Man City

Why Manchester United & Manchester City Can Win the Champions League This Season

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English teams have seriously struggled in Europe’s elite competition in the recent past, but I think that is all about to change, with both Manchester sides now having the quality within their squad to seriously challenge Europe’s elite.

Manchester City have added a whole array of talent in the off-season, with the likes of Kyle Walker, Benjamin Mendy and Bernardo Silva arriving, whilst United have opted for Premier League experience with Nemanja Matic and Romelu Lukaku the headline arrivals.

It goes without saying that Manchester City’s squad is incredibly strong. They have £50million players on the bench every single game, and have versatility not only in attack, but also in defence. Tactically Pep Guardiola can mix it with the very best and after his introductory season last campaign, I feel he is now ready to go for the Champions League title. Man City have spent enough money and have no real excuses now. They have invested heavily in both experienced and young players, and a world class manager.  When you spend that sort of money, you can’t just be looking to win your domestic league – the ambition is clearly to be a consistent force in European football too and stop the La Liga dominance.

For me, Chelsea and Tottenham’s squads are too small to seriously compete for the Champions League at this stage, and Liverpool lack the overall quality in their team, especially in defence where they would be taken apart by the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Who is your pick for the Champions League? Bayern Munich are the bookies favourites, whilst Manchester City (14/1) are slightly preferred to Manchester United (15/1). If you fancy backing up your prediction, check out the Champions League odds 2018. I think City are good value, as they may yet still add more players to their already hugely talented squad, whether that be in the final weeks of August or in the January transfer window.

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Manchester United, after winning the Europa League, have experienced winners in their squad and also a manager who knows how to win the Champions League in Jose Mourinho. The Portuguese man will be relishing the opportunity to be back in the competition and show the world what he and his players are capable of. United have both skilled players and physically big players, that will enable them to compete with all types of opponents. They could be a couple of players short still, but the club have allegedly reopened transfer talks with Inter Milan for Ivan Perisic, his arrival would be a big boost.

Who Will Be The Premier League Top Scorer: The Contenders

With the Premier League set to kick off tonight, there are more top strikers in the league than ever before, at least in terms of monetary value. Big money moves for Romelu Lukaku, Alvaro Morata and Alexandre Lacazette have seen the top clubs bolstered with more than £200m of talent – but are any of them capable of dethroning the might Harry Kane.

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Kane netted a massive 29 league goals last campaign at a brilliant rate of 87 minutes per goal. With 65% of the Englishman’s shots hitting the target, despite all of the money spent, can any of the new boys take the golden boot away from Tottenham’s main man? For me Kane still have to be the favourite and SportNation.com are offering tempting odds of 4/1 for Kane to top the Premier League goal scoring charts.

Romelu Lukaku is surely positioned best to challenge Kane, he’s already settled in the Premier League and with a hugely talented midfield behind him, Lukaku is likely to get on the end of a lot of United attacks. He was runner-up to Kane last season with 25 league goals, but with a stronger team behind him the Belgian international will be looking to justify his huge price tag and go one better this time around.

Arsenal’s big summer acquisition Alexandre Lacazette showed glimpses of his quality in the Community Shield and if he settles in the Frenchman will have every chance if Arsenal can get back to their best and Mesut Ozil can create the amount of chances we know he can. He’s consistently scored over 20 league goals in Ligue 1, but the Premier League is a different ball game, so I expect him to drop just short.

Alvaro Morata has been the headline move for Chelsea so far this summer, but it looks as if the Spaniard may take a little time to adjust to life in England.

Liverpool are unlikely to have a player that will challenge the likes of Kane for the golden boot, but what they do have is several sources of goals. The addition of Mohammed Salah has only added to their already strong attacking options which already include the likes of Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane. With all of these options and if the club can keep hold of Coutinho, they may be worth a flutter on SportNation.bet, with huge odds of 20/1 on Liverpool to win the league on offer.

Manchester City are my personal favourites to win the league and if Gabriel Jesus continues to be preferred to Sergio Aguero as the clubs central strikers, then I can see the young Brazilian being right up there in the golden boot race. The amount of midfield quality he will have behind him will see him have plenty of opportunities to score. De Bruyne, David Silva, Leroy Sane, Bernardo Silva, Raheem Sterling, the creative options just go on and on and that is what makes Jesus my wildcard to be top scorer this time around.

Leicester City Agree Deal To Sign Manchester City Forward But Issues Need Resolving

Leicester City are making moves to bolster a squad ahead of a campaign where the Foxes will be thrust back to reality after a fairytale few years.

After winning the Premier League and reaching the quarter-finals of the Champions League last season, where they stood as British football’s last representative in Europe’s elite competition, the Foxes sole focus this term will be securing a top-half finish.

With key players like Riyad Mahrez linked with an exit, a transitional season is likely to occur and boss Craig Shakespeare faces a challenge to keep his squad competitive- but it appears a significant signing is now imminent.

Sky Sports reports that the Foxes have agreed a deal in principle to sign Kelechi Iheanacho from Manchester City, as the Nigerian striker has fallen down the pecking order in Pep Guardiola’s side following the arrival of Gabriel Jesus in January.

The highly-rated 20-year-old, who will hope to feature for his nation at the World Cup next summer, is seeking a move that will hand him regular first-team football and a partnership could be crafted with Jamie Vardy.

How expensive is a deal?

According to the reports, a fee for the Nigerian could rise to as much as £25m but a number of contractual issues still need to be resolved before a deal can be completed, including whether Manchester City will possess a buy-back clause that will allow Guardiola’s side to bring the Nigerian back to the Citizens in the future for a fixed price.

With Sergio Aguero’s importance at Manchester City dwindling, Iheanacho could still have a future at the Etihad Stadium and the Citizens want to ensure they have a route to bringing the striker back to the club- avoiding the issues that Chelsea and Manchester United had with Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku respectively.

Crucially, all parties are keen to get a deal done but Iheanacho also needs to resolve an issue on his image rights with a former agent before any contract can be signed, which means the saga surrounding the Nigerian striker could extend into August.

Three Reasons Arsenal’s Chilean Star Must Not Leave

Manchester City are circling Alexis Sanchez like vultures. Vultures returning to their favourite feeding site, in fact. Gael Clichy, Emmanuel Adebayor, Kolo Toure and Samir Nasri have all been sold by Arsenal to the blue segment of Manchester. Depending on who you listen to and how many unhealthily speculative rumours you care to read, Alexis is either destined to become a City player or is happy to stay at the Emirates despite not having Champions League football in 2017/18.

It’s going to be ‘saga of the summer’. Well, that’s what Sky Sports and rumour mill beneficiaries would like us to believe, isn’t it? In reality, it’s a football transfer and one that seems to be covered with more mindless speculation than truth. Opinions presented as fact – which is seemingly the norm now – and a whole barrage of unpleasantries between fans on social media.

The transfer, however, is not one that Alexis should be really considering at this juncture in his career.

10 Stars Who Could Set A Transfer Record This Summer Ft. Man Utd, Arsenal & Chelsea Targets

The Premier League’s big spenders are set to do it all again this summer to bring some of the finest players to English football and strengthen their sides for the forthcoming campaign.

English football’s rise of TV revenue has lead to Premier League side’s paying a premium price on the transfer market and inflation over recent years has seen players cost more and more, with transfer records being set regularly.

Paul Pogba became the world’s first €100m player last year when he sealed a move from Juventus to Manchester United but his record is likely to be broken in the coming months, with audacious fees being mentioned- some in excess of £120m.

With the likelihood that records will be smashed this summer, we’ve identified ten players who could become the most expensive players in the history of world football in the coming  months if they secure a lucrative move- and it features a number of Premier League targets.

Kylian Mbappe (Monaco)

The hottest name in world football right now, teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe has been linked with a host of Europe’s top-sides this summer, including Arsenal, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain, but Monaco are determined to keep hold of his services.

Mbappe’s ability and the fact Monaco don’t want to sell means his price-tag will be driven higher and higher, with reports already indicating a deal could cost in excess of £120m- a sensational figure for this year’s breakthrough star.

All-Time Premier League Most Expensive XI Ft. Man Utd & Chelsea

The Premier League has become the home of the most expensive transfer additions in recent years, with billions being splashed out to bring the finest talents to English football.

Despite this, English sides have failed to kick-on in their quest to conquer European football and have fallen behind the likes of Spain, Italy, Germany and even France in the race for the Champions League trophy.

The likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City will be looking to change that next season though when they return to European action and the Premier League will boast five clubs in Europe’s elite competition, with Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur also in the running.

