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.

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?

 

 

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)

 

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Juventus send Cancelo to Man City for Danilo and cash

Joao Cancelo’s sojourn in Turin is over after just one season as Juventus agreed to sell him to Manchster City for a €65M package that includes Danilo, who was valued €37M. The Brazilian right back penned a five-year deal and took a pay cut.

Cancelo was acquired from Valencia for €40M after Inter did not pick up the option to sign him permanently following the loan spell. He had a blistering start of the campaign, but lost a bit of steam after tearing a meniscus and missing a month in December. He ended up compiling five assists, three of which in Champions League, and one goal in 34 appearances in all competitions.

Cancelo was often reprimanded by former coach Massimiliano Allegri for his defensive deficiencies and his freelancing style, although he often served as a formidable creator on offense and valuable initiator of the action and had a special connection with Cristiano Ronaldo, with whom he shares the agent.

The management probably did not see the progress they were looking for and accepted the lucrative bid, which obviously helps the balance sheets. New manager Maurizio Sarri does not rely much on fullbacks when attacking, which likely facilitated the decision.

Danilo has been mostly a back-up in his two years in England, especially last season, where he featured just 11 times in Premier League. He previously played at Real Madrid and had a similar trajectory, losing playing time in his second campaign.

Juventus have been following him since his Santos days and will be hoping he can recapture his Porto form, where he was teammate with Alex Sandro. He amassed 34 caps with the Citizens and 41 with Los Blancos. During his career, he has won domestic titles in four different countries and Champions League twice.

The 28-year-old defender can also be used on the left flank and in the midfield if necessary. The Bianconeri also have Mattia De Sciglio and Juan Cuadrado as options at right back.

The Portuguese international bid farewell on Instagram later on Wednesday: “In life we grow, live and learn. We cry and  rejoice. That is everything I have experienced with you, I have been able to play with the best players and I improved myself. I celebrated every cut, every shot, every assist and every goal. I will always carry with me the respect I have for all of you. It was a pleasure Old Lady, thank you for everything.”

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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

Gabriel Jesus is ready to become Manchester City’s main man

Shirt numbers don’t always mean a lot. Asamoah Gyan, for instance, always wore the number three on his back despite being a forward. But there was a certain symbolism to Manchester City handing Gabriel Jesus the number nine shirt this summer.

Jesus has long been viewed as the next big thing at the Etihad Stadium, signed for £27 million (a fee that represented a massive investment in a teenager at the time) from Palmeiras as one for the future. Now, however, as the Brazilian enters his third season at the club he is expected to deliver.

This is why the award of the number nine shirt was significant. It shows that Pep Guardiola has faith in Jesus to become the striker City believed he would be. This could be the season in which he becomes the club’s main man, their primary centre forward to match the shirt number now on his back.

Jesus demonstrated during the Copa America for Brazil this summer that he can handle the pressure with being the main goal-getter for a frontrunner. Before this summer, Jesus had never actually scored for the Selecao at a major tournament, but he broke that duck and then some, leading Brazil to their first piece of silverware since the Confederations Cup six years ago.

Guardiola demands a lot of his centre forwards. We saw that at Barcelona, where Zlatan Ibrahimovic was cast aside after just one season at the Camp Nou. There were also suggestions at the start of Guardiola’s stint at Man City that Sergio Aguero would be sold as the Catalan wasn’t convinced he could perform the role he wanted from his centre forward.

This makes all the more impressive that Jesus has managed to stick around at the Etihad Stadium. Guardiola clearly has faith in the Brazilian and the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss is very rarely wrong about the potential of players.

Injuries have previously derailed Jesus’s challenge to become Man City’s centre forward, but now things finally seem to be falling into place for him. Aguero is still one of the best goalscorers in the European game, but there has long been a sense that Guardiola wants something a little bit different from the man leading the line. In Jesus, he might well have that and the Brazilian is ready to truly flourish.

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Why does it feel like Pep Guardiola still doesn’t trust Leroy Sane?

He is considered one of the best young wide attackers in the European game. Indeed, Leroy Sane has become a star during his time at Manchester City, winning back-to-back Premier League titles and a domestic Treble last season. The German has more justified his place at the Etihad Stadium.

And yet there is still a lingering sense that Sane is not fully trusted by Pep Guardiola. There have been suspicions of friction between the pair and this had led to suggestions that the German international could leave Man City this summer as he seeks a club where he will be guaranteed of a starting spot.

Bayern Munich have been very open in their pursuit of the 23-year-old, with Niko Kovac publicly describing him as their “dream player.” Bavaria would be a good place for Sane to end up with the Bundesliga champions currently looking for wingers following the departure of Frank Ribery and Arjen Robben at the end of last season.

Guardiola insists that he wants to keep Sane. “I like him a lot, I think he has an incredible chance to be better, incredible in terms of being connected in the game,” he said. “I think I said two times or three times, we want to keep him. We want him to stay, that’s the reason why for more than one year he has an offer waiting to talk with his agent to extend the contract.

“It’s not in our hands or in my hands. He has to decide if he wants to stay and if our agreement is good. If he’s going to leave we will be sad, but what can we do? Hopefully he stays.”

This isn’t the first time that the Catalan coach has made the case for Sane to stay, but when it comes to the big games Guardiola often omits the German. There remains a feeling that the Man City boss doesn’t fully trust Sane and that could result in the 23-year-old leaving the Etihad Stadium sooner rather than later.

From the outside, such a stance makes little sense. Sane gives City a different dimension to the likes of Riyad Mahrez who prefers to cut inside and make things more compact in the centre of the pitch. Bernardo Silva had an excellent season last term, but he does the same. Sane surely deserves to be shown a little more faith.

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Will Liverpool keep pace with Manchester City in 2019/20?

Many Liverpool fans are already concerned that Jurgen Klopp’s Reds may have fallen further behind Manchester City this summer.

With just over two weeks of the summer transfer window remaining, Klopp and his backroom team have not, as of yet, added any personnel to the squad who will be pushing for a first-team place this season.

Liverpool did manage to sign Sepp van den Berg from PEC Zwolle despite a late attempt from FC Bayern to hijack the deal. However, Van den Berg is still only 17, meaning he will be given a year or two with The Reds’ youth setup before he is expected to feature for the senior squad. Continue reading

A week to forget for Manchester City

Let’s face it, it’s not been the best week for Pep Guardiola and Manchester City. Their Premier League Asia Trophy final loss to Wolves topped off a dismal time in China as part of their pre-season tour which looked destined for failure from the get-go, with the performances of Kevin de Bruyne and new signing Rodri the only things to shout about. Continue reading

Top Premier League Goalkeepers in 2018/19: Vicente Guaita

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Vicente Guaita finished 7th in the fantasy rankings for Premier League goalkeepers but he must have been amongst the very best value players to have in your team for season 2018/19.

Guaita was valued at just 2m as he kept guard in goal for Crystal Palace for 20 games and that was enough to have him easily placed in the top 10 goalkeepers in England.

Whilst Guaita only accumulated 23 points he also kept an impressive 7 clean sheets, keeping the score at zero for 35% of his games. He conceded 25 goals in his games and received 2 yellow cards.

Guaita had spent his career in the Spanish league up until he joined Palace last summer in a free transfer joining from Getafe after making over 100 appearances for the club. It was always thought that Guaita would be a back up for Roy Hodgson’s Palace team, which he was. He finally made his debut for the club in December almost half way through the season.

Guaita’s first match for Palace ended in a 1-0 victory for the club when they beat Leicester, in the process he kept a clean sheet in his first game and earned 7 points. His next game is simply unfortunate for a goalkeeper, as Palace pulled off an incredible 3-2 victory at Manchester City. But because he conceded 2 goals and got booked he ended that game personally with -3 points.

But Guaita bounced back earning 14 points from his next 3 games and his signing seemed completely justified by Hodgson even on a free transfer for the 32 year old.

He had a few matches he’s rather forget- the defeats against both Manchester teams yielded 6 goals shipped and as a result in those two games he lost 8 points. And then there was a poor run that begun in mid April to the end of the season. True this run also involved the keeper picking up 7 points after he kept a clean sheet against Everton in a match that finished 0-0. But also taking those final 5 game into account Guaita did not earn any points in 4 of those games and earned a total of -5 points in that period.

What could be taken from Guaita’s half season of games is that he rarely went many matches without earning points. And Palace greatly improved as a team in the second half of the season and Guaita was certainly a key reason for that. The Spanish keeper is set to remain at Palace for next season as he initially signed a 3 year deal with the Eagles and it sure that his value will rise here from 2m. A shrewd player may just surprise themselves by a next season purchase of him.

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