Top Premier League Defenders in 2018/19 – Kyle Walker

Kyle Walker

Manchester City defender Kyle Walker picked up another Premier League winner’s medal when his side held off the challenge of Liverpool to win the title by one point back in May.

Walker was also the fourth-highest scoring defender in EPL fantasy football for the season with 89 points from his 33 appearances (30 starts).

Aymeric Laporte was the only City defender ahead of Walker. Laporte earned 100 points in 2018/19.

Liverpool’s trio of Virgil van Dijk (119 points), Andrew Robertson (118) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (102) were first, second, and third respectively. Continue reading

Top Premier League Defenders in 2018/19 – Aymeric Laporte

Aymeric Laporte

Manchester City’s Aymeric Laporte was the highest-scoring non-Liverpool defender in fantasy EPL last season.

The 25-year-old French centre-back joined Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City team in January 2018 for €65 million from LaLiga’s Athletic Bilbao.

Since then, he has gone on to be recognised as one of the best defenders in the English Premier League with his consistent performances at the heart of the City backline.

At just 6.5 million, Laporte was a bargain for EPL fantasy managers last season. After impressing so well, his price is likely to increase before the 2019/20 campaign gets underway. Continue reading

Top Premier League Defenders in 2018/19 – Trent Alexander-Arnold

Trent Alexander-Arnold

Hard as it may be to believe, Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold (TAA) is still only 20-years-old.

The right-back has already played in two Champions League finals, a World Cup, and been involved in an epic Premier League title race.

TAA was the third-highest scoring defender in 2018/19′s fantasy EPL game, just behind his Reds teammates – Virgil van Dijk and Andy Robertson.

He managed to accumulate 102 EPL fantasy football points from just 27 starts and two substitute appearances for Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side. Continue reading

The case for Virgil van Dijk to win the Ballon D’or

Van Dijk Liverpool Ballon D'or

Such has been the dominance enjoyed by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in the Ballon D’Or over the past decade, the notion that any player other than the two could win it is often scoffed at. Virgil van Dijk, however, is not receiving such treatment.

Fresh from Champions League glory, the Dutchman finds himself at the front of an altogether different competition. Van Dijk is currently the bookmakers favourite to win the Ballon d’Or. He’s ahead of the aforementioned Messi and Ronaldo, as well as Kylian Mbappe, Liverpool teammates Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane and Raheem Sterling.

In fact, he’s the only defender on the list with odds shorter than 100/1, with Marcelo and Diego Godin the next on the list. Continue reading

Van Dijk and Alisson the stars of Liverpool’s Champions League success

Van Dijk Alisson Champions League

Madrid has often been where Champions League legends are made, and that proved to be the case for Liverpool. This year’s Champions League final won’t go down as one of the best, indeed in many aspects, it was among the worst, but Liverpool won’t mind one bit.

This side have battled their way back throughout the Champions League this season, and it was no different in the final. The natural rhythm, tempo and desire were lacking from Jurgen Klopp’s side. Instead, they had to battle, scrap and find something much deeper to ensure they were lifting a sixth European crown by the evening’s end. This Liverpool side have transformed under Klopp this year. The swashbuckling, cavalier team of the past has made way for one that has much more about it. Continue reading

Top Premier League Defenders in 2018/19 – Virgil van Dijk

Virgil van Dijk

It’s certainly no surprise that Virgil van Dijk was the top performing defender in this season’s EPL fantasy football.

The PFA Players’ Player of the Year has turned out to be one of Liverpool’s best-ever signings, having an immediately huge impact on what was an extremely leaky Reds defence.

Van Dijk started every one of Liverpool’s 38 Premier League fixtures this season. He helped them to the best defensive record in the league as The Reds finished just one agonising point behind Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side in the title race. Continue reading

No shame in second for Liverpool

Liverpool second Premier League Klopp Van Dijk Robertson Salah Mane

Bill Shankly famously said that finishing second is nothing. Even he, though, would have been tempted to revise that statement when discussing this current Liverpool team. Describing this team as failures would be cruel in the extreme.

While the overarching desire is to look back at this past season and mourn the death of another potential title win, the reaction should be the opposite. Liverpool should be celebrating a glorious campaign and the fact that it happened in the first place. Jurgen Klopp’s side have impressed beyond belief over the past year. Suggestions that they have done anything but succeed this season are not worth listening to. Klopp will certainly be sharing that message among his group.  Continue reading

Liverpool must continue on their path of relentless improvement

In any other season, with the exception of last season, Liverpool would have been champions. In fact, had they registered their tally of 97 points in any other Premier League campaign besides the last two, Jurgen Klopp’s side would have been the strongest in the history of the division, at least numerically.

Liverpool fans don’t need another message of consolation reminding them of just how unfortunate they were to finish such an astonishing season second to Manchester City. There has been enough of those over the past couple days. This doesn’t help to ease the pain in any way.

jurgen-klopp-liverpool-southampton_3368627

The Anfield side must use that pain to continue to improve, though. Of course, they still have a Champions League final against Tottenham Hotspur to look forward to, but when that matter has been settled and pre-season begins again there will be no doubting Liverpool’s aim for the campaign ahead – win the Premier League title.

Last year, they identified deficiencies in their squad, in goals, at centre back and in the centre of midfield, and so Alisson Becker, Virgil Van Dijk and Fabinho were all swiftly signed for something close to a combined £200 million. All three players have since delivered on their promise, even if Fabinho took a little longer to find his feet at his new club.

It’s this sort of ruthless drive that will be required again this summer if Liverpool are to draw Manchester City in at the top of the English game. They could still use another centre back, for instance, so they aren’t so reliant on Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren when Joe Gomez isn’t available. Matthijs de Ligt has been linked, with the Dutchman certainly fitting the bill of a signing that screams ambition. The Ajax teenager might, however, be an unrealistic target with Barcelona expected to complete a deal soon.

Depth is also required in the attacking third. Divock Origi and Daniel Sturridge have performed adequately enough in the recent absence of Roberto Firmino, but there has been an element of fluke to their goals. Liverpool must look to add depth, perhaps in the form of someone like Thorgan Hazard or Timo Werner, not just to provide options, but to press existing attackers to new levels. Liverpool’s season might have ended in disappointment, but they must use that to go even further next season.

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Barcelona victory proves Klopp status among football’s best

 Jurgen Klopp Liverpool

Basking in the glory of the win over Barcelona, it’s fair to say Jurgen Klopp’s standing has been higher. Victory over Messi and co confirmed the Liverpool manager’s status as one of the best in world football.

Look around Europe’s top five leagues, and there is an argument there is nobody better than he. Pep Guardiola is the obvious rival, He continues to shine with Manchester City and is one of the greatest coaches of his generation. Yet, his team are only one point ahead of Liverpool in the Premier League. They lagged far behind them in the Champions League. Klopp has matched and outperformed Guardiola at times this season. The win over Barcelona was another example of the world-class coach he is. Continue reading

EPL Game of the Weekend – Newcastle vs Liverpool

newcastle2-3liverpool

When you are still in the race for a league title, the pressure is of course on. At this late stage of the season, with a single point deficit and an away day to consider, one could be forgiven for feeling a little added pressure on your day job. When you are Liverpool, with the weight of the expectations of millions of fans across the globe resting heavily on your shoulders and facing an uphill battle to reclaim the crown once so familiar, an away day at Newcastle United is one of the last things you would fancy. That is not a knock on Newcastle at all, of course – but with such a rich history of clashes between the two sides, and with reining champions Man City watching on with interest, anyone connected with the Reds could be forgiven for feeling somewhat pressured.

Continue reading