Sunday, 27 April 2014

Super Sunday EPL LIVE Coverage:

Hello again everyone, and welcome to my latest blog post where I have LIVE Coverage of football from the EPL - in yet another pivotal day at the top and bottom of the Premier League, with just a few matches left to be played.

Today's matches in the EPL having been played so far:

Sunderland 4 Cardiff City 0 
A brace from young striker Connor Wickham made sure that he was among the scorers as Sunderland climbed out of the bottom three with an emphatic home victory against fellow strugglers Cardiff, who are officially at the bottom of the EPL table. (20th)

Loanee striker (from Liverpool) Fabio Borini and Italian midfielder Emanuele Giaccherini were also on the scoresheet in an impressive display by Gus Poyet's men who were widely tipped to be relegated. 

Poor man-marking in the area gave Wickham the space to beat his man lurking inside the box, before his header gave the Black Cats the lead after 25 minutes of play at The Stadium of Light.

Cardiff were down to ten men just before half-time after defender Juan Cala mis-timed an attempted backpass to his goalkeeper, before Wickham took the ball from him just outside the area and burst onto the ball getting held back by Cala in the process. 

Wickham did well to stay on his feet and the referee played advantage, but as Cardiff cleared the ball away the ref brought the game back to the original foul and pointed to the spot, sending Cala off in the process. It was arguably controversial given the fact that the referee had let play continue, but if Wickham had gone down under the challenge - he would have sent Cala off anyway. 

Clear foul: Cala was holding onto Wickham after losing the ball in a dangerous area
Marching orders: Cala walks off the pitch in annoyance and confusion after getting sent off
Borini made no mistake from the resulting penalty, slotting the ball hard and low out of the goalkeeper's reach to double Sunderland's lead before the break. 

No mistake: Borini slots the ball past Marshall from the spot to make it 2-0
Borini celebrates his penalty strike to give Sunderland a comfortable lead before the break
2-0 at half-time and things were looking good for Sunderland. They were about to get a lot better! 

Despite half-chances from Cardiff (Medel and Mutch), Sunderland took their chance on the counter attack, after a splitting through ball by Borini was fed to the feet of Giaccherini, who slotted the ball past Marshall to virtually seal the victory with 15 minutes to play.

Slotting home: Giaccherini made it 3-0 after half-time

Gem: Giaccherini joined Sunderland from Juventus, will he stay in the EPL with Sunderland now?
And if that was not enough, Wickham put the icing on the cake to score his 5th goal in his last 3 matches with another headed finish from 8 yards out to make it 4-0 and complete the rout after 86 minutes. 

Another header: Wickham completed the rout with his second of the game with 5 minutes left
This was after a poor run of form previously meant that former manager Paolo di Canio had to be sacked by the board. It just shows you how much a team can change when they know that they have to perform.  
Out of the drop zone: Sunderland were comfortable and dominant against Cardiff.
The future is not looking bright for Cardiff, having only won one of their last six games - they still have to play against Newcastle and Chelsea, getting at least 3 points from their last two matches otherwise they will be automatically relegated back to the nPower Championship. 

Liverpool 0 Chelsea 2 
Another twist in the title race it seems? Chelsea have dealt Liverpool a blow (not a massive one, but a blow nonetheless) with a 2-0 away win against the league leaders.

Goals from Demba Ba and Willian either side of half-time has given The Blues some more confidence that they can take advantage and go on to fight for the title till the final day, while Liverpool will feel disappointed that they failed to beat Chelsea, which thus means that they have suffered back-to-back losses against Mourinho's men this season.

Ba cooly slots the ball past Mignolet to take advantage of Gerrard's slip before half-time
Ba celebrates another important strike, after his last-gasp winner against PSG in the CL
Mobbed: Ba's Chelsea team-mates mob him after his first-half goal on the stroke of HT
Exploited: Gerrard's slip proved costly as Ba took advantage to break the deadlock
Willian slots the ball into the net after he and Torres go on the counter attack late on and expose Liverpool's high line
Dirty but worth it: It was not a pretty win, but Chelsea took all 3 points, which is what matters.
Open: Liverpool know they need to win their last two games and hope their rivals slip up, otherwise they will not win the league this season.
Annoying or not, the "park the bus" tactic was adopted by Mourinho who fielded a significantly weaker starting line-up than one that you would expect from Chelsea - no Cech, Hazard, Terry, Ramires and Eto'o among others featuring for The Blues - but they got the job done at Anfield and that is all that matters!

City are now fully back in the title race, a win against Palace would highlight the fact... and guess what:

And the featured match, which I have LIVE commentary (of the second-half) is;
LIVE Commentary:

Crystal Palace 0 Manchester City 2 -

Here are the team line-ups from today's game, currently being played:

Crystal Palace: Speroni, Mariappa, Dann, Delaney, Ward, Puncheon, Jedinak, Ledley, Bolasie (replaced by Ince 73'), Chamakh (replaced by Murray 69') and Jerome (replaced by Gayle 69').

Subs not used: Hennessey, Parr, Dikgacoi and Gabbidon.

Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Kolarov, Milner, Javi Garcia, Yaya Toure (replaced by Fernandinho 66'), Nasri, Dzeko (replaced by Negredo 87') and Aguero (replaced by Jovetic 78'). 

Subs not used: Pantilimon, Richards, Lescott, Clichy.

Goals from Edin Dzeko and Yaya Toure (both before half-time) have given Chilean manager Manuel Pellegrini something to smile about, as his side are comfortably leading 2-0 away from home at Selhurst Park - against a strong Palace side who have looked rejuvenuated since the arrival of new manager Tony Pulis from earlier on in the season. 

Early opener: Dzeko celebrates his early strike with team-mate Nasri to make it 1-0.
Good positioning: Dzeko positioned himself in-behind the Palace defence and got his reward
Well-worked goal: Yaya Toure made it 2-0 with a curled finish past Speroni.
Back with a bang: Toure celebrates his 19th league goal of the season to double City's lead. 
65 - City looking comfortable on possession as they look to see out the win which will take them to within 3 points of Liverpool, with a game in hand over the league leaders. 

Title race is hotting up, and the result from Anfield has had massive significance now. The control has shifted.

66: An audacious effort from Yaya Touré goes over the bar, and it looks as though he will be substituted to avoid any further aggravations or sore muscles. 
Recently recovered from a groin injury which made him have to limp off during the Liverpool game a few Sundays ago, and it's a smart move by Pellegrini. 

67: Manchester City SUB: 
Yaya Touré OFF
Fernandinho ON

68: Dzeko is down on the turf holding his back in pain after an aerial collision with Palace midfielder Jedinak. Tony Pulis is on the touchline, preparing some changes. 

69: Dzeko is back up on his feet while there are substitutes coming on for Palace:
Marouane Chamakh OFF
Cameron Jerome OFF
Dwight Gayle ON
Glenn Murray ON

70: A yellow card is brandished to Palace defender Joel Ward, after a late clattering into Milner near the flank on the counter attack. Fair enough.

71: Aguero has a shot on-goal after good work on the flank from Milner, but his strike lacks power with the outside of his foot, and Speroni comfortably collects. 

72: Good reaction save from Speroni to deny Dzeko who weaves his way into the box, but his effort is blocked by the legs of the goalkeeper. 

74: Last change for Palace:
Yannick Bolasie OFF
Tom Ince ON 

76: Great cross from Kolarov on the flank, but no City players are there in the box to latch onto the delivery and Palace clear the danger away. Lucky escape, from an inviting ball!

78: Another case of resting quality players for City:
Sergio Aguero OFF
Stefan Jovetic ON

80: Palace have not looked as though they would really trouble City in the second-half, as if they are happy to sit back and invite pressure without testing Hart properly enough to get back into the game..

84: Dzeko has a shot from 20-yards out... but the ball is well seen by Speroni who deals with the danger, wrapping his arms around the strike.

87: Last change for City:
Edin Dzeko OFF
Alvaro Negredo ON

Fresh legs for City with a few minutes plus stoppage time to play, Dzeko has been effective but looks fatigued after having ran throughout the game - causing the Palace defence many problems. Good game from him. 

