Transfer Deadline Day – Defensive boost for Liverpool

LIVERPOOL kicked off transfer deadline day with the signing of Portuguese defender Tiago Ilori, and have confirmed the signing of France defender Mamadou Sakho from Paris St Germain.
With the recent injury to Kolo Toure, the Anfield club have been after additions to the back-line – and today two have been secured.
London-born 6ft 3in centre-back Ilori, who moves from Sporting Lisbon, has represented Portugal at Under-18, Under-19 and Under-20 level.
He said: “I know the history of the club and the Premier League is the best league in the world, in my opinion.”
Paris St Germain’s Mamadou Sakho – as well as Chelsea loanee Victor Moses – wsd alongside Ilori at Sunday’s game ahead of his arrival today.
Speaking after the match, Rodgers said: “We hope the deals can be completed.
“We need that depth and more numbers. If we can get them over the line, they are quality players.
“And having competition for places is a nice problem to have.”

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Premiership Predictions – London to reclaim title from Manchester

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THIS season, more than any I can remember anticipating, is a hard one to call.
The top three teams from last season, Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea, all have new men at the helm.
Arsenal underperformed last season – but then, Arsenal have underperformed for a good few years now – while Spurs and Liverpool could both be facing up to life without their star men next season.
I can’t see any other team seriously breaking into the top four, but which of these six elite squads will is a hard call.
There’s my disclaimer out of the way.
But neck on the line I find it hard to see past Mourinho’s Chelsea for the title.
His team has a strength in depth matched only by Manchester City, with some real creative talent in the form of Hazard, Mata and Oscar – plus if anyone can hit the ground running it’s the Special One, a manager adept at settling into new clubs, with the benefit of having been here and done it before.
It’s this that gives him the edge over Pellegrini’s star-studded legions of Manchester City, who I’m placing second come May.
Last season, Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal gave themselves a mountain to climb, and they climbed it admirably during the second half of the season. If they come out of the traps in the same form as they finished last time around, I can see them overhauling David Moyes and Manchester United’s defending champions, who’ll have to settle for fourth place.
Liverpool and Spurs I see missing out, without the depth in their squad to maintain a season-long campaign – although I will tip the Lilywhites’ new boy Roberto Soldado for the Golden Boot.
Tomorrow, I’m going to have a look at the other half of the table and predict who’ll be relegated…

Goaltastic’s top five fantasy football bargains

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I MAY not be in David Moyes or Jose Mourinho’s league just yet, but as the author of Goaltastic I do take in more football than the average man.
Hell, I’m even the reigning Hinckley Times Official Fantasy Football League champion.
So as you can imagine, I’ve been thinking quite a lot about my team for the forthcoming season.
Now you don’t need me to tell you that the likes of Robin van Persie and Juan Mata are probably going to score well this season – their double figure price tags tell you that – but what a canny manager needs to find is value for money, cheaper chaps that might make a mockery of their prices.
Here are my top five…
5. Mignolet
Simon Mignolet was a solid stopper at Sunderland last year, and this season despite moving to Liverpool – who are far more likely to keep their opponents at bay – remains relatively kind in price as the levels were set before Pepe Reina was transferred. This means for just £5.5m you can grab a slice of the Liverpool clean sheets, plus save points.
4. Anelka
He’s getting on a bit, granted, but Nicola Anelka is as lethal as ever judging by his pre-season form for West Brom, and he was one of the fittest in the Juventus squad last season according to the Italian side’s coaches. Plus he’s cheap as chips too, at just £5.5m for a proven Premier League goalscorer.
3. Bony
Yeah yeah, we all know how much of a red herring being a scoring sensation in the Dutch leagues can be, myself more than most being a Middlesbrough supporter having to endure Afonso ’30 goals last season’ Alves, but it’s a real miracle that Swansea snaffled up Ivorian hitman Wilfred Bony to lead their line ahead of some of the continent’s bigger guns.
2. Coleman
There’s always a bargain to be had in finding a player out of position – midfielders playing up front, defenders playing in midfield, goalkeepers playing in defence… Okay, scratch that last one, but Irishman Seamus Coleman, listed as a defender for Everton, has been playing as a winger in some formations for his team this season, leaving him dangerously close to being a defender playing UP FRONT. For £5m, how can you not go for that?
1. Soldado
Now I know £9.5m isn’t exactly cheap, but… Roberto Soldado is World and Euro champs Spain’s number one striker at the moment, he’s been a 20 goal a season man for the last three campaigns, and he’s without competition for places at a Spurs side burgeoning with midfield talent. If I were a betting man, which I am, I’d be laying a cheeky punt on Soldado for this season’s Premier League Golden Boot.
Agree? Disagree? Leave me your bargain spots in the comments, and put your money where your mouth is by signing up to our free league at fantasy.premierleague.com and then join the competition by using the code 148075-41877.

Suarez: Liverpool said I could leave

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WANTAWAY Liverpool striker Luis Suarez has accused the club of reneging on an agreement in his contract which stated he could leave Anfield this summer if they had not qualified for the Champions League.
The Uruguay international has also said he will submit a written transfer request by the end of the week if the Merseyside outfit continue to block a potential move to Arsenal.
Suarez, in interviews given to the Daily Telegraph and The Guardian, said he believes a clause written into the contract he signed last summer entitles him to a move.
“Last year I had the opportunity to move to a big European club and I stayed on the understanding that if we failed to qualify for the Champions League the following season I’d be allowed to go,” the 26-year-old said.
“I gave absolutely everything last season but it was not enough to give us a top-four finish – now all I want is for Liverpool to honour our agreement.”
Liverpool have rejected two bids from Arsenal – of £30million and £40,000,001 – for Suarez this summer.

Premiership Predictions – the result

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MANCHESTER United won the Premier League – check.
Manchester City second – check.
Chelsea and Arsenal qualify for the Champions League – check.
Spurs pushing them close – check.
Smug face – check.
Liverpool pushing for Europe – errr…
Nevertheless, this has undoubtedly been my best ever year for Premier League predictions, and to prove it click here to see my punditry from last August.
I’ll be milking this one over the close season, I can tell you.

Coalition Government to blame for Suarez biting ban, says Redknapp

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FIRST the Bedroom Tax (boo, hiss) and now this.
Once Prime Minister David Cameron accused Luis Suarez of setting “the most appalling example” by biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic, the Liverpool striker was always going to be made an example of, says QPR boss Harry Redknapp.
Redknapp said he expected Suarez’s “fierce” sanction after the storm of debate that followed of the incident.
“I could see it coming. Once politicians have opinions, you could see he was going to be hammered, for sure,” he said.
“He’s such a player, just the most fantastic footballer. I think he’s amazing. You’d absolutely love to have him playing in your team. He could play in any team in the world he is that good so it’s a shame that he goes off the rails.
“He can’t do it again. It’s quite a fierce punishment, 10 games, but he’s got to learn.”

Tyson offers Suarez support

MIKE Tyson believes Liverpool striker Luis Suarez will make up with Branislav Ivanovic – just as the former world boxing champion did with Evander Holyfield.
Suarez is facing an extended ban from the Football Association for biting Chelsea defender Ivanovic on the arm in Sunday’s 2-2 draw at Anfield.
Tyson was involved in similar controversy when he bit off a chunk of Evander Holyfield’s ear in the WBA heavyweight title fight between the two in 1997.
The Americans have since settled their differences and Tyson is confident Suarez and Ivanovic will do the same.
He said: “Suarez bit someone, it happens. I am sure he will make amends with this guy.
“I made amends with Evander and we got on with our lives.”