The race for top four heats up this weekend as Chelsea host Tottenham in a London derby

After a short international break, the Premier League is back with matchday 32. A London Derby highlights this set of fixtures as Tottenham travel to Stamford Bridge to play Chelsea.

The race for top four heats up this week as Chelsea host Tottenham in a London derby

Premier League table heading into matchday 32 (Source: TheScore)

Stamford Bridge has been a place of horrors for Tottenham as they haven’t won there in any competition since 1990. Just two seasons ago, Tottenham visited Chelsea late in the season in the midst of the title push. They went up 2-0 before conceding two goals in the second half to draw 2-2. Throughout the fixture, tempers flared between both sides and with that draw, Leicester City were crowned champions.

Tottenham currently sit third in the table, five points clear of Chelsea who sit in fifth. However, Chelsea are the only team to win at Tottenham’s temporary home ground this season, Wembley Stadium, winning 2-1 in August.

Tottenham Preview

Tottenham enter this fixture in great form having won five out of their last six in all competitions. Their only loss in that span came in the Champions League at the hands of Juventus. With Chelsea hot on their tail in the race for the top four, a win at Stamford Bridge would go a long way towards guaranteeing top four for Spurs.

Injury Concerns

Like their previous two games, Tottenham will most likely be without their star striker Harry Kane who is dealing with an ankle issue. Nevertheless, they have scored seven goals in their past two matches without Kane, albeit against worse defenses. Toby Alderweireld, who hasn’t featured in the starting eleven in the Premier League since November because of a hamstring issue, was fit enough to play ninety minutes in the Belgian back-line in a 4-0 defeat of Saudi Arabia. However, Mauricio Pochettino holds his players to incredible fitness standards. So, being fit enough in the eyes of Belgian manager, Roberto Martinez, is not equivalent to being fit in the eyes of Pochettino

Probable Line-up

Attack

The race for top four heats up this week as Chelsea host Tottenham in a London derby

Son is currently enjoying the best form of his career (Source: AFP)

Son Heung-Min enters the match in the best form of his career and should start in place of Kane up top. The prolific Korean attacker has scored seven goals in his past five matches in all competitions for Tottenham. With Son playing up top, either Erik Lamela or Lucas Moura will start in his usual position out wide. Lamela is the more likely of the two as he not only has attacking prowess going forward but is also exceptional tracking back and helping out his fullbacks. Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli will round out the attacking quartet.

Midfield

Dembélé will almost certainly start as one of the two center midfielders against Chelsea. The other spot in the midfield will be held by either Eric Dier or Victor Wanyama. However, Wanyama was rumored to have picked up a small knock on international duty. Thus, expect Pochettino to play it safe and start Dier. A jack-of-all-trades, Dier has already played as a center midfielder throughout this season while Wanyama was previously injured.

Defense

With Chelsea entering the fixture in desperate need of a win, a sturdy Tottenham defense will be key. Both Kieran Trippier and Serge Aurier are both possible options for Pochettino at right back. Aurier is better equipped to deal with the pace of Chelsea’s wingers. However, he is also incredibly prone to making mistakes and is known to give away boneheaded penalties. Trippier is certainly the safer option although Aurier has a bigger upside.

The race for top four heats up this week as Chelsea host Tottenham in a London derby

Alderweireld has battled hamstring problems throughout this season (Source: PA Images)

Toby Alderweireld, who is in the midst of a contract dispute, has recently regained his fitness. However, it is a tall task to ask him to start his first Premier League match since November against Chelsea. When in form, Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen form a dynamic center-back pairing. However, in Alderweireld’s absence, Davinson Sánchez has filled in remarkably well. Pochettino should keep Alderweireld on the bench for this match and wait to bring him back in a more favorable setting.

Look for Tottenham to line up in a 4-2-3-1 with a back line of Trippier, Sanchez, Vertonghen and Ben Davies. In the center midfield, Moussa Dembélé will start along Eric Dier. Ahead of them will be the trio of Lamela, Alli, and Erisken. Leading the attack, Son will try to continue his great goal-scoring form playing as the lone striker. Finally, Lloris will get the start in net for the away side.

Chelsea Preview

Chelsea conclude a relatively difficult set of fixtures, including games against Manchester United, Manchester City, and Barcelona by hosting Tottenham. The Blues enter this match in less than stellar form having won just two matches out of their last six in all competitions. However, they did pick up a win in their last outing beating Leicester City 2-1 in the FA Cup quarter-finals.

Manager, Antonio Conte is already under immense pressure from both the fans and the board alike heading into this fixture. Thus, winning against Tottenham is of the utmost importance for Chelsea. They are already slightly adrift from the top four and a loss in this fixture would only exasperate that. However, with history on their side, they have to feel incredibly confident heading into the match.

Injury Concerns

The Blues enter the match with fewer injury concerns than their counterparts. There are question marks around the fitness of goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois, and center-back, Andreas Christensen. However, both are expected to play. Center-back, David Luiz, is unlikely to play as he is still recovering from a previous ankle injury. Although he was not expected to play to begin with, Ross Barkley will also likely miss the match due to injury.

Probable Line-up

Attack

The race for top four heats up this week as Chelsea host Tottenham in a London derby

Alvaro Morata will look to build upon his goal vs. Leicester City (Source: AP)

The biggest concern facing Conte ahead of the match is who he wants to lead his attack. If he decides to play one striker, he could elect to play Eden Hazard up top in a false-nine role. Willian and Pedro would both play alongside him on either wing. Conte could also decide to go a different route and play either Alvaro Morata or Olivier Giroud, both more typical strikers. Morata broke his goal-scoring drought in Chelsea’s last fixture. This should instill some confidence in him heading into the clash with Tottenham.  If Conte decides to go with a two-striker formation, he will start Hazard alongside either Giroud or Morata. However, playing a two-striker formation would involve benching Willian who has been in incredible form.

Midfield

The midfield combination that Conte decides to go with will depend on which formation he uses. If he goes with his usual 3-4-3 alignment, N’Golo Kanté and Danny Drinkwater will be the center-midfield pairing. If he elects to go with a 3-5-2 formation, Kanté and Drinkwater will most likely be joined by either Tiémoué Bakayoko or Cesc Fàbregas in the center-midfield. Despite his poor form, Bakayoko is the more likely of the two as he is more defensive minded and could help contain Dembélé. In either formation, Marcos Alonso will line up on the left side while Davide Zappacosta will line up on the right.

