Last night Liverpool put one foot in the Champions League final. They raced into a 5-0 lead against AS Roma at Anfield. Inspire by the best attacker in the world right now, Mohamed Salah, Liverpool put the Italians to the sword. Whilst the Giallorossi did manage to grab two goals to make the second leg a contest, Liverpool will feel confident of progress.
For Tottenham fans, the game represented a reminder of why they sold a player they were regretting a couple of weeks ago. When Roma turned around a 4-1 deficit against Barcelona, the performance of Federico Fazio caused a stir. He was a man-mountain in the Stadio Olimpico, as Roma won 3-0.
It left some Tottenham fans wondering why they sold him for a fee in the region of £3.8 million in 2017 – as reported by talkSPORT – after just 32 appearances for the North London club.
Last night showed exactly why.
Fazio, along with the other members of the Roma back three, was poor against Liverpool. He was not helped by the decision to play a high-line. However, his physical attributes were exposed by Liverpool. Slow, sluggish and clumsy, this looked like the Fazio that Tottenham fans remember from his time at White Hart Lane after joining from Sevilla in the summer of 2014.
But a high-line is not his game, he is a combative defender who is excellent in the air. Well, that did not look the case when he wimpishly challenged Roberto Firmino for a header that the Brazilian dispatched.
Tottenham fans were impressed with his performance against Barcelona in the last round and, with Toby Alderweireld set to leave, having Fazio around again might have appealed to some Spurs fans. Based on this performance v their Premier League rivals, they will be happy he is in the Italian capital.
Fantasy Premier League: Five players to sign for matchweek two
There is plenty of names to swoop for ahead of the weekend’s fixtures.
Fantasy Premier League returned with a bang last weekend, with a number of high-scorers handing plenty of players a solid start to the new campaign.
Popular players Sadio Mane, Richarlison and Aaron Wan-Bissaka all rewarded those who selected them on the opening weekend, each earning 12+ points, while Watford duo Roberto Pereyra (5.2%) and Jose Holebas (5.1%) also caught the eye and secured huge points for the few that opted for the Hornets pair.
Ahead of matchweek two in the Premier League, we have searched the databases for five players you should definitely look to pick up to provide your team with a boost.
Bernardo Silva: Manchester City
The news of Kevin De Bruyne’s knee injury has sent shockwaves across FPL, with 16.8% of players still having the Belgium international in their squad. If you fall into that category, you should definitely look at dropping the midfielder.
Bernardo Silva is the most likely candidate to step up for the Citizens in De Bruyne’s absence and he enters this weekend’s clash with Huddersfield Town in decent form, scoring the second goal in last week’s 2-0 victory over Arsenal.
Huddersfield conceded 58 goals last season, more than relegated pair West Brom and Swansea City, so Silva can be expected to add to his eight-point haul against the Terriers – especially as he has scored five goals in his last seven starts.
Ryan Fraser: Bournemouth
Scorer of the opening goal for Bournemouth in last weekend’s victory over Cardiff City, Ryan Fraser brought home 11 points for the few managers who had the midfielder in their side – and just 2.3% of managers have the 24-year-old in their squad.
Costing £5.5m, Fraser is perhaps a more expensive option to other creative players at lower-end Premier League sides to consider but he certainly has the form to make his outlay worthwhile – as he has been directly involved in six goals in his last six matches at the Vitality Stadium (four goals, two assists).
Ben Mee: Burnley
While the rest of the Premier League prepares for their second match, Burnley are well into their stride as Europa League qualifiers mean that Sean Dyche’s side have already played five matches this season – and they are in superb form.
The Clarets have now registered three consecutive clean sheets across all competitions following Thursday night’s 1-0 victory over Istanbul Basaksehir, although extra time could have taken some wind out of Burnley’s sails.
Hosting Watford this weekend, Ben Mee and the Burnley defence will face a stern test but history favours the hosts – who have not lost to the Hornets at Turf Moor since 2004, securing three clean sheets in the last three meetings in Lancashire.
Roberto Pereyra: Watford
Selected by 5.2% of managers heading into matchweek two, many may believe that Roberto Pereyra’s 16 point haul last weekend was just a freak occurrence after the 2-0 win over Brighton but the stats suggest that is not the case.
Pereyra has now hit four goals in his last five Premier League games at Vicarage Road and now faces the challenge of transferring that form into away matches – and a game against a tired Burnley side who played 120 minutes in midweek is the ideal opportunity for him to shine.
Watford need to build upon last weekend’s win as they have a tough run of fixtures coming up against Tottenham, Manchester United and Arsenal, with Pereyra’s attacking flair potentially providing the key to breaking down a resilient Burnley defence.
Neil Etheridge: Cardiff City
In last weekend’s 2-0 defeat to Bournemouth, Neil Etheridge became the first goalkeeper to save a penalty on his Premier League debut since Allan McGregor in 2013 by denying Callum Wilson from the spot – earning six points in the process.
The Welsh side are back at home this weekend against a Newcastle United outfit who continue to suffer under the tyranny of Mike Ashley. Defeat last weekend against Spurs was not surprising but has raised the pressure for Rafael Benitez’s side.
28-year-old Etheridge is a good bet to pick up further points this weekend against a Magpies side that scored just 39 goals in 38 matches last term, the lowest tally of any top-ten side excluding Burnley.
Liverpool round-up: Grujic bid rejected; interest in Karius; Brewster nears return
Liverpool have rejected a bid for Marko Grujic
The transfer window may have closed in England but it remains open until Friday in Italy and reports from the Liverpool Echo say that the Reds have turned down an approach from Serie A side Torino for midfielder Marko Grujic. The deal was reportedly a season long loan with an option to buy worth 10 million euros (£9 million).
The Serbian was heavily involved in pre-season after impressing for Cardiff City on loan last season and was expected to return to Wales after helping them earn promotion but a move collapsed.
Besiktas are considering a move for Loris Karius
Turkish newspaper Aksam claim that Besiktas have emerged as candidates to sign German goalkeeper Loris Karius on loan to provide him with an Anfield escape having lost the number one shirt to Alisson Becker after his Champions League final nightmare in Kiev in May.
Jurgen Klopp’s plans for the goalkeeper remain unclear despite publicly giving him a vote of confidence and a loan deal may be an ideal solution. Much could depend on the Turkish team’s pursuit of other targets, including Arsenal‘s David Ospina.
Rhian Brewster is nearing a return to fitness
It was a major blow to Liverpool’s plans for young striker Rhian Brewster when he picked up a serious ankle ligament injury in January, but under 23s manager Neil Critchley has told Goal that he could return to light training as soon as next month after a summer of rehabilitation.
“I’m sure he’ll be doing a few people’s heads in down at Melwood, chomping at the bit and ready to return! He’ll be quite restless. He’s a young boy who loves playing football and wants to play football, so he’ll hugely frustrated at the moment.”
The 18-year-old was training alongside Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to rebuild fitness after signing a new deal to commit himself to the Merseyside outfit despite interest from elsewhere.
Georges-Kevin Nkoudou clearly has no future at Tottenham Hotspur if Mainz deal goes ahead
Tottenham Hotspur are reportedly ready to let Nkoudou go on loan.
It appears Tottenham Hotspur are ready to let Georges-Kevin Nkoudou leave the club on loan before the end of the month. According to Sky Sports, Spurs are ready to let the winger join Bundesliga side Mainz until the end of the season.
However, Nkoudou has recently shown what he is capable of. The 23-year-old had a brilliant pre-season as Tottenham won the International Champions Cup. He was named man-of-the-match in the penalty loss to Barcelona, in which he scored. He also found the net against AC Milan in a 1-0 win. His form this summer was electric and led many to believe might have a chance at Tottenham this season.
So the fact he is being loaned out probably suggests one thing. Nkoudou has no long-term future at Tottenham Hotspur.
Even after an impressive pre-season and with Tottenham thin on the ground the young Frenchman has been told to pack his bags and head elsewhere.
This may only be a temporary deal, but it appears the precursor to a more permanent Tottenham exit.
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