Pogba on his way to becoming a Fantasy Legend?

When Paul Pogba re-joined Manchester United from Juventus for £89.3 million at the start of the 2016-17 season, Premier League fantasy players were excited about the point potential of the midfield powerhouse. His addition at Old Trafford also influenced a number of bettors to stake on United winning the league with the influential midfielder controlling the center of the park.

The Frenchman had been a commanding force in Serie A but, in his first two seasons at Old Trafford, Pogba was a serious let-down. In that time, the World Cup winner only notched eleven goals, and his fantasy returns were abysmal. But now that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has taken over from Jose Mourinho as the Red Devils manager, Pogba is reborn. In fact, the 25-year-old is well on the way to becoming a fantasy legend and a bettor’s dream.

There is no denying that Pogba is now an essential player for any fantasy manager hoping to finish the season in one of the higher rank tiers. On the official Fantasy Premier League page, the United man is in 43 percent of teams, and only Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah can be found in more teams at 50.4 percent. Ever since Solskjaer took over as caretaker manager at Old Trafford, it has been clear that Pogba was restrained under the stewardship of Mourinho. The former United striker appears to have given his star player free reign to do as he pleases, and Pogba is relishing the opportunity. In fact, staking on the Frenchman to score in any game at the moment looks like a sensible bet. 

United’s transformation under Solskjaer has been epitomised by the rise of Pogba. They began way outside the top four before the Norwegian came in, but now a Champions League qualifying place next season is theirs to lose. All the latest betting sites are favouring Solskjaer’s charges to hold out for a top-four finish, but staking on that eventuality with a free bet is the best way to avert risk with Arsenal and Chelsea breathing down United’s neck. Sites like MoPlay are offering £30 in free bets to new players, for example. At this rate, it wouldn’t be totally out of the question to put an early bet on United winning the league next year as well.

Since Solskjaer took over as manager of the thirteen-time Premier League winners, Pogba has scored eight goals and registered six assists in nine top-flight games. These are hugely impressive returns, especially for a player who can be signed for a mere 8.4 million in the game. Pogba not only represents an indispensable asset for every midfield, but he is also a major contender for the captaincy every week. The skilful ball player can add goals from open play but is also the designated penalty taker. This means he has the potential to explode and rake in tons of points on a weekly basis. Pogba is now easily the best value for money player in the game and is tussling with the likes of Salah to end the season with the highest number of points.

If Pogba can continue this output, his price will skyrocket in the 2019-20 season. He is proving to be one of the best, if not the best, player to own in Fantasy Premier League, and is on his way to making a name for himself as a point scoring legend. This is exactly what fantasy managers and bettors had hoped for from the United academy product when he returned to his old stomping ground.

 

EPL Weekend Picks – Week 30

tielemansThis weekend’s Premier League action has one or two tasty fixtures coming at a great time, with arguably the match of the round closing out the weekend’s proceedings when Arsenal take on Manchester United at the Emirates in Sunday’s 4.30pm kickoff. Conversely, getting things underway with the Saturday lunchtime kickoff will be Crystal Palace hosting rivals Brighton at Selhurst Park. With the exception of Man City taking on Watford on Saturday and Chelsea hosting Wolves on Sunday, just about every other game sees a top-half side taking on a bottom-half side, and so there could be one or two surprises in store for fans attending a game in England’s top-flight this weekend.

Continue reading

EPL Game of the Weekend – Man Utd vs Southampton

lukakuWhen Man Utd parted company with Jose Mourinho back in December and brought in club legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on a caretaker basis, many assumed this was little more than a nostalgia act – a chance to see Ole back at the club for a time while the hierarchy went about searching for a permanent successor to the Portuguese boss. However, in the time since Solskjaer’s return, United have gone on a run of 13 wins in 16 matches, tasting defeat only once – and this run of form has led many to assume that the 46-year-old will be given the job on a permanent basis at some point between now and the start of the 2019-20 campaign. This past weekend, the Red Devils welcomed Southampton to Old Trafford in what would turn out to be a modern-day classic game. Continue reading

EPL Best XI – Week 29

pereiraThis past weekend saw no less than three local derbies in the Premier League, with two of them winding up as draws. Of the six clubs involved in these three games only Chelsea triumphed, toppling Scott Parker’s Fulham 2-1 at Craven Cottage. It was a spirited performance from the hosts, who sacked manager Claudio Ranieri last week after only 19 games in charge. Spurs hosted Arsenal while Liverpool made the short trip to Everton, with both of these games ending in stalemate. Arguably the finest action to be seen was at Old Trafford, where resurgent Man Utd battled to a 3-2 home win against Southampton, who on this performance alone really should not find themselves in the trouble they are in. Adopting a 4-3-3 this time, let’s see which players stood out!

Continue reading

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

Why Solskjaer’s Man Utd should finish fourth, above Chelsea and Arsenal

Manchester United are rapidly becoming favourites to finish fourth in the Premier League, a remarkable statement to make considering the club were 11 points off the pace when they dismissed Jose Mourinho back in December. A run of eight wins in all competitions (and over the hectic Christmas period no less) has put Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side to within three points of fourth. Don’t forget to share your tips on the UK’s biggest football tipping contest by clicking here.

Continue reading

Euro Fantasy League Podcast – #28 – Mourinho Out, Solskjaer In

EuroFantasyPodCover700x300Dave and Jamie discuss Jose Mourinho, and consider whether the appointment of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is what Man Utd need right now. They also look at Inter Milan getting back to winning ways, Juventus’ cruising and SPAL’s potential worries.

Continue reading

Arsenal can show Man Utd what they are missing

It was the best performance of Unai Emery’s time as Arsenal manager so far. Indeed, the Gunners’ display in the North London derby against Spurs on Sunday was everything the club’s fans wanted to see from their team in the post-Arsene Wenger era. It was fast and furious. There was a game plan. And most importantly, there was a victory.

One wonders what those Manchester United supporters who just so happened to catch the game thought of what they saw. 24 hours earlier, their team had struggled to a 2-2 draw against Southampton- the bottom team in the Premier League. It was in stark contrast to what Arsenal served up.

unnamed

Now, the two teams will face each other on Wednesday night. For both teams, this could be a season-defining clash. Man United are in desperate need of a win to give their chances of finishing in the top four a shot in the arm, while Arsenal also need a victory to shore up the progress they have made in recent weeks.

In terms of a sporting identity, there are plenty of parallels between Arsenal and Manchester United. They were fierce of rivals for years, when Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson locked horns for major honours, but in retrospect, there was more to unite them than there was to divide them.

Both sets of fans expect their team to play attractive, dynamic and attacking football. They also expect their team to challenge for silverware having grown accustomed to success. In recent years, the parallels have become even clearer, with Arsenal and Man United left looking upwards at teams like Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool and even Leicester City.

But while United have festered and allowed malaise to grow at the club, Arsenal have taken measures to overhaul themselves. The replacement of Wenger with Emery in the summer was the most public- most significant part of that overhaul- but changes have also taken place behind the scenes.

This has manifested itself in what we have seen on the pitch from Arsenal so far this season. They have a transfer strategy, a clear and coherent notion of what they want the club to be, and of what they want the club to represent. This led them to the hiring of Emery through a comprehensive recruitment process in line with this approach.

United, on the other hand, are utterly dependent on one man, Jose Mourinho. And that one man is charged with imposing an identity on the club. This is an infrastructure that rarely works in the modern game, and we are seeing that in the way United have struggled this season.

Arsenal can show Manchester and their fans what they are missing on Wednesday night. They can show the Old Trafford club what happens when there is a plan and when that plan is implemented properly.

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

Manchester United unconvincingly reach the Champions League knockout stages

1026492_1

For big clubs in Europe, it’s a must to be dominant and ruthless in the Champions League and importantly to qualify for the knockout stages of the competition. Manchester United completed the second half of that requirement by beating Young Boys on Tuesday to guarantee at least second place in Group B. However, their campaign in Europe has been unconvincing yet fruitful due to individual brilliance and lucky moments.

If not for Marouane Fellaini’s late winner at Old Trafford, the Red Devils would have formed an embarrassing record of going through three Champions League home games without a goal, a statistic that would reflect back on the poor job that Jose Mourinho is currently doing. However, he was once again saved by a player that has come up with a number of crucial goals in recent years.

On the other hand, if Young Boys had one clinical and dangerous striker that was in full confidence, they would have certainly punished a United defence that was playing a very high line whilst they were in possession of the ball. Not only that, but the home side’s full-backs fortunately escaped early bookings in the match which could have led to worse situations as the match went on.

Looking at United’s Champions League campaign so far this season with one group match remaining, there simply has not been enough evidence or memorable performances/results that makes a person feel or think the side can progress far in the competition. Many will simply believe that the victory over Young Boys to secure qualification will paper over all the cracks.

With no disrespect to the Swiss side, but a manager and a club that has spent just over £400 million in the transfer window over the last couple of years, and are relying on a last-minute winner at home really sums up the rather disappointing direction which the club is heading. From the lack of business planning off the pitch to the abysmal and boring football on it, a number of changes are required in order for Manchester United Football Club to be regarded as a serious football team once again.

As the side’s odds of winning the Premier League have been written off in the early stages of the season, it would not be a surprise to see the board and Ed Woodward hold on to Mourinho as the club’s manager until their chances of featuring in next year’s Champions League goes away. The hierarchy will have to make a crucial footballing decision in the coming months if things don’t go down as planned, in order to make sure they don’t fall behind from the other big European clubs.

Overall, given the club’s inconsistent and poor form in the league, Mourinho’s United will have to give their all in the Champions League this season in order to take part in the competition next campaign. With the likes of Barcelona, Juventus and Manchester City being regarded as the favourites to lift the trophy, the Red Devils, realistically, have no chance of winning it.

Euro Fantasy League Podcast – #27 – Asif Norat on Man Utd

EuroFantasyPodCover700x300Jamie welcomes Asif Norat along for the Premier League section of the show before later being joined by Dave for Serie A & La Liga.

Continue reading