Defense

The race for top four heats up this week as Chelsea host Tottenham in a London derby

The status of Christensen heading into this fixture is up in the air (Source: Getty)

The only question mark for the Chelsea defense is whether or not Christensen will be fit. If he is fit, he should slide into a back three along with Antonio Rüdiger and César Azpilicueta. However, if he is not fit, Gary Cahill would start in place of him. There is a noticeable dip in quality for Chelsea going from Christensen to Cahill. Thus, if Cahill starts, expect Tottenham to attempt to exploit him throughout the game.

Look for Chelsea to use a 3-5-2 formation as Conte adapts his tactics to better contain this Tottenham squad. Assuming they’re all fit, Christensen, Rüdiger, and Azpilicueta should line up together in the back. Bakayoko, Kanté, and Drinkwater will all play in the center midfield as they pack in tight and try to dominate the middle of the field. As per the usual, Zappacosta and Alonso will line up on the right and left sides respectively. Up top, Hazard will play alongside Morata as Chelsea look to cause the Tottenham back-line trouble with the two-striker approach. Finally, Courtois will start in net. Willian, Giroud, and Fabregas should all provide good attacking options off the bench if Chelsea are chasing a goal late.

Prediction

Tottenham enter the match in far better form out of the two teams. However, previous form never seems to matter in this fixture, especially following an international break. Despite not missing a beat in their previous two games without Kane, Tottenham might struggle to break down Chelsea’s defense. Chelsea’s backline is a totally different monster compared to those of their previous opponents, Bournemouth and Swansea City. Tottenham would likely be content with leaving Stamford Bridge with a draw. Thus, they may play fairly defensively and try to hit Chelsea on the counter while settling for a draw.

Desperately needing three points, Chelsea should come out of the gates playing very positive attacking football. An early goal would especially do wonders to bring the home supporters behind the squad. If Kante and Bakayoko can effectively contain Eriksen and Dembélé, Chelsea should be successful in stifling Tottenham’s attack. With great options off the bench, Chelsea will be able to bring on attacking quality if chasing a late goal.

Chelsea 1-1 Tottenham

Featured image by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

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Pedro's header in extra time lifts Chelsea to a 2-1 victory over Leicester City

Pedro’s header in extra time lifts Chelsea to a 2-1 victory over Leicester City

In the most hyped match of the FA Cup quarter-finals, Chelsea traveled to King Power Stadium to face Leicester City. In a relatively cagey affair, Chelsea grabbed the winner in extra time through the head of Pedro and managed to hold on for a 2-1 victory.

The MOTM:

N’Golo Kante

N’golo Kante (right) closes down Victor Iborra (left) (Photo: Getty Images)

Playing against his former club, Leicester City, Kante put in a brilliant performance. As he usually does, Kante showed incredible energy as he dominated the midfield. Seemingly never tired, Kante consistently covered the Chelsea back line and stopped multiple Leicester counter-attacks. His greatest attribute has always been his pace and work-rate and those were both on full display today.

In addition, Kante also looked quite comfortable on the ball today. His distribution and long balls were both fantastic. The apex of his day came when he assisted Pedro’s game-winner with a lofted cross into the box. Kante has always been known for his defensive abilities and work-rate. However, he has begun to evolve into a complete midfielder and should certainly be in discussions for the best DM in the world.

Other Standouts:

Marc Albrighton

Against Chelsea, Albrighton was clearly the best player on the pitch for the home side. Similar to Kante for Chelsea, Albrighton was all over the pitch for Leicester. He consistently bombed down each wing and put dangerous balls into the box. His crosses created many of Leicester’s best opportunities going forward. Albrighton was rather unlucky that no Leicester player was able to finish any of his balls into the box. With a little more quality from Leicester’s attackers, Albrighton easily could have finished with multiple assists.

Albrighton was immense tracking back, finishing with three tackles. He also blocked a shot from Kante late in extra time in order to keep Leicester in the match. Despite not being on the winning side, Albrighton can certainly hold his head high after his performance.

Alvaro Morata

Pedro's header in extra time lifts Chelsea to a 2-1 victory over Leicester City

Alvaro Morata was relieved to finally get on the scoresheet (Photo: Reuters)

Morata did not have an exceptional match but his performance was certainly a step in the right direction. He got himself into decent scoring positions throughout the game making runs in behind Leicester’s back line. His good movement finally paid off as Willian was able to find him running in and he was able to put the ball past Kasper Schmeichel to put Chelsea up 1-0.

This goal should provide Morata with some much-needed confidence moving forward. He has been noticeably out of form and the pressure that has been mounting on him has been obvious. However, it is clear that the Chelsea attack operates most smoothly when Morata is up top. Morata’s performance was promising but he does need to become a much more consistent finisher to live up to Chelsea’s expectations

Poor Performers

Eden Hazard

Eden Hazard’s performance wasn’t necessarily awful but it did not live up to his normal standard of play. Hazard often looked lazy and disinterested throughout the game. His effort and work-rate certainly left a lot to be desired. When going forward, he often tried little flicks that rarely seemed to produce anything of substance. In addition, he also failed to recognize many of Morata’s runs forward. And when he did see Morata’s runs, the balls he played were lacking in quality.

Hazard has looked absolutely exhausted in recent weeks. But already five points out of top four, Chelsea cannot afford to rest him for many Premier League games.

Kasper Schmeichel

Pedro's header in extra time lifts Chelsea to a 2-1 victory over Leicester City

Kasper Schmeichel badly misjudged the ball on Pedro’s goal (Photo: Andrew Yates/Reuters)

Far removed from his form in Leicester’s title-winning campaign in 2015-2016, Schmeichel has been very mistake prone recently. In this match, Schmeichel misjudged a cross in the middle of extra time that led to Chelsea’s winning goal. He came to collect, but horribly misjudged the ball and could not get there in time. With Schmeichel out of position, Pedro headed the ball into the net and gave Chelsea a 2-1 lead.

Errors such as these for a goalkeeper of Schmeichel’s quality are completely inexcusable. With these errors becoming more and more common, Leicester supporters have to wonder if Schmeichel’s time as a top goalkeeper is coming to an end.

What this all means

Following the match, the FA Cup semi-final draw occurred. Chelsea got the easiest draw of the four teams and will face Southampton. In the other semi-final, Tottenham Hotspur will face Manchester United. With all four of these teams out of Europe and the title race, the FA Cup is their best chance to win a trophy.

