EPL Weekend Picks – Week 31

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

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EPL Weekend Picks – Round 12

alvaro morata chelsea

The 12th week of the 2018-19 Premier League season sees Manchester City take on Manchester United, while Liverpool host Fulham and Chelsea welcome Everton to Stamford Bridge. Let’s take a look at 11 players who you should consider for your EPL Fantasy team this weekend…

GK – Alisson (Liverpool)
Alisson is an expensive addition at 10.00m but he’s worth every last million. The Liverpool goalkeeper has 42 points this season and he’s likely to add to that tally against Fulham on Sunday.

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EPL Weekend Picks – Round 11

Riyad Mahrez

The 11th week of the 2018-19 Premier League season sees Bournemouth take on Manchester United and Liverpool travel to Arsenal. Let’s take a look at some players who you should consider adding to your EPL Fantasy teams before the weekend…

GK – Hugo Lloris (Tottenham)
We’re going to look specifically at high-scoring players who sometimes go under the EPL Fantasy radar in this week’s picks, starting with Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. The World Cup winner has 21 points this season — only four goalkeepers have more — and he could easily add to that tally against Wolves on Saturday.

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EPL Best XI – Aubameyang and Lacazette lead the way

aubameyang lacazette

Unbeaten Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool are only separated by goal difference at the top of the Premier League table after Week 8 of the 2018-19 season. Let’s take a look at which players made our Best XI of the weekend…

GK: Hugo Lloris, Tottenham – seven points
Hugo Lloris started his first Premier League game since August as Tottenham narrowly defeated Cardiff 1-0 on Saturday. The Frenchman earned seven points in the match — no other goalkeeper picked up more over the weekend.

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Chelsea Set To Bring Back Their Stars

Chelsea Vs Liverpool Preview

English Premier League, Week 7

29.9.2018

Having already gone head to head on Wednesday evening, Chelsea and Liverpool lock horns again on Saturday, the visitors well aware that their last two domestic defeats came at the hands of their hosts here.  Continue reading

EPL Game of the Weekend – Chelsea 3-2 Arsenal

Chelsea

The most exciting match from the second week of the 2018-19 Premier League season saw Chelsea defeat Arsenal 3-2 at Stamford Bridge, with Maurizio Sarri’s side surrendering a two-goal lead before striking late on through Marcos Alonso to pick up their second win in as many games.

Both teams put away chances in the first half, with Pedro and Alvaro Morata scoring for the hosts before quickfire goals from Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi for the Gunners to level things up just before half-time, but it was the 2016-17 champions who earned the early-season bragging rights in this London derby.

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Emery’s indifferent start as PSG manager continues ahead of Champions League opener

Euro 2016

For the last three seasons Paris Saint Germain has been the dominant force in French domestic football.

PSG’s domestic dominance

Under the managerial guidance of Laurent Blanc, who replaced Carlo Ancelotti in June 2013, Les Parisiens have won 11 of the 12 major domestic honours on offer in France, since the start of the 2013-2014 campaign.

As well as winning Ligue 1, Coupe de la Ligue and Trophée des Champions for three successive years, in each of the past two seasons PSG have lifted the Coupe de France.

That is the only trophy that PSG did not completely monopolise winning during Blanc’s time as manager, as in his first season – 2013-2014 – they were eliminated in the round of 32 by Montpellier.

As such when Blanc resigned in June, the 50-year-old former French national team manager did so after overseeing the most successful period in PSG’s relatively short 46 year history.

Emery undertakes a rebuilding process

Subsequently PSG’s affluent Qatari owners have tasked Unai Emery with succeeding Blanc and masterminding a continuation of the fine work undertaken by both he and his predecessor Ancelotti, who led PSG to the 2012-2013 Ligue 1 title.

Since being appointed, Emery has been required to try to rebuild PSG’s squad, due to the departure of several players who were key members of Blanc’s successful team.

