Was Andrew Robertson more deserving of the PFA award than van Dijk?

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Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk won the PFA award a few days ago and not many people involved in the game and fans could really disagree with that result. Given that the award is voted by professional players it simply added even more weight to the fact and in the process van Dijk has become the first defender in the Premier League to win the award since Chelsea’s John Terry back in 2005.

Still some were surprised that the award was not given to Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling instead who has grown from a very good player to a World class one. He got bizarrely in the end the Young player of the year, which given he is 24 just seemed odd, and he has been around of course for many years. It felt like a sympathy vote in the second thought- but alas that argument is for another day.

Another argument that we can put to one side is why would an award celebrating the best players of the season be handed out before the season has ended? van Dijk no matter how good he has been may end the season empty handed. An argument could be that the next 2 games will not yield a different and superior player but these voting cards were given out in mid March with still 10 games left to play. Thus a player should not be judged on 75% of the season- again an argument for another day.

But something that should not be overlooked is the fact that van Dijk’s team mate Andrew Robertson was. Robertson has been superb this season and was last season too for the Reds. It is interesting why he was overlooked given how solid he has been and given that fellow ex professionals rank him so highly. Phil Neville once said that Robertson was the best left back in the world. Maybe that was a stretch, but he has arguably been the best defender in the Premier League for this season.

Robertson has had a personally brilliant season and that is reflected also in the Premier League fantasy rankings. In the defenders Robertson is currently in 1st position with 114 points and is beating van Dijk by 3 points. While both players have been rocks in defence it also worth noting that Robertson has yet to score a goal- van Dijk has 3, but at the same time Robertson is not employed to score goals. However he has incredibly assisted 11 times this season to van Dijk’s 2.

One could be cynical and say that van Dijk got the awards nod because of the huge transfer fee involved when Liverpool bought him from Southampton for £75m in January, 2018. That fee attracted instant pressure on both the player to perform and manager Jurgen Klopp- had he for example taken a gamble? In contrast Robertson joined the Reds for under £10m.

Big performances from big fee players have always attracted positivity just like they do in the negative sense when it all goes wrong, and let’s be fair van Dijk has been superb in the Premier League this season. It is also hard to argue with professional footballer players whether a certain player deserves the award or not.

Let’s just say that Robertson was unlucky this season, perhaps in the future he will get even more credit if his performances remain the way they have been.

EPL Weekend Picks – Week 36

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With only three or four games left in the Premier League season depending on which side you are following, things are starting to get serious! The title race looks all set to go down to the wire, while the relegation battle appears closer than many thought possible just a few weeks ago. Cardiff and Brighton appear the two sides most immediately in danger of claiming 18th and the final relegation place, though Southampton are not yet mathematically safe. Title contenders Liverpool and Man City both have games where you would fancy them to win, with City’s arguably the slightly tougher game. With that said, let’s go for a 4-3-3 again and see which players are worth keeping an eye on and including in your fantasy squads this weekend.

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EPL Best XI – Week 34

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With the Premier League now very much entering the business end of the season, and with just a few matches remaining to decide the respective fates of several teams, there was a full schedule of games in England’s top-flight this past weekend. Once again, the spread of fixtures was great with Newcastle winning at Leicester on Friday night, six games taking place on Saturday, title challengers Man City and Liverpool winning their respective games on Sunday and Arsenal travelling to Watford on Monday. Results this weekend meant that both City and Liverpool are guaranteed to finish first and second in either combination. With that in mind, let’s take a look and see which players performed the best in their position, using a 4-3-3 formation.

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EPL Game of the Weekend – Southampton vs Liverpool

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When Virgil van Dijk took to the pitch at St. Mary’s on Friday evening, memories came flooding back (both fond and otherwise) of when he would turn out at the venue on a regular basis. This time, however, he was wearing the purple of Liverpool’s away kit – and few would have argued going into the game that the end result would be anything other than an away win. Southampton are not a bad side, but they have really struggled to find their feet for much of the season. Despite improving well under the guidance of Ralph Hasenhüttl, Liverpool are a title-chasing side who cannot afford to slip up as they take on current champions Man City in the final furlong. In the end, what occurred was an absolute cracker, and the second game of the week in a row to feature Jurgen Klopp’s men.

