Can Kieran Gibbs become Ashley Cole’s long term successor for England? - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
Arsenal defender Kieran Gibbs is in contention to be named in Roy Hodgson’s squad tomorrow for the upcoming European Championship qualifiers against San Marino and Estonia.
The 25-year-old has only made three international appearances so far, and has not played for his country since England’s 1-0 defeat to Germany last November, where he came on as a substitute.
Arsene Wenger believes that Gibbs not only has the ability to establish himself as a first choice left-back for England, but he is as good as Ashley Cole, arguably the best left-back England have had in the last decade.
“I think he will be in after the way he performed against Tottenham,” Wenger said as quoted by The Times.
“Now he realises he can trust his body, and trust his talent. Against Tottenham he took the game by the scruff of the neck for a long period in the second half. That’s what you want to see from him because all the talent is there. With Ashley around for a long time there was no discussion, but now it’s a bit more open.
“He can be as good as Ashley, and he’s good example to follow because Ashley was top. You see stories about Ashley Cole, but on the day of a game he was always there.”
Leighton Baines is currently the first choice left-back for England, but the Everton defender performed below par during the World Cup in Brazil. Luke Shaw is a promising youngster but has hardly played for Manchester United this season.
Gibbs’s recent form and experience gives him the edge and is likely to be selected ahead of Shaw and Rose by Roy Hodgson tomorrow.
The comparison with Cole is interesting here. Cole was a brilliant player going forward, and his final delivery (either in the form of crosses or side pass after cutting inside) was outstanding. But at the same time, Cole was defensively vulnerable in his early years and his positional sense was a huge concern.
Gibbs on the other hand is a strong defender with an impeccable positional awareness. He may not be as adventurous as Cole or Baines, and probably needs to improve on his delivery in the final third, but he is an assured passer (87% passing accuracy) and is an excellent reader of the game. He just needs to get rid of his bad habit of picking up frequent injuries which could impede him from becoming a top defender in future.
Totti and Cole show ‘Age No Bar’ in eventful Champions League Tie - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
Roma held Manchester City to a 1-1 draw in the Champions League Group E encounter at a half packed Etihad Stadium last night. The home side went ahead after a controversial penalty awarded by the referee from which Sergio Aguero made no mistake. Roma captain Francesco Totti, 38, then restored parity becoming Champions League’s oldest goalscorer, eclipsing Manchester United’s Ryan Giggs.
The Italian outfit were very much the better side over the course of 90 minutes and were unlucky not to grab three points despite stretching the City defense on every counter attack.
Totti later claimed, “It was an important point today, and we even had the chance to win after we had five or six opportunities to take the lead. We did not succeed because City is a very strong team and well organized.”
Totti made his presence felt when Belgian midfielder Radja Nainggolan released him en route to goal, the captain who made no mistake to chip the ball into the back of the net past the onrushing Joe Hart.
Roma’s best player on the field however was former Chelsea man Ashley Cole. The 33 year old left back reminded why he is still regarded as England’s best left despite having retired. Cole used his experience to negate Jesus Navas, the quickest player on the pitch who was rightly replaced at half time by Manuel Pellegrini. Cole advanced on the left wing whenever he had time and space, capping up a brilliant display.
33 year old Maicon also hit the bar moments after conceding the penalty while Seydou Keita, 34, did well to contain Yaya Toure in the middle of the park. Roma remain favourites to qualify from the group stages behind leaders Bayern Munich with 4 points from 2 games at present. The way they controlled the game against the reigning Premier LeAgue Champions will have manager Rudi Garcia in good spirits ahead of the key class against Juventus in the weekend. The ageing Roma side certainly taught City a lesson, “Sometimes Football isn’t a young man’s game.”
Manchester United face tough competition to sign wonderkid - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
Manchester United face difficult competition if they are to sign 15-year old Norwegian wonderkid Martin Ødegaard.
Spanish newspaper AS have reported that the Red Devils are joined by German Bundesliga sides Bayern Munich and VfB Stuttgart in inviting the teenager to train at their facilities.
Martin Ødegaard doesn’t turn 16 until December but is already a regular in Norwegian top flight side Strømsgodset for whom he has three senior goals.
In August he became the youngest ever senior Norway international at 15 years, 253 days when he played at home to the United Arab Emirates. He has been called up to Norway’s two qualifiers for UEFA Euro 2016 later this month.
AS have quoted his father Hans Erik who says there is serious interest in the player:
“More than 30 major clubs have asked about him. Martin could play in any team in Europe.”
The newspaper also mentions Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund, Chelsea, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain as other teams interested.
