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Midseason Premier League awards

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At the halfway point of the Premier League season, it is time to take a look back at the opening 19 weeks of the 2017-18 campaign.

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Below our writers select their award winners for several different categories, plus pick their moments and team of the season so far.

Get involved and let us know your selections in the comments section below.


Joe Prince-Wright (3-4-3 formation)
Goalkeeper: David De Gea
Defenders: Cesar Azpilicueta, John Stones, Phil Jones
Midfielders: Kyle Walker, Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva, Philippe Coutinho
Forwards: Mohamed Salah, Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling

Nick Mendola
Goalkeeper: David De Gea
Defenders: Ashley Young, Kurt Zouma, Harry Maguire, Marcos Alonso
Midfielders: Kevin De Bruyne, N'Golo Kante, David Silva
Forwards: Mohamed Salah, Harry Kane, Leroy Sane

Andy Edwards
Goalkeeper: David De Gea
Defenders: Nicolas Otamendi, Marcos Alonso, James Tarkowski, Cesar Azpilicueta
Midfielders: Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva, N’Golo Kante
Forwards: Mohamed Salah, Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling

Kyle Bonn
Goalkeeper: David De Gea
Defenders: Kyle Walker, Nicolas Otamendi, Cesar Azpilicueta, Sead Kolasinac
Midfielder: Paul Pogba, Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva, Eden Hazard
Forwards: Mohamed Salah, Harry Kane

Matt Reed
Goalkeeper: David De Gea
Defenders: Cesar Azpilicueta, Phil Jones, Nicolas Otamendi, Ben Davies
Midfielders: N’Golo Kante, Nemanja Matic, Kevin De Bruyne
Forwards: Harry Kane, Sergio Aguero, Mohamed Salah


Player of the Year (so far)

JPW: Kevin De Bruyne is in the conversation as the best player on the planet who isn’t named Messi and Ronaldo. He has completely transformed his game from a winger to a central playmaker and he can simply do it all. Goals, assists, killer passes, he has everything in his locker and is probably the most complete player in the world right now.

NM: Kevin De Bruyne — Wizard, magician, conductor, maestro. Choose your playmaking term, this guy is the straw that stirs Pep Guardiola‘s drink.

AE: Kevin De Bruyne

KB: Kevin De Bruyne is bossing the Premier League, and all we have to do is sit back, watch, and enjoy.

MR: There are a host of players worthy of this title, but all things considered Mohamed Salah is the man. He’s not only brought Liverpool’s attack to another dimension, but he’s completely silenced the worries surrounding the Liverpool attack that were thrown around prior to this season when Philippe Coutinho’s impending departure was all that Reds supporters could discuss.


Manager of the Year (so far)

JPW: This is actually a little bit tougher than just selecting Pep Guardiola. With City on an incredible 17-game winning run, Guardiola will of course get all the plaudits. That said, the relative success of Sean Dyche at Burnley and David Wagner at Huddersfield must be mentioned. Both have overachieved massively with limited resources but the beauty of watching Man City week in, week out means Guardiola gets the nod.

NM: Manager of the Year — Guardiola — With massive respect to Sean Dyche, I can’t in sound mind override Pep’s unbeaten run in the deepest league on Earth.

AE: Pep Guardiola.

KB: Pep Guardiola. Manchester City has a chance at history, and given how under fire he was last year, this turnaround is incredible.

MR: It’s an easy selection because Man City has propelled itself to a 13-point lead at the PL summit, but Pep Guardiola has done everything right in his second season in charge at the Etihad Stadium. He’s guided Kevin de Bruyne to being the best creator in England and gotten the best out of Raheem Sterling, while shoring up the backline with Kyle Walker and Danilo, as well as Benjamin Mendy — who has barely even seen the pitch due to injury. Give Guardiola time and the Spaniard always seems to find a way to turn gold into more gold, or something like that.


Young Player of the Year (21 and under)

JPW: I’m going to have to go with Leroy Sane. He has added extra power to his game but still kept his speed and his trickery. At 21 years of age he looks incredibly mature and is such an intelligent player on and off the ball.

NM: Leroy Sane — Just sliding in at 21, the German has been a menace on the wings, racing to the end line with abandon and serving up cross after cross. Honorable mention to Watford’s unearthed Brazilian gem Richarlison (20).

AE: Leroy Sane.

KB: For me it’s Gabriel Jesus – barely. Sane is just as good a pick. Manchester City with two Young Player candidates…that team is set up.

MR: Despite rotating with Sergio Aguero, Man City’s young Brazilian striker doesn’t seem to miss a beat when he’s on the pitch. Gabriel Jesus has 10 goals in all competitions this season, and he looks frightening getting forward each time City manages a push in the attack.


Comeback Player

JPW: This is a really tough category. Fabian Delph has been a revelation at left back for City and Fernandinho in midfield, while Riyad Mahrez is back to his best at Leicester and you could argue that Mohamed Salah falls into this category too. Is David Silva really a comeback player? He’s always been sheer class but this season he has taken his game to another level. That said, his Man City teammate John Stones is my pick. He’s improved so much under Guardiola and looks a better defender this season.

NM: Countless nominees for this one, including Wayne Rooney, Fabian Delph, Kurt Zouma, and Emre Can. But I’ll go with Riyad Mahrez, who Leicester City has to hope is willing to hang out through the season.

AE: Fabian Delph

KB: Aaron Ramsey, who missed an enormous amount of time for a multitude of injuries last season, and while none of them were terribly serious, each successive injury seemed to stop Ramsey’s form in its tracks, forcing him to start from scratch again. He’s having a fantastic season thus far. However, I still have my eye on Luke Shaw. There’s a long way to go on that one, but Shaw is finally showing signs that he still can be the player Manchester United expected when they shelled out big money to lure him away from Southampton. He’s struggled mightily with injuries, but if he can break his way into that Red Devils side, he can prove a massive asset. Problem is Ashley Young is having a great season in front of him at LB.

MR: When Pep Guardiola went out and made big adjustments to the Man City backline this summer, he didn’t address the center of his defense. With captain Vincent Kompany missing much time due to injury in the past few seasons, it was a bit of a gamble to just rely on young defender John Stones, but Kompany has found his form once again and anchored a defense that has conceded just 12 goals all season.


Best individual team performance

JPW: Their have been some incredible displays from PL teams in Europe with all five making it through to the last 16, but City’s demolition of Stoke City proved just how good they are going forward. They won 7-2 but it could have been 12-2. Everything clicked, as it has for most of this season.

NM: Can I go with a Premier League team in Europe? Because Spurs win over Real Madrid was pretty magical. If forced to stay domestic, I choose Man City 4-1 Spurs.

AE: Manchester City 5-0 Liverpool

KB: Manchester City 5-0 Crystal Palace. City has had a number of candidates this season, but that game had the best combination of beautiful attacking play, possessional strength, and smothering defending.

MR: The Clarets were granted a gift early on in their season opener against Chelsea when Gary Cahill was sent off inside the opening 15 minutes, but Burnley took full advantage with a 3-2 win at Stamford Bridge. Not only does it appear that Burnley could contend for a top four position, but their win against the defending league champions made for a great storyline to kick off the 2017/18 campaign.


Best individual player performance

JPW: Kevin De Bruyne against Tottenham Hotspur in their 4-1 win. He ran the show, scored a great goal moments after being clattered by Dele Alli and drove his team to victory without his partner in crime David Silva, who he gave a nod to during his goal celebration. True class.

NM: Wayne Rooney’s hat trick against West Ham, mostly because I feel dicey not giving him Comeback Player of the Year.

AE: David De Gea — Arsenal 1-3 Man United

KB: Kevin De Bruyne vs. Arsenal. De Gea’s performance against Arsenal was wild, but De Bruyne puts forth an effort across a full 90 minutes that proves he is the Premier League maestro.

MR: Goalscorers always get the recognition, but David de Gea’s 14-save performance against Arsenal was just as special to watch from a goalkeeping perspective. In a match that could have easily been flipping in favor of the Gunners, De Gea made acrobatic stops time and time again to preserve the victory for he and his side.


Best fans/atmosphere in Premier League

JPW: Huddersfield Town at the John Smith’s Stadium. Their fans create a wonderful atmosphere win, lose or draw. The Terriers have a 12th man and they’re so hard to beat at home.

NM: Newcastle United at St. James’ Park

KB: Anfield. Can’t beat it.

MR: It could very easily vary on a week-to-week basis, but Anfield is always one of the best places to take in a match. The Liverpool supporters are impassioned whether winning or losing, and their “You’ll Never Walk Alone” is one of the most iconic sports fandom songs in all of sport.


Signing of the Year (so far)

JPW: Mohamed Salah has been a revelation at Liverpool and you can see why Jurgen Klopp‘s analytic department was pleading with him to sign the Egyptian winger. Plenty of eyebrows were raised when he signed but Salah is the PL’s top scorer and has 21 goals in all competitions for Liverpool. Simply stunning. Other contenders include Ederson, Alvaro Morata, Davinson Sanchez and Harry Maguire, who have all made a big difference to their respective teams.

NM: Mohamed Salah, Liverpool

AE: Mohamed Salah, Liverpool

KB: Mohamed Salah, Liverpool. Unquestionably.

MR: In his return to the PL, Mohamed Salah has been every bit the player that Liverpool had hoped that he could be. The top goalscorer in England, and arguably the most dynamic attacking player, Salah is not only poised to win the Golden Boot but also validate himself as one of the best wingers in the world.


Game of the season (so far)

JPW: Arsenal 3-3 Liverpool. I had the pleasure of being on-site at the Emirates Stadium for that game. I thought the 3-1 win for Manchester United at Arsenal would take some beating as that end-to-end game had it all, but the dramatic goals and comeback from Arsenal made this a truly unbelievable encounter. It could have ended up 5-5.

AE: Arsenal 3-3 Liverpool

KB: Arsenal 1-3 Manchester United

MR: Liverpool’s 3-2 victory over Leicester City at the King Power Stadium was one full of drama and exquisite attacking from both sides. A penalty save by Simon Mignolet was the key difference for the two sides, while the Foxes thought that they should have had another penalty late on in the match.


Goal of the season (so far)

JPW: Sofiane Boufal for Southampton against West Brom. Saints badly needed inspiration and Boufal delivered with an amazing 70-yard run and fine finish. St Mary’s was rocking as he scored that winning goal.

NM: Wayne Rooney vs. West Ham — 60 yards, on the laces. There is no other.

KB: I refuse to give Wayne Rooney this award because, while a 60-yarder is cool, the net was wide open. There haven’t been any surefire stunners yet, and while I think Jermain Defoe‘s volley against Crystal Palace should have a go, and Rajiv van la Parre’s against West Brom was spectacular, Sofiane Boufal’s incredible run against West Brom (poor Baggies!) does the trick, mostly because the two defenders crashing into each other halfway through is just a thing of beauty.

Premier League social media wrap: Rashford honored, Mendy banters

Premier League social media
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The Premier League world continues to move toward the return of soccer, while its social media eyes are trained in several directions.

In Monday’s edition of the PL social media wrap, we visit players from several clubs including both of Manchester’s top flight sides in addition to a defender in the Northeast and a mournful note from Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger.

[ MORE: Latest Bundesliga news | Current table ]

It’s Independence Day in Argentina, and several players were Tweeting love back home from their homes in the Premier League.

Norwich City’s Emiliano Buendia, Man City’s Nicolas Otamendi, and West Ham’s Pablo Zabaleta shared their love for home.

Newcastle’s Federico Fernandez celebrated with Napoli’s clever photo of a makeshift Argentine XI, as the Serie A club has had a lot of strong players from the South American nation.

Didn’t see himself lining up with Diego Maradona any time soon, we imagine.

Manchester City’s Benjamin Mendy came out of his shell to share some thoughts on social distancing.

The outgoing French left back is no stranger to quips, and used his Twitter to post a reminder to stay vigilant in keeping distance from others.

Mendy posed with Kevin De Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez, Nicolas Otamendi, and Eric Garcia at City’s training ground Monday.

You may note that he also tagged Bernardo Silva. That’s banter, and see the second Tweet for detail.

On the other side of Manchester, forward Marcus Rashford shared an honor bestowed upon him for his vigilant work raising money this coronavirus pandemic.

Rashford has been working with a group called Fair Share UK to provide free meals for underprivileged people during the pandemic.

Last month, he doubled his personal donation and shared a story that he was once one of the children who’d need such contributions to get by.

Rashford was given a special recognition award by the High Sheriff of Greater Manchester and said, “To be recognized by my city is a special feeling.”

Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger is mourning the loss of a friend, as former Roma academy player Joseph Bouasse died of a heart attack at the age of 21.

Rudiger was with Roma from 2015-17 apart from a loan to Stuttgart in Germany, and Bouasse was a center mid in their academy.

The Chelsea centerback shared a photo of Bouasse on Monday. It’s always so stunning when a someone so young, let alone an elite athlete, succumbs to heart problems. Our hearts are Bouasse and the Roma family tonight.

Bundesliga preview, schedule, predictions: Week 28

Bundesliga preview and predictions
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There’s a massive derby on Tuesday, with fans of drama likely rooting for a draw or Bayern Munich loss.

That’s because Bayern’s chase for an eighth-straight title was looking like a several horse race for a long time, as Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig, and Borussia Monchengladbach all keeping first from the reigning champs at points this season.

[ MORE: Latest Bundesliga news | Current table ]

Bayern has found its groove under Hansi Flick and now boasts a four-point lead on Tuesday hosts Dortmund, who have 57 points, and a seven-point advantage on the field.

The next three teams would all consider the title chance real with a Dortmund win or draw, as Leipzig, Gladbach, and Bayer Leverkusen are on 54, 53, and 52 points.

[ MORE: USMNT stars in Bundesliga midweek ]

Bayern still faces Gladbach and Bayer, so a loss really shakes things up.

Below is a look at the Bundesliga schedule for this week, as you can check out the full schedulestandings and find out how to watch the action.

Let’s get onto the predictions.

Tuesday

Borussia Dortmund v. Bayern Munich — 12:30 p.m. ET

Der Klassiker has been kind to the home sides in recent seasons and there’s no example more fitting than Bayern’s absolute demolition of Dortmund at the Allianz Arena in November.

That was Hansi Flick’s first time head-to-head with BVB and manager Lucien Favre, the 55-year-old’s only prior head coaching experience coming with Hoffenheim when the now-Bundesliga side was in the Oberliga and Regionalliga.

It went well.

The bad news for Dortmund in addition to the 4-0 hanging its rearview mirror is that this home match is behind closed doors and won’t have the magnificent Yellow Wall looming over the visitors.

BVB and Bayern have swapped wins over their last four outings, including the German Super Cup earlier this year. And no teams in the league can boast the successes of

Dortmund is 9W-1L since returning from Winterpause and Bayern’s fine form extends well beyond the calendar’s change. Flick’s men have 12 wins and a draw since back-to-back losses to Bayer and Gladbach.

Whether Dortmund can win this will depend a lot on who’s available for the Starting XI. Mats Hummels limped off at halftime at the weekend and is in contention to play. Even though his last derby was poor, Dortmund is better with him than without him. Jadon Sancho was a sub on Saturday and is possibly the most complete playmaker between the two rosters including Robert Lewandowski. Axel Witsel may also be ready.

If Sancho and either Hummels or Witsel can go, we’ll expect Dortmund to collect a thrilling 3-2 win. Bayern’s defending was unsatisfactory in a weekend win over Eintracht, especially on set piece, and Erling Haaland is better than anything Bayern saw on Sunday. Still with questions about Sancho’s fitness, we’ll pick an entertaining 2-2 draw.

As Bayern’s Thomas Muller and Dortmund’s Michael Zorc will tell you, there’s no one ignorant of the meaning of this rivalry and this match. We can hardly wait.

Werder Bremen v. Borussia Monchengladbach — 2:30 p.m. ET

Bremen’s terrible fixture run to end the season continues, but perhaps they’ve found some momentum in a VAR-aided win over scrappy Freiburg? USMNT forward Josh Sargent started that game and will hope for another run as his goal-shy side has only one player, Milot Rashica, with 10 or more goals. It’ll take more than one to get all the points against Gladbach, a potent offense even when it isn’t facing a defense like Bremen’s 59-goal conceders. 3-1 Gladbach.

Eintracht Frankfurt v. Freiburg — 2:30 p.m. ET

Eintracht found chances against Bayern; It just couldn’t stop the Bavarians. Tuesday’s hosts have now shipped 18 goals during a five-match losing streak and sit four points clear of the relegation danger, albeit with a match-in-hand. Freiburg is in the thick of the Europa League picture despite a letdown of a loss to Bremen. They may find the woes extend into Frankfurt, though, in a 1-0 Eintracht win.

Bayer Leverkusen v. Wolfsburg — 2:30 p.m. ET

The best of the late kickoffs has red-hot Kai Havertz and Bayer, who has scored seven goals in two matches since returning from the coronavirus pause. Havertz has four of those, and he’s been all over the final third in building up his resume. Wolfsburg slipped against Dortmund but a lot of teams do that. Bayer boss Peter Bosz will make a lot of believers if he delivers back-to-back wins over Gladbach and Wolfsburg, who sits sixth. He does, just. Bayer 2-1.

Bundesliga preview and predictions
Maximilian Arnold of Wolfsburg (front) and Havertz (Photo by Boris Streubel/Getty Images)

Wednesday

RB Leipzig v. Hertha Berlin — 12:30 p.m. ET

Hertha built on its win over Hoffenheim by clobbering Union in the Berlin derby, as Bruno Labbadia has coaxed physical, advantageous performances out of his team against very different opponents. Leipzig is different gravy, though, having rebounded from a draw with Freiburg to bury Mainz 5-0. Dayot Upamecano has looked strong in returning from the coronavirus pause and Leipzig allows very little, anyway. On paper there aren’t any results you’d expect more than three points from the league’s third-place side. Leipzig 2-0.

Augsburg v. Paderborn — 2:30 p.m. ET

The hosts are riding high after moving six points clear of the bottom three and can essentially seal safety by beating 18th-place Paderborn. The basement dwellers have drawn both of their matches since returning and won’t be a pushover. Paderborn’s picked up away points six times compared to just four results at home. This one’s a toss-up. 1-1 draw.

Union Berlin v. Mainz — 2:30 p.m. ET

Expect ornery play from both sides as Union’s dreadful derby was met by Mainz allowing a quintet of goals to Leipzig. Union has dropped to within six points of the bottom three and Mainz can join their hosts on 30 points with a win. Mainz allows a ton of goals and Union’s amongst the Bundesliga’s worst at producing them. Both sides have fared well against fellow bottom sides of late. What’s going to give? Union gets by at home 2-1.

Hoffenheim v. Koln — 2:30 p.m. ET

The hosts have dropped back-to-back matches and now sit three points back of sixth while Koln have taken points from successive 2-2 draws and will feel momentum having scored twice late to grab a point from Fortuna Dusseldorf. Hoffenheim has just three points from its last 21 available to it and has lost eight times at home. Given their talent and reputation you’d say that indicates an end should be in sight. We’re not so sure. Koln 1-0.

Fortuna Dusseldorf v. Schalke — 2:30 p.m. ET

Schalke can’t win and doesn’t score. David Wagner’s men haven’t won since the first match after Winterpause, collecting just four points from nine outings and scoring twice. Wagner cannot find anyone to put the ball in the back of the goal yet somehow Schalke have only dropped two points back of sixth and are level on points with seventh-place Freiburg. Tuesday’s hosts thought they had a potentially season-saving win on Sunday but threw it away to draw 2-2. On the bright side, American midfielder Weston McKennie has been active and one of the club’s lone bright spots in twin blowout losses after the pause. He showed delightful vision and touch in particular on a long pass that could’ve set Rabbi Matondo up for glory against Augsburg. Maybe he’s a difference maker Tuesday and maybe we don’t want to predict any nil-nils. Schalke 1-0.

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Bayern, Dortmund ready for monumental Klassiker

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Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc is a living legend for the black and yellow side, a one-club man who’s distaste for Bayern runs deep.

Zorc knows Der Klassiker as well as anyone, and Tuesday’s 12:30 p.m. ET derby in Dortmund could be a veritable title decider.

While his league derby successes as a player weren’t many, Zorc was part of some of Dortmund’s most memorable Klassiker wins, including the 1998 Champions League quarterfinal, a German Cup, and a German Super Cup.

[ MORE: Latest Bundesliga news ]

And with so much of the world still in isolation, there’s a spotlight on this derby more than any other since Bayern beat Dortmund in the 2013 Champions League Final.

“Every football fan in Germany is looking forward to this match,” Zorc said of the occasion, later adding that “We must believe in ourselves and not make any cheap mistakes in possession. … We need to ride out the spells in which Bayern are dominant. We’ll need to defend very well together as a team and be aware of our own qualities going forward. We can always score goals against them. And we can beat them”

Bayern star Thomas Muller feels the import of the occasion and momentum for both clubs.

Experiencing a resurgent season with a league-best 17 league assists, Muller is aware that growing Bayern’s table advantage to seven with a win in Dortmund would put the Bavarians on the precipice of an eighth-straight Bundesliga crown.

“We are marching, Dortmund is marching, we can look forward to Tuesday,” Muller said, via Bild. “I hope that we can show what makes us strong and that in the end we will leave the Dortmund stadium with a smile. But it will be hard work.”

The last away win in this derby came seven matches ago, a 3-1 Bayern win at the Westfalenstadion on Nov. 4, 2017. Will Bayern do it again, taking a seven-point lead on all chasers regardless of what happens on Tuesday and Wednesday around the league?

Lyon asks French prime minister to reconsider early end of Ligue 1 season

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Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas is asking French authorities to backpedal on their decision to end the football season prematurely amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The men’s league was canceled four weeks ago with 10 rounds remaining, Paris Saint-Germain declared champion, and Lyon finished outside the European places in seventh.

In a letter on Monday to French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu, Aulas argued the premature conclusion of the season will have catastrophic consequences for French clubs, which could face losses of “700 to 900” million euros ($760 million to $980 million).

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Alongside Amiens and Toulouse – the two clubs demoted to the second division – Lyon took action against the league decision but their case was thrown out last week by a Paris administrative court. Lyon now wants France’s highest administrative court, the Council of State, to issue a ruling on the matter.

In the letter, Aulas said the fact that the French league was the only one among the seven biggest European leagues to opt for an early end should convince authorities to reconsider their move.

In Europe, the Dutch and Belgian leagues have also ended their 2019-20 seasons early.

Aulas has argued for the French league to be given a chance to be completed by late August with a temporary playoff system, but with PSG staying the champion given its large lead before play was stopped.

“The Bundesliga resumed matches on May 16, Spain will resume matches on June 8. Italy, Russia and Portugal have resumed collective training and England is working on a resumption after June 19,” Aulas wrote. “How can France not be downgraded very quickly and see its professional football devalued?”

On June 2, the French government is expected to make further announcements related to France’s lockdown exit strategy.

“Many developments and hopes are expected on this date, so that France can gradually regain a good dynamic,” Aulas said. “Could we imagine that June 2 is also a great opportunity to rectify the mistake concerning French football and to allow, with a health protocol used everywhere, to give the starting point for a gradual resumption of training (in June) and, why not, a resumption of the 2019-2020 season over the months of July or August?”

Lyon, meanwhile, still hopes to reach the quarterfinals of the Champions League after beating Italian champion Juventus 1-0 in the first leg of their round of 16 match on Feb. 26. The return leg in Turin was suspended.