From Manchester City to Arsenal who can win the FA Cup this season as the quarter finals get under way?

It may have been easy to forget that amongst the Premier League restarting and we having staggered games as the league tries to finish by the end of July, there is also the FA Cup to complete. England’s oldest prize gets off and running again this weekend and we are at the quarter final stages.

Let’s take a look at the matches due to be played, which is interesting given that every team is from the Premier League, its has been 14 years since we have seen this occurrence.

Norwich v Manchester United (June 27th)

Manchester United will start as favourites and despite focusing on the league and trying to get a top 4 spot they will be taking this game very seriously. The club would love to win some silverware this season. As for Norwich they look certain to be relegated this season and so might as well give everything in this game. Expect goals, but we expect Manchester United to go through.

Sheffield United v Arsenal (June 28th)

A few weeks ago you may have said the Blades would have been too strong for Arsenal. But United have started the league again poorly, not really on the money. Arsenal lost their first 2 games but were impressive and professional against Southampton. This could be Arsenal’s biggest game of the season and they should be ready to squeeze through to the semi-finals.

Leicester v Chelsea (June 28th)

This should be a very fascinating game as 3rd in the league is against 4th. Leicester have not started the continuation of the season well, getting draws and they have seen their gap to Chelsea cut to just 1 point. The Blues have been brilliant and have just beaten Manchester City so they won’t fear any team. This will be another close game but you look at the quality in this Chelsea team and you can see them powering through here.

Newcastle v Manchester City (June 28th)

With the league now over Manchester City will go for this cup and try to beat Newcastle. The club easily have the superior team and will be odds on favourites to win this game. However nothing is a given and Newcastle have shown some qualities of their own lately. There is always one surprise in the rounds, and this could be the game where that happens. After all let’s face it City have actually had quite a miserable season overall. The big egg for them so to speak will be in August when the Champions League kicks off again. We could well see a shock in this game.

 

 

 

Liverpool are Premier League champions but who were their best players this season?

Finally after 30 years Liverpool are the champions of England after Chelsea beat Manchester City 2-1 last night. It meant that City could no longer catch Liverpool. Of course in reality with such a huge lead in the league it was always going to be a matter of time before Liverpool won the title, but the joy has been immense in and around the city of Liverpool.

The players and manager Jurgen Klopp have been stunned and emotional and who could blame them after the club have had to wait so long to see a league title. So far Liverpool have lost just 1 game this season and one game in the last 18 months in the league. It has been simply incredible and they could still beat Manchester City’s record haul of 100 points also.

As it stands Liverpool are the World, European and domestic champions, and not even Covid-19 which threatened to ruin their title run in could stop them. Congratulations to Liverpool and with Klopp as manager one could think that this could be the beginning of a dominating era for the club.

But who has stood out for them this season? Who has made that all important difference? Below we look at the 5 best players according to euro fantasy league’s rankings:

5) Andrew Robertson 80pts

Robertson is probably seen as the unsung hero, but he has been superb in defence for the last two seasons now and is indispensable for the club. He has been a part of a team that has kept 13 clean sheets and he has also assisted in 8 goals.

4) Virgil van Dijk 83pts

One of the truly best defenders in the world and only Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo stopped him from capturing the best player awards. Confident, commanding he is like a rock and has really rose to his challenge in the back four. He has been involved in 5 goals and has helped keep 14 clean sheets. A towering presence.

3) Sadio Mane 94pts

Sadio Mane is a perfect example of a player that just gets better and better with every passing season. He is so competitive and always seems to be in the right place at the right time. Not only has he scored 15 goals this season but has also assisted in another 7. A growing legend at the club.

2) Trent Alexander-Arnold 98pts

Proven to be perhaps the best defender this season for Liverpool, Still so young his best years are in front of him and yet he is a champion everywhere. He has kept 14 clean sheets and assisted in an incredible 12 goals- the most of any Liverpool player so far this season.

1) Mohamed Salah 107pts

Out in front is the Egyptian international. If some players are said to get better like a fine wine, then Salah is like the most expensive and elegant Champagne on the market. The striker is full of speed and his goals are simply magnificent, a world class player who has gotten better under Klopp. He has scored 17 goals this season and assisted in 7. That means he has been involved in 24 league goals for Liverpool from the 70 they have scored. That works out at almost a 35% contribution. Impressive.

