Are City right to be chasing this £72m trio of Premier League stars?

Manchester City look set to spend big once again this summer as incoming manager Pep Guardiola is looking to overhaul the squad ahead of his first season in the Premier League.

There are a number of high-profile names across Europe being linked with summer moves to the Etihad, with the latest reports suggesting three Premier League stars are being targeted.

A report in the Sun claims City will splash the cash to try and bring Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez, Tottenham’s Danny Rose and Everton’s John Stones to the club in the coming months.

That trio of top flight talent is worth around £72 million, according to Transfermarkt’s valuations of each player.

But would those three players improve City ahead of next season’s title charge?

Alexis Sanchez – Arsenal – Estimated value: £41.25 million

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Sanchez has been a real hit at Arsenal since moving to the Premier League from Barcelona in July 2014. He ended the last campaign with 13 goals and five assists in 30 league appearances and also performed remarkably well in the Champions League, contributing to eight goals in seven outings. Guardiola signed Sanchez from Udinese while managing Barcelona in 2011 and would love to be reunited with the pacey Chilean at City.

Verdict: Arsenal would do everything in their power to stop their star man leaving for City but it could ultimately come down to where Sanchez himself would prefer to be playing football next season. A move looks unlikely but City won’t be afraid of splashing the cash to land a player as good as Alexis Sanchez. Pairing him with Sergio Aguero in attack would give City one of the most devastating attacks in world football and Guardiola knows how to get the best out of the 27-year-old winger.

Danny Rose – Tottenham – Estimated value: £8.25 million

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Danny Rose is once again being linked with a move to the Etihad. The England left-back was reportedly a target for the club last summer but no formal offer was made and he continued to develop at White Hart Lane under Mauricio Pochettino instead. He looks to be a key part of the Spurs team and they would not be prepared to sell to a Premier League rivals. He will travel to Euro 2016 this summer with England and could see his stock rise further if he starts for Roy Hodgson.

Verdict: His estimated value of £8.25 million seems far too low for an England international who is set to be playing Champions League football next term. City might look to table an offer, with Aleksandar Kolarov and Gael Clichy both potentially leaving, but Rose is still not that sound defensively, with his main contributions coming on the attacking side of the ball. If Guardiola wants a bombarding fullback, then Rose could be the man. But if not, they should probably look elsewhere.

John Stones – Everton – Estimated value: £22.5 million

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John Stones looks increasingly likely to leave Goodison Park this summer, with several clubs reportedly interested in his services. He will be 22 by the time the new season starts and is still extremely young for a centre-back. He has shown promise and is a confident ball-playing defender, but now needs the right guidance to help him reach his potential. He will be with England at Euro 2016 and his stock will only rise if he impresses at the tournament.

Verdict: City are in need of another central defender, with Eliaquim Mangala and Martin Demichelis both failing to inspire over the past two seasons. Vincent Kompany has ongoing injury troubles, while Nicolas Otamendi was inconsistent, so bringing in a young player like Stones makes sense as Guardiola could mould him to perfectly fit his possession-based style of play. He won’t come cheap but would surely be worth the investment.

Do you think Manchester City should be chasing the trio mentioned above? Which of the three should be the main target?

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2014/15 Premier League Season Review: Arsenal

Premier League Final Position: 3rd

Review

Arsenal end the 2014/15 Premier League season in third place, sealing automatic qualification into the Champions League for the first time in three years. That is clearly good news for Gunners fans but the wait for a title extends to 11 years and that will frustrate supporters. The league was arguably not at its strongest this term and Arsenal will feel they missed an opportunity in not challenging for the title over the entire course of the season. An FA Cup trophy for the second year running would deem the season a success, and so a lot is riding on that game at Wembley.

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Podcast Review

Best Moment

Arsenal’s impressive 2-0 win at Manchester City in January was a huge result for the club, and was certainly their best moment of the campaign. Arsene Wenger’s side lost 6-3 at the Etihad last season so the victory and clean sheet will have delighted fans. The win at City was Arsenal’s only away victory against any side in the top nine though (P8 W1 D2 L5), and that’s an area that needs to be looked at.

