Out of favour Defoe can’t help Sunderland

Jurgen Klopp is the new manager of Liverpool, but what does the German have in common with the Toronto Blue Jays? James Sharman breaks it down.

Every week, Sportsnet.ca will chat with Sportsnet soccer commentator James Sharman about the big stories and issues in the Premier League, and preview the weekend’s games.

Tottenham revealed this week that midfielder Nacer Chadli will be out for six weeks with an ankle ligament injury sustained against Liverpool last week. How much will Spurs miss him?

Chadli has played very well this season, and has emerged as one of Maurico Pochettino’s preferred options in midfield. That being said, let’s not deify him just yet— Chadli can’t be considered a star, so despite Spurs ever lengthening injury list, they should be able to deal with his absence.

The loss of Son Heung-Min is frustrating for Spurs as he has really hit the ground running in his debut Premier League season. The loss of Chadli possibly opens the door for Eric Lamela, who needs to show on consistent basis that he can get the job done.

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Jermain Defoe was quoted in the English media this week as saying he didn’t come to Sunderland to sit on the bench. Do you think he’ll figure in Sam Allardyce’s plans going forward?

Defoe unhappy? Not working out the way he thought it would? Sounds very familiar, doesn’t it? Here’s the deal with Defoe: if he was scoring goals and working hard he’d be in the team, but he hasn’t been. Seems to me Big Sam has a massive job on his hands at Sunderland, and needs a group of players he can rely on both in attack and in defence, players who have the character to bunker in and do what is necessary to grind their way through a relegation battle.

Basically everything I wrote in that last sentence is the complete opposite to what Defoe can bring. So, no, I don’t see him as a key contributor, and can see him being moved in January, which likely suits Defoe just fine.

Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy is the top goal scorer in the league after nine games. What have you made of his breakout campaign thus far? Could he be this season’s Harry Kane?

He isn’t Harry Kane. Vardy is a journeyman veteran, who at 28 is finally enjoying his day in the sun with a Leicester team that is surprising everyone. Last season Vardy played very well too—he only scored five goals but his eight assists demonstrated this was a proper footballer. Go back a few years and he was a prolific scorer with Fleetwood Town, so Vardy is a man who has been around and has a nose for goal.

I just think it’s a great story of a late bloomer who is being given a chance at a decent club late in his career. His work rate will earn him minutes, and given the lack of depth at centre forward for England he fits like a glove in that squad.

Arsenal hosts Everton on Saturday. The Gunners are coming off that great win over Bayern Munich in which they didn’t play like Arsenal—they were more pragmatic in their approach, as opposed to trying to pass their way through teams and walk the ball into the net like they?

Let’s hope not. Arsenal needs to dictate play against 90 percent of teams, that’s what they’re good at and in the Premier League it’s a good recipe. However, it is extremely refreshing to see Arsene Wenger change his philosophy against a team with the strength of Bayern Munich. This is quite the departure and signals an acknowledgment that his stubborn desire to “out-football” every team isn’t reasonable against the best of the best.

Wenger seemed to want to be Barcelona in the past, and it’s cost his side. So this is a good sign that he has realized that his team can indeed beat the best on certain days, but he has to mix things up to do so. It will be back to the usual this weekend against Everton, though.

Southampton visits Liverpool on Sunday. Jurgen Klopp is considering recalling Lazar Markovic from loan at Fenerbahce sometime in the future. Is that a good move? How would he fit in at Liverpool under Klopp?

I’d love to see it happen. I was excited when Brendan Rodgers (or was it the transfer committee?) procured Markovic from Benfica, and never fully understood what went wrong. Markovic says he did not get on with Rodgers, which suggests he was one of those players who was forced upon him by the committee.

Markovic is explosive and dynamic, and given how Klopp likes the game played he might be a great fit. Klopp needs to see everyone on the club’s books first hand and Markovic, who was not cheap, should and will be afforded the opportunity to prove himself to the German in January.

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