90: The fourth official has signalled for 3 minutes of stoppage time to be played. 

90+3: The referee has blown his whistle to end the match! City get the job done efficiently to beat Palace 2-0, and are fully back in the title race as a result of Liverpool's defeat to Chelsea earlier - it's fascinating how one result can have such an effect on a whole season's work..

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Moyes SACKED by United - Analysis and review:

United have sacked Moyes less than 12 months into his tenure at United after a poor season, but in this post I will be talking about why it was NOT deserved, as well as why he should have stayed. 
Hello again everyone and welcome to my latest blog post, where I have my thoughts on what I believe to be an unfair dismissal on United's part, sacking manager David Moyes less than one-year into his 6-year contract deal with the club. 

In this post, I will be talking about why he should NOT have been sacked, and how the future looks: 

I want to get this out because the following is my own personal opinion, based on a neutral football opinion looking at both sides of the story. If you are anti-Moyes or you don't want to read on, you don't have to, but I feel that I need to get this out:

Manchester United confirmed on Tuesday morning that they sacked Moyes, meaning that he is no longer their boss. He will be replaced by 40-year-old veteran and Welsh midfield legend Ryan Giggs until the end of the season as they try to find a permanent replacement at the helm of the club.

Now firstly, I honestly don't think that Moyes deserved to be sacked. At the end of the day, the team have been underachieving this season, and he was made the scapegoat for their failures. 

You cannot compare the side they had last season to the one they currently have, simply because of the fact that the signing of van Persie (from Arsenal) and Ferguson's winning mentality virtually won United the title last year.

It was always going to be hard for any manager to have to replace someone as historic as Sir Alex - with 25 years of experience as manager of the club, he had the highest reputation and respect a manager could only dream of years as boss of the club and he had the highest reputation and respect a manager could only dream of in modern-day football.

Moyes on the other hand had been working his magic as Everton manager, and despite the team not having many standout performers when he arrived at Goodison, he made sure that he used his money wisely and made some shrewd signings and bargain deals to make sure that he was buying quality players for cheap, something that most managers struggle to do, to this day.

He was on the brink of getting Everton into European competition (the likes of Europa League and Champions League), and the sudden appointment of him at Old Trafford obviously did not go down well with the majority of supporters, which is understandable seeing as they did not expect him to be the kind of boss to drive them forward to bigger and better things.

He didn't have enough time to change the team around, and didn't have the backing from many members of the board, supporters groups and the players looked as though they lack confidence every time they played under him - which is not exactly his fault, seeing as he can only do the best job possible under his own management. 

People have been saying things such as "he's a footballing genius" and #MoyesOut every time that United lose a game this season, but the solid fact of the matter is that you cannot automatically blame the manager for the team's failures.

Yes of course, you would expect Moyes to take some of the responsibility of the team not playing well, and try and improve it for the future - but if he has not got the backing from the players then who do you expect to listen to him when things go wrong?

So amid constant rumours and speculation, I'm not surprised that he's gone, but I feel that it is a real shame. Because, he should have had enough time (at least 2-3 years to prove his worth and get the support he deserved in the first-place) to turn the team around. He isn't a quick-fix manager, he is a long-term replacement (and a good one at that) for a manager who dominated Europe for over 20 years.

If they didn't want him, they shouldn't have appointed him in the first place. Would have saved time, money, a lot of stress and un-necessary pressure on him. 

I personally feel sorry for a manager who has developed significantly with experience and should have had time to prove himself, I just hope that he gets back into management soon at a good European club who will be patient with him.

United's managerial future doesn't look too good if they are going to be sacking managers after a lacklustre first season in charge (which wasn't even his fault).

Klopp and van Gaal are among the favourites to take over in the summer, but I'm still unsure whether they would want to take over an club with an unstable future based on this season's developments. 

Speak to you all later. 

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Bonus post - Football Stats and facts across Europe:

On-form: Podolski's stats do not lie, West Ham must hate playing against him! 

Mr Reliable: Lambert has scored all 34 penalties for Southampton in the league
Hello again everyone, and welcome to my latest blog post. 

