EPL Weekend Picks – Round 11

Riyad Mahrez

The 11th week of the 2018-19 Premier League season sees Bournemouth take on Manchester United and Liverpool travel to Arsenal. Let’s take a look at some players who you should consider adding to your EPL Fantasy teams before the weekend…

GK – Hugo Lloris (Tottenham)
We’re going to look specifically at high-scoring players who sometimes go under the EPL Fantasy radar in this week’s picks, starting with Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. The World Cup winner has 21 points this season — only four goalkeepers have more — and he could easily add to that tally against Wolves on Saturday.

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Classic derby will tell Pellegrini how far Hammers have come

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Ask any West Ham fan which fixture they really look forward to every season, and without hesitation it will be the classic derby against rivals, Tottenham Hotspur.

Even a supposed hatred of south London side, Millwall, pales into insignificance when the north Londoners come to town.

This fixture also has added spice now given Spurs’ own efforts to try and secure the London Stadium which the Hammers currently call home. Continue reading

West Ham’s unbeaten run comes to an end

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West Ham’s unbeaten run of four games came to an end last night against Brighton and Hove Albion. Glenn Murray’s 25th minute goal from inside the six-yard box was the only goal of the game as the Hammers lost 1-0 at the Amex.

The result was disappointing for West Ham, but the performance was even more so considering previous showings from the Hammers. Despite having plenty of the ball and 16 shots on goal the Hammers were unable to get on the score sheet, with Fabian Balbuena and Marko Arnautovic missing clear chances.

During the first half the side looked lethargic and unmotivated. The side didn’t threaten often enough going forward, taking far too long on the ball. Felipe Anderson and Andriy Yarmolenko, who had been so effective in recent weeks, were on the fringes throughout the game and failed to create much real danger.

They were also poor defensively, as was epitomised by Murray’s goal. A simple ball to Beram Kayal had been enough to send him down the wing. Balbuena wasn’t decisive enough regarding whether to shut down the Israeli or defend in the box and was consequentially caught in no man’s land. Issa Diop attempted to sort out the mess as he shuffled across and instructed Arthur Masuaku to come over and mark Murray. The left back didn’t do that though, leaving the Englishman to convert with ease without any pressure being put on him.

The performance did improve in the second half, but the Hammers were unable to carve out a goal. There was a real lack of cutting edge from the men in claret and blue, something which Manuel Pellegrini clearly attempted to address with his substitutions. The Chilean brought Michail Antonio, Lucas Perez and Robert Snodgrass on for Pedro Obiang, Yarmolenko and Mark Noble at different points in the second half.

With five attacking minded players on the pitch it would have been expected that the away side could score, especially considering the amount of the ball they were seeing and how deep Brighton had dropped. However, there was still a lack of fluidity in their play at points and there was nobody who was able to show the quality needed to bring the sides level. If anything, the number of players in the attacking areas were more of a hindrance, as Perez was ineffective after coming on, while Antonio’s decision making was poor and he failed to make a positive impact.

Overall, it was a frustrating night for the Hammers and one that they’ll want to put behind them quickly. They’ll have to wait for their chance to put things right though, due to the upcoming international break. Their first game after the break is at home against Tottenham Hotspur, the perfect game in which to put things right.

West Ham have dropped into 15th following this result ahead of the Premier League fixtures to be played over the weekend, with Southampton and Fulham the only sides who can overtake them. This result may have been disappointing, but having gone into the last international table bottom without a single point to their name, being out of the relegation zone reminds supporters the club has been in worse positions this season.

 

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EPL Weekend Picks – Round 6

Leroy Sane

Players from Manchester City, Wolves and Crystal Palace were among the high-scorers from Round 5, while Chelsea’s Eden Hazard topped the points chart following his hat-trick against Cardiff. Let’s take a look at some players you should consider in your EPL Fantasy team this weekend.

GK – Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester)
Admittedly, this is a risky selection. Kasper Schmeichel is on -4 points after five games and he conceded four goals last week. However, Leicester play Huddersfield – the Premier League’s lowest scorers – next before matches against Newcastle and Everton. At 7.00m, he’s worth considering.

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Game of the Weekend: Hammers Batter the Toffees

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Matchweek 5 was a forward’s feast as the English Premier League roared back into action following the end of the first international break. Defending proved too complex a task for back lines around England, with the likes of Leicester, Everton, Cardiff, and Fulham all conceding 3 or more.

