Author Archives: Patrick Ribeiro

Player Ratings: Everton 4-0 Manchester City – Everton’s Midfield Runs Riot

These are Fresh Football’s player ratings for Everton’s home clash versus Manchester City this Sunday.

Everton:

Joel Robles – 6.5

The Spaniard had little more than three or four shots at goal to deal with, which he did, on top of making a couple more chances tougher to execute from the opponent’s perspective by making himself big on occasions, as well as keeping a clean sheet.

Seamus Coleman – 6.5

A reasonably solid performance from Coleman, considering the opposition he was up against today. The Irishman was typically good at supporting play down the flanks.

Mason Holgate – 6.5

A real prospect, who had to deal with the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Sterling and Aguero attacking him for much of the afternoon, but the young defender came out on top.

Ashley Williams – 6.5

A no nonsense performance, sweeping everything in his sight at the heart of Koeman’s back three (five).

Ramiro Funes Mori – 6.5

Much like Williams, Funes Mori kept things simple for the most part, even if his positioning wasn’t entirely up to scratch.

Leighton Baines – 7

As he enjoys an injury-free spell in Everton’s XI, Baines kept on top of things down a relatively quite left flank.

Tom Davies – 8.5

A real moment in Everton’s season, as 18-year-old Tom Davies emerges as the Man of the Match. Combative in midfield and purposeful in possession, the new Goodison Park hero fully deserved his goal. See more reaction to his performance here.

Gareth Barry – 7.5

A strong and simplistic performance from Barry, standing as the base for counter-attacks by anchoring Koeman’s midfield with success.

Ross Barkley – 7.5

A key outlet in Everton’s attack, Barkley offered a bold reminder of just how good he can be.

Kevin Mirallas – 7.5

The Belgian winger produced the goods alongside his compatriot, Lukaku, with an assist for his international teammate and a well-taken finish in the second half.

Romelu Lukaku – 7

Owner of the opener with a first-time finish, as he held his own against the majority of the City’s defence.

Subs:

Morgan Schneiderlin – 6

The new signing offered brief glimpses of his capabilities, as he strived to shut down the game.

James McCarthy – N/A

Ademola Lookman – N/A

Difficult to hand a rating based on six minutes, but a well-executed strike for a debut goal really was the cherry on top of the icing for all concerned.

Manchester City:

Claudio Bravo – 4.5

Not his finest hour and shipping four will do little settle the question marks around the Chilean goalkeeper.

Bacary Sagna – 5.5

The better half of City’s full backs, Sagna did go close to pulling a goal back for the visitors with a looping header at the back-post, but he might well have required more in support of attacks.

Nicolas Otamendi – 4.5

Often toyed with by Lukaku, proving to be no match for the Belgian forward on the day.

John Stones – 5.5

Not the comeback of dreams he would’ve hoped for. Wasn’t the worst by any means.

Gael Clichy – 4.5

Culpable in Everton’s first goal and left chasing shadows for the hosts’ third. One to forget.

Pablo Zabaleta – 4.5

Totally ineffective in build-up, as the Argentine was neither here or there positionally against an industrious Everton midfield.

Yaya Toure – 6.5

Among the best in a City shirt, connecting dots well from a deeper role than we’re accustomed to seeing him in – a nice throwback to his younger days.

Kevin De Bruyne – 6.5

Perhaps the most likely to create magic for City from the left, so there can be minimal, if any, complaints over the playmaker.

David Silva – 5

Had little-to-no effect on Everton’s defensive posture, despite a few warnings in the first half.

Raheem Sterling – 5.5

Found himself in good areas in the first half and might well feel he deserved a penalty for his troubles in the first 45 minutes too, but the Englishman ultimately cut a frustrated figure.

Sergio Aguero – 5

Looked to force his way into the game, subsequently without success.

Subs:

Kelechi Iheanacho – 4.5

Joining Aguero in attack, the forward almost went unnoticed upon entrance.

Fans On Twitter Praise ‘Magnificent’ Everton Midfielder In 4-0 Man City Victory

There was a strong sense of intrigue surrounding the auto-claimed ‘Super Sunday,’ as two of Liverpool’s and Manchester’s biggest names split to fight for their cities in a two-part special of Premier League football.

Liverpool’s trip to Old Trafford will have undoubtedly held the majority of the limelight this Sunday, but Everton’s welcoming of Manchester City, as two of Barcelona’s greats in Pep Guardiola and Ronald Koeman went head-to-head, promised to be equally as entertaining.

The narratives continued, as John Stones returned to Goodison Park for the first time since his £47 million summer move to Man City, meanwhile a big performance on his Everton debut from ex-Man United man Morgan Schneiderlin would’ve been a great way for fans of the Red Devils to kick off proceedings.

One name denied the Frenchman of that privilege, however, as Everton stormed to a shock 4-0 win over City, somewhat thanks to a certain Tom Davies at the tender age of 18.

As Belgian duo Romelu Lukaku and Kevin Mirallas powered the Toffees to a 2-0 lead, young Davies looked untouchable in the middle of the park and Koeman’s decision to keep the midfielder on ahead of the likes of Gareth Barry was further accentuated in the 79th minute.

Having turned Yaya Toure and Gael Clichy in a unique moment of individual brilliance, Davies was on hand to combine with Lukaku before dinking the ball past Claudio Bravo to score his first goal in only his third start for the Evertonians, leaving Goodison Park, as well as social media, in awe.

New signing Ademola Lookman will also take his fair share of plaudits for a well-taken finish in Everton’s first goal, immortalising his eagerly-anticipated debut following a £7.5 million transfer that saw him swap Charlton Athletic for life in the Premier League.

Lookman joins a strong nucleus of young stars at Koeman’s disposal, more prominently the likes of Mason Holgate and ex-Sheffield United man Dominic Calvert-Lewin, as well as the new man of the moment, Davies.

The latter will be news to many neutrals, but he is a player who the Merseysiders have kept tabs on for sometime after making his debut under Roberto Martinez in April 2016.

In his first start, with Martinez already confirmed as parting company with Everton, Davies collected somewhat low-key plaudits with an assist in his Man of the Match performance.

The midfielder had since seen his involvement limited to just seven appearances for the club in all competitions this season, but after a masterclass versus Guardiola’s men, complete with a goal, we might well begin to see a little more of Goodison Park’s new hero.

Arsenal Fans React On Twitter To ‘Stroppy’ Alexis Sanchez After Swansea Substitution

We’re all used to seeing Alexis Sanchez hitting the headlines in an Arsenal shirt, but the Chilean, as has become a habit of late, will be sure to find himself in the spotlight for reasons other than his goal-scoring traits.

As the Gunners stormed to a 4-0 lead versus Swansea City this Saturday at the Liberty Stadium, courtesy of another Olivier Giroud goal, two own goals and a strike from Sanchez himself, the ex-Barcelona man drew in the attention of a camera or two in the latter stages of the game.

In a clear attempt to tot up the minutes given to the recently-injured Danny Welbeck, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger selected Sanchez as the star to make way for the English forward, much to the 28-year-old’s displeasure.

The winger, known for his admirable work ethic, was later spotted seated away from the rest of the substitutes’ bench, visibly upset, with his head facing down on numerous occasions.

Sanchez’s reaction, which added a bittersweet taste to what had otherwise been a generally successful venture to South Wales, didn’t go unnoticed amongst the Arsenal fan base on social media over the Chilean’s repeated offence.

Sanchez is, of course, no stranger to snubbing a rest, more recently playing through a concerning hamstring injury in the last international break with Chile in late November, before returning to North London to do the same.

The forward’s complaints seem to extend beyond being given time off, however, as previous episodes exemplify.

Sanchez was left speechless and deep in thought as Arsenal slumped to a 2-1 defeat away to Manchester City in December, whereas many other fans were on hand to spot his less than accommodating attitude towards teammates throughout the festive period.

He was again very vocal when Arsenal took on Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium this month, demonstrating to be in no mood to settle for the Gunners’ 3-3 draw after going 3-0 down in the 58th minute, throwing away his gloves in rage at full time.

Although ultimately inconclusive, Sanchez’s recent behaviour is sure to worry some of the Arsenal faithful, as the much-adored star nears the final year of his contract with the London outfit.

With less than 18 months left on his current deal, reports of interest from Italy, like-minded Premier League clubs and, somewhat unsurprisingly, China has emerged, therefore the deep-lying hope will be that his head hasn’t been turned by the unavoidable details threatening a prolonged stay at the Emirates.

3 Players You Need In Your Premier League Fantasy Football Teams This Week

Following a backlog of festive fixtures and the iconic third round ties of the FA Cup, the Premier League returns to its routine ways with Matchday 21, this weekend.

With Manchester United hosting bitter rivals Liverpool before Marco Silva’s league bout as Hull City manager against Bournemouth, there’s plenty to look forward in the coming days. But who will the headlines belong to?

1 – Patrick van Aanholt
Position:
Defender
Club: Sunderland
Price: £5.0m

It seems there’s never a time when Sunderland aren’t in desperate need of points and Saturday’s reception of the Premier League’s typical middle-ground club, Stoke City, shall be no different.

Under adverse circumstances to what the table tells us, Sunderland are unbeaten in their last three home fixtures, whereas their opponents have lived dangerously on the road with 19 goals conceded in their 10 away fixtures so far this season.

Patrick van Aanholt has often been someone the Black Cats can rely upon for a goal contribution or two, claiming three for himself in this very campaign, so if David Moyes’ men are to build up a bit more momentum in their fight for survival this week against a Stoke side that aren’t ticking as well as they could be, the Dutch full-back might well have a hand in doing so.

Combined XI: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Chelsea

With yet more points dropped between the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal at the top end of the table, Tottenham Hotspur’s clash at home to Chelsea tonight sets itself up to be of the greatest importance for both sides.

For the Blues, a record 15th consecutive win opens up a nine-point-gap between them and 2nd place Liverpool, whereas a triumph for Spurs over their London rivals not only keeps Manchester United off their backs, but also sees them leapfrog 3rd and 4th placed Manchester City and Arsenal, as well as reducing the distance between themselves and top spot to seven points.

As both sides go toe-to-toe in tonight’s heavyweight encounter, Fresh Football has consulted its bubble of imagination to compile what we think an All-star Chelsea and Spurs combined XI would look like, relative to form. Here’s what we’ve conjured up:

Goalkeeper: Hugo LlorisTottenham Hotspur

There is, without a doubt, very little between Hugo Lloris and Thibaut Courtois, who stand as two of the greatest shot-stoppers in the league, if not, the world.

Both come into the game with envious defensive records; Courtois has 11 clean sheets in the league to Lloris’ seven, but the latter has conceded just one more goal than the Belgian.

Last year was a totally different experience for Courtois, however, under-performing alongside his teammates in a season to forget for Chelsea. At the same time, no Premier League side conceded less than Spurs (and Man United), which is why Lloris takes our number one jersey.

Right Back: Kyle WalkerTottenham Hotspur

As impressive as Victor Moses has been in his new-found right wing back role, there’s the argument that the Nigerian formerly considered “deadwood” would struggle defensively without the added back-up of a third centre back in Antonio Conte’s lauded 3-4-3 system.

