Hope for other EPL clubs after Manchester City draw with Tottenham

The Premier League season has started and 20 clubs will fight against each other for the coveted league title but also for European places & survival. In the first top clash of the season, a home match, Manchester City was all geared up to face Tottenham. In the last season, European finalists Tottenham knocked Man City out of the Champions League in the quarter-final.

Thus, the pressure was more on Manchester City as they have to give payback but also prove their mettle. The dreams and hopes of the supporters of City, as well as the players, involve winning as many trophies as possible this season. People who do sports betting invest a lot of money on these clubs through the real money casinos.

Manchester City were unable to defeat Tottenham. The match ended in a 2-2 draw. City players and fans will feel hard done by. Pep Guardiola’s champions will not have an easy time ahead. No team beat City since last season when Spurs accomplished a 1-0 victory in the Champions League. Since that loss, Guardiola’s men won many important matches, including two games versus Tottenham- one in the Champions League return leg and another in the league.

Last Saturday, a resounding 5-0 win in West Ham proved Manchester City will be aiming for another league title. Before Saturday 2-2 draw with Spurs, City had played 15 Premier League matches and won all of them to remain undefeated in the league since they lost 2-1 on January 29 in Newcastle. In the Champions League, Spurs defeated City and showed the other clubs that this was a possible feat. This led to a frantic second leg with more goals and much drama.

Manchester City set a record by winning 18 matches in succession in the Premier Leagues during the 2017/18 season. Unfortunately for City, they will not be able to beat or even match that record following the 2-2 home draw against bogey side Tottenham.

While records are good to have, what really matters to City and their fans is winning trophies, among them the coveted Premier League title. However, fans would love to see City lift the Champions League trophy as well. The 2-2 draw against Spurs has once again showed other English clubs that it is possible to derail this extremely talented City side.

For other clubs and in particular Liverpool, they must keep pace and they need to vanquish all the top 6 rival teams to maintain their extraordinary form. Last season, they gathered 97 points keeping the incredible form intact and lost only once in the entire season. Due to this loss, they came in second and Manchester City emerged as the winner last season. They lost the match to Man City and ended up losing the league by a single point which was quite saddening for Liverpool and their supporters. Liverpool beat Norwich 4-1 on opening weekend and followed that up with a second win away at Southampton meaning they are currently are on six points to City’s four.

That being said, for the coming three months, Liverpool may not be able to get close to the team of Guardiola again. This is because of the fixtures that are in front of them. Keeping the title race alive will be quite compelling just like it was last season. Manchester City was defeated last season by Newcastle and this simply showed how even struggling teams can play well and defeat the giants. 

Newcastle’s victory may be repeated by Norwich, Bournemouth or Brighton but it will be an extremely difficult feat against the talented and deep City side. Despite the 2-2 draw, it can be said that City’s players will have the opportunity to win match after match in the upcoming weeks and perhaps even build a small lead at the top before the trip to Anfield. Liverpool and Klopp are perhaps the only ones capable of stopping City from winning a third consecutive league title, However, watch out for Spurs would could still derail City when the two teams face each other in London.

European Super Cup win proves Jurgen Klopp has banished ghosts of the past

The sight of Jurgen Klopp sprinting across the pitch at the sound of the full time whistle is one we, as football fans, have witnessed more than once over the last year or so. Indeed, the German coach has done a lot of winning of late and he kept that trend going by leading Liverpool to the European Super Cup on Wednesday night.

It wasn’t as convincing a win as the victory over Tottenham Hotspur in the final of last season’s Champions League, only seeing off Chelsea in a penalty shootout, but nonetheless, it was a result that saw Liverpool get their hands on a second piece of silverware in the space of just a few months.

Some people see the European Super Cup as nothing more than a glorified friendly. There is something in that, but victory in Istanbul on Wednesday night proved that Klopp has banished the ghosts of the past. The German has become a hardened winner over the past year to 18 months.