Today, I have a bonus post for you to enjoy - where I present some interesting stats and facts involving clubs across Europe, including the EPL, Bundesliga and Liga BBVA. So here we go! 

EPL stats and facts: 
  • After The Gunners' 3-1 win during midweek at The Emirates: Arsenal's German forward Lukas Podolski has played 4 times against West Ham, scoring 4 and making four assists!
  • Rickie Lambert has scored all 34 penalties that he has taken in league matches for Southampton! Clinical.
  • Fulham have not won three games in a row since March 2012... they are currently on a 2-game winning run under Felix Magath but play against Tottenham Hotspur today. Can they do it? 
  • Chelsea are unbeaten in 77 EPL home matches under Jose Mourinho during his two spells at the club.
  • English striker Andy Carroll has scored 14 headers in his 29 goals so far in his EPL spell - using his height to his advantage
  • Manchester United striker Robin van Persie is the Premier League's top goalscorer between August 2010 and present day, scoring 85 goals within the time. Liverpool's Luis Suarez is second with 67, and Wayne Rooney is third with 2 goals less!
  • Chelsea forward Eden Hazard has been fouled 86 TIMES in the Premier League this season - which is 20 more times than winger Robert Snodgrass (of Norwich)
  • Fulham have used 38 players in their games this season, which is an ALL-TIME RECORD! Talk about squad rotation..
  • Manchester United have already lost 14 matches in the 2013-14 season, which is their most games lost since 2001-02, when they lost the same amount!
  • Chelsea's striking trio Ba, Torres and Eto'o have had a combined total of 46 shots on target in league games this season - while Suarez has 72 on his own! 
  • Everton winger Kevin Mirallas and Manchester City midfielder Samir Nasri are the players who have been most substituted off in league games this season, 16 for each!
  • And lastly, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is the most experienced current manager in the Premier League! He has managed 1,439 matches in total, with Crystal Palace boss Tony Pulis coming second with a total of 916 games managed. Sam Allardyce (West Ham) is third, before Pellegrini and Moyes make up the top five.
Liga BBVA:
  • Lionel Messi has scored 21 goals and made 12 assists in 27 El Clasico games for Barcelona against Real - which is an all-time record!
Messi has scored 21 goals and made 12 assists for Barca in 27 El Clasico games against Real
  • Real Madrid have only failed to score in one league match this season, which was against Atletico Madrid, back in September of last year.
  • Real Betis have picked up the most amount of red cards in matches this season, with 9!
Other facts and stats, including Bundesliga and Ligue 1:  

  • PSG striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has had the most shots OFF target in Ligue 1 this season, with 51.
  • Italian midfielder Andrea Pirlo has scored six goals for Juventus this season, with all of them coming from direct free-kicks!
  • Bayern Munich went on a 53-game unbeaten run, before losing to Augsburg on the 5th of April, then losing to German rivals Borussia Dortmund the week afterwards.
  • Chelsea have become the first team in six years to win a Champions League quarter-final after losing the first-leg. They achieved the feat with a 3-2 aggregate victory over Fenerba
  • hçe SK in the 2007-2008 season.
  • Atlético are through to the last four of the UEFA Champions League for the FIRST TIME, becoming the 27th club in Europe to get this far. 
  • This is now the third time that two teams from the same city have reached the semi-finals of the Champions League (Real and Atletico).

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Wonderkid #8 - Florian Thauvin

Potential to develop: Thauvin has impressed scouts this season, but needs to start more matches
Hello again everyone and welcome to my latest blog post, where I have the 8th installment of my wonderkid series, where I review and analyse some of the best young upcoming talents in world football today, who have potential to be special in the future. 

Today, I am going to be analyzing 21-year-old creative midfielder Florian Thauvin, who currently plays for Marseille in Ligue Un.

Pace and close-control: Two rare qualities in an attacking midfielder - Thauvin has both. 
Handful: Thauvin has the potential to be a great midifelder for a top European club in the future
He has impressed scouts this season with his bursting runs into the box, as well as his contribution to the side in terms of goals and assists, which in turn has made him a reliable play for Marseille to count on as they look to push on and qualify for next season's UEFA Champions League.  

