Tag Archives: Southampton

Tottenham Defender Confirms He Wants Departure As Southampton Lurk

Tottenham Hotspur have been relatively quiet in the transfer window so far this summer but things could heat up in the coming weeks, with one first-team defender confirming he’s seeking an exit.

The Daily Mirror quotes Spurs’ Austrian centre-half Kevin Wimmer as stating he’s seeking an exit from White Hart Lane this summer in order to secure more regular playing opportunities, ahead of potentially representing his nation at the World Cup next year.

Austria currently trail Serbia, Wales and the Republic of Ireland in Group D of the World Cup qualifiers, sat four points behind the group leaders, and face a major battle to overturn their deficit and seal a spot in Russia.

Wimmer, now 24, has his future on his mind though and revealed he’d prefer to stay in the Premier League, where he could get a chance with Southampton as the Saints are reportedly keen on funding a move.

What’s been said?

Hinting that he’d reject the possibility of a return to German side Cologne in order to remain within English football, Wimmer said:

“It would be the most beautiful to stay in the Premier League. Twenty-four years is exactly the age at which it is most important to play regularly and not only have to train week after week and have to sit down on the bench at the game.”

“In the next few days and weeks, the main focus will certainly be placed on what is there for offers, and we will definitely look around, it’s time to look for something, where the chances of regular use are again higher.”

“In Cologne, I experienced three super years. I believe that Cologne is always a very nice step for me, you have to look at what happens. But I would prefer it if I could remain in the Premier League.”

Would Spurs regret a sale?

Spurs are in a difficult situation with Kevin Wimmer as it’s clear the Austrian has the credentials to be a key-player within the Premier League if given the opportunity, although he’s highly unlikely to oust Belgian duo Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld from their starting spots.

Tottenham do lack cover in central defence though, with Eric Dier the only real senior alternative excluding Wimmer, and an exit for the 24-year-old could force Spurs into the market- and it may be difficult to lure a player to the club without the offer of regular football.

Spurs are reportedly eyeing a move for Estudiantes 19-year-old Argentine defender Juan Foyth though, who could be developed into a fine successor for either of Spurs’ senior Belgian pairing. However, it remains to be seen whether he’d provide an immediate boost to the squad.

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

Southampton Targeting Swoop For Liverpool Outcast In £20m Deal

Southampton have become accustomed to seeing their stars snatched by Liverpool in summer transfer windows but the tide could be about to turn with a major transfer in the opposite direction.

The Daily Mirror states Southampton have been impressed by Mamadou Sakho’s performances on-loan with Premier League strugglers Crystal Palace and are ready to make a move in the summer window, as the Frenchman’s time with Liverpool looks to be up.

Sakho was sent home early in pre-season last summer and has fallen out of favour in the eyes of Jurgen Klopp, who deems the former Paris Saint-German defender to be surplus to requirements- which opens the door for a transfer this summer.

Southampton have struggled to remain competitive in the Premier League this season and are set to miss out on European football, with Claude Puel’s side needing changes this summer- and bringing Sakho into their defence could be a wise call.

Do Southampton need him?

Southampton’s defence was weakened in the mid-season window following the departure of Jose Fonte to West Ham United and the Saints also face uncertainty around the future of star-man Virgil Van Dijk, who continues to earn plaudits for his defensive displays.

Regardless or not of whether Van Dijk stays on the South Coast, Southampton need to bolster their defensive ranks and, should the Dutchman stay, a partnership with Sakho would help the Saints push for regular involvement in European competitions.

At 27, Sakho is approaching the prime years of his career and his experience would aid a fairly young Southampton side, whilst a price-tag of around £20m wouldn’t break the bank for the Saints.

Is there any chance of a Liverpool stay?

It certainly seems unlikely, given all that has gone on at Anfield, and the Reds seem content with the likes of Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan for the time being. In the summer though, defensive changes will occur and that would give Sakho more competition on Merseyside.

After missing out on France’s European Championship exploits last summer, following a failed drugs test that was later overturned, Sakho will be pushing for a spot in Didier Deschamps’ squad for the World Cup next summer and moving to Southampton could help his chances.

For Sakho to compete with the illustrious names that France boast in defence, he’ll need to be playing regular football at the highest level and, whilst Southampton won’t be able to offer chances on the European stage, starring for the Saints would certainly help his cause.

EFL Cup Final Player Ratings: Manchester United 3-2 Southampton

These are Fresh Football’s ratings for the EFL Cup final between Manchester United and Southampton.

Manchester United

David De Gea – 6.5

Made a couple of decent saves throughout the encounter, with the Spaniard left with little chance in stopping the other two Southampton strikes in a 3-2 win.

Antonio Valencia – 6.5

Solid and active down the right flank, particularly towards the end of the game.

Eric Bailly – 5.5

Not the best showing in a United shirt, offering a few moments of unease when in possession and struggling to cope with Manolo Gabbiadini’s presence inside the box.

Chris Smalling – 6

Slightly better than his centre back duo, but, again, hardly the convincing performance José Mourinho will have been hoping for in a final.

Marcos Rojo – 5

Stranded and in real trouble out on the left-hand side of United’s defence, as Cedric and Dusan Tadic caused problems for periods of the game. Subsequently, the Argentine offered very little going forwards, too.

Ander Herrera – 5.5

Outfought for periods of the game, as the Saints swamped the midfield, but Herrera did eventually come up with the pass of the match when assisting Zlatan Ibrahimovic for the win.

Paul Pogba – 6.5

Struggled with the intensity of Southampton’s game for large periods, but once Claude Puel’s side waned, the Frenchman grew into the game to regain some control for United.

Juan Mata – 4.5

Ineffective throughout his 45-minute showing, which is why Mourinho saw him as the strongest candidate to make way for Michael Carrick at half-time.

Jesse Lingard – 6

Hit a big goal for United, but aside from that, there was little else to take note of, minus a lot of running.

Anthony Martial – 5

Lively and threatening when given space to attack, but the Frenchman was very rarely afforded the opportunities to do so.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic – 7.5

The match-winner for United, as he put the Red Devil’s ahead in the first half with a free-kick. Having lost many of his fair-share of battles against the Saints’ defensive duo, the Swede had the last laugh with the winning goal deep into the final stages of the game.

Subs

Michael Carrick – 6

Helped regain some sort of control and method to United’s play, as Southampton relinquished their dominance.

Marcus Rashford – N/A

Marouane Fellaini – N/A

Southampton

Fraser Forster – 5

Could have done better to stop Ibrahimovic’s goal from a free kick, although the wall also didn’t offer a great deal of help to the former Celtic man either.

Cedric Soares – 7.5

A quality performance from the Portugal international, who found Gabbiadini for the one-touch finish on two separate occasions, despite only one of them counting in accordance to the linesman’s flag.

Maya Yoshida – 7

The Southampton old-timer led by example up against Ibrahimovic at the heart of a depleted defensive sector.

Jack Stephens – 6.5

Bar a couple of costly mistakes in two of United’s three goals, Stephens but up a fight in front of Forster’s goal.

Ryan Bertrand – 6.5

A decent performance from the ex-Chelsea full back, both going forwards and backwards.

Oriol Romeu – 7.5

Took on the heavy duty of destroying United’s play and did so very well, despite being yellow carded early on.

Steven Davis – 7

A big effort from the Saints captain, who helped Romeu in his defensive duties to great success.

James Ward-Prowse – 6.5

One moment he was wide, the next closing down through the middle – a tricky role for the young midfielder, but he executed it quite well.

Dusan Tadic – 5

Despite a handful of decent deliveries from set-pieces, the Serbian playmaker can feel a little disappointed with himself in the final third.

Nathan Redmond – 8.5

A strong contender for Man of the Match, irrespective of being on the losing side, Redmond was at the heart of plenty of positive moves created by Puel’s side.

Manolo Gabbiadini – 8.5

Up there with Redmond, the ex-Napoli and Sampdoria man took his chances brilliantly when they came, as his hot streak with the South Coast club continues.

Subs

Sofiane Boufal – 5

In to refresh Southampton’s attacking sector, but Boufal ended up seeing very little of the ball.

Shane Long – N/A

Jay Rodriguez – N/A

Player Ratings: Southampton 0-5 Arsenal – Rotated Arsenal Midfield Excels

These are Fresh Football’s player ratings for Arsenal’s 5-0 victory away to Southampton in Saturday night’s fourth round tie of the FA Cup:

Southampton

Harry Lewis – 5

A little helpless up against Arsenal’s attacking force, but the young goalkeeper won’t be satisfied with himself after a portion of the goals he conceded.

Cuco Martina – 5.5

Produced a quality opportunity for Shane Long to pull a goal back for Southampton, but, moreover, struggled with the inspired Danny Welbeck on the night.

Florian Gardos – 5

Back after a lengthy spell on the sidelines, the defender had his work cut out against the pace and creativity of Welbeck, Lucas Perez and Theo Walcott.

Jack Stephens – 5

Much like Gardos, Stephens always looked second best against Arsenal’s on-song attack.