Featured image by Andrew Yates/Reuters

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Leicester City vs. Chelsea highlights the FA Cup quarter-finals

With no Premier League football this weekend, all eyes in England will be on the FA Cup. In the round of 16, league-leaders Manchester City surprisingly went out 1-0 to Wigan leaving an easier path to the final for the remaining clubs. Leicester City vs. Chelsea is clearly the match of the weekend as both teams have a legitimate shot at lifting the trophy if they can progress past this round.

Leicester City vs. Chelsea

How they got here

Leicester City

Third Round (Away): Leicester City 0-0 Fleetwood Town

Third Round (Home Replay): Leicester City 2-0 Fleetwood Town

Fourth Round (Away): Leicester City 5-1 Peterborough United

Fifth Round (Home): Leicester City 1-0 Sheffield United

Chelsea

Third Round (Away): Chelsea 0-0 Norwich City

Third Round (Home Replay): Chelsea 1-1 (5-3 PK) Norwich City

Fourth Round(Home): Chelsea 3-0 Newcastle United

Fifth Round (Home): Chelsea 4-0 Hull City

Preview

Leicester City
Leicester City vs. Chelsea highlights the FA Cup quarter-finals

Kelechi Iheanacho will look to build on his performance against West Brom (Photo: Clive Mason/Getty Images Europe)

Leicester City enter this fixture having lost their last six quarter-final ties in all competitions, dating back to 2001. However, this is their best chance to win a trophy since their magical run to the 2015-2016 Premier League Championship. They also enter the tie with a full week of rest.

Always a tough place to play, Leicester City should be bolstered by their fervent home supporters at King Power Stadium. With no replays in the quarter-finals, playing at home could prove incredibly important.

Manager Claude Puel certainly has the talent to take the game to Chelsea. If he does that, look for Kelechi Iheanacho to start, playing behind Jamie Vardy. Iheanacho is coming off a great performance over the weekend, grabbing a goal and an assist in twenty minutes. If Puel chooses to set up defensively, Shinji Okazaki will most likely line up next to Vardy as both thrive in pressuring the opposition’s back line. Mark Albrighton would also start in the center midfield next to N’didi as Leicester set up in the classic 4-4-2.

Chelsea

Chelsea enter the tie on a short week, following a 3-0 defeat in the Champions League against Barcelona. However, it does not get much easier for Chelsea as they have to travel to King Power Stadium to play Leicester. Despite that, they have gone unbeaten in their last six meetings against Leicester. Sitting five points out of the top four, the FA Cup is certainly a secondary competition for Chelsea at this point. However, with the upcoming international break, they do not have to worry about resting players for Premier League games in the near future.

There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the Chelsea squad with regards to the futures of both manager Antonio Conte and attacker Eden Hazard. Conte will want to use this fixture to relieve some of the pressure that has been mounting on him. Chelsea desperately need someone to step up in the attack besides Hazard and Willian. They have relied far too heavily on both players recently so when either player has an off day the attack struggles mightily.

Prediction

Leicester City 2-1 Chelsea

Manchester United vs. Brighton & Hove Albion

How they got here

 Manchester United

Third Round (Away): Manchester United 2-0 Derby County

Fourth Round (Home): Manchester United 4-0 Yeovil Town

Fifth Round (Away): Manchester United 2-0 Huddersfield Town

Brighton & Hove Albion

Third Round (Home): Brighton & Hove Albion 2-1 Crystal Palace

Fourth Round (Away): Brighton & Hove Albion 1-0 Middlesbrough

Fifth Round (Home): Brighton & Hove Albion 3-1 Coventry City

Preview

Manchester United
Leicester City vs. Chelsea highlights the FA Cup quarter-finals

Jose Mourinho will try to bounce back after getting his tactics dreadfully wrong against Sevilla (Photo: Reuters)

Having been eliminated from the Champions League after a dreadful home performance against Sevilla, Manchester United will be eager to bounce back with another game at home. Jose Mourinho got the tactics completely wrong against Sevilla and was not aggressive enough. Thus, expect him to play a very attacking side against Brighton and really take the game to them. This is exactly what the home supporters will expect and want to see. Juan Mata should start for Manchester United as he is their most creative player. Against a team like Brighton who will sit back, he will be a key to breaking down their defense.

With Manchester United comfortably in the top four and out of the Champions League, there is no reason for Mourinho not to play his strongest side. They have kept a clean sheet in five of their last seven FA Cup matches and will look to continue that against a Brighton side that struggles mightily to score.

Brighton & Hove Albion

Brighton enter the fixture in great form having picked up wins in four of their last six matches. Firmly out of the relegation zone, Brighton should look to play their strongest side against Manchester United. Last season’s player of the year for Brighton, Anthony Knockaert, will miss the tie after picking up a red card against Everton. Midfielder, Dale Stephens, also picked up a small injury against Everton but is expected to play Saturday. Glenn Murray has been in great goal-scoring form recently, even earning some attention for an England call-up, and will look to continue that against Manchester United.

The key for Brighton pulling the upset involves stifling Manchester United’s attack early. Manchester United’s fans were incredibly restless and dissatisfied with their squad’s performance against Sevilla. If they start poorly again, the fans will jump on the players and quickly increase the pressure on the home squad. However, if Brighton concede early, it will be easy sailing for the Red Devils.

Prediction

Manchester United 3-1 Brighton & Hove Albion

Swansea City vs. Tottenham Hotspur

How they got here:

Swansea City

Third Round (Away): Swansea City 1-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers

Third Round (Home Replay): Swansea City 2-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers

Fourth Round (Away): Swansea City 1-1 Notts County

Fourth Round (Home Replay): Swansea City 8-1 Notts County

Fifth Round (Away): Swansea City 0-0 Sheffield Wednesday

Fifth Round (Home Replay): Swansea City 2-0 Sheffield Wednesday

Tottenham Hotspur:

Third Round (Home): Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 AFC Wimbledon

Fourth Round (Away): Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Newport County

Fourth Round (Home Replay): Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 Newport County

Fifth Round (Away): Tottenham Hotspur 2-2 Rochdale

Fifth Round (Home Replay): Tottenham Hotspur 6-1 Rochdale

Preview

Swansea City
Leicester City vs. Chelsea highlights the FA Cup quarter-finals

The Swans have a tough task ahead as Tottenham visits Wales (Photo: Christopher Lee/Getty Images)

Swansea have been relatively fortunate with their draws and have yet to play a Premier League side. Since taking over as manager midway through the year, Carlos Carvahal has brought Swansea from 20th place up to 14th. Their leading goal-scorer, Jordan Ayew, picked up a red card against Huddersfield and will miss the tie. They managed to scrape a draw against Huddersfield over the weekend with only 20% possession.

