Halftimeng Premier League Team of Week 13

Another week, another home Premier League draw for Manchester United after creating tonnes of chances. The Liberty stadium was the place to be if you are one for goals and atrocious defending; what a nine game thriller; spare a thought for Crystal Palace; joy and despair in the space of minutes.

The Leaders, Chelsea showed a different side after conceding their first goal in seven games by coming from behind to win in the London derby against Tottenham Hotspurs. The Citizens grounded out a result at Burnley, Arsenal too had to dig deep and Liverpool struggled to find a way past Sunderland until late in the game.

Here is my Premier League Team of week 13 in a 3-4-3 formation.

lineup111480334581523

MY CHELSEA/ TOTTENHAM HOTSPURS COMBINED XI

In what is easily the stand out fixture of the Week 13 games in the Premier League, Chelsea host Spurs in the final round of matches on Saturday.
A London derby with Tottenham Hotspurs being the only unbeaten team in the league thus far and lie 5th on the log whilst for Chelsea, who are a point clear on the table, it is 6 straight wins without conceding a goal since Antonio Conte rang the changes and adopted the 3-4-3 formation. So the question come Saturday is, will Chelsea finally concede a goal and is this the game that sees Tottenham lose their unbeaten run? Spurs are missing certain key players with Manager Pochettino putting up a makeshift defense in their Champions League exit. Two teams with a decent number of players in fine form so we decided to combined their best XI and have chosen to deploy a 4-2-3-1 formation to be coached by Antonio Conte.

Image result for goalkeeper thibaut courtois chelsea
Goal Keeper – Thibaut Coutois (Chelsea)
This is a game that sees two of the best goalkeepers not just in the league but also in Europe go head to head. On his day, Spurs Hugo Lloris will get my nod as the better goalie but when a goalkeeper has not conceded a goal in over half the number of games played thus far irrespective of how good his defense has been, Courtois deserves to get his spot in this team.
RB- Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspurs)
The English defender has been one of the most consistent performers over the last two seasons and would go up against Arsenal’s Hector Bellerin as the best right backs in the league.

Image result for david luiz chelsea 2016
CB- David Luiz (Chelsea)
Erratic, careless and at times a disaster waiting to happen, those have been words used to describe the Brazilian in recent past but since he joined the blues for a second spell, Luiz has been anything but short of being majestic, always passionate, commanding, perfect foil for Conte’s 3-4-3 formation, has solidified a defense that seemed to be leaking goals, could argue he has helped Cahill regain some confidence and he has ensured that John Terry remained on the bench after recovering from his injury.
CB- Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham Hotspurs)
The Spurs defender will be missing his Belgian partner Toby Alderweireld come Saturday as the latter is facing a battle to be fit. I could have gone with either of the duo for this position really but Vertonghen has been key to whatever solidity Spurs have formed this season and also been one of their most consistent players this season featuring in all 12 games played in the league where they have only conceded eight goals.
LB- Danny Rose (Spurs)
Ceaser Azpilicueta could have gotten this spot but clearly hasn’t been deployed much in that role this season, so it’s Danny Rose who earns his place in my team. Fast, solid, brilliant going forward, reminds me in a way of Patrice Evra and will be sorely missed as he is out due to injury.

Image result for n'golo kante chelsea
DM- Ngolo Kante (Chelsea)
The modern day Claude Mhkalele with better passing abilities, a beast in the middle, one of the signings of the season, covers every blade of grass, rarely wastes possession, decent passing ability, a gift to the blues and evidently a missing ingredient in Leicester City’s team.
DM- Moussa Dembele (Tottenham Hotspurs)
Dembele is one of those players who consistently gets the job done but goes unheralded, one of my favorite players in the league, strong, skillful, commanding presence and a sweet left feet to go with it.
Middle- Pedro (Chelsea)
The former Barcelona player looks reborn under Antonio Conte, playing beautiful football yet again, scoring and assisting goals and was really unlucky with his strike which bounced off the woodwork in the game against Middleborough, a real live wire who never tires of running.

Image result for heu min son tottenham
Middle- Heu Son (Tottenham Hotspurs)
At a time when top striker Harry Kane was out injured, Spurs needed someone to deliver the goods and summer recruit Jansen was firing blanks, the Korean stepped up and has been brilliant since then. In a season where the likes of Dele Alli and Erikssen have struggled for form and fitness, the Korean has shone in the white colors of the London team.
Middle- Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
Player of the month for October, in contention for player of the season already, scored more goals already than he did the whole of last season, pivotal in Chelsea’s run to the top. The Mercurial Belgian has rediscovered the form that bagged him the best player in the league two seasons ago and ended up with Chelsea winning the league, he makes the team better in all ways.

Image result for Diego Costa (Chelsea)
Diego Costa (Chelsea)
10 goals already, leading the scorers chart in the league, looking unstoppable, flourishing either as the lone man upfront or when he is being supported by Hazard, seems to be more controlled with his emotions and has taken every of his goal instinctively.

Halftimeng Premier League Team of Week 12

Truly love conquers all or how else can we explain Victor Anichebe’s new found form; three goals in two games, back to back features in my team of the week selection and some people criticised me for having him included in the selection last week. Thanks Victor for proving me right and them wrong.

Spare a thought for David Moyes though, it took a suspension from the dug out for Sunderland to get a win and now back to back wins; the players must block out his presence mentally to get this current form going.

I doubt if there’s anybody thats not loving Chelsea right now; six wins on the bounce and no goals conceded; the vibe and swagger at Stamford Bridge these days is different and of course spare a thought for Jose Mourinho and the unluckiest team in the Premier League these days, Manchester United; three straight draws at home for the first time since 1992, imagine the Red devils had won those games they totally dominated; they would be closer to the summit than away from it; its football and thats why we love it so much.

Here’s my team of the week selection in a 4-3-3 formation for Week 12 of the Premier League and I am quite confident this time that the problems with my selections from my esteemed readers won’t be as much as from previous weeks.

lineup111479802512772

Manchester United v Arsenal Combined 11

The weekend after the International break, the last one for the year throws up various mouthwatering encounters across the leagues in Europe, be it in Spain where the Madrid derby holds, in Germany where Bayern Munich do battle with Borussia Dortmund or in Italy where the Milanese teams go to war, the football weekend is looking so lit. One fixture that may not be as huge as it used to under Sir Alex and when both teams paraded the likes of Roy Keane and Patrick Viera is United versus Arsenal,this is probably the most anticipated game of this weekend, its Jose’s men who have been struggling for form against a rampant gunners, its Jose’s undefeated record in 14 head to head competitive games with Arsene Wenger also at stake, some have argued that as a team, maybe United needs this more but as a manger Arsene will likely pop champagne if he gets three points, lunchtime kickoff sees it all go down as United host Arsenal, if not now, then when will Arsene get that win over Jose? Here is my combined XI of both sides this season inclusive of injured players who may not be playing on Saturday but have had their impact on the team this season.

Formation: 4-3-3

Petr-Cech Arsenal

In goal: Petr Cech (Arsenal)

Experienced, steady, reliable, one of the best in the world and arguably the best in the league, edges it over De gea for me.

Right back: Hector Bellerin (Arsenal)

Injured and ruled out for this game but the player who stakes a claim as one of the best right backs in the league, most prominent for his pace and said to be scouted by Barcelona owns this position and befittingly his opposite player Antonio Valencia is also injured so both teams have to make do with second choice players in their position.

Centre Back: Eric Bailly (Manchester United)

Another one injured and ruled out of the fixture, would be a big miss for United as they seem to be struggling with finding the right balance at the heart of the defense. With Chris Smalling also doubtful, the door is open for the likes of Rojo, Jones, Blind and Fosu Mensah to stake a claim in the heart of the defense.

Koscielny-goal-557440

Centre back: Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal)

Arguably one of the most improved defenders in the league, calm, good reader of the game, commands his backline well and has forged a solid partnership with new import Mustafi which United will be hoping to break come Saturday.

Midfield: Paul Pogba (Manchester United)

Came with a price tag that demanded he hit the ground running, whilst he is yet to exactly take the league by storm, Paul has shown some flashes of what he can do and the stunner against Swansea in last league outing puts him in a more confident mood coming into this fixture where a lot will depend on him breaking the Arsenal midfield.

