Manchester City fear Stones lay-off plus more EPL Injury News

Manchester City are worried they could be without defender John Stones for around six weeks after he limped out of the win at Leicester with a hamstring injury.

The Citizens made it 11 wins from 12 matches in the Premier League as they saw off the Foxes 2-0 at the King Power Stadium but the gloss was somewhat taken off the win by the sight of Stones limping off after 31 minutes.

Boss Pep Guardiola revealed after the game that an initial assessment suggested the England international would be out of action for between four and six weeks, much to his disappointment.

“It is unfortunate for us and for John and I think he might be out for six weeks with that type of injury,” Guardiola said.

“We don’t have a lot of central defenders, but the spirit in the team – and with all the players – is good so we are going to find a solution.

“It is tough because the calendar is so demanding.”

Guardiola has had defensive injury problems all season, losing left-back Benjamin Mendy to a serious knee problem early on, while Vincent Kompany has missed a large chunk of the campaign with a calf injury.

The Belgian centre-half played just his fourth game of the season against Leicester at the weekend and looked rusty early on when diving in to a challenge on Jamie Vardy.

Foxes boss Claude Puel felt Kompany should have been sent off but Guardiola was full of praise for his performance, claiming he was impressed given how little action he has seen recently.

“I am really impressed because he’s had more than two months injured and had one international game against Gibraltar, and to play at that level shows how strong he is in his mind,” said Guardiola.

“In the last part of last season he came in and helped us a lot. Vince is a little mystery and hopefully he can be fit for the coming games.”

With Stones now sidelined, Eliaquim Mangala made a rare start for City alongside Otamendi when they beat Feyenoord 1-0 in the Champions League last night.

Abraham injury adds to Swansea woes

Swansea face an anxious wait to discover the extent of Tammy Abraham’s back injury after he was stretchered off during the 2-0 loss at Burnley.

The 20-year-old struggled during the course of the second half and eventually had to be replaced on after the problem became too much to overcome.

The sight of the on-loan Chelsea striker leaving the field only made a bad day for manager Paul Clement and the travelling fans worse after they went down to defeat for the sixth time in seven matches Premier League matches.

The Welsh outfit are one from bottom in the standings, two points from safety, and are 4/9 to be relegated.

Abraham had been the one bright spark in a difficult campaign for the Swans, scoring four of the club’s seven Premier League goals this season.

Clement will be desperate to have his star striker available as soon as possible given their struggles in front of goal, the former Derby boss admitting they need to break their current losing habit as soon as possible.

“As a side, we are playing under our potential and I have to find a way to break this cycle. We have to find a way to grind out a win and get the best out of our players,” said Clement.

“We’re not getting the results at the moment but they’re not far away and I see no reason why those results won’t come against Bournemouth next week.”

Clement is a man under pressure after recent results and is in desperate need of a win when fellow struggles Bournemouth come to town.

Swansea are 13/8 to get the better of the Cherries next Saturday, while Eddie Howe’s men are 17/10 to come out on top at the Liberty Stadium. The draw is 11/5.

Chadli injury leaves Pulis fuming

West Brom are set to be without Nacer Chadli for the foreseeable future after he picked up a thigh injury on his return from international duty.

Chadli has barely featured for the Baggies in the Premier League this season but started both of Belgium’s friendlies against Mexico and Japan earlier this month.

Former Tottenham star Chadli suffered the injury in training on Thursday 16 November and he is very unhappy that the midfielder was so heavily involved in Belgium’s two matches.

The WBA Managaer said that “We’re very disappointed that Chadli’s come back, having played two games for Belgium,” he said. “He missed pre-season, we played him in a couple of games, but he didn’t feel 100 per cent fit.

“I think him going off to play for Belgium, and to play in the two games for the full 90 minutes in a short period of time, has unfortunately caught him out. He’s had a scan and he’s got a tear.”

Premier League injury news courtesy of Bet365.

