With only three or four games left in the Premier League season depending on which side you are following, things are starting to get serious! The title race looks all set to go down to the wire, while the relegation battle appears closer than many thought possible just a few weeks ago. Cardiff and Brighton appear the two sides most immediately in danger of claiming 18th and the final relegation place, though Southampton are not yet mathematically safe. Title contenders Liverpool and Man City both have games where you would fancy them to win, with City’s arguably the slightly tougher game. With that said, let’s go for a 4-3-3 again and see which players are worth keeping an eye on and including in your fantasy squads this weekend.
With another reduced number of teams in Premier League action this weekend due to the ongoing FA Cup competition, there were only a few sides to select from for this week’s “Best XI” – though there has been a nice spread of action, with games on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Everton continued their impressive performances against the big teams this season when they beat Arsenal 1-0 at Goodison Park, while Burnley earned a hugely impressive – and vitally important – away win at Bournemouth. Leicester and Crystal Palace also picked up wins on the road at Huddersfield and Newcastle respectively, while Liverpool’s Friday night trip to Southampton also saw them take the points. Let’s go for a 4-3-3 and see which players performed the best!
It really is saying something when there are three standout contenders for the Premier League’s best player the previous weekend, and all three of them are defenders! With an impressive amount of 2-0 and 2-1 results last weekend, the goalscoring defender was clearly always going to reign as king – and on this occasion that person would be none other than Crystal Palace defender Patrick van Aanholt. The other two in the mix – Leicester star Wes Morgan and Everton’s Kurt Zouma (on loan from Chelsea) missed out on the most trivial of margins – they each played 94 minutes, while van Aanholt played 95! He helped the Eagles to a 2-0 win over Huddersfield – a result which saw the Terriers ultimately relegated.
With a reduced run of fixtures in the Premier League this coming weekend owing to FA Cup Sixth Round action, there are only ten teams from which to take this week’s weekend picks. The pick of the upcoming fixtures is arguably Everton hosting Chelsea in the 4.30pm kickoff on Sunday, while Bournemouth host in-form Newcastle on Saturday. Burnley do battle with Leicester and West Ham take on Huddersfield in Saturday’s other games, while Sunday’s earlier game sees Fulham welcome Liverpool to Craven Cottage. Taking all of that into account, let’s adopt a 4-3-3 this time and see which players could be set to work their way into fantasy management consideration.
This weekend we have another full schedule of ten EPL matches to look forward to. Here are the predicted lineups for every EPL game.
Crystal Palace v Brighton
Crystal Palace XI: Guaita, Wan-Bissaka, Dann, Tomkins, Van Aanholt, Kouyate, Milivojevic, Schlupp, Townsend, Batshuayi, Zaha
Brighton XI: Ryan, Montoya, Dunk, Duffy, Bernardo, Propper, Stephens, Bissouma, Knockaert, Andone, Jahanbakhsh
Out: Speroni, Sakho, Souare (Crystal Palace); Balogun, Gross (Brighton)
Gordon Banks a footballing legend has passed away at the age of 81 and it is worth remembering a player that stamped his legacy on the game we call football.
Banks will be remembered for three things; winning the World Cup, making one of the greatest saves in football history and tragically losing an eye in a car crash. But away from the game he was also a kind, gentile person and no one had a bad word to say about him.
His greatest days of course was in 1966 when his goalkeeping heroics helped England win the World Cup when they beat West Germany 4-2 in the final. This win remains England’s only major international trophy, and of course was the highlight of Banks career. It made him of course a footballing legend the world over, but it was interesting how Banks feet stayed on the ground.
They didn’t four years later in Mexico when England were defending their World Cup trophy against tournament favourites Brazil. Everyone knew that Brazil were far and away the best side at that World Cup, and so what a tie we had to feast on when the pre tournament favourites were playing the current world champions. At one moment Pele the greatest player of a generation saw a space on the bottom left hand corner of the goal and rose up like an oak tree to head home. It was going to be a goal surely, but Pele wasn’t counting on Banks to dive down and save the ball which spiralled high up in the air and went out for a corner.
This save left his teammates dazzled and even Pele could not believe it. Though Brazil went on to win that game 1-0 and then won the World Cup against Italy in the final, that save actually brought about a special friendship between Pele and Banks that lasted a lifetime.
Banks won league cups with both Stoke and Leicester but it is on a personal level that he will always be remembered. FIFA named Banks the best goalkeeper in the world in 1966, 67, 68, 69, 70 and 1971. For six years running Banks was considered the best player between the sticks, which is quite some recognition. Banks ended up playing for England 73 times.
Banks is clearly the best England goalkeeper of all time and one of the greatest keepers of all time too, he was also a gentleman and a down to earth individual which in these days isn’t always in abundance with the common footballer.