He has scored 11 goals and made 4 assists in all competitions this season, for Marseille and France's U-20's side alongside other good young players including Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba and Arsenal striker Yaya Sanogo.

France's U-20's side played at the youth World Cup, and Thauvin and Pogba ran the show!
Florian Thauvin FACTS:

FACT: He was born on the 26th of January, 1993.

FACT: In January of this year, he was named by The Guardian as one of the ten most promising young players in Europe.

FACT: Thauvin has made 24 appearances for the France national team, from U-18 level to U-21 level. 

FACT: He played for three clubs in the space of one year (Lille, Bastia and Marseille in 2013) 

FACT: He made his professional league debut for Grenoble on the 11th of March, 2011.

FACT: He left Grenoble at the end of the season following the club going into administration, before signing his first professional contract with Bastia.

FACT: He was heavily-linked with a potential move to English side Arsenal in January of last year, but instead opted for a switch to Lille - signing a four-and-a-half contract deal with the transfer fee thought to be around £2.5million pounds.

FACT: He joined Marseille on the 2nd of September 2013, signing on a five-year-contract-deal for around £13million pounds after forcing the move from Lille - by being absent from training. 

His stat-by-stat qualities: 

Acceleration and overall speed - He is quick off-the mark and knows how to beat his marker with electric pace to speed away. Very fast and is able to retain ball possession when needed.

Close control dribbling - Important for every winger/attacking midfielder to weave their magic past the opposing defenders, and he has a lot of it. He dribbles past players from improbable angles and can deliver crosses into the box from it. 

Finishing - He doesn't take a lot of shots, but he scores a lot of goals from the shots he takes. Outside of the foot, finesse shots, power shots galore. Give him a chance, he will score.

Counter attacking threat - Going forward there is nothing a defender hates to see more than a player like Thauvin.

A young, pacy attacking midfielder who can play on the flanks as well, his dribbling and close-control when on the ball proves a struggle for most defenders, on top-form.

He just needs to get regular first-team football, whether that is with Marseille or not is the question. He is good enough to play in the Champions League, and if Marseille do not qualify for that this season I have a feeling that he may angle for a move elsewhere, to a stronger club in Europe. 

 Thauvin could leave Marseille, for a top European club if they do not qualify for the CL

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

This week's transfer rumours, news and updates:

Hello again everyone, and welcome to my new blog post where I have the latest transfer news, rumours and updates from across the world - including the EPL.

This is the second week where I am covering the latest transfer news and updates, and there will also be at least one post every week (which does the same) 

Latest transfer news and rumours:

Chelsea are reportedly interested in signing Hamburg's young Turkish midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu, who could be ready for a potential move abroad in the summer. 

Off to London? Chelsea are tracking young midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu and could sign him..
Potential: Calhanoglu has already scored 10 goals this season, including an amazing free-kick against Dortmund!

The youngster has impressed the rest of the Bundesliga with his dazzling performances in midfield for Hamburg, and has scored 10 goals this season - including an amazing long-range free-kick effort against Borussia Dortmund!

Watch the amazing hit here - 

Tottenham are ready to offer West Brom goalkeeper Ben Foster a potential move to White Hart Lane, as current No.1 goalkeeper Hugo Lloris is heavily linked with a transfer away from Spurs, as they have virtually failed to qualify for the Champions League - which is why he wanted to join the London club in the first place from Lyon.

Arsenal goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski is ready to play his last ever match for The Gunners against Hull City next month in the FA Cup final. The Polish keeper, who is Wenger's number 2 behind compatriot Szczesny is expected to leave the club and become a free agent, where he will receive offers to sign for many clubs, including German duo Borussia Dortmund and Schalke. 

On the way out? Fabianski may leave Arsenal in the summer to pursue first-team football
Good back-up: Fabianski has done well when he has played for Arsenal this season
Solid: Fabianski is Wenger's number 2 in between the sticks for Arsenal, behind Szczesny. 
Penalty saver: Fabianski helped Arsenal to beat Wigan on penalties in the FA Cup semi-final
Out on a high? He was linked with a move out of England, but could his current spell of games mean he is staying at The Gunners past this season? 
Newcastle striker Loic Remy wants to leave QPR (currently on-loan at Newcastle) at the end of the season and hopes to join a "great European club" where he can play Europa League or Champions League football. 

