West Ham have been having a fair to middling season in truth. At times criticised for poor performances, the Hammers have nonetheless staved off any threat of a relegation scrap thus far and find themselves ninth in the Premier League table. While they sit quite a distance from the European places – indeed, points-wise they are closer to the drop zone – they have managed to pull some decent results out of the bag, and this past weekend’s thriller at home against Huddersfield could be labeled many things, but never boring! Manuel Pellegrini has used his experience and past success in English football (one Premier League title and two League Cup trophies) to instill a sense of purpose throughout the side.
Life really can be cruel at times. Sometimes, no matter what you try and do, things just don’t come off – nothing works, and all you are left with is frustration and confusion. Depending on which side of the London Stadium you were sitting in on Saturday, that could be either the exact opposite of what happened, or the embodiment of your weekend. For the neutral of course, while West Ham taking on Huddersfield may not necessarily seem like the most must-watch game of the weekend, this was an absolute cracker. It could be argued that, like West Ham fans, the neutrals felt the opposite of the aforementioned frustration. Huddersfield, however, really look in danger – they somehow managed to claw defeat from the grasp of victory, and hopes of a miracle continue to fade with each passing match. Continue reading
There was only half a round of games in the Premier League this past weekend, what with FA Cup action also going on, and so with just ten teams taking part picking a best XI may be slightly different to usual. Sunday’s action was fun-packed, as Everton raised some eyebrows by beating Chelsea 2-0 at Goodison Park – their first home victory since mid-January – putting a big dent in Chelsea’s top-four ambitions. Liverpool were tested more than many will have been expecting at Craven Cottage, a late James Milner penalty putting them top of the table with a 2-1 win against Fulham. On Saturday, Bournemouth played out a 2-2 draw at home to Newcastle, Leicester won 2-1 at Burnley and West Ham beat Huddersfield in a 4-3 thriller.
With a reduced run of fixtures in the Premier League this coming weekend owing to FA Cup Sixth Round action, there are only ten teams from which to take this week’s weekend picks. The pick of the upcoming fixtures is arguably Everton hosting Chelsea in the 4.30pm kickoff on Sunday, while Bournemouth host in-form Newcastle on Saturday. Burnley do battle with Leicester and West Ham take on Huddersfield in Saturday’s other games, while Sunday’s earlier game sees Fulham welcome Liverpool to Craven Cottage. Taking all of that into account, let’s adopt a 4-3-3 this time and see which players could be set to work their way into fantasy management consideration.
With the FA Cup taking place this weekend in England, the Premier League fixtures have been reduced but there are still some mouth watering ties for us to look over and debate about. Which teams will benefit this weekend and which players will be looking to make the difference and earn more fantasy points? Let’s take a look below.
Bournemouth v Newcastle
Newcastle could join Bournemouth on the same point (37) with a win here. The home side did get a win last weekend but that was against Huddersfield and have otherwise been poor. Newcastle’s form has been solid and they are scoring goals. Salomon Rondon is in great form and is Newcastle’s top performer with 41 points and he can brought into your team for just 7m. Newcastle to beat Bournemouth
Burnley v Leicester
Burnley have lost 3 games coming into this game and are in 17th and in danger of being relegated. Leicester have a new manager in Brendan Rodgers and they will not be afraid to attack. Jamie Vardy scored a brace last weekend and he is 11.5m to snap up but is Leicester’s best player in the fantasy rankings and gained 10pts last weekend. Burnley and Leicester to draw
West Ham v Huddersfield
West Ham have been in great form at home and should have no problems to beat Huddersfield. Felipe Anderson has 45pts for The Hammers and has already scored earlier in the season against Huddersfield, if he can do so again and put a good performance in he would be worth having in your team for 8m. West Ham to beat Huddersfield
Fulham v Liverpool
Fulham are going to be relegated this season and Liverpool are trying to win the title and there should be only one winner here. The Reds will be the massive favourites not only to win but score a few goals too. Goalkeeper Alisson rarely lets goals in and he is the best performing goalkeeper in ELF fantasy and can be brought into your team for 10m. He has a whopping 110pts already this season. Liverpool to beat Fulham
Everton v Chelsea
Everton have not been very good for the past four months and have won only odd games. They threw away a 2 goal lead at Newcastle last weekend and lost 3-2. Chelsea are hoping for a top 4 place and have improved, although could only draw against Wolves last weekend. Gonzalo Higuaín to score against Everton could be a shrewd move and the Argentina international is 10m and has already racked up 32pts for The Blues.
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This weekend we have another full schedule of ten EPL matches to look forward to. Here are the predicted lineups for every EPL game.
