Premier League 2018/19: Arsenal's Torreira among top five signings so far

Matt Jones 14/11/2018
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The 2018/19 Premier League season is around a third of the way complete, which is plenty of time for teams to establish a rhythm and new arrivals to bed in to their new surroundings.

Champions Manchester City lead the way and will be the team to beat it seems, but Chelsea and Liverpool are snapping at their heels.

As ever, a raft of signing were made in the summer, but which ones are shining bright in the early part of the season?

Here, we pick our five best signings of the Premier League season so far.

RICHARLISON (Everton, £35m)

Richarlison

Amid an influx of stars at Goodison Park this past summer, there were more than a few concerns among Toffees fans that they were signing a player whose form last season could be described as sticky at best.

Richarlison was an unheralded Brazilian when he arrived on the scene at Watford, but soon had Hornets supporters buzzing with a roaring start to life at Vicarage Road – netting five goals in his opening 12 Premier League games. Then, he failed to ripple the net again that season, despite playing every one of the 38 games.

However, he has already surpassed that mark in just 10 games for his new club, while the 21-year-old has also made his Brazil debut – scoring twice in his first four caps.

His form has drawn praise from Brazilian World Cup winner and ex-Arsenal midfielder Gilberto Silva, who says his compatriot gives the Selecao a different option to anything they’ve had before.

FELIPE ANDERSON (West Ham, £36m)

Ipswich Town v West Ham United - Pre-Season Friendly

Another club who recruited heavily in the summer were the Hammers, and they certainly needed to after a demoralising 2017/18 campaign which saw them flirt with relegation and draw the ire of an angry fanbase.

The acquisition of Brazilian midfielder Felipe Anderson was seen as a coup, considering his links to Manchester United among other elite clubs in previous years – although a troubled past with regards to injuries, fitness and attitude were seen as stumbling blocks to him becoming a world-class player.

He has been one of West Ham’s standout players this season though, even amidst a testing start, and the 25-year-old’s second half equaliser at Huddersfield on the weekend was his fourth strike of the season, and third in two games.

The all-action midfielder is contributing at both ends of the pitch. His 1.8 dribbles on average per game is the third most in the league, while his 33 tackles is joint ninth highest among players.

LUCAS TORREIRA (Arsenal, £26.4m)

0911 Lucas Torreira

In a World Cup year, Arsenal completed a superb bit of business by snapping up the sought after young Uruguayan for a relatively modest fee – especially after he had starred for his country at the tournament in Russia.

The tenacious Torreira was seen as the kind of no-nonsense midfielder the club has long been craving, especially with a new era emerging at the Emirates with Unai Emery replacing the iconic Arsene Wenger.

The Gunners remain a work in progress but Torreria is proving to be a revelation with his industry and energy in the heart of the engine room following his arrival from Sampdoria driving the team on.

The 22-year-old is a livewire and is sound defensively, while also possessing impressive attacking attributes. His 89.5 pass success rate places him 14th overall among Premier League players.

No Arsenal player is fouled more on average than Torreira’s 2.3 fouls drawn per game. He is the sixth most fouled player in the league.

DAVID BROOKS (Bournemouth, £11.5m)

David Brooks

When someone of Ryan Giggs’ calibre says it would have been a “disaster” had Brooks ended up choosing England over Wales, you know you’re dealing with a talented player.

The Warrington-born attacking midfielder, 21, was named best player at the 2017 Toulon Tournament, the prestigious Under-20 competition in France which he helped England win.

Brooks, who qualifies for Wales through his Llangollen-born mother, said he had always intended to represent the Dragons at senior level though and he has become an established part of Giggs’ squad.

Following a breakout year in the Championship last term, he was snapped up by Bournemouth for £11.5m this summer, and he has impressed in making the step-up at a Cherries side bristling with young British talent, being orchestrated by the ambitious Eddie Howe.

Brooks has already bagged three Premier League goals this season as Bournemouth sit sixth, and the lively forward is always looking to fashion chances and link the play; only Chelsea’s Jorginho has played more through balls than his eight.

JAMES MADDISON (Leicester City, £20m)

Leicester City v Huddersfield Town - Premier League

Another player making a mockery of the gulf in class between England’s top and second tier is Leicester midfielder James Maddison – who is proving to be a revelation for the flamboyant Foxes.

Eyebrows were raised when £20 million was thrown Norwich City’s way to bring the attacking midfielder to the King Power Stadium, but he has found the Premier League to his liking, with three goals in eight league appearances so far for 10th-placed Leicester.

