Saturday, 27 September 2014
Juventus were up against 11th placed Atalanta in the second and last game of the day on Saturday evening, as manager Massimiliano Allegri was eager for his side to continue their good form with another win, this time away from home. After Roma's 2-0 win over Hellas Verona earlier on in the day courtesy of goals from Florenzi and Destro, Juve needed nothing less than a win if they were to stay within reach of Roma; who have won all 5 of their opening fixtures this season.
It was the away side who dominated in the early exchanges and were unlucky not to score in truth. Tevez was lively and almost broke the deadlock on a few occasions, whilst Pogba and Vidal both played important parts in the Juve midfield as they attempted to get forward with ease and hit Atalanta on the counter attack. They eventually took their chance, albeit a scrappy one to make it 1-0 in the 35th minute as Carlos Tevez was in the right place at the right time to tap into the net from close range, with the goalkeeper in no-man's land.
At half-time, Juventus took a slender lead into the interval with defender Angelo Ogbonna having an injury scare late on after a head knock in stoppage time, but thankfully it was not serious as he was able to continue. After the break, Chiellini gave away a penalty on 55 minutes after a rash challenge on Molina inside the box, bringing him down with only Buffon to beat. Germán Denis took the resulting penalty, but his low drive was well saved by Buffon who did well to keep the score at 1-0.
Straight after Buffon's great save, Juve went on the counter attack and Tevez was somehow able to find the back of the net with a low shot which the goalkeeper could only parry as the power was too much to handle! 2-0, and it looked done and dusted.
However, they were not done there. Striker Alvaro Morata came off the bench to score his first ever goal for Juventus, with a bullet header from an inch-perfect delivery from Pereyra in the 83rd minute. As the final whistle blew, Juventus celebrated another victory, making it 5 out of a possible 5 with no goals conceded. The only other team in Europe with a perfect record currently is Barcelona, in Liga BBVA.
Juve record another win, which become comfortable in truth as the game went on - they have a crunch week ahead both in the UEFA Champions League and Serie A. First, a trip to Atlético Madrid in the group stages, before a top-of-the-table clash with Roma awaits next week Sunday.
Sunday, 21 September 2014
City hosted Chelsea at The Ethiad Stadium on Sunday evening, in one of the last games of the weekend and the most eagerly-anticipated by far. Read on for my player ratings in what was a cagey, tense game in truth:
Joe Hart - 5.5/10. Was not called into action for the most part of the game, which was a testament to the solid defending by Kompany and Mangala to keep Costa and Hazard at bay. As soon as Schurrle was brought on, Chelsea looked more dangerous going forward - and Hart was unlucky to concede the opener from a tap-in, from close range.
Pablo Zabaleta - 6/10. Defensively was sound, impressive going forward on the flank as he ran up and down throughout. Booked in a fiesty affair and did his best to stay away from challenges afterwards. Arguably unlucky to be sent off after a fracas between Costa and himself; the Spanish striker grabbed him by the neck in anger to a challenge, and somehow the new Chelsea signing wasn't sent off aswell.
Vincent Kompany - 6/10. Did his best to help stop the threat posed by Costa up-top, but was caught napping for Schurrle's opener. Played well otherwise.
Eliaquim Mangala - 7/10. An accomplished display from the £30million pound signing from FC Porto this summer. Hadn't really had much of a chance before this game, but his pace, power and strength was emphasised as he did well to keep a clean sheet and looked solid alongside captain Vincent Kompany.
Aleksandar Kolarov - 5/10. His final ball was majorly poor and he struggled to make any decent crosses into the area, defensively left a lot to the imagination.
James Milner - 9/10. Was dangerous in the first 10-15 minutes of the first-half, passing well and delivering inviting crosses into the area when he got the ball to ask the question of the Chelsea defence. Did well to adapt to whatever position he was shifted into, his work-rate was superb throughout and got the assist for Lampard's equaliser. Deservedly won Man Of The Match.
Fernandinho - 6/10. Received a yellow card as he was busy trying to help solidify the midfield. Had a few half-chances wide, but was unable to influence the game much after Schurrle's opener. Did well to stop the advances of Fabregas running through however.