It would appear Martin Ødegaard has a very bright future ahead of him. Where that future lies remains to be seen. Keep an eye out for his name in 2015 when he is expected to move to a bigger club.
The future of Arsenal and Chelsea transfer target Sami Khedira still remains in the balance.
Khedira’s contract is still due to expire in June 2015 and no new contract has been agreed. If the 2014 World Cup winner does not sign a new deal before the new year he is free to discuss with new clubs in January over a free transfer move next summer.
Spanish newspaper Marca reported on Tuesday that the German international turned up for the club’s official team photo last Thursday but did not mention what plans he has for the future.
Sami Khedira has not had a chance to play this season due to injuries but the 27-year old is due back from injury after this month’s international break.
Marca went on to report that the Real Madrid board have not been in touch with Khedira’s agent since during the World Cup when the player rejected the club’s offer of a new contract. He wants a bigger contract then the 2014 UEFA Champions League winners are prepared to offer.
The Real Madrid board are convinced that their midfielder has not agreed or signed anything with Premier League side Arsenal, or any other club and that he will not do so without telling his owners first…
Daniel Sturridge may return for Liverpool but not for England - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
Brendan Rodgers has told Roy Hodgson that Daniel Sturridge will not be fit for the upcoming Euro 2016 qualifiers, even if the striker recovers from a thigh injury in time to face West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.
Sturridge suffered a thigh injury while in training with England last month and he is likely to miss the Champions League tie with Basle on Wednesday.
Roy Hodgson has every right to select Sturridge when he names his squad tomorrow, but should he do so, the England manager would go against the wishes of Rodgers, who has earlier maintained that the injury sustained during England duty was avoidable.
Rodgers said as quoted by The Guardian:
“Daniel won’t be fit. Whether he is available for the weekend or not, he won’t be fit. We are hoping he can develop over the next 24 hours and train with the team on Thursday and be available for some involvement and be in the squad on Saturday,”
But if you are talking about players’ availability [for England], then they need to be fit to play and Daniel will not be fit to play.”
Sturridge’s absence means Mario Balotelli is likely to lead the Liverpool attack again. Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho is also unavailable because of a thigh strain suffered in training. The France international was seen walking out of Anfield prior to the Merseyside derby and been disciplined for his behaviour, though Rodgers said his punishment will remain in-house.
Manchester United injury crisis worsens with midfielder Ander Herrera expected to miss action for up to six weeks due to a fractured rib.
Herrara, the £28.8m summer signing from Athletic Bilbao, took a blow to the chest and was substituted in the second half during United’s 2-1 victory over West Ham. United confirmed that the club would continue to monitor his progress, but the Spaniard is facing the prospect of missing the club’s next five Barclays Premier League matches, including some crucial games against Chelsea and Manchester City.
The 25-year-old has already missed three games earlier this season; his latest injury layoff is a massive blow for Louis van Gaal, who has been left frustrated with a litany of injury problems.
Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling are already out, midfielders Michael Carrick and Marouane Fellaini have yet to return to full fitness and are not available; in addition the United manager will be without his skipper Wayne Rooney, who is suspended for the next three Premier League games, after his red card against West Ham.
The only positive news is Phil Jones has returned to training after a hamstring injury and could be in contention to face Everton at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Liverpool hint at contract extension for Steven Gerrard - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers says that Steven Gerrard is the “real catalyst” for everything the team has achieved in the last 18 months.
Gerrard came under severe criticism after his mediocre performance against West Ham where his role in the team had been questioned. The Liverpool skipper returned strongly against Everton in the Merseyside derby on Saturday; the ear-cupped celebration following his goal suggests he was determined to prove his critics wrong.
The 34-year-old is in the final year of his contract, but Rodgers wants him to stick around at the club for a good while yet.
“It is something we are looking at as a club and with him and how he feels,” Rodgers said as quoted by The Times.
“He is still in a real good physical condition. He’s 34 years old, never needs a day’s rest. This is a genuine superstar, a world-class player who has performed consistently for so many years, and this country has not produced too many of them. He will play and prepare himself right the way through to the very end, and when that is, we shall see.”
Gerrard has repeatedly maintained that he is relaxed over the situation, however, there has been no such indications yet that talks over a new deal are set to begin.
Liverpool will travel to Switzerland to play Basel in the Champions League, where Gerrard is expected to make his 126th European appearances for the Reds.
Liverpool are heading into this match on the back of a dramatic 2-1 victory against Ludogorets in their opening game. Another victory for the Reds against Basle will put them in a good position to qualify to the knock out rounds.
€20m world class player not interested in Manchester United transfer - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
Mats Hummels says that he is not tempted to join Manchester United or any other big European club, adding that if he ever moves abroad, it won’t be because of money.
