This weekend’s predicted lineups for all EPL games

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With just a couple of weeks left in this Premier League season, it’s time for you to start making that final fantasy EPL push up the table.

Here are our predicted lineups for those EPL fixtures so have a read in preparation for another EPL fantasy football round.

Liverpool v Huddersfield Town

Liverpool XI: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson, Wijnaldum, Henderson, Keita, Salah, Firmino, Mane

Huddersfield XI: Lossl, Smith, Schindler, Kongolo, Durm, Hadergjonaj, Mooy, Stankovic, Bacuna, Lowe, Mounie

Questionable: Lovren, Fabinho, Lallana (Liverpool); Diakhaby (Huddersfield)

Out: Sabiri, Depoitre (Huddersfield)

Spurs v West Ham United

Spurs XI: Lloris, Trippier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose, Eriksen, Dier, Alli, Moura, Llorente, Son

West Ham XI: Fabianski, Zabaleta, Balbuena, Ogbonna, Masuaku, Noble, Rice, Snodgrass, Antonio, Arnautovic, Anderson

Questionable: Lamela (Spurs); Cresswell, Chicharito (West Ham)

Out: Aurier, Sissoko, Winks, Kane (Spurs); Reid, Yarmolenko, Lanzini, Nasri, Sanchez, Carroll (West Ham)

Watford v Wolves

Watford XI: Foster, Janmaat, Mariappa, Cathcart, Masina, Capoue, Doucoure, Hughes, Pereyra, Gray, Deulofeu

Wolves XI: Patricio, Bennett, Coady, Boly, Doherty, Dendoncker, Moutinho, Neves, Jonny, Jimenez, Jota

Questionable: Holebas, Prodl (Watford)

Out: Cleverley, Quina, Deeney (Watford)

Crystal Palace v Everton

Crystal Palace XI: Guaita, Wan-Bissaka, Kelly, Dann, Van Aanholt, Kouyate, Milivojevic, Meyer, Townsend, Benteke, Zaha

Everton XI: Pickford, Coleman, Keane, Zouma, Digne, Schneiderlin, Gueye, Richarlison, Sigurdsson, Bernard, Calvert-Lewin

Questionable: Digne, Richarlison (Everton)

Out: Schlupp, Sakho, Tomkins (Crystal Palace); Mina, Gomes (Everton)

Fulham v Cardiff City

Fulham XI: Rico, Odoi, Marchand, Ream, Bryan, Anguissa, Chambers, Sessegnon, Seri, Babel, Mitrovic

Cardiff XI: Etheridge, Peltier, Morrison, Manga, Bennett, Hoilett, Camarasa, Gunnarsson, Ralls, Mendez-Laing, Niasse

Questionable: Arter, Ralls (Cardiff)

Out: Bettinelli, Mawson, Fosu-Mensah, Markovic (Fulham); Bamba, Connolly, Paterson (Cardiff)

Southampton v Bournemouth

Southampton XI: Gunn, Bednarek, Yoshida, Stephens, Valery, Ward-Prowse, Romeu, Hojbjerg, Bertrand, Ings, Redmond

Bournemouth XI: Boruc, Smith, Mepham, S. Cook, Ake, Brooks, Gosling, Lerma, Fraser, Wilson, King

Questionable: McCarthy, Vestergaard, Targett, Long (Southampton); Smith, Clyne, Stanislas (Bournemouth)

Out: Obafemi (Southampton); Daniels, Francis, Rico, Surman, L. Cook (Bournemouth)

Brighton v Newcastle United

Brighton XI: Ryan, Bruno, Duffy, Dunk, Bong, Gross, Stephens, Propper, March, Murray, Izquierdo

Newcastle United XI: Dubravka, Manquillo, Schar, Lascelles, Dummett, Ritchie, Perez, Ki, Hayden, Atsu, Rondon

Questionable: Propper (Brighton); Schar (Newcastle)

Out: Lejeune, Almiron, Longstaff (Newcastle)

