Fantasy Premier League: The pros and cons of Marcus Rashford

When the two strikers faced off on Sunday, it was Rashford who had the upper hand. His goal decided the match and helped Manchester United pick up their biggest win since sacking Jose Mourinho. Since the change in management, the Englishman has started every match scoring a fantastic four goals while also recording an assist. In fact, over that period his England contemporary and opponent this week, Harry Kane, is the only striker to be involved in more goals (seven). As for shots on target, no other forward has recorded more than Rashford’s 12 over the past five matches, with teammate Paul Pogba the only player overall to have recorded more overall (15).china nike nfl jerseys cheap

That last stat may be a nice little hint as to just how effective Manchester United have been in attack since the hiring of Solskjaer. In his brief managerial tenure at the club, the Red Devils have led the league in goals scored, assists, and shots on target, and sit second in chances created. Compared to those statistics under the previous administration, this has been a massive improvement at the club. The result of this has been incredible as 42 percent of Manchester United’s wins, and 34 percent of their goals, have come in the five matches since Solskjaer took charge.12

Naturally this outstanding on-pitch improvement has bled into fantasy and, while Pogba has likely been the biggest beneficiary, Rashford has quietly re-established himself as one of the best strikers in fantasy. While his overall ranking does not necessarily flatter him in the ESPN game (45th), he has recorded a tier-high 85.9 points over the past five matches, with Kane and Salah being the only forwards to have recorded more points over that stretch. There’s more to Rashford’s game than just goal scoring though — his creativity has significantly boosted his value this season as his six assists lead his tier on the season.

There’s more to Rashford’s recent form than just the managerial change, it’s also how he’s been deployed. All five of the 21-year-old’s starts under Solskjaer have come as a forward, a position from which six of his seven goals have come this season. The strange thing is, despite his usage by previous managers, this is by no means a new trend. Ever since the Louis van Gaal days it was evident that Rashford was better up front than when shifted out wide. Unfortunately for the latter, the signings of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Romelu Lukaku in consecutive seasons meant Rashford had to play on the left in order to get any meaningful minutes. Over his young career, 64 percent of his goals have come when playing up front, and this is certainly evidenced in fantasy as well. When playing as a striker this season, Rashford averages 12.25 points, just about four points better per game than when playing anywhere else. That number would make him a top-20 player in the league, and the best in his tier.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Whether or not, Rashford can keep this up does remain to be seen, however. He has already scored as many goals (seven) as he ever has in a Premier League season, while already having recorded the most assists in his career (six). Fantasy wise, he boasts 203 points in our game, which is within 50 points of his total from all of last season. Of course, the main reason he’s already reaching his season-high marks is playing time. Rashford is currently on pace for 2170 minutes, just about 400 more than he’s ever played before. If he keeps up his current rates of production, he could be in line for a 12-goal, 10-assist season.


Emery says Arsenal can sign only loan players … and the reason should worry fans

Last week, Arsenal boss Unai Emery said something surprising: “We cannot sign players where we have to make a payment … we can only make loan signings.” That’s not what you’d expect to hear from a club that is six points away from fourth place and in danger of finishing outside the Champions League spots for the third successive season after 19 consecutive years of playing in the world’s biggest club competition.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

Nor is that what you’d expect from a club that ranked sixth in the most recent Deloitte Money League, boasts the second-highest average attendance in the Premier League and has made a profit every year since 2008. (Most recently, they reported profits of £44.6 million in 2017, followed by £25.1 million in the first six months of the following season.)

To some, Emery’s words brought to mind the mid-to-late Arsene Wenger Era, in which the club sat on enormous cash reserves. The manager said they could buy players, but they wouldn’t do it “for the sake of it,” and supporters blamed the owner, Stan Kroenke, for being stingy.11

It’s not quite like that now. Emery would happily spend money if he could. Rather, Arsenal offer a case study of how big decisions from newcomers, made in a short time, can have massive knock-on effects. Their situation illustrates how hard it can be to put the toothpaste back in the tube.

