Opening fixture review: Blues at the Bridge again

Being 3-0 down at home to Burnley at half time on the opening day of the season was not a scenario Chelsea fans envisaged following our title win in May. The optimism that Conte brought to the club seems to have all but evaporated, the man himself looks frustrated and the team look lacklustre. Again, the board appears to be thinking business and assuming the current squad, because they’ve recently won the league, could do so again despite the demands of the Champions League and other clubs’ investment.

Last year, we had the best squad. Although Spurs were superb, their lack of quality on the bench was the main factor in their unsuccessful title bid, in my humble opinion. Man for man, it would be difficult to say which first team was better last year; Chelsea or Spurs. However, we had the likes of Begovic, Willian and Fabregas on the bench—all of whom would get in most other teams in the league—whereas Spurs had little to offer. Now though, it’s us who have a thin squad and a lack of options, a lack of plan B.

We go into the game with Spurs this weekend looking serious underdogs. Injuries and suspensions leave Conte with a tough battle. Our central midfield is threadbare, with only Kante available from our usual first team squad. Andreas Christensen, who had been used as a central midfielder before, may feature and a change in system may be on the cards too.

The bench will be filled with a number of young players who are yet to prove themselves at the club—maybe this is a case of “be careful what you wish for” following many fans’ frustrations at the lack of youth team involvement. It could be to the contrary though, and work in our favour. Perhaps a few hidden gems may be unearthed. But when our real youthful talent has either been sold or loaned out, it does make you wonder if this is idealistic beyond belief.

Ake and Chalobah have both been sold, players who have proved their worth already, the latter at a criminally low fee and without a buyback clause. Reuben Loftus-Cheek is another who could play centrally for Chelsea and, although a loan move is probably a good thing in the long run, he is unavailable too due to his move to Crystal Palace for the season. Countless other young players have been loaned out too (five or six to Vitesse, as usual).

This logistical decision is somewhat forgivable on its own, but the loss of four other key members of our title winning squad is what concerns me. I’ve mentioned Begovic, whom we sold for £10m; you may deem replacing the Bosnian with Caballero on a free transfer a decent bit of business, but I’m just not filled with confidence by the latter’s abilities—he was back up to Claudio Bravo at City last year, which speaks volumes.

There was little to be done about JT leaving. We couldn’t promise him first team football but he deserves to be playing. It was an emotional departure and the end of an era. But now we lack his leadership. Despite Terry not featuring regularly during our title winning campaign, his presence and influence in the dressing room and on the training field will be almost impossible to replace. Cahill was the obvious choice for the armband but his qualities are miles behind JT.

Great teams have leaders all over the pitch. Bizarre decisions have been made this summer over the futures of two of ours from last season: Matic and Costa. Why on earth we have let Matic go, to Utd of all teams, I cannot comprehend; he is a seriously influential player on most games he plays in. And for Conte to dismiss Costa so readily in the same window is a serious mistake. Predictions can be made over the future form of new-boy Morata, who took his goal exceptionally well on Saturday to make it 3-1, but losing Costa, losing an almost certain 20+goals a season, is a real blow. Perhaps Conte got fed up with Diego’s talk of China in January and, fiery as they both are, their relationship diminished.

Replacements have come in, to an extent: Rudiger for JT and Bakayoko for Matic and Caballero and Morata who I have both already mentioned. Only one of these has Premier League experience and only a little in any case. I don’t doubt the quality of each of the outfield players but compared to the signings made at the beginning of last season, they will have to cut their teeth in the Prem. Kante, Alonso and David Luiz all knew the Premier League well—our new signings this season do not.

The concern here for me lies in the relationship between the Board and Conte, and resultantly Conte and his players. We cannot let another top manager go, especially so soon after his unexpectedly triumphant first season and we cannot go through another behind-the-scenes mystery—we seem to have had countless.

Still, by nature I have to look at the positives. We fought back bravely on Saturday despite being down to 9 men (we never do things the easy way!) and although we lost, Morata had a solid debut. Willian had a good game too; I can see him playing a key part in the season to come. And with Hazard and Pedro to come back from injury, our forward line will be lethal. If we are to win anything this year, the performances of Hazard in particular need to be world class. Furthermore, Conte is not the type of manager to let this slip up have lasting effects—he is not arrogant enough to commit to one system of play and he will have other ideas in mind when picking his starting eleven on Sunday. It will be interesting to see how he plays it, and if we bring in any more signings before the window closes.