The 25-year-old defender was heavily linked with Manchester United in the summer, and although the German is happy to see him name being linked with other top clubs, he sees himself playing at Dortmund for the rest of his career.
Speaking to Bundesliga Magazine International, when asked whether he was tempted by interests from Manchester United or Real Madrid, he said:
“It’s nice to hear that big clubs like that are interested in you. I take that as a compliment but it doesn’t influence me in any way, otherwise. We earn enough here in Dortmund.”
“There will always be someone who can pay more than BVB but Dortmund have made a lot of progress during my time here.
“In any case I believe it’s enough for me. If one day I start thinking about playing abroad, money won’t be the reason. I don’t even think about that at the moment. We still have so much further to go here.”
Hummels hints that he might stay at Dortmund forever citing examples of players like Paolo Maldini, Steven Gerrard, and Lionel Messi who have played for one particular club throughout their career.
Reports emerged back in July that Manchester United could be willing to make an offer of €20m for Hummels. Jurgen Klopp, the Dortmund manager, said back then that any potential buyer can forget about signing the German defender with that amount.
3 Reasons Why Juan Mata Will Never Be A First-Team Regular At Manchester United - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
In the mass overhaul at Manchester United in the summer, a whole host of word-class attacking players were brought in. Ander Herrera, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao were all signed by manager Louis Van Gaal in a bid to overturn the torrid campaign under David Moyes last year.
With the vast amount of talent at his disposal, there was always going to be someone who would miss out. A balance between the new players and the old ones was required, but in the process, someone would have to be demoted to the bench. That someone has turned out to be Juan Mata.
The Spaniard, signed from close-rivals Chelsea in January this year, has a very good record as a United player. His return of 9 goals from 20 appearances in the league is an extremely impressive one. Despite netting thrice this season though, he has been dropped to the bench in the last two games.
Jose Mourinho shocked one and all by dropping the Spaniard during his time at Stamford Bridge, despite the 26 year-old being the Blues’ best player in the past two seasons. Now, we know why the Portuguese manager did it.
Despite being a quality player, there are some very good reasons why Mata will never be able to hold down a first-team place regularly.
1) Lack of Versatility:
Juan Mata is the kind of player who thrives in a situation where he can receive the ball in space, look up and find a teammate. When played in the number 10 role behind the striker, he is at his best, scoring and making goals regularly. In any other midfield position though, he is quite ineffective. The current crop of players at United sees Wayne Rooney deployed in the number 10 role behind Robin Van Persie and Falcao. Seeing that Mata can’t be played as a winger ahead of Di Maria or in the deep-lying position ahead of Herrera or Daley Blind, Van Gaal has no option but to leave him on the bench.
2) Defensively Frail:
One of the major criticisms that Mourinho had of Mata was that he contributed close to nothing defensively. Tracking back is not one of the Spaniard’s strengths and there have been several occasions when he has lost his man and led to an opposition goal. A recent example of this is the first goal Swansea scored against United on the opening day of the season, when Mata failed to track Ki Sung-Yueng, and the Korean went on to score. Therefore, playing him against big sides is always a risk as it leaves his team open in midfield.
Chelsea’s current crop of attacking midfielders consists of Eden Hazard, Oscar and Willian. All these players put pressure on the opposition when chasing the ball. This helps Chelsea to play much higher up the pitch and win back the ball quicker. With Mata in the side, the opposition found it easy to take their time and pass it around in midfield.
3) Inhibits Other Players’ Effectiveness:
In the two seasons that Mata thrived at Chelsea, the whole team was built around him. This, undoubtedly, brought the best out of him personally, but the team didn’t really progress. A 6th-placed finish in the 2011/12 season is a testament to that fact. As Mata could only operate as a number 10, the likes of Oscar and Frank Lampard had to be played out-of-position. This, in turn, didn’t bring the best out of them.
Now, the very same thing is happening at Old Trafford as well. By playing Mata, Van Gaal will be forced to play at least one of the other big-names out-of-position. Falcao, Van Persie, Rooney and Di Maria need to play where they are most comfortable in order to provide their best to the team.
The £37 million that Chelsea got for the sale of Juan Mata now seems huge. He was deemed surplus to requirements by Mourinho, and now Mata is slowly being phased out at Manchester United as well.
FC Basel vs Liverpool: Preview, Possible Lineups & Prediction - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
Steven Gerrard scored a dramatic stoppage time penalty to claim all three points for Liverpool in their opening UEFA Champions League match against Bulgarian debutants Ludogorets.
Their opening opponents weren’t meant to be so tough. For the Reds to progress from this group many think they will need to take four points from the Swiss opponents.
