Chelsea back on track but is star striker Timo Werner struggling?

After Chelsea destroyed a very good Crystal Palace side 4-0 the Blues look back to form and focused after a shaky start. The victory has put Chelsea into 7th place and they are now just two points behind the top four. It was a game that means the club have gone unbeaten for the last two.

The 4-0 score line was obviously one sided and Chelsea deserved their win but without looking at the scorers list you could have been forgiven that at least one of the goals had come from star striker Timo Werner, but sadly that wasn’t the case. One has to bring up the question is Germany’s number 1 choice struggling in the Premier League?

True it is very early days and some strikers do take time to adapt. Chelsea have brought in so many different faces that as a team the club are expected to take time to gel together, but football is a business and sport that doesn’t allow too much time. The league is a month old and Werner has hardly made an impact.

Werner has scored in the Carabao Cup but in the Premier League he is yet to register a goal. Is that cause for concern? Many would say no, but the player himself just like any other striker will be worried that he hasn’t got that first goal. Strikers live for goals and it is what gives them confidence to get more and play better.No Chelsea fan wants to be reminded of the likes of two great strikers who failed at the club in Andriy Shevchenko and Fernando Torres. And that is the key here just because you are a world class striker doesn’t mean every club and every league can fit into your game.

Werner has 1 assist for a goal in the four games that he has played and most damning could be if you have the German in your fantasy team as he has zero points so far.

The critics have been kind and Werner has received no negatives despite going a month without a goal in the league. This is because he is a new signing and he will be allowed time. But if we are in November and he still hasn’t registered the pressure will start to build. At the same time Werner has proven in the last few years that he is a top striker and the betting would be that he will end up having a successful season with Chelsea.

For now the money spent on the player has not been justified and manager Frank Lampard may have to switch his system which has seen Werner play a slightly deeper role to a more advanced one if he wants to see the goals. Only time will tell.

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The new handball rule is outrageous and ruining football

The new handball rule has been affecting Premier League games of late as no one seems to know what is going on.

Goals have been disallowed and penalties have been given, too many it seems. There has been 5 already given adjudged for a player to have handled the ball, and we are in the first month of the league. Last season there was 19 the whole season. The rules have without a doubt changed what is happening on the pitch- but for the wrong reasons.

There were plenty of controversial moments just this weekend. The game that sticks out is Tottenham v Newcastle. The home side were pretty much dominant for the whole game, creating plenty of chances, although deep into injury time the score was only 1-0. That was until Andy Carroll headed the ball towards Eric Dier’s arm, Dier was looking away at the time, and whilst Newcastle appealed for a penalty, the referee waved it in. For him it wasn’t a penalty, and he had made what looked like to be the correct decision.

Yet a few minutes later, the game was recalled back because VAR had got involved. Once the referee went to the on screen monitor and checked again, he changed his mind. The question is did he change his mind because he was told rules are rules or did he change his mind because he genuinely thought he had got ti wrong? Newcastle got the penalty and scored- it was their first shot on target the whole game. They had been poor and deserved nothing from the game but because of the new rule which states even if a player handballs by mistake off of another attacker a penalty should be awarded.

There were other incidents too. Everton won the game at Crystal Palace due to the same incident at Tottenham. Yes there was handball but it was very clear that it wasn’t intentional. And then why was nothing said when Kai Havertz handled the ball in Chelsea’s run up goal which gave them a 3-3 draw at West Bromwich Albion?

It makes very little sense, if on one hand the rules stay and there not good for the game, then at least make them consistent. But that has always been the problem, and whilst the rules are mostly to blame so is VAR. Had VAR not got involved in the Tottenham game and respected the referee’s decision Tottenham would have won the game. And there are plenty of sides to the argument. For example if Tottenham were 2-0 up and the penalty was given, would this even be a story?

The IFAB who approve the rules need to take a long hard look at themselves. They and VAR should never be the star of the show, just like before VAR, the referee should be respected but never seen, it’s an art. Since when did we suddenly forget the job the referee does?

If this continues it seems clear that the referee’s job will be obsolete soon. No officials are complaining as of yet but as time goes on who wants to keep being overruled in the biggest decisions?