Specifically Lucas Digne, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, David Luiz and Gregory Van der Wiel, have all left PSG since Emery’s arrival, with the club’s owners enabling the 44-year-old manager to replenish his squad by signing Hatem Ben Arfa, Jese, Grzergorz Krychowiak and Thomas Meunier.

Poor recent form plagues PSG

Each of the newly signed quartet featured in their team’s 1-1 home draw against Saint Etienne, which represented both a disappointing performance and result ahead of PSG playing their first Champions League group stage game against Arsenal at the Parc des Princes.

After taking the lead courtesy of a successfully converted Lucas Moura penalty kick, PSG conceded a last minute equaliser, as Robert Beric salvaged a point for Saint Etienne.

That marked a continuation of an uninspiring start to Emery’s managerial reign.  Whilst now without a win in two Ligue 1 games, after losing their previous match 3-1 to Monaco, PSG are 7th in the table and struggling to find their best form.  That was clearly indicated by the tepid manner in which they performed against Monaco and Saint Etienne.

In both games PSG were wasteful in front of goal and fragile defensively, with the latter of the two issues being vividly illustrated by Saint Etienne’s equalising goal.  That followed chaotic and indecisive defending by PSG, which was also a major characteristic of their performance against Monaco.

Defensive problems persist

One PSG defender to play particularly well during that game was the right back Serge Aurier as despite scoring an own goal, the 23-year-old Ivorian made a series of purposeful forward forays to add an excellent dimension to his team’s attack.

However as well as being side lined for PSG’s draw with Saint Etienne due to injury, Aurier is set to the encounter against Arsenal, with Meunier his likely deputy.

Neither the 25-year-old Belgian – bought from Club Bruges for €7m – nor any of his defensive colleagues produced the most assured of performances against Saint Etienne, as Emery’s side continued their indifferent start to the season.

Silva & Verrati vital to PSG’s prospects

Absent from that as a result of injury has been PSG’s captain and inspirational centre half Thiago Silva.  Nevertheless the 31-year-old, who has been capped 58 times by Brazil, is on the verge of regaining full fitness and possibly in line to make a return to first team action against Arsenal.

In the event that transpires Silva’s re-emergence can potentially act as the catalyst for PSG to stabilise defensively, whilst also capable of helping Emery’s side achieve that is the combative and technically gifted Marco Verrati.

The 23-year-old Italian internationalist has overcome the hernia injury which caused him to miss the majority of last season and Euro 2016, to commence the current campaign positively.  Whilst Verrati brings determination and steel to PSG’s midfield, so too does Grzergorz Krychowiak, although the duo require more time playing alongside one another in order to form a formidable partnership.

Work to be done to fine tune PSG’s attack

Similarly in an offensive sense, Emery is still endeavouring to engineer a cohesive and well – balanced unit, as the former Sevilla manager continues to experiment with different attacking players in his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation.

Despite predominantly starting the mercurially talented Hatem Ben Arfa and Angel Di Maria on the right and left flanks respectively, whilst fielding Javier Pastore as a central playmaker behind Edison Cavani in the lone striking role, Emery has interchanged the quartet and also given Jese and Lucas Moura opportunities to showcase their skills.

Furthermore given Blaise Matuidi’s quality as a defensive midfielder, Emery may yet regularly call upon the 29-year-old French internationalist to accompany Krychowiak in that role, which would enable the manager to promote Verrati to a creative attacking midfield position.

Emery aspires to ensure PSG fulfil their potential

Therefore at present Emery is simultaneously striving to both determine his best side and initiate an upturn in PSG’s early season form.

That has been uncharacteristically poor relative to that of previous campaigns.

However Les-Rouges-et-Bleu undoubtedly have the potentially to embark upon a prosperous Champions League campaign, with their current aim being to commence that positively against Arsenal, who will severely test Emery’s team in minor transition.

David Luiz is back at Chelsea, but do the Blues need him?

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The biggest news on transfer deadline day was that David Luiz had returned back to his old club Chelsea from PSG for around £38m.

