Fantasy Premier League Gameweek 2 Picks

All 20 Premier League teams will be in action this weekend for the first time in 2020-21, with four games on Saturday, four on Sunday and the final two of the gameweek taking place on Monday night.

Manchester City and Manchester United were given last weekend off due to their involvement in European competition abroad last month. The Citizens start their campaign away to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday night, whilst Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side host Crystal Palace on Saturday evening.

Here are our fantasy football suggestions for the weekend:

Goalkeeper: Jordan Pickford (Everton)
Everton started the season with a 1-0 win away to Tottenham Hotspur last weekend as Carlo Ancelotti handed debuts to three of his summer signings. Allan did an excellent job in protecting the back four whilst James Rodriguez created a number of chances in the opening half.

The Toffees welcome West Bromwich Albion to Goodison Park on Saturday lunchtime with the newly-promoted side having been beaten 0-3 at home by Leicester City without really causing any problems for the opposition. Slaven Bilic’s side may not see much better luck this weekend against an organised defence so Jordan Pickford should be a good pick between the sticks.

Continue reading

Can Brandon Williams replace Luke Shaw?

After yet another away game without a win, Ole Gunnar Solskjær has some serious thinking to do about how to improve Manchester United’s fortunes between now and the end of the season. 

Sitting in 10th place in the Premier League, the Red Devils are going to be on the backfoot now and, with the limited squad they possess, will not be feared by any visiting team looking for those crucial three points.

Manchester United might have brought in three talents in the summer transfer window to bolster the team, but the club are still a number of core players away from getting anywhere close to where they want to be.

An area on the pitch that has been most disconcerting in recent years has been left back. Luke Shaw was signed from Southampton to lock down that position for years to come, but after the Englishman’s double leg break in 2015, he is yet to sustain a season without any injuries or consistent performances.

In the Red Devils’ latest Europa League fixture against AZ Alkmaar, it was Brandon Williams who stepped in at left back after a successful start to the season with the reserves. In his five appearances in the Premier League 2, Williams has four assists and has had the armband at 19-years-old.

Manchester United quite clearly rate the England youth international highly, which is why he has played against Rochdale in the Carabao Cup, as well as Rotherham earlier in the season in the EFL Trophy.

Shaw is only 24 himself with a contract that runs until 2023. It is plain to see that his attacking output is nowhere near what it should be, which is why attention is now being turned to this position by the fans in order to add another dimension to the team’s attack.

The former Southampton full back was close to exiting Old Trafford under José Mourinho’s harsh treatment, but signed a new five-year deal 12 months ago. There has been a slight improvement under Solskjær, but he is not yet regained his confidence he had when down on the south coast, nor when he first joined the club.

Williams looks hungry and motivated to challenge Shaw and begin his understudy role this season. In his 90 minutes against Alkmaar, on a poor surface pitch and in a team that is drastically underperforming, Williams came out on top and looked a class act.

Of course, the young left back is going to have moments that highlight his rawness, but at 19, it is to be expected. There is a great maturity shown by Williams in a defensive manner, which is coupled with his eagerness to get forward and try to create something in attack.

There are bound to be more twists and turns in this season for Manchester United, but one thing that is for certain is their youth are ready to make the next step and challenge the seasoned professionals who are not quite cutting it.

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

EPL Weekend Picks – Week 28

shawThis weekend’s Premier League fixture list promises another round of tension, goals, celebration and despair. Proceedings get underway Saturday lunchtime with the north London derby, Spurs welcoming Arsenal as their guests at Wembley. We also have a relegation clash as Brighton host bottom side Huddersfield, while on Sunday we have a west London derby – Fulham vs Chelsea – and the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park. Manchester City look to continue their bid to retain the Premier League crown when they travel to Bournemouth 24 hours before Liverpool’s trip across Stanley Park, and with both of those fixtures proving potentially slippery for the top two this weekend could well start to shape the landscape as the domestic season rolls on.

Continue reading

How many Manchester United players would get in Manchester City’s matchday squad?

Jose Mourinho Paul Pogba

One of the biggest matches of the 2018-19 Premier League season so far takes place on Sunday when Manchester United make the short trip to the Etihad Stadium to face Manchester City.

