A useful option to set the tempo in midfield, but he’s up against some stern competition and will have to keep impressing for Tottenham. The Premier League champions’ new home jersey has been designed to enhance breathability during intense performance as well helping to keep Pep Guardiola’s squad dry and comfortable. But its most notable feature is its similarity to the kit worn in 2011-12, when City created history by winning the first of their five Premier League titles to date. The top six in the Premier League – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur – are all on board once again. But Southgate will be well aware of his quality and danger from deliveries after winning the Premier League last year – a few games won’t change his opinion. At least not since he shed the puppy fat of his youth and became a Premier League superstar. His unorthodox campaign relied heavily on quirky social media posts and comedy gigs instead of traditional rallies and leafleting. Gary Lineker suggested on social media that they have ‘added on the weight of expectation’ but for some players the opposite has happened.
The day Jamie Vardy was disinclined to leave after his media duties because he was involved in a pool match with a newspaper writer was the moment Southgate knew he had got it right and the mood had changed. Grealish didn’t finish the sentence but everyone knew what he meant – one kick away from being out of the tournament. Another debut dished out by Southgate – the Arsenal star only played against Wales and looked shaky at the start – totally understandable – although did grow into the game. One start against Wales – netting the opener to cap a memorable debut. It was sealed in simply dramatic fashion, with the club’s all-time record goalscorer Sergio Aguero netting in the fourth minute of added time to seal a a 3-2 win against QPR on the final day, which guaranteed them their first title in 44 years. Having a better season than Danny Rose, so is expected to be first choice on the left side. In 2019, after he helped his side to Euro 2020 qualification with a win over Portugal, he proposed to his girlfriend at his country’s national stadium in Kiev.
Its national dish is borscht, a bright red beetroot soup that was also Princess Diana’s favourite meal, and is a hearty meal containing masses of beetroot mixed with yogurt, onion, chicken stock, milk, sour cream, salt and pepper with a swirl of horseradish sauce. Meal times, prepared by chef Omar Meziane, who was in Russia with the team and who worked for the Spice Girls, are always varied, fresh and, of course, healthy. Only people from Belarus, Moldova, Lithuania, Russia and Romania consume more alcohol each year. The largest country entirely in Europe is also one of the continent’s newest, gaining independence from Russia when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 – but since 2014 it has been at war with Putin’s state after he annexed Crimea. But the hero Ukrainian striker has been a great success, taking the country to its first Euro quarter-finals where they will play England on Saturday. The majority of fixtures this year are to be played in the United States, with 15 different venues right across the country from Miami to Santa Clara. Time is running out for players to prove their worth to Southgate, with one more international break remaining this year, while there won’t be too many more fixtures pencilled in before the season ends.
What are the stand-out fixtures? Deep down the fans appreciate that, they want to know that no stone is being left unturned and that ‘their’ team are as passionate about winning as they are. And the players now want to come. And once again, the International Champions Cup is the competition they all seem to want to participate in. Again, though, international defenders will be afraid of such a precociously gifted striker. What had caused him anxiety, though, was a moment early in the 1-0 win over Austria when he received the first of what proved to be many overzealous tackles, one that left him wincing. Witnessing that moment is something I will never forget. At a time when many would expect players to be thinking about self-preservation, Grealish’s wonderfully confident outlook will not be changed. The squad number is synonymous with big, bold talents, the most famous, arguably, being one of Grealish’s boyhood heroes.