Chelsea 0-2 Liverpool: Player Ratings as Sadio Mane Brace Helps Reds Beat 10-Men Blues

Sadio Mane, Virgil van Dijk
Liverpool made it two wins from two in the Premier League against Chelsea | Pool/Getty Images

A Sadio Mané brace helped Liverpool beat Chelsea 2-0, who had Andreas Christensen sent off just before half time.

After a fairly even start, Christensen hauled Mané down in first half stoppage time and was shown a straight red card following a VAR review.

The Reds soon pressed home their advantage. Mané grabbed a quick fire, second half brace to kill the game off, although Chelsea did miss a penalty with around 15 minutes left to play.

Here’s 90min’s player ratings following the exciting clash at Stamford Bridge…

Andreas Christensen was dismissed for the Blues | NEIL HALL/Getty Images

Kepa Arrizabalaga (GK) – 3/10 – An error prone display once again. The world’s most expensive goalkeeper will lose his place with Edouard Mendy eventually signs.

Reece James (RB) – 5/10 – Mané gave him a tough afternoon. He should have done better for the opening goal but was solid other than that.

Andreas Christensen (CB) – 4/10 – Left his side in the lurch by getting sent off for a ludicrously clumsy challenge. His goalkeeper didn’t help him out to be fair.

Kurt Zouma (CB) – 5/10 –
Did not look particularly comfortable in possession but at least he didn’t get sent off.

Marcos Alonso (LB) – 5/10 – Beaten far too easily for Liverpool’s opening goal which was indicative of his shaky defensive display.

N'Golo KanteN'Golo Kante
Kante was Chelsea’s best midfielder | Pool/Getty Images

N’Golo Kanté (CM) – 7/10 – His first half was full of energy and attacking intent. Mainly chased shadows after the break though.

Jorginho (CM) – 5/10 – Not his day. Was a passenger throughout proceedings and then missed a crucial penalty. Oops.

Mateo Kovacic – 6/10 – Drove forward with purpose early on but faded badly as the game progressed.

Liverpool were once interested in Werner | NEIL HALL/Getty Images

Mason Mount (RW) – 5/10 – Brought about a few openings early on but then drifted into the shadows. With the Blues possessing so much strength in depth, he cannot afford many more performances like this one.

Kai Havertz (ST) – 6/10 – Seeing Chelsea’s new man deployed as a false nine was intriguing. He linked up well with his compatriot Werner before being sacrificed following Christensen’s red card.

Timo Werner (LW) – 7/10 – An encouraging display. His ability to nip in behind the Reds backline was Chelsea’s biggest threat and he also won a penalty.

Fikayo Tomori – 5/10

Tammy Abraham – N/A

Ross Barkley – N/A

Jorginho, Alisson BeckerJorginho, Alisson Becker
Alisson saved a penalty with just under 15 minutes left to play | Pool/Getty Images

Alisson (GK) – 9/10 – Had very little to do but impressed on the rare occasions he was called into action. None more so then when he kept out Jorginho’s penalty.

Trent Alexander-Arnold (RB) – 7/10 – Kept Werner fairly quiet and offered his side so much with an incredible range of passes.

Fabinho (CB) – 8/10 – The stand-in centre-back was dominant. Dealt with the threat of Havertz at false nine very well.

Virgil van Dijk (CB) – 8/10 – Fantastic leadership, passing and defending. Your standard van Dijk display.

Andy Robertson (LB) – 7/10 – Gave Mount no joy down the right-hand side and drove forward well.

Naby Keita was withdrawn after an hourNaby Keita was withdrawn after an hour
Naby Keita was withdrawn after an hour | MICHAEL REGAN/Getty Images

Naby Keita (CM) – 7/10 – A dogged if not overly sensational performance. Kept possession circulating well.

Jordan Henderson (CM) – 7/10 – His Hollywood pass led to Christensen’s sending off. Did nothing wrong before being replaced at the break due to injury.

Georginio Wijnaldum (CM) – 7/10 – Typically neat and tidy display from the Dutchman. The fact he played a full 90 minutes suggests a move to Barcelona is off.

Mane was in inspired form against the Blues | MATT DUNHAM/Getty Images

Mohamed Salah (RW) – 7/10 – Outshone by Mané after running the show against Leeds last weekend. Had a field day against Marcos Alonso.

Roberto Firmino (ST) – 8/10 – Worked hard and stitched things together nicely in the second half. Provided a sumptuous cross for the game’s opening goal.

