Kevin De Bruyne finishes season at the top

kevin-de-bruyne

Manchester City ended the season on a high with a cruising 5-0 thumping of relegated Norwich City at the Etihad Stadium.

Gabriel Jesus opened the scoring, whilst Kevin De Bruyne scored a goal at the end of each half, either side of goals from Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez against the hapless Canaries.

The brace saw the Belgian star end the campaign with 13 goals and 20 assists, collecting the most fantasy points among English Premier League players.

De Bruyne was back to his best this past season after missing half of 2018-19 through injury. His first on Sunday was a sumptuous 20-yard strike across goal into the top corner of Tim Krul’s goal. He had earlier been heavily involved in the buildup to Jesus’ opener.

The midfielder’s second goal of the game, Manchester City’s final of their Premier League campaign, was a first time effort in off the post after Mahrez’s blocked effort fell kindly into KDB’s path.

However, three points in the final game and Kevin De Bruyne’s exceptional performance throughout the season weren’t enough to help City retain their Premier League title as Liverpool ran away with the championship, finishing an incredible 18 points above Pep Guardiola’s runners-up.

Kevin De Bruyne ended the fantasy Premier League season with 206 points – 14 ahead of runner-up Trent Alexander-Arnold. Liverpool had five of the top seven players in the final standings, whilst the next City player on the list was Riyad Mahrez down in 12th.

Manchester City will be back in action on Friday 7 August for the second leg of their Champions League Round of 16 tie against Real Madrid. The Premier League side were 2-1 winners in the first leg in the Spanish capital back in February.

Real Madrid were resurgent following the restart, winning their first 10 games to clinch the 2019-20 La Liga title before drawing their season finale with nothing at stake. Zinedine Zidane’s side conceded just four goals during that 10-game winning streak. However, they were facing the likes of Eibar, Mallorca and Espanyol… not Manchester City.

Kevin De Bruyne and teammates certainly have the beating of this Real Madrid side, as they showed in the first leg. Manchester City created numerous chances before finally scoring twice in the final quarter-of-an-hour.

Despite Real Madrid’s recent impressive defensive record, it’s nothing for City to fear. They themselves scored 21 goals in their final five Premier League matches, winning each of them.

Challenge the best EPL Fantasy Managers at www.fantasy-premier.com

Arsenal vs Chelsea: FA Cup final preview

fa-cup-trophy

Arsenal and Chelsea will contest the 2019-20 FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.

Both London teams defied the odds in beating Manchester City and Manchester United in the semi-finals to setup an all-London affair in the final.

Chelsea wrapped up a Champions League finish on Sunday by beating Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-0 at Stamford Bridge to finish fourth. This proved to be a rather impressive debut season for Frank Lampard at Stamford Bridge considering the transfer embargo the club was under.

If the former Derby County manager and Chelsea playing legend can take home a piece of silverware on Sunday it will go a long way to proving the doubters wrong after he was appointed last summer.

To reach the final, Chelsea had been on top of Manchester United in the last round prior to Olivier Giroud‘s opener in the 11th minute of first-half stoppage time. The Blues doubled their lead immediately after the restart when David de Gea spilled Mason Mount’s long-range effort into his own net. They went on to win 3-1 in the end.

Meanwhile, the Gunners were 2-0 winners over City with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring 20 minutes into the game and 20 minutes from the end, despite Mikel Arteta’s side only seeing 30% of the possession.

The Spaniard has been in charge of the North London club even shorter than this weekend’s opponent as he was only appointed back in December following the dismissal of Unai Emery.

Arsenal had initially made a shaky start once the season resumed before beating Wolves 2-0 and Liverpool 2-1 prior to their impressive FA Cup performance.

They will be looking to win a record 13th FA Cup on Sunday, though the bookmakers have Chelsea as the narrow favourites.

Continue reading

FA Cup Final Best Combined XI

fa-cup-trophy

Sunday’s FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium will be contested between two London teams as Arsenal and Chelsea meet for the third time this season.

