Predicted lineups for this weekend’s EPL action

Eden Hazard

It’s FA Cup weekend coming up so there are just five EPL matches to look forward to.

Saturday’s games see Bournemouth host Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle United at the Vitality Stadium while Huddersfield Town make the trip to London to face West Ham United.

Brendan Rodgers brings his Leicester team to face Burnley at Turf Moor at the same time. Burnley have lost their last three league games while Leicester won 3-1 against Fulham last time out.

On Sunday, Liverpool travel to meet Fulham as The Reds look to go back to the top of the Premier League, temporarily at least. Everton play host to Chelsea later that day. The Toffees have won just once in their last six games. Chelsea drew 1-1 with Wolves last Sunday.

EPL Weekend Picks – Week 28

shawThis weekend’s Premier League fixture list promises another round of tension, goals, celebration and despair. Proceedings get underway Saturday lunchtime with the north London derby, Spurs welcoming Arsenal as their guests at Wembley. We also have a relegation clash as Brighton host bottom side Huddersfield, while on Sunday we have a west London derby – Fulham vs Chelsea – and the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park. Manchester City look to continue their bid to retain the Premier League crown when they travel to Bournemouth 24 hours before Liverpool’s trip across Stanley Park, and with both of those fixtures proving potentially slippery for the top two this weekend could well start to shape the landscape as the domestic season rolls on.

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Manuel Lanzini returns from injury

Manuel Lanzini

West Ham supporters were feeling a bit worried when they went 1-0 down early on against Fulham. However, goals from Javier Hernandez, Issa Diop and Michail Antonio handed the Hammers a 3-1 victory.

The three points –which keeps them in touch with seventh place- will be gratefully received. There is something which will give Hammers fans even more joy though: the return of Manuel Lanzini. The Argentinian international replaced Felipe Anderson in the 76th minute for his first involvement in any game this season.

He had been on the side lines for eight months after rupturing his ACL during Argentina’s preparations for the World Cup in Russia. The timing of the incident was as unfortunate as could be. He’d worked so hard to force his way into the thinking of manager Jorge Sampaoli with dazzling performances in a West Ham shirt.

There were initial fears that he’d miss the entirety of this campaign due to the severity of the injury, so to see him back already is a massive bonus for everyone involved with the club.

The man nicknamed ‘The Jewell’ did show slight signs of rust on his return, as he took too long on the ball when offered a chance in the box and was dispossessed. He also tripped Dennis Odoi in the 83rd minute, picking up a yellow card. When it is considered how long he’s been out of the game he can be let off for needing a little acclimatisation time.

Following the game, he posted a photo of the moment he entered the play. His caption ended with a statement saying: “I want to say thanks to all the fans, I love you”. The feeling is certainly reciprocated by the supporters for a man who is amongst the most technically gifted at the club.

He’s been winning West Ham supporters’ hearts with his skill and trickery since moving to East London from UAE based club Al Jazira on loan in 2015 and permanently the following year. It’s after Dimitri Payet’s departure that he propelled himself to fan favourite status though, as he took over the role of the central creative hub in the side at a time when one was needed more than ever.

It will be hoped that he will now be able to return to a similar role at the tip of Manuel Pellegrini’s three-man midfield. With talents like Anderson and Samir Nasri in the side, there is cause for excitement in regards to the style of football that West Ham will be playing throughout the rest of the season.

It is this that makes the timing of Lanzini’s return so brilliant for everyone at the club. While the initial feeling of having him back on the pitch is nice for supporters, there is a much more important element. He’s coming into the side shortly after West Ham’s disastrous January, but with the Hammers in rich form. The club can still push for seventh place, which could result in a Europa League spot for next season. The feel good factor and technical ability which Lanzini’s return brings the Hammers could be just what the club needs to ensure they get there.

 

Do you have what it takes to challenge the best Premier League Fantasy Managers? If you’re up to challenging the best then play www.fantasy-premier.com now!

EPL Weekend Picks – Round 14

Dele Alli

The 14th week of the 2018-19 Premier League season sees Liverpool host Everton, while Tottenham make the short trip across north London to face Arsenal. Let’s take a look at 11 players who you should consider for your EPL Fantasy team this weekend…

GK – Jordan Pickford (Everton)
We’re going to look specifically at players who have gone under the radar in EPL Fantasy this season, starting with Jordan Pickford. Everton’s 7.00m-rated No.1 has picked up 15 points in 2018-19 — only five goalkeepers have a better record.

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EPL Best XI – Sterling stars again

Raheem Sterling

The 11th weekend of the 2018-19 Premier League season saw Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea maintain their unbeaten starts, while Manchester United came from behind to beat Bournemouth. Let’s take a look at the top EFL Fantasy points scorers from the weekend’s games…

GK: Kasper Schmeichel, Leicester – seven points
Kasper Schmeichel kept a clean sheet during an emotional 1-0 victory for Leicester at Cardiff. The Dane’s seven-point reward sees him move on to four points for the season.

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Classic derby will tell Pellegrini how far Hammers have come

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Ask any West Ham fan which fixture they really look forward to every season, and without hesitation it will be the classic derby against rivals, Tottenham Hotspur.

Even a supposed hatred of south London side, Millwall, pales into insignificance when the north Londoners come to town.

This fixture also has added spice now given Spurs’ own efforts to try and secure the London Stadium which the Hammers currently call home. Continue reading

EPL Weekend Picks – Round 9

Ross Barkley Chelsea

The ninth week of the 2018-19 Premier League season features one of the biggest games of the campaign so far, Chelsea v Manchester United, while Liverpool travel to Huddersfield and Arsenal host Leicester. Let’s take a look at 11 players who you should consider adding to your EPL Fantasy team before the weekend.

GK – Ederson (Manchester City)
Every EPL Fantasy team needs a reliable scorer of points in goal, and you can’t go wrong with Ederson. The Manchester City goalkeeper has recorded 37 points this season – more than any other player in his position in the Premier League – and there’s a good chance he’ll add to that tally at home to Burnley.

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West Ham looking to continue their unbeaten run

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Having lost their first four league games, West Ham are now on a four match unbeaten run. This is impressive in itself, but factor in that two of those results came during visits from Chelsea and Manchester United and it becomes an even more notable achievement. More importantly though, this run has given the Hammers some much needed stability following that turbulent start to the campaign.

There had been worries after those early season defeats that the Hammers could be going into Friday night’s match against Brighton & Hove Albion with no points. However, following wins against Everton and Manchester United as well as the draw against Chelsea, they go into the fixture with seven points and have climbed to 14th in the league- one place above their upcoming opponents.

Improvements have been visible all over the pitch as new signings begin to settle into the club. Andriy Yarmolenko has grown into an integral figure in the side having not started any of the first four league matches, while Felipe Anderson has truly kicked on, scoring his first goal for the club on the weekend. Issa Diop and Fabian Balbuena have built a trustworthy partnership at centre back. Lukasz Fabianski has been a consistent performer for the club from the start, even when those around him haven’t been. While Lucas Perez and Ryan Fredericks both opened their accounts for the club in the Carabao Cup after their early struggles. Jack Wilshere and Carlos Sanchez have both picked up injuries, but all the other signings look as though they will have a part to play in the coming weeks.

All of this has helped to ease the pressure which had begun to build on Manuel Pellegrini. There had been questions over the Chilean’s tactics and recruitment after the stalling start to his first season in the West Ham hot seat. However, an inspired tactical change has ended that talk. Since he moved to the three-man midfield –usually fielding Declan Rice, Mark Noble and Pedro Obiang- the Hammers have been much more balanced, with the trio quickly becoming the base for the team’s upturn in form.

If there is one thing this whole episode has shown, it’s that people shouldn’t get too carried away in either a positive or negative sense. Losing four games at the beginning of the season doesn’t mean you’ll go down; equally, going undefeated in the next four in all competitions doesn’t mean you’ll be conquering Europe next season. One thing that West Ham have lacked since moving to the London Stadium is consistency and any real sense of normality. There have been numerous protests, a failed attempt at a European run, relegation battles and everything in between in the short time the club have spent there.

