EPL Player of the Week – Eden Hazard (Chelsea)

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When a player stands out head and shoulders above the vast majority of the rest, there will always be suggestions that there will be a big money move in his not-too-distant future. The likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and David Beckham have seen it while in the Premier League, while Luis Figo and Zinedine Zidane experienced similar things during their respective times in La Liga and Serie A. The modern day equivalent to those transfer rumblings would have to be the not so curious case of Eden Hazard, whose performances in recent months have once again sparked speculation that he could be on his way out of Chelsea this summer. One thing Hazard has in common with all of the aforementioned players? Real Madrid.

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EPL Weekend Picks – Round 11

Riyad Mahrez

The 11th week of the 2018-19 Premier League season sees Bournemouth take on Manchester United and Liverpool travel to Arsenal. Let’s take a look at some players who you should consider adding to your EPL Fantasy teams before the weekend…

GK – Hugo Lloris (Tottenham)
We’re going to look specifically at high-scoring players who sometimes go under the EPL Fantasy radar in this week’s picks, starting with Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. The World Cup winner has 21 points this season — only four goalkeepers have more — and he could easily add to that tally against Wolves on Saturday.

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Why the Premier League could possibly go to Liverpool or Chelsea

Last Sunday’s display from Chelsea and Liverpool could be christened as the best game so far this season. Both teams exhibited creativity in attack and resilience at the back. The season is still young, but on the evidence of what we witnessed could any of these two beat City to the league title this season?

Liverpool probably made the best recruits in the English Premier league this summer, bolstering their midfield with Naby Keita and Fabinho and another creative option in Xherdan Shaqiri. The Merseysiders have a world class goalkeeper in Allison Becker, who continue to provide great reflexes in the post. Liverpool have enough quality to compete against anyone for the league title this season and they’ve shown that in their last seven league games.

We saw how they conquered Tottenham Hotspurs at Wembley. It wasn’t just about the results, but the football on display has been mesmerizing. And talk of performance their 3-2 victory over Paris Saint Germain was a testament of their mental fortitude.

Not only have Jurgen Klopp reinvigorated the side that lost to Real Madrid in the Champions League finals last season, there seems to be an oomph about them this season. Established players James Milner, Georginio Wijnaldum, Roberto Firmino, and Jordan Henderson et al are playing at a level a notch higher that we saw in the previous campaign.

This season Mohammed Salah is not showing the same sophistication with opportunities that have come his way. The Egyptian has scored three goals from a total of 20 shots on target. But Sadio Mane seems to have taken much of the responsibility when it comes to goals. So far adorning the number 10 jersey has yielded four, with Roberto Firmino on two.

James Milner has proven that he still cut it for the premier league with his tireless work in midfield, but Gini Widnaldum is currently Liverpool’s most improved player so far this season. The Netherlands international is playing with a lot confidence, hardly giving the ball away. And guess what, he doesn’t look flustered by the presence of Naby Keita on the bench.

The decision to bring Daniel Sturridge back from loan has proven to be an astute one. In the absence of Roberto Firmino, Sturridge can step up and play an important part in Liverpool’s campaign this season as we’ve seen him score vital goals against PSG in the Champions League and Chelsea in the league.

One significant decision by Kloop, is the center back partnership between Van Dyke and Gomes. The pair have started all seven of Liverpool league games and have conceded just three so far. They share the tag of the best defense with the league leaders, Manchester City.

Chelsea

The great thing about Chelsea this season is the arrival of Mauricio Sarri. His style of play is one that Eden Hazard thrives in, and the Belgian is currently in red hot form as he is beginning to replicate his 2015 performance that won him the PFA player of the year. Also, Hazard is buoyed up his inclusion in the FIFPro World Eleven. The Chelsea forward had a great World Cup tournament with his country, winning the bronze medal.

Chelsea meanwhile occasionally telegraphs fear at the back as Antonio Rudiger and David Luis sometimes struggle against quicker attackers. But in midfield enforcer Jorginho, Matteo Kovacic and Ngolo Kante, Chelsea should be able to dominate and control games. There are still concerns about how Sarri is using a Kante’ in midfield. Despite the French man’s reputation as being destructive, the Italian manager prefers a ball playing holding midfielder in Jorginho who currently top the charts for the number of passes in the league and the most in a game.

Willian and Pedro are great attacking outlets for Chelsea. The Spanish forward has found the net three times while the Brazilian ability to carve open compact defense is proving crucial for Chelsea in when in search of a goal. Chelsea do not boost a striker with the quality of Sergio Aguero as both Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud are not quite reliable. Sarri may require a proven goal scorer in the January transfer window.

Manchester City are favorite based on their performance last season and Pep Guadiola’s reputation for winning back to back league titles, but the Citizens look beatable this season and it’s hard to envisage them go on a winning run as we saw last season. It will take a Miracle for Manchester United to win the league this season as tensions between Mourinho and Pogba is beginning to have a debilitating effect on the other players. The red devils will probably be fighting a Champions League spot.

Meanwhile Arsenal seems to have turned the corner after their earlier struggles, but despite winning their last four games are not convincing given the defensive vulnerabilities and how wasteful they can be in th attack. Tottenham Hotspur will be hoping to maintain fourth spot by the end of the season.

As it stands Chelsea and Liverpool look set to deny Manchester city a second straight league cup.

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Sarri’s Blue Belgian Puts Cardiff to the Sword

Eden Hazard

After an exceedingly exciting weekend in the Premier League, only Chelsea remain as unmatched as Liverpool. But while the ladder faced a tough away match at Wembley, the former enjoyed a day out in the sun at Stamford Bridge tearing Cardiff City apart.

Maurizio Sarri’s front three of Willian and Eden Hazard led by Olivier Giroud  all finished the game with success, but it was the Belgian who claimed our Player of the Weekend – finishing with Man of the Match and a tidy hat-trick. Continue reading

Chelsea transfer battles a test for new boss Sarri

sarriNew Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri certainly has his work cut out for him in west London, and with just a few short days until the transfer window slams shut for players coming into the Premier League the former Napoli boss isn’t likely to get too much sleep in the next few days. He faces the daunting task of attempting to retain – and potentially replace – not one, but two of his top players. The task of juggling is difficult enough at the best of times, but what the 59-year-old is having to do is juggle while keeping an eye on the spinning plates at the same time. That may be OK for someone with experience of course, but it doesn’t sound like such a pleasing prospect to the non-professional.

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Is Willian really the answer to Barça’s problems

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Reports on Saturday suggest that Barcelona have upped the ante in their bid to sign Chelsea’s attacking midfielder, Willian.

There’s been no suggestion whatsoever that the player is unsettled, with the Catalan club appearing to do all of the running.

A reported £55 million bid is on the table for the player with the ball now firmly in his and Chelsea’s court. Continue reading

Hazard’s departure is final nail in Chelsea’s coffin

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If Chelsea aren’t yet in crisis, they soon could be, with a trio of their top stars rumoured to be leaving.

Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois seems almost certain to head back to Madrid and sign for Real, because it’s an open secret that the Belgian misses his wife and children, all of whom live in the Spanish capital.

Willian hasn’t denied the rumours linking him to Barcelona although the Catalans, already overbooked in midfield, should think twice about spending €70 million, if reports are to be believed, on a player who will shortly turn 30. Continue reading

Chelsea’s delayed signing is setting Maurizio Sarri up for failure

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Maurizio Sarri to Chelsea has been spoken about so much that it seems like a done deal. Only, it isn’t.

As of now, the facts remain the same: Antonio Conte is the manager of Chelsea and Maurizio Sarri is still employed by Napoli. This remains a problem for all four parties involved. Why? Well Conte is the manager of a club who doesn’t want him. Sarri is employed by a club who has no use for him. Chelsea can’t get their transfer campaign started until this is resolved, and Napoli are paying two coaches to do one job.

At the end of the day, the bigger problem lies with Chelsea and Maurizio Sarri; however, as Conte has a huge buyout clause in his contract and will be paid very well to walk away. Napoli also have their coach in place and have begun signing new players, therefore, they are not affected by Sarri still being on the books.  Continue reading

World Cup 2018: Redemption on the menu for hopefuls Brazil

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Following on from last week’s look at Germany’s approach to this summer’s World Cup, we will now be taking a look at one of the tournament’s other favourites – South American outfit Brazil.

The five-time world champions disappointed while hosting the previous tournament in 2014, crashing out to Germany in the semi-finals. The disappointment didn’t necessarily stem from them “only” reaching the semis of course – though most were expecting them to win – but that disappointment came largely from the manner of their exit. That was a 7-1 thrashing at the hands of eventual winners Germany, and for that to occur on Brazilian soil was almost unthinkable. Continue reading

English football predictions for the weekend

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This weekend brings with it a host of Premier League and FA Cup fixtures – meaning some players won’t be eligible for points – here are predictions for who we believe will deliver over the upcoming ties.

Premier League predictions

Bournemouth vs. West Brom – home win.

Bournemouth have overcome a poor run of form at the beginning of the season to rise to a respectable mid-table spot – thanks to the exploits of Callum Wilson (34 points) and Jordon Ibe (25 points).

West Brom continue a poor run of form that has seen them win just three games all season and it seems difficult to see them winning on the weekend.

Huddersfield vs. Crystal Palace – home win.

Having faced Spurs, Chelsea and Manchester United in recent weeks, Palace have slipped back into a relegation position after a positive start under Hodgson.

The Eagles come up against a Huddersfield side that are in a reasonable vein of form and the likes of Aaron Mooy and Steve Mounie will make this a tough journey for a team in a desperate search for points. Continue reading