Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta hoping to deny Liverpool Premier League title again

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Cesar Azpilicueta with then-Chelsea captain John Terry.

Cesar Azpilicueta has backed Chelsea to wreck Liverpool‘s Premier League title chances for the second time in five years this weekend.

The Blues’ 2-0 win at Anfield in April 2014 derailed Liverpool’s title tilt, paving the way for Manchester City to snatch the league crown.

Steven Gerrard’s slip gifted Demba Ba the first goal – Willian scored the decisive second – to end Liverpool’s 16-match unbeaten streak in a defeat that floored Brendan Rodgers’ side.

Liverpool are once more close to that elusive first title since 1990, but again City will push the Reds to the death – and Spain defender Azpilicueta believes the Blues can also dash Anfield hopes.

“It was a few years ago, but we went there and they had the party ready because they were smashing every team at Anfield,” said Azpilicueta.

“We arrived with a very clear idea, and we produced the game we had to at that moment to beat that team that was getting very good results.

“So to beat them 2-0 was very important, an important win for the club and the fans.

“We enjoyed that day and hopefully we can replicate it on Sunday. It’s not about frustrating Liverpool, it’s about playing our game.

“We know they are fighting for the title but for us every point is very important for the top four. It’s an important game.

“We know we’re going to play a very strong side, but first of all we need to keep the solidity that we’ve shown in the last games, and defend very well as a team because they are a big threat.

“And if we take our chances, I think we’ve proved ourselves already this season when we won (2-1) in the League Cup (in August). I think it’s a big game, and everyone’s looking forward to it.”

Chelsea scraped past Slavia Prague 1-0 in Thursday night’s Europa League quarter-final first leg at the Sinobo Stadium, with Marcos Alonso nodding home Willian’s cross in the closing stages.

Spain goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga pulled off a string of fine saves to deny the gutsy hosts, setting up Chelsea to complete the job at Stamford Bridge next week and reach the semi-finals.

Azpilicueta hailed Chelsea’s £71million record signing for quickly shaking off the League Cup final storm of refusing to be substituted.

Kepa defied manager Maurizio Sarri’s orders to stay on the field, only for Chelsea to lose the penalty shootout 4-3 to City.

The 24-year-old was eventually fined a week’s wages for that insubordination, raising fears for his Stamford Bridge future.

But after his commanding display in Prague, Azpilicueta believes Kepa has banished any lingering doubts about his Blues career.

Asked if Kepa’s showing on Thursday means all is forgiven, Azpilicueta said: “Yes, it’s really important for Kepa, it’s his first year in England, his first season here.

“Sometimes it has been frustrating for him because he couldn’t do anything to avoid a goal.

“He had one job to do and he did it very well.

“That’s three clean sheets in a row and it’s very important for us to be solid. We know that when we are in the Europa League quarter-finals every game is going to be difficult.”

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Fantasy Premier League tips: Son Heung-min obvious captain pick but GW34 offers unlikely alternatives

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Each week, Sport360 will bring you tips for the English Premier League’s official fantasy football game. Fancy pitting your wits against us? You can join “Sport360 Fans League” using the code 2326997-532303.

Fantasy Premier League managers are likely contemplating using their Wildcards for Gameweek 34 in preparation for Double Gameweek 35.

Brighton and Cardiff City meanwhile have two fixtures each in GW34 so their assets definitely come into play. The Seagulls are particularly key as they play twice in DGW35 as well.

Liverpool and Chelsea play each other in this round while Tottenham, Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal have easier fixtures in GW34 and have the advantage of featuring twice in DGW35, putting their assets in high demand.

CAPTAIN – SON HEUNG-MIN | TOTTENHAM | 11.1M

Eden Hazard was our captain pick for Blank Gamweek 33 and he delivered handsomely with a fine brace at home to West Ham seeing him score 16 points which doubled to 32.

This time, we’re turning to the in-form Son Heung-min for the armband. Harry Kane injured himself in the Champions League clash with Manchester City in midweek while the South Korean scored the only goal of the game.

Son has thrived earlier in the season when Kane was sidelined through injury and should be the main man in attack for Mauricio Pochettino’s side again. The midfielder scored against Crystal Palace last week as well and face a relegated Huddersfield side at home who can’t help but concede goals.

Son Heung-min

ALTERNATIVES

SHANE DUFFY (4.7m) doesn’t qualify as a bold option this week because captaining him in GW34 actually makes a lot of sense. Not only does he have two attractive fixtures at home in this round and is likely to pick up cleansheet points, but the centre-back also poses a genuine goal threat. Duffy has already scored five goals this season and is second among defenders for shots inside the box this season.

JAMIE VARDY (9.2m) is one of the most in-form players in the league at the moment and faces Newcastle United at home. He’s scored in six of his last eight outings including two braces over the last four.

BOLD CHOICE

VICTOR CAMARASA (4.5m) has trips to Burnley and Brighton in this GW and playing as a No10 for Cardiff, he boasts good potential for attacking returns. The midfielder has scored twice in the last three games.

TWO TO WATCH

KEVIN DE BRUYNE | MANCHESTER CITY | 9.7M

With Pep Guardiola benching him for the Champions League clash with Tottenham in midweek, Kevin De Bruyne is nailed on to start away to Crystal Palace. The Belgian has been steadily getting back into the groove having endured an injury-ravaged season, scoring against Cardiff in City’s last league game. Could the midfielder prove to be key in their run-in for the league title?

Kevin De Bruyne

Kevin De Bruyne

ABDOULAYE DOUCOURE | WATFORD | 5.9M

Watford’s change in formation lately has seen Abdoulaye Doucoure thrive in an attacking midfield role in behind the two forwards. The Frenchman has scored in each of the last two games against United and Fulham. The Hornets face Arsenal at home this weekend, who have leaked goals on the road, before playing twice in DGW35 against Huddersfield and Southampton. At an ownership of just 1.9 per cent, Doucoure qualifies as a differential as well.

Aboulaye Doucoure

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Fantasy Premier League tips: Son Heung-min and Shane Duffy feature in our Premium v Budget picks for GW34

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Managing the money you have to play with in Fantasy Premier League can be taxing. That can be especially true when playing your Wildcard, which many FPL managers will be doing for Gameweek 34 in preparation for a Bench Boost in Double Gameweek 35.

There’s nothing worse than falling 0.1m short of buying a player you want while there’s something very unsettling about having too much in reserve when it could be invested in your squad and translate into points.

All over the pitch, there is value for money available. For every premium asset, there is a more than useful budget option.

Here, we pick the best premium and budget assets for Gameweek 34.

GOALKEEPERS

Premium – Ederson

Ederson is the closest thing to a cleansheet guarantee you’ll get this week. Manchester City have kept their opponents at bay in six of their last seven Premier League fixtures. The Citizens travel to Crystal Palace on Sunday.

Budget – Mat Ryan

Given that Brighton are one of just two teams this week to feature twice, Mat Ryan is certainly an option for the affordable price of 4.4m. With both of their games played at home and two strugglers Bournemouth and Cardiff City, the Australian custodian should pick up one cleansheet at the very least.

DEFENDERS

Premium – Sead Kolasinac 

The Arsenal left-back just about qualifies as a premium option. The Gunners have kept two cleansheets in their last three games and Sead Kolasinac maintains good potential for attacking returns having already registered seven assists this season ahead of the trip to Watford.

Budget – Shane Duffy

Like his team-mate Ryan, Shane Duffy is in line for double points this week. But while cleansheet points are likely in GW34, the centre-back also poses a genuine goal threat. Duffy has already scored five goals this season and is second among defenders for shots inside the box this season.

MIDFIELDERS

Premium – Son Heung-min

With Harry Kane out for the season, Son Heung-min is set to shine as he did during the striker’s earlier injury lay-off this season. The South Korean is in good form, scoring against Crystal Palace last week before netting in the Champions League to beat Manchester City in midweek as well. Huddersfield are the league’s whipping boys at the moment and Son could be in for big returns.

Budget – Victor Camarasa

Not only is he a great way to save money and invest in other positions but with a double-header in GW34, Victor Camarasa also has potential for a decent return. The Cardiff midfielder has scored twice in the last three games, playing in a No10 role and faces Burnely and Brighton away.

2803 EPL premium v budget defenders3

FORWARDS

Premium- Jamie Vardy

Jamie Vardy is one of the most in-form players in the league, scoring in six of his last eight outings including two braces over the last four. He’s been excellent since Brendan Rodgers has taken over and faces Newcastle at home in GW34.

Budget – Raul Jimenez

Speaking of in-form strikers, Raul Jimenez certainly falls in that bracket as well. The third highest-scoring forward this season has failed to deliver attacking returns in just three of his last 10 games, bagging three double-figure hauls over that period. Jimenez continues to show great value. He travels to Southampton in GW34 before playing twice in the next round.

Fancy pitting your wits against us? You can join “Sport360 Fans League” using the code 2326997-532303.

For the very latest news, analysis and opinion download the Sport360 app

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