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Chelsea vs Liverpool: Confirmed Lineups

Liverpool vs QPR: Confirmed Lineups

Liverpool vs Manchester City: Confirmed Lineups

Arsenal and Liverpool: Confirmed Lineups

Five reasons why Liverpool can turn their season around

FY Top 5 For GW5: Including Man United’s Wayne Rooney Freak Out!

The Mark Jones Column: Roberto Mancini deserves another year

Soccer - Pre-season Package

Whatever happened it could never be as exciting as the end to last season, but the closure of this campaign looks to be somewhat quieter for Manchester City.

Of course they have an FA Cup semi-final against either Manchester United or Chelsea to prepare for, but as much as fans will enjoy that day and acknowledge that it was winning this trophy in 2011 which really kickstarted City’s time amongst the big boys, it’s not quite the ending to the season they envisaged.

This was supposed to be the year when City – fresh from that remarkable ending to last season and buoyed by their title of champions – made a big impact both home and abroad; starting an era of dominance in the Premier League and establishing themselves as a big hitter in the Champions League.

That hasn’t happened.

With neighbours United running away with the league title in England, and having fallen foul of a devilishly tricky Champions League group for the second season running, this has so far been a year of standing still for City.

Of course they could still rescue it by winning the FA Cup back at Wembley in May though, and that prospect alone should be enough to convince City’s infamous owners that manager Roberto Mancini should be allowed another crack at the job next season. Whether or not he will is another matter of course.

As we discussed on these pages back in October, City’s summer signings didn’t look as though they were going to significantly improve the squad. Maybe this year it will be different.

With Mario Balotelli having packed his no doubt eccentrically coloured bags for Italy and Edin Dzeko an apparent target for Borussia Dortmund, Mancini will almost certainly be in the market for another forward to complement Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez in the summer. He simply must be allowed to spend big this time.

Missing out on Robin van Persie last year was one thing, but Mancini then had to watch the Dutchman slot into Manchester United’s winning machine and only add to their ruthless nature. That simply can’t be allowed to happen again.

Providing the Italian with a top class forward in the summer – in other words a Radamel Falcao, or maybe even a Luis Suarez – is simply essential if City want to be challenging for the type of honours they want to be in the mix for at the end of next season. A statement needs to be made.

Sadly, a much more likely statement could be made with the removal of Mancini, a man who has been in his position at City since December 2009 but has frequently made enemies during that time.

Just like Arsene Wenger and Rafael Benitez before him – and right now come to think of it – Mancini has frequently paid the price for being a bit different, and for saying things that we don’t normally hear from the mouths of managers in the Premier League.

He shouldn’t be shunned just for simply having a personality though, and if he can spend the summer finding the personality that his team produced in their epic Premier League victory last season then there is nothing to suggest that they won’t be celebrating success again next year.

It’s safe to assume that if this were Chelsea then Mancini would have lost his job already, but this is Manchester City and they have admirably stuck by their man so far.

Stick by him a little more, give him some better players and they might find out that they won’t regret their decision come 2014.

@Mark_Jones86

The Lamb’s Wild(card)

As a Derby County fan, @pedro_lamb‘s only involvement with the Premier League is through the Fantasy Premier League game.

An avid FPL player, The Lamb’s imaginatively –titled team Lamb County have managed to claw themselves up to 32,964th in the overall game this season, as well as 149th in Yirma and an impressive third in the Yirma head-to-head league.

With the end of January approaching, The Lamb settled down to make a decision that he knew would make or break his season, his bank balance and his mood until August. It was Wildcard time.

Here are The Lamb’s thoughts – and only HIS thoughts – as he takes on every Fantasy manager’s biggest challenge.

Warning: the following is not for the faint-hearted:

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Who needs goalkeepers anyway?

Well it’s January and my head hurts, as I cut, bring in, drop, select, then re-drop, then re-select, finally drop him and then keep the same player I had to start off with……!!! Yep, it’s the pain of playing your January transfer Wildcard.

So I think I have finally decided on my team. One, because the deadline is nearly here, and most importantly two, if I spend any more time on the website I think my boss may sack me.

I have gone for a very radical move. Very radical.

Prepare yourselves…

My team doesn’t have a first choice keeper… Or in fact a second choice keeper…

I have selected two keepers who have more chance of being elected Prime Minister of Greenland than playing for their teams.

If they do play, I would be more than happy to drop them to have the current Prime Minister of Greenland Kuupik Kleist as my goalkeeper.

This bold – some would say visionary – idea has freed up enough funds to have both Mata and Bale in my team.

The more I think about it, not having a keeper, is it such a bad idea? And the answer is No, because even this season’s best scoring keeper Begovic, is averaging less than 4 points a game, both Mata and Bale are over 5 and over 38 Gameweeks, that is an additional 76 points, need I say any more? *Please don’t – Ed.*

The Lamb shoots and scores with another genius Fantasy Football idea. All hail the Lamb. The days of making Lucas Leiva captain and selecting the potentially brilliant Tom Huddlestone are behind me. This one’s a winner.

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Time for a few more Wildcard thoughts.

I have waited as long as possible in case the transfer windows kicks off in a big way, sadly it hasn’t so I won’t be bringing in some of the young guns from the Championship that have been on every transfer gossip page throughout January.

So it looks like Will Hughes won’t be the big gamble for my team, he would have been cheap and made a lot of points, he could be next years must have cheap player, the new Charlie Adam in fantasy football terms!!! You heard it here first folks. *giggles*

The biggest problem with this window has been the unknown factor. Which of the January signings will actually get decent time on the pitch?

Ba is a prime example. He’s cheap and can score, but realistically are Chelsea going to keep Torres and his £50 million price tag on the bench? I can’t see it and I think he is destined to just make weekly cameo appearances.

Then there is Sturridge, but I am sorry you can’t overlook Suarez, he just too good at the minute, and again I can’t see Sturridge playing every game.

As for City, the main problem is ‘will he won’t he?’ It’s everybody’s favourite Italian again.

If Mario Balotelli goes then maybe I will invest in Aguero, but at the moment two games could go by and he’ll only get a few minutes on the pitch.

Also the inconsistent nature of Arsenal means selecting any of their players is going to be a very irritating. Some weeks they will be brilliant and other weeks they bring a whole new meaning to the word awful.

Despite this I suggest picking Theo Walcott. Now his future has been sorted I think this may settle him and the whole squad down, so maybe that famous Arsenal consistency might just return.

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No goalkeepers were harmed in the giving of this advice.

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