Yaya Touré - 6/10. Got involved in the play more than he did this last time out, always looked up to try and find a team-mate in space and was dangerous in possession of the ball as he normally is. Yellow carded on the stroke of half-time but completed 50 passes in the first-half which was more than any other player on the pitch. Penalty appeal early in the second-half was denied, after Ivanovic barged into the back of him. Was a real nuisance to deal with in truth, and Chelsea struggled at times to contain his threat running through the midfield channels.
David Silva - 5.5/10. Attempted to create chances when he got the ball, but was closed down well by the Chelsea players who did their best to close the spaces provided and he was unable to stamp his authority on the game.
Sergio Aguero - 6.5/10. Another decent performance from the Argentine, who was a real handful for Terry and Cahill at the back despite a distinct lack of chances on-goal. Had a low drive goal-bound in the second-half, and almost broke the deadlock if it wasn't for the good save from young Belgian Thibaut Courtois.
Edin Dzeko - 5/10. Substituted off after a lacklustre performance despite working hard across the pitch to try and win possession; failed to get any real opportunities on goal and was replaced as a result. Not the best.
Jesus Navas - 5/10. Failed to make much of an impact when brought on, probably should have been allowed to start in order to make more of an impact with his blistering pace and close-control dribbling.
Bacary Sagna - 5/10. Was unable to get much time on the ball when he came on, after Zabaleta's dismissal.
Frank Lampard - 7.5/10. Came off the bench with 10 minutes to go, and levelled the scoring against his former club in dramatic style. Showed class as well as respect to keep his celebrations to a minimum, after a warm reception from the Chelsea supporters when he was brought on (picture credit: Manchester City's official Twitter account).
Saturday, 20 September 2014
An 80th minute goal from substitute midfielder Victor Wanyama gave Southampton another win under their belt early on in the season, and consequently pushes them up to 2nd place in the league table two points behind league leaders Chelsea who are up against Manchester City tomorrow afternoon.
This loss means that Swansea have suffered back-to-back defeats in the past week, after they lost 4-2 against league leaders Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Garry Monk's men knew that it wouldn't be easy to keep their consistency after a perfect start to the season, winning all of their first 3 matches - but they have suffered a minor setback with 2 defeats in quick succession and will be feeling disappointed they let this game slip late on as they looked destined to hang on for a point, despite having 10-men after striker Wilfried Bony's dismissal for two yellow cards as a result of late challenges on Maya Yoshida, at the stroke of half-time.
Routledge came close to breaking the deadlock after some neat passing build-up play on the edge of the area between Sigurdsson and Dyer; the killer pass was fed through into the winger's path but his effort beat Forster but span off the underside of the crossbar. Bertrand did well to clear the ball off the line as a corner delivery was poorly dealt with by the Southampton defence, and the full-back on loan from Chelsea did his bit for the team to deny Bony's header from range, to allow The Swans to take the lead.
The Ivorian striker was bright in the first-half of play, but looked a forlorn figure after he was sent off for an honest, but late and rash challenge on Yoshida which he could have no complaints, especially as he was already on a yellow card.
Wanyama came off the bench to score the winner after some patient build-up play by Schneiderlin in the centre of midfield, and even though the Saints barely had any goal-scoring opportunities of note, they took their chance clinically as the Kenyan powerhouse decided to keep his celebrations subdued.
Cristiano Ronaldo left United in 2009, for a then world-record transfer fee of £80million pounds to join Spanish side Real Madrid. Since then, he has won Liga BBVA, Copa del Rey (2), UEFA Champions League, Spanish Super Cup and the UEFA Super Cup. But, every summer rumours continue to persist over the Portuguese winger's future and whether he would be open to a move back to the Premier League.
Ever since he left for Spain, he has refused to rule out a move back to his former club, and it seems as though a possible move looks more likely now than ever before which is exciting for both the team involved and the league itself.
He has proved himself to be one of the best players in the world, scoring 257 goals in 252 appearances for Real Madrid and priding himself on being one of the most influential players in the team.