Leicester were knocked out of the 3rd round of the FA Cup after their shock loss to Newport County by 2-1 at the weekend. And the blame game should be directed at Leicester’s manager Claude Puel.
Puel made wholesale changes to his normal Premier League squad with the biggest gap being upfront with the omission of Jamie Vardy. One can only wonder why Puel has not respected the FA Cup?
Of course back in 2016 Leicester shocked everyone when they won the Premier League, something that we are not likely to see again for a very long while. But realistically speaking when the likes of a team like Leicester start the season, they are usually not going to win the league.
There are three competitions that they can win, the league, FA Cup and Carabao Cup, and only the cup competitions give teams like Leicester a realistic chance of winning. Their Carabao Cup hopes were fought with more pride but they went out at the quarter final stage against Manchester City on penalties which was very unfortunate given that they would have played Burton Albion in the semi finals- then again if they cannot Newport…..
But this match was a real shocker for them. It is one thing going out of a cup competition against the champions of England quite another against Newport. But what was Puel thinking, not to take this game seriously?
Leicester are currently 7th in the league but they are almost 20 points behind 4th place and will not be finishing in a Champions League position. At the other end they are almost 20 points from the bottom three and will not be getting relegated, so why didn’t Puel start his best team for this game and why didn’t he get the team behind this fantastic competition- after all it is a trophy at the end of the day which is up for grabs, and nothing makes sense about The Foxes attitude coming into this game. Newport always seemed like the hungrier team and now they have got their just rewards.
For Puel this is a real head shaker not to be fully committed to a cup competition. It’s true that the top 4 sides in England haven’t always taken cup competitions as seriously but then again they are challenging for the league title or a European one, Leicester are challenging for 7th place trying to get to 6th.
Puel’s attitude and other managers around him need to change as cup competitions remain the best chances to win trophies for mid table teams and Puel should be a little embarrassed about his choices at the weekend.
For the first time this season it finally happened, Liverpool after 21 games lost a game in the Premier League.
It was a fantastic run which saw some fantastic results including only a week ago demolishing Arsenal 5-1. But the run came to an end when the Reds visited the Etihad the home of current champions Manchester City and lost 2-1 in a quite frenetic game of football.
Liverpool still have the advantage in the league and lead by 4 points as they try to win England’s top domestic competition for the first time since 1990. But now that they have lost how will Liverpool react? History has told us it is how you finally react to a loss that defines you as a champion. In the league we will have to wait another week given that cup matches take over England this weekend.
One wonders if that is a hindrance or actually a good thing for Liverpool. On one hand it’s frustrating as the team want to play their next league game, win it, and prove that the City loss was just a tiny blip. On the other hand if they can get a good FA Cup win then that could restore some confidence going into the next league match. So that remains interesting to see.
Liverpool will play Wolves and the game is away from home which could be a tricky 90 minutes for the club. The fact that they have been paired with a Premier League team at this stage of the cup is not to their advantage. But of course they will still be favourites to win. But if they did lose then a serious question will be asked, ‘are Liverpool losing their bottle?’ It has happened before and manager Jurgen Klopp will have to field a strong side and get the victory over Wolves- that match does not take place until Monday.
In the league Liverpool’s next games are against the likes of Brighton, Crystal Palace and Leicester and the last two games are at home. These are all winnable games for the club, but at the same time, you never quite know in regards to the Premier League.
It seems that February will be a big month for Liverpool where towards the end of it they will have to play Bayern Munich in the Champions League and then follow that up with an away match against Manchester United who have been in terrific form, and the Merseyside derby follows just a week after that.
There is all to play for and of course Manchester City and Tottenham will have to keep winning too, but Liverpool are under real pressure again to produce the goods when it matters. That is how hard it is to win the Premier League nowadays.
The 13th week of the 2018-19 Premier League season sees Manchester City travel to West Ham, while Tottenham host Chelsea in one of the biggest games of the campaign so far. Let’s take a look at 11 players who you should consider for your EPL Fantasy team this weekend…
GK – Rui Patricio (Wolves)
Wolves play two of the Premier League’s lowest-scoring sides — Huddersfield and Cardiff — over the next week, so Rui Patricio is well worth considering. The Portuguese goalkeeper has 18 points so far this season.
The 12th week of the 2018-19 Premier League season sees Manchester City take on Manchester United, while Liverpool host Fulham and Chelsea welcome Everton to Stamford Bridge. Let’s take a look at 11 players who you should consider for your EPL Fantasy team this weekend…
GK – Alisson (Liverpool)
Alisson is an expensive addition at 10.00m but he’s worth every last million. The Liverpool goalkeeper has 42 points this season and he’s likely to add to that tally against Fulham on Sunday.