Two struggling teams met at Old Trafford on Saturday in the late kickoff as Manchester United hosted Southampton. While Utd’s recent habit of drawing matches has been in the news, the Saints’ position in the table has gone under the radar a little. Southampton went into this game dangerously close to getting lured into the relegation battle, a strange position given the consistency of this team over the past few seasons. Utd’s own position in the standings has also become tenuous with their recent form so a home win was needed to hold onto 2nd place, and here is the team that José Mourinho tasked with getting the job done:
Manchester Utd were looking to bounce back from a poor recent spell as they hosted Burnley at Old Trafford on Boxing Day. The most recent setback was a late tying goal by Leicester which cost Utd two points so stringing together some victories was of vital importance to get some much needed team moral going. The injury bug has hit the defense as Chris Smalling joined Antonio Valencia, Eric Bailly and Matteo Darmian on the sidelines so José Mourinho had to make some changes for the visit of Sean Dyche’s men. Burnley have been tough to break down this season but had a couple of injuries themselves to deal with in their backline so Utd had to fancy themselves on this day. Here was the starting eleven for the Red Devils:
Coming off the disappointment of being knocked out of the Carabao Cup midweek by Bristol City, Manchester Utd continued their Premier League campaign with a visit to Leicester in the late start on Saturday. Manchester City had already won earlier so José Mourinho knew his team needed a win to make sure the lead atop the table did not grow any further as we hit the midway point of the season. A change would have to be made at right back as Utd were without Antonio Valencia due to injury. Lindelof was the surprise replacement in the starting eleven which was led by Pogba as the Captain:
With the Fantasy Premier League season reaching the halfway point I like to put all the various fantasy formats I am undertaking into one blog so I can look back at the season’s end to see if I made any improvements during the second half. Let’s kick things off with the big daddy of the fantasy world as we look at the ups and downs of my Official FPL team.
OFFICIAL FANTASY PREMIER LEAGUE :
Did I start slow? Yes. Did that lead to me probably using my Wildcard too early? Yes. Have I taken too many hits? Yes. Have I jumped on a few bandwagons? Yes. Have I picked the wrong Captain more often than not? Yes. Ok, will all that negativity out of the way let’s see what I am happy about. I have definitely have done well waiting until later in the Gameweeks to make my transfers which I am sure has saved me some extra points along the way. I have also kept all my other chips in tact which I think is going to be very beneficial when the Blank and Double Gameweeks come knocking on the door. With a very strong GW19 performance of 💯 pts my Overall Rank rose to its highest of the season at 252,440 out of 5,572,909 players. This is how the season has unfolded:
Manchester Utd continued their Carabao Cup campaign as they traveled to take on Bristol City in a Quarter-Final matchup on Wednesday. Utd, the current League Cup holders, were the favorites to advance and welcomed back Paul Pogba to the lineup from his recent suspension. Naturally with the congestion of fixtures recently there were many changes all the way down the lineup including a first start for Zlatan Ibrahimovic since returning from his knee injury, giving Romelu Lukaku a much needed rest. Here is a look at the lineup that José Mourinho gave the task of getting Utd into the Semi-Finals of the Carabao Cup:
Two more games to recap from the last few weeks as Crown were looking for their first win of the season taking on the undefeated Fugitives FC and the defending champions JFHF FC. I am not messing around, right to the summaries.
Crown v Fugitives FC:
It was a decent start for Crown as the game was pretty even until Fugitives opened the scoring, but in the aftermath of the goal the Fugitives scorer was given a straight Red card for spitting on the new indoor turf. Needless to say a bunch of complaining ensued, but it is clearly sign-posted that spitting = automatic Red, plus using the excuse of being new to the facility is ridiculous, no place allows it. There was a clear change in momentum as Crown built a 4-2 lead at the halftime break on the strength of a pair of goals from Brandon and singles from Tim and Mark. But Fugitives had their main offensive weapon show up late in the first half so the second half would be tough. And boy was it, Crown fell apart getting outscored 9-1 in the second half, with the only highlight being a rocket of a finish by Captain Keller into the top corner. So Crown fell 11-5, but now I will get on my soapbox to state that this Fugitives team could take a lesson on how to win with some kind of class. Picture the Thunderdome surrounded by a bunch of Ric Flairs…so much woooooooooing going on, disturbing and pretty obnoxious I might add.
The busy Premier League schedule continued to roll along as Manchester Utd traveled to take on West Brom on Sunday. The Red Devils bounced back midweek with a 1-0 home victory over Bournemouth and were in need of another three points to try to keep pace with their rampart neighbors Manchester City. José Mourinho would have to do without the services of Paul Pogba once again as he served the final game of his suspension, plus also got some bad news in finding out that defender Eric Bailly will need surgery and will likely be lost for 2-3 months. And so despite the games coming fast and furious the starting eleven is becoming fairly settled and looked as follows:
After the disappointment of the loss of the derby on Sunday, Manchester Utd had a chance to bounce back quickly as they hosted Bournemouth at Old Trafford on Wednesday. The loss to Manchester City stung in more ways than one as not only did the gap at the top of the Premier League table increase to 11 points, but there was also a tunnel altercation afterwards as members of Utd were not happy with the level of City’s dressing room celebration. There was also a fair amount of talk about whether José Mourinho would continue to keep the faith with Lukaku up front after his poor recent form but he did just that when the team sheet came out. There was also a rare start in the midfield for the youngster McTominay in a lineup that looked as follows:
The UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Draw was held on Monday and with some big names finishing second in their qualifying groups there was the real chance for some powerhouse matchups early in the knockout phase of the competition. The Premier League were represented by the most teams with five qualifiers as it has been a resurgent return to the UCL forefront for English based clubs this season. The usual dominant forces were also present with Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, PSG and Juventus in contention for what is expected to be one of the most hotly contested UCL competitions at this stage in some time. Let’s take a look at how the matchups turned out with an early pick to advance from each one.
Old Trafford was the site of a huge Premier League clash as 2nd-placed Manchester Utd hosted league leading Manchester City on Sunday. City were already enjoying an 8 point lead so it went without saying that a 3 point swing in either direction was most likely going to have a big impact on the title chase for both teams. The way City have been playing this season the task was always going to be a tough one for Utd, but it became all the more difficult with Paul Pogba’s red card last weekend as the offense has just begun to tick again with his presence. But this match was still going to be an intriguing one regardless so let’s get to the starting lineup for Utd (the snow graphics were actually accurate as it was cold and there were flurries in the air!) and the recap: