• John Gilding

CHRISTMAS CRACKERS: THE PRESENT EACH BIG SIX SIDE NEEDS


It’s the season of goodwill here at One2Football, and in the spirit of the festive season, we’ve decided to give each of the Premier League’s ‘Big Six’ a Christmas Present. Something that will go a long way to help them to achieve their ambitions for the rest of the season.


We’ll start at the bottom, shall we?


Arsenal: Pizzi


Arsenal are facing a crisis of creativity at the moment. Sat in 15th place going into Matchweek 13, and with just 10 goals from 12 games, the top item on Arteta’s Christmas list is someone who can bring goals, and fast.

The Christmas present for the Gunners would have been Hungarian Dominik Szoboszlai, but he looks set to take the next step up in the Red Bull food chain, and head to Leipzig, according to Fabrizio Romano.


Instead, with Houssem Aouar also having no reason to leave Lyon, we’re going to have to make the equivalent of a last-minute Christmas Eve panic-buy. But as panic-buys go, Pizzi is a pleasant surprise.


The joint-top scorer in the Europa League this season, he has averaged a goal roughly every 45 minutes. Back home in Portugal, he has had a comparatively slow start to the season, but in the last two seasons, he has been on a par with Bruno Fernandes with his goal contributions, and is showing some pleasing consistency. He is older than Bruno, at 31, and isn’t the household name Arsenal fans would maybe want, but he is a solid gift, and if anyone can pry some goals out of Aubameyang and co, Pizzi can.


Manchester City: Lionel Messi


Coming into the Christmas period, City feel quite flat, like a balloon left over from a party a few days ago that sits forgotten in the corner, slowly letting out air. For all the quality in the squad, they are finding it strangely difficult to put games to bed, getting a result here and there but not quite convincing on a regular basis, which we have all become so used to.


A surefire way of changing that, would be to wrap up one of the greatest players of all time, and give him back to Pep Guardiola.

Messi would inject some clinicism into this team, and push them back up the Premier League table, to challenge for the title in the new year.


It wouldn’t be a particularly big gift, but as is often the way around Christmas, the best things come in small packages.


Manchester United: Jadon Sancho


Marcus Rashford’s commendable campaign efforts to feed the children of the UK has earnt Manchester United a place at the top of our nice list this year. Therefore, they deserve a really, really good present. Pretty much every other day over the summer, there were fresh rumours about Sancho making the move from Dortmund to Manchester, and it’s easy to see why.


In the last two years, when he’s played a starring role there, he has racked up a total of 63 goal contributions in 66 appearances.


Although he hasn’t started this season as well (the summer’s transfer saga may have something to do with that), his class has not gone anywhere. There are less than a handful of sides in the world where Sancho would not improve the starting line-up, and United would be very happy when they unwrap one of the best talents in the world on Christmas Day.


Chelsea: Leverkusen Kai Havertz


After settling into a rhythm in the league, and breezing through their Champions League group, Chelsea should be happy with the start to their season.


Lampard’s youth promotions from last season have continued to impress, and their summer splurge of transfers have started well too. Mendy and Silva have helped to shore up the defence, and Chilwell has been a standout performer of the whole team.


Up front, Ziyech and Werner have thrilled on occasion. There is just one exception though. Kai Havertz, the golden boy of their summer deals, hasn’t quite hit the spot yet for many fans. So, under the Stamford Bridge Christmas Tree this year will be Havertz from the beginning of the year.


At Leverkusen he pulled all the strings in attack, orchestrating moves in their chaotic, free-flowing style. If he can bring some of the style and form to his new club, it would give the fans, and himself, the confidence boost needed for him to push on, start to earn back some of that price tag, and realise his immense potential.


Liverpool: Dayot Upamecano


This season, Anfield is looking more like a battlefield than a stadium. With players dropping like flies, Liverpool’s squad depth has been tested thoroughly over the past few weeks, especially with the loss of Virgil Van Dijk. They have largely coped so far, with Fabinho covering well at centre-back, but it’s not a permanent solution, and certainly in the latter stages of the Champions League they will want him to play in his natural position at the base of the midfield.


To do that, they need another centre-back, and Upamecano is the clear choice. He has shone during his time at Leipzig, especially in the last year, and looks set to make a big-money move away from there in January, or in the summer, when his release decreases to around £40m.


He is well-suited to a high-pressing game, and possesses some surprising pace, allowing him to commit further up the pitch, make a mistake and still make up the ground for a covering tackle to stop the break. He is still young, and would be a gift for the future, as well as a solution to their current problems.


Tottenham Hotspur: Fitness for Son and Kane


The surprise story of the season, Spurs have shocked everybody by suddenly becoming one of the best attacking sides in Europe.


Obviously, this has mostly been down to the connection between Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son. These two have recorded some incredible numbers so far this season and aren’t showing any signs of stopping.


However, after Christmas and into the business end of the season, every player’s fitness is tested. The best gift for Tottenham, therefore, would be a magical spell, making sure the two of them aren’t ruled out from games for any extended period of time.


I’m sure Santa could make that happen somehow.