Premier League Game of the Week: Aston Villa 7-2 Liverpool

When final scores used to come through on television years before the internet and phones and apps, this was our only source of knowing the results and quick. When big scores came through that fact had to be reminded by spelling out the actual score. If a game was 6-0 next to the 6 would be spelt out SIX just so you knew. Doubly great if you supported the team, rubbing salt into wounds if you didn’t. This past weekend that would have been used again, only this time with a sentence of exclamation marks.

To be sure and just to remind us that we are indeed on planet Earth, Aston Villa beat Liverpool 7-2, SEVEN goals past the reigning champions, seven goals past the team who have reached the Champions League final twice in the last 3 years and won one of them, seven goals past the reigning World Club Cup holders, seven goals past a team who had gone up until the end of February last season without defeat. It was an astounding result, in an incredible game of which wrapped around it is an incredible season so far.

Liverpool were the odds on favourites to beat Aston Villa and make it four wins out of four. The script Gods had it that Liverpool would ease to victory, that the two rival Merseyside teams would be 1st and 2nd in the league, both unbeaten and would play each other next on October 17th for what would have been billed as the most important Everton-Liverpool derby in a generation. Whilst that match still remains of high interest a shine was taken off who would lose their 100% record when Villa put Liverpool to the sword at the weekend.

Had Villa beaten Liverpool in a struggling all out defending 1-0 game, that would have been seen as a surprise, after all Villa just escaped relegation last season and Liverpool finished 60 plus points in front of them. But this was an all out slaughter which to be fair was over by half time.

New signing Ollie Watkins from Brentford emerged as the hero as did Villa veteran Jack Grealish so ever criticised as being good but not as good as he thinks he is, well at the weekend both were Lionel Messi level good.

Watkins scored a hat trick in 39 minutes all in the first half and opened up the scoring for the hosts in the 4th minute. By the 22nd minute it was 2-0. In fact in 17 first half minutes Villa had put 3 goals past what should have been an impregnable Liverpool defence. Whilst it’s true that Liverpool were dearly unlucky to have lost first choice goal keeper Allison in the warm up for the game, one could well argue his absence may wouldn’t have made much difference even if Liverpool may have kept the score down with him. Adrian, his replacement was absolutely at fault for the 1st goal but he shouldn’t be made the scapegoat Liverpool all round were just very very poor.

Grealish had already provided two goals in the first half and in the 2nd half he would become goalscorer as he netted twice and even new signing Ross Barkley a former Evertonian of course scored. For Liverpool the ever dangerous Mohamed Salah tried his best and personally one couldn’t fault him here, he actually scored 2 goals himself, but these will certainly be two goals that Salah would rather forget in a hurry.

It was interesting to note that possession wise Liverpool dominated and yet conceded so many goals. What does this all mean? Was it simply a one off blip much like their 3-0 defeat at Watford last season? Was it because a couple of regulars were missing, especially captain Jordan Henderson? Was it simply a little complacency and fatigue?

As for Villa they have started the season in brilliant form and have 3 wins from three and have kept intact their own 100% start to the season even after their Liverpool test.

This season just feels unique and very much unlike any other, Villa may slump as the weeks and months take hold, but they have already looked like a team who won’t be involved in a relegation dog fight for that manager Dean Smith must be commended for his summer buys. For Klopp the international break has arrived and he will have 10 days to try and understand what just happened.

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Fantasy Premier League Gameweek 3 Picks

After EFL Cup action midweek the Premier League returns on Saturday lunchtime with Brighton & Hove Albion hosting Manchester United at the AMEX Stadium.

Crystal Palace host Everton in a game between two sides on a 100% win record to start the 2020-21 campaign, whilst Chelsea will be looking to get back to winning ways away to West Bromwich Albion.

Sunday sees Leicester City travel to Manchester City whilst the best has been saved to last when defending champions Liverpool welcome Arsenal to Anfield on Monday night.

Here are our picks for your fantasy team this weekend:

Goalkeeper: Rui Patricio (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
Clean sheets haven’t been easy to come by in the opening two weekends of the season but Rui Patricio kept one away to Sheffield United in Wolverhampton Wanderers’ opening game before facing a rampant Manchester City on Monday night. With a trip to the London Stadium on Sunday there’s a good opportunity for Nuno’s side to keep a second clean sheet against West Ham United’s poor attack.

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Premier League Best 11 Players of the Weekend: Matchday 1

The new English Premier League season kicked off last weekend with defending champions Liverpool starting in a 4-3 thriller over newly-promoted Leeds United. The weekend started with Manchester City and Manchester United, who were given an extra week’s rest due to their involvement in European campaigns abroad last month.