Advertisements

Seeing London Grammar live is a Beautiful Thing

I’d been waiting for this moment for far too long; having missed out on seeing London Grammar at Sziget festival in 2014 due to cancellation (lead singer Hannah Reid’s voice was overworked and therefore, so were my tear ducts) and desperately pleading with God, life, the universe to send me an opportunity to see my joint-favourite band* live for the first time, I then failed to secure tickets to their newly announced live shows following the announcement of their second album.

I had made plans to tout for their Brixton show (this is something I still may do), determined not to let the fear of never seeing them get to me. But then, by the work of the heavens, a show was announced at Kingston Hippodrome, taking place three days after Truth Is A Beautiful Thing was released. Even more miraculous was the fact that these tickets were £12, along with the album itself! Just over a tenner for an album and a ticket to see one of the most talented bands in the world (imho). Admittedly, the Hippodrome isn’t the most glamorous of venues, but at this point I would have paid thrice over to see Hannah and the boys perform one song in an alleyway.

We’d arrived at the venue long after the doors had opened due to the location and timing: Kingston on a Monday after work was not necessarily ideal given that we needed dinner too. In retrospect, an earlier arrival with a quick snack on the way may have been a touch wiser as, post bar visit, we struggled to find a place to stand with a clear view, in the end luckily securing a spot with a magical gap through the craned necks of those in front of us.

And then there it was: the moment. The moment when the trio walked onto stage and took their marks. I had goosebumps as Hannah opened her mouth and began their set with an a capella version of Rooting For You, relying on her powerful voice to stun the avid crowd into silence. After the first verse and chorus, Dot and Dan joined in with their instruments and the whole place whooped and cheered in appreciation of the talent they had witnessed.

I was dreaming, the reality of the experience yet to settle. They followed up with Nightcall, a beautiful cover of Kavinsky’s electro pop hit, which featured on If You Wait. The band then played through a satisfying blend of songs from both albums, displaying an awesome ability to sound identical to their recorded material. I’d already fallen in love with Hannah’s voice prior to the gig and, all through the setlist, which included tracks such as Wasting My Young Years, Hey Now and Big Picture, I stood dreamy-eyed and totally relaxed, taking in the infallible performance.

Towards the end of the show, Hannah told us that the band didn’t subscribe to the notion of encores as we all knew what would happen:  “We’re gonna leave the stage for a second, you’re gonna clap and then we’ll come back and perform more songs.” Drawing a laugh from the crowd along with the predicted clap and a hefty cheer, they did just that, returning to the stage to end the night with new single Oh Woman Oh Man and choosing Metal and Dust as their finale. I was disappointed they could only squeeze in an hour of material–I would have happily sat through their entire portfolio, including covers et al. All dreams have their limits though and mine was blissful and beautiful, much like Hannah Reid’s voice.

[Not to mention reasonably priced! Check out London Grammar’s new album–it has some great tracks and although it lacks the punch of If You Wait, it’s lyrically amazing and contains all the musical genius we expect from Hannah and the boys. The deluxe version includes a cover of Bittersweet Symphony by the Verve too so have a listen!]

*Alt-j is my other fave.

You are perfectly imperfect

It’s funny, isn’t it; we’re all so concerned with our own ineptitudes that we develop a tendency to attack others for their imperfections, out of fear that one’s own might be discovered. We judge everyone else continuously, in a way that demands them to be as perfect as us, yet our next thought is about what we did wrong today–usually something as trivial as a mis-timed joke or forgetting to put the bins out.

We also live in a culture where being too good is a sin! “How dare you be so good at something when I’m not?” It’s strange that we care enough to have a thought about it. Apparently we have to find the right balance of being good enough to gain respect but not too good as to make others feel bad about themselves.

Why do we strive for perfection when we know it’s not possible? What would perfection actually be? Would we want to be perfect and never make mistakes? What would we learn from it?

Maybe we should: forgive ourselves for being who we are and forgive others for not being who we want them to be.

Five reasons why Chelsea look awful this season

I don’t know if I really want to write this but I’m afraid it probably has to be written. 2015 has been a bit of an odd year for us Chelsea fans; from the highs of winning our fourth Premier League title in May, to the current lows of slumping to our seventh league defeat already this season.

jose-mourinho

We languish in fourteenth place, averaging a point per game and looking more likely to partake in a relegation scrap than a title race. Admittedly I had been in denial somewhat, naively hoping that our season would get started sooner or later. I thought a home fixture against newly-promoted Bournemouth could be our time to kick on and build our confidence.

Alas; it was not to be. Glenn Murray has made a name for himself, scoring indiscriminately against teams from all levels of the football league, and he did so again, sinking Chelsea and claiming all three points for the Cherries on their first top flight visit to Stamford Bridge.

It’s been billed as the most unpredictable season ever, with good reason; Leicester top the table fifteen games in and the other would-be Champions have all failed to really get firing. Hence, you won’t get a prediction from me about who will finish top come May–partly because it’s nigh on impossible, but partly because I’ll probably be living in a cave as I come to terms with Chelsea’s season. However, here’s an attempt at analysing the state we’re in:

1) We lack a proper spine

Over the past ten years, Chelsea have won everything. One of the reasons for this has been four key players through the middle, or ‘spine’, of the team: Cech, Terry, Lampard and Drogba. Not only were these players world class but they also had a presence on the pitch and in the dressing room. Now all but one of them have left the club, perhaps there is a lack of leadership in key areas of the team and John Terry is finding it hard to cope with the younger stars alone, who don’t seem to have blue blood as much as the four mentioned above. The spine we’ve had this season has been comparitavely poor: Begovic who, to be fair to him has just joined the club; John Terry, who has been partly absent in both game time and form; Matic/Fabregas who have both been off (and, as a good friend pointed out to me, have a symbiotic relationship with each other i.e. one only plays well if the other one does); and Costa, who is more concerned with eating defenders than scoring goals.

drogJTLamps

2) Key players not performing

Okay, this might be a bit more obvious but compared to this time last season when Chelsea looked almost unbeatable, almost all of our top players are woefully out of form. Fabregas, Costa, Ivanovic, Matic; all integral in the title win last season but all of which look out of sorts this time round. It needs several players to set an example to their teammates by taking games and the season by the scruff of their necks and get us firing.

3) Lack of transfer activity

Granted, we made more signings than Arsenal in the summer, but none of these were in key areas. Mourinho would have stated his case for splashing the cash to ensure we stayed at the top of our game and it may be that Abramovich and the board felt we were good enough to keep the chequebook clean for the time being. If this is the case then it was a mistake; standing still in such a fast moving game is foolish as all your rivals will improve, as we’ve seen with Manchester City bringing in Raheem Sterling and, more importantly, Kevin De Bruyne.

4) No Plan B

We’d arguably won the league by February last season. We limped over the line without having to play brilliant football due to the explosive start we had before Christmas; the fluidity of our game and the solidity of our defence was hard to deal with. However, we slowed down once opposing managers had figured out how to set up tactically against us and with no change of personel or tactics, we’ve come unstuck. Jose needs to get the players on song and alter our style of play to keep teams guessing. We’re no Barcelona, even at our best so keeping the same tactics game after game is not an option if we want to keep winning trophies.

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 08:  Eden Hazard of Chelsea reacts during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Swansea City at Stamford Bridge on August 8, 2015 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

5) Too many egos

Eden Hazard is a terrific player, there’s no denying that. But, unfortunately for Chelsea fans this season, he’s nowhere near the heights he reached last year. Maybe the young Belgian thinks he’s better than he is because he tends to walk around like he owns the pitch at times. You wouldn’t see Willian or Azpilicueta (known affectionately as Dave) swanning about or shirking their defensive duties. Hazard needs to learn to be a team player so that we have a little more cohesion on the pitch. He has the potential to be a huge player for us, and it’s true that he (maaaaaaybe) has the capabilities to be  as good as Messi and Ronaldo, or close to, but Mourinho saying this at the beginning of the season was a huge mistake in my eyes. Perhaps if Eden gets his head right then he will be–in terms of attitude, though, he should follow in Messi’s footsteps, not Ronaldo’s, who sometimes warrants his arrogance but mostly, I find it detracts from his game.

Of course, it’s not just Hazard who lives vicariously through his ego. Diego Costa, as aforementioned, focuses too much of his attention on anrgily clashing with defenders than letting his football do the talking. And now he’s sulking because he isn’t scoring as much as he’d like, all the referees have marked his card and football fans everywhere love to see him riled up.

costa

And on top of this, if Jose admitted that it’s not just bad decisions that have gone against us (although there have been a fair few) and was more humble in defeat, then maybe we’d have a bit more go our way. Maybe the players would take heed of the example he is setting.

So, what’s next?

I wouldn’t sack Mourinho. There is no doubt that he is the right man to turn our season around. Plus, I can’t see any other managers wanting to stake their reputation on us right now. Despite this, if we lose to Porto on Wednesday and crash out the Champions League, I can see the Portugeezer getting the boot.

We need to sign the right players in January. It will be no mean feat, as the promises made will have to be believed. We could be seen as a sinking ship at the moment so are the likes of Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann and John Stones going to want to abandon their capable clubs for us? We need to improve in all areas of the team but the pressure is on us and the signings themselves to turn our season around.

The players need to learn to enjoy the game again. Yes, we all want the club to win games and it’s only reasonable to be upset when we lose, but if the players start to enjoy football matches nonetheless then we will belighter and have a bit more freedom to express ourselves. Perhaps the expectations upon our younger players are too much; perhaps they need to learn to lose before they learn to win again.

Verdict

I can’t see us claiming any silverware this season unless we manage a cup run, although we tend to win things even when we’re playing poorly. But I’d like to see us make a good showing of ourselves at least. It looks as though our top four chances have run away from us, but who knows, given the way the season is unfolding? No-one has been consistent enough to claim they are favourites for the league (apart from Leicester) and the same could be said of top four.

There’s one thing I know for certain though; such as when we beat Liverpool on the last day of the season to get to the Champions League despite being millions in debt, leading to Abramovich choosing to buy us over Tottenham, or when we were essentially managerless and down against Napoli in the Champions League, only to go on and win the whole thing; our club’s entire narrative is built on things being up against us.

 

Opinion Piece No. 1: The current education system is limited

For someone with a love for writing, my blogs are too few and far between. In which case, I’d like to introduce my new opinion column. I’m opinionated on a various range of topics and, as such, I shall be writing them down for you lovely people to read if you so choose. With good fortune, you may agree with me. Alas; you may not and therefore wish to tell me off–to which I say, I welcome you to do so: discussion is what I hope to bring about with my articles. To kick me off, my first piece is on the subject of education.

I HAVE a great deal of admiration for teachers–well, most of them–and have the ambition of potentially becoming one myself. I count myself fortunate to have had some truly excellent teachers throughout my school education and I must add that, in my humble opinion, not one of them was a bad person.

I have often pondered what it takes to make a good teacher. I might say that anyone has the capacity to regurgitate a syllabus but it takes a special kind of person to inspire children in the right ways, someone with a warm heart and the best intentions. For if basic curriculum was all that was required, computers would suffice and we would have thousands of people out of jobs.

However, a criticism I would make, especially of the education I have received is how limited it can be. Most education systems become a means to an end: you are educated so that you can go to university and/or therefore get a “good” job that earns you money so that you can provide for yourself and your family.

In essence, I’m of the opinion that education can package and box a child up. Surely, this limits a child? From a young age, you take what you are given and very few people are able to think outside of this box. Your mindset becomes stuck on passing exams to get a good job to have a nice life. Little of what is taught in schools is necessarily relevant to life.

In this mode, you may be excellent at recounting information and passing the relevant exams, passing these exams to get the job you have been told you will be good at, and yet are you set up for what life will throw at you?

Similarly, you may naturally think outside the parameters of what you are given but lack the propensity for exams, therefore being deemed as not worthy of a “good” job. It is these children who are told they are not “clever” enough and have to deal with the pain of not making the grade for potentially the rest of their lives.

In this way, education is limited; those who are un-academic may find themselves feeling inferior when the truth is that we are all clever in our own, individual and unique ways:

Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein

Academia is not the be all and end all, therefore. I have witnessed people, including those in my own immediate family, claiming that they are not clever because the education system has apparently proved this to them. I can tell you that while some of my grades and academic talents might say I’m clever, there are practical aspects in which I have some catching up to do.

