Saturday, January 29, 2011

Manchester United Do It Again

Today, Man United showed yet again why they should never be written off at any point during a match. They came back from 1-0 down to win 2-1 against Southampton in the FA Cup. Their "never say die" attitude is one of the reasons that a majority of people are backing the Red Devils to be lifting the Premiership title and other honours by the end of the season. Goals by Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez and Michael Owen sealed United's place in the fifth round of the FA Cup.

After conceding late goals against Everton and Fulham that denied them victory at the start of the season, it seems that lapses in concentration have been removed from the system. United seem to be at their best in the last ten minutes as they have recorded two victories by means of a comeback. I'm referring of course to their victory today and their victory earlier this week against Blackpool as they showed great character to comeback from 2-0 down to leave Bloomfield Road 2-3 winners.

Man United are still unbeaten this season but people are still doubting the prospect of them repeating the success of the 2003/04 Arsenal "invincibles" team. Although they do have Chelsea still to play twice and Man City will be visiting Old Trafford next month, I don't see any reason why they can't. After all, I think it is fair to say that they haven't reached their full potential this season.

With the form Berbatov is in, it does seem that they won't have to rely on the Rooney of old and with the ability of Hernandez, it seems that Rooney might even struggle to find himself in the starting XI more often than  not. With the managerial talent that Ferguson possesses, I wouldn't write them off.

So, will they win the league and in the process go the whole season unbeaten?

I would love to hear any comments that you may have.

Friday, January 28, 2011

One Striker On His Way In While One Possibly Heading Out

It wasn't looking very good for Liverpool only a month or so ago but after the weekend's victory at Molineux against Wolves it looks like the Anfield faithful will soon be chanting with joy as it looks like Luis Suarez looks a certainty to join the ranks at Liverpool. But just as it looked like Liverpool were on the verge of having one of the most formidable strike duos, Torres crushed that possibility as he requested that he is allowed to talk to Chelsea.

After the World Cup, with the exception of the late Paul the Octopus, Luis Suarez was the name that was reasonably unknown before the World Cup, that everyone was going to remember in the near future. Not only for his controversial hand ball which ultimately denied Ghana from becoming the first African nation to reach World Cup Semi Finals but for his, at times, sublime play. He will surely be a real asset for Liverpool and shouldn't disappoint.

Now to the player, with the exception of Wayne Rooney, who will want to forget the Summer of 2010 as quickly as possible, Fernando Torres. After an unbelievably good start to his Liverpool career,  it just seems that Torres can't find the form that made him so popular on Merseyside. He showed glimpses at the weekend though, that might signal the start of a goalscoring run that the Liverpool fans have been dying to see.

But although Liverpool have insisted that the Spain international is not for sale, Torres has insisted that he would like to at least see what Chelsea have on offer. With only a few days left in the transfer window, Chelsea will have to act fast. Apparently, the offer on the table is 35 million pounds. With the arrival of Suarez practically complete, you would have to think that Liverpool would be a little less reluctant to let go of the Spaniard if the right offer was made.

If Liverpool are to keep Torres and sign Suarez and get both strikers to reach the standard that we know they are capable of, then with a bit of luck, the fourth spot could be within Liverpool's sights.

I would love to hear any comments that you may have.

For more football news check out In The Stands now.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Why Did Bent Decide To Move To Aston Villa?

In a shock move, Darren Bent has obviously decided that Villa Park is the place to be even though they happen to be in 17th position and no doubt a relegation battle. He left Sunderland, who are in a very respectable 6th position in the premier league with a Europa League spot very much on the cards.

Is it me, or am I right to be slightly baffled by Bent's decision? I don't know, maybe Bent sees something that we don't. All I'm saying is that it just seems strange that he would move to a club that, very clearly, are struggling to keep their Premier League status.

Sunderland have shown some tremendous performances, most notably against a very poor Chelsea side but a 3-0 victory at Stamford Bridge none the less. They have shown quality and I wouldn't put it past them to do well in the Europa League should they qualify. Steve Bruce has put a team together, that on their day, can beat anyone in the Premiership at the moment.