Last night there was a panic meeting where a back tracking IFAB admitted that referees and VAR could use leeway in how they judge their decisions for penalties from now on. Wrong decision, the new rule should have been abolished there and then, watch this space because the recent meeting will change nothing, in fact it will bring even more controversy.

One final harrowing thought is on cheating. We know that even the best professional players in the heat of the moment can cheat, mostly to wind up a player to get them sent off or dive for a penalty, we don’t like talking about it, but it does happen.

How long will it be until skilled players going for a header, choose to head towards a defender’s hand and not the goal, knowing that they can get a penalty from a useless situation? It is worth thinking about.

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Premier League Best 11 Players of the Weekend: Matchday 2

Heung-min Son scored four as Tottenham Hotspur thrashed Southampton 5-2 and Dominic Calvert-Lewin grabbed a hat-trick as Everton beat 10 man West Bromwich Albion by the same score.

Clean sheets were hard to come by in the Premier League last weekend, with only Brighton & Hove Albion, Chelsea and Aston Villa keeping one.

Here’s a look at the players who made a real difference in the fantasy football last weekend:

Goalkeeper: Emi Martinez (Aston Villa) – 7pts
Aston Villa’s new signing introduced himself to the fans by saving a penalty and keeping a clean sheet in a 1-0 win over Sheffield United on his debut. Emi Martinez was one of only three goalkeepers to keep a clean sheet on matchday 2.

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Man Utd 1-3 Crystal Palace: The Red Devils begin the new season with a defeat at home to the Eagles

Manchester United begin their 2020-21 Premier League season with a defeat at home to Crystal Palace, who were a unit defensively, composed in defending within their own half and were impressive on the counter against a very poor backline.

Given the lack of rest that the Red Devils have had from the previous campaign, as they reached the Europa League semi-finals before being eliminated by Sevilla, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his men have not had the necessary rest and ideal pre-season football in order to return to normal fitness levels.

Looking into the game as a whole, the hosts were in full control when it came to dominating possession of the ball, achieving 75% possession, creating two big chances during the match and completing 230 passes in the attacking third. On the other hand, the hosts managed only 43 successful passes in the final third, and still went onto scoring three goals throughout the game.

The Eagles took the lead in the 7th minute of the game, through Andros Townsend, who had beaten Luke Shaw at the far post to meet onto Jeffrey Schlupp’s low cross, and put it past David De Gea and into the back of the net. In all honesty, there was not much action following Townsend’s goal, as United were sloppy and slow on the ball whilst Palace were quite comfortable within a low-block.

Crystal Palace were giving a huge opportunity to double their lead just half way through the second half, as Martin Atkinson pointed to the penalty spot after reviewing the footage of Victor Lindelof handling the ball in the box. Wilfried Zaha stepped up and calmly slotted the ball from the spot.

United were able to get a goal back through Donny Van de Beek, who able to convert his attempt on goal after coming on from the bench for Paul Pogba. However, it was too late to attempt a potential comeback, as Zaha was able to outdo Lindelof and place his shot into the corner away from De Gea. Following the 3-1 defeat at home to Crystal Palace, Manchester United are currently in 15th place whilst Roy Hodgson’s men sit comfortably in 5th place, winning their first two games of the season.

Here are the three things we learnt from United’s first league fixture of the campaign…

Victor Lindelof continually proves to be a defensive liability

For sure, he wasn’t the only individual that was struggling and was absolutely poor from start to end, but it was the defensive mistakes produced by Victor Lindelof that had resulted in Crystal Palace walking away from Old Trafford with the three points. The Swedish international has shown time and time again, that he is unable to deal with one on one situations with a forward or a winger, as the latter are able to dribble, power and stride past the centre-back without any serious issues.

Lindelof has had this rising problem since he had moved to the Premier League a few years ago, and it’s a concerning weakness that has allowed the opposition to specifically target him on the counter-attack. Given the current situation that is presented to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he was to drop Lindelof to the bench anytime soon and replace him with Eric Bailly, who is more dominant and complete, but is battling his own issues in terms of injuries and full fitness.

Nemanja Matic’s absence was costly for the team on and off the ball

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer fielded a three-man midfield of Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes, which was lacking the much-needed balance in front of the defence and the ability to win the ball high up the pitch. Without Nemanja Matic, who had returned to training only on Monday and was not prepared to play on Saturday at Old Trafford, the side had great difficulties at protecting the inconsistent backline, being fluid on the ball and remaining calm under pressure.

The 32-year-old may no longer be at his best or have the legs to cover enough area of the pitch, however, his invaluable experience and the balance and composure he brings to the midfield is second to none. Unfortunately, for the manager and the club, they do not have a similar player to Matic, which does mean that they will have to rely heavily on him once again this season.

The lack of business for Manchester United is starting to slowly hurt them

Manchester United have only made one signing so far this window, in Donny Van de Beek, which is not good enough when you are trying to finish in the top four in back-to-back seasons for the first time since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson. Not only that, but the board have failed to deliver a left-back and a much needed right-winger, two areas that needed addressing urgently and have not been done so in recent years, resulting in the side’s lack of development and progress as a whole.

The likes of Everton, Spurs and Wolves have been very proactive in the window, and it would not be a total surprise to see either of these three teams finish above the Red Devils in the Premier League. Unless Ed Woodward, the Glazers and the other key individuals within the board make some drastic signings in the final weeks of the transfer window, it will be very difficult for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United to finish in the top four again, looking at the serious competition around them.

Liverpool can now win the Premier League without kicking a ball as they destroy Crystal Palace

Liverpool’s latest emphatic win, a 4-0 victory over Crystal Palace was the club’s 56th unbeaten game at home in what has been an incredible 18 months for the club. In that time they have lost just once in the league, won the Champions League and are now going for the Premier League title, a trophy they have not won since 1990.

Goals from Mohamed Salah, Fabinho, Sadio Mane and the unlikely opener by defender Trent Alexander-Arnold set the tone of the game. Indeed it was 2-0 to the Reds going in at half time.

It was a great response by the champions-elect who put in a lacklustre performance against city rivals Everton on Sunday when the two teams could only draw 0-0 in a drab game for everyone involved. But the victory over Palace and the way it was achieved would have been welcomed by manager Jurgen Klopp. Klopp would rightly be concerned about getting the right results giving that there are no fans present, and the fact that the Kop fans really are like the twelfth man on match days.

Palace have come to Anfield in the past and been the thorn in the side of Liverpool, and indeed they were the last team to beat Liverpool at Anfield in the league, so Klopp would have been aware of that. Of course no one is suggesting that Liverpool could lose the title being 20 points clear, which is now 23 but this is about getting it wrapped up as soon as possible. No one at the club wants this one to drag.

So how it stands now is that by tonight Liverpool could be the champions of England for the first time since 1990. The reason is Manchester City, the current champions are playing Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. If City lose or even draw then that’s it the title is Liverpool’s. City need to win to have a stay of execution. But winning at Chelsea and with the way the club have been playing is going to be easier said than done.

If City do beat Chelsea it would be a great result for them and they have started the restarted season so well, scoring 8 goals and conceding 0 in their opening two games. It would also be a blow to the Blues as Manchester United are chasing them for that last Champions League place.

A Manchester City win would also mean a mouth watering game next week because it would be Manchester City against Liverpool. The Reds could seal the title at the champions, and that would be very interesting indeed.

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The Premier League is back and Liverpool are aiming to win the title at rivals Everton

There has been a three month gap but finally the Premier League in England has been given the green light to restart once again after the Coronavirus.

The virus has dissipated enough for life to feel like it is resuming again and although there will be many differences and procedures in place to how we left football back in March, many up and down the country will be happy to see football back again.

That will be underlined if you are a fan of Liverpool. The Reds were easily set to win their first league title since 1990, as they are 25 points clear at the top with just ten games left to play but the virus put the club in a bizarre position. There were talks of voiding the league completely. To their credit Liverpool as a club and the fans have remained calm and optimistic that their league title would not be taken from them. Even if you don’t support the club if it had happened one could have seen how cruel it would have been on them after their efforts this season.

The league is scheduled to return on June 17th when Manchester City play Arsenal. If City were to lose the game then Liverpool’s match that weekend would be one of the most viewed in English sporting history. Not only could it be the match where Liverpool secure the league title but it is against their rivals Everton and at Goodison Park. Just imagine how that could turn out?

Liverpool have been far superior to their neighbours this season though under Carlo Ancelotti Everton have really improved. But would be a fantastic match as Everton would do everything they could to delay Liverpool’s title, no one associated with the club would want to see Liverpool winning the title at Goodison Park.

Of course for Liverpool what a day it would be to win it at their rivals. It is a story after 30 years that you simply couldn’t have made up. Of course one major factor is that there will be no fans- this is something we can expect will be the norm in football until the early part of 2021 it seems.

A Liverpool victory could feel muted- just what does one do? Will the fans swarm the streets even though they have been told not to? That is a hard one, and only time will tell us what will happen.

If Liverpool fail to win the league at Everton, their next game is at home to Crystal Palace, a side managed by Roy Hodgson who of course is an ex Liverpool manager. No matter what happens as it has turned out the virus has only delayed the inevitable, something that football fans have known at least since the turn of the year, and that is Liverpool are going to be crowned 2020 league champions.

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Premier League: Player of the Week: Richarlison

It was an odd week of Premier League football given that there were just 3 games. Originally the total was 4 but Manchester City and West Ham had to be postponed because of bad storms.

Most players did not play then, and most did not perform, there were only a couple of players that stood out in fact and one of those was Everton’s Richarlison.

The Brazilian has been a little hot and cold this season but it was truly significant, one suspects, that he scored last weekend as Everton beat Crystal Palace 3-1 at Goodison Park.

It was a goal that Richarlison needed and it is one that has also calmed down perhaps the stormy waters from last month. It was reported in January that Barcelona had shown interest to sign Richarlison for 100m euros and Everton had quickly rejected. What transpired was very important when manager Carlo Ancelotti said that the Brazilian is a big part of Everton’s future and to important to be sold. Everton had just turned down Barcelona, but their advancements could still have turned Richarlison’s head, not so. The Brazilian has been very committed to the club since then and has played some very good football, Though fans would have wanted a few more goals from him, well scoring against Palace went some way to rectifying that.

So far this season Richarlison has earned 38 points he is by far then in terms of fantasy rankings the most successful player at Everton this season and is 18 points ahead of Lucas Digne.

However as strikers go in the Premier League he is a little behind in 12th place, for example Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy, who is currently in 1st position has almost double the points of him.

From Richarlison’s 24 starts he has scored 9 goals and assisted in a further 3 meaning that he has contributed 12 goals to Everton’s season so far. The club have scored 34 goals so far and so Richarlison has been involved in 35% of the teams goals- so on reflection no wonder Ancelotti was so reluctant to see his player, plus Barcelona had come in very late on and Everton would not have had the time to replace anyway.

Richarlison can be brought into your team for 7.5m which seems like a great price and he has been overall a good success at Everton. Fans still believe he could score 5-10 more goals a season and that would certainly boost his standing. For now though he is certainly one of the more eye catching strikers in the Premier League.

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Premier League: Best 11 Players from the Weekend

The winter break has meant that games are now being staggered across the Premier League which means every team will end up, at one stage, getting at least 2 weeks off. This weekend then there was just 4 games to be played. However bad weather conditions meant that the most anticipated match between Manchester City and West Ham had to be called off.

So only 3 Premier League games took place this weekend and there were nice wins for Everton and Sheffield United who have put the heat on Chelsea to try and stake what many would believe is a shock claim for a top 4 spot. Can both clubs find a nice run of consistency? It might be all it takes.

Below then we take a look at the best players from this weekend, having to select from just the 3 games that were eventually played. Did any of your players play this weekend? And how many points did they get? Let’s take a look.

Formation: 4-4-2:

Goalkeeper: Ben Foster- Watford 0pts

Because of the lack of games and the fact that every goalkeeper conceded this weekend we have ended up with a bizarre situation where the best goalkeeper in the league ends up with zero points. That’s because some dipped into the minus points. Foster conceded as Watford drew with Brighton 1-1, away from home which was a decent result for them and Foster made some very good saves to help earn a point.

Defender: Yerry Mina- Everton 0pts

Yerry Mina played the whole game and conceded a goal which jumped him back down to zero points. Everton beat Crystal Palace 3-1 and Mina now has a total of 19 points.

Defender: Michael Keane- Everton 0pts

Michael Keane hasn’t started many games for Everton but he put in a decent shift in the game even if he couldn’t earn any points this weekend, conceding just 1 goal but his team won anyway.