Maddison’s stats are mightily impressive. He is the Foxes’ joint top scorer this season, alongside striker Jamie Vardy.

He makes 2.4 key passes per game on average, which is enough to place him sixth best in the Premier League and among such illustrious company as Man City maestro David Silva and enigmatic Chelsea schemer Eden Hazard. His 26 in total place him seventh.

He is fouled 2.6 times per game – only Wilfried Zaha and Hazard are targeted more.

He has been capped four times at U21 level for England, was called into the senior squad for October’s friendly with Spain, and a first senior cap can’t be too far away.

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Denmark defender Andreas Christensen reveals Chelsea frustration

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Andreas Christensen has admitted feeling a sense of frustration after gaining limited Chelsea opportunities under manager Maurizio Sarri so far this season.

The Denmark defender was a Premier League regular during the reign of Sarri’s Stamford Bridge predecessor Antonio Conte.

But his Chelsea game time this term has been restricted exclusively to the Europa League and Carabao Cup.

Christensen’s father Sten, who is also his agent, last month suggested a move from Chelsea will be pursued in the January transfer window if he is not given more first-team chances.

“It has been difficult,” said 22-year-old Christensen, who is currently with the Denmark squad preparing for Friday’s Nations League clash with Wales in Cardiff.

“If you ask any player, they want to play. I am the same, and I love football.

“Not playing is frustrating. I can’t do anything about it other than train hard and when I get the chance to play, do my best.

“I have been trying to take my opportunities in the games I get and I’ve been trying to show what I can do. It is one game at a time for me.

“At the moment we have a lot of cup games at Chelsea, and in the last three or four weeks I’ve actually played every week, but not in the games I’ve wanted to play in.

“I have made sure I am ready for whenever I’m needed, but I want to be in the starting XI every time and that’s the frustrating part. I’ve been lucky in a sense because I’ve had some games and not zero.

“At the moment at Chelsea we are winning and we are playing well, so there is no reason to change the team. I have to do my best in training and work hard, even though it’s a difficult situation.”

Christensen spent two successful seasons on loan with German club Borussia Monchengladbach from 2015 to 2017, but his father ruled out another loan move when speaking to Danish television.

Asked if he fancied a further loan switch, Christensen said: “No, not yet.

“In football, things can change very quickly, and I know that.

“I wasn’t starting at the beginning of last season, but then suddenly there were a few injuries and a couple of red cards and then I was playing every week. It can change very quickly, so I won’t make any decisions straightaway.”

Christensen’s immediate priority is an appointment with Wales, when a win for either team would see them top their Nations League group, while a draw would leave Denmark in pole position ahead of hosting the struggling Republic of Ireland next week.

“We all see this as a final, so it’s going to be a very big game,” added Christensen, whose Chelsea team-mate – 18-year-old Ethan Ampadu – looks set to be in the Wales line-up.

“At Chelsea, we are just as excited about Ethan as the people in Wales are. He does brilliantly in training and everyone is looking forward to seeing what he can become – me included.

“He is a brilliant guy, and I am looking forward to seeing him again. We stay close to each other, and he is someone I am excited to see every day at the training ground.”

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Premier League Stock Exchange: Man City race away as Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal lose pace

Alex Rea 13/11/2018
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Another international break is on the horizon and the Premier League gave us plenty of reasons to be upset at another stop in the action after an entertaining Gameweek.

Sides in the top six lost pace with leaders Manchester City while there were crucial victories for teams toward the bottom as well.

Keeping tabs on all 20 Premier League teams is the Sport360 Stock Exchange (360SE), our season-long measurement for top-flight sides as we track each club throughout the campaign and take into account their results to assign positions.

We initially used reputation and squad worth to determine the starting price but from Gameweek 2 onward, we’ve examined their output to create a new value.

The total points gained for the season are used as a tiebreaker but sides which have produced big wins against strong opposition get a big boost and vice versa.

Without further ado, here’s the rankings after GW12.

1. Manchester City: 560 / 568 / +8

Total for 2018/19: +72

A 44-pass move which ended with Ilkay Gundogan elegantly plucking out of the air and tucking past David De Gea hallmarked City’s 3-1 win over Manchester United. It served as an example of their superiority over a bitter rival and the rest of the league.

Patient and punishing, the chasm of quality between the two sides is stark. David Silva and Sergio Aguero scored two other glorious goals and aside from just talent, City also have the mental traits of desire and determination. A frightening outfit indeed.

2. Liverpool: 539 / 541 / +2

Total for 2018/19: +66

Liverpool are a peculiar side at the moment. They rebounded from the disappointment of a midweek defeat to Red Star Belgrade by beating Fulham. But again it was far from their fluid best.

