English Premier League: Best 11 Players from Matchday 1

The English Premier League returned at the weekend and the 2020/21 edition kicked off in spectacular style, 7 goals in the Liverpool v Leeds game ruled the headlines as Reds striker Mohamed Salah scored a hat trick. Was that enough to make him player of the week with the most points? See below for the first team of the week in the Premier League.

Formation: 4-4-2 (Includes weekend games only)

Goalkeeper: Jordan Pickford- Everton 7pts

Jordan Pickford was criticised at times last season for Everton. The England number 1 has got off on the best footing though as he kept a clean sheet away to Tottenham as Everton won the game 1-0. A few other keepers also kept clean sheets earning 7 points also but Pickford made some superb saves against a quality side.

Defender: Timothy Castagne- Leicester 9pts

What a debut for Timothy Castagne at Leicester. Not only did he see his side beat West Brom 3-0, keeping a clean sheet in the process he also scored a goal, absolutely magnificent first game for the player who is valued at 6m.

Defender: Lucas Digne- Everton 7pts

Another Everton player who had an up and down last season. Looked assured in defence, held it together well as Everton went to Tottenham and beat the Londoners 1-0. Kept a clean sheet and assisted in Everton’s goal, a perfect weekend for Digne.

Defender: Frederico Fernandez- Newcastle 5pts

Fernandez has been at the Magpies for a couple of seasons but got the chance to make a rare start and made it count. Defended well and helped keep a clean sheet for Steve Bruce’s side as they beat West Ham 2-0 away.

Defender: Yerry Mina- Everton 5pts

Overall maybe Everton’s best defender as they beat Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham side 1-0. A great start for Everton and Mina who had faced a lot of pressure last season. Mina seems to be heading in the right direction and he can be bought for 6m.

Midfielder: Mohamed Salah- Liverpool 14pts

No player earned more points than Mohamed Salah at the weekend and the player of the weekend was in brilliant form as helped his side Liverpool beat Leeds Utd 4-3 in a thrilling game at Anfield. Salah has got off to an amazing start as the prolific striker looks like he will have yet another great season.

Midfielder: Jeff Hendrick- Newcastle 8pts

Jeff Hendrick really caught the eye last season and has started well with Newcastle. The Magpies beat West Ham 2-0 away and he scored a goal and also assisted in the other one. He’s off to a great start earning 8 points.

Midfielder: Willian- Arsenal 6pts

Willian switched from Chelsea to Arsenal and looked like he had played for the Gunners for years. Arsenal beat Fulham 3-0 with ease and the ex Chelsea player was superb assisting in two of the goals.

Midfielder: Wilfried Zaha- Crystal Palace 6pts

The Eagles had a lot of injuries so they were heavily reliant on Wilfried Zaha and he got the only goal as Crystal Palace beat Southampton 1-0. Zaha has been loyal to the club and played with an intensity and was always a threat.

Striker: Jamie Vardy- Leicester 8pts

Jamie Vardy keeps doing it, he keeps scoring goals. The top goalscorer from last season bagged 2 goals as Leicester beat West Brom 3-0 away from home. Vardy got the penalty that counted, and he will be delighted with himself. You can add Vardy to your team but he won’t be cheap coming in at 11.5m.

Striker: Callum Wilson- Newcastle 4pts

Callum Wilson made his debut for Newcastle in style as he scored a goal as the Magpies ran out 2-0 winners at a very poor West Ham. Wilson was very alert, scored a nice goal and this could be a great capture for Steve Bruce.

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EPL Predictions Gameweek 1

The 2020-21 English Premier League season kicks off in London on Saturday lunchtime as Fulham play host to Arsenal.

Eight matches in all will take place on the opening weekend, concluding with Brighton & Hove Albion hosting Frank Lampard’s Chelsea.

With Manchester United and Manchester City competing in the latter stages of European competition last month the two clubs have been given the opening weekend off, to explain the shorter schedule.

Here’s a look at each of the weekend’s games:

Fulham vs Arsenal

Arsenal have won the FA Cup and Community Shield in Mikel Arteta’s first couple of months in charge and should fancy their chances of picking up three points in their season opener too. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang would be the obvious selection for your fantasy team given the forward has scored 22 goals in each of the past two seasons, whilst Dani Ceballos (3.50m) and Damian Martinez (1.0m) offer good value for money in this game.

