Premier League: Game of the Weekend: Liverpool 3-2 West Ham

The Premier League was back to full strength following the staggered winter break and the Liverpool and West Ham game was shown a lot of interest. On one side we know Liverpool will win the league this season but could they keep their unbeaten run up? The other was West Ham who faced the threat of relegation and came into this game as the huge underdogs.

Liverpool’s big loss was Jordan Henderson who has been ruled out for 3 weeks with a hamstring injury and perhaps at times in this game his influence in midfield was missed.

Jurgen Klopp opted to play his usual 4-3-3 and David Moyes at West Ham went for 4-2-3-1. Even though Moyes had left predictably one up front it was relief, at least, to see the Scotsman change his attitude not go for five at the back and try to park the bus so to speak. Perhaps losing to Manchester City in the Hammers last game put paid to that system, and instead we got a West Ham performance that was utterly refreshing.

The game looked like it was going to be a formality before a ball was kicked and just after it was it still seemed that way as Georgino Wijnaldum scored after just 9 minutes and man of the moment Trent-Alexander Arnold was on hand to assist on the goal. It was Wijnaldum’s 3rd goal for the club this season.

Now if there is one criticism which could be launched at Liverpool this season (and we are clutching at straws) but it would be that the Reds have found it very hard to close up games. How many times have they been 1-0 up with just minutes left or 2-0 up with most of the game to play and the opposite team enjoying some decent chances. Liverpool still remain unbeaten in the league but quite a few games have been on a knife edge. This game would add to that.

Within 180 seconds of Liverpool’s goal, West Ham had equalised through Issa Diop, which left a few people stunned given that Liverpool have only conceded 9 goals all season at home up to that point. At 1-1 Liverpool responded in attack but there was a feeling that something was in the air, and West Ham who would usually shut up shop, came after the Reds, and were happy to attack themselves.

In the first half alone there was 13 corners which just told you how many attacks on goal their hand been, the real surprise was that 6 of them had come from West Ham.

Though there had been a lot of great play and attacking intent from both sides in the 1st half, Liverpool had only had 2 shots on target with West Ham having one. But if the first half was good, then the second half was something compared to a mini classic, as we witnessed a further 3 goals.

Goals are the game when Liverpool are playing but nobody would have expected the Reds to have gone 2-1 down at home, Liverpool being behind in a game is becoming very rare, but that is exactly what happened.  Declan Rice set up Pablo Fornals who launched a beautiful shot into the back of the Liverpool goal and passed Alisson. Rare to see Alisson ship 2 goals in a game too, and even rarer to see Fornals score and have an overall decent game. Now West Ham were 2-1 up, we could expect to see the very best of Liverpool, and the corners kept raining down from the home team.

Fourteen minutes after West Ham had took the lead the pressure told though and Mohamed Salah scored his 15th goal of the season to make it 2-2 and it was an assist by Andrew Robertson. Indeed all of Liverpool’s assists would be by defenders in the game.

If the truth be told even a 2-2 draw would have been remarkable for the Hammers given that only Manchester United have taken points from Liverpool this season. But Liverpool aren’t European and World club champions for nothing and that man Sadio Mane perhaps the very best player at Liverpool this season came up trumps once again to give Liverpool all three points.

It had been an amazing game and West Ham played their part. They didn’t come here and lose 4-0 like in previous seasons, and each player could look in the mirror. If the club bring this intensity and passion to their remaining fixtures then they won’t be going down.

As for Liverpool it is just total dominance and they now have 79 points, that is the same number of points that won the league for the club in 1990, when they were last crowned English champions. West Ham did well, but Liverpool even in a game where they didn’t perform to their best still managed to conjure up 25 goal attempts, which says it all about how strong this team are.

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Premier League: Best 11 Players of the Weekend

Because of the winter break in the Premier League there were just 5 games played at the weekend. All of the favourites won their games including Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool. But let’s take a look at the players who made a difference this past weekend in the Premier League.