FC Basel have been good in Europe over the past couple of seasons, reaching the Europa League semi-finals two years ago and doing the double over Chelsea in last season’s Champions League group stage.
With success comes a price as the Swiss Super League side have seen a number of their young talents leave over the past couple of seasons. In January, Mohamed Salah joined Chelsea. This past summer they lost goalkeeper Yann Sommer, full-back Kay Voser and winger Valentin Stocker.
Marcelo Díaz is suspended and Ivan Ivanov is injured for the home side.
Full-backs Glen Johnson and Jon Flanagan are still absent. Centre midfielders Joe Allen and Emre Can are also out with injuries. Daniel Sturridge hasn’t recovered in tim, and Mamadou Sakho has been left out of the squad.
This is how we think FC Basel will line up. They like to play with the ball on the floor and take the game to opposition. You could say this is what led to their 5-1 thrashing in their opener against Real Madrid. Therefore it shouldn’t be too different for Liverpool compared to their match against Ludogorets. The Swiss side have made a good start domestically but head coach Paulo Sousa’s decision to rotate regularly may have hurt his side’s chances of gelling together early in the season.
This is Brendan Rodgers’ favourite XI with the players available. Expecting the Northern Irishman to put out his strongest squad for this one looking to get at least four points from the Swiss opponents over the two games.
Raheem Sterling vs Serey Die
Playing behind Mario Balotelli and Liverpool’s top scorer in the Premier League this season, Raheem Sterling is the main goal threat. His pace should cause the Basel defence some problems. Has an eye for goal and a few playmakers around he and Balotelli to supply the two central attackers.
Mario Balotelli vs Marek Suchý
Quite frankly, Liverpool’s £16 million summer signing has been poor in the Premier League so far. He does has a goal in the Champions League though. Mario Balotelli has the ability to score past any defence and given the number of goals Basel conceded in this competition in their opening group game, the Italian has to fancy himself scoring on Wednesday. Well, he always backs himself to score….
Derlis González vs Javi Moreno
FC Basel have a pacey winger from Paraguay on the right in Derlis González. The 20-year old has made a promising start to his career in Switzerland. He looks capable of being both a goalscorer and creator of goals for his side. Javi Moreno picks up his fair share of yellow cards so the full-back might want to be weary about diving into challenges and getting caught out of position with the threat González offers down the wing.
Prediction: FC Basel 1-1 Liverpool
FC Basel have an excellent record against English sides in recent seasons and Liverpool’s form isn’t the greatest ever since Daniel Sturridge picked up an injury. In terms of progressing from the group a draw should be fine for Liverpool if they can win the reverse fixture. They certainly don’t want to go into their two games against Real Madrid having lost this one.
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Preview, Possible Lineups & Prediction - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
Arsenal will be looking to get their 2014-15 UEFA Champions League campaign up-and-running by beating Galatasaray at the Emirates on Wednesday.
The Gunners were comfortably beaten in Dortmund in their opening group game but their Turkish opponents were held 1-1 at home by Anderlecht meaning a win in this game would more-than-likely move Arsène Wenger’s side into second position in the group.
Galatasaray aren’t expected to roll over, they do have some very good players in their team but have made an inconsistent start to the season. On paper, the Premier League side certainly have the players to get the job done.
Arsenal’s injury list continues to grow with Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta both picking up injuries at the weekend. Jack Wilshere is also a doubt for this game after rolling his ankle on Saturday.
Already sidelined are Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott, Mathieu Debuchy, Nacho Monreal, Yaya Sanogo and Serge Gnabry.
In contrast, manager Cesare Prandelli has his full squad available to him.
The Arsenal back four has named itself for much of this season and these are the only four experienced defenders available to Arsène Wenger due to injuries. The midfield starts to name itself too with injuries. We’ve left Jack Wilshere out so he can fully recover from the weekend’s knock ahead of facing Chelsea this weekend. Tomáš Rosický, Abou Diaby and Joel Campbell are fit options available to be named on the bench.
We think this is how Galatasaray will line up. They’ve got an impressive looking front three if they can click. Felipe Melo and Blerim Džemaili in midfield are prone to conceding free kicks and being cautioned. Veysel Sari likes to make a number of challenges per game also. Defensively the Turkish side have only conceded three goals in their five games domestically this season, including the Super Cup.