Sadio Mané (LW) – 9/10 – Liverpool’s star man. The determination for the second goal was nothing short of extraordinary.

Thiago Alcantara – 6/10

James Milner – 6/10

Takumi Minamino – N/A


What Alex Telles Would Bring to Manchester United

Manchester United are rumoured to be interested in the signing of Telles
Manchester United are rumoured to be interested in the signing of Telles | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Full-backs are some of the most interesting players in the modern game because of the stylistic variation of the role – players aren’t necessarily expected to perform a holistic suite of duties, but instead have to specialise.

On any given weekend in the Premier League you’ll see Matt Doherty flinging himself forward with only a vague regard for the ‘back’ part of ‘wing-back’, Trent Alexander-Arnold metronomically flinging crosses into the box like a human tennis ball machine, and Aaron Wan-Bissaka flinging nothing at all as he dutifully and patiently locks up Manchester United’s right flank.

While it never hurts to have a bit of versatility, the quality of Alexander-Arnold’s final ball means that his lack of penetrative dribbling isn’t really a bad miss, and Doherty can (in a back three, José) get away with the space he leaves behind him because of how he functions as almost another attacker. And while the words ‘final ball’ and ‘attacker’ are not commonly used in conjunction with Wan-Bissaka’s name, his defensive instincts are so consistently excellent that it creates a tactical headache for opposing teams.

Luke Shaw, Andros TownsendLuke Shaw, Andros Townsend
Luke Shaw has frequently been a subject of criticism at Manchester United | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

While Luke Shaw receives an awful lot of criticism, much of which is excessive, his issue is that he does not necessarily possess one single quality strong enough to make up for his shortcomings.

The former Southampton man is tidy and retains the ball well, but as an attacker is neither outstanding as a dribbler, nor a player who can create a team boatloads of chances from deeper positions with some tasty left-footed crosses.

As Manchester United’s defeat to Crystal Palace also indicated, he doesn’t, unlike his counterpart on the right Wan-Bissaka, possess the defensive nous which would atone for this lack of threat. While Victor Lindelof was undoubtedly the main culprit for United’s shock defeat to the Eagles, Shaw was culpable for Palace’s opener, failing to get in front of Jeff Schlupp’s cross to Andros Townsend.

Alex TellesAlex Telles
Would Telles be a significant improvement on Shaw? | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Shaw has had his fair share of injury problems, and to be holding his own at one of the biggest clubs in the world having suffered a double leg fracture against PSV Eindhoven in 2015, which more than a few players would have found it difficult to come back from, is incredible.

Equally, Shaw’s lack of specialisation as a full-back does explain why Manchester United have been sniffing around some of Europe’s most exciting left-backs during the current transfer window, and why, according to Fabrizio Romano, the Red Devils are mulling over a bid for Porto’s Alex Telles.

To bring Telles’ qualities into sharper relief, it’s useful to compare him with not only Shaw but a very different player – Sergio Reguilón, who, as Romano corroborates, was chased by United, but ended up quietly signing for Spurs in the midst of the #BaleIsBack maelstrom.

Sergio ReguilonSergio Reguilon
United passed up on the chance to sign Sergio Reguilón | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

First, let’s start off what we know Telles can do. Simply put, this guy makes being left-footed look like a superpower, and the quintessential Telles assist involves swinging in a deep and well-flighted cross a few yards away from the edge of the area, with the same Terminator-esque levels of accuracy that Alexander-Arnold possesses.

You ever thought that every single professional footballer makes the act of taking a corner or indirect free kick infuritatingly difficult? Not Telles, who has an uncanny level of control over his set-pieces, able to vary the line and length of his deliveries without compromising an accuracy, either to pick out the attacker at the near post or aim for a runner in a deeper position.

Unsurprisingly for a guy with such a trusty left peg he has an absolute thunderbolt or two in his locker, and one of the great joys when fans can attend matches again will be the collective cry of ‘shoooooot’ should he receive the ball on the edge of the box if he makes the move to England.

And the best news for United fans? Eight of his 11 goals last season were penalties!

It seems almost a waste of time to compare Telles (eight assists last season) with Shaw (z-e-r-o), but the underlying numbers are indeed in Telles’ favour – last season he made1.8 key passes per game, Shaw made 0.8 (via WhoScored). Clearly, United would be getting some kind of upgrade in creative terms.