With eight games played here’s a look at the players who made a real difference over the weekend. Did you have them in your team? Do you have them this weekend maybe?

Goalkeeper: Vicente Guaita (Crystal Palace) – 7pts
Six goalkeepers started the new season with a clean sheet and one of the biggest surprises was Crystal Palace’s 1-0 win at home to Southampton. Vicente Guaita made a couple of important stages towards the end to maintain his shut out and three points for Roy Hodgson’s side.

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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.

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Premier League’s Game of the Week: Liverpool 4-3 Leeds United

There was no contest about Round 1′s match of the week in the Premier League. It was Liverpool and Leeds United at Anfield- the two teams played out an epic 7 goal thriller, and all that was sadly missing were the fans.

Liverpool as champions were the red hot favourites to dispatch Leeds and make light work of the newly promoted team. However there were two things standing in Liverpool’s way. Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa’s XI and history. Before talking about the Leeds boss, it is important to highlight the return of Leeds to the English top division after years in the shadows. Without doubt Leeds is a club that belongs among the top teams in England and the neutrals should wait till fans are allowed back because the club’s boisterous following would make Elland Road an intimidating place to visit. Don’t forget to check out Leeds United tickets here.

Bielsa is a character, a very good coach and pays attention to detail. Despite the fact that he can’t speak English, which is obviously going to be highlighted in press conferences, he is someone who will impress you with his work ethic and attention to detail. After the game even Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was all smiles for Bielsa’s side, he appreciated that Leeds as a team had at last come to Anfield and tried to win the game.

Then there is the history. Liverpool and Leeds will remind older generations of the classic days of the 1960s and 1970s, Bill Shankly for Liverpool and Don Revie for Leeds, some games could get very hairy with several bookings for both sides. It was a very different era of course but you could feel and evoke that some of that had filtered down onto Anfield in the year 2020.

The first goal was scored inside the very early minutes after Leeds defender Robin Koch handled the ball. This decision split football fans and the media down the line though because the ball appeared to hit another part of his body before it hit his arm. The referee gave the penalty regardless but the new laws clearly state if the ball hits your body and then your arm then it’s not a penalty. Mohamed Salah (who else?) slotted the ball home and it was expected that Liverpool would run riot and Leeds would fall apart. Not so quick!

Leeds drew level 8 minutes later through a superb Jack Harrison goal and the game was on. Following the Leeds United goalkeeper’s mistake, Virgin van Dijk- so deadly from crosses- headed one in unmarked on the 20th minute and Liverpool had taken the lead once more. We were witnessing end to end attacking football and every minute was being savoured. Patrick Bamford brought Leeds level for the second time after half an hour! The game was crazy, and the lucky few inside the stadium were enjoying it.

The goals weren’t about to stop there though and the champions came back to 3-2 up just three minutes later and it was Salah again with a beautiful dipping shot. Half time ended 3-2 to the Reds. Midway through the second half though Leeds incredibly made it 3-3 through a fine Mateusz Klich goal. It looked like the game would end in a draw which Leeds would have deserved but there was one final sting in the game.

Leeds gave away a bad penalty through Rodrigo, who stuck his foot out in the challenge. Usually late penalties can be controversial but Leeds had nothing to complain about here and with just two minutes remaining for all their attacking play and excitement Leeds had made a naive error. Salah stepped up to score again and win the game for Liverpool 4-3 and in doing so scored a hat trick, a perfect start for the Egyptian. And an enjoyable start for Liverpool, 3 points already in the pocket and 4 goals scored. Let’s hope their other games this season are as half as exciting.

As for Leeds well done to them, they played great and without fear, so if they keep that up then they should be able to stay in the Premier League this season while making an impact.

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English Premier League: Best 11 Players from Matchday 1

The English Premier League returned at the weekend and the 2020/21 edition kicked off in spectacular style, 7 goals in the Liverpool v Leeds game ruled the headlines as Reds striker Mohamed Salah scored a hat trick. Was that enough to make him player of the week with the most points? See below for the first team of the week in the Premier League.

Formation: 4-4-2 (Includes weekend games only)

Goalkeeper: Jordan Pickford- Everton 7pts

Jordan Pickford was criticised at times last season for Everton. The England number 1 has got off on the best footing though as he kept a clean sheet away to Tottenham as Everton won the game 1-0. A few other keepers also kept clean sheets earning 7 points also but Pickford made some superb saves against a quality side.