Crystal Palace v Brighton
Crystal Palace XI: Guaita, Wan-Bissaka, Dann, Tomkins, Van Aanholt, Kouyate, Milivojevic, Schlupp, Townsend, Batshuayi, Zaha
Brighton XI: Ryan, Montoya, Dunk, Duffy, Bernardo, Propper, Stephens, Bissouma, Knockaert, Andone, Jahanbakhsh
Out: Speroni, Sakho, Souare (Crystal Palace); Balogun, Gross (Brighton)
This weekend’s Premier League fixture list promises another round of tension, goals, celebration and despair. Proceedings get underway Saturday lunchtime with the north London derby, Spurs welcoming Arsenal as their guests at Wembley. We also have a relegation clash as Brighton host bottom side Huddersfield, while on Sunday we have a west London derby – Fulham vs Chelsea – and the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park. Manchester City look to continue their bid to retain the Premier League crown when they travel to Bournemouth 24 hours before Liverpool’s trip across Stanley Park, and with both of those fixtures proving potentially slippery for the top two this weekend could well start to shape the landscape as the domestic season rolls on.
With the title race continuing to hot up, this weekend’s Premier League action saw contenders Liverpool going toe-to-toe with rivals Manchester United, while champions Manchester City took the weekend off from league action to battle Chelsea in Sunday’s Carabao Cup Final. At the lower end of the table, Newcastle hosted Huddersfield in what could be described as a relegation six-pointer. With that said, let us take a look at which players performed the best for their clubs over the past few days.
Arsenal dropped more points at the weekend when they went to West Ham and lost 1-0 and quite frankly this season is looking just like any other under Arsene Wenger.
That isn’t to say that new coach Unai Emery hasn’t stamped his presence on the team, because he has and the Gunners in general have been more willing to attack and take chances especially away from home. But one glance at the league table and after 22 games Arsenal just aren’t bringing anything fresh to the table or their season.
Not too much criticism should be put upon Emery- coming into a side that have been so used to having Wenger in charge for more than two decades, a change takes some doing and it isn’t going to happen quickly. Having said that Emery will be under more pressure next season.
This latest loss though means that Manchester United have been able to catch up to them. Just before Christmas they were a good 8 points adrift, so it just underline how very average the Gunners have been lately.
The defeat against West Ham also means that they have slipped 6 points behind a top 4 finish, and with United right on top of them it means that Arsenal now have to challenge both Chelsea and possibly a resurgent United for that top four place. In short it looks as it Arsenal will miss out on a Champions League place for the 2nd time in a row.
Because of this we can say that Emery has failed in his objectives this season which must have been to put Arsenal back into Europe’s elite competition, right now that looks like a distant dream. Emery’s salvation could come by way of the FA Cup, a competition the Gunners have won 3 times from the last four years.
There is also of course the Europa League where Arsenal have made it to the knockout stages. If they win that then they will qualify for the Champions League, so not everything is at a dead end for them. However fans will be alarmed at some of the clubs latest stats.
Emery’s team have just one win in their past four and on form the club would not be in 5th place but in 10th. And maybe no fans want to hear this but this time last season Arsenal had 39 points, there really is nothing in it between Wenger’s last season and Emery’s first.
We can say that on the face of it Arsenal have not got any worse, but neither have they got any better. That doesn’t mean the future isn’t bright with Emery in the hot seat but it is clear that he will need a big budget this summer in order to compete at the top.
This week it has emerged that West Ham’s best striker Marko Arnautovic has demanded that the club listen to an offer from an unnamed Chinese club who have come in for him and offered West Ham £35m.
This is a bombshell for The Hammers given that they have no quality back up to replace the Austrian who has scored 7 goals in the league this season and saved the club almost single handily against Brighton a few weeks ago with a brace.
Arnautovic has been a breath of fresh air who has really stood out at the club for the past year after his move from Stoke and his height has caused all sorts of problems for opposing defenders. But is he right to want a move to China?
In China it has been reported that he could earn £10m a year over a four year contract meaning that he is guaranteed £40m and that doesn’t even take in all of the freebies and luxuries he will get over there together with any bonuses. At West Ham once we take away tax he is earning about £2.5m a year, so in four years he would earn what he could in one year.
Of course this situation seems grotesque given that Arnautovic even with a deduction of tax still takes home nearly £200,000 a month- that would take the average worker in England 10 years to earn. However this is the crazy world of football and the Austrian’s thinking has to be that he will be 30 soon and his career at the top is winding down- what does he have 3 or 4 years at the top at the most?
The problem then isn’t that he wants away- although a little bit of commitment and passion would be a good thing in today’s game. No the problem lies with his excuse for going- to win trophies. This claim seems a little far fetched. True if he went to China it would be for the best team that may well win league titles and cups in China- but with all due respect nobody would have these wins at the tip of their tongue the next time you play a football quiz.
Arnautovic is more than likely going for the fantastic wage and at his age he could end up earning quite a retirement package. It feels wrong that he wants out but at the same time if you look at the situation from his point of view it does actually make sense.
As for West Ham, they seem backed into a corner- they cannot give Arnautovic such a pay rise but they do have the player under contract. The problem there is that we have seen in the past that contracts mean very little and the player usually ends up getting what he wants. The fee of £35m seems scant too for a club who paid £20m for him. That £15m profit is reduced because as part of the deal his former club Stoke would be good for £7.5m, and so West Ham would only end up making a profit of £7.5m on a player they really can’t afford to lose.
It does sadly for The Hammers look like he will be going. The key for them is simply holding onto him until the summer, lose him now and it doesn’t look like they will have the time or find the quality in January to replace him.