In order to advance, Swansea will have to play similarly and allow Tottenham to have the majority of the possession. Spurs do struggle at times when they have the majority of the possession so Carvalhal will most likely try to exasperate that and frustrate Spurs by giving them no room to play into. The road to success for The Swans involves them grabbing a goal off a set piece or counter-attack and then just defending their hearts out until the final whistle.

Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham has made difficult work of a relatively easy run of fixtures in the FA Cup so far. They needed replays against both Rochdale (League 1) and Newport County (League 2) to advance. However, having dropped out of the Champions League, and with the league title out of reach, the FA Cup is Tottenham’s best chance of winning their first trophy since 2007. Thus, Mauricio Pochettino should put out a strong side against The Swans. Star striker, Harry Kane, picked up a nasty ankle injury against Bournemouth so he will miss the tie. However, Son Heung-min is in the form of his life and should thrive carrying the load up top.

Tottenham tends to struggle to break down teams that sit back and pack the box which is something Swansea will most likely do. However, an attacking line of Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen, Son and Erik Lamela should give Swansea trouble. All four are great with their movement and fluidity and can easily interchange with each other. This sort of movement will draw the Swansea defense out and give Tottenham more room to play into.

Prediction

Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Swansea City

Wigan Athletic vs. Southampton

How they got here:

Southampton

Third Round (Away): Southampton 1-0 Fulham

Fourth Round (Home): Southampton 1-0 Watford

Fifth Round (Away): Southampton 2-1 West Bromwich Albion

Wigan Athletic

First Round (Home) Wigan Athletic 2-1 Crawley Town

Second Round (Away): Wigan Athletic 1-1 AFC Fylde

Second Round (Home Replay): Wigan Atheltic 3-2 AFC Fylde

Third Round (Away): Wigan Athletic 2-2 Bournemouth

Third Round (Home Replay): Wigan Athletic 3-0 Bournemouth

Fourth Round (Home): Wigan Athletic 2-0 West Ham United

Fifth Round (Home): Wigan Athletic 1-0 Manchester City

Preview

Wigan
Leicester City vs. Chelsea highlights the FA Cup quarter-finals

Will Grigg scored the winner to send Wigan to the quarter-finals (Photo: Andrew Yates/Reuters)

Second in League 1, Wigan have been the Cinderella Story of the FA Cup. They thwarted Manchester City’s chances for the quadruple with a 1-0 win at home in the fifth round. In addition, they’ve also knocked out two other Premier League sides in previous rounds. Wigan have been stout in defense all year and currently, have the best defense in League 1. They have also been immense at home in the FA Cup, with all of their victories coming at DW Stadium.

Will Grigg leads the FA Cup in goals with seven and will look to continue that against Southampton. He scored the lone goal for Wigan against Manchester City with a brilliant finish. Overall, Wigan should feel very comfortable heading into this tie. They thrive playing at home and have already shown that they can play well against Premier League sides. Wigan should have no problem containing a Southampton attack that is often bereft of quality.

Southhampton

Having recently fired their manager Mauricio Pellegrino, Southampton are in a bit of limbo right now. Mark Hughes was just appointed as Southampton’s new manager and this will be his first game in charge. Hughes, who last managed Stoke City, will likely use this game to test squad he has just taken over. Look for him to experiment not only with tactics but also with the personnel he puts out.

Overall, the FA cup has been a beacon of hope for Southampton in a season where they have surprisingly been in the relegation battle. They have had a relatively difficult run to the quarter-finals and have beaten two other Premier League sides in the process. Currently, the FA Cup will be playing second fiddle in Hughes’ mind, with his main objective being avoiding relegation.

Prediction

Wigan 1-0 Southampton

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Bale or Ronaldo for Manchester United?

Should a team spend over £100 million for 32-year-old?:

At the beginning of this summer’s transfer window former Manchester United great Cristiano Ronaldo proclaimed to the world he no longer wanted to play for the Spanish giants Real Madrid.This leads many to believe that return to United was imminent but the move has failed to materialize and it’s looking less likely by the day.

While Ronaldo may very well be the best player in the world, he is 32 and should be slowing down on a yearly basis. If Manchester United decided to spend the huge amount of money that is rumored it would be for a depreciating asset. United would have to spend most of their transfer budget on a player and only get a few years of his service.Which is why the smart move for Manchester is to focus on the younger Gareth Bale rather than getting Ronaldo.

Gareth Bale is only 27 and would probably come at a cheaper price. Meaning United would spend less money for a younger player.which is what you always want. The move would give you more years of service than Ronaldo would and they still get one the best players in the world in the middle of his prime. Another factor is Bale’s age gives you the option of re-selling him if he doesn’t fit. Something that wouldn’t be an option if Ronaldo ends up coming since he would then be in his mid-thirties.

So Bale ultimately is the better asset since you’ll get more out of him and he has room to improve. Ronaldo meanwhile could end up getting slower and scoring less but you’ll be stuck with his insane wages while he sits in the bench. Something nobody wants to get stuck with.

The Isco Factor

Isco’s form to finish the season got him in the starting XI over Gareth Bale

Bale finished last season falling out favor in Zidane’s starting XI, which is the another factor why buying the Welshmen this summer would be the smarter choice. Bale’s price will never be cheaper than it is at the moment and it’s even harder to find a world-class player like him on the market. This is why United should make the move now since unhappy megastars are hard to come by.

Isco, who took his place in the Starting XI, has become a fan favorite and the team looks more cohesive and fluid when he is on the field.  Isco looks to have taken firm control of the position going into next season after starting in the Champions League Final in Bale’s hometown.

If the team continues to play well and get results with Isco, than it is hard to believe Zidane would force Bale in the lineup. Madrid might be inclined to get rid of Bale in order to avoid future locker room trouble, since there is no way Bale would be happy coming off the bench. Isco is younger, a fan favorite and Spanish. The Real Madrid fan base has grown to like him, something that has been difficult for Bale to do during his time in the Spanish capital.

David de Gea the key for something to happen

From the Real Madrid point of view, they will have to offload some of their attacking players if they are trying to make budget and space for their transfer targets Kylian Mbappé and Eden Hazard. That is beside their main target for a couple of summers, now Manchester United’s David de Gea.

De Gea is the key for any deal to go down for both teams. As the Spanish keeper will probably be included in any kind of payment for either Ronaldo or Bale. Meaning any transfer could be convenient to both parties.

The Spanish keeper is the key for any deal to happen between the clubs

Despite all that, Bale is still going to be relatively expensive and Real would still insist on a fee of around £100m. Madrid will also be using the situation to leverage their pursuit of David De Gea. While £100 million with or without de Gea seems a lot. Ronaldo is still rumored to be more expensive, asking £150 million for a player that is older.

Assuming that the Red Devils have an open choice between both players it would be dumb to pick Ronaldo over Bale. Any player over the age of 30 that cost more than £50 million is just a bad investment because the player will probably have no resale value and you will only get a couple of years of service.

United have so far been resolute in their refusal to even countenance the sale of their goalkeeper, De Gea since they simply do not need the money. Although some sources feel a swap is the only way a deal goes done as Real Madrid may hold out to finally get David de Gea back to the Spanish capital.

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Alec’s Premier League XI of the 2016-17 Season

With Chelsea clinching the title and Hull claiming the final relegation spot, the dust has mostly settled in the Premier League this season. The time has come to reflect on the most outstanding performances of the season and determine who were the eleven best. In honor of Antonio Conte’s successful three back formation, the team of the season will be the 3-5-2 with which the Blues won thirteen straight matches during the season.

Goalkeeper: David de Gea, Manchester United

In a mostly underwhelming season for the Red Devils, De Gea has been a bright spot. He has made crucial plays to save United several points throughout the season. Most recently, De Gea guided an undermanned and outmatched United to a draw at rivals Man City by keeping a clean sheet despite an assault on his goal throughout the match.

Consistently rated among the top three keepers in the world, the Spaniard is said to have an eye for Real Madrid and his potential departure would leave a massive hole to fill in goal for Jose Mourinho.

 

Centre Back: Cesar Azpilicueta, Chelsea

Before this season, the Spaniard typically played left back for the Blues. But under new boss Conte, he has thrived as a central defender in the Italian’s three back system. Azpilicueta has earned an excellent 7.29 match rating on WhoScored.com in the 28 matches he has played centrally.

The Spaniard’s rise was a major reason why Conte’s formation was able to be a success and why Chelsea are champions of England. Azpilicueta figures to continue to be a major part of the club’s plans next season.

Cesar Azpilicueta thrived in Antonio Conte’s three back formation at Chelsea this season.

 

Centre Back: Eric Bailly, Manchester United

Moving to Old Trafford last summer from Valencia, Bailly was a bit of an underrated signing as the media focused on the arrivals of Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. However, the Ivorian has arguably been the Red Devils’ most productive signing this season. With the United back line being plagued by injury and inconsistency, Bailly has been a constant and has shown his quality, as well as his potential, as he is only 23 years old.

Bailly certainly looks to be following in the footsteps of Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, and other legendary United defenders as his future looks bright and United plan on him being a defensive cornerstone for years to come.

 

Centre Back: Toby Alderweireld, Tottenham Hotspur

The best defender on the best defensive team this season, Alderweireld has been everything Spurs could have hoped for and more since moving to the club from Southampton his summer. Alderweireld was at the center of a back four that conceded just 24 times in the league this season, eight less than anyone else. Alderweireld is a very smart player who doesn’t make mistakes at the back and can provide an occasional goal from a set piece header.

Although there are a few reports suggesting the Belgian international is hesitant to sign a new contract at Tottenham, there is no concrete evidence to believe he won’t be spearheading Spurs’ back line at the start of next season as well.

 

Centre Midfielder: N’Golo Kante, Chelsea

Voted PFA player of the year, no player has had a greater impact on the Premier League in the past two seasons than Kante. A central piece of Leicester’s title winning side a year ago, Kante’s high energy has put less pressure on his Chelsea teammates this season. As of May 8th, Kante had covered the fifth most distance in the Premier League this season. Kante became the first outfield player to win back to back league titles with two different squads since Eric Cantona with Manchester United in 1993.

Kante figures to be a key player in Antonio Conte’s midfield next season. The Frenchman will seek to follow in his countryman Cantona’s footsteps with a third consecutive triumph.

 

Centre Midfielder: Dele Alli, Tottenham Hotspur

In his second season at White Hart Lane, the young England international has continued his ascent towards stardom with 17 league goals, which leads all midfielders. The 21 year old came up big during important games. Including scoring both goals in a must-win 2-0 victory over Chelsea. Dele provides an extra dimension to his arsenal with his ability to be a threat in the air.

While he has been linked with Real Madrid. It is hard to envision Spurs letting their budding superstar leave at the tender age of 21. Expect Alli to continue to flourish next season as he looks to lead Tottenham to their first Premier League title.

 

Right Midfielder: Sadio Mane, Liverpool

Looking back on last summer, Mane was arguably the best signing made by any Prem side in 2016. The former Southampton standout scored 13 goals for the Reds in 26 matches before going down injured in April. When he was in the side, Mane’s pace was electric and freed up space for fellow attackers Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino. Mane’s impact on Liverpool has shown when he is not on the pitch. Liverpool earned 59 points in the 26 matches Mane featured (2.3 ppg). In the 11 that he missed, the Reds managed only 14 (1.3 ppg).

Just 25 years old, the Senegalese international is only just hitting his prime. With Jurgen Klopp set to spend in the summer, Mane will enjoy plenty of help in the attack if he manages to stay healthy.

Liverpool has struggled mightily without the presence of Sadio Mane on the wing.

Left Midfielder: Eden Hazard, Chelsea

Although his teammate N’Golo Kante claimed the honor of PFA player of the year, Hazard made a strong case for the award as well. Following a disappointing 2015-16 campaign, the Belgian has bounced back to the tune of 15 goals and five assists in the league. The threat he provides when he is on the ball forces extra attention from opposing defenses. Hazard made a habit of scoring in key matches throughout the season and none was more spectacular than his solo goal to clinch a vital three points against Arsenal in April.

Antonio Conte will surely fight hard to keep his playmaker, but Real Madrid lurks. If Hazard stays, it will be interesting to see if he can stay motivated or if he will drop off as he did last season.

 

Attacking Midfielder: Kevin de Bruyne, Manchester City

Despite an overall disappointing season for Man City, de Bruyne’s second season in Manchester has been anything but. The Belgian has been among the Premier League’s most unlucky players when it comes to finishing, but has still managed six goals. Where he has really contributed is with his 16 assists, tops in the league.

Next season, the pressure will be building for Pep Guardiola at the Etihad and he will look to de Bruyne to be one of the key contributors.

 

Right Striker: Romelu Lukaku, Everton

Despite having less talent around him than his peers on this list, Lukaku has still amassed 24 goals in the league. With one game to go, he is in the driver’s seat to win the Golden Boot for most goals. Perhaps the most physical player in England, Lukaku’s blend of size, strength and speed make it nearly impossible for opposing defenders to stop him when he gets moving with the ball.

While he is clearly a level above Everton, questions remain regarding whether Ronald Koeman and the Toffees will let the 24 year old Belgian leave in the summer. Lukaku played at Chelsea in the past and could potentially replace Diego Costa at Stamford Bridge if the former decides to leave.

Romelu Lukaku’s physicality makes him a nightmare for opposing defenders.

Left Striker: Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal

In the past, Sanchez has featured at wing for the Gunners. However, Arsene Wenger utilized the Chilean this season at striker and Sanchez responded. He is the only player to have double digit goals (23) and assists (10) this season. His brace in Tuesday’s 2-0 victory over Sunderland kept Arsenal’s top four aspirations alive and showed how important he is to the side. Sanchez will have a shot at the Golden Boot on Sunday when he faces off with Lukaku’s Everton.

Sanchez is said to be quite unhappy at Arsenal and a summer exit looks imminent. Chelsea, Juventus and Paris-St. Germain are said to be monitoring the situation. Wherever he ends up next season, Alexis will make a major impact.

 

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EPL: What Next Season’s Contenders Need to Do to Improve in the Summer (Part 1)

With Chelsea having one hand on the Premier League trophy, those who fell short are already looking to new hope next season. A highly anticipated transfer window awaits in the summer, and there are improvements to be made for all the top clubs.

Chelsea

Romelu Lukaku is seen as a potential replacement for Diego Costa at Stamford Bridge. (Photo by Goal.com)

For presumed champions, Chelsea faces quite a bit of uncertainty heading into next season. Rifts between manager Antonio Conte and striker Diego Costa have caused the latter to be linked with a move to China. Real Madrid is also reportedly interested in superstar Eden Hazard.

 

It is paramount that the Blues hang on to Hazard and find an adequate replacement for Costa if he leaves. Two options are Everton’s Romelu Lukaku and Real Madrid’s Alvaro Morata. Both are quick, strong and left-footed handfuls for defenders. Lukaku once played with Chelsea and a deal featuring Hazard for Morata and money has been rumored as a possibility.

Chelsea will also want to make sure they hang onto goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who is seemingly always linked to leaving Stamford Bridge.

Tottenham

Mauricio Pochettino will be searching for the final piece to his Spurs title puzzle. After likely coming up short back to back seasons, the Spurs need to sign players to upgrade the wing and midfield positions.

Despite a great second half to the season, Son Heung-Min is not a true winger, and Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha, who has been linked to Tottenham, would be a great fit. He would add a pacy threat and could cross the ball into Harry Kane.

In the midfield, Moussa Dembele will turn 30 this summer. A young, dominant midfield presence alongside Dele Alli would boost the Spurs. The Monaco duo of Fabinho and Tiemoue Bakayoko are options, as well as Nice’s Wylan Cyprien.

As far as departures, Kyle Walker has been linked to a move to Man City. While his departure would be a blow, the Spurs should be fine as long as they retain Kane, Alli, Christian Eriksen and Toby Alderweireld.

Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp has continued to deliver results despite what many consider to be an underwhelming squad. Liverpool can perhaps improve more than any of their competitors with a good transfer window this summer.

Signing Virgil Van Dijk would sure up Liverpool’s woes at the back. (Photo by Sports Mole)

Klopp’s most glaring issue is at the back where Liverpool was repeatedly vulnerable. Alberto Moreno is not a true left back, and the Reds could use a solid center-back to pair with Joel Matip. Klopp is looking at Southampton duo Ryan Bertrand and Virgil van Dijk to fill the void. He also has his eyes on Burnley center-back Michael Keane.

Liverpool could also target a true striker this summer. While Roberto Firmino is great, he is not a true striker. Daniel Sturridge can’t stay healthy, and Divock Origi has been inconsistent. Romelu Lukaku or Lyon’s Alexandre Lacazette could work in Klopp’s system.

The good news for Liverpool is that they aren’t expected to lose anyone major in the summer. If Klopp can be smart with his buying, the Reds could be really improved ahead of a likely Champions League campaign.

 

(Featured Image by Sportskeeda.com)

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Premier League’s Three Most Underrated Players

Despite being dubbed the “glamour league” and receiving the majority of the sport’s media attention, many class talents go unnoticed in the Premier League.

1. Jordan Henderson, Liverpool

While his more flashy teammates and lovable manager soak up the majority of the limelight, Henderson is vital piece of Liverpool as well as for England. Henderson is the leader in passes in the league this season by a wide margin. He often plays in the important defensive midfield role for Liverpool. With the Reds’ back line being very shaky, they rely heavily on Henderson for stability.

Henderson’s ability to play multiple positions (he has played on the right and the left for England) is also a major bonus. He doesn’t score very much and that is part of the reason why he is so underrated. Henderson is undoubtedly a major reason behind Liverpool’s recent rise.

2. Gylfi Sigurdsson, Swansea

While Henderson doesn’t get the attention he deserves because of his position and style, Sigurdsson goes under the radar because he plays for a bottom tier club. Sigurdsson, who has played for Tottenham in the past, is an excellent attacking midfielder with excellent vision. He has amassed eight goals and 11 assists in the Premier League this season.

Gylfi Sigurdsson is undoubtedly Swansea’s most talented player.

Without the Icelandic international, Swansea would likely be deep in the relegation zone. Sigurdsson has had a hand in over half (19/37; 51%) of Swansea’s league goals. His build up play has also been key on other goals. Bigger clubs will likely come knocking for the 27 year old this summer, especially if Swansea are relegated to the Championship.