Now to Aston Villa. I think it's fair to say that they have had a below-par season struggling to win games this season that they would have won with little effort last season. So obviously, like Chelsea with Ray Wilkins, the loss of staff has really affected their season as Martin O'Neill decided to take an early exit from Villa Park. Gerard Houllier has struggled to have an impact on the way that Villa have gone about their football, showing in their poor form.

So, who would you decide to play for? I think it's fairly clear that Sunderland are in the better form and position in the league, so what was the motivation for Darren Bent's audacious move away from the Stadium of Light. It does seem rather mind boggling. I think it is fair to say, that Bent hasn't been Sunderland's top dog in front of goal. For me, Welbeck has proved to be slightly more affective this season so maybe that had an affect on Bent's decision. 

I would love to hear any comments that you may have.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Pienaar Should NOT Leave Everton

Remember the time when Jolean Lescott was the star on the rise, the leader for England's next generation for central defenders. Well around that time, Man City decided to go into their pockets and cough up a pricey £20 million or so for the big man. Where is he now? Not really doing much at the City of Manchester Stadium and has gone out of contention of being the next solid defender that England manage to produce.

For this reason, I think it would be wise of Pienaar to stay put at Goodison Park. I think it would be an awful shame if he quickly fizzled out and became practically unknown in some parts of the world. Of course he will still be known here and of course in his native South Africa but where else?

Since arriving at Goodison, David Moyes has done what a lot of managers aspire to do. Get a relatively unknown player which will leave a lot of people bemused at the decision and then prove all the doubters wrong by making him into a valuable asset. A lot of managers have tried this with only the best being able to emulate the success of managers like Moyes so I think that is a testament to Moyes as well.

In case you haven't heard, Tottenham and Chelsea are the two clubs interested in the South African. Now I don't about you, but with the quality of players that both teams have, it's hard seeing Pienaar getting a first team spot more often than not. He has proven that he can deliver in big matches and can score and create goals, but I just think it isn't the right move for him at this present time.

With the proposed offer being in and around the region of £3 million, I'm surprised Everton aren't holding out for more especially with the kind of quality that he possesses and especially when you see that Aston Villa have reportedly offered Sunderland £18 million for Darren Bent.

So do you think he should leave Goodison? What do you think would be the best move for his career?

I would love to hear any comments that you may have.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Do Arsenal Ever Stop Complaining?

It's quite clear that everyone loves to watch Arsenal play football. Why? Because they play the game right. No "Route 1" stuff, just fantastic, crisp passing on the deck. But if there is one thing gets me slightly aggravated, it's Arsenal's tendency to complain when things aren't going in their favour. Arsene Wenger is almost famous for saying that teams "are too rough" or "they kick us".

Don't get me wrong, half the time Wenger does have a valid point and sure how can you blame him for complaining. Two of the most horrific injuries I think that we have seen in the past two or three years have come at the cost of an Arsenal player's leg. Of course, I'm talking about the skillful and unfortunate Ramsey and Eduardo. 

Lee Bowyer had to accept a three match ban due to literally kicking Bacary Sagna only a few weeks or so ago. So I think he does have every right to complain, you just wish he wouldn't go on about it so much.

Yet again though, it happened today as Arsenal skipper was caught saying that Ipswich used "rugby" tactics last night as they ran out 1-0 winners through a goal from Ipswich's Tamas Priskin at Portman Road. If you didn't watch the match, Fabregas wasn't complaining about rugby-like tackles but more about the obsessive use of the "route 1" option. 

We all know that when we see Arsenal using the "route 1" option that they are in dire straits and are getting desperate by that stage. I'm sure most of this harmless rant was due to frustration but it was inevitable that Arsenal weren't going to accept losing to a team that is a league below them but there is still no need for the outburst. 

I would love to hear any comments that you may have.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Is Gareth Bale That Good?

Today, Roberto Mancini boldly stated that if Spurs were to lose Bale, they would lose 50% of their potential. Now, I know he is good, but is he that good? I think the only reason we aren't seeing offers left, right and centre for the Welshman is because Redknapp knows he is one of the most feared players in the world and wouldn't dare to sell him. I think the only man that would have the nerve to contradict Redknapp when he says that Bale is unavailable would be Mancini himself.

