"He could have cost them £50m less" – Liverpool star's ex-manager claims

"He could have cost them £50m less" – Liverpool star's ex-manager claims – originally posted on Sportslens.com

Liverpool signed Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk for £75million a year ago, breaking the bank to make him their record-signing.
The former Southampton man hit the ground running, helping them to the Champions League final, and has already helped them go top of the Premier League table this term.
Van Dijk is now widely regarded as one of the best centre-backs on the planet, and he’s without a doubt good value for such a hefty fee.
However, his former manager at Celtic Neil Lennon believes Liverpool might have snatched him for as little as £25million had they acted earlier.
“The only surprise, to me, was that he didn’t move from Celtic earlier – because he was a standout player,” Lennon told SportsMail.
“Why he didn’t go to a bigger club earlier, I don’t know. In the end, it cost Liverpool £75m when it maybe could have cost them £50m less, if they had really looked at him.
“He had fantastic temperament, fantastic physique and his all-round qualities; he was just a Rolls-Royce. He could go through the gears when he wanted to. Technically unbelievable. We got him for just over 2m euros. I couldn’t believe my luck, really.”
From Sportslens.com – Football News | Football Blog

Villa man could miss the rest of the season

Villa man could miss the rest of the season – originally posted on Sportslens.com

Aston Villa could be without goalkeeper Orjan Nyland for the rest of the season, according to Sky Sports.
The Norwegian is reported to have ruptured an achilles in training. Nyland has been a regular as Villa’s number one throughout this season, and commended for his recent form after a difficult start.
The 28-year-old joined The Villans from German outfit FC Ingolstadt in a £ move last summer. Capped 27-times at International level, his worth has been evident as Villa aim for a play-off place in the hope of regaining their Premier League status. Currently sitting 9th, Villa are five points adrift of having a second  attempt at play-off success.
The Midlands club do have on-loan Portuguese stopper Andre Moreira, and veteran Mark Bunn to call upon.
However, new signing Lovre Kalinic is likely to come straight into the squad. The Croatian is due to join the club as soon as the transfer window opens. Kalinic has 16-caps at International level, and is costing around £7m from Belgian club Gent.
The timing of the former Hajduk Split man’s inclusion, couldn’t come at a better time following this recent setback.
Villa’s promotion hopes will be given a stern test on Tuesday, as they entertain QPR. The Hoops are one point and one place above their hosts going into the game.
From Sportslens.com – Football News | Football Blog

Sky Sports Pundit believes Chelsea midfielder can make a huge impact in 2019

Sky Sports Pundit believes Chelsea midfielder can make a huge impact in 2019 – originally posted on Sportslens.com

Sky Sports Pundit Paul Merson has picked the player he believes will make a massive impact in the new year.
Each Soccer Saturday pundit was asked, who is the one to keep a close eye on next year?
The ex-Arsenal man had made a surprise choice by choosing Chelsea midfielder Ross Barkley.
Announced on skysports.com, Merson was keen to suggest what the 25-year-old has the ability to be a huge asset for The Blues. He said:
“He’s a good player and Chelsea have a lot of games coming up in the new year. I don’t see Eden Hazard being there next season, and Barkley may be one of those that has to step up. I think the older he gets, the better he’ll get”.
Merson particularly highlighted the improvement Barkley has made to his game under the management of Maurizio Sarri.
He’s definitely improved as a player, and I think he’ll improve again. I’ve always been a fan of his, but didn’t think he understood the game as much as he does now. He took too many touches, but now knows when to release the ball. He has learned very quickly”.
Barkley joined The Blues nearly 12-months ago in a £15m move from Everton. The start of his Stamford Bridge career was blighted by injuries in a season that saw set-backs aplenty.
However, a return to fitness has led to his game progressing to a better standard. Barkley worked hard in the summer to come back with an improved physique that had been seen previously.
His overall game has begun to shine under Maurizio Sarri. After a difficult start to the season, Barkley has fought hard to gain a place in Sarri’s line-up on a regular basis. Mateo Kovacic and Ruben Loftus-Cheek have pushed him to fight for his place. Making 24-appearances, he has contributed with three goals and four assists.
To make himself an immovable fixture in Sarri’s thinking, he needs to score more goals. Finding the net more often is the last thing missing from his game. His ability to get into goal-scoring positions needs to improve to realise his potential. Making these improvements would therefore put him firmly in contention for a starting place in the international set-up as well.
From Sportslens.com – Football News | Football Blog