Fulham had a goal wrongly ruled out for offside and Mohamed Salah scored seconds later. Xherdan Shaqiri doubled their lead and was a bright spot and it seems like Jurgen Klopp is purposely pulling back on his exhausting pressing style with his mind on a long and tiring campaign.

It”s been their best ever Premier League start, achieved by doing just enough and nothing more.

3. Chelsea: 484 / 484 / 0

Total for 2018/19: +54

Chelsea were frustrated after a fractious clash with Everton. Maurizio Sarri extended his unbeaten start as Chelsea’s head coach to 12 matches and established a Premier League record.

That was about the only positive note for the Italian. A 0-0 draw at Everton is not the type of result which will see them maintain title pace with Liverpool and City. It’s difficult enough as it is and they are making it much harder for themselves.

4. Arsenal: 456 / 458 / +2

Total for 2018/19: +28

Unai Emery has been hailed for his tactical flexibility this season but his decision to stick with a 4-2-3-1 against Wolves’ 3-4-3 system was disappointing. It’s not just that they were outplayed by the visitors, but rather that the opponents have a predictable style and Emery didn’t execute a plan to stop it.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s cross found the back of the net in the 86th minute and they managed to escape and extend their unbeaten run of games. For that, a small increase in their value.

5. Tottenham Hotspur: 444 / 446 / +2

Total for 2018/19: +26

It was a wretched evening of weather at Crystal Palace and Spurs largely matched the backdrop with a somewhat fortuitous 1-0 win. Juan Foyth was the man responsible for the three points with the winner and man-of-the-match performance having been the player liable for two Wolves penalties last weekend.

He was calm amid the chaos of the apocalyptic rain and stood brave against the Palace bombardment. Second week running Spurs only gain a slight stock increase.

6. Manchester United: 451 / 446 / -5

Total for 2018/19: -14

United are a paradox wrapped up in confusion. Against City, they attempted to play on the counter but then didn’t have a midfielder who could play penetrating passes into the final third. When they opted to go long, there was no-one to target outside of Marouane Fellaini.

Fortuitous results had masked their deficiencies but the problems from the outset remain and do not look like being fixed anytime soon. The gap between United and City is 12 points after 12 games and it will only stretch further between now and May.

Jose Mourinho

Jose Mourinho

7. Everton: 374 / 378 / +4

Total for 2018/19: +7

Jordan Pickford and Yerry Mina were resolute and outstanding as Everton repelled Chelsea at Goodison Park to gain a very credible point. “We took a good step today towards challenging teams like Chelsea in the future,” boss Marco Silva assessed.

They did so on the day but a touch more quality and perhaps that may well be the case over the course of a campaign.

8. Leicester City: 358 / 360 / +2

Total for 2018/19: +10

Leicester have managed an emotional few weeks magnificently. In their first assignment at the King Power Stadium since the tragic helicopter crash which took life of the club’s owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, they earned a credible point against Burnley.

Naturally, the contest was an incredibly poignant one and the players committed every ounce of energy in trying to secure victory. It was about paying respect and they did just that, honouring their owner with total class.

9. West Ham: 358 / 358 / 0

Total for 2018/19: -5

Club-record buy Felipe Anderson is finally proving good value after notching his third goal in two games to hand West Ham a point away to Huddersfield. The Brazilian started and finished a fine move in the second half to cancel out Alex Pritchard’s early opener.

However, West Ham’s erroneous play out from the back should have been punished further in the first half and they improved after the break. It’s nothing gained or lost in terms of stock value from a game they should have been viewing as an easy avenue to three points.

10. Wolves: 334 / 339 / +5

Total for 2018/19: +41

A tactical victory, if not the three points for Nuno Espirito Santo. Their 3-4-3 system was perfectly suited for Arsenal’s 4-2-3-1 with the forwards seeing plenty of joy on rapid counter-attacks and particularly in the left channel. Credit to Wolves because they have an aggressive philosophy and a positive way to play which is enforced no matter the opponent.

They were more dangerous, created better chances and should have scored more than just Ivan Cavaleiro’s opener. Still, it’s a positive stock increase which sees them move into the top 10.

11. Bournemouth: 334 / 330 / -4

Total for 2018/19: +50

Second half they much better against Newcastle as they actually got on the front foot following a timid first half. Jefferson Lerma angled a header home to bridge the gap before the break but when chances arrived in the second half, an equaliser did not.

It’s a big setback for a high-flying Bournemouth who simply couldn’t handle home striker Salomon Rondon.