Leicester City v Arsenal

Leicester XI: Schmeichel, Pereira, Evans, Maguire, Chilwell, Tielemans, Ndidi, Maddison, Gray, Vardy, Barnes

Arsenal XI: Leno, Mustafi, Koscielny, Mavropanos, Maitland-Niles, Guendouzi, Elneny, Kolasinac, Ozil, Lacazette, Aubameyang

Questionable: Suarez, Aubameyang (Arsenal)

Out: Amartey (Leicester); Bellerin, Holding, Ramsey, Welbeck (Arsenal)

Burnley v Manchester City

Burnley XI: Heaton, Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor, Hendrick, Westwood, Cork, McNeil, Barnes, Wood

Manchester City XI: Ederson, Walker, Stones, Laporte, Zinchenko, Foden, Gundogan, D. Silva, Mahrez, Aguero, Sterling

Questionable: Bardsley (Burnley); Gundogan, Fernandinho, De Bruyne (Manchester City)

Out: Lennon, Defour, Crouch (Burnley); Bravo (Manchester City)

Manchester United v Chelsea

Manchester United XI: De Gea, Young, Smalling, Lindelof, Shaw, Pereira, Fred, Pogba, Lingard, Lukaku, Rashford

Chelsea XI: Kepa, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Luiz, Emerson, Kante, Jorginho, Barkley, Pedro, Higuain, Hazard

Questionable: Jones, Bailly, Herrera (Manchester United); Alonso, Rudiger, Kante, Ampadu (Chelsea)

Out: Valencia (Manchester United); Hudson-Odoi (Chelsea)

 

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Why Van Dijk deserves PFA Player of the Year Award

Virgil Van Dijk Liverpool

In any other year, Virgil van Dijk would be walking away with the Player of the Year awards. Unfortunately for him this season, Raheem Sterling has gone the extra mile.

While Sterling has had a sensational season on the pitch, playing a pivotal role for Manchester City and becoming their star man under Pep Guardiola, he has also shone off of it. In the face of virulent racism and horrendous abuse, Sterling has stood up and made himself be counted.

He has sparked a fierce and long overdue debate surrounding racism in this country and what needs to be done about it. He is now the poster boy for the movement for change, speaking sense and shaming those who deserve to be. Continue reading

Tottenham reach their Mount Everest in stunning Champions League win over Manchester City

Man-City-vs-Tottenham-Highlights(1)

Admit it, who really thought that Tottenham would see a way past Manchester City- a club who have poured hundreds of millions of English pounds into their team to win the Champions League- but that is what Tottenham did. The very same Tottenham who bought no players in either transfer window this season and then lost Harry Kane to injury.

This week which saw the fall of Juventus and their £100m Ronaldo gamble to the youth of Ajax and the grace and sheer class of Lionel Messi’s one man show for Barcelona against Manchester United, there was an even bigger story that will live on in the hearts of football fans everywhere.

Tottenham playing Manchester City was always going to be a big draw- indeed any two teams from the same country playing each other in the latter stage knock outs of the Champions League means the football world will pay attention. Unfortunately though there is an uncanny way for these games to play out with very few goals and a cagey nervous affair where each team cancels out each other- the 2003 Champions League final anyone? When Milan only seized victory over Juventus in a penalty shoot out after spending 120 minutes consoling over a 0-0 result.

In some ways this is how the first leg of this match did play out. City remained the favourites but it was Tottenham who got a 1-0 victory- their first European game at their new stadium no less, through a Son Heung-Min goal. Ever the darer and the saviour for Tottenham this season, the South Korean player has stepped up in the past 12 months. For City they played an unusual game, desperate for clear cut chances and perhaps some of the blame could have gone to coach Pep Guardiola with his tactics and starting choices. Those decisions looked like it would be made up for the 2nd leg, but let’s face it nobody was prepared for what would happen at the Etihad.

