Maddison was made in Scotland

If this column were the flippant sort, we might suggest that James Maddison is flourishing because he's playing in a diddy league – but, then, we're not talkSPORT presenters. The Leicester City midfielder took his goal tally for the season to eight at Villa Park yesterday with another tidy finish against Aston Villa.

Of course, fans of Scottish football with a statman's recall will tell you that he managed just two goals in 14 at Aberdeen. Rather than pursue straw-man arguments, however, let's listen to the words of Leicester legend Ian Wilson who recently told Herald Sport: “All the players that come up here on loan get a bit of a shock at how high the standard is. [But] younger players who are loaned out to get a bit of experience go back down south with a lot more benefit. Scotland is one of the best places for English clubs to send players like Maddison to enhance their ability to play. There is no question.”

As Wilson also said, anyone who saw Maddison perform in Scotland knew he was going to turn into a quality player but his time here certainly helped. Credit to him for being open-minded, too. Maddison is one of the more astute players around at the minute – a career as a pundit surely awaits if he wants one when his playing days come to an end.

Yet, even as a young man, he understood there was logic in coming to Scotland to develop and it has done his progress no harm whatsoever. On his return to England, he has followed the example of such as Virgil van Dijk, John McGinn, Kieran Tierney, Andy Robertson. Players who cut their teeth in Scotland before going on to boss the Premier League.

What does this mean for Scotland? Well, in the aftermath of Brexit and tightening regulations on signing players from EU countries probably a lot more traffic travelling south in transfer windows to come. Perhaps then, when people down there see the consistent quality of players available in Scotland, the sniffy and sneering attitudes of certain talkSPORT presenters and their ilk will change. Don't bet on it, though. Let's just hope Scottish clubs are vigilant enough to ensure they get market value when the time comes.

The National:

READ MORE: Graeme Hogg on marking Maradona, swapping shirts with Tardelli and leaving Manchester United

Speaking of Tierney . . .

Once again the Arsenal left-back was his side's best player as his side went down to a 1-0 defeat against Manchester City. After recovering from a difficult start up against Riyadh Mahrez, the 23-year-old was a marauding presence from deep and again linked excellently with Bukayo Saka – a contrast to what was happening on Arsenal's other flank with Hector Bellerin and Nicolas Pepe.

On numerous occasions in both halves the Scotland defender could be seen inhaling deeply and bent over as he tried to fill his lungs with air, such was his relentless commitment to helping out in attack and defence. Arsenal are lucky to have him, something City, who have found left-back something of a problematic position, will no doubt be well aware of.

The National:

READ MORE: No love lost between Barcelona and PSG amid Parisians' public courting of Messi

When is a penalty not a penalty? Anytime it's against Liverpool

It was humorous to hear the howls of derision from Liverpool supporters in the aftermath of Everton's penalty in their historic 2-0 win at Anfield on Saturday. Let's forget about the fact that Chris Kavanagh arrived at the correct decision – by the letter of the law it was also a red card – but let's look more closely at the main reason for the grievance. The overriding argument was that Trent Alexander-Arnold's challenge on Dominic Calvert-Lewin was accidental.

Well, yes, the initial one when the Everton striker clipped the Liverpool defender's head might have been – the rules state it's still a penalty by the way - but not when Alexander-Arnold stretched out his leg to connect with Calvert-Lewin's shin to eventually bring him down.

And, anyway, let's take this a step further, if accidental contact were the defining measure for not awarding a penalty then how many would Mo Salah, who invites it all of the time, actually win for Liverpool over the course of a season? Clearly, irony is not dead.

The National:

READ MORE: Manchester United's Scott McTominay is the most improved player in the Premier League, says Graeme Hogg

Sometimes the statistics lie

It has been a season characterised by certain high-profile managers underperforming spectacularly with their teams occupying positions they would not have expected to be in at the start of the campaign. One who seems to represent the opposite end of that particular spectrum is Scott Parker at Fulham, who has his side playing exciting, attacking football without a lot to show for it.

The manager at Craven Cottage has got a tune out of some young players who had big reputations – such as Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Ola Aina and Ademola Lookman – who have appeared to lose their way. His loan signing of Josh Maya may prove equally astute, certainly if his debut against Everton last week is anything to go by.

However, the one area in which Fulham have struggled is in turning draws into wins. After two victories on the trot, they might just have found the knack. It would be nice if they could continue to do that so that Parker can be given further opportunity to prove himself a vibrant young coach at the highest level next season.

The National:

READ MORE: Brexit is already changing Scottish football - here's how

Surely Jose knows Bale must start?

There has been a lot of bluster about whether Gareth Bale is finished as a force yet there has been enough evidence in recent matches to suggest that he is still a top-class performer if not quite the stratospheric talent he once was.

Last Thursday, there was a vintage Bale goal against Wolfsberger in the Europa League and against West Ham yesterday he clambered off the bench to spearhead a Tottenham fightback that ultimately fell short. His continued presence on the fringes of the Spurs team are starting to confound especially with the team requiring a much-needed infusion of ideas in attacking areas.

It bodes badly for Jose Mourinho, the renowned defensive tactician, whose team also happen to be haemorrhaging goals. After almost 18 months in charge, he still doesn't appear to know what his best team is. Bale, in this form, should be in it. Eric Dier, culpable for West Ham's opener yesterday, should not.