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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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Tottenham beat London rivals West Ham but VAR grabs all of the headlines once again

For Jose Mourinho it was relief when the brilliant Harry Kane sealed victory over London rivals West Ham to make it 2-0 on the night near the end of the game. Three points had been achieved, and him and the rest of the team could breathe once more. But threatening to overshadow the game once more was VAR which affected one goal and could have done so with another.

Heung-Min Son for example had thought he had scored the opening goal, and a good one it looked too before replays showed that his toe nail was offside. At the end of the day VAR did its job, but again common sense and VAR do not go hand in hand. Offside surely should only be punished if a player is clearly offside and looking for an advantage. In this case like literally hundreds before it Son was not looking for an advantage, and he was offside due to luck, in his case bad luck.

That incident could have spelled disaster for Tottenham who really needed the win given that Chelsea had gone 9 points clear of them, and Mourinho wants a Champions League finish.

With Tottenham looking like the better side, West Ham still remained a danger with Pablo Fornals given a glorious chance to put the Hammers in front but he miss kicked the ball.

Tottenham eventually opened the scoring but it was an own goal by the Hammers Tomas Soucek just after the hour that provided it. It was unfortunate for the club but perhaps the goal was coming. However after the game West Ham manager David Moyes was enraged as he said replays could show Tottenham player Davison Sanchez had hand balled the cross. He demanded why VAR did not come into play, and by the laws that goal should not have counted. However the incident is not very clear as the ball moves so fast. The end result it looks like sour grapes from Moyes. However if VAR want to give Son’s goal offside, maybe Moyes has a point that it should have stopped the game and looked at the incident.

That goal took the stuffing out of West Ham and then Tottenham went onto win the game. It was an important win and keeps the club in the mix for a European finish.

As for West Ham they are hanging onto survival and are only in 17th place by virtue of goal difference. West Ham’s next game will be against Chelsea whilst Tottenham will play Sheffield United.

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Premier League relegation: Who will go down in 2019/20?

With the Premier League back that means all things can now be tied up including the title itself, European places and of course relegation. There was some brief talk of declaring the season null and void, which would have avoided all of this and something that the relegation threatened teams may have welcomed. However with football here to stay the excitement and nervousness will draw in. Let’s take a look at the teams who are and could be heading for relegation:

Norwich are of course bottom of the league and have 21 points. They are 6 points from safety but it only takes one of those teams to push on to put the Canaries in grave danger. They do have 24 points to play for but they would probably have to win 18 of those points to have any chance of staying up. Losing 3-0 at home to Southampton in their last game has not helped their cause.

The club will play Everton tonight which will be a tough game and that will be followed by an away match at Arsenal. There are also games against Chelsea and Manchester City in the mix and we would conclude that Norwich will be going down this season.

Norwich predicted total points: 26

Aston Villa have just come up this season but Dean Smith’s side have struggled at times and could be going straight back down. That isn’t to say that the club haven’t shown some quality but they certainly have looked out of their depth sometimes and simply have not been able to find enough consistency.

Villa have lost 18 games this season including 4 of their last 5 matches and have yet to win since the restart, drawing against Sheffield United and losing against Chelsea.

However the club do have 26 points and are just one point from safety, a run of 2-3 wins could make all the difference. But where are they going to get those points? Villa’s next 3 fixtures are against Wolves, Liverpool and Manchester United. They also have to play tough games against Arsenal and Everton and in the last day of the season they will play West Ham it what could well end up being a finale clash to see who goes down between them. But there is no doubting that Villa have a very hard run in.

Aston Villa predicted total points: 31

Bournemouth are currently in 18th place and holding that final position to go down. But the good news for the club is that safety is just goal difference away as they have 27 points the same as West Ham.

The bad news is some of the games still left for them which includes playing both Manchester teams, Everton, Tottenham and Leicester, with teams going for European spots that looks like being a very tough run in.

Bournemouth total predicted points: 33

Maybe it’s because West Ham moved into their new stadium- the Olympic stadium, maybe it’s because they made the bizarre decision to reappoint David Moyes as manager. But anyhow many eyes are on the London club, who really should be in a better position than they are and fighting for mid table not relegation. But the club look badly run, and if they do go down it feels like quite a lot of football followers would find that hilarious.

The Hammers currently would be safe as they are in 17th place. The problem is that is only on goal difference. There is also only one club above them that they could catch as gaps are starting to appear. They have lost their first two games since the restart against Wolves and Tottenham.

