Wins over Fiorentina and Cluj boost Roma as Fonseca hails the Chris Smalling effect

Roma have recorded two good wins over the week, one in Serie A where they put in a solid performance beating Fiorentina and the other in the Europa League which was a crushing 5-0 win against CFR Cluj.

The victory over Fiorentina means that Roma are in 8th place and are unbeaten in their last five games earning 11 points in that time. Form has been good with 3 wins from their past four matches.

Leonardo Spinazzola opened the scoring for Roma and he was effectively set up by a huge kick from goal keeper Antonio Mirante. But Spinazzola still had much work to do and kept the ball well before a deft turn in the Fiorentina area found him his desired space and he slotted home with ease. It was a great goal to get the game going.

Late in the second half Pedro scored from a few yards out and the ex Barcelona man was never going to miss from that range. That gave the game to Roma who ran out 2-0 winners. Roma had 7 shots on target to Fiorentina’s one  and so the result was never going to be in doubt.

Roma are looking good in the Europa League too and they beat CFR Cluj 5-0 and it has been reported that Cluj’s coach Dan Petrsucu will immediately leave the job after the game. Having lost 5-0 that may well speed up the process.

The game was set in stone within just a few seconds of kick off after Henrik Mkhitaryan opened the scoring for the hosts and Borja Mayoral scored a brace before Pedro popped up to finish the game off in a very easy win for Paulo Fonseca’s team.

Smalling doing the business in Italy

Paolo Fonseca has hailed the importance of having Chris Smalling at Roma. The player initially joined the club on a loan from Manchester United but the Italians have now signed him on a permanent deal. Fonseca said: “We have three young lads in defence, so it’s important to have someone like Chris who is more experienced and more of a leader. It’s a very important figure to have. The whole team put in a good performance against a strong opponent (Fiorentina). We were solid in defence today, doing well to break quickly on the counter. Lorenzo Pellegrini is a very intelligent player who can take on different roles, just as we can play with three at the back or four.”

As for fantasy points Jordan Veretout leads the way and he has amassed 20 points so far. Next weekend Roma will play Genoa away from home.

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Roma score 5 goals in 2 games amidst controversial encounter with Serie A leaders Milan

The week started in the Europa League for Roma as they took on Young Boys of Switzerland and won their Group A clash 2-1. It was the first game of the competition for the Giallorossi who found themselves 1-0 down early on courtesy of a Jean-Pierre Nsame penalty.

It wasn’t until the 2nd half that Roma got to grips with the game and the equaliser came from an unlikely hero in Bruno Peres. Five minutes later Marash Kumbulla made it 2-1 for the visitors as the Italians took hold of the game. The win will be welcomed as Roma try and negotiate a way out of the group stages.

It was an emotional winner from Kumbulla who went on to dedicate his goal to the club and all the help they have given his career. Coach Paolo Fonseca said: ”It was not an easy game, as let’s not forget that even Juventus lost here a few years ago and Young Boys won 15 home matches in a row. It was important to get the win and we did well. There’s still a long way to go in the group and the season. We rested a few players and can now focus on Milan in Serie A.”

And the Milan game was something in itself. The match finished 3-3 which was a positive for Roma as Milan lost their 100% start to the league but the game was marred in controversy of two penalties which looked like soft ones and naturally changed the nature of the game.

Referrer Pierre Giacomelli and VAR assistant Luigi Nasca are being reported to have been suspended for one month. This news hasn’t been confirmed but if true then Italian football is taking the right approach on the mistakes that were made in the game. Time and again odd decisions around Europe are being made even with the technology of VAR which is sometimes not even being used and when it is a decision that everyone thinks will go one way goes another. This is a welcome call and many more suspensions need to be served out across other leagues.

The first error of judgement came when Ismael Bennacer and Pedro simply collided as they both went for a loose ball and yet Pedro was adjudged to have been fouled but it just seemed like a normal clash between players, Milan were obviously furious and Roma scored from the penalty awarded.

