Tag Archives: Manchester City

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

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

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

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

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

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

How expensive is a deal?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kylian Mbappe (Monaco)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GK: Ederson (£34m)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shane Burns (@MediaShaneBurns)

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

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

Tom Scholes (@TomScholes316)

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

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

Sam Cox (@SamRCox_)

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

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

Josh Challies (@Challies11)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jordan Pickford

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GK: Hugo Lloris

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

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

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

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

Team News

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

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

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

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

Match Preview

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

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

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

Likely Line-Ups

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

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

Key Stats

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

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

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

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

Prediction
1-2

Report: Man United Open Talks Regarding Shock Deal For Arsenal Star

Manchester United’s transfer charge this summer could see them eye a move closer to home, with a sensational report being reported in South America.

As reported by Metro, Chile’s ‘El Show de Prensafutbol’ claims that Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has contacted Alexis Sanchez over the phone to try and persuade the 28-year-old to move to Old Trafford this summer.

Two-time Copa America winner Alexis is facing an uncertain future in North London, as he rapidly approaches the final 12 months of his contract with no progress of an extension being made- and reports widely suggest he’ll move on this summer.

Whilst there is a wealth of interest in the Premier League, Arsenal would naturally prefer to sell their star-man to a side elsewhere in Europe- although that could be difficult if Alexis decides he wants to stay within English football.

How likely is a deal?

As mentioned, Arsenal will be determined not to sell to a direct rival and will likely block any move for Alexis Sanchez to Manchester United. On top of that though, it’s difficult to see where exactly Alexis Sanchez would fit-in at Old Trafford.

Mourinho’s side already boast the talents of Anthony Martial, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Jesse Lingard out wide, whilst Marcus Rashford has often been deployed on the wings this season and the Red Devils have been heavily linked with a move for Antoine Griezmann, who could also be deployed out-wide if United stick with their current formation.

Money is not a problem for the Red Devils though and Arsenal would likely earn a club-record sum for the sale of Alexis Sanchez, although it may not be worth it if the South American starlet was to wear the colours of United on a weekly basis.

Who else is keen?

The report also mentions interest from Manchester City, as it states Pep Guardiola has also held talks with Alexis Sanchez. On top of that, Chelsea are also heavily interested in the services of the South American- but Arsenal will still attempt to block any transfer to a Premier League rival.

Elsewhere in Europe, Serie A leaders Juventus are keen on bringing the former Udinese man back to Italian football, whilst oil-rich Paris Saint-Germain want to make the Chilean their star signing- having failed to replace Zlatan Ibrahimovic last summer.

There has also been talk of a potential move to Bayern Munich, where Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery are approaching the end of their careers, whilst a reunion with Jorge Sampaoli at Sevilla has also been mentioned- although the former Chile boss is unlikely to remain at the Andalusian side for too long, having been linked with Barcelona.

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

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

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

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

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

GK: Thibaut Courtois

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

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

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

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

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

1 – Gylfi Sigurðsson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Player Ratings: Manchester City 5-3 AS Monaco

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

Manchester City

Willy Caballero – 7

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

Bacary Sagna – 5

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

John Stones – 6.5

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

Nicolas Otamendi 4

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

Fernandinho 4.5

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

Yaya Toure – 6

Good in possession, but massively outnumbered in midfield.

David Silva – 7

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

Kevin De Bruyne – 7

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

Raheem Sterling – 8

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

Leroy Sané – 8

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

Sergio Agüero – 9

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

Subs

Pablo Zabaleta – 6.5

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

Jesus Navas – N/A

Fernando – N/A

AS Monaco

Danijel Subasic – 4

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

Djibril Sidibe – 7

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

Kamil Glik – 5

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

Andrea Raggi – 4

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

Benjamin Mendy – 6.5

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

Bernardo Silva – 7

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

Fabinho – 6.5

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

Tiemoué Bakayoko – 8

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

Kylian Mbappé – 7

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

Radamel Falcao – 8.5

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

Subs

Valerie Germain – N/A

João Moutinho – N/A

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

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

Everton:

Joel Robles – 6.5

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

Seamus Coleman – 6.5

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

Mason Holgate – 6.5

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

Ashley Williams – 6.5

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

Ramiro Funes Mori – 6.5

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

Leighton Baines – 7

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

Tom Davies – 8.5

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

Gareth Barry – 7.5

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

Ross Barkley – 7.5

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

Kevin Mirallas – 7.5

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

Romelu Lukaku – 7

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

Subs:

Morgan Schneiderlin – 6

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

James McCarthy – N/A

Ademola Lookman – N/A

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

Manchester City:

Claudio Bravo – 4.5

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

Bacary Sagna – 5.5

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

Nicolas Otamendi – 4.5

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

John Stones – 5.5

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

Gael Clichy – 4.5

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

Pablo Zabaleta – 4.5

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

Yaya Toure – 6.5

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

Kevin De Bruyne – 6.5

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

David Silva – 5

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

Raheem Sterling – 5.5

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

Sergio Aguero – 5

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

Subs:

Kelechi Iheanacho – 4.5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is this deal possible or likely? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jordan Pickford – Sunderland

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

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

Aleksandar Kolarov – Manchester City

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

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

Ragnar Klavan – Liverpool

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

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

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

Phil Jones – Manchester United

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

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

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

Patrick Van Aanholt – Sunderland

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

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

Jack Wilshere – Bournemouth

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

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

Kevin De Bruyne – Manchester City

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

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

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

Fernando – Manchester City

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

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

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

Diego Costa – Chelsea

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

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

Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Manchester United

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

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

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

Alvaro Negredo – Middlesbrough

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

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

‘Never Hated A Player More’ Arsenal Defender Comes Under Strong Criticism After Manchester City Nightmare

Arsenal travelled to the Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon in a bid to close the gap on first-placed Chelsea, a gap which has extended to nine points after the Gunners dropped points against Everton mid-week.

Unfortunately for Arsene Wenger’s men, they conceded to consecutive defeats in the space of a week as their title hopes took a massive dent with the Gunners sitting in fourth place, nine points off top and looking very vulnerable.

Most Arsenal players carried on their abysmal form from Goodison Park but one player in particular was on the receiving end of some strong criticism, that being Brazilian defender Gabriel Paulista, who was atrocious against Manchester City as he showed why Arsenal miss Mustafi so much.

Gabriel, who arrived at the North Londoners in 2015, has failed to cement himself a place in the starting lineup for nearly two years and today showed exactly why, he was abysmal in possession, for someone playing in a team managed by Arsene Wenger you would be very surprised by how Gabriel was playing, he was constantly going long for Alexis Sanchez, just for Arsenal to concede possession and be put under more pressure.

Gabriel lacked the technical ability to string a few passes on the surface, he was not able to pass through to our midfield to help build up play from the back and was extremely wasteful with the ball, he would either go sideways or over the midfield, and straight to City defenders, this cost Arsenal crucially today and the signs are really showing why Mustafi is so key to this team.

As a central defender you have to be much more aware and more disciplined than Gabriel was, he can often be quite rash in his defensive duties and can be caught out of position very often.

Gabriel made just two tackles this afternoon, one more than Olivier Giroud who was subbed on in the latter stages of the game, that just shows what kind of defensive performance Gabriel has against Manchester City.

The Brazilian always looks very uncomfortable with the ball too, he looks like he does not know what to do with it, or has a lack of confidence in himself, to which he results to just giving the ball away or play wayward passes, something which will anger Arsene Wenger.

For some humour, Gabriel nearly caused Hector Bellerin to score an own goal after the Brazilian hoofed the ball at Bellerin’s face and it took quick reactions from Petr Cech to save the shot, no it is not that funny really, is it? But if you don’t laugh you will cry. That moment of madness just shows what kind of performance Gabriel had today.

It is really frustrating to watch, this is twice in one week we have taken a look at Arsenal players to cost the Gunners a vital points and ground in the title race. Each and every player should want to win and end this disastrous drought of having no Premier League in so many years, but they don’t, and to be honest, it’s frustrating and a disgrace for the Arsenal faithful.

It is certainly a performance to forget for Gabriel, it was embarrassing. We look at how Twitter reacted to his performance, and as expected some fans are really not happy.

As you can see, Arsenal fans were less than impressed with Gabriel’s performance and were quite ruthless on his overall display. Some people find strong criticism unfair and uncalled for, and sometimes it may be, but for Arsenal, they are desperate to end their title run, games like today will pay divalent on their title charge and it really does feel as if the Gunners will go another season without the grandest prize of them all.

Arsenal fans are calling for Rob Holding to start over Gabriel, and to be honest, I have to agree. The youngster has been immense whenever he plays in an Arsenal shirt and has bags of potential to fill and a lot more ability about himself.

The Gunners bottled two tough away days in the space of a week, they’re nine points off top, playing some woeful football and sitting here writing this I feel that’s another season down drain, and it’s only December.

‘Most Overrated Player I’ve Ever Seen’ Fans Rip Into Manchester City Man Following Horrific Performance vs Leicester

 Manchester City’s Premier League title bid took a huge blow on Saturday evening when they paid a visit to the King Power Stadium, where they were beaten 4-2 at the hands of Premier League Champions. 

Through a mixture of Leicester brilliance and Manchester City’s shambolic defending, Pep Guardiola’s men found themselves 3-0 down within the first twenty minutes of the game. Jamie Vardy ended his scoring drought early on in the piece to fire the Foxes ahead before Andy King doubled Leicester’s lead a few minutes later.

Vardy bagged his second of the game twenty minutes in before Manchester City started to take control of the game, enjoying more than three-quarters of possession in the first period. City continued to dominate beyond the break, but it was Leicester who scored the fourth goal of the game. Vardy bagged his hat-trick as John Stones’ backpass was a weak one, the Englishman took full advantage, his shot creeping over the line.

Aleksander Kolarov scored a delightful free-kick to make it 4-1 which in fact was City’s first shot on target of the game, and Nolito bagged another consolation goal as the game finished 4-2.

It was yet another shambolic performance from the City defence, and big money signing John Stones, who received a lot of criticism for his latest showing. Despite making three clearances and three interceptions, the Englishman failed to win a tackle or an aerial duel.

It is more than fair to say that Stones has not lived up to his reputation following a high profile £47.5m move to Manchester City, and he has been ripped apart on Twitter following his latest horrific display.

Manchester City’s title hopes have taken a huge hit following this defeat at Leicester, and if Spurs win at Old Trafford they could drop out the top four as well as potentially dropping seven points off top spot. If they are to make a surge to the top of the table again, their defence will have to improve, and players like Stone will have to step up and improve.

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.

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

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

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

1 – Jermaine Defoe

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

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

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

‘When He Starts, We Win’ Fans Heap Praise Onto Manchester United Midfielder Following Derby Victory

Manchester United edged past local rivals Manchester City in the fourth round of the EFL Cup, courtesy of a Juan Mata goal in the second half. United fans were delighted with the Spaniard’s performance with many calling on Jose Mourinho to start him on a more regular basis in the Premier League. 

The first half was extremely even at Old Trafford, but United started to take control of the game in the second half. Zlatan Ibrahimovic played a nice ball through to Paul Pogba, who hit the post after Willy Caballero saved his shot.

The breakthrough for Manchester United came shortly after. Ibrahimovic was involved again as his square ball was converted into the bottom corner to give the Reds the lead.

The home side had to withstand some late Manchester City pressure, who introduced Sergio Aguero midway through the second half, but Mourinho’s men had more than enough to get over the line and into the quarter-finals of the EFL Cup.

Juan Mata marked his return to the starting line-up with the decisive goal in the derby, and impressed many with his performance in the derby. Fans took to social media to heap praise onto the Spaniard, also hailing the performance of Michael Carrick in the midfield.

Juan Mata hasn’t always been Jose Mourinho’s favourite man, just look back at when the two were at Chelsea to see what I mean. However, Mata’s performances have been immense for United this season, and generally when he starts, the Red Devils come away with a positive result, and fans have been calling for Mata to become a regular starter in Jose Mourinho’s starting elevens.

Michael Carrick has also been knocking on the door for an extended run in the team, but has so far been unsuccessful, with Mourinho preferring Ander Herrera alongside Paul Pogba or Marouane Fellaini in defensive midfield.

However, the Portuguese boss went with Herrera and Carrick in the defensive midfield, and after this positive result, Mourinho may explore the option of starting the two together in the midfield on a more regular and consistent basis.

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

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

Manchester United

David De Gea – 5

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

Antonio Valencia – 5

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

Marcos Rojo – 6

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

Daley Blind – 5

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

Luke Shaw – 5

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

Michael Carrick – 6

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

Ander Herrera – 6

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

Juan Mata – 6

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

Paul Pogba – 5

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

Marcus Rashford – 8

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

Zlatan Ibrahimovic – 6

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

Subs:

Morgan Schneiderlin – N/A

Manchester City

Willy Caballero – 5

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

Pablo Maffeo – 6

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

Vincent Kompany – 5

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

Nicolas Otamendi – 3

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

Gael Clichy – 4

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

Fernando – 6

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

Aleix Garcia – 6

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

Jesus Navas – 4

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

Leroy Sané – 3

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

Nolito – 4

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

Kelechi Iheanacho – 3

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

Subs:

Aleksandar Kolarov – 3

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

Raheem Sterling – 4

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

Sergio Agüero – N/A

5 Changes, No Rooney: Manchester United Team News & Predicted Line-Up To Face Manchester City

Following a 4-0 humiliation at Stamford Bridge on Jose Mourinho’s return, United host bitter local rivals Manchester City at Old Trafford in the fourth round of the EFL Cup.