The club do seem to have an easier run in than the other relegation threatened teams but will still have to face Chelsea and Manchester United who are competing for European places so those games won’t be easy.

West Ham total predicted points: 38

Watford are in 16th but are right there in the mix and perhaps the last of the teams who could be threatened with relegation. Since the restart they have played just one game which they drew against Leicester, that match ending 1-1.

Currently they have 28 points so could easily get sucked into a battle. They have some tough fixtures having to play Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City. Though a couple of those games are towards the end of the season where if matters have been settled those clubs may not play their strongest sides.

Watford total predicted points: 34

Let’s take a glance at the predicted final table at the bottom of the league based on our predictions above.

16th: West Ham 38

17th: Watford     34

18th: Bournemouth 33

19th: Aston Villa  31

20th: Norwich      26

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Why Manchester City are a reflection of Bayern Munich- could this be Guardiola’s Champions League destiny?

They say in football that there are many patterns and coincidences, like a symmetry that aligns. It feels odd when it all comes together. Like a player rejoining an old club and his first game being against his former club. A successful manager never winning the Champions League, a manager reaching a multitude of finals and not getting a win, and then there are the records and how they are broken.

For example it is very possible that this season Liverpool will win the league title playing Manchester City and that would seem apt, a passing of the torch (at least for this season), from champion to new champion.

What has felt very similar this season has been Pep Guardiola’s approach to his Manchester City side this season and his approach to last club Bayern Munich. True Bayern won the league in impressive style and that won’t be the case for City. But the manner and tactics in which the two clubs have played has been quite delightful on the eye.

After the German league restarted Bayern were simply devastating to a manner in which some are hailing them the best team in the world. Not only were they playing brilliant football, they were scoring many goals and simply swept aside every team they had to face. The league ended earlier than many expected a Borussia Dortmund challenge never sufficed.

One could say that we are seeing the same of Manchester City. Yes they won’t be able to win the league this season, but they are wanting to go out on a high. First game back they beat Arsenal 3-0 in a one sided game which saw a team as talented as the Gunners having no shots on target. And then there was the clubs 2nd game a fantastic 5-0 thrashing of Burnley. The only disappointment from that game is Sergio Aguero’s injury, but he wasn’t even on the score sheet such is the menacing talent throughout the squad.

So what does this all lead to? And what is motivating Manchester City to finish 2nd? Truth is the club are using these games to get up to peak standard for the Champions League which resumes in August. They should be able to make the quarter finals as they hold a 2-1 lead over Real Madrid from the first leg. Madrid would need to score 2 goals to have any chance, and whilst they can score, can they really keep the goals down from this City side?

As for Bayern they have one foot in the next round because they are 3-0 up from the first leg over Chelsea. These two giant sides look like they will progress. They could meet before the final of course- that is the luck of the draw, but it would feel ‘complete’ somehow if they were to meet each other in this season’s final. Bayern v Manchester City, two clubs bank rolled and yet two clubs who have a lot of the philosophy and DNA of Pep Guardiola.

Guardiola knows the league is over but that doesn’t mean his team won’t be playing at 110%, as has been shown they are doing just that. But the bigger prize for them is around the corner, the Champions League it is what Guardiola desires, can he get his hands back on the famous trophy for the first time since 2011?

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Another defeat for West Ham hammers home appointment of David Moyes was poor

Football is here once again, but the misery continues for West Ham.

The Hammers put in a toothless display as they were beaten at home against Wolves 2-0. In truth the game was not flowing enough, perhaps the late warm Saturday afternoon played its part. However it was telling that Wolves were able to find another level to get the win and 3 glorious points.

For West Ham attentions had to quickly turn to Saturday evenings game between Bournemouth and Crystal Palace. The hammers needed Palace to win given that Bournemouth could have dumped them into the relegation zone. As it turned out Eddie Howe’s side lost 2-0. Good news for West Ham.

How much does it say about the club though when they have to look around them and rely on other results? That is a quick fix which in the long run never works out, and as it is West Ham look amongst the favourites to be relegated this season.

Currently the club are in 17th place with 27 points and only goal difference is keeping them from being in the bottom three.

Attention at this time is swung in the direction of David Moyes, a manager who already failed at the club once. In some bizarre twist of fate when the Hammers searched for a new manager they turned once again to the Scotsman. The problem with Moyes is that he hasn’t had his charge or for a better word mojo in a decade when he was manager of Everton. Though the Mersey side team won nothing under him at least they challenged for a European place, even making it as far as the Champions League qualifiers in 2005.

Since then Moyes has had nightmare spells at Manchester United and even Real Sociedad. One could argue that Moyes and West Ham could have been the perfect fit, that would have worked had he not been in charge once before.

The statistics much like the game against Wolves are damning for Moyes. From the 13 games he has managed in his second stint as West Ham manager he has lost 8 of them and currently has a win rate of just 23%. That is 6% lower than his first time in charge of the club.

As for the game West Ham never looked like being a major threat to Wolves and had just 2 shots on target the whole game.

West Ham’s next match is against London rivals Tottenham away on Tuesday. Whilst they have surprised their opponents on a few occasions Tottenham clearly have the stronger squad, and it could be just a matter of time before West Ham see themselves in the bottom three.

The Irons will welcome back striker Sebastien Haller for that game, and Moyes will be hoping that the Frenchman can make the difference in midweek. He may have to as the pressure even without the fans at games is really mounting for the manager.

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Losing to Manchester City should not dishearten Arsenal who can still have a strong finish in the Premier League

For many it was the way Arsenal lost to Manchester City when the Premier League re started on Wednesday night that would have been the biggest concern.Losing 3-0, having David Luiz sent off (is he the gift that keeps on giving)? And then looking at a meaningful statistic that was certainly damning, Arsenal had 0 shots on target. Ouch!

Many expected City to win and Arsenal to lose, after all the Gunners have been poor on the road now for a few seasons, and they were playing the current champions. However there was an uncertainty given that the game of course was played behind closed doors. But it made no difference, City would have won 3-0 with or without fans and played some great football.

As a result Arsenal remain in 9th place and despite their 7th loss of the season the mid week didn’t turn out too bad for the club given that Sheffield United who are above them only earned a point. In short they didn’t lose pace for a European place.

Arsenal need to regroup and refocus, the display they put in against City and Luiz’s sending off will give their next opponents Brighton cause for celebration, and Graham Potter’s side may well be welcoming Arsenal and thinking that they are there for the taking. Brighton have had some very good results lately against the Gunners and have beaten them 2-1 at the Emirates earlier in the season.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta will be disappointed with the way his team lost at City but won’t forget that before the break for the Coronavirus Arsenal were one of the inform teams who had just recorded 3 wins in a row.

The Gunners are only 5 points from a Europa League place and whilst the Champions League looks a little off for them being 8 points adrift of Chelsea, if they can finish the season strong who knows what can happen?

Let’s look at Arsenal’s remaining fixtures. The Gunners have 2 away games in a row coming up facing Brighton and Southampton. Whilst those games look tricky a good Arsenal side can win those. After that they will be at home to Norwich who are bottom of the league and one would expect another 3 points from them. Then they are away to Wolves and at home to Leicester, these will be difficult games, but still Arsenal could win at least one of them.

After that they face Tottenham in the derby, a game that could go either way with no fans and atmosphere. Their last 3 games are against Liverpool, Aston Villa and Watford. The match against Liverpool could be easier than expected given that the Reds should have wrapped up the title by then. But matches against Villa and Watford where both teams could be battling relegation could be close affairs.

It’s possible though that Arsenal could finish the season with 59 points, that’s the prediction here and yes that would fall too short for a Champions League place. Possibly a Europa finish is on the cards, but even then Arsenal might fight and play better not to finish so low in the league.

It must be incredibly surreal for fans to see their club down in 9th place, and without all of their draws (there have been 13 so far) the club would actually be fighting in the relegation.

The game at the weekend against Brighton is a huge one then, lose that and Arsenal could already be losing their direction so soon after the restart. The club are better than that and Arteta must break their away day hoodoo.

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Premier League return: Manchester City need to make a statement whilst Arsenal have not given up on Europe

The Premier League will return on June 17th with two fixtures and both look like being mouth watering matches despite the fact that games are having to be played behind closed doors.

Aston Villa will take on Sheffield United in what will be the first Premier League game to take place in 99 days since the Coronavirus pandemic halted football. The evening game sees current champions Manchester City play Arsenal at the Etihad.

Aston Villa are in desperate need of all three points when their campaign restarts given that they are in 19th place, although a win would take them out of the relegation zone. Sheffield United are having a terrific season so far and could go into 5th place with a win. Both teams have a game in hand over the teams around them and that is why this is such an important game for them.

All eyes though will be in Manchester. How will Pep Guardiola’s team react after such a long break? If we look at the Bundesliga in Germany and for example compare City to current German champions Bayern Munich then they should be just fine. Bayern have been in incredible form not only winning games but scoring by the bucket load.

However with no fans it has also been proven in Germany that the home win rate has nosedived. From 46% to just 18%. Whilst City will be raring to go and have the better players they will also find it rather odd to be playing this way.

Arsenal are currently in 9th place and a visit to the Etihad would in normal circumstances have been a daunting trip. Now a team who have really felt the pressure from their own fans may just be able to throw off the shackles and possibly play better and more confident football behind closed doors.

The game will have added spice given that Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is returning back to City, of course he was Guardiola’s assistant for a few years before making the switch to Arsenal earlier in the season.

The omens do not look good for Arsenal who have lost five games in a row to City, who also find the back of the net rather too easily. Arsenal’s play usually suits City’s attacking although it will be fascinating to see if Arteta who knows City so well can out do Guardiola.

If Arsenal win then all eyes will be on Liverpool who could then wrap up the league title on Sunday. That would be unique in itself given that they are playing the derby against Everton.

As for Arsenal they have had a poor season by their standards so far and are in 9th place, though they were showing good form before the season had to be stopped. There has certainly been an improvement since Arteta replaced Unai Emery.

For City whilst they do have a game in hand over 3rd placed Leicester- this is the match and they are just 4 points in front of Brendan Rodgers team and would like to pull away from them. This season there is no catching Liverpool but at the end of the day if City were to finish 3rd for example it would really underline a forgettable season for the club.

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Werner, Havertz, Chilwell who will join ambitious Chelsea?

The Coronavirus pandemic has made teams across Europe stop and think about transfers, and one could conclude that some teams have taken their eye off the ball given that some seasons are about to restart across Europe. That cannot be said of Premier League side Chelsea though who have been actively busy in the transfer market.

Names have been touted and in some cases it seems that Chelsea are coming very close to wrapping up a few signatures. Heading their list is RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner. Werner is only 24 and has been quite superb for the Bundesliga team. He has scored  75 goals for the club in the league alone from just 123 games and netted 92 goals in all competitions for the side.

Inevitably this has led Werner to stake a claim in the German national side where again he hasn’t let down scoring 11 goals from 29 games. Werner in a nutshell is hot property but because of his contract release clause he can leave his current side for around 60 million euros. In the current football climate that figure seems a steal. It is thought that Chelsea are in advance talks with his club and that in fact a deal has been agreed in principle. This would be a huge capture for Chelsea, arguably one of their finest buys in years.

However it would be staggering to think that no other club will come in for Werner. Perhaps though the pandemic has had a much more negative effect on some clubs than others and this could be an opportunity for the Blues to get what would be a bargain. Usually a player so good in Germany ends up transferring to Bayern Munich so it would also stop a normal tradition.

Then there is the case of Kai Havertz. The player is just 21 and as an attacking midfielder and winger has really impressed with his pace and skills with current club side Bayer Leverkusen. Another German player Chelsea see Havertz as a must buy purchase for their team but they may have competition from Real Madrid on that one.

Not that its his job but he also scores goals and great ones too and in his four seasons with Leverkusen he has scored 43 goals in all competitions including 15 this year and the player is getting better and better by each passing season.

Of course Chelsea have always been famous for having some of England’s young talent and it seems that manager Frank Lampard won’t let that running theme be an exception under his charge. That is why Chelsea are very interested in adding Leicester’s Ben Chilwell to their squad.

The 23 year old left back has had an impressive season with the Foxes who look set to qualify for the Champions League next season after a fantastic season with Brendan Rodgers in charge.

Chilwell has also broken into the England national team and already has 11 caps to his name. Chilwell could well be on his way to Chelsea with Leicester admitting that they are already looking for his replacement. He would cost Chelsea at least £60m.

All in then if you’re a fan of Chelsea you must be excited with the names that the Blues have been linked too. They already have a very good side and the fact that they are currently 4th this season proves that.

At this stage of Lampard’s managerial term with the club things look very exciting as the former legendary player looks to steer the club in the right direction.