1- Is Liverpool addicted to Anfield noise?
Champions Liverpool’s unprecedented and astonishing six consecutive Premier League losses at Anfield after a run of 68 games unbeaten begs of the question: Does Liverpool depend on the noise from the Anfield crowd to subdue visiting teams? It’s a difficult question requiring complex answers. Most clubs across Europe have retained a competitive edge playing on home grounds despite playing in front of empty seats. For Liverpool it’s the reverse. Injuries aside, it’s not implausible theorisation to suggest that Jurgen Klopp’s stars are addicted to the adrenaline rush that is generated by the Kop bellowing ‘You Will Never Walk Alone’.
2- Will Jose Mourinho vindicate Spurs recruitment?: Jose Mourinho wasn’t a popular choice as a replacement for Mauricio Pochettino at Spurs. Understandable given his Chelsea connection and the football he espouses. But with the North Londoners in the Carabao Cup final, a strong Europa League contender and in with a strong shout for Champions League qualification, you can’t say he’s taken the team backwards. His legendary ability to coax the best out of his players and snatch silverware must come to the fore within the season’s home straight if he’s to avoid joining Rafa Benitez among the forgotten coaching heavyweights of European football.
3- Does Ole Gunnar Solkjaer deserve new contract?: An extension to Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solkjaer’s contract will soon be discussed by the club board. The Norwegian’s reign is a mixed bag. Visible improvement on the road has been undermined by a dodgy record at Old Trafford. Better Premier League form has been interspersed by clueless Champions League outings. Managers are often judged on their ability to improve players. Even on this scorecard, the blossoming of Luke Shaw, Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes has been in direct contrast to the patchy form of Paul Pogba, David de Gea and Harry Maguire. Whether or not Solkjaer gets an extension may will hinge on winning the Europa League or FA Cup and nailing Champions League qualification.
4-Where Will Messi Play Next Season?: Lionel Messi is once again proving to be everything to Barcelona. Blagruana’s appearance record holder (767 and counting), top goal scorer and greatest player of all time has put last season’s summer of upheaval behind him. With Messi playing within his element, Barcelona have moved within striking distance of Liga Santander leaders Atletico Madrid and are into the Copa del Rey final. Question is: with the star’s contract expiring in June, who can afford his €125m per season take home? Despite massive debts, new Camp Nou President Joan Laporta will have to fork out the money lest Paris Saint Germain or Manchester City recruit the game’s most gifted ever.
5-Is Cristiano Ronaldo Delivering Value?: Juventus’ latest Champions League implosion at the hands of Porto – coming against the background of elimination to another lightweight European club, Olympique Lyon, last season – has tongues in Turin wagging. A frequent topic among the Old Lady faithfuls is whether the club’s €100m marque recruit Cristiano Ronaldo has improved their club at all. Yes, he is Serie A top scorer. But so was Gonzalo Higuain. Failure to match two Champions League final losses under Maxmilliano Allegri, coupled with a ten point Serie A deficit to plug on Antonio Conte’s has many an Italian pundit arguing Portugal’s best ever hasn’t improved Juventus. It’s a valid football argument.
6- Is Paris SG bored by Ligue One ?: Ordinarily, this question wouldn’t be posed about a team that has just eliminated Barcelona to reach the Champions League quarter finals. However, PSG’s domestic form which has seen Mauricio Pochettino’s side already lose 7 Ligue One games – just one short of the eight lost in their previous two seasons – has underscored a steep decline from a high bar of excellence. Releasing veteran stalwarts Thiago Silva and Edinson Cavani without finding adequate replacements could be one reason. As could be incessant injuries to Neymar and Angel di Maria. The inquiry is: after winning 95 percent of all domestic silverware over the last three years, are PSG bored?