The first round of European games are over and the managers are out in full flow for more press-conferences ahead of another gameweek in what will be a hectic winter schedule. There is a lot to say after what has been a complicated week of action for some. Although for others, it’s been a breeze.
After back-to-back wins over Newcastle United and Paris Saint-Germain took their away winning run to ten consecutive games, Manchester United are back home. The Red Devils play Chelsea in their next game and have struggled to beat teams there recently with London clubs Crystal Palace and Tottenham handing them losses. That dominated Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s presser with him also asked questions about the fitness of many in his team.
“I hope and expect all three (Cavani, Greenwood and Maguire) of them to be available for selection. Of course we’ve got a training session this morning which is the last chance of preparation, but they’ve all got a chance, all of them. Edinson needs to tick all the boxes that he’s gone through in his programme to be ready and make an impact. I’ll have a discussion with him today, as well as with Mason and Harry.”
A simple win over LASK saw Tottenham extend their unbeaten run, in all competitions, to nine games since that loss to Everton in their season opener. That’s a run that includes four consecutive unbeaten Premier League games with two wins and two draws since the same loss. However, with the late comeback from West Ham still burned onto many minds, with Jose Mourinho’s presser dominated by questions about confidence and Burnley.
“Full of confidence yes, but also aware of the difficulties. As I was saying before, Burnley is burley. They know the way they want to play, they know the problems they want to give to opponents, they know how they want to defend, they know how they try to hurt opponents offensively. Years and years and years of the same coach, same philosophy and a lot of the same players. It doesn’t mean anything for me, a part of confidence yes but our away run doesn’t mean anything to me.”
Not exactly the greatest time for Chelsea to face Manchester United as the Blues go into the clash on the back of two draws, in all competitions, after Sevilla held them to a stalemate in midweek. But with his six new summer signings all on the field for the first time against the La Liga side, Frank Lampard has a full squad available including, shockingly, the formerly retired Petr Cech. That did play a part in Lampard’s presser with questions about the European Premier League and others.
“We have a clean bill of health, apart from Kepa, who has a shoulder injury. Petr Cech won't be coming to Manchester as part of the squad, though.”
“I am seeing some signs of that (team coming together), but people came in with injuries. I am seeing signs but I am not jumping ahead. I knew it would take some time. I expect us to get better. It's not perfect to have new players with no pre-season.”
A strong win over Ajax has dissipated a few concerns about Liverpool’s defensive issues following a long term injury to Virgil van Dijk but many Reds fans are still concerned. Not only that, the draw to Everton also saw Thiago injured and the Spaniard missed the mid-week game with Joel Matip also not playing in the same. That has further added to the concerns and it dominated Klopp’s presser with questions about injuries, and Virgil van Dijk.
“I can understand people are interested in Virgil. He is OK, it doesn't make sense we give a schedule every day. Surgery will happen at the appropriate time. Recovery will take time. All people are different. It won't make to say [when he's back]. Everyone copes different so there is no need for it."
With Fernandinho limping off against Porto, Manchester City’s injury problems continue to mount with Nathan Ake also reportedly out injured. However, both Oleksandr Zinchenko and Gabriel Jesus are rumoured to be back in training with questions about fitness and form, dominating the Spaniard’s press conference. He also answered questions about the title race, West Ham and a few others.
“I don't know. To early to know it. It looks like there are unexpected results, but the situation is all over the world not just in this bubble. In our normal lives you cannot go out as usual in the restaurants and that is a problem so everyone takes influence in the games. It's only four games.
“I think before I came here the history of the PL speaks for itself. It's the most open league in the world. The last two seasons, two teams dominate the league with a big big game between the other ones is an exceptional season for this league. The normality will be back this season.