Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round Three

Atalanta: Timothy Castagne will at least be called up after missing a month due to a torn meniscus, while Rafael Toloi and José-Luis Palomino both picked up a minor thigh injuries. There is more optimism about the Argentinian defender. 

Bologna: Danilo suffered a thigh strain and will miss at least a pair of matches.

Brescia: Ernesto Torregrossa hurt his quad against Milan and will likely miss few matches. Bruno Martella, who subbed early too, escaped without major calf complications but will still miss this one. Giangiacomo Magnani has not recovered from his thigh problem, while Andrea Cista is good to go after hurting his hand. Mario Balotelli is still suspended. Emanuel Ndoj needs to more time to return from ankle surgery.

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Serie A Deadline Day Recap

A pretty eventful deadline day in Italy ended with the most anticipated news of the summer as Mauro Icardi finally left Inter to join PSG on loan with option. Roma finished off their summer with two more international additions: Nikola Kalinic and Henryk Mkhitaryan, while Milan brought in another striker in Ante Rebic, sending André Silva to Eintracht Frankfurt in return.

Napoli rounded up their attack by signing free agent Fernando Llorente, who is back in Italy after playing for two seasons at Juventus. The Spaniard has not been prolific with Tottenham, just two goals in Premier League in the last two seasons while he scored a bit more in the various cups, but they wanted a back-up for Arkadiusz Milik and he could be useful in late-game situations. Continue reading

EPL Best XI – Sterling stars again

Raheem Sterling

The 11th weekend of the 2018-19 Premier League season saw Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea maintain their unbeaten starts, while Manchester United came from behind to beat Bournemouth. Let’s take a look at the top EFL Fantasy points scorers from the weekend’s games…

GK: Kasper Schmeichel, Leicester – seven points
Kasper Schmeichel kept a clean sheet during an emotional 1-0 victory for Leicester at Cardiff. The Dane’s seven-point reward sees him move on to four points for the season.

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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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EPL Game of the Weekend – Chelsea 3-2 Arsenal

Chelsea

The most exciting match from the second week of the 2018-19 Premier League season saw Chelsea defeat Arsenal 3-2 at Stamford Bridge, with Maurizio Sarri’s side surrendering a two-goal lead before striking late on through Marcos Alonso to pick up their second win in as many games.

Both teams put away chances in the first half, with Pedro and Alvaro Morata scoring for the hosts before quickfire goals from Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi for the Gunners to level things up just before half-time, but it was the 2016-17 champions who earned the early-season bragging rights in this London derby.

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EPL Weekend Picks – Round 2

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With the first round of Premier League action in the bag and the second fast approaching, let’s travel a little into the future and see which players could find themselves starring once again for their respective sides this weekend. For this one, we have gone for a 4-3-3 formation, as adopted by Liverpool in their 4-0 hammering (sorry) of West Ham last weekend.

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Chelsea end Tottenham’s unbeaten record in Premier League

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And then it fell after 13 games Tottenham were the last of the teams in the Premier League hanging onto an unbeaten run. But Chelsea the new league leaders ended that with a 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge.

It was after all probably fitting that the record would end at the bridge given that Tottenham have failed to win here in the league since 1990. But the visitors had moments to dream especially when Christian Eriksen had given them the lead after just 11 minutes. That goal was the first one that Antonio Conte’s men had conceded at home since September 16th.

Pedro who has turned his once Chelsea nightmare 360 degrees equalised with a stunning strike and Victor Moses scrambled effort was enough to see out a win which shot Chelsea back to the summit of the league at the expense of Liverpool and Manchester City who also both claimed victories on Saturday.

For Tottenham they may have lost just once this season but they slipped to 5th place and seven points behind the leaders with this defeat.  Perhaps though the writing was on the wall for Spurs because their recent results and form did suggest a stay of execution. They have achieved just 1 win in their last six matches, form wise they would be 12th in the league and with 6 draws that’s almost 50% of their games played so far they have the most draws in the league.

Chelsea are looking like a breath of fresh air after their stagnant last 18 months and if confirmation had not been seen on the pitch it was surely evident at the full time whistle against a rival that has no love lost between the two teams. Chelsea manager Conte ran onto the field at final whistle embracing his team, there is love here within the squad and a respect not seen when Jose Mourinho was here.

For Tottenham it was a case of a terrible week- their Premier League hopes have been dented, the club have not won the title since 1961, and of course it was a week when they crashed out of the Champions League at the group stages. They will now fight in their final match against CSKA to make it to the Europa League. However one has to question if this team have the fight- can they realistically give efforts in two hard competitions? Or should they concentrate on the league and finishing as high as they can?