Further north in London, there’s few who operate better at right back than Kyle Walker. Blistering pace, coupled with well-built physicality and technical ability sees the Englishman boss the entire right flank more often than not, making him vital to the way Spurs play.

Moreover, Walker already has four assists to his name this season from defence, one more than he managed last season, and so concludes one of the easier decisions we’ve had to make in this line-up.

Centre Back: Toby AlderweireldTottenham Hotspur

The Belgian’s transition to English football has been no less than impressive, joining the north London club from Atlético Madrid to steal some of the thunder surrounding his compatriot, Jan Vertonghen, in becoming the main man at the back.

Reliable, refined in possession and a notable aerial threat, Alderweireld combines traits that sees him stand as one of the league best centre halves, therefore taking this spot in our combined XI ahead of the likes of Gary Cahill and John Terry without question.

Centre Back: David LuizChelsea

Many a human welcomed Chelsea’s £30 million signing of David Luiz, a man often synonymous with erratic defending, with smiles and laughter.

In its kindest form, his signing was branded as a complete panic buy in response to Chelsea’s failure to land the likes of Leonardo Bonucci and Kalidou Koulibaly in the summer, but the Brazilian defender and Chelsea fans alike will be sure to be giving some stick back to the numerous critics.

Since the Blues’ tactical reinvention, Luiz has seen the defensive set-up form around himself at the at the heart of the defence, subsequently seeing the 29-year-old go from strength-to-strength in his return to Stamford Bridge.

So much so has been his success with Conte’s tactical shift that he’s now touted as one of the favourites to finish the campaign in the Premier League’s Team of the Season, so it’s only fair that he sits Vertonghen out of this one.

Left Back: César AzpilicuetaChelsea

Much like Kyle Walker, Rose plays a pivotal in Mauricio Pochettino’s high-pressing side, doing so well, but meanwhile the Spurs product excels going forwards, César Azpilicueta comes up trumps going in the opposite direction, hence why he’s played across Chelsea’s backline across the years. The Spaniard gets our vote.

Right Midfield: PedroChelsea

Pedro looked to be on somewhat of a downward spiral in the past couple of seasons, falling out of favour at Barcelona before failing to crack life at Chelsea last season.

Things just abruptly clicked, however, after the Blues’ heavy 3-0 defeat away to Arsenal back in September, with Pedro scoring four goals, including one versus Spurs, and assisting six since the debacle at the Emirates.

With Erik Lamela still out injured and Willian only just now beginning to find his feet in the west Londoners’ new look outfit, Pedro claims his spot.

Centre Midfield: N’Golo KantéChelsea

The first name on the team sheet. By now you will have already heard that N’Golo Kanté picked up more points alone than any other team in the Premier League since joining Leicester City in the summer of 2015. The man is just ridiculous.

Centre Midfield: Mousa DembéléTottenham Hotspur

In the same vein as Kanté, Dembélé is equally crucial to a side hoping to get their hands on the coveted Premier League trophy.

Following recovery from injury in October 2015, Spurs didn’t lose once in his presence. Contrarily, once the Belgian was suspended for his ill-tempered altercation with Diego Costa back in May 2016, Spurs picked up just 12 points from their next 11 league games.

He was, undoubtedly, the cerebral driving force among the high praise solely directed at Dele Alli, Harry Kane, among others, and the aforementioned stars proved to be a lot poorer without Dembélé in the side. An underrated entity.

Left Midfield: Eden HazardChelsea

A shining light in Chelsea’s side, Eden Hazard finally looks to be back to his best in a free role given to him by Conte.

Nine goals and two assists in the league sees the Belgian playmaker spearhead his way as one of the favourites to take the Player of the Year gong, so he’s got his place reserved in our squad.

Striker: Diego CostaChelsea

Rivalling his teammate, Hazard, to Player of the Year award has been Diego Costa, so, again, there was little chance of us leaving him out of this combined XI.

The Brazil-born Spain international has been taken to the next level by Conte, at least from a disciplinary perspective, as the 28-year-old leads the goal-scoring charts with 14 league goals so far.

Striker: Harry KaneTottenham Hotspur

For the second season running, after Euro disappointment, Harry Kane started the season rather tentatively, but alas the constant stream of goals appear to be following the Spurs number 10.

The striker’s brace versus Watford in Tottenham’s 4-1 win saw the Englishman hit double figures in the league for the season, his 59th overall after 100 Premier League games, making him hard to overlook.

Player Ratings: AFC Bournemouth 3-3 Arsenal

These are Fresh Football’s ratings for Arsenal’s away clash versus Bournemouth in the Premier League.

Bournemouth

Artur Boruc – 5.5

Rarely brought directly into action by Arsenal, the ex-Celtic stopper had little chance in stopping the efforts that did hit the target.

Simon Francis – 6.5

A solid performance that was later blemished by a red card for a late tackle on Aaron Ramsey.

Steve Cook – 6.5

Reliable for the most part, but his performance faltered as Lucas and Alexis Sanchez joined Giroud centrally.

Charlie Daniels – 8

An excellent first half, and game in general, coupled with a goal that could’ve sent Bournemouth on their way to a historic victory in the Premier League era.

Junior Stanislas – 7

Worked the channels well and threatened Čech’s goal on a few occasions. A real handful.

Dan Gosling – 7

Another lung-bursting performance from the box-to-box midfielder, although Gosling is sure to look back on his left footed effort in the latter stages of the game that could’ve regained Bournemouth’s lead.

Harry Arter – 7

The industrious midfielder didn’t disappoint, with his pressing proving priceless in rocking Arsenal to their core in the first half.

Ryan Fraser – 9

Direct and explosive, Fraser dug Bournemouth out from Arsenal’s spells of possession on the counter en route to scoring the Cherries’ third of the night. A constant threat out on the left flank that proved to be a huge bonus to the Gunners’ once he limped off.

Joshua King – 6

Plenty of industry provided from the man partnering Callum Wilson in attack, supporting counter-attacks and back-tracking at every given opportunity to help out his team.

Callum Wilson – 6.5

Claimed good ground in behind Arsenal’s defence with regularity. Overall, it was a good performance, more noteworthy for his work rate than anything else.

Subs:

Andrew Surman – 5.5

Came on to regain some control in the second half, which worked initially prior to Bournemouth amplifying the score line to 3-0, but the deep-lying midfielder and his team were caught retreated in their own half for far too long after Fraser’s goal.

Adam Smith – N/A

Brad Smith – N/A

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Arsenal

Petr Čech – 4.5

Question marks have begun rounding the veteran goalkeeper in recent weeks, and the former Chelsea man was again partially culpable in a game that saw Fraser score with a cheeky finish through his legs at the near-post.

Héctor Bellerín – 4

Among his worst performances in an Arsenal shirt, as all three of Bournemouth’s goals originated from Bellerín’s right flank.

Shkodran Mustafi – 4.5

There was a real lack of synergy in the backline awaiting Mustafi in his return to the first team. Often naïve in possession and made to look silly by the in-form Fraser, the German can at least polish up his invincibility record following Olivier Giroud’s late equaliser.

Laurent Koscielny – 4.5

Left chasing shadows for the best part of the game, with it being unclear whether his early substitution was related to any knock picked up in battle.

Nacho Monreal – 4.5

The 30-year-old has made steady progress on his form in recent weeks, but the likes of Stanislas looked adamant to bring Monreal back to square one, with varied success.

Francis Coquelin – 3.5

Struggled to impose himself early on versus Bournemouth’s pressing game and an injury midway through the first half robbed him the time to rectify that order.

Granit Xhaka – 5.5

His general play was decent, and Xhaka can even claim the assist from Giroud’s equaliser, but the penalty given away in the 20th minute does little to clear up his erratic image, meanwhile proving to be costly to his team.

Aaron Ramsey – 5

Fashioned a few half-chances for himself going forwards, but, clearly, he’s no Mesut Özil.

Alex Iwobi – 4

Nothing in this one from Iwobi, who might well be feeling the effects of two games in three days. Offered the rare hope for an Arsenal goal in the first half, but struck the ball wide.

Alexis Sanchez – 6

A very fiery version of Alexis Sanchez was on show again, as the Chilean dug deep to follow-up Giroud’s flick-on and kick-start Arsenal’s comeback in the 70th minute.

Olivier Giroud – 6.5

Even underperforming, Giroud came up big when it mattered most, assisting Sanchez for Arsenal’s first of the night and grabbing the headlines for himself with a late equaliser. Yet another clutch moment for the Frenchman this season.

Subs:

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 6

Not so inspirational going forwards, but Oxlade-Chamberlain did come up with a crucial 11th hour intervention on Fraser, as the Scot eyed up his second of the night one-on-one with Čech.

Lucas Perez – 6

Noteworthy in most build-ups late on and the proud owner of the goal of the night, driving in a left-footed volley from an acute angle.

Gabriel Paulista – 5.5

Steadied the ship a little at the back, though a deeper block from the home side made sweeping up possession a lot easier the Brazilian, but Gabriel was on hand to support the Gunners’ aerial threat that eventually earned them two goals.

Player Ratings: West Ham United 0-2 Manchester United

These are Fresh Football’s ratings for West Ham United’s home clash versus Manchester United in the Premier League:

West Ham United

Darren Randolph – 6.5

Came up with an important reflex save to deny Antonio Valencia a simple tap-in, with the Irish goalkeeper left with little to work with in denying the visitors’ two goals.

Håvard Nordtveit – 4.5

The weak link in West Ham’s defence, adapted at right back and fully exposed by Marcus Rashford’s entrance in the second half.

Winston Reid – 6

Kept the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic as quiet as possible throughout much of the game, eventually falling foul to an offside goal by the Swede.

Angelo Ogbonna – 6

Much like Reid, Ogbonna kept things tight as best as he could in what seemed to be an inclined pitch following Sofiane Feghouli’s early red card.

Aaron Cresswell – 5

Due to obvious circumstances, we didn’t see the ex-Ipswich Town full back bomb up and down the left flank as often as he would’ve hoped, taking away a key outlet in the Hammers’ attack.

Cheikhou Kouyaté – 5.5

Closed many avenues centrally but also tired substantially as the game went on, allowing for greater dominance by United.

Pedro Obiang – 6

Among the best in a West Ham shirt, evading the bodies situated in the middle of the park to set counters with the ball in his possession, but like his midfield counterpart, Kouyaté, Obiang appeared visibly fatigued in the latter stages of the game.

Sofiane Feghouli – N/A

In his first start for the London club, the former Valencia wide man was sent off rather controversially after just 15 minutes of football.

Manuel Lanzini – 6.5

The key threat going forward, somewhat muted following Feghouli’s red card.

Dimitri Payet – 5.5

Looked sharp in the early exchanges, but he also shrunk in size and effectiveness after Mike Dean’s controversial decision in the game’s infancy.

Michail Antonio – 4

The West Ham top scorer spurned a great chance one-on-one to give the hosts the lead and United weren’t so merciful soon after at the opposite end.

Subs:

Andy Carroll – 4.5

Came on in response to United taking the lead, but the man most likely to find him inside the box turned out to be the player he replaced – Payet. A missed opportunity from Slaven Bilić, rather than anyone else.

Edimilson Fernandes – N/A

Manchester United:

David De Gea – 7

As reliable as ever, De Gea came up with two big saves to deny Lanzini and Antonio a goal either side of the half time interval.

Antonio Valencia – 5.5

Arguably should’ve scored from close range, didn’t, but there’ll be few complaints from a defensive perspective, which is never a bad thing.

Phil Jones – 6

Another clean sheet for the file, strengthening the defender’s case to enter the defensive equation definitively in the José Mourinho era.

Marcos Rojo – 6

Started the game at centre back, ended it at left back. Solid, once again, in both positions, as his versatility begins to prove fruitful.

Matteo Darmian – 5

Victim of a tactical shift at half-time that saw Juan Mata replace him against 10-man West Ham. A solid, if insignificant, first-half performance by the Italian.

Michael Carrick – 6.5

Very sound in conducting United’s search for a goal, keeping them composed, as they eventually broke through the Hammers’ barricade.

Ander Herrera – 6.5

Typically kept play ticking, pressed high to retain possession and provided a threat late in the second half, as the game opened up. Good again from the Spaniard.

Paul Pogba – 6.5

In the same boat as Herrera, the multi-million pound man grew as the game went on, going close to goal himself a couple of times in the second period.

Jesse Lingard – 4

Hit the post from just yards out in United’s clearest goal-scoring opportunity in the first period, as the 24-year-old failed to inflict damage upon a compact West Ham side prior to be replaced by Marcus Rashford.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan – 5

Not his finest performance of late, with space to operate in proving to be limited.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic – 5

Starved of service for the best part, but Ibrahimovic still managed to add a goal to his name, despite being in an offside position.

Subs:

Juan Mata – 6.5

The goal scorer of yet another crucial goal for the Red Devils, as he tipped the balance once more in United’s favour.

Marcus Rashford – 7

The key to unlocking the game, Rashford was able to cause disruptions down the left flank and, crucially, assist Mata for the game’s opening goal.

Chris Smalling – N/A

An In-Depth Look At Whether Or Not Victor Lindelöf Is Worth The Investment For Manchester United

Much has been made of a potential move launched by Manchester United for Benfica centre back Victor Lindelöf, who could, eventually, be joined by defensive counterpart Nélson Semedo in a historic double swoop.

The latest murmurs surrounding the multi-million-pound operation, however, suggest any hope the Red Devils may have had of gaining the Sweden international’s signature may have been dampened.

At the heart of the deal’s supposed collapse is the public dispute between Benfica and Lindelöf’s former club, Västerås, over alleged fees owed in his initial transfer to Portugal, although José Mourinho may also have had a hand in United turning their backs on a £42 million transfer. Just how accurate might that decision be?

Beyond the media storm surrounding Renato Sanches in Lisbon last season, Lindelöf proved to be equally as impressive and pivotal to Benfica’s run en route to the Liga NOS title last season, as he capitalised on injuries to first-team centre-backs to forge a stellar partnership alongside Jardel for over half a season.

The 22-year-old tasted defeat just five times in 45 games since breaking into Benfica’s XI, three of those coming in the UEFA Champions’ League against Napoli (2x) and Bayern Munich, with FC Porto and Maritimo also claiming rare victories against the Swede.

With 22 clean sheets under his belt, Lindelöf picked up “The Iceman” nickname for his composure and calculated interventions that has seen the defender gain just five yellow cards in the last 12 months.

Additionally composed and exemplifying qualities that fall within the modern-day ball-playing defender template, his talents didn’t go unnoticed by his national team when earning the call-up for Euro 2016, and now it appears Man United have followed suit in attraction to his traits.

Up against his United counterparts, Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones and Eric Bailly, none of the aforementioned options to Mourinho have completed as many successful passes (51.71 per game), or indeed successful forward passes (47.21 per game) as Lindelöf in their respective league competition.

Only Bailly with 1.64 tackles won per game beats the rumoured United target, whereas it is Chris Smalling who is the only defender to lose out fewer times than the man lauded for his precision when defending. Although he’s some way off the top with a statistical register of 1.71 interceptions per game versus Bailly’s 2.82, the Swedish star does mix in well with Rojo’s 1.80 and Jones’ 1.75 score, both second and third ahead of Lindelöf.

Blocks made by the defenders paint a similar picture, with Bailly leading the way with 0.45 made per game to Lindelöf’s 0.36, but there’s one fact the core stats don’t highlight and that’s the degree to which the defenders in question are exposed to the threats of high-quality attacks.

Lindelöf has, undoubtedly, emerged as top performer for Benfica, but this has all come in a visibly inferior league. One shouldn’t have to remind many of the below-par figure that was ex-Liverpool and Sunderland centre-back Sebastian Coates, the same man who now, at the same time as Lindelöf, leads by example as one of the Portuguese league’s most consistent players at the back.

Likewise, Manchester City’s £32 million flop, Eliaquim Mangala, was totally imperious for much of his three-year-spell in Portugal when starring for the then champions FC Porto, meanwhile memories of the Frenchman in the blue half of Manchester weren’t as fond as his record deal promised.

A common attitude within the realms of Portuguese football sees most sides outside the traditional top four of Benfica, Sporting, Porto and Braga opt to “park the bus” and time-waste from the first minute as if it were the last when facing a big boy. In turn, that limits the pressure that key defenders like Lindelöf, Mangala etc. are subjected to, thus making it very tricky to truly judge the qualities that they possess.

It’s a decision Mourinho will undoubtedly continue to mull over, with the rumour mill still at its birth. In the meantime, the recent pairing of Jones and Rojo has stabilised the ship at Old Trafford, with Smalling still to return to the first-team, one would assume, following a lengthy foot injury.

The investment made in Bailly appears to have been a good one, and despite international duty making him unavailable for the best part of a month during the African Cup of Nations, United still have the versatile Daley Blind to fall back on.

And so for all the promise (and doubts) hanging over Lindelöf’s shoulders, just how necessary to Man United is the £38 million-rated man?

‘Incredible’ Twitter Heaps Praise On Manchester United Man After Performance vs. West Brom

All talk was reserved for one man in particular, as Manchester United continued to brush up their fortunes with a 2-0 victory away to Premier League high-flyers West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns this Saturday.

As Wayne Rooney continues to set his sights on Bobby Charlton’s historic 249-goal haul for the Red Devils, denied the feat on the night by the crossbar, it was Man United’s other veteran in attack, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, that hogged the plaudits with his renewed stream of goals.

The Swede gave José Mourinho’s reviving side the lead as early as the 5th minute with a well-taken header from Jesse Lingard’s cross, whereas Ibrahimovic was on hand to double the dosage in the second half and ease any lingering worries that existed concerning a potential banana skin that was the trip to 7th placed West Brom.

Of the two shots taken by Ibrahimovic, all ended up in the back of the net in what was a Man of the Match performance, whereas the brace bagged tonight sees the target man hit his 34th goal in 33 league games throughout 2016.

Just the one goal was enough, however, for the 35-year-old’s name to dominate the reactions emerging from United’s evening in the West Midlands.

Ibrahimovic was widely expected to struggle in the Premier League when arriving at Old Trafford, in particular due to his age, but the striker’s first goal of the night told a very different story, taking him to double figures in the Premier League and pushing his total for the season to 15.

In response, United fans and loyal ‘Ibra’ backers were on hand to outline the former Paris-Saint Germain star’s good work, without a doubt aimed at those branding him a flop.

Ibrahimovic, a champion in Italy, Spain, France and the Netherlands, has always had the question mark hanging over his head around these alleys of Europe over whether he could replicate his success in front of goal in the popular goldfish that is Premier League.

Now testing his capabilities at the ripe old age of 35, the odds weren’t as favourable as the man himself might like to think, but the striker has always strived to discard such claims that he’s “finished” at the highest level.

Even as recently as today, the well-preserved Ibrahimovic was keen to outline that he feels fresh in the prospect of being handed a rest in coming games.

“In football, sometimes you have to listen to everybody around you, but in my mind I’m a 20-year-old boy,” the Man United number 9 said. “I’m fresh and I’ll keep going, as long as the team needs me.”

A repeat of Ibrahimovic’s current goal scoring exploits in 2016 certainly wouldn’t go amiss in United’s bid to climb back up the Premier League.

3 Big Investments You Need To Make For Your Fantasy Football Teams This Week

There’s every chance that it could be another weekend filled with goals, given the sheer amount of relegation “six-pointers” and high-profile clashes coming our way in Gameweek 17 of the Premier League.

Arsenal’s trip to the Etihad Stadium and this season’s first instalment of the Merseyside derby stick out like a sore thumb, but pay special attention to West Ham United hosting Hull City, the clash down on the south coast between Bournemouth and Southampton, Sunderland versus Watford, and many more potentially goal-infested games.

With the festive period over the horizon, we appreciate Fantasy Premier League won’t be the first thing on your mind, which is why this week’s edition of Fresh Football’s tip-offs is dedicated to those players you should look to invest in while you take your eye of the ball. Here are our choices:

Michail Antonio
Club:
West Ham United
Position: Midfield
Price: £6.7m

After appearing totally downbeat a fortnight ago in response to West Ham’s 5-1 meltdown at home to Arsenal, Slaven Bilić and his men have managed to grab onto some form with a bounce-back 2-2 draw at Anfield to Liverpool and a 1-0 win over a resilient Burnley side in midweek.

The picture looks brighter ahead of Hull’s trip to east London, with the Irons taking on Swansea City and Leicester City following Saturday, all subsequently languishing alongside them in the bottom half of the table.

West Ham have the opportunity to kick-start a revival and in Michail Antonio, the goal scorer in their 2-2 draw against Liverpool and currently with seven league goals to his name, they have a potential hero guide them out of a precarious situation.

2 – Alexis Sanchez
Club:
Arsenal
Position: Midfield
Price: £11.7m

Sunday’s clash sees a reunion between Alexis Sanchez and his former Barcelona boss, Pep Guardiola, who’s had his fair share of success up against Arsenal in European competitions over the years. The Gunners will be without key man Shkodran Mustafi, sorely missed in their 2-1 defeat versus Everton on Tuesday, but list of absentees in the blue half of Manchester also goes a long way into opening up this clash.

Sergio Agüero headlines the list of players Guardiola can’t count on ahead of their next fixture, as he serves part of his four-game suspension, whereas midfield general Fernandinho and Nicolas Otamendi are joined by İlkay Gündoğan on the sidelines, likely to be out for up to eight months!

Guardiola will be tasked with averting Arsenal’s recent unbeaten run against City, currently without a loss in their last five league meetings, but if they continue to expose themselves as much as they have done with expansive football directly from the back-line, in particular with Sanchez and co. sniffing around, they could land themselves in deep trouble.

The Chilean leading the line for the Gunners has proved to be a revolutionary feature in north London this season, thus far leading the Premier League’s goal scoring charts with Chelsea’s Diego Costa on 12 goals, and with a double-header at home coming up against West Bromwich Albion and Crystal Palace into the New Year, there could well be more to come from Sanchez, starting Sunday.

Theo Walcott is a valid alternative, despite his poor show at Goodison Park this Tuesday, off the back of two goals in Arsenal’s last two home games, as well as occasionally popping up on the score sheet against City over the years.

