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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 Preview: Liverpool v. Crystal Palace

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  • Reds open weekend with 4-point table lead
  • Palace four pts clear of drop zone
  • Reds won 2-0 at Palace in August
  • Liverpool leads all-time 27W-11D-14L

There’s a bit of a rub to the easy storyline here, that league’s stingiest defense hosts one of the least productive attacks when Liverpool entertains Crystal Palace at Anfield on Saturday (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

The Reds have allowed just three goals at home this Premier League season, but Palace has scored 14 of its 20 league goals away from Selhurst Park.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

The Eagles have also won their last two away matches, beating Man City and Wolves.

What they’re saying

Jurgen Klopp on Andy Robertson signing a new contract“I remember when we signed him back in the summer of 2017, I spoke a lot about ‘his story, his journey’ and how much I loved it and thought it pointed to the type of person and player he would be for us. He has exceeded these expectations. He might be from Glasgow originally, but everything about him screams Liverpool.”

Palace’s Andros Townsend on playing up top“I have thoroughly enjoyed it. At first, I didn’t think it would work. I remember me and Wilf [Zaha] speaking to each other and thinking, ‘how is this going to work? We will get bullied by the centre halves.’ But for one reason or another, it has just clicked and we have enjoyed it. We have both been involved in a lot more of the play, and everything went through us two and we thrived off of that, and ended up doing very well.”

Prediction

The Eagles get on the board against Liverpool, helped by their fullback pair of Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Patrick Van Aanholt, but don’t have enough to outlast the Reds. 2-1 Liverpool.

Premier League odds: Chelsea matchweek away favorite at Arsenal

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The reality an away-team win could be in both clubs’ interest might be the place to start with this week’s Super Sunday matchup.

Chelsea is the +135 away favorite on the Premier League odds with host Arsenal coming back at +205, while the draw is priced at +260 on the three-way moneyline and there is a 3.0-goals total for Sunday at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

[ MORE: Bundesliga 2nd half preview ]

Chelsea, which has three consecutive one-goal wins in its last three away matches, could all but eliminate Arsenal from top-four contention (and the automatic berth in the 2019-20 Champions League), and a Gunners side thinned-out by injuries and turmoil might welcome the chance to put more of its eggs in the Europa League basket.

Eden Hazard (+400 first goal scorer, -125 anytime) will likely feature for Chelsea now that Alvaro Morata is shipping off to Atletico Madrid of Spain. Chelsea by 1 Goal (+350) and Either Team 2-1 (+350) offer good value in Winning Margin and Correct Score Group props at online sports betting sites.

Elsewhere this weekend, Wolverhampton (+130) has won or drawn against Leicester City (+245, draw +225) in nine of their last 10 home matchups and the inconsistent Foxes’ last six away matches have all finished UNDER 2.5 goals. There is a little more value with looking at Wolverhampton 1-0, 2-0, or 2-1 (+185) in Correct Score Group props, and Raul Jimenez (+500 first goal scorer, +200 anytime) should be a factor offensively.

Liverpool (-500) and Crystal Palace (+1500, draw +600), in relative terms, both have strong scoring trends with the Reds having scored at least three goals in their last three home games and the Eagles having netted twice in each of their last three away games. Liverpool win/yes (+150) and Yes/Over 2.5 (+125) are the percentage plays in Both Teams To Score props.

Newcastle United (EVEN) and Cardiff City (+335, draw +230) are both in the relegation zone and reeling of late, with Newcastle winless in five games while Cardiff has banked only one win its last seven games (all competitions). Newcastle has injuries to key cogs such as Jamaal Lascelles (hamstring) and Isaac Hayden (back). Those factors make Cardiff enticing on the double chance (+180), while tie/no (+800), that is betting on a 0-0 draw, has good value in Both Teams To Score Props.

Huddersfield Town (+2000) hosting Manchester City (-650, draw +700) for a Sunday  matchup right after sacking manager David Wagner begs the question of how to divine some Man City betting values. The any other score (+175) in Correct Score Group props covers the possibility of City scoring four or more goals in a win where it also concedes; it’s the same payout as No/Over 2.5 in Both Teams To Score props.

And Fulham (+425) hosts a Tottenham (-125, draw +255) side in its first game since learning Harry Kane (ankle) will be out until March. The overall trends, though, show that Fulham’s last six home games against Tottenham have gone OVER 2.5 goals, and the visiting Spurs have won seven of their last nine away games. Kane’s absence could make Tottenham try new modes of attack and winger Dele Alli (+600 first scorer, +200 anytime) could capitalize.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or Spotify or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

Pep: Fernandinho is amazing, but we need to find him relief

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Pep Guardiola says Manchester City has “three or four” targets in mind as long-term replacements for Fernandinho.

[ MORE: JPW’s PL picks ]

There is no debate that the club has been markedly better with the 33-year-old in the center of the park, with City losing both of its Premier League matches that the Brazilian missed this season (Palace and Leicester City back-to-back).

“I think with the way we play we need a guy who has of course physicality, is quick in the head and reading where our spaces to attack are,” Guardiola said Friday ahead of a Sunday visit to Huddersfield Town.

“As many things as he can do, the better. I know it is not easy to find one player who can do everything. [You have to deal with] the price, the agents and the club if you want to buy the players so we will see.”

The 49-times capped Fernandinho has been one of the more overlooked players during his time at City, posting big performance scores even before Guardiola arrived at the Etihad Stadium.

But how long can he continue to thrive in that role? Certainly not too much longer if City can’t give him some relief. That’s no indictment on the player, rather a 33-year-old who plays with such physicality and piles up minutes across all competitions.

The Bundesliga is back: What to watch for

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The Winterpause ends Friday, as Bayern Munich visits Hoffenheim with a new feel for its first match of a calendar year: That of the title chaser.

The six-time defending Bundesliga champions enter the second half of the season six points back of Borussia Dortmund.

[ MORE: JPW’s PL picks ]

Still 2.5 months from the next Der Klassiker (April 6 at the Allianz Arena), Bayern has to navigate a title fight without the chance to directly affect its rivals. Both clubs face Premier League opposition in the Champions League — Bayern with Liverpool, BVB v. Spurs — and neither has a particularly easy start to 2019. Other storylines to watch:

How much will Christian Pulisic’s transfer further affect his playing time? Whether or not Pulisic leaves for Chelsea as a Bundesliga champion is one thing, but many American eyes will be trained upon how often he’s deployed by Lucien Favre at Borussia Dortmund.

Let’s be clear on one thing: Favre has rotated his forwards heavily between Champions League and the Bundesliga. Jadon Sancho has played 1025 minutes, Jacob Bruun Larsen 830, Maximilian Philipp 515, Paco Alcacer 503, and Pulisic 483. Numbers two through eight on the playing time scale are defenders or midfielders (Marco Reus is first with 1483).

Amongst BVB attackers in the Champions League, however, only Reus has played more than Pulisic’s 339 minutes. And while Pulisic played 1 and 2 minutes in consecutive Bundesliga matches, he went 90 against Monaco in the UCL match separating those sub spots.

In other words, this isn’t as much of a quagmire as some Americans would lead you to believe. Yes, ex-Man City man Jadon Sancho has stolen Pulisic’s wonder boy numbers and title, but the kid isn’t being left in the cold.

Is Weston McKennie heading for Liverpool? It seems more likely a new deal is coming at Schalke, but you could easily see Jurgen Klopp liking the versatility of the 20-year-old midfielder as its midfield gets a bit older.

Schalke’s American midfielder Weston McKennie (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

What about the rest of the Americans (and a Canadian)? Almost as many eyes will be on Tyler Adams as the New York Red Bulls product takes the next step at RB Leipzig. FC Dallas’ Chris Richards is also now with Bayern Munich, while Canadian phenom Alphonso Davies begins his much-anticipated time with Bayern.

John Brooks of Wolfsburg is the top-rated American player in the top flight this season via WhoScored.com, one of eight Yanks to take the field.

Here are the Americans abroad in Germany :

Christian Pulisic, Borussia Dortmund — 11 apps, 483 mins, 1G-2A
Weston McKennie, Schalke — 13 apps, 778 mins, 1G-1A
Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen —
2 goals in 45 senior minutes
John Brooks, Wolfsburg — 16 apps, 1440 mins, 1G-1A
Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig  —  
Arrived in January
Haji Wright, Schalke  —  5 senior games, 1 goal
Bobby Wood, Hannover 96 — 14 apps, 913 mins, 3G-1A
Aron Johannsson, Werder Bremen — Hasn’t played
Fabian Johnson, ‘Gladbach — 11 apps, 543 mins, 1 goal
Timothy Chandler, Eintracht Frankfurt — Hasn’t played
Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf — 11 apps, 917 mins, 1 goal
Caleb Stanko, Freiburg — Hasn’t played
Timothy Tillman, Nurnberg — Hasn’t played

How low will Schalke finish? A dreadful start to the season has last season’s No. 2 team, Schalke, sitting four points above the relegation playoff spot, nine back of the last Europa League spot, and 13 behind the Top Four.

Schalke’s other route to Europe include the DFB-Pokal, where they next face Fortuna Dusseldorf in the Round of 16, and winning the Champions League (Manchester City is their next opponent).

Will Robert Lewandowski defend his Golden Boot? The Bayern Munich star is chasing his fourth time leading the league in goals since 2013-14, his final year at Dortmund. Here are the current leaders:

Race for the Golden Boot
Pos Name Total
1 Luka Jovic, Eintracht Frankfurt 12
1 Paco Alcácer, Borussia Dortmund 12
3 Marco Reus, Borussia Dortmund 11
3 Timo Werner, RB Leipzig 11
5 Robert Lewandowski, Bayern Munich 10
6 Sebastien Haller, Eintracht Frankfurt 9
6 Thorgan Hazard, Borussia Monchengladbach 9
6 Alessane Plea, Borussia Monchengladbach 9
9 Youssef Poulsen, RB Leipzig 8
10 Alfred Finnbogason, Augsburg 7

[ MORE: Emery on possible exit for Mesut Ozil, reason for his absence ]

Will any of the new boys survive? Two teams go down and a third goes to a playoff game against the third place team in 2.Bundesliga (currently FC St. Pauli).

This season, the four latest teams to earn promotion are all in danger of the drop. Here’s how bottom of the table looks:

14. Fortuna Dusseldorf(2018/19) – 18
15. Augsburg (2011/12) – 15
16. Stuttgart (2017/18) – 14
17. Hannover 96 (2017/18) – 11
18. Nurnberg (2018/19) -11