1st August – Pre-Season Action and Transfer Rumours

Arsenal win the Emirates Cup

JamesArsenal looked sharp and electric at times, whilst perhaps erratic and irresponsible at others. Wenger seems to be building a good squad again with the additions of Kolasinac and Lacazette, as well as young guns like Reiss Nelson and Ainsley Maitland-Niles bringing fresh blood to the squad. Preseason is more about performances than results and there’s some positives to take from Arsenal’s run this summer. However, signings need to keep coming with one or two ideally entering soon. Signings, a fully-fit squad and pragmatism on Wenger’s part might give Arsenal a real fighting chance at the title this season – especially with a 3-4-3 formation.

Sam: I was at the second day of the Emirates Cup to see Arsenal’s defeat to Sevilla and the Gunners weren’t as bad as the scoreline suggests. The game was played at a very slow tempo, mainly due to the fact that most of the players in the Arsenal line-up had played the day before against Benfica, and the squad looked very tired. In my opinion, the Gunners can challenge for the Premier League title with the current squad that they have, even if they don’t make any more signings. The signings of Lacazette and Kolasinac are clever and beneficial acquisitions, and when you see players like Jack Wilshere and Danny Welbeck barely getting a look-in, it’s the sign of a very good squad. Wenger should use the Europa League to test his youngsters like Holding, Maitland-Niles and the impressive Reiss Nelson, then their squad depth can get even bigger.

Man City 3-0 Tottenham

James: Guardiola will take a lot of encouragement from his sides tour of the States. A 3-0 battering of Spurs suggests his side are 2 or 3 steps ahead in the preparation process and are looking more accomplished and understanding in Pep’s methods. Signings have been perhaps over the top with regards to fees, but the additions and their quality can’t be questioned. This Man City side could be the best league side we’ve seen in a while…. Tottenham on the other hand need to get their act together. Whilst Pochetino is undoubtedly a brilliant manager who’ll take Spurs far, the squad depth is lacking and the signings aren’t coming, and this was evident in their game against City. Spurs should be hugely respected for their approach to building their squad and their stubbornness to bow down to price inflation all clubs are seeing, though this could cost them if they miss out on targets that could get them over the line in 2018. No doubt they’ll come back as strong as ever though, let’s just hope Wembley doesn’t curse them further.

Sam: The result was a tad harsh on Spurs, but you can clearly see who is more prepared for the Premier League season. City did play some very good football at times, and they finally look like the young and quick-paced team that Guardiola wants them to be, after getting rid of some of the old guard such as Pablo Zabaleta and Alexsandr Kolarov. Spurs did look dangerous on the break, but that, for me, is a worrying sign. Pochettino’s men were at their most dangerous when they controlled games against the big teams, for example their victories over City, United, Chelsea and Arsenal last season at White Hart Lane, and the fact that we’re ten days away from the new season, and their pre-season bench is filled with youth team players is a real concern. It’s also funny how Spurs’ transfer activity is being praised despite its lack of activity, yet when Arsenal put their faith in youth over big money signings, it’s seen as a disgrace…

Neymar to PSG?

James: I think Neymar would be mad to leave. Barcelona is a world class football club and Neymar has his best years ahead of him. He’s a future ballon d’or winner and Barcelona is the best place for him. PSG are a club in limbo. Yes they win the title regularly, but this season in an attempt to give the Champions League a real go they lost their crown to Monaco, who also outran them in Europe. Neymar should stay, and become Barca’s main man with Messi who’s hitting his later years.

Sam: Messi and Suarez are now both 30, whilst Neymar is five years their junior. There will come a point when age will catch up on the Argentinian and the Uruguayan, and it’ll be down to the youngest member of MSN to become the Catalan club’s superstar, and main resource of goals. If Neymar is complaining that he’s always in Messi’s shadow at Barcelona, then why doesn’t he just stay at Camp Nou and become another Barcelona legend? I think that Neymar’s father has a big role to play in this move, who was reportedly paid €26 million euros for convincing Neymar to sign a new Barcelona contract last summer, and yet he could still earn even more money from PSG for forcing his son to change clubs. Disgraceful!

Coutinho to Barca?

James: Sam covered this brilliantly in his ‘Transfers Today’ article last week – essentially Coutinho plays in the middle or he doesn’t play. Suarez, Messi and Neymar are a class above him, and Iniesta and Rakitic are perhaps the only two who would be forced out the side. Iniesta, despite being older and past his prime, is still the class act he’s always been and still looks irreplaceable in that side. Rakitic may have to be sacrificed, but he’s proven to be an important player over the years as well. I think Liverpool would do well to get £70m-£80m for the Brazilian. Whilst he’s got undoubted class and moments of brilliance in his locker, he’s also benefitted from the hard work and discipline of players like Wijnaldum and Lallana. Personally, Coutinho can go missing at times and his importance to Liverpool is overrated. Without him, but a good replacement too, Liverpool will be just as strong in my opinion. A front six of; Wijnaldum, Henderson, Lallana; Salah, Firmino, Mane, is absolutely superb and lighting fast. Liverpool should cash in.

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