Predicted lineups for this weekend’s EPL fixtures

Premier League predicted lineups

It’s time to look ahead to this weekend’s Premier League action as we predict the starting lineups for each EPL game.

Cardiff City v Watford

Cardiff XI: Etheridge, Peltier, Manga, Bamba, Bennett, Paterson, Gunnarsson, Arter, Murphy, Cordova-Reid, Niasse

Watford XI: Foster, Janmaat, Mariappa, Cathcart, Masina, Doucoure, Capoue, Pereyra, Sema, Deeney, Deulofeu

Questionable: Ashley Darel Jazz Richards (Cardiff)

Out: Sean Morrison (Cardiff); Holebas, Kiko Femenia (Watford)

Remembering Nantes and Cardiff player Emiliano Sala

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Late last week we were all told of the news that we already knew, although this brought it home to us that the Argentinian player Emiliano Sala had died in a plane crash. This tragic news is of course beyond comprehension and at only 28 years old with his whole football career and life still ahead of him, Sala has lost that opportunity to shine even more than he already has.

Sala’s plane went down back on January 21st as the player had just agreed terms with Cardiff City to join the Premier League strugglers from Nantes in a deal wort £15m. On reflection this looked like a stunning deal for Neil Warnock and Cardiff and a bad one for Nantes. Sala had already scored 14 goals this season, and it seemed bizarre that Nantes would sell their star striker in the January transfer window. Alas Nantes needed the funds and Cardiff needed the player.

What happened next is incredibly sad. Sala’s plane went missing. There was of course some hope that he would be found in some kind of miracle rescue. But as hours turned into days and days turned into weeks that hope had faded. Everyone knew that he and pilot David Ibbotson had perished in the most horrific way possible. That confirmation hit the world of football hard at the end of last week.

Sala was a versatile player and was on the cusp of making the Argentina national squad, true his great form and scoring ability had started late in life but he had shown over the past 18 months at Nantes that he was developing into a proper centre forward. He would have been the perfect player for Cardiff, and would have saved them from the relegation battle that they face now in the Premier League.

But football of course has to take a step back, when life comes first and it is sad to think of all the great opportunities that Sala will now miss out on. Of course he reached and achieved his dream of being a professional football player but at the same time he was about to make that step up and play in the most competitive league in Europe.

While Sala’s family have at least some sort of closure with his body being recovered the poor family of the pilot Ibbotson do not have that joy, with his body still missing somewhere presumed in the sea.

Sala’s memory will live on and the great cities of Nantes and Cardiff will now be forever connected in this way.

Cardiff 1-5 Manchester United: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men kick off in winning ways

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Following the departure of Jose Mourinho, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has taken over as the interim manager of Manchester United with the likes of Kieran McKenna, Michael Carrick and Mike Phelan as his coaches and assistant manager. Given with how the season has gone so far for the club, they will be looking to regain their confidence and footballing style to end the campaign on a high note.

The Cardiff fixture came at a good time, where the visitors were able to control and dominate the game whilst scoring a number of goals and picking up the much needed three points. Meanwhile, the hosts will surely be looking back at the poor defensive display they produced and will aim to improve on both sides of the pitch, especially if they want to finish above the relegation zone.

Here are the three valuable factors we learnt from Manchester United’s latest league game…

United can confidently score a number of goals

Before today, you would have to go back to Sir Alex Ferguson’s final match as the club’s manager in May 2013, in order to remember the last time the side have scored five goals in a league match. Between then and now, the likes of David Moyes, Louis Van Gaal and Jose Mourinho have failed to set their team up in an attacking mindset, which is the reason to why the goals have dried up.

When being managed by a defensive-minded manager or a coach that prefers to constantly counter-attack, the team spend less time in the opposition’s penalty box and it leads to only a couple of shots on target. However, the Saturday evening fixture away at the Cardiff City Stadium, evidently showed that the squad is filled with a number of attacking players, but they have to be provided with the ideal freedom to play in their own way which would follow on with the number of goals per game.

Jesse Lingard comes up with the goods in the final third

A lot of Manchester United supporters have began to question what Jesse Lingard offers to the side over the last couple of weeks, mainly due to the fact that he is comfortable in playing within a number of positions but has not started consistently in one role. For instance, he has been utilised as a right-winger, central attacking midfielder and as part of a three-man midfield so far this season.

On the other hand, the 26-year-old produced a relentless performance as he completed two goals and one assists for when his side needed him the most. Not only that, but he was one of the side’s best players of the evening if not the best, as he was constantly roaming around Cardiff’s half of the pitch whilst helping the team to progress the ball forward at a high tempo and at lightning pace.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should not be judged anytime soon

The current focus is without a doubt on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, a former Manchester United player who is now living the dream of managing a football club that he had won the league with on seven occasions and also delivered the winning goal in the 1998-99 Champions League final. Since his arrival back at the club, he has instantly helped the squad to start playing towards their potential and with the qualities they have in midfield and attack.

Overall, it’s quite early to judge if he has had a positive or negative effect on the side and it would be ideal to review the matter once he has managed the team for seven matches. At the end of the day, the Old Trafford faithful will assume that a top four finish is out of cards and the chances of winning the Champions League is highly unlikely, so the aim from now till the end of the season is to revive the side’s attacking and thrilling football before the board and Ed Woodward chooses the club’s next permanent manager.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can’t lose as manager of Manchester United

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Manchester United legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer so utterly famous for his last minute goal against Bayern Munich in 1999 that won Manchester United their first ever Champions League has been named as caretaker manager of the club.

The decision seems like the perfect one. United need a warm hug not trophies right now as the Red Devils will look to try and stabilise themselves throughout the remainder of the season. Whilst some have said that sacked manager Jose Mourinho could talk down to players, Solskjaer is the opposite. Indeed the main reason he is the perfect pick isn’t because he is a successful coach but because he is in love with the club where he won a multitude of trophies over 11 glorious years.

The board love him, the fans love him, will the players? The ones that don’t if that is the case will perhaps be highlighted as the very same ones that gave Mourinho problems. But there has to be some hope that Solskjaer is the man that United need at this moment in time.

For the Norwegian it isn’t a surprise at all that he accepted the clubs offer to join them when they came calling. He has often been quoted at his club Molde for talking about the good old days at United and still refers to Sir Alex Ferguson as the boss. His time with the club left something dear in his heart. Plus let’s be honest here Solsjaer can’t lose.

Initially he will be at the club until the end of the season, when United as expected will hire one of the top coaches in European football. In that time what can Solskjaer do wrong? The club should pick up momentum and Solskjaer is the very opposite of Mourinho, he will inject confidence in the players and tell them what they want to hear, that should project back onto the football pitch, because make no mistake United do have a good team underneath that black cloud.

So this appears to be a win-win situation for the former club legend. Look at the evidence. If the bad to average form continues, Mourinho may well feel vindicated and Solskjaer can say, “what me?” This is the former manager’s fault and I’ve just arrived. But if United perform better then he has just as he did as a player made that super sub piece of magic work once again.

Football is filled with irony, and it will come back this weekend for Solskjaer. United will play Cardiff away from home. The same club and only won in Britain that he has managed before. He will be looking for some sweet science from United’s best players to get off to the best possible start.

Plight of Cardiff & Huddersfield suggests there’ll be no relegation battle this season

On the first of May this year, with between two and three Premier League games left of the 2017/18 season, it was genuinely possible for any club in the bottom half of the division to have be relegated within a fortnight. Just six points separated Southampton in 18th from Crystal Palace in 10th, and the extra game left to play for everyone from 18th to 14th meant nobody was safe.

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Sarri’s Blue Belgian Puts Cardiff to the Sword

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After an exceedingly exciting weekend in the Premier League, only Chelsea remain as unmatched as Liverpool. But while the ladder faced a tough away match at Wembley, the former enjoyed a day out in the sun at Stamford Bridge tearing Cardiff City apart.

Maurizio Sarri’s front three of Willian and Eden Hazard led by Olivier Giroud  all finished the game with success, but it was the Belgian who claimed our Player of the Weekend – finishing with Man of the Match and a tidy hat-trick. Continue reading

Can Sarri Make It 5/5 For Chelsea?

Chelsea–Cardiff City

English Premier League, Week 5

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Having begun the season in perfect fashion, Chelsea welcome Cardiff City to Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon, the home side hoping to extend Maurizio Sarri’s record to five wins from five as the Italian boss begins to imprint his style upon them. Continue reading

EPL Fantasy Predictions: Matchweek 5

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Tottenham vs Liverpool Wembley Stadium

This lunchtime kickoff is one you won’t want to miss. While Spurs slipped up against  surprisingly imperious Watford,  Liverpool remained stalwart at the King Power. These kinds of tests away from home prove championship quality, and we think Klopp and the reds are at that level. Salah was Liverpool’s sole scorer against Spurs last season, and this may be a good time to jump on the wagon.

Bournemouth vs Leicester – Vitality Stadium

Two teams commanded by two impressive managers who know how to get results in the Premier League. Chelsea gave nothing away to Bournemouth when the Cherries visited Stamford Bridge before the international break, but we are picking Howe’s men to beat the Foxes who looked uncoordinated in the attack against Liverpool without Jamie Vardy.

Chelsea vs Cardiff – Stamford Bridge

If I were a fantasy Premier League manager I’d be jumping out of my seat to bring in a couple of Sarri’s forwards in for this one-sided looking clash at the Bridge. Pedro is in a good run of scoring form, while Hazard netted for Belgium against Scotland during the break.

Huddersfield vs Crystal Palace – John Smith’s Stadium

Huddersfield did very well to get a point at Goodison Park last matchweek, but Crystal Palace will know they absolutely need to start picking up points sooner or later. We are looking at the height of Crystal Palace to make the difference and snatch a draw from a set piece.

Manchester City vs Fulham – Etihad Stadium

If you’re asking us to pick Fulham over the champions, it’s a real shout. But Wolves held the stellar Citizens attack at bay earlier in the season, and Fulham have shown more in an attacking sense. – especially with Mitrovic’s double for Serbia over the break. We are still going with Pep, singling out Mr. Aguero to continue his good run of form.

Newcastle vs Arsenal – Saint James’ Park

With defense proving as optional as ever under Emery’s brief tenure, Newcastle will feel they could really upset the oddsmakers when the Gunners visit Tyneside. Solomon Rondon will by drooling at the chance to have the home crowd behind him as he runs at the shaky pairing of Mustafi and Sokratis.

Watford vs Manchester United – Vicarage Road

We like Holebas and Pereyra in this one, but goals are coming from everywhere amongst the Watford ranks these days. United meanwhile have had to rely thoroughly on Lukaku. The big Belgian has only 16 in 68 games against the top six, and since Watford have already beaten a top six club, we feel this will be a draw, with Mourinho shutting up shop as he is want to do away from home.

Wolves vs Burnley – Molineux

Nunu Espirito Santo is doing his best to make Molineux a fortress in his first EPL season, and we think this is a good opportunity to nab some clean sheet points from the Wolves defense and GK as Burnley are tied for the second fewest goals scored.

Everton vs West Ham – Goodison Park

Away at Everton will be a difficult place for Manuel Pellegrini to try and affect some positive change around the Irons dressing room, so we are going with Everton and backing Theo Walcott to make the difference.

Southampton vs Brighton – Saint Mary’s Stadium

We like Southampton in this South Coast clash, with Danny Ings looking particularly good for his price. He’s already scored with the Saints this season, even after such an enormous spell out with knee injuries at Liverpool.
Challenge the best EPL Fantasy Managers at www.fantasy-premier.com

 

Eddie Howe continues to enhance his credentials

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Three games into the new Premier League season and Bournemouth are unbeaten and flying high.

Seven points from three games is a fine return for one of the ‘unfancied’ sides, with respect, and their performances include two comeback wins – away at West Ham and at home to Everton.

Their opening day victory over Cardiff City was a banker in all honesty, but the way in which they’ve gone about their work since has all of the hallmarks of their coach, Eddie Howe. Continue reading

Premier League Expected Line-Ups – Week 3

palaceliverpoolWolverhampton Wanderers vs Manchester City

Wolves (3-4-2-1)

Rui Patricio, Ryan Bennett, Conor Coady, Willy Boly, Matt Doherty*, Joao Moutinho, Ruben Neves, Jonny, Helder Costa, Jota, Raul Jimenez

Questionable: *Matt Doherty, Leander Dendoncker
Out: Ivan Cavaleiro

Manchester City (3-1-4-2)

Ederson, John Stones, Vincent Kompany, Aymeric Laporte, Fernandinho, Bernardo Silva, David Silva, Ilkay Gundogan, Benjamin Mendy, Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus

Questionable: None
Out: Kevin de Bruyne, Danilo, Philippe Sandler, Claudio Bravo, Eliaquim Mangala

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