Going into the crucial next match, City knew that they had to score two goals or they would be out. It took them less than 250 seconds to get the first goal through the irreplaceable Raheem Sterling. And then something quite wonderful (if you’re not a City fan happened) because it was at the stage when ball left Son and hit the back of the net for Tottenham’s equaliser that Spurs, the team that play great football, but the pretenders to titles did not read the script.

When Son struck again to put the Londoners 2-1 up three minutes later all of a sudden all of the hard work behind the scenes, rooted in the tiresome work of Mauricio Pochettino and his coaching staff and the vision of club owner Daniel Levy came to the forefront, and we could embrace the fact that this club, Spurs, have stepped up to another level, one not seen in a generation.

That didn’t mean that Guardiola’s side were dead on their feet, no team at home that plays such beautiful attacking football was suddenly going to give up, with 80 minutes still to play City had time on their side. They needed to score 3 goals and one was pulled back 60 seconds after Son had roared away with a semi final and Ajax in his sights. Bernardo Silva was the man to give City hope and ten minutes after that Sterling struck again- this was madness. We had witnessed 5 goals in 21 barnstorming moments of English football, played mostly by wonderful continental footballers in a European Cup setting. There had been a goal every 4 mins and 20 seconds, and it felt too much even, you didn’t know what was going to happen next. And it got better.

The first half ended 3-2 to City who now only needed one more goal to go through. As the second half got underway it was apparent that the Goliath which is City was steadily taking the game away from the David which was Spurs. City were playing their game and most notably the Belgian Kevin De Bruyne so cruelly not picked by Guardiola to start in the first leg was playing one of his best matches this season, and when it mattered, underlining just how important he is to the side.

Just before the hour mark Tottenham’s dream inevitably caved in when Sergio Aguero (who else)? made it 4-2 to City, and now City were going through to only their second semi final. Tottenham had to score but it was City controlling the pace of the game. And yet as crazy as the match was playing out, you knew Tottenham would get their chance and 14 minutes later the ball fell to Fernando Llorente who with a hip, elbow? and force- got the ball in the net. If any doubts persisted on the legality of the goal then VAR crushed it and Tottenham got their goal. Now they were going through and City were going out.

City attacked, Spurs stayed firm and the minutes closed in- neutral football fans couldn’t breathe, to be a fan of either club defined a new term in squeaky bum syndrome and yet the drama was not over. City needed another goal and as the 90th minute came and went all looked lost until Sterling scored again- it was in, the goal sent Sterling, the fans and Guardiola into euphoria, until VAR flagged up an incident. Was Sergio Aguero offside when the ball was played back in? Hearts in mouths, and what drama, the time ticked by in the real world but stood still for the 53,000 fans inside the stadium. The verdict came back…. Goal denied- City were out of the Champions League and Tottenham had reached their first European Cup semi final in 57 years and their first ever Champions League one.

It was an incredible night of football- with the players as much as VAR in the end playing its role. City could feel hard done by- without VAR they would most probably have squeezed through, but with justice intended they didn’t. And one would have to criticise a team at this stage of the competition for conceding 4 goals over 2 games. Yes Tottenham did the same, but for City the Champions League was supposed to be the one endearing trophy that the club have been wanting to win.

As for Tottenham they have a new role, as the remaining last 4 team. They will play Ajax- unfortunate for them it is an Ajax who look back to their best, they have already knocked out Real Madrid and Juventus from this competition. If they get past that test it is Liverpool or Barcelona in the final.

As for this game it will be remembered as one of the most exciting Champions League matches and will be talked about for some time. And there will be no love lost between the clubs who in less than 72 hours will do this all over again in the Premier League in the same stadium, one can only imagine what will happen….

 

 

 

Predicted lineups for this weekend’s EPL games

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After all the midweek Champions League drama, it’s a return to English Premier League action this weekend with all 20 teams involved.

Here are our predicted lineups for those EPL fixtures so have a read in preparation for another EPL fantasy football round.

