EPL Best XI – Week 30

sterlingThis past weekend we saw Ole Gunnar Solskjaer lose his domestic unbeaten run as Man Utd manager, with Arsenal triumphing 2-0 at the Emirates. Elsewhere, Liverpool maintained pressure on league leaders Man City with their 4-2 win over Burnley at Anfield, and Southampton caused something of an upset by beating Tottenham 2-1 on the south coast. There were wins for Brighton and Cardiff, with Newcastle also putting in an impressive showing with their 3-2 home win against Everton. With that in mind, we will now adopt a 4-4-2 formation and see which players performed the best for their clubs in England’s top flight this past weekend.

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The EPL’s likely starting lineups for this weekend

Ross Barkley

This weekend we have another full schedule of ten EPL matches to look forward to. Here are the predicted lineups for every EPL game.

Crystal Palace v Brighton

Crystal Palace XI: Guaita, Wan-Bissaka, Dann, Tomkins, Van Aanholt, Kouyate, Milivojevic, Schlupp, Townsend, Batshuayi, Zaha

Brighton XI: Ryan, Montoya, Dunk, Duffy, Bernardo, Propper, Stephens, Bissouma, Knockaert, Andone, Jahanbakhsh

Questionable: n/a

Out: Speroni, Sakho, Souare (Crystal Palace); Balogun, Gross (Brighton)

EPL predicted lineups for this weekend

Chelsea

There is another full list of Premier League fixtures this coming weekend with all games being played over Saturday and Sunday.

Spurs v Arsenal

Spurs XI: Lloris, Alderweireld, Sanchez, Vertonghen, Aurier, Sissoko, Winks, Rose, Eriksen, Kane, Son

Arsenal XI: Leno, Sokratis, Koscielny, Mustafi, Maitland-Niles, Ramsey, Torreira, Xhaka, Kolasinac, Lacazette, Aubameyang

Questionable: Jan Vertonghen (Spurs); Lars Koscielny, Stephan Lichtsteiner (Arsenal)

Out: Dele Alli, Eric Dier (Spur); Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding, Danny Welbeck (Arsenal)

EPL Best XI – Week 27

zahaWith the title race continuing to hot up, this weekend’s Premier League action saw contenders Liverpool going toe-to-toe with rivals Manchester United, while champions Manchester City took the weekend off from league action to battle Chelsea in Sunday’s Carabao Cup Final. At the lower end of the table, Newcastle hosted Huddersfield in what could be described as a relegation six-pointer. With that said, let us take a look at which players performed the best for their clubs over the past few days.

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Predicted lineups for this weekend’s EPL fixtures

Premier League predicted lineups

It’s time to look ahead to this weekend’s Premier League action as we predict the starting lineups for each EPL game.

Cardiff City v Watford

Cardiff XI: Etheridge, Peltier, Manga, Bamba, Bennett, Paterson, Gunnarsson, Arter, Murphy, Cordova-Reid, Niasse

Watford XI: Foster, Janmaat, Mariappa, Cathcart, Masina, Doucoure, Capoue, Pereyra, Sema, Deeney, Deulofeu

Questionable: Ashley Darel Jazz Richards (Cardiff)

Out: Sean Morrison (Cardiff); Holebas, Kiko Femenia (Watford)

Three January signings to keep a close eye on within the Premier League

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With the January transfer window coming to an end, it will surely not be one for the Premier League experts and pundits to constantly talk about, especially when you see that only most of the teams in the bottom half of the league brought two or more players compared to the sides in the top half.

The main loan deals in Denis Suarez to Arsenal, Youri Tielemans to Leicester City and the deadline-day move of Chelsea’s Michy Batshuayi to Crystal Palace stole most of the headlines within the English media. However, there were a couple of moves that have gone completely off the radar, which will allow the players to adapt to life in English football before kicking off at their new club.

With no further ado, it is time to look at the three January additions to importantly look out for…

Gonzalo Higuain (Chelsea)

After scoring a brace in his first Premier League match at Stamford Bridge, Gonzalo Higuain will have won over majority of the Chelsea supporters as they regain their position in the top four once again. Although some will feel that it is only one good performance and against a poor Huddersfield side, his movement on and off the ball was top notch as well as his clever linkup play with Eden Hazard.

Remembering Maurizio Sarri’s men are still in the Europa League and the FA Cup, having a striker like the former Napoli and Real Madrid forward is the perfect option to have, given that Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud have been unconvincing over the last couple of months. In the end, if Higuain exceeds all expectations, he could become Sarri’s main number nine for the next few years.

Miguel Almiron (Newcastle United)

As Newcastle United are sitting uncomfortably above the relegation zone by two points, they will be more than happy with the arrivals of central-midfielder Miguel Almiron and left-back Antonio Barreca on a loan deal. Focusing more on the newest club-record signing, he was closely linked with the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur before his move to St James Park was official.

During his two incredible seasons at Atlanta United in the MLS, Almiron showed the capability and intelligence to play in any of the areas within midfield, from the number ten role behind the centre-forward to either flanks. Not only that, the Paraguayan international has proven himself to be useful in terms of retrieving the ball for his side, through his work rate and ability to press when required.

Samir Nasri (West Ham United)

Samir Nasri is no stranger when it comes to English football, having already spent three seasons at Arsenal before going on to play for Manchester City for five years. Although he had tried to revive his career with a loan move to Sevilla and then a permanent transfer to Turkish side Antalyaspor, things went from bad to worse, as he received an 18-month ban from the UEFA for doping illegally.

However, he has received a second chance in his professional career and at West Ham United, where he will be looking to play regularly and hope to become one of Manuel Pellegrini’s important starters within the line-up. Despite the fact that he is currently on the sidelines with a minor knock and is expected to return next week, he will aim to see out the remainder of the season on a high note, and then see if the Hammers are willing to offer him a two or three-year contract deal.

How should we judge Lazio’s January transfer business?

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The January transfer window has rarely been an exciting time of the season for Lazio fans during the Claudio Lotito era.

With the exception of a handful of notable figures – Antonio Candreva, Andre Dias, Stefan Radu – there have been few successful signings who joined the Biancocelesti midway through the season. This year was no different.

Sporting Director Igli Tare set his stall out from the off, stating at the beginning of the month that “there will be more players on the way out than coming in.”

The right side of midfield was identified as the part of the squad most needing reinforcement, despite the fact that the hapless Felipe Caicedo remains the only alternative to Ciro Immobile up front, while the bloated squad has long been in need of an overhaul. Continue reading

Lazio left wondering what could’ve been as enigmatic Jordan Lukaku heads for Newcastle

Italy: Lazio vs Spal Serie A

It’s 13 August 2017. Lazio appear to have blown a golden chance to begin the new season with some silverware, throwing away a 2-0 lead in the final five minutes of their Supercoppa Italiana clash with Juventus.

Aquile substitute Jordan Lukaku, who was brought on with 15 minutes remaining, picks up the ball on the left wing, midway into the Juve half.

With his first touch, the Belgian knocks the ball beyond Mattia De Sciglio and sprints onto it.

With his second touch, he cuts sharply inside into the penalty box, leaving the full-back flat on his back. Continue reading

Is Rafa Benitez ruining his career at Newcastle United?

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How Rafa Benitez is still manager at Newcastle United is anyone’s guess. He has had major run ins with owner Mike Ashley and has not been given the budget to match his transfer requests after steering the team to Premier League football.

Benitez has been a real servant to the club and let’s not make any mistake about it Newcastle are a big club with a fine stadium and a fantastic set of supporters. But did Benitez make a huge error joining the club and has he overstayed his welcome?

It all must have hit home for him on Boxing Day when his troubled side travelled to Anfield to play Liverpool. Just over 10 years ago he was the boss man at Liverpool where he oversaw 2 Champions League finals with The Reds winning in 2005 in that infamous final with AC Milan where they came back from 3-0 down to win the trophy. Utterly memorable times. Fast forward to 2018 and Benitez saw his side lose 4-0 to Jurgen Klopp’s team one that is still unbeaten for the season, it was easy to feel sorry for how far Benitez has fallen managing a team that are in the bottom six of the league and could be relegated.

And relegated is word that Benitez has used on more than one occasion this season. Benitez has been manager of Newcastle for 2 years following his sacking at Real Madrid that lasted for 7 months after him and his coaching team made fatal errors. One of them at Madrid was fielding an ineligible player in a Copa del Rey match that meant the club were thrown out of that seasons competition. It was a schoolboy error at the biggest club in the world and could not be tolerated.

Somewhat one could argue that Benitez shied away from La Liga and the big leagues to take a job with Newcastle who were at that stage in the Championship, that decision in and of itself seemed like a shock one. But his decision seemed justified as The Magpies under his guidance were promoted to the Premier League.

But it has been a hard slog back in the league this season and Benitez has won just 42.7% of his games with the club. This is his lowest win rate since coaching in the second division of the Spanish league 21 years ago.

At 58 Benitez has time on his hands and he has at least another 10 years maybe more in the game as a coach. But one has to wonder if he has damaged his resume somewhat by sticking with Newcastle. Not seen as a lack of respect for this great team but they are not amongst the elite of some of the clubs that Benitez has coached in his career. Some believe this will be his final season with Newcastle, he has the support of the fans and after the club was relegated he stayed with them, not many coaches of his experience would have done that.

Benitez remains a very special manager but will some of the bigger clubs believe that to be true and will these past few seasons be thought of as the wilderness years for him?

Lack of quality could cost Newcastle twice in four days

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In some ways, Rafael Benitez was extremely philosophical in the wake of Newcastle United’s 3-0 defeat to West Ham United on Saturday, but in others, he was brutally honest about the future. There can be no doubting that the Magpies’ three-game winning run was justifiably ended by the Hammers at St James’ Park; in fact, the manner arguably flattered the hosts.

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