Then after it felt as if the officials needed to level up the mistake and gave Milan a penalty after Hakan Calhanoglu was adjudged to have been fouled, Both seemed like weak decisions which seems to have been confirmed now by the Italian FA.

Roma’s next two games will begin later today on October 29th when they return to play in the Europa League against CSKA Sofia and they will be the favourites to win that one and keep their 100% record in Europe. At the weekend the club will play Fiorentina at home and in fact this is a moment that Fonseca’s side will want to take full advantage of the fact that they remain at home for their next three games in a row.

As for the fantasy points with another goal for Jordan Veretout he continues to have the most points for Roma and heads into another week with 19 so far.

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Giallorossi

Why the Premier League could possibly go to Liverpool or Chelsea

Last Sunday’s display from Chelsea and Liverpool could be christened as the best game so far this season. Both teams exhibited creativity in attack and resilience at the back. The season is still young, but on the evidence of what we witnessed could any of these two beat City to the league title this season?

Liverpool probably made the best recruits in the English Premier league this summer, bolstering their midfield with Naby Keita and Fabinho and another creative option in Xherdan Shaqiri. The Merseysiders have a world class goalkeeper in Allison Becker, who continue to provide great reflexes in the post. Liverpool have enough quality to compete against anyone for the league title this season and they’ve shown that in their last seven league games.

We saw how they conquered Tottenham Hotspurs at Wembley. It wasn’t just about the results, but the football on display has been mesmerizing. And talk of performance their 3-2 victory over Paris Saint Germain was a testament of their mental fortitude.

Not only have Jurgen Klopp reinvigorated the side that lost to Real Madrid in the Champions League finals last season, there seems to be an oomph about them this season. Established players James Milner, Georginio Wijnaldum, Roberto Firmino, and Jordan Henderson et al are playing at a level a notch higher that we saw in the previous campaign.

This season Mohammed Salah is not showing the same sophistication with opportunities that have come his way. The Egyptian has scored three goals from a total of 20 shots on target. But Sadio Mane seems to have taken much of the responsibility when it comes to goals. So far adorning the number 10 jersey has yielded four, with Roberto Firmino on two.

James Milner has proven that he still cut it for the premier league with his tireless work in midfield, but Gini Widnaldum is currently Liverpool’s most improved player so far this season. The Netherlands international is playing with a lot confidence, hardly giving the ball away. And guess what, he doesn’t look flustered by the presence of Naby Keita on the bench.

The decision to bring Daniel Sturridge back from loan has proven to be an astute one. In the absence of Roberto Firmino, Sturridge can step up and play an important part in Liverpool’s campaign this season as we’ve seen him score vital goals against PSG in the Champions League and Chelsea in the league.

One significant decision by Kloop, is the center back partnership between Van Dyke and Gomes. The pair have started all seven of Liverpool league games and have conceded just three so far. They share the tag of the best defense with the league leaders, Manchester City.

Chelsea

The great thing about Chelsea this season is the arrival of Mauricio Sarri. His style of play is one that Eden Hazard thrives in, and the Belgian is currently in red hot form as he is beginning to replicate his 2015 performance that won him the PFA player of the year. Also, Hazard is buoyed up his inclusion in the FIFPro World Eleven. The Chelsea forward had a great World Cup tournament with his country, winning the bronze medal.

Chelsea meanwhile occasionally telegraphs fear at the back as Antonio Rudiger and David Luis sometimes struggle against quicker attackers. But in midfield enforcer Jorginho, Matteo Kovacic and Ngolo Kante, Chelsea should be able to dominate and control games. There are still concerns about how Sarri is using a Kante’ in midfield. Despite the French man’s reputation as being destructive, the Italian manager prefers a ball playing holding midfielder in Jorginho who currently top the charts for the number of passes in the league and the most in a game.

Willian and Pedro are great attacking outlets for Chelsea. The Spanish forward has found the net three times while the Brazilian ability to carve open compact defense is proving crucial for Chelsea in when in search of a goal. Chelsea do not boost a striker with the quality of Sergio Aguero as both Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud are not quite reliable. Sarri may require a proven goal scorer in the January transfer window.

Manchester City are favorite based on their performance last season and Pep Guadiola’s reputation for winning back to back league titles, but the Citizens look beatable this season and it’s hard to envisage them go on a winning run as we saw last season. It will take a Miracle for Manchester United to win the league this season as tensions between Mourinho and Pogba is beginning to have a debilitating effect on the other players. The red devils will probably be fighting a Champions League spot.

Meanwhile Arsenal seems to have turned the corner after their earlier struggles, but despite winning their last four games are not convincing given the defensive vulnerabilities and how wasteful they can be in th attack. Tottenham Hotspur will be hoping to maintain fourth spot by the end of the season.

As it stands Chelsea and Liverpool look set to deny Manchester city a second straight league cup.

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EPL Weekend Picks – Round 4

Mamadou Sakho

The first three weeks of the 2018-19 Premier League season have gone according to plan for many EPL Fantasy managers, with Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester City all having unbeaten starts to the campaign, but there are still plenty of players across the league who could be worthy of inclusion in your team this weekend.

GK – Jordan Pickford (Everton)
Everton haven’t started well defensively this season, conceding five goals in three games, but Jordan Pickford’s tally of -4 points should improve with home fixtures against Huddersfield and West Ham coming up. At 7.00m, he’s worth considering.

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Best Strikers in the Premier League – Week 18

manutd-lukaku

With this weekend’s round of football producing little in the way of surprises as far as the top of the Premier League goes, we will be taking a look at which strikers did the job for their club the best.

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Best Strikers in the Premier League – Week 9

Harry-Kane

It has certainly been an eventful last few days in the Premier League! Tottenham enjoyed perhaps the finest of weekend’s with a 4-1 demolition of Liverpool – their first win over the Reds in five years. Continue reading

Lopetegui moldea la Roja

pedro

Julen Lopetegui acaba de hacer oficial la lista de jugadores que acudirán a los próximos dos choques. El primero será frente a Israel y será decisivo para las aspiraciones de la Roja a la hora de participar en el Mundial de Rusia. Y el otro partido será de carácter amistoso, aunque ante un rival de la talla de Francia no hay amigos que valgan. En la lista de 25 jugadores, llama la atención la convocatoria de 3 futbolistas: Pedro, Deulofeu e Illara.

Pedro Rodríguez regresa a la Roja tras sus desafortunadas declaraciones en la pasada Eurocopa. Dijo públicamente que no quería ir con la Selección «solo» para hacer grupo, ante su enfado por no ser titular. Eso no gustó a del Bosque y no volvió a disputar ni un solo minuto en todo el campeonato. Tampoco lo había llamado Julen en las anteriores convocatorias.

Gerard Deulofeu ya debutó con la absoluta hace 3 años, fue en un amistoso frente ante Bolivia, pero no había vuelto a ser convocado. Ahora, es un ídolo de masas en Milán y se está forjando como futbolista maduro.

Asier Illaramendi es la otra de las novedades en la lista. Conoce las categorías inferiores de la Selección, pero todavía no ha tenido la oportunidad de debutar con la absoluta. Curiosamente, Julen y él se conocen bien de las sub-21, lo cual es una gran baza para el vasco; pero la clave para la llamada del selección ha sido el gran momento de forma por el que pasa Illarra.

Otros jugadores comienzan a asentarse, como Isco o Aspas. Pero todos no tienen cabida al mismo tiempo en la selección, por eso, algunos habituales, han sido baja en esta convocatoria. Quizá las más sonadas sean la de Lucas Vázquez o Sergi Roberto; Julen ha alabado el trabajo de este último en el Barça, pero ha afirmado que busca laterales con otras características para estos dos choques concretos. ¿Podría haber habido más novedades? En Las Palmas piensan que sí. Pero confiemos en el criterio de Julen.

 

Unsettled Pedro Rodriguez regretting summer move to Chelsea

pedro rodriguez

Chelsea forward Pedro Rodriguez is alleged to have told his friends his regret about leaving Barcelona for the Premier League strugglers this season following a difficult few months at Stamford Bridge. The 28-year-old made the surprise move after growing discontent with a lack of starts with the Catalan giants. Despite being a boyhood Barcelona fan who has gone on to become one of the longest-serving players in the squad, Pedro was convinced by Spanish teammate Cesc Fabregas to join him in London, but things haven’t quite gone to plan since.

Pedro has managed just one goal his seven Premier League appearances this season and that came on his debut against West Bromwich Albion. Since then, the Spanish international has gone cold for Chelsea, and he’s also suffered fitness woes that saw him miss the Blues’ defeat to West Ham, and put him in jeopardy ahead of this weekend’s clash against Liverpool. With Chelsea currently 15th in the Premier League after 10 games, life with the Londoners could be a lot better.

Pedro’s arrival surprised many as the Blues had Eden Hazard and Willian in the side, and Mourinho’s headline antics are spoiling his debut campaign. The former Barcelona star had a number of clubs interested in his signature, but took the risk to join Chelsea even after their poor start to the campaign. Barcelona have started the new season convincing enough to challenge for the league crown early on, and with the likes of Lionel Messi out of action for some time, Pedro will have been playing for the Catalans.

Matters aren’t helped with the Chelsea manager’s misconduct this season, and Pedro certainly won’t appreciate how Mourinho is ripping the club to pieces every week. A recent Capital One Cup exit now sees the Blues realistically out of two competitions already, and their Champions League campaign hasn’t started well either. A move to Chelsea never seemed to have much longevity in hindsight, and report are now suggesting the Spaniard is considering his future. Pedro has been struggling for form in recent weeks, and now finds himself stuck at Stamford Bridge.

The experienced forward has found himself on the losing side four times in his last eight games in all competitions, and looks set for a season without silverware. He won the treble with Barcelona in 2014/15, and started the season strongly, popping up with late goals after coming off the bench, but his gamble to push for regular action elsewhere has really backfired.

Chelsea winning the race to sign out-of-favour Barcelona forward Pedro

According to various reports, Chelsea are in the driving seat to sign long-serving Barcelona forward Pedro Rodriguez this summer in a deal worth around £21.6M (€30M). The Spanish international is considering his future with the Catalans as a result of a lack of playing time, and the chance to renew acquaintances with a host of international teammates could be the deciding factor that convincing Pedro to agree personal terms.

With the likes of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez forming such a potent attack for Barcelona in the last campaign, Pedro just hasn’t been able to force his way into the team on a regular basis. He spent large parts of 2014/15 as an impact substitute, and this summer has been pondering a permanent switch for the sake of his fledgling career.

Chelsea are an attractive proposition, not least due to the Spaniards (Cesc Fabregas, Diego Costa and Cesar Azpilicueta) at the club, but with the Blues coming off the back of a Premier League title and Capital One Cup triumph. Arsenal had looked for a long time to be the preferred destination for Pedro Rodriguez, as their playing style would sync perfectly with the 27-year-old, but Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho and Fabregas are both alleged to have convinced him into choosing Stamford Bridge as his next home.

Pedro is an industrious player, who also boast high levels of pace, flair and creativity going forward. The Spaniard can play on either flank, and provides both goals and assists from the wide areas. Given how impressive Hazard & Willian were for the Blues last season, and with Juan Cuadrado also another wide option for the new campaign, Pedro wouldn’t be guaranteed a first-team spot immediately.

He would only leave the treble-winners this summer on the basis of being a regular in the starting lineup for his new club, which is why Arsenal had looked to be the most ideal destination for him. However, the chances of future success are certainly greater under Mourinho at present, more so than the like of Arsenal and another suitor in Liverpool. It’s unlikely any deal will be completed in the coming days, so Pedro has time to mull over his options before coming to a final decision.

Barcelona are still keen to keep him, however. The forward is held in high regard with the Spaniards, and is still deemed a useful cog in the operation, even if he’s no longer commanding a starting place. There’s a good chance he could stay to the Nou Camp if he’s not entirely convinced to move to England, so Chelsea would do well to make Pedro theirs this summer.