3 – Diego Costa
Club: Chelsea
Position: Forward
Price: £10.2m

Winning ten out of their last ten games in the Premier League, leading the table by six points, Chelsea are without a doubt the in-form team in the division. A portion of that is owed to Diego Costa, goal scorer of the winning goal versus West Brom last weekend and owner of 11 more throughout this season, with the Spain international promising more from his startling performances.

Next up for Antonio Conte’s man is a date with Crystal Palace; an away trip that is sure to test the Blues’ endurance in what can be considered a gap year for the side relieved of its European duties in midweek, as opposed to many of their title rivals. Chelsea’s last outing on Wednesday saw them settle for a 1-0 win against relegation candidates Sunderland.

Crystal Palace are coming off a strenuous task themselves, however, as they were sunk by an 88th minute Zlatan Ibrahimovic winner in a 2-1 defeat at home to Manchester United, so the fitness worries are also there for the club that’s conceded 31 goals already this season.

Can Costa add to that count? We wouldn’t bet against it, whereas the all-action striker also has winnable home fixtures against Bournemouth and Stoke City to top up his goal scoring antics following Saturday’s early kick-off.

Player Ratings Out Of 10 For All The Everton and Arsenal Players

These are Fresh Football’s ratings for Everton’s Premier League clash at home to Arsenal on Tuesday night:

Everton

Maarten Stekelenburg – 6

Nothing spectacular from the Dutch goalkeeper in between the sticks, but he did provide a few successful ‘Cruyff turns’ on Arsenal’s stars that went down well with sections of the home crowd. His experience throughout periods of the game were also an invaluable feature in Everton riding spells of Gunners attacks, cutting the impetus.

Seamus Coleman – 7

A typical, tenacious Seamus Coleman performance, completed by the goal late into the first-half that brought the Toffees level.

Ashley Williams – 7

From zero to hero – the Welsh defender was at the centre of Arsenal’s first goal, deflecting Alexis Sanchez’s free-kick past Stekelenburg, but the ex-Swansea skipper more than made up for his less than fortunate moment with an 86th minute winner.

Phil Jagielka – 6.5

Solid alongside Williams and pivotal in the build-up that led to his defensive partner’s late heroics, but the former Sheffield United man will be ruing a late tackle that saw Mark Clattenburg brandish a red card upon him, subsequently ruling him out of the Merseyside derby next Monday.

Leighton Baines – 8.5

The English left back was on top form versus Theo Walcott, picked up an assist for Coleman’s equaliser and was on hand to salvage Everton with an 11th hour clearance off the line from Alex Iwobi’s shot in the dying seconds of the game.

James McCarthy – 6.5

Lifted the crowd with some borderline tackles which, ultimately, Everton benefited from over the course of both halves.

Idrissa Gana Gueye – 6.5

Alongside McCarthy at the base of midfield, Gueye’s energy was priceless in maintaining Everton’s often relentless tempo and making things uncomfortable for Arsenal through constant pressure.

Ross Barkley – 6

A better performance from the under-fire Englishman, who on another day might well have chipped in with a goal or two with the chances he had to either score or assist.

Aaron Lennon – 4.5

The ex-Tottenham Hotspur winger put a shift in when required to do so, but he was, ultimately, disappointing in the final third.

Enner Valencia – 7

Among his best performances for his new club, Valencia ran the channels well and ensured an uncomfortable night for Nacho Monreal with his pace.

Romelu Lukaku – 6.5

An incredibly sacrificial display from Lukaku, often hanging within Laurent Koscielny’s radius to occupy Arsenal’s star defender for the benefit of his teammates. The Belgian’s link-up play from direct balls proved to be sound, despite rarely threatening to beat Petr Cech himself.

Subs:

Kevin Mirallas – 5

The winger came on to refresh the left flank when replacing Aaron Lennon, but didn’t have much success up against Hector Bellerin.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin – N/A

Ramiro Funes Mori – N/A

Arsenal

Petr Cech – 6.5

There was little the Czech Republican could do for both headed goals scored by Everton, but Cech did come up with a big save to deny Jagielka just moments before Williams’ winner.

Hector Bellerin – 6.5

The Spaniard grew into the game from an offensive aspect, meanwhile keeping both Lennon and Mirallas at bay on the right flank.

Gabriel Paulista – 6

Filling in for the injured Shkodran Mustafi after spells at right back, Gabriel appeared to have made the smooth transition back into the heart of the defence, initially, but the likes of Valencia and Lukaku did get the better of the Brazilian on a few occasions as the game opened up.

Laurent Koscielny – 7.5

Busy with Lukaku in his peripheral view, the Frenchman dealt with much that came his way.

Nacho Monreal – 6

A game of phases for Monreal. At times he looked troubled, in particular when in foot races next to Valencia, but there were also moments when the experienced left back was on hand to trouble the Everton back line with associative play on the flank.

Granit Xhaka – 5.5

The Swiss midfielder failed to impose himself on a hectic, end-to-end game, and how Arsenal could have done with someone to set the tempo on a night filled with disappointment.

Francis Coquelin 6.5

Played his part in combating Everton’s tenacity, pressing with success himself and winning his fair of 50/50s that kept Arsenal somewhat competitive in the middle of the park.

Theo Walcott – 4.5

Unfortunately for Arsenal, Walcott was never in the game.

Mesut Özil – 4.5

The pace of the game blew past the German playmaker, who will also be kicking himself for missing a great opportunity to make it 2-1 to Arsenal midway through the second half.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 4.5

Another who never managed to leave his imprint on the game, cutting a frustrated figure on Arsenal’s left flank and committing his fair share unnecessary fouls as a consequence.

Alexis Sanchez – 7

Looked to be the likeliest Arsenal player to tip the balance all night after scoring the first goal of the game, but too many of his teammates just weren’t on the same wavelength.

Subs:

Olivier Giroud – 4.5

The Frenchman’s introduction didn’t quite have the desired effect the Gunners imagined him to have, as Everton pushed up their defensive line and made it difficult for the target man to spearhead Arsenal’s counters through a natural lack of pace.

Alex Iwobi – 5

Promised more than both Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain from wide areas when coming on, but his general passing game was a little off in crucial moments.

Lucas Perez – N/A

Player Ratings For Both Teams: Manchester United 1-0 Tottenham Hotspur

These are Fresh Football’s player ratings for the game in between Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League.

Manchester United

David De Gea – 7

The Spaniard made some good, if uncomplicated saves to keep Man United’s register clean throughout the game.

Antonio Valencia – 6.5

Maintained a solid display from start to finish, entering in interesting disputes with Danny Rose out on United’s right flank.

Phil Jones – 7.5

The former Blackburn Rovers man continues to offer José Mourinho food for thought with yet another impressive performance, this time marking Harry Kane out of the game.

Marcos Rojo – 7

Solid once more, accommodating Jones from a technical aspect at the heart of defence. Rojo has been given lots of praise from the fans, see some reaction here.

Matteo Darmian – 6

The Italian had his hands full with both Kyle Walker, Son Heung-Min and later Moussa Sissoko bombarding his flank, but Darmian didn’t let his side down.

Michael Carrick – 6.5

At the base of United’s midfield, Carrick was on hand keep things compact, evade Spurs’ habitual high press and set purposeful counters.

Ander Herrera – 6

Combative in midfield, priceless in supporting Carrick up against the likes of Vincent Wanyama, Mousa Dembélé and Dele Alli.

Paul Pogba – 7

Among his best performances in a United shirt, the Frenchman took full advantage of the space beyond him in an open second half, threatening Spurs in a number of attacks and leaving his compatriot, Hugo Lloris, stunned when smashing the post from a dangerous free-kick. Better.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan – 8

Another man of the match performance from the Armenian, the man to break the deadlock with an emphatic finish in the first half. Mkhitaryan served as the main outlet in spearheading counter-attacks.

Anthony Martial – 5

Very passive and unsupportive of his full back partner, Darmian. The weak link in United’s side.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic – 6.5

Far from being the main threat, but the spaces occupied by Ibrahimovic proved to be incredibly beneficial in confusing a high defensive line from Spurs.

Subs

Marcus Rashford – 5

There was nothing of note in the final third from the young Englishman, but his mere presence and fresh legs was enough to dampen Kyle Walker’s appetite to roam forwards.

Eric Bailly – N/A

Marouane Fellaini – N/A

Tottenham Hotspur

Hugo Lloris – 6.5

Kept Spurs’ hopes of taking something from the game alive with a couple of good saves from Pogba and Ibrahimovic efforts.

Kyle Walker – 6

Often supportive high up on the right flank, but didn’t quite find the openings that have so often seen him inflict damage in Mauricio Pochettino’s set-up.

Toby Alderweireld – 6

A little rusty and limited further by United’s tactical approach to prevent him from playing the ball out from the back, but the Belgian was generally okay.

Jan Vertonghen – 5

Never quite managed to patch up the gap between him and Danny Rose, exposed fully by Mkhitaryan on his way smashing in the game’s only goal.

Danny Rose – 5.5

Lively as always, but second best up against Mkhitaryan and Valencia.

Victor Wanyama – 5

Missed a very good chance to equalise in the second half with a tame and inaccurate header, whereas the Kenyan, moreover, was an unnecessary quantity in midfield in Spurs’ search for an equaliser.

Mousa Dembélé – 5.5

Never quite got ahold of the game as he usually does, to Spurs’ detriment.

Son Heung-Min – 5.5

Appeared the most likely player in the first half to bring Spurs level, testing De Gea from range on a couple of occasions, but the South Korean was sacrificed for Pochettino’s tactical switch early in the second period.

Dele Alli – 4.5

Failed to link the midfield to a stranded Harry Kane in a toothless performance from the young Englishman. Tottenham fans aren’t happy with his performance, see some reaction here.

Christian Eriksen – 5

Always a threat from a set-piece, that’s almost a given, but Eriksen continued to be somewhat uninspired as one of Spurs’ chief creatives.

Harry Kane – 4.5

Buried in United bodies and culpable in Mkhitaryan’s goal, giving the ball away prior to the hosts’ quick counter.

Subs

Moussa Sissoko – 5

Came on to take full advantage of Martial’s flawed back-tracking, but the Frenchman lacked a little finesse in his thought process to ever hurt the Red Devils.

Harry Winks – N/A

Georges Nkoudou – N/A

3 Alternative Selections For Your Premier League Fantasy Football Team This Week

Premier League football could well be in for a triple dosage of goal-laden games this week, given the amount of must-win duels coming our way.

In hope of a response to Wednesday’s 5-0 drubbing at the hands of FC Porto in the UEFA Champions League, Leicester City will be praying for three points, something that has escaped them since late October.

The Foxes’ opponents this Saturday come in the form of favourable quantity Manchester City, also coming into this weekend’s clash off the back of European disappointment versus Celtic and with an underwhelming record of just three wins in their last six league games.

Old Trafford hosts the anticipated meeting between top four contenders, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur, neither being left with much margin for error, whereas at the other end of the table, the likes of Hull City, Crystal Palace, Swansea City and Sunderland all face “cup finals” of their own.

But with so many blows expected to be traded this weekend, it’s perhaps a surprise to see we’re backing just one striker to rake in a large sum of points this weekend in Fantasy Premier League. Here are our reasons:

1 – Gylfi Sigurðsson

Club: Swansea City
Position: Midfielder
Price: £7.4m

Currently sitting bottom of the pile in the Premier League, the need for points is urgent at the Liberty Stadium and they won’t have many better opportunities to do so than when Sunderland come to town.

The Black Cats are on the up, winning three of their last four league games, but they’re still very much within the realms of the lower end of the table, as two points separate the relegation candidates prior to Saturday’s fixture.

Swansea’s last victory saw the Swans topple Crystal Palace in a 5-4 thriller a fortnight ago, of which Gylfi Sigurðsson was on hand to chip in with a goal and assist en route to victory. Last weekend’s 5-0 loss away to Spurs was the first time in six appearances that the Icelandic star didn’t contribute directly to a Swansea goal, so if Bob Bradley’s side are to lift off the root of the league table come Saturday, we expect the 27-year-old to have a significant input.

Player Ratings: F.C. Zorya Luhansk 0-2 Manchester United

Manchester United qualified for the Europa League next stage with a fairly comfortable 2-0 away win against Zorya Luhansk. Although it was a fairly good performance from Jose Mourinho’s men, they will be disappointed as despite the 3 points, they finished 2nd in the group because Fenerbahce beat Feyenoord in the other match in the group. 

These are Fresh Football’s ratings for Manchester United’s Europa League clash away to Zorya Luhansk.

Manchester United

Sergio Romero – 5

A comfortable night for Man United’s number two between the sticks, with the Argentine pulling off a decent save when required in the 72nd minute to prevent a Zorya equaliser.

Ashley Young – 5

No fireworks, but Young was able to do a job without any flagrant complaints. Kept himself in Mourinho’s plans by again showing versatility, this time at right back.

Eric Bailly – 7

A big display from Bailly, steadily returning to full fitness. The ex-Villarreal man swept up much of what was played in and around of United’s defence, providing a fair share of crucial interceptions in the meantime.

Marcos Rojo – 6

Comfortable in possession and helpful in recycling possession. Had little to do with regards to defending, however.

Daley Blind – 5

A quiet one from Blind, but solid nonetheless.

Ander Herrera – 6.5

Alongside Bailly, Herrera proved to be pivotal in pressing higher up and ensuring that the Red Devils recouped possession as soon as possible.

Paul Pogba – 4.5

Pogba was one of the few to try and speed up proceedings within the visitors’ large spells of possession, but his general execution of passes/shots from range left a lot to be desired.

Juan Mata – 6

The Spaniard has been among the most impressive for United this season and today, albeit throughout lacklustre spells, the former Chelsea midfielder stood out again before being replaced by Jesse Lingard.

Wayne Rooney – 3

A no-show from the United captain on the night. Passes going astray, poor control…forgetful. Does he warrant a place in the starting eleven at the moment? Not based on this performance.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan – 6.5

The goalscorer of the well-taken first goal prior to dazzling the Zorya defence with individual some brilliance. Mkhitaryan continues to impress in a United shirt since he was finally selected by Jose.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic – 5

A bit hit and miss, but the Swede began to grow into the game once Rooney was taken off, freeing up his habitual radius of action. Ibrahimovic was on hand to kill the game off late on with United’s second goal.

Subs

Jesse Lingard – 4

The winger was able to quicken play up, but made his fair share of poor choices in the final third.

Marouane Fellaini – N/A

Timothy Fosu-Mensah – N/A

3 Must Have Players For Your Fantasy Football Teams This Week ft. Liverpool Midfielder

Another week has come and gone, and Fresh Football returns with its weekly edition of Fantasy Premier League hotpicks, bracing ourselves for the action ahead in Gameweek 13.

In between that time, the current title holders, Leicester City, continue to impress on a continental stage, so much so that the 13 points amassed in Group G by the Foxes has already surpassed their current mark of 12 points in the Premier League.

Arsenal’s murky relationship with the month of November continues, but, in the meantime, the Gunners are also still unbeaten since their 4-3 defeat to Liverpool back in August – an improvement from past seasons.

Elsewhere, the Manchester City continue to show signs of being anything but the finished article under Pep Guardiola, whereas Tottenham Hotspur’s return to the European elite has proven to be short lived; a 2-1 defeat at the hands of AS Monaco sealing their fate.

In fear of a European hangover, but also due to potentially glaring opportunities to pick up points elsewhere, we’re avoiding games between the aforementioned clubs altogether.

So here’s who we’re topping to come up trumps this weekend.

1 – Jonny Evans

Club: West Bromwich Albion
Position: Defender
Price: £4.5m

Tony Pulis and his club appear to have gotten their mojo back. After claiming just two wins from their first 10 league games, West Brom have proceeded to pick up back-to-back victories versus Leicester City and, most recently, Burnley, defeating the newly-promoted side 4-0 on Monday night.

Next up for the Midlands club are Hull City, who continue to slip down the table after winning just once since August. 19th placed Sunderland were the latest side to snatch three points from the Tigers, so one can imagine morale isn’t great at the moment, because the form certainly isn’t.

On the ascendancy, West Brom have every chance of making it three wins on the spin, and failing that, a clean sheet at the very least. We’ll settle for that, tipping Jonny Evans to star.

Player Ratings For Both Teams: Tottenham Hotspur 3-2 West Ham United

These are Fresh Football’s ratings for Tottenham Hotspur’s London derby versus West Ham United at White Hart Lane.

Tottenham Hotspur

Hugo Lloris – 5

Nothing of note from the French goalkeeper, who was fairly powerless in stopping Michail Antonio’s opening goal and the penalty converted by Manuel Lanzini later on.

Kyle Walker – 5

Spurs will be left wanting more from the full back in the direct duel with Aaron Cresswell on the right flank, whereas his general play also proved to be a little rough around the edges, today.

Eric Dier – 6

A solid performance from Eric Dier, slotting in at centre back without any considerable concerns.

Jan Vertonghen – 7

Provided a platform to play out from the back, as always, and came up with a few crucial tackles at a time when the hosts were chasing the game.

Danny Rose – 6

Much like Walker, Rose looked unable to function down the flanks as he’s accustomed to doing, but he did manage to get the better of Antonio on a few more occasions in the second half, most importantly in the lead-up to Harry Winks’ equaliser.

Victor Wanyama – 6

The Kenyan undertook fairly simplistic duties throughout the second half, but did so very well, sweeping up possession in the middle of the park to set Spurs back on their way to attacking West Ham.

Mousa Dembélé – 6

He’ll have had more dominant performances, but Mousa Dembélé appeared relatively neat in possession nonetheless, before being replaced by Son Heung-Min

Harry Winks – 8

Intensity, tenacity, creativity and an important goal, all on the 20-year-old’s Premier League debut. A very mature performance.

Christian Eriksen – 5

The Dane is currently a long way away from what we’ve been used to seeing from him in a Spurs shirt, acting as a chief culprit in losing possession in this one.

Harry Kane – 6

Operating around Vincent Janssen in a two-striker formation, Kane never quite got into the game, but his mark on the occasion is there for all to see; Two goals, three points.

Vincent Janssen – 4

Lacking synergy between him and Kane, as well as many more of his teammates. The Dutchman is looking increasingly difficult to fit into the first XI, especially with Son thriving.

Subs:

Son Heung-Min – 6.5

A big introduction into the game, having a helping hand in both of Spurs’ late goals that gives the home side all three points and maintains invincibility in the Premier League.

Dele Alli – 5

Didn’t quite have the desired effect coming on in the second half, as difficult as it may be in a derby.

West Ham United

Darren Randolph – 7

Made a few key saves, particularly one from an Eric Dier header in point-blank range, but the Irishman was arguably at fault for the turnaround when his attempted save from Son’s cross diverted the ball away from Angelo Ogbonna and into Kane’s path.

Michail Antonio – 6

A great first half display up and down the right flank, complete with yet another headed goal, but the Englishman may well have blown his engine in the second period, as Rose and Son exposed his defensive flaws on a number of occasions.

Cheikhou Kouyaté – 7

A quality performance from Kouyaté, somewhat of a throwback to his Anderlecht days when instructed to play as the third central defender. The towering figure did very well, particularly in the first half when driving the ball out from defence to commence purposeful counter-attacks.

Winston Reid – 6

A solid performance from the captain was later marred by the Spurs turnaround and a second yellow card in injury time.

Angelo Ogbonna – 6

Another who, like Reid, performed to a good standard in the heart of defence.

Aaron Cresswell – 6

In the left wing-back role, Cresswell specialised in minimising Kyle Walker’s effectiveness

André Ayew – 4

West Ham will have been hoping for spurts of inspiration from Ayew, but the opportunities for the Ghanaian never came.

Pedro Obiang – 6.5

Stood his ground in quite an offensive midfield from the Hammers, on top of being the go-to-guy to settling down play in certain phases of the first half.

Manuel Lanzini – 7

Among the best in a West Ham shirt, it was Lanzini who spearheaded the counters for the visitors and caused Tottenham’s defence the greatest cause for concern.

Dimitri Payet – 4

Totally uninspired, perhaps fatigued, and how the Hammers could have done with an on-song Payet for certain openings late in the second half.

Diafra Sakho – 4

Lots of running and little else from the striker who was soon replaced by Simone Zaza in the second half.

Subs:

Simone Zaza – 6

Provided greater involvement from as a focal point, perhaps courtesy of the game opening up, but lacked any real conviction from shooting areas. A positive cameo, however.

Edimilson Fernandes – 5

The young Swiss was on hand to rejuvenate the West Ham midfield as best as he could and combat the eventual Dele Alli entrance.

Håvard Nordtveit – N/A

Few were the minutes the former Arsenal man had on the field, but it was he who turned out to be among the most decisive characters of the tale, sweeping Son’s foot and gifting Spurs the late penalty that won the clash.

3 Strikers You Need In Your Fantasy Football Teams This Weekend ft. Everton, Sunderland & Manchester City Stars

With the third international break of the season behind us, it’s now full steam ahead for club football until March. Offering no respite, the Premier League returns with a tasty collection of potential relegation ‘six-pointers’, a meeting between old foes at Old Trafford and even a London derby.

Undoubtedly, there’ll be plenty of heart beats to be skipped, goals to be fought for and points to be clocked along the way. Here’s who Fresh Football are backing to lead the way in this week’s Fantasy Premier League Gameweek 12.

1 – Jermaine Defoe

Club: Sunderland
Position: Striker
Price: £7.4m
We could have tipped Diego Costa to star, here, as so many are sure to do, but we like the look of a potentially big showing from Jermain Defoe against lowly-placed Hull City at the Stadium of Light. Of course, Sunderland have fared worse than their opponents so far, winning their first league game of the season as late as their last outing.

The clash between the two clubs is, without a doubt, a must-win game, and given the momentum to be gained from their last fixture and the fact that they’re at home; there may well be a theoretical advantage to be placed upon the otherwise unreliable Black Cats this weekend.

Leading the line, David Moyes’ men will be looking towards Defoe to come up with a clutch moment or two to help them take down Hull. At £m, the veteran could well be the perfect stop-gap for those who simply need to replace an injured/suspended striker for a week, or one that’s otherwise unlikely to come up big against tough opposition.

3 Must Haves In Your Fantasy Football Teams This Week: Ft. Arsenal, Man Utd & Stoke Players

There’s sure to be a handful of frights, thrills and horror spills to go with a Halloween weekend of football and, as always, Fresh Football will strive to be ahead of the curve in advising you on your Fantasy Football choices ahead of Gameweek 10 in the Premier League. Here’s who to keep tabs on:

1 – Chris Smalling

Club: Manchester United
Position: Defender
Price: £5.9m

Halloween came early for José Mourinho and his Manchester United side last weekend when succumbing to a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Chris Smalling played a notable role in the Red Devils’ demise, yet the Englishman remains central to plans of a potential full-blown response from Man United at Old Trafford, welcoming Burnley on Saturday.

The Clarets have scored just once in three Premier League fixtures away from home, and even without Eric Bailly next to him, we think Smalling and co. should have enough about them to thwart Sean Dyche’s team at home, or score a goal himself in what *should* be a standard United win.

The hosts will have to be wary, however, with key man Andre Gray returning from a four-game-ban to hand out some retribution of his own to his teammates and fans.

EFL Cup Player Ratings: Manchester United 1-0 Manchester City

These are Fresh Football’s ratings for the EFL Cup tie between Manchester City and Manchester United at Old Trafford:

Manchester United

David De Gea – 5

It’s a 5 for De Gea, purely on the basis that he had absolutely nothing to do all game.

Antonio Valencia – 5

Tactically disciplined, but largely unrefined in attack. Not a great deal got past Valencia, mind

Marcos Rojo – 6

There were a few concerned faces at the prospect of Rojo deputising at centre back, but the Argentine appeared comfortable, particularly in possession.

Daley Blind – 5

Technically comfortable, as we’ve come to expect from Blind, but another who didn’t appear to have much to do with regards to defending.

Luke Shaw – 5

Although the ex-Southampton man linked up fairly nicely with Rashford on the left flank, handling Jesus Navas’ pace proved to be an issue. The distance kept in the second half, however, made the task of containing the Spaniard become far more manageable for Shaw.

Michael Carrick – 6

A super composed performance from the midfield veteran, which once again adds to the case being made for him to start more regularly for Man United.

Ander Herrera – 6

Carrick’s presence freed Herrera of some of his newly-appointed defensive responsibilities of late, which allowed him to press higher up the pitch to great effect.

Juan Mata – 6

Floated in and out of the right flank, which kept the home side’s possession flowing, but also limited the options out wide. Mata, of course, came up with the all important goal too in a 1-0 victory.

Paul Pogba – 5

The Frenchman looked to make something happen every time he got onto the ball, often a little forceful in doing so.

Marcus Rashford – 8

Head and shoulders above everyone on the night, proving to be a menace to young Pablo Maffeo on United’s left wing and causing City plenty of issues on the counter-attack.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic – 6

It looked as though the former PSG man would be heading for another disappointing display based on his first-half performance, but Ibrahimovic managed to up his game in the second period to create a couple of good chances and assist Mata.

Subs:

Morgan Schneiderlin – N/A

Manchester City

Willy Caballero – 5

Pulled off a good save from a left-footed Pogba shot in the second half, but rare were the occasions when the Argentine shot-stopped was called into action.

Pablo Maffeo – 6

An impressive display from young Maffeo, who was undoubtedly among the best in a City shirt, despite having his hands full with dealing with Rashford.

Vincent Kompany – 5

A standard performance by the Belgian, who was taken off at half-time, presumably with another injury to add to the tally.

Nicolas Otamendi – 3

Far too dedicated to pressing and winning the ball back, which often left massive gaps behind him for Man United to target.

Gael Clichy – 4

Fairly anonymous, particularly in attack, which is disappointing from the ex-Arsenal defender considering the potential licence to do so thanks to Juan Mata roaming inwards.

Fernando – 6

He’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but Fernando appeared fairly solid and much improved on the ball.

Aleix Garcia – 6

Another, alongside Maffeo, to catch the eye in the middle of the park. Garcia looked the likeliest to make something happen.

Jesus Navas – 4

Attacked Shaw well, but at the same time, Navas appeared very predictable once more in his decision making.

Leroy Sané – 3

The winger, operating behind the striker in this encounter, failed to inflict any damage in the final third, meanwhile ghosting through much of the second half before being replaced by Raheem Sterling.

Nolito – 4

Found a couple good passes in attack, but notable involvement came few and far between.

Kelechi Iheanacho – 3

Missed a great opportunity to stun Old Trafford in the early exchanges of the tie, but the Nigerian’s miss would go on to commence a lacklustre performance.

Subs:

Aleksandar Kolarov – 3

Slotted in terribly next to Otamendi in the second half, allowing United to grow in confidence and eventually take the lead.

Raheem Sterling – 4

Replacing Sané, Sterling tried, but ultimately failed to ignite any potential City comeback.

Sergio Agüero – N/A

Chelsea vs. Manchester United: 3 Key Battles That Will Decide Who Wins

It may seem as though José Mourinho has a grudge match scheduled for every weekend these days, but this one is truly eye-catching. The Portuguese manager returns to Stamford Bridge on Sunday, only this time he’ll be sitting in the opposing dugout, as Chelsea welcome his Manchester United side.

Just how fractious Mourinho’s decision to join a competitive rival has been for his relationship with his former club remains to be seen, as both teams go head-to-head in what undoubtedly looks to be the main event this weekend.

We’re not sure whether there’ll be any love lost, be we think we may have a pretty good idea where the crucial three points may be won on either side. Here are the three key battles to look out for:

1 – David Luiz vs. Zlatan Ibrahimovic

 

John Terry may well be on the brink of a return to the first-team after a spell out injured, but time will tell whether the Man United game comes too soon for the Chelsea skipper.

In his absence, David Luiz has deputised, somewhat unconvincingly next to Gary Cahill in the big games, and he could well find his stint in the starting XI extending itself for another week if Terry isn’t fit enough to start.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic often combats with the right-sided defender, in this case Gary Cahill, but it’ll be interesting to see if Mourinho instructs the big Swede to target his former Paris Saint-Germain teammate.

Contrarily, Chelsea may use Luiz’s knowledge on the fiery Swede when formulating a defensive duo in light of Terry’s potential return.

3 Must Have’s For Your Fantasy Football Teams: A “Striker-less” Edition

Back for our weekly overview of players to look out for in Fantasy Premier League football, games such as José Mourinho’s return to Stamford Bridge and the early season basement battles between Hull City and Stoke City, as well as West Ham United at home to Sunderland, take us into Gameweek 9. Here are three stars to keep tabs on in what promises to be a cracking weekend of football.

1 – Seamus Coleman


Club:
Everton
Position: Defender
Price: £5.5m

Among the madness and hyperbole surrounding a couple of renowned Manchester clubs, Everton are going quietly about their business and, with relative success thus far, have found themselves sitting pretty in the top 6.

And meanwhile all three points have escaped the Toffees’ grasp for over a month now, a hard fought draw away to Manchester City pushes Ronald Koeman’s side into a clash against 14th-placed Burnley, also on a winless streak, with new-found positivity.

Burnley will be without their new signing Steven Defour and star striker Andre Gray when hosting the Merseysiders, whereas the visitors boast a neat record of conceding just three goals on their travels.

Pay close attention to Seamus Coleman in this one, likely to pick up valuable clean sheets and maybe chip in with a goal and/or assist while he’s at it.

Factfile: A closer look at Tottenham’s opponents, Bayer Leverkusen

Tottenham Hotspur made up for their Wembley debacle versus AS Monaco with an eventual, but steady 1-0 victory against CSKA Moscow away from home in the UEFA Champions League last month. Now rounding off the first round of their group stage campaign, the draw sees Mauricio Pochettino’s side hit the road once more, as Bayer Leverkusen awaits the north Londoners’ arrival in Germany.

A win tonight for Spurs could see them top Group E ahead of the reverse fixture at Wembley, but their opponents are unbeaten in the Champions League thus far, meanwhile they also search for their first victory following two draws to CSKA and Monaco respectively.

Here’s Fresh Football’s mini lowdown on the Bundesliga club.

The Journey

Much like Spurs, a 3rd placed finish in the top flight of German football saw Leverkusen gain automatic qualification for this year’s edition of the Champions’ League.

Despite big showings against competitive rivals such as Schalke 04 and Borussia Mönchengladbach, Leverkusen failed to cover the huge gulf between them and the top two, finishing 28 points behind champions Bayern Munich and 18 away from 2nd placed Borussia Dortmund.

The Form

Leverkusen have strived to strengthen their squad with the arrivals of Kevin Volland, Aleksandar Dragovic and Julian Baumgartlinger, adding to the return of the injury-hit Charles Aranguiz and the emergence of Joel Pohjanpolo in the first team.

But strength in numbers has done little thus far to avert Roger Schmidt’s side’s rocky start to the season who, beyond a 2-1 win against Dortmund at the start of this month, has gone on to drop points against Gladbach, Eintracht Frankfurt and, most recently, Werder Bremen to leave the Group E side sitting in 10th place in the Bundesliga.

One to Watch

On paper, it’s difficult not to be struck by names such as Hakan Çalhanoğlu and Julian Brandt, the burden of pushing this side over the line may well fall on the shoulders of a familiar face to us all on the night.

Of the 16 goals scored so far by the German club in the new campaign, seven have come from ex-Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez, with the Mexican also starring last season when netting 26 goals from 43 games in all competitions.

Player Ratings: Liverpool 0-0 Manchester United (De Gea)

These are Fresh Football’s ratings for Liverpool’s home clash with against Manchester United on Monday night.

Liverpool

Loris Karius – 5

Composed for the most part, in particular with the ball at his feet, but almost landed his team in hot water when playing a stray pass to the opposition on the edge of his box.

Nathaniel Clyne – 5.5

A quiet game from the English right back, as he began coming into the action late on in support of Sadio Mané, but it all seemed a little too late.

Joel Matip – 6.5

Calm and collected throughout, keeping the defensive line in good nick alongside Dejan Lovren and creating one of the few chances of the game when marauding through the middle. Matip’s decent start to his Liverpool career continues.

Dejan Lovren – 6.5

Following on from Matip, Lovren kept up appearances in the back line and helped ensure a conservative Man United side had little chance of sneaking away with a win.

James Milner – 6.5

Top work ethic from Milner, as usual, who tried to glue play together on his side of the pitch as best as he could with Marcus Rashford lurking.

Jordan Henderson – 6

Solid in the middle of the park, but was stuck far too often with the task of getting plays started from deep, which isn’t his style.

Emre Can – 6

Failed to replicate Adam Lallana’s and Georginio Wijnaldum’s shared duties through the middle, which is a shame for Liverpool, but the German did grow into the game in the second half.

Sadio Mané – 4.5

Marked out of the game by Man United’s inclusion of Ashley Young in support for Daley Blind, and when space did arise on the flanks, Mané spurned his chances of inflicting damage through clumsiness on the ball.

Roberto Firmino – 5.5

Ghosted through phases of the game in starvation of the ball at his feet, but the ex-Hoffenheim man looked far better in the false nine role once it was vacated by Daniel Sturridge.

Philippe Coutinho – 7.5

Liverpool’s best hope of shifting a stubborn United side, who was unlucky not to see his shot from range bend around an inspired David De Gea.

Daniel Sturridge – 4

Anonymous throughout the game, largely down to Liverpool’s inability to break through the lines efficiently enough, which led to his substitution in the second half.

Subs:

Adam Lallana – 6.5

A big miss for the Reds, the introduction of a semi-fit Lallana brought life into the game.

Divock Origi – N/A

Alberto Moreno – N/A

Manchester United

David De Gea – 7

At quiet night, attempts wise, but the Spaniard was on his toes to pull off a super save from a Coutinho shot from range.

Antonio Valencia – 6.5

Another solid display at right back for Valencia to add to his recent collection, rounded off by a last-ditch tackle that prevented Roberto Firmino from dispatching a shot inside the box.

Eric Bailly – 5.5

A fairly calm night for the former Villarreal defender.

Chris Smalling – 5.5

Much like Bailly, Smalling didn’t have a great deal to do thanks to the support of Herrera, Fellaini, and the full backs around him.

Daley Blind – 5

Blind was limited throughout due to Mané’s presence, thwarting the Senegalese forward successfully in combination with Young.

Ander Herrera – 6.5

Supported somewhat of a stun-charge on Liverpool really well in the opening stages of the encounter, whereas he also adapted adequately to fulfil his team’s needs in defensive midfield.

Marouane Fellaini – 6

Tucked in nicely next to Herrera and supplemented a hardened barrage for Liverpool to break down.

Marcus Rashford – 6

The young Englishman threatened early on the right flank, but, in accordance to the game, the opportunities to impose himself in attack diminish swiftly.

Paul Pogba – 5.5

Undoubtedly under José Mourinho’s instructions, Pogba spent much of his time breathing down Dejan Lovren’s and Jordan Henderson’s neck to make Liverpool’s task of constructive play more difficult, and did so well.

Ashley Young – 6

Followed Mané closely all game and prevented Liverpool’s man from finding pockets of space.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic – 5.5

Always ready to capitalise on a United attack, but the big Swede will be disappointed not to have done better with his header across goal in the second half.

Subs:

Wayne Rooney – N/A

Luke Shaw – N/A

Liverpool – Manchester United Combined XI: Only 3 Liverpool Players Feature, Your Thoughts?

Few have been the times that these two colossal clubs of English football have come into a clash with lofty ambitions as of late, as Liverpool welcome Manchester United to the newly-renovated Anfield stadium on Monday night.

The Jürgen Klopp project and it’s suffocating press system has begun gaining some notable traction in the Premier League, in particularly in big games, whereas Man United and their array of expensive talent look to force their way back into prominence under new boss José Mourinho.

The match-up promises plenty, and in its lead-up, Fresh Football has sought to bring you a combined XI. Here’s how we’d line-up:

GK: David De Gea (Manchester United)

There won’t be many more straightforward choices to be made than including David De Gea, one of the best shot-stoppers in the world and, arguably, the main man between the sticks in Premier League football. Even if we weren’t to see him in such light, Simon Mignolet’s shaky past and new boy Loris Karius don’t offer us any great alternatives from Liverpool’s end.

RB: Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool)

Nathaniel Clyne’s Man United counterpart, Antonio Valencia, has gained his fair share of plaudits so far this season from a right back position, but his systematic nature in the final third, particularly his over-hit crosses, raises a few question marks. Meanwhile Clyne’s associative play makes him our preferred option, we’re not even sure Valencia, despite good form, is the best right back at his own club.

CB: Eric Bailly (Manchester United)

Among the trickiest of introductions to this combined XI is Eric Bailly, simply because Joël Matip has excelled so much in his short time in the Premier League as well. Whereas the latter might be better at reading the game, we think Bailly’s physicality, especially once his aggression is more refined, sees the Ivorian pip the ex-Schalke man.

CB: Chris Smalling (Manchester United)

As someone who can blend his ability to read the game, bring the ball out from defence and impose himself physically upon attackers, Smalling’s addition is a no-brainer. On his day, he’s one of the very best centre backs in the Premier League.

LB: Luke Shaw (Manchester United)

Alberto Moreno came to mind, who, based on his Liverpool career thus far, is enough to hand the left back slot to just about anyone else. Such is his unreliability that Klopp has chosen to deploy James Milner at left back, a successful invention in the meantime, but we’d prefer to go down the old-fashioned route and opt for a natural left back. It’s also Luke Shaw, by the way, so we’re in good hands.

CM: Daley Blind (Manchester United)

We’re striving for a team that makes sense, here, which in turn sees us scramble a little for a convincing midfielder to play deep in this combined XI. Although talented, Emre Can’s yet to leave his definitive stamp at Anfield, whereas his teammate, Jordan Henderson, is more box-to-box than deep-lying. The same goes for Ander Herrera at United, who’s come into the fold ahead of Michael Carrick and Bastian Schweinsteiger. We’re trusting the versatility of Daley Blind on this one, who’s put in exemplary displays at left back and centre back in the past.

CM: Paul Pogba (Manchester United)

He’s been fairly underwhelming since his blockbuster transfer from Juventus this summer, but it’d take a brave man to overlook his talent in order to shut him out of this combined XI. We wouldn’t dare.

RM: Sadio Mané (Liverpool)

At last, some more Merseyside-based presence, and it goes to their new acquisition. Many an eyebrow was raised at the £34 million price tag of Sadio Mané when joining from Southampton, but the Senegalese winger has been quick to allay any fears and become an instant hit at Anfield. The 24-year-old provides a constant threat with his movement in behind, whereas his trickery and pace make him a real handful across the attacking third.

AM: Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool)

The Brazilian can offer the odd irritation with his relentless attempts at goal from range, but when it works, there’s little left to do but admire. Coutinho’s general low centre of gravity coupled with his dribbling ability and flair are the real reasons why we think he’s best suited to the free role in attacking midfield, however.

LM: Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Manchester United)

Up against the likes of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, our preference is to go with Henrikh Mkhitaryan on this one. Being quick on the turn, the Armenian is lethal in transition, just as he was in his storming 2015/16 season with Borussia Dortmund prior to his transfer to Manchester United. We’re yet to see the versatile wide man exemplify the same prowess at Old Trafford, but should he be given the chance, it’d be no surprise to see him star.

ST: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Manchester United)

Even with Rashford and Martial in the equation, Daniel Sturridge might well serve as the biggest opposition to Zlatan Ibrahimovic at striker. With both representing different profiles of strikers, this one comes down to consistency, and almost by default, Sturridge’s injury prone history and mix-and-match attendance when fit under Klopp sees Ibrahimovic pip him. Additionally, the Swede’s hold-up play and playmaking ability is quite the sight when coupled with aforementioned runners in the attacking third.

Walcott Excels, Swans Struggle. Player Ratings: Arsenal 3-2 Swansea City

These are Fresh Football’s ratings for Arsenal’s Premier League win at home over Swansea City at the Emirates Stadium this Saturday:

Arsenal

Petr Čech – 6.5

The veteran goalkeeper was brought into action occasionally in the first half, offering a few uneasy moments with his distribution, but, contrarily, the ex-Chelsea man kept himself composed between the sticks when saving a handful of attempts at goal late on from Leroy Fer and co.

Héctor Bellerín – 7

Arsenal’s right back was constant threat down the flanks, meanwhile also ushering the Swans’ attack away to the opposite wing with his defensive capabilities.

Shkodran Mustafi – 7

A sound performance from the German centre half yet again, whether it meant bringing the ball out from defence, threatening from set-pieces, or sweeping up play in behind Arsenal’s backline.

Laurent Koscielny – 7.5

Much like his centre back partner, Mustafi, Koscielny’s covering and reading of the game was near impeccable, in particular when dealing Modou Barrow on Arsenal’s left hand side.

Nacho Monreal – 6

Standard stuff from Arsenal left back Nacho Monreal, who was generally solid but will also be happy to see the back of Modou Barrow.

Granit Xhaka – 5

A day to forget for Granit Xhaka, despite a fairly calm demonstration in between both points of reference that will blemish his performance. The Swiss midfielder lost the ball in a dangerous area in the lead-up to Gylfi Sigurðsson’s goal, whereas his red card for a cynical tackle turned up the heat on an Arsenal side left to fend off a late onslaught on their 3-2 advantage.

Santi Cazorla – 7

An often casual-looking performance from Cazorla’s, whose work in the park looked typically effortless in Arsenal’s large phase of dominance. The diminutive playmaker also shifted quite well to a more conservative approach in the middle of the park following Xhaka’s red card.

Theo Walcott – 8

Walcott’s hot streak in front of goal continues with a first-half brace, gifting Arsenal a 2-0 lead with some old-fashioned goal-poaching. The winger might well have had a hat-trick on another day, too – hitting the woodwork twice in the latter stages of the game.

Mesut Özil – 7

The execution in his passes were uncharacteristically rusty in the first period, but began to look far more refined and familiar for the second half, as Özil made his presence felt with an inch-perfect volley for Arsenal’s third.

Alex Iwobi – 6.5

Iwobi was on hand to provide good interplay throughout the game, bursting into life early in the second half in a dazzling run that almost led to Walcott’s third, but the young Nigerian was then given a break when replaced by Francis Coquelin midway through the second period.

Alexis Sanchez – 6

The Chilean was typically lively when leading the line, but for all the enthusiasm, his touch appeared visibly off peak. Perhaps a consequence of the fatigue picked up from international duty, but Sanchez still found away to contribute with a looped pass for Özil’s goal.

Subs

Francis Coquelin – N/A

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – N/A

Kieran Gibbs – N/A

Swansea City

Łukasz Fabiański – 5.5

The ex-Arsenal man pulled off an important stop in the latter stages from an individual effort by Bellerín to keep Swansea in the game, whereas there wasn’t a great deal that could be done for at least two of the three goals conceded by the visitors.

Kyle Naughton – 5

Not a memorable performance from Naughton, it must be said, with general memory throwing us the image of the full back chasing after Arsenal players and little else.

Federico Fernández – 4

Among the most disappointing for Swans this afternoon, the player took his eye off runners in behind on a consistent basis and could easily have been punished on another day for it.

Jordi Amat – 4.5

Not quite as neglectful as his partner in crime, but the Spaniard was arguably at fault for Theo Walcott’s opener and went on to waste a good opportunity from a set-piece as the first half came to a close.

Neil Taylor – 4

Often tormented by the pace of Walcott and Bellerín, Taylor ended up resorting to physicality and picked up a yellow card for his troubles, limiting him further with coping with the dangers in his flank.

Jack Cork – 5

Quiet and unspectacular from the former Chelsea man, but it always looked as though it’d be that way up against an in-form Arsenal side.

Leon Britton – 4.5

Swansea looked towards a diminutive playmaker of their own to ease some of the strain caused by Arsenal’s dominance; a task too demanding of for a 34-year-old Leon Britton on the day, who was later subbed off for Borja Baston.

Leroy Fer – 4.5

The Dutchman relinquished possession far too often in the middle of the park and, perhaps, should have done more in front of goal when the opportunity presented itself.

Modou Barrow – 7

Another impressive performance from Barrow, who’s threat kept Swansea in the game.

Wayne Routledge 4.5

More often than not found tracking back in a fairly low-key display.

