Tottenham welcomed Huddersfield Town to their new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium at the weekend, and sent the home crowd home very happy indeed with a 4-0 win over the Premier League’s bottom side. The performance was as impressive as one may expect of a side with Spurs’ quality, though goalkeeper Hugo Lloris was barely troubled throughout the game. He was only called into action in the dying stages to keep a free-kick from Huddersfield’s Juninho Bacuna out of the net, but otherwise it was a great showing all round. The star, however, was easily Spurs midfielder Lucas Moura. Victor Wanyama opened the scoring on 24 minutes, but Moura scored just three minutes later when he was played in by Moussa Sissoko – and never looked back.
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.
When a weekend of Premier League action sees some unusually uniform results, it can be difficult to choose a “Game of the Weekend” from the bunch, and depends largely on your criteria. Perhaps Southampton’s 1-0 win at Brighton stands out for you, if for no other reason than it was the only game with less than two goals. If you are a fan of Crystal Palace or Leicester then no doubt you would have been pleased to see your beloved side record a home win, or maybe Everton fans could be the happiest as they won away from home with a clean sheet at West Ham – the only side other than Man City to do so. Of course, if a game could have more of an impact on the progressing season, there can surely be little argument that Liverpool taking on Spurs tops the bill.
Sadio Mane, Mo Salah, Sergio Aguero, Eden Hazard and Marcos Alonso are among the high-scorers for EPL Fantasy managers so far this season, but there are plenty of other players across the league who could be worthy of inclusion in your team this weekend.
GK – Kepa Arrizabalaga (Chelsea)
Chelsea’s big-money summer signing has picked up 12 points so far this season – Liverpool’s Alisson is the only goalkeeper with more – and he will surely add to that tally in the upcoming matches against low-scoring Cardiff and West Ham.
Our match of the weekend goes to a weekday game at Old Trafford which featured Tottenham Hotspur slipping into an interesting dimension of youthful spirit and togetherness waltzing with mature English grit and determination that has many Lillywhite loyalists dismissing the perception of a two-legged title race. A back four of Trippier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, and Rose did the job as well as was needed, keeping a clean sheet away from home and earning a boatload of points between them.
Further up in the midfield, buyers of Christian Eriksen will rejoice as he puts some much needed returns on the board, assisting the first of Lucas Moura’s goals. Dembele rejoined the starting 11, seeing his stock increase with the first clean sheet of Spur’s season. Elsewhere, Dele Alli’s number of goal celebration finger displays has now outpaced his goal tally, even though he had a few chances of his own, including a gilt-edge one on one with De Gea who was out of goal.
However the real winners of this week’s Fantasy EPL round were the owners of a diminutive and unproven Brazilian, unto whom the always-vindicated manager of Tottenham Hotspur granted a third consecutive start. Lucas repaid his manager’s trust by taking some of the strain off the shoulders of the normal star man, letting Kane know there would be no need to stay late at the office that night.
He put the poorly-constructed United back line to the sword and finished with a brace. If you haven’t watched his second goal, do yourself a favor; it hearkens back to a time of static center-halves stumbling over their feet trying to stop the speedy superstars of years gone by. More importantly however, it hearkens back to a time when a select group of fantasy managers spent 7 million on an unproven goal-scorer, and were rewarded with a point haul which places the young Brazilian among the best in the league so far.
On the other side, one noticed some obvious and much needed changes from the Brighton game among Manchester United’s starting lineup. Jose opted not to stick with what he bought, but rather what was there when he arrived – replacing Lindelof and Bailly with Jones and Smalling. I’ll admit I thought Smalling did a good job of marshaling the obvious threat of Kane during what was a resilient first half for United, who looked on the whole, from Smalling, through Pogba, and up to Lukaku as if they were really trying to turn the ship around.
Unfortunately for those who picked the ladder, he missed or was denied every opportunity the enterprising United left-flank provided him. Owners of Luke Shaw, who started brightly at Leicester on the opening weekend, might be puzzled to see the lack of points he accumulated during his third consecutive ninety minute spell. But as unfortunate as the United attack proved, woe unto those who selected the ragged defensive unit which Mourinho trotted out onto the field, who were bested and bullied for most of the second half by the aforementioned tactful and mature Lost Boys of north London.
Manchester United in the meanwhile seem rooted as firmly as ever in the post-Ferguson limbo they’ve been in for years now. Jose Mourinho, who once had players breaking down walls for him, can’t quite get the best from a group who shouldn’t look this mediocre. I don’t blame Jose for anything more than the football, but even concerning that, it must be an immense challenge when such a giant chunk of world football fans are wondering whether or not you will get the sack before Christmas.
Navigating the waters of the Manchester United squad in relation to lineups and who might score or provide from here on out is above my pay-grade you understand, so I can’t offer much advice for those looking to try. Away from home at Burnley is not an ideal place to start silencing the already enormous amount of critics, but the Special One needs some results to get the fan’s support back – and the quicker the better.
