Are Manchester City feeling the brunt of VAR?

With the Premier League having 2 games in the matter of a few days Manchester City, the champions could well be aggrieved about some of the decisions that have not gone their way. VAR has struck again and whilst the technology is getting decisions correct, there does seem to be fine margins and a lack of consistency.

This past weekend City made heavy weather at home once again to Crystal Palace. Palace had infamously beaten them 3-2 last season at the Etihad and with a little under 20 minutes to play on Saturday Palace were again winning this time it was 1-0 and whilst City dominated the game it looked as if they were going to have one of their frustrating days in front of the goal. And then there was a penalty….

The referee Graham Scott had no problem pointing to the spot and City looked saved. The incident occurred when Jairo Riedelwald in defence for Palace had handled the ball. Now this wasn’t an intentional hand ball and the ball had ricocheted from his own body- in other words there was nothing he could do. Common sense would have said no penalty. The referee who obviously saw it in real time said penalty. But when the decision went to VAR it was overturned and the decision was no penalty.

However rarely has VAR used common sense to when looking at decisions. It has gone straight for the rule book. So if  players knee is offside then VAR would go along with that, the same with handballs. There have been many examples of players handling the ball and goals being disallowed. West Ham’s last minute equaliser against Sheffield United. The ball came off of Declan Rice the Hammers player, he never meant it and there was no malice, but VAR ruled no goal, he had handled the ball.

And so when VAR did make the right decision in the City-Palace game it felt off. Where did the rule book go? All of a sudden City’s hopes were resting in what some one thought about said incident, and they thought no penalty. Another referee in the room could well have said penalty. So we come down now to a massive lack of consistency for all involved. City to their credit didn’t let the decision affect them and did score 2 goals through Sergio Aguero, but Palace scored again to add a sting to the tail as the match finished 2-2 and City slipped further behind league leaders Liverpool.

But the controversy did not stop there for Pep Guardiola’s team. In midweek City had to play Sheffield United. Again a must win game even if the title looks doomed for them. This time City were awarded a penalty, and no one was about to change their decision. The problem was in the actual penalty itself. Dean Henderson the Sheffield United goalkeeper was clearly off his line when Gabriel Jesus struck the ball and this looks like the only reason he saved it.

At the end of the day City won the game 1-0, had it finished 0-0 this story could well have exploded costing City another two points. The rules clearly state that the penalty would have to have been retaken. There was no intervention from VAR and the keeper was a long way off his line and prepared.

The problem is not really with VAR itself but the people who are using the technology. They are making the same old tired mistakes that officials were making without VAR, there is simply a total lack of consistency. It’s caught even the champions out and the worry is that it could play a vital role in the pressurised environment of the relegation battle.

Another batch of Premier League games, some great ones, good goals, incidents but five months into the new season and VAR is still the talking point. That’s fine as an after thought, but it is the main talking point, and surely no one who is in love with the game wants that?

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Best 11 Players in the Premier League: Matchday 23

Liverpool gained again at the weekend when they won and 2nd placed Manchester City could only draw. 3rd place Leicester lost and 4th placed Chelsea also lost. It was simply total gain for Liverpool who have now moved 16 points clear at the top with a game in hand. We take a look below at the best performing players in the league this past weekend. Did you have any of them?

Formation: 4-4-2.

Goalkeeper: Alisson- Liverpool

The best goalkeeper in the Premier League picked up a massive 9 points and that is huge for his position. Liverpool beat rivals Manchester United 2-0 as Alisson kept his 7th clean sheet of the season. To put the icing on the cake the Brazilian assisted for Mohamed Salah’s goal. He has 49 points now and is 9 points clear of 2nd placed keeper Kasper Schmeichel. Alisson would cost 10m

Defender: Virgil van Dijk- Liverpool

Nine points were earned for Virgil van Dijk as Liverpool kept a clean sheet and the Dutchman also opened the scoring. He now has 59 points and is ranked in third place i the fantasy rankings for Premier League defenders.

Defender: Trent Alexander-Arnold -Liverpool

Keeping a clean sheet against Manchester United is no mean feat and Alexander-Arnold was at the heart of everything Liverpool did back there. It is his 9th clean sheet of the season and he is ranked No.1. for defenders in the Premier League. He is valued at 7m.