My match of the weekend though comes brought to you courtesy of the Hammers of East London who beat Everton 3-1 away at Goodison Park. Highlighting both midfield effort and clinical finishing, West Ham win their first win and points of the season, while earning likely no one other than die hard Hammers fans boatloads of fantasy points.
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EPL Best XI – Hat-trick hero Hazard

Eden Hazard

The fifth weekend of the 2018-19 Premier League season saw Chelsea and Liverpool maintain their winning starts, while Manchester United picked up their second victory in a row with a 2-1 win over Watford. Let’s take a look at which players stood out to make the EPL Best XI of the Weekend.

GK: Wayne Hennessey, Crystal Palace – seven points
After being deducted two points in each of his last three games, Wayne Hennessey got back on track this weekend by keeping a clean sheet in Crystal Palace’s hard-fought 1-0 win away at Huddersfield.

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West Ham secure vital win against Everton

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It’s finally happened; West Ham United have won their first Premier League game of the 2018/19 season. Having lost their all of their first four league matches it was important that the Hammers got something in today’s face off with Everton and they delivered in style. They silenced the Goodison Park crowd, with two goals from Andriy Yarmolenko and one from Marko Arnautovic earning a win despite Gylfi Sigurdsson’s header, as the match finished 3-1 to the visitors.

Manuel Pellegrini had time to work with his squad during the international break. He came into this match with a completely new approach, making six changes from the side that lost against Wolverhampton Wanderers and a change of shape with Mark Noble, Declan Rice and Pedro Obiang in midfield.

One of the men brought into the starting line up was Yarmolenko, who was making his first league start for the club. It was the Ukrainian winger who opened the deadlock in the 11th minute. With Everton’s full backs out of position and their centre backs stretched Obiang played the ball in behind for Arnautovic to run onto. Jordan Pickford was covering the Austrian’s view of the goal, so he unselfishly squared the ball to Yarmolenko who placed it into the net.

It was also Yarmolenko who doubled West Ham’s lead in the 31st minute, though this time it was all about his technical ability. He received the ball from Mark Noble who nipped in to meet a poor pass out from Pickford. Yarmolenko fronted up the Everton defence with it at his feet. Lucas Digne and Kurt Zouma made the mistake of showing him inwards from the right flank. He obliged and cut inside the pair, opening up a bit of space for himself. The Ukrainian then unleashed a shot with his favoured left foot which curled into the top corner.

The Hammers were looking confident after going 2-0 up, but were given a scare just 30 seconds before half time. Everton managed to work some space in West Ham’s half and played the ball to Jonjoe Kenny on the right flank. The young Englishman crossed it into the box, where Gylfi Sigurdsson got to the ball ahead of Fabian Balbuena and powered his header into the top corner, giving Lukasz Fabianski no chance. The Iceland international’s goal meant the sides went into the break with West Ham 2-1 up.

Having set up the game’s opener, Arnautovic scored a goal of his own in the 61st minute to give his side a bit of breathing space. He played a one-two with Obiang, the Spaniard then played a perfectly waited pass which the Austrian latched onto and then finished well with a first time shot that went under Pickford.

Everton did have a few chances towards the end of the match, but they were unable to make the most of them, with Cenk Tosun sending the best of their opportunities way over the bar. The final whistle secured West Ham’s first league win of the season, with the scoreline at 3-1.

What is even more satisfying than the result for the Hammers is the performance that earned it. Every player showed desire and quality in abundance, with the likes of Issa Diop, Rice, Yarmolenko and Arnautovic all putting in superb performances.

The result is also important for the mentality within the club though, as it lifts the Hammers off the bottom of the table and into 16th place. West Ham now have a big test coming up, as they face Chelsea at home but will be hoping to take the confidence from this match and get a result against their London rivals.

 

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Marko Arnautovic concludes West Ham’s UEFA Nations League involvement

Marko Arnautovic

The first ever round of UEFA Nations League fixtures have come to a close. There were some incredible score lines across the board as Spain beat Croatia 6-0, Switzerland won 6-0 against Iceland and Luxembourg had a 4-0 victory over Moldova. Of the many players involved in the competition, four of them were from West Ham: Lukasz Fabianski, Andriy Yarmolenko, Robert Snodgrass and Marko Arnautovic. They had varying levels of success though.

Of the four it is Yarmolenko who’s struggled most for the Hammers this season, as he hasn’t started a single Premier League match since joining from Borussia Dortmund. However, it is the Ukrainian winger who has had the most success during the international break. Ukraine were the only team in League B Group 1 to play twice; they’re also the only side to have any points, after winning both matches, with Yarmolenko central to their success.

In the opening fixture against Czech Republic, Patrick Schick put the Czechs ahead after just four minutes. It was Yarmolenko who led the Ukrainian charge with some dangerous balls into the box following that setback. He was involved when the men in yellow equalised as he dummied Marlos’ pass which went to Evgen Konoplyanka, who cut inside and fired the ball into the bottom corner. Yarmolenko was brought off in the 66th minute, replaced by Oleksandr Zinchenko. It was the Manchester City man who scored the winner in the dying moments of the match.

The second game of Ukraine’s Nations League campaign came at home against Slovakia. Once again Yarmolenko made the difference as he scored the only goal of the game from the penalty spot in the 80th minute, despite Newcastle United goalkeeper Martin Dubravka getting his hand to the ball.

Next up was Lukasz Fabianski, who beat Wojciech Szczesny to the starting spot in Poland’s goal for the tie against Italy. Poland took the lead in the 40th minute when Mateusz Klich dispossessed Jorginho near the edge of Italy’s box, offloaded the ball to Robert Lewandoski, who crossed it towards the back post where Piotr Zielinski was on hand to volley into the net.

As he has done for the Hammers throughout this season, Fabianski made a number of impressive saves in the game. However, after Jakub Blaszczykowski had fouled Federico Chiesa inside the box, there was nothing the keeper could do to stop Jorginho’s penalty as he was sent the wrong way; the game ended 1-1.

Robert Snodgrass was not originally part of Scotland’s squad, but was brought into the fold when West Bromwich Albion’s Matt Phillips withdrew through injury. Snodgrass is now getting plenty of time on the pitch at West Ham, but was left on the bench for the entirety of Scotland’s 2-0 win against Albania. It was an own goal from Berat Djimsiti and a 68th minute header from Steven Naismith which earned the Scots all three points.

Marko Arnautovic was the last of West Ham’s quartet to make an appearance in the Nations League, as his Austria side faced Bosnia & Herzegovina away from home. It was a tame affair for the majority of the game. Arnautovic gave Ibrahim Sehic his biggest test of the match with a curling effort from outside the box in the 14th minute, but the Büyüksehir Belediye Erzurumpsor and Bosnia & Herzegovina keeper was able to tip it over the bar. In the end, it was AS Roma’s Edin Dzeko who made the difference as he scored in the 78th minute to earn the home side a 1-0 win.

All four of the West Ham players will now be looking ahead to the Hammers’ next fixture, Sunday’s away fixture against Everton, alongside the rest of the squad.

Fantasy EPL Predictions: Matchweek 4

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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.

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Man United moving for Arnautovic makes sense

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‘Silly season’ is upon us.

That part of the year before the transfer window officially opens when agents are trying to position themselves front and centre.

When players are trying to get a few extra million and extended contracts from their clubs, and managers are sniffing out a bargain or two.

Column inches need to be filled and as a result, it’s not uncommon for the most outrageous rumours to have ‘legs.’

Ultimately, many of those rumours don’t come to fruition, but if enough stories are pumped out, then surely one will end up hitting the mark.

One such rumour doing the rounds at the moment is Manchester United’s apparent willingness to purchase West Ham’s Marko Arnautovic.

Given the rate at which transfer prices have skyrocketed, we can deduce that a minimum of £50m will need to be spent by the Red Devils to even get the Hammers to the negotiating table.

But what’s the likelihood of that happening?

Jose Mourinho knows the player from their time together at Inter, and one would assume the Portuguese has followed the striker’s progress in the recent past.

He’ll also recall that he labelled the Austrian as a ‘child,’ ‘unmanageable’ and ‘Balotelli’s best friend’ when they coincided in Italy.

However, his need for a backup striker for Romelu Lukaku has been evident across the past season.

It seems fairly clear that both Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford are not in Mourinho’s long-term plans and Arnautovic has the advantage of being able to play on either side and as a main striker.

He ticks an awful lot of boxes for what United need at this point.

Goalscoring isn’t his greatest attribute and even though he improved in this aspect of his game under David Moyes, he still averages just one in three.

But Mourinho has others who can ease the burden on that front.

What he doesn’t have is someone of Arnautovic’s stature and work rate to complement Lukaku and save the Belgian from the bouts of tiredness that he’s suffered from in the past 12 months.

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