Frank Lampard’s side have had the better of the first two meetings this season, in the Premier League, winning 2-1 at the Emirates in December and then being held 2-2 at home the following month.

Arsenal looked to have improved greatly in the final weeks of the season, including victories over both Liverpool and their FA Cup semi-final win against Manchester City.

Prior to the final showdown here is the best side we could pick among the two squads based on their current form:

Goalkeeper: Emi Martinez
Frank Lampard has a decision to make over whether to keep Willy Caballero as his cup goalkeeper or start Kepa in the final. His opposite number doesn’t have much choice with Bernd Leno injured but Emi Martinez has looked good since finally being given a chance at Arsenal.

Cesar Azpilicueta
One of the most consistent defenders in Premier League history, Cesar Azpilicueta starts on the right of our back three.

Antonio Rudiger
Arsenal have lost Shkodran Mustafi for the remainder of the season through injury whilst David Luiz is inconsistent. Antonio Rudiger is the best centre-back at Chelsea, usually alongside Kurt Zouma with Fikayo Tomori not getting much action since January.

Kieran Tierney
The Gunners have found a gem in Kieran Tierney on the left-hand side of their defence. He could start the FA Cup final in a back three due to injuries. Has a very good cross when bombing forward.

Marcos Alonso
The Chelsea left-back and left wingback edges out Bukayo Saka in our team to play on the left of our midfield four. Marcos Alonso puts some good crosses in from out wide and usually comes up with a few goals and assists over the season.

Continue reading

Fallen giants in England’s Premier League and in Germany

For many fans of clubs which have fallen on hard times, it’s hard to imagine the level of frustration and even sensations of desperation. Their once-mighty teams used to be all-conquering sides, revered and feared throughout Europe, yet now they face relegation.

For fans of Aston Villa and Werder Bremen right now, especially those old enough to remember the glory days of their clubs, facing the real prospect of descending from the Premier League and Bundesliga must be a bitter pill to swallow.

Angst at Aston Villa

Recent years have hardly been kind for Aston Villa fans, following a team which has been a shadow of their potential. They were relegated from the Premier League at the end of the 2015/16 season, then it took the club three difficult years to make their return. Supporters were positive, yet the 2019/20 campaign has been tough to endure.

After finishing fifth in the Championship last season and winning the promotion play-offs, Aston Villa were back where many feel the club truly belongs. However, despite finishing as runners-up in the League Cup final this season, their performances in the Premier League have been a constant struggle during the 2019/20 campaign.

Indeed, the latest EPL relegation odds from Betfair would indicate that Villa are tipped to go down, unless they can somehow muster a miracle turnaround in form. That First Division title in 1981 and the magnificent European Cup win of 1982, followed by League Cup triumphs and genuine title challenges in the 1990s all must seem distant memories for the older supporters.

Woes at Werder Bremen

It’s hard to say what exactly has gone so utterly wrong at Werder Bremen this season, although it’s abundantly clear the 2019/20 Bundesliga campaign has been an unmitigated disaster. It’s also one that could end with this once-mighty side being relegated. As of today, Bremen’s status in Germany’s top league remains uncertain because the club finished in 16th place which means Werder must participate in the relegation play-off. The club’s loyal fans are hoping Bremen can pull it off and remain in the Bundesliga to salvage what has been a disastrous season by all standards for this prestigious club.

Given they have endured such a poor season, without any indications of turning the corner, looking at the Bundesliga betting tips from Betfair’s experts, the majority conclusion is that Werder Bremen are destined for relegation. That’s hard to imagine, especially as we’re talking about a club that’s still considered as one of the biggest in German football.

We’re talking about a club that regularly challenged for silverware. A club that won the Bundesliga and DFB Pokal double as recently as the 2003-04 season. A club that featured regularly in the Champions League and Europa League. However, they have struggled for almost a decade now and relegation this year would be the culmination of a lengthy slide.

Hopes for the Future?

Despite being their first season back in the Premier League, it could be argued that Aston Villa weren’t quite ready to return and consolidate their position among the English elite. More than a decade of disorganization and a lack of investment have taken their toll. Maybe a year back in the Championship would help Villa reorganize, ready for a more serious return.

As for Werder Bremen, their fans must be wondering if their situation can get any worse. The last time they experienced life outside the top tier in Germany was way back in the 1980-81 season. However, that actually served to spark a revolution at the club, which then became a golden era of domestic titles and European adventures.

There’s no doubt that both Aston Villa and Werder Bremen are clubs with tremendously passionate fans. These are clubs with magnificent supporters who stand by their team regardless of what happens on the pitch. They demand commitment and dedication from the players but at the same time will give support in return. Hopefully, both sets of fans will get to savor the glory days again and before too long.

This weekend’s Premier League lineups – Spurs and Manchester City face-off in London

Here’s a quick look at all the upcoming games and the predicted lineups for each team, to help you with your EPL fantasy picks.

Leicester City Vs Chelsea

Leicester XI: Schmeichel, Ricardo, Evans, Soyuncu, Chilwell, Ndidi, Perez, Praet, Maddison, Barnes, Vardy

Chelsea XI: Kepa, Azpilicueta, Tomori, Rudiger, Emerson, Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic, Willian, Batshuayi, Hudson-Odoi Continue reading

What next for Arteta and Arsenal?

The latest three consecutive draws have just cemented that feeling of ‘meh’ around Arsenal’s 2019/20 season.

Having finished fifth – just one point off a Champions League spot in last season’s Premier League – many Gunners fans could be forgiven for having some optimism going into the current campaign. However, an early-season 3-1 defeat at Anfield seemed to just throw a spanner in the works for then-manager Unai Emery.

Continue reading

What a season for Chris Wilder’s Blades

I don’t think I was alone in thinking that Sheffield United would struggle in their first season back in the Premier League (PL). I believed The Blades were set to endure a very tough relegation battle, ultimately ending with the Steel City side dropping back to the Championship. How wrong I was.

Chris Wilder’s side has been the surprise package of the 2019/20 campaign to-date. Not even the most optimistic Blades fan would have dared to believe this team could be as high as sixth in the table at this stage.

Continue reading

Premier League lineups – the likely starting elevens for all teams this weekend

Here’s a quick look at all the upcoming games and the predicted lineups for each team, to help you with your EPL fantasy picks.

Watford Vs Spurs

Watford XI: Foster, Mariappa, Dawson, Cathcart, Masina, Chalobah, Capoue, Sarr, Doucoure, Deulofeu, Deeney

Spurs XI: Gazzaniga, Alderweireld, Sanchez, Tanganga, Aurier, Alli, Winks, Lo Celso, Sessegnon, Moura, Son Continue reading

Can Leicester City finish above Manchester City this season?

Just last month, all the focus seemed to be on whether Leicester and Manchester City could hang onto the coattails of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool in the title race.

Fast forward to the present day and it seems much has changed. Thanks to a Boxing Day defeat at home to Liverpool – and the manner of how The Reds dominated in that 4-0 thrashing – The Foxes’ focus now must be on keeping their place in the Premier League’s top four.

Continue reading

Premier League lineups – will this be how the top teams line out this weekend?

Aside

Here’s a quick look at all the upcoming games and the predicted lineups for each team, to help you with your EPL fantasy picks.

Sheffield United Vs West Ham United

Sheffield United XI: Henderson, Basham, Egan, O’Connell, Baldock, Lundstram, Norwood, Fleck, Stevens, McGoldrick, Mousset

West Ham XI: Fabianksi, Zabaleta, Ogbonna, Balbuena, Cresswell, Snodgrass, Rice, Noble, Fornals, Anderson, Haller Continue reading