Manchester City v Spurs

Manchester City XI: Ederson, Walker, Kompany, Laporte, Mendy, De Bruyne, Fernandinho, D. Silva, B. Silva, Aguero, Sterling

Spurs XI: Lloris, Trippier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies, Winks, Wanyama, Alli, Eriksen, Moura, Son Continue reading

EPL Weekend Picks – Week 35

jimenez

With just a few games left in the Premier League campaign, things are starting to take shape and will continue to do so with this weekend’s round of matches. There is no Friday night fixture this week, but instead we have a big card of games on Saturday with three coming on Sunday and one on Monday evening, with games every day next week except for Thursday as matches in hand are played. Man City taking on Tottenham in Saturday’s lunchtime kickoff looks to be the biggest game of the weekend, but there are plenty of games in store to keep us guessing. Bournemouth host relegated Fulham hoping to build on their impressive 5-0 win at Brighton last weekend, while Newcastle host Southampton in Saturday’s late game. Let’s go for a 4-3-3 here!

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Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester City – how Pep Guardiola got it wrong

Guardiola

“I don’t feel we played badly, we created chances and we controlled the game,” said Pep Guardiola post Manchester City’s Champions League defeat to Tottenham Hotspur. Yes, perhaps the Premier League leaders did have 59% possession of the ball but with 10 shots at goal and just two on target, Tuesday night’s performance is just the latest that shows Manchester City aren’t just as clinical as they shown previously. Guardiola’s side have scored 23 fewer league goals this season and with just six Premier League games remaining, it’s unlikely they’ll beat last season’s EPL tally of 106. Continue reading

EPL: Premier League Predictions for the Weekend

Olivier-Giroud-682527(1)

The Premier League is back this weekend after the international break and we will predict what we think will happen below. The title contest is closely contested between Liverpool and Manchester City, places for the Champions League are still up for grabs and the relegation battle has not been quite decided yet. Let’s dive in!

Fulham v Manchester City

Manchester City will be the massive favourites to beat Fulham who are in theory almost relegated. Fulham will be at home and will defend deep in numbers but the quality of City’s players should shine through. City are 2 points behind Liverpool and need this win and Raheem Sterling is in the form of his life for Pep Guardiola’s team. Manchester City to beat Fulham

Brighton v Southampton

Brighton were in freefall but have found some form, winning their last 2 games in a row. Southampton’s form has been patchy and this could be a difficult match for the Saints away from home, we expect to see goals in this game and will opt for the home side. Brighton to beat Southampton 

Burnley v Wolves

There is a real chance that Sean Dyche’s Burnley could be relegated and they come into this game having lost 4 matches in a row. Wolves on the other hand are proving to be the best pound for pound team in the Premier League. Raul Jimenez for Wolves is scoring goals for fun lately. Wolves to beat Burnley

Crystal Palace v Huddersfield

Palace have really lost their way in the past few games and with 33 points they are only 5 points clear of the bottom three. This is an excellent chance for the club to pull clear. Huddersfield battled well in their last game which ended in a 4-3 loss to West Ham, we think they can play well again and could get a point from this game. Draw.

Leicester v Bournemouth

Leicester have won 3 of their last 4 games and the appointment of Brendan Rodgers has been effective for the Foxes. Bournemouth could join them on the same points (41) if they can win, but this looks too difficult for them and we expect Leicester to ease to a win. Jamie Vardy just keeps on banging in the goals and he could be the difference once more. Leicester to beat Bournemouth.

Manchester United v Watford

Manchester United finally confirmed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as the clubs permanent boss and he has signed a 3 year deal. If the mood in the camp wasn’t already full of positive vibes it is now. The club have the chance to score a few goals at the weekend and bring Watford back down to Earth. Romelu Lukaku has also found his scoring boots. Manchester United to beat Watford.

