The Premier League is back and there were plenty of new faces on show after a bust summer transfer window.
With the transfer window for incomings now shut, we know the squad each manager will have between now and January.
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And some displays proved that managers will be very happy with what they have.
Let’s take a look at the new signings who had a great opening weekend.
Richarlison (Everton) – Scored twice and was a constant pest down the left for Everton at new boys Wolves. The Brazilian got off to a fast start last season at Watford and despite the huge expectation on his shoulders after a $65 million move, Richarlison delivered with a poachers finish and a curling effort into the far corner.
Fred (Man United) – A combative display from Fred who was involved in a few scrappy exchanges with Leicester City’s new boy James Maddison (who also impressed with a few of his surging runs). The Brazilian international proved he can give Jose Mourinho’s side the steel they need in midfield and was subbed out late on after a busy shift.
Joe Hart (Burnley) – Made some superb stops late on against Southampton to make it two clean sheets in his first two appearances since joining Burnley on a permanent deal from Man City. Could he be returning to his best form? It will be intriguing to see if Hart becomes their first-choice goalkeeper when Tom Heaton returns from injury.
Raul Jimenez (Wolves) – The Mexican striker had a wonderful debut as he scored a late equalizer against Everton with a powerful header and forced Jordan Pickford into fine save when one-on-one. The loan signing from Benfica held the ball up well and looked to run the channels. He should get plenty of chances to score in his debut season in the PL as newly-promoted Wolves impressed in their opening weekend draw.
Naby Keita (Liverpool) – An all-action display from the Guinea midfielder as he burst forward to help set up the opener and his quick feet caused plenty of problems. Started in the center and drifted out wider often. You can see why Liverpool pushed hard to wrap up the deal for Keita last season. He will be worth $76 million.
Jorginho (Chelsea) – Did his best to try and calm things down against Huddersfield and he scored one of the coolest penalty kicks you will see. Maurizio Sarri has put so much faith in his passing ability and the former Napoli midfielder started off plenty of attacks as there were signs Chelsea new philosophy is starting to click.
Zinedine Zidane’s open flirtation with Paul Pogba continues, as the Real Madrid manager was asked about Manchester United’s star midfielder again on Saturday.
“We need to respect everybody, but the only thing I can say from the club is we know what we want to do,” Zidane said. “Something could happen before the end of August. We could have some changes.”
[ MORE: Wolves beat Man City in pens ]
On paper the purchase of Pogba makes sense to reloading Real, but the problem here is the sheer amount of paper the Madrid side has spent on players this season.
While sales of James Rodriguez, Dani Ceballos, and Gareth Bale could put Real in okay position regarding Financial Fair Play, buying Pogba would move the needle hard in the other direction considering the club has bought Ferland Mendy, Eden Hazard, Eder Militao, Luka Jovic, and Rodrygo.
Plus, Florentino Perez likes to buy only one Galactico per transfer session, and Hazard is undoubtedly this summer’s model.
That said, Real has assets that United could use in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s overhaul of the Old Trafford set.
NYON, Switzerland (AP) Bulgaria will have to close part of its national stadium for European Championship qualifiers against England and the Czech Republic because of fan racism.
UEFA issued the order, saying Bulgarian fans were racially abusive during a 2-1 loss to the Czech Republic and a 3-2 loss to Kosovo last month.
Bulgaria hosts England on Oct. 14 and the Czech Republic on Nov. 17.
Romania has also been ordered to close part of its home stadium for a future under-21 game after UEFA ruled its fans behaved in a racist manner during the European under-21 championship last month.
Another racism case against Latvia was dropped.
UEFA also handed out various fines to Romania, Ukraine, and Greece for rowdy behavior by fans.
A roundup of Saturday’s biggest transfer rumors from around the world, including those involving a few Premier League clubs…
[ MORE: PL refs told to defer to VAR more, go to the monitor “sparingly” ]
Wilfried Zaha is one of the most wanted men in England, with Arsenal reportedly hot on his trail all summer. An deal between the Gunners and Crystal Palace is yet to transpire, though, which has perhaps left the door open for Everton to sneak through and sign the 26-year-old Ivory Coast international.
Arsenal would obviously pay more in wages, but are yet to meet Palace’s valuation of their talisman. If Everton is the club that calls with the requisite figures on offer, it wouldn’t be the worst landing place for Zaha. With Arsenal yet to make a meaningful signing this summer, and the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Laurent Koscielny already gone or on their way out, the 2019-20 season could see the Gunners take a step back, opening the door for — you guessed it — Everton to break into the top-five… or -four.
Speaking of Ramsey, his arrival at Juventus has perhaps made Blaise Matuidi surplus to requirements, which means he could be available for cut-rate price.
Manchester United seem to be perennially in need of influential central midfielders, especially this summer after the departure of Ander Herrera and the failure of a signing that was Fred last summer. Man United have reportedly been in contact with Juve about the 32-year-old, as have Paris Saint-Germain and Everton.
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is another midfielder who’s been linked with United, but he’ll likely just as much as, if not more than, the $59-million fee paid for Fred. Milinkovic-Savic seemed a surefire target for the world’s top clubs after a star’s showing at last summer’s World Cup in Russia, but the 24-year-old remained at Lazio and is still yet to move 12 months later.
Patrick Cutrone was one of Europe’s breakout stars of the 2018-19 season, now the 21-year-old AC Milan forward is reportedly high atop Wolverhampton Wanderers’ shopping list this summer. He won’t come cheap — Milan are expected to demand nearly $30 million — but he could offer some serious insurance in the event of an injury to Raul Jimenez.
Premier League interim chief executive Richard Masters says that referees have ben instructed “to use the referee review area a bit more sparingly” and rely on the numerous video-assistant referees (VAR) at their disposal to make simple calls upon review when video review is instituted in the PL next month.
[ MORE: Lukaku latest: Man United reject $67-million bid from Inter Milan ]
Following the 2019 Women’s World Cup, where far too many trip to the monitor were made by the center referees, the PL is keen on ensuring that “the Premier League or English football [is not] interrupted, or the pace of the game [is not] changed.” It sounds very much like a “less is more” approach — quotes from the BBC:
“I think fans want to see those clear and obvious mistakes changed and put right. But they don’t want to see the Premier League or English football interrupted, or the pace of the game changed.
“I think the only difference you might see is the referees using the referee review area a bit more sparingly and relying more on the VAR for the more subjective decisions.
“But we are putting something new into the Premier League and if it needs to be refined or improved or tweaked we will look at it when the moment arises.”
In theory, this should work quite well for the PL. Many of the decisions that referees go to the monitor to review themselves could easily be made by the “fifth official.” If it’s obvious to the VAR and he/she can make the call with 100 percent certainty, the center ref should always take their decision in the name of keeping the game flowing. If the VAR isn’t so sure, or it’s a more subjective call that should be made by the person making 99 percent of the game’s calls, go to the monitor. But do so quickly.