I don't know what Bale did over the Summer but whatever he did, I think a lot of players will be taking a leaf out Bale's book as they attempt to become the hottest property in world football. When he joined, he was well publicised as being the new kid sensation and didn't really live up to the hype. We then find out that the only thing that was missing was that he was playing left-back not left-midfield.

A few more years of the same form that Bale has been showing in the past few months then we seriously might have a Welsh Ballon d'Or winner. I'd say he is only behind Messi, Iniesta and Xavi in the list of the world's best players. I'm sorry Tottenham fans but it seems that it is only a matter of time before Bale makes the move away from White Hart Lane.

But is this just a phase of good fortune. I'm not underestimating the player but it could just be. I hope not because if so, there goes Tottenham's chances of doing well in the Champions League unless, of course, the likes of Modric and Van Der Vaart can win it for them single handedly. Bale has proved he can play against the best and not get phased by the hype surrounding the match.

Bale has clearly stated that he wants to stay put but there is bound to be an offer with big money involved soon. Tottenham have felt the pressure this season to retain the coveted fourth spot and with the odds stacked highly against them to do so, that might have a say in Gareth Bale's future. I wouldn't bet against them but yet again, if I'm being brutally honest, I think they will come just too short and unless they win the Champions League they might have to settle for Europa League football next season.

So was Mancini right to say what he said or is he over-rating the Welshman?

I would love to hear any comments that you may have.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

2010. What A Year For Howard Web. 2011. Not So Much

It's been hard to go onto a football site lately and not hear about the controversy that Howard Webb caused in the Man United v Liverpool match on Sunday. Although the penalty was a bit dubious, I think he got the sending off of Steven Gerrard spot on.

I think we should cut him a bit of slack though. He is easily one of the best English referees at the moment and you can't doubt that especially with the credentials that he has to his name. Unlike a lot of the referees that we see today, I think it is fair to say that Mr.Webb doesn't get pushed around by the players into making decisions.

I don't think the year could have got off to a worse start and especially after last year in which we couldn't run out of superlatives to describe the policeman, 2011 might just be the year that brings him back down to earth.

FIFA and UEFA found him worthy of refereeing both the Champions League and World Cup final respectively in the same year. I think it is fair to say that he didn't have his best performance in the World Cup final which was of course contested between Holland and Spain in Johannesburg. 

But in fairness he didn't get much assistance  from the likes of Marc Van Bommel and Nigel De Jong, in which they led the public to believe that it was a Kung Fu tutorial rather than a football match. Not even Spain could turn it in to a match worthy of watching as we had to endure 120 minutes of drivel.

Ryan Babel obviously didn't care what Webb achieved in 2010 as he had this to say "And they call him one of the best referees? That's a joke." Babel, like many others, knew he wasn't going to get away with it and quickly withdrew his comments. But do you agree with Babel? Is he over-rated? I personally don't think so, don't we all have "a bad day at the office"?

I would love to hear any comments that you may have.

Monday, January 10, 2011

It's Official, Messi Is The Best Player In The World

Lionel Messi today picked up the Balon d'Or award and added to his already stacked trophy cabinet. In the year that the debate of who is the best player in the world was discussed more than any other year, it seems there is just no touching Messi. Although, I was relatively surprised with the decision to announce Messi as the winner.

I say this because the two men that were in contention of picking up the honour as well were none other than Barcelona team mates and midfield maestro's, Xavi and Iniesta. After having an amazing year with both club and country and picking up the World Cup on the way, it seems even that wasn't enough.

Yet again, who can complain? After all, most people I'm sure are left speechless after some of the sublime trickery Messi puts on show for the whole world to see. Some say "he is the new Maradona", but isn't he giving Maradona a run for his money for being the best ever? Unfortunately, I was conceived a bit too late to see the wonders that Maradona had on offer but "the goal" that he scored against England at Mexico '86 was simply artistry in motion.

Is he the greatest ever? I think the simple answer is no or maybe I should say, not yet. He definitely has the time to prove his greatness and truly mark his name in football folklore as the greatest ever and by god does he have the talent to achieve that goal.