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EPL Best XI – Week 33

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With another reduced number of teams in Premier League action this weekend due to the ongoing FA Cup competition, there were only a few sides to select from for this week’s “Best XI” – though there has been a nice spread of action, with games on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Everton continued their impressive performances against the big teams this season when they beat Arsenal 1-0 at Goodison Park, while Burnley earned a hugely impressive – and vitally important – away win at Bournemouth. Leicester and Crystal Palace also picked up wins on the road at Huddersfield and Newcastle respectively, while Liverpool’s Friday night trip to Southampton also saw them take the points. Let’s go for a 4-3-3 and see which players performed the best!

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EPL: Premier League Predictions Week 33

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With just over a month to go until the Premier League wraps up the two horse race between Manchester City and Liverpool continues, there is just 1 point in it and this battle looks sure to go down to the wire. Champions League places are also up for grabs. Fulham and Huddersfield have been relegated but there is still one more place to decide although it looks likely that could be Cardiff who need to start picking up the points.

Below we take a look at the games ahead of the weekend and predict who we think will come out on top.

Southampton v Liverpool

Liverpool need all three points but Southampton will be a difficult opponent at St Mary’s when the two teams go head to head on Friday night. Goals have dried up for Mohamed Salah but Sadio Mane has been on fire and Liverpool will be the odds on favourites to win this game. When they are not playing well they are getting just the right amount of luck and look unstoppable. Liverpool to beat Southampton

Bournemouth v Burnley

Bournemouth have been in poor form but at the same time they are safe and have won just 1 game in the last five. Burnley can really turn the screw on 18th placed Cardiff with a win here and go further clear which could virtually secure their status in the Premier League. The boost for them is that they have just beaten Wolves and ended a 4 game losing streak. Draw

Huddersfield v Leicester

Now that Huddersfield are down they might just be able to relax and enjoy their football. Leicester are trying to be the best of the rest and finish in 7th place and are in very good form now under new coach Brendan Rodgers and Jamie Vardy will be hoping to get back on the score sheet. Leicester to beat Huddersfield

Newcastle v Crystal Palace

The teams come into this game with the same form and Palace are just 1 point above Newcastle. Newcastle’s form is spectacular at home where they have won their last 5 games in a row and they should have too much for Palace. Newcastle to beat Crystal Palace

Everton v Arsenal

Can Everton win 3 games in a row? They will face  a difficult team in Arsenal and the Gunners are in very good form. Arsenal are looking good for 3rd place and have more quality than  Everton. Pierre Emerick Aubameyang is in good form and they have plenty of goals in their team. Arsenal to beat Everton

Chelsea v West Ham

West Ham have had some poor results lately and even the games they have been winning they haven’t been very convincing. Chelsea at home have been superb this season and Olivier Giroud has finally found his goal scoring boots. Chelsea to beat West Ham

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Predicted lineups for this weekend’s Premier League action

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The FA Cup semi-finals take place this weekend in England. As a result, there will be only six Premier League fixtures played between Friday and Monday.

St Mary’s is where the action starts with the meeting of Southampton and Liverpool on Friday night. It’s a huge fixture in the Premier League title race with Jurgen Klopp’s Reds looking to go back on top with a win.

At the other end, Burnley will be hoping to take something from their game at Bournemouth as they look to shake off Cardiff City in the battle to survive relegation.

Arsenal and Chelsea are the only two teams from the top-four battle who are in league action over the coming days. Continue reading

Marco Silva earns respect at Everton after a yo yo season

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Marco Silva was supposed to be the second coming for Everton after he was appointed in the summer, but it hasn’t always been a season for Everton to remember. Fans have been vocal and club owner Farhad Moshiri has been critical but the recent upturn at the club is set to give Silva a lot more respect.