United will love to have their former star back, and would pack his bags personally to see him wear the number 7 shirt again at Old Trafford. He turns 30 in February, and isn't getting any younger as he reaches his peak performance level. So, if a move is on the cards you would expect an approach either in January or at the end of the current season.
Having said that, it would not be surprising if Real Madrid tried to block any formal approaches to sign Ronaldo - seeing as he is their best player and star man. They created the team around him, he is their highest paid performer and does his bit for the team every week. Losing Cristiano, despite it being to his former club would seem silly on the part of Real as they look to retain their UEFA Champions League title this year.
van Gaal had this to say about the possibility of the move: "Ronaldo? Yes, it is possible but it's always a discussion in the papers, and I don't think the media shall buy Ronaldo. That's what I have said with Falcao, players like Ronaldo give a lot of extra to a team, but I don't think Real Madrid shall sell him.
Meanwhile, this was quoted from an interview before their pre-season meeting in America from Ronaldo: "I love Manchester and you never know in football. Of course I'm happy at Real Madrid; it's my home, it's my club but United treated me unbelievably so you never know. I'm still in contact with some people there because I had a good relationship with everybody - it was like my second family."
Thursday, 18 September 2014
Two of Serie A’s top clubs go head-to-head on Saturday night in one of the biggest games of the week, and it’s not surprising either. They have been rivals for decades, but in recent years the former have fallen by the wayside slightly due to the amount of key players that they have sold and been unable to consequently replace adequately enough to challenge for the title.
There is also an emotional return for manager Massimiliano Allegri, who spent the best part of 3 seasons with Milan and won the Scudetto in his first campaign in charge. He was unable to help the team after the sale of many key players, and left the club by mutual consent.
Then, after Antonio Conte resigned at the beginning of the pre season, it was announced that Allegri would take and over be would be returning to management in Serie A.
Allegri's reign as Juventus manager has started well with three victories and three clean sheets. The latest, a 2-0 win over Malmo in their first Champions League game of the season thanks to a brace from Carlos Tevez.
He had this to say: “It was important to beat Malmo, now we can focus on the match at the San Siro. Milan have started very strongly and have bought really well. I have a great relationship with (Milan’s vice president) Adriano Galliani, he called me before the Malmo game to wish me good luck. But it’s obvious that now we’ll be enemies on the field.”
The likes of Thiago Silva, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Mario Balotelli and Kevin-Prince Boateng have all come and gone within the last few seasons – but Milan will be desperate to get back to the heights of Italian football.
Meanwhile, Juventus have been in a completely different situation. They have won the league title in three consecutive seasons and will be hungry for more success in both domestic and European competitions as they look to bounce back from their poor showing in the Champions League over the past year. They have gone from strength to strength, with the likes of Marchisio, Pogba and Pirlo all flourishing in arguably one of the best midfield partnerships in the world.
|Solid and great all-round: Juve have been impressive this campaign, can they shrug off AC Milan though?|
Milan made 17 summer signings in the transfer window from the end of the 2013-14 season, including the likes of Jeremy Menez (free transfer from PSG) and Diego Lopez (undisclosed fee from Real Madrid) who look impressive already, but this game will be a real test for them so early on in the season for sure.
Team news going into the game:
Juventus are the better team on paper, and have less injuries in comparison to their opponents to contend with. They are set to welcome back midfielder Arturo Vidal after a recurrent knee injury, as well as defender Andrea Barzagli. Pirlo and Chiellini are still out of action.
Meanwhile, AC Milan will be without new goalkeeper Diego Lopez, who injured himself during their thrilling encounter against Parma last Sunday. Alex, Saponara and Torres are also likely to miss the game through fitness issues, whilst Italian forward Stephan El Shaarawy is set to start.
|On-fire! AC Milan winger Jeremy Menez has been one of the club's most influential players this season, after his free transfer from PSG|
It may be early days in Serie A but this has the making to be an absolute classic. Milan coming off a nine goal thrilller whilst Juventus haven't conceded in their last seven competitive matches. Fresh and somewhat rejuvanted, can Inzaghi's Milan cause an upset at home?