Jose Mourinho’s United have had a resurgence of late but their tally of 20 points from 11 games is still below expectations, while Pep Guardiola’s table-topping City have continued their fine form from last season and remain unbeaten in the league.

Every time two of the Premier League’s elite go head-to-head, you can expect to see people comparing the teams by putting together a combined XI from both squads.

Continue reading

Luke Shaw’s contract extension was bound to happen soon or later

luke shaw

The news of Luke Shaw and his contract being extended till 2023 with the option of another 12 months was made official on Thursday, where the player and Jose Mourinho himself expressed their thoughts towards how hard work and a lot of patience has led to this great decision for all parties.

Looking at the individual and his performances so far this season, it can be stated that he is currently playing the best football of his professional career. Having already made ten appearances for the side in all competition, he has shown clear improvement on and off the ball, from being able to keep the fast and skilful wingers quiet throughout the match to playing positively whilst in possession.

Manchester United had a lot of issues in the left-back area when Shaw was having fitness and injury problems, as Ashley Young was doing a decent job in that position whilst Matteo Darmian did not look aggressive or comfortable within this department. Due to this, the club were considering buying either Alex Sandro or Danny Rose, who were seen as a long term investment for the left back role.

At one stage of last season, Mourinho and Shaw seemed to hate each other for a number of reasons, where the manager would constantly criticise the player in public and lash out at him for his unconvincing performances. Because of this intense fallout between the pair, the majority of the Manchester United fanbase were quite certain that the 23-year-old would be sold in the summer.

On the other hand, the England international has shown his potential and quality over the last couple of months, and now he is being seen as a new signing by the United supporters. The side’s defence has proven to be a liability when it comes to defending in general and moving the ball forward at a quick tempo, but Shaw’s presence allows them to be a huge threat down the left flank.

Looking at the squad as a whole, a large number of players have been inconsistent and unimpressive whilst the former Southampton defender has proven to be one of the side’s best players. When Mourinho’s time at Old Trafford looked to be over, Shaw was one of the few individuals within the dressing room that continued to fight for the badge and the manager over the last couple of weeks.

The only issue that many will have with the contract extension is that he is reportedly earning a figure between £150k and £175k, which is extortionate for an individual that is yet to show that he can actually be dependent on for a full season. United’s wage bill is becoming a joke and it will only lead to serious problems in the future, for when players demand for more money than required.

Meanwhile, the likes of Anthony Martial and David De Gea are yet to receive a new deal, two players that have been playing an important role for Mourinho’s team since the start of his managerial reign at the club. If both individuals pick up a wealthy long-term contract soon or later, then it can fairly be stated that the Red Devils have managed to vitally secure the future of the key players in the squad.

Overall, as long as Luke Shaw is not hit with anymore injuries in the long run, he will without a doubt go on to becoming a regular starter for club and country for the next five to ten years. However, this will only be possible if he can remain consistent and effective on both sides of the pitch as England and Manchester United are not afraid of using other options within the left-back department.

Luke Shaw and Diogo Dalot can go from strength to strength at Manchester United

 There hasn’t been much hope this season for Manchester United fans with the way fortunes has gone so far, but their two full backs, Luke Shaw and Diogo Dalot, have provided a glimmer of optimism in a time of darkness.

When Manchester United were beginning to be linked with Dalot from FC Porto, many fans were curious over who this 19-year-old was. Having featured only in a handful of senior games for the Portuguese giants, Dalot was relatively inexperienced. Most of his football had come at youth level, especially in the UEFA Youth Champions League, but he was one of the most outstanding talents in his age group and not just for his position.

Having joined Porto’s youth system at the age of nine after growing up in Braga, Dalot rose through the ranks incredibly quickly and made a name for himself. At just 17-years-old, Dalot made his first start for Porto’s B team in early January 2017, playing the full 90 minutes and impressing. Months later and into the next season, now 18, Dalot made his first competitive start for Porto’s first team, coming away the victors in a 6-0 romping against Lusitano G.C.

The Portuguese youth star’s first start in the Primeira Liga came only in February of this year. Such is his rise and reputation, Manchester United evidently felt that what they had seen was enough to give the green light and get this signing across the line. Dalot had been heavily scouted by a lot of European teams in the season he broke through at Porto, but José Mourinho’s Portuguese influence certainly helped matters in fending off the competition.