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What is stopping Aubameyang from signing a new contract at Arsenal?

You either love the club you play for or you don’t? You either believe they have ambition to match your own, or you don’t? So why hasn’t Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang signed new contract yet?

It is a question that every Arsenal fan wants to know, but it is also interesting for any fan of football. Speculation has been raging since the beginning of the year as it became clear just how important Aubameyang is to Arsenal. Since his arrival in 2018 the Gunners have struggled by their standards, but Aubameyang has got them out of jail so many times his boots may might as well hold chance and community chest cards from Monopoly.

In short Aubameyang is a quality player, perhaps Arsenal’s one and truly only quality player. He scores goals, he creates goals, he is a delight to watch and is worth every penny of the reported £56 million that Arsenal gave Borussia Dortmund for him.

As it stands Aubameyang is entering his final season with the club, one which has not been able to qualify for the Champions League since his arrival. Surely this is the competition he wants to play in. He is 31 now and time is running out. Arsenal’s options are for him to sign an extended contract, or sell him within the next month, otherwise he will go for free at the end of this season coming up.

Usually statistics can be overused and to some extent make little sense in relevance of how the game is actually played out, but in a strikers case, all is transparent, after all they are on the pitch to do one thing, to score goals, that really is their job. And Aubameyang is surely one of the deadliest strikers in Europe. But there is irony that he is playing for a top club in Arsenal, but who are going through one of their worst situations of the past 30 years. Forget the recent FA Cup win, that was great and yet again it was Aubameyang’s goals that brought home the trophy, remember instead that the Gunners finished 8th this season. That was poor, and shouldn’t be brushed under the carpet.

So for much of the year the papers and media around the world have told us Aubameyang is going to sign a new contract, no doubt about it. The season because of the delayed response to the pandemic finally ended in mid July, we are now in September and no contract has been signed that we are aware of. In mid August the rumour mill went into overdrive when Aubameyang himself tweeted an hour glass suggesting that there would be a countdown and he would be signing a contract. Three weeks later we have nothing.

Maybe admin is simply getting in the way, maybe he is asking for too much, contract tweeks and the like, and it really is only a matter of days before he signs. But even if he does sign, which of course will be great news, why did it take him so long? During the season made sense in a way as he wanted to know if Arsenal would be in Europe next season, and what would their standing be? Could it be that he is waiting to see who Arsenal sign?

It looks likely that Aubameyang will sign, with just a few days until the new season kicks off that would feel like a low blow to the club if they had to sell him. At the same time the window doesn’t close until October 5th.

But even if he signs the fact that he has waited this long almost shows a lack of belief in his employers, and one has to wonder if that is a good thing or not going into the new season.

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3 positions Arsenal still need to upgrade

Mikel Arteta made an instant impact in his first half a season as Arsenal manager by winning the FA Cup at the start of the month.

The former Manchester City assistant knocked his old employers out at the semi-final stage before defeating Chelsea in the final at Wembley Stadium.

Things weren’t so positive in the Premier League though with the Gunners finishing down in 8th, some 10 points outside of the Champions League places and 43 points behind champions Liverpool.

Arteta has started to build his squad at the Emirates Stadium, making Cedric Soares and Pablo Mari permanent additions having initially brought them in on loan in January. Then they added the experienced Willian in a free transfer move from rivals Chelsea.

Arsenal will also have highly-rated centre-back William Saliba back from his loan deal at St Etienne ahead of the new season, having signed the youngster last summer.

It was reported last week that as many as 10 players have ever been transfer listed by the North London club, including Matteo Guendouzi, Sokratis and Shkodran Mustafi.

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Could we see a new Premier League winner for 2020/21 season?

The Premier League is sadly over for another season, and we can probably all agree, this last one will go down in history. Unfortunately, it will go down in history largely for the wrong reasons. The COVID-19 pandemic caused disruption in every sport we love to watch throughout the world, and of course, this included the Premier League. The season only finished in July, which is usually when all of the teams are involved in pre-season training and the transfer window is going crazy.

However, the season also brought about many exciting developments. Some teams have started looking promising again, and we might just see someone new at the top for the 2020/2021 season. This is what we will be looking at in this article, so let’s jump right to it.

Leeds United

Leeds United will be competing in the Premier League next season, after dominating The Championship this season. Headed by Marcelo Bielsa, Leeds United have shown amazing form all season long, and the club seems to have that sparkle back. It’s been a long time since Leeds United packed out a stadium for a Premier League game, yet this reality is now just a few months away.

There is an awful lot of hype surrounding Leeds right now, although it is mainly down to the budget and how it is spent on how the club shapes its Premier League chances. There are already rumors surrounding potential signings for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani, and other European superstars who are running towards the twilight of their careers.

Of course, it would be unusual for a recently promoted side to win the Premier League, but you could get some pretty huge sports odds by backing this market.

Sheffield United

Here we have another side that is a bit of a stranger to Premier League soccer. Sheffield United have just finished their first season since getting promoted to the league back in 2019, and they certainly announced themselves pretty well. Sheffield United finished 9th in the Premier League, which isn’t bad at all for a recently promoted team. They also managed to show that they can contend with the big boys of the league, having beaten teams like Chelsea and Wolves.

They might not have contended in a major way with the likes of Manchester City or Liverpool, but who knows what the transfer market might bring in the following months. One thing is for sure – Sheffield United is a passionate club, and the players they have right now all gel well together.

Arsenal

Some say that Arsenal hasn’t been the same since the departure of Arsene Wenger, and to be perfectly honest, we agree. The club has gone from a powerhouse of Premier League soccer into a club that now struggles to make Europe (top 5 finish). Even for the 2019/2020 season, Arsenal has only managed an 8th place finish. This is still a bit of a mystery considering the talented squad that they have. Players like Aubameyang, Ozil, Lacazette, and so many others can make real differences for Arsenal, yet they still aren’t performing as they should.

With that being said, there have been glimpses of hope during the past season. Most notably, Arsenal managed to grab wins against the champions Liverpool and Manchester City, and they did this back to back. They also have the FA Cup final to play, so it’s not like Arsenal has had a poor season by any means.

If some smart transfers are made over the next few weeks and months, we might just see a rise back to Premier League glory for The Gunners.

Conclusion

Given that the 2020/21 season is still not starting for a while, you can grab some unreal sporting odds for an outright winner outside of the big names. This is always worth a shot, and to make things even better, the Premier League is always more exciting when you have an invested interest in the games each week.

Of course, there is no guarantee that the teams we have listed will win by any means, and a large portion of it will depend on what transfers are made between now and the commencement of the season. We will definitely be watching this space closely!

Arsenal and Manchester United’s No.1. transfer target is Lille’s Gabriel Magalhaes

Gabriel Magalhaes has been in the headlines lately as the Lille defender has been picked out by Premier League giants Arsenal and Manchester United as a transfer target.

The Brazilian who is 22 and is 6ft 3” seems like a perfect candidate to move on and has had some great form for his club in Ligue 1 this season. And it seems that between just £25-£30m could secure his services. That’s not bad for a player that has already broken into the Brazil under 20 team and it only seems like a matter of time before he will make the senior side.

Lille finished 4th last season and conceded just 27 goals that was one of the lowest in the league and only 3 short of PSG, as they had another very solid season. Even though he’s Brazilian he’s no Roberto Carlos, in that don’t expect him to be a defender and attack too and he has scored just 2 goals for Lille in his time there since 2017. Although Lille have loaned him out to various clubs including Troyes and Dinamo Zagreb.

It seemed at one point with the Zagreb loan move that Magalhaes’ career could have petered out. But he impressed in that season enough for Lille to give him another chance and has completed a full season with the Ligue 1 side.

However it seems that Magalhaes may never settle with Lille and now that two big Premier League clubs have come calling it seems inevitable that the Lille defender will switch clubs and move on. But where will he go?

The temptation would be to join Manchester United given that they seem to be going in the right direction and have of course just qualified for the Champions League. But at United he may well be a small fish in a big pond.

Arsenal are still in transition and trying to find their best system and way under Mikel Arteta. But there is a good vibe around the Gunners at the moment after just winning the FA Cup. However if the player chooses to join them then it will be Europa League football for next season. At the same time it could well be argued that his life won’t be as demanding as it would be if he joined United at this stage.