Chelsea had sold Luiz to the French champions only two years ago for a world record transfer fee for a defender of £50m- this followed on from his under par performances for Brazil at the 2014 World Cup as was seen as great business by the Premier League team.

At PSG, Luiz won 2 French titles and fitted well into the teams system but now frizzy haired Luiz is back at Stamford Bridge and the defender could not be more pleased, Chelsea’s fans were also beaming with delight as the Brazilian had become some sort of respected but cult figure at the club. In his first spell Luiz spent 3 seasons with the club playing 81 times. The league title wasn’t to be his but then again he did win the Champions League, Europa League and FA Cup.

So how is it that Luiz has returned so soon? One key element was that new PSG coach Unai Emery seemed to be preferring the defensive duo of Thiago Silva and Marquinhos, even though Luiz was getting game time. Emery has also been impressed with young Presnel  With this knowledge and with his former club on the lookout for a new defender everything seemed to fit into shape and a deal was thrashed out.

PSG have lost around £12m from the deal but they will also be happy to move on- Luiz was hardly the perfect defender as seen in his bad performance just last weekend when Emery lost his first game in charge of PSG as they went down 3-1 to Monaco. It was Luiz who was at fault for Monaco’s penalty.

Luiz then remains somewhat of a liability- but Chelsea of course have Antonio Conte at the helm and his sole purpose has been toughing up the back four Italian style in hopes of forgetting the nightmare which was last season.

In the public eye the likes of John Terry and Gary Cahill who have upped their game in the defensive line this season will be delighted by Luiz’s return but behind the scenes they may have memories of having to help out Luiz on more than one occasion.

What is sure is that Luiz is popular in the dressing room and has some Brazilian skills to boot but it will be the task and charge of Conte to make Luiz a better defender one that is at least worthy of the £38m price tag.

Try creating and managing your EPL Fantasy Football team or your Ligue 1 Fantasy Football team.

 

In-form Luis Suarez key for Barcelona’s Champions League hopes

Barcelona striker Luis Suarez continued his fantastic form in the Champions League with two exquisite goals against Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday night at the Parc des Princes. He has now scored six goals in as many games in the prestigious competition, yet it is the way he scored both goals & his relentless effort which might be the key to how far the Spaniards go in Europe.

His first goal saw him collect the ball outside the penalty area under pressure, before performing a nutmeg on PSG defender David Luiz, then he went on to off a challenge to slot home at the near post. His second goal saw him dribble towards goal in the middle of the park, cleverly slipping the ball through Luiz’s legs once again, before curling an effort into the top corner. The Uruguayan’s brace effectively sealed the quarter-final clash in favor of Barca from the first leg, leading to fans and pundits lauding Suarez for his performance.

“He is a No 9 I like to see, as he goes into the channels, and will hold the ball up. For the first goal he went into the channel, held it, pure strength. The second one, he drops (deeper to collect the ball), plays a one-two and goes in behind. He’s always available. He’s always looking to go behind and now Barcelona have a proper No 9. (Suarez) being in that position will allow everybody to play better. Leo (Messi) on the right and Neymar on the left, and now the No 9 they didn’t have for a long time,” said Thierry Henry.

Suarez’s brace against Paris-Saint-Germain took his season tally to 18 goals in 28 games, eight of which were scored in his last 10 outings. The former Liverpool man was outstanding at the Parc des Princes, scoring twice from just three shots, making four dribbles, and creating one other chance. He has been key for Barcelona in the knockout stages of the Champions League, and if he continues to perform at this level, he might succeed in leading the Catalans to European glory. It has been four years since Barca last lifted the famous trophy and Suarez indicated he moved to Spain in order to win in Europe.

Barcelona do boast what is perhaps the strongest attacking trio in world football, but Messi and Neymar are often marked closely by opposing sides which set out to keep the duo quiet. Suarez has shown he can be the difference in such encounters, as he was the one who scored a brace against Manchester City at the Etihad in the first leg of the Champions League last-16.

As of late, Suarez has been playing at his best and appears to be enjoying his football, but can he fire Barcelona to a first Champions League triumph since 2011?