Although he doesn’t have a lot of appearances in men’s football just yet, and only two with Manchester United’s first team, it is clear what Dalot can bring to the team. His dynamism, technical ability and willingness in beating his opponent was evident throughout, especially against BSC Young Boys in the Red Devils’ opening Champions League group game. Majority of players, at that formative age, would be overwhelmed by the pressure of playing for Manchester United in a European game, but Dalot looked as if he had featured in the team for years.

The Portugal U21 right back showed off his immense turn of pace and the spatial intelligence of when to take on his opposition or to cut inside and diver play through the middle. With fans watching Antonio Valencia rarely complete a cross from the byline that made it past the first man over the past eight years, Dalot was a breath of fresh air and lived up to his reputation as an expert crosser.

In the dying moments of the Carabao Cup fixture against Derby County, Dalot was United’s only inspiration, as he made the assist for Marouane Fellaini’s late goal from the byline. Such ingenuity has seldom seen United’s right back position for a number of years, and is why Man United fans warmed to the Portugal star immediately.

On the opposite wing lies Shaw, who has made a near impossible u-turn of his career at Old Trafford. After suffering a double leg break in 2015 under Louis van Gaal, the England international struggled to rekindle his previous form under new boss Mourinho, with the Portuguese manager opting for Ashley Young instead. Although Mourinho tried to claim that there were not many left backs in European football better than Shaw last January, the former Southampton defender has rarely featured in the matchday squads since taking over.

At one point, after the constant berating by Mourinho in the media, it looked as if Shaw would find pastures new. The 23-year-old struggled massively with confidence after his leg break and his manager’s comments about him were certainly not aiding matters. Shaw was in-and-out of the reserve side but failed to pick up the match rhythm after picking up niggles every now and then. The lack of minutes was preventing Shaw from being trusted by Mourinho, who had instead instilled all his belief into Young.

Shaw, however, has done remarkably well to change his fortunes at Old Trafford. From being on the periphery under Mourinho’s reign, he has now won back-to-back player of the month awards, voted by the fans. His start to this season has been phenomenal and has the look of a player who is rejuvenated and raring to go from strength to strength.

A problem that could potentially rise in the immediate future is in regards to Shaw’s contract. The full back has said publicly earlier this season that he only wants to sign a contract extension if he feels worthy of receiving one and not if it is only to tie down the England international to gain a large transfer fee from. With Shaw entering into the final year of his contract, United do have the possibility of extending it for another 12 months, but they will want to take him off the market completely and make sure he is fully committed to the Red Devils.

His performances at Man United have not gone unnoticed, either. Gareth Southgate, who has just signed a new long-term contract with England, recalled Shaw to the senior squad properly for the first time since before his injury in 2015. Shaw’s rise back to prominency has certainly been one that United fans are thankful for.

With Shaw at 23 and Dalot at 19, if they can both kick on together, United should have their full backs locked down for the foreseeable future. This season has been incredibly bleak for Man United fans so far, but this glimmer of shining light is something very much worth clinging on for.

Play the most challenging Fantasy Premier League game here: www.epl-fantasy.com

What to expect from Watford vs Manchester United?

As the first international break of the season comes to a close, eyes are firmly placed back onto domestic football with some important fixtures taking place at the weekend. After Manchester United’s resurgent win against Burnley gave them a much-needed lift, José Mourinho’s men travel to Watford to take on one of the remaining four clubs with a 100% record.

The Red Devils have usually enjoyed such trips to Vicarage Road having won all but two since 1987, but one Mourinho’s first away fixtures when taking over in 2016 was against Watford, which resulted in a 3-1 defeat. Although United have won the last three matches, there is a sense of vulnerability about the club right now that Watford, high and mighty with confidence, will prey on.

Since taking over from Marco Silva last season, Javi Gracia has impressed many Watford fans with his diligent approach to the game, but also adding some stylistic measures into his team’s performances. While Gracia’s preferred formation is a classic 4-4-2, which some can call outdated and rigid, the Spaniard has managed to alter it in order to get the best from his players and create an attack-minded team.