'Disappointing signing' – Some Leeds fans slate 'awful' player after latest display

'Disappointing signing' – Some Leeds fans slate 'awful' player after latest display – originally posted on Sportslens.com

Leeds United suffered a 2-0 defeat against Hull City on Saturday in the Championship clash.
The Whites were in impressive form having won their previous seven Championship games. They were expected to win the final game of the year at Elland Road, but the fans have been left disappointed.
One player who came under criticism from the Leeds fans is Barry Douglas. Several fans took to Twitter to criticise Douglas’ display at Elland Road.
Leeds were on a high after earning two stunning comeback victories in their last two fixtures, but the result shows how bizarre the Championship can be.
Plenty of Leeds fans have suggested that Douglas’ performance have been particularly concerning.
Leeds signed Douglas from Wolves during the summer transfer window, and it looked like a masterstroke. He made a great start at his new club, but in recent months, he has been fairly underwhelming.
Many fans were left unimpressed for his role in Hull’s second goal. Kamil Grosicki drifted past him so easily and the ball fell to Jarrod Bowen who smashed his effort past Bailey Peacock-Farrell.
Here are some of the best reactions from Leeds fans on Twitter:

I also think Forshaw has done well. We were overrun in midfield yesterday. Roberts is a good shout for 10. Pablo is more effective out wide but Bielsa’s interview yesterday sounds like he’s happy with Harrison. I’d think about dropping Douglas too
— Lee.ds (@anyoldsport) December 30, 2018

That is awful defending from Douglas
— Dan (@ItsDanbob) December 30, 2018

Unpopular opinion: Barry Douglas can’t defend #Lufc
— Joe Turton (@joeyturton95) December 29, 2018

Douglas has been a dissapointing signing
— CM (@Chris_Moulds1) December 29, 2018

Sadly Douglas hasnt been as good since his return from injury and thats definitely true for Ayling as well
— Bryn Johnson (@BrynLufc) December 29, 2018

From Sportslens.com – Football News | Football Blog

Crystal Palace vs Chelsea confirmed starting line-ups: Sarri ditches false nine

Crystal Palace vs Chelsea confirmed starting line-ups: Sarri ditches false nine – originally posted on Sportslens.com

Chelsea visit Crystal Palace on Sunday hoping to boost their chances of a top four finish in the Premier League.
The Blues’ 2-1 victory at Watford on Boxing Day left them fourth in the table and they will be eager to stay in touch with the leading sides heading into the New Year.
Palace have picked up seven points from their last three matches, with that run including a 3-2 success at Manchester City.
Chelsea ran out 3-1 winners against Palace when the two sides met at Stamford Bridge back in November.
They have won six of the last nine meetings between the two sides and are favourites to pick up three points this weekend.
Palace are priced at 4/1 to win the game, with Chelsea available at 4/6 and the draw on offer at 11/4.
Confirmed starting line-ups:

📋 Here’s the #CPFC 🦅 line-up for today’s game against Chelsea! #CRYCHE pic.twitter.com/wkxg6RZjme
— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) December 30, 2018

Here’s how the Blues line up today… #CRYCHE pic.twitter.com/aQ7MgcFwjB
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) December 30, 2018

From Sportslens.com – Football News | Football Blog

Not Salah: Liverpool star is the best Premier League player of 2018

Not Salah: Liverpool star is the best Premier League player of 2018 – originally posted on Sportslens.com

No player has had a bigger impact on their club or national side than Virgil Van Dijk has had on Liverpool since he joined on 1 January 2018. For this reason he’s my Player of 2018.
When Van Dijk announced in late December 2017 that he was making the move to Liverpool, nobody was surprised. In the previous summer transfer window Liverpool had been trying to sign him to no avail. Southampton had accused them of ‘tapping him up’ so they subsequently abandoned their pursuit of the player in that window.
However Liverpool did not give up that easy. Four months later they made an offer worth £75 million which, Southampton duly accepted. The only surprise was the price tag. Yes Van Dijk had shown world class potential at Celtic and had been Southampton’s best player but spending such money on him was considered a gamble by many. As a regular watcher of Celtic’s matches and the English Premier League, I knew this was money well spent. He was the best player to have played in Scotland since Henrik Larsson left Celtic for Barcelona in 2004 and by December 2017 had developed into one of the best centre backs in England if not Europe.
Virgil Van Dijk holding up a Liverpool shirt next to his Christmas tree in December 2017, when announcing he was joining them from Southampton F.C.
So let’s now look at the stats which show why Virgil Van Dijk is the Player of 2018.
Statistical Impact
When Van Dijk joined Liverpool, they had already shipped 34 goals in 28 games from August – December 2017. That’s more than a goal a game. To be exact that’s 1.2 goals every game.
Since he’s joined, the rate Liverpool have conceded goals has dropped significantly. In the 52 games Liverpool has played so far in 2018 they have only conceded 40 goals. That’s less than a goal a game. To be exact that’s 0.76 goals a game. So since he’s joined they have conceded almost 0.5 less goals per game than they conceded in the five months prior to him signing. This is a clear illustration that his arrival has coincided with a noticeable improvement in Liverpool’s defence.
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson shouting at Liverpool centre backs Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren after Liverpool concede a goal.
Let’s dig a bit deeper with those stats and compare the number of goals conceded this season to the same period last season. The reduction in goals conceded is startling. Liverpool conceded 34 goals in all competitions at this stage last season whereas this season they have only conceded 13. In effect they have conceded almost two- thirds less goals this season than last. When comparing the defenders they had at this stage last season to this season, there is only one noticeable absentee. That’s Van Dijk. His impact in organising the defence and leading by example cannot be underestimated. As they say the stats don’t lie.
Such a drop in goals conceded in just a year is truly astonishing. Without Van Dijk there is no way this would have been possible. No other defender in Europe, alone, has had such an impact on their own team’s defence’s fortunes like he has.
The stats demonstrate Van Dijk’s incredible impact on this Liverpool team but sometimes getting too caught up in the stats draws people’s attention away from the eye test i.e. watching a player for 90 minutes every week.

Attributes and In-Game Impact
Van Dijk’s always communicating with his teammates especially his fellow defenders, a game won’t go by without it. You will see him shouting, pointing and directing his teammates into the correct positions throughout matches. Effectively he’s the Liverpool captain without the armband.
But Van Dijk’s not just a talker he’s a ‘proper player’ too. He always looks assured in possession due to his excellent technique. Whether under pressure or not you won’t see him tripping over his own feet or miscontrolling passes from teammates. Also his passing is of a high standard especially his long diagonal pass across the pitch from his left centre back position to the right winger usually Sadio Mane or Mohammed Salah. When you watch Liverpool, watch out for that pass, he uses it as an attacking weapon to open the play quickly. He tries it at least 3-4 times a game and it’s usually on point.
None of this should surprise anyone. Van Dijk hails from the Dutch youth football system which encourages communication, technique and tactical awareness from a young age.
Virgil Van Dijk with the captain’s armband on for Liverpool.
Alongside this, Van Dijk is blessed with great physical attributes. Standing at 6ft4 he is a giant of a man and it really shows. He is virtually unbeatable in the air. I can’t remember the last time any player won a header against him. Even the likes of Romelu Lukaku, as shown in the recent Liverpool victory over Manchester Utd, and Troy Deeney of Watford, both of whom are excellent in the air, won barely any headers in their encounters with him.
For such a towering defender, it is remarkable how fast and agile Van Dijk is. He is rarely, if ever, outwitted or beaten for pace by an opponent. Combined with his strength which allows him to bully strikers and wingers alike, he really is a freak of nature. Just look at the way he keeps up with the tricky and powerful speed merchant Adama Traore before winning the ball and knocking him to the floor with ease then calmly passing back to his keeper. The first 8 seconds of the clip shows you everything you need to know about his qualities.

Tell me how many other defenders could do that.
There is more still. Van Dijk’s positioning is astute. You never see him out of position or stranded in no man’s land. This is allied with his well-timed and well-judged tackling. That’s why he has picked up so few bookings this season, just 1 in 19 Premier League games and 4 in 25 games in all competitions. For a centre back that’s exceptional.
Virgil Van Dijk’s expertly timed tackle on Dries Mertens during UEFA Liverpool’s Champions League tie with Napoli
In other words Van Dijk has been the perfect centre back in 2018. Not only this, but the stats, videos and analysis above show why he is the Player of 2018. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.
From Sportslens.com – Football News | Football Blog

'I think the world of him' – Steven Gerrard lavishes praise on 27-yr-old Rangers star

'I think the world of him' – Steven Gerrard lavishes praise on 27-yr-old Rangers star – originally posted on Sportslens.com

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard has lavished praise on Andy Halliday after his derby display.
The Ibrox outfit managed to beat Celtic 1-0 in the Old Firm Derby yesterday and Halliday was one of the best players on the pitch.
The versatile midfielder put in a tenacious display and his hardworking approach clearly impressed the manager. Furthermore, his ability to inspire his teammates and lead as an example was instrumental for Rangers.
Gerrard claimed that Halliday is his unofficial captain and he thinks the world of him.
The Rangers boss said: “He epitomized the whole spirit of the squad. Andy earned the right to play today, he was outstanding against Hibs. Every time I’ve called upon him, whether it be a cameo or from the beginning, every single day in training he’s available. Andy Halliday is my unofficial captain. I think the world of him and I think he deserves this night.”
The midfielder will be delighted with these comments from the manager and he will be looking to put in more impressive performances like these. Halliday will be hoping to build on his impressive form and guide Rangers to a trophy this season.
The Gers are well and truly in the title race and players like Halliday will be crucial to Gerrard’s quest for glory.
From Sportslens.com – Football News | Football Blog

Former Leeds United forward reacts to the Whites' 2-0 defeat against Hull

Former Leeds United forward reacts to the Whites' 2-0 defeat against Hull – originally posted on Sportslens.com

Leeds United crashed to a 2-0 defeat at home to Hull City in the Championship yesterday.
Goals from Jarrod Bowen ensured the three points for the Tigers. Bowen scored in either half for the visitors.
The Whites will be very disappointed with their showing against Hull City and it will be interesting to see how they respond in their next game.
The Leeds fans will be expecting a big reaction from the players now.
The defeat leaves Leeds at the top of the table. Challengers Norwich and West Brom dropped points as well and Bielsa will be relieved with that.
Former Leeds United player and pundit Noel Whelan has now reacted to the result.
The 43-year-old said to BBC that home form is important for teams hoping to win the title and this was a missed opportunity for Leeds United.
However, he also maintained that this result was just a blip and Leeds are likely to recover.
“It’s definitely a blip. No doubt about that,” he told BBC Radio Leeds (via HITC). “I think it’s a missed opportunity to get three points at home because we know how important home form is in any kind of campaign. But look, these results can happen in the Championship. We know there’s fine lines, with wins and losses and draws but I thought Hull today, were defensively, exceptional. We needed that little bit of luck and we didn’t have it today.”
From Sportslens.com – Football News | Football Blog

'Absolutely horrific' – Popular pundit reacts to Celtic's performance against Rangers

'Absolutely horrific' – Popular pundit reacts to Celtic's performance against Rangers – originally posted on Sportslens.com

Former Scottish footballer Tam McManus has reacted to Celtic’s defeat against Rangers.
The popular pundit criticised Celtic’s display in the Old Firm Derby and he also claimed that Rangers ‘battered’ their rivals in terms of performance.
McManus tweeted that it was a horrific display from Brendan Rodgers’ side and he has not seen so many players underperform in a game ever.
His tweet read:

Celtic have been absolutely horrific today not sure I’ve seen as many players have a stinker at the time ever. Horrible display. 🙈
Rangers thoroughly deserve to be ahead and should be 4 or 5 up to be honest. Battered Celtic. Superb performance. Still got to see it out though.
— Tam McManus (@The_Tman10) December 29, 2018

It will be interesting to see how Celtic bounce back from this one.
There is no doubt that Rangers thoroughly outplayed their bitter rivals yesterday and therefore McManus’ claims are quite accurate.
Celtic need to invest in their squad if they want to win the title this season. Rodgers’ side are lacking in defence and midfield right now.
Rangers are level on points with Celtic after yesterday’s win but the Ibrox giants have played one more game and Celtic will need to make amends the next time they play. The fans will be expecting a big reaction from the players.
From Sportslens.com – Football News | Football Blog

'Worst footballer', 'Useless', 'Stinks' – Some Villa fans slam 31-yr-old after 1-1 draw

'Worst footballer', 'Useless', 'Stinks' – Some Villa fans slam 31-yr-old after 1-1 draw – originally posted on Sportslens.com

Aston Villa were held to a 1-1 draw against Preston in the Championship yesterday.
Tammy Abraham gave the away side a lead on the stroke of half time but Dean Smith’s men failed to hold on to their advantage.
Ahmed Elmohamady’s second half goal earned the hosts a valuable point against Villa.
Tom Barkhuizen could have won the game for the home side but his shot hit the post after he did well to get around Nyland.
Dean Smith won’t be too happy with the performance and it will be interesting to see Aston Villa’s reaction in the next game.
The Villans are chasing promotion this season and they need to win games like these.
The fans were unimpressed with Elmohamady’s display and his own goal led to further criticisms. Some of them took to Twitter to share their thoughts on his outing.
Here are some of the reactions from earlier.

Fuck me, Elmohamady has done us some damage these last few games… #avfc
— Phil Hodson (@Hodsie) December 29, 2018

Please Bruce – please take Elmohamady with you to Sheffield #avfc
— Tom Wainwright (@Wainwright6Avfc) December 29, 2018

Second time in 3 games Elmohamady has fucked us #avfc
— Humphrey (@AlexHumpers) December 29, 2018

We area a fucking joke, chance to get into the playoffs and we fuck it up
Elmohamady needs to go in Jan, cant wait to get Kalinic I’m goal and Elphick in defence
Can we also have some finishing practice this week because that was a disgrace, need to start winning ffs#AVFC
— Jack Jennings (@Jack14AV) December 29, 2018

Ahmed Elmohamady is the worst footballer player to ever play for Aston Villa and the bloke need to go
— harry taylor (@htaylor10) December 29, 2018

Elmohamady is so shit 3 games in a row 🤬 #Avfc
— Benwatkins25 (@Benwatkins251) December 29, 2018

Oh look Elmohamady again, USELESS
— Dan Smith⚡ (@DanSmith_98) December 29, 2018

Elmohamady stinks
— James (@Shead_AV) December 29, 2018

Elmohamady out
— Edistant (@Edistant13) December 29, 2018

Fair play to Elmohamady recently, he really is trying his damn hardest to get dropped for the rest of the season
— Will Carroll (@Mr_WillCarroll) December 29, 2018

Course it was an Elmohamady own goal. #AVFC
— ReubenAVFC (@Reuben_AVFC) December 29, 2018

How is Elmohamady a Aston Villa footballer
He’s not a winger
He’s not a defender
He can’t cross
He can’t defend #AVFC #utv
— Welsh Maldini (@Jonatha34694361) December 29, 2018

From Sportslens.com – Football News | Football Blog