I'll take my hat off to Xavi and Iniesta though. In any other era of football either of them could have won hands down. You also have to feel sympathy for them, to be as good as they are, and still not be in with a shout is mind boggling. What sort of a message does this send to the teams of the World, and more importantly, European football. They have the three best players that we've laid our eyes on and have had the absolute honour of seeing the beautiful game played at it's best in the past few years.

So is he/can he be the best ever? Did he deserve the Ballon d'Or award, if not, who should have?

I would love to hear any comments that you may have. 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

It Was Only A Matter Of Time Before Hodgson Left

Today, Roy Hodgson has left Liverpool with Kenny Daglish taking over until the end of the season. Let's be honest, it was only a matter of time. When I heard the news, I wasn't in shock, I don't think anyone was. In all fairness though, his players didn't give him much help. Can you name one player that has even been half decent so far this season? If the national side was picked on current form, like it should be, Gerrard shouldn't stand a chance of getting into England's squad for the next set of matches.

Liverpool didn't have a dismal start to the season but a 3-2 loss at Old Trafford to league leaders Man United, looking back on it, was when Liverpool's season took a turn for the worst. After a season where they could only manage a very mediocre 7th position, they got rid of Benitez and brought in Hodgson. 

Joe Cole was supposed to be the signing of the season and Liverpool were supposed to have a cracking season. But the Anfield faithful have had very little to cheer about with both Cole and more importantly Hodgson both failing to impress.

There is no doubt that Roy Hodgson regrets leaving Fulham but we can't really blame him for leaving to a certain extent. After all Liverpool are one of, if not the, greatest team in British history. But as we all know, they have failed to win the one of the most prized possessions in modern day football, the Premier League title.

Where to now for Liverpool? It isn't looking too bad for the club, after all they are still in the Europa League and although they are in danger of dropping into the relegation battle, I'm sure Liverpool fans are confident that Daglish can work his wonders. 

I would love to hear any comments that you may have, especially Liverpool fans.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Man United Need A Player Like Lassana Diarra

We are now a week into the transfer window and with many clubs yet too make their move for the player that they are seeking, we are hearing rumors left, right and centre. It has been very quiet in the transfer window, with the main talking point being the chase to get Beckham on a loan move.

It looks like that saga is coming to an end with Tottenham declaring that they are close to getting the signature of the former England captain. Just like Man City did two and a half years ago, Blackburn are adamant on making a big impression in the Premier League as they are hopeful, actually make that very hopeful, of signing  Ronaldinho.

Manchester United have expressed their desire to sign Lassana Diarra for obvious reasons. With the injury prone Hargreaves and the elderly Paul Scholes, Man United are stuck for holding midfielders and on top of that Diarra is under-rated in my view and can show his brilliance at times. He was somewhat unknown until he arrived at the Bernabeu after Real Madrid poached him off Portsmouth. Mourinho has said that he would like to keep hold of the Frenchman and announced that he does have a part to play in his plans.

Scholes isn't getting any younger and with rumors that Hargreaves is on his way out of Old Trafford, United could be stuck with no holding midfielder by the start of next season. But like I said, Mourinho seems adamant that Diarra stays but I'm sure he wouldn't mind a whole lot if he has the likes of Xabi Alonso there already.

There are plenty of defensive midfielders there for United to go after. They might even try and get their hands on one of Man City's holding midfielders. With the presence that they have, they could get anyone they wanted. They might even try and disturb Barcelona and make a bid for Busquets if they wanted to although it would be difficult to persuade him away from the Nou Camp

I would love to hear any comments that you may have.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

It's Not All Doom And Gloom For West Ham

Now we here it every year about who is bottom at Christmas, and that it is an almost certainty that the team who end up in that dreaded position will go down. This year, it was West Ham's turn to to take the title of "the club that were bottom at Christmas" but since Avram Grant got a three match warning a month or so ago, he seems to have turned it around for the better.

The Premiership is getting praised more than ever because of the fact that there are three or four teams that can genuinely win the title, but the relegation battle looks more like a battle than ever before. Only two points separate West Ham, who are of course last, and Fulham, who are in 14th position. For some reason, it looks more likely that Liverpool will go down than Blackpool, so it's all to play for, for any team in the bottom half I reckon.

