Trent Alexander-Arnold becoming Premier League’s best at Liverpool

Trent Alexander-Arnold Liverpool Premier League

To paraphrase Jamie Carragher, nobody wants to be a full back. Players like Trent Alexander-Arnold are going a long way to changing that notion. Despite being 20-years-old, the Liverpool full-back is fast on his way to becoming the best in the Premier League.

Since breaking into the team three years ago, Alexander-Arnold has not looked back. The intervening years have seen him develop drastically under Jurgen Klopp’s careful tutelage.

Three years on from his debut he’s the Reds undisputed first choice at right back, and it won’t be long before he holds that status on the international stage as well. This season has been his best so far and feels like a sign of things to come.One goal and six assists in 27 games mean he has matched his total from last season. Continue reading

If Liverpool win the Premier League it will be down to Sadio Mane and Alisson

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Liverpool have not been as close to winning the league- their first real chance since 1990 as they are this season. Can it be done, could they really do it? Make no mistake Liverpool want this much more than the Champions League, as they have had to wait 29 years to claim another title.

There are two players that have been brought into the club by manager Jurgen Klopp that have appeared to make all the difference. One is Sadio Mane who was bought for £34m from Southampton in 2016 and the other is Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson who smashed the goalkeeper transfer fee last summer as Liverpool splashed out an initial £56m which will rise to £66m and will make him the worlds most expensive goalkeeper.

While the figures seem crazy for a goalkeeper we have to consider how Alisson’s arrival has hugely helped the Reds this season. Liverpool have conceded 18 goals which is the best record in the league, only Manchester City come close having conceded 21. At Anfield the record is even more remarkable as the club have only conceded 9 goals.  But here is the real stat that would whet any fans appetite for a goalkeeper and that is Alisson has kept 17 clean sheets. In short Alisson has been outstanding and has done his job almost flawlessly well.

Another player that has made a major difference is Sadio Mane. Now when we talk about strikers our attentions as far as Liverpool go is going to turn to Mohamed Salah who has been superb for Liverpool since they bought him from Roma, and nobody is going to forget his goals for the club last season. Indeed he has 17 this season and could well end up the top goal scorer once again. But Mane has matched the Egyptian this season that there can be no doubt.

Mane also has 17 goals but his form has been absolutely electric in 2019, as he has been scoring week in and week out. What has been incredible is that he has been scoring in the most important goals in the lead up to the title challenge. Would it be a surprise if Mane was voted the best Premier League player of the season? Win or lose the league Mane may just get the vote.

Jurgen Klopp has spent many millions on bringing in players but at the same time the German also has to be applauded given that he has been able to identify Liverpool’s weaknesses, target the players needed and bring them in. All that remains is winning trophies and with the club still in the hunt for the Premier League title and the Champions League anything could happen.

The Premier League relegation battle has begun between Cardiff, Burnley and Southampton

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Though it is still mathematically possible the grandest of miracles aside, both Huddersfield and Fulham will be relegated from the Premier League this season. To put the clubs fate into more prespective there is 21 points left on the board and Huddersfield are 16 points from safety and Fulham are 13 and we can firmly discount either team from making a stunning comeback.

That leaves just one more team who will be playing in the Championship next season. And here are the main contenders: First up is the team in 18th and currently going down Cardiff City who have 28 points. Their last league game ended up being a massive result for Neil Warnock’s side who beat West Ham 2-0. Had they lost that game they would have lost touch with safety and been five points behind. Instead there is just a two point gap to the two other contenders.

Both Burnley and Southampton have 30 points each, although it is interesting to note that Southampton has a game in hand over Burnley and so does Cardiff. So out of these 3 teams who is the favourite to go down? The bookmakers have made Cardiff the favourites since there is a 2 point gap, but the best gage of this surely are the clubs remaining fixtures.

Cardiff will have to play 4 of their 7 games away from home and they have some very tough fixtures. Just look at their next two for evidence, Chelsea followed by Manchester City. They also have to play Liverpool at home and finish the season away to Manchester United. It is unlikely they will be picking up many more points although they will fancy getting maximum points against Fulham and Crystal Palace- the Palace match is at home and by the time they face Fulham, the Cottagers should be properly relegated.

Burnley have some tough games also and it should be noted that in a few weeks time they will come head to head with Cardiff in a fantastic ‘six pointer’ which will be played at home. But Sean Dyche’s team have a nightmare run in that sees the last 4 league games having to play Chelsea, Manchester City, Everton and Arsenal. That really could seal their fate.

Finally there is Southampton who out of the three teams look on paper to have the easiest run in and if they can continue their solid form they should be fine. The Saints only have to face one top 4 side in Liverpool in the run in and even then they will be at home. But they have a smooth run in which includes home games against Bournemouth and Huddersfield and they should be safe this season.

The relegation battle is hotting up, that is evidently clear and it seems like a straight run off between Burnley and Cardiff, our tip is that Burnley with such a tough final run in may just be the third and final team to be relegated.

Can Manchester City pull off a quadruple winning season?

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Pep Guardiola’s quadruple hopes are well and truly alive, just, after Manchester City fought back from two goals down against Swansea City in the FA Cup. Sergio Aguero clinched City’s place in the semi-final – of which they’ll play Brighton and Hove Albion – with a goal two minutes from time to complete a comeback against a fighting Swansea. Continue reading

Virgil Van Dijk becoming the world’s best defender

Virgil Van Dijk Liverpool

Few central defenders keep Robert Lewandowski completely quiet. There’s even fewer who do it in the manner in which Virgil van Dijk did on Wednesday.

Rio Ferdinand may think otherwise, but the evidence has become compelling, Van Dijk is the best central defender in world football. The giant Dutchman is yet to put a foot wrong since arriving at Anfield for a world-record fee.

Plenty raised their eyebrows when Liverpool paid £75 million for his services, questioning whether he was actually good enough to warrant such a fee. The doubts were raised as a result of his nondescript performances for Southampton in the months leading up to the move. Continue reading

The rise of the talented central midfielders from outside of the Premier League top-six

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The top-six of the Premier League are blessed with a large number of central midfielders, with the likes of David Silva, Fernandinho, N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba seen as the main and obvious ones around. These individuals have shown their quality for their respective teams over the last couple of years, whether it’s with their attacking contributions or their ability defend in front of the backline.

The midfield department has become a very demanding position, where many of the top clubs in Europe aim to have enough quality and depth in order to compete in all competitions effectively. Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester City are good examples, three clubs that have the players available on and off the bench to take control of the game and to importantly dominate it.

Now, it is time to look at the talented central midfielders from outside of the Premier League top-six, those who play a crucial role for their sides and are expected to become a wanted man from the end of the season till the final days of the 2019 summer transfer window. For sure, it is still early days to consider these key players, but some individuals have been really impressive in recent months.

With no further ado, here are the central midfielders that deserve more appreciation and credit…

Abdoulaye Doucoure

Javi Garcia’s Watford are enjoying a top notch of a season in the Premier League, because of how consistent they are in front of goal and how they are expected to break a personal record of the most points they have picked up in a single campaign before the current term comes to an end. And one of the main players that have allowed this to happen is Abdoulaye Doucoure, thanks to his technical ability and intelligence on and off the ball as well as his displays in the middle of the pitch.

Since his arrival to England from French side Rennes, he has shown his composure and quality in the centre of midfield alongside Etienne Capoue, where he completes the required interceptions and tackles in his own half to helping the side attack quickly through his dribbling ability and his burst of pace. Thanks to his positive mindset and attacking mentality, it allows the team to strive forward and to press high up the pitch whilst making sure that the goals don’t come only from the attackers.

Andre Gomes

Majority of the Premier League supporters would see Andre Gomes as a player that had failed to succeed the expectations that he once had at Barcelona, and he is now trying to revive his professional career in another country and league. However, Everton took a massive punt on him in the summer, and have reaped the rewards but are waiting to receive it consistently, due to the fact that he has had some minor injury issues and some difficulties in settling into the dressing room.

Nevertheless, the 25-year-old has regained fine form and reportedly expected to move to Goodison Park in the summer on a permanent basis, which instantly sums up the influence he has on Marco Silva’s midfield and how they are more proactive and efficient when he is in starting line-up. Without his range of passing and approach of how to control and dictate play, the Toffees would struggle to break the opposition’s defence down and would face a lot of defensive problems on the counter.

