Premier League team of week 22

Premier League Team of Week 22: Salah days

After utilising a back three last time out, we’ve gone with a 4-4-2 this week. Here’s our Premier League team of week 22, and get set for plenty of Manchester based players.

Goalkeeper: David de Gea. Tottenham Hotspur 0-1 Manchester United.

United scored first once in their 13 league games at fellow big six sides under Jose Mourinho. That was at Arsenal, and David de Gea put in a stunning performance to ensure his side won. The Spaniard repeated the trick here.  Read More

Fantasy Football Week 22

Premier League Fantasy Football Week 22 selections

Our team from week 20 was one of our better recent efforts. Mohamed Salah may have run riot against Arsenal, with a goal and an assist among his collection of contributions, but he wasn’t our top points contributor.

That honour fell to Cardiff’s Neil Etheridge, who made seven saves including a penalty. As just 6.8 percent of contestants selected him, he was a shrewd pick. He doesn’t make the team this week, but we’ll get to that shortly. Before we do, here are the matches in Draft Kings’ game this Saturday.

Our algorithm has been put to work to create a leader board, and here’s who we sifted out into to our eight man squad. Read More

Manchester City vs Wolves

Manchester City vs Wolves Preview: Tricky Match-up for Guardiola’s Team

Manchester City and Wolverhampton Wanderers have one obvious thing in common: both have recently beaten Liverpool 2-1. Granted, the Wolves defeated a diluted version of the Reds in their FA Cup encounter last Monday, but both Wolverhampton and City can certainly take away a lot of positives from succeeding against the current Premier League leaders.

For Manchester City, every match is a do-or-die situation right now. After a horrendous December in which they lost three matches within 18 days, the much-needed victory over Liverpool brought back some life to their hopes of defending the Premier League title. Still, City are trailing by four points and another loss would probably crush their hopes once and for all.

Wolves are not only one of the best teams behind the Premier League’s big six, but one of the trickiest opponents for City. When they met in August, Wolves drew with the powerhouse from Manchester. And Nuno Espirito Santo’s side could repeat exactly that on Monday. Read More

Tottenham vs Manchester United

Tottenham vs Manchester United Preview: Competition and Congestion

Almost as quickly as the ‘Pochettino to Manchester United’ rumours appeared they have vanished again from the discourse.

Coverage of Tottenham games return to the games themselves and the Argentine’s initial vague dancing around the subject is replaced by expressing a will to remain in North London for as many as ‘twenty years’ – a similar statement of confidence to ones he has made in the past.

Perhaps the performances of the club under caretaker Ole Gunnar Solskjær, albeit against lesser opposition, has lead the United board to readdress and cool their interest?

Of particular note has been the improvement of Paul Pogba since Mourinho got the sack. Many wanted to see the Frenchman operating a role in a three man-midfield with less defensive responsibility. Jose dismissed those he sarcastically labelled ‘experts’ as a over-simplifying yet here we are witnessing the positive effects of such a move. Read More

Chelsea vs Newcastle

Chelsea vs Newcastle Preview: Can depleted Magpies’ shock the Blues?

Newcastle United fans are used to managing expectations, but their manager, Rafael Benitez certainly isn’t. Not to this level, anyway. It should never be underestimated how surprising it is to see a Champions League-winning manager, somebody who has worked with some of the best players and clubs in the world, battling on even though he knows avoiding relegation is probably the best he can achieve this season.

Sitting just two points above the drop zone with injuries piling up, Newcastle travel to Chelsea on Saturday evening. Benitez can only look on in envy at the squad his opposite number, Maurizio Sarri, has at his disposal, but he continues to get on with his job.

The Spaniard has a self-imposed embargo on his head when it comes to discussing transfers, so most fans are being left in the dark. The inference, though, is that nothing is close to happening, and judging by the previous actions of Newcastle owner Mike Ashley, that does seem about right.

The Magpies are particularly short on central midfielders for the game at Stamford Bridge; given that most games at the top level hinge on the battle in the centre of the park, that is particularly bad news. Read More

Brighton vs Liverpool

Brighton vs Liverpool Preview: Seagulls to ground Liverbirds?

Brighton vs Liverpool is a massive game for the league leaders. Have they gone off the boil with two defeats in a row? Is this the point their title challenge crumbles into dust now their unbeaten record has gone? And who is going to play at centre-back since Dejan Lovren hobbled off inside six minutes at Wolves?

The answers, at least to my mind, are: no, no and, er, Fabinho I guess? To address the first point, while the Reds have been beaten in their last two fixtures, the stats suggest they were unlucky to lose at City on the balance of chances. The same stats would imply they deserved to lose at Wolves, but the Liverpool team sheet confirmed that was always likely, whatever numbers were eventually totted up by both sides.

There’s no reason their bid for a first title 29 years will fall away any time soon either. If anything, their expected goals figures suggest they’re getting stronger at the moment, not worse.  Read More

West Ham vs Arsenal

West Ham vs Arsenal Preview: The Felipe Anderson Show

The post-FA Cup third round action kicks off with West Ham vs Arsenal, a London derby at the Olympic Stadium. One man looks likely to be key for the home side.

Here are the stats Felipe Anderson leads West Ham in: Twelve points, goals, key passes, xG chain, xG assisted, tackles, fouls suffered, passes blocked and successful dribbles.

Basically if there is an important statistic, you would have a good chance of being correct saying that Anderson is leader in that stat for West Ham. One of the more surprising statistics is that the difference between Anderson and the next highest player in the Twelve Rankings, Declan Rice, is larger than the difference between Rice and all other players in West Ham’s top 11 this season. Read More

Manchester City 2-1 Liverpool

Manchester City 2-1 Liverpool: View From The Press Box

As his side became the first to defeat Liverpool in the league this season, Pep Guardiola was asked why he changes his tactics when he plays them. It was a bold question, and one which was thrown straight back by the City manager.

“What did I change today? From the way we normally play? At Anfield I would agree with you, here no way”

“More direct?” came the reply, and Guardiola explained why this may have appeared to be the case.

“Yeah they stay high, we spoke with [Raheem] Sterling and Leroy [Sane] to make runs in behind.”

“Today I have the feeling we tried to do what we have done in sixteen months, that is my feeling but maybe I’m wrong.”

He had played a different system in the draw at Anfield earlier in the season, using Bernardo Silva as a holding player in a 4-2-3-1 but here he took a risk, and commented that if Fernandinho did not win his duels his defence would be isolated against some of the best attacking players in the world. Read More

Premier League Team of Week 21

Premier League Team of Week 21: PEA Shooter

As enjoyable a match as Manchester City’s 2-1 win over Liverpool was, not one player from that game made it into our XI. An abundance of centre-backs and strikers high up the rankings means we’ve gone for a 3-4-3 this week. Here’s our Premier League team of week 21.

Goalkeeper: Ben Foster. Bournemouth 3-3 Watford.

How does a goalkeeper who concedes three goals earn a spot here? By being one of his sides top attackers.
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Manchester City vs Liverpool

Manchester City vs Liverpool Preview: The Big One

Manchester City vs Liverpool. This is the big one. The game for all the marbles. The two best teams in the Premier League square off for a second time to see if Liverpool’s march to a first title in almost three decades will be assured or if who will win the Premier League is still an open question.

With over half of the season now gone, we’ve gotten answers to many of the big pre-season questions. One of mine was how Liverpool would fare as a more possession-based team. The addition of Alisson in particular suggested that Liverpool were going to play as more of a possession-oriented side. Given the Reds often struggled when they couldn’t rely on their press and were forced to break down an opponent last season, it made sense to focus in that area.

Though Liverpool’s results against lower sides have improved, it can’t really be said they’re playing more of a possession game, as their possession percentage this season is slightly lower than last (58% to 57% per Whoscored). As expected, Alisson has turned the ball over about 2.5 fewer times per 90 compared to the Karius/Mignolet duo, but the percentage of possessions ending in a turnover hasn’t decreased. Read More