Tag Archives: Sunderland

Sunderland Deserve Nothing More Than Years In Championship Purgatory

Relegation for Sunderland has been a game they have narrowly defeated with a fourth quarter run sometimes topped by a buzzer-beating winner.

This year, however, the deficit was too great, the changes non-existent and they were sent into the Championship way before a buzzer-beater could drift into their consciousness.

The Black Cats have cobbled together squad after squad lacking in Premier League quality. Jermain Defoe saved them last season along with the typical Sam Allardyce booster, but this season they fell early and they fell without a spluttering of a fight. The club symbolic of relegation avoidance has succumbed to life in the Championship.

David Moyes has taken a barrage of flak. Understandable given his very public pessimism, but Moyes is – as he was at Manchester United – little more than a scapegoat for a club in dire need of a substantial rebuild. Fingernails have been decimated by Sunderland fans year upon year and that is no coincidence. They are a club with an immense fan base, yet they have accepted for nip-and-tuck relegation dodging for year upon year.

Ambition has been lacking for many years and the team has been not only inefficient in the market, but accepted players who struggle to make the Premier League par. Whether through acts of cost-cutting or poor judgement of player standard, Sunderland have been a club lurching from turmoil to turmoil. Manager changes have prolonged the inevitable relegation for long enough, now the club must re-evaluate their standing in the English game and be open-minded as an overhaul becomes necessity.

The Championship is no cake walk. It may be an exhausted cliché, but teams that fall out of the Premier League as emphatically as Sunderland infrequently return immediately. Rivals Newcastle were in a far stronger position 12 months ago and spent more than anyone would expect (due to the sales of Moussa Sissoko and Georginio Wijnaldum) from Sunderland this summer, but the Magpies were not the runaway dominant force everyone expected. Aston Villa, Norwich, Blackburn and several others have been relegated in recent years without as much as a sniff of returning.

With a squad needing renovation and managerial uncertainty, the Black Cats are in desperate need of redirection. From the very top the club needs to adapt or they face a real risk of the dreaded double-drop. Jermain Defoe, Didier N’dong, Lamine Kone and Jordan Pickford will likely be nabbed from their clutches early this summer and – one can only hope – that the scouting team has not only identified replacements, but has an extensive list of other additions.

Having been engaged in a relegation battle every season since 2011/12, to expect a contingency for such an eventuality is barely unreasonable. Sunderland have a pivotal summer approaching and early noises about the position of David Moyes suggest hesitancy that they cannot afford. Moyes’ demeanour this season was far from a positive influence and, while it would be foolish to place all the blame on him, going into another season with his dour presence on the touchline would be a mistake.

Options to take his dugout space are vast given Sunderland’s reputation. One manager will not fix-all in a club that has fallen to the least dramatic of relegation after years of teetering on the brink. It might take years to get the club back in Premier League-ready shape, but they will be all the better for it.

The fans can enjoy victories on a more frequent basis and, with hindsight, there may be a realisation that this relegation came at the right time for the club. An immediate return to the top flight could ignite another period of papering over cracks for the Black Cats. They must embrace relegation with realism and broadmindedness to come back as a stronger club from top to bottom.

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

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

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

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

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

Jordan Pickford

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

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

Sunderland v West Ham: Team News, Match Preview & Likely Line-Ups

Competition: Premier League Date: Saturday 15th April 2017 Venue: Stadium of Light Kick-Off: 15:00 GMT

Team News

Sunderland are without influential midfielder Sebastian Larsson, who serves the first match of his three-match ban following a red card against Manchester United last weekend.

Adnan Januzaj and John O’Shea return to selection for David Moyes’ side but Bryan Oviedo is unavailable with a hamstring injury.

West Ham were handed a huge blow this week with the news that Michail Antonio has been ruled-out of the remainder of the season.

Captain Mark Noble is also unavailable, after picking up his tenth yellow card of the season last weekend.

Match Preview

Sat ten points from safety, Sunderland’s relegation to the Championship seems inevitable and Jermain Defoe’s two-month span without a goal won’t help their chances. The Black Cats have failed to find the net in ten of their last 11 matches, which has only increased their woes.

West Ham ended a woeful run last weekend with a vital victory over relegation rivals Swansea City, which put them eight points clear of the drop. Whilst safety is not yet secured, another victory here would go a long way to securing that aim.

The Hammers have struggled on the road recently, losing all of their last three matches away from the London Stadium, but Sunderland’s awful form leaves little for the hosts to be confident about.

Likely Line-Ups

Pickford; Jones, Kone, Denayer, Manquillo; Ndong, Cattermole, Rodwell; Januzaj, Defoe, Anichebe.

West Ham
Randolph; Nordtveit, Collins, Fonte, Masuaku; Snodgrass, Fernandes, Kouyate, Lanzini; Carroll, Ayew.

Key Stats

Sunderland have not won any of the past seven meetings with West Ham, losing the last two matches 1-0.

Sunderland have lost ten of their last 14 Premier League matches, winning just one.

The Black Cats have not won at home since a victory over Watford in mid-December.

West Ham’s clean-sheet last weekend was their first in 11 Premier League matches.


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

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

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

1. Diego Costa

Club: Chelsea
Position: Striker
Price: £10m

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 – Gylfi Sigurðsson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 – Jermaine Defoe

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

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

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

‘He’s The Best Player In The Premier League Right Now’ Twitter Raves About Arsenal Forward

Arsenal moved to the top of the league (at least temporarily) after a convincing 4-1 win at the Stadium of Light on Saturday afternoon. There were two goals from both Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud as the Gunners players earned lots of plaudits for digging in late on. 

Alexis was the man of the match as he showed not just that he could score goals, but that he can also hold up the ball very well, connect the play really well and hold it up really well. He even scored a headed goal, beating the much taller Sunderland defender to the ball and glancing it into the far corner. He’s becoming a complete striker and some are even suggesting that he could now be the best in the Premier League.

We take a look at the numbers behind the Chilean’s quality performance. Firstly he earned a magnificent WhoScored match rating of 9.54. He had 3 shots, scoring with two of them. 1 key pass, 5 successful dribbles, attempted 3 long balls, 2 of them being accurate. He was also at his usual best in his workrate, tirelessly defending and attacking and causing huge problems for Sunderland – making 1 interception and 1 tackle. It was almost a faultless performances from him. The only thing you can criticise is when he sometimes overdoes it, but when you have a player capable of such quality, you’ve sometimes got to let them overdo it a bit, because when it works, it makes the difference.

What I liked in Alexis’ play today was his all-round game. He dropped deep and linked the play well, but when he needed to be in the box, he usually was. This was demonstrated with his instinctive attacking header to give the Gunners the lead in the first half.

Read more: Arsenal’s Player Ratings vs. Sunderland

We take a look at how Twitter reacted to Alexis’ brace and all-round quality performance. It seems he is now not just being talked about as Arsenal’s best player, but perhaps the best player in the league altogether.

With Olivier Giroud now back in the squad (and scoring), Alexis cannot afford for his game to drop. I expect he will keep his place as a striker, but with Giroud hungry to win his place back and also doing everything right so far, Alexis needs to maintain this form – if he can, then he can prove himself as the best in the league. Arsenal fans will now hope he signs that contract…


Player Ratings: Sunderland 1-4 Arsenal

Below are the Arsenal player ratings for their impressive 4-1 win at the Stadium of Light vs. Sunderland in Saturday’s early kick off. 

Petr Cech – 5: Wasn’t really tested in the first half, in the second he was stupid to bring down Defoe, and that let Sunderland back into the game, luckily Cech’s slip up didn’t cost us but it was another worrying blip from him, not the first time this season. 

Hector Bellerin – 7: Good attacking outlet down the right, his usual self. 