 

 

James Ward-Prowse

Despite Southampton’s below par season over the last two to three campaigns, James Ward-Prowse and his rise has been one of the most popular stories at St Mary’s Stadium. Having evidently proven himself on both sides of the pitch, he is also one of the few leaders that the Saints respectively have within the squad. On top of that, he has the incredible ability to pull off some insane free-kicks, which he did so against both Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur over the last two weeks.

If he was playing for one of the top sides in the Premier League, he would be easily getting into the England squad and would have been a serious candidate in the midfield role of Gareth Southgate’s team. For the time being, he still has a lot of time to improve as a player and will have the perfect timeframe to review any potential offers that may come his way, given that he is in need of two more consistent seasons before deciding to move to Arsenal, Liverpool or Tottenham Hotspur.

Ruben Neves

The main focus of this term has been Wolverhampton Wanderers and how they have turned up against the best teams in the league, where they have picked up victories against Chelsea at home, Tottenham away and crucial stalemates versus Arsenal, Manchester City and Manchester United. Players such as Diogo Jota, Matt Doherty and Raul Jimenez have played the key role in Nuno Espirito Santo’s team, but it’s Ruben Neves who has stolen the media headlines and English press coverage.

With how the Portuguese international has been performing so far this Premier League term, it almost feels like he has been playing in the top flight of English football for quite a long time. Being a physical player off the ball and in the air, he has the ideal ability to distribute the ball that the full-backs and wingers look for from a midfielder. Also, he is another great player that is a dead ball specialist, whilst having the much needed understanding to play in any of the tactical role in midfield.

Why Sarri’s future should not be defined by Chelsea’s final league position

Not for the first time, Chelsea relied on a moment of magic from Eden Hazard to get them out of jail. A goal down to Wolverhampton Wanderers in second-half stoppage time on Sunday, the Belgium international stepped up to find the net with a superb strike from just outside the box. That goal prevented a second loss of the season against Nuno’s men and extended the Blues’ unbeaten run to six games.

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What’s happened to Mohamed Salah at Liverpool?

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As Liverpool have struggled to maintain their push for the Premier League in recent weeks, there has been one standout issue. Mohamed Salah is not quite the player he was last season.

Suggesting the Egyptian is having a bad season is a foolish notion on multiple fronts. He remains Liverpool’s top goalscorer with 20 so far, five ahead of Sadio Mane. 17 of those goals have come in the Premier League, meaning he’s just one behind Sergio Aguero in those charts. Factor in his seven assists and he’s level with the Argentine when it comes to overall goal contributions. The pair sit on 24 respectively in that regard. In fact, Salah has scored more goals individually than Huddersfield Town have managed collectively.

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Aaron Wan-Bissaka should be Manchester United’s main transfer target in the summer

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Majority of Manchester United supporters will feel that their voices where heard when they wanted Jose Mourinho to be urgently sacked in the middle of December. However, due to lack of activity in the previous summer window and the lack of quality players in the squad as a whole, the next demand will be a convincing transfer spree that will help the side to challenge in all competitions.

If Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is to become the permanent manager of the football club, the board and Ed Woodward cannot set him up to fail, which can only be prevented if they work on bringing in a director of football, providing a good amount of money to spend and also not targeting any marquee players that are not required at the moment.

Focusing more onto the types of players the club should target. Crystal Palace’s Aaron Wan-Bissaka has to be one individuals the team should be going all out for in the summer, someone who has really stamped his marker on the top-tier of English football so far this term. Given that he will be wanted man in the summer, a figure between £35million and £45million may be just enough to sign him up for in the current market.

The 21-year-old is currently playing in his first full season in the Premier League, yet his bright and consistent performances makes it feel like he has been playing for quite some time. Defensively composed, intelligent movement on and off the ball whilst having the stamina to run constantly up and down the pitch, he certainly has the much needed assets to become United’s star player at right-back for the next five ten years.

With Antonio Valencia not receiving a contract extension by the club and Matteo Darmian expected to leave in the summer window, it would leave Diogo Dalot as the only natural right-back left remaining within the dressing room. Even then, the Portuguese international is not ready to play on a regular basis, and his recent performances may see him as a perfect wing-back or arguably as a direct winger.