This was always the criticism of Klopp – for all that he had turned around the fortunes of Liverpool, he had still win a title until last season. Worse still, there was a common suggestion that the Reds froze on the big stage, that Klopp lacked the necessary quality to get his team over the line when it mattered most.

Of course, winning the Champions League last season quelled these criticisms, but beating Chelsea in the European Super Cup went some way to proving that it wasn’t a fluke. That Liverpool now have that trait that all legendary teams have – they want to collect trophies and winners’ medals.

There was mocking of Liverpool’s reaction to Adrian’s penalty save from Tammy Abraham, the moment that saw the Merseysiders come out on top, but this was the sign of a team that has grown to crave winning. They will carry that into the 2019/20 Premier League season as they attempt to catch Manchester City at the top.

Klopp has always been a master at generating a positive dressing room environment. His players want to play for him, would do anything for him. But now Liverpool’s players are playing for more than just their charismatic German coach. They’re playing to win and the European Super Cup win demonstrated that. Klopp has taken Liverpool to the next stage.

How well do you know English football? Want to challenge the best English Fantasy Managers? Play www.epl-fantasy.com now.

Business as usual as Manchester City and Liverpool get off to flying starts in the Premier League

So the Premier League has kicked off and it seems that it is business as usual as both the title favourites Manchester City and Liverpool got off to flying starts. Not only did they win their respective games they scored 9 goals between them.

Liverpool got the ball rolling (pardon the pun) when they beat Norwich 4-1 at Anfield on Friday night. It was always going to be extremely difficult for Norwich who have just been promoted from the Championship to take on the European champions and last seasons runners up in the league and so it proved. With ease Liverpool scored 4 goals and Norwich showed their naivety.

At the same time it wasn’t all plain sailing for Jurgen Klopp’s team and Norwich played some tidy football and created quite a few clear cut chances. If Liverpool who have arguably one of the best defences in Europe defend like they did on Friday night against a top 6 team they will suffer. Plus Alisson went off injured and Klopp will be hoping that his Brazilian goal keeper is only out for a limited time. Still it was a great start for Liverpool who will be looking to win their first league title since 1990.

The next day at lunchtime ended up being a miss match, when champions Manchester City went to West Ham and didn’t break sweat as they scored 5 goals with no reply. Raheem Sterling was deservedly the man of the match after he started his campaign with a fantastic hattrick. West Ham were toothless and unlike Norwich gave no fight and no hope as to how they will pick up points this season. Of course the Hammers have had some hyped arrivals in the likes of Pablo Fornals and Sebastian Haller and even though Fornals only came on from the bench in the 2nd half, he made almost no impact except for a teasing cross.

City were simply breath taking on the ball and the pace and fitness was evident compared to West Ham who are set for another frustrating season. The only other story to take from the game is VAR. It was used no less than 3 times and on each occasion got the decision right but there has to still be a question of is VAR good for football? Wasn’t the game supposed to be a simple one, that would include human error? After all England would not have become world cup champions in 1966 had VAR been in place.

True there has been shocking decisions in football, but it can work for and against your team. Maybe VAR takes that moment away in football.  Now when your team score, you will celebrate but perhaps have one eye on the referee and his assistants just in case. What will happen this season is penalties being retaken. It happened in the West Ham game when players encroached the area and it will happen when the goalkeeper leaves his line, and we can expect many penalty problems as a result.

The one damning verdict of West Ham’s defeat was the roar the fans gave as if they had scored a goal. They hadn’t, instead VAR had ruled out a City goal. Is that what teams outside the top 10 will be cheering about in the future?

 

 

Did Liverpool miss an opportunity this summer?

It would be incorrect to say Liverpool went through the entire summer transfer window without making a signing. Technically speaking, the European champions made three additions to their squad, with teenagers Sepp van den Berg and Harvey Elliott and former West Ham goalkeeper Adrian all signing.

It would, however, be fair to say none of these signings will greatly improve Liverpool in the short term, with the combined sum of just £1.7 million used to capture all three. In these case of van den Berg and Elliott, these were additions with one eye, maybe even both eyes, on the future. And Adrian was signed to replace Simon Mignolet as the Reds’ number two behind Alisson Becker.