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Conte aims to revamp Chelsea’s squad

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Antonio Conte has identified that Chelsea’s squad is too big and as a result the Italian manger intends to allow several high profile players to leave the club before the start of the new season, according to the Independent.

Potential for a swathe of departures

Among those who Conte perceives as being potentially surplus to his requirements are goalkeeper Asmir Begovic, along with the South American duo of Juan Cuadrado and Oscar, as well as the French striker Loic Remy.

Another player that may not feature in Conte’s plans for the forthcoming season is Pedro, since despite being fit the Spaniard did not play in Chelsea’s recent 3-1 friendly win over AC Milan.

In addition to the futures of a number of Chelsea’s senior players being uncertain, with the club having already sent 15 young players out on loan, they may allow more to leave temporarily.

New signings being targeted

Whilst Conte has expressed a desire to reduce the overall size of his squad, he also wishes to sign some new players, with his primary targets being Everton striker Romelu Lukaku, Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly and Santos midfielder Thiago Maia, who is currently playing for Brazil at the Rio Olympics.

In terms of Chelsea’s interest in Lukaku, in order to resign the 23-year-old Belgian striker, who they sold to Everton for £28m two years ago, the club are believed to be ready to offer Loic Remy plus £60m, which would be a club record transfer fee.

There is also likely to be a requirement for Chelsea to spend lavishly to recruit Koulibaly, with Napoli set to demand £38m for the Senegalese internationalist.

South American duo attracting interest

Ultimately it is the need to create space in his squad for new signings and generate finances to fund them, that is motivating Conte to look to move on some of his existing players, such as Cuadrado and Oscar, both of whom are attracting interest Italy.

Specifically Cuadrado is understood as being tracked by AC Milan, whilst the Rossoneri’s city rivals Inter are thought to be preparing a £30m bid to sign Oscar, who Chelsea signed from Internacional for £25m in 2012.

Nevertheless, the 24-year-old Brazilian internationalist may still have a future at Stamford Bridge given that Conte praised Oscar’s past achievements and application during pre-season, as reported by the Independent.

“Oscar is an important player and the season when Chelsea won the title he was fantastic. He is a player with great talent and can improve a lot,” said Conte, who during Chelsea’s pre-season training camps in Austria and the USA has used 29 players.

Batshuayi & Kante may be joined by more new recruits

One of those is N’Golo Kante, as the 26-year-old French midfield enforcer made his Chelsea debut in their friendly win over Milan following his £30m move from Leicester.

So far this summer, Conte has made just one other signing with that being the Belgian internationalist striker Michy Batshuayi from Marseille for a fee in the region of £33.2m

However further new arrivals appears to be fast approaching, as Conte endeavours to revamp his squad before Chelsea’s first game of the new season, which is at home to West Ham on 15 August.

El plan B para Pedrito

pedrorLa venta de Pedro al Chelsea deja al Barça un vacío importante. La última temporada, la sombra de la MSN le privó de la titularidad y el jugador ha admitido que se marcha por falta de minutos. No obstante, el conjunto blaugrana pierde a una de sus estrellas más importantes. Pedro, aunque jugase poco, exprimía cada segundo sobre el terreno con goles.

Está claro que con Messi, Suárez y Neymar el Barça no tendrá problemas de gol esta temporada. Pero, ¿qué ocurriría si alguno se lesionase o estuviera sancionado? ¿O simplemente que se quisiera rotar para dar descanso a los titulares? Pedro era una garantía segura, ahora que se ha marchado hay que buscarle recambio y no será fácil. El Barcelona no puede apurar con un fichaje de último minuto para suplirle, recordemos la sanción de la UEFA, de modo que le toca tirar de recambios. Pero, ¿qué alternativas existen?

Rafinha ya fue titular en la final de la Supercopa de Europa, es un centrocampista ofensivo pero puede jugar en la delantera. Munir sorprendió a todos al inicio de la pasada campaña, el canterano llegó incluso a debutar con la Selección Absoluta, pero la falta de continuidad le frenó. Sandro es un jugador que gusta a Luis Enrique y ya ha tenido sus minutos en el primer partido de Liga.

Otra alternativa para Lucho es retrasar líneas. Es decir, quitar a un delantero para meter a un defensa o centrocampista. El canterano Sergi Roberto puede ser el recambio que se busca, o incluso el regreso de Alex Song ser la solución inesperada para el técnico asturiano.

Hasta enero no podrán jugar Turán ni Aleix Vidal, entonces desaparecerán los fantasmas. Pero mientras tanto, Lucho tendrá que hacer malabares para repartir minutos, sino la temporada se hará muy larga.