EPL: Premier League Predictions for Week 31

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With the FA Cup taking place this weekend in England, the Premier League fixtures have been reduced but there are still some mouth watering ties for us to look over and debate about. Which teams will benefit this weekend and which players will be looking to make the difference and earn more fantasy points? Let’s take a look below.

Bournemouth v Newcastle

Newcastle could join Bournemouth on the same point (37) with a win here. The home side did get a win last weekend but that was against Huddersfield and have otherwise been poor. Newcastle’s form has been solid and they are scoring goals. Salomon Rondon is in great form and is Newcastle’s top performer with 41 points and he can brought into your team for just 7m. Newcastle to beat Bournemouth

Burnley v Leicester

Burnley have lost 3 games coming into this game and are in 17th and in danger of being relegated. Leicester have a new manager in Brendan Rodgers and they will not be afraid to attack. Jamie Vardy scored a brace last weekend and he is 11.5m to snap up but is Leicester’s best player in the fantasy rankings and gained 10pts last weekend. Burnley and Leicester to draw

West Ham v Huddersfield

West Ham have been in great form at home and should have no problems to beat Huddersfield. Felipe Anderson has 45pts for The Hammers and has already scored earlier in the season against Huddersfield, if he can do so again and put a good performance in he would be worth having in your team for 8m. West Ham to beat Huddersfield

Fulham v Liverpool

Fulham are going to be relegated this season and Liverpool are trying to win the title and there should be only one winner here. The Reds will be the massive favourites not only to win but score a few goals too. Goalkeeper Alisson rarely lets goals in and he is the best performing goalkeeper in ELF fantasy and can be brought into your team for 10m. He has a whopping 110pts already this season. Liverpool to beat Fulham

Everton v Chelsea

Everton have not been very good for the past four months and have won only odd games. They threw away a 2 goal lead at Newcastle last weekend and lost 3-2. Chelsea are hoping for a top 4 place and have improved, although could only draw against Wolves last weekend. Gonzalo Higuaín to score against Everton could be a shrewd move and the Argentina international is 10m and has already racked up 32pts for The Blues.

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Manchester United 3-2 Southampton: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men bounce back in some fashion

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Manchester United had a big chance to re-enter the top four positions for the first time in recent weeks, with their next fixture being at home to Southampton, a side that have only won six league games and are just above the relegation zone. With Arsenal and Tottenham facing one another in the early kick off, it was important for the team to pick up the three points and in a secure manner.

Overall, United dominated majority of the game from the first second of the match till the final whistle, where they could have even scored a further couple of goals to pile on the misery. Though, the much needed wakeup call came through a screamer from Yan Valery and a peach of a free-kick from James Ward-Prowse, which led Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to make some vital tactical adjustments.

The first half was quite good despite the poor finishing, as the front three failed to make an instant statement and did not help the side’s cause of a magical comeback. Despite the side’s list of injuries and lack of depth available to them and the manager, a brace from Romelu Lukaku as well as an incredible goal from Andreas Pereira allowed the hosts to pick the victory over the hostile visitors in the end.

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

Romelu Lukaku came up with the luxury goods

With the likes of Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata missing due to injury issues, United were limited with their attacking options for the fixtures against Crystal Palace and Southampton. However, Romelu Lukaku showed up for when his side needed him the most, scoring four goals in United’s last two games and is now the side’s top goal scorer in the Premier League this season. Recent form of the Belgian striker could mean that it’s time to put him back into your Fantasy Premier League Team. To see which other players you should look at including in your selections for Fantasy Premier League take a look at Footy Accumulators.

On top of that, Alexis Sanchez failed to take this massive opportunity to prove to the coach and the critics that he is still a quality player. Focusing back onto Lukaku, he may not be the fan’s favourite player or a clinical forward, but he is showing huge signs that he has improved since the managerial change. The Belgian international may have done enough to remain in the club’s long-term plans.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer showed off his in-game management

Week after week, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is proving that he has the intelligence to make the much needed changes to the team or the system, whether it’s to increase the amount of chances the side are creating or to see out the game until the final whistle. Some of his decisions maybe seen as bizarre and questionable, but in the end, he is yet to suffer a league defeat since taking on the job.

Solskjaer showed off his flexibility in the second half of the match, where he went to a back-three setup to match Southampton’s style, placing Ashley Young at right centre-back, whilst allowing both Luke Shaw and Diogo Dalot to play as the advanced wing-backs. Due to this fine tweak, it allowed United to have an advantage on the opposition, letting them to turn around the game for the win.

The Red Devils are evidently missing a world beater of a centre back

At this moment of time, it can easily be stated that Victor Lindelof is United’s best centre-back, but he is in need of a partner that is vastly experienced and that has the presence to lift the mentality and spirits of the defence. Until this hole is filled within the backline, the side will constantly have grey patches and dark moments, where they will lapse in concentration and are bound to suffer from this setback.

If the board and Ed Woodward want to fix the ongoing defensive issues the side are facing, they should look to relentlessly target either of Jose Gimenez, Kalidou Koulibaly or Toby Alderweireld. These three centre-backs should be seen as the perfect and most realistic candidates, especially when you consider the incredible defensive contributions they have produced for their respective teams.

EPL Game of the Weekend – Bournemouth vs Wolves

bournemouthvswolvesWith a host of games in the Premier League seeing plenty of entertaining action as well as goals in all but one of the games, it is perhaps somewhat surprising that the game of the weekend in this case should be a 1-1 draw, but when Wolves travelled down south to Dean Court to take on Bournemouth the spectacle on display was anything but a dull affair. Penalties, plenty of controversy and an unscheduled water display ensured that fans attending Bournemouth’s ground were well entertained to say the least. If former Gladiators referee John Anderson were addressing entertainment in general, he would have said “you will go on my first whistle…..”

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EPL Best XI – Week 27

zahaWith the title race continuing to hot up, this weekend’s Premier League action saw contenders Liverpool going toe-to-toe with rivals Manchester United, while champions Manchester City took the weekend off from league action to battle Chelsea in Sunday’s Carabao Cup Final. At the lower end of the table, Newcastle hosted Huddersfield in what could be described as a relegation six-pointer. With that said, let us take a look at which players performed the best for their clubs over the past few days.

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Euro Fantasy League Podcast – #29 – Ramsey’s Future In Turin

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This time round, Jamie and Dave look at all the latest happenings across the Premier League, Serie A and La Liga as usual, and then discuss Aaron Ramsey’s future as a Juventus player, and consider whether this is really a good deal for all parties.

 

You can follow Dave on Twitter @daveyfenwick and Jamie is @JAMcLean1984. The podcast is of course on there too, @eurofantasypod, and you can e-mail us at eurofantasypod@gmail.com.

 

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Manchester City can’t afford to be complacent against Wolves

Manchester City v FC Barcelona - UEFA Champions League Group Stage - Group C

With nine dropped points in December, Pep Guardiola will be eager to keep the pressure on Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool when his Manchester City welcome Wolves to the Etihad Stadium on Monday night.

Being labelled as giant killers, the visitors have recently beaten Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool and so Guardiola will warn his team against complacency, despite coming into this fixture on the back of a morale boosting wins against Rotherham (7-0) and Burton Albion (9-0) in the FA Cup and Carabao Cup semi-final. Continue reading

Euro Fantasy League Podcast – #27 – Asif Norat on Man Utd

EuroFantasyPodCover700x300Jamie welcomes Asif Norat along for the Premier League section of the show before later being joined by Dave for Serie A & La Liga.

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Back to business for Manchester City

For the mess that Manchester City have been in off the pitch with these Football Leaks allegations, it was business as usual for Pep Guardiola’s team on Saturday afternoon after they made West Ham United look like a Championship club. David Silva, Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sané had the Premier League champions 3-0 up inside 35 minutes before the latter added a second in second-half stoppage time.

For the fans of Manchester City, it was a sense of relief. With an international break last weekend, the last two weeks have been torturous for City fans following allegations by Football Leaks suggesting that the club may have conducted itself dishonestly or sought to illegitimately evade financial fair play (FFP) rules, with UEFA officials now examining these allegations before a likely investigation.

These allegations made by German outlet Der Spiegel suggest that Manchester City had tried to cheat FFP rules by City selling image rights of players to a company, Fordham Sports Management, to lower their wage bill. Whether this is true or not, it could be damaging to Manchester City while the consequences could well be severe. Manchester City aren’t the only club involved in these Football Leaks but with the eye of the world watching, Guardiola would have been keen to not let it affect his team.

Their performance against West Ham United on Saturday afternoon suggests that normality has remained on the pitch with Guardiola’s side now two points clear ahead of closest challengers Liverpool following their 4-0 win in London. And while the score line may suggest City were in top form, it certainly wasn’t their best performance with West Ham under par, as has often been the case this season. As one of two remaining undefeated teams, Pep Guardiola’s task will be to keep his players focussed with an important Champions League fixture coming up.

Despite that, Manchester City have scored 21 goals in the first-half of Premier League games this season, more than Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and 13 other clubs have in total, per Manchester Evening News journalist Simon Bajkowski. But while it’s an impressive stat, it still won’t be good enough for Pep Guardiola who rightly always wants more from his players.

“I give a lot of credit to our players for the victory, but it was not the best performance. I think we got a bit lucky. West Ham had a lot of chances and should have scored. But we will have more chances to be a lot better,” Guardiola said in his post-match press conference.

“We are consistent and we are a humble team, today we wasn’t so good but I love the way we run. The Premier League remains tough and we cannot deny this. I didn’t expect after what we achieved last season to have these results.”

Raheem Sterling integral to Manchester City’s season

One of those players that Pep Guardiola wants more of is perhaps Raheem Sterling, despite his impressive stats. Frustrating for England, Pep Guardiola has moulded the 23-year-old into one of the best players in the Premier League. In 44 Premier League fixtures, Sterling has 25 goals and 18 assists but Guardiola surely believes that the youngster can still do better. And maybe that’s just one reason why Manchester City have just extended the contract of Sterling until 2023, worth a potential £300,000 per week.

The understanding that Raheem Sterling has with both Sergio Aguero and Leroy Sané shares the same characteristics as that of Samuel Eto’o, Thierry Henry and Lionel Messi of Guardiola’s Barcelona side in 2009. And although Pep Guardiola has distanced himself from his time at Barcelona, this Manchester City side certainly shares the same philosophy to some degree.

Whether they retain their Premier League title this season, this Manchester City squad is frightening and will no doubt go down as one of the greatest teams in European history. Of course, winning the Champions League is the goal for everyone involved with the club, it’s the trophy that’s eluded them while many suggest winning the European competition eclipses that of winning another Premier League title.

They have the players, the staff and the backing to do so but it will be up to Pep Guardiola to guide them to a Champions League final, something they’ve yet to do.

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The Three Lions from different backgrounds ushering in England’s new era

Phil Foden, Jadon Sancho and Mason Mount were all included in Gareth Southgate’s recent Nations League squad and all three have taken unique routes to get there. They are the first set of players coming from the academy set-up that threaten to overshadow the wonderful era of Gerrard and Lampard and could well usher in an exciting period for our international team. Continue reading