It’s when you compare Telles to Reguilón that things start to get interesting and maybe a little puzzling. Though Telles was by far making the most key passes per game last season (Reguilón had 1.3), he made the least dribbles per game of the trio at 0.6 per game, where the electrifying Reguilón had 1.6.

This isn’t to say that this makes Reguilón ‘better’ than Telles, but United have made a very noticeable U-turn on the profile of full-back that they are interested in, moving from a byline-loving Hakimi-esque speed merchant in Reguilón to a technically-gifted, Lucas Digne-style creator who operates deeper.

Fabio Vieira, Alex TellesFabio Vieira, Alex Telles
Might Telles’ lack of dynamism prove problematic? | Octavio Passos/Getty Images

Given that one of the biggest criticisms levelled at Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s United side is that they don’t seem to have much of a plan going forward when the going gets tough, their fans should be slightly concerned to see them veer from a dynamic left-back to a more relaxed, cerebral one. Is the Norwegian hoping to fill the side with quality and see what happens, and is this necessarily the most prudent move?

At the risk of sounding like a generic English pundit, the other question is whether that cerebral style is guaranteed to translate nicely into the Premier League. Porto’s league-winning campaign last season saw them average 60% possession, and across the campaign they conceded just 78 shots on target (via FBRef).

Clearly, Telles helped contribute to both of those successes, but they also explain why it seems as if he has plenty of time to deliver his pinpoint crosses. In a tightly-congested top six where he will have to play plenty of games on the back foot, he will find his defensive instincts tested, as well as his ability to produce varied crosses under pressure.

So Shaw may finally be ousted, and a player with demonstrable creative quality in Telles may be coming in. But beware Manchester United fans – if being a Premier League left-back was easy, everyone would do it.


Wolves Should Not Be Afraid to Sell Their Star Players

Matt Doherty, Diogo Jota
Diogo Jota and Matt Doherty have left Wolves this transfer window | Harriet Lander/Copa/Getty Images

Wolves have been fantastic since returning to the Premier League two seasons ago.

Nuno Espirito Santo has turned them into a well organised outfit who play with a relentless energy and a strong belief. Those traits alone didn’t take them to a second consecutive seventh place finish, however – Nuno’s actually got a lot of talented individual’s in his squad.

That is both a good and bad thing for Wolves. Presently, Nuno has a squad that is strong enough to compete for a place in European football. The problem is that many of his team will have big ambitions and will be wanting to play at the highest possible level.

Unfortunately, Wolves will likely become a victim of their own success. Doing so well raises a player’s profile and attracts interest from the biggest clubs. Loyalty only goes so far in football and players only have a certain amount of time to win things. They won’t admit it publicly, but many of the Wolves players will be using the club as a stepping stone for greater success – that’s the sad reality.

We’ve seen that already this window. Champions Liverpool announced on Saturday that they had completed a deal for Diogo Jota. Meanwhile, earlier in the window, Matt Doherty left for Spurs for a relatively cheap fee in a deal that baffled Wolves fans.

Though Jota wasn’t always a starter, he is certainly someone Nuno wanted to keep hold of and he was still a relatively integral part of their recent success. The deal was wrapped up very quickly in truth as Jota immediately grasped the opportunity to sign for a massive club like Liverpool. Doherty did the same with Spurs as he wanted to play under a proven winner in José Mourinho.

Doherty also departed this summerDoherty also departed this summer
Doherty also departed this summer | Pool/Getty Images

Those two particular situations prove that the board do need to prepare for the possibility of a mass exodus, one that has arguably already started.

Realistically, how long will it be until the likes of Adama Traoré, Raúl Jiménez and Rúben Neves follow suit? A year, maybe two at best and that’s if Wolves get lucky or somehow manage to defy the odds and qualify for the Champions League. The best thing the club can do is get ready for the unfortunate inevitability that they will lose some of their best players.

That’s not to say it’s all doom and gloom for Wolves fans though. Even the biggest clubs sell their main men. Look at Arsenal, who for years were forced to replace their stars at the Emirates. Chelsea let go of Eden Hazard before the start of last season. Heck, Real Madrid even let Cristiano Ronaldo leave after he’d won them their fourth Champions League in five years. Players leave for different challenges all the time. That’s football.

And we’ve seen that the so called ‘smaller’ clubs can survive the aftermath of selling their best assets – but only if they get the recruitment right. Look at Leicester for example. They’ve sold N’Golo Kante, Riyad Mahrez and Harry Maguire in the past few years and only narrowly missed out on the top four last season.

In fairness to Wolves’ owners, they have brought in some decent talent to help rebalance the numbers, with Barcelona’s Nélson Semedo set to be Nuno’s newest signing. Recruitment is the blueprint to success, and so far at least, the club have proven that they want to continue competing at the level they currently are playing at by bringing in fresh faces.

The project Nuno has built has been nothing short of remarkable and interest in Wolves’ squad is testament to their success on the pitch. Let’s just hope that club continue to get their recruitment right because quite frankly, it would be a shame to see them decline.


Tariq Lamptey’s Rapid Rise Continues in Dominant Newcastle Win

Tariq Lamptey, Miguel Almiron
Tariq Lamptey was named Man of the Match for his performance against Newcastle on Sunday afternoon | Pool/Getty Images

As Brighton eased to a 3-0 victory against Newcastle on Sunday afternoon, there was only name on the tip of the footballing world’s tongues.

Signed from Chelsea for a mere £3m in January, 19-year-old Tariq Lamptey has rapidly emerged into a star on the south coast.

His performance on Tyneside was limited to an hour due to injury, but boy did the teenager make an impact in the time he spent marauding down the St James’ Park right flank. ‘Football Twitter’ have fallen in love with Brighton’s live wire.

Within three minutes of kick-off, he’d won his side a penalty through a darting infield run from the flank which forced Allan Saint-Maximin into the most clumsiest of challenges. Lamptey’s low centre of gravity, ability to glide with the ball at his feet combined with a remarkable turn of speed makes him almost unstoppable in such situations, with his superb work allowing Neal Maupay to score Brighton’s opener amid a dominant display from Graham Potter’s Seagulls.

And it was Lamptey – deployed as a right wing-back in Potter’s well-drilled 3-4-1-2 – who was so key in establishing the visitors’ superiority.

He offered a constant source of progression down his right flank through those aforementioned dynamic dribbles, while the speed at which he progresses through the gears makes him incredibly hard to track off the ball. Thus, he was able to make both under and overlapping runs in the final third which made him an unpredictable proposition for the overwhelmed Jamal Lewis down Newcastle’s left.

The dynamic, meanwhile, he estabished with Leandro Trossard – who functioned in a free role behind Brighton’s front two and often found himself overloading Lewis with astute movements out to the right – proved mightily dangerous throughout.

The pair combined for Maupay’s second within the opening ten minutes, with Lamptey slipping the Belgian in behind the former Norwich full-back before Trossard picked out the Frenchman with a perfectly placed driven cross.

But it wasn’t just his electric nature going forward which helped Lamptey capture the attention of the masses – this was a dominant performance in all phases.

The 19-year-old’s remarkable engine means he’s the ideal profile for the wing-back role and allows him to contribute in all thirds. Defensively, he didn’t put a foot wrong.

His aggression and capacity to step out to an opponent in an instant allowed him to pin Lewis and ensure he didn’t pose a threat in Brighton’s third, but anytime the Magpies did break in behind before his forced exit early in the second period, Lamptey was the first man to deny them.

The teenager’s hustle to prevent Callum Wilson from pulling a goal back after breaking in behind the Seagulls’ back three was a celebration of his mature awareness, majestic burst of pace and defensive nous. He timed his tackle on the Magpies’ summer signing superbly.

The 19-year-old may be petit – too slight for some – but there’s no doubting his exceptional talent. He’s an entertainer. He plays the game with a smile on his face, no matter how many opponents are attempting to chop his legs in half – it was just the two Magpies who were booked for cynical fouls on the wing-back after he’d left them for dead.

If the second half of last season or the Chelsea performance weren’t enough, Lamptey’s showing at Newcastle was confirmation of his rare talent. He’s so unique, so dynamic and most importantly, remarkably entertaining.

Tariq Lamptey is the epitome of Graham Potter’s vibrant new-look Brighton.


Assessing Where Riqui Puig Could Go This Summer

Riqui Puig
Puig is off out on loan somewhere | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Barcelo – no, wait, sorry – Ronald Koeman wants to loan Riqui Puig out this summer.

For clarification, Ronald Koeman does not want Riqui Puig for the coming season.

Yes, we don’t quite get it either. Puig, in a very short space of time, has proven himself to be a darn fine footballer. Adventurous, gets you off your seat and is a real pleasure to watch.

Which apparently are not good enough qualities to play for Barcelona.

Working on the basis that he wouldn’t get adequate playing time in a midfield featuring Miralem Pjanic and Sergi Roberto, Koeman has decided to loan Puig out this season to gain valuable first team minutes. Baffling, bizarre and downright silly, he’ll have no shortage of suitors in the coming weeks.

Here’s who could – joyously – take him off their hands.

A hole in midfield has been left by Kai HavertzA hole in midfield has been left by Kai Havertz
A hole in midfield has been left by Kai Havertz | Pool/Getty Images

Many will dispute this choice immediately due to the fact they’re not playing in the Champions League, but of the sides in need of a creative force in midfield areas, Bayer Leverkusen rank high on the list.

Having lost Kai Havertz to Chelsea, there is a real dearth of flair in forward areas for the German side this season. They’ve brought in Patrik Schick as their new striker, but he will need chances to feed off and adding someone of Puig’s calibre in midfield is ideal. Whether he plays further forward or more disciplined, he still possesses the guile to break through lines much in the same vein as Havertz did.

Would Europa League football be good enough for Barcelona and Puig, though? That’s the question. Yet there could be no question marks over whether he’d play each week.

Marco RoseMarco Rose
Mönchengladbach got off to a losing start in the Bundesliga | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

Of the options in Germany with Champions League football, Borussia Mönchengladbach are the only ones where you could expect Puig to play week in week out. Their style is nothing like the one Barcelona employ, based on quick breaks and structure without the ball that allows the forward to be played in immediately.

But, he would play.

That could be crucial. It would also provide an experience to the 21-year-old, taking him out of his comfort zone and forcing him to adjust to new philosophies and approaches. Would be a big change, but a fun one.

Antonio ConteAntonio Conte
Conte craves creativity | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Christian Eriksen’s move to Serie A has been, well, underwhelming to say the least. He is yet to click in Antonio Conte’s setup and the midfield trio have been caught lacking in a few departments. As good as the three can be, there is little in the way of mobility there, which Puig could bring to the table.

With Arturo Vidal on his way to Milan as well, the familiarity of a former teammate could suit his integration. Inter keep stockpiling older players and Conte will need some younger flair to help balance out his ageing starting lineup.

With any combination of the two between Nicolo Barella, Roberto Gagliardini, Eriksen and Vidal alongside him, he could be given more license to float through the lines and provide the service for Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez.

Paulo Fonseca might fancy a bit of Puig actionPaulo Fonseca might fancy a bit of Puig action
Paulo Fonseca might fancy a bit of Puig action | Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

Moving across Italy, another side in the second tier of European football but would provide a good option for Puig are Roma. While not similar in style, the loss of Nicolo Zaniolo to another desperately unlucky injury has left them weak in midfield.

Their Serie A opener against Verona ended goalless, with the midfield duo of Jordan Vertout and Amadou Diawara leaning heavily on the defensive side of things. Perhaps allowing Lorenzo Pellegrini to play wider and Pedro likewise on the other flank, there is a way to incorporate Puig into midfield.

Julen LopeteguiJulen Lopetegui
Puig could help Sevilla in the Champions League | Pool/Getty Images

Of all the destinations Puig could head, staying in Spain seems the most likely. We’ve seen at both Barcelona and Real Madrid that the rest of La Liga can be used as their training camps for certain players, who can then return much improved or be moved on elsewhere.

Sevilla is an option, but it’s also a risk considering Barcelona are now crap and they will have competition far greater than in previous seasons. Would sending Puig there be considered as helping a direct rival, or would it work in their favour since he can play against everyone except them?

The Champions League aspect will help the case for him to go there.

Martin Odegaard was superb for Sociedad last seasonMartin Odegaard was superb for Sociedad last season
Martin Odegaard was superb for Sociedad last season | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

The loss of Martin Odegaard back to Madrid will have hurt Sociedad, who are embarking on a Europa League campaign this season and will need to add more flair into the centre of the park to compete on multiple fronts.

Puig could go there and will play each week. He’s better than the options they’ve got and will not need too much time bedding in given his familiarity with the division. Socieded play a fun brand of football that uses a very high line, one that allows the forward players in the side to operate in the areas they want and encourages the midfielders to be active on the ball.

A well run club with a commendable footballing philosophy, and perhaps even the tutelage of David Silva, would suit nicely for Puig.