Fantasy Football News

Why can’t the Premier League’s golden boy Jack Grealish get a game for England?

Jack Grealish has started the 2020/21 season in sensational form with the Aston Villa star scoring three goals and assisting as many in his club’s first three games. The attacking midfielder put pen to paper on a new deal that included vastly improved terms in the form of a huge pay rise. The decision to reward Grealish with a new and lucrative contract is paying immediate dividends for Villa as any talk of relegation all but over after just 270 minutes of football this season.

For now, that is in stark contrast to the 2019/20 campaign where they fought for their Premier League survival until the very final whistle of the season, eventually finishing above Bournemouth who dropped down instead. Relegation would have been as Villa CEO Christian Purslow described it ‘a £200m catastrophe.’ Sadly for the Cherries, they suffered the financial disaster instead and despite the latest championship betting indicating that they will go straight back up at odds of just 11/10, they have already paid a huge price by losing their best players.

Indeed, with Nathan Ake leaving to join Manchester City and Callum Wilson departing to Newcastle, the perils of losing your star players are obvious for all to see when the setback of relegation hits. Luckily for Villa, they were able to avoid that fate and subsequently were able to keep hold of Jack Grealish, arguably England’s most talented attacking midfielder. Still, not everyone shares that sentiment.

Unfortunately for Grealish, the England manager seems to fall into the unconvinced category. Despite the calls for the Villa captain’s inclusion growing louder, Southgate has steadfastly stuck to his decision by mostly using him as an unused substitute on the England bench. Instead, Southgate has chosen to use Mason Mount as a roaming number 10 for the Three Lions, much to the ire of the Villa fans.

In some ways, you can understand their frustration as Mount has only registered a single goal and assist for Chelsea this season in his five appearances, and is some distance off the form that Grealish is exhibiting. But then again, Mount is the man of the moment for England having netted the winner against Belgium in a crucial UEFA Nations League game whilst Grealish looked on from the bench.

Some may argue that it is just a case of Grealish having to be patient, but there is a sense that as long as Southgate is England manager, the Villa captain will be used somewhat sparingly for England.

Given how loud the noise is around Jack Grealish’s omission from the national side, you can also envision a scenario where this becomes Southgate’s Waterloo and ultimately costs him his job.

Whatever way you look at it, Grealish’s pulsating Premier League form doesn’t look like letting up and that will only heap the pressure onto Southgate. Indeed, the likes of Manchester United and Manchester City have probably seen enough already this season to be in a position where they would happily match whatever astronomical release clause has been inserted into his new contract.

The boy’s a star and could be the one to bring Southgate’s world crashing down around him.

Serie A Predictions – Round Four

Napoli-Atalanta: the Partenopei looked pretty good in the first two matches against Parma and Genoa, the Bergamaschi were even better in their drubbings of Torino, Lazio and Cagliari. The guests come in as the favorites, but Napoli are set to make it hard for everybody: 2-3.

Inter-Milan: after defeating Fiorentina and Benevento, the Nerazzurri’s run got partially halted by Lazio. The Rossoneri fully took advantage of the easy schedule, triumphing against Bologna, Crotone and Spezia. It is an intriguing stress test for the Devil to see if they can really contend for the title. The Biscione’s absences could also be a factor: 1-1. Continue reading

On this day: 16 years since Lionel Messi’s Barcelona debut

The date was October 16, 2004, the opponents were Espanyol and it was the 82nd minute.

Lionel Andres Messi was about to make history as the youngest player ever to play for Barcelona’s first-team, at 17 years, three months and 22 days old.

Little did the world know at that time what awaited them. Continue reading

Inter vs. AC Milan: Serie A Round 4 – Team news, stats and prediction

It’s that time of the year again, with Milan gearing up to take on Inter at the San Siro for the first derby of the season. This encounter, of course, will be very different as the stadium will be without the fans, who are responsible for having made the Derby Della Madonnina so special in the first place. 

In addition, players are testing positive for COVID-19 left, right and centre, adding a completely new aspect for the managers to deal with. A player could be at your disposal one day and then unavailable the other. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, fortunately, has recovered from the virus and is ready to bounce back. Continue reading

Warrior Muriqi ready for battle – but he’s not the Lazio Ibrahimovic

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Out of crisis comes opportunity, so they say. If that’s true, there will be plenty of chances going at Lazio this season.

With just three weeks of the season played, Luiz Felipe, Denis Vavro, Stefan Radu, Bastos, Adam Marusic and Senad Lulic have all suffered injuries, squeezing the Biancocelesti’s limited defensive resources to the limit.

There was hope that the international break would provide a timely healing window, but instead Lazio head back into Serie A action more depleted than ever, with Manuel Lazzari, Gonzalo Escalante and Felipe Caicedo joining the ranks of walking wounded ahead of the trip to Sampdoria. Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round Four

Atalanta: Aleksey Miranchuk is set to be available after missing the first three matches with a thigh strain. Cristiano Piccini and Matteo Pessina have resumed practicing regularly following knee injuries and they too will return soon. Josip Ilicic is getting closer and closer, but the information on him is not always solid. Rafael Toloi is out of the quarantine after skipping the previous game, while Marco Carnesecchi has COVID. Mattia Caldara partially tore the patellar tendon in the left knee and will not be back before 2021.

Benevento: Andres Tello is be back after missing some time with ailments, but Federico Barba is still out. Gabriel Moncini will skip a game or two due to an adductor strain. Nicolas Viola needs more time to recover from a meniscus tear. Continue reading

Inter ready for Milan derby in crunch game

This weekend will see Inter play Milan in the derby and there is heightened interest in this fixture given how both clubs have started the season.

The Milan derby is, of course, always special but in recent years it hasn’t felt as big as it should be. This has been in part due to either Inter going through a bad spell or more recently Milan so the game has felt more lopsided. This Saturday that is set to change when the clubs clash at San Siro.

Both clubs have been tipped for a title challenge and are seen as the biggest threats to Juventus this season. Inter coach Antonio Conte will be delighted that star striker Lautaro Martinez escaped the international break with no injury concerns and the exciting Argentine also scored for his nation, he is really in superb form.

There is a doubt that Alexis Sanchez would struggle to be ready for the game but Sanchez himself has confirmed that he fine after picking up a knock on international duty with Chile.

The derby has been dominated in recent years by Inter who have won the last 4 league games in a row. Indeed AC Milan have not beaten Inter in the league since 2016 and they will be the designated away team for this encounter. The last time the Rossoneri won as the ‘away’ team was 10 years ago.

Martinez and Romelu Lukaku have already made an impact this season and the deadly pair will be hoping to add to their combined 6 goals already this season at the weekend.

Top performing players for Inter in 2020/21

Looking at the fantasy points these are the best performing players for Inter so far this season. Do you have them in your team? Check out their full stats on the links.

1. Lautaro Martinez  12pts

2. Romelu Lukaku     11pts

3. Roberto Gagliardini  6pts

Pirelli set to be replaced after 25 years

Historical sponsors Pirelli who have had their tyre brand on Inter’s shirts since 1996 look like they will be replaced by a Chinese sponsor perhaps Hisense from the 2021/22 season. Pirelli have been associated with Inter through some of the clubs glorious moments but simply put it seems that the tyre company can’t afford to pay what some other companies are shelling out each season.

Some sponsors are happy to spend upwards of 40m euros to have their brand on a top football teams shirt but it is thought that Pirelli’s deal is only worth 10m euros a year.

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Serie A Probable Lineups – Round Four

NAPOLI-ATALANTA

Napoli (4-2-3-1): Ospina; Di Lorenzo, Manolas, Koulibaly, Hysaj; Ruiz, Bayakoko; Politano, Mertens, Lozano; Osimhen.

Potential lineup changes: Rui for Hysaj, Demme for Bakayoko, Lobotka for Politano.

Likely bench options: Rui, Lobotka, Petagna.

Ruled out: Insigne (thigh), Elmas, Zielinski (COVID).

Continue reading

Should Harry Maguire be dropped this weekend?

Manchester United return to Premier League action this weekend for the first time in a fortnight following the international break.

Their last outing saw Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side humiliated 1-6 at Old Trafford by Tottenham Hotspur and their former employer, Jose Mourinho.

Anthony Martial’s dismissal in that game, with the score 1-2 at the time, means the French forward will be suspended for Saturday night’s trip to St James’ Park to face a Newcastle United side that have had some good results to start their campaign.

Manchester United’s issues aren’t so much in attack though; they have five goals in their first three games of the 2020-21 Premier League season. It’s in defence where the issues lie – 11 goals conceded.

The Red Devils shipped three in their surprise loss at home to Crystal Palace in their opener before a penalty in the 10th minute of stoppage time earned them a 3-2 win away to Brighton & Hove Albion. They had conceded twice in the opening seven minutes after taking the lead versus Spurs before Martial’s red card.

Much of the talk heading into the season had been about whether Dean Henderson should replace David de Gea between the sticks. And whilst Solskjaer stuck with the Spaniard and the question continues to remain, the Norwegian manager’s bigger problem may be in the four that protect him.

Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Four – Other Games

BOLOGNA-SASSUOLO

Bologna: the Felsinei have been unconvicing in their two road games, against Benevento and Milan, while they hanged four goals on Parma on their lone home one. They had their chances against the Sanniti but could not knock one through. They lost Andreas Skov Olsen for significant time during the break and so Riccardo Orsolini will recapture the starting job, but he will have to watch out for Emmanuel Vignato if he does not wake up. Musa Barrow has taken a bunch of shots but has yet to score, the leading man in that regard has been Roberto Soriano and also Rodrigo Palacio has notched one. The absences of Gary Medel and Andrea Poli will force them to field either Mattias Svanberg or Nicolas Dominguez, who carry more value because they participate more in the final third. Sassuolo tend to leave some room to counter and they have a pair of speedsters. Continue reading