Defender: Isaac Hayden- Newcastle

The hero for Newcastle! The Magpies beat Chelsea 1-0 due to a last minute strike from Isaac Hayden. That topped off an amazing day for Hayden who also helped his team keep a clean sheet. Hayden is valued at just 2m and has 11 points so far.

Defender: Andrew Robertson- Liverpool

In defence Liverpool almost had a clean sweep. In getting a 2-0 win over old rivals Manchester United, the Reds had achieved a huge result which underlined just how good they have been this season. Robertson earned 5 points at the weekend and is valued at 7m which seems like a great bargain.

Midfielder: Mohamed Salah- Liverpool

The attacking midfielder Salah scored Liverpool’s second goal which confirmed the win over Manchester United, and more important for him ended a baron spell. The Egypt international now has 11 goals and 5 assists.

Midfielder: Jack Grealish- Aston Villa

Jack Grealish now has 38 points and his value of just 3.5m to buy looks like a steal. He scored a goal at the weekend too as his side drew 1-1 away to Brighton. Grealish has now scored 7 goals this season.

Midfielder: Jordan Henderson- Liverpool

Jordan Henderson is just getting better by each passing season and is the engine room in this fantastic Liverpool side. He only earned 2 points at the weekend but with many midfielders not performing so well, that was enough to make this team.

Midfielder: Ismaila Sarr- Watford

Ismaila Sarr has really stood out as one of the best players Watford have as they continue their fantastic recovery from what looked like certain relegation a month ago. Watford drew 0-0 against Tottenham. Sarr is valued at 7.5m and has 27 points so far.

Striker: Sergio Aguero- Manchester City

For the second week in a row Sergio Aguero tops the charts as one of the best strikers in the Premier League. He scored two goals and almost won the game for his club who were 1-0 down with 8 minutes to go against Crystal Palace. Aguero earned 8 points and he has now scored 15 goals this season.

Striker: Raul Jimenez- Wolves

Raul Jimenez is a real gem of a player at Wolves, and the club produced the best stunning comeback of the weekend. They were losing 2-0 to Southampton and won 3-2 and Jimenez grabbed two of those goals earning a nice 8 points. He has 50 altogether and can be added to your team for just 5.5m.

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Premier League: Player of the Week: Sergio Aguero

Sergio Aguero would have won a lot of player of the week’s so here is his umpteenth one and this one was arguably the most deserving.

Aguero who has been one of the very best strikers to have graced the game in England collected 16 points in the week as his side Manchester City made light work of Aston Villa and won the game at Villa Park 6-1.

The Argentinian has made the news headlines because his 3 goals were so significant. Firstly he broke Alan Shearer’s record of the most Premier League hat tricks, which had stood at 11, now Aguero has 12. Then and more importantly he scored his 175th, 176th and 177th league goals for City. That took Aguero up to joint 4th in the all time top goalscorers in Premier League history.

In doing so Aguero passed Arsenal legend Thierry Henry and became the most successful foreign striker in Premier League history. With 177 goals he now has the same as Chelsea legend Frank Lampard. Just one more goal will put Aguero into 3rd place which is simply inevitable.

As a side note one wonders just how far Aguero could go on the all time table? In 3rd place is Andrew Cole who has 187 goals, and that could well  be a target for Aguero to break this season, he has a very good chance needing 11 more goals to do it. Could Aguero go even further though? He is 31 and there was talk at the beginning of the season that he could leave Manchester City at the end of this one.

If he was to stay, with the mentality of the club needing to have younger, fitter strikers, even if Aguero stayed fit one would suspect that he would have at best 2 good seasons in England left in him. On average if he scored 45 goals in those seasons and another 10 in this he could well reach 55 goals. This is all hearsay of course but around that figure would take Aguero to around 230 goals. Easy that would be good enough to be the 2nd best striker. But Alan Shearer’s record look like it is going nowhere as he scored 260 goals. It is worth noting that Aguero’s strike rate is far superior to Shearer’s.

So it has been a fantastic week for Aguero and a record breaking one too. In the fantasy rankings he is in 2nd place with 60 pts and has scored 13 goals and assisted in a further 3. He has no yellow cards so far this season and he would cost you to include him in your team 14m. That’s a lot of budget, but you would be getting one of the very best potent strikers in Europe for the last decade.