Sam McQueen – 5.5

Sam McQueen was another who struggled greatly with the pace of the Gunners’ attacking transitions, with Walcott and Hector Bellerin both marauding down his flank.

Pierre-Emile Højbjerg – 6

Perhaps Southampton’s best on the night, despite struggling to place his stamp on the game, but the former Bayern Munich hotshot did threaten Arsenal’s goal on occasions.

Harrison Reed – 5

The Southampton academy graduate was totally dominated and ineffectual versus his midfield counterparts.

Jordy Clasie – 5

Along with Reed, the ex-Feyenoord star looked dwarfed versus a newly-constructed Arsenal midfield, which will stand as a great disappointment to Claude Puel’s side given the vast first-team experience the 25-year-old has to his name.

Josh Sims – 6

The 19-year-old was in and around a handful of Southampton attacking phases, but lacked a bit of finesse when called upon.

Lloyd Isgrove – 5

The wide man looked lively in pressing and causing the Arsenal defence into decisions, but didn’t see enough of the ball to make a noteworthy impact.

Shane Long – 5.5

Feeding off scraps, Long was reduced to just one half-chance versus David Ospina, which was dealt with by the Colombia international.

Subs:

Dusan Tadic – 5

The Saints turned to one of their key performers to salvage something from the game in the 64th minute, but the tide was too much for the Serbian to overcome.

Nathan Redmond – 5

Another who Puel had hoped for inspiration, as his side sunk to a 5-0 defeat.

Arsenal

David Ospina – 5.5

The erratic goalkeeper offered a few scares and miscalculations, but with a clean sheet to his name, it’s one to brush off for the moment.

Hector Bellerin – 6

The Spaniard wasn’t short of opportunities to lay down the marker on the flanks, but lacked that final pass on the night.

Shkodran Mustafi – 7

The leader in the heart of defence, Mustafi dealt with much of the defensive confusion which, at times, threatened to blemish a standout performance by the collective.

Rob Holding – 6.5

Covering for Laurent Koscielny, Holding did well against Long and co. throughout the game.

Kieran Gibbs – 6

Solid, but unspectacular stuff from the Arsenal full back, considering the Gunners’ dominance.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles – 8.5

Often deployed on the flanks, Wenger trusted the young prospect in the defensive midfield position this time around and his versatility didn’t disappoint, eating up possession alongside Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 9

A lot has been made of Chamberlain’s potential transition into the centre of midfield over the years, and versus his ex-club the Englishman was given the chance to showcase his capabilities. Arsenal fans will now be keen to see more of the explosive star after a man of the match performance.

Jeff Reine-Adelaide – 7.5

Another future prospect thrown into the XI by Wenger, excelling in and around the Southampton area with his playmaking prowess.

Theo Walcott – 8

In the correct place at the right time, as Walcott walked away from his old home with a hat-trick.

Danny Welbeck – 8.5

In his first start of the season, Welbeck took much of the plaudits with a breath-taking first-half performance, topped with two goals and an assist, before making way for Alexis Sanchez in the second period.

Lucas Perez – 7.5

The Spaniard looked typically impressive in combination with Arsenal’s attacking components, with only a goal for the striker evading his great showing.

Subs:

Alexis Sanchez – 7

Came into the game hungry and landed himself two assists in the process, after little more than 25 minutes on the pitch.

Alex Iwobi – N/A

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.

10 Changes, Jeff Starts: The Arsenal XI That Should Start vs. Southampton On Wednesday

Arsenal are back in Cup action on Wednesday night as they will host Southampton in the League Cup Quarter Final. Arsene Wenger has opted for a rotated squad in this competition in previous rounds, but with the final just two games away, and Southampton a tough opponent, will he be tempted to bring in some first team players for this clash?

I take a look at what I believe will be the likely Arsenal line-up and what I think it should be, when the two sides meet.

Goalkeeper: Damian Martinez

Arsene has three very good goalkeepers at the club and he’s playing them all in different competitions to spread out the game time. For the League Cup it is Martinez who is likely to take the place between the sticks. The young Argentinean has done very well in the two rounds previous and after signing a long-term contract at the club earlier this month, he’ll be keen to impress and keep the club in the competition.

Defence: Carl Jenkinson, Rob Holding, Gabriel Paulista, Kieran Gibbs

Jenkinson was apparently not happy at being left out of the squad against Bournemouth, but after Debuchy’s injury Arsenal need him. Holding and Gabriel have not been given much game time but both deserve to be given some game time in this competition. Gabriel looks like he needs more minutes to improve, and Holding has impressed at every opportunity. Gibbs has been at least on par with Monreal this season so once again, deserves to start.

Midfield: Francis Coquelin, Granit Xhaka; Lucas Perez, Jeff, Alex Iwobi

I’d like to see Xhaka retain his place in the middle of the park as Arsenal need to find some kind of consistency in midfield and with Cazorla out I think he is the best placed midfielder to do that. Alongside him we can afford to start the fresh Coquelin, who sat out against Bournemouth. I think Jeff will start at number 10 and he deserves to do so, it will be great to see the Frenchman in that position again. On the wings I would like to see the fit again Lucas Perez and Alex Iwobi. It’s a big game for both of those players as the wide spots are up for grabs in this Arsenal eleven. If either can put in a good performance, then I can see them breaking into the team.

Striker: Olivier Giroud

After being left out of the team against Bournemouth, Giroud will once again be hungry to prove himself in the team. Scoring goals doesn’t seem to be enough to get him into the eleven with Alexis thriving as an all-rounder through the middle, so it is up to Giroud to keep improving and prove his worth. The game on Wednesday presents a good chance for him to do just that.

5 Arsenal Players Named In The Team Of The Week: Liverpool, Tottenham & Man Utd Players Also Feature

Petr Cech – Arsenal

Although Cech wasn’t worked as much as others over the weekend, his professionalism shown through the whole squad on the Gunners 3-0 win over Chelsea. He made a few fantastic saves in the latter stages of the game with Michy Batshuayi being the best when he was through on goal. His calmness helped his back four massively, and the ex-Chelsea goalkeeper helped the Gunners coast to victory.

Hector Bellerin – Arsenal

Defensively, Bellerin has improved massively in the last 12 months and this once again showed against Chelsea on Saturday. Pedro was through on Arsenal’s goal, but Bellerin took charge and absolutely dismantled his fellow Spaniard for pace and recovered with an excellent tackle.

Bellerin kept Eden Hazard quiet all game, disposed play excellently and made inch perfect tackles whilst grabbing and assist for Theo Walcott’s goal.

Virgil Van Dijk – Southampton

Another solid performance by the Saints rock at the back, since his move to St Mary’s last summer he has been one of the most impressive defenders in England, with another sublime performance against West Ham showing his worth, he defended excellently and bullied Simone Zaza who didn’t get a sniff all game.

Laurent Koscielny – Arsenal

Koscielny must have been itching for revenge on Diego Costa who has often got the better of him, but to the Frenchman’s credit, he dealt excellently with the Chelsea man and was much stronger and determined that the forward for the 90 minutes.

Costa can usually bully his opponents but between Mustafi and Koscielny, Costa was left frustrated after being pocketed by the pair, with the latter getting some sweet revenge on Costa form past performances, Inch perfect display.

Ryan Bertrand – Southampton

Ryan Bertrand has all the tools to become a top left-back and he proved once again why in Saints victory over the Hammers, he was influential going forward as well as tracking back, helping in the build up play before Charlie Austin’s goal. The defender completed three key passes in the 90 minutes which just showed how good he was progressing forward.

Son Heung-min – Tottenham Hotspur

A player that nearly left White Hart Lane this summer is now a key man in Spurs superb form, he has once again made our TOTW with four goals in the last two matches. Son is full of confidence and is now starting to deliver on a consistent bases, he is picking up the ball and driving at defences whilst being a threat in the final third which he showcased once again at the weekend in another fine display.

Paul Pogba – Manchester United

Finally, Paul Pogba puts in a Man-of-the-Match performance in a dominating display over last seasons champions Leicester City. With Rooney dropping out of the side, Pogba was given a more advanced role and the whole team played at a much higher tempo with their main man Pogba able to dictate and control the game at his will, with the Frenchman also netting his first goal for Manchester United in a truly superb performance.

Phillipe Coutinho – Liverpool

Coutinho is another who has been superlative this season, he once again ran the show for his Liverpool side with two assists and one goal against a depleted Hull City side. Liverpool are a very dangerous outfit this season and if their Brazilian maestro can keep up his good work they will certainly fight for the title.

Alex Iwobi – Arsenal

The young Gunner has settled in to this Arsenal team and made the left wing spot his own. He was just as good as the likes of Alexis and Ozil on Saturday, highlighting his raw talent and the lads potential is huge. Aged just 20 and considering how much he has developed in the last 12 months, the sky is well and truly the limit for young Alex. Against Chelsea he tortured Ivanovic at right back, causing many Chelsea fans to call for the Serbian to retire.

Alexis Sanchez – Arsenal

Alexis is thriving in the number 9 role at Arsenal and he had another brilliant game against Chelsea. Hunting down Gary Cahill before giving Arsenal the lead was particularly impressive, but what I liked was his improved link up play. Many had doubted that Arsenal could play without Giroud because Alexis could not link the play as well, that was cetainly not the case.

Sergio Aguero – Manchester City

Back from suspension, Aguero again proved why he is perhaps the best player in the Premier League with an impressive brace against Swansea to ensure City maintained their 100% Premier League record. If this guy stays fit it is hard to see another team winning the league, he is just on another level.

Player Ratings: West Ham 0-3 Southampton – Saints Midfield Excels

These are the Fresh Football player ratings for West Ham vs. Southampton. 

Southampton

Forster 6 – Forster had little to work for with thanks to the Southampton defence, but as always, he claimed each and every cross with confidence

Cedric 6 – Cedric took up some superb positions but failed to come up with the goods. He so nearly could have had an impressive game.

Fonte 7 – Fonte was back to better form today with some intelligent passes and well timed interceptions. Much more of this please.

Van Dijk 8 – calm on the ball and physically dominant. Van Dijk is well and truly placing himself amongst the League’s best defenders.

Bertrand 8 – Bertrand was incredible in all areas of the pitch. As ever, he was strong in his decisions and in carrying them out. West Ham found no joy down the left side of the pitch.

Romeu 9 – Romeu was my man of the match. Not only did he win the ball back on numerous occasions, but he also built from deep, constantly offered himself as an option when others are on the ball and he even initiated multiple counter attacks.

Hojbjerg 7 – the more Southampton fans see from this man, the more they love, and rightly so. He was controlled, classy and positive on the ball.

Davis 7 – Davis covered his ground superbly, however, he stalled a number of attacks with some slow decision making. He was brilliant on all other areas.

Tadic 8 – Tadic is flourishing under Claude Puel and it seems like he’s loving every last minute of it. He found pockets of space and his team mates with absolute ease throughout the game. In addition, he was as cool as you like with his finish too.

Redmond 7 – Redmond is already showing growth at Southampton. His movement and ability to work the channels cause the West Ham defence multiple issues.

Austin 8 – Austin done what Austin does best, and that’s find the back of the net. It must also be noted that he played a sensational pass into the feet of Tadic for the Serbian’s goal too.

Subs: Ward-Prowse 6.5 – he scored a valuable goal in the closing stages of the game, helping to put the final nail in the coffin.

Long 6 – he had little time to impact the game, but he hurried the West Ham defence in the final minutes.

West Ham

Adrian 7 – without Adrian the game could have finished 6-0. He made a number of very impressive stops, in particular one save against Tadic whilst the game still had all to play for.

Nordtveit 4 – he was playing out of position and boy did it show. Nordtveit was at fault for the first goal and was continually troubled throughout the game.

Ogbonna 5 – Ogbonna was dragged out of position on too many occasions with thanks to Tadic and Redmond’s movement.

Reid 5 – like Ogbonna, he is capable of performing far better. The Southampton attack gave him a real test throughout.

Arbeloa 5 – Arbeloa failed to make an impact and was under pressure all afternoon

Noble 4.5 – Noble was played in a packed midfield to help nullify Tadic, but that plan clearly didn’t come to fruition.

Kouyate 5 – the Southampton midfield had Kouyate running around mindlessly on many occasions.

Antonio 5 – he’s been in superb form in recent weeks, but Bertrand showed his class today.

Payet 5 – In truth, it’s hard for Payet to play well when everyone around him is struggling so badly, but nevertheless, he failed to impact the game.

Lanzini 5 – Romeu ensured that Lanzini had almost no joy through the middle.

Zaza 4 – it’s been one to forget for Zaza as his worryingly poor start at West Ham continues.

Subs: Feghouli 6 – he found some nice areas in Southampton’s half but couldn’t quite make that final ball.

Fletcher 5 – not much more can be expected from such a young player when others are failing to carry out the most simple of tasks

Factfile: Everything You Need To Know About Southampton’s Europa League Opponents, Sparta Prague

The Saints will certainly look to compete on a better front in Europe this season after an embarrassing attempt last season getting knocked out by Midtjylland losing 2-1 on aggregate. They kick-start their Europa League campaign against Sparta Prague tomorrow night in an attempt to rectify what went wrong last season.

Here’s how Saints opposition presents themselves ahead of match day 1.

The Journey

Sparta Prague (Železná Sparta) will look to improve domestically and in the league this season after finishing second in the Czech First League to Viktoria Plzen last season by seven points.

Prague only inflicted six defeats throughout the season and finished the campaign with the best defensive record in the league, conceding just 24 goals, whilst finishing second for the most goals scored with an astounding 61 goals.

There was an obstacle Prague had to overcome before there match with Southampton in the Europa League, they faced a very stubborn SønderjyskE in a qualifier who dug in deep against the Czech side, but Prague eventually come out winners winning 3-2 on aggregate over the two legs after settling for a stalemate draw on the return leg.

Form

Sparta Prague are currently sitting in second place of the Czech First League picking up 14 points from six games, which leaves them trailing Zlín by just two points.

Železná Sparta are on a seven-game unbeaten run thus far in all competitions with three draws and four wins, with their most impressive win coming in a 3-0 victory over Jablonec back in August.

Prague haven’t conceded a goal in their last four games and have scored five in the process, so their defensive stability will certainly test Southampton’s attacking force on Thursday evening.

One to Watch – David Lafata

A club which doesn’t possess many big names, David Lafata is the man who presents the biggest threat to the Southampton back line.

At 34-years-old many may not be worried about the Prague’ hit man, or have even heard of him, but Lafata is lethal in front of goal and has been top scorer in the Czech First Division five times in the last six seasons.

Lafata has once again hit the ground running this season with four goals to his name already, including one in the Europa League play-off victory against SønderjyskE.

The former Czech Republic international has netted goals on the big occasion, with goals against Borussia Dortmund and Schalke to his name. The forward was prolific for Prague in the Europa League last season, netting five goals in nine games in their run to the quarter-final.

A stat that will scare the Saints backline is the fact Lafata has scored 63 goals in 98 league appearances for the club, proving his worth and deadly finishing.

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.

Player Ratings: Arsenal 2-1 Southampton

Ratings by Aidan Small from freshsaints.com

Arsenal

Cech 7 – Despite being marked as the scorer of Southampton’s goal, Cech was of no fault for the goal. It was simply one of those unlucky things in football! But aside from that, Cech psyched Shane Long out during a one on one and forced him to place the ball wide. He also held each strike well.

Bellerin 6 – Bellerin was comfortable in deep areas, but struggled to be effective in the final third due to Bertrand’s strong showing.

Koscielny 8 – Strong in the air, comfortable on the ball and scored a stunning bicycle kick. Not a bad birthday eh?

Mustafi 7 – Like Koscielny, Arsenal’s new man was also comfortable on the ball. He also put up a good fight to deal with Long’s aerial threat.

Monreal 6 – Monreal found some nice areas but struggled to make that final ball. He was rarely troubled defensively.

Coquelin 6 – Coquelin limited Arsenal’s build up play heavily in the first half, and despite improving over the second half, he is capable of far better.

Cazorla 8 – The little maestro is a joy to watch when he plays like he did today. Quick feet, impressive passing range, solid defensive contributions and a goal to top it off too. Cazorla was Arsenal’s man of the match.

Ozil 5 – Ozil took control of the game over a five minute period prior to Koscielny’s goal, but minus that, Romeu kept him quiet for the rest of the game.

Walcott 5 – thinking back, I struggle to think of any moments involving Walcott over the 90.

Chamberlain 4 – the former Saint had a game to forget. Not only did he fail to capitalise on Cedric’s attacking mindset, but he also delivered some woeful crosses. No impact on the game whatsoever.

Perez 5 – granted, its Perez’s debut, but he was very much out of time with the rest of the team’s attacking fluidity and failed to find space or challenge Van Dijk/Fonte.

Subs

Iwobi 6 – Iwobi managed to contribute to some neat passing play, but couldn’t directly affect the game.

Sanchez 6 – the Chilean worked some good attacking angles, but failed to make any use of them.

Giroud 7 – Giroud came on to act as a focal point for the Arsenal frontline, and despite slipping at one good chance, he ensured that he would be receiving the ball on a number of occasions. His work paid off after winning the penalty.

Southampton

Forster 6 -The Southampton keeper was worked very little, but played out from the back in an assured manner.

Cedric 5 – Cedric’s defending didn’t prove to be the issue today, instead, it was his poor deliveries and wasteful passing into central areas.

Fonte 5 – It’s safe to say that Fonte hasn’t had the greatest of starts to the season so far. Whilst he made effective use of the ball, he also needlessly gifted Arsenal free kicks, gave away the penalty and looked erratic whilst tackling.

