EPL Best XI – Week 34

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With the Premier League now very much entering the business end of the season, and with just a few matches remaining to decide the respective fates of several teams, there was a full schedule of games in England’s top-flight this past weekend. Once again, the spread of fixtures was great with Newcastle winning at Leicester on Friday night, six games taking place on Saturday, title challengers Man City and Liverpool winning their respective games on Sunday and Arsenal travelling to Watford on Monday. Results this weekend meant that both City and Liverpool are guaranteed to finish first and second in either combination. With that in mind, let’s take a look and see which players performed the best in their position, using a 4-3-3 formation.

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Manchester City: International duty watch

Leroy Sane

Just as Manchester City regained control over Liverpool in the race for the Premier League title, international football kicked in. Let’s face it, we all love it at such a vital stage in the season. A total of 13 players from Pep Guardiola’s first team have been called up to their respective nations with Euro 2016 qualifiers, friendlies, Africa Cup of National qualifiers and U21 in full swing. Continue reading

Etihad Stadium’s Expansion: Worth it or Futile?

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etihad_stadium09English giants Manchester City have gone from strength to strength since 2008 when the club was acquired by billionaire Sheikh Mansoor with the constant struggle in the initial years’ largely forgotten by the supporters. The same opponents who deemed the prospect of acquiring 3 points against the Citizens as nothing short of a cakewalk earlier now shiver in fear at the prospect of battling it out against Pep Guardiola’s outfit.

This has been largely possible due to the finances pumped in at regular intervals by the owners who have ensured a regular flow of finances through thick and thin. At the same time, there have been astute investments at play as well especially in the transfer market. Manchester City opted to invest in quality acquisitions like Sergio Aguero, David Silva, Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany during a stage when clubs were increasingly orthodox when it came to pulling off transfer deals with the benefits increasingly evident currently.

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Is Fernandinho in the mould of Patrick Vieira?

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870529256Every football fan worth his salt will be well aware of the significant development that Arsene Wenger’s Invincibles played a key role towards heralding in modern day football. While modern-day football fans were quick to criticise the Frenchman for even the smallest of things during the last few years of his tenure, the game owes much of its current sheen to the exhilarating gameplay which Wenger encouraged despite resistance from the traditionalists.

In the 2003-04 season, Arsenal gave the footballing world a true glimpse into a team which was built on the back of a solid foundation with the defenders more than capable of snuffing out any attack and attackers who could conjure moments of brilliance singlehandedly. The side went on to finish unbeaten in the league throughout the season, emerging as the first outfit to threaten Manchester United’s hegemony.

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Riyad Mahrez signing the first piece of Man City’s jigsaw

mahrez2Premier League champions Man City have confirmed the signing of Leicester City attacking midfielder Riyad Mahrez, who becomes the first new arrival at the City of Manchester Stadium since Pep Guardiola’s men lifted the Premier League title in May. Mahrez has signed a five-year contract at the club, reportedly worth around £200k per week. In what may be seen as a somewhat surprising stat, he actually becomes the club’s record signing as well, having been brought in for £60m. What is surprising there is that for a club which possesses the talent such as City does, that seems a relatively modest transfer record these days!

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Brazil make a strong statement with an impressive win over Mexico

Brazil v Argentina - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Qualifier
Undoubtedly, Brazil were the most comfortable winners in the last-16 stage of the FIFA World Cup. Out of eight games, three were decided on penalties, and four teams registered a single-goal over their respective opponents in normal time. Continue reading

Brazil Through to World Cup Last 16

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Brazil have made it through to the last 16 of the World Cup after beating Serbia 2-0 at the Otkrytie Arena. The five-time world champions began their campaign with a stutter but by the time they took to the field against Serbia – also contenders to qualify on the night – they were looking much more like their usual selves. The football was fast, fruitful and flowing – and suddenly fellow challengers for this year’s World Cup crown may be fancying a draw away from the South Americans for as long as possible. Neymar  put in easily his best performance of the summer so far, and helped to inspire Brazil to the top of Group E.

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Man City could be set for Premier League dominance, says Alan Shearer

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With Man City now having wrapped up their third Premier League title, questions are being asked as to exactly how any team could even think of challenging them next season. City won the title quite comfortably and sent records tumbling in the process – just about the only one they didn’t manage to either equal or break was Arsenal’s unbeaten season. Otherwise, it has been a wonderful season in the blue half of Manchester, and one pundit has claimed that this is now the Citizens’ chance to go on and dominate the English top flight for years to come. That man, of course, is record Premier League goalscorer Alan Shearer.

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Guardiola focusing on his Man City side breaking records

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Newly-crowned Premier League champions Man City may have now completed their trophy hunting for the season, but boss Pep Guardiola isn’t ready to rest on his laurels and let his players “go to the beach” just yet.

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World Cup 2018: Redemption on the menu for hopefuls Brazil

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Following on from last week’s look at Germany’s approach to this summer’s World Cup, we will now be taking a look at one of the tournament’s other favourites – South American outfit Brazil.

The five-time world champions disappointed while hosting the previous tournament in 2014, crashing out to Germany in the semi-finals. The disappointment didn’t necessarily stem from them “only” reaching the semis of course – though most were expecting them to win – but that disappointment came largely from the manner of their exit. That was a 7-1 thrashing at the hands of eventual winners Germany, and for that to occur on Brazilian soil was almost unthinkable. Continue reading