Eric Bailly picked up a knee ligament injury at Stamford Bridge, and therefore is out. He is joined on the list of absentees by Marouane Fellaini, also injured at Chelsea, and Wayne Rooney is a doubt. Here is the United predicted line-up to face City.

Goalkeeper: David De Gea

Many were left surprised yesterday that David De Gea did not make his way onto the 30-man nominee list of the Ballon D’or considering how many times he has saved United over the course of 2016. He should start here.

Defence: Matteo Darmian, Chris Smalling, Daley Blind, Marcos Rojo

After conceding four at the weekend and falling apart, Jose Mourinho will be expecting a much changed performance at the back if they stand of beating Manchester City. With Mourinho unable to keep the core of his defence with Eric Bailly out, I think that Daley Blind will slot in alongside Smalling in the heart of the defence. That will allow Marcos Rojo to start on the left, with Matteo Darmian coming in for Antonio Valencia on the other side.

Defensive Midfield: Michael Carrick, Paul Pogba

To be perfectly honest, I think for Mourinho, Pogba is a little untouchable. I simply do not think that he will drop the Frenchman, but it must have crossed the Portugese manager’s mind at some point in the last couple of days. Ander Herrera has looked good for that last few games and weeks, but I think he will be rested, and this will be a good opportunity for Michael Carrick to impress Mourinho and give him a chance of breaking into the first team.

Attacking Midfield: Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Juan Mata, Anthony Martial

This attacking trio is much changed from Saturday. Mkhitaryan has hardly played for United since his high-profile £26m move from Germany, and this will be a good chance for him to perform if he starts against in the derby. Mata came on at half-time at Stamford Bridge, but had a minimal impact. Having only played 45 minutes he will still be fairly fresh ahead of Wednesday night. Martial has been in good form recently and could get his chance on the left.

Striker: Zlatan Ibrahimovic

The Swede needs to start scoring, and fast. He has missed a lot of good chances over the course of the season, especially two decent headed chances in big games against Chelsea and Liverpool. Despite this I think that he will continue as a lone striker against Manchester City.

For Manchester City To Win The League, Pep Guardiola Must Address This Issue

Manchester City were seemingly cruising in the Premier League just a few weeks ago. They held a 100% record in the league after six weeks and sat proudly at the top of the table with eighteen points out of eighteen. 

That was until they ran into Tottenham at White Hart Lane. Mauricio Pochettino’s men took a leaf out of Celtic’s book and pressed City high up the pitch just as the Scottish outfit did on the previous Wednesday. The Lilywhites came away with all three points in an impressive 2-0 win.

Manchester City haven’t won since their 3-1 away win over Swansea in September having playing out successive 1-1 home draws in the Premier League against Everton last week, and Southampton most recently.

Earlier on in the season, after six weeks of league action, City were scoring on average three goals per game, and winning most comfortably. However, Pep Guardolia’s side have kept just one clean sheet this season, and that came at home against Bournemouth in a 4-0 win.

This defensive record was previously covered up by an on-fire Manchester City attack, but now the goals have dried up for City, the defensive unit has come under scrutiny over the last couple of weeks. You can analyse as much as you like how the Manchester City defence work together, but mistakes have cost Guardiola’s side dear this season.

Looking back at the game against Tottenham, Aleksander Kolorov’s howler of an own goal put Spurs into the lead, and had the deficit been just the single goal, City may have come out of the game with a point, or maybe even more.

Moving away from league action, the Fernandinho slip was unfortunate, but Manchester City were still slightly in the game against an underperforming Barcelona side in midweek, and if Claudio Bravo hadn’t committed footballing suicide at 1-0, it might have been a different story at the Camp Nou.

Finally, most recently, John Stones, purchased from Everton over the summer for £47.5m couldn’t even lay the simplest of passes back to his goalkeeper, allowing Nathan Redmond to fire the Saints into the lead. These are all mistakes that shouldn’t be happening at the top level, and really are crippling Manchester City at the moment.

City also look uncomfortable when being pressed high, especially in the defence. The players either need to show that they are capable of dealing with the high press and playing it out of the back, or Pep Guardiola needs to have a serious tactical rethink.

To summarise, teams are going to come and set up shop at the Etihad playing for a point or a 1-0 win, and City may only be able to put one goal past these extremely well-drilled defences and to give City the best chance of winning, the defence needs to start keeping clean sheets on a regular basis. A good step towards doing that would be to completely irradiate all of the silly errors we are seeing in the City back line.

‘Comedy Of Errors’ Fans Fuming After New Manchester City Signing’s Horrific Performance

Pep Guardiola’s decision to ditch Joe Hart over the summer and sign Claudio Bravo at Manchester City was met with some opposition, but City’s summer signing didn’t so himself any favours this evening at Barcelona… 

Manchester City fell to a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Barcelona, and manager Guardolia shocked all of us by deciding not to play Sergio Aguero from the start in what arguably was City’s biggest game of the season so far.

City made a bright start to proceedings, but fell behind after sixteen minutes in unfortunate circumstances. Fernandinho slipped inside the box, and Lionel Messi of all people was there to pounce and fire the hosts into the lead.

It was at 1-0 where Claudio Bravo made his costly error. In the second half, the 33-year-old came out a long way to retrieve the ball and set City onto the front foot, instead, he gave the ball to Luis Suarez, who attempted the chip, which Bravo handled outside of the box. The Chilian was shown a straight red card for his troubles.

Willy Cabellero came on his place and managed to save a Neymar penalty, but was unable to stop Messi from scoring two more and Neymar adding a Barcelona fourth goal.

Joe Hart did make a couple of errors over the summer in goal for England at Euro 2016, but nothing worthy of him being dropped by new manager Guardolia, looking solid in between the sticks for domestically for Manchester City.

Despite making some quality saves, Guardolia favoured a goalkeeper that could play it out from the back, and chose Claudio Bravo to succeed Joe Hart in goal. However, he might be questioning his decision at the moment after Bravo’s latest performance.

Bravo has not made the fastest of starts to life in the Premier League, and has been criticised by some for recent performances in the Premier League, with some fans seriously questioning the decision of Pep Guardolia to get rid of Hart over the summer.

Fans took to Twitter to express their views on Claudio Bravo’s performance against Barcelona, who made a good double-save in the first half, but unsurprisingly, this did not get a mention as fans slammed the goalkeeper off the back of his red card at the Camp Nou.

‘Outstanding’ Twitter Full Of Praise For Everton Star vs. Manchester City

Everton picked up a vital point away at Manchester City on Saturday afternoon as they maintained a solid start to Premier League life under Ronald Koeman. They now sit 6th in the Premier League and look well built for a challenge for the European spots.

But the point they gained on Saturday was massively thanks to their man between the sticks, Maarten Stekelenburg, who astonishingly managed to save two penalties. Both of these penalty saves were made when Everton were in the lead, and although he did eventually let a goal in, it was his penalty saves that made the crucial contribution for Everton and earned them a point. This duo of saves made him only the 7th keeper in Premier League history to save two penalties in one game.

It wasn’t just penalties that the Dutchman saved though. Astonishingly he made a huge 7 stops, with WhoScored awarding him a match rating of 9.62. He deserved no less than that. Many questioned Foeman when Stekelenburg was signed and chosen to be the clubs new 1st choice goalkeeper after the Dutchman has had a few questionable spells in England. But Koeman’s trust in the stopper appears to be being repaid so far, with the keeper no doubt being the man of the match in this fixture.

Perhaps if there is to be one criticism of his performance against City (harsh I know) it would be his distribution. Too often he did not find a Everton player when distributing the ball, in fact less than half of his attempts found a teammate. This may be an area to work on for him if he is to win all of the fans over completely.

Here’s how Twitter reacted to Stekelenburg’s heroics on Saturday.

Everton had a lot of problems at the back last season, many of them came in their defensive personnel and after losing John Stones many fans feared it would get worse. But Koeman has made some good signings in Stekelenburg and Williams – whilst his management style has also helped plug the gaps in defence.

When Joe Hart became available late in the transfer window, many tipped Everton to pounce with doubts over Stekelenburg’s ability to be the number one for a club seeking European football. It is still early days but his performance on Saturday will at least help install more confidence in those fans that had doubted him.

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!