Van Dijk 6 – his passing was exceptional at times and proved to once again destroy many players in the air. However, Van Dijk was at fault for the first goal and almost gifted Arsenal a second after a risky ball.

Bertrand 7 – It’s almost like he was never away. Bertrand was strong in all areas of the pitch.

Romeu 8 – The Spaniard was without doubt Southampton’s man of the match. He pressed superbly, intercepted intelligently and made some cutting passes to set Southampton free against the Arsenal defence.

Davis 6 – Davis is still adjusting to life as a central midfielder and today was certainly better than his past few showings. Tidier in all areas.

Clasie 7 – The Dutchman finally appears to be getting to grips with English football and today’s performance was promising. Much to the annoyance of the Arsenal midfield, Clasie proved to be a real defensive pest at times

Tadic 6 – Tadic started the game brightly in the opening 20 minutes but as we’ve seen so many times, he soon faded out of the game.

Redmond 6 – Redmond’s general play and passing was very comfortable and calming, but his performance was missing drive and grit in attack.

Rodriguez 5 – Rodriguez contributed little in the first half and asked almost no questions of the Arsenal defence. Its no surprise that Puel dragged him off at half time.

Subs

Long 4 – Shane Long managed to place himself in some dangerous positions throughout the game, but at the end of the day, he’s a striker, and therefore, missing key chances simply isn’t good enough. That’s exactly what he done on three separate occasions, leaving me no other option but to score him so poorly.

Hojbjerg 7 – from the moment that Hojbjerg entered the pitch, Southampton instantly become far more offensive in their play and fashioned themselves a number of chances. This seems to be a recurring effect from the Danish midfielder.

Ward-Prowse 5 – he had little time to make an impact and in truth, done little.

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.

No. 3 – Southampton Midfielder Named 3rd Best Premier League Signing

We’ve been asking the fans who they think have been the best signings of the summer. This is your list and this, is your number 3. 

The Premier League world watched in awe as new Southampton signing, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, delivered an eloquent riposte to why the Saints’ lost 2-0 at the hands of Manchester United last month. You may be less surprised with the midfielder’s articulation if you were to know his relationship with current Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola, whose path he crossed during his Bayern Munich days.

As Guardiola walked into his adventure in German football, he had been alerted by the presence of a player labelled as the Danish ‘Talent of the Year’, aged just 17. That player was Højbjerg, a midfielder who had been scouted extensively under the orders of the then new Bayern Munich manager and fast-tracked to the first team shortly after. Guardiola’s relationship with the youngster was described as obsessive, creating hope of uncovering a new Sérgio Busquets, just as the Catalan had done at Barcelona.

Bayern Munich’s depth, boasting names like Toni Kroos, Xabi Alonso, Thiago Alcântara, Bastian Schweinsteiger and more within their ranks, limited Højbjerg’s first-team opportunities, however, with the midfielder racking up just 218 minutes of football in the 2013/14 season, just 63 more than he’s already amassed as a Southampton player this season.

The Denmark international was loaned out midway through the following season, as he helped guide an Augsburg side to Europa League qualification, but his follow-up loan spell at FC Schalke wasn’t to be so successful, finishing fifth, outside the club’s goal of a Champions League qualifying spot.

Upon his return to the Bavarians, it was agreed that his career was in need of a fresh start, as the 20-year-old chose Southampton, lauded for the nurturing of young talent, to help fulfil his potential in a £13 million move to the St. Mary’s Stadium.

As his comparisons to Busquets suggest, Højbjerg is capable of playing at the base of midfield and succeed the departing Victor Wanyama, meanwhile he also has the physicality and technical ability to play further afield.

The numbers of average tackles made by the former Bayern Munich man stand very close to Wanyama’s, with the latter succeeding every 36.2 minutes versus Højbjerg’s 38.6-minute interval at Schalke last season. Southampton’s new signing also leads the way against those still at the club in interceptions made in league competitions last season, averaging 3.65 per game to Jordy Clasie’s club best of 3.22.

Furthermore, none of the aforementioned players come close to Højbjerg’s control on the ball, who completed on average 47.63 successful passes with an 88% pass accuracy, some way off the most well-rounded register from Oriol Romeu, who did so with 38.67 passes made and a success rate of 85%.

There’s more to come from Højbjerg, who contributed just once to a goal via an assist in his 23 Bundesliga appearances for Schalke. But, as mentioned previously, the midfielder is also still 20-years-old and the heartbreak and experience gained since the age of 17 could serve him well for the season ahead, as his refreshing maturity exemplified a few weeks ago following the Man United game.

Overall, it seems as though Southampton have done their homework very well, once more. Among the relentless cash burning of the Premier League, soaring to £1.6 billion in spending this summer, Southampton have managed to bag a very promising, yet weathered star for just £12.75 million. Højbjerg now has somewhere to settle, grow and, potentially, become yet another Saints player to one day leave for a huge profit.

No. 7 – Incredible Southampton Signing Named 7th Best Of Premier League Splurge

We’ve been asking the fans who they think have been the best signings of the summer. This is your list and this, is your number 7. 

He might have been voted as number 7 in this list, but for me, Boufal could turn out to be the signing of the summer. At £16million he offers incredible value in this market. He is just 22 but has the potential to go all the way, following in Eden Hazard’s footsteps of leaving Lille for the Premier League. Southampton have once again made a shrewd move in the market to seal this deal and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a bigger club (once again) come knocking next summer.

It’s a credit to Southampton that beyond the raids set on their team during the transfer window by Liverpool and co., they’ve still managed reformulate their side and hit all the targets expected of them. The challenge could be a little trickier this time, however, with the new Everton boss, Ronald Koeman, swapping the south coast for Merseyside. Claude Puel has come in as his successor, but despite the change at the St. Mary’s hot seat, the traditions of the transfer market have continued.

Liverpool wasted no time in swarming the Saints once more, this time signing star man Sadio Mané for a £35 million fee. In response, Southampton landed Nathan Redmond from Norwich City for £11.5 million, but Puel, meanwhile realising the English winger is not quite up to the standards set by the new Reds man, sees the winger as more of a forward.

Via tactical preferences, a void out wide was opened once more, but the Europa League hopefuls have moved meticulously to get that gap filled in. With a couple of days to go until the transfer window’s closure, Southampton managed to land the signing of Lille winger Sofiane Boufal for £16 million, pinning the Moroccan international to a five-year-deal.

The 22-year-old, who joined Lille from Ligue 2 club SCO Angers in January 2015, scored 14 goals and contributed to a further 10 through assists during his time in Ligue 1. The only midfielder to outscore Boufal was ex-Newcastle United outcast Hatem Ben Arfa, coincidentally under the command of Puel at OGC Nice.

Typically, due to his tricky nature and footballing background, Boufal has drawn comparisons to the likes of Chelsea and ex-Lille star Eden Hazard, as well as the 2016 PFA Player of the Year, Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez. Hazard himself was picked up as a 16-year-old by Puel, so the Frenchman has set a precedent with regards to spotting a quality wide man.

The winger’s arrival gives the Saints to chance to revert back to a more familiar looking 4-2-3-1, with results proving hard to come by so far this season under a diamond midfield. Boufal can play in all of the three attacking midfield positions, providing flexibility; meanwhile his statistical numbers for last season also mix well with those registered by Southampton’s Dušan Tadić, Redmond and the departed Mané.

Of the aforementioned options, only Tadić (71) created more chances than Boufal in the league last season, whereas it was the £16 million man who came up with the most key passes (65). The Moroccan’s shot accuracy also proved superior, as only Mané could match the 11 league goals scored in the last campaign.

Such stats will be a welcome addition to a Southampton side that have fallen on 53 attempts at goal so far this season – bettered only by Liverpool’s 55 – scoring twice. The hope is now that Boufal, initially representing a nice coup for the Saints, can help to translate such figures into three points consistently for Puel’s side and, who knows, follow in the footsteps of some of the Premier League’s most lauded French-based imports.

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.

Player Ratings: Manchester United 2-0 Southampton

Here are the Fresh Football Player Ratings for Manchester United’s 2-0 win over Southampton at Old Trafford. Ratings by Aidan Small.

Manchester United

De Gea 6 – He was forced to make one save against Long which any keeper could save – even at Sunday League! His distribution was composed as always.

Valencia 8 – Valencia’s one job was to torment Targett and he done it superbly. His physicality when driving forward was a nightmare to contain and his crossing was much improved from last season. Baily 8 – Long and Redmond had a quiet day today and it was greatly down to this man. He’s assured on the ball, dominant in the air and an attackers nightmare with his rough and physical style. Manchester United have truly found their man at the back.

