Saturday, 30 March 2013

EPL 8-Match LIVE Coverage:

Hello and welcome to my latest blog post, where I have LIVE 8 EPL matches on Easter Saturday for all you fanatic football fans to enjoy and dissect with analysis and your opinions. 
Among those 8 matches is Southampton vs Chelsea, Sunderland vs Manchester United and Arsenal vs Reading.  
United could move 18 points clear at the top of the table provided they beat Sunderland away from home, and City lose to Newcastle later today.

Before I go to the team line-ups for the early afternoon match at The Stadium of Light, here is some of the LATEST EPL News over the past few days, along with some highlights from the International break where many countries continued on the Road to Rio 2014 - World Cup Qualifying. 

EPL News and Rumours:

Everton manager David Moyes has said that he will wait until he knows what his transfer budget for next season will be before deciding on his Everton future. 

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert believes that he can hold onto rising stars Christian Benteke and Andreas Weimann, but it will be a fight.  

Liverpool are leading the race to sign Ajax playmaker Christian Eriksen, with the Dutch side revealing that The Reds have scouted him a lot of times throughout this season.  

Manchester United are ready to make a £20million bid for Barcelona midfielder Thiago Alcantara, who wants to play first-team football every week to ensure that he has the best chance of developing into one of the best midfielders in the world and gets into the Spain national squad. 

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has warned all of his players that they are playing for their futures. 

Sunderland vs Manchester United: Team Line-ups

Sunderland: Mignolet, Bardsley, Bramble, O'Shea, Rose, Johnson, Gardner, N'Diaye, McClean, Sessegnon, Graham.

Subs: Westwood, Larsson, Wickham, Kilgallon, Colback, Mangane, Mandron.

Man Utd: De Gea, Da Silva, Vidic, Smalling, Buttner, Valencia, Carrick, Anderson, Young, Kagawa, Van Persie. 

Subs: Lindegaard, Evra, Evans, Nani, Welbeck, Cleverley, Powell.

12:45: The match has kicked of at The Stadium of Light, with Sunderland hosting the side that beat them 1-0 at this ground on the last day of last season, but lost the EPL title on goal difference to Manchester City. 
Robin van Persie starts for United, after having scored 3 goals in 2 matches during the International break for Holland.

On fire: Robin van Persie scored 3 goals in 2 matches on International duty for Holland this week.

Suarez, I'm coming for you: Robin van Persie has scored 20 goals in the EPL this season - Luis Suarez has 22.

Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand and Ryan Giggs are all rested by Sir Alex Ferguson, with Welbeck and Cleverley on the bench.  

The hosts meanwhile are weakened by the injuries of talismanic striker Steven Fletcher and defensive midfielder Lee Catermole. They will be hoping that they can get a decent result at home today against the side that are most likely to regain their EPL title this season. 
A shock win for the hosts would move them up to 12th place provided results go their way today.   

0: The referee has blown his whistle to start the match, and the first of many this weekend begins! 

2: Early injury worry for United, as Serbian defender Nemanja Vidic puts the ball out of play, clutching his back. He has not asked for treatment however, so the match continues.  

15: Sunderland are under the knife, and a point at home would be a good result for The Black Cats. United are dangerous on the counter attack, so the hosts should make sure they test De Gea as much as possible.

15: Sunderland go on a break with Adam Johnson passing the ball to Craig Gardner who has a low shot from 25 yards out..... blocked by England centre-back Chris Smalling.

17: United have a corner after Kagawa's lofted ball into the box for van Persie was headed away by Sunderland defender Titus Bramble.

18: England winger Ashley Young cuts inside before having a curling shot towards goal..... parried away by Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet! Corner again for United.  

22: Cameras show that Manchester United defender Jonny Evans is warming up on the touchline, as Vidic is still struggling with the back injury at the moment...  

25: Sunderland's new powerhouse Alfred N'Diaye is given a yellow card for a late sliding tackle on United winger Antonio Valencia. 

27: GOAL! Manchester United are ahead suddenly, after van Persie gets into the box without getting tackled and has a shot which deflects off two defenders before beating Mignolet into the far post of the net.

They all count: van Persie's shot deflected off Bramble and Bardsley before beating Mignolet into the net.

Ahead: van Persie celebrates United's goal, which came from his shot before deflecting off 2 defenders.

It will eventually go down as a Titus Bramble own goal. 

United will not care how they scored, as long as it is a goal they all count! 1-0 to the visitors, and Sunderland are in trouble now.  

32: Manchester United SUB:
Jonny Evans ON
Rafael Da Silva (groin injury) OFF

33: United have a free-kick from 25 yards out in a dangerous position... Ashley Young steps up to take it..... he shoots... WELL SAVED!!! and held by Simon Mignolet. Close by Young there...   

38: A good United counter attack, ending with Young playing van Persie inside the box, before the Holland striker has a shot on the edge of the area, but Mignolet holds the ball well and clears the danger.  

40: United free-kick after van Persie is brought down near the touchline at the corner flag. He takes a shot.... powerful.... parried over the bar! by Mignolet!!
United are pressing for the second goal - the killer touch.

44: It's as if Sunderland are afraid to get inside the United box at the minute. Midfielders James McClean and Stephane Sessegnon both had concrete chances, but they looked tentative and by the time they were ready to get into the box, the ball was intercepted.  

45: The fourth official has signalled for just the 1 minute of stoppage time to be added on at The Stadium of Light.

45+1: The referee has blown his whistle to end the first half of action. United have a 1-0 away lead thanks to a big deflection from Titus Bramble after van Persie's shot was deflected. 

The hosts look tentative whenever they are on the ball, and David De Gea has not had anything to do all game apart from one pass and a goal-kick.  
If Sunderland do not improve after the break, United will double their lead, because they look very dangerous on the break and have troubled Mignolet on several occasions.    


73 minutes played, and it is still 1-0 in favour of Manchester United. Sunderland substitution coming up though, with striker Connor Wickham warming up, getting ready to come on for the hosts.

FACT: Manchester United have now gone 10 hours without conceding a goal in the EPL. 

75: Yellow card given to Sunderland full-back Phil Bardsley after he slides in late on full-back Alexander Buttner. 4th yellow card in the match now.

76: Sunderland SUB:
Adam Johnson OFF
Connor Wickham ON

78: United SUB:
Shinji Kagawa OFF
Danny Welbeck ON 

Sunderland SUB:
Phil Bardsley OFF
Sebastian Larsson ON

80: Manchester United full-back Alexander Buttner has a powerful swerving shot parried away by Mignolet, who is keeping his side in the match with 10 minutes to play. Good save, corner to United AGAIN.  

84: United SUB:
Anderson OFF
Tom Cleverley ON

86: Sunderland SUB:
Danny Rose OFF
Jack Colback ON  

90: Substitutions galore over the last 10 minutes for both sides, with 6 minutes of stoppage time to be added on due to 30 seconds per sub - and all 6 subs were made. 

90+1: United have not had much to do throughout this second half, just having to contain Sunderland. 

90+4: Possession:
Sunderland - 38%
United - 62%

90+6: The referee blows the whistle to end the match at The Stadium of Light, as United comfortably beat Sunderland away from home to increase their lead at the top of the table to 18 points clear of local rivals Manchester City, who play against Newcastle United in exactly 20 minutes.

Nothing less than a win will do for Roberto Mancini's side, because if they lose at home today, they will have virtually lost the EPL title before the rivals clash a week on Monday.  

My Man of the Match: Simon Mignolet

Standout goalkeeper, standout player for Sunderland today. He kept them in the match throughout, and made some great saves to deny Young, Buttner, van Persie as well as many others.

Team Line-Ups for the 3pm kick-offs: 

Wigan Athletic vs Norwich City:

Wigan: Robles, Scharner, Alcaraz, Figueroa, Boyce, McCarthy, Gomez, Beausejour, Maloney, McManaman, Kone. 

Subs: Al Habsi, Caldwell, Di Santo, Henriquez, McArthur, Espinoza, Stam.

Norwich: Camp, Martin, Turner, Bassong, Garrido, Howson, Johnson, Snodgrass, Elliott Bennett, Hoolahan, Kamara. 
Subs: Steer, Whittaker, Holt, Fox, Becchio, Tierney, Tettey.

Arsenal vs Reading:

Arsenal: Fabianski, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Arteta, Rosicky, Ramsey, Gervinho, Cazorla, Giroud.
Subs: Szczesny, Vermaelen, Podolski, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Coquelin, Jenkinson, Gibbs.

Reading: Taylor, Kelly, Pearce, Mariappa, Shorey, Leigertwood, Karacan, Guthrie, McAnuff, Robson-Kanu, Pogrebnyak. 
Subs: McCarthy, Gunter, Le Fondre, Hunt, McCleary, Morrison, Akpan.

Southampton vs Chelsea:

Southampton: Boruc, Clyne, Yoshida, Hooiveld, Shaw, Puncheon, Schneiderlin, Cork, Steven Davis, Rodriguez, Lambert.
Subs: Kelvin Davis, Fonte, Ramirez, Fox, Forren, Ward-Prowse, Do Prado.

Chelsea: Cech, Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Terry, Bertrand, Mikel, Lampard, Moses, Oscar, Marin, Torres.
Subs: Turnbull, Cole, Luiz, Ramires, Hazard, Benayoun, Ba.

Swansea City vs Tottenham Hotspur:

Swansea: Vorm, Tiendalli, Chico, Williams, Davies, Britton, De Guzman, Routledge, Dyer, Hernandez, Michu.

Subs: Tremmel, Bartley, Monk, Ki, Lamah, Moore, Shechter.

Tottenham: Friedel, Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Naughton, Parker, Dembele, Bale, Sigurdsson, Lennon, Adebayor.
Subs: Archer, Assou-Ekotto, Caulker, Livermore, Holtby, Huddlestone, Defoe.

Manchester City vs Newcastle United:

Man City: Hart, Zabaleta, Lescott, Kompany, Clichy, Toure, Barry, Silva, Tevez, Nasri, Dzeko.

Subs: Pantilimon, Milner, Sinclair, Kolarov, Javi Garcia, Aguero, Toure.

Newcastle: Elliot, Simpson, Steven Taylor, Yanga-Mbiwa, Gutierrez, Anita, Cabaye, Obertan, Sissoko, Gouffran, Cisse. 
Subs: Harper, Perch, Gosling, Bigirimana, Marveaux, Good, Campbell.

West Ham vs West Bromwich Albion:

West Ham: Jaaskelainen, Demel, Reid, Collins, O'Brien, O'Neil, Diame, Nolan, Jarvis, Carroll, Vaz Te.

Subs: Henderson, McCartney, Tomkins, Carlton Cole, Collison, Taylor, Chamakh.

West Brom: Foster, McAuley, Ridgewell, Jones, Olsson, Yacob, Dorrans, Mulumbu, Brunt, Long, Lukaku.
Subs: Myhill, Popov, Rosenberg, Thomas, Odemwingie, Tamas, Fortune.

14:57: Many crunch matches being played today, with Chelsea and Tottenham both needing wins to boost their chances of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League. 
Manchester City need to secure 2nd place, and a win against Newcastle will cement that position just that little bit more with 9 matches to play.
West Brom vs West Ham will be an intriguing match-up between 8th and 14th, while Wigan must win at home against Norwich if they want to boost their chances of survival this season.

Today will be an interesting day in the EPL, that's for sure.

15:00: All the 6 EPL matches have kicked off for the start of the first half. 

Liberty Stadium,
Swansea City vs Tottenham: 

GOAL! Tottenham have broken the deadlock in the 8th minute, thanks to defender Jan Vertonghen. He ran 40 yards with the ball, before doing a nice 1-2 move with Welsh winger Gareth Bale who chipped the ball up into the air for the Belgian to cooly slot the ball past Michel Vorm into the net.
1-0 to the visitors. 

Belgian brilliance: Vertonghen celebrates his 6th goal in all competitions for Spurs to break the deadlock.

3rd: Tottenham with 57 points
4th: Chelsea with 56 points
5th: Arsenal with 51 points

The Emirates Stadium,
Arsenal vs Reading:

GOAL! Well-worked goal by the hosts, with a good pass and move with Cazorla before he has a shot deflected towards goal. Ivorian winger Gervinho was lurking, and he tapped the ball past the goalkeeper into the net! 1-0 to the hosts, but you cannot say that it is not deserved from The Gunners.

Nicely done: Ivorian winger Gervinho celebrates his opener - and his 2nd goal in 2 matches for Arsenal.

French striker Olivier Giroud had a half-chance earlier, and Arsenal are dominating the game so far.   

Arsenal are still in 5th place, but as it stands;
3rd: Tottenham with 56 points
4th: Chelsea with 56 points
5th: Arsenal with 54 points  
Much closer between 3rd and 5th now!  

Upton Park,
West Ham vs West Brom:

GOAL! The hosts are ahead after West Brom defenders fail to mark their men for the Gary O'Neil corner. 
England striker Andy Carroll towers above everyone inside the box to head the ball over Ben Foster into the roof of the net! 1-0 to West Ham.  

Striker Andy Carroll takes advantage of not being marked well enough to break the deadlock for West Ham
Back with a bang: Carroll celebrates his 3rd goal for his loanee club West Ham.

Liberty Stadium,
Swansea vs Tottenham Hotspur:

GOAL! Welsh winger Gareth Bale doubles Spurs' lead away from home. Some nice team play with Vertonghen sees him bury a sensational strike past Michel Vorm into the net. 
2-0, and if Spurs do not finish the match off now, there will be a LOT of problems. 

Sensational: Bale hits a wonder strike against Swansea - in his home country of Wales for Spurs to make it 2-0

St.Mary's Stadium,
Southampton vs Chelsea:

GOAL! Good teamwork from the hosts, with Lambert, Steven Davis and Jay Rodriguez all exchanging passes before the latter hits a strike past Petr Cech into the net for a deserved 1-0 lead.     

Ahead: Jay Rodriguez finishes off a nice Southampton move with a placed effort past Cech.

Upton Park,
West Ham vs West Brom:

Great finish from the playmaker from the first goal - Gary O'Neil scored after controlling a Ricardo Vaz Te pass before shooting the ball powerful into the top corner of the net.  

Rare: Gary O'Neil hits a strike to make it 2-0 to West Ham, to score his first goal of the season

St.Mary's Stadium,
Southampton vs Chelsea:

Chelsea defender John Terry wins a header to nod home German winger Marko Marin's corner.   
The Blues have equalised, and Chelsea restore the amount of points they had at the start of today. 1-1, and this match has just got interesting.

All square: Defender John Terry heads Chelsea into a 1-1 scoreline after 31 minutes.

Back in it - for 2 minutes to be exact: John Terry celebrates scoring the equaliser with team-mate Oscar.

St.Mary's Stadium,
Southampton vs Chelsea:

GOAL! English striker Rickie Lambert scores a free-kick on his 500th league appearance from 30 yards out to restore Southampton's lead!     

Landmark: Rickie Lambert celebrates his 14th EPL goal of the season on his 500th league appearance.
The Ethiad Stadium,
Manchester City vs Newcastle:

French full-back Gael Clichy whips a cross into the box for Argentinan striker Carlos Tevez, who clinically finishes off the chance to break the deadlock for City, closing the gap back to 15 points. 

