Four observations from the international break that may have an impact on upcoming games in the Premier League, and La Liga (Real Madrid).
- Willian and Philippe Coutinho both scored for Brazil in the WC Qualifier against Ecuador. The game finished 2-0 victory. The former returns to Chelsea in good form ahead of the Leicester game. Coutinho came on as a sub, but is close to full fitness. He may be in contention to start for Liverpool against Manchester City. Both players could prove decisive for their clubs this weekend.
- Matic v Drinkwater? Chelsea’s decision to let Nemanja Matic go makes no sense to Gunners legend Ian Wright, who claimed that United had been given the final piece of Jose Mourinho’s jigsaw. Chelsea did sign Danny Drinkwater, but the former Leicester man was unable to get into the England squad ahead of Chelsea reject Nathaniel Chalobah. Matic and Drinkwater are definitely different players, but Drinkwater too has experiencing playing with the tireless N’Golo Kanté. A settled engine room, however different, could be what Chelsea needs as the season approaches full speed.
- Three Lions. Marcus Rashford and Phil Jones came comfortably through the Malta and Slovakia games. Rashford’s goal was a reward for his perseverance, which will hopefully be brought over to the game against rugged old Stoke this Sunday. With injury niggles still a worry, a settled Phil Jones alongside Eric Bailly remains United’s best centre-half pairing. Games like Stoke are vital for United to win this time round, rather than the profligacy that characterised last term.
- Isco Incredible. Spanish Magician Isco Alarcon was on fire in the last round of qualifiers against Italy and Liechtenstein as Spain strutted to 3-0 and 8-0 victories. His ability to find space across the pitch, and now add goals to his arsenal has been Gareth Bale’s undoing at Real Madrid. Isco is technically better, and allows Madrid to be more fluid on the ball. Bale has often been seen more one-dimensional in Spain. Without a fully-fit Bale, Wales lacked the pace and power to trouble most teams, as shown in hard fought wins against Austria and Moldova. Isco’s prominence will likely bring Bale’s time at Madrid to a close next summer, especially when you consider the fact that Real also have Marcos Asensio too!