Blind 7 – produced some timely tackles when needed and helped to redistribute play effectively, but held no star moments Shaw 8- United’s failures last year were greatly down to Shaw’s absence. He was key in all phases of play and looked like the player that Southampton sold. Fellaini 5 – the game passed him by and his only notable impact was providing a nuisance to the opposition with fouls. Pogba 7 – some fantastic footwork and some brilliant ideas in his play but the final product

Bailly 8 – Long and Redmond had a quiet day today and it was greatly down to this man. He’s assured on the ball, dominant in the air and an attackers nightmare with his rough and physical style. Manchester United have truly found their man at the back. Blind 7 – produced some timely tackles when needed and helped to redistribute play effectively, but held no star moments

Shaw 8 – United’s failures last year were greatly down to Shaw’s absence. He was key in all phases of play and looked like the player that Southampton sold.

Fellaini 5 – the game passed him by and his only notable impact was providing a nuisance to the opposition with fouls.

Pogba 7 – some fantastic footwork and some brilliant ideas in his play but the final product was lacking. It’s clear to see that Pogba is exactly what United have needed in the middle of the park – someone who is physically strong whilst also possessing great technical ability. It was a promising performance but the 9’s and 10’s you will be finding in tomorrow’s papers will be due to the hype and excitement.

Mata 6 – Mata found some exciting positions but failed to provide that killer pass or add any real excitement to the frontline. Rooney 7 – his general play was certainly more efficient than usual and he provided the assist for Ibrahimovic’s goal with a delightful cross. Minus that, his impact on the game wasn’t as destructive as Monday nights.

Martial 6 – he had the right idea on a number of attacks but the final ball simply wasn’t there. Had he executed his ideas this could easily have been an 8.

Rooney 7 – his general play was certainly more efficient than usual and he provided the assist for Ibrahimovic’s goal with a delightful cross. Minus that, his impact on the game wasn’t as destructive as Monday nights.

Ibra 9 – are there many players more clinical in football? Zlatan is proving to be the ruthless force that we all hoped he would be in the Premier League, and I’ve got to say, I’m loving every second of it.

Southampton

Forster 5 – the big man had next to no chances to impact the game. When Ibrahimovic is firing it takes a world class keeper to even stand a chance, but nevertheless, he conceded two goals.

Cedric 5 – Martial managed to send the Euro 2016 winner the wrong way on a number of occasions. He also failed to deliver any dangerous crosses into the path of Long. However, there was a number of cutting passing through the midfield that helped to push the team forward. Fonte 7 – Southampton’s second Euro winner provided a mature performance that involved a number of superbly timed tackles to stop some dangerous attacks. VVD 8 – as always, Van Dijk was composed on the ball and dominant in the air. He even offered an attacking threat at moments by charging forward into the United defence. Targett 4 – I believe that Targett has a future at a decent level, but in

Fonte 7 – Southampton’s second Euro winner provided a mature performance that involved a number of superbly timed tackles to stop some dangerous attacks. VVD 8 – as always, Van Dijk was composed on the ball and dominant in the air. He even offered an attacking threat at moments by charging forward into the United defence. Targett 4 – I believe that Targett has a future at a decent level, but in

VVD 8 – as always, Van Dijk was composed on the ball and dominant in the air. He even offered an attacking threat at moments by charging forward into the United defence. Targett 4 – I believe that Targett has a future at a decent level, but in

Targett 4 – I believe that Targett has a future at a decent level, but in Puel’s system he is simply lost. He doesn’t possess enough pace to track back into the space left behind him and is all too indecisive in high offensive positions. But his worst aspect of the game by far was the fact that he was destroyed by Valencia three times over in the same manner. Despite Valencia always looking to bomb down the line, Targett dived in too early and allowed Valencia room to get in behind. However, he delivered two well struck crosses into the box Romeu N/A – sadly the Spaniard was forced off in the opening 15 minutes after an injury. He didn’t have enough time to impact the game in any way.

Clasie 7 – first things first, Clasie was wrongly punished for the supposed “foul” on Lule Shaw. Beyond this, he is looking more and more suited to the PL as times goes on. Finally we are seeing some bite, freedom and high relentless pressing in his play. Hojbjerg 8 – Højbjerg was smart when starting attacks and winning the ball back. The positioning of his body when receiving the ball was that of a truly

Hojbjerg 8 – Højbjerg was smart when starting attacks and winning the ball back. The positioning of his body when receiving the ball was that of a truly high class midfielder. This is another performance that will give the fans great promise over his quality Davis 5 – the Northern Irish International covered his ground superbly in the opening 25 minutes but his touch soon become clunky and he wasn’t aware of his position – most likely due to playing a more advanced role under Koeman. In addition, he also failed to follow one of the first rules in defending by allowing Rooney the time and space to deliver the cross for Ibrahimovic’s opener. Potentially tired after a tough physical battle in the

Davis 5 – the Northern Irish International covered his ground superbly in the opening 25 minutes but his touch soon become clunky and he wasn’t aware of his position – most likely due to playing a more advanced role under Koeman. In addition, he also failed to follow one of the first rules in defending by allowing Rooney the time and space to deliver the cross for Ibrahimovic’s opener. Potentially tired after a tough physical battle in the Euro’s. Tadic 6 –

Tadic 6 – Puel’s main attacking outlet played a number of smart through balls, but his play is greatly determined by the service from the CM’s and FB’s which at times was lacking. Alongside this, he also shanked a number of chances that would have worked the keeper if taken by a recognised goalscoring number ten. Redmond 5 – every single time that Redmond picked up the ball he was marked by three players at each and every attack. The rating of five is handed to him not because of his own play, but simply because Mourinho ensured that his side marked him so tightly Long 5 – Long worked the channels well in moments but quite simply, he fluffed his two big chances in the game when faced with a goalscoring opportunity. As our main goalscorer, that simply

Redmond 5 – every single time that Redmond picked up the ball he was marked by three players at each and every attack. The rating of five is handed to him not because of his own play, but simply because Mourinho ensured that his side marked him so tightly Long 5 – Long worked the channels well in moments but quite simply, he fluffed his two big chances in the game when faced with a goalscoring opportunity. As our main goalscorer, that simply

Long 5 – Long worked the channels well in moments but quite simply, he fluffed his two big chances in the game when faced with a goalscoring opportunity. As our main goalscorer, that simply isnt good enough.

Subs

Austin 5 – Austin made next to no impact on the pitch when given 25 minutes to show his worth.

Mkhitaryan 5 – Jose has promised that Mkhitaryan’s time in the side will come, and sadly tonight, he simply couldn’t impact the game with the opportunities that he was given.

Rashford N/A – coming on as a late sub, the talented youngster had no opportunities to please the fans at Old Trafford.

Analysis: Manchester United Set To Beat Arsenal To Signing Of Euro 2016 Winner

We recently covered the news that Manchester United are interested in signing Southampton captain Jose Fonte, with the Saints man open to an offer from a big club. The latest reports suggest Fonte will opt for United over Arsenal – we take a look at what he’d potentially add to the club. 

Portuguese compatriot Jose Mourinho is said to be in the market for a more experienced leader to hold the helm of United’s back line with Fonte certainly fitting into that criteria, the Red Devils have reportedly already opened informal talks with the Southampton star ahead of a proposed move this summer.

The 32-year-old Euro 2016 winner is thought to be open to an idea of moving to a ‘bigger club’ after a very successful summer but Southampton will be reluctant to sell their captain after another squad exodus this summer, seeing Saido Mane, Victor Wanyama and Graziano Pelle all leaving the club this summer.

Manchester United have already splashed the cash on one central defender this summer with Eric Bailly arriving at the Theatre of Dreams from Villarreal, the new United man has impressed tremendously in his opening games for the club but the United manager is now eager to add an experienced head to his United squad, certainly something which Fonte portrays.

Fonte reportedly is on the Gunners radar too as they have an injury crisis on their hands, but as reports state, the 32-year-old is keen to link up with Jose Mourinho at Manchester United.

Jose Fonte has been exceptional in Southampton’s rise in the top tier of English football and has been an influential player to their squad for many seasons; we take a look at how Fonte has compared to United’s current crop of defenders last season and if he will be a good partner for Bailly.

Daly Blind was signed for Manchester United as a central defensive midfielder but was deployed in a much deeper role in the United squad as he played as a centre-back or a left-back using his superb versatility to great measures. The Dutch international accomplished 1.94 tackles per 90 minutes, Phil Jones 1.18, Chris Smalling 1.11 and United target Fonte 0.97.

A trait which defenders have an advantage over their opponent is if they’re strong and powerful in the air, playing in one of the toughest leagues in the world, Fonte wins an impressive 68.18% of his aerial battles. Smalling trails on 63.68% and this is an obvious weakness for Blind, who stands at just 5ft 11′ only managed 38.64%.

The game has changed, defenders are often relied on to build up play from the back and have pinpoint passing and accuracy, this is certainly a trait that has changed over time but is now a very key factor for a defender to have. Phil Jones, who managed just ten games last season comes out on top for pass competition with an exquisite 85%, this is phenomenal for a defender who is under the radar at United to say the least. Fonte and Blind are both joint second with the latter commonly receiving heaps of praise for his composure on the ball; both defenders managed an impressive 84%. Smalling, who is arguably United’s most important defender managed 82% which is still very impressive, but an improvement will be required going into the new season.

