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Polished United Too Good For Hapless Spurs

23 Aug

By Damien Morris

Manchester United picked up their first win in their first game of the season at Old Trafford. Sir Alex Ferguson made three changes to the team that won at The Hawthorns with Phil Jones and Jonny Evans coming in for the injured Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.

Patrice Evra returned to the team in place of Fabio to captain the side. Tom Cleverley partnered Anderson in central midfield with Nani and Ashley operating on the flanks Danny Welbeck and Wayne Rooney led the line with Dimitar Berbatov, Javier Hernandez, after having concussion warming the bench.

Tottenham left Luka Modric out of the matchday squad because of the ongoing speculation linking him with a move to Chelsea in the transfer window. He played Jake Livermore and Niko Kranjcar in central midfield with Aaron Lennon and Gareth Bale on the right and left side of midfield respectively.

Rafael Van Der Vaart played just behind Jermaine Defoe in the forward line. They also gave a debut to American goalkeeper Brad Friedal.

The match started at a frantic pace with Manchester United creating the first chance when Wayne Rooney headed a cross from Nani straight into the hands of Brad Friedel.

Manchester United then had their first real chance of the game when Ashley Young ran with the ball on the left side he then squared the pass to Tom Cleverley who hit a low hard shot that was heading for the bottom right hand corner of the net which, to Tottenham’s relief Brad Friedel tipped around the post.

Tottenham started to have a good spell of possession as the first half wore on. Michael Dawson glanced a header over the bar from a corner while Gareth Bale fired in a shot with his right foot straight into the arms of David De Gea, the new goalkeeper Manchester United signed from Athletico Madrid.

Ashley Young then glanced a header just past the post from a cross from Wayne Rooney.

In the second half Manchester United played with so much more poise. They moved the ball around so much quicker than they did in the first half.

They were rewarded with a goal on the hour when Tom Cleverley hit a short pass to Chris Smalling who in turn played it back to Tom Cleverley.

He then hit in a first time cross into the box, which was headed in by Danny Welbeck. Old Trafford was now full of cheer. Manchester United then scored their second goal.

Ashley Young started the move he played the ball to Wayne Rooney who played it to Anderson. Anderson played it back to Danny Welbeck who back heeled it for Anderson to fire it into the net.

That had to be the move of the match. Danny Welbeck then got a standing ovation when he left the pitch to be substituted as did Tom Cleverley and Ashley Young for the effort they put in tonight.

Ryan Giggs, Javier Hernandez and Ji-Sung Park came on for them. The substitute Ryan Giggs provided the final goal when he hit in a lofted cross from the right hand side, which Wayne Rooney headed past Brad Friedel.

Friedel performed really well for Spurs tonight. He denied Jonny Evans and Tom Cleverley in the course of the game. Spurs ran out of ideas as the match wore on. They so need firepower upfront and a new central defender.

United judging by this performance will take some stopping on all fronts this season. They still have more players to come back into the team as well.

Misfiring Arsenal Caught Cold By Liverpool Resurgence

23 Aug

By Damien Morris

Liverpool registered a win over Arsenal in the lunchtime kick-off last Saturday.

The Anfield club beat Arsenal 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium. Arsene Wenger was forced into making various changes to the team due to injuries and suspensions. Carl Jenkinson appeared in the Arsenal team, as Armand Traore and Kieran Gibbs were not fit. He played at right-back with Bacary Sagna switching over to the other side to play at left-back. Samir Nasri appeared in the team despite speculation linking him with a move to Manchester City. Emmanuel Frimpong replaced the injured Jack Wilshere in midfield.

Kenny Dalglish brought into Martin Kelly to play at right back. Jamie Carragher and Daniel Agger played in central defence and Jose Enrique at left back. Luis Suarez was on the bench despite scoring against Sunderland last week. Andy Carroll and Stewart Downing were the front two for Liverpool.

Emmanuel Frimpong got a needless booking in the 7th minute after preventing Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson from taking the throw as he thought it was his throw. Liverpool created the first chance of the game in the 19th minute when Andy Carroll forced Wojciech Szczesny into a fine save with a fine header from a Jose Enrique cross from the left hand side after climbing above Bacary Sagna to create the chance. Arsenal get created their first chance of the match when Emmanuel Frimpong hit a low shot outside the area which Pepe Reina tipped around the post.

In the second half Arsenal started so bright when Robin Van Persie produced a fine save from Pepe Reina after fine approach work from Andrea Arshavin. Emmanuel Frimpong’s full debut turned sour when he got sent off after he got a second booking. The foul he committed on Lucas was deserving of a red card. Arsenal were now on the back foot after they were reduced to ten men.

Liverpool then produced a shot from Stewart Downing, which Szczesny tipped around the post. Kenny Dalglish then made a double substitution with Raul Meireles and Luis Suarez coming on for Dirk Kuyt and the ineffective Andy Carroll. Liverpool then made the breakthrough. Raul Meireles played a low pass into the box the Spanish full-back Miguel tried to clear it but it hit off the chest of Aaron Ramsey and past Szczesny, the Arsenal goalkeeper. Since Emmanuel Frimpong got sent off Liverpool have been creating the bulk of the chances.

Liverpool then wrapped it up in the 89th minute with their second goal. Lucas ran forward with the ball he then played a pass into Raul Meireles on the right hand side of the penalty area. He played a square pass across the box for Luis Suarez to guide it into the empty net. It was a job well done for Liverpool. They look a team that could finish in the top four while Arsenal look a team that is heading in the wrong direction. If they keep heading in the wrong direction a lot of Arsenal fans will be calling for Arsene Wenger to leave.

They will not be confident going to Old Trafford next week. Liverpool will be at home next week to play Bolton. This will be a huge test in how Liverpool are progressing under Kenny Dalgleish

Premiership Previews

19 Aug

By Damien Morris

Arsenal v Liverpool

Both Liverpool and Arsenal will be looking to register their first win of the new Premier League season. Liverpool had to settle for a 1-1 draw with Sunderland last week at Anfield after a promising first half performance. Luis Suarez looks like he will score a lot of goals this season in the Premier League playing upfront with Andy Carroll. Charlie Adam looks like he will fit well into the team. Liverpool are really capable of breaking into the top four if their new signings bed into the team well.

Arsenal on the other hand drew 0-0 with Newcastle at St James Park with their new striker Gervinho getting sent off after an incident with Joey Barton. Arsenal will also have to deal with the aftermath of Cesc Fabregas leaving for Barcelona and the possibility of Samir Nasri going to Manchester City. Arsenal will need to make a few shrewd signings if they want to finish in the top four this season. I don’t think as it stands they have the players that can get them a top four finish this season.

My Prediction

I can see this game providing us with plenty of chances and great football to watch. This is a very important game even at this early stage of the season. I find this game really hard to call so I’ll go for the draw.

Sunderland v Newcastle Utd

This is the first Tyne Wear derby of the new Premier League season. Sunderland and Newcastle will also be looking to register a first win of the new season. After both drawing with Liverpool and Arsenal respectively.

Sunderland look like they will finish in the top half of the table this season after signing various players like Wes Brown, John O’Shea, Sebastien Larsson, Connor Wickham. They were very impressive in second half against Liverpool last Saturday at Anfield. Sebastien Larsson got a great goal to deny Liverpool the three points. I think Sunderland will be hard to beat at home this season. I can see them challenging for the European spots.

Newcastle look a team that could struggle to finish in the top half of the league this season after losing Kevin Nolan to West Ham in the summer. They also have found it hard to bring in players that could improve the team sufficiently. They bought in Manchester Utd reject Gabriel Obertan who has yet to prove he can cut it at the top level of football. I think another new signing for them Djemba Ba will struggle to score goals in the Premier League. They did well last week to hold Arsenal to a 0-0 draw at St James Park. I think they will only just survive in the Premier League this season.

My Prediction

I can see this game providing us with plenty of courage from both sides. Both sides will not be afraid to play attacking football. I can see Sunderland winning this game 2-1.

Aston Villa v Blackburn Rovers

Aston Villa will be looking to register their first win of the season at Villa Park after drawing 0-0 with Fulham at Craven Cottage last weekend. Goalkeeper Shay Given was responsible for preventing Fulham scoring after making a string of fine saves. Charles N’Zogbia looks like he will add much needed creativity to this Aston Villa team. I think this team will finish in mid table this season.

Blackburn managed by Steve Kean began the season with a 2-1 loss at home to Wolves at Ewood Park managed by Mick McCarthy. They are nowhere near a team that can challenge for the European places. They are very lightweight upfront with Jason Roberts, Junior Hoilett and David Goodwille providing the forward options. They could be in for a long season battling the relegation trapdoor if they don’t strengthen their squad.

My Prediction

I reckon this game has the look of it being a one sided affair. I expect Aston Villa to be creating most if not all the chances in this game at Villa Park. They will want to send the fans home happy so I will go for a 3-0 Aston Villa win.

Everton v QPR

This will be Everton’s first league game of the season after their match with Tottenham got postponed at White Hart Lane last week because of the London riots. They have had no funds at their disposal to buy new players. David Moyes is still the manager. I reckon they will still be a team capable of finishing in the top half of the table with Tim Cahill, Leighton Baines and Mikael Arteta still at the club.

QPR managed by Neil Warnock got off to the worst possible start last week after losing at home 4-0 to Bolton wanderers managed by Owen Coyle. QPR played well in the first half of that game but as soon as Bolton scored they folded. Once Clint Hill got sent off and Kieron Dyer picked up a metatarsal injury you knew its wasn’t going to be their day. Adel Taarabt their star performer of last season drifted out of the game as the match wore on. If they play like that for most of the season I can see them getting relegated.

My Prediction

I can see this being very one sided with Everton really determined to start their season on a high note. I can’t see QPR getting anything from this game at Goodison Park. I’ll go for a 4-0 Everton win.

Swansea v Wigan Athletic

This is the first meeting of these two sides in the Premier League. Roberto Martinez the Wigan manager will be looking to put one over the club he used to manage and got them promoted from League One to the Championship back in 2008. Wigan will be looking for their first win of the season after drawing 1-1 with Norwich last weekend. Losing Charles N’Zogbia in the summer was a huge blow for them. I can’t see Wigan scoring many goals in the Premier League this season and keeping the goals out will be a problem for Wigan too. I think they will find it hard to stay in the Premier League this season.

Swansea managed by Brendan Rodgers began the season with a 4-0 drubbing by Manchester City at the Etihad stadium. That night they still played their passing brand of football that got them promoted from the Championship to the Premiership last season. They gave Manchester City plenty to think about in the first half. Scott Sinclair and Lloyd Dyer will be the key for them to stay in the Premier League for another season with the pace they provide to the team.

My Prediction

I can see this being a close game in this early season six pointer. Both sides will go for want to try and win as a draw in the long run might not suit both sides. I’ll do for Swansea City to edge this game 2-1 and pick up their first points of the Premier League.

Chelsea v West Brom

Chelsea will be looking to register their first win of the season after drawing 0-0 with Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium. They had a few penalty decisions turned down in the game. Florent Malouda and Fernando Torres looked really sharp for Chelsea last week. Chelsea will again be Manchester Uniteds challengers for the Premiership.

West Brom managed by Roy Hodgsson will be looking to get something out of this game. Shane Long looked really sharp last week in his first game for the club. I can see West Brom winning a lot of their home games this season. That will be enough for them to stay in the league.

My Prediction

The only team I can see scoring goals in this game is Chelsea. They have enough players in their team to hurt West Brom. West Brom don’t have the defenders in their ranks to handle this Chelsea team. I’ll go for a 3-0 Chelsea win.

Norwich v Stoke City

Norwich managed by Paul Lambert will be looking to register their first win of the new season after drawing 1-1 with Wigan. Wes Hoolahan looks like he will be a key player for the Canaries this season. I feel Norwich will need plenty of fight and spirit to stay in the Premier League. I don’t think ability will be enough to see them survive in the Premier League.

Stoke managed by Tony Pulis will be looking to win their first game of the season. Last week they did really well to shut Chelsea out. The match finished 0-0. Jonathan Woodgate settled really well into the team last week. I think Stoke will have no trouble staying up this season in the Premier League as their home record is so strong.

My Prediction

I think this will be an interesting tussle at Carrow Road. Norwich will like to pass it around as well as Stoke. I think Stoke are better than Norwich in all areas of the pitch. I’ll go for a 2-0 Stoke win.

Wolves v Fulham

Wolves managed by Mick McCarthy will be looking to build on their away win over Blackburn last weekend. Roger Johnson played really well on his debut last week. Stephen Fletcher looks a player that will score a lot of goals. I can see Matt Jarvis creating plenty for them this season. They will have no problems staying in the Premier League.

Fulham managed by Martin Jol look like they will be playing a great passing brand of football under his stewardship. They bought in John Arne Riise from Roma in the summer. He will be a great acquisition for Fulham. I can see Fulham scoring enough goals to keep them in the Premier League this season.

My Prediction

I think this will be another close game. I can see both sides creating plenty of chances in this game. I am going to go for a 2-1 Wolves win as they are at home.

Bolton v Manchester City

Bolton managed by Owen Coyle had an impressive start to the season beating QPR at Loftus Road 4-0. Chris Eagles looks like a really good singing for Bolton after creating two of Bolton’s four goals. Kevin Davies is getting better as the years go on. They are well capable of finishing in the top half this season providing there are no injuries to key players.

Manchester City managed by Roberto Mancini started the new season well with a 4-0 win over newly promoted Swansea City. Sergio Aguero looks a great signing for Manchester City after coming off the bench to score two goals and create one for Spanish midfielder David Silva. I think they are capable of finishing in the top three with that squad they possess.

My Prediction

 I think this will be a tight game with both sides showing decent form. I am going to go for Manchester City to edge this game 2-1.

Manchester United v Tottenham

Manchester United managed by Sir Alex Ferguson look a team determined to keep on winning trophies. Ashley Young and Phil Jones will bed in really well into team. Tom Cleverley looks like he will get plenty of games this season after impressing last season on loan at Wigan. David De Gea will in time be a great goalkeeper for Manchester United. With this squad we have now I can see no other than another Premier League title for Manchester United.

Tottenham managed by Harry Redknapp will be playing their first game of the season after their match with Everton at White Hart Lane was called off last week due to the London Riots. They have had a very quiet summer in the transfer market. Luka Modric looks like leaving the club for Chelsea. I think if they don’t strengthen in the transfer window they will find it hard to finish in the top four this season.

My Prediction

I don’t think Harry Redknapp will be happy to play Manchester United at Old Trafford as their first game of the new season. Manchester United are in inspiring form. I can see no other than a 3-0 Manchester United win.

First Weekend of the New Premier League Season

15 Aug

By Damien Morris

What a weekend it turned out to be for Manchester United.Manchester United managed a 2-1 win over West Brom at The Hawthorns.

Wayne Rooney scored the opening goal in the 13th minute with a low shot past Ben Foster.

West Brom then equalized in the 37th minute with a goal by Irish striker Shane long.

This goal was aided by bad goalkeeping from Spanish goalkeeper David De Gea who let the shot from Shane Long slip under his body.

Ashley Young helped win match for Manchester United by providing low cross that hit of Stephen Reid past Ben Foster. The only downside for Manchester United was the injuries picked up by Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.

Rio Ferdinand will be out for six weeks with a hamstring injury. We won’t know how long Nemanja Vidic will be out till later on today.

Elsewhere Chelsea played out a dour 0-0 with Stoke at the Brittania Stadium. Didier Drogba was left out of starting line-up where Andres Villas Boas decided to go for a 4-3-3 formation with Florent Malouda, Fernando Torres and Salomon Kalou providing the forward options.

Liverpool could only draw 1-1 with Sunderland. Luis Suarez missed a penalty early on. He then opened the scoring by heading it past Mignolet after a great cross put in by new signing Charlie Adam.

Sunderland later equalised through Sebastien Larsson, who arrived in the summer from relegated Birmingham City. Arsenal played out a dull 0-0 with Newcastle at St James Park. Joey Barton was involved in incident that got Gervinho sent off from Arsenal.

With Fabregas already signed for Barcelona and Nasri almost certain to leave it could be a hard season for Arsenal for not just trying to win the league but being able to finish in the top 4 to qualify for Champions League.

QPR and Norwich City had mixed starts to the season. Norwich City played out a 1-1 draw with Wigan Athletic while QPR lost at home 4-0 to Bolton Wanderers. Wes Hoolahan scored goal for Norwich after they trailed to a Ben Watson penalty.

QPR lost to goals from Gary Cahill, Danny Gabbidon (OG), Ivan Klasnic and Fabrice Muamba. Both of the newly promoted teams will need to adapt to life fast in the Premier League.

Aston Villa and Fulham played out a 0-0 draw at Craven Cottage but Blackburn lost 2-1 to Wolves at Ewood Park with Steven Fletcher and Stephen Ward replying for Wolves after going behind to a goal from Argentine striker Mauro Formica.

It now looks like being a great season for Wolves but a gloomy season for Blackburn Rovers.

Suarez edges closer to Liverpool switch

24 Jan

 

By Paul Leigh

Liverpool have edged closer to completing the €25 million signing of Ajax and Uruguay striker Luis Suarez after it was revealed that the Anfield club’s director of football strategy Damien Comolli had flown to Holland this morning to finalise the terms of the deal.

Suarez who turns 24 today was involved in a couple of controversies in 2010 after biting PSV Eindhoven’s Otman Bakkal in November which earned him a seven game suspension and stopping a certain Ghana goal in the last minute of extra time with his hand during a quarter final match at the World Cup in South Africa which saw Uruguay advance on penalties.

However, Suarez has a proven goalscoring record in his three seasons with the Dutch side hitting the back of the net 81 times in 108 appearances. He has also netted 16 goals in 38 games for his national team where he enjoys a partnership with Athletico Madrid’s Diego Forlan and Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish will certainly be hoping he can form a similar partnership with Fernando Torres.

Suarez admitted over the weekend that a move to England would be appealing:

“England is a league that attracts me, a country where the football is really good,”

“Alongside the Spanish league it is the best in the world. In England you have a lot of clubs with aspirations to become champions and they are also very strong in the Champions League at the European level.”

“I used to think that English football was not my style. But I saw Tevez play at Boca and Corinthians and I never imagined that he would play in the Premier League.”

“When I see the way that Tevez plays there I think I can be a big name in England. It’s because of the energy, and the spirit they put into the game in England. Now, I think it’s a kind of football that suits me.”

Ajax manager Frank de Boer has revealed he wants a deal done sooner rather than later so he can find a suitable replacement for Suarez.

Meanwhile, It would appear Blackpool midfielder Charlie Adam could also be on his way to Anfield after threatening to pull out of the squad to face Manchester United Tuesday night if a bid is not accepted.

Stalemate at White Hart Lane as Man United end with ten men.

16 Jan

By Paul Walsh

Brazilian full-back Rafael was controversially sent off but 10-man Manchester United still kept their unbeaten record as they went back to the top of the Barclays Premier League on goal difference despite another draw away from home.

Ryan Giggs was named in the starting line-up for his 600th league appearance for United as Ferguson obviously felt his experience would be crucial.

Sir Alex Ferguson also welcomed back Rooney returned from an ankle injury after missing two games while Nemanja Vidic and goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar were also fit after recent absences.

United might have taken the lead in the first two minutes, Rooney was expertly played in by Dimitar Berbatov but he screwed his right-foot shot agoinisingly across the face of the goal.

It was Rooney again on 22 minutes when linking up with Berbatov he brought a stumbling save from the Tottenham goalkeeper.

Spurs improved as the half went on and and Van der Vaart was inches away from giving them the lead when he met Bale’s cross but his header flew wide.

United started more impressively in the second half as Michael Carrick headed Ryan Giggs’ corner across the face of the goal and wide, while Rooney forced Gomes into a fine fingertip save to turn away his low drive from 20 yards.

The main talking point of the game was when Rafael was shown a yellow card for clipping full-back Benoit Assou-Ekotto after having earlier been booked for a challenge on Wilson Palacios. The second yellow card seemed harsh as Rafael crossed the back of Ekotto and seemed to inadvertently clip the player.

The young Brazilian was incensed and showered abuse at referee Mike Dean and kicked over a television sound boom as he left the pitch and the FA are likely to want to follow up on this incident. Rooney was also booked for his protests when he should have kept out of the incident. He swore at the referee a number of times after this incident and was lucky that Dean did not book him again for abusive language.

The sending off prompted an exchange of substitutions as Jermain Defoe replaced Palacios and Javier Hernandez came on for Berbatov, who did not have the best of games against his former club.

There was to be no dramatic ending, however, and both Redknapp and Ferguson were forced to settle for a draw.

The draw sees Tottenham, who have not beaten United since May 2001, stay fifth a point behind Chelsea and outside the Champions League places.

Keane nearing Spurs exit door

6 Jan

By Sean Farrell

Republic Of Ireland captain Robbie Keane, is expected to undergo a medical this week ahead of his £7 Million transfer to midlands strugglers Birmingham City.

Despite being recalled to the North London club by Harry Redknapp after his nightmare spell with Liverpool in 2008, Keane has fallen out of favour and has now been shown the door at White Hart Lane.

Following Spurs’ defeat to Everton on Wednesday night, Redknapp revealed that the ball is now in the Dubliner’s court as the club have accepted a sizeable bid from Birmingham.

“I think Birmingham have made an offer for Robbie – I’m not sure, around about £7million (€8.2) or whatever for him – and it’s up to Robbie really,” Said Redknapp, before insisting that the player must leave on a permanent deal rather than a loan, as he had done with Celtic in the second half of last season.

“If it’s a move he fancies, we wouldn’t stand in his way. Robbie either, stays with us and plays for his place or he moves on permanently but he’s certainly not up for a loan again. It’s up to Robbie at the end of the day what he does.”

Giving that Keane has only made two league starts this term, these words from his manager effectively act as an eviction notice.

The former Portsmouth boss has been reluctant to trust in Keane since he organised a team booze-up in Dublin in December 2009. At the time Redknapp was not aware of the incident, believing that only a small group had crossed the Irish Sea for a game of golf.

Since then, Ireland’s record goal-scorer has been fourth in the pecking order of strikers, behind Jermaine Defoe, Roman Pavlyuchenko and Peter Crouch. The emergence of Gareth Bale as a serious attacking talent along with the introduction of Rafael Van Der Vaart as an advanced midfielder have further curtailed Keane’s opportunities.

At Birmingham this week, Manager Alex McLeish, hinted at the move for Keane. McLeish suggested he was in the market for a striker with more guile, as he already had height, power and speed at his disposal. The striker, about to move to his eight club will hope he can still fill that category.

McLeish remained coyer than his opposite number at Spurs when asked about Transfers:

“It is not fair to name names,” the former Rangers manager said. “We are working actively; the board and myself, to try and enhance the striking positions. We know we haven’t scored enough goals. That is something we have to rectify in the second half of the season. We know that. We know our targets and we’ve got to go for them.”

There is no little doubt that the Blues want Keane, and less that Spurs want rid of him. The remaining question is whether Keane can agree terms. He reportedly requested a £1 Million bonus from the club, who were bottom of the league at the time, should they avoid relegation.