It is great to see the focus returning to what is happening on the pitch rather than having attention turning towards the stands. This run should act as the launch pad for the club to excel this season. There has been investment in talented players, managerial staff and people working behind the scenes, so it is brilliant to see this taking its effect. Tonight’s encounter at the Amex is a brilliant opportunity to keep the positive run going.

 

Do you have what it takes to challenge the best Premier League Fantasy Managers? If you’re up to challenging the best then play www.fantasy-premier.com now!

Felipe Anderson showing his talent after slow start

anderson2

Felipe Anderson’s arrival in East London this summer was met with plenty of excitement. His move to West Ham made him the club’s record signing, as he joined from Lazio in a deal worth £42 million. He may have endured a slow start, like the majority of the team, but he has began to come into his own in recent weeks. His latest accomplishment showing the improvement he’s making is his first goal for the club, which came against Manchester United last weekend.

The Brazilian opened his account with the Hammers in style. In just the fifth minute of the match against struggling United he latched onto Pablo Zabaleta’s low ball, flicking it with his back leg past David de Gea and into the bottom corner. As the winger let out a wide smile while wiping his shoulder in celebration, it seems as though he had wiped away the main criticism anybody could say about his time at West Ham: he hadn’t scored yet.

There have been criticisms aplenty outside of this aspect, especially at the beginning. He didn’t work hard enough. He wasn’t creating enough. He wasn’t getting in the right areas of the pitch. He wasn’t contributing enough to the team. He has dispelled all of these in recent matches -some arguably weren’t correct in the first place- and shown that he can be a real asset to the side. In the match against Man United alone he made three key passes and seven tackles, as well as getting that goal, highlighting how incredibly effective he was.

This wasn’t the first time he’s shown his quality in a West Ham shirt either. Against Chelsea he helped Arthur Masuaku deal with the likes of Eden Hazard when required while also offering an out-ball to ensure the Hammers didn’t get pinned back, making an undeniable contribution to the side getting a draw. In the game prior to that he showed how dangerous he can be to opposition defences. Up against Jonjoe Kenny at Goodison Park the Brazilian wreaked havoc. Everton’s young right back looked outclassed and really struggled to deal with Anderson, who took him on and beat him with the ball at every opportunity. Anderson was the only member of the front three not to score during West Ham’s first league win of the season, but his speed and skill certainly played their part in earning West Ham victory.

One thing that shows his mental resilience is that all of this came immediately after he was heavily criticised following the 1-0 defeat against Wolverhampton Wanderers. He had been called out for many of the aforementioned criticisms, with the aspect being mentioned most prominently being laziness. He’s worked hard to put things right though and it’s paid off with results for both the individual and team.

Anderson’s time in East London is possibly the greatest reflection of his new club’s season to date. In the opener against Liverpool he was hugely underwhelming, failing to threaten the opposition as much as expected. He was still far from his best in the following few games, then he flashed into life following the international break and has begun to show his true worth. His price tag has been mentioned a lot when his performances have been under par, there will still likely be plenty of talk about whether his is living up to that high summer valuation. It is of course much too early to tell whether he is now, however, it is clear to see that he is now showing how much of an asset he can be.

The Hammers face Brighton & Hove Albion away tomorrow night, as they look to extend their four match unbeaten run in all competitions. Felipe Anderson will be seeing this as an opportunity to impress again and maintain his own upturn in form.

 

Do you have what it takes to challenge the best Premier League Fantasy Managers? If you’re up to challenging the best then play www.fantasy-premier.com now!

Game of the Weekend: Hammers Batter the Toffees

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Matchweek 5 was a forward’s feast as the English Premier League roared back into action following the end of the first international break. Defending proved too complex a task for back lines around England, with the likes of Leicester, Everton, Cardiff, and Fulham all conceding 3 or more.

My match of the weekend though comes brought to you courtesy of the Hammers of East London who beat Everton 3-1 away at Goodison Park. Highlighting both midfield effort and clinical finishing, West Ham win their first win and points of the season, while earning likely no one other than die hard Hammers fans boatloads of fantasy points.
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