One was the decision to re-sign Mesut Ozil. Like Sanchez, he was six months away from free agency, and he, too, wanted a big bump in salary: from $9.6 million to $20 million-plus. Arsenal chose to extend his deal through 2021 at something close to his requested wage.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Finally came the signing of forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for a club record £57.6 million. Aubameyang had been on the market the previous summer, but Wenger opted instead for another central striker, Alexandre Lacazette. Adding Lacazette was a sizable investment (£46.5 million rising to £52.6 million with bonuses), though at that stage, he had gone nine consecutive games without a goal, and his return to that point (nine in 27) wasn’t earth-shattering.

Aubameyang, on the other hand, had scored 69 goals in 79 Bundesliga games the previous two years. While there were some reservations about his character — he missed training sessions in Dortmund and tried to engineer a move away the previous summer — they ultimately agreed to both the fee and a wage packet of some $12.8 million a season through 2021, nearly twice what Lacazette had agreed to six months earlier.


Chelsea prepared to report Bayern to FIFA over Hudson-Odoi – sources

Chelsea are prepared to file a complaint against Bayern Munich to FIFA if evidence is found of an illegal approach to Callum Hudson-Odoi or his representatives, sources have confirmed to ESPN FC.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

Bayern are awaiting a response from Chelsea to a fourth bid believed to be worth around £35 million for Hudson-Odoi, and a source told ESPN FC on Wednesday that the 18-year-old has no intention of signing a new contract.

Chelsea have been angered by the public nature of Bayern’s pursuit, with sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic confirming on Wednesday that the German giants “absolutely want to sign” Hudson-Odoi this month.12

Such comments are against competition rules for Premier League clubs, but Salihamidzic’s words alone are not enough to fall foul of FIFA’s regulations.

There is widely-held suspicion at Chelsea that Bayern are coordinating their efforts with Hudson-Odoi’s camp to get him out of Stamford Bridge, though it is also accepted that accusations of “tapping up” are difficult to prove.

Chelsea remain desperate to keep Hudson-Odoi, and head coach Maurizio Sarri’s surprise decision to start him against Tottenham in the first leg of the Carabao Cup semifinal on Tuesday was part of a broader club effort aimed at convincing the winger that his future lies at Stamford Bridge.cheap nike nfl jerseys china

But after the match Antonio Rudiger revealed that Hudson-Odoi has asked him about his experiences in German football, and Bayern are increasingly confident that they will be able to complete a deal for the 18-year-old this month.

Hudson-Odoi’s contract expires in June 2020 and, as long as he remains unwilling to discuss an extension, Chelsea are mindful that his value will likely decrease significantly if he is kept at Stamford Bridge until the summer.


Fantasy Premier League: Which Liverpool and Manchester City players should you pick?

But enough about the FA Cup. The Premier League teams fielded weakened starting lineups, with many key players rested. Whether you watched the FA Cup this weekend or not, the last round of Premier League fixtures probably seems like a distant memory … with the exception being the final game played.nfl nike jersey cheap

Manchester City’s 2-1 toppling of Liverpool last Thursday means we still have a proper title race on our hands, to the delight of everyone besides Liverpool fans. But what did it mean from a fantasy perspective?

Sergio Aguero and Leroy Sane scored the goals for Manchester City, yet finished with relatively meager points totals of 17.5 and 18.4, respectively. Fourteen outfield players in the league finished with more points than Sane, and 20 with more than Aguero. Roberto Firmino scored Liverpool’s goal, but he still finished with just 16.1 points — 24 players were ahead of him.9

The problem with this game, fantasy-wise, is that it pitted two evenly matched teams against each other, and was a virtual tie numbers-wise. Liverpool won the possession battle, but by an extremely slim margin, finishing with 50.6 percent of the ball. And the teams combined for only 16 shots — nine by Manchester City, seven by Liverpool.

Manchester City had only four shots on goal, and Liverpool had just one more. And in terms of expected goals, it finished Manchester City 1.03, Liverpool 1.24.

Aguero took three shots, and no one else on his team had more than one. Firmino and Sadio Mane led Liverpool, but took just two shots apiece.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Is this a long-term concern? It depends on which player you’re talking about.

I’m more worried about Manchester City. Even though they lead the league in goals scored, it feels like it’s becoming harder and harder to predict who will score them.


Bayern Munich can’t afford to wait to land their primary transfer targets

Bayern Munich’s immediate focus is to win their game at Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, but behind the scenes, attention has already shifted to next season.

Wednesday’s news of an €85 million agreement with Atletico Madrid for French World Cup winner Lucas Hernandez, only half-heartedly denied by executive chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, underlined the Bavarians’ ambition to make big, decisive moves in the transfer market, buy nike nfl jerseys cheap well in advance of the competition. It won’t be long before we’ll get a strong sense of how the 2019-20 team — the first that will look significantly different to the one that won the Champions League in 2013 — will look.

That’s why they started negotiating with VfB Stuttgart’s Benjamin Pavard well in advance of the World Cup, for example. Sources in Munich are adamant that the 22-year-old has agreed to make the move to the Allianz Arena next summer, when Bayern can trigger a €35m release clause. There’s a chance the transfer could be brought forward, for a premium, this winter. Stuttgart, though, will find it hard to sell their key defensive player in the midst of an unexpected battle for survival.10

ESPN FC has been told that Bayern are also working on signing Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Kai Havertz, the most talented young German player in the Bundesliga at the moment. The 19-year-old has attracted interest from many elite teams and will only get more expensive as his versatility and elegance on the ball become more widely recognised in the second half of the season.

Havertz’s rapid development, incidentally, has dampened Bayern’s interest in Christian Pulisic. The German champions are working on the assumption that the U.S. player would prefer a move to the Premier League. Borussia Dortmund, furthermore, are naturally much happier to sell him abroad.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

But the rebuild won’t stop there. After narrowly missing out on Jadon Sancho 12 months ago, sources in London have told ESPN FC that Bayern are prepared to push hard for Chelsea youngster Callum Hudson-Odoi, who’s out of contract in 2020 and has so far been reluctant to sign a new deal at Stamford Bridge. “Pace” and “youth” have become the watchwords in Munich; Hudson-Odoi offers both. Germany striker Timo Werner fits the bill as well, but the 22-year-old might already have become too expensive and will only be upgraded to a key target if Robert Lewandowski leaves the club at the end of the season.


West Ham’s Felipe Anderson making a strong case for a role with Tite’s Brazil

The Brazilian, who arrived from Lazio in the summer, is suddenly exceeding expectations in his debut season with West Ham. There were fitful signs of promise in an uncertain start for him and Manuel Pellegrini’s new look lineup.

After just one goal in his first 10 Premier League games, Anderson has now hit the target seven times in his last nine matches. Many of these have been match-winners — like the pair against Southampton on Thursday night that turned defeat into victory. It did him no harm at all that this came in the only match played on the night. here was nothing else to share the spotlight and so, back home, the question is starting to be asked; how long until he has a place in the Brazil squad?cheap nike nfl jerseys china

His chances are clearly increasing. He has been around the squad for a while but to this point, there have probably been three things against him.9

One is his inconsistency. He had an up and down time in five years with Lazio. With no international games until the end of March, he now has to keep producing in order to gain the approval of Brazil coach Tite.

The second blemish is his previous record in the famous yellow shirt, which is hardly impressive. Nearly six years ago, Felipe Anderson was one of the main hopes of a Brazil side that went to Argentina to dispute the South American Under-20 Championships — always an important conveyor belt to the senior side. The tournament was an unmitigated disaster, both for him and for his teammates as Brazil failed to qualify for that year’s Under-20 World Cup. Worse than that, they failed even to reach the decisive second round of the South American competition. And even worse than that, they managed to finish bottom of their group of five. Felipe Anderson made little impact, scoring one goal from the penalty spot.buy nike nfl jerseys cheap

He treasures an Olympic gold medal from the Rio Games of 2016 but it is not a competition that he can look back on with a great deal of pleasure. He was in the starting lineup for the opening game — a dire 0-0 draw against South Africa. he scoreline was the same, and the performance even worse in the next match against Iraq. Felipe Anderson was withdrawn at half-time, and spent the rest of the tournament on the bench. He came on towards the end of the final against Germany, but was not trusted to take a penalty in the shootout.


Australia’s Alen Stajcic ready for familiar foes Brazil, won’t underestimate Italy and Jamaica

Australia are set to face Brazil for the fourth consecutive time at the Women’s World Cup after Saturday night’s draw in Paris placed the Matildas in Group C, along with Italy and Jamaica.

Of their three opponents, Brazil poses the toughest, yet most familiar, challenge for Australia in the group stage. With 18 previous meetings against As Canarinhas, the honours are fairly even with the Matildas winning nine, losing eight, with one match ending in a draw.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

Speaking exclusively to ESPN after the draw, Australia’s head coach Alen Stajcic says the fact that the two nations were once more pitted against each other was just fate.

“It’s developed into such a fantastic rivalry, we’ve played against each other so often and have a history of great matches, so as well as the rivalry there is a healthy respect between our sides.”12

While Australia defeated Brazil in Canada in 2015 to notch up their first win in the knockout stage of a World Cup, and then more recently in two friendly matches on home soil in September 2017, plus consecutive victories in the Tournament of Nations over the last two years, the Matildas will not have forgotten the pain of their last defeat at the hands of the world No. 10 side.

At the 2016 Olympics, a penalty shootout in Belo Horizonte saw the Matildas heartbreakingly dumped out in the quarterfinals by the hosts after the match ended scoreless in regulation time.

Before facing Brazil in Montpellier on June 13, the Matildas will open their campaign against Italy, whose women have qualified for their first World Cup in 20 years.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

The trajectory of the progress of La Squadra Azzurra, who qualified with a match to spare, is not lost on the Matildas boss.

“If you look at the professional teams that have evolved in Italy — Juventus being the most notable — you can see the level of effort they’ve put into women’s football and their national team reflects that,” Stajcic said.

“Italy qualified in a really difficult group and did it quite easily which shows how far they’ve come. I thought they were the best in Pot 3 so that will be a tough assignment for an opening match which is so important.”

Australia will round out their group stage against the lowest ranked side in the tournament, Jamaica, who are set to make their World Cup debut in France. But despite their lowly ranking — 53 in the world — Stajcic was typically circumspect.


Matt Doherty is a fantasy soccer set-and-forget star

When Matt Doherty got off to a hot start, it raised eyebrows in the fantasy soccer community, but it seemed very few thought the Wolves’ wing-back could keep it up. Fast forward to the present and the Ireland international is an established goal threat for his club, and a top-25 player in the ESPN game.

How is Doherty performing so well, and why did no one see it coming?cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Doherty wasn’t exactly an unknown coming into the season, having played all but one match for Wolves in the Championship last season, but he simply wasn’t putting up the numbers to seem fantasy relevant. In fact, he has already recorded as many shots on target as he managed all of last season (12) and is just a goal and an assist short of his total 2017-18 goal contribution. If you were to look at the Irishman’s production and profile this season compared to last, it would be quite easy to assume they were entirely different players.11

To explain that, we first must take a circuitous path through Barry Douglas. In the preseason, many Wolves players were highly touted fantasy assets and, in defense, Douglas looked the best of the bunch. The left-back was a creative force last season, finishing the Championship campaign with the most assists in the league while creating more chances than any of the high-profile midfielders at his club.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

Looking like a lock for fantasy success in the Premier League, what do Wolves do? They sell Douglas, of course, just two weeks before the season starts. While they found a positional replacement in Jonny Castro Otto, it quickly became evident that the Spaniard was less comfortable bombing forward than his predecessor. So, with Douglas gone, it was only inevitable that someone would have to pick up the creative slack and it’s now become quite evident that Doherty is that someone.

