Manchester City can’t afford to be complacent against Wolves

Manchester City v FC Barcelona - UEFA Champions League Group Stage - Group C

With nine dropped points in December, Pep Guardiola will be eager to keep the pressure on Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool when his Manchester City welcome Wolves to the Etihad Stadium on Monday night.

Being labelled as giant killers, the visitors have recently beaten Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool and so Guardiola will warn his team against complacency, despite coming into this fixture on the back of a morale boosting wins against Rotherham (7-0) and Burton Albion (9-0) in the FA Cup and Carabao Cup semi-final. Continue reading

Are Liverpool imploding after surprise FA Cup exit?

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At the start of the year Liverpool had much to celebrate, 7 points clear at the top of the Premier League, with the FA Cup coming up and in the knockout stages of the Champions League. It seemed that this season would be Jurgen Klopp’s one to finally pick up a trophy with the Reds. But a loss to Manchester City in the league and now being knocked out of the FA Cup by Wolves has put that dream into check.

Just one week into 2019 has seen two losses for Liverpool, who had gone 20 games unbeaten in the Premier League. There has been a body blow to the club of epic proportions. The City loss means that they have just a 4 point advantage at the top of the standings. But the cup defeat means that after starting the season with 4 possible chances of silverware, Liverpool now have 2.

Like Leicester before them one does have to wonder why Klopp decided to play a weakened team against Wolves,  a fellow Premier League opponent who also had home advantage.

His decision to rest some of his key players for the Premier League has heavily backfired and why rest them anyway, when Liverpool do not play their next game in the league for another 5 days, it is just makes no sense what Klopp has done. With Leicester who rested players when they lost to Newport County the decision seemed more bizarre given that they won’t come in the top four and won’t be relegated so why not fight on all fronts?

Alas with Liverpool, priorities might be different given that the one trophy they crave this season is the league title-something they haven’t won since 1990. And then there is the little matter of winning the Champions League and they will take on Bayern Munich in the two legged last 16 affair next month.

But then there is the matter of Klopp and how his Liverpool team have won zero trophies under him. He has spent hundreds of millions of pounds, and there have been some wonderful displays, great signings, great wins and two European finals both ending in defeat but nothing there to show for it in the end.

When the league resumes Liverpool will be under pressure to start winning games again, and of course Klopp will pick his strongest available team. His latest move feels like he is disrespecting the importance of the FA Cup, which becomes all the more apparent and bizarre given that Liverpool have not won a trophy since 2012.

EPL Weekend Picks – Round 13

David Silva

The 13th week of the 2018-19 Premier League season sees Manchester City travel to West Ham, while Tottenham host Chelsea in one of the biggest games of the campaign so far. Let’s take a look at 11 players who you should consider for your EPL Fantasy team this weekend…

GK – Rui Patricio (Wolves)
Wolves play two of the Premier League’s lowest-scoring sides — Huddersfield and Cardiff — over the next week, so Rui Patricio is well worth considering. The Portuguese goalkeeper has 18 points so far this season.

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EPL Best XI – Liverpool players dominate

Mohamed Salah

The 12th weekend of the 2018-19 Premier League season saw Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea maintain their unbeaten starts, while struggling Cardiff and Newcastle picked up their second victories of the campaign. Let’s take a look at the top EFL Fantasy points scorers from the weekend’s games…

GK: Alisson, Liverpool – seven points
Liverpool ran out 2-0 winners against Fulham on Sunday, meaning Alisson kept yet another clean sheet. He now has 49 points for the season, making him the Reds’ highest scorer.

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Granit Xhaka mistake not reflective of midfielder’s season so far

Arguably, it was the worst result of Unai Emery’s short reign as Arsenal manager to date. The Gunners have made progress under their new coach, but until this weekend their results had followed the form book. They’d lost to Manchester City and Chelsea, drawing with Liverpool, whilst beating the likes of Everton, Leicester City and Fulham. This changed on Sunday, though.

The 1-1 draw against Wolves was a poor result. Nuno Espirito Santo’s side have exceeded expectations this season following their promotion from the Championship, but nonetheless, as a team with top four aspirations Arsenal must have expected to have brushed them aside, particularly at the Emirates Stadium.

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As things turned out, the Gunners were lucky to even get one point, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan scoring late on to salvage things. Emery’s side were left chasing the game by a mistake from Granit Xhaka, whose decision to dummy a ball allowed Ivan Cavaleiro to score the opener for the away side.

This certainly wasn’t the first time that the Swiss midfielder has been a target for the Arsenal support. Generally speaking, Xhaka has failed to live up to his billing since making the move to North London from Borussia Monchengladbach two and a half years ago, but he delivers something of a free pass this time.

“He has a big commitment with us and also character,” Emery explained after the match, defending Xhaka for his error. “His performance with his quality is good for us. We need everybody. For me and for the team, we need more consistency. I think the most important thing is to build with confidence and creating little by little with very big work. I think we are doing it and Xhaka is doing this also.”

Emery is right to stand up for his player given his performances so far this season. Xhaka finally looks comfortable in his surroundings, clear in his role in the Arsenal team. Alongside Lucas Torreira, the Swiss international has given the Gunners a solid midfield partnership. He is crucial in the way Arsenal have come to play under Emery, driving the ball forward into the final third where the likes of Mesut Ozil and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang take over.

Xhaka is just one of the players at the Emirates Stadium who looks to have been rejuvenated by Emery this season and one mistake, albeit a costly one, shouldn’t mask the progress that he has made. Arsenal finally have a structure and a system, and Xhaka is thriving in that environment.

Lessons must be learned from Arsenal’s home draw against Wolves, but they must recognise how far they have come in the space of just a few months. Xhaka mustn’t be too hard on himself because he has shown more than enough this season to vindicate his place in the side. Cut out the mistakes and he’ll be fine.

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Be warned, Wolves: The Manager of the Month curse is a very real thing

Nuno Espirito Santo

Nuno Espirito Santo was recently announced as the winner of the Premier League Manager of the Month award for September.

The Portuguese boss led Wolves to the Championship title last season and he has seen his side continue their form into the early weeks of 2018-19, picking up 15 points from their first eight matches in the top flight.

Viewed by many as the best newly promoted team in Premier League history, Wolves defeated West Ham, Burnley and Southampton in September and came away from a tricky trip to Manchester United with a 1-1 draw.

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EPL Weekend Picks – Round 9

Ross Barkley Chelsea

The ninth week of the 2018-19 Premier League season features one of the biggest games of the campaign so far, Chelsea v Manchester United, while Liverpool travel to Huddersfield and Arsenal host Leicester. Let’s take a look at 11 players who you should consider adding to your EPL Fantasy team before the weekend.

GK – Ederson (Manchester City)
Every EPL Fantasy team needs a reliable scorer of points in goal, and you can’t go wrong with Ederson. The Manchester City goalkeeper has recorded 37 points this season – more than any other player in his position in the Premier League – and there’s a good chance he’ll add to that tally at home to Burnley.

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EPL Weekend Picks – Round 8

Eden Hazard

The eighth week of the 2018-19 Premier League season features the biggest game of the campaign so far, Liverpool v Manchester City, while Manchester United host Newcastle. Let’s take a look at 11 players who you should consider adding to your EPL Fantasy team before the weekend.

GK – Rui Patricio (Wolves)
Rui Patricio has picked up an incredible 17 points this season — Ederson, Allison and Kepa Arrizabalaga are the only goalkeepers with more — and he could easily add to that tally in upcoming matches against Crystal Palace, Watford and Brighton.

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EPL Best XI – Sturridge joins Kane in attack

Daniel Sturridge

Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea maintained their unbeaten starts in Week 7 of the 2018-19 season, while Manchester United’s poor run continued with a 3-1 loss at West Ham. Let’s take a look at the top players from the weekend’s games…

GK: Jordan Pickford, Everton – seven points
It’s been a tough start to the season for Jordan Pickford but he finally got his first clean sheet in the 3-0 win over Fulham at Goodison Park, earning himself seven points. He is still on minus points (-3) overall, but this is a start!

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EPL Weekend Picks – Round 7

Joao Moutinho

The seventh week of the 2018-19 Premier League season kicks off with West Ham v Manchester United on Saturday. Let’s take a look at 11 players who you should consider adding to your EPL Fantasy team before the weekend.

GK – Ederson (Manchester City)
Only 10 goalkeepers have picked up an average of one point or more in 2018-19 so far, which goes to show how difficult it is to select a reliable scorer of points in between the sticks. Ahead of Manchester City v Brighton on Saturday, you can’t go wrong with 10.00m-rated Ederson.

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