The most impressive performance in the Hornets’ opening four fixtures was their comeback win against Tottenham just before Internationals took over. After going 1-0 down just after half time, it was always going to be a test to see Watford’s mentality and strength in coming from behind.

Troy Deeney, the club’s captain, led that charge with some fantastic surging runs as well as throwing his body around and making sure he was first to every ball. That type of hunger and desire resonates throughout the team and it showed, as Watford picked up their spirits and staged a comeback which enabled the club to record its first victory against Tottenham since 1994.

A lot of Watford’s attacking intent has come down the left-hand side. Greece international José Holebas occupies the left back position, with Argentine Roberto Pereyra, signed from Juventus in 2016, ahead of him in left midfield. It might be a very basic method that has been seen time and time again, but the use of an overlap has caught teams out this season when facing Watford, with the North London club reaping the rewards.

Holebas has four assists and one goal to his name in the opening four games, while Pererya has three goals. They have been the source of Watford’s attacks and have troubled Brighton, Burnley, Crystal Palace and Tottenham’s defences. Against United, those two players will most likely be coming up against Jesse Lingard, who drifts inside and leaves gaps in behind, and Antonio Valencia.

The season is still early with players gauging their feet, but Mourinho’s defence has looked disorganised at the best of times. With an ever-changing back four, Watford could cause havoc in between the lines, as well as down the left wing with their two inform players.

A troubling thought for Mourinho will be how to overcome Deeney’s aerial threat and physical presence when he has nervous wrecks as centre backs at his disposal. Gracia will, quite clearly, tell Deeney to rough up whoever his opponent might be and make sure he’s giving them a hard time.

Whether it’s Eric Bailly, Victor Lindelöf, Chris Smalling or Phil Jones, all have had a tough few weeks in a Manchester United jersey and will be playing on eggshells knowing the manager has berated them and wanted to sign a first choice centre back in the summer transfer window to improve his defence.

While there are negatives around United at the moment with certain players not pulling their weight, the likes of Luke Shaw, Marouane Fellaini, Fred and Lingard have impressed. Shaw, especially, has arguably been the Red Devils’ best player in terms of both in an attacking sense as well as a defensive one. He was knocked unconscious in England’s Nations League match against Spain, but is said to be healthy and should be fit for next weekend’s Premier League tie.

Shaw has had a tough road back to becoming United’s leading left back, but he has started the season extremely strong and will want to keep the consistency going for as long as possible. His surging, meandering runs have aided United’s attacks tenfold as they now have a capable full back who can deliver crosses into dangerous areas.

Alexis Sánchez is a player who has not yet shown his best in a United jersey, but with the summer’s rest that he desperately needed, the Chilean should be a key figure in the season ahead. There were bright parts to his game against Burnley – in which he recorded his first assist of the campaign with a fabulous cross into Romelu Lukaku’s path – and Mourinho will be hoping that he can count on him moving forward.

Watford will throw everything they can to keep their winning streak and the home crowd is set to be electric given the current mood around Vicarage Road. It will be a testing game for Mourinho’s players, but the quality they have on the ball should be enough to return back to Manchester with three vital points.

Play the most challenging Fantasy Premier League game here: www.epl-fantasy.com

England call up completes Luke Shaw’s career revival

luke-shaw-manchester-united-premier-league-2018_7lfcd4dglkx01d66h6nci4mc1

The start to Manchester United’s season couldn’t be any worse. The Red Devils have won only one out of three games to kick-start their Premier League campaign. There are confusions about the heart of the defence, the midfield is all over the place while the forwards are struggling. The manager, Jose Mourinho, could be a casualty, yet again. The Board underperformed in the transfer market, too. In a team that is struggling, Luke Shaw has stood out, putting in excellent performances throughout pre-season, and in the Premier League too.

Continue reading

Lucas and Spurs Provide a Feast For Fantasy Managers

lucas-moura

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.

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

 

EPL Weekend Picks – Round 2

pereyra

With the first round of Premier League action in the bag and the second fast approaching, let’s travel a little into the future and see which players could find themselves starring once again for their respective sides this weekend. For this one, we have gone for a 4-3-3 formation, as adopted by Liverpool in their 4-0 hammering (sorry) of West Ham last weekend.

Continue reading