Were Man City to win the race for Borussia Dortmund superstar Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, that leaves Sergio Aguero and/or Kelechi Iheanacho as troubled depth men. The former is already expected to at least explore the transfer market, while the latter may be used a makeweight.
A smart move, if possible, for City would be to include Iheanacho with a buyback clause. Those have become increasingly popular as clubs like Manchester United and Chelsea offload players to differing degrees of desperation. United may reclaim Burnley center back Michael Keane, while Chelsea could pay through the teeth for not putting a buyback clause into their sale of Romelu Lukaku to Everton.
Given Borussia Dortmund’s extensive collection of young talent, Iheanacho would certainly fit right into Thomas Tuchel’s group.
Ricardo Pepi goal video: Fantastic start to Groningen loan
Pepi now has a goal or an assist in his first three Eredivisie outings, not unlike his fantastic start to life in a USMNT shirt.
His goal contributions have taken a dive since his first two USMNT matches — World Cup qualifiers against Honduras and Jamaica — and he only has one assist from the following 10 outings in a U.S. shirt.
Still, Pepi is clearly one of Gregg Berhalter’s favorite options for the upcoming World Cup, and his performances will be measured against Union Berlin’s Jordan Pefok, FC Dallas’ Jesus Ferreira, and others.
In a tournament where every moment matters, his work for this scrappy finish will be well-noted by the USMNT staff.
If this is the last goal of Josef Martinez’s (likely) final season with Atlanta United, it will be very appropriate.
So for Martinez, even in a losing effort, to go airborne for an overhead kick that is a simply sensational feat of athleticism and power, well, it just feels right.
The 29-year-old Venezuelan forward joined the Five Stripes in 2017 in what seemed a massive capture for the club at the time and now seems downright gargantuan, but he’s fallen out with current manager Gonzalo Pineda and was even suspended for a match last month.
Martinez has nine goals and four assists in an injury-abbreviated 25-game season, giving him 111 goals in 156 appearances for ATL UTD. The former Torino and Young Boys striker is still being capped for Venezuela and would leave with an MLS Cup, Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, and Campeones Cup as well as a boatload of individual honors.
Atlanta lost 2-1 to New England on Saturday and returns home for their season finale next weekend versus New York City FC. The Five Stripes won’t make the playoffs unless at least two teams decide not to field teams, so if the NYCFC game doesn’t go well, let’s pretend this one was his final appearance for the club.
As expected under Marsch, Leeds have taken a high-volume approach to their tactics — lots of pressing and challenges, lots of counter-attacking and lots of scoring chances created. Their 1.57 expected goals (per 90 minutes) ranks 7th in the Premier League. Leeds haven’t played a game (in any competition) since Sept. 3, one day shy of a month come Sunday, due to the death of Queen Elizabeth II and the ensuing fixture postponements. Leading goal-scorer Rodrigo remains out with a shoulder injury, but the Spaniard could be back in the next week or two.
Goal-scoring has been a major issue thus far for Aston Villa, who have scored multiple goals in a game just once this season. Six different players have scored a goal, but no one has scored two. Unsurprisingly, Steven Gerrard’s side sits 19th in the PL for xG (0.76 per 90).
Leeds team news, injuries, lineup options
OUT: Rodrigo (shoulder), Stuart Dallas (thigh) | QUESTIONABLE: Adam Forshaw (ankle)
Aston Villa team news, injuries, lineup options
OUT: Diego Carlos (achilles), Lucas Digne (ankle), Boubacar Kamara (knee) | QUESTIONABLE: Matty Cash (hamstring), Cameron Archer (adductor)
Gianluca Scamacca is feeling comfortable: He was spotted visibly angry when a teammate’s sloppy first touch destroyed an early chance, and Scamacca is obviously not sheepish about his role in the team. He also clearly wanted to take a start over Michail Antonio to make his case to start every week. His thunderous goal from the edge of the 18 should’ve adequately made it.
Diego Costa flashes: The big, tempestuous veteran striker still knows where to be on the pitch and was just put off enough on a powerful header that went wide of the goal. Costa was a fine hold-up man, something Wolves have used to thrive when Raul Jimenez is at or near his best. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Costa become the positive difference in 3-4 matches this season… maybe even next Saturday against old pals Chelsea?
Declan Rice: Speaking of the positive difference, Declan Rice is a force from endline-to-endline.
Jarrod Bowen reaction: ‘Just what we needed’
“It’s just what we needed. We haven’t had the start we wanted, and we had an international break to regroup our thoughts and go out on the front foot. We suffered without the ball but what this manager does is we’re a tough team to break down and we can counter. Massive three points for us, and we’ve got a lot of games now.”
Off the chest, onto the foot and into the net for Jarrod Bowen!
Declan Rice, Lucas Paqueta, and Tomas Soucek going up against Joao Moutinho, Ruben Neves, and Matheus Cunha was a grind and we think all deserve ice baths. Not so much a midfield muddle as a melee, Neves and Paqueta were kept from their creative best in order to snap into tackles, though Rice stepped forward to seize the day on several occasions
For both sides, the goal-scoring woes are a result of not only a failure to convert scoring chances, but also their inability to create them. West Ham and Wolves both rank in the bottom five of the Premier League in expected goals with identical paltry 0.9 xG averages (per 90 minutes). No other side in the Premier League is anywhere close to underperforming their expected numbers by more than 50 percent.
Goals have come much more easily for West Ham in the Europa Conference League, where they have scored three goals in all four games thus far — six in two games against Danish side Viborg, and three apiece against Romanian runners-up FCSB and another Danish side in Silkeborg.
Wolves made the effort to be a better attacking side this season, as they spent $18 million on Sasa Kalajdzic, but the Austrian international striker tore his ACL on his debut for the club. Raul Jimenez, meanwhile, has played just 211 minutes in three Premier League appearances (none since Aug. 31) and has just one goal, in the League Cup. The Mexican international is now in a race against time to be healthy and fit for the 2022 World Cup eight weeks from now.
West Ham team news, injuries, lineup options
OUT: Nayef Aguerd (ankle), Benjamin Johnson (hamstring)