12. Watford: 298 / 300 / +2

Total for 2018/19: +50

A horrible game for the officials at Southampton, one decision in favour of the away side and one against. The first was Nathaniel Chalobah being blatantly clattered in the box with no penalty awarded. Then of course Charlie Austin’s wrongly-ruled out goal which would have put Saints two up.

The reality is Javi Gracia’s men got away with one and after Manolo Gabbiadini had given the hosts a first-half lead, left-back Jose Holebas equalised in the 82nd minute. A point away from home warrants a marginal stock gain.

13. Crystal Palace: 296 / 296 / 0

Total for 2018/19: +6

Palace had lost all 11 of their Premier League games without Wilfried Zaha in the side. A hamstring injury kept him out of the team to take on Tottenham and predictably they made that 12 sans their talisman.

To be fair, Palace didn’t play like a side without a goal from open play at home this season, or a team which has taken only five points from their last 30 available. However, a seventh league match without victory is grim reading for boss Roy Hodgson. He will hope his injury list after the international break is decidedly less bleak.

14. Brighton: 290 / 287 / -3

Total for 2018/19: +37

The game started well enough for Brighton at Cardiff when Lewis Dunk put them in front. It soon descended into misery when first Callum Paterson equalised, then Dale Stephenson was shown a warranted red card before Sol Bamba controversially scored from a late skirmish in the box.

Chris Hughton was suitably vexed at the officials but will be equally annoyed by an opportunity that slipped away.

15. Newcastle United: 280 / 285 / +5

Total for 2018/19: -5

Two pieces of brilliant wing play, two first Newcastle goals for Rondon and two straight wins for Rafa Benitez’s side following a 2-1 triumph over Bournemouth. That old Magpies nursery rhyme was right after all, ‘two for joy’.

Indeed, Newcastle’s relegation is looking less black and white after moving up into 14th after the Venezuelan striker profited from first DeAndre Yedlin’s burst of speed and pick out on the right side, and then Kenedy’s delicious cross from the opposite flank. Another stock boost for the Magpies.

Salomon Rondon

Salomon Rondon

16. Burnley: 272 / 275 / +3

Total for 2018/19: -14

Sean Dyche talked post-match about how the result didn’t matter on a moving afternoon at Leicester City. In truth, when it came to the football, Burnley had their opportunities, notably through Chris Wood, but equally they were indebted to Joe Hart and the home side’s profligacy as well.

It was no real surprise the game ended in a draw and after conceding 13 goals in their last three games, Dyche inside will be happy to have not conceded.

17. Southampton: 256 / 260 / +4

Total for 2018/19: -10

You’ll no doubt be aware of Austin’s enraged outburst after Saints were held to a 1-1 draw with Watford. “It’s a joke, mate,” Austin boiled. The striker was incensed after his legitimate goal was bizarrely ruled out for offside after officials claimed the ball struck Maya Yoshida who was in an offside position.

It didn’t and then the away side equalised through a grimly deflected Holebas strike late on. Talk about adding insult to injury, it’s no joke for a Southampton side languishing near the foot of the table.

18. Fulham: 262 / 260 / -2

Total for 2018/19: -30

Slavisa Jokanovic was left frustrated after Aleksandar Mitrovic’s header was wrongly disallowed for offside but they only deserved defeat at Anfield.

Fulham offered very little in terms of attacking intent apart from that one moment and the second half was played out at a pedestrian pace as they surrendered. They remain bottom of the league and slip into the bottom three in our rankings. Jokanovic’s luck and time is running out.

19. Huddersfield Town: 220 / 225 / +5

Total for 2018/19: +2

A ruthless streak would serve Huddersfield very well. Indeed, David Wagner’s men should have been enjoying a second straight win but were forced to settle for a share of the points with West Ham after failing to capitilise on several chances.

For a side which has struggled to mount a serious threat in recent weeks, creating opportunities is a definite plus point, but to get out of their relegation scrap and the bottom three of our rankings, they must display more composure. You fix one problem, and a new one emerges.

David Wagner

David Wagner

20. Cardiff City: 208 / 216 / +8

Total for 2018/19: +16

Neil Warnock conducted the joyous singing in the stands as he walked off the pitch following a priceless three points against Brighton. In his 100th game in charge of the club, a 2-1 win for a side widely predicted to go down, even by Warnock himself, was a pleasant reward.

Bamba made amends for dire marking of Dunk in the opener by netting a late winner, albeit from an offside position in the build-up. He didn’t get booked for taking his shirt off in celebration either, so when it’s you day, it’s your day.

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