Leicester vs Liverpool – King Power Stadium
While Maguire’s 95th minute winner will certainly send the Foxes tail up into this clash against the early league leaders, we think Liverpool will continue building their defensive record this season and claim the win. Fantasy managers who own stock in the Anfield Defense will look ahead with joy, as Leicester will be without Jamie Vardy, whose scoring record against the Reds is remarkable – 7 strikes in 5 games.
What was largely expected to be a routine victory for Tottenham on a fine Saturday afternoon at Wembley turned out to be a real battle for Mauricio Pochettino’s men against a newly-promoted Fulham side that had put up a relatively poor showing against Crystal Palace in their opening fixture of the Premier League season.
It was a hard-fought win for Spurs but a win nonetheless. The game could’ve had an entirely different outcome, though, if former PSG winger, Lucas Moura hadn’t come up with something special for Tottenham right before half-time to take some pressure off his side going into the half time-break.
Ever since Spurs signed Moura back in January, he’s become somewhat of a forgotten figure. Once heralded as Brazil’s next big star but pushed out of PSG to accommodate Brazil’s current ace, Neymar, the 26-year-old’s acquisition was viewed as a great one, but mostly for the increased depth he offers Pochettino’s side than anything else.
With Heung-Ming Son away on international duty for South Korea at the Asian games, Moura is effectively doing what he was signed for – providing depth and filling in for an unavailable starter whilst undoubtedly looking to usurp Son’s position in the first-team, or at least give Pochettino something to think about before the South-Korean international’s return.
As we all know, as long as a player gets a good run of games, and puts up stellar performances in those games, he can go from the fringes of a team, to being an important first team player pretty quickly and that’s what Moura looks poised to achieve in Son’s absence; to reignite his career and introduce a new dynamic to Spurs’ attack as a ‘new signing’ considering he is, after all, somewhat new to the team and hasn’t really been given opportunities to show the Premier League what he’s capable of.
Moura possesses blistering pace and superb dribbling skills which allows him to pose a massive threat when he steps on the pitch. His creativity and penchant for spectacular tricks and goals serves to make him unpredictable as evidenced by his sublime curler against Fulham which seemingly came out of no where.
Before moving to Spurs for $25million back in January, Lucas Moura had started exactly zero games in the Ligue 1.
His playing time didn’t improve immediately upon his arrival at Spurs having made just 6 league appearances, four of which saw him come off the bench. Moura, though, surely wouldn’t have been expecting to be a first-team player right off the bat considering the quality Pochettino’s attacking options which inadvertently ensured the Brazilian winger remained a fresh face to Premier League sides.
Given he’s got a massive chance to start games now, Moura will definitely be looking to replicate his performance against Fulham in Spurs’ subsequent games due to having an opportunity to make strides towards becoming a regular first team player as well as to gain popularity amongst the club’s fans.
Tottenham’s forays into the transfer market were nonexistent, something they may very well come to rue at some point this season despite Moura’s presence within the squad. Although, having been able to retain the services of the likes of Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Cristian Eriksen thus far means Spurs still boast of a strong squad that is capable of challenging for a top four spot and getting to the latter stages of the FA Cup and maybe even the Champions League.
But despite holding on to their best players, Spurs’ season looks likely to be one of ‘almosts’ as has been the case with their recent campaigns due to the lack of the overwhelming quality required to go all the way and win a piece of silverware.
Lucas Moura, to a large extent appears to be capable of supplementing Tottenham’s lack of signings up front, but he still faces competition for a starting berth from Erik Lamela who has been in the shadows of Spurs’ perpetual progression over the past few seasons due to injuries but looks keen on becoming a key player once again.
Lamela made a case for himself after coming off the bench to produce a great assist for Harry Kane which helped the England international to dismiss talk of an August goalscoring Hoodoo.
At the moment, Moura’s only competition for a starting spot is Lamela, but should he manage to build on his latest performance he will be able to cement his place in Tottenham’s starting XI, at least until Son returns from international duty.
There have been some high profile transfers this January, the kind that had been absent in recent winter windows, the kind that do actually inspire excitement from the fans, rather than the transfers for the sake of it that we appear to see too often.
Big names, big clubs, some big transfer fees too – but one appears to have crept under the radar somewhat. And that is the £25m Tottenham signing Lucas Moura.
The Brazilian has spent the last four years at Paris St. Germain, following his £38m move from Sao Paulo in 2013, a move that saw Moura choose PSG over Manchester Unitd and Inter. He went on to cement himself as a first team regular, with his pacey runs and trickery, and netting 33 goals from attacking midfield. But with recent big money signings Julian Draxler, Kylian Mbappe, and Neymar, there is competition for places, commercial considerations, and the preference of manager Unai Emery has been to freeze Moura out. Continue reading