Defender: Timothy Castagne- Leicester 9pts

What a debut for Timothy Castagne at Leicester. Not only did he see his side beat West Brom 3-0, keeping a clean sheet in the process he also scored a goal, absolutely magnificent first game for the player who is valued at 6m.

Defender: Lucas Digne- Everton 7pts

Another Everton player who had an up and down last season. Looked assured in defence, held it together well as Everton went to Tottenham and beat the Londoners 1-0. Kept a clean sheet and assisted in Everton’s goal, a perfect weekend for Digne.

Defender: Frederico Fernandez- Newcastle 5pts

Fernandez has been at the Magpies for a couple of seasons but got the chance to make a rare start and made it count. Defended well and helped keep a clean sheet for Steve Bruce’s side as they beat West Ham 2-0 away.

Defender: Yerry Mina- Everton 5pts

Overall maybe Everton’s best defender as they beat Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham side 1-0. A great start for Everton and Mina who had faced a lot of pressure last season. Mina seems to be heading in the right direction and he can be bought for 6m.

Midfielder: Mohamed Salah- Liverpool 14pts

No player earned more points than Mohamed Salah at the weekend and the player of the weekend was in brilliant form as helped his side Liverpool beat Leeds Utd 4-3 in a thrilling game at Anfield. Salah has got off to an amazing start as the prolific striker looks like he will have yet another great season.

Midfielder: Jeff Hendrick- Newcastle 8pts

Jeff Hendrick really caught the eye last season and has started well with Newcastle. The Magpies beat West Ham 2-0 away and he scored a goal and also assisted in the other one. He’s off to a great start earning 8 points.

Midfielder: Willian- Arsenal 6pts

Willian switched from Chelsea to Arsenal and looked like he had played for the Gunners for years. Arsenal beat Fulham 3-0 with ease and the ex Chelsea player was superb assisting in two of the goals.

Midfielder: Wilfried Zaha- Crystal Palace 6pts

The Eagles had a lot of injuries so they were heavily reliant on Wilfried Zaha and he got the only goal as Crystal Palace beat Southampton 1-0. Zaha has been loyal to the club and played with an intensity and was always a threat.

Striker: Jamie Vardy- Leicester 8pts

Jamie Vardy keeps doing it, he keeps scoring goals. The top goalscorer from last season bagged 2 goals as Leicester beat West Brom 3-0 away from home. Vardy got the penalty that counted, and he will be delighted with himself. You can add Vardy to your team but he won’t be cheap coming in at 11.5m.

Striker: Callum Wilson- Newcastle 4pts

Callum Wilson made his debut for Newcastle in style as he scored a goal as the Magpies ran out 2-0 winners at a very poor West Ham. Wilson was very alert, scored a nice goal and this could be a great capture for Steve Bruce.

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Liverpool are Premier League champions but who were their best players this season?

Finally after 30 years Liverpool are the champions of England after Chelsea beat Manchester City 2-1 last night. It meant that City could no longer catch Liverpool. Of course in reality with such a huge lead in the league it was always going to be a matter of time before Liverpool won the title, but the joy has been immense in and around the city of Liverpool.

The players and manager Jurgen Klopp have been stunned and emotional and who could blame them after the club have had to wait so long to see a league title. So far Liverpool have lost just 1 game this season and one game in the last 18 months in the league. It has been simply incredible and they could still beat Manchester City’s record haul of 100 points also.

As it stands Liverpool are the World, European and domestic champions, and not even Covid-19 which threatened to ruin their title run in could stop them. Congratulations to Liverpool and with Klopp as manager one could think that this could be the beginning of a dominating era for the club.

But who has stood out for them this season? Who has made that all important difference? Below we look at the 5 best players according to euro fantasy league’s rankings:

5) Andrew Robertson 80pts

Robertson is probably seen as the unsung hero, but he has been superb in defence for the last two seasons now and is indispensable for the club. He has been a part of a team that has kept 13 clean sheets and he has also assisted in 8 goals.

4) Virgil van Dijk 83pts

One of the truly best defenders in the world and only Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo stopped him from capturing the best player awards. Confident, commanding he is like a rock and has really rose to his challenge in the back four. He has been involved in 5 goals and has helped keep 14 clean sheets. A towering presence.

3) Sadio Mane 94pts

Sadio Mane is a perfect example of a player that just gets better and better with every passing season. He is so competitive and always seems to be in the right place at the right time. Not only has he scored 15 goals this season but has also assisted in another 7. A growing legend at the club.

2) Trent Alexander-Arnold 98pts

Proven to be perhaps the best defender this season for Liverpool, Still so young his best years are in front of him and yet he is a champion everywhere. He has kept 14 clean sheets and assisted in an incredible 12 goals- the most of any Liverpool player so far this season.

1) Mohamed Salah 107pts

Out in front is the Egyptian international. If some players are said to get better like a fine wine, then Salah is like the most expensive and elegant Champagne on the market. The striker is full of speed and his goals are simply magnificent, a world class player who has gotten better under Klopp. He has scored 17 goals this season and assisted in 7. That means he has been involved in 24 league goals for Liverpool from the 70 they have scored. That works out at almost a 35% contribution. Impressive.

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The effect of the Quarantine on football & eSports

Prior to the spread of the Coronavirus, the eyes of fans were turned towards the Champions League, the top European competitions such as the Spanish Liga, Italian Serie A and the English Premier League. Stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Kevin de Bruyne, Mohamed Salah, Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe were occupying center stage.

Fast forward to the past few weeks, the Champions League and the Europa League have been put on hold while the European leagues have been suspended. Fans can no longer enjoy the likes of Messi and Mbappe while emerging players such as Erling Haaland can no longer showcase their skills and qualities. Football, and sports in general, have come to a complete stop.

What can the fans do during this difficult time to keep distracted from much of the negative news? One option is to look towards eSports.

How eSports and eSports Betting can “Explode” during the Quarantine

With the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the world and the economy of the world taking a nosedive, the world of sports betting is not left out. Most major sporting events, including football, have been postponed or cancelled as the world tries to deal with the virus. With sporting events calendar suspended due to the pandemic, there has been a significant reduction in betting opportunities.

Interestingly, all hope is not lost for sports bettors. The eSports betting option appear to be filling a void as sportsbook customers look for exhilarating action during the lockdown caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.

Bookmakers are getting more creative and more eSports events are coming up, giving sportsbook punters the opportunity to satisfy their betting needs. If you are ready to join the action, try searching for the best
eSports betting sites to get started.

Impact of COVID-19 on eSports Events

It’s important to mention that the Coronavirus pandemic has also affected the eSports calendar, just like other sporting events. The only difference is that eSports is much more resilient because the matches can actually be played online. Players do not need to leave their homes or converge in the same place. Of course, having live fans in the gaming arena has its attractions and unique atmosphere but it doesn’t have a significant difference for hundreds of thousands of viewers and fans that are watching through live stream.

Based on this understanding, industry stakeholders are doing all they can to find a replacement for standard sports betting in order to keep their customers entertained and engaged during this dire period. So far, there have been indications that eSports betting value and volume is on the increase. According to the CEO of an eSports betting site, Quentin Martin, there has been about a 54% increase in registration of new players, over a course of a week when it was announced that the English Premier League would have to be postponed due to the pandemic.

Reasons for the Explosion of eSports betting during the Quarantine

Basically, players that are involved in sports betting would likely want to give eSports betting a try since there is practically nothing else to bet on. Many sports fans are either in lockdown or self-isolating and this makes access to a source of entertainment a major need. Interestingly, the only show that seems to be available to sports bettors is eSports. Therefore, it practically makes sense that this is the game that everyone in this category would turn to.

Additionally, eSports betting sites offer an easy way in which competitive tournaments can be accessed without the physical presence of both the players and the fans. Of course, any tournament would preferably be played at a physical venue but this is not required for eSports. By the way, this is the major reason for the continuation of eSports tournaments.

Conclusion

Without a doubt, these are challenging times for the world. For some, the Gaming world and eSports are a welcome distraction. eSports is bound to experience a huge explosion as many fans of traditional sports are exploring eSports for a much-needed escape and entertainment.

Premier League: Game of the Weekend: Liverpool 3-2 West Ham

The Premier League was back to full strength following the staggered winter break and the Liverpool and West Ham game was shown a lot of interest. On one side we know Liverpool will win the league this season but could they keep their unbeaten run up? The other was West Ham who faced the threat of relegation and came into this game as the huge underdogs.

Liverpool’s big loss was Jordan Henderson who has been ruled out for 3 weeks with a hamstring injury and perhaps at times in this game his influence in midfield was missed.

Jurgen Klopp opted to play his usual 4-3-3 and David Moyes at West Ham went for 4-2-3-1. Even though Moyes had left predictably one up front it was relief, at least, to see the Scotsman change his attitude not go for five at the back and try to park the bus so to speak. Perhaps losing to Manchester City in the Hammers last game put paid to that system, and instead we got a West Ham performance that was utterly refreshing.

The game looked like it was going to be a formality before a ball was kicked and just after it was it still seemed that way as Georgino Wijnaldum scored after just 9 minutes and man of the moment Trent-Alexander Arnold was on hand to assist on the goal. It was Wijnaldum’s 3rd goal for the club this season.

Now if there is one criticism which could be launched at Liverpool this season (and we are clutching at straws) but it would be that the Reds have found it very hard to close up games. How many times have they been 1-0 up with just minutes left or 2-0 up with most of the game to play and the opposite team enjoying some decent chances. Liverpool still remain unbeaten in the league but quite a few games have been on a knife edge. This game would add to that.

Within 180 seconds of Liverpool’s goal, West Ham had equalised through Issa Diop, which left a few people stunned given that Liverpool have only conceded 9 goals all season at home up to that point. At 1-1 Liverpool responded in attack but there was a feeling that something was in the air, and West Ham who would usually shut up shop, came after the Reds, and were happy to attack themselves.

In the first half alone there was 13 corners which just told you how many attacks on goal their hand been, the real surprise was that 6 of them had come from West Ham.

Though there had been a lot of great play and attacking intent from both sides in the 1st half, Liverpool had only had 2 shots on target with West Ham having one. But if the first half was good, then the second half was something compared to a mini classic, as we witnessed a further 3 goals.

Goals are the game when Liverpool are playing but nobody would have expected the Reds to have gone 2-1 down at home, Liverpool being behind in a game is becoming very rare, but that is exactly what happened.  Declan Rice set up Pablo Fornals who launched a beautiful shot into the back of the Liverpool goal and passed Alisson. Rare to see Alisson ship 2 goals in a game too, and even rarer to see Fornals score and have an overall decent game. Now West Ham were 2-1 up, we could expect to see the very best of Liverpool, and the corners kept raining down from the home team.

Fourteen minutes after West Ham had took the lead the pressure told though and Mohamed Salah scored his 15th goal of the season to make it 2-2 and it was an assist by Andrew Robertson. Indeed all of Liverpool’s assists would be by defenders in the game.

If the truth be told even a 2-2 draw would have been remarkable for the Hammers given that only Manchester United have taken points from Liverpool this season. But Liverpool aren’t European and World club champions for nothing and that man Sadio Mane perhaps the very best player at Liverpool this season came up trumps once again to give Liverpool all three points.

It had been an amazing game and West Ham played their part. They didn’t come here and lose 4-0 like in previous seasons, and each player could look in the mirror. If the club bring this intensity and passion to their remaining fixtures then they won’t be going down.

As for Liverpool it is just total dominance and they now have 79 points, that is the same number of points that won the league for the club in 1990, when they were last crowned English champions. West Ham did well, but Liverpool even in a game where they didn’t perform to their best still managed to conjure up 25 goal attempts, which says it all about how strong this team are.

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Salah, Aguero & Vardy battling to be Premier League top scorer

With around 25 games played, the battle for top scorer in the Premier League appears to be heating up. Sergio Aguero, Mohamed Salah, Danny Ings, Jamie Vardy, Marcus Rashford and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have at least 14 goals each.

Aguero- despite missing a number of matches due to injury- already has 16 goals in just 14 league starts and 5 substitute appearances. Aguero celebrated with a hat-trick against Aston Villa in what was his first Premier League start in 2020.

It would not be wise to bet against the Argentina striker finishing as the top scorer for the 2019/20 season given he has made it a habit to find the back of the net on a regular basis. This season has seen him break a number of records while becoming the top foreign scorer in the history of the English Premier League in the process. He also has scored the most number of hat-tricks in the history of England’s top division.

Aguero’s records and achievements speak highly of his status as one of the game’s most lethal finisher. However, he is followed closely at 14 goals by Salah, Ings, Aubameyang and Rashford. Salah and Aubameyang are proven scorers as seen by their goal-scoring exploits in recent years. Still, there is one player who must be considered as a the main threat to the other 5 goalscorers mentioned above.

In fact, Vardy is the current leading scorer with 17 league goals. He needs a single goal to equal his tally from the entire 2018/19 season. Indeed, after looking at the most recent odds being tracked by SBD, the betting options are favoring none other than Vardy to win the Golden Boot, but this race is really tight and things can turn around real quick.

The fixtures ahead are not easy for either of the top two scorers: Vardy and Aguero. Vardy has not scored a single goal in his last 5 league games. In fact, he missed a penalty-kick against Burnley in recent weeks. On the other hand, Aguero has been on a great run with 7 goals in his last 5 league games.

Will it be Vardy or Aguero? That is probably the question many fans are asking. Can any of the other four players stop them? Perhaps Liverpool star Salah or Arsenal’s top scorer Aubameyang?