Defender: Shane Duffy- Brighton 0pts

Shane Duffy played a good game as Brighton drew 1-1 with Watford. He is a bargain at just 1.5m and has earned 12 points the majority of those in the last few weeks,

Defender: Craig Cathcart- Watford 0pts

Watford got a decent result at Brighton with the game ending 1-1 and that was a valued point earned away from home. Cathcart has 21 points and is ranked as Watford’s 2nd best defender so far this season.

Midfielder: John Lundstram- Sheffield United 4pts

Points earned! John Lundstram scored for Sheffield United as they won a vital game 2-1 over Bournemouth who were threatening to take a point from them and the win has sent the Blades into 5th place.

Midfielder: Abdoulaye Doucoure-Watford 4pts

Doucoure scored against Brighton and was able to earn a vital point for his relegation threatened team. He earned 4 points and now has a total of 28, he has been in fine form too and could be worth picking up for the remainder of the season.

Midfielder: Wilfried Zaha- Crystal Palace 2pts

Wilfried Zaha was on the losing side, 3-1 against Everton but the highly thought of player showed a lot of creativity and he assisted in Palace’s goal, which at the time was an important one as the club had just equalised.

Midfielder: Theo Walcott- Everton 2pts

Theo Walcott has upped his game in recent weeks and started to score points. Walcott had an unlucky game as he had to go off injured after just 25 minutes but he still managed to assist in Everton’s opening goal which led the way to their victory at the weekend over Crystal Palace.

Striker: Richarlison- Everton 4pts

Richarlison scored his 9th goal for Everton this season as they swept by Crystal Palace winning 3-1. He now has 38 points for the season and is worth adding to your team as he has really grown in confidence over the last few weeks.

Striker: Billy Sharp- Sheffield United 4pts

Billy Sharp has suffered with some set backs with injury lately so it was impressive of him to bounce back and get a vital goal which helped the Blades to secure 3 huge points and gives them a chance of European football next season.

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In December the talk at Everton was of survival now it is about European football

At the beginning of December it was very gloomy around Goodison Park in the midst of Marco Silva being sacked and Everton flirting with relegation. The prospect of the club being relegated for the first time in almost 70 years looked very real indeed. But the board acted and have done extremely well and now Everton have one of the best managers in world football.

The change was made by sacking Silva and whilst no one truly wishes the sack on any manager Silva’s time at Everton had been very average indeed. One could say he had 3 good months from 16, and true the club finished last season well enough but there were plenty of cracks in the club and it was amazing in the end that Silva lasted 4 months of the new season.

Naturally Duncan Ferguson stepped in as caretaker manager and whilst Ancelotti is now getting the plaudits, the roots of Everton’s upturn this season are from Ferguson. An ex-Everton player who garners respect from the players, the fans love him and Ferguson became an instant hit with them. The images of him celebrating with the ball boys when Everton scored against Chelsea and then beat them will live in the memory banks for Everton fans for some time.

Once Everton appointed Ancelotti so soon after, one could be forgiven for thinking that Everton were doing just fine with Ferguson, but the Scotsman even admitted that he wasn’t the one for the job long term and that the club had to bring in a world class manager and they did just that.

The first thing Ancelotti got right was to keep Ferguson on as his assistant- the Italian realised off the bat that Ferguson is adored at the club and is rightly a club legend, and that has really helped with Ancelotti’s smooth trajectory into the club. Plus being under Ancelotti will surely make Ferguson a better coach and he could well be managing the club he loves so dearly sometime in the future.

But Everton look a completely different side under Ancelotti. They are winning games again and have climbed 10 places to 7th now. The football isn’t always pretty and Ancelotti will have to let some players go and bring in some quality in the summer but the team are heading in the right direction. There has only been one low point and that was losing to Liverpool’s youngsters in the FA Cup.

At the weekend Everton sailed past Crystal Palace winning 3-1 and the club now have 36 points and are five clear of Arsenal who is their next opponent in a few weeks time.

Can Everton finish in a European position, that is the question now being asked. And for some they don’t mean the Europa League. Everton should be kicking themselves now for allowing Newcastle to come back to 2-2 after they were leading 2-0 the other week deep into injury time. Had that been a win Everton would be on 39 points and just two points shy of 4th place Chelsea.

There is an uphill task to get the Champions League of course with the likes of Tottenham, Manchester United and Sheffield United trying to push Chelsea out of the way. Inevitably it will be the team who gets the most consistent in the next few months who will get 4th place and by no means will it be Chelsea if they continue their inconsistent form.

But if Everton do reach the Europa League, what a turnaround of a season it would have been for the club, and it just goes to show how important it is getting the right manager in.

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Premier League: Fantasy Picks for the Weekend

The first ever winter break is taking place in the Premier League in England and it has been something managers have been calling for for some time. However that doesn’t mean that the league is taking a total break. Instead what will happen is that some teams will have 2 weeks off and then the ones playing this weekend will then have two weeks off- that is the plan anyway.

In total there are 4 Premier League games taking place this weekend, are your players playing? If so you could be in luck for some extra points, or you might want to be very shrewd and take a look at who we are picking this weekend to earn maximum fantasy league points.

Goalkeeper: Simon Moore- Sheffield United

Sheffield United have been brilliant this season and are in 6th place. This is a risky choice to pick Simon Moore here because he has been injured for the season, but he has recovered now so the manager needs to make a choice. At one point surely Moore will get his chance and the Blades are playing Bournemouth at home and will be the favourites to win.

Defender: Yerry Mina- Everton

Yerry Mina is playing his best football since arriving with Everton. Not only is he helping his side in defence he is also scoring goals, and got 2 last weekend. He has helped keep 6 clean sheets so far and Everton will be at home to Crystal Palace.

Defender: Kyle Walker- Manchester City

Manchester City will play West Ham at home and everyone is thinking they can win and score a lot of goals too. But they also have a good chance to keep a clean sheet against an under confident West Ham side. Walker has kept 6 clean sheets so far this season.

Defender: Lucas Digne- Everton

Lucas Digne has 20 points so far this season and he is Everton’s best defender. He has kept 6 clean sheets and even though he hasn’t scored a goal, that is not his job and yet he has assisted for 5 goals this season. A versatile player that would only cost you 5.5m and Everton play at home to Crystal Palace so there is every chance he could keep a clean sheet.

Defender: Adam Masina- Watford

Watford do not have an easy game away to Brighton, but the club have shown so much promise that they could be a threat here. Despite losing to Everton last weekend and being 2 goals to the good, Adam Masina did score and one would hope his confidence will be good for this game.

Midfielder: Theo Walcott- Everton

We have liked the look at Walcott’s form for some weeks and he came on through last weekend scoring the last minute winner against Watford. Everton being back at home against Crystal Palace should present the home side with a few opportunities and Walcott has notched up 13 points so far.

Midfielder: Bernardo Silva- Manchester City

When Manchester City lose games they usually bounce back and get a big score and they will be at home to West Ham, a club who currently look in crisis. There is potential here for Silva and City to do very well. And we have tried to pick out a good value player for the club who would cost you 8.5m and he has acquired 39 points this season.

Midfielder: Pascal Groß- Brighton

Pascal Groß scored a goal last weekend against West Ham as Brighton stunned the Hammers coming back from 3-1 down to draw 3-3. He has been involved in six of his clubs goals this season and Brighton will need this win at home as they could get sucked into the relegation battle.

Midfielder: John Lundstram- Sheffield United

John Lundtstram is a reliable midfielder who has 30 points this season and should be brought into many teams when you think his cost is just 2.5m. He has scored 3 goals and also assisted in another two and looks a real find for the club.

Striker: Gabriel Jesus- Manchester City

Gabriel Jesus looks like a bargain at 8m and with City being at home to West Ham we would think there could be a lot of goals for the home side and Jesus has every chance of scoring. He has netted 9 goals so far this season and also assisted in another 4 games.

Striker: Richarlison- Everton

The Brazilian was linked with a surprise move away to Barcelona just last week. But Everton rejected this. What has been important is his manager Carlo Ancelotti who has stated how important Richarlison is to the club, Brazilian’s love to feel wanted and it is very possible that Richarlison will act in a very positive way when his club play Crystal Palace at home. He has scored 8 goals so far and assisted 3 times.

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