West Ham v Everton

Two sides who are very equal who perform much better at home. Everton will be buoyed with their 2-0 win against Chelsea but they have lost 8 times away from home. The Hammers have won 3 home games in a row and are unbeaten at home in 2019. Everton have not won at West Ham since 2015. Everton to beat West Ham

Cardiff v Chelsea

There is a big gulf in quality between the two sides and this should be a very entertaining game as Cardiff need the win for survival and Chelsea need it to keep a top 4 place realistic. We think Chelsea can just get all three points in a very close game and we should keep an eye out for Olivier Giroud who has really sparked into life up front. Chelsea to beat Cardiff

Liverpool v Tottenham

Easily the game of the weekend in the Premier League. Liverpool are in great form and when they play this game it is likely that they will be one point behind Manchester City, so the motivation to win will be huge. Tottenham have a feel good factor with their new stadium opening. But they aren’t their yet and this trip to Anfield could be a very difficult one. They do possess the quality to frustrate the Reds though. Draw.

Arsenal v Newcastle

Arsenal are in great form and this is always a difficult trip for Newcastle. Mesut Ozil has been given more chances recently and has scored goals too. There are goals everywhere in this Arsenal side who are undefeated in the league at home since August. Newcastle have no away wins in 2019. Arsenal to beat Newcastle.

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Focus turns back to the EPL title race this weekend

Klopp and Guardiola

Like any good story, there are sure to be plenty more twists in the tale of the title race over the next seven weeks.

It’s looking very likely that the matter may only be decided on Sunday, May 12th, the final matchday of the Premier League season.

As we approach the end of the last international break during this league campaign, the players and managers at Liverpool and Manchester City will be gearing up for that final sprint.

They will know all too well that whoever can hit the ground running in the best possible manner this weekend will carry an advantage that may be hard for their opponents to overcome between now and May.

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The brilliance of Pep Guardiola has made Raheem Sterling a world class player

STER(1)

It has been apparent that every time Manchester City are scoring so is their striker Raheem Sterling and the forward is now repeating that trick with the England national team.

Sterling was on hand for Gareth Southgate’s team when they destroyed Czech Republic in their opening Euro 2020 qualifier which ended in a 5-0 win for the English. Sterling no less scored a hat trick, but it was the way he done it, the way that he has manned up over the last 3 months which is attracting fans of the game.

Let’s make no mistake that Sterling has always been seen as a good solid player that can score goals, but one whose career could just have passed in by. Look at his club Manchester City and the wealth of talent that they have including Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus for scoring goals. But Sterling has risen alongside those players and at times in the past few months has surpassed them. He is scoring goals but he is also creating them, and his finishing is second to none.

Southgate is now seeing the very best of a player who has spent just the right amount of time under his club manager Pep Guardiola to get the best out of him. There is no doubt that Sterling has matured and become the complete player under Guardiola, who could have seen that coming when Sterling was being coached by Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool a few years ago? In one infamous clip on you tube he gets told off by Rodgers during a training session. But in just 4 short years Sterling has gone from potential to a world class player.

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It is telling of course that 4 years ago Xavi of Barcelona admitted that Sterling could play for Barcelona, he saw him as that good and Sterling has shown the world just how good he has been banging in goals for City at club and Champions League level. He has gone from being the incomplete player that could save his team and then have inconsistent games, usually going down too easily, to someone who has toughened up and scoring almost at freewill his form has been so good.

Sterling also has a finesse about him, a majority of his goals lately have been sublime reminding one of the likes of Thierry Henry or a vintage Marco van Basten. At just 24 Sterling has the world at his feet and his near £50m switch from Liverpool to City now seems like a bargain.

With such a close title run in with his former team this season, it would be ironic if Sterling was to end up being the difference.

Manchester City: International duty watch

Leroy Sane

Just as Manchester City regained control over Liverpool in the race for the Premier League title, international football kicked in. Let’s face it, we all love it at such a vital stage in the season. A total of 13 players from Pep Guardiola’s first team have been called up to their respective nations with Euro 2016 qualifiers, friendlies, Africa Cup of National qualifiers and U21 in full swing. Continue reading