With the Copa America and the 2022 World Cup around the corner Magalhaes will have to make that ‘big’ move to one of these clubs and this is an opportunity he can’t let go if he wants to break into the Brazil national team.

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Is Aubameyang bigger than Arsenal as the Gunners beat Chelsea in FA Cup final?

All of a sudden Arsenal seem back. After a poor season which saw Unai Emery sacked before Christmas and former player Mikel Arteta brought into the dug out it seemed like Arsenal would be waiting a long time for any type of silverware. However they have ended the season by winning the FA Cup against the odds.

Arsenal came from a goal down to beat Chelsea 2-1 to lift their 14th FA Cup which is a record. Indeed Arsenal have won 4 cups in the last decade and their name is becoming part of the cup itself- just go ahead and put red and white ribbons on permanently why don’t you?

A burning desire and their name to be scripted onto the cup seemed to come when they upset Manchester City at the semi-final stage. Arteta had changed up the system and even David Luiz was playing with confidence. This was the first glimpse that under Arteta Arsenal could end up being a force to be reckoned with.

In the final it was going to be incredibly difficult given that the last time Arsenal had faced Chelsea in a cup final was in the 2019 Europa League showpiece where Chelsea simply outplayed the Gunners as the game went on and ended up running out 4-1 winners. Sure Eden Hazard who is now at Real Madrid orchestrated the win but still that game surely had to be playing on some of the minds of the players?

Maybe then it was to no surprise that Chelsea took a 5th minute lead through Christian Pulisic who has been outstanding this season for the Blues. With 56 points earned this season the American international was the 3rd best player for Frank Lampard’s team.

Chelsea started brightly but couldn’t find a 2nd and there was just that feeling creeping in that they were not putting this game to bed. With under 30 minutes played Arsenal were awarded a stone wall penalty and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who else? stepped up to take and convert it and the game was back on.

Whilst the 2nd half had it’s lull periods Arsenal were looking more and more of a threat, how much difference from their second half performance in the Europa League. Chelsea hoped for extra time but the Gunners could sense blood and Aubameyang got his brace and the match winner with just 3 minutes left to play.

True Chelsea will feel that Mateo Kovacic’s sending off was harsh, though he was already on a yellow card. It’s unfortunate though that VAR perhaps isn’t used in the big decisions like this, because on this occasion the referee looked to have got it wrong. It’s also worth pointing out that Kovacic has racked up 8 yellow cards this season from just 14 starts in the league.

This cup win feels like a turning point for Arsenal though because finishing 8th in the league represents their worst season in a generation. Arteta has said the win was his most important of his career, now he will be hoping that his statement won’t hold true in a decades time.

The last word has to go to Aubameyang. He has scored 22 league goals this season and assisted in a further 3, meaning that he has contributed to almost 50% of Arsenal’s league goals. He has been phenomenal, the one truly world class player in the side that can change a defeat into a draw and a draw into a win.

Aubameyang stands above as the lead man in this Gunners side and the club will be hoping that he will sign a new contract and stay with the club. They most likely have little chance of that happening if Barcelona or Real Madrid come knocking but given how teams have had to step back somewhat following the pandemic maybe that call won’t happen and maybe Aubameyang will realise that at Arsenal he is the king of the hill, at another club that might not to be the case.

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Is Atletico Madrid still the best place for Thomas Partey?

He has been the subject of much transfer speculation of late and it’s not hard to see why Thomas Partey might have his suitors. While Atletico Madrid have endured a difficult 2019/20 campaign, only making a late surge to a third place finish in La Liga to save their season, the Ghanian midfielder has impressed.

Indeed, Thomas has become a key figure at the Wanda Metropolitano, outshining the likes of Koke and Saul Niguez in the Atletico Madrid midfield. Now, the 27-year-old is facing a career crossroads, with a number of Premier League clubs reportedly keen to sign him over the summer transfer window.

The £45 million release clause in Thomas’ current contract is a big reason why he has become so attractive to potential suitors, but even without that price tag it’s likely there would have been interest in the player this summer. The 27-year-old is the ultimate modern midfield anchor, providing great energy and drive through the centre of the pitch.

Thomas is tenacious and strong in the tackle, but is exceptional with the ball at his feet, both as a dribbler and a passer. He would be the perfect addition for a team like Arsenal, and indeed the North London club are widely believed to be leading the pursuit of the Atletico Madrid midfielder. Mikel Arteta has reportedly made the signing of Thomas this summer a priority as he looks to overhaul his squad at the Emirates Stadium.

There is, however, also talk that Thomas could sign a new contract with Atletico Madrid. Latest reports claim the Ghanaian is still in discussions with the Spanish capital club over a new deal that would eliminate the £45 million release that is currently making him so attractive to Arsenal and other Premier League clubs looking for a relative bargain.

At the Wanda Metropolitano, Diego Simeone plays to Thomas’ strengths. He uses the Ghanian to channel attacking moves through the centre of the pitch. There’s no guarantee that Arteta would have as much faith in Thomas, although the Spaniard appears to be a fan. Thomas could become a giant at Atletico Madrid, with the second half of the 2019/20 season suggesting they are heading in the right direction again. Thomas could still be a significant part of this as they move into a new era.

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Arsenal vs Chelsea: FA Cup final preview

Arsenal and Chelsea will contest the 2019-20 FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.

Both London teams defied the odds in beating Manchester City and Manchester United in the semi-finals to setup an all-London affair in the final.

Chelsea wrapped up a Champions League finish on Sunday by beating Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-0 at Stamford Bridge to finish fourth. This proved to be a rather impressive debut season for Frank Lampard at Stamford Bridge considering the transfer embargo the club was under.

If the former Derby County manager and Chelsea playing legend can take home a piece of silverware on Sunday it will go a long way to proving the doubters wrong after he was appointed last summer.

To reach the final, Chelsea had been on top of Manchester United in the last round prior to Olivier Giroud‘s opener in the 11th minute of first-half stoppage time. The Blues doubled their lead immediately after the restart when David de Gea spilled Mason Mount’s long-range effort into his own net. They went on to win 3-1 in the end.

Meanwhile, the Gunners were 2-0 winners over City with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring 20 minutes into the game and 20 minutes from the end, despite Mikel Arteta’s side only seeing 30% of the possession.

The Spaniard has been in charge of the North London club even shorter than this weekend’s opponent as he was only appointed back in December following the dismissal of Unai Emery.

Arsenal had initially made a shaky start once the season resumed before beating Wolves 2-0 and Liverpool 2-1 prior to their impressive FA Cup performance.

They will be looking to win a record 13th FA Cup on Sunday, though the bookmakers have Chelsea as the narrow favourites.

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FA Cup Final Best Combined XI

Sunday’s FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium will be contested between two London teams as Arsenal and Chelsea meet for the third time this season.

Frank Lampard’s side have had the better of the first two meetings this season, in the Premier League, winning 2-1 at the Emirates in December and then being held 2-2 at home the following month.

Arsenal looked to have improved greatly in the final weeks of the season, including victories over both Liverpool and their FA Cup semi-final win against Manchester City.

Prior to the final showdown here is the best side we could pick among the two squads based on their current form:

Goalkeeper: Emi Martinez
Frank Lampard has a decision to make over whether to keep Willy Caballero as his cup goalkeeper or start Kepa in the final. His opposite number doesn’t have much choice with Bernd Leno injured but Emi Martinez has looked good since finally being given a chance at Arsenal.

Cesar Azpilicueta
One of the most consistent defenders in Premier League history, Cesar Azpilicueta starts on the right of our back three.

Antonio Rudiger
Arsenal have lost Shkodran Mustafi for the remainder of the season through injury whilst David Luiz is inconsistent. Antonio Rudiger is the best centre-back at Chelsea, usually alongside Kurt Zouma with Fikayo Tomori not getting much action since January.

Kieran Tierney
The Gunners have found a gem in Kieran Tierney on the left-hand side of their defence. He could start the FA Cup final in a back three due to injuries. Has a very good cross when bombing forward.

Marcos Alonso
The Chelsea left-back and left wingback edges out Bukayo Saka in our team to play on the left of our midfield four. Marcos Alonso puts some good crosses in from out wide and usually comes up with a few goals and assists over the season.

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