The argument for Silva’s sacking almost seemed justified a few months ago, when Everton seemingly couldn’t buy a win. It all seemed to start when they lost at home to West Ham last November, this was at a time when the Hammers were really struggling in the league. The Toffee men were soon knocked out of the Carabao Cup by Southampton again at home and everything fell apart. All of a sudden players like Richarlison were not performing and the clubs home form and away form could not be told apart. It was a harsh almost embarrassing winter for the club.

An inevitable FA Cup exit to Millwall followed and that was by and large Everton’s season over- and at that point it could have been Silva’s short reign with the club too. There were still the odd results to get excited about, like beating Burnley who had found form themselves 5-1, but all in all it felt as if Everton were destined for 16th position.

Everyone realised and surely Silva did too that the derby match against Liverpool at the beginning of March could save his job. Liverpool have been superb this season and could win their first league title since 1990, obviously it is something that Everton would want to stop. While they couldn’t beat their eternal rivals they did salvage a 0-0 draw and at least took 2 points from them. This ensured that Manchester City would go back to the top of the standings.

A 3-2 loss at Newcastle followed but Silva gained sympathy given that Newcastle’s winner was a clear off side, the jury was still out, but the execution was awaiting trial. Having to play the 2017 champions next was the big one for Everton and they passed with flying colours beating Chelsea 2-0 at Goodison Park. And then the club finally won back to back games when they avenged their defeat earlier in the season by travelling to West Ham and beating them 2-0.

And it is those results that have ultimately saved Silva’s job. He will be Everton’s manager next season, and whilst some of his playing decisions have been odd and results in general not good enough surely he deserves another summer transfer window and another season to push Everton into Europe.

 

EPL Best XI – Week 32

MilivojevicAt this late-ish stage of the season, Premier League clubs do of course start gaining games in hand over some of their rivals. At the time of writing, for example, league leaders Liverpool have played 32 games, while second-placed Man City have featured in 31 and Arsenal (in fifth) are on 30. Of course, Monday evening games play a part, but so too does the progress of different teams in different competitions. Liverpool now have a two point lead at the top of the table, though City have of course played that one game less. It is now time to look at which players performed the best for their clubs in this past weekend’s round of games, adopting a 4-4-2 formation here. For simplicity, we are calling this week 32 but that may not apply to all teams of course.

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Brighton’s balancing act could see a cup win, survival or relegation from the Premier League

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What a season it has been for Brighton, but despite some bright points, pardon the pun there has been a lot of low ones and as the season wraps up Brighton still do not know how their season could end. At least it has been an interesting one for the fans, but this rollercoaster may not have a happy ending.

The season got off very well and included a series of home matches where Brighton looked unbeatable, they even beat Manchester United and did it convincingly. But then came 2019- and Brighton simply could not get wins, defeat after defeat even at their home could not lift the gloom and all of a sudden from being talked about claiming the last Europa League place, they slipped to mid table and then they slipped to 16th place. All of a sudden there was the chance of relegation.

The one shining light for Chris Hughton’s side is that they have won back to back games coming into this weekend and that has given them a boost but again there is just 5 points in it to 18th placed Cardiff. Let’s take a look at Brighton’s remaining fixtures.

This weekend they will face Southampton a team just below them in a massive game and if they were to win that they would take a massive step to securing their Premier League status. But with fixtures still to come against the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester City it is those type of games, the clubs around them that are must wins.

Their matches in April against Bournemouth and Cardiff which are both at home could be their make or break games, and while the club should be safe this season all it will take is a repeat of their bad form of the past 3 months to send them down. If they do survive this season it should be a lesson to the club that the key is consistency in the league if you are going to stay up.

But it isn’t just the league that is a concern as Brighton have fantastically made it into the FA Cup semi finals. Brighton have not been in an FA Cup final since 1983 and have never won the competition. Could they make it again? The likelihood looks slim given that their semi finals opponents are Manchester City, but then again you never know.

That match takes place at the beginning of April at Wembley and it should be a memorable one. As for this season despite some of the lows the fans should have little to moan about, if anything we are coming into April and the club are still fighting on all fronts good and bad, which is better than nothing.