Premier League Best 11 Players of the Weekend: Matchday 2

Heung-min Son scored four as Tottenham Hotspur thrashed Southampton 5-2 and Dominic Calvert-Lewin grabbed a hat-trick as Everton beat 10 man West Bromwich Albion by the same score.

Clean sheets were hard to come by in the Premier League last weekend, with only Brighton & Hove Albion, Chelsea and Aston Villa keeping one.

Here’s a look at the players who made a real difference in the fantasy football last weekend:

Goalkeeper: Emi Martinez (Aston Villa) – 7pts
Aston Villa’s new signing introduced himself to the fans by saving a penalty and keeping a clean sheet in a 1-0 win over Sheffield United on his debut. Emi Martinez was one of only three goalkeepers to keep a clean sheet on matchday 2.

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English Premier League: Best 11 Players from Matchday 1

The English Premier League returned at the weekend and the 2020/21 edition kicked off in spectacular style, 7 goals in the Liverpool v Leeds game ruled the headlines as Reds striker Mohamed Salah scored a hat trick. Was that enough to make him player of the week with the most points? See below for the first team of the week in the Premier League.

Formation: 4-4-2 (Includes weekend games only)

Goalkeeper: Jordan Pickford- Everton 7pts

Jordan Pickford was criticised at times last season for Everton. The England number 1 has got off on the best footing though as he kept a clean sheet away to Tottenham as Everton won the game 1-0. A few other keepers also kept clean sheets earning 7 points also but Pickford made some superb saves against a quality side.

Defender: Timothy Castagne- Leicester 9pts

What a debut for Timothy Castagne at Leicester. Not only did he see his side beat West Brom 3-0, keeping a clean sheet in the process he also scored a goal, absolutely magnificent first game for the player who is valued at 6m.

Defender: Lucas Digne- Everton 7pts

Another Everton player who had an up and down last season. Looked assured in defence, held it together well as Everton went to Tottenham and beat the Londoners 1-0. Kept a clean sheet and assisted in Everton’s goal, a perfect weekend for Digne.

Defender: Frederico Fernandez- Newcastle 5pts

Fernandez has been at the Magpies for a couple of seasons but got the chance to make a rare start and made it count. Defended well and helped keep a clean sheet for Steve Bruce’s side as they beat West Ham 2-0 away.

Defender: Yerry Mina- Everton 5pts

Overall maybe Everton’s best defender as they beat Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham side 1-0. A great start for Everton and Mina who had faced a lot of pressure last season. Mina seems to be heading in the right direction and he can be bought for 6m.

Midfielder: Mohamed Salah- Liverpool 14pts

No player earned more points than Mohamed Salah at the weekend and the player of the weekend was in brilliant form as helped his side Liverpool beat Leeds Utd 4-3 in a thrilling game at Anfield. Salah has got off to an amazing start as the prolific striker looks like he will have yet another great season.

Midfielder: Jeff Hendrick- Newcastle 8pts

Jeff Hendrick really caught the eye last season and has started well with Newcastle. The Magpies beat West Ham 2-0 away and he scored a goal and also assisted in the other one. He’s off to a great start earning 8 points.

Midfielder: Willian- Arsenal 6pts

Willian switched from Chelsea to Arsenal and looked like he had played for the Gunners for years. Arsenal beat Fulham 3-0 with ease and the ex Chelsea player was superb assisting in two of the goals.

Midfielder: Wilfried Zaha- Crystal Palace 6pts

The Eagles had a lot of injuries so they were heavily reliant on Wilfried Zaha and he got the only goal as Crystal Palace beat Southampton 1-0. Zaha has been loyal to the club and played with an intensity and was always a threat.

Striker: Jamie Vardy- Leicester 8pts

Jamie Vardy keeps doing it, he keeps scoring goals. The top goalscorer from last season bagged 2 goals as Leicester beat West Brom 3-0 away from home. Vardy got the penalty that counted, and he will be delighted with himself. You can add Vardy to your team but he won’t be cheap coming in at 11.5m.

Striker: Callum Wilson- Newcastle 4pts

Callum Wilson made his debut for Newcastle in style as he scored a goal as the Magpies ran out 2-0 winners at a very poor West Ham. Wilson was very alert, scored a nice goal and this could be a great capture for Steve Bruce.

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James, Allan, Doucoure – Everton predicted XI vs Spurs

Everton fans head into the 2020-21 Premier League season with a little more optimism than usual.

The Merseyside club have splashed out more than £50 million to bring Allan, James Rodriguez and Abdoulaye Doucoure to the club this week.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side will now be looking to challenge for the European places this season after a disappointing end to the last campaign which saw them finish 12th.

The Toffees begin their campaign on Sunday away to Tottenham Hotspur, who themselves underachieved last season.

A number of players can be expected to make their debut this weekend and here’s how I see Ancelotti’s side starting the match:

Goalkeeper: Jordan Pickford
Jordan Pickford put in a number of below par performances last season but doesn’t have much in the way of competition for the number one role at Goodison Park. The England international could certainly do with a better campaign this time around though, now with Dean Henderson competing for the a starting role at Euro 2021.

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Is James Rodriguez the right player to improve Everton?

Everton have started moving in the transfer circles after a disappointing last season and a slightly underwhelming one even once Italian legend Carlo Ancelotti stepped into the dug out.

And now Everton under Ancelotti are set to sign their first let’s say dazzling player in James Rodriguez. He who seduced Real Madrid into once paying over 60m euros for his services. Such was the excitement around the player that 45,000 Madrid fans turned up just to his induction. Though Rodriguez had a decent first two seasons with Los Blancos his influence soon tallied off in the heated atmosphere of that famous midfield which at the time included Cristiano Ronaldo and Luka Modric. Still James as he is fondly known won 9 trophies with the club including 2 Champions Leagues. And it was Ancelotti who brought him to Madrid.

He later played for Napoli also under Ancelotti and that is why Everton fans will be optimistic of the players arrival. It has been reported that Everton are closing in on the Colombian’s signature and it seems at least from the outside that this would be a major signing for the Merseysiders and to top it off James is only 29.

So Ancelotti and Rodriguez know each other very well and that is already a great start. The problem is that whilst Rodriguez has been brilliant at times for every club he has played for he hasn’t really shown that brilliance over the course of a season. Could that be a problem? Are Everton going to break their wage allowance for a player akin to a Ferrari that revs his engines up when he feels like it but plays in gear 1 on a Tuesday evening away to Southampton?

In all honesty history says Everton are going to get a player that performs brilliantly well for a third of the season. At the same time maybe that will just do the club fine at this present time. Rodriguez is going to show the fans some wonderful tricks and goals. Maybe a superb free kick here and there and his hooking up with the likes of Richarlison when everything clicks will make Everton look like a top 6 side. Whether they will finish there is another matter.

Everton are also in the hunt for Allan the Brazilian midfielder who currently plays for Napoli. Allan is set to have a medical this week and should join for around 25m euros. And finally the club are also in talks with Watford who were relegated last season for their midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure.

If anything Everton are moving in the transfer market, and that will make their fans happy as they try to finish in the top half of the table next season.

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Napoli the losers in Allan deal

There’s an art form to knowing when to sell players. The selling club must navigate a fine line, to dance their finest tango, in a bid to make sure they produce a sizeable profit. Generally there are three roads for them to take.

The first road usually ends in the club striking prematurely, accepting a good offer rather than holding on for another season or two in the hope that player X develops even more and commands an even bigger figure. The second road tends to end with the club striking when the iron is hottest. This scenario is when player X is at the absolute pinnacle of their game, combined with them being relatively young and there is ample room to shift the player on in the future. Continue reading

Juventus on the hunt for a striker, but who fits best?

Juventus has reportedly prioritized the signing of a new number nine and have already informed Gonzalo Higuain he has been deemed surplus to requirements by Andrea Pirlo. The Argentine’s departure leaves a gaping hole up front, one that the Bianconeri are eager to fill.

Paulo Dybala has deputized as a false nine towards the tail end of last season under Maurizio Sarri but typically is at his best working in tandem. As a result, Juventus has been linked with a plethora of strikers – some who are better fits than others. Let’s now take a deeper look at their transfer targets.

Roma’s Edin Dzeko is said to be atop Pirlo’s list for strikers and has been heavily linked with a move to Juventus in recent times. The Bosnian international is currently weighing up his future and will meet with Roma’s executives shortly to outline the path ahead. While Dzeko may be 34 years old, the striker offers the Bianconeri a physical presence in the final third and will help occupy the opposition’s center-backs. In addition, Dzeko excels at holding up the ball and bringing his teammates into play.

In terms of feasibility, Dzeko’s signing could represent a worthy rental and give the Bianconeri some much-needed depth upfront. Provided Juve can secure him on a short-term deal on reasonable wages, the Roma man could just emerge as Pirlo’s number nine.

Beyond Dzeko, Juve has also been linked with Barcelona’s Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan is reportedly extremely keen on joining the Italian champions and will begin negotiating his exit shortly. According to reports, Suarez’s does not figure in Ronald Koeman’s plans – who is eager to rejuvenate the Catalan giants. The main obstacle between Juventus and Suarez is undoubtedly his increased wages. However, that may be remedied with a hefty severance package from Barcelona, which in turn, may lead to Suarez accepting a pay-cut to join Juve.

Despite all his experience, Suarez isn’t exactly the best fit and has slowed down since last season. The Uruguayan has not been his typical fiery self in the final third and does not press the opposition with as much urgency. In this sense, Suarez would be very similar to Higuain and would not be a step in the right direction. The veteran forward may be spurred on by a new challenge in Italy, but as of right now, there are better options.

The last name Juventus have been linked with is their former academy graduate Moise Kean. The Bianconeri inexplicably sold the Italian international to Everton last summer and are reportedly eyeing a sensational return. Recent reports have suggested that Juventus are looking to insert Aaron Ramsey in a potential deal for Kean, bringing down the overall cost of the operation.

Kean impressed in a subdued role in his first season with Juve and is already familiar with Serie A. Unlike Suarez and Dzeko, Kean has the benefit of youth on his side and will command fewer wages than the veteran hitmen. The Everton man has struggled to adapt to life in England, failing to impress in his limited appearances, but could revitalize his career with a return to Juve.

With the new season kicking off in under a month’s time, expect Juventus to have their new striker sooner rather than later. Whether they opt for a veteran, short-term option including the likes of Dzeko or Suarez or go for a high-upside move with the return of Kean, remains to be seen, but one thing’s for certain: Andrea Pirlo is here to shake things up and is clearly eager to rejuvenate Juventus’ stuttering frontline.

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Time is needed but Carlo Ancelotti has not started well for Everton

It was supposed to be a match made in heaven that Everton could get in the legendary Carlo Ancelotti as manager but when we look at how Everton have performed under Ancelotti’s guidance it is alarming.

Of course the Italian needs a proper transfer window and one whole proper season to be judged although in today’s game everything moves so quick. For example the way Everton finished the campaign was quite appalling and if the club were to continue that form into the next season people will start talking by Christmas- that’s just the nature of how football is now.

Predictably Ancelotti’s time at Everton started well enough and there were plenty of encouraging moments. In the clubs first 7 games that Ancelotti was in charge they only lost once and that was against the then champions Manchester City. However in their last six games of the league title everything really started falling apart where they won just 5 points from their last 18.

It felt at that time knowing they couldn’t reach the Europa League that the players simply gave up and were playing on the dreaded ‘holiday’ mode. This was disappointing given that the Italian was in charge and maybe these players would have seen to have had extra motivation, that wasn’t the case.

Everton need to offload players and the worry is that with such a small transfer window and everything being squeezed up that the club will not be able to either get rid of the players that need selling and buy the players they need- the new season begins on September 12th.

What has been worrying has been the returns since Ancelotti took charge. Of course he has only overseen 21 games but still his win rate sits at 38% that is the poorest in Ancelotti’s career. From 21 league games managed he has won 8, drawn 6 and lost 7 and has a -4 goal difference. The % win rate is the lowest of his career by a margin, he hasn’t even dipped into the 40% marker since he managed Parma back in the late 90s.

This record does not bode well for the club, however he needs more time. At the same time it doesn’t feel realistic that he is going to dramatically turn things around at the club anytime soon. This has if anything else been an interesting experiment though that shows even some of Europe’s best managers cannot get that extra out of a team who simply do not have an array of talent and do not have owners with a blank chequebook.

Ancelotti will be judged again by the end of the year and whose to say that if Everton are in the bottom half of the table that the Italian’s job could be cut short. After all surely the objective here was to improve Everton to be a top 6 side. We will wait and see how this one develops.

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James Rodriguez should have been a Real Madrid great

He was, undoubtedly, the star of the 2014 World Cup, shining for Colombia as they made a run to the quarter finals of the tournament. Indeed, James Rodriguez had the world at his feet and so it was unsurprising when Real Madrid signed him from Monaco that summer, making him their latest ‘Galactico’ addition.

At that point, James had the makings of a true superstar. He brought a certain star quality to the Santiago Bernabeu and enjoyed a successful first two seasons in the Spanish capital. The Colombian arrived at the club around the same time as Isco and in the end the two playmakers got in each other’s way.

Rather peculiarly, Isco and James’ futures at Real Madrid have been intertwined from the moment they arrived at the club. Last summer, it seemed that both players would be given another chance to prove their worth at the Santiago Bernabeu. This summer, though, it seems likely that both will be made available for sale, especially James.

James is still only 29 years old and so there should still be plenty left in the tank. At Bayern Munich, he struggled to make his mark and the Colombian has been a peripheral figure for Real Madrid this season. He needs to find a club where he will be truly embraced. There is still a lot to embrace.

A move to the Premier League has been mooted. Arsenal and Manchester United are reportedly interested, but this has the look of speculation sparked by agents rather than the clubs themselves. Instead, James would likely have to look to a lower level to get his next move.

Everton could be the perfect place for him next season. The Goodison Park club need a playmaker in the mould of the Colombian and Carlo Ancelotti is at Everton. The Italian coach always managed to get the best out of James while at Real Madrid and so a reunion could be in both parties’ best interests. There would be some logic behind such a move.

If James is to leave the Santiago Bernabeu this summer, as looks likely, he will do so racked with regret. Real Madrid will surely feel some regret too. The Colombian should have been a great, a true ‘Galactico.’ Instead, he will be remembered for shining brightly, but burning out too quickly.

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All of Sheffield United’s hard work was undone in the last 3 Premier league games

One of the outstanding teams in the Premier League this season has been Sheffield United. However Chris Wilder’s side finished in 9th place, and a quick glance at their final league position would suggest that the Blades did well enough but did not exceed any expectations.

That of course would be unfair on the Blades who really turned out some terrific results and found good consistency, alas even this effort in such a tough league was not enough. Manager Chris Wilder would be right to be very frustrated that his side haven’t even reached the Europa League after all of their efforts.

In a sense he should be proud once the dust has settled on the league season given that United may have been some people’s tip to go down or be involved in a relegation dog fight. That never looked like happening though.

It was United’s first season back in the Premier League in 12 years and for that they have really made their mark this season. Stand out results included beating Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea and being involved in a 3-3 classic with Manchester United. Even when they played Liverpool earlier in the season who were flying at that stage they only lost the game 1-0. They also reached the quarter finals of the FA Cup before being knocked out by Arsenal with that game finishing 2-1.