Gylfi Sigurðsson – 6.5

Another rare glimpse of hope for Swansea, coming from their star man. Gylfi Sigurðsson was on hand to capitalise on Xhaka’s mistake and pull a goal back, whereas his set-pieces promised to be the most likely avenue for an equaliser all afternoon.

Subs

Borja Baston – 6

Came on to make an impact and did just that when handing Swansea a lifeline with his first goal for his new club.

Ki Sung-Yeung – N/A

Àngel Rangel – N/A

3 Players You Need To Put In Your Fantasy Football Team This Week: Ft. Arsenal & Chelsea Stars

With the England international scene in a bit of a sorry state, the Premier League returns in good time to hog our attention span. Spoiling us with big match-ups, such as Manchester City versus Everton, Crystal Palace’s London derby against West Ham United and the eagerly-anticipated Liverpool – Manchester United clash on Monday night, Fresh Football will also be on the scene to point you in the right direction with regards to your Fantasy Premier League choices. Here are our three hotpicks:

1 – Laurent Koscielny

Club: Arsenal
Position: Defender
Price: £6.2m

Arsenal’s backline appears to be in good nick, so much so that the newly-formed duo of Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi have conceded just once in their last four games together. On their way to the Emirates Stadium this weekend are Swansea City, who, in Bobby Bradley’s debut as the Swans’ manager, may be more concerned with thwarting the in-form Alexis Sanchez and Theo Walcott than anything else.

A more committed approach to defending from the visitors is sure to improve the odds of another clean sheet for Arsenal, who will have to keep an eye open for the aerial threat conveyed by Fernando Llorente, Borja Baston and Leroy Fer, among others. In the meantime, Koscielny could also arise as a goal scoring threat at the other end when the opportunity presents itself.

Factfile: What You Need To Know About Manchester United’s Europa Opponents Zorya Luhansk

Manchester United are back in action this Thursday in the Europa League, this time taking to Old Trafford after a 1-0 defeat to Feyenoord in the first group stage game to host Zorya Luhansk. Yep! Quite the unknown quantity, this Zorya side.

Undoubtedly, the Red Devils are huge favourites for this clash, and meanwhile José Mourinho’s men might not consider the Europa League to be a competition of supreme importance, they could do without the embarrassment of a slip-up here in what’s been a fairly rocky start to the season.

Being as low profile as they are, however, you never know quite what Zorya can muster on the big stage. Here’s a bit about the Ukrainian club hoping to spring a surprise in the red half of Manchester.

The Journey

‘The Chorno-Bili’s’ relationship with European football has been pretty scarce, as one would imagine, but they did find themselves amongst the crème de la crème back in 1972, where they represented the Soviet Union at the formerly-named European Cup.

They have since been knocking on the door of Europa League football in the past two years, falling short against Feyenoord and Legia Warsaw, respectively, in the final rounds of qualifying.

Zorya had been bracing themselves for a potential third bite of the cherry while sitting in 4th place in the Ukrainian Premier League, but sanctions handed to 3rd placed Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk for financial reasons saw the club banned from participating in European competitions and their direct qualification to the group stages being gifted to United’s next opponents.

The Form

With the Ukrainian Premier League starting in July and the domestic competition consisting of just 12 teams, Zorya have had the chance to test themselves against every side in the league and have only been bettered by Dnipro, who defeated the Europa League minnows 2-0 back in August.

Zorya, however, bounced back with a crucial 1-0 victory versus Dynamo Kyiv and find themselves as high as second in the league table, five points behind Shakhtar Donestk, whom they beat in the first game of the season 3-2 away from home.

One to Watch – Oleksandr Karavaev

With 16-goal man Pylyp Budkivsky gone, returning to Shakhtar after a loan spell with Zorya before joining Anzhi Makhachkala on a temporary basis, the responsibility of inspiration falls on the shoulders of wide man Oleksandr Karavaev, also loaned in from the Ukrainian champions.

The 23-year-old started his third consecutive season in Zorya colours after registering 11 goals and eight assists in all competitions last season, whereas this season sees Karavaev find the back of the net four times in nine appearances thus far, contributing further with an assist.

Factfile: Reviewing Leicester City’s Champions League opponents, FC Porto

UEFA Champions League debuts don’t often come as convincing as Leicester City’s 3-0 victory over Club Brugge earlier this month, with the Premier League champions following up their success in Europe with an identical result at home to Burnley in the league, but the shoe is now on the other foot.

The Foxes were sunk by a 4-2 result in the EFL Cup last week versus Chelsea, having led by two goals in the first half, whereas back in the league, Manchester United dealt Claudio Ranieri’s men a 4-0 loss to mull over.

Leicester, however, do now have a nice change of pace to enable them to shake off some of the negative energy amassed in the past week, with FC Porto visiting the King Power Stadium for Game Two of the Champions League group stages. Here’s a little taster of the Portuguese side.

The Journey

Porto rarely ever misses out on an edition of the Champions League, but that doesn’t suggest all is well in paradise. After going through two managers in the past season, not only did the northern outfit finish 3rd behind rivals Benfica and Sporting, but in doing so, Porto made it a third consecutive season without a league title for the first time since 2002.

Now under the management of their fellow former goalkeeper and the predecessor to Gary Neville at Valencia, Nuno Espírito Santo, the Portuguese club managed to skip past AS Roma in the qualifying rounds with a 4-1 aggregate win.

Form

Despite being enriched with talented players, piecing the Porto stars together as a potent force has proved to be the sticking point. Nuno felt that as early as his third game, where his side were outclassed in a 2-1 defeat away to Sporting prior to drawing versus Tondela earlier this month.

The 2004 Champions League winners also slipped up in their opening group stage clash at home to FC Copenhagen, meaning they’re already playing catch-up when taking to the field at the King Power Stadium.

One to Watch – André Silva

The 20-year-old striker was left under wraps with the B team last season, but he’s now made positives strides in the new campaign towards fulfilling his lauded potential, being highly-regarded as the answer to Portugal’s lack of quality strikers at international level.

André Silva is able to mix and match all relevant attributes well, from notable strength, to technical ability and pace. The Porto number 10 has exemplified many of those traits on his way to becoming the club’s go-to-guy for goals this season, topping the team’s goal scoring charts with five goals in nine appearances thus far.

Player Ratings: Manchester United 4-1 Leicester City – Red Devils Run Riot

These are Fresh Football’s ratings for Manchester United’s home clash versus Leicester City in the Premier League.

Manchester United

David De Gea – 6

Despite a relatively quiet game, De Gea was left stunned by a Demarai Gray strike in the second half. By the same token, the Spaniard pulled off a good save from similar circumstances in the latter stages of the game.

Antonio Valencia – 6

A standard Antonio Valencia, with lots of running, work ethic, as well as a handful of hit and miss crosses. He did, however, struggled to contain Gray in the second half.

Chris Smalling – 7.5

The England international remained casual up against the likes of Jamie Vardy and Islam Slimani, meanwhile opening the scoring for Man United in the first half.

Eric Bailly – 7

Equally as sound as Smalling throughout much of the game, but there was the odd occasion where he found himself stretched in unison with Valencia on the right side of defence. Decent overall.

Daley Blind – 8

The versatile defender was particularly successful in thwarting main man Riyad Mahrez, on top of combining expertly with his teammates thanks to some crisp passing. A big performance.

Paul Pogba – 7.5

A far better showing from the record signing, who was gifted time by the Leicester midfield to manipulate the ball and also went on to score his first goal in United colours.

Ander Herrera – 6.5

Operating deeper, Herrera’s presence allowed the likes of Pogba and Juan Mata greater freedom.

Marcus Rashford – 7

Busy on the flanks, exposing quality hold-up play and a fearless attitude that was again rewarded with a goal.

Juan Mata – 7.5

With Wayne Rooney benched, Mata took initiative and roamed expertly to link up play and cause the Leicester defence all sorts of problems. The Spanish playmaker got onto the scoresheet in the 37th minute.

Jesse Lingard – 6.5

Active in and around the box, tracked back well and added an assist to his name.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic – 7.5

The Swede left both central defenders trailing his associative play and troubled the Leicester backline with well-timed runs in what was a performance that only lacked a goal.

Subs:

Michael Carrick – N/A

Wayne Rooney – N/A

Leicester City

Ron-Robert Zieler – 3.5

Fairly powerless in all four of the goals, but few, if any, positives surround his day.

Danny Simpson – 3

Left unhappy in his duel versus Marcus Rashford and his marking inside the box from set-piece scenarios.

Robert Huth – 3

Had his work cut out with Ibrahimovic inside the box, whereas his marking and organisation was very disappointing for three of the four goals Leicester conceded.

Wes Morgan – 3.5

Much like Huth, Morgan’s so often the heart and soul of the Foxes’ side with his Herculean defending, but that wasn’t the case today.

Christian Fuchs – 3

Usually so reliable, the Austrian turned in one of his worst performances since joining the current Premier League champions.

Riyad Mahrez – 3.5

Fairly uninspired and hooked off at half-time with the midweek clash versus Porto in mind.

Danny Drinkwater – 3

Outnumbered in the middle of the park, whereas he’s sure to have better days going forward.

Daniel Amartey – 3

In much the same vein, Amartey struggled to cope versus a 3-man midfield.

Marc Albrighton – 3

Simply non-existent.

Islam Slimani – 4

Worked hard to charge Leicester forward, but was often left isolated.

Jamie Vardy – 4

Led on behind Slimani, attempting to place Leicester’s stamp on the game, but lacked support and was subbed off at half-time.

Subs:

Demarai Gray – 6.5

The shining light in a dismal afternoon for the Foxes, offering refuge from Man United’s suffocating domination and providing a quality goal from range for fans to at least smile about.

Andy King – 5.5

Might feel he could have done better in his second-half stint, but his mere presence served to balance the game and limit the damage that had already been done prior to his entrance.

Jeffrey Schlupp – N/A

Fantasy Football: 3 Premier League Players You Need In Your Team This Week (ft. Liverpool, Chelsea)

Following the EFL Cup interlude, the Premier League returns with a series of games to draw our eyes to, in particular the London derby between Arsenal and Chelsea, Leicester City’s visit to Old Trafford ahead of their clash against Manchester United and Tony Pulis’ return to the newly-named Bet365 Stadium, where his West Bromwich Albion side face-off versus former club Stoke City.

As always, Fresh Football will be here to attempt to aid your Fantasy Teams, as we switch our attentions to a list made up entirely of potential goal-getters ahead of Gameweek Six. You can read more advice in our Fantasy Football section. Here are our three hotpicks:

1 – Sadio Mané
Club:
Liverpool
Position: Midfield
Price: £9m

Liverpool, with two wins against Leicester City and Chelsea in their last three Premier League games, have emerged as potential candidates for the league title this season, as they welcome a Hull City side, currently winless in their last three outings prior to this week’s league cup clash, to the newly-renovated Anfield stadium.

The Tigers struggled to cope with Arsenal’s pressing game last weekend in their 4-1 defeat at home, a style so synonymous with Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool; meanwhile the Reds will be boosted further by the likely returns of Daniel Sturridge, Roberto Firmino, Adam Lallana and Georginio Wijnaldum following a 3-0 win versus Derby County in midweek.

In front of an excited home crowd, we’re tipping Sadio Mané to cause Hull’s defence all sorts of trouble in what *should* be a routine victory for Liverpool.