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Premier League Game of the Weekend: Aston Villa 1-6 Manchester City

Two teams at two different halves of the league with two different objectives played on Sunday afternoon. For Aston Villa they were always going to be the underdog, but they knew they needed to fight for points. The emergence of Watford who looked to be taking up one place for relegation this season means that Villa have become a relegation contender. They fight it.

For Manchester City, the league looks over but they won’t give it up. The champions are 14 points behind Liverpool with this win and the Reds have a game in hand. It could be 17 by the end of the month. City’s true objective in the league was never to be in 3rd place, a position they courted for a few weeks as Leicester showed flashes of the team that won them the league title in 2016. Another objective in winning this game then, was to go 2nd and leapfrog Leicester who had already lost to Southampton the day before.

City met their objective as Villa’s one collapsed in on itself like a black hole. And it is a black hole where most of the Villa team would have wished for when they were on the receiving end of a vintage Manchester City performance.

When City attack this good, not many teams can match them.  A 6-1 victory is a massive score line and one that you feel manager Pep Guardiola needed (lest we forget the team in bottom place, Norwich City, who actually beat Guardiola’s team earlier this season) and these kind of games before a whistle is blown can be potential banana skins. But the only players slipping on them were Villa’s back four who were opened up time and again from the devastating attacks born from defence, made in the midfield and executed so well by a forward line, stand up Sergio Aguero.

It was Aguero who scored his 175th, 176th and 177th goals on Sunday. It was Aguero who passed Thierry Henry’s decade long record of scoring the most goals in the Premier League for a foreign player, and it was Aguero who scored his 12th hat trick, a record in the league surpassing Alan Shearer’s 11.

Aguero earned a whopping 16 pts in the Euro Fantasy League rankings too. He has 60 pts in total and is the current 2nd best potent striker in the rankings. From 12 starts Aguero has scored 13 goals and assisted in another three.

Rightly so Aguero should be championed but let’s not forget Riyad Mahrez who also had a spectacular game scoring two goals himself and at one point both him and Aguero were on 2 goals a piece and we were just wondering who of the two was going to complete a hat trick? Mahrez may have lost out on that battle, but it didn’t matter one bit. Mahrez is now ranked 5th in the fantasy rankings for Premier League strikers with 52 points. He has scored 7 goals and assisted in another 7 and that is an impressive stat.

Talking of stats City had a stunning 22 goal attempts, with 12 on target against Villa, just more than 50% of shots were hitting their target and 50% of goals flew in as a result. Gabriel Jesus’ 9th goal of the season was largely forgotten then giving the exploits of Aguero’s record and Mahrez’s goals.

This was a statement win for City and they would have loved to have kept a clean sheet too but Villa were awarded a last minute penalty, to give what fans remained crumbs from the richness of a six banquet meal.

What this means for the league may seem like little. Guardiola will hope that if Liverpool cannot lose games this season they will start drawing them and dropping points. It would mean that City would have to do what they did last season and go on a truly unique run which saw them win every game in the new year. The league title seems unlikely but at least City are interested in giving a challenge, and, that is the least one could ask for.

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Best 11 Players in the Premier League: Matchday 22

It was another very interesting weekend of action in the Premier League which saw Liverpool win again and Manchester City finally move into 2nd place after Leicester were beaten. City striker Sergio Aguero made history, what did he do? Read below. And 4th place could be a battle between Chelsea and Manchester United.

Here are the best performing players, did you have any of them?

Formation: 4-4-2

Goalkeeper: Alisson -Liverpool 

A few goalkeepers got 7 pts which is usually the maximum for matchdays for goalkeepers but our nod goes to Alisson. The reason being is that Liverpool were away to Tottenham- a repeat of last year’s Champions League final and Jose Mourinho was determined to set up his team to beat the Reds. But yet again Liverpool won and kept a clean sheet. Alisson’s 6th of the season and he is in 2nd place in the rankings with 40 points.

Defender: Lucas Digne- Everton

Lucas Digne picked up 7 points as he helped Everton keep a clean sheet as they beat Brighton 1-0 and assisted in Everton’s goal scored by Richarlison for an all round performance. Digne costs 5.5m and has acquired an impressive 20 points so far this season.

Defender: Craig Dawson- Watford

Watford won again, this time beating Bournemouth 3-0. Craig Dawson held his nerve and was part of a defence that kept another clean sheet. He is valued at just 2m and scored some rare points this past weekend.

Defender: Trent Alexander-Arnold- Liverpool

It was another 5 points for the brilliant player. Liverpool’s back four all got the same with 5, but Alexander-Arnold ran more and just seemed to make crunch tackles at the right time, he must be worth a small fortune. In fantasy rankings terms he could be yours for just 7m. He is currently the best defender in the rankings.

Defender: Enda Stevens- Sheffield United

Sheffield United got a 1-0 victory over West Ham, so Enda Stevens kept a clean sheet his 8th of the season as the Blades kept in the top half, looking for a European finish. It was an assured performance from Stevens. He is valued at just 1m and has 37 points already and is one of the best bargains to be had.

Midfielder: Riyad Mahrez- Manchester City

Riyad Mahrez got a massive 10 points at the weekend as he scored a brace for Manchester City and then assisted Sergio Aguero for his hat trick. It was a fantastic performance from the City man. He currently has 52 pts and is valued at 9.5m.

Midfielder: Roberto Firmino- Liverpool

If Liverpool do indeed win the title a lot of it will come down to this wonderful Brazilian- Roberto Firmino. He is in the right place at the right time, scores goals and is just deadly. He earned 6pts as he scored the winner v Tottenham in a very tight game.

Midfielder: Jorginho Frello- Chelsea

Jorginho earned 6pts as Chelsea cruised to a much needed 3-0 win over Burnley at home. Jorginho opened the scoring through a penalty and that set the way for the Blues onto victory. He has earned 16pts and can be yours for 7.5m.

Midfielder: Roberto Pereyra- Watford

As Watford continue to shine and move out of the relegation zone, some of their players are leading that cause and one of them is Roberto Pereyra. The player only came on with 8 minutes of the match to go and scored Watford’s 3rd goal. He earned 6 pts.

Striker: Marcus Rashford- Manchester United

Rashford scored his 13th and 14th goals of the season as Manchester United made light work of Norwich to beat them 4-0. The player has amassed 58 pts in total this season and would cost 7m. He earned 8 pts this week alone.

Striker: Sergio Aguero- Manchester City

So both Manchester teams take up the strikers rankings but there was something very special about Manchester City’s. Sergio Aguero scored a hat trick as Manchester City slaughtered Aston Villa 6-1. The player the broke Alan Shearer’s hat trick record, he now has 12. And in the process he became the best foreign goalscorer ever in the Premier League with 176 goals, surpassing Thierry Henry. Aguero has 13 goals and and earned a whopping 16 pts. He is valued at 14m.

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Record breaker Sergio Aguero deserves more recognition

Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero scored a hat-trick against Aston Villa on Sunday afternoon, making him the all-time top-scoring foreign player in the Premier League. Above Arsenal legend Thierry Henry. The Argentine’s hat-trick took his tally to 177 goals in 255 Premier League games whilst his Manchester City tally sits at 249. Just staggering for a player who doesn’t get the recognition he deserves. Continue reading

Manchester City’s Team of the Decade

The last 10 years have been a joyful one if you’re a Manchester City fan. With 818 points in 381 games, coaches such as Roberto Mancini, Manuel Pellegrini and Pep Guardiola have built the Manchester club into a domestic powerhouse. With four Premier League titles, two FA Cups, three League Cups and three Community Shields, the Citizens have had a plethora of immense talent at the club in the past decade, and so here’s a look at their best XI in a 4-3-3.

Continue reading

The 10 best strikers in world football 2010-2019

There have been some truly fantastic strikers this decade, that have helped their clubs to win countless trophies and score some beautiful goals. That have helped changed the landscape of football and created history and tore up those same books. So which players are amongst the best and who has made the top 10 best goal scorers based on goals scored this decade running through 2010-2019?

10. Radamel Falcao

A goal machine and the Colombian proved his worth in different leagues including France, Spain and England. But it was his time at Monaco where he will be remembered the best. Falcao always seemed to be on the score sheet when Monaco won games and he scored over 160 goals in this decade alone.

9. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

A brilliant centre forward who made his name at Borussia Dortmund and done so well there that Premier League side Arsenal called on his services. He has become the main player at Arsenal now and even in difficult times for them is able to score goals.