Countdown to Russia 2018 – a couple of favourites, a couple of outsiders


“Portugal’s star player, Cristiano Ronaldo” (CC by 2.0) by Ajith Kumar

While for some countries the target of qualification for the 2018 World Cup next year has been met already, a few other nations are still facing two intense play-off games to determine the final participants. During this international break qualified nations like England, Brazil and hosts Russia will be starting their run-up to the World Cup with a couple of friendlies, while big names like Italy, Australia and Ivory Coast are still in contention. So for those worrying about the effects of FPL withdrawal, don’t, because there is plenty of edge-of-your-seat football coming up before the next Premier League matchday. In this article we’ll shine a light on some of the favourites as well as some of the outsiders for the World Cup title, from among the countries that have already secured their spot in Russia, along with their World Cup 2018 betting odds.

Favourite: Germany (5/1 odds)

A famous former player and current pundit once said “Football is a simple game. Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win”. Of course, Mr. Lineker was exaggerating slightly, but he nevertheless has a point. Few nations have a richer World Cup history than the Germans do, who will, as a matter of fact, be defending their 2014 title in Russia. They’ve won the trophy four times already and they are definitely a top favourite to win it for a fifth time next year.

After a slightly disappointing Euro Cup run in 2016, in which the Germans were kicked out by France in the semis, coach Joachim Löw got his selection right back on track, resulting in a perfect qualifying phase (10 wins out of 10, with a record 43 goals scored) and a Confederations Cup title in 2017. Few coaches can pick from such a large and vastly talented pool of players like Löw can, with players like goalkeeper Neuer, Bayern icon Müller and City star Leroy Sané, just to name a few. There’s no doubt about it, Germany is aiming for the gold in Russia.

Favourite: Brazil (6/1 odds)

Has there been a World Cup in recent memory for which Brazil wasn’t among the favourites to win it? Probably not, and next year won’t be any different. The Selecão won the South American qualification group with authority, winning 12 games out of 18, garnering an impressive 41 points in the process and leaving number two Uruguay behind by 10 points.

After a disappointing campaign on their own ground in 2014, where they finished in fourth place after losing the last two games (semi-final and third place play-off) by 7-1 and 3-0 to respectively Germany and Holland, the Brazilians will be aiming to re-establish themselves as a global footballing superpower. With the likes of Coutinho, Dani Alves and Paulinho amongst a plethora of other talented players in their squad Brazil is capable of out playing any team on any given day. And of course there is Neymar, the world’s most expensive player who plies his trade in Paris since last summer and who will be fired up to show the world that he really is football’s best.

Outsider: England (20/1 odds)

Yes, we’re playing with fire here, because everyone knows that the more superlative the mood surrounding The Three Lions, the closer another international disappointment is as well, but one could have less cause to get enthusiastic. The Premier League is the most-watched league in the world, the England U-17’s just clinched their own World Cup and the Gareth Southgate’s squad contains more talent than most coaches could dream of. With the likes of Dele Alli, Harry Kane and John Stones not only England’s chances for glory in Russia look promising, but so does the future as a whole.

The English might not (yet) be at the same level as top favourites like Germany, Brazil or Spain, but a World Cup stands on its own. With a strong spirit in the team, a decent preparation and a winning start of the tournament there is no telling where the limits of this England squad could go.

Outsider: Portugal (20/1 odds)

Spain, Argentina, France – any of these countries could’ve easily been in this list, but for the article choices had to be made and it just seemed illogical to leave out European champions Portugal. The Portuguese under coach Fernando Santos has not seldom been criticized for their defensive and unspectacular style of playing, but the fact is that it brought them the Euro Cup in 2016, for the first time in their history, and they’re not going to change styles for the coming World Cup.

A Seleçcão combine a strong tactical discipline with a group of talented players in each zone (think of supertalent Renato Sanches, goalie Ederson and veteran Pepe, for example) and, of course, the undeniable talents of four time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo. The upcoming World Cup might just be CR7’s last trick on the international stage with his country, so he’ll be motivated to the bone to add that title to his already overflowing list of trophies and conquests.

FPL 17/18 Gameweek 11 Preview – players on the watchlist

Harry Kane

Tottenham’s nr.10, Harry Kane” (CC by 4.0) by Brad Tutterow

When one of England’s most free-flowing teams hosts back-to-back European champions and historic European mainstays Real Madrid at Wembley, and the Spaniards in white are sent back home with a 3-1 thumping after 90 minutes, most FPL managers know its time to check their squads. When this team is Tottenham and their Premier League encounter this weekend is at home against Palace, you can expect the Spurs roster to be stormed before tonight’s deadline. The eleventh gameweek of the 17/18 season offers other interesting matches for FPL managers as well, including Newcastle versus Bournemouth and City hosting Arsenal. In this article we’ll shed a light on some potentially interesting transfer targets for the coming weekend. If however your attention is not focussed on football this weekend but you still wish to enjoy some online entertainment then try these top slot games.

Harry Kane, Tottenham Hotspur (£12.7m)

Not a very original way to start the list, not very much of a discovery and not very much of a differential player (Kane is in more than 33% of all teams in the official game), but simply inevitable at this point. Kane is in blistering form at the moment and despite not getting on the scoresheet on Wednesday against Real Madrid he played an excellent game, constantly leaning heavy on the Merengue defense and providing a lovely assist for Christian Eriksen’s 3-0.

There was a slight fear about Kane’s fitness after he was left out of the squad last weekend, but his 79 minutes against Real Madrid don’t only show that he’s fit again, they also give us reason to believe that Hurrikane will be starting against the Premier League’s ugly ducklings Crystal Palace coming Sunday. If you can afford it you should probably try to get Kane into your line-up and you might as well give him the captaincy while you’re at it.

Sterling/Sané/De Bruyne, Manchester City (£8.2m/£8.8m/£10.1)

The reason this pick consists of three names is Pep Guardiola, and his love for rotation and surprising (and for FPL managers often frustrating) tweaks to his formations. Each of the mentioned City midfielders played 90 minutes in one of the most entertaining European games of the past years against Napoli last Wednesday, so rotation risk for coming Sunday against Arsenal exists. Pep has nevertheless shown over the past PL games that he trusts these players to be able to perform twice a week, so the suggestion here, more than anything, is to keep a close eye on news coming from well-reputed City sources in regard to Sunday’s most probably line-up.

Sané registered 3 goals and 3 assists in his last 3 PL games, Sterling scored twice and assisted twice, and KDB provided three decisive passes over the same period. The City attack is red hot at the moment and despite several clean sheets most of us know that an Arsenal defense never boasts a very high reliability percentage. In other words, doubling up on City assets might be worth it this weekend.

Jamaal Lascelles, Newcastle (£4.7m)

Back in gameweeks 4 and 5 Jamaal Lascelles was an absolute FPL star as he scored in consecutive weeks, including a 1-0 matchwinner away against Swansea, and even though the scoring has stopped he is still an interesting prospect, especially this weekend at home versus Bournemouth. Newcastle are ranked ninth in the table, but fifth when you look at the home results. They have won 3 out of 5 games so far, in which they only conceded four times. You know Benitez knows how to make a team defend, but still, not bad for a newly-promoted side.

Bournemouth on the other hand now only have Crystal Palace below them in the table and when looking at their away form we can see one of the reasons why. The Cherries have managed to take only 3 points from a possible 15 so far, and they’ve conceded 8 goals in the process. They are low on confidence and while they’re not leaking goals in the back their attack has been unpredictable to say the least.

Transferring in Lascelles is a bit of a gamble, but his chances of points at both ends of the pitch are real this weekend. Add to that the fact that the next three games are United away, Watford home and West Brom away, and you might just have found an ideal rotation player who can still get the points for your team.

Top of the Table Clashes This Weekend

The Premier League starts with an early kick off between Stoke City and Leicester City this weekend but much of the attention is on the Sunday afternoon fixtures.

Four of the top five teams meet in the Premier League on Sunday and leaders Manchester City will get things under way as they welcome Arsenal to the Etihad Stadium.

Pep Guardiola and Manchester City have enjoyed a tremendous start to the 2017/18 season and added to their tally of exciting wins as they defeated Napoli 4-2 away from home in the Champions League on Wednesday night.