Indeed, it was a quiet summer at Anfield. Last summer saw Liverpool make Alisson the most expensive goalkeeper in history, with Naby Keita also signed for big money. Six months before that they made Virgil Van Dijk the Premier League’s most expensive defender, smashing their club record transfer fee. The contrast between all this and the crickets of this summer was stark.

Some will argue that Liverpool didn’t need to make many squad adjustments. They are European champions, after all. But it is almost always a good idea to strengthen from a position of power and Jurgen Klopp’s side failed to do that this summer transfer window.

As historic as the 2018/19 season was for Liverpool, they still finished behind Manchester City in the Premier League table. The Reds may have pushed them all the way, but as far as their title ambitions are concerned there is still work to do to catch Pep Guardiola’s champions.

City made two big signings to improve their starting lineup, with Rodri signed from Atletico Madrid as the successor to Fernandinho and Joao Cancelo lured from Juventus. Both these players will strengthen a squad already considered the strongest in the Premier League, maybe even in Europe.

Klopp has moulded this Liverpool team in his own through good coaching, but the acceleration of their development came through ruthless spending. When the Anfield side needed a centre back, they got the best one they could find. When they needed a goalkeeper, they did the same.

There was nothing ruthless about Liverpool’s business this summer. It’s difficult to escape the feeling that having given themselves such a strong platform last season they have spurned an opportunity. Improving on last season was always going to be difficult. Even more so now.

How well do you know English football? Want to challenge the best English Fantasy Managers? Play www.epl-fantasy.com now.

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

Predicted lineups for the first weekend of the new EPL season

The English Premier League returns on Friday night when European champions Liverpool face Norwich City at Anfield.

There is a full programme of matches on between Friday night and Sunday afternoon with all 20 Premier League teams in action on the opening weekend.

Here are our predicted lineups for those EPL fixtures so have a read in preparation to get your EPL fantasy season off to the perfect start.

Liverpool v Norwich City

Liverpool XI: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Henderson, Keita, Salah, Firmino, Mane

Norwich City XI: Krul, Aarons, Klose, Godfrey, Lewis, McLean, Vrancic, Buendia, Stiepermann, Hernandez, Pukki

Questionable: Milner (Liverpool); Klose, Tettey (Norwich)

Out: Clyne (Liverpool); Zimmerman (Norwich)

West Ham United v Manchester City

West Ham XI: Fabianski, Fredericks, Balbuena, Diop, Cresswell, Noble, Rice, Fornals, Antonio, Haller, Anderson

Manchester City XI: Ederson, Walker, Stones, Otamendi, Zinchenko, De Bruyne, Rodrigo, David Silva, Bernardo Silva, Aguero, Sterling

Questionable: Fabianski, Noble (West Ham); Laporte, Sane (Man City)

Out: Mendy (Man City)

Burnley v Southampton

Burnley XI: Pope, Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Pieters, Lennon, Cork, Westwood, McNeil, Barnes, Wood

Southampton XI: Gunn, Valery, Bednarek, Vestergaard, Bertrand, Romeu, Hojbjerg, Ward-Prowse, Djenepo, Adams, Ings

Questionable: Tarkowski, Long, Brady (Burnley)

Out: Defour (Burnley)

Crystal Palace v Everton

Crystal Palace XI: Guaita, Ward, Dann, Sakho, Van Aanholt, McArthur, Milivojevic, Meyer, Townsend, Benteke, Ayew

Everton XI: Pickford, Coleman, Keane, Mina, Digne, Gomes, Schneiderlin, Richarlison, Sigurdsson, Bernard, Kean

Questionable: Sakho (Crystal Palace); Delph, Baines (Everton)

Out: Tomkins (Crystal Palace)

Bournemouth v Sheffield United

Bournemouth XI: Travers, Stacey, Steve Cook, Ake, Daniels, Wilson, Billing, Lerma, Fraser, King, Wilson

Sheffield United XI: Henderson, Basham, Egan, O’Connell, Baldock, Norwood, Fleck, Stevens, Freeman, McBurnie, Sharp