The last time it was this close, West Brom went into the last game of the season rock bottom of the table and somehow managed to survive so the omens aren't looking too bad for the Hammers. Avram Grant's job at Upton Park seems under less scrutiny as the weeks go by and that is an encouraging sign for all Premiership managers I'd say.   

Now I know what you're going to say "they just lost 5-0 against Newcastle last night" but don't all teams have as Avram Grant described it himself, a "bad day at the office". A lot of people reckon it'll be the three W's that will go down, West Ham, Wigan and Wolves but I don't think that that is going to be entirely the case. Like I said, it's all to play for and it would be arrogant to make a prediction this early.

So West Ham fans, do you believe Avram Grant can keep your club safe from the drop? 

I would love to hear any comments that you may have and predictions on this topic.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Man City On The Verge Of Improving Their Attacking Options

Man City have announced that they have agreed a fee for Bosnian Edin Dzeko. With Man City also on the verge of losing their only good aerial player up front (Adebayor), this move seems almost vital if City want to have a serious chance of winning the league. Now don't worry Man City fans, he isn't coming to the club with the same reputation that Georgios Samaras had a few years back, good in the air but struggles to finish when the ball is at his feet. Unlike Samaras, Dzeko can score with both his head and feet and has quite a prolific goalscoring record.

Now I'm not trying to be biased but with the signing of Dzeko practically complete, are there many teams, if any, that have more depth to their attacking options.
Matt Le Tissier said it himself. Edin Dzeko does seem to be the type of player that Tevez needs playing along side him. He seems the sort of player that can come in when Tevez is injured or when Balotelli is being a pain in the backside.

But with the proposed arrival of Dzeko, this means that the struggle to keep everyone happy at Man City will increase for Mancini. You only had to watch the news yesterday to see that the Man City camp isn't quite so merry, as two former Arsenal team mates Adebayor and Kolo Toure got into a scuffle at training. As if the pressure on Mancini wasn't high enough by the owners, now with at least three or four players that won't be happy weekly due to lack of games, the pressure will be unbearable.

So with Dzeko coming in and presuming he is going to start more often than not, it is hard to see who will have to make way for the Bosnian. Either way, whatever happens Man City will have a bench that will surely be feared by any team in world football, with most players being able to come on and make a difference.

Man City face Arsenal tonight in a game which will surely decide if City should be taken seriously in regards to the title race. With the game being at the Emirates, I can see Man City getting much out of the game but I'm sure Mancini and the rest of his squad will love to prove the doubters wrong.

I would love to hear any comments you may have.

Don't forget to check out Football Corner if you want more football news.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Will Beckham Return To The Premiership?

We all know that David Beckham has expressed his desire to return to the Premiership but with Arsenal and Man United both ruling themselves out to sign the former England captain, who will want to sign him? Both Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson have either explained that he is just not at the right age or that there is no room in their respective squads. You wouldn't have to be that smart to think that Old Trafford would be his preferred destination.

The former England captain, has been itching to get his chance to impress Fabio Capello again and prove that he is not too old. He feels that a move to the Premier League will improve his chances of getting that opportunity. Apart from being a few million pound richer, the move to LA Galaxy hasn't really done his career any good. Needless to say, Beckham has had an illustrious career but does he still have "it"? Even if he had half of what he had ten years ago, he would still be a player worth signing.

Can we really blame Ferguson and Wenger for not showing interest in Beckham though? After all, he is 35 years of age and for  two teams who are serious challengers for the title this year to sign a player of that age would be a bit unnecessary. So it seems Beckham will have to settle with a team below the top four, although it does seem that Tottenham are very interested in signing Beckham.

But if it isn't Spurs who will it be and will it be good enough for Beckham? Maybe a team along the lines of Bolton or Sunderland would be a suitable choice. Maybe not at the standard of Arsenal or United but like Jordan Henderson and Kevin Davies have shown, you can still get recognised by the England boss.

He received the lifetime achievement award at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Ceremony, so that is showing a sign of his age. There is no doubt that he has been great for England, but is he not at the stage where he should think about giving up his pursuit of winning back the number seven jersey for his country?

I would love to hear any comments you may have.

Liverpool seem to be the topic of conversation for all football fans, so why not check out Live4Liverpool for more in depth analysis.