As mentioned, building up play from the back is key in the modern game and defenders are heavily relied on to become natural ball players, as well as having immaculate passing accuracy, defenders are relied on to start a counter attack with forward passing at times, or simply relieving pressure on the back four. Blind accomplished 45.46 total forward passes per 90 last season which puts him ahead of all the other defenders. Jones is second with 37.35, Fonte third with 35.48 and once again Smalling last 30.83.

There are many contributions defenders must master to become a complete player and a few aspects of their game is interceptions and blocks. Fonte comes out on top for blocks showing his desire to get in front of the ball with 0.91. Blind is second with 0.58. Smalling is just behind In third 0.54 and Jones last with quite a poor 0.17. Smalling does come out on top with interceptions with an impressive 2.77. Southampton man Fonte is second with 2.33 which put him just ahead of Blind 2.31. Jones is again last with 2.19.

All defenders are equally matched with different sets of skills to their playing style. But who should partner new central defender Eric Bailly?

United fans should be overwhelmed with what they have witnessed of Bailly thus far, a composed ball playing no nonsense defender if the first impression he has given the spectators in his first few games in England. One of the best Premier League debuts I have seen, the powerhouse was efficient on the ball and just as impressive without, putting in hard tackles and being dominant in the air.

For me, it is between Blind and Smalling (if Fonte doesn’t sign) who partners Bailly. Smalling is a good defender and has the athleticism which allows him to not easily be beaten; he is comfortable with the ball and a presence at the back and can be a nuisance on set-pieces. Blind is very, very professional, his tactical positioning is often spot on and he is very good on the ball, picking out long balls and short, although he isn’t the quickest, he certainly makes it hard for players to get the beating of him.

United have Smalling, Bailly, Blind and Jones occupying the centre-back positions and I don’t think Fonte should be a priority, for me, Fonte wouldn’t start at United, he would be a backup player like Jones, and at 32-years-old this is certainly something he would have to consider. If the Gunners did make a concrete move, it would make more sense for his footballing career to move there, he will be a guaranteed starter after the Gunners injury woes and would become a key player in their back-line.

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.

Gabriel Injured, 2 CB’s In? Three Quality Defenders Arsenal Could Sign This Month

Arsenal are no strangers to a defensive crisis or two, so it’s perhaps no surprise that they find themselves embroiled in another just a week before their first game of the Premier League season versus Liverpool.

Gunners’ fans will recall a similar shift at the heart of their defence last season that saw Arsène Wenger forced to couple Calum Chambers with Gabriel Paulista for the first time against Liverpool, whereas it was Mathieu Debuchy who deputised at centre back against the Reds back in December 2014.

Following injuries to Per Mertesacker and now Gabriel, Liverpool have once again found themselves as the recipient of Arsenal’s woes. Koscielny will have little less than a week’s training and remains an unlikely to feature, leaving Wenger, barring the arrival of a new centre back in the coming days, with Chambers, new boy Rob Holding, Krystian Bielik and an adapted Nacho Monreal to choose from.

Wenger remains hopeful that a scan will say otherwise, but Arsenal fans can’t hold much optimism after Gabriel was stretchered off in tears in the final moments of their 3-2 win against Manchester City on Sunday.
Whereas the Gunners were already looking to bolster their defence in light of Mertesacker’s four-month lay-off, finding a new centre back has now become paramount. Here are three options Arsenal could look towards:

1 – Shkodran Mustafi

Age: 24
Club: Valencia
Nation: Germany

Shkodran Mustafi has collated his fair share of experience throughout his career, despite being just 24-years-old. The German centre back experienced life as a Premier League player, despite failing to make a single appearance for Everton since 2009.

As a 20-year-old, Mustafi was moved on to Serie A club Sampdoria in 2012, later impressing in his 50 league appearances in Italy before Valencia snapped up the Germany international two summers later.

The 2014 World Cup winner, with 77 appearances to his name since joining ‘Los Che’, now finds himself with a viable route out of the Mestalla, as Arsenal, potentially, line up to take him. As much as Valencia would like to refuse the prospect of his sale, receiving a fee in the region of €30 million (£25.5 million) would go a long way into solving their Financial Fair Play commitments.

Valencia, with no UEFA Champions League football this season after an underwheliming campaign, may have even already identified a replacement for Mustafi in ex-player Raúl Albiol, associated numerous times with a comeback to La Liga. Deportivo de La Coruña’s Sidnei is also referenced as a transfer target, holding strong ties with notorious agent Jorge Mendes, whereas Valencia will also look to offload Aymen Abdennour, Lucas Orbán and Aderlan Santos.

Of those to have played more than 25 times in La Liga this season, only Weligton (Malaga), Germán Pezzella (Real Betis) and Aythami Artiles (Las Palmas) won more aerial duels per 90 minutes than Mustafi’s 2.90%. Translating to 73%, Mustafi still has some way to go in surpassing his compatriot, Mertesacker, who registered a 78% success rate, but in turn the Valencia defender offers Arsenal versatility, superior physical attributes more befitting of the Premier League’s fast-paced nature and, more importantly, availability in the final weeks of the transfer window.

3 Transfers Southampton Should Try To Complete This Month To Break Into Europe

Southampton fans will have seen this summer before, Liverpool come knocking with a substantial offer for one of their star players and in turn the Saints reinvest a portion of that cash in order to attack the spots for European qualification.

The latest instalment of the growing relationship saw the Reds swoop in for Southampton’s Sadio Mané for £34 million back in June of this year, meanwhile new boss Claude Puel has wasted no time in welcoming Nathan Redmond, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, Alex McCarthy and Jeremy Pied to the St. Mary’s Stadium for little less than what they received for the Senegal international.

Puel hints the summer shopping won’t end there, stating: “We will see if there is an opportunity or not [to add to the squad].” But who might Arsène Wenger’s protégé have in mind? Here’s Fresh Football’s pick:

1 – Theo Walcott

The Arsenal winger was steadily growing into the unique player he had always promised to be before his anterior cruciate ligament injury side-lined him for approximately 11 months. Walcott’s woes were soon followed by pelvic and calf problems, whereas poor form upon his long-awaited return has subsequently displaced him from Arsenal’s XI.

The Gunners are now reportedly ready to approach the likes of Wolfsburg’s Julian Draxler and Riyad Mahrez from Leicester City, which in turn should mean that Joel Campbell and/or Theo Walcott become surplus to requirement at the Emirates Stadium.

Walcott may well have the greater amount of soul-searching to do, so what better place to do so than at home? Fears over the fitness of Jay Rodriguez and Charlie Austin could see Southampton dip into the transfer market once more before August 31st, keen to replace the 22 goals amassed last season by high-profile departures Mané and Graziano Pellè.

Redmond has entered the equation as a potential striker option for the Saints this season, but old boy Walcott is sure to offer greater assurances in front of goal, meanwhile Wenger has a vested interest in seeing Arsenal’s number 14 return to his habitual form. An ambitious loan move could well make sense, here.

Exclusive: Liam Canning Talks Lacazette to Arsenal, Pogba to Man Utd and Chelsea Tactics

Our writer Chris Baker had an exclusive chat with journalist Liam Canning, as they speak about the summer 2016 transfer activity thus far ahead of the Barclays Premier League next season.

It has been widely reported Alexandre Lacazette could swap life in France for London with a move to Arsenal a real possibility, do you think he would be a good fit for the Gunners or should they look elsewhere?

It would be a wise move to go for Lacazette. Giroud’s a good target man to have up there and can hold-up play brilliantly, but there’s not a striker on the books with real class that can stretch defences and play in behind. Walcott’s form is so inconsistent it’s surprising to even see him at Arsenal now, so Lacazette would be an obvious choice to rival Giroud for the starting position. When Jamie Vardy was linked to Arsenal, it was refreshing to see, because that’s what Wenger needs in order to amount a proper title-challenge; a quick striker that can run in behind and can finish first time. Lacazette is of that calibre and would be a very astute purchase – no matter the price.

Jose Mourinho has already signed two world class players in Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan; they look set to sign Paul Pogba imminently, would you make them favourites for the title next season?

I think it’s tough to call who the favourites are without the transfer window shutting. Man City are on course to bring in Leroy Sané and John Stones, which would round up a very smart summer window – also factoring in Pep Guardiola, so you’d have to say they’re the favourites for the Premier League. Yet, the likes of Man United and Chelsea won’t be far away, and if Arsenal can bring in a striker and a centre-back, they are up there too. The likes of Leicester and Spurs, who enjoyed wonderfully inspiring seasons last year, I feel will drop out of the top four and be fighting for the Europa League. It’s going to be a season full of ups and downs, that’s for sure.

Talking of Pogba, he’ll become the most expensive player in history, his potential is colossal and he is one of the brightest talents in football, do you think he can he deal with the pressure and is worthy of the massive price tag?

It’s a difficult one to assess. One of the biggest problems when concluding a world-record deal is the mind-set of the player. It’s easy to suggest that he might be able to handle it because he’s been playing for France at the Euros, or Juventus in the Champions League final, or that he has ‘swagger’ on Instagram, but it’s not always the case. When someone becomes the MOST expensive player to ever live, there’s an added pressure onto you, not to mention the fact he’ll have to justify that price tag in his first season.

Is he worthy of the price tag based on his performances over the last four years? No. But, when you accumulate all the relevant information regarding the new Premier League TV deal, Man Utd’s expected revenue (exceeding £500m for the first time ever in an annual year), the resale value the club will generate when Real Madrid inevitably come knocking and other commercially delightful deals, it becomes a lot more attractive to them. In the grand scheme of things, to Manchester United, this is relatively cheap change and it won’t affect them a jot.

Antonio Conte may revert to playing a 3-5-2 next season and could sign Romelu Lukaku from Everton this summer, if they got the Belgian, would Diego Costa make a return to Spain?

Before the summer began, my initial thinking was that Diego Costa would return to his beloved Atlético Madrid, but with the signing of Kevin Gameiro, perhaps that route is now blocked off. If Chelsea can’t sign Lukaku, then Costa’s set to stay and spearhead the attack. I don’t necessarily think Conte needs Lukaku and Costa, especially with the Blues’s absence of European competition this season.

 Arsenal have once again had a slow summer, they are in desperate need for not only a forward, but a defender after Mertesacker’s injury, who should the Gunners target to fill the hole in defence?

Mustafi is the obvious choice, and with Valencia pricing him at €25m, that will be the bargain of the summer no doubt. He’s 24-years-old but a nightly impressive and experienced defender, not to mention his versatility. It’d be a really smart move from Wenger and co., and they should look to get that deal done before other clubs start sniffing around.

Man Utd, Stoke and Southampton ‘Make Offers’ To Sign French Midfielder

Three Premier League clubs are all in contact to sign an in-demand Ligue 1 midfielder. The three clubs in question, according to reports appear to be Manchester United, Stoke and Southampton. 

The three clubs are chasing Bordeaux midfielder Adam Ounas according to RMC Sport. The 19-year-old scored 5 goals and made 2 assists in 23 appearances.

All three clubs have reportedly made a €10million offer for Ounas, but Bordeaux are unlikely to accept such an amount.

Ounas is an attacking midfielder with plenty of potential and he is not only attracting interest from England. Bordeaux’s poor season will have done little to try and convince him to stay in France and so the Premier League interest will certainly be appealing to the youngster.

He can play on either wing or as a number 10, but Ounas has been most successful playing on the right wing. His dribbling is described as his strongest attribute by WhoScored whilst he is also described as having a quality long shot.

We did a bit more research to find out the type of player Ounas is and more of his strengths and weaknesses. It seems Ounas is your typical young winger; plenty of flair, pace and technique, but perhaps a little lightweight. With a low centre of gravity and being two-footed, Ounas is a nightmare for defenders and very hard to tackle when he is in full flow. He struggles to hold onto the ball when under pressure due to a lack of strength and perhaps composure and can often, like many young players, try to overdo it. He certainly has raw talent but still looks to be a way off the pace before he is ready to play regularly in the Premier League.

One area where he appears to have already matured is with his off the ball movement. He gets himself into good positions and is also capable of coming inside to help the midfield battle.

There are concerns over his attitude which have caused him problems previously, although that can go either way as a player matures.

Ounas has represented France at under-20 level on two occasions and we will now see which club tickles his fancy with plenty of offers available to him.

Gossip: Man City To Seal €50m Deal, Liverpool To Sell Coutinho & Southampton Close In On Signing

The transfer window is now kicking into gear with a couple of completed deals already, Fresh Football will bring you all the gossip and breaking news throughout the busy summer period. We take a look at some rumours that are flying about this afternoon.

Calum Chambers heading back to Southampton (Daily Mirror)

According to the Daily Mirror Calum Chambers is on Southampton’s radar this summer with the club looking to sign the defender on a one-year loan deal. It is being reported Arsene Wenger has been very reluctant to send out his versatile defender, but after rebuffing previous attempts from The Saints to bring their academy product back to St Marys’s, Wenger now feels Chambers needs game time in order to fulfil his potential and take the next step of his career.

21-year-old Chambers showed his defensive abilities recently helping England secure their first Toulon Tournament title since 1994 and more noticeably being picked for the “team of the tournament”.

Wenger is only likely to sanction a move for Chambers this summer if Arsenal sign a senior defender with Medhi Benatia and Kalidou Koulibaly both reported targets for the Gunners.
Chambers, who joined Arsenal for £16 million in 2014, has only played 35 games for the Gunners scoring one goal. The Saints will be very keen on Chambers and his versatility to play right-back, centre-back and even as a holding midfielder.

Arsene has claimed many times he sees his future as a centre-half and now want’s the young defender to gain much-needed experience. Chambers, who is a ball playing defender, is seen as a long-term replacement for Mertesacker, although he has only managed 12 games this season his tackle’s won ratio is incredible managing 2.09 per 90 minutes compared to Mertesacker who managed just 1.06. Standing at 6ft tall Chambers also impresses with aerial duels won after winning 3.39 which is one again more superior to Mertesacker’s score of 2.29. Although Chambers has hardly played his defence score is sublime, scoring a total 22.25 which one again put his ahead of team mate Mertesacker who managed just 14.68.

Arsene sees Chambers long-term future at Arsenal, but without guaranteed minutes Chambers will need a loan move to hopefully fulfil his bright potential.

Laporte set to complete €50million Manchester City switch (Guardian)

According to The Guardian Manchester City are ready to pay the €50m (£39m) release clause in order to sign Aymeric Laporte from Athletic Bilbao.

Pep Guardiola sees central defence as a priority for City this summer and they are prepared to spend big on Laporte in order to get their man, the French International is just 22-years old and already thought of as one of the best young central defenders in Europe.

Laporte has been ruled out until August with a broken leg and dislocated ankle and will miss the Euro’s with France this summer, but this has not put City off the prospect of signing him.

Laporte has already played over 120 games in La Liga and his impressive defensive abilities have caught the eye of most teams around Europe most noticeably Barcelona, but it is now likely Manchester City will pursue their interest in Laporte and land their man.

Manchester City are still trying to strengthen their defence with question marks constantly raised over club captain Vincent Kompanys long term fitness issues.

Eliaquim Mangala and Nicolas Otamendi have both been brought in by City to toughen up their defence but it hasn’t gone as well as they hoped and both players have failed to really nail down a position. Laporte will be brought in as a hopeful starter for City and if Kompany can stay fit that will likely be the partnership, with Mangala and Otamendi’s futures at the club in doubt.

The likelihood is Laporte will partner Kompany in central defence so we take a look at how the two have compared this season. Something that will impress City is the amount of tackles Laporte has won, manging 1.47 per 90 minutes. His opponent Kompany is not too far behind with 1.06. Aerial duels are a real factor to being a great defender, especially in a tough league. Kompany, who stands over 6ft show’s why he is thought of so highly, winning 85.37% of his aerial duels. Laporte, although he hasn’t won as much as Kompany still shows his aerial presence winning 69.86%. Kompany has been one of the most impressive defenders to grace the Premier League in recent seasons managing to win 58.82% of his total duels which just beats the impressive Laporte (54.19%).

Manchester City look destined to sign their long term target after beating off interested from European giants, the fee being paid will of course raise expectation but Laporte looks destined to fulfil his potential.

 

Philippe Coutinho wanted in Paris (Liverpool Echo)

According to the Liverpool Echo French Champions PSG are very interested in signing Brazilian ace Philippe Coutinho this summer. Coutinho has once again had an impressive season for Liverpool and more noticeably since Jurgen Klopp’s arrival and has caught the eye of PSG with the club ready to pursue their interest this summer.

It is understood PSG have already sounded out Coutinho’s representatives about swapping life in England for France and it is believed Liverpool are also aware of their interest in the 23-year old.

No official approach has been made for Coutinho, but it is certain he is on PSG’s radar this summer as they look to strengthen their squad to compete more fiercely for the Champions League.

Coutinho signed a five-year contract with Liverpool in February 2015 and it is understood Liverpool will fight to keep their playmaker and rebuff any attempts from clubs to sign him. Coutinho has been influential for Jurgen Klopp in the second half of the season and the player himself has found some excellent form with the manager clearly desperate to keep hold of him. The lack of any European football whatsoever at Liverpool next season will make it hard for Klopp to convince the player to stay, especially with the likes of PSG interested.

PSG ace Angel Di Maria has thrived since his arrival in France, after a disappointing spell at Manchester United. Coutinho would certainly be brought in to link up with the delightful attacker. Di Maria has had a sublime season and has been a key player in PSG’s title dominance. He has contributed with 0.81 assists per 90 minutes which is far better than Liverpool’s Coutinho who has managed just 0.23. Di María also comes out on top with chances created with 4.15 which is brilliant; Di María has been one of the most influential wingers/playmaker in Europe this season, Coutinho who has shone in the Premier League has managed just 2.21. The bonus with both of these players is they don’t just help create chances or assists. They also contribute with goals: Di María swoops a clean house once again coming out on top to Coutinho after managing 0.42 goals per 90 minutes which is slightly better than Coutinho who manages 0.36.

