Ranking Today’s Top EPL Fantasy Picks from 1 to 9 without goalkeepers

1 – Son Heung-Min (F) – Tottenham Hotspur (vs NEW)

2 – Raheem Sterling (F) – Manchester City (vs LEI)

3 – Kevin De Bruyne (M) – Manchester City (vs LEI)

4 – Phil Foden (M) – Manchester City (vs LEI)

5 – Riyad Mahrez (M) – Manchester City (vs LEI)

6 – Harry Kane (F) – Tottenham Hotspur (vs NEW)

7 – Matt Doherty (D) – Tottenham Hotspur (vs NEW)

8 – Raul Jimenez (F) – Wolverhampton Wanderers (vs WHU)

9 – Pedro Neto (M) – Wolverhampton Wanderers (vs WHU)

Top Goalkeeper Pick

GK – Hugo Lloris – Tottenham Hotspur (vs NEW)

Happy drafting!

Posted in EPL/MLS, Top Fantasy Picks

Ranking Tomorrow’s Top EPL Fantasy Picks from 1 to 9 without goalkeepers

1 – Timo Werner (F) – Chelsea (vs WBA)

2 – Wilfried Zaha (F) – Crystal Palace (vs EVE)

3 – Dominic Calvert-Lewin (F) – Everton (vs CP)

4 – Bruno Fernandes (M) – Manchester United (vs BHA)

5 – Marcus Rashford (F) – Manchester United (vs BHA)

6 – Tammy Abraham (F) – Chelsea (vs WBA)

7 – Anthony Martial (F) – Manchester United (vs BHA)

8 – James Rodriguez (M) – Everton (vs CP)

9 – Olivier Giroud (F) – Chelsea (vs WBA)

Top Goalkeeper Pick

G – David de Gea – Manchester United (vs BHA)

Happy drafting!

Posted in EPL/MLS, Top Fantasy Picks

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Pictured: Kepa Arrizabalaga
Source: Bryn Lennon / Getty Images Europe

Tottenham Hotspur-Chelsea Preview

If drama was a category in the Premier League table, Chelsea would be runaway winners this term.

After an outlandish moment in the Carabao Cup finals in which Kepa Arrizabalaga defied manager Maurizio Sarri and refused to be substituted, the question ahead of Wednesday’s derby at Stamford Bridge against Tottenham Hotspur is whether the world’s most expensive goalkeeper will be between the sticks.

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Arrizabalaga had been battling a hamstring problem that made him a question mark for Sunday’s match against Manchester City, and it appeared he had aggravated the injury making a save in the final minutes of extra time and even sought out medical attention. Sarri, with an eye on the impending penalty kicks in the scoreless match, told backup Willy Caballero to get ready to enter the game.

The fourth official held up the board to signal the substitution, only for Arrizabalaga – signed by Chelsea for £72 million before the start of the season – to refuse to come off the pitch. Captain Cesar Azpilicueta did not intervene, and only David Luiz made any movement in his keeper’s direction. After a back-and-forth between Arrizabalaga and the Chelsea bench, the keeper remained in the match and sent Sarri into a furious rage while Caballero stewed in embarrassment.

In the interim between the end of extra time and the penalty kicks, Sarri had to be restrained by defender Antonio Rudiger from confronting Arrizabalaga and had barely any interaction with his side before they lined up for penalties. Arrizabalaga made a valiant effort to redeem himself in the spot kicks, nearly stopping Sergio Aguero’s attempt in the second round and successfully punching away Leroy Sane’s shot in the next round to give Chelsea a lifeline.

Luiz, though, cannoned the next attempt off the woodwork, and that was enough daylight for Manchester City to produce a victory, with Arrizabalaga guessing wrong on Raheem Sterling’s match-winning attempt. With Sarri denied his first trophy at any level as a manager in such dramatic and bewildering fashion, all of the post-match talk centered around whether Sarri has lost the dressing room and if there would be any repercussions for Arrizabalaga going forward.

Both used the word “misunderstanding” in separate statements in explaining themselves, and Chelsea fined Arrizabalaga one week’s worth of wages for his insubordination. In his statement, Sarri said his keeper “realises he made a big mistake in the way he reacted” and added “he has apologised to me, his team-mates and the club.”

The apology, though, offers no insight into whether Arrizabalaga will be in goal for this contest. Football media throughout England have been sent into overdrive because of the incident, with some publications talking of dressing-room rifts with players in support of Caballero and the club desperate to avoid another bust-up similar to the one between Antonio Conte and Diego Costa that ultimately contributed to Conte’s demise at Stamford Bridge and Sarri’s arrival.

In the Premier League picture, Chelsea (15-5-6) are sixth in the table on 50 points, three points behind fourth-place Manchester United with a match in hand. The Pensioners are also still vying for a back-door entry into the Champions League via the Europa League, having progressed to the round of 16 opposite Dynamo Kyiv.

Chelsea’s 3-0 second-leg win over Malmo that preceded Sunday’s loss took away some of the sting of their 6-0 battering by City a fortnight ago that prompted a fresh round of inquest regarding Sarri’s future. Those questions will continue until the final whistle of Chelsea’s final match, with the club’s ban on signings the next two transfer windows also playing a key role in the club’s future.

Less than 25 kilometres to the north, Tottenham Hotspur (20-0-7) look to regroup from a lost opportunity to draw closer in the title race. Owning a match in hand on Manchester City last weekend, the Spurs squandered it with a 2-1 defeat at Burnley on Saturday. The loss, coupled with Liverpool’s draw at Manchester United, dropped the Lilywhites six points behind the table-topping Reds with 11 matches to play and five adrift of City for second.

Harry Kane made an instant impact on his return from an eight-game absence due to an ankle injury, scoring a contentious second-half equalizer, but a late breakdown led to a controversial goal for the hosts and an incandescent Mauricio Pochettino blasting referee Mike Dean post-match.

“It’s very disappointing,” Kane told Spurs’ official website. “It was one of those games, a tough battle, a dry pitch, we know how Burnley play, especially at home and it was physical. We did well to get back into it at 1-1 but we couldn’t find the next level to push on and get the win and then unfortunately we conceded again.

“It’s a game we should be winning. We had time off, so we were fresh and we expected to come here and step it up a level and give it a massive push for the rest of the season. Now it puts us behind and in a tough position. It’s a big week to come and we have to move on as best we can.”

Pochettino admitted afterwards he “crossed a line” in confronting Dean, and the FA agreed as it handed down two charges of improper conduct at the Argentine boss on Monday. The charges could bring a touchline ban after this match for Pochettino, who is about to embark on the biggest week of the season for Spurs as they play back-to-back derbies – Tottenham host Arsenal in the third north London grudge match – ahead of their second-leg round of 16 Champions League tie at Borussia Dortmund in which they will try to protect a 3-0 lead earned at Wembley earned a fortnight ago.

One minor point for this match is Dean was taken off fourth official duties for this match due to his tete-a-tete with Pochettino. Dean was moved to the Manchester City-West Ham United match, and Andre Marriner was tabbed as his replacement.

This is the fourth match between the sides this term, with Spurs looking for a measure of revenge after being bounced on penalties after the second leg of the Carabao Cup semifinals at Stamford Bridge on Jan. 24 after failing to protect a one-goal lead from the first leg.

Despite Spurs claiming victories in two of the three matches, the only one they showed clear superiority was in their 3-1 win at Wembley in November when Pochettino opted for a diamond midfield that isolated Jorginho and exploited the Italian in Sarri’s 4-3-3 set-up. In the last match, though, Chelsea claimed a 2-1 victory through goals by N’Golo Kante and Eden Hazard. Fernando Llorente’s goal for Spurs created a 2-2 aggregate that resulted in penalties to decide the match.

Last season, Tottenham recorded their first Premier League win in 26 tries (1-9-16) at Stamford Bridge with a 3-1 victory thanks to a brace by Dele Alli.

Posted in EPL/MLS, Top Fantasy Picks

Photo: Gonzalo Higuain
Source: Claudio Villa / Getty Image Europe

Potential players comings and goings are all the talk ahead of Saturday’s mouth-watering London derby at the Emirates between top-five sides Chelsea and Arsenal.

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For fourth-place Chelsea (14-5-3), the rumours are that Gonzalo Higuain could be available for this match if the Pensioners are able to formally complete a loan deal with AC Milan and register him before the 12 p.m. Friday deadline.

If the signing goes through as expected, it would be a reunion of the Argentina international and coach Maurizio Sarri – their one season together at Napoli in 2015-16 resulted in Higuain scoring 36 goals in 35 league matches. That haul matched Gino Rosetti’s mark for most goals in the Italian top flight set in 1928-29 as Napoli finished runners-up to Juventus.

Higuain moved to Juventus in 2016 and totaled 40 goals in 73 league matches to help the Bianconeri win the scudetto each of the last two years. With the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo at Juventus this season, the 31-year-old Higuain was surplus to goods and loaned to AC Milan, where he has six goals in 15 Serie A contests and eight in 22 overall.

With Higuain’s arrival comes the expected departure of Alvaro Morata, who has similar numbers – nine goals in 23 matches in all competitions – to the Argentine but has never truly found a comfort level in Sarri’s 4-3-3 formation.

Morata’s likely move back to Spain – Atletico Madrid is reportedly his destination – would leave Higuain and Olivier Giroud as Chelsea’s lone centre-forwards, a position where Sarri has not had more than two players all season while also using Eden Hazard in that role as a false nine.

In the event Higuain is not registered in time for this match, he would likely make his Chelsea debut Thursday in the second-leg semifinals of the Carabao Cup at Stamford Bridge where the Pensioners will attempt to overturn a 1-0 deficit to Tottenham Hotspur.

Less than 13 kilometres to the north, the talk regarding Arsenal (12-5-5) again centers around Mesut Ozil. The former Germany international has been working his way back from an injury, but there have been times first-year manager Unai Emery has opted not to use Ozil, citing “matchups.”

Ahead of a match which could all but scuttle any chance of a top-four finish for the Gunners – a loss would leave them nine points adrift of Chelsea – Emery continued to be non-committal on what the midfielder’s role would be if he had one.

“I like to create the same spirit for all, and that spirit is every player gets and gives consistent work and moments with their performances but it’s not easy,” Emery told Arsenal’s official website about whether the whole Ozil saga is frustrating. “Sometimes you are better and sometimes you are worse. The most important thing for me is how he can helps us and how every player can help us with their consistency.”

Emery downplayed talk of Ozil potentially leaving in the January window but also did not commit to having him on the roster for the derby, simply saying that “after these two weeks maybe this Saturday will be okay for him.”

On the pitch, the Gunners seemed to be in need of Ozil considering their lack of playmaking options in a 1-0 loss at derby rival West Ham United. The lack of creativity was made all the more glaring as one-time Arsenal midfielder Samir Nasri provided the cross for Declan Rice’s 48th-minute goal that proved decisive.

Aaron Ramsey tried to make something in his minutes as a substitute – Emery’s decision to drop him from the first XI was curious considering he also had fellow midfielder Lucas Torreira on the bench – but there was something clearly lacking from the Gunners, who are 3-1-4 in all competitions after having gone unbeaten in 23 matches.

“I think Saturday is a big test and our first objective is to be in the top four,” Emery said. “It’s more difficult after our defeat against West Ham but we can take positives, like if we win on Saturday.

“It’s a difficult, tough match and I think it’s a good test for us also. We wanted to go into this match with three points difference in the table, but our defeat at West Ham doesn’t give us this possibility. But Saturday, I am looking forward to playing this match because I want to look at my team, our team, playing with a good performance and also to show our supporters we can do more and we can do better than we are doing away.”

Chelsea, who may have felt unlucky to lose to Spurs mid-week, channeled that frustration into a 2-1 win over Newcastle United last weekend. Willian ended a 10-match goalless drought with his go-ahead marker on 57 minutes, a well-taken shot after being set up by Hazard – playing the false nine as Morata failed to rate to be on the bench, where Giroud watched all but the final three minutes.

The Pensioners controlled the match for the final half-hour after a lack of focus following Pedro’s goal allowed Newcastle to draw level before halftime.

“It’s an important win, it’s three points at home and we did the job,” said David Luiz to Chelsea’s official website after his long ball set up Pedro’s goal on nine minutes. “It was not an easy game for us. I think we could have killed the game in the first 25 minutes, but we didn’t score the second goal.

“In the Premier League every team can be dangerous from set-pieces and that is what happened. ‘They scored the equaliser and after that it is always difficult but I think the team was mature enough to be calm at half-time. Then, in the second half, we controlled the game and scored the second goal.”

Though Higuain is close to signing, there is still no understudy for midfielder and playmaker Jorginho following Cesc Fabregas’ departure to Monaco. Based on the current roster, Hazard, Ross Barkley or Mateo Kovacic would handle such responsibilities if the Italy international were to be sidelined.

Chelsea are seeking their first league double over Arsenal since the 2015-16 season after winning the reverse fixture 3-2 at Stamford Bridge in August. The first half was marked by frenetic bursts of clubs transitioning to their first-year managers – Chelsea raced to a 2-0 lead in the first 20 minutes on goals by Pedro and Morata, only to have Arsenal peg them back before halftime through Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Iwobi four minutes apart.

Hazard entered as a substitute on the hour and set up Marcos Alonso for the match-winner on 81 minutes. Chelsea are 1-3-2 in their last six visits to the Emirates but 4-4-2 in their last 10 league matches there.

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Posted in EPL/MLS, Top Fantasy Picks

Photo: Virgil van Dijk
Source: Julian Finney/Getty Images Europe

Liverpool vs Newcastle preview: Reds aim to maintain lead at top

Liverpool defender, Virgil van Dijk, has urged The Reds to maintain their momentum when they host Newcastle on Boxing Day.

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The Reds are four points clear at the top of the Premier League after beating Wolves on Friday and then seeing Manchester City lose to Crystal Palace.

Eight of the last nine teams to lead at Christmas have won the league, but Van Dijk said: “There is a long way to go yet.

“It’s a position that everyone wants to be in and we are in it at the moment. That’s the only thing it is and we need to keep going.

“The next game is Newcastle United on Wednesday and then Arsenal and Manchester City, so it can change but we are not going to think about that. We take it game by game.”

Newcastle were held to a 0-0 draw at home by Fulham on Saturday, leaving them five points above the relegation zone.

Liverpool News

Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold is set to return after missing the last two matches with a foot injury.

Naby Keita is expected to resume training ahead of the game after sustaining a foot injury and bruised ribs at Wolves on Friday.

Centre-backs Joe Gomez (fractured leg) and Joel Matip (broken collarbone) remain sidelined for another three to four weeks.

Newcastle News

Newcastle will be without Ki Sung-yueng after he headed off to the Asian Cup.

Central midfielder Ki was required to meet up with the South Korea squad in Abu Dhabi ahead of next month’s tournament by December 26 and with Jonjo Shelvey struggling to shake off a thigh injury, Isaac Hayden could come into contention.

Defender Ciaran Clark missed Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Fulham because of an ankle problem, although Federico Fernandez was included among the substitutes after recovering from a calf injury, but keeper Karl Darlow (elbow) is still out.

Expected Lineup

Position in Red = Injury

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Posted in EPL/MLS, Top Fantasy Picks

Arsenal-Manchester United Preview

Fourth place in the Premier League table is a spot Arsenal have been intimately familiar with for more than a decade. But unlike seasons past, currently occupying that slot is providing previously unseen optimism as the Gunners go from an intense north London derby win to a mouth-watering clash at Old Trafford against Manchester United on Wednesday.

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Since winning their last Premier League title in 2004, Arsenal (9-3-2) have finished fourth in six of the previous 14 seasons. The constant battle to remain a Champions League participant under predecessor Arsene Wenger hid the gradual erosion from the elite status the London club enjoyed – something that came home to roost over the Frenchman’s final two seasons with fifth and sixth-place finishes.

Unai Emery’s arrival, initially met with skepticism following his flameout from Paris-St. Germain, has brought renewed spark and life to Arsenal, who are now unbeaten in 19 matches (15-4-0) across all competitions after a 4-2 victory over north London rival Tottenham Hotspur in a white-hot derby clash at the Emirates on Sunday.

The Gunners shook off a 2-1 halftime deficit with three unanswered goals in the final 45 minutes. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who converted a first-half penalty, completed his brace on 56 minutes with a well-placed shot inside the right post that left Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris flat-footed.

The Gunners then grabbed the match with two goals two minutes apart starting in the 75th. Aaron Ramsey forced a Spurs turnover at midfield and sprung Alexandre Lacazette, whose shot took a fortunate deflection off Spurs midfielder Eric Dier and snuck inside the left post. Lucas Torreira then scored his first Arsenal goal, ripping a shot across Lloris after being sent through by Aubameyang.

The Emirates crowd, roiled so much by “Wenger In” and “Wenger Out” factions in recent years, roared their approval in unison as Arsenal overtook their eternal rivals for fourth place on goal difference and are one back of Chelsea for third.

“It’s not just an important game for a manager to win against a team from the top six, it’s important for us as a team,” keeper Bernd Leno told the club’s official website. “We lost the first two games against Chelsea and Manchester City but against Liverpool we played very well. We didn’t win that one but today we won against a good team and showed a very good performance.”

Emery will be forced into one change since defensive midfielder Granit Xhaka picked up his fifth yellow card and must serve a one-match ban. Matteo Guendouzi will likely fill that spot as Emery is expected to return to his preferred 4-2-3-1 set-up for this contest.

It is uncertain if Mesut Ozil will be available after the playmaker missed Sunday’s match through a back injury. Ozil did not play against Bournemouth per Emery’s decision, and with Ramsey surprisingly coming on after the club rescinded a contract offer for beyond next season, the former Germany international’s status is starting to bubble into an unwanted distraction for the Gunners. Emery, though, seems to be relishing his English adventures as they take him from one high-stakes game to another with Wednesday’s match-up.

“It’s a new match, a new challenge, a big challenge,” he said Monday. “It’s away and we need to continue improving our mentality away. We know we need to change to get more competitive away. I think the team is doing that, but it’s a new challenge because we’re going to play against Manchester United away, and the challenge is bigger than other matches.

“For us, it’s a very exciting match. The preparation for this match is also a big motivation for us. If we are stronger now, we need to (show that) on Wednesday.”

As Arsenal bring a tidal wave of momentum to Old Trafford, the inconsistencies persist for Manchester United (6-4-4). For the second time already this term, Jose Mourinho’s team recovered at least one point from a two-goal deficit after finishing 2-2 at Southampton on Saturday.

With a lack of available bodies in central defence, Mourinho opted for a 5-3-2 set-up that included midfielders Nemanja Matic and Scott McTominay as his three centre backs. The plan backfired spectacularly as a relegation-threatened Saints squad were two up after 20 minutes.

United’s fightback revolved around Marcus Rashford, whom Mourinho exasperated midweek after missing a gilt-edged chance in their Champions League win over Young Boys. The England international set up goals by Romelu Lukaku and Ander Herrera six minutes apart late in the first half – the latter a spectacular run along the end line before spotting a charging Herrera — that was enough to see United through for a point.

“Yes (it was two points dropped),” Mourinho said post-match. “The result is not good so I have to say we dropped two points. If you are losing 4-0 and you get to 4-4 I would say maybe not. I think the comeback is good from 2-0 down to 2-2 in normal conditions everybody says it is a point gained, you have the game lost and you get a point, so normally you say it is a positive point, but it is a match that we want to win.”

Mourinho, though, was optimistic Lukaku’s goal will get the Belgium international to finally kick on. His fifth goal of the season in all competitions ended a personal 981-minute drought stretching back to Sept. 15 at Watford.

Like his counterpart, Mourinho is forced into one change for this match since right back Ashley Young picked up his fifth yellow card. The most likely option to replace him is Diogo Dalot, who made his long-awaited Premier League debut after left back Luke Shaw was forced off with a knock. Mourinho could also turn to Antonio Valencia or play Marcus Rojo at left back if Shaw cannot play.

Central defence, though, continues to be a nightmare as Phil Jones figures to be the only centre back certain to play. Chris Smalling sat out Saturday with a knock, and Mourinho continues to have little faith in Eric Bailly. Victor Lindelof is out until Boxing Day with a hamstring injury, so there could be more of Matic and McTominay as part of a five-man back line.

Mourinho hopes to have Rashford available after lifting him for the final 15 minutes with a knock. Jesse Lingard would be the most obvious replacement on the right attacking side for United, while Anthony Martial could be restored to the starting XI if Mourinho reverts to a 4-3-3.

Also unavailable through injury is ex-Arsenal winger Alexis Sanchez, who did play in last season’s corresponding fixture after his January move from the Emirates. Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who was shipped to London as part of the move, did score in that 2-1 United victory.

Manchester United did their first double over Arsenal since 2011-12 last term and are unbeaten in their last 11 league matches (8-3-0) against them at Old Trafford. The Gunners did record an FA Cup quarterfinal win in 2015, but they are just 4-7-19 at the Theatre of Dreams in the Premier League era.

Arsenal’s last league victory at Manchester United was a 1-0 win in 2006 courtesy an 85th-minute goal from Emmanuel Adebayor.

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Posted in EPL/MLS, Top Fantasy Picks

Liverpool vs Cardiff City Preview

Liverpool head into their Premier League clash with Cardiff City on Saturday looking to extend their unbeaten run in the top flight to 10 games and move three points clear of Manchester City.

Cardiff make the trip to Anfield keen to build on last weekend’s 4-2 triumph over Fulham, a result which moved the Bluebirds out of the relegation zone.

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Liverpool

Liverpool have been criticised for some of their performances this season, and there has been justification in that with the Merseyside giants having gone on a run which included just three goals from five outings in all competitions.

However, that period featured two fixtures with Chelsea and showdowns with Napoli and Manchester City, and Jurgen Klopp’s team have come out of that tough schedule with a hard-fought victory over Huddersfield Town and an easy triumph against Red Star Belgrade.

Only time will tell whether Liverpool will return to their best on a consistent basis, but they currently sit joint-top of the Premier League table and above Napoli and Paris Saint-Germain in their Champions League group.

Klopp will be demanding an improvement in the final third of the pitch, but the German is aware that the firepower to launch a challenge on both the domestic and European scene is at his disposal and he will not be losing sleep over their recent results.

Liverpool have registered three clean sheets in a row in all competitions, but perhaps the biggest plus point from the last few outings is Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino both getting themselves back among the goals.

Salah had gone almost a month without finding the back of the net until contributing the only goal of the game at Huddersfield – which was followed up with a double in midweek – while five weeks had passed when Firmino ended his goal drought on Wednesday night.

Xherdan Shaqiri and Daniel Sturridge have started to show Klopp that he does not have to rely on his tried-and-trusted front three, but there will be a sense of relief that they have started to show a greater cutting edge in the final third.

Liverpool are well-fancied to come out on top this weekend, but there is perhaps extra pressure on Klopp’s side to take advantage of an easier fixture on paper with a trip to Arsenal to follow next Sunday.

 

Cardiff City

Neil Warnock has indicated that he has no qualms over his Cardiff side being perceived as the favourites for relegation this season, and you would have struggled to find anyone to disagree with the veteran boss after the club’s opening eight matches.

However, the success against Fulham has perhaps indicated to everyone associated with Cardiff that an instant return to the Championship should not be regarded as a foregone conclusion, especially at this stage of the campaign.

Warnock will not be getting carried away with overcoming a team who have been shipping a lot of goals of late, but it has at least shown that one win every few weeks may just be enough to keep the Welsh outfit out of the bottom three.

Cardiff are only one of a number of teams who have struggled since the start of the season, and it already feels that less than 40 points will be good enough to retain a place in the top flight for another 12 months.

That theory will not change Cardiff’s mindset in the long run, but it will take the pressure off the team when they travel to the biggest clubs in the division and that could play into their favour.

Playing Liverpool less than 72 hours after a Champions League fixture is as ideal as it gets for Warnock and his squad and although Klopp’s men did not exactly have to over-exert themselves against Red Star, it provides them with less preparation time for Cardiff.

The same scenario applied when Warnock took his side to play Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley Stadium – three days after the North London outfit had hosted Barcelona – and Cardiff were unfortunate not to earn at least a share of the spoils on that occasion.

Warnock will have to find a way to nullify Liverpool’s attacking threat – something which will not come easy for a defence which have conceded 19 goals in nine games – but if Warnock can turn this into a scrappy match, Liverpool may not have it all their own way.

Team News

Shaqiri will expect to keep his place in the Liverpool starting lineup having contributed two assists over the past week.

That could lead to the Switzerland international playing in a more central position behind Sadio Mane, Salah and Firmino, but James Milner is likely to return in the place of Fabinho.

Jordan Henderson is expected to remain on the sidelines with a hamstring injury, but Naby Keita could potentially be handed a spot on the substitutes’ bench.

Klopp may opt to rotate his defenders, with Dejan Lovren potentially replacing Joe Gomez due to the England defender playing 90 minutes on three occasions since October 15.

Warnock is unlikely to make many alterations to a winning side, although Junior Hoilett could come into the team having impressed away at Spurs at the start of the month.

Joe Ralls continues to serve a suspension for the red card picked up at Wembley.

Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson; Milner, Wijnaldum, Shaqiri; Mane, Firmino, Salah

Cardiff City possible starting lineup:
Etheridge; Ecuele Manga, Morrison, Bamba, Bennett; Camarasa, Gunnarsson, Arter; Murphy, Reid, Paterson

Head To Head

Saturday’s meeting will represent just the 33rd competitive clash between the two clubs, with Cardiff claiming 18 wins in comparison to 12 victories for Liverpool.

However, each of Cardiff’s wins came in 1959 or earlier, with Liverpool prevailing in each of the four matches which took place between 2007 and 2014.

Liverpool netted 13 times during those contests, including six in the most recent fixture at the Cardiff City Stadium when the Bluebirds were last competing in the top flight.

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Posted in EPL/MLS, Top Fantasy Picks

Unai Emery hopeful on Lucas Torreira’s fitness

Arsenal head coach Unai Emery hopes to have midfielder Lucas Torreira fit to face Everton, live on NBCSN Sunday at 11:oo am ET.

The Uruguay international took a knock to the knee during Arsenal’s 4-2 Europa League victory against Vorskla Poltava but should be available for Sunday’s clash as the Gunners look to make it five straight wins in all competitions.

“I think it was better [for Lucas] to leave the match,” Emery said in his post-match press conference following Arsenal’s win against Vorskla.

“I hope that [Friday] and Saturday, he will be okay [to train] for Sunday.”

Meanwhile, Everton will be boosted by the return of joint top-scorer Richarlison after he completed a three-game ban.

The Brazilian made a fantastic start to life on Merseyside with three goals in two games following his move from Watford before his sending off against Bournemouth last month, and Marco Silva, who saw his side lose 3-1 at home to West Ham last weekend, is delighted to have the Brazilian back in contention for selection.

Silva said: “He’s an important player for us. He started very well and scored important goals for us. It’s very important for us that he’s back.”

Team news

Emery is likely to recall a number of first-team regulars for Arsenal’s Premier League clash at home to Everton on Sunday.

The Gunners head coach made eight alterations for Thursday’s 4-2 Europa League win over Vorskla Poltava but the likes of Petr Cech, Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette will be pushing for returns.

Laurent Koscielny (Achilles), Sead Kolasinac (knee), Ainsley Maitland-Niles (leg) and Carl Jenkinson (ankle) remain absent.

Defender Yerry Mina could come into contention for his debut after a full week of training following a foot problem.

Fellow centre-back Phil Jagielka should be ready to train with the squad again next week following a knee injury but Andre Gomes (hamstring) and Seamus Coleman (foot) remain sidelined.

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Posted in EPL/MLS, Top Fantasy Picks

Jurgen Klopp looking for six wins from six

Liverpool will seek to continue their 100 per cent start to the season when they host Southampton on Saturday morning.

Jurgen Klopp’s side followed up an impressive 2-1 win away at Tottenham last weekend with a 3-2 Champions League success over Paris Saint-Germain in midweek and are now hoping to extend their best ever Premier League start ahead of a daunting run of fixtures.

Liverpool are behind only Chelsea on goal difference and play them twice next week ahead of matches with Napoli and Premier League champions Manchester City before the international break in October.

But Klopp says his players will not underestimate the challenge of Southampton.

He said: “When people spoke to me about the next seven games a few weeks ago, nobody mentioned Southampton. I had to keep reminding them. Being focused on the next game, that’s the job to do.”

Southampton start the weekend in 13th and head to Anfield on the back of a 2-2 draw against Brighton on Monday night, when they conceded a stoppage-time penalty after they had been 2-0 up midway through the second half.

But manager Mark Hughes preferred to look at the positives, saying: “It is not something that really we are dwelling on, we are more concerned with how we are performing.

“We are performing at a decent level, but we have more progress and development to come. We are on the back of a three-game unbeaten run, so that is how we focus our performances of late.

Team news

Southampton must do without in-form forward Danny Ings due to the terms of his move from Liverpool

Ings, who has scored three times this season, is ineligible for the match at Anfield as he is on a season-long switch from the Reds ahead of a permanent deal next summer.

Forward Manolo Gabbiadini faces a late fitness test on a hamstring problem picked up in training, but otherwise Saints boss Hughes has no fresh injury worries.

Klopp has confirmed Roberto Firmino is fit to start after picking up an eye injury against Spurs and the Liverpool boss would have no issues in pairing him with fellow forward Daniel Sturridge, who scored against PSG in midweek.

Defender Dejan Lovren (hip) has not been included in the squad, but Klopp expects him to return to action next week, while Adam Lallana (hamstring) remains sidelined.

Divock Origi and Dominic Solanke both returned to training this week, but will not be involved at Anfield.

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Posted in EPL/MLS, Top Fantasy Picks

Watford vs Tottenham Preview

Tottenham Hotspur are unbeaten in their first three matches in the Premier League this season, with away wins at Newcastle and Manchester United, and a “home” win over Fulham sandwiched between. You know who else has nine points from three matches? Watford, who will host Spurs at Vicarage Road this Sunday.

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The Hornets have a penchant for starting the season off with a bang. Last year, under now-Everton manager Marco Silva, they lost just once in their opening eight matches, though that singular loss was a 6-0 shellacking by Manchester City. This season they are once again off to a fast start under Javi Gracia with wins over Brighton, Burnley, and Crystal Palace. It’s their best ever start to a Premier League season.

And strangely enough, they’re doing it with good defense. Through the first three matches, Watford have conceded only twice, are averaging only 7.7 shots per game (behind Manchester City), and are second in the league in expected goals allowed (xGA) with 2.27 (again behind City). It’s a super small sample size against pretty meh opposition, but Watford has looked pretty decent thus far, especially at home.

But as good as their defense has been in the early goings, their offense has been a little anemic. In fact, the vast majority of their offense has come from new signing Roberto Pereyra, who is leading the team in both goals scored (3) and shots per game (2.7), and Troy Deeney (1g, 2.3 s/g). They also have summer signing Will Hughes, who, as you might have heard, is on fire.

That’s all to say that there’s some evidence that this may not be the same Watford side that took five points from its last nine fixtures last season, limping to a 14th place finish. They’ve been pretty ruthless against Burnley and Brighton, and should feel good about beating Palace. On the other hand, this is pretty much what they did last season, too and they reverted to the mean. Going up against a Tottenham squad that looks like a title contender will easily be their stiffest test to date, and Spurs should be strong favorites.

Conversely, coming off of what feels like a statement win over Manchester United at Old Trafford, Spurs will need to be wary of complacency against Watford, as this could be a vintage banana-peel match.

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Posted in EPL/MLS, Top Fantasy Picks

Manchester City vs Newcastle United Preview

After dropping two points in a 1-1 draw with Wolverhampton, Manchester City will be aiming to get back on course with a victory over Newcastle United at their Etihad Stadium. The Citizens are determined to defend their Premier League title and we predict that they are going to adopt an attack-minded approach in Saturday’s football match. Kun Aguero was more than unfortunate not to find the net against Wolverhampton, but we predict that he is going to prove a handful for Newcastle defenders. The Magpies are tough to beat at home, but seeing that they are not regarded as good travelers, we do not believe that Rafa Benitez’s men are capable of spoiling Man City’s party at Etihad Stadium. Kevin de Bruyne remains in the recovery room for the hosts, but Pep Guardiola has a number of top-class players to choose from and they are likely to return to winning ways this weekend.

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Did you know?

  • Man City are unbeaten in their last 21 top-flight matches against Newcastle (W18 D3). It is their longest ever unbeaten run against a single top-flight opponent, and is also Newcastle’s longest such winless run.
  • Newcastle will be looking for their first point in 10 trips to the Etihad Stadium.
  • City have won all seven of their Premier League matches in September under Pep Guardiola, scoring 26 goals and conceding just twice. Guardiola hasn’t lost a match in September in all competitions as a manager since 2010, when he was in charge of Barcelona. He is unbeaten in 41 matches since (W35 D6).
  • Sergio Aguero has scored 14 goals in his 11 PL appearances against Newcastle. Eight of those have come in his last two home matches against them. He scored five times in October 2015 and three times in January 2018.

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Leicester City vs Liverpool Preview

All eyes will be on King Power Stadium when Leicester City and Liverpool face each other on Saturday morning. The Foxes aim to build on back-to-back wins over the likes of Wolverhampton and Southampton, but they will have a big fish to fry in the football match against Jurgen Klopp’s troops. Demarai Gray, who found the net in the 2-1 win over the Saints at the weekend, is likely to prove a handful for the opposition defenders. Liverpool, on the other hand, aim to keep their 100% record intact and there is every chance the visitors will stick to their attacking style of play against Leicester City. Mohamed Salah continues where he left last season and the Egypt international, who scored the winner against Brighton, is likely to make life difficult for the opposition defenders. A lively contest is on the cards and we predict that one goal will separate the two teams in the King Power Stadium clash.

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Did you know?

  • Leicester have won three of their last four home meetings with Liverpool in all competitions, although they lost this fixture 3-2 last season.
  • Liverpool are looking to win their opening four matches of a Premier League season for the first time. They last opened a top-flight campaign with four wins back in 1990/91 under Kenny Dalglish.
  • Alisson could become the fourth goalkeeper in PL history to keep a clean sheet in his first four starts, after Alex Manninger (first six), Anders Lindegaard (first five) and Jose Reina (first four).
  • Half of the six goals scored in the 90th minute onwards this season have come from Leicester or Liverpool, with two and one respectively. These sides are also responsible for 12 of the 37 goals scored in or after the 90th minute during 2018. Leicester have eight, Liverpool have four.

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Posted in EPL/MLS