Formation: 4-4-2

Goalkeeper: Kasper Schmeichel- Leicester 7pts

A few goalkeepers earned 7 points but Kasper Schmeichel deserves credit as his Leicester side went away from home against a very difficult Wolves side and got a point, keeping a clean sheet too as the game ended 0-0. That was the goalkeepers 9th clean sheet of the season.

Defender: Romain Saiss- Wolves 5pts

It’s no mean feat to keep Jamie Vardy and co from scoring a goal and Saiss helped his side Wolves keep a clean sheet at home against the team in 3rd place. Saiss has 17 points this season.

Defender: Trent-Alexander Arnold- Liverpool 5pts

On fantasy ranking points Alexander Arnold is the best defender in the Premier League and he showed his qualities again as Liverpool beat Norwich 1-0 away from home to record his 12th clean sheet of the season.

Defender: Virgil van Dijk- Liverpool 5pts

His teammate van Dijk and recognised as one of the worlds best defenders also helped keep a clean sheet and the player now has 74 points in the fantasy rankings and is just 9 behind his team mate in 2nd place.

Defender: Wes Morgan -Leicester 5pts

Wes Morgan had a lot to do in the back four of Leicester as Wolves who were at home asked many questions of the Foxes. Morgan held his ground well and earned 5 points in the process.

Midfielder: Mesut Ozil- Arsenal 6pts

Ozil has been under pressure for the past two seasons for his performances, but against Newcastle he was on the ball. Not only did his side keep a clean sheet but he also scored a goal, his first of the season in the league.

Midfielder: Sadio Mane- Liverpool 5pts

Sadio Mane showed his qualities coming on late in the game v Norwich and ended up scoring the winner- a classy finish too. He dropped a point because he was booked in the final minute though.

Midfielder: Jordan Henderson-Liverpool 4pts

It should come as no surprise to see Henderson’s name on the team of the weekend yet again. He earned 4 points after a solid, professional display as Liverpool continued their unbeaten run this season with a 1-0 win over Norwich.

Midfielder: Lucas Torreira- Arsenal 2pts

It was rare joy for Arsenal and Torreira to win a game, and so many defenders ended the weekend with 2 points. Torreira deserves his place after a tormented time this season with Arsenal, he held firm and didn’t give Newcastle a look in.

Striker: Nicolas Pepe- Arsenal 8pts

Nicolas Pepe has been criticised this season as he has started his career with Arsenal very slow. But at the weekend he was on top form and earned 8 points after he scored a goal and he also assisted in the opening goal. In 240 seconds he showed why Arsenal had paid over £70m for him.

Striker: Heung-Min Son- Tottenham 6pts

If Tottenham are to finish in a Champions League place a large chunk of that could go to the fact that in Son they have a great striker. He scored 2 goals as Tottenham beat Aston Villa in a thrilling 3-2 win. He now has 9 goals for the season and looks in brilliant form.

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Premier League Fantasy Weekend Picks: Matchday 26

Because of the winter break in the Premier League games are being staggered but there are more this weekend then last and we get six games. Let’s take a look below at our player fantasy picks based on form and the fixtures to see if your players will be earning points this weekend.

Formation: 4-4-2

Goalkeeper: Bernd Leno- Arsenal

This has not been a great season for Bernd Leno keeping just 5 clean sheets so far. But Mikel Arteta has finally had time to spend with the club and there seems to be a plan to do better. Plus Arsenal will be at home to Newcastle and start as the favourites.

Defender: Toby Alderweireld- Tottenham

Tottenham rode their luck in beating Manchester City this month but nobody is talking of how good the defenders were. The club play Aston Villa who are in trouble and perhaps they have the quality to win this game and keep a clean sheet. Alderweireld has 4 clean sheets so far.

Defender: Davinson Sanchez- Tottenham

Sticking with Tottenham Davinson Sanchez was impressive against champions Manchester City in keeping a clean sheet, so why not repeat that against lowly Aston Villa? Plus Tottenham have been able to keep 2 clean sheets from their last 3 matches.

Defender: Ryan Bertrand- Southampton

Southampton will be the favourites to beat Burnley at the weekend and they are at home. He has helped keep 3 clean sheets so far that includes two in the last five games.

