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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What has Wilfried Zaha done to justify his £80m price tag?

At the beginning of the season Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha was being mooted for a move to another club. Everton had become the favourites to sign the talented player and then Crystal Palace announced his transfer fee….£80 million.

Everton went quietly when the fee was announced and Zaha stayed with Palace. But now the January transfer window is open, only for another week and the Zaha story is back, and Palace still want £80m. But what has Zaha done to justify the transfer fee? Is he truly worth such a price. True you can understand why Palace would demand a huge fee, the player is an integral part of the team plus a small percentage would have to go to Zaha’s former club Manchester United, but it seems as though Palace are out pricing themselves.

For example if a team abroad showed their interest could Palace keep that same price? How many team supporters of say Juventus or Real Madrid have even heard of Zaha? That is not meant to be shown as a lack of respect to Zaha who has been a constant presence in the Premier League but surely you have to have done something in your career to highlight and warrant such a fee? It feels like Palace’s valuation of the player is based on the money they would lose to Manchester United as part of the agreement of Zaha being sold to them a few seasons ago.

Let’s look at Zaha’s stats: The first is that he is 27 years old and still has not made the impact which changes a team, he does of course have time on his side. If he is sold to a ‘bigger’ team they would get at least 6 good years out of him. But after the fee of £80m Zaha would also demand a very good wage at least £200,000 a week, over six years that would cost the club a further £60m with bonuses. Now we are talking about a transfer in excess of £140m, really, for Zaha?

Though Zaha is classified as a winger, he is an attacking one and manager Roy Hodgson has used the player as a striker, thus he is there to score goals. But in the league he has never scored more than 10 in a season. He currently has 3 goals from 24 games.

In the fantasy rankings Zaha is in 22nd place for Premier League midfielders and also has 2 assists. That means he has been involved in 5 of Crystal Palace’s 22 goals so far, which represents about 25% of their goals.

One also has to remember that Zaha was born in the Ivory Coast but qualified to play for England, but could not make an impact with the national side enough to become a regular. He was able to represent the Ivory Coast and in the end had no choice but to do so if he wanted to play international football.

In conclusion, Zaha is a good player- you don’t get to spend your career in the Premier League if you’re not. But his club are over valuing him for their own financial benefits, and the price being asked for him feels like a joke in truth. Premier League teams when transferring players within the league seem to add on premiums that don’t exist in Serie A or La Liga and one certainly has to question his transfer which would be the equal 10th best in the history of football.

True, where Zaha ends up he could well be a success for his team, but as said above including his wages would cost a new employer £140m. The same player that doesn’t score enough goals, doesn’t provide enough assists and has only won one trophy, the Community Shield.

Palace need a reality check.

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Are Manchester City feeling the brunt of VAR?

With the Premier League having 2 games in the matter of a few days Manchester City, the champions could well be aggrieved about some of the decisions that have not gone their way. VAR has struck again and whilst the technology is getting decisions correct, there does seem to be fine margins and a lack of consistency.

This past weekend City made heavy weather at home once again to Crystal Palace. Palace had infamously beaten them 3-2 last season at the Etihad and with a little under 20 minutes to play on Saturday Palace were again winning this time it was 1-0 and whilst City dominated the game it looked as if they were going to have one of their frustrating days in front of the goal. And then there was a penalty….

The referee Graham Scott had no problem pointing to the spot and City looked saved. The incident occurred when Jairo Riedelwald in defence for Palace had handled the ball. Now this wasn’t an intentional hand ball and the ball had ricocheted from his own body- in other words there was nothing he could do. Common sense would have said no penalty. The referee who obviously saw it in real time said penalty. But when the decision went to VAR it was overturned and the decision was no penalty.

However rarely has VAR used common sense to when looking at decisions. It has gone straight for the rule book. So if  players knee is offside then VAR would go along with that, the same with handballs. There have been many examples of players handling the ball and goals being disallowed. West Ham’s last minute equaliser against Sheffield United. The ball came off of Declan Rice the Hammers player, he never meant it and there was no malice, but VAR ruled no goal, he had handled the ball.

And so when VAR did make the right decision in the City-Palace game it felt off. Where did the rule book go? All of a sudden City’s hopes were resting in what some one thought about said incident, and they thought no penalty. Another referee in the room could well have said penalty. So we come down now to a massive lack of consistency for all involved. City to their credit didn’t let the decision affect them and did score 2 goals through Sergio Aguero, but Palace scored again to add a sting to the tail as the match finished 2-2 and City slipped further behind league leaders Liverpool.

But the controversy did not stop there for Pep Guardiola’s team. In midweek City had to play Sheffield United. Again a must win game even if the title looks doomed for them. This time City were awarded a penalty, and no one was about to change their decision. The problem was in the actual penalty itself. Dean Henderson the Sheffield United goalkeeper was clearly off his line when Gabriel Jesus struck the ball and this looks like the only reason he saved it.

At the end of the day City won the game 1-0, had it finished 0-0 this story could well have exploded costing City another two points. The rules clearly state that the penalty would have to have been retaken. There was no intervention from VAR and the keeper was a long way off his line and prepared.

The problem is not really with VAR itself but the people who are using the technology. They are making the same old tired mistakes that officials were making without VAR, there is simply a total lack of consistency. It’s caught even the champions out and the worry is that it could play a vital role in the pressurised environment of the relegation battle.

Another batch of Premier League games, some great ones, good goals, incidents but five months into the new season and VAR is still the talking point. That’s fine as an after thought, but it is the main talking point, and surely no one who is in love with the game wants that?

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Unai Emery’s job is under threat at Arsenal

The Arsenal fans have made it clear that Unai Emery is now under severe pressure with some wanting him sacked as manager after just 18 months in charge. This comes after the Gunners have recorded just 2 wins from their past 9 games.

Emery has struggled with Arsenal overall and despite coming to the club with a good resume, winning the Europa League on a few occasions with Sevilla and the French league with PSG it has been difficult for the Spaniard to find the right balance with the team he has. Players on long contracts that he couldn’t sell like Mesut Ozil isn’t his fault and that remains some of the fall out from former manager Arsene Wenger. But fans believe that Emery simply isn’t getting the best out of his players and they could well be right.

What let down Wenger in his final years with the club was not qualifying for the Champions League and their dismal away record and that has continued under Emery. Reaching the Europa League final last season felt like a step in the right direction but what did it matter when they lost 4-1 in the final? No Arsenal fan wants to remember that run after that.

A glance at the Premier League table would see Arsenal in 5th place and wanting your manager sacked for that would seem harsh. But the bigger picture is that the club have slipped 6 points behind Chelsea who have a new young manager in Frank Lampard and have had a transfer ban this past summer.

Whilst the Gunners have only lost two games they have only won 1 game in their past five matches and have gone 3 games without a win. The other damning fact is the way they are losing points at home. Take the Crystal Palace match where they found themselves 2-0 up within 10 minutes. The old Arsenal circa 2005 would have gone on to win that match 5-0. This one let Palace back into the game. Of course one will argue that VAR stopped them from winning 3-2 with a bizarre decision but Arsenal should never have been in that situation in the first place.

Then there was the Wolves game again at home and again winning the match. Wolves were let back in the match and actually could have won it.

This is an Arsenal team who look hollow and without Pierre-Emerick Aubamyang they look devoid of ideas and goals.

The Arsenal fans may want Emery out but the board won’t panic yet. However if the club continue this form he may well be in trouble come the end of the year. Arsenal have a lot of thinking to do as the clubs ‘transition’ period continues for another season.

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Is VAR and a lack of common sense ruining the game we love?

Yet again the talking point of the weekend is not so much the football but VAR and one wonders if common sense is now ruining the game we love?

There are so many different issues after a few months of VAR and that can be normal when a new service is implemented but it has also been evidently frustrating for fans. Now when your team score, you cheer with uncertainty, you just never know if play will be called back. It is even harder if you are at a game. Take yesterday’s match between Arsenal and Crystal Palace as a huge example. The game was locked at 2-2 but Arsenal had taken the lead, it was a goal, but it wasn’t. Fans in the stadium honestly had no idea what was going on. Replays were not shown, no explanation was given, but there was a long delay. The goal looked legitimate, but VAR had spotted something between two players in the build up something and nothing if truth be told and Arsenal were denied what most probably would have been the win.

The offside rule is another problem. How can a player be deemed to have an advantage or looking for one if their nose, or hair or foot is offside? This isn’t VAR’s fault of course and it is only going by the laws of the game, but they are silly ones at best. The same problem is the hand to ball, ball to hand rule in the penalty area. How can it be a penalty when no obvious cheating is involved? We now have a situation where an opposing player can now fire the ball into a defenders arm and get given a penalty, stone wall in some people’s opinion, this seems almost warped and is ruining the game.

Penalties are given far too easily, but at the end of the day when VAR was supposed to clear up match day controversy it is actually simply adding to it. So what is the solution? First off common sense needs to prevail, it is easy to tell if a player is putting themselves in a position to cheat or take an advantage or handle the ball or mistakenly do so. VAR needs to be quicker in its decisions and perhaps VAR should be less used and let the referee be able to make decisions. One area where VAR is needed is offside because the linesman’s job seems obsolete now, too many are too poor at their job. And what VAR does spectacularly right is when a player is NOT offside and is able to rule that out.

I think it’s fair to say that even if you are for VAR, the system has made too many errors and the judgement really hasn’t been there on a consistent basis. That’s fine it is new, but perhaps this has all been rushed out far too quickly? The football, the players and the goals should be the talking point of the weekend, not VAR and that is the bottom line.

Crystal Palace show improvement at home to give Roy Hodgson’s side hope of successful season

The season is still young but there has been a key positive development for Crystal Palace in the early weeks of 2019/20. Only relegated Huddersfield Town collected fewer points in front of their own fans than Palace last term, with the south London side once again finishing higher up the away table than the home one – something they have done every season since 2013/14, when Tony Pulis’s side secured survival largely by making Selhurst Park a fortress.

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Predicted lineups for this weekend’s English Premier League fixtures

It’s time for gameweek six of the 2019/20 English Premier League season.

Here’s a look at all the predicted lineups for the ten fixtures over the coming weekend.

Southampton v Bournemouth

Southampton XI: Gunn, Bednarek, Yoshida, Vestergaard, Soares, Romeu, Hojbjerg, Djenepo, Ward-Prowse, Boufal, Adams Continue reading