Spectacular fees are likely to be spent once again this summer, potentially setting world records, but we’ve moved to assemble the most expensive XI in Premier League history so far- in a set-up that’s dominated by both Manchester clubs and Chelsea.

Before we start, it’s worth noting that all fees and records are correct as of 26th June 2017 and all figures were taken from TransferMarkt.

GK: Ederson (£34m)

Signed by Manchester City from Portuguese outfit Benfica this month, the £34m price-tag for Ederson easily surpassed the previous record-figure paid by a Premier League side for a goalkeeper and was narrowly ahead of the £30m fee Everton paid for Jordan Pickford two-weeks later.

The 23-year-old Brazilian is set to become City’s first-choice goalkeeper for the forthcoming campaign after last summer’s acquisition of Claudio Bravo proved to be a failure, as the Chilean failed to live-up to expectation and endured plenty of troubles.

If Man City Lose This Superstar, Is This Ace A Ready-Made Replacement?

Manchester City endured a transitional season under the guidance of Pep Guardiola this summer and the Catalan boss will complete a major squad overhaul this year.

The Citizens have already confirmed Pablo Zabaleta, Bacary Sagna, Willy Caballero, Jesus Navas and Gael Clichy are on their way out, whilst the likes of Joe Hart, Aaron Mooy and Fabian Delph could follow.

Of the names linked with an exit, the future of Sergio Aguero remains a pressing concern for the majority of Manchester City fans as it would be a bold move from the club and could come back to haunt them.

Gabriel Jesus’ explosive start at Manchester City has left Aguero’s first-team spot under threat and the Citizens look like they may cope without their starring Argentine. However, the second-half of the season has seen speculation that Aguero could leave reduce significantly.

Should a new striker arrive though, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that Aguero is moved away from the Etihad Stadium and we asked our team whether they can see the South American leaving and whether Gabriel Jesus is ready to take the mantle as their leading forward.

Shane Burns (@MediaShaneBurns)

Aguero leaving was – and still is – a story which gathered momentum by the press because the out-of-form Argentine was dropped by his manager. The striker has been in devastating form since the arrival of Gabriel Jesus and his best years have certainly been rekindled, with the duo playing alongside each other more frequently, a partnership rather than a rivalry is developing between the two and being expertly guided by Pep Guardiola.

Jesus is earmarked as the long-term replacement for Aguero when he does decide to leave in 2019, but needing only 11 goals to become City’s all-time leading scorer, don’t expect Guardiola to call a halt on his six-year City career anytime soon.

Tom Scholes (@TomScholes316)

All signs are pointing towards Sergio Aguero leaving Manchester City in the summer, and with how Pep Guardiola sets his sides up, you can see why. Let’s admit it, Aguero isn’t the player he used to be due to his previous injuries, and Pep requires a high intensity press from his forwards for the majority of games. Maybe Aguero doesn’t have it in him anymore to work in a Pep style of play, but Gabriel Jesus certainly does and he’s being touted as the replacement to Aguero.

Jesus certainly has the potential to be as good as Aguero, but to heap so much pressure on someone so young could be very damaging. The Brazilian would need help from Kevin De Bruyne and Leroy Sane to really do some damage in the Premier League.

Sam Cox (@SamRCox_)

Sergio Aguero will stay. Should he not, however, Gabriel Jesus is a more than able deputy.

The fearsome thing for City’s rivals, though, is the prospect of this dazzling City attack having Aguero and Jesus fully fit for a full season along with Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling, Kevin de Bruyne and David Silva.

Josh Challies (@Challies11)

Sergio Aguero will certainly see his playing time reduced next season but it’s difficult to envisage him leaving Manchester City this summer. If he does leave before his contract ends in 2019, expect the move to take place after next summer’s World Cup.

Gabriel Jesus is a top-quality player and should shine for many years to come with Manchester City. However, putting so much faith into a youngster just months after his arrival is a dangerous game and he could crack under the pressure if Aguero leaves.

With Jesus and Aguero, City boast two of the best strikers in the league and if Pep Guardiola can mould them into a dynamic partnership, then the rest of the division will be left quaking in their boots.

4 Home-Grown Players Who Could Follow Walker to Man City This Summer

Manchester City’s debut campaign under Pep Guardiola is set to end without a trophy, which is increasing the pressure upon the former Bayern Munich boss to invest heavily this summer.

Guardiola is set to oversee a major reshuffle in his squad, as he replaces players who aren’t cut out for the challenge and looks to replace the ageing guard- which includes his array of full-backs, which has led to the Citizens eyeing big recruits in this area.

Tottenham Hotspur ace Kyle Walker is reported to be the priority signing for Guardiola this summer, who’s understood to be eyeing home-grown talents to add to his squad as the Citizens look to battle up the Premier League standings.

British players come at a premium price this days but City can certainly afford to pay what’s necessary and we’ve identified four more home-grown players that could follow Walker to the Etihad Stadium.

Jordan Pickford

The England international is one of few Sunderland players who can hold their head high following the club’s relegation to the Championship and Pickford is more than likely going to be on the move this summer, as he battles for the number one jersey in Gareth Southgate’s England squad.

With Joe Hart set to be ousted and summer-signing Claudio Bravo struggling, Pep Guardiola’s side have been linked to signing a new goalkeeper and Pickford could be the perfect fit for the Citizens as he’s young, homegrown and should be relatively easy to capture.

The 3-4-3 Formation Arsenal Could Line-Up With vs. Manchester City

Arsene Wenger made a bold decision on Monday night, to shift to a back 3, something he has not done during his reign at the club. Will he stick with this formation against Manchester City on Sunday in the FA Cup semifinal?

It’s anyone’s guess, but surely after getting back to winning ways against Boro, Wenger will be tempted to stick with what got him the 3 points on Monday and what the team have been working on in training most recently.

Below I take a look at the 3-4-3 eleven that, in my opinion, would be best equipped to help Arsenal advance to another FA Cup final…

Goalkeeper: Petr Cech

Cech hasn’t won Arsenal many points this season, so it would be nice for him to make the difference in this semi-final. He’ll certainly need to have a good game to keep City at bay and keep the Gunners in the tie.

Defence: Gabriel, Laurent Koscielny, Rob Holding

Mustafi is out with an injury still, so it looks like Arsenal will go with the same back three that they selected against Boro. Holding may seem the obvious player to drop out due to his age and inexperience, but his performance against Boro and whenever he has featured for Arsenal means he deserves to keep his place. Monreal is an option as a left-sided centre-back too, and I personally would rather him than Gabriel, but Wenger will not do that.

Midfield: Hector Bellerin, Granit Xhaka, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Kieran Gibbs

Arsenal opted for Monreal and the Ox as wing backs against Boro, but I think both of these players would struggle in those positions against a team with City’s attacking quality. Here I’d like to see the quick full-back duo of Bellerin and Gibbs. Both players can offer a good attacking threat, but they also have the pace and defensive experience to do the dirty side of the role. Monreal’s lack of pace would see him get seriously exposed on the left and I feel Gibbs is better equipped to handle the threat of City down the right.

In the centre, I think Xhaka is an essential part of the team, whilst the in-form Ox should be his partner. Contrary to popular belief, I think Ramsey did very well against Boro, but Ox has shown more consistency in recent weeks and does not deserve to get dropped.

Attack: Theo Walcott, Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil

Giroud seriously struggled in this formation at Boro and I think he should certainly be dropped for the game against City. I’d have Alexis as the main man through the middle, with the pace of Walcott and creativity of Ozil supplementing him either side. Giroud is often selected for his added height to help Arsenal defend and attack set pieces, but with three central defenders in the team I think we will be fine in this department, and this is hardly a strength of City’s.

Alternative Premier League Team Of The Year Ft. Alderweireld, Alexis & More

The PFA Team of the Year was announced this morning and it’s fair to say the majority of people were underwhelmed by the selections, with the announcement going down like a lead balloon.

Naturally, the team was dominated by players from Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, who currently sit in the top-two positions in the Premier League, but both sides can feel aggrieved by certain members of their team that missed out.

Arsenal, Manchester United, Everton and Manchester City fans will also share their frustrations, as they’ve had star performers overlook in favour of some rather questionable choices from the PFA.

Here at FreshFootball, we’ve also been left underwhelmed by the selections (seriously, Sadio Mane) and rather than discuss who should be in or out of the side, we’ve elected to select an entirely new team altogether.

Have we missed anyone out? Let us know in the comments below!

GK: Hugo Lloris

Spurs’ number one has been an ever-present figure this season between the sticks for the most resilient defence in the Premier League, with the Lilywhites conceding just 22 goals so far- significantly lower than anyone else.

Whilst David De Gea at Manchester United has been similarly impressive, and being selected in the PFA Team of the Year as a result, overlooking the goalkeeper for the league’s best defence is a decision that doesn’t really add up.

Southampton v Manchester City: Team News, Match Previews & Likely Line-Ups

Competition: Premier League Date: Saturday 15th April 2017 Venue: St Mary’s Stadium Kick-Off: 15:00 BST

Team News

Southampton will debate whether to bring Manolo Gabbiadini back into the fold, as he returned from a groin injury this week.

Steven Davis is also available for the hosts but Oriol Romeu is suspended.

Manchester City could bring Vincent Kompany back into the side, after he was rested against Hull, whilst Kevin De Bruyne and Fernandinho could also earn a start.

Pep Guardiola is once again without the injured trio of Gabriel Jesus, Ilkay Gundogan and Bacary Sagna.

Match Preview

After a campaign that included heartbreak at Wembley, Southampton’s season in the Premier League has largely been one to forget as the Saints sit ninth in the standings and a whopping 14 points behind seventh-placed Everton.

Manchester City, meanwhile, will equally have hoped for more this term but Guardiola still has a chance of enjoying success in his first season via the FA Cup. However, the focus for now is very much securing a top-four spot.

The Citizens go into tomorrow’s game on the south coast four points against rivals Manchester United, who have a game in hand, and seven points ahead of sixth-placed Arsenal.

Likely Line-Ups

Southampton
Forster; Soares, Stephens, Yoshida, Bertrand; Clasie, Hojbjerg; Ward-Prowse, Tadic, Redmond; Long.

Manchester City
Bravo; Navas, Stones, Kompany, Clichy; Fernandinho; Sterling, De Bruyne, Silva, Sane; Aguero.

Key Stats

Southampton won this fixture 4-2 last season, which ended a run of four straight defeats against the Citizens, and drew with Pep Guardiola’s side earlier this season.

The Saints have lost just one of their last six matches in the Premier League, having won one of seven prior to that run.

Manchester City have only lost one of their last 10 league matches.

A victory for Guardiola’s side would see the Citizens equal their best-ever amount of wins in a Premier League campaign (19).

Prediction
1-2

FF Premier League Team Of The Season: 4 Chelsea, 2 Spurs, 2 Liverpool & 2 Burnley Players Feature

We’re at that stage of the season now when we recognise the achievements of those we see week in, week out, with the PFA’s nominations for PFA Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year kicking off the debates.

Along with it comes the often much-maligned Team of the Season that, in response, has streams of fans drafting up their own all-star XI. Many are flying about as we speak, which prompts us to give our two cents. Here’s Fresh Football’s Premier League Team of the Season:

Goalkeeper: Tom Heaton, Burnley

It’s on the basis of defensive solidity that Sean Dyche’s side has planned and, more or less, managed to crack their first season back in the Premier League. Tom Heaton’s heroics in between the sticks have certainly played a part in that.

The two-time England international, more fondly remembered for his displays against Liverpool at home and versus Manchester United at Old Trafford, comes 6th in the ongoing race for the Golden Glove, claiming nine clean sheets altogether.

That has seen him top the list of keepers in the bottom half of the table, which, unlike other lauded colleagues such as Sunderland’s Jordan Pickford, has contributed towards Burnley’s mid-table attainment and facilitated our choice for number one.

Right Back: Kyle Walker, Tottenham Hotspur

Among the tightest of choices throughout the XI, the right back slot sees the likes of Kyle Walker go head-to-head with Manchester United’s Antonio Valencia, who’s gone from strength-to-strength under José Mourinho this season.

But for all the improvement from the Ecuadorian, Walker has continued to be a pivotal figure in a side targeting a top two finish, as opposed to scrambling for top four.

The Spurs man pips Valencia on end product, claiming two more assists than Valencia’s modest three, and also averaging 1.15 key passes and 1.33 chances created per game, which is marginally better than his full back counterpart.

Centre Back: David Luiz, Chelsea

Many a critic scoffed at the £30 million spent by Chelsea on the club’s former cult hero, with displays up until early October suggesting they were right to do so. In came Antonio Conte’s characteristic shift to a formation with three central defenders, signalling a straight run for top spot and David Luiz’s rebirth, as a result.

Free to explore his refined technical ability with the comfort of two other centre backs either side of him, Luiz’s maturity has also shun through in a side that’s collected 13 clean sheets thus far and strung together 13 consecutive wins from October to January.

Centre Back: Michael Keane, Burnley

We’ve spoken briefly of the work put in by Burnley in this season’s Premier League and just as focal to the Clarets’ success has been Michael Keane, a mainstay alongside Ben Mee in Dyche’s XI.

The centre back pairing have been virtually inseparable statistically, but the man under the radar has appeared as Burnley’s go-to-guy for defensive interactions, conquering 120 of his aerial duels and winning 60% of all duels in total, which is a 5% increase on what Mee registered.

Such has been his form that the Man United academy graduate has seen his trade recognised by England with his debut cap, meanwhile the likes of Everton reportedly plot a move for the 24-year-old in the summer.

Left Back: Marcos Alonso, Chelsea

Costing the champions-elect a total of £20 million from Fiorentina this summer, Marcos Alonso has done a decent job in allaying fears of his perceived sub-par status in world football.

The Spaniard prides himself on the time he’s spent in Serie A, which bodes well with Conte’s familiarities, whereas the player’s core attributes have seen him become a straight fit into Chelsea’s 3-4-3 formation at wing back.

Five goals and two assists later for the Blues, few left backs in the league have come close to his level of consistency.

Centre Midfield: N’Golo Kanté, Chelsea

To make complete simplicity so hard to ignore takes some doing, yet N’Golo Kanté is already on his second consecutive season of leaving his critics in awe.

No sign of second season syndrome here, with the Frenchman providing a pivotal presence in Chelsea’s two-man midfield and eating up more ground than one could ever deem possible. An easy choice.

Centre Midfield: Adam Lallana, Liverpool

Under the core definition of a central midfielder, there’s a small number of options they may be more popular throughout the masses, but we’re striving to also conjure up a team that also makes some sort of footballing sense.

Adam Lallana is no scrub, however. The Englishman took his time to get going at Anfield, but he’s been among the players to have embraced Jürgen Klopp’s ethos the best in a mixed season for the Reds.

The England international has maintained a high level of performances throughout this season, contributing at both ends of the field, which sees us favour the ex-Southampton midfielder over the likes of Vincent Wanyama, David Silva and a more attacking iteration of Dele Alli, who’ve all hooked in their fair share of plaudits through central areas.

Left Midfielder: Eden Hazard, Chelsea

After a faint 2015/16 campaign, Eden Hazard has remerged as a top bracket Premier League star under Conte, making full use of the free role given to him in a 3-4-3 set-up. The Belgian is a hot favourite for the PFA Player of the Year award, which speaks volumes of our choice.

With seven games of the season to go, Hazard has already equalled his highest scoring seasons of 2013/14 and 2014/15 with 14 goals, three shy of the club’s regular goal-getter Diego Costa, after finding the back of the net against the likes of Man United, Manchester City and Arsenal this season.

Whispers of a switch to Real Madrid have followed suit, which is yet another testament to the qualities displayed by the re-energised Belgian.

Right Midfielder: Sadio Mané, Liverpool

Alongside Chelsea’s N’Golo Kanté, Sadio Mané leads the line for signing of the season since arriving for £34 million from Southampton.

Fully engaged with Klopp’s ‘Gegenpressing’, the Senegalese winger has hit the back of the net 13 times and turned in a further six assists, numbers that aren’t too dissimilar to that of Eden Hazard’s. It’s no wonder many were left arguing for the Liverpool man’s presence in the six-man shortlist for the PFA Player of the Year award.

Thus far, Liverpool’s dependency on Mané has been clear, winning just twice in eight games without their summer signing, which includes defeating League Two outfit Plymouth Argyle. Such is the importance he holds that the wide man is far too difficult to overlook, even with Alexis Sanchez and Nathan Redmond presenting stellar seasons of their own in the meantime.

Striker: Romelu Lukaku, Everton

He’s a striker that often divides opinion, but time and time again Romelu Lukaku finds himself among a hatful of goals.

The Belgian’s technical ability, although appearing more refined this season, is some way off your traditional top class striker, but his laudable ability to strike gold with frequency may well see the Everton forward claim this season’s Golden Boot.

It’s a feat that can’t be ignored, giving him the edge over Diego Costa, Sergio Aguero, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and many more favoured strikers.

Striker: Harry Kane, Tottenham Hotspur

If there’s one player who knows just how to time an appeal for all relevant gongs, that man is Harry Kane. The England international, rather characteristically, started the season slowly with just five non-penalty goals in the first half of the season.

Fast-forward four months and that figure has doubled in his favour, culminating in a late charge to defend his Golden Boot award with 19 goals at this stage of the season.

No period displayed Kane’s string of exemplary performances quite as well as February, scoring six in four games before crowning his work with the Player of the Month award. It’s because of this and many more performances since the turn of the year that Kane has battled his way into our Team of the Year.

 

Stay tuned to our social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter.

Batshuayi in, Costa out: The Chelsea XI To Beat Man City On Wednesday

Chelsea surge towards Premier League glory was halted by Crystal Palace at the weekend and there’s a real danger that they could concede their advantage in the league standings over the coming weeks.

The Blues hold a seven point advantage over Tottenham Hotspur heading into the midweek Premier League fixtures and that could be cut to just four points by the end of play tomorrow, should Chelsea lose to Manchester City and Spurs beat Swansea.

Antonio Conte’s side need to treat the defeat to Crystal Palace as a wake-up call and make sufficient alterations to their side as a result, to ensure the squad is kept fresh and, crucially, doesn’t get complacent as we approach the latter end of the season.

With a few tweaks to the side that lost to Palace at the weekend, Chelsea can return to winning ways against Pep Guardiola’s side. Here, we’ve selected the ideal XI to tackle the Citizens.

GK: Thibaut Courtois

The Belgian goalkeeper has been an ever-present figure for the Blues this season, playing all 29 games of the Blues charge to the top of the Premier League. During that time, he’s conceded just 23 goals- a number only Tottenham Hotspur (21) can better.

With 13 clean-sheets, the highest in the league, Courtois has been an important member of a Chelsea defence that has been extremely difficult to break down. They’ll need him to be at his best against Manchester City, who have scored 56 goals this season.

Welbeck Starts: The Much Changed 4-3-3 Arsenal XI That Can Beat Man City

Arsenal have been in a horrid run of form and things need to change fast if they are to make the top four this season. On Sunday they host a side that also has ambitions to finish in the top four and with Arsenal’s record against the top sides in the division, Arsene Wenger needs to change something if the Gunners are to come out on top.

The game is being shown live on Sky Sports with the game kicking off at 4pm. You can pick up a NowTV day pass and watch the game for just £6.29 with the 10% off a day pass offer. Alternatively weekly passes are available for £10.99. You can redeem the fantastic day pass offer by clicking here.

Below we take a look at a possible 4-3-3 line-up Arsene Wenger could select.

Goalkeeper: David Ospina

With Petr Cech out with a calf injury, Ospina is set to deputise and he will be auditioning for the number 1 role next season. Arsenal have been linked with a host of goalkeepers but if Ospina can deliver performances of the highest quality for the remainder of the campaign then the Gunners could save some money and keep the Colombian between the sticks.

Defence: Hector Bellerin; Shkodran Mustafi, Laurent Koscielny; Nacho Monreal

Arsenal’s defence has been extremely poor against the big teams and they really need to improve in this fixture if they are to get a result. Mustafi, Bellerin and Monreal have particularly struggled in 2017, with Koscielny the only player to maintain a high level of performance during this bad run of form. With Ospina behind them instead of Cech, the defence cannot afford to put in yet another lacklustre performance on Sunday. How this four perform will have a huge impact on the outcome of this game.

Midfield: Mesut Ozil; Granit Xhaka; Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

I’d like to see Xhaka sitting the deepest in midfield, with Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ozil either side. Oxlade could shuttle between attack and defence, and I think Ozil should play deeper in this system as otherwise in big games, he seems to get isolated and not involved in the midfield play, when playing in a 4-2-3-1.

Attack: Theo Walcott; Alexis Sanchez; Danny Welbeck

Arsenal’s Chilean forward should certainly start this game as the main man through the middle. He’s the only Arsenal player that is consistently scoring in the Premier League, and after more goals on international duty, he’s in red hot form and needs to spearhead the Arsenal attack.

On the flanks, I’d love to see Arsenal really go for it with Welbeck and Theo Walcott as wide forwards. Both players are playing well at the moment and particularly in wide areas they are proving that they can be very productive producing goals and assists consistently when they are selected. Wenger has been guilty of playing it safe with his midfield selection for some time, he needs to change something this weekend.

Remember you can watch the game for just £6.29. Redeem the fantastic day pass offer by clicking here.

Arsenal vs. Manchester City: 3 Key Battles That’ll Decide Who Wins

Arsenal face Manchester City on Sunday in a fixture that will be crucial in deciding the top four. Both clubs have failed to meet expectations this season, but it is Arsenal that are seriously struggling at the moment, with Arsene Wenger’s men in a torrid run of form and the uncertainty over the manager’s future appearing to be causing lots of problems.

The game is being shown live on Sky Sports with the game kicking off at 4pm on Sunday. You can pick up a NowTV day pass and watch the game for just £6.29 with the 10% off a day pass offer. Alternatively weekly passes are available for £10.99. You can redeem the fantastic day pass offer by clicking here.

1 – Sergio Aguero vs. Shkodran Mustafi

Aguero is likely to play on Mustafi for most of the game, he’s the Arsenal defender that plays the ball out of the defence and is arguably the weaker of the two central defenders defensively. Aguero has been away on international duty but not played an awful lot so he will be ready to come back into the Manchester City team and make the difference once again. Arsenal have seriously struggled to deal with top quality attackers in these types of games and Mustafi needs to ensure that this is not the case once again.

3 Players To Put In Your Premier League Fantasy Premier League Teams This Week

With the final intersecting international break behind us, we now enter the final stretch of the 2016/17 Premier League season, headlined by none other than Saturday’s Merseyside derby between Liverpool and Everton and Manchester City’s away clash versus Arsenal on the following day.

It’s high time for building momentum in just about every sector of the league table, so just who can we look upon to deliver the goods for their respective teams this weekend? Here’s Fresh Football’s Fantasy Football hot picks.

1 – Gylfi Sigurðsson

Position: Midfielder
Club: Swansea City
Price: £7.8m

He’s racked up eight goals and 11 assists so far this season for a side that has, for the most part, been flirting with the relegation zone, so it’s perhaps no surprise to see Gylfi Sigurðsson’s name being spoken in such high esteem within the rumour mill.

And meanwhile the Swans will be hoping their talisman stays long-term; they themselves still have plenty on their plate that requires taking care of, as the Welsh outfit battle for their Premier League status.

Paul Clement has managed to steer Swansea away from troubled waters ahead of yet another crucial clash in the fight to stay up, hosting Middlesbrough at the weekend.

The Teeside club, prior to Jonathan Woodgate’s debut as manager, sit five points behind Sigurðsson’s team in 18th, despite having a game in hand, so it’s a fixture of supreme importance for both corners.

Natural order sees the favouritism lie with Swansea, however, and the likes of the Icelandic playmaker have proven to make a decisive difference in the best of afternoons down in South Wales. Sigurðsson could well bring more euphoria to the stands this weekend.

‘His Best Performance For Liverpool’ Huge Praise For Liverpool Midfielder In Man City Draw

Emre Can’s had his fair share of criticism this season, but another stellar display in the absence of captain Jordan Henderson saw the German gain a huge round of praise following Liverpool’s 1-1 draw with Manchester City on Sunday afternoon.

Ridiculed for a lack of consistency and class in the middle of the park, Can was one of the stand out performers at the Etihad, bringing steel and grit to Liverpool’s display. Having scored the winner against Burnley last weekend, Can is certainly proving he has much more to give to this side with contract talks still at a standoff.

Here’s how fans reacted to Emre Can’s performance at the weekend. Do you agree?

Credit has to go to Can for how he’s reacted after such a poor patch of form. The snide and cheek we have witnessed in recent weeks, most noticeably against Arsenal, has given this team something it’s lacked since the days of Javier Mascherano and co., causing some to suggest he should retain his spot even when Henderson returns from the sidelines – a stark contrast to previous comments on the young midfielder.

The 23-year-old is very much playing for his future, with contract talks at a standstill. Whether it be down to wage demands or playing time, Liverpool would be foolish to let the midfielder leave Anfield in the summer.

While football fans of the modern era will always pick little holes in players performances, the consensus is very much that Emre Can should be a Liverpool player for the foreseeable future. With performances like this weekend, there’s no wonder clubs like Juventus are keeping a watchful eye on Can’s future.

3 Must Have Players In Your Fantasy Football Premier League Teams This Week

With the importance on every point fought for growing every week at both ends of the Premier League spectrum, so too are the ones currently being picked up in the world of Fantasy Football, as we drift ever closer to this season’s conclusion.

West Bromwich Albion introduce the fixture list with a home clash at home to morale-devoid Arsenal, this week, but the pick of the bunch is undoubtedly reserved for the City of Manchester, as Pep Guardiola’s men host like-minded top four hopefuls Liverpool.

Sunderland versus Burnley, Bournemouth at home to Swansea City and Crystal Palace’s London Derby against Watford stick out in between the aforementioned fixtures, and with them will come this weekend’s heroes. Here’s Fresh Football’s Fantasy Premier League shortlist:

1 – Chris Smalling
Position:
Defender
Club: Manchester United
Price: £5.8m

The big news coming out of Manchester United’s away fixture versus Middlesbrough is that the relegation-bound side will take José Mourinho’s men on without his protégé, Aitor Karanka, following the latter’s resignation as manager of the club.

As has so often been the case, and the Premier League has clear examples in Hull City, Swansea and, contrarily, Crystal Palace, such parting of ways can go one way or the other.

It’s difficult to predict Boro’s mental state, whether or not change will give them the kick they need, but in the absence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba in the visitors’ end, the Riverside outfit might well be hoping for the desired result to spring an end-of-season relaunch.

Unfortunately for Karanka’s old flame, Middlesbrough have looked equally toothless in attack, even at full strength, as their regular source of goals sit on the bench, dipped in poor form.

So in the event that the 2004 League Cup winners fail to light up the Riverside with goals of their own, we’re backing United’s defensive sector to clock up a satisfactory display, complete with a clean sheet.

Mourinho’s men should be able to keep out a side that’s scored just 19 goals in the league all season, whereas without their key attacking components, the scene is set for a dreamy set-piece to be the decisive difference, one way or another. The likes of Chris Smalling could come up big, here.

2 – Sadio Mané
Position:
Midfielder
Club: Liverpool
Price: £9.7m

If there’s a player in Liverpool roster worthy of the Player of the Year title, that man is Mané and in Sunday’s trip to the Etihad Stadium the Senegalese winger has another big occasion to rise up to.

He’s not short of exemplary showings, putting Arsenal to the sword on two separate occasions this season, meanwhile also punishing their North London rivals, Tottenham Hotspur, in much the same way.

Man City’s domestic form may have picked up in recent games but their midweek defeat and subsequent elimination at the hands of AS Monaco in the UEFA Champions League has only accentuated their defensive shortcomings further.

We don’t expect Pep Guardiola to alter his constructive system in any particular way from what we’ve already become accustomed to, which could spell danger against a side that preys so heavily on one’s mistakes.

Much like Mané, Liverpool love a big-game performance – the Reds have practically relied upon them this season – so there’s every chance of it being their day come Sunday.

3 – Fernando Llorente
Position:
Striker
Club: Swansea City
Price: £6.5m

We’re at the stage now where clubs become desperate for a hero. Swansea have found three in Gylfi Sigurðsson, Fernando Llorente and manager Paul Clement, who’s responsible for pulling the foundations of this potential great escape together.

Saturday’s fixture brings forward another battle for the Swans, taking on a below-par Bournemouth side that sees three points separate the two teams in the league table, such is the latter’s poor form.

The pair are also the leaders for the most amount of goals conceded this season, so it’s one that’s set-up to be a bit of a goal-fest, statistically.

With or without a thriller, we suspect Llorente, who’s gone three in three for goals, will inflict some damage upon a Bournemouth defence that’s depleted by suspensions and mid-season departures.

3 Players To Put In Your Premier League Fantasy Football Teams This Week

With each gameweek that beckons, the need for points heightens in just about every sector of the Premier League table. Us Fantasy Premier League players will be counting each and every point that comes our way too, as we head approach the final bend of a long season.

Here’s who Fresh Football’s tipping to be this weekend’s difference makers and give you the bragging rights over your mates.

1 – Gylfi Sigurðsson
Position:
Midfield
Club: Swansea City
Price: £7.6m

Carlo Ancelotti’s former partner in crime, Paul Clement, may well have set Swansea City on their way to climbing up the Premier League table, but if there’s one man to which the Swans also owe much of their recent success to, that man is Gylfi Sigurðsson.

In the Icelandic star Swansea have raked in 17 important goals (including assists) to their league tally and yet more success in front of goal could be on the over the coming weeks.

First up for the Welsh outfit are Burnley, a side who have been incredibly impressive on their own turf, but one that has also seen their form on the road fall way below of the precedent set at home.

Sean Dyche’s side have gone on to lose 10 out their 12 away games in the Premier League this season, and so the threat posed by Sigurðsson, both from open play and set-pieces, could prove to be what tips the balance should Swansea renew Burnley’s poor form.

Furthermore, the Swans will be pleased to know the likes of Hull City, Bournemouth and Middlesbrough, all within touching distance in the bottom half of the table, make up the composition of their next three fixtures, so there’s a facet of longevity to picking the ex-Tottenham Hotspur man ahead of this weekend.

Player Ratings: Manchester City 5-3 AS Monaco

These are Fresh Football’s player ratings for Manchester City’s 5-3 win in the UEFA Champions League at home to AS Monaco:

Manchester City

Willy Caballero – 7

A victim of Pep Guardiola’s expansive system, Willy Caballero constantly found himself in trouble with his short deliveries, but the Argentine was able to show his true qualities with a penalty save and a crucial stop in the final stages of the game versus Radamel Falcao.

Bacary Sagna – 5

Not quite as solid as he’s so often proven to be, which will stand as a disappointment for the Frenchman.

John Stones – 6.5

A mismatch for Falcao in Monaco’s third of the night, but the Englishman redeemed himself when placing City ahead at 4-3.

Nicolas Otamendi 4

Poor for both Mbappe’s goal and the foul that subsequently earned Monaco a penalty at 2-1, which was eventually missed by Falcao.

Fernandinho 4.5

He’ll have better games, perhaps a consequence of being, rather surprisingly, deployed at left back.

Yaya Toure – 6

Good in possession, but massively outnumbered in midfield.

David Silva – 7

Close to no contribution defensively, as expected, but Silva found all the right pockets and passes going forward.

Kevin De Bruyne – 7

Did his fair share of running and was typically good in the final third.

Raheem Sterling – 8

Sharp, direct and with a goal and assist to his name. Sterling’s fine form under Guardiola continues.

Leroy Sané – 8

Another who is beginning to thrive at City, bagging a terrific assist for Sterling’s opener and killing the game off eith the hosts’ fifth goal of the night.

Sergio Agüero – 9

A real menace with his runs in behind, as he brought City level on two separate occasions. A priceless performance.

Subs

Pablo Zabaleta – 6.5

A positive switch for City, cementing the defence somewhat and offering greater confidence for Guardiola’s man to charge after the desired result.

Jesus Navas – N/A

Fernando – N/A

AS Monaco

Danijel Subasic – 4

Disappointing stuff from the Croatian number one, who might have been lucky not to give away a penalty in the first half and offered City a way in with a clanger for Aguero’s goal.

Djibril Sidibe – 7

A little clumsy in places, but the right back’s anticipation and quality of passes shun through his imperfections.

Kamil Glik – 5

The better half of the two centre backs, but Glik won’t be looking forward to facing Agüero in a hurry.

Andrea Raggi – 4

Showed his age, as he struggled with that pass in behind to City’s forward line all night.

Benjamin Mendy – 6.5

Didn’t link up as nicely as he has done with Thomas Lemar during the current campaign, but his deliveries from wide areas were brilliant.

Bernardo Silva – 7

The diminutive playmaker put his dribbling traits on show, but tired towards the end.

Fabinho – 6.5

Decent, but another who lost influence as the game went on.

Tiemoué Bakayoko – 8

There are a handful of top Premier League clubs with their eyes on the box-to-box midfielder and it was easy to see why. A capable match against Yaya Toure’s imposing figure, Bakayoko read the game well and didn’t stop doing so until the final whistle.

Kylian Mbappé – 7

The next big thing out of Monaco’s ranks, the 18-year-old provided a threat in behind and even bagged a goal for himself to undoubtedly increase his stock.

Radamel Falcao – 8.5

In hot form domestically, the Colombian carried his good habits over to the European stage with two excellent goals, despite also missing a penalty.

Subs

Valerie Germain – N/A

João Moutinho – N/A

Premier League Team Of The Week: ft. 3 Everton, 3 Arsenal & 2 Chelsea Players

Here is the Fresh Football Team of the Week for the most recent gameweek (21). We’ve opted for a 4-4-2 formation.
Simon Mignolet – Liverpool
It has not been a regular theme that Mignolet gets praised and included in TOTW after a tough few months for the Liverpool man, but after a sublime performance at Old Trafford he deserved all the plaudits.
 He is now the Reds No.1 and made numerous saves against Manchester United helping his side leave the Red Devil’s with one point.
Seamus Coleman – Everton
Coleman, as always, was fantastic against Manchester City and helped his side get all three points in an  afternoon to remember for Ronald Koeman’s men.
He was superb in all phases of play helping his side both attacking and defensively, the Toffees man managed two blocks, 67% tackles and showed why he is also an outlet going forward creating one chance.
Laurent Koscielny – Arsenal
The Frenchman signed a new contract with the Gunners last week and ended the week in style after an immense performance vs. Swansea.
The impressive Arsenal man managed  100% aerial duels, nine clearances, four interceptions and finished the game in true Arsenal style, with 94% passing.
 The 31-year-old has been one of Arsenals best players for a number of years, and is the true rock in the Arsenal side.
Shkodran Mustafi – Arsenal
Mustafi is yet to taste defeat in the Gunners shirt extending his impressive run to 20 games in total, which is an incredible record to hold.
The Arsenal man was yet again brilliant against Swansea and contributed with five interceptions, two clearances and finished the game with an impressive 88% passing.
Arsene Wenger will be relieved he is back from injury and will hope he stays fit as they look to close the gap at the top of the table.
Marcos Alonso – Chelsea
Well, it is not often a wing-back produces two goals, and is whiskers away from a hat-trick in one game, but that is exactly what Marcos Alonso managed in Chelsea’s win on Saturday.
The Blues star was superb offensively/defensively and was always an outlet going forward, turning out to produce the goods in front of goal in a perfect game for the Spaniard.
Pedro – Chelsea
The Chelsea man has been a revolution this season since a very disappointing opening campaign to life in England last year.
The former La Masia has thrived in Antonio Conte’s new system and was superb for the Blues against Leicester City.
He showcased some skill you will probably not see again this season in the build up to his goal and finished the game with 95% passing accuracy, which is superb.
The Spaniard is enjoying life at the Blues and has certainly played a massive part in the topping the table thus far.
Tom Davies – Everton
Well, what a star Everton have on their hands.
The 18-year-old was superior to most players on the pitch in a very disciplined, mature display against Manchester City.
He scored his first senior goal for the Toffees and completed two take on’s whilst playing the all round midfield role perfectly.
His goal was a thing of beauty, his run, timing, finish, everything was majestic and if Lionel Messi scored it, you’ll watch it for years to come.
Koeman has a thing for talented young players, doesn’t he? and the Dutchman has another gem on his hands.
Ross Barkley – Everton
Despite coming under strong scrutiny in recent months and being dropped by Ronald Koeman, Ross Barkley showed why he is so highly rated against Manchester City in a fine performance.
The English international was influential going forward and created four chances, whilst having that burst from midfield to attack completing four take on’s too.
After helping his side batter the depleted City, he will not be dropped anytime soon.
Alex Iwobi – Arsenal
Alex Iwobi was the most impressive star on show for Arsenal this weeking as they beat Swansea 4-0 away from home.
The 20-year-old was unfortunate not to score himself after his deflected effort was put down as an own goal, but the Nigerian went on to create two chances and finished the game with 89% passing.
Iwobi was running at players at will and was showcasing his fine talents. He is already starting most weeks for the Gunners and will become a future star if he continues to develop at his rapid pace.
Harry Kane – Tottenham
Tottenham Hotspur’s impressive run continued against West Brom after running riot in a 4-0 routine victory on Saturday afternoon.

England international Harry Kane was immense throughout and bagged himself a hat-trick, whilst creating once chance and completing four take on’s.
If Spurs are to push on for the title they’ll be reliant on their prolific goalscorer to keep firing in the goals, and of course staying fit. If he does, then maybe, just maybe Spurs could push for the title.
Andy Carroll – West Ham United
Since his return from injury, Andy Carroll has been a very positive sign in a glum few months for the Hammers, and his impressive form continued on Saturday.
The Hammers beat Crystal Palace 3-0 and Carroll was at the heart of it all, and scored one of the goals of the season in a very solid display.

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.

‘He Can’t Defend’ Fans On Twitter Criticise Manchester City Defender After Everton Horror Show

Manchester City put in perhaps their worse performance of the season as they fell to a heavy 4-0 defeat against Tottenham on Sunday afternoon. 

It was another shambolic defensive display from City and Pep Guardiola, and that’s something we have said far too much this season. The club have now conceded 26 goals in 21 league games, no other team in the top 7 of the league have conceded as many, in fact, 16th placed Middlesborough have conceded less.

So who is at fault? One player to be heavily criticised today is John Stones. The man who left Everton for Manchester City in the summer returned to the lineup and put in a pretty dreadful performance.

City, as usual, played out from the back and whilst they started the game looking relatively comfortable with that style of play, they were punished for their expansive style by a lethal Everton team that took pretty much every chance they had. There was far too much space between central defenders Nicolas Otamendi and Stones and it was made all too easy for the hosts.

Another worrying performance from Stones has left many questioning his large price tag and it puts Pep in a real dilemma. The club clearly need to improve defensively, but having spent around £90million on Otamendi and Stones, they cannot afford to just dispose of their current options.

There’s no obvious statistics to highlight Stones’ poor performance, but if you were watching the game it was clear for all to see that he seriously struggled. This will be a worry not just for Manchester City and Pep, but for England and the national team, who seemed to be preparing to build their future defence around young Stones.

Here’s how Twitter reacted to the player’s performance.

To be honest, I’ve never been the biggest fan of John Stones. I think the £50million Manchester City paid for him is absolutely horrific. He’s really not worth anything close to that amount of money.

Let’s not pretend that Stones was the only bad performer in that Manchester City team today. Pep’s men were second best all over the pitch and the defending across the back 5 was simply shambolic.

It’s hard to simply suggest that Stones should not play out from the back etc. but that is the style of play of Guardiola and of Stones. It’s why the player cost so much money and it’s why the club were so insistent on bringing in Pep. City must now focus on trying to perfect their unique style of play, but Pep, for the first time in his career, may actually need to adapt his approach slightly, or the English game will simply swallow him up.

La Liga Midfielder Linked With Arsenal, Man City & Chelsea: We Look At Who Needs Him Most

Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City are all interested in signing Sevilla midfielder Steven N’Zonzi this transfer window, according to reports.

All three Premier League giants are looking to strengthen their midfield with N’Zonzi on each of their radars according to The Express, with Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City reportedly opening talks over a potential deal and moving ahead of interested parties.

The Frenchman has previous Premier League experience which will appeal to the three clubs, two spells in England with Blackburn Rovers and Stoke City, but he left the Potters in 2015 for Spanish side Sevilla where he has found tremendous form.

The former Stoke City man has reportedly rejected a new contract meaning the club will look to offload him this January, with them pricing their man at around £25 million.

N’Zonzi has been impressive in both La Liga and the Champions League this season, helping his side to second in the league table thus far.

The Gunners are interested in the 28-year-old as they look to get cover for the injured Santi Cazorla and Francis Coquelin, leaving them significantly short in midfield with Mohamed Elneny out of action due to international commitments.

Antonio Conte is also interested in bringing him to Stamford Bridge as they look for that extra boost to push them on for the title.

It seems N’Zonzi is keen on a return to England and will reportedly demand around £90,000-a-week if he was to return to the Premier League.

We take a look at if N’Zonzi is needed at each of the mentioned clubs.

Arsenal

New season, but the same Arsenal injury crisis. The Gunners are now down to just two central midfielders with both Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey being the only natural fit CM’s. There will be a worry of overplaying both in the hectic Premier League fixtures in the coming weeks with the latter being a concern due to his hamstring injury troubles which has kept him out of numerous weeks already this season.

When all personnel are fit for the Gunners, they are packed in central areas, but with the latest setback they may now have to dip into the market. Although N’Zonzi is not a guaranteed starter in the starting XI with the Gunners already having many gifted midfielders in their ranks. But, he will certainly bring stability/physicality in the middle for the short term.

The Gunners may dip into the market before another injury occurs, which will then certainly be a crisis. Arsene Wenger will be attracted to N’Zonzi’s previous Premier League experience, meaning he will not need too much time to adjust to the league.

Chelsea

This is probably the most surprising link, Chelsea seems very steady in the central area and have found a winning formula with the correct personnel. N’golo Kante and Nemanja Matic have been superb since Antonio Conte transforming to a 3-4-3 formation with Cesc Fabregas itching to make an impact from the bench and doing so superbly.

How things stand I think they’ll be happy with the depth in midfield, and he is certainly not a priority as they target an attacking player to fire them to the Premier League title. If Cesc were to leave however, that may change.

Manchester City

For me, this is N’Zonzi’s most likely destination. Pep Guardiola will certainly be in the market after a mediocre opening half to the season, and with the injury to Ilkay Gundogan, the club will certainly be looking for a new central midfielder.

Fernandinho has been sent off numerous times for City thus far this season and has been proven to be a liability in his disciplinary, Yaya Toure is ageing and will struggle to play continuous games with Fernando not being the level of player Guardiola will want to start regularly.

N’Zonzi would be an immense signing for Manchester City. The Frenchman is calm and composed in central midfield, he’s very physical in his play and has high stamina levels throughout the 90 minutes whilst offering quality at both ends of the pitch.

Stats behind his game this season

The Sevilla man has played 15 games this season and has been influential for them thus far. Deploying the central area in midfield, he takes on many different tasks during the game, he has been immense in both offensive and defensive transitions which is backed up with the 28-year-old winning 1.20 tackles per 90 minutes and creating 0.47 chances too.

Another trait which will impress all interested teams is his positive/efficient play whilst in possession. N’Zonzi has thus far managed 49 forward passes per 90 minutes which is considerably more than his backwards passes, whilst showing his composure in possession managing an 89% pass completion this season.

Standing at 6 ft 3, it is not surprising he is a dominant force in the air, and that is backed up with the midfielder currently winning 75% of his aerial duels this season, which will certainly appeal to all three interested clubs, especially with the physicality of the league.

The attack can often rely on runners from midfield, and N’Zonzi certainly possesses a strong glide from deep into offensive areas. His ability to take long strides has been a useful weapon with him so far managing to be successful with 70.59% of his take ons.

It feels inevitable that N’Zonzi returns to England this month, and putting all things into perspective you would suggest he is Manchester City bound to boost Pep Guardiola’s squad ahead of an intense battle for the top four.

Could Chelsea Complete This Stunning £60million Move For Premier League Star In January?

Chelsea are top of the Premier League table, but according to reports, Antonio Conte is still looking for reinforcements in the January transfer window, and is not afraid to spend big in order to land his key target. 

Southampton’s Virgil Van Dijk is at the top of Antonio Conte’s January wishlist, having impressed the Chelsea boss with a strong string of performances on the south coast. In fact, the Italian has been so impressed with the Dutch international so far this season that he is prepared to pay up to £60m for his services according to the Daily Express.

The Blues are on a highly impressive winning streak in the Premier League that stretches back thirteen games, a run which has seen Conte work his magic since the switch to a three-at-the-back system following the loss at Arsenal.

Chelsea are top of the league, and Conte is keen to consolidate their position at the summit of the top flight, and sees the signing of Virgil Van Dijk as a way of strengthening the defence and helping Chelsea to lift the Premier League trophy come May.

Southampton boss Claude Puel is reportedly adamant that Van Dijk will not be leaving the club over the January transfer window. With this knowledge, Conte is ready to make an offer that Southampton simply cannot refuse that will make Van Dijk the latest big player to leave St. Mary’s in the last few years.

Despite sitting 9th in the Premier League table, the Saints have struggled in front of goal, scoring just nineteen goals this season, often having to rely on their defence for results. Despite conceding six goals in their last two games, Southampton’s defensive record remains solid, shipping 23 goals in total this season.

A £60m deal would not only see Virgil Van Dijk make the move to Stamford Bridge, but it would also see Pep Guardiola at Manchester City miss out on one of his key targets. Manchester City’s defensive problems have been well-documented this season despite the £47.5m signing of John Stones over the summer. Guardiola also appears keen to bolster his defensive options over the January transfer window.

Is this deal possible or likely? 

Yes, the deal is possible. Chelsea could well offer £60m for Van Dijk at some point in January. They certainly have the financial capabilities to do so, and I am sure £60m for the defender is an offer that Southampton would not be able to refuse.

Is it likely though? Not for me. Chelsea’s defence has been very good this season, and they hold the best defensive record in the Premier League, conceding just thirteen goals this season. If they were to look to bolster their defensive options, Chelsea might do that with a £60m bid for Van Dijk in the summer, but I can’t see this deal happening in the January window.

Transfers: Chelsea Could Sign Manchester City Outcast – We Look At How He’d Fit In

Chelsea could target Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart with fears that Thibaut Courtois could leave for Spanish giants Real Madrid, according to AS.

Real Madrid were a fax machine away from signing David De Gea last summer and have now lost interest in the United shot-stopper whilst reigniting interest in former Atletico Madrid star, Thibaut Courtois.

With the Blues fearing the worst, they are said to be looking to sign 29-year-old Joe Hart after impressing in his loan move in Italy with Torino by slowly getting back to his best after being shown the door by City manager Pep Guardiola in the summer.

The likelihood of Courtois returning to Spain will be dealt with severity by the Chelsea board, with the goalkeeper himself never hiding his ambition of returning to the City where he won the La Liga title.

Joe Hart is a ready made England international and has all the experience you need for a goalkeeper after winning numerous titles with Manchester City, but any deal between Chelsea and Manchester City will be very tough considering ‘bis clubs’ do not like doing business with each other.

Thibaut Courtois is a crucial player for the Blues and helped them win the League title after returning from his loan move in 2014, he has gone on to become one of the top five goalkeepers in the world and at the age of just 24-years-old will only get better with goalkeepers being known to peak in latter years of their careers.

We take a look at how Joe Hart measures up against current Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and if he would be a good replacement if the Belgian star was to leave Stamford Bridge this summer.

A bonus for any goalkeeper is to finish the game with a clean sheet and Thibaut Courtois comes out on top here managing 0.61 clean sheets per 90 minutes thus far this season with Torino man Hart behind with 0.25. You could argue that this stat may be unfair with Courtois having one of the best defences in Europe in front of him as they sit top of the Premier League table.

The most crucial trait any successful goalkeeper must inherit is the number of saves he makes, this can be simple saves to game winning / immense saves, and Joe Hart certainly blossoms in this area making 2.69 saves per 90 minutes with Courtois trailing with 1.72. That said, Courtois impresses immensely with 3.10 saves per goal with Hart somewhat behind on 1.87.

Pep Guardiola shipped out Joe Hart to Italy for one main thing; his lack of distribution accuracy. The City manager is all for this new trait in goalkeepers where they must basically act as a fifth centre-back and have the ability to play out from the back, much like his former goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. But again, Hart (just) top’s Courtois in his distribution accuracy with 69% with the latter narrowly behind on 68%.

The goalkeeper’s job is to ensure he does not concede a goal within the 90 minutes, although new era of managers may want them to be more technical in build-up play, the most important asset for the man between the sticks is to ensure he does not concede. Again, the Chelsea man shows his form by conceding just 0.61 goals per 90 minutes thus far with Hart conceding more than double of the Chelsea man with 1.44.

Both goalkeepers are very good shot-stoppers and have both played a major part in their sides winning major titles, at just 24-years-old Chelsea’s Belgian star will only get better and for me, they have to do everything in their power to keep him at the Bridge. Although Hart is still respected as a very good goalkeeper. In my opinion, he is levels below the Chelsea man and I would be very surprised if Antonio Conte made a move for him with many talented young goalkeepers breaking through around Europe.

West Ham Plot January Moves For Manchester United, Liverpool & Chelsea Stars In New Year Shake-Up

It is fair to say that this season has not gone to plan for Slaven Bilic and West Ham. In a bid to turn the Hammer’s fortunes around, the club have reportedly sent letters asking their Premier League rivals for help in the January transfer window, according to The Telegraph. 

Tottenham are the only one of the Premier League big hitters not to receive a letter from West Ham chiefs as the Hammers plan some very smart January transfer business. Letters were reportedly sent to Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool and Manchester City asking if any of those clubs have fringe players that the Hammers can sign on loan for the rest of the season.

With many players not becoming available that Slaven Bilic will want to sign until the summer transfer window, this plea to sign players with Premier League experience at the top clubs would seem like a good plan. Having sent a general letter to those five clubs, The Telegraph claim that West Ham have further enquiries regarding loan moves for Michy Batshuayi, Daniel Sturridge, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial as their search for a striker to sign in January begins.

In addition to this, the Hammers are also going to make enquiries over the availability of Chris Smalling, Branislav Ivanovic, Mamadou Sakho, Mathieu Debuchy and Carl Jenkinson. However, many of the highlighted players above are unlikely realistic targets for West Ham for two reasons.

First of all, it is well documented that clubs are often not prepared to loan out or sell players to Premier League rivals, unless it is at the right price. With loan moves being proposed by the Hammers, it is unlikely that clubs such as Manchester United and Liverpool will allow key players such as Sturridge and Martial to leave the club, even if it is on a loan basis.

Secondly, I feel the wages that West Ham would have to pay these players would not be within their price range, they simply would not be able to compete with the Premier League big boys. Would the players highlighted take a pay cut in favour of a move to West Ham when many get regular game time anyway? Probably not.

Although West Ham’s idea of taking Premier League players on loan for the rest of the season seems good business at first glance, the proposed deals not only look unlikely, but they look impractical as well.

There are some players there that are more realistic though, with the Gunners reportedly willing to allow Debuchy and Jenkinson to leave should the offer be right. But Jenkinson’s most recent spell at West Ham didn’t go too well, so I’m not sure how the fans would feel about that one should it happen. Smalling is also an interesting one should Manchester United sign their reported target, Victor Lindelof. The young central defender is being linked with a big-money move to United and with Eric Bailly already at the club and Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones impressing at the heart of defence at the moment, how much football will Smalling be playing in the new year?

Premier League Team Of The Week: Ft. 3 Man City, 2 Man Utd, 1 Liverpool & 1 Chelsea Player

Here is our Premier League team of the week from the latest round of fixtures.

Jordan Pickford – Sunderland

Pickford was immense for Sunderland against Watford as he kept a clean sheet and ensured the Black Cats took all three points.

The 22-year-old has become a regular in the starting XI for David Moyes men and is growing with confidence each week, his displays have been so impressive it is only a matter of time before the big clubs come calling.

Aleksandar Kolarov – Manchester City

When the team-sheet was announced on Sunday afternoon, many football fans was surprised that Kolarov started over summer signing John Stones, but his performance warranted his starting spot and with a performance like that it will keep the Englishman out of the team for coming weeks.

The centre-half was solid at the back, keeping the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Theo Walcott very quiet throughout the game, as always the City man was excellent in possession and composed defensively.

Ragnar Klavan – Liverpool

Playing in his first Merseyside derby, Klavan had a truly phenomenal display dealing with Romelu Lukaku with ease and keeping Everton’s attacking players at bay.

The Liverpool man was physical, defensively sound and composed in possession finishing the game with 88% passing accuracy, as a defender winning your tackles is crucial and this man won 100% of his against Everton, to emphasise how impressive he was.

He was excellent in an all-round great display as the Red side of Merseyside came out on top.

Phil Jones – Manchester United

Phil Jones was once the forgotten man at Manchester United, but is slowly becoming the needed man.

The English International has been superb at the back for United in recent weeks and is giving Jose Mourinho a headache for when Chris Smalling and others return to full fitness.

Many doubted Jones’s ability but he dealt with Salomon Rondon very well, coming out on top of the physical battle and helping his side take all three points.

Patrick Van Aanholt – Sunderland

Firstly, Sunderland has a very good left-back on their hands in Van Aanholt, he has been consistently impressive all season thus far and his performance at the weekend again proved why he has become vital in this Sunderland team.

When your club is in a relegation battle, all you want is for your players to show desire and fight in their performances and that shone through when he ran from deep in his own half, into Watford’s area to set up the winning goal was fantastic, a run of true desire.

Jack Wilshere – Bournemouth

Jack Wilshere registered his first assist of the season this weekend against Southampton and was unfortunate to be on the losing side.

It’s brilliant to see Wilshere getting back to his best after years of devastating injuries, he was excellent against the Saints and is finally getting his burst of speed back. As Wilshere completed another 90 minutes, some of the stats behind his game are impressive, he managed 85% pass accuracy, made nine take ons and created one chance.

Kevin De Bruyne – Manchester City

The attacking midfielder’s display against Arsenal was simply sublime, magical and amazing.

He ran the show, from start to finish he was a complete nuisance for the Arsenal defence, he made arguably the pass of the season to assist Raheem Sterling for the winning goal after switching play magnificently.

The Belgian was immense, he created seven chances against Arsenal, having three shots and completing one take on. He deserved to score when he hit the post and was a stand out performer on Sunday afternoon.

Fernando – Manchester City

With Manchester City missing Fernandinho, it was crucial that Fernando stepped up in his absence and he has done so in style.

The Brazilian was a rock in the midfield against Arsenal and dominated the Gunners midfield winning the battle overall. The midfield rock maintained a 90% pass accuracy which is exquisite, whilst making two interceptions and four blocks.

The midfielder was good in both offensive and defensive situations and was always on top of the likes of Mesut Ozil, Granit Xhaka and Francis Coquelin.

Diego Costa – Chelsea

Diego Costa is the best number 9 in Europe, without a shadow of doubt, there is no better striker on this planet at this current moment and Costa is week in week out showing why.

The Spanish international is currently leading the race for the Golden Boot with 13 goals, and scored the winning goal (again) against Crystal Palace to ensure his side are comfortably top of the tree at Christmas.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Manchester United

Like the man himself said, he get’s better with age, just like wine.

The Manchester United man again proved why he was such a good signing for free in the summer as he has hit double figures for the season already

He was influential for United in their 2-0 win over West Brom and helped the Red Devils secure all three points with a brace.

Alvaro Negredo – Middlesbrough

The summer arrival of Negredo was massive for Boro, and he is really starting to find his feet again in England as he scored a brace in a brilliant win over relegation rivals Swansea.

Boro were superb at the weekend as they picked up a massive three points just before Christmas, climbing away from the relegation zone by four points.

Disgraceful: This Arsenal Midfielder Has Had A Shocking Season, And Needs A Wake Up Call

Mesut Ozil has put in a run of poor performances for Arsenal recently, and must improve dramatically if Arsenal are to make a push to try and catch Chelsea at the top of the Premier League table. 

The Gunners sit 4th going into Christmas after a toothless performance at Manchester City on Sunday afternoon, missing their opportunity to maintain their place in 2nd and widen the gap between themselves and Pep Guardiola’s side.

Mesut Ozil has been poor over the last few games, and has seemed to have disappeared a lot on the football pitch. On Tuesday night, Ozil was involved heavily in the Arsenal attack in the first fifteen or twenty minutes at Goodison Park against Everton. However, as soon as the game turned physical and the Toffees started to a put in some strong tackles, we saw very little of the German playmaker.

Ozil did find himself with space for a shot just inside the Everton box in the second half, but failed to take his chance as he fired his shot over the crossbar, a chance that he probably should have buried. The German created one chance in the first half, but when Everton drew level, Ozil didn’t create a any chances. He didn’t complete a take-on either in the whole match.

The 28-year-old’s display against Manchester City was just as poor. He was shrugged off the ball too easily, and failed to create chances for the Gunners in what was a gutless display at the Etihad Stadium. He was found walking in the midfield too many times, his work-rate was awful.

The German international did create one chance, didn’t have a single shot, nor did he have a single shot, or make a single tackle. The same happened at Old Trafford a month ago. Manchester United played a very physical game, and rather unsurprisingly, Ozil disappeared once again.

Costing Arsenal a hefty £42.5m a few seasons ago, Ozil needs to become that big game player for the Gunners, something that he has failed to do in his time at the Emirates, especially this season. When the rest of the team isn’t playing well, Ozil needs to step up and make things happen. Maybe a spell out of the side would actually have a good effect on the German.

The problem that Arsene Wenger faces is that Ozil is one of those undroppable players, and the French manager probably fears the reaction and stick he will face if he were to drop Ozil. However, Wenger needs to step up and make the big decision in my opinion, and give Ozil the wake-up call that he needs. The 28-year-old has provided just two assists this season, the same amount as Tottenham flop Moussa Sissoko. He needs to become more involved, and fast if Arsenal are to push for the Premier League title this season.