Another Champions League week is upon us! I'm Pardeep Cattry with a preview of this week's European action.
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Monday, Oct. 2
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🏴 EPL: Fulham vs. Chelsea, 3 p.m. ➡️ USA Network
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⚽ The Forward Line
📹 VAR delivers another controversy
Refereeing is once again taking center stage in the Premier League, this time after a miscommunication led to a Liverpool role wrongly being ruled offside in their 2-1 loss to Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday.
Bizarre does not begin to describe the situation -- VAR official Darren England reportedly said "check complete" to confirm the call on the pitch, but was under the impression that the on-field team ruled Luis Diaz's strike to be a goal even though the assistant referee raised his flag for offside. The fallout has opened up yet another conversation on refereeing, and forced the question: How did this happen, and how do they fix the officiating issues that seemingly plague the Premier League?
England, alongside VAR partner Dan Cook and fourth official Michael Oliver, were officiating a game in the UAE Pro League just 48 hours before their assignment in London in a trip sanctioned by the PGMOL. The trip raises concerns about refereeing workloads and fatigue, but the PGMOL's admission of guilt shortly after Saturday's match has not eased concerns that the refereeing body is doing enough to keep issues at bay.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said the statement "won't help" because the points are never coming back, while the club said yesterday that it will "explore the range of options available, given the clear need for escalation and resolution," though did not get into specifics. While the solutions are not clear and obvious, it is evident that this issue is not going away any time soon.
🔴 Ten Hag's seat gets hotter
Just when it seemed like things might be back on track at Manchester United, the team enters yet another Champions League week in a bit of a rough spot. The team picked up two wins out of three since their dramatic 4-3 defeat to Bayern Munich on matchday one, most notably a 3-0 win over Crystal Palace in League Cup action. Any semblance of goodwill was undone by Saturday, when United lost 1-0 at home to the same team.
It leaves United and manager Erik ten Hag in need of a statement-making win on Tuesday against Galatasaray, but it will not be an easy task against the visitors, who Nico Cantor notes are eager to impress after a disappointing draw with Copenhagen on matchday one.
- Cantor: "If we move it on over to tomorrow in the Champions League, at home again where they haven't gotten favorable results. You're going up against a Galatasaray team that is also hungry and needed of points because they drew at home in their first [game] and it might be a trap game because you might overlook your rival because you just have better quality than them, you play in a better league. … At Manchester United, you better respond. There's no other response you can give tomorrow than beating Galatasaray."
United will once again be without several players through injury, including Lisandro Martinez. The defender will need to undergo a second operation on his foot and will be out for around three months, but ten Hag will still be tasked with finally finding some cohesion in his squad after spending big money over the summer to improve upon last season's third place finish.
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🏆 Redemption arcs
It's not just United -- this week's Champions League fixtures offer a chance for several teams to rebound after some disappointing results. Atop that list are Real Madrid and Napoli, who take on each other after some ups and downs in both of their seasons. The former do arguably have a cheat code in Jude Bellingham after his strong start to life in Spain, and Nigel Reo-Coker is full of praise for the Englishman's quick impact.
- Reo-Coker: "I think what he's done so well is he's gone to Real Madrid not to become a fan and a superstar and say, 'Oh my god, I'm at Real Madrid. I'm with Tchouameni, Camavinga.' He's like, 'I belong here and I'm going to make you guys respect me.' He's just taken it to another level. Unbelievable."
On Wednesday, Serie A leaders Inter will have a chance to improve upon their slow start in the Champions League, while Manchester City will look to bounce back from their first league loss this season with a strong performance against RB Leipzig.
🔗 Top Stories
🏴 Go fish: Mia Fishel scored on her Chelsea debut, one short week after earning her first cap for the USWNT.
🏥 Injury setback: USMNT captain Tyler Admas suffered a recurrence of a hamstring injury and will spend even more time on the sidelines.
🇺🇸 Points dropped: Inter Miami tied 1-1 with New York City FC over the weekend, showing their continued struggles when Lionel Messi is not in the lineup.
🇦🇷 Superclasico spanking: River Plate picked up a convincing 2-0 win over Boca Juniors in Argentina's most storied rivalry.
👶 Kid on the pitch: 13-year-old Da'vian Kiambrough made his professional debut for the USL Championship's Sacramento Republic over the weekend.
❌ Two arrests: Two men were arrested in England for taunting Sunderland fans using the image of Bradley Lowery, a young fan who died of cancer at age 6 in 2017.
💰 The Back Line
💵 Best bets
- EPL: Fulham vs. Chelsea, Monday, 3 p.m.
💰 THE PICK: Teams to draw 1-1 (+550) -- Chelsea has been hit by an injury crisis and a pair of suspensions for Nicolas Jackson and Malo Gusto, so expect another tough result that ends with a less-than-ideal result for the Blues.
- Champions League: Napoli vs. Real Madrid, Tuesday, 3 p.m.
💰 THE PICK: Napoli to win (+165) -- The odds slightly favor the Spanish giants, which might mean there's an opening for the Italian champions to pick up an impressive result at home on Tuesday.