The Iranian businessman has invested heavily in the first-team squad (more than $400 million on transfers over five windows) while forging full-speed ahead to build a new $385-million stadium on the Mersey riverfront. In short, he has done everything he promised 31 months ago — everything that the majority of new owners promise upon takeover, but oftentimes fail to do.
Thus, it comes as little surprise that Moshiri jumped at the chance to snap up an additional 18.7 percent of the shareholding, bringing his total to 68.6 percent. In an official statement, the club revealed that Moshiri “is expected to increase to 77.2 percent no later than July 2019.”
The only — but key — piece of the puzzle missing during Moshiri’s time in charge of the league is, of course, a trophy. Having finished seventh and eighth in the two full seasons since he bought the club, the Toffees continue to be just as consistent — but, ultimately inconsequential — as they have been for the last dozen years.
Starting in north London, a report from the Daily Express claims that Antoine Griezmann is unhappy at Barcelona after being left on the bench for the 2-2 draw against his former team Atletico Madrid. It goes on to state that Arsenal and Inter Milan want to sign Griezmann.
Griezmann, 29, joined Barcelona last summer for $125 million but it’s fair to say the move hasn’t worked out so far. Barcelona coach Quique Setien said that Griezmann isn’t in the starting lineup because they are not balanced with him in the team so as long as Setien is around, the French star is probably going to struggle for minutes.
He has scored eight goals and added four assists this season and things just haven’t clicked up top with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. The report claims that Arsenal remain interested in Griezmann and with Barcelona being linked with a move for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, could a swap deal plus cash be on the cards?
Of course, Aubameyang is slightly older and has just one year left on his current contract at Barcelona but maybe Griezmann could head to Arsenal on a loan deal a la Philippe Coutinho to Bayern Munich?
Not the craziest idea, right? Arsenal have Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette who could both move on this summer and they can use them as bargaining chips to try and sign Griezmann and possibly Thomas Partey from Atletico. Inter Milan have a striker Barcelona want, Lautaro Martinez, so maybe a swap deal could be sorted out on their end too?
With the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic hitting everyone, but particular soccer, hard, finding ways to swap players and not spend cash could be the theme of the next few seasons. If that is the case, Aubameyang to Barcelona for Griezmann makes sense. Now, do the finances line up and would Griezmann want to leave Spain for north London? Arsenal don’t want to lose Aubameyang but if they gain Griezmann, that would help to soften the blow.
Switching our focus to Manchester, it is believed Man City are keen on signing Bayern Munich and Austria defender David Alaba, according to the Guardian.
Alaba, 28, has one more year left on his Bayern contract and Pep Guardiola knows him well from his time in charge of the Bavarian giants.
The versatile defender can play at center back and left back, plus also in midfield, and Man City will need plenty of rebuilding in the coming years. With David Silva leaving this summer, plus Fernandinho and Sergio Aguero coming towards the end of their careers, this Man City side will look very different in 12-18 months’ time.
With Leroy Sane heading to Bayern Munich, there have been plenty deals discussed between the two clubs and Alaba would be perfect for Man City. He is calm on the ball, defensively solid and he could play in multiple positions for Guardiola.
Alaba is set to be offered a new deal at Bayern as Man City and Inter Milan both want to sign him. Man City’s main issue has been a lack of defensive depth and if Alaba arrives, that will go a long way to plugging multiple gaps.
Sheffield United – Tottenham Hotspur: There are European hopes dripping from Wednesday’s meeting of Sheffield United and Tottenham Hotspur at Bramall Lane (Watch live at 1pm ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com)
Blades’ European hopes have taken a big hit since the Premier League’s return from the coronavirus pandemic. They’ve lost two-straight league outings and have just one win from five.
Spurs have taken four of six points in just two matches since the end of the break and need a win to retake seventh place from Arsenal.
Japhet Tanganga and Juan Foyth remain out for Tottenham, who is otherwise as healthy as its been since the calendar turned to 2020. Jose Mourinho has made one change as Dele Alli is dropped and Steven Bergwijn comes in.
Jack O’Connell is getting closer to a return for the Blades but Chris Wilder says they “won’t make a high risk decision on him.” John Lundstram is out injured and is replaced by Sande Berge, while John Fleck is also out injured with Ben Osborn coming in for his first Premier League start.