Questionable: Steve Cook, Daniels (Bournemouth)

Out: Francis, Kelly, Brooks, Stanislas, Gosling, Lewis Cook (Bournemouth)

Watford v Brighton

Watford XI: Foster, Femenia, Dawson, Cathcart, Holebas, Capoue, Doucoure, Hughes, Pereyra, Deeney, Deulofeu

Brighton XI: Ryan, Duffy, Webster, Dunk, Montoya, Stephens, Propper, March, Gross, Trossard, Maupay

Questionable: Deulofeu (Watford)

Out: Bissouma, Izquierdo (Brighton)

Spurs v Aston Villa

Spurs XI: Lloris, Walker-Peters, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose, Sissoko, Winks, Ndombele, Lamela, Kane, Moura

Aston Villa XI: Heaton, Guilbert, Engels, Mings, Targett, Jota, McGinn, Hourihane, Grealish, El Ghazi, Wesley

Questionable: Davies, Aurier, Dier, Wanyama (Spurs); Nyland, Steer, Konsa, El Ghazi (Aston Villa)

Out: Foyth, Son, Alli (Spurs)

Newcastle United v Arsenal

Newcastle XI: Dubravka, Manquillo, Lascelles, Fernandes, Schar, Willems, Hayden, Shelvey, Longstaff, Almiron, Joelinton

Arsenal XI: Leno, Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Mustafi, Kolasinac, Torreira, Xhaka, Guendouzi, Ozil, Lacazette, Aubameyang

Questionable: Ritchie, Colback (Newcastle); Lacazette (Arsenal)

Out: Yedlin, Lejeune (Newcastle); Bellerin, Holding (Arsenal)

Leicester City v Wolves

Leicester XI: Schmeichel, Ricardo, Morgan, Evans, Chilwell, Tielemans, Ndidi, Ayoze Perez, Maddison, Gray, Vardy

Wolves XI: Patricio, Bennett, Coady, Boly, Doherty, Dendoncker, Neves, Moutinho, Castro, Jimenez, Jota

Questionable: Mendy (Leicester); Doherty, Jimenez (Wolves)

Out: n/a

Manchester United v Chelsea

Manchester United XI: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, Pogba, McTominay, James, Lingard, Rashford, Martial

Chelsea XI: Kepa, Azpilicueta, Zouma, Christensen, Emerson, Jorginho, Kante, Pedro, Mount, Pulisic, Abraham

Questionable: Pogba (Man Utd); Kante, Willian (Chelsea)

Out: Bailly (Man Utd); Rudiger, Loftus-Cheek, Hudson-Odoi (Chelsea)

 

Play the newest EPL fantasy game here https://epl-fantasy.com

Preview of the opening weekend of the Premier League season

The English Premier League returns to our screens this Friday night when Liverpool welcome Norwich City to Anfield.

Daniel Farke’s newly-promoted Canaries are back in the top flight for the first time since May 2016.

Farke led Norwich to the Championship title in May and the 42-year-old German coach will be eager to make a good and lasting impression on the Premier League.

Liverpool, however, will want to start with three points and after their impressive Community Shield display against Manchester City last Sunday, you’d be a fool to bet against Jurgen Klopp’s side. Continue reading

Rodri has potential, but could be Man City’s Fabinho

Having spent somewhere close to £1 billion on new players in the past decade, this summer has been somewhat quiet for Manchester City. They have, by and large, left the transfer market bluster to others around them. They did, however, break their club transfer record to sign Rodri from Atletico Madrid.

The Spanish international looked like the perfect fit for Pep Guardiola’s style. He is good on the ball, possesses excellent positional awareness and a sharp footballing brain. Indeed, Rodri is a footballer built in the mould of the Catalan coach. It wasn’t a surprise that Guardiola was interested in him.

The 23-year-old made his competitive debut in the Community Shield win over Liverpool on Sunday. There were moments that hinted at the potential of the former Atleti midfielder, but he was also caught on the ball a few times. For all that Rodri’s brilliance cannot be doubted, it might take him a while to get used to his new surroundings.

He could find himself in a similar situation to that of Fabinho last season. He too was a big money summer signing designed to slot into Liverpool’s central midfield. However, the Brazilian was kept out of the starting lineup by Jurgen Klopp for a number of weeks as he adjusted to his new team. Rodri might experience the same thing.

“I think he has lots of talented players but maybe one of the things the team can get is more physical,” Rodri explained in an interview during Man City’s pre-season tour of Asia. “We have lots of players that are great or small and you never know if it’s good or bad, but having a mix of players is always good.

“Football is changing now. It’s getting more physical. It’s good for me to have that physique in the position I play. I noticed years ago that I had to become both a defensive and an attacking player if I wanted to be good enough to be in Manchester.”

The physicality is just one aspect Rodri will need to adapt to. He seemed somewhat surprised by the high pressing game of Liverpool in the Community Shield, losing the ball more than a couple times as a result. Man City face this on a near weekly basis in the Premier League and so Rodri will need to get better in this sense as well.

Fabinho ultimately played a crucial role in what was an historic season for Liverpool. Rodri has been bought with one eye on the long term future. He is seen as the natural successor to Fernandinho, but it might be a while before he fully embraces that role.

How well do you know English football? Want to challenge the best English Fantasy Managers? Play www.epl-fantasy.com now.

Liverpool’s returning stars can make a huge difference

Jurgen Klopp churned out the dreaded quote earlier this summer about Liverpool’s stars who are returning from injury can be like new signings for the club.

Much of the LFC fanbase seemed to go into meltdown on social media. Fans were calling for FSG’s heads, claiming the club is in the best financial state it’s ever been in and, therefore, need to be splashing the cash to keep pace with Premier League champions Manchester City.

Well, what if Klopp is right? What if, just for a few minutes, we take a step back and consider what he was saying and who he was saying it about? Continue reading

Liverpool’s transfer strategy has served them well and they must stick with it

Liverpool have become accustomed to spending big in recent years. 18 months ago, they made Virgil Van Dijk the most expensive defender in the history of the game, spending £75 million on the Dutchman. Last summer, Alisson Becker arrived as the club’s new goalkeeper for a hefty £67 million.

This summer, however, has been rather more subdued at Anfield. The European champions have made just one signing teenager Sepp Van den Berg for just £1.3 million and the lack of transfer speculation suggests there will be not much more spent before the start of the 2019/20 season.

Jurgen Klopp

In contrast, Manchester City have spent a club record fee of £62.8 million on Rodri with Angelino returning from PSV Eindhoven for £6 million. Manchester United have spent £55 million on Aaron Wan-Bissaka and £20 million on Daniel James, while Tottenham Hotspur have broken their club transfer record to sign Tanguy Ndombele for around £60 million and a further £80 million is expected to be splurged on Giovani Lo Celso and Ryan Sessegnon.

“This year is not the end of Liverpool FC,” said Jurgen Klopp when asked to explain his club’s lack of activity in the transfer market this summer. “Next year there will be another transfer window. This team is really good and we have invested a lot in it. Now we have to work with that.

“I can’t say anything about what other teams are doing. I don’t know how they do it. We have to pay bills. Sorry. Everybody has to pay bills; we have to pay bills. We invested money in this team. Now it looks like we are not. But we are not in this fantasia land where you just get whatever you want. You cannot do it constantly.”

Liverpool will spend money when the right target becomes available, though. They did it with Van Dijk and Alisson and they would have done it this summer. The right target hasn’t come to the fore, though. Liverpool’s recent transfer strategy has turned them into one of the best teams in England and Europe and they are right to stand by it.

They must resist the urge to make a big money signing for the sake of it. That’s what rivals Man Utd have been guilty of doing in recent years. Liverpool have proven themselves to be smarter than that. It might look like they are standing still, but the wrong signing can take a team backwards.

How well do you know English football? Want to challenge the best English Fantasy Managers? Play www.epl-fantasy.com now.