3. Ander Herrera, Man United

Like Henderson, Herrera has been a key player at a top club for a long time but has always been overshadowed by his peers. While he was inconsistent in the past, Herrera has stepped up as a trustworthy midfielder this season for Jose Mourinho. Herrera has had five assists and  joins Henderson and teammate Paul Pogba in the top three passers this season.

Herrera showed what he can do on Saturday in a masterful man of the match performance in United’s 2-0 win over Chelsea. Herrera completely neutralized Blues’ star Eden Hazard and scored the second goal for Man United. Herrera is reaching his prime and his play is certainly showing it.

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An Update on World Cup Qualifying (Part 3)

Europe (UEFA)

Europe’s qualification process for the World Cup involves nine groups of six teams. The winner of each group automatically qualifies for the tournament while eight out of nine second place teams advance to a separate head to head playoff. With so many prominent footballing nations in Europe, the spots are highly competitive.

Group A

Halfway through the qualifiers, France sit at the top of Group A. Sure to be one of the favorites in Russia next summer, Les Bleus are  having no problems in qualifying. The Netherlands, who missed out on Euro 2016, are in danger of missing out on Russia as well. Despite talent such as Arjen Robben, the Dutch sit fourth on 7 points, six behind the French. Sweden sits in second with 10 points, despite the retirement of Zlatan Ibrahimovic from the national team.

 

Group B

Granit Xhaka (Photo courtesy: goal.com)

The top two in Group B seem to be clear cut at this point, with Switzerland and Portugal distancing themselves from the field. The question is, who will qualify automatically and who will have to go to the gruesome two leg playoff stage? Switzerland are well rounded with players such as Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka, Wolfsburg’s Ricardo Rodriguez, and Borussia Monchengladbach keeper Yann Sommer. Portugal, of course, are Euro 2016 champions and led by the brilliant Cristiano Ronaldo. Switzerland have a three point advantage over Portugal with 15. Hungary sit third with 7.

 

Group C

Group C was always going to be Germany’s from the get go. The reigning world champions sit comfortably atop the group with 15 points. The fight for a potential playoff spot is in progress between Northern Ireland, Czech Republic, and Azerbaijan. The Northern Irish, who sit second with ten, are looking to build on a strong performance at Euro 2016. The Czech team are without longtime goalkeeper and current Arsenal player Petr Cech.

 

Group D

Serbia and Ireland currently sit atop Group D with 11 points. The Serbians have many prominent Premier League players such as Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic, Man City left back Aleksandr Kolarov, and former Chelsea man Branislav Ivanovic who now plays for Zenit St. Petersburg. Ireland made it to the knockout stages of Euro 2016. Sitting four points back with 7 are dangerous customers in Wales and Austria. Led by Gareth Bale and David Alaba respectively, both teams are capable of finding themselves in Russia next summer.

 

Group E

Robert Lewandowski looks set to play in his first World Cup next summer as Poland have taken a six point lead in their group. The Polish team also features Monaco defender Kamil Glik and Napoli striker Arkadiusz Milik among others. The battle for second is close, so close that the one second place team omitted from the playoff on points scored could very well be from this group. Christian Eriksen-led Denmark is in contention for that spot along with Romania and Montenegro.

 

Group F

England have put themselves in a good position to win Group F. The Three Lions have a four point lead on Slovakia and five point lead on Slovenia. The Liverpool duo of Daniel Sturridge and Adam Lallana have each scored twice in the campaign. Scotland is also in the group and sits in fourth. Slovakia played in Euro 2016 and enjoy the services of Napoli midfielder Marek Hamsik.

 

Group G

Gigi Buffon (Photo courtesy: zimbio.com)

Another group that has seemingly erupted into a two horse race, Group G contains two of the games’ greatest nations in Spain and Italy. Both sides have had to rebuild from the remains of golden generations in recent years. Spain now has David de Gea and Thiago while Italy boasts Marco Verratti and Leonardo Bonucci. However veteran presence still exists with Andres Iniesta and Gianluigi Buffon. The third place team fighting to stay alive is an up and coming Israel side which should see more players move to Europe soon.

 

Group H

After disappointing in recent tournaments, Belgium look set to get another opportunity next summer. They lead their group by two points over Greece and three points over Bosnia and Herzegovina. Belgium is loaded with talent such as Eden Hazard, Kevin de Bruyne, Thibaut Cortouis and Romelu Lukaku in the Premier League alone. Greece is a scrappy defensive side with solid players such as Roma’s Kostas Manolas. Manolas’ current teammate and former Man City striker Edin Dzeko features for Bosnia and Herzegovina along with Juventus midfielder and free-kick maestro Miralem Pjanic.

 

Group I

Following a heartbreaking Euro 2016 exit, Croatia and its “golden generation” currently have the upper hand on an automatic spot in Russia. Led by a superb midfield of Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and up and comer Marcelo Brozovic of Inter Milan, Croatia are certainly favorites to maintain their top spot. In second is Iceland, who grabbed headlines last summer with an incredible run in France culminating with a victory over England. Swansea playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson is their vocal point. Ukraine and Turkey sit two points behind the Icemen. Players such as Yovhan Konoplyanka and Arda Turan bring quality to those sides.

 

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Premier League Matchweek 23 Preview and Predictions

A rare midweek slate for the Prem offers some enticing match-ups this week. Headlined by Liverpool hosting Chelsea at Anfield, Arsenal and Manchester City also have tough games.

Something to watch for will be if some managers opt to rest a few starters in preparation for another slate of games this weekend. However teams like Chelsea, with matches against Liverpool and Arsenal are likely to play their full lineup in both matches.

Liverpool vs Chelsea:

Jurgen Klopp’s men have endured a horrible recent run of form. Three consecutive home defeats in the last nine days has seen the Reds exit both domestic cups as well as falling back in the Prem table.

However, Liverpool have a reputation for performing very well against good sides while underperforming against lesser teams. The team has suffered from the absence of dynamic wimger Sadio Mane who was representing Senegal at the Africa Cup of Nations. It doesn’t look like he will be able to start as he missed training due to travel problems.

The good news for Klopp and Co. is that they will have Roberto Firmino, who managed to get a drunken driving court date pushed back 24 hours. At home, Liverpool will not make it easy on the league leaders.

Chelsea sit eight points clear of second at the moment and have recovered nicely since losing at Tottenham a few weeks back. The Blues have arguably their most important two game stretch of the season this week (@ Liverpool, vs Arsenal). If they can manage four points from these games, Conte would be satisfied and it would make it unlikely for Chelsea to fall back.

Leading goalscorer Diego Costa and the talented Eden Hazard will look to have a field day against an underwhelming Liverpool defense. But can Chelsea’s own defense hold against Liverpool’s dynamic and versatile attack?

Liverpool 2 Chelsea 2

 

West Ham United vs Manchester City:

Brazilian starlet Gabriel Jesus is expected to feature against West Ham.

The post-Dimitri Payet era begins at West Ham with a brutal matchup against a desperate Manchester City. Despite Payet causing distractions for much of the past month, West Ham have actually been in a good run of form. Slaven Bilic has guided the Hammers to 10th after flirting with relegation early in the season.

Even sans Payet, West Ham is not short on talent. Michail Antonio can defend while being a threat going forward from the midfield and Andy Carroll is a threat in the air and has been in a good run of form.

For the visitors, three points are paramount if City want to get back on track as they battle for a top four spot. Guardiola and Co. thrashed West Ham 5-0 here a few weeks ago in a cup tie and will look to build on that performance. West Ham’s struggles defending on the wing means that young wingers such as Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane and the new kid in town Gabriel Jesus could be in for big games.

West Ham 1 Manchester City 2

 

Arsenal vs Watford

Arsene Wenger is suspended for the Gunners’ match against Watford following his altercation with an assistant official vs Burnley

The second place Gunners will be doing a bit of scoreboard watching on Tuesday as a home victory and a Chelsea loss at Anfield would move Arsenal to within five points of the leaders. Such a result would reignite the title race for the Gunners. Arsene Wenger will have to watch the match from the stands as he is suspended from the touchline for his antics during last week’s match against Burnley.

The Gunners will be expected to win as they have arguably the league’s best player the season in Alexis Sanchez (20 goals and 7 assists in all competitions). Combine that with Mesut Ozil, who just oozes class and it isn’t hard to see why the Gunners are expected to win this match.

Watford have been miserable recently, but possess the players and they ability to play ninety tough minutes against anyone. Troy Deeney is Mr. Watford and the captain enters the match coming off a good performance against Watford. If Deeney finds the net and Etienne Capoue can navigate the midfield easily, Arsenal will have a game on their hands.

Arsenal 2 Watford 1

 

Other Matchups:

Manchester United 3 Hull City 0: Hull’s miserable defense will be exploited by Zlatan, Pogba and Co.

Sunderland 0 Tottenham 2: Sunderland have not improved in January window while Tottenham remain in good form. Dele Alli to score.

Bournemouth 3 Crystal Palace 2: Youth trumps experience as Eddie Howe’s Cherries edge out Sam Allardyce’s Palace in an exciting one.

Burnley 1 Leicester City 1: Burnley are really good at home but Leicester have to turn it around at some point.

Middlesborough 0 West Brom 1: Low scoring affair predicted here as ‘Borough park the bus. Im thinking ninth-place West Brom eek it out.

Swansea 1 Southampton 1: The Saints are the better side but home field and improvements under a new manager earn Swansea a point.

Stoke City 1 Everton 1: Another big game as two of the best sides outside of the top six duke it out. Everton to steal a draw late.

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What is Going on With Leicester?

May 2, 2016

Chelsea’s Eden Hazard scores against Tottenham to force a 2-2 draw and clinch the unlikeliest of Premier League titles for Leicester City. One of the greatest underdog stories of all time, Leicester’s story is now well known. They had been fighting relegation the season before and were expected to go down last season before going on an unbelievable run.

The individual stories within Leicester’s team made the story even better. Whether it was Jamie Vardy rising from the seventh tier of English football to breaking the consecutive Premier League goals record in the matter of a few years or Kasper Schmeichel finally escaping the shadow of his legendary father. There were great feel good stories throughout the Foxes’ team last season that made them very likable as many rooted them on to the title.

Title Hangover

Unfortunately, Claudio Ranieri and his men have put up a less than encouraging following act. At this point last season, the Foxes were tied at the top of the table with Arsenal on 44 points. This year?, they have 21 points, less than half of last years points. Many predicted a setback for Leicester, but few could have guesses they would regress as severely as they have. Leicester stand only three points clear of relegation! They will look to avoid the unflattering title as the first reigning champ to go since Manchester City in 1938. There are many possible causes behind Leicester’s sharp decline. The first and foremost may be that last year was an anomaly. Leicester were fortunate to be the healthiest team in the league last year. They also enjoyed down years from many of the top contenders. Finally, the lack of an impact from last years stars have all likely contributed to Leicester’s decline.

The 2015-16 championship team was guided by three previously unknown commodities. Vardy scored 24 goals last season to lead the team but has only managed five to this point. Riyad Mahrez emerged as the team’s best play-maker but has also regressed. Mahrez looks set to take his talents to greener pastures in the summer, deepening Leicester’s future anxieties. The third was N’Golo Kante, a tenacious midfielder who only stayed at the King Power for one season before leaving for Chelsea in the summer. Kante led the Premier League in tackles last season. His ability to regain possession for the Foxes allowed them to get on their deadly counter attack. Kante’s departure forced Ranieri to tinker the way the team plays. He clearly still hasn’t figures out the right way.

N’Golo Kante’s departure in the summer was a big blow to the reigning champions.

Other contributors have also fallen off. The veterans on defense who saw Leicester through so many 1-0 victories last season have started to show their age. The lack of athleticism has seemingly caught up with the center back pairing of Wes Morgan and Robert Huth as Leicester have nearly flip flopped their goal differential from last season, going from +13 to -13 at this point in the season. Christian Fuchs and Danny Simpson have also struggled to give Ranieri’s men a threat going forward as they did last year from their fullback positions.

It is not all trending down for Leicester. They have talent with Vardy and Mahrez as well as summer signings Islam Slimani and Ahmed Musa. The Foxes are also home to some of the more talented young players in the Prem. Ben Chilwell (age 20), Demarai Gray (20), Daniel Amartey (22), and Wilfred Ndidi (20) have all shown potential at Leicester.

Quick winger Demarai Gray is one of the brightest young talents at Leicester.

If the Foxes can avoid the drop this season, the future is still bright. Maintaining key players and developing youth will determine if Leicester can use its shock title to build its future. If the transition from the veterans of the title team to the exciting youth is seamless, Leicester will be a force to reckon with.

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