Perhaps one problem has been goals, and the club ended the season without a prolific goalscorer. Both Lys Mossett and Oli McBurnie were the clubs top goalscorers with 6 goals each.

The most frustrating part of the campaign will be the Blades last 3 games though. They lost all three and had they won them they would have actually finished in 5th place ahead of Leicester. What will be somewhat annoying to the club is that all 3 games could have been won on another day.

The terrible run started after they had just beaten Chelsea 3-0, which was a fantastic result for the club. But then they followed that up with a 2-0 defeat at Leicester. Even then two wins in their last two games would have assured them of European football for next season. But the Blades then lost at home to Everton 1-0. This was seen as a shock result given how poor Everton have been since the restart. They ended the campaign by losing 3-1 at Southampton and the ghost was certainly given up by that time.

The Blades ended the season poorly but on reflection they have had a good season. They won 14 games and conceded less goals than Chelsea, Leicester, Wolves, Tottenham and Arsenal to name a few.

Perhaps European football would have been a distraction for next season anyway, and of course how many times have we seen teams newly promoted have a good first season and then lose it all the next? As long as they keep Wilder in the dug out one would think that United will be fine, but they will rue these last 3 games for much of the summer one would expect.

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Juventus looking to sign Everton star as part of a swap deal

While many have looked at the freeze in football action as being a difficult period to get through, clubs have been scouting out the competition and looking to see how they can improve their squads. This is certainly true for Juventus with the Italian team linked with a possible attempt to sign Lucas Digne while Everton get their supposed target Adrien Rabiot.

This could be quite the swap for both teams, as Rabiot only moved to the Italian side last summer from Paris Saint-Germain. Recently, there has been a growing talk about a Rabiot move away from Italy, and it looks as though Everton have been considering steps towards securing him. This was first reported a few months ago when it was speculated that Rabiot was unhappy with the amount of playing time he was getting under Maurizio Sarri.

However, Everton may have a tough task on hand considering that Manchester United have also shown a strong interest in signing the French player. Everton started showing interest in Rabiot since back in January while the pursuit from United (and supposedly from Newcastle as well) was a more recent development.

It’s quite surprising that Juventus is willing to let the midfielder leave, but of course the deal won’t take place if the Italian side don’t get something compelling in return.

A Look at Digne and What He Can Bring to Juventus

The swap offer that could potentially be put forward is for Everton’s left-back player Digne to move across to Juventus for Rabiot. Due to the fact that the Italian team only has a single left-back at the moment in Alex Sandro, it’s understandable that adding Digne to the squad will help with both depth and competition. It wouldn’t be such a dramatic move for Digne himself either, considering he spent the 2015/16 season on loan to Roma, so the Italian scene could potentially work well for him. He signed with Everton from Barcelona in August of 2018 for £18 million.

It seems as though swap deals could actually become the norm for Premier League clubs too, as reports suggest that the recent lockdown may result in losses of £1 billion in revenue. Where Everton is concerned, the team could be without four of its top players in the early stages of the league’s restart. Yerry Mina and Jean-Philippe Gbamin remain inactive on the sidelines for the time being, but they’ll likely be joined by Theo Walcott once he undergoes abdominal surgery.

Therefore, the likelihood of sports bettors backing the Everton side does seem less likely for the moment with this being the case. However, that doesn’t mean that there won’t be plenty of action taking place at sites like William Hill once things return full force in England. You may want to learn how to download William Hill app on Android smartphones and tablets just so that you can get used to wagering from such a device. Then, wherever you are, you can bet on Everton, Manchester United, Newcastle and all the other teams with things returning to normal in the English Premier League.

The fourth player who is questionable for Everton is Andre Gomes, who suffered a knock during one of the team’s training sessions recently. Everton did put in a decent showing against expected champions Liverpool. The league leaders- Liverpool- were unable to impose their game against city rivals Everton.