Coutinho may not yet be at the level of Di Maria but he is still a top quality player and aged just 23, has time to improve further.

If PSG are to sign Coutinho this summer they will certainly have a fight on their hands, with long-term admirers Manchester City still keen on the midfielder if he was to become available.

 

Southampton ‘Enter Talks’ To Sign Two Players, Including Arsenal Defender

Southampton are kicking off their transfer activity this summer with two deal lined up, including a move for an Arsenal defender looking for more game time. 

The first player Southampton have entered talks to sign is Arsenal’s Calum Chambers, on a loan deal. Chambers previously played for Southampton but joined the Gunners in a £14million deal in 2014. Since then he has shown glimpses of quality but his first team exposure has been limited. Now Arsene Wenger is reportedly planning to sign another central defender this summer and that would leave Chambers as 5th choice, should all the remaining defenders stay at the club.

The 21-year-old has quality and was recently named in the Toulon team of the tournament following his success with the England under-21’s. There is increasing concern over the form of Jose Fonte and Chambers could replace or rotate with him next season. The presence of European football makes the need for another central defender more pressing. That makes Chambers’ versatility all the more appealing, a player who has experience as a central defender, right back and defensive midfielder would be very useful for squad purposes although Arsenal are likely to seek first team assurances should they loan him to Southampton.

That may also explain the interest in Sporting Lisbon’s Ruben Semedo, who Southampton are reportedly planning a £12million bid for. Like Chambers, Semedo can play as a central defender or as a defensive midfielder. He’s also young (22) and Southampton are reportedly looking to sign him permanently. Whilst Arsenal are willing to loan Chambers, Sporting Lisbon are unlikely to sanction the sale of Semedo this summer, and they have no reason too. The Portuguese youngster signed a six-year contract earlier this season which included a £35million release clause. It is often the case that Portuguese clubs point to the players release clauses when suitors come knocking, but in this case Southampton won’t be interested at anywhere near that price.

Sporting managed to win 13 of 14 games since Semedo returned from loan and broke into the starting line-up. Unlike Chambers who has been capped 3 times for England, Semedo is yet to receive a senior international cap, although one is likely to arrive in the near future should he continue his current form into next season.

It may be a case of if Ronald Koeman can’t sign Semedo they will turn to the easier option of loaning Chambers, who is being actively offered to Premier League clubs for a loan deal by Arsenal. The benefits of loaning Chambers is he knows the league, the country and the club well. Signing Semedo on the other hand is likely to have more long-term benefits, as any deal is likely to be permanent.

Any new signings will have to most likely wait until Koeman’s future is cleared up, with Everton still hoping to convince him to join Goodison Park.

Manchester United Fans Ecstatic To Win Race For Arsenal Target

Manchester United haven’t had much to celebrate since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement but there’s a general feeling that things could change next year

Louis Van Gaal left the Dutch national team to take charge of United last season and has had a decent first-season at Old Trafford, restoring the club’s Champions League status and improving the core squad.

However, this is Manchester United and that isn’t enough so Van Gaal’s project will continue this summer, with reports indicating the club has £150m to splash on new recruits this summer.

Memphis Depay has already been secured and now reports state that Morgan Schneiderlin will follow to the tune of £25m, which will see the Red Devils beat long-term admirers Arsenal to the Southampton man’s signature.

With it looking likely that Schneiderlin will be the latest recruit to bolster Van Gaal’s squad, United fans are delighted with the business- whilst Arsenal fans clash over another missed target.

Is Schneiderlin a good deal for United? And will Arsenal live to regret not moving sooner?

Southampton Fans Celebrate Striker’s Arrival As First Summer Signing

Southampton fans have been in a joyous mood this afternoon after the club announced the deal to sign Spanish international Juanmi from Malaga.

The 22-year-old, who scored his first La Liga goal at the tender age of 16, arrives for a fee of £5.1m and is tipped for a bright future, having made his international bow in March against Holland.

Ronald Koeman’s side fought off the interest of numerous clubs, including David Moyes’ Real Sociedad and Premier League sides West Ham United and Newcastle.

The deal was announced on Twitter and fans quickly celebrated the arrival of their new man, who was videoed crying upon the announcement of his new club.

Not Again! Liverpool Prepare Bid To Sign Southampton Defender

Liverpool are reportedly set to raid Southampton once again this summer with a £4million move for Jose Fonte.

It’s not the first time Rodgers has looked to the Saints to improve his defence, but last summers investment in Dejan Lovren hasn’t really worked out too well so far. So by logic, Lovren’s ex-partner must be the answer? Maybe, but Liverpool fans don’t seem keen on the idea.

At £4million Fonte could be a shrewd little signing, but he’s certainly not that big name centre half the fans want to see.

The Liverpool fans have responded by suggesting that the club are failing to effectively scout outside of the Premier League. I’d suggest they aren’t even scouting outside of Southampton.

The Saints fans have pointed to Rickie Lambert and Lovren as examples as to why Fonte should refuse a move. 31 year old Fonte has been a stalwart in his teams defence and it would be a shame and a bit odd if he were to join Liverpool this summer.

Fresh Football Team Of The Season: Better Than PFA’s?

I saw the PFA team of the year and as usual, didn’t agree. So I thought I’d create the team I think deserves to be there and see what others think. I don’t expect anyone to agree completely with my selection, but opinions are what makes football interesting.

David De Gea – Manchester United

Under close competition from Courtois, de Gea wins this one just about. He has been incredible for Manchester United this season, I very much doubt they would be in the top four without him.

Nathaniel Clyne – Southampton

He will be subject to some big bids in the summer I’m sure. Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United have been linked. A great season from Clyne and he deserves to be here.

John Terry – Chelsea

Terry might be getting on, but he has been brilliant this season for Chelsea. The English defender looks like he hasn’t aged a bit since Mourinho last managed the club.

Laurent Koscielny – Arsenal

Arsenal’s main man in defence, Koscielny’s quality has once again gone under the radar this season. He’s one of the best central defenders in the league, and this season, deserves a place in the team.

Aaron Cresswell – West Ham

The 25 year old deserves recognition for an amazing season. His form hasn’t gone unnoticed by the biggest teams in the league who are reportedly interested. His performances played a big part in the Hammers incredible first half of the season.

Eden Hazard – Chelsea

No need to justify this guys inclusion. The Belgian has been in terrific form all season and has been named the PFA Player of the Season.

Morgan Schneiderlin – Southampton

The Southampton midfielder is wanted by most of the Premier Leagues top four – you can see why. He has been a central figure to Southampton’s success this season and has even added goals to his game.

Cesc Fabregas – Chelsea

The most assists in the league. 16 assists in one season warrants a place in this team. Although his form has faded somewhat since Christmas (as have much of the Chelsea team) he still deserves to be in this team.

Alexis Sanchez – Arsenal

The Chilean has had an explosive start to his Premier League career. With 14 Premier League goals he has exceeded expectations. No doubt about his inclusion in this team, despite again not being as impressive in the second half of the season.

Sergio Aguero – Manchester City

Aguero was somehow left out of the PFA team despite, in my opinion being the best striker in the league this season. Whilst many City players have under performed this season, Aguero has bagged 21 Premier League goals – more than any other player.

Harry Kane – Tottenham

It’s been an explosive year for the Tottenham striker. He’s established himself as a top player this season, and whether he ca continue that form into next season is questionable, but his position in this eleven is not.

Subs: Thibaut Courtois, Emre Can, Jose Fonte, Francis Coquelin, Santi Cazorla, Christian Eriksen, Diego Costa

Unlike many team of the seasons, this side actually has balance. By that I mean it has a chance of winning real games against challenging opponents. I’ve seen too many teams flooded with all attacking midfielders and strikers, purely to include all the attacking talent on show in the league. The reality is there is a lot more to football than attack, and this team, and bench appreciates that.

What do you think of this team and what do you think of the PFA’s team? Tweet us at @FreshFootball.

Man Utd Fans Excited As Club Close In On £70m Triple Deal

Manchester United fans are excited, and with good reason.

Louis van Gaal’s side have drastically improved on the field and now attentions are turning to what they can do off the field in the summer, and it’s pretty exciting.

If rumours are to be believed United are closing in on a £70million triple swoop for Mats Hummels, Nathaniel Clyne and Memphis Depay.

The combined transfer fee of the trio is pretty huge, but so is the combined talent. Hummels would give United that world class defender they currently lack, whilst Clyne offers a solid improvement at right back. Depay is a player who has already been talked about a lot and has huge potential. He’s scored 20 goals in the Erdivisie this season and could play in several positions for the Red Devils.

Here’s how some Manchester United fans are reacting on Twitter to the news that they could be close to completing a stunning £70million triple deal: