Monday, September 23, 2013

Manchester United crushed by a rampaging City!

Depending on what colour you wear in Manchester, yesterday’s derby could go down in the history of these encounters as one that will be hard to forget. 

For City fans, it may be right up there with the 6-1 victory at Old Trafford two years ago. Nothing quite beats the feeling of getting one over your hated neighbours. Somewhere in the blue half of Manchester celebrations will have gone on to the wee hours of the morning.

The game did not disappoint and for once in a long time, the discussion after a game had nothing to do with the referee. The much maligned Howard Webb had what one could consider an easy game as these derbies go and there was never any real danger of the game spinning out of control. 

City were like bullies on a playground. They were quick of the block and didn’t let United settle. Samir Nasri and Yaya Toure were imperious. They made Fellani and Carrick look like school boys who forgot their lunch at home. It was a day when everything City touched turned to gold and United sputtered, coughed and failed to start. Rooney cut a frustrated figure and after the third goal United fans must have felt a sense of déjà vu.  

Rooney reduced the deficit by a wonderfully struck free-kick that left Joe Hart clutching at air but no one could deny City what they deserved. Vincent Kompany’s presence in the team was massive. With him in the side City look a completely different team. 

Pelligrini  had his tactics right on the day and his 300 million pound assembled machine purred deliciously. David Moyes would have played a taped copy of the game over and over to get to the bottom of where he went wrong.

His backroom staff may probably have picked up that Carrick and Fellani, while not identical, are best suited to play as defensive midfielders in front of the two central defenders. Antonio Valencia’s one dimensional forays have been decoded after his first successful season as a Manchester United player. 

Ashley Young offers little by way of imagination to the team. He’ll probably take some consolation in the fact that the opening tough fixtures are now behind him. United could go on a run and get their confidence back, but Moyes needs to do something fast.

City on the other hand can only get stronger. They’ll be buoyed by their win against the champions and would hope that Kompany is fit throughout the season. They’ve got to be fancied as real contenders along with Chelsea and a resurgent Arsenal and Spurs.  

Despite the loss to City however, it would be foolhardy to write United off as well. It makes for an interesting season and the neutrals will surely get their money’s worth. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

All the Stats from the First Four games of the English Premier League 2013/14 Season

All teams in the league have now played four matches; Liverpool have resumed their place in pole position after a draw at Swansea. Tottenham and Arsenal are both just a point behind.
At the bottom of the pile is Sunderland who have managed just one point from their opening four fixtures.

Below are the individual leaders in some of the major elements of the game (goals, assists, clean sheets etc.)

League Table:

1.  Liverpool  4 - 3 - 1 - 0  = 10
2.  Arsenal    4 - 3 - 0 - 1  =  9
3.  Tottenham 4 - 3 - 0 - 1  =  9
4.  Man City  4 - 2 - 1 - 1 =  7


Olivier Giroud  (Arsenal)                     4
Christian Benteke (Aston Villa)           4
Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool)                4
Robin van Persie (Manchester United) 3


Pablo Hernández        2
Wayne Rooney           2
Don Cowie                  2
Pablo Zabaleta            2


Leighton Baines (Everton)                  43
James Ward-Prowse  (Southampton)40
Matthew Jarvis  (West Ham United)  30
Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)                 28

Total Passes:

Yaya Touré (Manchester City)            347
Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal)                    317
Kyle Walker  (Tottenham Hotspur)     283
Michael Carrick (Manchester United)            282


Simon Mignolet  (Liverpool)    18
Asmir Begovic            (Stoke City)    17
David Stockdale  (Fulham)     17
Wojciech Szczesny (Arsenal) 14

Clean Sheets:

Tim Howard  (Everton)           3
Joe Hart  (Manchester City)   3
Simon Mignolet (Liverpool)     3
Jussi Jääskeläinen (West Ham)3
Hugo Lloris (Tottenham)         3

Yellow Cards:

Lucas Leiva     3
Jonathan Walters        2
Billy Jones       2
Ross Barkley  2

Red Cards:

Yannick Sagbo           1
Laurent Koscielny       1
Steven Taylor             1
John O'Shea               1
Kagisho Dikgacoi        1

Player of the Month (August)   Daniel Sturridge Liverpool
Manager of the Month (August)  Brendan Rodgers  Liverpool

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Is Michael Carrick Indispensable to Manchester United?