While Doherty had not previously been asked to carry out much in the way of attacking duties, he seems to be well suited to it. He has already been a direct contributor on six goals this season, which is joint-best among all defenders in the Premier League. It also means that Doherty has been involved in nearly 40 percent of Wolves’ goals. While he is providing far more going forward than he has in previous seasons, the change in role and the underlying statistics, point toward this being sustainable for the 26-year-old.

He is now top-three in every attacking category at his club, with Raul Jimenez the only player ahead of him in goals, shots on target, and assists, and Joao Moutinho the only player with more chances created. So, in Doherty, you have a player who is scoring like a forward and creating like a midfielder, while being listed as a defender.


Josef Martinez thanks Atlanta United teammate Miguel Almiron for making him a champion

MLS Cup Most Valuable Player Josef Martinez was in a thankful mood following his team’s 2-0 triumph over the Portland Timbers on Saturday night, shouting out everybody from coach Tata Martino to teammate Miguel Almiron.

The Venezuelan forward didn’t go as far as to call out every one of the record 73,019 who attended the championship match at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, cheap official nike nfl jerseys although for portions of his post-match news conference it felt as though he was headed that way.

“It’s been a special week for me,” Martinez said through an interpreter. “Before the game, I had a moment with Miguel, and I just thanked him for all of the help that he’s given me over these two seasons. I told him that he was going to make me a champion today, because I had never been a champion before, so I want to thank him for that.12

“I want to take this opportunity to thank everybody: the coaching staff, the players, the fans, the city. I know it’s been a long time since they had a championship, and I think they deserved it.”

The title was Atlanta’s first in a major professional sport since the Braves won the World Series in 1995, and won in large part thanks to Martinez’s contributions.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

Martinez, who was also named the league’s overall MVP earlier this week having netted 31 regular-season goals, opened the scoring in the 39th minute and played a key role in the second, too. He won the foul that resulted in the free kick that he then headed into Franco Escobar’s path to double the lead, sending the home crowd into further hysterics.

“I was feeling a lot of pressure for this game,” Martinez said. “Neighbors were putting flags all around my house, and pushing notes under my door. I had a lot of pressure to deal with. But I just wanted to say thank you again to everyone, to the fans, who deserve it, and to be able to do it in this building.”


Sporting Kansas City defender Ike Opara asks club to consider trading him

According to Vermes, Opara told him that the player’s preference is to finish his career in Kansas City, but that he’d like to make more money, and if any trade offers came in for him from other teams, to consider them.

“These are the kind of conversations that go on all the time at the end of the year,” Vermes said via telephone. “Everybody wants more money. That’s not abnormal.“cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal

Opara, 29, signed a contract extension with Kansas City just prior to the 2018 season, and it is set to run through 2019 with a club option for 2020. Vermes noted that Opara could have let his contract run out after the current season and chose not to.

According to salary information provided by the MLS Players Association, the deal paid Opara $342,916.63 in guaranteed compensation in 2018. But SKC signed defender Andreu Fontas just before the close of the summer transfer window in a deal that according to the MLSPA pays him just under $1 million a year.11

Despite that disparity in salary, Opara maintained his partnership with Matt Besler in the center of the SKC defense for the rest of 2018. Fontas made just two appearances and one start after joining Kansas City in August.

Vermes pointed out that SKC isn’t averse to making bold moves, including the trading of Dom Dwyer in July of 2017 for what was then a then-record haul of $1.6 million in allocation money. But after a season that saw SKC finish atop the Western Conference during the regular season, Vermes indicated that he feels his roster is strong.cheap official nike nfl jerseys

“I can’t tell you that people aren’t coming to me,” said Vermes. “If a deal makes sense, I’ll consider it. If it doesn’t, I’m good with where we’re at. The [salary] cap is great. We have money and we have players. I’m not really concerned.”

Opara was drafted third overall in the 2010 SuperDraft by the San Jose Earthquakes, but injuries stunted his growth as a player and he was traded to Sporting Kansas City prior to the 2013 campaign. Opara finally shook off the injury bug in 2016, and has made at least 25 appearances in each of the past three seasons. His MLS career has seen him make 157 league and playoff appearances, scoring 15 goals and adding five assists.