Daniel Agger Moves to Brøndby

Back Page Football quotes Agger himself:

Liverpool have been such a big part of my life and my family’s lives for so long, that leaving is extremely difficult.
The opportunity arose for me to return home to Brondby and at this stage of my career it felt like the right decision for me.

I wouldn’t leave here to go anywhere else and that has been proven by my actions in recent seasons – I have turned down many offers to move to other Premier League and European clubs.

Surprising, as he probably could have moved to a big club in Spain or Italy, but never underestimate the power of home.

CNN: Libya Pulls out of Hosting 2017 Africa Cup of Nations

A statement published on the CAF website Saturday said that “owing to the unstable security situation in the country, Libya would not be able to host the Afcon in 2017.”

CAF secretary general, Hicham El Amrani has informed all 54 member associations of the decision, CAF’s official website reported.

New bids to host the 2017 tournament will now be accepted with a deadline for submission of September 30 2014.

Manchester City 0-1 Stoke City

Richard Jolly reporting for The Guarding at Etihad Stadium:

The manner of the win was especially pleasing. One suggestion was that Stoke dragged the champions down to their level but that was manifestly unfair on their performance. There was much to admire about their organisation and commitment, the rumbustious running of Diouf, the deft touch of Peter Crouch and the willingness of their defensive colleagues to swarm around a flair player posing dangers.

Meanwhile, Pellegrini’s side laboured in uncharacteristically ineffective fashion. “We didn’t play well in a creative way,” the Chilean conceded. His side were at their seductive best only once, on the stroke of half-time.

Burnley 0-0 Manchester United

Matt Stanger for Football 365:

Van Gaal has now adopted a different approach, but at the moment the players he has available cannot satisfy the demands of the system. Young and Antonio Valencia remain wingers rather than wing-backs, while Darren Fletcher’s powers have unsurprisingly been diminished by illness. It was Di Maria who had to drop deep to collect the ball off the centre-backs in the first half, and his driving runs through midfield were United’s only hope of mounting an attack without Blackett or Evans launching the ball long to Rooney.

It’s looking worse and worse for United and Van Gaal. He will get more time than David Moyes, but he will have to get results sooner rather than later. Daley Blind is reportedly signed but he desperately needs a world class midfielder, whatever the system.

Daley Blind Signs for Manchester United

Priya Ramesh for BeNeFoot:

Man United have thus, acquired a player who is technically fantastic and has a bright future ahead of him. Work ethic and commitment should not be a problem for Daley Blind – he gives his all on field for his team and with bags of Eredivisie experience and Champions League experience (a competition he sadly will have to watch his Ajax teammates play in, from his couch this season). Where van Gaal wants him to play is still a bit of a puzzle, as a defensive midfielder or just a basic utility man to break glass in times of emergency. The latter is more likely and this entire saga with Blind and Man Utd is interesting with regard to the timeline. It is just as likely that Blind is a last-resort emergency buy for Man United because a) if Blind had been a long-term target of the club, United could have very easily wrapped up the deal much much earlier in the transfer window and b) the fee they eventually paid Ajax – 18 million euros – is extremely close to the 20 million euros price Overmars put on Blind’s head, whereas we have seen Overmars give in to lesser bids in the past.

Fantastic piece by Ramesh. So much knowledge, so much fine analysis. A must read.

Barcelona Sign Douglas Pereira

Snehartha for Sportskeeda:

In an official statement, the Catalan club stated that the 24-year-old will arrive in Catalunya for a medical by the end of this week and will join the La Liga side on a five-year deal. A performance-base clause could add a further €1.5 million to the transfer fee, reported Xinhua.

BBC: Roma Sign Kostas Manolas

He made 25 league appearances for Olympiakos last season and played in all four of Greece’s matches at the recent World Cup in Brazil.

Neil Warnock is Crystal Palace’s New Manager

Devang Desai:

The Eagles announced the hiring of Neil Warnock as their new manager on Wednesday, capping a tumultuous coaching search that began when Tony Pulis abruptly left the team 48 hours before the start of the season.

Palace for the drop? I wouldn’t be surprised.

Xabi Alonso Joins Bayern Munich

Scott Saunders for FTB Pro:

Bayern confirmed earlier this week that they had signed Roma centre half Mehdi Benatia, who signed a five-year contract following his £20 million move. Alonso is now set to join up with the Moroccan to add more valuable experience to the first team squad.

Must be nice being Bayern Munich and having the financial strength and attractiveness to players. That they can react so quickly to an injury with two great signings speaks of this and their professional management. Sure, Alonso is a stop gap, but a rather good one at that. I’m sure many clubs would have been happy with his signing, such as Manchester United.

The Champions League Draw

Lewis Doe for HITC:

The stand out fixture for Liverpool is a clash with the current European champions Real Madrid. Brendan Rodgers’ side will fancy their chances of getting out of the group as they’re likely to be favoured ahead of both Basel and Ludogorets.

Fantastic draw for Chelsea, alright for Liverpool, and tough ones for Manchester City and Arsenal.

Transfer Update: Friday

With all the comings and goings on the eve of the transfer window closing, I’m settling on doing these transfer updates to cover all transfers:

Friday Foreplay – Gameweek 3

My weekly column previewing the Fantasy Premier League Gameweek has been published over at AllThingsFPL.com:

ATFPL’s Captain Foresight by Pepin, highlights potential captain picks:

  • Despite Manchester United’s woeful start to the season, Wayne Rooney is ATFPL’s pick heading into an away game against Burnley. He’s registering four shots per game and is a nailed on pick up front for United that still has fantastic fixtures coming up.
  • Edin Džeko’s leg injury against Liverpool and news that Sergio Agüero was injured in training leaves us with fit and firing Stevan Jovetić as our pick from the Manchester City strikers. With eight shots and two goals in two games he should perhaps be at the top of this list but as Matej points out the The Opinion Article, only Sergio Agüero is a guaranteed starter for City when everyone is fit.
  • “Returns will come as Tottenham exhibit more of the Pochettino Effect“, preached Stoosher as he gushed over Spurs’s performance against QPR. While Erik Lamela, Nacer Chadli, and Christian Eriksen all impressed, Emmanuel Adebayor could be the one that benefits most in Fantasy terms. A veritable Fantasy monster, Adebayor has registered six seasons with over 110 points and scored 11 goals and assisted six in limited minutes last season.

Check it out. Also look out for other fantastic articles on the site and my Team News piece coming out tonight.

How Much Time Will Van Gaal Get?

Mike L. Goodman for Grantland:

How long should van Gaal have to turn the battleship around? There’s no easy answer, and the unit of measurement, be it weeks or months, or years, is up for debate. One thing’s for certain, though: He’s not going to do it just by showing up. Ultimately, van Gaal will be judged as a success or a failure based on how he heals this broken team. Four months without a United game that mattered might have made us all forget how big a job that is. Now, three games into the season, that reality is painfully clear.

Fantastic piece again by Goodman. As for my opinion, you give Van Gaal as much time and support as you can. At least a season, preferably two.

Samuel Eto’o Joins Everton

Scott Saunders for FTB Pro:

The club announced the deal on their website on Tuesday evening and confirmed the former Cameroon captain had signed a two year deal. Eto’o has previously played for the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Inter Milan. He was released by Chelsea at the end of last season after one season at Stamford Bridge

A two year contract probably sealed the deal. I doubt Chelsea would have considered anything other than a one year rolling option.

MK Dons 4-0 Manchester United

Joe Moore for talkSPORT:

It was a humiliating evening for the Red Devils, who were never at the races as two goals from William Grigg and on-loan Arsenal forward Benik Afobe secured a 4-0 win to see the Dons safely into the third round.

Van Gaal perhaps underestimated his lowly opponents by naming an under-strength starting line-up, with Johnny Evans, Javier Hernandez and Anderson their most senior players.

I couldn’t believe the score when I read it. Whatever the team, this should never be acceptable for Manchester United. Van Gaal has a tough couple of months ahead.

Arsenal 1-0 Beşiktaş

John Brewin for ESPN FC:

As Besiktas pinned Arsenal back, Sanchez was often the only release gauge available, but he does not have the ability to hold up lofted balls that Olivier Giroud — whom he must now replace as the leading central striker for the foreseeable future — does. However, the Chilean’s energy is wholly appreciated by his new admirers. He worked like a Trojan in trying to gain territory and time for his toiling colleagues. Sanchez is a hustler and a hassler in the rich South American tradition that Wenger wanted when he tried to buy Luis Suarez a year ago.

I thought Sanchez was immense. The effort he put in to win the ball and keep it when Arsenal went a man down was fantastic. True, Arsenal were hanging on and could have conceded through Ba, but I thought they were the better team and deserved the win.

Ludogorets’s Cosmin Moti Saves Two Penalties

Back Page Football:

With seconds remaining in extra time, Ludogorets goalkeeper Vladislav Stoyanov was sent off, forcing Moti to go between the sticks with all three substitutes having been made.

The 29-year-old Romanian wasn’t fazed in the slightest though, converting his side’s first spot kick in the shoot out before making two saves.

What a shootout! I watched the extra time and penalties and boy did Moti cement his place as a Ludogorets legend.

International Retirements: Lampard, Alonso, Eto’o

A hattrick of newly announced international retirements, courtesy of Goal.com:

Shelley Kerr First Senior Football Manager in the Men’s Game

Anna Kessel for The Guardian:

There has long been debate over Britain’s first lady of football, Droylsden and Fisher Athletic setting out their claims, but in Kerr we have a genuine appointment. A manager who saw a position advertised, sent in her CV, was shortlisted for an interview and beat 14 other applicants, all men. “She was the stand out candidate from a very strong application process,” Stirling’s sporting director, Raleigh Gowrie, says.

Antonio Conte Appointed Italy Manager

Jerrad Peters for Bleacher Report:

In other words, he can be expected to make quick decisions regarding the players at his disposal. Trust, perhaps more than anything else, is a Conte managerial hallmark.

Of course, his teams will also be efficient with the ball and easy on the eye.

BBC: Kevin Nolan Out for Six Weeks With Shoulder Injury

Nolan damaged his shoulder in training on Thursday, missing the Hammers’ 3-1 win at Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Allardyce backed “the best and strongest squad I’ve put together at the club” to handle the absence.

Real Madrid 2-0 Córdoba

Goal.com:

Ancelotti’s front six showed they are a work in progress as Cordoba gave a good account of themselves on their return to the top flight, but the prolific Ronaldo sealed the points right at the death with a long-range strike.

While Albert Ferrer’s men started brightly after the break, they lacked the quality to draw level as Madrid held out to secure all three points after losing to city rivals Atletico in the Supercopa de Espana.

Tottenham 4-0 QPR

Jack Pitt-Brooke for The Independent:

This was Pochettino’s third game in charge of Tottenham but his first at home, and the White Hart Lane crowd was treated to a performance of very watchable attacking football, against a side without the capacity or obvious desire to stop them. Spurs played with real hunger and power and would surely have beaten far better teams than Harry Redknapp’s bedraggled Queen’s Park Rangers.

Bayern Munich 2-1 VfL Wolfsburg

Randall Hauk for Bundesliga Fanatic:

The champions finally responded to the near-miss with several late scoring opportunities, most-notably a Sebastian Rode goal wiped off the scoreboard by an erroneous offside call against Müller, just five minutes after coming on for Lewandowski. Xherdan Shaqiri and Robben each narrowly missed padding the lead in one-on-one chances with Grün, while Müller just missed another very Müller-like goal in extra time, reminding everyone just who was really in charge.

As if anyone had forgotten. . .

Messi Still Makes it Look Disgustingly Easy

Ben Green for 101 Great Goals:

Even when down to 10 men after the sending off of Javier Mascherano, Barcelona dominated Elche to a massive (worrying?) degree in a 3-0 victory.

And, on the opening weekend of La Liga, it was Lionel Messi who once again reminded us just how awesomely brilliant the diminutive Argentine is in front of goal.

Arsenal’s Problems

Ted Knutson for Stats Bomb:

So watching Everton pick apart Arsenal on the break in the exact same fashion they did last year made me realize it’s actually the same systemic flaw we’ve been seeing for most of the last decade. Arsene’s been trying to figure out how to fix it, and he can’t. If you rock a standard high possession plan, you leave yourself vulnerable to counters. If you try to control more for counters, you generate fewer shots, and lower shot differential, and lower possession, which in turn gives your opponents more of the ball and more shots. Sound familiar?

Manchester City’s Strength in Depth

Phil McNulty for the BBC:

City – without needing to be anywhere near their best against the team that took the title race to its final day last season – were already cruising with a two-goal lead when Aguero made his 69th-minute entrance as a substitute for the limping Edin Dzeko.

In the space of those few seconds the Argentina forward strolled onto the pitch at Etihad Stadium and right onto the end of Jesus Navas’s perfect pass to put the home side out of sight of Liverpool and maintain their 100% start to the season.

It was a symbolic, highly impressive demonstration of the power City manager Manuel Pellegrini has at his disposal, made even more emphatic as it was produced against a Liverpool side that had the title in their grasp in late April only to stumble near the finishing line.

Manchester City 3-1 Liverpool

Henry Winter for The Telegraph:

Liverpool, last season’s closest challengers to City, were swept aside here, their flaws also relating to deficiencies in defence. Dejan Lovren endured a difficult evening while their debut-making left-back, Alberto Moreno, was caught out for Jovetic’s first. Liverpool also lost Glen Johnson to a groin injury.

On this season’s early evidence, only Chelsea have the quality to live with City. The importance of Chelsea keeping Diego Costa fit cannot be overstated. Arsenal have concerns over Olivier Giroud following his ankle injury. How they would all relish City’s attacking resources.

On this game’s evidence, I may have been too bullish on Chelsea’s chances this season. Should they lose Costa, they could struggle. The same can not be said about Manchester City in any position on the field.

Lose Agüero? Jovetić and Džeko will work. Lose Silva? Nasri, Touré, and to a lesser extent Navas and Lampard are still great. And with the purchase of Mangala and signing of Sagna they finally have strength in depth at the back, even though that is their weakest spot in case an injury crisis hits them.

Everton 2-2 Arsenal

Ahmed Osoble for Sportskeeda:

If Arsenal are to be regarded as serious title contenders, they will have to repeat their seven-minute come-back to steal an extraordinary point at Goodison Park on more than one occasion. If it is the mark of champions-elect, Arsenal should be challenging alongside the talent, depth and power of City and Chelsea.