The Citizens have qualified from their Champions League group with two matches remaining and have opened a 5-point gap at the top of the Premier League.  Manchester City have won their last 8 Premier League games in a row and have not only been successful in terms of results but have been playing attacking football, which is good on the eye.

Arsenal have a job on their hands to pick anything up from this game, especially having played in the Europa League at Koln on Thursday.  Thankfully for the Gunners, it is a short journey and should they win the game, they will have booked their place in the next round of the tournament.

Arsenal will start this match 9 points behind Manchester City in the Premier League table and although it is still early days, a loss in this game would realistically end any lingering hopes Arsenal have of challenging for the title this season.

Arsene Wenger’s team have won only one of their last 5 away Premier League games and could find the back of the net at the Etihad Stadium but will struggle to prevent the hosts from scoring.  Expect to see goals when Manchester City are playing and with home advantage, this should be another 3 points for Guardiola and his players.

If Manchester City do claim maximum points, the pressure will be on their city rivals, Manchester United, to win 3 points at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea.  This is the second of the huge top of the table Premier League clashes this weekend.

The Red Devils have a terrible recent record at Chelsea and have failed to win in their last 7 attempts in all competitions.

They will feel this is their chance to change that statistic, especially after the way Chelsea performed at Roma in mid-week, conceding 3 goals without reply.  Chelsea were poor defensively in that match and Antonio Conte will be working hard in training to ensure they are solid this weekend.

Unfortunately for the neutral, this could mean we are in for a tight match, as Jose Mourinho has already shown himself to be happy with a point when playing the top teams away from home in the Premier League.  A clean sheet is what Mourinho wants first and foremost and if Chelsea are also focusing on their defence after what happened on Tuesday night, this could be a very cagey game.

A point is no good for either team unless Arsenal defeat Manchester City in the earlier kick-off but that doesn’t mean they will be prepared to play open, attacking football.  Manchester United have scored 2 goals in their previous 6 visits to Stamford Bridge and it would be a surprise to see them score more than a single goal in this one.

Tottenham Hotspur will be hoping both Manchester clubs drop points this weekend, as they aim to reduce the deficit at the top of the table following their 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford last weekend.

Having tasted defeat to Manchester United, there was only one way to respond and Tottenham produced a magnificent display to beat defending champions Real Madrid 3-1 in the Champions League at Wembley.

This will see them make the short trip to Selhurst Park on Sunday full of confidence and believing they can win maximum points at bottom of the table Crystal Palace.

The Eagles picked up a point thanks to an injury-time winner against West Ham last weekend but will need to play well for the full 90 minutes if they are take anything from this match.

Tottenham have shown they can be held by teams this season, as both Burnley and Swansea City have taken a point against them but with the adrenaline running through their veins from Wednesday night, Tottenham should claim all 3 points.

At the bottom of the Premier League, Everton host Watford at Goodison Park.  The Toffees have been struggling this season and Watford have lost their last two league games, making this a tricky one to call.  Everton have won only one of their last 9 Premier League matches and have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 4 at home.

Watford will expect to get on the scoresheet in this game and could pile on further misery for Everton and whoever comes in to manage the club for the remainder of the season.

Moving to the Championship and the pick of the games must be the clash between Bristol City and Cardiff City at Aston Gate.

As everyone has established so far this season, the Premier league has been a closely fought contest, regardless of a team’s position in the table (bar perhaps Man City and Palace, respectively). This has made it difficult to consistently predict the outcome of matches, much to the delight of bookmakers.

An incredibly popular way to get around this is via a betting technique called matched betting, which guarantees profits from football matches, no matter the result. So even if Palace go and beat Man City you’d still win. Oddsmonkey are the best service for taking advantage of matched betting, but don’t just take my word for it. They’re reviewed extensively throughout the community, however check out the most comprehensive review from

The Bluebirds start his match second in the Championship table, a point off the leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers following their 3-1 victory over Ipswich Town in mid-week. Bristol City also won impressively on Tuesday night, defeating Fulham 2-0 at Craven Cottage.

However, Bristol City suffered a heavy 3-0 defeat in their last home Championship match against Leeds United and Cardiff City have enjoyed some good away wins recently, defeating Sunderland and Middlesbrough 1-0.

In 6 of the last 8 meetings between the teams in the Championship, both have scored and with a passionate atmosphere at Aston Gate, we could be in for a thrilling game.  Recently, it has only been local pride which has been at stake when these teams have met but promotion to the Premier League appears to be a real possibility for both this season.

Bristol City have failed to defeat Cardiff City in their last 5 attempts and may be forced to wait a little longer for a win. Under Neil Warnock the Bluebirds have become difficult to beat and should at least claim a point from this match.

There is so much to look forward to in the Premier League and Championship this weekend.  Will Manchester City extend their lead at the top, can Everton climb out of the relegation zone and will Cardiff City get one over on their English rivals in search for promotion?

Mourinho reveals Pogba uncertainty

Jose Mourinho has again revealed that he does not know when Paul Pogba will return to the Manchester United line-up.

The 24-year-old France international midfielder has not been seen since suffering a hamstring injury on 12th September and he has already missed the Red Devils’ last 10 games in all competitions.

I have no idea. Honestly. I am not in control of his recovery process. He is not training with me. He is on individual work.

Jose Mourinho

Mourinho revealed at the time that Pogba was facing a long-term lay-off and, despite encouraging progress reports over the past month, the Portuguese tactician is still unsure when he will be available for selection.

When asked if he could play ahead of next month’s international break, he said: “Again, I have no idea. Honestly. I am not in control of his recovery process. He is not training with me. He is on individual work.

“For example, Marcos Rojo is working with me, with certain conditions, and I would expect him to be ready to play after the international break. I can predict that. But Paul, I have no idea.”

It means Pogba will definitely miss United’s next game against Benfica in the Champions League at Old Trafford on Tuesday evening which they are 7/20 to win.

The Portuguese outfit are priced at 10/1 and the draw is available at 17/4 with Bet365.

Potential football signings to look out for

Although the Premier League season is already well underway, there is plenty of speculation about which players might be planning to switch teams in the coming months.

Danny Ings is one star who has been receiving plenty of interest from several clubs. The Liverpool forward struggled with an injury to his right knee for much of last season, and it seems as though the club may place Ings on loan in January 2018.

Crystal Palace have already expressed a firm interest in snapping up the striker. But with promising Championship clubs like Leeds United and Hull City also giving Ings plenty of attention, it seems as though he will definitely get a second chance after his devastating injury.

We’ve seen plenty of German stars like Mesut Ozil successfully making the switch from the Bundesliga to the Premier League. And it seems that Marco Reus could be the next German star to come the UK, as both Arsenal and Manchester United have hinted that they could give the Borussia Dortmund midfielder a Premier League home.

Similarly, it seems as though the ex-Borussia Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel could be lined up for replacing Ronald Koeman in the coach’s role at Everton. Whilst the club would have a lot to do in order to improve their odds to win the Premier League, it’s clear that they could use Tuchel’s managerial expertise.

Julian Nagelsmann is another Bundesliga coach who could be coming to the aid of a struggling Premier League club. The young coaching star was one of the best things that has happened to Hoffenheim in the past few years, but it seems that West Ham are making real efforts to prise Nagelsmann away in order to save their Premier League aspirations.

But it’s not just our struggling Premier League clubs who are getting caught up in some transfer fever. It’s almost inconceivable to imagine Tottenham without Harry Kane, but Real Madrid’s president, Florentino Perez, has already put a price tag of over £200 million on the striker. Such a move would undoubtedly affect Tottenham’s chances in the Champions League as Kane has been highlighted as one of the key scorers in this epic footballing tournament.

Liverpool could be looking to boost their goalscoring power by signing the Paris St-Germain star forward, Julian Draxlerif. This could be part of a trade deal with the French side who have expressed an interest in taking Philippe Coutinho away from Anfield, although Barcelona have also made efforts to sign the highly rated Brazilian midfielder.

And whilst Arsenal fans await the outcome of Arsene Wenger’s meeting with the Arsenal board this week, they face the troubling prospect of losing Mesut Ozil next year. The German star has already hinted that he would only be interested in leaving to play for massive clubs like Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United.

All of which shows how the behind-the-scenes transfer speculation is almost as dramatic as the action that takes place on pitch.

Manchester City Players – Who to Pick for your Fantasy Team?

Charts for fantasy football’s leading points scorers are predictably dominated by Man City players at present as Pep Guardiola’s men have made a sensational start to the season. They have scored more goals at this stage of the season than any top flight since the Victorian era and show no signs of slowing down. But the big question is, which of their players should you pick for your team?

It is not as easy as it sounds, because Guardiola likes to rotate his forwards and your selection could end up sitting out an entire game. City players come with hefty price tags, so that is a costly burden to shoulder. There are only three positions in the City attack and they have five top forwards vying for a starting berth: Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus, Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva.

At the start of the campaign, everyone thought Aguero and Gabriel would be forced to fight for a centre forward role, but instead Guardiola has played them together for large parts of the season. However, Gabriel sometimes drops to the bench and has started only seven of nine games. Aguero, now Man City’s record goal scorer, is more likely to nail down a place in the starting 11 but he is often blighted by injury and he has started just six out of nine games.

Sterling and Sane have both been brilliant when they have played, scoring six and five goals respectively, but if Gabriel and Aguero both start there is only room for one of them. Throw £45 million signing Bernardo into the mix and competition is fierce, so Sterling and Sane have only started five games apiece. It is therefore risky to put either of them into your fantasy team, as you never know which one Guardiola will go for as the Citizens are competing on all fronts and he needs to rotate his squad. They will become more attractive if a couple of forwards are injured and Guardiola has no choice but to play them in consecutive games, but right now it is hard to justify selecting either one.

Right now the City forward that merits consideration for your team is Aguero. But given his injury history and his huge price tag, it is arguably better to go for Tottenham’s Harry Kane and make the England striker your captain. Kane is banging in goals left, right and centre, against the big teams and the small ones, and it is hard to ignore him right now.

That frees you up to go for City’s magnificent midfielders. Guardiola has deployed both Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva in deep-lying playmaker roles this season and they have both excelled. They lead the Premiership assist charts with six each, and – unlike the forwards – they always start. Neither player has been rested yet by Guardiola this season, and they are racking up huge points tallies by teeing up chance after chance for whichever forwards Guardiola elects to play in front of them. De Bruyne is on course to win Player of the Year as he has been unplayable at times, but Silva has been equally effective from a numbers point of view, and playing both in your team could yield fantastic results. They show no signs of slowing down and should lead their club to glory this season: check reviews of the best sportsbooks and find the best odds and you will see that City are now overwhelming favourites to beat the likes of Man Utd, Spurs and Chelsea to the league title.

City are excelling going forward, but they have also massively improved defensively this season and you could use your third allowance from the club to pick one of their defenders. They have conceded just four goals in nine games and kept six clean sheets, while their defenders get chances to score from corners too. Central Defender, Nicolas Otamendi, looks a great option right now, or you could fork out a bit more money and go for Kyle Walker, who should provide more assists from his right-wing back role.

Carthorses and Show Ponies: Analysing the Best (And Worst) Premier League Signings of 2017/18 So Far

We’re now nearly 20% of the way through the 2017/18 football season – how fast has that gone? – and already we can form some pretty strong opinions as to how the campaign is set to pan out.

The Manchester sides are tipped for a titanic title dispute, with the rest of the big boys merely playing for third and fourth place. At the other end of the table, the relegation trapdoor is just starting to creak open for those anchored towards the rear end of proceedings.

All of the hype and hysteria of the summer transfer window has been laid bare too, so who has lived up to expectation and who has underwhelmed on a major scale?

The Best Signings (So Far)

When you flick open the newspapers on a Sunday morning, you’ll notice that the vast majority of headlines are dedicated to those players who have netted winning goals – that’s because goals are the only currency that truly matter in football. They are the tangible output of the 90 minutes of action, and as such much easier for the casual fan to understand than, say, the under-the-radar work of a defensive midfielder.

Goals win football matches, and points mean prizes, so proven goal-getters tend to be sold at premium prices. That is the beautiful game’s own law of economics.

So while eyebrows will have been raised at the transfer fees of both Romelu Lukaku and Alvaro Morata at £75m and £58m respectively, the truth is that these two frontmen could make Manchester United and Chelsea plenty of cash of their own this season.

There are some that claim that Lukaku is a flat track bully, and use statistics that show a goal return of one-in-two games against sides outside of the ‘big six’ – as opposed to one-in-four against the elite outfits – as some kind of confirmation that he is overrated and overpriced.

But draw up a list of players that have scored 15 or more Premier League goals in each of the last three seasons and your pen won’t be running out of ink any time soon: the list comprises just Lukaku, Harry Kane and Sergio Aguero alone.

What kind of fees do you think Kane and Aguero would command in the current market? It would certainly be far in excess of £75m, and so by that measure Manchester United have landed a real bargain in the 24-year-old, who has already repaid Jose Mourinho’s faith with seven league goals in just eight starts.

The fact that Morata has taken to life in the English top flight like a duck to water is perhaps a little more surprising. The Spaniard has lined up for some of the continent’s finest outfits, including Real Madrid and Juventus, but never quite made the grade at either: featuring more as an impact substitute rather than somebody considered to have the ability to make a difference from the start.

But he has hit the ground running for the Blues, netting six times in as many Premier League starts, and as such Morata has to be shortlisted as a signing of the season (so far) candidate – regardless of his lofty price tag. Where would Chelsea be without his goals at this moment in time?

There are a number of other candidates for the best signing category, and many are located at the clubs that generally have the cash to splash on premium performers. But what about a player who has transformed the fortunes of one of the Premier League’s perennial ‘punching above their weight’ merchants?

Grzegorz Krychowiak has won the Europa League with Sevilla and played Champions League football for PSG in recent seasons, so his decision to join West Brom on loan raised more than a few eyebrows.

An intelligent, combative midfielder, Krychowiak has been a vital cog in the Baggies’ outstanding start to the campaign. The Pole ranks first in the division for interceptions made – averaging more per 90 minutes than even the perceptive powers of N’Golo Kante can muster.

He also ranks thirteenth for successful tackles, boasts a pass completion rate of 81% and even finds time to connect three long passes per game on average – crucial to Tony Pulis’ style of play.

As we know, defensive midfielders like Krychowiak very rarely own the spotlight, but as a vital cog in a West Brom side that currently sits in tenth place – just three points behind Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea, we must recognise his stellar input into a magnificent example of overachieving personified.

And the Worst Signings So Far

For the vast majority of us, the closest we get to elite football management is via our fictional efforts on computer games, and so we have to assume that we know less about the beautiful game than those employed as managers at the top level.

So when we question a player like Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain, we have to remember that two respected managers in Arsene Wenger and Jurgen Klopp clearly see something in him. The Ox has now played for two of the biggest clubs in the land, and has a bunch of England caps to look back on.

He is a top player then, surely?

Perhaps he is, but to the layman it is difficult to see how Klopp can justify his £40 million outlay on the midfielder. His game is peppered with awful decision making in the final third of the pitch, and the kind of end product that would drive a Sunday League manager to tears; let alone one with designs on continental domination.

Starting out as a central midfielder, it is always apparent when a player is lacking something when they get pigeonholed into different positions – the Ox has played left wing back, right wing back and on either flank in the past few seasons, but very rarely gets a run-out in his favoured central role. Why? Because he simply can’t be trusted to control matches due to his wayward passing.

Before this turns into a hatchet job, we must stress that Liverpool should be applauded for taking a chance on a young English talent, but the £40m outlay on a player who will be a million miles from the first team once Adam Lallana and Sadio Mane return from injury is an indictment of the fact that there is simply too much spare money sloshing about in the game.

For his part, the Ox should have gone and played for a side who will let him learn his craft in the middle of the park – as Jack Wilshere did in his time at Bournemouth. As it stands, he’s likely to fade into obscurity as so many young Englishmen with dreams of riches at the big clubs have in the past.

The other main candidate for this (dis)honour is more of a reflection on the manager that purchased him rather than the player himself.

When Ronald Koeman paid £45 million for Gylfi Sigurdsson, he must have been rubbing his hands together in glee. Many had suggested the Icelander was overpriced for a 28-year-old, but a player that has assisted 33 Premier League goals – more than anyone else of the modern era – is worth their weight in gold.

Sigurdsson’s best work has come in two spells at Swansea, where he has provided ample ammunition for burly frontmen such as Wilfried Bony and Fernando Llorente; the former firing the Swans to an eighth-place finish in 2014/15, and the latter keeping them up last season.

So a Sigurdsson-Lukaku link-up was the stuff of dreams for Everton fans….but by the time he had captured the creator, Koeman had already sold Lukaku to Manchester United.

All of which means the Dutchman is left with an ageing asset that is rapidly decreasing in value, as Sigurdsson is now tasked with creating goals for a band of attacking players at Everton that includes the slow (Wayne Rooney), the inexperienced (Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Sandro Ramirez) and the unknown (Davy Klaasen).

Sigurdsson’s tag as worst signing of the season is more Koeman’s doing than the player’s. He’s the right man, just in the wrong place.

Key Scorers to Watch in the Champions League

It might still be early days in the group stage of the Champions League, but already there have been some outstanding team and individual performances to enjoy, as the leading teams around the continent do battle in their quest to claim the biggest prize in Europe.

Competition in the groups is as fierce as ever this season after the opening two rounds of fixtures, and there are no easy groups, with every match counting towards success or failure in the quest to reach the knockout phase.

In this article we take a closer look at five of the leading scorers who have impressed so far, with their goals providing the vital cutting edge their teams need, if they’re to continue impressing on the continental stage this season.

Romelu Lukaku

Two consecutive wins over Basel and CSKA Moscow have ensured that three-time champions Manchester United have returned to Europe’s elite competition with a bang, in no small part due to the contribution of Belgian forward Romelu Lukaku, who after banging in three goals in those two games is 12/1 with Marathon Bet to take the scoring crown.

The powerful Belgian is in red hot form in the Premier League, too, and shows no signs of slowing with the mecurial talents of Henrikh Mkhitaryan operating in behind him. His injury record is far from spotless, but with few major knocks curtailing his progress in recent years, many are backing Lukaku to take the top scoring trophy this time out.

Lionel Messi

The Argentine maestro has just fired his team to the 2018 World Cup in Russia and his influence can never be ignored. Barcelona have made an impressive start to their campaign in La Liga, and Lionel Messi is already top of the scoring charts by some distance in Spain.

With two goals in two games in the Champions League so far and at odds of 9/2 to finish as top scorer in the competition, Barca will need Messi to be firing on all cylinders if they are to reach the final and emerge victorious this season in Europe.

Edinson Cavani

The 30-year-old is the tip of the lance for PSG and although Brazilian superstar Neymar keeps on grabbing the headlines with the French club, for various reasons, it’s Edinson Cavani who is the leading the Champions League scoring charts for his side.

Three goals in the opening two group matches have seen his odds slashed to 8/1 with MrGreen Sports to be top scorer in the competition, and with Cavani in such lethal form in front of goal, PSG are genuinely expected to mount a serious European challenge this season.

Harry Kane

If Tottenham Hotspur are to make their mark in the Champions League this season, they’ll certainly need the potent scoring form of Harry Kane to continue. Back to back winner of the Premier League Golden Boot, he hasn’t disappointed so far in Europe.

An outstanding contribution of five goals already has Kane leading the scoring charts after just two group games. Odds of 8/1 for him to remain in pole position are perhaps only tempered by his team being considered outsiders to win the competition. The question being posed by many is just how far can Spurs go this season?

Cristiano Ronaldo

Success seems to follow in the wake of every step Cristiano Ronaldo takes and Real Madrid have certainly benefitted from that, as back to back Champions League winners. His continued form will be vital if they’re to land a third consecutive title in the competition, and he finished as the competition’s top marksman last season.

Four goals already in two group games and clear favourite to top the scoring charts at 2/1 odds, few would bet against Ronaldo ending the campaign with more silverware, gaining yet more personal glory and helping his club remain the undisputed kings of Europe.


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