Skhodran Mustafi – 6.5: Had a really good performance for all but 10 seconds where his misjudgement gave Sunderland the penalty. His ball skills are very good 

Laurent Koscielny – 7: Koscielny was as assured as ever on the ball and strong in the tackle, helping to nullify Sunderland’s threat at the root, high up the pitch. 

Kieran Gibbs – 8: With Monreal having a knock, Gibbs was given another chance to impress and he did so very well. He made several quality crosses and even got an assist for the crucial second Arsenal goal. I think after this performance he must keep his place in the side, even when Monreal is back fit.

Francis Coquelin – 6: Had a quiet game, perhaps didn’t have to do as much defensively as he often does, his presence at least gave Arsenal some defensive security. 

Mohammed Elneny – 8: Was criticised for his display last week by many, but he was quality in midfield today. He always looks so calm and reliable on the ball, he’s also got a cool head. A very useful player for he squad and a bargain at £5million in January. 

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 7: With Theo out injured, The Ox was given a chance and he very quickly showed what he can do, using his pace before providing an excellent assist for Alexis. 

Mesut Ozil – 7: He has added another dimension to his game, making lots of quality attacking runs into dangerous areas. He could and maybe should have scored at least one goal today though, so his finishing still needs work. Great link up play in midfield, getting an assist and carving more openings. If he put one of them in he’d be getting at least an 8. 

Alex Iwobi – 5: He has played a lot of football recently and his effectiveness has decreased a lot in the last couple of weeks. Need a bit of time out of the 11 to freshen up and come back stronger. 

Alexis Sanchez – 8.5: With Giroud back in the frame, Alexis very quickly dismissed murmurs that he wasn’t an all round central striker. His early headed goal showed he can be a fox in the box and his work rate and play between the lines was top top quality. 


Olivier Giroud – 8: For all of Alexis’ quality, Giroud gives us another dimension and a plan B, we needed him today and luckily he was back fit and delivered. He scored with his first and second touch – such a useful asset when he is in the mood. 

Aaron Ramsey – 6: Came back in at 3-1 and kind of assisted the fourth goal with a scuffed effort. Looked good on the ball.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles – N/A

Monreal Is Out, Ramsey Returns: Arsenal’s 4-2-3-1 Line Up To Face Sunderland On Saturday

Arsenal travel to the Stadium of Light on Saturday afternoon looking to make it 10 Premier League games unbeaten and move to the top of the Premier League. On the other side of the coin, David Moyes will be hoping to get his first Premier League win as Black Cats manager, but it won’t be easy. 

Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud have returned from injury lay offs and will be in the travelling squad, though there are several fitness concerns in the Gunners ranks including knocks to Nacho Monreal, Alex Iwobi, Santi Cazorla and a long term injury to Lucas Perez that will see him sidelined for two months.

Here’s the Arsenal line up that is likely to start.

GK: Petr Cech

Cech has serious competition for his number one spot now with Martinez and Ospina impressing in the cup competitions. But Cech is a top class keeper too and he proved that against Middlesbrough last week, arguably saving the Gunners a point.

RB: Hector Bellerin

The Spaniard is in fine form this season and with a lack of creativity in midfield, the Gunners will need to utilise his attacking influence in this game.

CB: Shkodran Mustafi, Laurent Koscielny

After being rested in midweek, thus duo must continue to go from strength to strength with another clean sheet.

LB: Kieran Gibbs

With Monreal facing a late fitness test, there’s no reason to rush him back as Gibbs is fresh and playing well. Let’s give the Englishman a spell in the team to prove himself.

CM: Francis Coquelin

Coquelin must do his usual job but also try and create between the lines in what is likely to be a tight affair.

CM: Mohammed Elneny

His role will be important, with both Ramsey and Cazorla unlikely to be fit enough to start, Elneny will need to be able to be creative in the midfield as Coquelin is not very influential going forward. We know Elneny has the work rate and passing ability of a box to box midfielder so he needs to prove his worth today. 