Midfield: Mezut Ozil (Arsenal)

Arguably the best No 10 in Europe, has that uncanny ”eye” for the golden pass, sleek, brilliant to watch, reads the game extremely well and his critics have held on to the ‘fact’ that he hardly shows up to own big matches, this is just another avenue for him to prove them wrong.

Ander Herrera (Manchester United)

Maybe a Santi Cazorla on another day would have gotten this berth but really there is this sentiment concerning him by Arsenal fans that you really need to look at the numbers and see the amount of time he has actually featured. Ander Herrera got his first start in a Spanish shirt midweek and is expected to return to the United starting XI after serving out his suspension. Very technical, committed, could play as a defensive midfielder when called upon even when you sense that his favorite position is in an attacking role.

Sanchez

Forward: Alexis Sanchez

The Chilean has been declared fit after a scare during the International break, he was supposed to have broken a leg but returned days later with two goals, he has been in bright form this season, leading the lines most times. Last time he was up against Darmian, the Italian had nightmares, there may be a reunion come Saturday and the result may not be too different.

Forward: Theo Walcott

Another who has enjoyed a good run of form this season, seemingly finally coming of age, more clinical, enjoying a return to his more used to role on the wings and though doubtful for this one makes my list in the front three.

 

Top Forward: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Manchester United)

Suspended for the game but compared to the likes of Giroud or Marcus Rashford, Zlatan has seven league goals, two in his last game and unarguably gets the nod to lead the attack.

461779377  Football Hull City v Chelsea

Manager: Jose Mourinho (Manchester United) – he may not be enjoying the best of times at Old Trafford, his tactics and touchline reactions may be called to question but he last won the league 18 months ago not 12 years ago. Facts only

 

Halftimeng La Liga Team of Week 11

A La Rosaleda thriller set off a fascinating weekend in the La Liga
where Malaga edged past Sporting Gijon 3-2,Real Soceidad did the
unthinkable when they smashed in two against a rudderless Atletico;
Real Madrid are still unbeaten in the league and are now top of the La
Liga table beating Leganes 3 – 0.

Deportivo La Coruna,Granada,Osasuna still languishing somewhere at the
foot of the table not doing much to keep their survival hopes alive
even though its still early days.

Here are my selections for the week:

Goalkeeper – Geronimo Rulli (Real Soceidad)

Latitant at his progress since he joined Real Soceidad two years ago
from Argentina, i still cant comprehend how he never gets a senior cap
for his country. Commanded his defence well and when they failed, he
was brave to deny Greizmann with a finger tip save. Rulli probably
not in the category of the Neuers or De Geas but when you realize that
the Argentine number 1 only gets games at Manchester United only when
Fleetwood or Dover Athletic are the opponents, then players like ‘Nimo
Rulli really need to get a look in.

Defender – Diego Reyes (Espanyol)

Mexican on loan from Porto looks like he’s finally finding his feet in
Catalonia. Was massive against Bilbao last weekend,shielded the ball
well when he had to,distribution was effortless as he looked very
comfortable on the ball; ultimately i think Quique Sanchez Flores has
worked superbly on his positioning. Bilbao didn’t have any shot on goal,
Reyes was that effective

Defender – Javier Mascherano (Barcelona)

That leaky Barcelona defence needed to be reinforced after a
lugubrious performance against City last midweek in the Champions
League; Argentine was beastly at Sevilla on Sunday night notably his
timely lunge on Vitolo and Vietto. Estadio Sanchez Pizjuan is always a
very difficult place to visit but Mascherano rose to the occasion and
did extremely well. Samuel Umtiti should be chuffed to bits for having
to play alongside him

Defender – Raphael Varane (Real Madrid)

The Lille born defender has had a quiet start to the season,
understandably so, having to miss the Euros through injury and having
to contend with Sergio Ramos, Pepe and more recently Nacho for a spot
in the Centre Back position but looks like the Leganes games was ideal
for him, snuffed out dangers well,distribution was good,at times tried
to initiate attacks. Varane is tailor made for great things,needs to
just get his confidence growing,he will transform from a potential to
the real deal

Defender – Marcelo (Real Madrid)

This lad is the best left back of his kind in the world, you will
probably agree with me if you dont like “cagey” football. Yes,his
performance was very fulgent against a lowly Leganes but he has a way
of just making a chance for himself and teammates. Incase you want to
bring the ” he is a defender” argument here, he made the most
interception in La Liga last weekend

Midfielders – Ignacio Camacho (Malaga)

In a season where Malaga has been quite tepid and skittish, Camacho
has been quite consistent and was very instrumental in their win
against Gijon. He is more or less the pulse of the team; goes about
his business on the pitch quietly and effectively too.

lineup111478684880375

Midfielders – Marcos Llorente (Alaves)

Things havent really gone well for Alaves since that famous win at
the Nou Camp getting a paltry five points out of a possible 21 making
the visit to Osasuna vital. Christian Santos got the important winner
but Marcos Llorente was flawless, given he is only 21 i think he will
be a star,his technique and all round awareness is exceptionally
superb .

Midfielders – Roberto Soriano (Villareal)

Not many a times do you see a goal like Soriano scored against Betis. Soriano was sublime all through, making the yellow submarines tick; he was available to pick and recieve a pass, his
artistry and soothing performance, places Soriano as one to admire.

Forwards – Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

This crinigerous Argentinean hirsute is the bravest footballer in the
world. Enough said….

Forwards – Gareth Bale (Real Madrid)

When you just sign a $22m per year deal which runs until 2022, you
have got no choice but to start repaying the trust that got you the
deal in the first instance. Bale is doing just that caping an absolute
belter in Warsaw on Wednesday with a brace against Leganes. You can’t
just fault his form.

Forwards – Luis Suarez (Barcelona)

Highest goal scorer in the league,only behind (Of Course) Lionel
Messi, with 8 goals, 3 assists, averaging a goal every 103 minutes, 57%
chance conversion rate. He is the best striker in the Primera Liga in
my opinion, we can only enjoy his obvious talent and pray he doesn’t
bite anyone anytime soon.

Halftimeng Premier League Team of Week 11

Another weekend, another team of the week selection and as always I am ready for the battering that will come with this week’s selection. The International break is upon us, so no Premier League action for a week, but teams like Chelsea and Liverpool gave us performances to savour for a whole week. Last week’s selection was supposed to be my toughest; I think this week’s ran it quite close.

Please let me have your thoughts on this selection and also where you think I may have got it wrong; here’s my selection in a 3-4-3 formation.

 

 

lineup111478507896648

This Weekend (04/11/16)

Its the weekend before another International break to give room for World Cup qualifiers across the various continents; so we football fans have to milk this weekend to its fullest. This weekend we will take trips to Germany, Italy, Spain and finally England; where we have to big clashes that may shake the existing structure in the Premier League.

Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspurs

The North London derby provides us an interesting match up as Electric Arsenal take on a dogged Tottenham Hotspurs side that are the only undefeated team in the Premier League. In years past Arsenal have dominated this fixture with commanding performances showing and proving to be the preeminent team in North London; however, Spurs have somewhat closed the gap and we have had really close clashes between both sides; case in question the games between both sides last season which ended in draws and overall Spurs are undefeated in their last four games against the Gunners.

Arsene 1

Arsenal are undefeated in their last 15 games in all competitions especially since the opening day defeat to Liverpool which was at the Emirates, the Gunners have been playing some fabulous stuff so far and have shown an uncharacteristically strong mental resolve in games which ordinarily Arsenal have been known to crumble when the pressure is at its peak. The form of Ozil, Sanchez and the reemergence of Olivier Giroud have given the Gunners a different edge; coupled with the defensive understanding demonstrated between Mustafi and Koscielny.

So, we have a team thats scoring for fun, but may concede a few goals on one side and then a team struggling to score goals, but are able to keep it tight at the back. This gives an indication that we may be heading for a draw, but Spurs current poor form both in the Premier League and Champions League, tilts the tie in favour of the Gunners.

Prediction: Arsenal Win (Betting Punt: Under 3.5)

Chelsea v Everton

Chelsea come into this tie boasting a four game winning streak without conceding a goal, confidence is restored to the blue side of London; some balance has been achieved with the way the team is set up and some players have been reborn in the last few weeks. Everton on the other hand look like a team built to frustrate the big teams, expecting to punch above their weight, cause a stir every now and then, but disappoint when one of the lesser lights come calling.

url.jpg

Idrissa Gueye has been one of Everton’s stand out players this season, sadly he will be missing out through suspension, which leaves a huge gap for the Toffees to fill; thereby taking away the intensity, interceptions and industry Everton have demonstrated thus far this season. Already the Toffees have shown they can compete with the big boys with the solid performance at the Etihad.

Chelsea are undefeated in their last 22 home meetings against Everton in all competitions, but something tells me something would change here and the Toffees may just get something from this one. Lukaku is a beast of a striker at the moment, just the way Diego Costa is and both would bully the best defences anywhere in the world. I particularly like the way Everton set up, been able to mirror their opponents formation and been ready to mix and match things. Chelsea have found an unlikely balance in their defense with Azpilicueta playing as part of the back three; although i am still of the belief that it is a disguised back three; just watch Chelsea with out the ball and see the quick adjustment from a back three to a back four.

All in all Chelsea, look good enough for a fifth straight win, but Everton could nick a point; although Gueye would be a big miss in their grand scheme to conquer Stamford Bridge.

Prediction: Chelsea to Win (Betting Punt: Both teams to score)

Napoli v Lazio:

Napoli gave a good account of themselves on their visit to the Old Lady last week and I liked the look of their front three of Callejon, Insigne and Mertens; but we all know how these things work, an ex player always finds a way to drill the final nail in his former employers coffin. Lazio have been impressive this season despite the madness caused at pre-season with the premature resignation of Marcelo Bielsa and the eventual shock appointment of Simone Inzaghi.

url.jpg

Lazio currently have the best ongoing streak in Serie A which has them undefeated in their last six games and playing some decent football along the line. This is a battle between the inexperienced and coaching first timer in Inzaghi versus the experienced Maurizio Sarri; two managers with different paths to big jobs with established Serie A teams.

Napoli have a good record at home with ten wins out of their last eleven Serie A matches, so Lazio have it all to do as Napoli would be keen to bounce back from that defeat against table toppers Juventus to keep in touch with the title race.

Prediction: Draw (Betting Punt: Both teams to Score)

Bayern Munich v Hoffenheim

Bayern Munich remain undefeated in the Bundesliga, but have stuttered and looked less convincing in recent weeks. This week they come up against another team that are also undefeated in Hoffenheim, who are tutored by a young coach who’s stock is rising on a daily in European football.

url.jpg

Bayern remain top of the table with a slim two-point advantage over Leipzig, despite not been in the best of form lately under Carlo Ancelotti. Hoffenheim have been impressive reaching third spot at the moment and have not lost in the league this season. Julian Nagelsmann has led Hoffenheim to probably their best start in recent seasons, with the team winning five straight matches and could prove to be a solid test for FC Hollywood, hopefully their European exertions wouldn’t affect them; we can expect Bayern to dominate possession with Hoffenheim seeking to catch them on the break.

Prediction: Bayern to win (Betting Punt: Over 2.5)

url.jpg

Sevilla v Barcelona

Barcelona come into La Liga’s biggest game of the weekend on the back of two underwhelming performances; the one-nil victory last weekend in the League and the defeat in the Champions League against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. Sevilla have had a good start to the season under the new guidance of Jose Sampaoli; at the start it seem like it may be a failed experiment, especially as they conceded a lot of goals as the season began, but they have been able to steady the ship and have turned on some really good performances both domestically and in Europe.

Last week’s draw must have destabilised the Andalusian club, but they bounced back emphatically in the Champions League. At the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan; Sevilla have built a fortress, you just need to look at their record at home; 19 wins from their 22 games at home speaks volumes.

Barcelona need to snap out of it, we must admit that they do miss the genius of Andreas Iniesta and two of their established back four out as well, you must start to worry for the Catalans. However, with an away record that reads 7 wins out of 8 away games and  been undefeated in the last 16 games of 17 matches against Sevilla, must be a boost for Barcelona.

Prediction: Draw (Betting Punt: Both Teams to Score)