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

Hitting the ground running – the early frontrunners in the Premier League

The Premier League is now four gameweeks into the season.

We’ve entered the first international break of 2019/20 so there are 10 days before the next game. Being honest, we all hate these breaks in the domestic season. However, it does give us the opportunity to quickly take stock of how teams are shaping up at this early stage of the campaign.

Liverpool

The only club in England’s top flight to still have a 100% record after just four games. Jurgen Klopp’s side proved last season that they are the real deal, pushing Manchester City all the way for the title while also lifting the club’s sixth European Cup. Continue reading

Man Utd 1-2 Crystal Palace; Ole’s men suffer their first league defeat

Although the main focus of gameweek three was between Liverpool and Arsenal, Manchester United had a good opportunity to bounce back from the Wolves stalemate with the home fixture against Crystal Palace. As majority of the top-six sides have failed to be effectively convincing, it would have been ideal for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men to pick up another early win in the season.

As a whole, the match resulted in a way that not many ahead predicted before kick-off, where the hosts dominated possession and apparently had the game under control, when all of a sudden, the visitors went direct on the counter and scored through Jordan Ayew in the 32nd minute. Throughout the first half, United’s footballing style was constantly sideways and was played at a really slow place, allowing Roy Hodgson’s men to sit comfortably deep and with not much to worry about.

Things went from bad to worse for United in the second half, as a couple of big chances went down the drain and Marcus Rashford’s attempt from the penalty spot in 70th minute hit the woodwork. However, the side’s goal and equaliser finally came in 89th minute as Daniel James well-placed shot went past Vicente Guaita and into the far corner of net. In the final moments of the game, United’s overload of players allowed Crystal Palace to break brutally on the counter and to shockingly get the winner.

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

Lack of creativity and urgency

Throughout the whole game, United failed to cause a number of problems for Crystal Palace’s backline and Vicente Guaita, as they went on to complete the same amount of shots on target as the opposition. The Red Devils actually completed zero shots on goal by the half-time break, which more or less implies that the side’s lack of creativity and urgency is starting to show when they are desperately in need of it.

After the break, Solskjaer’s men did take things up a notch by raising the tempo on the ball and in terms of looking to progress more forward whilst in possession, but they were seriously in need of a playmaker that can pull the strings with ease and open up the opponent’s defence without trying. United’s main options within this position is either Jesse Lingard or Juan Mata, though, they are not the ideal individuals that can produce the final third goods on a consistent and effective basis.

Ole needs to begin experimenting more tactically

Solskjaer kept the same line-up as the one that faced Wolves last week, but majority of the Old Trafford faithful were hoping that a couple of changes were made in order for the squad to know that no one’s place in the starting line-up is guaranteed. On the other hand, the manager himself will need to experiment into new formations and tactics, in order to get the best out of his own players and work around the opposition’s system.

A potential plan B may include the back-three/five setup, which would allow Axel Tuanzebe to play more regularly and in the backline along with Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof, giving United the defensive stability they need and the licence for the wing-backs and Paul Pogba to constantly advance high up the pitch. As Ole does not have strength in numbers within midfield and attack, they currently have no option but to focus on dominating possession on both sides of the pitch and take their limited chances.

United won’t progress far with the current midfield options

At this moment of time, it can easily be stated that United will have huge and great difficulty in finishing in the top four this season and with any intentions they have of domestic cup success. Based on the last couple of games, the side have unfortunately failed to control and dominate the game in the middle of the pitch, a department that is not filled with many talented or experienced players. And the departures of both Ander Herrera and Marouane Fellaini have not helped at all.

With the club failing to bring in a replacement for the mentioned duo or an upgrade on some of the deadwood within this area, a single injury to either Paul Pogba or Scott McTominay will ruin the manager’s balance and the side’s stability for a number of weeks. And if the side start to drop points on a more regular basis, the board will then surely regret not buying Bruno Fernandes or Thomas Partey, two well-known individuals who are seen as the missing piece to United’s broken midfield.

Top Premier League Goalkeepers in 2018/19: Vicente Guaita

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Vicente Guaita finished 7th in the fantasy rankings for Premier League goalkeepers but he must have been amongst the very best value players to have in your team for season 2018/19.

Guaita was valued at just 2m as he kept guard in goal for Crystal Palace for 20 games and that was enough to have him easily placed in the top 10 goalkeepers in England.

Whilst Guaita only accumulated 23 points he also kept an impressive 7 clean sheets, keeping the score at zero for 35% of his games. He conceded 25 goals in his games and received 2 yellow cards.

Guaita had spent his career in the Spanish league up until he joined Palace last summer in a free transfer joining from Getafe after making over 100 appearances for the club. It was always thought that Guaita would be a back up for Roy Hodgson’s Palace team, which he was. He finally made his debut for the club in December almost half way through the season.

Guaita’s first match for Palace ended in a 1-0 victory for the club when they beat Leicester, in the process he kept a clean sheet in his first game and earned 7 points. His next game is simply unfortunate for a goalkeeper, as Palace pulled off an incredible 3-2 victory at Manchester City. But because he conceded 2 goals and got booked he ended that game personally with -3 points.

