Tag Archives: Leicester City

Report: Liverpool in battle with Barcelona to sign exciting midfielder

Liverpool’s season has been average at best so far, and it seems that Jurgen Klopp is finally looking at making some signings to improve on his limited options. 

Riyad Mahrez is one transfer target for Liverpool this summer, but they may have to rival Barcelona for his signature, according to Sport – the report claims Barcelona are interested but that Liverpool have already made an approach.

Where would he fit in?

Though it may not have seemed like it this season, Mahrez has very good stamina, and under Klopp I think we could see him excel in pressing from the front. He’d give the team some versatility in attack and would take one of the wide berths in the team, most likely the right wing role. I could see him dovetailing well with Nathaniel Clyne on the right hand side, and offering good balance to the Liverpool team.

How likely is it to happen?

I would be shocked if Mahrez were to remain at Leicester City beyond this season. There are several top clubs interested in him and Leicester will not be playing any type of European football next season (unless they win the Champions League!). I’m not sure Mahrez would get enough regular game time at the likes Barcelona, but at Liverpool he could easily cement a place in the starting eleven. Liverpool would feel like a good next step for Mahrez, as he looks to establish himself at a top club. Moving to a club like Barcelona too early could have detrimental effects to his career. For all Klopp’s ability as a manager though, he has struggled in the transfer market, especially to bring recognised names to the club. This summer that needs to change and signing Mahrez would be a good starting point.

Would he be a good signing?

I think it goes without saying that based on last season’s form, Mahrez would be an excellent addition to the Liverpool squad, and help take them to a title challenging team. This season he has been poor for the most part, but I think he needs a manager like Klopp to consistently get the best out of him. At Liverpool you do not get away with half-hearted performances, but many times this season that is exactly what Mahrez has delivered.

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

As Manchester United and Southampton prepare themselves for a special night out in Wembley for the EFL Cup final, subsequently taking Arsenal and Manchester City out of the firing line for a hot minute, life in the Premier League continues with important clashes in and around parts of the table.

But in the absence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Alexis Sanchez, Sergio Agüero and others, the question of who to turn to as captain will be the one that looms large for many of us Fantasy Premier League players this weekend. That’s nothing that a little friendly advice from Fresh Football can’t fix, however.

1. Diego Costa

Club: Chelsea
Position: Striker
Price: £10m

It’s the week of the heavy hitters for us and fewer names have been as synonymous to the skipper’s armband as Diego Costa’s this season. The Chelsea forward has supplemented the Blues’ title charge with 15 league goals from 23 appearances, making him a top favourite for the Golden Boot this season.

We fully expect to see the Brazilian-born Spain international reinforce his bid for the hotly-contested end-of-season gong this weekend, as Chelsea welcome a few familiar faces back to Stamford Bridge.

Paul Clement, the former assistant manager of the London outfit under Carlo Ancelotti’s tenure, as well as his sidekick, Claude Makélélé, another to don the Chelsea blue, have turned fortunes around at what was once considered to be a relegation-bound Swansea City side.

The team from South Wales have made steady strides since Clement’s appointment to find themselves 15th in the Premier League table, but that does little to the fact that the West Londoners are overwhelming favourites in this clash, as they look to take another step towards the league title.

It may or may not be easy for Blues, but Costa has come up with his fair share of clutch moments up top for Antonio Conte’s side in the best and worst positions, so we expect the ex-Atlético Madrid striker to deliver.

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 – Gylfi Sigurðsson

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

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

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

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

Champions League Group by Group Breakdown

Greeting football fans from all across Europe, as you’re surely well aware the Champions League groups have been drawn and matches have started. If you’re the type that likes to sport a wager now and then, you may want to head down to the Betser football sportsbook (or your local shady bookie! But who does that anymore?) and get some bets in BEFORE the groups end, so you can extract the most value out of your prescience.

Group A

Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain are the absolute class of this group that also features Bulgarian Champions PFC Ludogorets as well as Swiss club FC Basel. It would be an absolutely crushing upset for one of these top two squads to not advance. Picking between these two, we will go with Paris Saint-Germain as the pick here. Though PSG has lost mercurial goal scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the French club is still loaded with world class talent at every position.

Group B

Group B is perhaps not the “group of death” but more like the “group of life.” Featuring Besiktas, Napoli, Benfica and Dynamo Kyiv — this looks like a group that could go any which way. Napoli finished 2nd in the Italian Serie A, and edges out Portuguese side Benfica in our mind. Sadly to say, none of the teams from Group appear to have a great chance to move on further in the tournament, as these clubs are relatively small compared to the Real Madrids and Bayern Munichs of the world. Our pick in group B will be Napoli.

Group C

If Group B is the group of life, Group C looks like the group of death. Both Manchester City and FC Barcelona are absolute powerhouses in country and continent. Celtic FC aren’t even half bad and could easily pull an unexpected result out of the hat. Our pick here is Barcelona, even though Man City has looked brilliant in the Premier League, we can’t pick against the Champions League legends from Spain.

 Group D

Group D is similar to Group A in that you can be nearly 100% sure that one of the top two teams will progress. In Group D those teams are Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid. These two teams faced each other in the semifinals of last year’s Champions League with Madrid winning and moving to its 2nd Champions League final in 3 years. We expect much of the same this year, picking Atletico to narrowly edge out Bayern for the group.

Group E

Maybe the easiest group, we expect Tottenham Hotspur FC to prevail. Other teams in the group, AS Monaco, CSKA Moscow, and Bayer Leverkusen have the potential to upset Tottenham, but following the Spurs 2-0 win against Manchester City in league play, they’re looking like the class of Group E.

Group F

The reigning champs are in this group, and we’d feel foolish not to pick Real Madrid to come out of this group. Last we checked they still have a guy named Ronaldo, and that should be enough to win the group.

Group G

We said Group E might be the easiest group, but Group G has a chance to take that title. Leicester City, champions of the Premier League, are participating in this years Champions League and it’s difficult to know if they will continue their run of form. Competing against Portgual’s Porto, Brugge from Belgium and Copenhagen from Denmark, this group looks like Leicester City’s to lose. We’ll go with the lads from Leicester City.

Group H

Group H has one tier 1 team in Juve, two tier two teams in Sevilla and Lyon, and a fairly outclassed Croatian champion, Dinamo Zagreb. The easy pick here is Juventus, but if they were to slip up again Sevilla or Lyon, the Spanish or French clubs could easily snatch the group away from the Italians.

The games have already started, so head to the Betser football site and get it on!

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

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

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

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

The Journey

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

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

Form

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

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

One to Watch – André Silva

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

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

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

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

Manchester United

David De Gea – 6

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

Antonio Valencia – 6

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

Chris Smalling – 7.5

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

Eric Bailly – 7

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

Daley Blind – 8

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

Paul Pogba – 7.5

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

Ander Herrera – 6.5

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

Marcus Rashford – 7

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

Juan Mata – 7.5

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

Jesse Lingard – 6.5

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

Zlatan Ibrahimovic – 7.5

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

Subs:

Michael Carrick – N/A

Wayne Rooney – N/A

Leicester City

Ron-Robert Zieler – 3.5

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

Danny Simpson – 3

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

Robert Huth – 3

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

Wes Morgan – 3.5

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

Christian Fuchs – 3

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

Riyad Mahrez – 3.5

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

Danny Drinkwater – 3

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

Daniel Amartey – 3

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

Marc Albrighton – 3

Simply non-existent.

Islam Slimani – 4

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

Jamie Vardy – 4

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

Subs:

Demarai Gray – 6.5

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

Andy King – 5.5

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

Jeffrey Schlupp – N/A

3 Key Battles That’ll Decide Who Wins In Manchester United vs. Leicester City

It’s sure to be a close game, but here’s three battles that will decide who wins.

1) Ibrahimovic v Morgan

One of Wes Morgan’s priorities when he steps out onto the pitch at Old Trafford will be to keep Zlatan Ibrahimovic quiet for ninety minutes. That is much easier said than done.

The striker has been the subject of some criticism recently, including the strange comment about the former Swedish international being like a ‘cone’. However, on his day, as we have seen already in the Premier League, Ibrahimovic can be the best striker in the country.

Neither player has much pace at all about them, so this battle will be won and lost mainly in the air, and Leicester will not have forgotten the towering header across goal that won Manchester United the Community Shield back in August. Leicester’s centre-back will have his hands full for the entirety of tomorrow’s match-up, there is no doubt about that.

2) Rooney v Drinkwater

Wayne Rooney has put in some pretty average performances over the past few weeks, and is at risk of being dropped by Jose Mourinho. If he starts here, he will be itching to put in a match-winning performance and show the manager as well as the fans why he should be in the side each week.

Danny Drinkwater will be the man handed the task of breaking up the play in midfield, and has done a decent job of that since the sale of N’Golo Kante to Chelsea. He will aim to close down Rooney as quickly as possible before he can supply the strikers.

This will be an interesting battle to watch throughout the ninety minutes and Rooney will for sure have to work hard to find pockets of space in the midfield if Drinkwater does his job well.

3) Shaw v Mahrez

Leicester will have to catch Manchester United on the break, as they did to so many teams so well last season in their title-winning campaign if they are going to take all three points away from Old Trafford on Saturday.

Riyad Mahrez was a huge threat down the right-hand side last season, and he has been again this season. Luke Shaw could well make his return to the left-back position despite recent criticism from Jose Mourinho, and as well as getting involved in the Manchester United attack, the former Saints man will have to keep one eye on the Algerian international who will be a huge threat for Leicester on the counter-attack.

Leicester will have to defend well when they visit Manchester United on Saturday, but if they are clincical and take their chance on the break with the pace of Mahrez and Vardy, then they have a good chance of taking something away from Old Trafford.

Rooney Dropped, Herrera Starts: The Man Utd XI That Should Start To Beat Leicester City

It might have been Northampton, but at least Manchester United are back to winning ways. Jose Mourinho now needs to find the right balance in order to pick up three points at home to Leicester City in Saturday’s early kick-off. Here’s the eleven I think he should put out against Ranieri’s men in order to pick up a much-needed 3 points in the Premier League.

Goalkeeper: David De Gea

No debate here. De Gea is the undisputed number 1 at United and he will, quite rightly, retain his place on Saturday afternoon.

Defence: Antonio Valencia, Eric Bailly, Daley Blind, Luke Shaw

Valencia has been one of United’s best players so far this season and he will be the right back again on Saturday. It’s important he develops a good relationship with the attack-minded Rashford. Shaw has struggled to get back to his best form following his long-term injury – but he is certainly a better option than Marcos Rojo, who in truth, looks a misfit at the club and I cannot see him remaining at the club beyond next summer if Mourinho is still in charge. Bailly started his United career very well and although his form has dropped off a bit, he deserves to keep his place in the back four. Alongside him, on merit I would suggest that Blind deserves to return to the heart of defence. When he partnered Bailly at the start of the season United looked solid and were winning games. Blind and Bailly seem to complement each other well and although the Dutchman does look or even act like a standard central defender, he is effective there and as Mourinho looks to steady the ship a bit, it might be worth putting him back in.

Midfield: Marouane Fellaini; Ander Herrera Paul Pogba

When you spend £90million on a player, you need to build around him to make sure you are getting the most out of the player. At the moment, Mourinho is accommodating Rooney by playing a 4-2-3-1, and it really doesn’t work. It’s time to accept that Rooney’s best days are over and his role in the squad should now be limited to a bit part one. In a 4-3-3, Pogba will have more freedom to showcase his attacking qualities and it will give him the creative license to roam in the final third. Carrick was good against Northampton, but on the whole Fellaini has played the holding role very well and he surely deserves to keep his place at the base of midfield. Herrera is a very productive player and after scoring against Northampton in the week I think he deserves to get a spot in this starting eleven.

Stat: Pogba is yet to register a goal or assist in his four Premier League games

Attack: Marcus Rashford, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Juan Mata

United need to get their attacking balance right and fast. Martial has been poor, Rashford has been good, Zlatan doesn’t do a lot off the ball, but he’s a killer in front of goal. I think a front three of Rashford, Ibra and Mata would give the perfect balance for United. Mata is a creative player and would provide Zlatan with plenty of chances, as would Rashford’s pace on the wing. Rashford simply has to start, he’s a goal machine when given the chance and is one of United’s most in form players at the moment.

The Best 4 Clubs In Transfer Market: Ft. Man City, Man Utd, Southampton and Leicester

We’ve been reviewing the best (and worst) teams to do business this summer. You can view 20th-17th, 16th-13th, 12th-9th, 8th-5th and your top four is below.

4 – Southampton

We kick off the top four with Southampton, who yet again faced an overhaul in the summer after losing manager Ronald Koeman and a couple of key players, the big loss being Sadio Mane to Liverpool (again). But under Claude Puel, Southampton have rebuilt smartly again.

The two brilliant additions for me are Sofiane Boufal and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg whom between them cost less than £30million. That is brilliant business considering they recouped £35million for Mane – the signing of Boufal replaced Mane and the addition of Hojbjerg strengthened the centre of their midfield. Although Southampton have struggled early on this season, I think with time Puel will get to know his squad and start producing good results on the pitch. At the moment a rotation player, I expect new signing Højbjerg to establish himself in the centre of midfield and play a key role for the team. Boufal, also with time, could really flourish and help turn the tide of bad results for the Saints.

3 – Leicester City

It was always going to be tought for Leicester City to keep hold of their best players after last season and ultimately, they are so high up in our list because of the fact that N’Golo Kante aside, they have managed to do just that. Although their start to the season has been poor, they have unquestionably done well to not only keep hold of Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy, but also sign the likes of Islam Slimani, who has been scoring for fun in the Portuguese league for some time. It will take time for him and the likes of Mendy to adjust to life in the Premier League and even though they will not manage to achieve what they did last season, you would think that Leicester have done enough to ensure a stable season this time around whilst they explore the glamorous Champions League. They would surely be happy with qualifying from the Champions League group and finishing in the top half of the Premier League this time around.

2 – Manchester United

Three players from Manchester United featured in our top 10 signings of the summer. Paul Pogba, Eric Bailly and Zlatan Ibrahimović. Their fourth, Henrikh Mkhitaryan only narrowly missed out. United re-established themselves as a top force in Europe this summer with some head turning additions, predominantly that of Zlatan and the world record breaking transfer of Pogba. Although Zlatan and Bailly are the only two so far to have perhaps shown signs of justifying their signing, Pogba has enormous potential and that is undoubted. Perhaps the hype around his move to Manchester United was too much, in fact I’d say it definitely was. But Manchester United have the money and in Pogba they’ve (re)signed a player that can help take them to the next level. He is a unique and dynamic midfielder and he gives Mourinho options. Mkhitaryan, on the other hand may need more time than initially thought to adjust to the pace of the Premier League. Overall though, with no significant exits and so much quality coming in, including Mourinho, United fans must be delighted with the summer they’ve had.

1 – Manchester City

Pep Guardiola arrived with a lot of expectation at Manchester City and so far he has delivered on the pitch. Off the pitch he had a rather good start too, signing several top quality players. Although some may have expected more ready-made world class players, Pep has brought in several young players that could really do well in the future. The likes of Gabriel Jesus and John Stones immediately spring to mind, and in Nolito and Ilkay Gundogan, Pep brought in two more experienced players that were well suited to his system. With these young signings, Pep has ensured that even if he doesn’t stick around at City for a decade, he will have put the club in a great place for at least that amount of time. He has used his pull factor to lure some of the worlds best young talent in Stones, Gabriel and even Leroy Sane, who had suitors from across the globe. The reason City have pipped United to the top of the list is because they secured the most important signing of all, that of Pep Guardiola.

3 Must Have Players in Fantasy Football Premier League This Week

The wait was excruciating, so soon after welcoming the Premier League back, but alas the international break is over to give us a handful of weeks to focus solely on club football again. And what a way to return, as the Premier League gifts us a Manchester derby, Liverpool’s home clash versus champions Leicester City, among other potentially tight match-ups to sink our teeth into.

Such is the equilibrium in some of the games to take place in Gameweek Three that it’s fairly difficult to predict who’ll be your Fantasy Premier League kingpin this weekend, but Fresh Football might be able to push you in the right direction with these three:

1 – Ryan Shawcross
Club:
Stoke City
Position: Defender
Value: £5m

A trip to the Bet365 Stadium sees Tottenham Hotspur return to the place they last looked like a fully-functioning side, as they walked over Stoke City with a 4-0 victory. Since then, the Premier League title hopefuls slumped to a third placed finish behind rivals Arsenal, whereas they’ve tasted victory just once in the new season.

Admittedly, the likes of Everton and Liverpool are never the easiest of teams to face, but Spurs’ attack has looked worryingly laboured in each of their three league games. New boy Vincent Janssen appears to be going through the motions of settling in, whereas Christian Eriksen’s form, alongside that of Dele Alli’s, seems to have deserted him.

Under more concerning circumstances, the statistic haunting Spurs in relation to Mousa Dembélé’s absence, in particular the one that sees chief goal scorer Harry Kane find the back of the net just once without the Belgian midfielder in the starting XI, could again extend itself with a traditionally tricky away fixture for most.

In the receiving end of Tottenham’s attacking woes are Stoke, themselves needing a result to kick-start their season after just a point gained from a possible nine so far this season. The Potters will look to skipper Ryan Shawcross to lead the collective in thwarting a thus far toothless Spurs attack, meanwhile potentially causing an upset at the other end via his threat from set-pieces.

Fresh Football Team of the Week: Ft. 3 Arsenal, 2 Chelsea, 1 Man Utd & 1 Liverpool Player

This is the Fresh Football team of the week for Gameweek 3. 

Michel Vorm – Tottenham

Despite Danny Rose’ second half equaliser, Mauricio Pochettino can have Hugo Lloris’ deputy, Michel Vorm, to thank for his side sharing the spoils with Liverpool at White Hart Lane. The Dutch goalkeeper made a crucial save early on to deny Philipp Coutinho from close range, whereas he was also on hand to snuff out the dangers posed by Sadio Mané rushing towards his goal on two separate occasions.

Héctor Bellerín – Arsenal

It was almost like a return home for Héctor Bellerín, who spent time out on loan to Watford in the season prior to his big Arsenal breakthrough. In that vein, Bellerín made himself feel at ease down the right flank, additionally leading a couple of dangerous counter-attacks in the second half that could have seen the hosts lose sight of the Gunners in a hotly-contested affair between the two London neighbours.

Joel Matip – Liverpool

As far as debuts go, there can’t be many complaints about keeping a 25-goal Harry Kane quiet, in particular with Vincent Janssen alongside the Englishman to deflect attention. Three interceptions and 11 clearances rounded off a promising start from Joël Matip in a Liverpool shirt.

Papy Djilobodji – Sunderland

Saturday’s performance versus Southampton shows there may have been some science behind Chelsea picking Papy Djilobodji up from Nantes last summer, who, alongside the coveted Lamine Koné, would have led Sunderland to their first victory of the season had it not been for an unfortunate blunder by Jordan Pickford between the sticks.

Daley Blind – Manchester United

Few would have expected José Mourinho to conform to Louis van Gaal’s habits, in particular that of placing the aesthetically inadequate figure of Daley Blind at centre back. The performances have been very sound, however, much like last season, and last Saturday’s display versus Hull City makes it increasingly tricky for the new Man United boss to justify replacing him with someone like Chris Smalling in the first XI.

Danny Drinkwater – Leicester City

The Danny Drinkwater of old? After the heartbreak of being left out of England’s Euro 2016 squad in France, the ex-Manchester United man was back to doing what he knows best – assisting Jamie Vardy with a pass over the top. A pretty decent one at that, too!

N’Golo Kante – Chelsea

The France international is proving to be an instant hit at Stamford Bridge, just as he was in his time with the current Premier League champions. On top of the two tackles and interceptions made, N’Golo Kanté’s 93.6% pass accuracy culminated in another dominant, yet fascinatingly simplistic performance by the ex-Leicester City man.

Granit Xhaka – Arsenal

In a hope of things to come by Arsenal fans, Granit Xhaka’s range of passing was on full show versus Watford at Vicarage Road, as he racked up the most passes (71) made throughout the encounter with a 85.9% success rate.

Raheem Sterling – Manchester City

The former Liverpool man’s rich form continues with a brace against West Ham United, with his second solo effort in the dying moments of the game being the particular highlight.

Eden Hazard – Chelsea

On the topic of wingers being back to their best, Eden Hazard leads the way with another idyllic performance reminiscent of his pre-2015/16 season. His goal, coming as early as the 9th minute in Chelsea’s 3-0 win over Burnley, proved to be the pick of the bunch.

Alexis Sánchez – Arsenal

Quite a bit has been made of the prospect of Alexis Sánchez leading the line for Arsenal, with his latest exhibition opening up the debate once more. The Chilean excelled with Mesut Özil, Santi Cazorla and Granit Xhaka all feeding into his movements, as he earned the Gunners a penalty in the 8th minute, scored their second five minutes shy of the interval and went on to assist the third in a 3-1 victory.

The 3 Must Pick Players For Your Fantasy Football Team This Week ft. Man Utd Star

Gameweek three of the Premier League is upon us and, as always, Fresh Football will be here to offer you guidance with regards to your Fantasy Premier League teams. Here are our three hot picks for this week:

1 – Riyad Mahrez
Club:
Leicester City
Position: Midfield
Price: £9.5m

Much like last year, nobody knows quite what to expect from Leicester City this season after the heroics of the past campaign. What’s deemed acceptable for the Foxes may well mould itself as the season goes on, but one objective remains clear – they’ll want to win their first league game of the season fairly sharpish!

A disappointing 2-1 defeat away to a depleted Hull City side was followed by a far more respectable score line at the King Power Stadium, drawing 0-0 to Arsenal, but with Swansea City coming to town, Leicester have the chance to right the wrongs.

Leicester will need to look no further than Riyad Mahrez for inspiration, despite the Algerian firing blanks so far this season. The winger grabbed a hat-trick in the Foxes’ 3-0 win versus Swansea at the Liberty Stadium last December, whereas he was also on the score sheet in the return fixture that saw the Premier League champions win 4-0 back in April.

3 Players You Must Have In Your Fantasy Football Team This Week ft. Arsenal, West Ham, Leicester

Matchday 1 of the Premier League has come and gone and, if you’re anything like me, you’ll most likely have a fantasy team in need of recalibration. Just a tad, honestly! In an attempt to second guess the professionals, here are three players you ought to consider backing before Friday’s deadline.

1 – Dimitri Payet

Position: Midfielder
Club: West Ham United
Cost: £9.5m

Slaven Bilić will be sure to approach the Dimitri Payet case with caution, so his inclusion in your fantasy team would represent a pretty big risk. The West Ham United manager may have to gamble himself on the Frenchman’s fitness, however, with the Hammers looking lost for inspiration every time they got onto the ball versus Chelsea on Monday.

Payet’s introduction late on in the London derby brought a familiar feel to West Ham’s game, so I’d be equally unsurprised if he’s thrown in to face Bournemouth, in particular with the occasion being the Olympic Stadium’s official debut.

The last clash between the two Premier League clubs at West Ham’s place produced a 4-3 thriller, a score line Payet and co. will be keen to avenge. The club have serious ambitions for the Champions League this season so they must ensure they get points on the board this weekend. They need their Payet back.

Player Ratings: Hull City 2-1 Leicester City

Here are Fresh Football’s ratings for Hull City’s Premier League clash versus Leicester City at the KCOM Stadium.

Hull City

Eldin Jakupović – 6

Had little to do, but, bar the penalty, saved all he had to fairly comfortably.

Ahmed Elmohamady – 8

The Egyptian had a growing influence throughout the game through his anticipation and work rate. Elmohamady was at the heart of Hull’s second goal and equally as efficient at the opposite end.

Curtis Davies – 7

Busy at the back, but saw his best moments shine through at the other half. Came close to breaking the deadlock early, whereas his glancing header led to Hernandez’s goal in the first half.

Jake Livermore – 7

The makeshift centre back provided a crucial block with the goal gaping for Jamie Vardy that would have seen Leicester City take the lead in the 41st minute. Hull City scored five minutes later.

Andrew Robertson – 6.5

Robertson was occupied with keeping Riyad Mahrez quiet, struggling to do so in the first half, but later forcing the Algerian winger to roam centrally as the tide of the game turned.

Tom Huddlestone – 6.5

It was a fairly good performance from the ex-Tottenham man, but a couple of mistimed tackles, in particular one wrongly given as a penalty, blemished his performance, slightly.

David Meyler – 7

The former Sunderland midfielder offered bite and relentless work rate to get Hull over the line with a win on the opening day of the Premier League.

Sam Clucas – 7.5

Clucas recouped and dictated possession well, combining with Meyler and Huddlestone to dominate the midfield for large parts of the game.

Robert Snodgrass – 7.5

Excellent deliveries from set-pieces and a winning goal to go with it for Robert Snodgrass, who also combined well with Elmohamady on the right flank on numerous occasions. His experience was invaluable in the final stages of the game.

Adama Diomandé – 7

The Norwegian forward’s work rate was commendable, causing havoc inside the box in aid of Abel Hernandez.

Abel Hernandez – 7

Scored the game’s first goal and got the better of Leicester’s captain Wes Morgan.

Leicester City

Kasper Schmeichel – 5

The Danish goalkeeper struggled to deal with Hull’s corners, consequently conceding on the stroke of half-time.

Danny Simpson – 5

A few late tackles saw Danny Simpson receive a booking early on. Luckily, much of Hull’s play came down the right flank.

Luis Hernandez – 5

Really struggled in new surroundings, often losing in combative battles with Diomandé.

Wes Morgan – 4

Had to deal two strikers inside the box and looked like he was really feeling the workload.

Christian Fuchs – 5.5

Fairly solid in the first half, but couldn’t go toe-to-toe with both Snodgrass and Elmohamady in the second half.

Riyad Mahrez – 6.5

Looked the most likely to create something for the Premier League champions and scored Leicester’s spot-kick.

Andy King – 4.5

Andy King looked totally ineffectual and outnumbered by Hull’s three-man midfield. Subsequently, he was substituted around the one-hour mark.

Danny Drinkwater – 5

Thwarted by Hull’s midfield and really missing N’Golo Kanté’s presence the most.

Demarai Gray – 6

A lively first half from the ex-Birmingham man, but he gradually saw less and less of the ball in the second period, despite winning a dubious penalty shortly after the restart.

Ahmed Musa – 6

The Nigerian was typically sharp on the turn, but lacked execution in the final third.

Jamie Vardy – 5

A real bad day at the office for Vardy, miss-kicking and blazing over the few chances he had to score.

Daniel Amartey – 5

Came on to battle for the ball at a time when Hull had already surrendered possession. An untimely change.

Shinji Okazaki – 6

Added tenacity to the Foxes’ attack instantly, but others weren’t on the same wavelength.

Leonardo Ulloa – N/A

Twitter Reacts As Hull City Beat Leicester City In Dramatic Premier League Opener

Even after the unpredictability of last season, very few would have given Hull City a hope in this Premier League opener.

The Premier League Champions had never lost their opening game of the following season before today. But the Premier League has not been following the script as of late and Leicester know that more than anyone else.

Hull City, without a permanent manager and with a squad in disarray were the bookies favourites to get relegated before the big kick off. Those odds may have been cut following this result, albeit in the first game of the season but Hull’s performance surprised many, including the home crowd who amongst all the off the pitch problems, got behind their team excellently.

This Leicester City side had a similar look to last season, but also notable differences. The lack of N’Golo Kante in midfield and Robert Huth in defence were telling. No defensive authority in a goal-line scramble led to Abel Hernandez acrobatically putting Hull City ahead. Riyad Mahrez converted a penalty just seconds into the second half, but Hull replied almost immediately with a Robert Snodgrass strike from outside of the box.

Stat of the Match: Hull City scored as many goals (2) against Champions Leicester as they had managed in their previous 5 Premier League games

If this was the first game of last season, I don’t think anybody would have been shocked about this result but Leicester City are now the reigning Premier League Champions and they need to get used to that extra burden. Here’s a sample of reaction from Twitter.

This result just showed that we are in for another unpredictable campaign. Hull showed similar characteristics that made Leicester City so successful last season. The lowly Premier League sides have been watching and you can expect them to attempt to recreate Leicester City’s style in order to win points. Fearless, counter-attacking football. Leicester, on the other hand, will need to get used to having the ball more often and the ‘tinker man’ Ranieri must find a new way to play.

Want to feature in articles like these? Follow us and tweet us your thoughts on Premier League games this season @FreshFootball

French Reports: Arsenal Make €41million Offer For 17-Goal Chelsea Target

Arsenal’s transfer activity is increasing at the moment. A £25million deal for central defender Mustafi is thought to be close and now according to reports from France, the Gunners are in for Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez. 

According to L’Equipe Arsenal have already had one bid turned down for Mahrez and have since returned with an improved €41million bid.

Mahrez scored 17 Premier League goals last season and also made 11 assists. The Algerian, albeit not a striker, is a natural goal threat and would certainly add productivity to an Arsenal side that has ultimately lacked efficiency in the final third since Robin van Persie’s departure.

With the lack of central strikers on the market currently, perhaps the addition of Mahrez would be a good alternative for the Gunners and it could lead to a formation change for the Gunners. Alexis Sanchez who is expected to start as a striker on Sunday, could play that position more regularly and allow Mahrez to come in and start on the right-hand side.

Not only would this allow both Alexis and Mahrez to be in the team, but it could possibly bring out the best in Mesut Ozil and also allow the development of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Alex Iwobi to continue, as both players can also play on the left wing.

It could come down to, can Arsenal sign a striker that is of better quality than Mahrez? At the moment it doesn’t look like it. Although Alexandre Lacazette is available for around £45million, I think Mahrez is a better player.

Some may say that Alexis cannot play as a lone striker but I disagree. He has the hunger to go and hunt for the ball, the aerial ability and strength to hold it up and win attacking headers. He can score from inside or outside of the box and his pace would stretch defences in a way that Giroud cannot.

So would Mahrez improve Arsenal? If he can replicate last season’s form then certainly.

Ozil is the only Arsenal midfielder who comes close to Mahrez in terms of statistics, even Alexis Sanchez struggled to hit the heights of the 2014/15 season weighing in with only 13 goals and four assists himself. With Alexis in a more central role and the likes of Ozil and Mahrez behind him, I think the Chilean could be reborn and thrive in a more central position. If it doesn’t work or if Arsenal want to play with an alternative option then the Gunners always have Olivier Giroud as a perfectly good option through the middle.

€41million is only £35million and that is not likely to be enough to persuade Leicester City to part with last seasons PFA Player of the Year. The L’Equipe report does mention that the Gunners could also include €9million in add ons, that would take the potential value of the deal to around €50million. Still I think Leicester, if forced into a sale, would want to hold the Gunners to ransom and try and receive around €58million (£50million).

Chelsea are also thought to be interested in Mahrez but new manager Antonio Conte has so far baulked at the excessive asking prices floating around at the moment.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this one, so tweet us @FreshFootball.

Chelsea Could Be About To Complete This £40million Deal After Player Is Spotted

Leicester City star Riyad Mahrez sent twitter into meltdown last night after apparently being spotted checking into Chelsea’s matchday hotel.

An Italian journalist called Alessandro Schiavone (@AllessandroLdn) was interviewing Blues boss Antonio Conte when he coincidentally bumped into the talented playmaker.

Schiavone then posed in a picture with Chelsea and Arsenal target Mahrez at the Chelsea Harbour Hotel, where the Blues squad meet up on home match days.

Whilst at the hotel, he spotted Mahrez who was the PFA player of the Year last season.

As mentioned Alessandro posed in a picture with the Foxes star, and went on to claim Mahrez was checking into the hotel and his agent told him that Chelsea want to sign the Leicester man.

The brilliant Mahrez scored 18 goals in a fantastic season with Leicester City having joined the Foxes from Le Havre for just £400,000, reports now suggest Mahrez could cost up to £40 million as the club stand firm in bagging themselves a hefty profit.

N’Golo Kante was also instrumental in Leicester’s remarkable title win last season and could find himself reunited with the Algerian international as he moved to Stamford Bridge earlier this summer for £30 million.

In a series of tweets, Alessandro said: “I did NOT see Conte and Mahrez together. I saw Mahrez outside and Conte inside. And Mahrez did NOT speak.

“I don’t know why Mahrez was there or if he goes to Chelsea. He didn’t speak. I only took a pic with him and that’s it.

“I didn’t say anything and Mahrez didn’t say anything. I only tell ya what his agent said ‘Chelsea want Mahrez’”.

Foxes chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha posted a picture on his personal Instagram account last week that Mahrez would be staying with the Champions.

The Gunners have also been heavily linked with the Algerian winger, but after last night’s breaking news, Mahrez could soon find himself in the Blue side of London.

Player Ratings: Leicester City 1-2 Manchester United

These are Fresh Football’s ratings for Leicester City vs. Manchester United in the Community Shield.

Leicester City

Kasper Schmeichel – 5.5
Bar a couple of sketchy moments, Schmeichel will have more strenuous games throughout the season. Some decent distribution to go with his performance.

Danny Simpson – 5.5
Started pretty well, often forcing Anthony Martial wide rather than onto the Frenchman’s preferred foot, but quickly became reckless after Lingard’s goal. Yellow carded and later replaced by Luis Hernández.

Robert Huth – 5.5
Struggled a little with the movement from Man United’s attack, whereas his role in Lingard’s goal won’t have covered him in much glory, either.

Wes Morgan – 5.5

Much like Huth, Morgan saw his display tarnished by the way he committed to tackling Lingard, as the Englishman skipped away to open the scoring.

Christian Fuchs – 6.5
Very solid throughout, with the left back rarely breached in his presence. After being subbed off for Jeffrey Schlupp, it took just two minutes for
Man United to have some joy on that side, as Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored his first official goal for his new club.

Riyad Mahrez – 5
The ideas were visible, but nothing seemed to come off for the Algerian. Minor improvement in the second half.

Danny Drinkwater – 5.5
With an eye for the direct option for Vardy to latch onto, the long passes needed a little more calibration.

Andy King – 5.5
The Welshman remained disciplined throughout the game, presumably the message pre-match. Safe, perhaps overly so.

Mark Albrighton – 4.5
Typically, Albrighton’s defensive duties were never neglected throughout the game, but the Englishman’s consistency on the ball going forwards was particularly disappointing.

Shinji Okazaki – 5
The Japanese striker did all the all the things we’ve come to expect from him in his time at the King Ppwer Stadium, working hard for his team, but other than the chance deflected wide in the first half and a near-post header onto the bar, little else came from the ex-Mainz man.

Jamie Vardy – 7
His touch was a little off at first, but his tenacity more than made up for it, as he welcomed Eric Bailly to English football. Equalised for Leicester in the 52nd minute.

Substitutions:

Ahmed Musa – 5.5
Looked particularly threatening on the counter, but fluffed his lines deep into the second half when he headed over from inside the 6-yard-box.

Demarai Gray – 6
A positive display from Gray, providing the Foxes with an outlet on the break.

Nampalys Mendy – 5
Looked interesting enough following his introduction in the 63rd minute, but a little too reserved in a two-man midfield, often leaving Drinkwater isolated.

Luis Hernández – 5
Kept Marcus Rashford fairly quiet once he came on, not that he had a great deal to handle.

Jeffrey Schlupp – N/A

Leonardo Ulloa – N/A

Manchester United

David De Gea – 5.5
Simple saves made throughout the game, with the ex-Atlético Madrid goalkeeper having little chance in stopping the efforts he failed to reach.

Antonio Valencia – 5.5
Demonstrated good anticipation from right back, but fairly ineffectual going forward.

Eric Bailly – 6.5
Among the Red Devils’ best, as he fought hard against Vardy. Some battles won, others lost, but he seemed to control his erratic nature quite well, nevertheless.

Daley Blind – 6
A sound display from Blind, rarely troubled by Vardy and Okazaki swarming to provoke the Dutchman’s decisions in possession.

Luke Shaw – 6
A fairly good performance up against Riyad Mahrez, who he kept quiet throughout his time on the field. Subbed off in the 70th minute.

Michael Carrick – 6.5
A standard Carrick performance, with all the composure you’d expect from the 35-year-old. Sacrificed in the 60th minute for Ander Herrera’s entrance at 1-1.

Marouane Fellaini – 4.5
Offered De Gea a target from goal kicks, winning his aerial duels in the meantime, but that was about it. Oh, and an assist for Vardy.

Jesse Lingard – 6
Struggled to come into the game, later opting to switch wings with Anthony Martial. Made the Leicester defence pay with his solo effort in the 32nd minute and grew in confidence before being replaced with an injury.

Wayne Rooney – 6
A good display from a far more liberated Rooney than we’ve become accustomed to in past months. May feel he should have done better with either one of his two chances from the edge of the box, though.

Anthony Martial – 4.5
Among the quietest Martial displays you’ll see.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic – 7
Offered an interesting proposition by acting as the chief creator himself, later scoring the goal to gift United the Community Shield. A very sound debut.

Substitutions:

Ander Herrera – 5.5
Looked to add a little more urgency in place for Carrick’s manipulative ways, and it worked to an extent. Retained much of United’s control too.

Juan Mata – 5
Helped United, alongside Herrera, cope with Carrick’s absence, but the second half substitute then came off with a supposed injury.

Marcos Rojo – 5.5
Helped top-up on Shaw’s grasp of Mahrez in a time when the Algerian was coming into the game.

Marcus Rashford – 4.5
Looked to cause Luis Hernández some trouble, but rarely did in his time on the pitch.

Morgan Schneiderlin – N/A

Henrikh Mkhitaryan – N/A

How Leicester City’s New Nigerian Signing Will Fit Into Ranieri’s Plans

Premier League Champions Leicester City signed Ahmed Musa earlier this month in a deal worth £16million, signing a four-year-deal with the Foxes. Leicester have signed the 23-year-old striker to give them better attacking options ahead of their title defence and Champions League campaign, I take a look at how he will fit into the squad next season.

Leicester City have splashed the cash in order to sign the 23-year-old Nigerian international and there is enough evidence why the have done so. Claudio Ranieri identified that his attacking options needed more quality and depth and they have certainly added that with the signing of Musa. The right-footed attacker is capable of playing on either flank, as a striker and will bring versatility to the Foxes forward line.

Musa’s versatility will help Ranieri massively, mainly favouring a 4-4-2 formation last season which saw him win the league, Musa’s arrival allows Ranieri to switch to a 4-5-1 / 4-3-3 with the Vardy, Ulloa, Musa and Okazaki all competing for a central spot. Musa could play out wide in the five in midfield or can play through the middle / wide in a front three. Having a versatile option means Leicester should remain unpredictable as clubs attempt to nullify the threat of the Champions.

Musa is the perfect counter-attacking striker, much like Jamie Vardy, this will be useful for Leicester City going into next season as they are a counter attacking side. Musa’s blistering pace is his main attribute, he combines his speed and ability to glide by defenders with close dribbling which opens up space for him to put dangerous crosses into the box.

Playing in the Premier League, Musa will love the physicality and speed of the league, Leicester could use Musa as a target man at times as another main strength of his is his ability to hold onto the ball and retain possession for his side, this is another reason why he is perfect for the Foxes who play their best football when they set up to counter. Problems could potentially arise next season when Leicester face teams who sit back against them, as Vardy and Musa are not the best strikers in tight situations.

A fox in the box is one way to describe Musa, his good goal scoring record has saw the versatile attacker score 42 goals in 125 league appearances for his former club CSKA Moscow.

Musa will be partnering the record breaker Jamie Vardy next season and they could turn out to be a deadly partnership. Musa averaged a shot every 34.9 minutes, compared to strike partner Jamie Vardy’s 28.6.

As suggested, The tinker-man (Ranieri) could change to a favoured 4-3-3 formation to deploy all three of Vardy, Okazaki and Musa. The Nigerian will need to settle into life in England but with his style of play, he should be just fine.

Aerial duels and offside awareness problems

With the Foxes counter-attacking style of play, Musa will need to improve on his offside awareness, he often finds himself a step behind the defence and can be flagged up time and time again. If Ranieri deploys Musa as a target-man, he will need to improve on his movement and ensure he is in an onside position when receiving the ball.

Musa does hold European experience, playing in the Champions League for his former club last season. His statistics in this competition clearly identifies his underlying problems in aerial duels, managing to win just 27.78% in Europe last season, this could turn out to be a problem for the Foxes going into next season as Jamie Vardy, who Musa will accompany upfront, also lacks efficiency in the air.

At 23-years-old he has improved massively in recent seasons, he has blistering pace, but his technical skills are not perfect, and coming up against some of the best defenders in Europe he may struggle if there is no space for him to run in behind them.

This thought is backed up with Musa managing to be successful with less than half of his take ons last season (48%), without individual brilliant skills applied in his game he may struggle in a 1 on 1 situation.

This trait reminds me a lot of Arsenal’s Theo Walcott, both players are gifted with very good pace, but are unable to do much with the ball in tight situations, both players are one dimensional but will need to adapt their game to become a more successful player.

Where does he fit in?

I recently wrote about Leicester sticking with the 4-4-2 next season and I will stick by this, although Musa will give them options to change formation if needed.

I believe Vardy and Musa will be the two up top going into the new season, The Foxes went all out for the 23-year-old so it is highly unlikely he will be a bench warmer to Okazaki.

Although Musa is a versatile attacker, he has to play centrally as his lack of skills can be a problem to beat his marker on the wings, but he will have freedom to roam around, similar to Vardy and pull defenders wide to open space for him to run into.

Vardy and Musa share similar traits in their game, speed, counter attacking style and clinical finishing, if Vardy retains last seasons form for next season then both players could bring out the best in eachother.

Leicester ‘Agree Personal Terms’ For €15m-Rated Replacement For Arsenal & Chelsea Target

Leicester City have made a £8million bid and agreed personal terms to sign a replacement for N’Golo Kante according to reports on Tuesday.

Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and Kante have been linked with moves away from Leicester in recent weeks, but Kante appears the most likely to move at this stage. Leicester are well aware and have been looking for replacements in recent weeks, with Nice midfielder Nampalys Mendy now the main target say the Mail.

The reports are being covered by numerous outlets with the Leicester Mercury now reporting that personal terms have been agreed for Mendy and now a fee needs to be agreed with Nice, who finished in an impressive 4th place in Ligue 1 last season. Considering the number and quality of sources reporting this story, we think Leicester’s interest in Mendy is certainly genuine.

Arsenal and Chelsea have been strongly linked with signing Kante, although the Gunners purchase of Granit Xhaka and Chelsea’s interest in Radja Nainggolan has cast doubt over whether their interest in Kante is serious or not. A club that have expressed a serious interest in Kante is Paris-Saint Germain.

Claudio Ranieri appears to have accepted that his midfielder workhorse will be leaving the club this summer and is turning his attention to possible replacements. In Mendy they are targetting a deep-lying playmaker that has been a transfer target for Arsenal and Manchester United previously. Their alleged bid of £8million will fall just short of Nice’s £12million valuation, although there is pressure from the player to push a move through, something which may force Nice to lower their valuation.

Kante has a £20million release clause that a number of clubs are willing to pay. Whilst Leicester won’t want to lose Kante, Mendy is a cost-effective replacement.

The Nice midfielder is quite different in style to Kante though, he’s less energetic and more of a playmaker. Mendy boasts an impressive 92% pass accuracy, much higher than Kante’s 82%. It is in areas such as interceptions, tackles and aerial duels won where Kante really excels ahead of Mendy though. For example the Leicester man made 4.64 interceptions per 90 minutes last season compared to Mendy who managed just 2.18. There’s a similar pattern when looking at tackles won, Kante 3.72 and Mendy just 1.33. Mendy plays from a more reserved position on the pitch and this is why he can complete such a high percentage of his passes, he is a dictator, an orchestrator, whereas Kante is a hustler who likes to get about the pitch and covers a lot more ground.

Mendy is clearly not a like-for-like replacement for Kante, though he does clearly have quality, his best attributes lie in different areas. Mendy is also two years younger than Kante leaving him with room to grow and improve. It could be said that considering the dinstinct differences between the two players that Mendy may not be a replacement for Kante at all, but perhaps a player to play alongside or compete with for a central midfield position as Leicester look to bulk out their squad ahead of their Champions League adventure next season.

Not Mahrez: Chelsea Confident Of Beating Arsenal To Sign ‘Premier League’s Best Player’

Chelsea are reportedly growing increasingly confident of signing Leicester City midfielder, N’Golo Kante, who recently won the Premier League.

Kante is thought to be looking to leave the club for a better contract financially this summer, despite his current club recently being crowned Champions. Leicester now appear willing to part with their star man, with Sporting Lisbon’s William Carvalho lined up as a replacement.

Carvalho is quite different to Kante in style, the Portuguese midfielder isn’t the hardest worker but is perhaps more confident on the ball than Kante.

 

 

Kante has been named as the best player in the league by the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson and Leicester will reportedly ask for £30million for the Frenchman, an amount that will probably be paid considering the magnitude of clubs interested in him (PSG, Chelsea, Arsenal etc.)

Kante would add energy to a lethargic Chelsea midfield and it seems that Antonio Conte has identified him as a player who could improve the clubs first XI.

The benefits of Kante are clear. He’s a workhorse with extremely impressive defensive attributes. Kante has managed significantly more interceptions and tackles (4.68 and 3.64 per 90 minutes) than any other Chelsea midfielder this season. His limitations come in his passing and technical quality, completing just 81% of his passes this season. Leicester City have shown that you don’t need to be perfect passers to win the league, but a club like Chelsea would surely demand more efficiency from their midfielders passing performances.

I think Kante could be a really good midfield partner for Cesc Fabregas. The Spaniard recently admitted his favourite midfield partner of all time was the then workhorse, Mathieu Flamini – ahead of the likes of Xavi and Andres Iniesta. This highlights that for Cesc to be at his best and most comfortable, he needs an engine alongside him, allowing the Spaniard to focus on his creative influences.

Analysis: This Winger Is Arsenal’s Number 1 Transfer Target, But How Good Is He?

According to reports this morning, Arsenal have made Riyad Mahrez their number one summer target in a major squad overhaul. Mahrez has caught the eye of the Gunners after a very impressive season scoring 11 goals and assisting 16 in 34 Premier League games. Leicester City are now on course to win their first ever Premier League title.

According to The Sun Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has reportedly told close friends signing the Algerian international is his main priority this summer. It is reported Arsenal will let Theo Walcott leave as part of the squad overhaul after a somewhat disappointing season. Walcott hasn’t managed to nail down a starting position after only signing a contract last year and it looks as if Arsenal have already found his replacement.

Arsenal know they’ll have to pay a much higher fee than what Leicester City paid, with reports saying the price may be £25 million upwards to convince the Foxes in selling their main man.

The 24-year-old midfielder has 4 goals in 24 appearances for Algeria.

A number of teams are reportedly interested in Mahrez including Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Arsenal will be keen to bolster their squad this summer after a pathetic attempt at winning the title, it may be Wenger’s last year and am sure he would want to leave on a high.

Arsene Wenger admitted he had never heard of Mahrez when Leicester City brought him for just £400,000 in January 2014 from French Ligue 2 club Le Havre. But he did admit how well he has developed.

“I didn’t know him honestly, he played in the second division in France,” Wenger said. “He has developed extremely well; today he is one of the dominant players in the Premier League.”

Analysis Focus

Straight away a stat that really impresses me is the goals scored by Mahrez, Arsenal have struggled to find the net frequently this season and Mahrez scores a very impressive 0.54 goals per 90 minutes, that beats off any one of Arsenal’s current wingers with Walcott second 0.34, Campbell third 0.31 and Chamberlain last 0.10. Arsenal haven’t come short of creating chances this season but Mahrez would once again increase the number of chances created. Although Chamberlain scores a very impressive 1.83 Mahrez is just behind on 1.64, Walcott and Campbell are third and fourth with 1.16 and the latter 1.13. Although Mesut Ozil is the leading player for total assists this season, Mahrez has also been incredible on that front assisting 0.37. Campbell is second with 0.20, Walcott third 0.14 and Chamberlain scoring a very disappointing 0.

Being a winger you have to be successful when taking your defender on as it will help you put pressure on the opposition’s defence, it could also help in a transition from defence to attack which will benefit the team. Chamberlain scores a winning 70.59% successful take on’s with Campbell second 65.38%, Mahrez is third on 54.69% and Walcott last 50%. In total Mahrez convincingly comes first with total attack score, after a very impressive season he has shown his qualities and has caught the eye of the Gunners with a very impressive 36.11, this is huge improvement on Arsenal’s current wingers with the closest to him is Walcott in second 21.40, Chamberlain third 19.85 and Campbell last 17.80.

In summary, Mahrez would be a huge upgrade on Arsenal’s current wingers. At only 25 years old he will now be hitting his prime with plenty more years in front of him. His stats prove how key he has been for Leicester City’s title charge and prove why he could be so good for Arsenal. The Gunners need to invest into the squad this summer as it is simply not good enough. The likes of Mahrez being signed would surely put an end to Walcott’s Arsenal career and could even put Chamberlain’s into doubt with the likes of Joel Campbell expected to leave. Arsene Wenger denied interest in the Algerian in his press conference on Wednesday, but when has he ever admitted having an interest in a player? He said on reported interest in Mahrez “No, even if it was, I would not think about it at this stage of the season. It would be disrespectful to Leicester, but it is not the case.”

 

Manchester City Have Planned Talks This Week With Leicester City Stars Agent

Manchester City are taking this international break as a chance to snap up potential new signings, according to reports from France.

They say that towards the top of Guardiola’s wish list is Leicester City star N’Golo Kante, who has exploded onto the scene with his performances this season. The report suggests that a meeting with Kante’s representatives has been planned.

Almost certainly the best central midfielder in the division over the last seven months, Kante has been a huge reason in Leicester’s shocking title bid. A tireless work rate combined with intelligent defensive qualities, opposition sides have found Leicester very difficult to play against because of Kante.

Manchester City’s lethargic midfield is certainly in need of a player like Kante, who currently only earns £25,000 per week. It is presumed that Leicester would happily increase that wage, but whether that will be enough is another matter. Kante has refused to rule out a summer move, but has said he wants to stay in England, so this link does make sense.

Recently selected for the France squad for the first time in his career, the 24-year-old’s stock is going up and up and Guardiola is wise to move sooner rather than later in order to get a good deal.

Analysis Focus

So how does Kante compare to Manchester City’s current midfield? A stat that I cannot source is the distance covered, but I am confident that the French midfielder would top the list.

Kante Fernando Yaya Fernandinho

These stats sourced from Squawka highlight the defensive efficiency of Kante. His tackles won per game (3.6) is quite remarkable and blows all of the Manchester City players out of the water. The same can be said for his interceptions (4.73). What is also impressive is that despite all these tackles, he commits just 1.2 fouls per game and has picks up a yellow card just one in ten games. His pass completion rate of 82% may have to improve if he is to succeed in a Pep Guardiola system, but I am sure he is capable of refining that area of his game.

It can be argued that Kante would improve any Premier League team, so how much is he worth? A fee of around £20million has been mooted, but I am sure that Leicester, if they do sell, will hold out for a lot more than that. Considering the current climate of the market, you would expect Kante to be valued in excess of £25million.

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‘Best Performance In Half A Year’: Liverpool Fans Praise Midfield Saviour

It’s fair to stay Steven Gerrard hasn’t had a great year, after *that* slip and a horrendous World Cup campaign with England in Brazil. However, he came good last night.

Against Leicester City, the Reds were struggling and needed a change in fortune. Up stepped Stevie G, like he has many times before, and tucked home a goal to put Liverpool ahead for the first-team. It was a crucial goal at a crucial time and some now believe the former-Three Lions captain has answered his critics.

However, there’s still plenty that think he’s past it- and that everyone is getting carried away with their reactions following his first goal in open play since January 2014. After all, they were playing the team bottom of the pile.

‘Can See Both Sides’: Leicester Fans Unsure Of Pearson Approach

Leicester City fans are unsure of what approach to take with their manager after losing a vital relegation battle 3-2 to Harry Redknapp’s Queens Park Rangers.

The Foxes struggled defensively in the game and ended up second-best, with QPR coming away with a vital three points. Leicester started the season strongly but are beginning to decline, with many pointing the finger at manager Nigel Pearson and believing him to be responsible. However, many are also still backing their manager.

It’s a difficult decision for any struggling club to make at the best of times but with opinions so varied, there could be a hostile response whatever decision is made. The return fixture against QPR could be crucial, as it falls on the last day of the season.

‘Best English Striker In The League’: QPR Fans Full Of Support For Star Man

Queens Park Rangers fans were delighted this weekend with a thrilling 3-2 victory against fellow relegation contenders Leicester City, where star-striker Charlie Austin came up with the winning goal.

Austin has been in formidable form for Harry Redknapp’s side this season and gives the hoops a real chance of staying up, whilst he could also force his way into the England set-up very soon. Rangers fans have been delighted by his performances since his move from Burnley, as he helped them reach the top division of the English football pyramid.

One fan demanded his mother didn’t go to QPR again after she admitted she didn’t rate the striker, whilst another compared him to legendary striker Les Ferdinand.

‘The Boy Is Super Special!’: Saints Fans React To Victory Over Leicester

Southampton continued their sensational run to the start of the season with a two-nil victory over Leicester City at St Mary’s, which kept them in the running for a Champions League place.

It was a difficult game for the Saints and they took their time to break the deadlock, until Ronald Koeman introduced the striker he spent £12m on this summer and watched him score two goals in four minutes to seal three points. Kasper Schmeichel was helpless to both finishes, as Saints fans praised another in-form player.

With the Saints squad full of stars, can they keep it up? Cue numerous January transfer links and a lot of Liverpool jokes.

‘If You Think He’s Leaving You’re Living In The Past!’: Saints Fans Confident Ahead Of Leicester Clash

Southampton clash with Leicester City this afternoon as the Saints look to continue their march and maintain their place behind Chelsea in the Premier League.

The Saints have conceded just one goal at home this term, whilst the Foxes have scored just one on the road. This game falls on Morgan Schneiderlin’s birthday, just as reports linking him with a January move begin to resurface- but fans of the South Coast club are confident he’ll stay put.

Elsewhere, fans are calling for a positive result to commemorate the Frenchman’s birthday and also want a positive atmosphere for Leicester’s Nigel Pearson and Dean Hammond.