Setting up a child to pass exams might look good on paper and for the time being, but without knowledge of life, where does this leave them? True education teaches a child to be a good person, a good citizen, a good friend. Think outside the box; education does not simply deal with academia but with all aspects of what constitutes livelihood.

I’m fortunate to have a good moral grounding, but other people are not so lucky. My education in this respect comes from my parents but some have to learn this for themselves. It is more important to help a child progress in ways of morality and kindness than it is to pass a meaningless examination. Children are like sponges as we are often reminded; a good teacher will help create good people, a resource we could do with an abundance of.

Opinions are an off-shoot of this: children are all-too-often brought up with their parents’ prejudices. To counter-act this, perhaps a Cultural Studies lesson should be taught in Primary and Secondary schools, giving pupils a non-biased and well-rounded education of the countries and cultures that populate this world. It cannot be healthy for a child to base their own opinions in repeated information from their parents.

Furthermore, it does not do well to tell children the right answer always, but to help them arrive at the answer so they truly understand what they are being taught. It is also important to help them realise that wrong answers are not a bad thing but, moreover, a step towards self-improvement. My experience of fear of shame in saying the wrong answer was a tough one and, in hindsight, affected my ability to learn.

One thing I am constantly grateful for is my mother’s parenting, in particular her method of helping me see the other side of the story. I would come home from school or a friend’s house and tell her something I had learned and she would show me that there are differing opinions. This helped breed empathy and understanding. This should be commonplace in schools as so often kids grow up with self-assurance that becomes a teen or adult’s downfall.

We are blessed in this country that we can focus on the education system without most of us having to worry of any other ill-fated circumstances. Some small yet significant changes can be made so that our children grow up to be compassionate, socially aware and properly intelligent.

Album Review: All We Need by Raury

Raury’s aptly named debut album is, in fact, All We Need. It’s everything I’m about right now, namely revolution of thought, something deeper than accepted societal superficiality, and chilled melodies.

raury

There is a level of sophisitication in the nineteen year-old’s lyrics that other musicians his age seldom show. Raury’s soul shines through intelligently, addressing issues inlcuding the plight of black Americans and the path down which humanity is heading.

The album combines classic R&B with Raury’s own rap style, as well as more poppy songs such as the track Crystal Express. The experiementation with different sounds throughout the album is refreshing and keeps you intrigued throughout; some musicians can be unimaginative when recording their album–not Raury.

Some might balk at my comparison of All We Need to Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On but the themes, melodies and samples used are strikingly similar. Though it would be premature and ambitious for me to compare them as musicians, the messages that Raury has for his listeners are cut from the same cloth as the great Motown singer himself.

I rate this album as one of the better debut albums I’ve heard in a long, long time. It combines many factors I consider to make a truly great record: clever lyrics, passion, emotion and something a bit different.

Of the fourteen songs on the album, there are five or six which stand out immediately, although they are all full of life. In particularly, I have fallen in love with the first three tracks: All We Need, Revolution and Forbidden Knowledge. Devil’s Whisper and Crystal Express are well worth a listen too.

It must be said that, although it’s not featured on this album, God’s Whisper by Raury is also a great track. Take a listen to the tracks I’ve mentioned or the full album. You might not have heard of him before but with such talent, he could soon be one of your favourite new artists.

Premier League opening weekend review

The eagerly anticipated opening fixtures of the best league in the world (hasn’t that been trademarked by Sky now?) has been and gone, starting at Old Trafford and finishing at the Hawthorns in two very different games, and with eight other fixtures in between of varying quality.

There were certainly some shock results–I’m sure few people’s accumulator’s came in–not least with Arsenal losing at home to West Ham, and ten-man Chelsea lucky to earn a draw with Swansea at Stamford Bridge.

We also saw glimpses of brilliance and solid debuts for a number of players such as Reece Oxford, West Ham’s youngest ever player to play in the Premier League. However, going by the reaction of some pundits and fans, everyone needs to calm down a bit.

Of course, the dramatic narrative of the Premiership is better for post-match analysis by experts and back pages of newspapers spelling out doom for certain clubs is a surefire way to garner interest in the new season, but perhaps our lack of appropriate alternatives has left us, as fans, with a little too much bottled up excitement.

Just as I thought...
Just as I thought…

And yes, the opening fixtures are a chance to highlight weaknesses of title challengers and can create momentum for the inevitable “surprise package” of the season, but after all, it is but one game. Here I analyse the teams and players that fans and pundits alike have been discussing in fervour for positive and negative reasons, and give them all a “Cause for Concern/Celebration” rating out of ten.