Alexis Sánchez vs Alex Telles
Arsenal’s big money summer signing was held back to a second half substitute appearance in the North London derby on Saturday. The Chilean surely has to start on Wednesday. He caused Beşiktaş problems down the right in the playoff tie and scored the only goal over two legs. Look for Alexis Sánchez to cause Galatasaray similar problems provided he starts.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain vs Felipe Melo
We’ve gone with Alexis Sánchez on the right wing and as Mesut Özil was playing on the left at the weekend we think Santi Cazorla has a good chance of starting out there and moving the German into his natural, central position. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain can also play in the middle due to injuries. The young Englishman has looked good in cameo appearances this season and rewarded his manager with the equaliser against rivals Spurs on Saturday after being given a rare start. Play him he’ll pose a big threat to Galatasaray whose midfield also pose the risk of making card-worthy challenges. Had a left-footed effort strike the post versus Beşiktaş.
Wesley Sneijder vs Mathieu Flamini
Arsenal’s holding midfielder was at fault for another goal at the weekend, this time in the big North London derby. Arsène Wenger doesn’t have any other options in this position unless he gambles on Abou Diaby. Wesley Sneijder is a playmaker and would be expected to get the better of his French opponent in this match up. Goran Pandev hasn’t started a game for his new club yet but if he does in this one, the Macedonian forward is very clever at finding open space for one of the midfielders to pick out.
Prediction: Arsenal 2-1 Galatasaray
Arsenal haven’t thrashed anyone this season and are coming off a rival match that you’d expect to have taken something out of the players. Mikel Arteta, Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere certainly picked up more than knocks in that match. Still, the Gunners are the superior team on paper and we expect them to pick up three points against the weaker opposition.
Alan Pardew on the verge of being sacked after defeat to Stoke City - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
Newcastle United have had a terrible start to the 2014-15 EPL season. The Magpies have collected only 3 points from 6 games and currently sit 19th in the League standings. Peter Crouch’s header saw Stoke City beat Newcastle by 1-0 on Monday night, a result that sees intense pressure on manager Alan Pardew. The 53 year old though has vowed to keep on fighting but reports from Guardian suggest that Pardew is set to hold crunch talks with club owner Mike Ashley this week.
Newcastle have now lost 10 of the last 14 Premier League encounters. The club supporters have already held aloft placards bearing the message ‘Pardew Out’ which clearly shows that they have lost their faith on the man in charge.
Pardew later claimed after the final whistle, “The fans are giving their honest opinion of what they believe. I looked at them at the end and clapped them to show I respect their views.”
“I’m not going to hide from it. I know there is a big question mark about me being at this football club and the only way I can answer it is to do the job to the best of my ability and try and come up with answers”
Pardew’s torrid time dates back since last season. He served a 7 match ban for head-butting Hull City’s David Meyler in March. Newcastle won just 2 of their last 10 games as they fell from sixth at Christmas to a disappointing tenth-placed finish.
The unimaginative football has rarely won plaudits at Tyneside while Ashley has stubbornly refused to invest in the squad. Even Joe Kinnear, who was controversially appointed as Director of Football in June 2013 failed to secure a single permanent signing over two transfer windows. He eventually departed in February.
Yohann Cabaye’s transfer to PSG for £20m in January 2014 surely was the catalyst for Newcastle’s rapid decline but there can be no excuses for not finding the right replacement.
Despite Mathieu Debuchy leaving for the greener pastures at Arsenal, the acquisitions of Remy Cabella Emmanuel Riviere for a combined fee of around £13m were expected to set the ground running. The Dutch duo of Siem De Jong and Daryl Janmaat have also failed to live up to the expectations.
Hatem Ben Arfa’s deadline day move to Hull City remains the classic case of mis-man management from Pardew while Sylvian Marveaux was banished to French side Guingamp on loan. Both of the talented midfielders were specifically seen as disruptive influences in the squad but letting two of his more creative talents seems ill-judged.
The game against Swansea in the coming weekend remains his biggest test for Pardew. A victory remains the least of expectations else calls for him to leave will be too loud for Ashley to ignore.
Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud has signed a new contract with the club until the end of the 2017-18 season, worth £80,000-a-week.
This contract will be worth more than £15 million to the player over the course of the three and three-quarter years he is signing for to stay at the Emirates Stadium.
Olivier Giroud is currently sidelined until the end of the year with a broken tibia but has been able to put pen to paper to a new contract that is set to keep him at the club until he turns 31. The striker is celebrating his 28th birthday today.
A new contract and a hefty wage suggests that the French striker will be a big part of Arsène Wenger’s plans for the future despite growing unrest amongst some sections of support questioning his ability to lead a Premier League title challenge.
£16 million transfer deadline day signing Danny Welbeck is currently leading the line for the Gunners.
Olivier Giroud has scored 28 goals in 72 Premier League appearances since joining from French Ligue 1 champions Montpellier in the summer of 2012.
Another injury scare for Manchester United midfielder - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
Louis van Gaal and Manchester United may be without Ander Herrera for the weekend’s game against Everton.
The Spanish midfielder suffered a back injury in their 2-1 win against West Ham at the weekend and it appears to be more serious than initially thought.
Ander Herrera was substituted in the 74th minute and could add to the growing list of injuries at Old Trafford.
The Guardian have reported that United had a planned statement on the clubs’ official website due to go live on Monday night but it has been postponed due to fears the injury is worse than initially thought.
On his Facebook page, the Spanish midfielder posted “Three very important points! I hope my back is fine soon. Thanks for your messages!” on Saturday night.
Manchester United are now sweating over his condition ahead of Sunday’s clash against Everton at Old Trafford.
Wayne Rooney will be suspended for the first of three matches for his red card against West Ham last weekend.
Phil Jones, Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling, Michael Carrick, Ashley Young, Marouane Fellaini, Jesse Lingard and James Wilson are all currently suffering from injuries. Tyler Blackett is available again after suspension.
Could Manchester United have a new right-back in January? - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
Manchester United have today been linked with signing Everton right-back Séamus Coleman.
Rafael and Antonio Valencia are currently Louis van Gaal’s options in that position, although Phil Jones and Chris Smalling too have a wealth of experience playing on the right side of defence.
It seems set that the Dutch manager is going to stick with his diamond formation that includes four at the back after picking up six points from a possible nine since moving away from the unsuccessful 3-4-1-2.
The Guardian have this morning made the claim that United are interested in the Republic of Ireland international who scored six goals in 36 Premier League appearances from that position last season.
Whether or not Manchester United would be able to pull him away from Goodison Park with manager Roberto Martínez reluctant to sell any of his first-team players, remains to be seen.
There is still more than three months until the transfer window opens in January, giving the current crop of players a chance to impress Louis van Gaal before he dips into the market again to sign new players for the second half of the season.
Giroud’s new contract a sign of intent from Arsene Wenger - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud has signed a new contract to keep him at the Emirates until 2018, according to reports.
One should be careful not underestimate the Frenchman’s ability, after all, he is a very, very good centre-forward. He may not achieve the same goal figures as the Premier League’s out-and-out poachers, namely Diego Costa and Sergio Aguero, but he is a custom-fit player for Arsene Wenger’s side.
With the array of world class midfield talent at the club’s disposal, Giroud takes on the perfect role; holding-up the ball, winning the aerial duels and maintaining the quick build-up play with his clever flicks and one touch passing.
Goals are the bread-and-butter of a striker’s game, that’s obvious enough, but even in this department the Frenchman ranks well above the average top flight forward. Last term he scored 16 times in 36 top flight appearances, while weighing in with 37 key passes, as he assisted a further eight goals.
Giroud would have featured far more often this term, had not been sidelined by a broken tibia; a knock that has kept him out of action since the second week of the Premier League season. Despite experiencing just 74 minutes of domestic action prior to this injury, he already has one goal to his name; a header that marked a miraculous comeback at Goodison Park.
The 27-year-old is out until the New Year but is making good progress in his return to fitness. He is now off crutches and wearing a protective boot as he prepares to make his comeback to the first team. Certain quarters had to been calling for Arsenal to buy another striker in the January window, but Giroud’s new contract means the club are far less likely to do so now.
The Frenchman’s new contract is a statement of intent on Wengers’ behalf; a clear indication that he is, one, looking to build for the future, and two, looking to maintain the squad’s current strength in depth, in an attacking sense at least. This is imperative considering the club’s recent history of injuries sustained by key players.
The Gunners head coach clearly values the Frenchman in very high regard and this latest deal provides further evidence of this. One would even go as far as to suggest Danny Welbeck would still be a Manchester United player, had his new strike partner been fit on deadline-day.
Giroud’s new deal is believed to be worth around £80,000-a-week and is reward for an impressive first two seasons at the club. Arsenal are expected to announce the extension within the next few weeks.
Sporting Club vs Chelsea: Preview, Possible Lineups & Prediction - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
Chelsea were comfortable 3-0 winners over Aston Villa in the Premier League on Saturday to maintain their five-point lead over defending champions and further extend their lead over Arsenal and Liverpool.
José Mourinho admitted his side’s dominant performance where they had the game sewn up on the hour and controlled possession throughout the game is a real bonus heading into a UEFA Champions League game three days later.
Sporting Club were held 1-1 at home by FC Porto on Friday night after leading at half-time. The visitors were really poor in the first half before being much the better side in the second half who came close to taking all three points.
The Portuguese club have actually drawn four of their six games by the score of 1-1 and won the other two. They also drew 1-1 in Maribor in their Champions League opener.
Ramy Rabia is the only player unavailable to head coach Marco Silva.
The visitors only have Ramires injured although are waiting on how quick Diego Costa can recover from playing at the weekend. The Spaniard was only replaced in the final 10 minutes and Mourinho isn’t confident his player can do two games a week with his dodgy hamstring.
Didier Drogba is experienced in this competition whilst Loïc Rémy got a little run out at the weekend.
This is our best guess to how Sporting will line up at home to Chelsea. Pack the midfield with the two wingers and striker Islam Slimani as good attacking threats. This team doesn’t score too many goals in truth.
José Mourinho tells us Diego Costa can’t do two games in a week so we think it’s between Loïc Rémy and Didier Drogba to start this one up front. The French striker got a little run out at the weekend. The defence remains the same but it wouldn’t surprise us if Filipe Luís gets a game at left-back. Chelsea have 24 hours extra rest than Arsenal before the weekend so we’d think any players Mourinho wants to rest will happen in the second half rather than rotating the squad from the start whilst he must be keen to get three points.
André Schürrle vs Jefferson
Willian started the weekend’s game so perhaps André Schürrle can start on Tuesday. The pacey forward makes good runs off the ball as well having an eye for goal. Whoever plays on the right will also be supported by Branislav Ivanović whilst Nani is often on that side of midfield so Jefferson may be without much protection.
Eden Hazard vs Cédric Soares
Chelsea have one of the best forwards in the world on their left wing so expect Eden Hazard to play an important role for the visitors. Sporting have a German-born Portuguese right-back who has only played a couple times this season to try stop him. Cédric Soares will need a lot of help if Hazard is to have a quiet game.
Cesc Fàbregas vs William Carvalho
Arsenal and Manchester United fans have the opportunity to see how one of their summer targets does against a top team. William Carvalho is a highly-rated defensive midfielder who has a massive task on his hand on Tuesday when he comes up against Cesc Fàbregas and co. He’s strong in the tackle and likes to receive the ball when his team are in possession too. How much possession the home side will have is questionable.
Prediction: Sporting 0-2 Chelsea
Chelsea on paper have a much superior side. Despite being unbeaten and having a great home record in Europe of late, I am not convinced Sporting can match up to the Premier League leaders. Chelsea were held at home by Schalke in the opening game so José Mourinho will be keen to pick up three points in his homeland. That means naming a strong starting lineup.
Manchester City vs Roma: Preview, Possible Lineups & Prediction - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
Manchester City head into their second Champions League match following a 4-2 victory at Hull City to keep them within five points of the Premier League leaders.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side will be keen to pick up three points on Tuesday after being beaten in the final minute at Bayern Munich in their group opener.
AS Roma continued their 100% winning start to Serie A with a 2-0 win over Verona on Saturday evening. Rudi García’s side have only conceded one goal in their opening five games whilst the French manager has now collected 100 points from a possible 129 since taking charge at the start of last season.
Samir Nasri has been ruled out with injury, whilst Matija Nastasić and Fernando are unlikely to be fit enough to play.
Roma have a number of injuries but it hasn’t stopped them from a winning start to the season and their Champions League campaign. Kevin Strootman, Daniel De Rossi, Davide Astori and Federico Balzaretti are all ruled out. Leandro Castán and Juan Iturbe are also doubts.
Jesús Navas is a straight swap for Samir Nasri on the right. James Milner is a more-defensive option for Manuel Pellegrini if he prefers. Edin Džeko scored a couple at the weekend so we think he’ll start up front with Sergio Agüero just behind.
This looks like the strongest available lineup to Rudi García with the injuries he has to deal with. It includes Ashley Cole on the left, former Manchester City right-back Maicon and Newcastle United loanee Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa. Gervinho on the wing scores goals.
Sergio Agüero vs Kostas Manolas
Roma’s defence under Rudi García was solid last season and early signs are that it will be once again this season. Despite Mehdi Benatia being sold to Bayern Munich they remain tight. Kostas Manolas was the Moroccan’s immediate replacement. Expect the 23-year old to be tested by Sergio Agüero ‘s pace and positioning. The Argentine’s a great goalscorer and capable of winning any one-on-one matchup.
Miralem Pjanić vs Fernandinho
Roma have a wonderful playmaker in their midfield in Miralem Pjanić. The little Bosnian and Herzegovina midfielder creates several chances for his teammates. Manchester City have not been defending too great of late – conceding two goals at Hull City on Saturday they have now gone five Premier League games without a clean sheet. Pjanić could be lined up against Brazilian holding midfielder Fernandinho and you’d favour the Roma playmaker to create a couple of chances for teammates.
David Silva vs Maicon
Manchester City have a top create midfielder of their own in David Silva. He could be lined up against a former Citizen himself in Maicon who has started the last few games at right-back for the Serie A side. The Brazilian often gets caught out of position and should that happen to him on Tuesday you can be sure Silva will find the open space to exploit. Even when he is back in his correct position, Maicon faces a tough task in shutting down the Spaniard.
Prediction: Manchester City 1-1 Roma
Manchester City have made an inconsistent start to the season. Manuel Pellegrini’s side could really do with avoiding defeat in this one. Roma will be full of confidence following a perfect record domestically and they thrashed CSKA Moscow 5-1 to top the group after the opening game. They don’t concede many so City should be in for a tough match.
Cristiano Ronaldo appears to have finally left his knee problems behind him, having experienced an outstanding start to the new season.
He scored a hat-trick in Real’s 8-2 win over Deportivo La Coruna, followed by four against Elche. He was again on target in the weekend’s 2-0 win at Villarreal. Add these to the goals he scored against Cordoba and Atletico Madrid, and he’s already on target to surpass all known La Liga scoring records.
His 10 goals within the first six games of the new campaign equals the records set by Kubala in 1953 and Pahiño in 1954, while he is currently the leading goalscorer in La Liga, with four more than his closest rival Neymar.
Considering he missed Real’s second fixture of the season, his average is therefore two goals per appearance. If he is able to maintain this rate, he will surpass the current record of most goals scored in a Spanish top flight season – 50 – set by Barcelona’s Lionel Messi during the 2011/12 campaign.
However, as Madrid prepare to face Ludogorets Razgrad on Wednesday evening, Ronaldo could break an even more impressive record. Two goals in Bulgaria would see the Portuguese international draw level with Raul at the top of the Champions League record books.
Raul netted an impressive 71 times in the competition throughout his career (66 with Real and five with German outfit Schalke) but it seems only matter of time before Ronaldo overtakes him. With 69 strikes in Europe, the 29-year-old is within touching distance of the former Spanish international’s total.
For many, Cristiano Ronaldo is regarded as the greatest player in world football. If he can continue his fine scoring form, overcoming first Raul, and then Lionel Messi’s standing records, few will be able to dispute this claim.
Diego Costa the key to Chelsea’s Champions League tie vs Sporting - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
Diego Costa could be thrown into Champions League action on Tuesday evening, as Jose Mourinho seeks his first three points in Group G.
The Chelsea head coach says he will “risk” starting Costa in Tuesday’s away match against Sporting Lisbon, just days after revealing the £32 million summer signing has barely been training. “There is a risk, yes, but he plays,” said Mourinho. “Hopefully everything goes well. It’s an important game for us.”
The Blues were pinned back in their opening Champions League tie versus Schalke, emerging with only a single point, following a 1-1 draw. Struggling with a fragile hamstring, Costa was only able to appear as a second half substitute at Stamford Bridge. Nonetheless, it was painstakingly obvious that the club missed his prowess throughout the entirety of the match, as they lacked the penetration required to break down the Bundesliga outfit’s stern defence.
Had the Spaniard been introduced from the start, the Blues’ chances of securing three points would have significantly increased. After all, the club have won each and every game in which the 25-year-old has scored this term. His eighth goal of the season set up Saturday’s 3-0 win over Aston Villa, and despite his limited fitness, he currently leads the race for the Premier League Golden Boot.
The statistics recorded since Costa’s arrival in England are truly impressive. Thus far, he has hit the target from 83% of his total attempts, converting an incredible 44.4% of these strikes. He is undoubtedly the most clinical striker in the English football league, and only Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo has managed more goals across Europe’s top five divisions.
Chelsea face Arsenal in the Premier League this weekend and Costa’s fitness situation will naturally pose a concern as he prepares to start his second of three matches, in the space of just eight days. The Blues’ reliance on their star striker is becoming ever more obvious and he will be integral to the side’s chances of maintaining their unbeaten Premier League start; the tournament that surely remains Mourinho’s priority.
“Hopefully everything goes well and hopefully from Tuesday till Sunday he has enough period of time to be back again on track and to play against Arsenal (in the Premier League),” the Chelsea boss continued. “It’s an important game for us, a difficult game and if I can play my best players and the team I think is the best team to try to get the best result, I’m not going to make any change.”
Chelsea are favourites heading into tonight’s clash, despite playing away from home. Sporting also started their group campaign with a 1-1 draw against Maribor in Slovenia, with Manchester United loanee Nani scoring for the Portuguese side. The two teams are incomparable on paper and, undoubtedly, Jose Mourinho will be expecting his side to finish the group campaign at the top of the pile.