But Guaita bounced back earning 14 points from his next 3 games and his signing seemed completely justified by Hodgson even on a free transfer for the 32 year old.

He had a few matches he’s rather forget- the defeats against both Manchester teams yielded 6 goals shipped and as a result in those two games he lost 8 points. And then there was a poor run that begun in mid April to the end of the season. True this run also involved the keeper picking up 7 points after he kept a clean sheet against Everton in a match that finished 0-0. But also taking those final 5 game into account Guaita did not earn any points in 4 of those games and earned a total of -5 points in that period.

What could be taken from Guaita’s half season of games is that he rarely went many matches without earning points. And Palace greatly improved as a team in the second half of the season and Guaita was certainly a key reason for that. The Spanish keeper is set to remain at Palace for next season as he initially signed a 3 year deal with the Eagles and it sure that his value will rise here from 2m. A shrewd player may just surprise themselves by a next season purchase of him.

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Wilfired Zaha doesn’t need Arsenal and Arsenal doesn’t need Wilfried Zaha

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It has been a week when Crystal Palace have suffered losing Aaron Wan Bissaka to Manchester United and the Eagles could well lose their forward Wilfried Zaha who is eyeing a move to Arsenal, but are the Gunners really the right club for him, and do Arsenal need him?

As is normal Arsenal will not budge on their valuation of the player and will pay no more than £40m for his services. For  player that has never scored more than 10 goals in any given league campaign they are probably right not to want to pay the 50-60m that Palace are asking for. At the same time Zaha does come with years of Premier League experience and transfers have gone gung-ho. If Arsenal really do want Zaha, surely a club of their stature are not going to break the bank to pay 10m more?

The problem with Arsenal and their tight purse strings has not left the club with Arsene Wenger and this latest situation only highlights the facts that their tight stance on club spending comes from within the board. The difference is that Wenger was happy to go along with it- but is Unai Emery?

And do Arsenal really need Zaha when they have Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, an outstanding striker when he decides to play. There is also back up in Alexandre Lacazette, so Zaha’s signing seems a little odd.

As for Zaha, he wants to play for Arsenal obviously a step up in his career but will he really get the games that he wants or will he be the sort of player that plays in the Carabao Cup and makes Premier League appearances from the bench?

 

Is Zaha being a little short sighted to just move a few miles to Arsenal- he will be buoyed by the fact that it worked for Ian Wright who became a club legend for Arsenal, but nobody is expecting Zaha to suddenly score 20 goals a season for the Gunners.

Arsenal’s ambitions have gone down in recent years, has it come to this- signing a 26 year old player who has proven experience but not proven goals? Ask the fans and they would rather want Nicolas Pepe of Lille, the young player that is scoring goals for fun in Ligue 1 and is being highly talked about. But a player of Pepe’s stature would cost upwards of £100m, and Arsenal who are just getting used to spending half of that aren’t going into that ball park figure anytime soon.

Zaha would be better to move on to a different club or even stay at Palace where he would most probably get more games. His game isn’t going to improve significantly enough not at his age, and the whole possible transfer makes very little sense.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Should Arsenal break the bank to sign Wilfried Zaha this summer?

Crystal Palace, it is fair to say, have not been happy with Arsenal’s behaviour in recent days. The Gunners’ offer of £40m for Wilfried Zaha was dismissed out of hand by the Eagles, who consider the bid derisory and have privately accused their London rivals of deliberately trying to unsettle their star man.

Palace have made it clear that they value their academy product at closer to £80m, and they were further incensed by Arsenal’s proposal to split the fee into five yearly instalments. Roy Hodgson’s side went into the summer pledging not to sell both Zaha and Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who joined Manchester United in a £50m deal last week. As things stand, then, a move would appear unlikely.

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Manchester United finally seal the deal to get Aaron Wan-Bissaka from Crystal Palace

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Manchester United have been after Aaron Wan-Bissaka for some time and this morning it was confirmed that the former Crystal Palace player was now a Red Devil. What will this mean for United as they try and look for a different chapter in their history and quash recent troubles that seem to have engulfed the team since Sir Alex Ferguson’s resignation.

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s career at United started off brilliantly as the team seemingly could not lose when his feel good factor tactics and play lifted the side from the gloominess surrounding Jose Mourinho. But United finished the season very poorly and the Norwegian’s pedigree was being rightly questioned. Had United jumped the ship too quick in offering him a 3 year contract, it did seem like it. However something that Solsjkaer does deserve is to have a proper summer transfer window afforded to him before he is truly judged. Now he has this he has swooped for Wan-Bissaka and if reports are to be led to be true United have paid £50m for their man. Decent money in this day and age for football transfers.

Wan Bissaka will play at right back for the club and he is only 21 with huge potential, it is thought that he will be earning £80,000 a week, so a massive increase on his reported £10,000 a week with Palace.

It is no secret that despite Palace having a good to average season that their defence had a very good one compared to their final league position. Palace finished in 12th place and the Eagles conceded 53 goals but that was the 10th best defensive record in the Premier League.

United have signed a player who seems to play beyond his years, movement and judgement are sound and he likes to lead by example, he could well be the captain of the club within a few seasons. The huge potential is there and let’s not forget that he was voted as Crystal Palace’s best player of the season.

For the player a move to United represents a dream come true and it will only be a matter of time before he breaks through to the England national team. He has played at under 21 level but never for the seniors. Playing at United will surely afford him that chance.

Solskjaer then has signed Daniel James an attacking winger and Wan-Bissaka for his first two signings in the summer window, both British players and it will be interesting to see who he signs next as he tries to turn the page and enter a different chapter for the famous club.

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Top Ligue 1 Defenders in 2018/19: Jose Fonte

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When we think of some of the best defenders in Ligue 1, we may think of the likes of Dani Alves at champions PSG or his team mate Marquinhos who have already underlined their status as great tacklers of the game in the modern era. But neither of those players came out on top in the Fantasy Football rankings in Ligue 1- that honour went to a Lille player by the name of Jose Fonte.

Fonte is not young at 35 but has had a superb season with Lille who ended up finishing runners up to inevitable champions PSG this season. Fonte has been around and played for no less than 11 different teams, having spells in his native Portugal and playing for clubs such as Benfica, Southampton, Crystal Palace and West Ham.

Fonte moved to Lille last summer and coming out on top as the best defender in France is no mean feat in his debut year. Fonte scored 3 goals for the club this season and assisted in 1 goal but Fonte was never bought to be scoring goals and he has proved over this year his qualities as a defender in his preferred position as a centre back. This has included helping to keep 15 clean sheets as Lille won 22 of their 38 games.

If he was in your team then you certainly reaped the awards of only having to pay 7.5m for his services and he has turned out to be a fantastic bargain. Even by sole position in major leagues for defenders he would rank 16th so his purchase was good value for money.

Fonte had already earned 9 points within the first two weeks when Lille drew 0-0 against Monaco and then beat Guingamp 3-0. Indeed in Lille’s first 7 games of the season Fonte managed to help his side keep five clean sheets.

The defender’s best point of the season came in matchday 5 when Lille beat Nantes 2-1, he scored a rare goal but also assisted in another to gain 6 points. What was interesting about Fonte’s points this season is that he never had one major outstanding points total instead it was garnered bit by bit and what that showed was consistency. Fonte finished the season with a total points haul of 73 beating second placed Malang Sarr of Nice by 3 points. Only 3 defenders ended the Ligue 1 season with 70 or more points which underlines his achievements this season.

Fonte signed a 2 year contract and with Lille making the Champions League for next season he is sure to be in the amongst the back four come the start of the season. The question will be if the player the wrong side of 30 can have another solid season, for now the Portuguese seems like a massive asset for the club.

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Is Crystal Palace striker Wilfried Zaha really worth £80m?

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Wilfried Zaha the Crystal Palace striker has said that he wants to play Champions League football next season and Palace are not going to stand in his way. However the only catch is that they value the player at around £80-£100m and will not let him go for lower than that, but is Zaha really worth that figure?

There is no doubt that on his day the 26 year old packs a punch and is a decent player but in a world where football transfers have gone a little mad, Palace’s fee for such a player seems absurd.

One has to ask how did Palace come up with such a figure? Zaha has no major trophies to his name. He did win the Community Shield with Manchester United, a club he played a total of 4 games for before moving to Crystal Palace. In his career which has lasted for 10 seasons he has never scored more than 10 goals in one season which seems like a poor return on striker. Yes true sometimes he has been deployed as  winger but even so, this doesn’t seem befitting of  a player rated so costly by Palace.

From a total of 340 games the least we could expect from an £80m player would be 100-130 goals. But Zaha has scored 53. He will be best remembered for his time with Palace where he has been there for 5 seasons and played 180 games, his goal return is 35.

In a few words that is a poor return and does not suggest that Zaha is Champions League material. True with a better attacking team Zaha should be able to improve, he may even get to a 1 goal in 2 games ratio, but at 26 he hasn’t shown even in one season the potential that he believes he has. His dream is to play in the elite competition but there would not be one team outside of England who would be willing to pay more than £30m for him.

This is a reality of the situation and it is why Palace would only listen to offers from Premier League clubs. But who will take the risk, Chelsea, Tottenham? As it stands Manchester City and Liverpool look covered in that department

Good luck to Zaha he deserves a crack at the Champions League in a better team, but to suggest he is worth what the Eagles have said is simply not justified. What happened to the players that had bagged trophies and had that experience of winning, or if nothing else were scoring hatful of goals. Palace want to cash in, and this is what this really boils down too.

EPL Best XI – Week 37

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The curtain is almost down. The business is almost done. With just a single round of games remaining in the Premier League, the relegation battle is finished but the title race remains very much alive. With the final game of the season being the time that this year’s Premier League champions will be identified, there is still plenty to play for at the summit of England’s top flight. With that said, let’s adopt a 4-3-3 formation this week and see which players performed the best for their clubs this past weekend.

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