1st: Manchester United with 77 points
2nd: Manchester City with 62 points

The Ethiad Stadium,
Manchester City vs Newcastle:

GOAL! The hosts are absolutely dominating Newcastle now. French playmaker Samir Nasri shows some of that electric skill from his "good old days" at Arsenal to beat the Newcastle defender before playing in Spainsh midfielder David Silva to convert his chance well into the net. 
2-0, just before half-time.  

Doubling the lead: Despite not having the best of seasons, Silva celebrates his 7th goal in all competitions.

Arsenal 1 Reading 0
Manchester City 2 Newcastle 0
Southampton 2 Chelsea 1
Swansea City 0 Tottenham Hotspur 2
Wigan 0 Norwich 0
West Ham 2 West Brom 0

16:03: All the 6 EPL matches have restarted for the second half. 

The Emirates Stadium,
Arsenal vs Reading:

For all of that hard work, The Gunners have finally doubled their lead! Spainsh midfielder Santi Cazorla continues his amazing debut season for Arsenal with his 11th EPL goal of the season after a cooly slotted shot after a pass from Gervinho. 
Well deserved, and surely the 3 points will stay in north London today? 

The Ethiad Stadium,
Manchester City vs Newcastle United:

GOAL! Newcastle fail to clear away a corner, and Gareth Barry has a shot from the edge of the box which is converted into the back of the net by Belgian defender Vincent Kompany on his return to the City side after injury.
City have all but sealed the points now with another 35 minutes to play.

FACT: That is Kompany's first EPL goal since he scored the winner against rivals Manchester United last April. 

The Emirates Stadium,
Arsenal vs Reading:

GOAL! French striker Olivier Giroud scores his 10th EPL goal of the season to secure all 3 points for The Gunners.  
The hosts could be 5 or 6-0 up, but surely this is too much for Reading and new manager Nigel Adkins (remember him?). 

The Emirates Stadium,
Arsenal vs Reading:

Perhaps not! Reading have a glimpse of hope now with just over 20 minutes to play, with striker Hal-Robson Kanu scoring to make it 3-1.  

The Ethiad Stadium,
Manchester City vs Newcastle:

Ivorian defensive powerhouse Yaya Toure picks up the ball and hits a bullet shot towards goal that Rob Elliot parries but the shot is too powerful to handle and drops into the net. 4-0 to City, and you begin to wonder whether they could have done this earlier on in the season. 
The title is virtually out of their grasp now, it's just all about sealing 2nd place. 

Liberty Stadium,
Swansea vs Tottenham:

20 minutes to play in Wales, and Spainsh forward Michu has given the hosts hope of getting back into the match with his 15th EPL goal of the season to make it 2-1. 
Surely Spurs cannot blow another lead?!?!   

The Emirates Stadium,
Arsenal vs Reading:

GOAL! Arsenal have made it 4-1 now! Young startlet Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was brought down inside the box by Reading centre-back Adrian Mariappa before Spainsh midfielder Mikel Arteta slotted the ball into the net from the penalty spot.

DW Stadium,
Wigan vs Norwich:

Ivorian striker Arouna Kone breaks the deadlock for Wigan at home. As it stands, Wigan are out of the bottom three. 

Upton Park,
West Ham vs West Brom:

3-0 now to the hosts, with Carroll completing his brace with a complicated volley which he had to control using his shoulder. 

Upton Park,
West Ham vs West Brom:

Consolation goal for the visitors, with Graham Dorrans scoring from the penalty spot - straight down the middle after talismanic Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku was fouled by Matt Taylor inside the box. 3-1 to the hosts.  

Upton Park,
West Ham vs West Brom:

Full-time whistle is only seconds away, but West Brom midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu is given a straight red card for dissent after kicking the ball away in frustration - and hitting Gary O'Neil in the process.
Silly, unneccesary action by the player.  

West Ham 3 West Brom 1
Southampton 2 Chelsea 1
Arsenal 4 Reading 1
Manchester City 4 Newcastle United 0
Swansea City 1 Tottenham Hotspur 2
Wigan Athletic 1 Norwich City 0  

Thank you for reading my EPL Blog today, and for joining me for this LIVE Coverage. 
I will have a match report of the evening kick-off match between 6th placed Everton and tough test Stoke tomorrow, along with the match between Aston Villa and Liverpool at Villa Park.
I appreciate all the support from all of you, with the daily views and I hope that if you like what you are reading, you will follow me on Google+ or subscribe on Blogger.
Please spread the word to all your friends and family and people you know that have an interest in football (or soccer) to help me achieve a small aspiration of mine - to become a professional part-time football journalist. 
Thanks once again for reading, remember to watch Match of The Day tonight at 10.25pm and stay safe. I'll speak to you all again very soon :)

Friday, 29 March 2013

My Thoughts #4 - England and Super Mario

Three Lions: England are 2nd in their WC Qualifying Group, behind Montenegro who they drew with on Tuesday.

Well, well, well.... My country of birth and origin. England. 
The national football team who are currently 2nd in their World Cup Qualifying Group, with Montenegro 2 points ahead in 1st.

There are many burning questions surrounding England, a national football team that I follow and support. 
Spain and Germany are obviously the two teams to beat and be of the same class however, just look at their squad and you'll know what I mean. 

Anyways, everyone is wondering whether;
  • England will qualify 1st in their group - Probable. Not certain
  • They can win the WC altogether - No chance. Spain or Germany
  • They can beat Montenegro and Poland in their next few group stage matches - Perhaps, if they play well and don't switch off
They drew with Montenegro on Tuesday night, and even though they started the match off quickly and broke the deadlock within the first 5 minutes of the match thanks to a header by Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney, they (as they always do) put their foot off the gas, and at half-time, Montenegro could regroup while knowing that they still had a chance.

Standing tall: Rooney takes advantage of not being marked to head the ball at the far post to break the deadlock.

If only you knew: Rooney wheels away to celebrate his opener against Montenegro in the 5th minute

The hosts pressed England throughout the second half, and eventually got an equaliser - albeit a scrappy one.  

Scrappy: Montenegro equalise to make it 1-1 after some poor England defending.

The Three Lions tried and tried to get back into the lead after this, but it was too late as Montenegro stood tall for a draw. 

It just shows that you can never be too complacent, after England thrashed non-professionals San Marino 8-0 in their last group stage match last Friday. 

Tale of two emotions: England look disappointed after conceding against Montenegro to make it 1-1.
Complacent: Rooney, Baines, Chamberlain and Defoe all celebrate their 8-0 win over San Marino last Friday.
Goals galore: Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe made it 3-0 to England against San Marino last Friday.

Young prospect: Arsenal's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scores his 2nd senior goal for England against San Marino

Clinical: Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney also gets on the scoresheet for England with a curling drive

Consistent or what? Chelsea's midfield talisman Lampard slots the ball past the defence to score for England.

YNWA: Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge scores a header against San Marino - his 1st senior goal for England

Great strike: Manchester United winger Ashley Young scored a screamer from 30 yards out against the non-pros.

Enough of the bad news for England.... here are 5 Young Lions who will be world-class in the next few years:

Jack Wilshere - Arsenal
An exciting midfield-maestro already who still has a lot of potential to fill, Jack Wilshere in one of the world's hottest prospects and is an England regular at such a young age. 
He is bound to become the next England captain in a few years, and it will be interesting to see whether The Gunners can keep him for much longer.

Club and country: Arsenal midfield maestro Jack Wilshere is one of the most exciting prospects in world football today.

Electric: Jack Wilshere played extremely well for England against Brazil in his last match.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain - Arsenal
Signed for £15million pounds from Southampton two years ago, most Arsenal fans were very skeptical about the deal. 
Now however, he is an exciting, pacy but strong winger who can play in a forward or midfield role and is starting to cement his place in the England squad. 
Needs to start more games for The Gunners though, as he is normally on the bench for "rest" to ensure that he does not get burnout unlike many Gunners over the years.  

Well spent: Despite critisicm of the transfer fee, Chamberlain has lived up to his hype, and is beginning to fulfil his potential.

Electric: Chamberlain (left) has already played 52 matches for The Gunners within his first two seasons.
Potential: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has played 10 matches for the England senior team, scoring twice

Wilfried Zaha - Crystal Palace
One of the fastest and skillful players in his league, Zaha has impressed with consistent performances over the past few months. Sir Alex Ferguson is starting to look to the future with his United squad, hence having a £15million bid accepted in January, and he will join up with the squad in the summer, after he tries to help Crystal Palace get back into the EPL. 
He HAS made his senior England debut, but is currently playing for the U-21s. As soon as he starts playing well for United, that will surely change. 

Promising: Wilfried Zaha is one to watch over the next few years, having completed a summer move to United

Startlet: Zaha has made 10 appearances for England, at U-19, U-21 and senior level.

Raheem Sterling - Liverpool
Pace, skills, intelligence, awareness. All atributes of Liverpool's young winger Raheem Sterling. Rarely ever has a bad game, always excites the Liverpool faithful every week with his blistering pace and assists.
The next step on his road to greatness is becoming a regular for England. Aaron Lennon and Theo Walcott are injury-prone, while Ashley Young is inconsistent. This is the chance for Sterling to step up and be counted.

Impressive: Sterling (right) is an exciting prospect who uses his blistering pace and skills to get past defenders.

Capped for country: Sterling has been capped 28 times for England, at U-16, U-17, U-19, U-21 and senior level.

Jack Butland - Birmingham City
Birmingham's startlet, Jack Butland has impressed as a young goalkeeper over the last year and matured well for country and club. He played in the London 2012 Olympics for Team GB, and has had a great season n the Championship for Birmingham.

Interest: Jack Butland's good showing for Team GB during the London 2012 Olympics made him a wanted man.

FACT: Butland has made history by becoming the youngest goalkeeper to play for the England senior team.

Done deal: Butland signed a four-and-a-half deal with Stoke City for a transfer fee of £4million pounds.
This is attracted a lot of interest from various clubs in England, including Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City. However, he made a very mature decision to join Stoke City for £3.5million pounds in January, with him joining the squad at the end of the season. 

His reasoning for this, was that he did not want to be on the bench for a top club, and would rather be playing first-team football every week. This just shows how hungry he is to play football, and is highly-regarded as the man to replace Joe Hart in a couple of years as England No.1.

Super Mario - Mario Balotelli: 

Since his £20million pound move back to Italy, Balotelli has been electric in front of goal, and a completely changed man - on and off the pitch.
So much so that Manchester City will be kicking themselves that they were not able to keep hold of him enough to fulfil his potential.

Balotelli has scored 9 goals in 9 matches, with 6 for AC Milan ad 3 in 2 matches for Italy (against Brazil and Malta)

On fire: Balotelli has scored 6 goals in 7 matches on his return to the Serie A.

They all count: Balotelli has scored 2 of his 9 since moving from City - from the penalty spot.

At the double: Balotelli scored twice against Palermo for AC Milan in his 3rd match back in Italy.
Double again: Balotelli scored twice against Malta in Italy's World Cup Qualifying Group Stage Match.

Untouchable: City will be wondering what happened - Balotelli is in the form of his life and is content in Italy.
Class act: Balotelli shows City what they are missing with a curling strike from 25 yards out against Brazil.

Thank you for reading my EPL Blog, and hopefully you enjoyed reading this post as much as I did making it. I apologise in advance if any of my posts are published late in the future, but seeing as it is Easter now I am pumped for a LOT of EPL action. :)
Spread the word to your friends who are interested in football (or soccer) and don't be afraid to comment on your EPL opinions and views. I'll speak to you all later, stay safe.