Maddison, Mourinho and the winners and losers of the Premier League season so far

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These have been turbulent times for the Special One as he clings to his job but for the likes of the Leicester playmaker the season started brightly


WINNER: JAMES MADDISON


James Maddison Leicester England

England go into the UEFA Nations League fixtures this week against Croatia and Spain boasting some of the country’s best up and coming young talents. Derby’s Mason Mount and Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho are in with the seniors for the first time and there is also a call-up for the Leicester playmaker James Maddison.

He arrived in a big-money deal from Norwich over the summer, his talent all but hidden from fans who hadn’t watched his performances in the Championship in great detail. But now his ability has been showcased on the biggest stage in the Premier League with three goals coming in eight hugely impressive outings so far.

The 21-year-old, who looks at home in the No. 10 role, is the kind of player who could become crucial for England to unlock tight defences in their upcoming fixtures.


WINNER: PEP GUARDIOLA


Pep Guardiola Manchester City

Although he did not get the holding midfielder he would have liked in the summer transfer window, this is shaping up to be quite the season for Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola.

His side have raced to the top of the Premier League having dropped points in just two games to this point. Players like Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva have been in stunning form and there is more to come for City who are demonstrating a wide array of formations and tactics depending on the opponents in front of them.

They will have no trouble dealing with the league’s lesser lights – unlike Manchester United – and should have enough in one-on-one contests against the big boys to stay in front.


WINNER: EDEN HAZARD


Eden Hazard

Eden Hazard has come back this season better than ever after a sensational World Cup, where he captained Belgium to the bronze medal.

Hazard has arguably been the world’s best player in the early months of the season; he is playing full of confidence and benefitting from the switch of system associated with new coach Maurizio Sarri.

Hazard is back in the news this week with quotes linking him again with a move to Real Madrid. There is no doubt about his ability to improve the world’s most famous football team and he certainly deserves to be playing at a higher level than the Europa League.

He has provided three assists in the league as Chelsea record an unbeaten start and tops the scoring charts with seven. He is in line for his best-ever return in front of goal and if Chelsea go close to the title this season they will have Hazard to thank more than anyone else.


LOSER: JOSE MOURINHO


Jose Mourinho Manchester United 061020118

Well, Mourinho might well consider himself a winner in the early part of the season seeing as he still has a job. For a long time before the Newcastle game last weekend – and up to the point that Anthony Martial scored the equaliser – it was reckoned that Jose would be dismissed by executive vice-chair Ed Woodward.

For now, he remains in place but has many puzzles to solve if United are going to get back into contention for the Premier League chase. Tactically, he is all over the place with a move from a four-man to a three-man backline badly malfunctioning.

He has fallen out with the club’s best player Paul Pogba and followed that up with criticism of the best young local talent on the books in Marcus Rashford.

He lost a transfer window battle with Woodward over the signing of a new centre-back and instead has exposed poor Scott McTominay to criticism for his performances there.

Add in the sense of frustration that the likes of Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof must be feeling and you can see a disaster coming down the line.

United are already off the pace set by Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea due to losses against Brighton, Tottenham and West Ham and a drab draw against Wolves. Furthermore, they are already out of the Carabao Cup having tasted defeat to Frank Lampard’s Derby County.

Mourinho is hanging on by a shaky nail.


LOSER: RAFAEL BENITEZ


Rafa Benitez Newcastle 2018-19

Newcastle are second from bottom, already three points adrift of Premier League survival. Having finished in the top 10 last term, this was supposed to be the season Rafa Benitez and his side kicked on.

But the Spaniard was again frustrated in the summer transfer market by owner Mike Ashley, who furnished the squad with signings that were scarcely better than those already on the books.

Meanwhile, relations between the fans and owner are at an all-time low. Newcastle have faced five of last season’s top six and come away pointless. Last weekend’s dramatic defeat to Manchester United will hurt the most with the side 2-0 up at half time.

However, the games against Cardiff City, Leicester City and Crystal Palace brought in only two points and it is that kind of game that Benitez has got to be targeting for wins if relegation is to be staved off.

That new contract remains unsigned as the former Real Madrid manager turns his focus towards the January transfer window.

It’s shaping up to be a long hard season on Tyneside.


LOSER: FABINHO


Fabinho Liverpool

Liverpool fans were given a post-season boost following defeat in the Champions League final to Real Madrid with the news that the club would sign the highly-rated Fabinho for some £43.5 million from Monaco.

Fabinho had been one of the key drivers of Monaco’s 2017 French Ligue 1 title win and their progress the same year to the Champions League semi-finals. The thought was that Jurgen Klopp had found the patroller he needed in order to remodel the Liverpool midfield and complement the arrival of dynamo Naby Keita.

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While Keita has had teething troubles of his own, those pale in comparison to 26-year-old Fabinho, who has yet to get off the bench in the Premier League.

Klopp is no doubt taking care not to expose the Brazilian too quickly but he remains unable to force his way ahead of Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Gini Wijnaldum in the pecking order.

Either he gets his act together quickly or Liverpool might well be forced to face a lost next summer.

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