8. Neymar

Started this decade off in Brazilian football and then made the successful switch to Barcelona and once he hooked up with the likes of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez a real dream team of a front three was established. In a shock transfer Neymar was sold to PSG for a world record of 220m euros and continued to score goals at ease in the French league and win even more titles. Neymar has over 200 goals this decade.

7. Sergio Aguero

Aguero has been the outstanding striker in the Premier League this decade for Manchester City and the best striker the country of England has seen. He just keeps scoring goals and creating chances and got into this list after netting 205 this decade.

6. Edinson Cavani

Cavani has done the business for both Napoli in Serie A and PSG in France. His move to PSG made perfect sense as he has scored so many goals for the French champions which has led to title after title and when he eventually leaves the club he leaves as a club legend.

5. Robert Lewandowski

Lewandowski has been a Bayern man through and through and won countless league titles and the Champions League he has scored an incredible 239 goals and is far and away the best striker in German football this decade.

4. Zlatan Ibrahimovic

What a player, so intelligent and he got better with age too. Has played for so many teams including Milan, Manchester United, PSG and went to America and played for LA Galaxy too. One thing throughout all of that time with Zlatan is that he has scored goals, not poor ones too but beautiful and amazing ones. A true star of football.

3. Luis Suarez

Suarez changed Liverpool’s way of thinking when he joined and scored so many goals and did so for his club before them Ajax too. Then he joined Barcelona and was simply electric and in one of his seasons notched 40 league goals scoring more than Messi himself. Scored over 250 goals. A true talent with a lot of bite.

2. Cristiano Ronaldo

One of the best players in history, he changed the landscape for both Manchester United and Real Madrid and has won 5 Champions Leagues. Always consistent and scored so many goals, almost 100 more than 3rd placed Suarez. Now winning titles in Italy with Juventus, one of the greats.

1. Lionel Messi

Who else? The Argentinian and Barcelona great has scored 378 goals in this decade alone. He just keeps scoring and keeps getting hat tricks and keeps getting goals against the very best teams and players. The greatest player ever to have graced the game? That is up to you to decide but surely the best in his generation. The one and only Lionel Messi

- Please note all goals quoted are league goals only.

 

Pep Guardiola happy with patient attacking display against Southampton

Manchester City are just manage to keep Liverpool in their sights after Kyle Walker’s late winner against Southampton on Saturday, meaning the reigning champions are just six points behind Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool.

Unlike last season, City are being made to work for their wins this season while manager Pep Guardiola praised their patience and attacking intensity after training to an early James Ward-Prouse goal. Continue reading

Gabriel Jesus is ready to become Manchester City’s main man

Shirt numbers don’t always mean a lot. Asamoah Gyan, for instance, always wore the number three on his back despite being a forward. But there was a certain symbolism to Manchester City handing Gabriel Jesus the number nine shirt this summer.

Jesus has long been viewed as the next big thing at the Etihad Stadium, signed for £27 million (a fee that represented a massive investment in a teenager at the time) from Palmeiras as one for the future. Now, however, as the Brazilian enters his third season at the club he is expected to deliver.

This is why the award of the number nine shirt was significant. It shows that Pep Guardiola has faith in Jesus to become the striker City believed he would be. This could be the season in which he becomes the club’s main man, their primary centre forward to match the shirt number now on his back.

Jesus demonstrated during the Copa America for Brazil this summer that he can handle the pressure with being the main goal-getter for a frontrunner. Before this summer, Jesus had never actually scored for the Selecao at a major tournament, but he broke that duck and then some, leading Brazil to their first piece of silverware since the Confederations Cup six years ago.

Guardiola demands a lot of his centre forwards. We saw that at Barcelona, where Zlatan Ibrahimovic was cast aside after just one season at the Camp Nou. There were also suggestions at the start of Guardiola’s stint at Man City that Sergio Aguero would be sold as the Catalan wasn’t convinced he could perform the role he wanted from his centre forward.

This makes all the more impressive that Jesus has managed to stick around at the Etihad Stadium. Guardiola clearly has faith in the Brazilian and the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss is very rarely wrong about the potential of players.

Injuries have previously derailed Jesus’s challenge to become Man City’s centre forward, but now things finally seem to be falling into place for him. Aguero is still one of the best goalscorers in the European game, but there has long been a sense that Guardiola wants something a little bit different from the man leading the line. In Jesus, he might well have that and the Brazilian is ready to truly flourish.

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