Life at the top is certainly tough! The old adage that it is harder to defend a title than to win it has certainly seemed apt in recent Premier League seasons, with champions often finding themselves struggling to put up a serious defence the year after lifting the trophy. That has not been the case this year, however, with Pep Guardiola’s reigning champions Manchester City sitting on top of the league table with just a handful of games remaining. Liverpool seem to be the only genuine contenders to City’s crown, with the Reds sitting just one point behind the Citizens at the time of writing.It is imperative, therefore, that City’s players continue their excellent run of form as the season begins to wind down.
The 13th week of the 2018-19 Premier League season sees Manchester City travel to West Ham, while Tottenham host Chelsea in one of the biggest games of the campaign so far. Let’s take a look at 11 players who you should consider for your EPL Fantasy team this weekend…
GK – Rui Patricio (Wolves)
Wolves play two of the Premier League’s lowest-scoring sides — Huddersfield and Cardiff — over the next week, so Rui Patricio is well worth considering. The Portuguese goalkeeper has 18 points so far this season.
The 12th weekend of the 2018-19 Premier League season saw Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea maintain their unbeaten starts, while struggling Cardiff and Newcastle picked up their second victories of the campaign. Let’s take a look at the top EFL Fantasy points scorers from the weekend’s games…
GK: Alisson, Liverpool – seven points
Liverpool ran out 2-0 winners against Fulham on Sunday, meaning Alisson kept yet another clean sheet. He now has 49 points for the season, making him the Reds’ highest scorer.
As 0-0 draws go Liverpool’s meeting with Manchester City on Sunday was one Jurgen Klopp will have taken plenty from. The chief lesson will have been that his side still need to find a replacement for Philippe Coutinho.
Sunday’s meeting at Anfield had been billed as one of the games of the season before a ball had been kicked. Given the quality of these meetings last season, it was easy to see why. There was a high expectation that both teams would put on a spectacle. Attacking football, goals and plenty of drama were anticipated.
Instead, the opposite proved to be the case. Rather than a thrill ride, those watching were treated to something more akin to a chess game. Continue reading
English giants Manchester City have gone from strength to strength since 2008 when the club was acquired by billionaire Sheikh Mansoor with the constant struggle in the initial years’ largely forgotten by the supporters. The same opponents who deemed the prospect of acquiring 3 points against the Citizens as nothing short of a cakewalk earlier now shiver in fear at the prospect of battling it out against Pep Guardiola’s outfit.
This has been largely possible due to the finances pumped in at regular intervals by the owners who have ensured a regular flow of finances through thick and thin. At the same time, there have been astute investments at play as well especially in the transfer market. Manchester City opted to invest in quality acquisitions like Sergio Aguero, David Silva, Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany during a stage when clubs were increasingly orthodox when it came to pulling off transfer deals with the benefits increasingly evident currently.
The Blue half of Manchester prided itself on the fact that managers from different parts of the world with different outlooks tactically and philosophically had always enjoyed their unanimous support through thick and thin.
However, that had certainly changed with newly appointed manager Pep Guardiola’s decision to ship out club legend Joe Hart who had earned the love and affection of the fans with consistent and passionate performances over the years. The same elation which had greeted the Spanish manager’s arrival from Bayern Munich could no longer be felt with a sense of fury in the hearts of the supporters who found the arrival of ex- Barcelona goalie Claudio Bravo as replacement quite unbearable in nature.
Football has emerged as an extremely lucrative career path over the years with the steady commercialisation of the game. Some of the best footballers ever- Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Suarez, Franck Ribery, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Luka Modric hailed from poverty-stricken families before steadily rising up the ladder, enthralling the world with their brilliance. Such examples have been cited as an immense source of motivation by emerging footballers like Gabriel Jesus who confessed to drawing inspiration from superstar Ronaldinho’s meteoric growth over the years.
While it is hardly a surprise these days to see defenders like Harry Maguire command reported bids worth £100million following noteworthy performances in the world cup, it was hardly the case till recently. Clubs were increasingly hesitant when expected to indulge in big-money deals for defenders who did not enjoy a proven track record with a largely orthodox approach at play.
At the same time, they were more than happy to invest a lion’s share of their finances behind attacking recruits who were considered safe investments in comparison. The underlying belief rested on the misconception that the acquisition of quality attackers had the ability to determine the overall fortunes in the long run, considering their commercial value with the defensive department deemed expendable in nature.
The Citizens were in a state of shock after their worst fears came true following the official club announcement that creative powerhouse Kevin De Bruyne would be sidelined for around three months after suffering a lateral collateral ligament (LCL) lesion in his right knee.
De Bruyne was an integral figure in Manchester City’s record-breaking domestic campaign last season with his astounding work-rate and intelligence on the ball contributing with 12 goals and as many as 21 assists in just 52 appearances. The Belgian’s consistent world-class performances nearly earned him the much coveted PFA player of the year award, finishing a close second to Liverpool’s messiah Mohamed Salah.
Premier League champions Man City have confirmed the signing of Leicester City attacking midfielder Riyad Mahrez, who becomes the first new arrival at the City of Manchester Stadium since Pep Guardiola’s men lifted the Premier League title in May. Mahrez has signed a five-year contract at the club, reportedly worth around £200k per week. In what may be seen as a somewhat surprising stat, he actually becomes the club’s record signing as well, having been brought in for £60m. What is surprising there is that for a club which possesses the talent such as City does, that seems a relatively modest transfer record these days!