AM: Mesut Ozil

Ozil needs to get back to his best, hopefully the week off will have helped him.

RM: Theo Walcott

Theo’s form has eased off a bit recently but he has been a huge attacking outlet this season and he is likely to cause big problems for the Sunderland defence. It’s important he maintains his increased work rate this season, especially in away games like this where Hector will need protection.

LM: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

After two goals in midweek, the Ox is likely to get a chance from the start on Saturday and he needs to show how he can deliver consistently. He’s now starting to develop a goal scoring instinct and that needs to continue into the Premier League.

ST: Alexis Sanchez

He might be the main man now but with the Chilean drawing a blank last weekend, it is important he is influential again on Saturday, especially with the fit again Giroud back in the scene. 

A note from the bench.. Giroud and Ramsey are likely to be on the bench and hopefully both players feature, with both of them having the potential to come back into the first eleven when fully fit.

Sunderland vs. Arsenal – 3 Battles That Will Decide The Result

After a disappointing birthday for Arsène Wenger, his team will certainly be looking to put things right this weekend as they visit the Stadium of Light in search of three points. The Black Cats are without a win thus far this season and are struggling for confidence after gaining just two points from nine matches. David Moyes certainly has a job on his hands if they are to get anything from the game against the Gunners and I look at three battles that could decide the game.

1 – Alexis Sanchez v Lamine Koné

After a somewhat confusing summer for Sunderland defender Koné, he finds himself still playing his football in the Tyneside after handing a transfer request in to the club in bid to force a move to Everton, which obviously didn’t work.

The Sunderland man has been at the heart of central defence for the Black Cats since the new season and will certainly have his hands full again this weekend against Arsenal’s deadly Chilean Alexis Sanchez.

It’ll be interesting to whether Sanchez plays off John O’Shea or Kone, but the feeling is Moyes will instruct the athletic, strong, 6 ft 1′ central defender Koné to try and dominate the tricky Alexis.

Nonetheless, which ever defender of Sunderland’s defensive duo must try and stop Alexis, they will certainly have a tough time, the Gunners man has enjoyed leading the attacking line and has been deadly in front of goal, but also creating chances at ease.

Premier League Relegation Odds: Who Is Heading To The Championship?

The season is well and truly underway and after eight games there are some teams already in desperate trouble. While there is still enough time to rectify their seasons and climb out of the relegation zone, a number of teams are not looking good at all. Here is a look at the favourites to get relegated as it stands. All odds are from Paddy Power.

Burnley 4/7: The Clarets are going straight back down to the Championship, according to the bookies at least. They started off the season with a narrow loss against Swansea but picked up a fine win over high flying Liverpool in their second game. That win brought much excitement and optimism that they would be able to hold their own against England’s top teams. It didn’t last long though as Burnley have only picked up four points from their last six matches. They are 14th on the log which doesn’t sound too bad but they are only one point above Stoke City, who currently occupy 18th spot.

Burnley were promoted into the premier league in both the 2009/10 and 2014/15 seasons but went straight back down to the Championship on both occasions. There is a lot of work for manager Sean Dyche to do if he has any hope of keeping Burnley up in the premier league come next season.

Sunderland 8/13: It comes as a surprise that the Black Cats aren’t first on the list to get relegated this season. They have made a horrendous start to the season under new manager David Moyes and are still yet to pick up a win. They have only managed two draws and are rock bottom of the table. In the last two seasons they have finished 16th and 17th which is a worrying site.

Their reliance on striker Jermaine Defoe is clear for all to see and it looks like all their hopes rest on him at the moment. Something has got to change and quick for the Black Cats or this time they will definitely drop out of England’s top tier.

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Hull 8/11: The Tigers also got off to a really solid start this season despite a lot of negativity around the club. They beat the reigning champions Leicester City in their opening game which would have brought back a lot of confidence but since then they have only picked up four more points.

To make things worse for the club they were on the end of an absolute hammering in their last game. They were thrashed 6-1 by Bournemouth which is a result that would have destroyed their confidence. Hull have to pick themselves up quickly or else they will be in some real trouble. It is imperative that they club make some signings in January to at least give them a chance of staying up.

Also consider: At odds of 13/8 Swansea are in trouble. They are 19th on the log and have only picked up one point from their last seven games. New American manager Bob Bradley quickly needs to rectify things. Middlesbrough are 2/1 to go down despite their good start to the season. They made some top signings in the summer but they have dropped badly in recent times.  West Brom are at 11/2 to get relegated and despite manger Tony Pulis always being able to pick up results when needed; the pressure is truly on this season. Stoke at 6/1 picked up a much needed win against Sunderland and while they are still in the relegation zone, should have enough over the course of the season to stay up.

Transfer Window Rankings (16th-13th): Sunderland, Stoke, Everton & Crystal Palace Feature

As two of the most free-spending managers in football history, José Mourinho and Pep Guardiola, paved way for the arrival of more high-profile managerial switch-a-rounds, it’s perhaps no surprise to see Premier League clubs shatter the records of expenditure once more with a £1.165 billion bill, surpassing the £870 million mark set just last season.

In its trail, the relentless cash burning has left a bunch of euphoric agents, players and, for the most part, many satisfied fans with the acquisitions made by their favourite clubs. Some teams went about their business better than others, however.

Yesterday, we brought to you those ranked by Fresh Football as 20th-17th, so here’s the next four teams in our power rankings:

16th – Sunderland

Key Incomings: Papy Djilobodji (£8m), Didier Ndong (£13.4m), Adnan Januzaj (Loan), Paddy McNair (£4.4m), Donald Love (£975,000), Jason Denayer (Loan), Javier Manquillo (Loan), Steven Pienaar (Free), Victor Anichebe (Free).
Key Outgoings: Jeremain Lens (Loan), Younes Kaboul (£3.4m), Emmanuel Giaccherini (£1.3m), Steven Fletcher (Free), Wes Brown (Free).

Sunderland managed to land a loan move for the talented, yet uninspired Adnan Januzaj, but a move to the Stadium of Light does offer the Manchester United man some much-needed TLC, as he links up with David Moyes once more.

The likes of Jason Denayer and Papy Djilobodji will all have a point to prove after being streamlined straight down from traditionally top six clubs in Manchester City and Chelsea, whereas there’s also sense of intrigue surrounding the Black Cats’ latest signing from Lorient, Didier Ndong.

Keeping Lamine Koné rooted to the club for the foreseeable future will also be a huge plus for Sunderland, too, but Moyes’ admission that the club would most probably be involved in yet another dog fight to remain in the Premier League, even with Januzaj, Djilobodji and, evidently, Koné already at the club, doesn’t offer much confidence with regards to the squad’s preparation for the season ahead.

15th – Stoke City

Key Incomings: Joe Allen (£13m), Wilfried Bony (Loan), Bruno Martins Indi (Loan), Ramadan Sobhi (£4.25m), Lee Grant (Loan).
Key Outgoings: Philipp Wollscheid (Loan), Joselu (Loan), Marc Wilson (£2m).

It’s difficult to look beyond Joe Allen as the key attraction to this Stoke City side this summer. After an impressive Euro 2016 campaign, it’s perhaps surprising to see the Welshman relinquished by Liverpool, but his arrival adds to an ever-luxurious looking Mark Hughes side.

With Joselu out the door, Manchester City’s Wilfried Bony provides the Potters with a heavyweight replacement on a temporary basis, which, if he can produce anything like his Swansea City numbers, will see the striker become an instant fan favourite at the Bet365 Stadium.

Ramadan Sobhi’s first venture into European football could also prove to make for interesting viewing, but the deadline day acquisition of Bruno Martins Indi does bring a negative twang to Stoke’s dealings. Much like the Potters’ record signing, Gianelli Imbula, the Dutchman failed to impress in a considerably weaker league for FC Porto in the past two seasons.

With Philipp Wollscheid joining Bundesliga side Wolfsburg on loan, there’s a good chance Martins Indi will be fast-tracked to the first-team alongside Ryan Shawcross, which, as far as his recent history is concerned, may be a real worry.

14th – Everton

Key Incomings: Yannick Bolasie (£25m), Ashley Williams (£12m), Maarten Stekelenburg (£850,000), Idrissa Gana Gueye (£7.25m), Enner Valencia (Loan).
Key Outgoings: John Stones (£47.25m), Tim Howard (Free), Brendan Galloway (Loan), Steven Pienaar (Released), Leon Osman (Free), Aiden McGeady (Loan), Ryan Ledson (Undisclosed), Tony Hibbert (Released).

Everton moved quickly to reinvest their £47.25 million windfall from John Stones by landing Swansea City captain Ashley Williams, which should cover them defensively for at least a couple of seasons. Yannick Bolasie’s price-tag is evidently eye-popping, however, and despite his talent, it’s difficult to see such necessity with the likes of Kevin Mirallas and Gerard Deulofeu already at the club.

Within new surroundings, Idrissa Gana Gueye could prove to be a shrewd piece of business after a turbulent season with Aston Villa, but the arrival of Maarten Stekelenburg might not offer great assurances between the sticks after mixed experiences in the Premier League with Fulham and Southampton.

Then there’s the low-risk loan signing of West Ham United’s Enner Valencia, who should be useful in backing up Romelu Lukaku, but initially represents the Toffees’ failure to land the likes of Lucas Pérez last month. A real mixed bag of a window in the blue half of Merseyside.

13th – Crystal Palace

Key Incomings: Christian Benteke (£26.5m), Andros Townsend (£13.25m), James Tomkins (£10m), Steve Mandanda (Free), Loïc Rémy (Loan).
Key Outgoings: Yannick Bolasie (£25m), Dwight Gayle (£10m), Miles Jedinak (£4m), Emmanuel Adebayor (Released).

If you have your centre back, Scott Dann, leading the way for goals scored, you might want to seriously consider overhauling your frontline of attack. Thanks to the big sale of Yannick Bolasie, Crystal Palace have managed to do just that by shelling out on Liverpool misfit Christian Benteke.

Despite a heavy price tag, Benteke’s time with Aston Villa before Liverpool recklessly swooped in for him last summer speaks for itself. Alan Pardew has also had an interesting relationship with strikers in the past, with the likes of Demba Ba, Papiss Cissé and Glen Murray all scoring on a consistent basis under his command, so there’s hope the Palace boss can get the best out of Benteke.

If that fails, the Eagles have Loïc Rémy to back them up in attack, whereas Andros Townsend, as proved towards the end of last season for Newcastle United, can also contribute with a goal or two. Much like the Benteke deal, the signing of Tomkins looks a little too costly, whereas the failure to add creativity, or someone to relieve Yohan Cabaye of some of his defensive duties, stand as the only clear blemishes to Palace’s window.

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

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

Michel Vorm – Tottenham

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

Héctor Bellerín – Arsenal

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

Joel Matip – Liverpool

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

Papy Djilobodji – Sunderland

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

Daley Blind – Manchester United

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

Danny Drinkwater – Leicester City

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

N’Golo Kante – Chelsea

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

Granit Xhaka – Arsenal

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

Raheem Sterling – Manchester City

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

Eden Hazard – Chelsea

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

Alexis Sánchez – Arsenal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 – Dimitri Payet

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

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

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

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

Report: Sunderland Close In On £12million Signing As Player Asks For Transfer

Sunderland look close to securing their first big money move of the transfer window after one of their main targets asked for a transfer. 

We reported earlier this month that Sunderland were in talks to sign three new players, and that included West Ham striker Diafra Sakho. Now their bid to sign Sakho is looking more likely to happen than ever with the player now asking to leave the London club.

Sakho has been in and out of the West Ham starting line-up since joining in 2014 from Metz but is said to be frustrated at his bit-part role at the club. Sunderland are looking to add signings to their squad to avoid another relegation scrap next season, and a new £12million bid is being considered by Sam Allardyce’s side.

West Ham are looking to sign at least one striker this summer and that will only push Sakho further down the pecking order. His 15 goals in 43 games has not been enough to convince Slaven Bilic that he is the man to lead West Ham’s European charge next season. Allardyce

Allardyce, on the other hand views Sakho as an ideal addition to his strikeforce. Although Jermaine Defoe signed a contract extension last week, he turns 34 in October and the club cannot purely rely on the experienced Englishman for goals.

We took a closer look at the stats and identified the differences between Sakho and Defoe and this highlighted how the duo could perhaps work well as a pairing. Whilst Defoe is a very clinical, poacher type striker, Sakho is more of a hustler and a support forward. Defoe’s shot accuracy of 66% and goals scored rate of 0.53 per 90 are both greater than that of Sakho’s (47% and 0.30) but the Senegalese international excels in other areas. A key stat is his aerial duels won per 90 of 3.07, that is a large amount for a striker and plenty more than Defoe (0.28). Sakho often works in deeper areas and this is highlighted in his passing and dribbling. The West Ham man succeeded with 1.09 take ons per 90 this season whilst Defoe managed just 0.64. Sakho also attempted many more passes than Defoe per game (20.31 vs. 14.96).

The stats shown above highlight how Sakho and Defoe could potentially be used as a pairing to get the best out of both players and net the most goals for Sunderland.

Sunderland will face competition from West Brom though, with Tony Pulis’ side interested in a swap deal involving Saido Berahino. This may be a more appealing offer for Bilic’s side as West Ham look to bring in fresh blood up front.

It seems towards the top of Sakho’s desires is first team football and if Sunderland boss Allardyce can convince the 26-year-old that he is in his first team plans, then Sunderland should be confident of concluding a deal this month.

Reports: Sunderland In Negotiations To Make These Three Signings

Sunderland will once again enjoy another season in the Premier League next season following another great escape. After picking up three wins and three draws in their last six games they managed to beat the drop by two points with Sam Allardyce’s relegation magic working once again. Sunderland will certainly not want to be fighting for survival again next season and will look to push on for a top 12 finish at least. Big Sam will be in the market this summer to ensure they avoid being in the same situation and we look at three players Sunderland could sign in the coming months.

1 – Charlie Taylor

Sunderland have been linked with natural left back Charlie Taylor since the end of the season and now according to the Chronicle they have officially made an enquiry about the 22-year-old.
Taylor had another promising season for Leeds United and his talent shone through in an average season for the club. The Black Cats are desperate to boost their squad this summer to avoid another relegation battle next season and Taylor has emerged as a genuine target.

Patrick Van Aanholt managed to be the bright spark in a dull season for Sunderland, and they’re monitoring Taylor with a view to adding back-up to their prized defender. Van Aanholt who was a key player in Sunderland’s survival played 33 games last season and managed an impressive score of 2 tackles per 90 minutes which just beats Taylor’s score of 1.55. With English football known to be the most physical, aerial duels is a key asset to being a strong defender. Taylor has won 1.61 aerial duels which puts him ahead of Van Aanholt scoring just 0.42, this is a clear weakness for the Sunderland defender. Another clear strength for Taylor is his interceptions, and this will impress the interested club Sunderland. Taylor has managed 2.92 interceptions per 90 minutes which blows him out of the water compared to Van Aanholt who manages 1.85. Another stat that will really impress Sunderland is the amount of forward passes Taylor makes per 90 minutes. Being positive on the ball and looking to go forward from the back will really catch the eye of interested suitors and Taylor has made 26.39 forward passes which once again outshine Van Aanholt’s score of 18.91.

Sunderland would have to fight for the signature of Taylor with Manchester United thought to have made an enquiry for the defender in January. Arsenal and Liverpool are also being credited with an interest in Taylor.

Sunderland Fans Furious With Manager After FA Cup Humiliation

Sunderland fans have begun a gloomy week after their FA Cup adventure was cut short abruptly by League One side Bradford City, who claimed their second Premier League scalp.

Despite the fact the minnows had kept just two clean sheets at home all season, Bradford cruised with relative ease to a 2-0 victory and put their names in the hat for the quarter finals, leaving them just one game away from a Wembley semi-final.

Already infuriated by the performance, Sunderland fans were left furious with Poyet’s post-match comments where he blamed everyone but himself, just days after stating from here on it was only down to him.

Will he be the next Premier League manager to be axed from his position?

‘Disgusting Player’: Sunderland Fans Hit Out At Chelsea Striker

Sunderland may be pleased with their 0-0 draw with league leaders Chelsea on Saturday but they could have got more, as Blues striker Diego Costa was lucky to stay on the field.

Whilst the referee missed the incidents, social media didn’t and fans from across the country were criticising the striker, who has dropped in form in recent weeks. Costa kicked out against the Sunderland defence and was also guilty of using an elbow in an aerial challenge, both of which are red card offences by law.

Fans believe that had it not been a Chelsea player, he would have been sent off- which is hard to argue with, as we’re pretty sure a Sunderland player would’ve been given their marching orders had they committed a similar offence.

‘Not Enough Fluidity’: Chelsea Fans Unhappy With Sunderland Draw

Chelsea dropped points away from home this weekend with a surprising goalless draw with Sunderland, which meant Manchester City cut the Blues lead to just six points with their victory against Southampton.

Blues fans were largely unimpressed by the performance, although some did remain positive, but the general atmosphere on Twitter was disappointment as many felt that Jose Mourinho’s men should have secured all three points against Gus Poyet’s inferior side. Criticism was aimed towards many players, whilst Diego Costa also picked up a suspension for the mid week game with another yellow card.

Many fans point out that Chelsea are still undefeated this season but with two points dropped, there were gloomy faces all around.

‘Should I Be Scared?’: Fans Look Ahead To This Weekend’s Game

Last season, a Sunderland side that looked destined to fall to the deep, dark depths of the Championship pulled off a miracle to stay in the Premier League. Gus Poyet’s squad managed to secure 4 wins in their last 4 games to avoid the drop and pull off one of the greatest escapes since Steve McQueen set about digging Tom, Dick and Harry. Along the way, Sunderland recorded a magnificent win against Chelsea, ending Jose Mourinho’s 77 game unbeaten run at Stamford Bridge, and they’ll be looking to repeat that performance when they host the Blues at the Stadium of Light tomorrow.

Having said that, Chelsea look to be in unbeatable form this season. Last weekend they played some breathtaking football against West Brom and cruised to a 2-0 victory. On Tuesday, Jose Mourinho’s men travelled to Germany, where they set about demolishing Schalke 5-0. If Sunderland are to repeat their heroic antics once again, they are going to have to be at the very top of their game.

Here’s what Chelsea fans are saying ahead of the game:

‘He Has To Send Him Off!’: Everton Fans Furious With Referee After Sunderland Draw

Everton were forced to accept a 1-1 draw against Sunderland this afternoon after coming from behind to grab a point, courtesy of a penalty from Leighton Baines.

However, Toffee fans were not pleased with the fact that Connor Wickham escaped a red-card for the incident, despite being the last man. With the referee Lee Mason giving a penalty, fans felt he should have also brandished a red card to the player and accused the FA official of being biased.

Elsewhere there was one angry punter you had his accumulator ruined by the late penalty, costing him over a grand! Nightmare.