Last season Manchester United had three players (Danny Welbeck, Robin van Persie and Michael Carrick) nominated for the Professional Footballers' Association Player of the Year and Young Player awards, both which were ultimately won by Gareth Bale.

Outside of the United fan base many eyebrows were raised in surprise at Carrick’s inclusion of the nominees. 

The Red Devils relied heavily on those four players, but the fact is that only one of them is irreplaceable, and that is Michael Carrick. Although he is probably the least talented of the group, he is, by far, the most dependable.

If Carrick had gone down injured, his role would have had to been filled by Jones or Anderson: two players who make rash decisions and get caught out of position. Anderson focuses too much on attacking and Jones is over-aggressive, meaning that neither blankets the defence as efficiently as Carrick does.

Much was been made of Robin Van Persie's goal contribution, and rightly so, but had he gone down injured, United had a host of players that could have slotted into the main striker role; such as Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck and Chicarito.

Instead, all three of those players were played out of position, or sparingly, as van Persie took the plaudits. It is possible that Rooney would have ended with more goals than the Dutchman had he been the Number 1 striker all season. What essentially happened is that RVP got off to a smoking hot start, and then Ferguson kept faith in him. Of course his 30 goals were mightily important, but bear in mind that Rooney scored 34 goals in the previous year having played four fewer games.

So getting back to Michael Carrick. I feel that is the position that United need to find adequate back-up as the other positions seem to have decent cover. But Moyes has addressed that issue by signing Marouane Fellaini.
Fellaini might not necessarily be a like for like replacement for Carrick, and actually both would be a fit in the team, playing alongside each other. But Fellaini is a good player that will bring an added dimension to the United, and could in all likelihood move up the pecking order above the likes of Anderson and Phil Jones.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Glen Johnson and Jordan Henderson were immense Against Manchester United

With Liverpool beating Manchester United 1-0 on Sunday, they secured their ninth point of the season, from a possible nine. It was their best start in a top flight campaign for the last 20 years. It’s also the first time they have ever won their opening three games, without conceding a goal along the way.

For me, Glen Johnson, was the most deserving of the man-of-the-match award. He was everywhere; making strong runs and passes offensively, effective in defending United’s left channel, and making great covering tackles in the centre of defence.

Since Jordan Henderson moved to Liverpool, I have never been his biggest fan, but he has improved dramatically this season, and he keeps giving Brendan Rodgers reasons to be selected in the first team. Against Manchester United on Sunday he had, what I thought was, his best game in a Liverpool shirt. He was committed in the tackle, he wanted the ball always, and he didn’t give away possession easily.

For the first time in many years it doesn’t look like Steven Gerrard is carrying the team by himself.

The only weak link, or links, in the team on the day was Iago Aspas. I thought he has done well so far this season, creating a lot of attacking passes around the box. But against United he was woeful; giving away possession nearly every time he had the ball.

I was hoping Raheem Sterling would be brought on in his place, but when he eventually was, he wasn’t much better. I’ve said it before; Sterling’s biggest problem is that he gets muscled off the ball too easily. His pace is electric and he has decent power in his shot, but if he can’t protect the ball it doesn’t count for much.

That’s why I was excited about the successful loan signing of Victor Moses; he has all of Sterling’s positive attributes, and of on top of that he is a big, strong guy, who should be able to protect possession well.

With Liverpool scoring goals well, the imminent return of the suspended Luis Suarez, and the impressive defensive unit (which has just been bolstered by the signings of Tiago Illori and Mamadou Sakho) this season is starting to look really positive for the Reds and and fans are starting to feel confident that this could be the year that the Merseyside team makes it back into the Champions League.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Steven Gerrard: Still the King of Liverpool

Stevie G has already cemented himself amongst Liverpool’s legends, if not the greatest of them all.  

Although some fans might argue that there might be more exciting players in the current team such as Luis Suarez and Phillipe Coutinhio, Gerrard is still the King of Liverpool.

Steven Gerrard has been with the Merseyside club for over 15 years, and in that time has confirmed himself as one of Liverpool’s all-time greatest players and fan favourites.  Liverpool’s captain has won it all with the Reds, except for the Premier League:  He has won the FA Cup twice, the League Cup three times, the Uefa Cup once, and, of course, the Champions League, lifting the trophy in that thrilling comeback from 3-0 down against AC Milan.

He has appeared over 600 times for Liverpool and in that time has scored 150 goals. Last year, he won the England player of the year and he has won several other individual awards over the course of his career. He was recently honoured by the club for his service with a testimonial game against Olympiakos.

Last season, Stevie G was back to his impetuous best. Brendan Rodgers started him in 30 Premier League matches, and he played more minutes than anyone at the club, other than Glen Johnson.  Gerrard scored 8 goals and9 assists in those 30 games.

He currently sits on 98 Premier League goals, and every Reds fan will be urging him on to get that 100th goal this season.

He has an excellent vision for wonderful passes, he can score wondrous goals from outside the box, is excellent at set pieces, and rarely gives away possession.  Gerrard is a center mid who truly fits well in Brendan Rodger’s playing style.

There is not a doubt in my mind that Stevie G is still the king of Liverpool. He has won it all with the club, continues to be loved by the fans, continues to be admired by the coaches, and truly epitomizes what it takes to be a true professional. Down the line, when he decides to hang up his boots, he will still remain the king of Liverpool and will always be remembered as a legend who gave it all for his club. 

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Will Manchester City be able to recover their Title?

At the start of the 2012/13 season, everyone expected a much closer title challenge especially between the two clubs of Manchester, but City underperformed and underachieved. 

Now, the only thing left to look forward to for 'The Citizens' is next season, and recovering from their dismal attempt at defending their title. 

Roberto Mancini’s initial success with City culminated in them winning the Premier League title. But how much of that was great management, as oppose to the superb quality of players he had in his squad? 

In 2012/12 he was subpar. Firstly, he experimented all the time with three in the back, but never applied it, so the team didn’t perform well defensively with four at the back, and neither did they when he decided to have three in defense. Secondly, his obsessive squad rotation meant no one could ever settle- there was a new starting XI each week, and quite frankly, City looked like a side filled with individuals and with no team unity. 

Mancini had also criticized those individuals, but I believe he needed to look in a mirror to see where part of the blame lay. Of course, not only is it Mancini’s fault that City won’t be able to dominate in future seasons, but it’s the players fault as well. 

And those individuals underperformed last season. Samir Nasri spent a lot of time on the bench, David Silva wasn’t at his playmaking best; Aguero looked like a shadow of the previous season, and Yaya Toure seemed as if he was completely spent. This might have had something to do with a lack of motivation just as much as it has to do with a dip in form, and once again we go back to their manager. 

World class coaches, like Sir Alex Ferguson, know what it takes to get players who have won everything motivated to put in 200% effort every season. And obviously, Roberto Mancini wasn’t able to do that. Besides that, players like Jack Rodwell and Scott Sinclair have not done anything with City, and the whole Mario Balotelli debacle caused points to be dropped.

So now, a new manager has arrived in the form of Manuel Pellegrini and it will be time for the squad to regroup and see if they can once again dominate the league and win the Title.

Guest Author

Monday, June 24, 2013

Steve Nicol says Liverpool Transfers are Gambles

Fomer Liverpool FC Player, Steve Nicol, has said Liverpool's transfers in 2013 are all gambles, and that LFC needs to buy some recognized names. 

Watch the video interview below: