Will January additions ease Man City’s defensive crisis?

As soon as Aymeric Laporte hobbled off injured during Manchester City’s 4-0 home win over Brighton in late August projections were made over how it would affect the defending Premier League champions. Amid all the doom and gloom, nobody expected that Laporte’s absence would be so costly.

Only eight games of the 2019/20 Premier League season have been played, but Liverpool already hold an eight point lead over Pep Guardiola’s side. City have suffered collapses against Norwich City and Wolves with their defence especially vulnerable following the injury to John Stones.

Guardiola has so far failed to find a suitable solution to ease Man City’s problems at the back. The Catalan has used Fernandinho as a centre back in Laporte and Stones’ absence. This is designed to keep the link between City’s defence and midfield intact, with the Brazilian key to bringing the ball out from the back.

However, Fernandinho isn’t a defender and that has been obvious in the games he has played at centre back. And so talk has started over who City could target in the January transfer window. The Etihad Stadium outfit might spend their way out of trouble.

Ruben Dias has most recently been linked with a move to the Premier League champions. This isn’t the first time that the Benfica defender has been linked with a move to England, with Manchester United also reported to be interested in the Portuguese international. He would be a shrewd addition for either team.

Guardiola does have a centre back that he has only used off the bench during this injury crisis. Eric Garcia is highly rated as a young defender, but the Man City boss has so far been overlooked in favour of square pegs in round holes. Another expensive signing like Dias would only underline how Guardiola hasn’t yet held up his end of the bargain as an advocate of youth.

However, it’s true that City needed a new centre back before the injuries to Laporte and Stones even hit. Vincent Kompany left them short of options in defence, leaving the Etihad Stadium for Anderlecht. Nicolas Otamendi isn’t a player Man City can depend on, as has been demonstrated over the past few weeks. Rather than fixing new problems, the signing of someone like Dias would patch things up that date back to the summer.

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Aymeric Laporte injury presents City with early season test

Manchester City’s 4-0 home win over Brighton in their final game before the first international break of the season could hardly have gone any smoother. Indeed, the Premier League champions were in control for the majority of the match, barely moving out of second gear as they struck four past the visiting Seagulls.

However, this could turn out to be a match that has a big bearing on City’s Premier League title defence. It was only 37 minutes into the game when Aymeric Laporte crumpled to the ground after injuring himself in a tackle. At first, it didn’t appear so serious, but the Frenchman was soon stretchered off.

Now, it seems that Laporte will be spend a not-so-significant amount of time on the sidelines. This leaves Pep Guardiola short of options at the back. City were already somewhat short of options before Laporte’s injury following the surprise exit of Vincent Kompany at the end of last season. Now, they are down to bare bones.

Nicolas Otamendi has been playing as City’s first choice centre back pairing with Laporte, but doubts over the Argentine’s concentration persist. John Stones has also spent the first part of the season injured and so Guardiola could be forced into using Fernadinho as a centre back for the next few weeks, at least until Stones returns to full fitness.

This will put huge pressure on a Man City defence which has already looked vulnerable at times early on this season. Tottenham exposed this in coming away from the Etihad Stadium with a point and it could be the case that more opposition teams more emboldened when faced with a weakened City side.

With the Premier League title race as tight as it already is, Laporte’s injury presents Man City with an early test in their season. They can’t afford to let Liverpool build a commanding lead at the top of the table. There is next to nothing between the two sides and so an injury to a key player, like Laporte, could prove pivotal, even if he is missing for just a few weeks.

Of course, if there’s one team that can absorb the loss of a defender like Laporte, it’s Man City. Their passing game makes it very difficult for opponents to expose them at the back. But nonetheless, the margins at the top of the Premier League table right now are so thin it could prove significant.

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Top Premier League Defenders in 2018/19 – Kyle Walker

Kyle Walker

Manchester City defender Kyle Walker picked up another Premier League winner’s medal when his side held off the challenge of Liverpool to win the title by one point back in May.

Walker was also the fourth-highest scoring defender in EPL fantasy football for the season with 89 points from his 33 appearances (30 starts).

Aymeric Laporte was the only City defender ahead of Walker. Laporte earned 100 points in 2018/19.

Liverpool’s trio of Virgil van Dijk (119 points), Andrew Robertson (118) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (102) were first, second, and third respectively. Continue reading

Top Premier League Defenders in 2018/19 – Aymeric Laporte

Aymeric Laporte

Manchester City’s Aymeric Laporte was the highest-scoring non-Liverpool defender in fantasy EPL last season.

The 25-year-old French centre-back joined Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City team in January 2018 for €65 million from LaLiga’s Athletic Bilbao.

Since then, he has gone on to be recognised as one of the best defenders in the English Premier League with his consistent performances at the heart of the City backline.

At just 6.5 million, Laporte was a bargain for EPL fantasy managers last season. After impressing so well, his price is likely to increase before the 2019/20 campaign gets underway. Continue reading

EPL Weekend Picks – Round 13

David Silva

The 13th week of the 2018-19 Premier League season sees Manchester City travel to West Ham, while Tottenham host Chelsea in one of the biggest games of the campaign so far. Let’s take a look at 11 players who you should consider for your EPL Fantasy team this weekend…

GK – Rui Patricio (Wolves)
Wolves play two of the Premier League’s lowest-scoring sides — Huddersfield and Cardiff — over the next week, so Rui Patricio is well worth considering. The Portuguese goalkeeper has 18 points so far this season.

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EPL Weekend Picks – Round 10

aubameyang lacazette

The 10th week of the 2018-19 Premier League season sees Liverpool face Cardiff, Arsenal travel to Crystal Palace and Tottenham host Manchester City. Let’s take a look at some of the players who you should consider adding to your EPL Fantasy team before the weekend.

GK – Alisson (Liverpool)
With six clean sheets from nine matches, Alisson’s points total of 42 has only been bettered this season by Manchester City’s Ederson. The Liverpool goalkeeper, valued at 10.00m, is likely to add to his tally against Cardiff on Saturday.

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Pass master Laporte now an integral part of Guardiola’s Manchester City

Much has been written about Virgil van Dijk’s impact at Liverpool since his move from Southampton in the January transfer window. The Dutchman’s mid-season arrival at Anfield coincided with a vast improvement in Jurgen Klopp’s side defensive record; pre-Van Dijk’s debut they conceded an average of 1.22 goals per Premier League game, compared to just 0.64 per match in the 14 top-fight encounters the £75m centre-back featured in before the end of the 2017/18 campaign. Continue reading

Leroy Sane: the Erratic Genius

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Football has emerged as an extremely lucrative career path over the years with the steady commercialisation of the game. Some of the best footballers ever- Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Suarez, Franck Ribery, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Luka Modric hailed from poverty-stricken families before steadily rising up the ladder, enthralling the world with their brilliance. Such examples have been cited as an immense source of motivation by emerging footballers like Gabriel Jesus who confessed to drawing inspiration from superstar Ronaldinho’s meteoric growth over the years.

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Is Fernandinho in the mould of Patrick Vieira?

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870529256Every football fan worth his salt will be well aware of the significant development that Arsene Wenger’s Invincibles played a key role towards heralding in modern day football. While modern-day football fans were quick to criticise the Frenchman for even the smallest of things during the last few years of his tenure, the game owes much of its current sheen to the exhilarating gameplay which Wenger encouraged despite resistance from the traditionalists.

In the 2003-04 season, Arsenal gave the footballing world a true glimpse into a team which was built on the back of a solid foundation with the defenders more than capable of snuffing out any attack and attackers who could conjure moments of brilliance singlehandedly. The side went on to finish unbeaten in the league throughout the season, emerging as the first outfit to threaten Manchester United’s hegemony.

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