Defender: Willy Boly- Wolves

Willy Boly has been involved in 4 clean sheets this season. Wolves take on Leicester which will be a difficult game but at the same time they are at home. Boly would cost 6.5m and has earned 18 points so far.

Midfielder: Granit Xhaka- Arsenal

Is this the game for Arsenal playing at home to Newcastle that changes their season around, or will it be more of the same and end in a draw or defeat? Granit Xhaka has found himself back in the team and he has kept 5 clean sheets, the one worry is that he hasn’t scored yet, but that could be set to change at the weekend.

Midfielder: Tanguy Ndombele- Tottenham

Jose Mourinho has called on Ndombele to bring out a performance and the talented midfielder may just be able to do that when the club take on relegation threatened Aston Villa at the weekend, he is certainly worth a pick and can win games.

Midfielder: Steven Bergwijn- Tottenham

Steven Bergwijn had a dream debut for Tottenham in his last game scoring a fantastic goal against Manchester City. Now Tottenham will play Aston Villa and the Dutchman is sure to have a few opportunities on goal and trying to provide some. He would cost 8.5m.

Midfielder: Jordan Henderson- Liverpool

Henderson is being tipped to receive the Premier League player of the season and for good reason. He has 41 points and would only cost 7m which seems like a bargain, he is involved in everything going forward and has scored 3 goals and assisted in a further 4.

Striker: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang- Arsenal

Arsenal’s star striker, without Aubameyang Arsenal aren’t going to win games. The Gunners have a tough match at the weekend but they are at home and they need to beat Newcastle. One would think they would need at least 2 goals and it would be a real surprise not to see this man on the score sheet, and he has 14 goals this season.

Striker: Raul Jimenez- Wolves

Raul Jimenez just remains a dangerous striker and he could be the difference when Wolves take on Leicester. His cost is only 5.5m and that is great when you think he has 54 points so far and has scored 11 goals, he is well worth inclusion if you don’t already have him.

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Premier League: Best 11 Players from the Weekend: Week 25

Liverpool won again and surely they have won the league now because Manchester City lost at Tottenham. The Reds are now an incredible 22 points in front, and no one is going to catch them. The good news for Tottenham’s win is that it reignited their hopes for Champions League football and they have closed the gap on Chelsea who could only draw. West Ham blew a 2 goal lead against Brighton to draw 3-3 and they are now in the relegation zone.

Below is the team of the weekend and their fantasy points, did your players make the cut?

Formation: 4-4-2

Goalkeeper: Hugo Lloris- Tottenham 7pts

Whilst a few goalkeepers picked up 7 points due to clean sheets, the nod will go to Hugo Lloris. He made some superb saves against the champions Manchester City especially from Sergio Aguero as Tottenham went on to win the game 2-0 and he kept a clean sheet in the process.

Defender: Yerry Mina- Everton 6pts

Yerry Mina was outstanding even though Everton conceded 2 goals, the defender made amends for that by scoring 2 goals in 60 seconds to bring his team right back into the game against Watford, so he did lose points for conceding goals but also scored two himself.

Defender: Antonio Rudiger- Chelsea 7pts

Antonio Rudiger saved Chelsea’s skins as he scored both of their goals in a 2-2 draw away to Leicester. Obviously he was part of a defence that conceded, but his goals brought home a point at the end of the day and kept Frank Lampard’s side 4th.

Defender: Eric Dier- Tottenham 5pts

Eric Dier has not had many games for Tottenham and to be brought in against the champions Manchester City and keep a clean sheet was very impressive.

Defender: Enda Stevens- Sheffield United 5pts

Enda Stevens has really impressed for Sheffield United and they won again beating Crystal Palace away and keeping a clean sheet that is no mean feat. Stevens has now helped his side keep 9 clean sheets and they have climbed up to 6th place in the league.

Midfielder: Mohamed Salah-Liverpool 10pts

Salah earned a fantastic 10 points as he got on the score sheet yet again as Liverpool easily beat Southampton 4-0 at Anfield. Salah now has 14 goals and 6 assists in another impressive season for him.

Midfielder: Roberto Firmino- Liverpool 8pts

Roberto Firmino just keeps on impressing and the brilliant Brazilian was a nightmare for Southampton to keep in check. He earned 8 points in a season where in the fantasy rankings he has scored 68 points so far.

Midfielder: Jordan Henderson- Liverpool 8pts

It feels like a clean sweep of midfielders for Liverpool and Jordan Henderson is now being favoured to win the player of the year in the Premier League and for good reason. He now has a total of 41 points.

Midfielder: Steven Bergwijn- Tottenham 6pts

What is the best way to start your career at Tottenham, how about scoring a cracking goal at home v Manchester City? And that is what Bergwijn did after his January transfer window, and he earned 6 points for it. He could be one to look out for.

Striker: Robert Snodgrass- West Ham 10pts

Robert Snodgrass scored 2 of West Ham’s goals and earned a huge 10 points but it still wasn’t enough to win West Ham the game as they drew 3-3 with Brighton. The goals have brought Snodgrass to 5 this season.

Striker: Glenn Murray- Brighton 4pts

Apart from Snodgrass the strikers were quiet at the weekend. Heung-Min Son was the other player to earn 4 points, but his goal did take a deflection from Fernandinho so we give this one to Glenn Murray. With the heat on and his side losing 3-2 to West Ham Murray grabbed the equaliser which would have felt like a cup final winner for the striker.

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Premier League: Fantasy Weekend Picks: Matchday 25

The Premier League is taking a break after this weekend for it’s winter gap, the first time this has been done and so clubs will be determined as ever to get three points on the board at the weekend, and not be left having to wait a few weeks until the next game.

Below we take a look at the players who could shine this weekend.

Formation:4-4-2

Goalkeeper: Ben Foster- Watford

Ben Foster’s Watford have only conceded 3 goals in their last five games and even though form has dipped slightly they will fancy their chances to keep a clean sheet at home v Everton, and of course Watford need the points more. He has kept 8 clean sheets this season and is only 3m to bring in.

Defender: Aaron Cresswell- West Ham

Whilst it’s true that West Ham’s form has not been good, they have some really tough fixtures after this game and will be expected to lose. That is why the home match v Brighton a team they should be beating is like a cup final. Can they keep a clean sheet? Cresswell has on 4 other occasions and would cost 7m.

Defender: Jairo Reidelwald- Crystal Palace

For a club that would be 15th in the league based on home form only Palace have only conceded 12 goals at home this season which seems pretty decent. They will play Sheffield United at home and Reidelwald will be eyeing a clean sheet.

Defender: Gary Cahill Crystal Palace

In keeping with Palace trying to keep a clean sheet this weekend, we will also pick Gary Cahill. He is valued at 7m and has been involved in 3 clean sheets and of course comes with vast experience.

Defender: Trent Alexander-Arnold- Liverpool

It might feel obvious to have a Liverpool player in here but if you don’t have Alexander-Arnold he is worth getting. He is just valued at 7m, that is sure to go up next season and Liverpool don’t lose games and hardly concede goals. He has been in a defence which has kept 9 clean sheets so far and he has earned 68 points. Liverpool are at home to Southampton.

Midfielder: Jordan Henderson- Liverpool

Henderson is arguably playing the best of his entire career with his consistency and he is only valued at 7m which seems like a bargain. Liverpool look unbeatable and they will fancy their chances at home to Southampton to get all three points. Maybe Henderson will be able to add to his 2 goals this season also.

Midfielder: Theo Walcott-Everton

Everton should garner quite a few attacks on goal when they play Watford and they will be hoping for all three points. Whilst Walcott has been inconsistent this season he is the type of player that can pull out a great game every so often. Maybe this one will be it. Walcott is 7m but he is yet to score in the league this season.

Midfielder: Matt Ritchie- Newcastle

Matt Ritchie has missed a chunk of the season but is back for the club now and could make a real impact. Newcastle are at home to Norwich and will really fancy getting a win here and Ritchie is a risk but perhaps worth adding to your team this weekend. He would cost 7.5m.

Midfielder: Jeff Hendrick- Burnley

Jeff Hendrick was superb last weekend when Burnley beat Manchester United 2-0 away. The club will be at home against Arsenal, that’s a tough game but at the same time Arsenal do not travel well.

Striker: Joelinton- Newcastle

Whilst it’s true that Joelinton has not scored enough goals this season he could well have a good weekend as Newcastle take on the bottom club Norwich at home.

Striker: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang- Arsenal

Aubameyang has been the one outstanding player for Arsenal in a troubled season. He missed the last 3 games after being sent off and one would expect he would be raring to go to get the goals again. Arsenal play Burnley.and he is 9m.

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Best 11 Players in the Premier League: Matchday 23

Liverpool gained again at the weekend when they won and 2nd placed Manchester City could only draw. 3rd place Leicester lost and 4th placed Chelsea also lost. It was simply total gain for Liverpool who have now moved 16 points clear at the top with a game in hand. We take a look below at the best performing players in the league this past weekend. Did you have any of them?

Formation: 4-4-2.

Goalkeeper: Alisson- Liverpool

The best goalkeeper in the Premier League picked up a massive 9 points and that is huge for his position. Liverpool beat rivals Manchester United 2-0 as Alisson kept his 7th clean sheet of the season. To put the icing on the cake the Brazilian assisted for Mohamed Salah’s goal. He has 49 points now and is 9 points clear of 2nd placed keeper Kasper Schmeichel. Alisson would cost 10m

Defender: Virgil van Dijk- Liverpool

Nine points were earned for Virgil van Dijk as Liverpool kept a clean sheet and the Dutchman also opened the scoring. He now has 59 points and is ranked in third place i the fantasy rankings for Premier League defenders.

Defender: Trent Alexander-Arnold -Liverpool

Keeping a clean sheet against Manchester United is no mean feat and Alexander-Arnold was at the heart of everything Liverpool did back there. It is his 9th clean sheet of the season and he is ranked No.1. for defenders in the Premier League. He is valued at 7m.

Defender: Isaac Hayden- Newcastle

The hero for Newcastle! The Magpies beat Chelsea 1-0 due to a last minute strike from Isaac Hayden. That topped off an amazing day for Hayden who also helped his team keep a clean sheet. Hayden is valued at just 2m and has 11 points so far.

Defender: Andrew Robertson- Liverpool

In defence Liverpool almost had a clean sweep. In getting a 2-0 win over old rivals Manchester United, the Reds had achieved a huge result which underlined just how good they have been this season. Robertson earned 5 points at the weekend and is valued at 7m which seems like a great bargain.

Midfielder: Mohamed Salah- Liverpool

The attacking midfielder Salah scored Liverpool’s second goal which confirmed the win over Manchester United, and more important for him ended a baron spell. The Egypt international now has 11 goals and 5 assists.

Midfielder: Jack Grealish- Aston Villa

Jack Grealish now has 38 points and his value of just 3.5m to buy looks like a steal. He scored a goal at the weekend too as his side drew 1-1 away to Brighton. Grealish has now scored 7 goals this season.

Midfielder: Jordan Henderson- Liverpool

Jordan Henderson is just getting better by each passing season and is the engine room in this fantastic Liverpool side. He only earned 2 points at the weekend but with many midfielders not performing so well, that was enough to make this team.

Midfielder: Ismaila Sarr- Watford

Ismaila Sarr has really stood out as one of the best players Watford have as they continue their fantastic recovery from what looked like certain relegation a month ago. Watford drew 0-0 against Tottenham. Sarr is valued at 7.5m and has 27 points so far.

Striker: Sergio Aguero- Manchester City

For the second week in a row Sergio Aguero tops the charts as one of the best strikers in the Premier League. He scored two goals and almost won the game for his club who were 1-0 down with 8 minutes to go against Crystal Palace. Aguero earned 8 points and he has now scored 15 goals this season.

Striker: Raul Jimenez- Wolves

Raul Jimenez is a real gem of a player at Wolves, and the club produced the best stunning comeback of the weekend. They were losing 2-0 to Southampton and won 3-2 and Jimenez grabbed two of those goals earning a nice 8 points. He has 50 altogether and can be added to your team for just 5.5m.

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Jordan Henderson must find way to translate club form to country

Jordan Henderson has had to fight for respect as a Liverpool player. He might be the club captain and a key part of Jurgen Klopp’s side, but Henderson hasn’t always been a favourite, even for his own supporters. Times have changed, though.

Liverpool’s midfield can be difficult to understand. Unlike Manchester City, the Reds don’t have a defined mould for their midfielders. Klopp demands that each of his central trio perform different roles, occupying different areas of the pitch. Henderson has become an integral part of what the German coach has built.

But while Henderson has more than earned his keep at Anfield, the 29-year-old hasn’t yet been able to translate his club form into the performances for his country. England could use a midfielder of his type, someone who can pick up the ball and drive it forward into the attacking third.

England have made great progress under Gareth Southgate, demonstrated by their performance at last summer’s World Cup and their displays at last year’s Nations League, but there remains a hole at the centre of his team. The Three Lions lack a figure to dictate play through the middle. Henderson will likely never be that figure, but he could still bring something they currently don’t have.

The hope is that James Maddison will give England the creative force they need around the edge of the opposition box. Looking further into the future, Phil Foden has been ear-marked as the player Southgate needs to take his side to the next level. It hasn’t helped that Foden is struggling for game time at Manchester City currently.

In the meantime, though, Henderson could be pushed further up the field, a position Klopp has used the 29-year-old in on occasion. With the 2020 European Championships already starting to appear on the horizon, Southgate must start settling on solutions to some of his problems and Henderson might offer him one.

Henderson is a first team pick for Southgate, with the Liverpool man expected to be England’s holding midfielder alongside Declan Rice who has made quite the impression since forcing his way into the national team reckoning last season. But Southgate must find a way to get more out of a player who is proving a real difference-maker at club level. Far from being a cause of England’s problems, he could be a solution.

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Huge season ahead for Liverpool’s Naby Keita

Liverpool’s Guinean international midfielder Naby Keita knows that 2019/20 could be one of the defining seasons of his career.

Keita arrived last summer after signing from Bundesliga side RB Leipzig but struggle to get any consistent game-time as he was hampered by injury for large parts of the campaign.

Liverpool’s number 8 does not have a history of being an injury-prone player at any of his previous clubs. Therefore, Reds fans should look forward to seeing much more of the midfielder over the next 9 months or so. Continue reading

Klopp finds a new, exciting role for Henderson at Liverpool

Jordan Henderson Liverpool

Midway through Liverpool’s routine win over Porto on Tuesday evening, Jordan Henderson did something that goes against his nature; he played the ball forward.

That may seem a little bit cruel on the Liverpool captain, but it’s something that he’s needed to add to his game for some time. Deployed in a deeper role for the Reds, and England, Henderson has adapted his game in recent years. Rather than playing as the box-to-box midfielder, he was once was, he’s been asked to sit back and dictate tempo.

That has often led to Henderson playing it safe, preferring to pass the ball backward or sideways and leaving the defense-splitting passes to those in front of him. As a result, criticism has often been forthcoming. Continue reading

EPL Game of the Weekend – Southampton vs Liverpool

liverpoolatsouthampton

When Virgil van Dijk took to the pitch at St. Mary’s on Friday evening, memories came flooding back (both fond and otherwise) of when he would turn out at the venue on a regular basis. This time, however, he was wearing the purple of Liverpool’s away kit – and few would have argued going into the game that the end result would be anything other than an away win. Southampton are not a bad side, but they have really struggled to find their feet for much of the season. Despite improving well under the guidance of Ralph Hasenhüttl, Liverpool are a title-chasing side who cannot afford to slip up as they take on current champions Man City in the final furlong. In the end, what occurred was an absolute cracker, and the second game of the week in a row to feature Jurgen Klopp’s men.

Continue reading