mentioned as Kovac’s long-term replacement. For now, the club will be led by assistant Hans Flick, who was on Joachim Löw’s staff from 2006 until 2014, when Germany won the World Cup in Brazil.

Ralf Rangnick (RB Leipzig) and Erik ten Hag (Ajax) have been mentioned by the likes of ESPN and the London Guardian as the favorites to take over at Bayern. Other top candidates (some mentioned in No Grass in the Clouds) include, but are not limited to, Arsene Wenger and Max Allegri. And yes, Jose “The Special One” Mourinho has been linked to this position as well.

Bayern have communicated they want a manager who speaks German. That could rule out some obvious high-profile names. However, it does not rule out the one name they should be considering the most: Jesse Marshe.

What about Jesse Marsch to Bayern Munich?

But let us at High Press Soccer be one of, if not the first, to throw out Jesse Marsch’s name. Bayern is probably going to go with someone who is more established and has more experience in a top European league. Regardless, Marsch should be an intriguing possibility for any club seeking a new coach. His work at RB Salzburg has been tremendous, and we’re not just talking about that speech at Anfield.

His team plays hard, thrives in a fun-to-watch system and is fearless. Bayern could use all those things, as one of the most talented teams in Europe has no business losing to Hoffenheim or drawing Hertha Berlin, RB Leipzig and Augsburg.

Marsch has proven his coaching ability in MLS at New York Red Bulls and learned under Rangnick as an assistant at RB Leipzig last season. The soon-to-be 46-year-old will likely be a hot commodity at the end of this year, regardless of what else RB Salzburg accomplishes in Europe. To me, the question is not whether he’ll get a chance with a top club, but which one will come calling.

Youth Movement

Bayern needs to phase in a new generation of players as Benjamin Pavard, Joshua Kimmich, Alphonso Davies, Lucas Hernández, Serge Gnabry, etc. become the leaders of a club who recently said goodbye to Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben. We’re not putting them out to pasture yet, but Jerome Boateng, Robert Lewandowski and Manuel Neuer are undeniably closer to the end of their careers than the beginning (though Lewandowski in particular remains an absolute force). It would make sense to entrust the evolution of the roster to a coach on the rise like Marsch.

Rangnick or ten Hag?

At this point, it’s unclear whether Bayern’s first choice would be Rangnick or ten Hag. However, the Bavarians’ preference between 61-year-old Rangnick and 49-year-old ten Hag will tell us a lot about what they’re looking for right now. Ten Hag’s phone (and by his I mean his agent’s) will surely be busy every time a top job opens over the coming months. Does he want to stay in a great spot at Ajax or join one of Europe’s richest teams? You have to imagine the answer is the latter, but he’s in a position to be picky.

Ultimately, Rangnick strikes me as a bit more likely to be the next Bayern manager, as it seems like his familiarity with the Bundesliga gives him a slight edge over ten Hag.

Bayern does not seem like the type of club to suffer a manager like Mourinho, and I don’t see them going for 70-year-old Wenger, either. Allegri, however, would not surprise me, as long as he’s willing to end his post-Juventus sabbatical after one season at the age of 52.

Champions League Preview: Potential Upsets for Matchday 4 (Podcast)

High Press 10 November 5, 2019

The latest High Press Soccer Podcast is available to stream or download in the Apple Podcast Center. Tyler Everett joins Chops to review the major storylines from the Premier League and La Liga this past weekend. Then, they look ahead to this week’s Champions League matches. Will there actually be some upsets this week? It won’t all be chalk again, will it?

Specific topics covered include:

  • How Liverpool keep winning in the EPL
  • Why Barcelona and Atletico Madrid can’t consistently keep winning in La Liga
  • Will this off-season be a round of musical chairs for managers?
  • A review of Champions League matchday 4 lines
  • Will there be upsets? And why Ajax, Inter, Atalanta, and even Red Star Belgrade may be the most likely to pull them

Stream below in this post or subscribe and download from Apple. Enjoy!

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Listen to “High Press Soccer Podcast Episode 38: Champions League Matchday 4 Preview” on Spreaker.

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