Chris Wilder makes two enforced changes 🔁
Sander Berge starts, as does Ben Osborn, who will make his first top-flight start against Jose Mourinho's side.#SUFC 🔴
Chris Wilder on the evolution of big January buy Sander Berge: “Sander is going to be a really good player for us. He’s 21 [sic], we paid decent money for him. £20m is not an unbelievable number. It is for Sheffield United, I understand that. So Sander comes with that pressure. But he’s a grounded boy and he’ll eventually play as a sitting midfield player. He’s a proper midfield player, he’s a really good kid and he always will get mine and the boys’ full backing.”
Mourinho on the struggles of big signing Tanguy Ndombele: “Football is full of players who have made difficult starts and then ended well. When Luka Modric arrived at Real Madrid after six months he was labeled the worst signing in their history by the fans and the press. A few months later he was a champion, then a few months later he was European champion and then a few months later he was voted the best player in the world. So when the talent is there many things can happen with adaptation and if the talent is there anything good can happen.”
Odds and ends
The bookies aren’t so sure about this one, with DraftKings having hosts Sheffield United +225 and Tottenham +130.
Nuno Espirito Santo and Wolves continue to upset the odds as they are the only Premier League team to win all three of their games since the restart and are now three points off third-place and have momentum in the race for Champions League.
Raul Jimenez and Adama Traore will lead Wolves’ charge, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang continues to be the talisman for Arsenal.
Stream Wolves – Arsenal by clicking on the link above and here is everything you need to know ahead of the clash.
Wolves aren’t being impacted by injuries and they are fit and hungry with Santo resting Traore for moments during their first three games of the restart.
Arsenal are still without Bernd Leno, Sokratis, Callum Chambers, Pablo Mari and Gabriel Martinelli but Lucas Torreira is back fit and available. Nicolas Pepe, Bukayo Saka and Eddie Nkeitah were all rested for the win against Norwich.
What they’re saying
Raul Jimenez on his partnership with Adama Traore: “Every striker wants a teammate with his conditions. He can cross from anywhere, you know he’s going to be at the final line and he’s going to cross, so you have to be there at the right time to score. We train on it in the week. We talk to each other before the games, or in the training sessions, so we know where we’re going to be, his crossing and where I have to move. It’s not a coincidence, it’s something we train and work for.”
Mikel Arteta on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: “A player that is able to score as many goals as he’s done in that short space of time tells you everything about the importance that he has for us. We need players that can make the difference at any moment in the game every three days, in different competitions, and that’s a big test for him. He’s done that at different clubs, he’s willing to stay with him, he’s really happy where he is and can see what we’re trying to do. Hopefully he can evolve as well in some parts of his game that in my opinion he can improve. We are pushing him every day towards that.”
Odds and ends
Wolves are the clear favorites for this game via DraftKings (+125) but Arsenal are dangerous and could be good value at +235 for the win. +225 for the draw seems like a very good bet too, as both teams are well matched with similar attacking units but Wolves have the edge when it comes to defensive players.
This will be a tight, tense clash and the star attackers for both teams will be key. If Jimenez and Traore are firing on all cylinders then you have to fancy Wolves, if Aubameyang and Saka are on form for Arsenal, they could edge it. With both teams hopeful of Champions League qualification, the stakes are high and I think this will be a draw. Let’s say 1-1.
So, yeah, this is getting bonkers. With Leicester City and Chelsea both losing this week, Wolves and Man United are just three points off third place and this is going to be extremely interesting. Man United have a very easy remaining schedule and they have momentum, while Sheffield United have some tough games remaining. With fifth-place potentially a Champions League spot due to Man City’s European ban (which they have appealed) that means Arsenal, Tottenham, Sheffield United and even Burnley are in the hunt too. When it comes to Europa League, Everton, Palace, Newcastle and Southampton still have a chance as eighth place could be a qualifying berth due to the FA Cup winners likely to finish in the top six. Simply put, the entire league aside from the bottom six are in the hunt for European action. Lots to play for.
Things are just as interesting at the bottom of the table. Somehow Norwich are still in with a chance of survival despite losing all three of their games since the restart. They have to start winning soon though. Bournemouth and Aston Villa have some ridiculously tough games to finish with and look like they will go down but West Ham and Brighton have tough schedules too, with the latter playing Liverpool and Man City back-to-back next week so they could get sucked back into things. It looks like being three from the bottom five to go down and both West Ham and Watford have showed they have enough grit to grind out points. Can Villa and Bournemouth do the same? Will Norwich win four or five of their last six to save themselves? Things get crazy in the final weeks at the bottom and this is shaping up to be one of the best relegation battles in Premier League history as goal difference is so tight between all of the teams.