Worst Moment

The 2-0 loss at Southampton on New Year’s Day was probably the worst moment in Arsenal’s season. The defeat came at a time when the Gunners were in fine form after a good run over Christmas and the controversies surrounding Wojciech Szczesny after the game left a dark cloud over the club for a while. The Polish ‘keeper was at fault for both Southampton goals and was caught smoking in the showers after the loss. David Ospina was then made first-choice for the remainder of the campaign.

Player of the Year

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Alexis Sanchez – The Chilean attacker has enjoyed an excellent first season in England and ends the league campaign with 16 goals. His goals have fired the Gunners to a third place finish and an FA Cup final, in which he will look to score his 25th of the season in all competitions.

Biggest Win

Arsenal 5-0 Aston Villa (February 1, 2014)

Biggest Defeat

Chelsea 2-0 Arsenal (October 5, 2014)

Southampton 2-0 Arsenal (January 1, 2014)

What to improve for the 2015 season…

Arsenal have been consistent over the past two years and look to be just a signing or two from being real title contenders over the course of a season, rather than just for a few months. Wenger needs to assess the team’s performances against the big sides again though as winning just one away game against the top nine is not good enough. Their only win against any side in the top five came at City, and so performances against the bigger sides must improve if Arsenal are to claim a first title in 12 years next May.

STATS: Who had the better Premier League season – Hazard or Sanchez?

Alexis Sanchez and Eden Hazard were two of the top performers in the Premier League this season and have left fans disputing who is the better player.

Hazard won the PFA Player of the Year, beating Sanchez to the award and it came as no surprise that the two were nominated.

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Sanchez was easily one of the best signings of the season and Arsenal fans will be hoping Wenger will continue to bring in top quality players.

The two are considered to be similar players, so how did they perform in key attacking areas over the course of the Premier League season? Having looked at their performances earlier in the season, the two are still just as hard to split now the season is over.

Stats via Squawka Apps Goals Assists Pass Accuracy Key Passes Shot Accuracy Successful Take-ons Duels Won
Hazard 38 14 9 87% 91 59% 180 65%
Sanchez 35 16 8 77% 71 62% 115 50%

Sanchez ends the season with a better goals-per-game ratio but Hazard impressively featured in all 38 games of Chelsea‘s campaign.

Hazard had more assists, better pass accuracy, more key passes and 65 more successful take-ons. The Belgian superstar bettered Sanchez in the majority of the key attacking areas.

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Chelsea’s key man was beaten on shot accuracy, which ultimately showed with Sanchez’s goal output. The two are incredibly hard to split but winning the Premier League certainly helps to sway the argument in favour of Hazard.

Sanchez can show his worth to Arsenal yet again this weekend as he prepares for his first chance of silverware at the club in the FA Cup final.

This is going to be key battle and talking point for years to come in the Premier League as both seem to be settled at their clubs.

Liverpool legend urges Arsenal to strengthen this summer

Liverpool legend Graeme Souness has urged Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger to strengthen his squad this summer.

The comments come as Arsenal drew 1-1 against Manchester United on Sunday, and Souness suggested that to win the title, Arsenal would need to strengthen over the summer.

“Forget spine, forget any names, if you’re a big football club and you’re not strengthening, you’re standing still as all the other big clubs will be strengthening.” Souness said on Sky Sports.

Arsenal’s title drought has stretched another year and it’s now eleven years without winning the league for the Gunners.

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A topic that has sparked debate is Arsene Wenger’s transfer policy recently. Arsenal have made a marquee signing in each of the last two summer transfer windows, adding Mesut Ozil in 2013 and Alexis Sanchez in 2014.

Both players have been brilliant recently and Souness has suggested that Arsenal should once again look to spend big in the market.

Should Arsenal look to strengthen again it would be interesting to see who they target, as it seems that they will be competing with rivals: Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea for the biggest names available.

Do Arsenal need to strengthen this summer, and which players should they be looking at?

STATS: Who is more influential – Rooney or Sanchez?

With this weekend’s showdown battle for third place between Manchester United and Arsenal fast approaching, Lewis Addley looks at who has been more influential in the Premier League this season, Wayne Rooney or Alexis Sanchez?

The two attackers go head-to-head in arguably their most important fixture of the season after Arsene Wenger’s comments regarding the difference coming third can make in terms of transfers. The game has added importance as the victor will edge closer to securing third place and will therefore avoid the Champions League qualifiers.

This has been another transitional season for United and it looks like Louis Van Gaal is getting closer to the side he wants and bringing United back to the top level.

Rooney has been used in a number of different roles this season and the United captain has remained very professional about it. He is still arguably the best striker for the Red Devils and his qualities have made him the stand out attacking option in the United side.

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Sanchez’s first season with Arsenal has been brilliant. He was nominated for PFA Player of the Year and he has been the difference in many of his side’s games.

So how do the two compare in their key offensive areas this season?

Stats via Squawka Apps Goals Assists Pass Accuracy Chances Created Shot Accuracy Duels Won Successful Take-Ons
Rooney 32 12 10 85% 45 51% 43% 38
Sanchez 32 16 8 77% 72 64% 51% 111

Having both played the same number of games, Rooney’s goal output is still impressive. It is lower than previous seasons, but being used in a midfield role on occasions certainly hasn’t helped. Sanchez does have a better goals-per-game ratio than the England captain.

Rooney has more assists, which isn’t surprising given he plays a more central role, and has a more successful pass rate. Surprisingly though, Sanchez has created more chances, as his ability to get his head down and run at defences makes him a very tough player to stop.

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Sanchez has a far greater success rate when it comes to take-ons which also gives him a better ‘duels won’ percentage.

Both are playing in similar squads and are certainly the key players when looking at offensive options.

Their battle this weekend will help to show who can perform at the highest level under immense pressure. Rooney could well edge it with the home crowd behind him but Sanchez will look to hurt the Red Devils where possible.

Who do you think is the more influential player, Rooney or Sanchez?

STATS: Who is more influential – Alexis Sanchez or Eden Hazard?

Ahead of Sunday’s London derby between Arsenal and Chelsea Lewis Addley looks at which winger has been more influential in the Premier League this season, Alexis Sanchez or Eden Hazard.

The two have both been nominated for the PFA Player of the Year award, which comes as no surprise given how key they are to their sides.

The attackers go head-to-head this weekend and either player can produce that moment of magic to win the game – something that could lead to an entertaining game.

Sanchez has proved to be a hit since joining Arsenal from FC Barcelona for £35 million last summer and he has proved to be the attacking talent they have been missing in recent seasons.

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Hazard has arguably been Chelsea’s best player for the last two seasons and his £32 million transfer from LOSC Lille in 2012 seems to be even more of a bargain with each passing season.

So how do the two compare in their key offensive areas this season?

Stats via Squawka Apps Goals Assists Pass Accuracy Chances Created Shot Accuracy Duels Won Successful Take-Ons
Sanchez 29 14 8 77% 67 65% 50% 102
Hazard 32 13 8 87% 87 60% 65% 153

Sanchez has a better goals-per-game ratio, having played three games less than Hazard. The Chilean also boasts a better shot accuracy when compared to the Belgian wide man.

The two are very closely matched statistically, both racking up eight assists, but Hazard does have the edge in passing, creating 20 more chances and having 10% better pass accuracy.

Hazard is also ahead on duels won and successful take-ons, but given that he has played as an out-and-out winger compared to a striker, where Sanchez has played for a number of games this season, that is not surprising.

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Chelsea’s key man is two years younger than Sanchez and with the two tied down to long contacts this could be an interesting comparison for seasons to come.

At the moment they seem to be near on inseparable, but if we have to pick an overall winner it would be difficult not to side with Sanchez.

The Chilean is playing in a squad which arguably isn’t as strong as the league leaders’ and doesn’t have a midfielder duo on the same level as Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic constantly supplying him the ball.

Both players are performing at the highest level and are unbelievably exciting to watch.

Their battle this weekend is set to be yet another exciting event and may help decide who has the edge, Sanchez or Hazard.

Who do think is more influential to their side – Alexis Sanchez or Eden Hazard?

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Burnley vs Arsenal

Competition: Premier League – Burnley vs. Arsenal

Venue: Turf Moor – Saturday, April 12 – 17:30 BST (12:30 ET)

Match Odds: Burnley 5/1 – Draw 16/5 – Arsenal 8/15

Match Preview

Burnley host the in-form Arsenal in the Premier League‘s evening game at Turf Moor this Saturday as their battle against relegation continues.

Burnley have just one win in their last ten games, but it has to be noted that was against the champions Manchester City at Turf Moor and they come into this game off the back off a 0-0 draw against Tottenham.

The Clarets are currently sitting 19th in the Premier League table and are running out of time to save themselves from the drop.

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With every team in the bottom five on the edge, their fight will still have many twists and turns but they have to start picking up points and it doesn’t come much tougher than this.

Arsenal are the in-form team in the league after winning their last seven on the bounce, which has made them Chelsea’s closest rivals for the title and they’ve pushed themselves up into second in the table.

Arsene Wenger‘s men have clicked into form at a vital stage of the season and this run will certainly help them attract big names in the summer.

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Sean Dyche‘s men have to take the same approach to this tie as they did from their astonishing win over Man City almost a month ago and they need to make their home advantage count during this run-in if they are to stay up.

It should be a tough, hard-fought tie with both sides having so much to play for at this stage of the season.

Team News

Burnley are set to have five sidelined as Steven Reid, Ross Wallace, Dean Marney, Kevin Long and Matt Taylor are all recovering from injuries. Sean Dyche will be hoping forward George Boyd can produce another moment of magic to continue his latest stint of giant killing.

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Arsenal will be without Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, while Laurent Koscielny and Wojciech Szczęsny will be fighting to be fit following minor injuries. Wenger will need his goal-machine Olivier Giroud to keep the goals coming as he has seven in his last six. His partnership with Alexis Sanchez has proved to be a hit.

Key Points

Burnely’s last five: L/L/W/L/D

Arsenal’s last five: W/W/W/W/W

Key Stat: Winning Streak – Arsenal’s seven-game winning streak has seen them climb up into second and a push for the title is an aim even this late on. Their next game against Chelsea is possibly the biggest Premier League tie of the season.

Key Player: Olivier Giroud – An easy choice. Giroud is the man in form and now has a better strike-rate this season than fellow forward Alexis Sanchez. The Frenchman has notched an impressive 14 goals in 20 games.

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Score Prediction

Burnley 1-3 Arsenal – Arsenal’s momentum will overpower a spirited Burnley side fighting for their Premier League status.

Arsenal given boost in chase for £35m-rated former Real Madrid star

Arsenal‘s transfer links have been taking off over the last few weeks and the North London club are now favourites to sign former Real Madrid forward Gonzalo Higuain, according to the Telegraph.

Higuain reportedly isn’t interested in another season without Champions League football with Napoli, giving Arsenal the green light to make a move for the Argentine should the Serie A side fail to finish in the top three.

Napoli’s push for Europe’s top competition is looking bleak after their loss to rivals Roma and Higuain has a wealth of experience in the Champions League, having scored 13 goals in 53 games.

The Argentine striker boasts an impressive goalscoring record throughout his European career. For Real Madrid he netted 122 goals in 264 games and at Napoli, a ratio better than one in two with 47 goals in 90 games.

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Arsenal’s inability to win the Premier League since 2003/04 has often been linked with their lack of an out-and-out goalscorer. Higuain could certainly bring that to the side and could be part of a frightening duo with fan-favourite, Alexis Sanchez in attack.

Olivier Giroud has performed well this season since returning from injury but Wenger still needs a world-class finisher if the Gunners are to consistently challenge for the title.

The Gunners were interested in signing Higuain back in the summer of 2013 but the player eventually joined Napoli in a £34.5 million deal.

He is currently valued at £35.2 million on transfermarkt.co.uk but Arsenal would have to offer more than that to bring Higuain to the Premier League as he still has three years left on his Napoli deal.

Should Arsenal make a move for Gonzalo Higuain this summer?

MLSGB Premier League Predictions – Gameweek 22

As the transfer window has started to spark up for a few sides, we take a look at this weekends round of fixtures and how each team will fair.

Lewis Addley called four correct results with one correct score in the last edition and this week Jamie Ives will put his brain to the test in trying to predict the results in a crucial weekend of football.

Here’s this week’s Premier League predictions:

Saturday 17th January 2015 (All kick-offs are 15:00 unless otherwise stated)

Aston Villa vs Liverpool

Liverpool have finally gained some momentum in their season with an unbeaten run of five. Aston Villa have a run of their own however, as Paul Lambert’s men are without a win in six. We expect an away win here.

Prediction: 0-2


Burnley vs Crystal Palace

Alan Pardew has kicked off his tenure at Selhurst Park with two wins in two after victories against Dover and Tottenham. He will be wanting to continue this when Palace travel to Turf Moor this weekend. Burnley will not make it easy however, as they haven’t lost in their last three.

Prediction: 1-1


Leicester City vs Stoke City

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Stoke have been the example of inconsistency this season and will be hoping to bounce back from the defeat at the Emirates last weekend, and also to avenge the 1-0 loss they suffered at the hands of their opponents in the reverse fixture. Leicester haven’t lost since Boxing Day.

Prediction: 1-0


Queens Park Rangers vs Manchester United

Without a win in four, QPR will need a solid performance to even earn a point against a United side that will still be licking their wounds from the Southampton game. Can’t see anything but an away win.

Prediction: 1-3


Swansea City vs Chelsea

Without Wilfried Bony, Swansea lack an end product and a presence up front. Chelsea, on the other hand, look primed and ready for a title race. Swansea will be as hard to beat as usual, but I think a draw is the best they can hope for.

Prediction: 1-2


Tottenham Hotspur vs Sunderland

Spurs come off the back of an embarrassing defeat to Crystal Palace last time out and Sunderland have lost three of their last four in the league. Both teams will be hoping to pick up the points here but I think Spurs will be too strong.

Prediction 2-1


Newcastle United vs Southampton (17:30)

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The Saturday evening game sees the seasons surprise package Southampton travel to St. James’ Park. Southampton come off the back of beating United at Old Trafford and so will be full of confidence. Newcastle have recently lost their manager. Hard to see anything but an away win.

Prediction: 0-1


Sunday 18 January 2015

West Ham United vs Hull City (13:30)

West Ham have been brilliant this season and Andy Carroll has given them a huge boost mid-season. Hull have struggled to produce the performances that saw them reach an FA Cup final last season. West Ham look too good to beat at the moment. Home win.

Prediction: 2-0


Manchester City vs Arsenal (16:00)

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The stand out fixture of the weekend sees the champions against Arsenal. The Etihad will play host to the Gunners and with Alexis Sanchez in full flow this game should be entertaining. A repeat of the reverse fixture would be perfect. Score draw for us.

Prediction: 2-2


Monday 19 January 2015 (20:00)

Everton vs West Brom

Both teams with struggles, and Everton look like an entirely different side from the side that finished fifth last season. Tony Pulis will have his West Brom side set up strong and they will be hard to beat. A draw wouldn’t be a bad result for either. But I think Everton will turn things around.

Prediction: 2-1


How do you think gameweek 22 will shape up in the Premier League?