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Author Archive for Jonathan Wilson

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Liverpool’s loss of Van Dijk exacerbates every doubt after chaotic start

The long absence of the leader of their defence leaves Jürgen Klopp’s side looking fragile for the first time in three yearsThis was already shaping up to be a very different title race to the last three years, and the news that Virgil van Dijk will be…

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PSG v Manchester United seems a portent of a dystopian super league future | Jonathan Wilson

The pick of this week’s Champions League fixtures is a clash of two elite clubs too flawed to win but too rich to failThe clock was already showing 90. Diogo Dalot advanced on to the ball in space around 40 yards from the Paris Saint-Germain goal. His …

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Everton’s Jordan Pickford showcases the good, the bad and the ugly | Jonathan Wilson

The goalkeeper should have been sent off early on in the Merseyside derby against Liverpool, went on to make some outstanding saves before getting away with a late blunderPerhaps the most remarkable aspect of Everton’s start to the season is not that t…

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Euros calling: how the top 10 contenders for glory are shaping up

After a hectic run of international matches we run the rule over the teams most likely to thrive at delayed Euro 2020Didier Deschamps is a throwback. In a world of pressing and high lines, he is different. He sits his defence deep, gives the full-backs…

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Euros calling: how the top 10 contenders for glory are shaping up

After a hectic run of international matches we run the rule over the teams most likely to thrive at delayed Euro 2020Didier Deschamps is a throwback. In a world of pressing and high lines, he is different. He sits his defence deep, gives the full-backs…

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Mars beware, my World XI may lack Messi but De Bruyne makes it tick | Jonathan Wilson

Picking a lineup is useful less for who makes the cut than for what the process says about the current state of the gameThe Fifa world rankings rarely fail to raise an eyebrow. Óscar Washington Tabárez is one of the world’s great coaches but are Urugua…

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Manchester United lack leadership and transfer PR fixes won’t change that

Tottenham’s 6-1 win caps a miserable decline and Solskjær’s pat on the head from Mourinho reflects manager’s lack of authorityBy the time the final whistle blew at Villa Park on Sunday evening, the temptation was to laugh and shrug and write off the pr…

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Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s summer lit up by Fernandes becomes autumnal gloom | Jonathan Wilson

For all their expenditure, Manchester United are somehow still short of a wide forward, a left-back and a centre-back and are slipping back to where they were pre-lockdown There was an anecdote the American philosopher William James liked to tell about…

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Champions League 2020-21: group stage analysis and predictions

Manchester City and holders Bayern Munich should secure straightforward passage but Manchester United must find a way past two of last year’s semi-finalistsThe intrigue of a group is usually dependent less on the best two teams than the third side, and…

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The Klopp-Keane exchange tells us much about how football has changed | Jonathan Wilson

Liverpool are not so much sloppy as playing the popular high-risk game that late-period Alex Ferguson eschewedFootball has changed. Most disagreements between managers and pundits are tedious affairs, rooted in complex and broadly impenetrable codes of…

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Mikel Arteta’s act of faith at Arsenal instils belief and purpose | Jonathan Wilson

The manager’s impact shows football still craves a charismatic leader in a world dominated by money and analysisDeep in the English understanding of football lies a willingness for faith, a yearning for a messiah. Fans want to believe in a hero who wil…

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How pass master Thiago Alcântara can help sustain Liverpool’s highs | Jonathan Wilson

Jürgen Klopp has bought the Spaniard to ward off entropy and bring variety after running and pressing teams to deathAll great sides are haunted by entropy. Even in their most transcendent moments, it is there in the shadows, hissing its insistent quest…

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Kepa Arrizabalaga’s confidence is shot and the way Chelsea play doesn’t help him

Spaniard’s display against Liverpool sums up his struggles but there is a pattern of goalkeepers saving less under LampardKepa Arrizabalaga’s time as Chelsea goalkeeper, you suspect, will be remembered for two incidents. First there’s him on the Wemble…

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Wolves’ haunting Adama Traoré is the bad dream Pep Guardiola must tackle | Jonathan Wilson

Manchester City kick off against a side that beat them twice last season and a player who exploits their weaknesses ruthlesslyWhen Pep Guardiola was a little boy growing up in Santpedor, they warned darkly of such things. There would come, they said, a…

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Gareth Bale escapes wilderness with every chance of redemption at Spurs

The Real Madrid reject should still have explosive pace and looks suited to Harry Kane and José Mourinho’s tacticsFootball loves nothing more than a redemption myth. While there are many who will tell you to never go back, there is more rejoicing in th…

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Leeds bloody Liverpool’s noses but frenzied defending will alarm El Loco | Jonathan Wilson

Bielsa’s side were fun to watch and wildly entertaining but the champions were far more dominant than 4-3 scoreline suggestsOn his first day in his new prison, Marcelo Bielsa walked into the yard and, following the time-honoured precedent, approached t…

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Arrival of Kai Havertz and Timo Werner raises stakes for Frank Lampard | Jonathan Wilson

Chelsea’s big summer spree means there can be no excuses about the manager’s inexperience or the need to learn the jobLast summer, a host of clubs had begun to express an interest in Kai Havertz. He seemed the model of the modern German attacking midfi…

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Can Lost Boy James Rodríguez break the mould at free-spending Everton? | Jonathan Wilson

The allure of players allowed to leave by the elite proves too great for a stepping-stone club but the Colombian’s reunion with Carlo Ancelotti may be a gamble worth takingPotential can be a curse. Show too much too early and it will define you, so you…

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Arsenal display more reason for optimism than they have had for years | Jonathan Wilson

Mikel Arteta has a modern plan and is exhibiting the personality to put it into effect at the Emirates StadiumIt was only the Community Shield. It’s unlikely to be remembered in a month, never mind in a year or five or 10. Sports historians of decades …

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Forget the romance, a Messi-Guardiola reunion would not make City better | Jonathan Wilson

A possible Pep and Leo show at the Etihad is a mouthwatering prospect but a defensive rejig is more pressing for the club’s title ambitions than the addition of a strolling goalscoring geniusA fortnight ago, two key storylines emerged from Lisbon. Ther…