Tag Archives: Chris Smalling

West Brom Eye Ambitious Double Swoop To Land Man United Pair

West Brom haven’t been known for making waves in the transfer market that much but they’re looking to land a significant double-deal ahead of the new season.

The Daily Mirror indicates Tony Pulis has set his sights on Manchester United’s defensive duo Chris Smalling and Phil Jones, both of whom have two-years remaining on their contracts at Old Trafford.

Both England aces face uncertain futures in Jose Mourinho’s side following the capture of Victor Lindelof from Benfica, who’s set to partner last summer’s recruit Eric Bailly in the heart of the Red Devils defence- potentially leaving Smalling and Jones in real trouble in their battle to make England’s World Cup squad.

Jones’ versatility appeals to Pulis, who’s also looking to bolster his defensive options with former Manchester United man Jonny Evans attracting interest from elsewhere, Jonas Olsson having already left and Gareth McAuley halfway into a retirement home.

Whether they can persuade Manchester United to sell though is another matter as the departure of the pair would significantly decrease the depth at Mourinho’s disposal.

The England impact

Crucially, moving to West Brom could help both defenders in their quest to establish themselves as key figures within Gareth Southgate’s England squad ahead of the World Cup next summer, especially as Jake Livermore battled his way back into the set-up after joining the Baggies from Hull in January.

Smalling is probably better placed for a starting spot within the England squad next summer as it stands but the rise of young pairing John Stones and Michael Keane prevents problems, especially as the pair will be assured of regular football this season.

Jones is perhaps the man who desperately needs to move on though as he seems out of Mourinho’s plans and a move to West Brom, who’ll offer regular football and stable surroundings, could spark his career back into life.

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.

Update: 2 Key Manchester United Players Set To Miss Arsenal Match

Manchester United are set to be without two key players for the visit of Arsenal after the international break. 

The club were already aware that they would be missing Zlatan Ibrahimovic after the Swede picked up a 5th yellow card of the season, but now they have an injury concern of their own.

According to Sky Sports, Chris Smalling has broken his toe in training and the initial prognosis for his injury is 4 weeks. This will come as a big blow to United who will already be without star summer signing Eric Bailly due to injury.

Jose Mourinho appeared to question the pain threshold of both Smalling and Luke Shaw after both didn’t play in the win at Swansea, he said there are players in his squad “for whom a little pain can make a difference”, adding you have to “go to the limit”. This is a questionable public approach to take with his players and it’s certainly not a sustainable one.

But let’s ignore that for a second. Let’s look at how the absentees will affect United on the day. They will come up against an Arsenal side that can be very devastating in attack, although they have been silenced on a few occasions this season. The Gunners do tend however to be most devastating away from home and the match is at Old Trafford. With no Smalling and Bailly United will probably want to give their makeshift defence some protection in midfield, and I’m sure the conservative Mourinho will want to as well.

He could play Paul Pogba as a number 10 which would allow two holding midfielders to protect the back four, these are likely to be Ander Herrera and Maraoune Fellaini, a duo often preferred to Morgan Schneiderlin by Mourinho.

In attack Mourinho has a few options for replacing Zlatan. He could opt for Rashford, a player that made the devastating difference in this fixture last year, or Rooney, a player that played brilliantly against Swansea on the left hand side. A wildcard option is Anthony Martial, who has had to settle for a fringe role under Mourinho so far, but is it his time to shine?

It’ll be interesting to see how Mourinho copes with these two key players unavailable, but he will hope that his good personal record against Arsenal and Manchester United’s great recent home record against the Gunners carries them through this one with a much-needed 3 points.

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.

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.

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