Saturday, 13 September 2014
The 23-year-old English striker was signed for £16million pounds from Manchester United on deadline day, after The Gunners had appealed for 2 extra hours to complete all of the necessary paperwork to confirm the deal before he goes off with England for international duty; and in the early hours of the morning they publicly announced the deal which was met with both surprise and annoyance from a section of the Arsenal supporters.
Many were shocked that United were ready to sell one of their young players to a rival club, but it made sense given the fact that he was never going to be chosen over the likes of van Persie, Rooney and now Falcao - who joined the club in a shock deadline day loan move to Old Trafford.
Arsenal were heavily linked with moves for PSG striker Edinson Cavani, as well as Swansea's powerhouse forward Wilfried Bony and new Liverpool signing Mario Balotelli - so you could excuse the unenthuasiasm when they first heard about a possibilty of Welbeck joining the club as a replacement for the injured Giroud.
Despite this, Welbeck is a good player. So, why choose him?
Why choose Welbeck?
Despite some people doubting his ability to lead the line of Arsenal's attack this season, this has the potential to be a long-term investment in the club by manager Arsene Wenger, who has kept quiet over deals for a striker up until the last minute.
He is still young, and if he flourishes at Arsenal he could stay there for many years to come and be a key striker for them to rely on; he performs well for England but has not been given the relevant chance to prove himself for Manchester United and has thus only been given the tag of "squad-role player" in the past few years that he has been in the first-team.
Also, he is the kind of player to give 100% effort and determination in everything that he does every matchday, which is a desirable quality for a player, especially a striker who tracks back and contributes to the team defensively as well as in-front of goal.
He impressed on his loan spell out at Premier League club Sunderland, and even though you cannot really compare the two teams Welbeck could flourish under Wenger's guidance given the fact that he has something to prove to both his new supporters and the English media who will be watching his every move as they look in their search for England's next international saviour.
WELBECK QUOTES ON MOVE:
Welbeck's comments to the press: "It's exciting times for me, it's great to be a part of this club and it's a team that I've always watched in the Premier League. I've envisaged myself playing in this team before. For it to finally happen is very exciting, I've been at United ever since I was a little boy and I had a great time there."
"I just think this is the next stage of my development - to come to Arsenal, to really show people what I can do as a footballer and hopefully get to the place where I want to be. Things move on in life and I think you've really got to make the right decision in the situation that you're in at that moment in time - I believe that coming to Arsenal is the right decision."
"I believe the style of play the manager's got and the boys play - and with the magnificent players in midfield slotting balls through I can run on to the end of those balls and slot them away; I'd like to bring pace and power to the game. At Arsenal, we're not short of combination football and I like to join in on that and get in behind defenders and try to get shots off at goal."
Where will he play?
Welbeck struggled to get any games in his normal position as the striker at United with the likes of Rooney and van Persie being preferred to him, and was often shifted onto the wing with the option to cut inside the box when he had the ball at his feet - which wasn't always the best idea. As a result, he failed to get many goals on his individual tally meaning that he was not thought of highly in many fans' thoughts as an ideal signing for The Gunners.
Having said that, he has something to prove and with the likes of Sanchez and Ozil feeding him through balls he's sure to take his chances.
Here is a potential formation that Arsenal could play, to fit Welbeck in the lone striker role.
£16 million pounds for a 23-year-old striker with something to prove could either turn out to be a wonder-stroke by Wenger, or a flop. It is possible that he ends up to be the former, as long as the Arsenal fans get behind him. He chose them over the likes of local rivals Tottenham, surely they must respect him for that? He wants to improve his game, and it's not always hard to leave your boyhood club - another desirable decision made on his part.
At the end of the day, Arsenal could be exactly what he needs to develop his game and turn into one of the best strikers in the Premier League - he needs regular game-time and nurturing to flourish in his regular position.
Sunday, 7 September 2014
This past weekend (30/31 of August) in the Premier League -
- Chelsea were involved in a "game of the season" contender, with a 6-3 victory against Everton at Goodison Park.