His manager Harry Redknapp confirmed that it will be extremely hard to hold onto their prized asset, who wants to play European football and they cannot offer that to him. 

Arsene Wenger has been forced to deny all news reports in the last few days that French striker Olivier Giroud is linked with a move out of The Emirates Stadium this summer, after he started from the bench during their FA Cup semi-final win over Wigan. 

Giroud was benched against Wigan, and despite a poor run of form, will he leave? 

Tottenham's Danish creative midfielder Christian Eriksen has caused doubt and fears over his future at Spurs after claiming that he has a "secret plan" for his future.

Class player: Eriksen is one of Tottenham's best young players, and a bargain signing.. 
Eriksen is already linked with a move away from Spurs, despite signing at the start of the season
He has hinted that he could leave the north London club despite recently expressing his desire to stay at Tottenham - and has been one of the club's best signings in the past 10 years. 

Arsenal have reportedly made enquiries over Real Madrid's Brazillian midfielder Casemiro, who is not playing regularly for the first-team and is apparently agitated. 

Chelsea are ready to rival Arsenal to the signing of highly-rated English defender and teenager John Stones of Everton in the summer. He is a huge prospect for the future, and the youngster has already impressed for the England U-21's.

Where are you going? Stones is a rock in defence at such a young age, with potential.
He does well to press opposing strikers, and has enough pace to stay with them
Leader: Stones has good visual awareness and is able to encourage team-mates from the back
Prospect: Martinez will be desperate to hold onto Stones, who is linked to Arsenal and Chelsea
Manchester United manager David Moyes is "planning" an audacious move for Southampton duo Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw as he tries to re-build the United squad and sell the "deadwood" players. 

The rumoured transfer fee to cover both highly-rated English players is around £40-45million pounds, despite both saying that they are happy to stay at Southampton and Pochettino constantly saying that he will NOT sell them. 

Well then. 

Liverpool and AC Milan are among the clubs who are interested in signing Manchester City defender Micah Richards, who has struggled with injuries over the last two years and is set to leave City in the summer transfer window.

Bayern Munich have warned Arsenal and Chelsea to "keep their hands off" their Croatian striker Mario Mandzukic, as he is reportedly unsettled by the rumours and transfer talk surrounding his future at the club. 

Also, Bayern midfielder Toni Kroos who is heavily transfer-linked with a move to Manchester United in the summer has been told to stay at Bayern and reject any possible offers. 

Stay or go? Kroos has been told to stay at Bayern, but reports suggest he wants to leave
Everton manager Roberto Martinez is hopeful that he can keep hold of Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku (of Chelsea) and English defensive-midfielder Gareth Barry (of City) past this season. 

Encouraging: Lukaku has been influential for Everton this season, and spearheads the attack

You watching? Chelsea may regret loaning out Lukaku, because it will be harder to keep him
Time to thrive: After successful loan spells at West Brom and Everton, could Lukaku stay at The Toffees? 
Bargain: Barry has been a solid wall in midfield for Everton this season
Under-rated: Barry breaks up play well, makes crunching tackles and his passing is quality.
Tough: Barry has made 29 appearances for Everton this season, scoring 3 and making 4 assists
This is because his loan signings have been a revelation and helped the club to move up to 4th place in the table with 5 games to play. 

And finally:

Leicester are poised to offer Leeds striker Ross McCormack a potential deal to sign for them in the summer when they move up to the EPL. 

Ross McCormack is on Leicester's radar, and it's not a surprise either - he has scored 27 goals this season.
They have confirmed their place in next season's English Premier League by sealing promotion in the nPower Championship and want to bolster their squad to survive relegation in their first season back in the top flight for 10 years. 
Sealing promotion: Leicester have confirmed their place in next season's EPL.
Leicester have 90 points from 42 games, with 4 games to play. They can still win the championship..