If that is the case, it makes more than sense for Manchester United to splash the cash on someone who has been regarded as one of the best upcoming right-backs in the Premier League and in Europe. He may not be as complete of a full-back like Benjamin Mendy or Jordi Alba, but he is still in his early days of his professional career and will only improve, whilst being a major upgrade on the options the club currently has.

It is no secret that United’s defence is still lacking some actual quality and energy to challenge for the league title on all fronts, whether that is obviously through the middle or out wide. To be brutally honest, Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young have been playing as the side’s main full-backs for the last couple of years, but it is time for a change and a turnaround, where the club utilises the players in their favourite position.

Spending his early days within the Crystal Palace academy as a winger, there should be no doubts at all about Wan-Bissaka’s ability to create a new dimension in the side’s attack as well as his capability to dribble and cross consistently. When you look at the role that Jordi Alba respectfully plays in Barcelona’s attacks and Andrew Roberston plays in Liverpool’s rapid counter-attacks, the same could be expected from himself.

Manchester United 3-2 Southampton: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men bounce back in some fashion

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Manchester United had a big chance to re-enter the top four positions for the first time in recent weeks, with their next fixture being at home to Southampton, a side that have only won six league games and are just above the relegation zone. With Arsenal and Tottenham facing one another in the early kick off, it was important for the team to pick up the three points and in a secure manner.

Overall, United dominated majority of the game from the first second of the match till the final whistle, where they could have even scored a further couple of goals to pile on the misery. Though, the much needed wakeup call came through a screamer from Yan Valery and a peach of a free-kick from James Ward-Prowse, which led Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to make some vital tactical adjustments.

The first half was quite good despite the poor finishing, as the front three failed to make an instant statement and did not help the side’s cause of a magical comeback. Despite the side’s list of injuries and lack of depth available to them and the manager, a brace from Romelu Lukaku as well as an incredible goal from Andreas Pereira allowed the hosts to pick the victory over the hostile visitors in the end.

Here are the three valuable factors we learnt from Manchester United’s latest league game…

Romelu Lukaku came up with the luxury goods

With the likes of Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata missing due to injury issues, United were limited with their attacking options for the fixtures against Crystal Palace and Southampton. However, Romelu Lukaku showed up for when his side needed him the most, scoring four goals in United’s last two games and is now the side’s top goal scorer in the Premier League this season. Recent form of the Belgian striker could mean that it’s time to put him back into your Fantasy Premier League Team. To see which other players you should look at including in your selections for Fantasy Premier League take a look at Footy Accumulators.

On top of that, Alexis Sanchez failed to take this massive opportunity to prove to the coach and the critics that he is still a quality player. Focusing back onto Lukaku, he may not be the fan’s favourite player or a clinical forward, but he is showing huge signs that he has improved since the managerial change. The Belgian international may have done enough to remain in the club’s long-term plans.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer showed off his in-game management

Week after week, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is proving that he has the intelligence to make the much needed changes to the team or the system, whether it’s to increase the amount of chances the side are creating or to see out the game until the final whistle. Some of his decisions maybe seen as bizarre and questionable, but in the end, he is yet to suffer a league defeat since taking on the job.

Solskjaer showed off his flexibility in the second half of the match, where he went to a back-three setup to match Southampton’s style, placing Ashley Young at right centre-back, whilst allowing both Luke Shaw and Diogo Dalot to play as the advanced wing-backs. Due to this fine tweak, it allowed United to have an advantage on the opposition, letting them to turn around the game for the win.

The Red Devils are evidently missing a world beater of a centre back

At this moment of time, it can easily be stated that Victor Lindelof is United’s best centre-back, but he is in need of a partner that is vastly experienced and that has the presence to lift the mentality and spirits of the defence. Until this hole is filled within the backline, the side will constantly have grey patches and dark moments, where they will lapse in concentration and are bound to suffer from this setback.

If the board and Ed Woodward want to fix the ongoing defensive issues the side are facing, they should look to relentlessly target either of Jose Gimenez, Kalidou Koulibaly or Toby Alderweireld. These three centre-backs should be seen as the perfect and most realistic candidates, especially when you consider the incredible defensive contributions they have produced for their respective teams.