Arsenal

Starting alphabetically, and, conveniently, with the team that gave us what was perhaps the biggest shock of the weekend, we have the Gooners. A 2-0 home loss on the first day of the season was certainly not in the script. There seemed to be a feeling of expectancy in the Arsenal camp before the weekend. Many have been tipping Arsenal for the title, which has been unheard of in the era of Chelsea and the Manchester clubs’ domination over the past ten years. Something didn’t go right at the weekend tactically, and this, coupled with Cech’s mistake for the opener, has given a lot of people a reason to believe the hype around Arsenal in pre-season was indeed just that; hype.

Kouyate's header sends the Hammers 1-0 up
Kouyate’s header sends the Hammers 1-0 up

However, Wenger’s men do have the right ingredients for a title push, if certain players live up to their potential. We’ve all seen what Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jack Wilshere can do and if they and players like Ozil have good seasons, this win may be but a blip in their campaign. Who knows, this could be the kick up the proverbial behind they desperately need.

Cause for Concern Rating: 6/10

Chelsea

Despite Arsenal’s recent surge of backers, Chelsea were still tipped by more pundits to win the league again. Mourinho has arguably strengthened slightly–only time will tell–but he has brought only a few squad players. Many agree with his philosophy not to have changed his first XI, especially with very little challenge to their title win last year but that may have been found out at the weekend. Chelsea looked poor, especially defensively, which is highly uncharacteristic for a José Mourinho team. Ivanovic was given the run around by Jefferson Montero–the Serbian full-back could get nowhere near the Swansea winger all game–and Gary Cahill also looked to have trouble against the Swansea frontline. Add this to Courtois’ red card and a difficult run of early fixtures, including a trip to the Etihad, and you might suggest Chelsea’s title retention will falter somewhat.

Swansea celebrate Gomis' equaliser
Swansea celebrate Gomis’ equaliser

Having said that, the Blues arguably could have nicked a win had Courtois’ rush of blood not resulted in a red card or a penalty. Although the Swans would have been deserved winners and had more shots, the dismissal changed the dynamic of the game. Chelsea’s strength in-depth and tactical nouse of Mourinho should see them through and although they might not have an easy path to the league title this year, this draw won’t concern them as much as it could.

Cause for Concern rating: 5/10

West Bromwich Albion

The last fixture saw the Baggies take on another of the title contenders in Manchester City, who I will cover next. Tony Pulis’ side were all over the place defensively and looked scared of City, who looked more like the home side on the night. For most of the first half, in fact, West Brom were camped in their own half and had very little idea going forward.

But a Tony Pulis side is yet to be relegated and I’m almost certain that record will remain in tact. In a way, WBA can shrug this off as early nerves as they were effectively expected to lose. The signing of Solomon Rondon from Zenit St Petersburg and rumours of Jose Enrique arriving at the Hawthorns should improve the areas they were lacking in on Monday night.

Cause for Concern rating: 7/10

City looked more of a unit than last season
City looked more of a unit than last season

Manchester City

Perhaps the weight of expectation on the City players’ shoulders was somewhat lightened by talk mostly of Arsenal and Chelsea in contention for the title. Either way, Pelligrini’s men were awesome last night, taking control of the game from start to finish and dispatching of the home side excellently. Well worth their three goal margin, some performances from key players would have pleased City fans after last season’s forgettable campaign. If anything, the blue side of Manchester look the strongest shouts for the title after the first round of games.

Nevertheless, it was, like I say, one game and for everything positive said about City last night, you could say the opposite for their opponents. One might argue that the Etihad side had the easiest opener out of the projected top six too.

Cause for Celebration rating: 5/10

Reece Oxford

A lot has been said about this young man; a sixteen year-old with a bright future ahead of him if Sunday’s calm and collected performance is anything to go by. He has the stature of someone a lot older than him, both in technical ability and height. A future England talent he may be.

Oxford looked comfortable with the pressure
Oxford looked comfortable with the pressure

As we all know, though, some young players’ career trajectories can often be decisively different from early predictions. Oxford needs a few more games under his belt before we truly can profess his greatness.

Cause for Celebration rating: 7/10