EPL Best XI – Week 34

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With the Premier League now very much entering the business end of the season, and with just a few matches remaining to decide the respective fates of several teams, there was a full schedule of games in England’s top-flight this past weekend. Once again, the spread of fixtures was great with Newcastle winning at Leicester on Friday night, six games taking place on Saturday, title challengers Man City and Liverpool winning their respective games on Sunday and Arsenal travelling to Watford on Monday. Results this weekend meant that both City and Liverpool are guaranteed to finish first and second in either combination. With that in mind, let’s take a look and see which players performed the best in their position, using a 4-3-3 formation.

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EPL Weekend Picks – Week 31

vardyWith a reduced run of fixtures in the Premier League this coming weekend owing to FA Cup Sixth Round action, there are only ten teams from which to take this week’s weekend picks. The pick of the upcoming fixtures is arguably Everton hosting Chelsea in the 4.30pm kickoff on Sunday, while Bournemouth host in-form Newcastle on Saturday. Burnley do battle with Leicester and West Ham take on Huddersfield in Saturday’s other games, while Sunday’s earlier game sees Fulham welcome Liverpool to Craven Cottage. Taking all of that into account, let’s adopt a 4-3-3 this time and see which players could be set to work their way into fantasy management consideration.

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Arsenal need to sign a striker in January

He finished up as the match winner, but when the Arsenal team was released for the final Europa League group game against Qarabag on Thursday night many felt Alexandre Lacazette’s inclusion was unnecessary. They would have preferred that the Frenchman had been rested.

Arsenal are heading into a packed period of fixtures which will define their season. The Gunners have made progress under Unai Emery over the early part of the campaign, but they must consolidate that progress before the turn of the year or they will find themselves chasing their tail.

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The Gunners will travel to the south coast to face Southampton this weekend before taking on Spurs in the quarter finals of the League Cup the following week. Then between December 22 and New Year’s Day Emery’s side will play four Premier League fixtures. This will be a testing stretch for everyone, including Arsenal.

Lacazette, many believe, should have been rested against Qarabag to keep him fresh for this upcoming run of games. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is the Premier League top scorer this season, but he frequently plays out wide. It’s Lacazette who acts as the focal point of the Arsenal attack. He is, in the conventional sense of the term, their frontman.

Behind him, there is nobody who could perform the role. Of course, Aubameyang could play through the middle, as he has done many times before, but that would leave the Gunners short of threat on the left side. By pulling one side of the duvet, the feet would be left dangling uncovered on the other side.

Danny Welbeck’s injury, which could rule him out for the rest of the season, has left Arsenal light in the attacking positions and this is why they need to sign a striker when the January transfer window opens in a few weeks’ time. They need depth and Arsenal are lacking that up front.

Callum Wilson would fit the bill. The Bournemouth striker is in the form of his life at the moment, leading the Cherries to eighth place in the Premier League table. Injury free, Wilson is a bottom half Robert Lewandowski and would certainly be capable of leading the line for Arsenal as a deputy for Lacazette. He might even push the Frenchman to reach even higher heights.

The other option might be to spend big on Ousmane Dembele, who continues to be linked with a departure from Barcelona. That would free up Aubameyang to be used as a frontman in Lacazette’s absence, with Dembele used on the right when all three are fit and available.

Arsenal have done well in the transfer window under the new regime, signing shrewdly and adding to their squad smartly in a way that has allowed Emery to mould his team in the manner he wants. They must continue to do that in the coming transfer windows, starting with January.

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Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson is set for a special season

Callum Wilson was named in Gareth Southgate’s England squad this week. The 26-year-old striker has started the campaign in a rich vein of form, and few can question whether he is deserving of his first international call-up.

The furore ahead of the international break has centred around Wayne Rooney. The critics of the Rooney show against the USA next week suggested that it is unfair, and that it could take the opportunity of another, more deserving player. Hopefully Wilson’s selection has, somewhat at least, proved that wrong.

Wilson is making a massive step in his career, in a career that has been so cruelly blighted by injuries. Since starring in Bournemouth’s promotion campaign in 2014/15, he has started just 59 Premier League matches. In the Cherries’ first two seasons in the top flight, their main striker managed just 25 starts.

That fact reflects how well Eddie Howe did to keep Bournemouth up (and comfortably for the most part). It also shows us the struggles Wilson had to go through as injury lay-off after lay-off held back his career. He was an exciting young player in the Championship. His chance to light up the Premier League has been delayed, but he is finally realising that promise we saw back in 2014 and 2015, when he scored 20 goals and assisted seven.

Wilson is benefitting from being in a good Bournemouth side. Sure, they have had relatively a favourable schedule (they have only played two top six sides and lost both of them), but they are doing Bournemouth things.

The Cherries are a fun side to watch and always will be under Howe. The freedom they play with makes them a threat to anyone. They can outscore their mid-table peers, in part down to Howe’s approach, in part down to the quality of Wilson and his teammates.

A striker’s hot streak is often down to superb finishing. Wilson’s case is different. According to understat’s expected goals, Wilson is underperforming this season. His xG is 7.49, but he has scored just six. A couple of six-yard box shots were saved which counts for a big chunk of that. The key, though, is that Wilson is getting chances at a rate only bettered by Alvaro Morata, Jamie Vardy, Sergio Aguero and Mohamed Salah (of those who have played over 400 Premier League minutes).

Getting chances – as Harry Kane’s career shows – is the real skill. Playing in an attacking team aids that, of course, but getting as many shots inside the box as Wilson has had is an achievement. If Bournemouth can keep this up – and they have a good shot at finishing in the top eight – Wilson has a chance at 20 league goals this term.

His creativity has been key too. Bournemouth give Wilson plenty of support in the final third, and he’s shown his ability to link play with the runners. He is creating chances at a similar rate to Leroy Sane and making the same number of key passes per match as Paul Pogba. The combination of finding his own shot and making the right decision to create for his teammates is a special one.

Wilson’s England call-up has come later in his career than expected. At 26, though, time is still on his side and, in Southgate and Howe, he has the ideal pair of managers to turn this good start into a stellar season.

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EPL Best XI – Ross Barkley leads the way

Ross Barkley Chelsea

The 10th weekend of the 2018-19 Premier League season saw Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea maintain their unbeaten starts, while Arsenal’s winning streak ended with a 2-2 draw at Crystal Palace. Let’s take a look at the top EPL Fantasy points scorers from the weekend’s games…

GK: Ben Foster, Watford – seven points
Ben Foster gets the nod in goal after helping Watford to a 3-0 win against Huddersfield on Saturday. He has kept two clean sheets in a row, earning an impressive 14 points in the process.

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Chelsea To Prove Too Much For Bournemouth?

Chelsea–Bournemouth

English Premier League, Week 4

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Having won each of their first three league games of the season, Chelsea will hope to continue their good start to the campaign when they take on Bournemouth on Saturday afternoon. Continue reading

EPL Weekend Picks – Round 4

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The first three weeks of the 2018-19 Premier League season have gone according to plan for many EPL Fantasy managers, with Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester City all having unbeaten starts to the campaign, but there are still plenty of players across the league who could be worthy of inclusion in your team this weekend.

GK – Jordan Pickford (Everton)
Everton haven’t started well defensively this season, conceding five goals in three games, but Jordan Pickford’s tally of -4 points should improve with home fixtures against Huddersfield and West Ham coming up. At 7.00m, he’s worth considering.

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English football predictions for the weekend

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This weekend brings with it a host of Premier League and FA Cup fixtures – meaning some players won’t be eligible for points – here are predictions for who we believe will deliver over the upcoming ties.

Premier League predictions

Bournemouth vs. West Brom – home win.

Bournemouth have overcome a poor run of form at the beginning of the season to rise to a respectable mid-table spot – thanks to the exploits of Callum Wilson (34 points) and Jordon Ibe (25 points).

West Brom continue a poor run of form that has seen them win just three games all season and it seems difficult to see them winning on the weekend.

Huddersfield vs. Crystal Palace – home win.

Having faced Spurs, Chelsea and Manchester United in recent weeks, Palace have slipped back into a relegation position after a positive start under Hodgson.

The Eagles come up against a Huddersfield side that are in a reasonable vein of form and the likes of Aaron Mooy and Steve Mounie will make this a tough journey for a team in a desperate search for points. Continue reading

Best Strikers in the Premier League – Week 12

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With the 12th round of fixtures in the Premier League now done and dusted, it’s time to take a look at which strikers performed the best on top flight pitches up and down England. Continue reading

Euro Fantasy League Podcast – Episode 5 – Tony Pulis is Sacked – What Next For Him? Plus – Why Does Eddie Howe Hate Jamie?

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Dave returns to the hotseat to discuss exactly what he feels has gone wrong with the Dutch national team, the lads speculate about Tony Pulis’ next role after his sacking from West Brom and discuss Callum Wilson’s fine performance at the weekend.

Plus – Jamie reveals that he likes Eddie Howe, but tells the story of why Eddie Howe doesn’t like him.

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