Possible Manchester United Starting Line up against Everton - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
David Moyes returns to a familiar territory at Goodison Park as Everton play hosts to Manchester United in a high voltage clash on Sunday. Roberto Martinez’s side were handed a shock loss by Crystal Palace in midweek which somehow dented their Champions League aspirations.
The Toffees are currently fifth in the standings, a point behind Arsenal while Manchester United can look forward to the business end of a terrible season they have endured since last summer.
For the Red Devils, its their first outing since their Champions League exit at the hands of Bayern Munich as Moyes’ side sit nine points behind Everton. Roberto Martinez will be looking to do the double over Moyes, after his side beat United by a solitary goal from Brian Oviedo earlier in the season at Old Trafford. It was Everton’s first win at United’s home ground in 21 years.
Wayne Rooney has been declared fit for the return to his boyhood club while Robin Van Persie is still out, recovering from a knee injury. Another former Everton player Marounne Fellaini is carrying a knock while defenders Rafael and Johnny Evans face late fitness tests.
Prediction: Everton’s desire to guarantee Champions League football might just prove to be the difference in the end. I will put my money on the home side to edge by 2-1 in a closely fought encounter.
Five strikers who could solve Chelsea’s forward dilemma - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
Over the course of this season Chelsea’s midfield has done a sterling job of covering up for the fact that their strike force has woefully under-performed.
Fernando Torres, Demba Ba and Samuel Eto’o have managed to muster just 16 goals in the Premier League between them, a figure that Liverpool’s Luis Suarez has achieved almost twice over single-handedly.
It is a recurrent theme in recent times for the Greater London club who, after three seasons of expecting so much more from Torres, are in desperate need of a forward to fill the hole that was once so exceptionally exploited by Didier Drogba.
It probably didn’t help the collective confidence of the Chelsea strike trio when Jose Mourinho was secretly recorded slating them – stating that he had a front line that couldn’t find the back of the net. Since then only Demba Ba has offered any sort of glimmer of potency up top, scoring two goals in his last two appearances.
If Mourinho’s men are serious about challenging for the Premier League title as well as the Champions League on a regular basis then owning a thirty goal a season hit-man is imperative. He may have scored the goal that has taken them into the Champions League semi-final, but Ba is in no way Chelsea’s answer to the likes of Real Madrid’s Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo or PSG’S very own footballing wizard Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
So then, if this is going to be the season that Torres finally gets put out of his misery – who should be Mourinho’s marquee summer signing? The use of the word ’should’ as opposed to ‘will’ is quite deliberate here; Chelsea’s style of play is heavily influential on whether a striker will be successful or not, and therefore Mourinho should refrain from buying any old front-man just because of having a healthy scoring record in a different set-up. In other words, Chelsea need a target man.
They need Someone who has the strength and tenacity to hold the ball up and lay it off, but also a forward who has the confidence as well as the pace and aggression to run at defenders; they need Didier Drogba Mark II. Here are the five Centre Forwards that would go some way towards filling the void left behind by the Ivorian juggernaut:
The recently converted Spanish hit-man has been this seasons surprise package with 26 goals in La Liga and 34 in all competitions for Atletico Madrid. Costa is renowned for having an explosive turn of pace and, at times, an overly aggressive nature.
Perhaps, though, and most importantly is his ability to drive at the opposition defence and bully his way through on goal, which is most definitely something Chelsea have lacked since Drogba and Torres has lacked since leaving Liverpool. A £35m figure has already been reportedly mentioned between the two clubs, however, the deal could well be eclipsed by the mighty spending power of Monaco and an offer of a tax-free salary.
Monaco FC’s recent interest in Diego Costa has caused the Radamel Falcao rumour mill to start spinning once more, and yet again he has fallen straight back onto Chelsea’s radar. Falcao is perhaps more of a clinical finisher than Costa and even more adept at holding up the ball and spraying it left and right.
Falcao’s aerial ability would surely be a perfect match for the Blues, as Chelsea’s tactical approach heavily relies on the front-man bringing the ball down and feeding players such as Hazard, Oscar, Willian and Schuurle in on goal. Unfortunately, though, Falcao poses a high risk factor for Mourinho as he has spent most of the campaign sidelined with a serious knee injury. Torres was signed by Chelsea for £50m after returning from a similar injury and look how that has turned out.
Mandzukic is an interesting one to say the least. He has played a pivotal role in Bayern Munich’s success this season, and yet he has never really won the fans or, more importantly, the manager over. The towering Yugoslavian has always seemed like a short term solution to a problem that has now been resolved by the signing of Robert Lewandowski.
Oh well, Bayern’s loss would most definitely be Chelsea’s gain (unless Arsenal pull off something miraculous). He is a big game player with the ability to hold up play and draw an entire back line towards him, thus enabling the onrushing midfield to run in behind. He has 25 goals in all competitions, as well as 4 assists and Impressively, yet, is the fact that he has the highest shot accuracy percentage of any striker in Europe, at 71% – even the great Leo Messi can only manage 66%. What’s more, Chelsea have the second highest shots per game ratio in the Premier League at 17.4. Bringing the big man to the Bridge would be a stroke of genius as it would surely signal the start of absolute goal-fest for the Greater London side.
The chance of this happening is almost non-existent, but it is a nice idea, nonetheless. The 185cm ballet-dancing bulldozer has formed an entente with Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo this season that has yielded 86 goals in all competitions, 23 of which coming from the Frenchman.
Therefore, Carlo Ancelotti would be a little bit mad to want to sell the Centre Forward this summer. However, for the sake of Benzema’s potential talents, moving to Stamford Bridge would be an absolute blessing, as all the while that Ronaldo and Bale are at Real, Benzema will never reach world class status. He is a player that, to get the absolute best out of, needs to be the focal point at the top of the pitch driving the team towards goal. He has pace, finishing, incredible ball control and a intuitive eye for an assist on goal – setting up 44 in his last three seasons. What’s more, Mourinho has the added bonus of already working with the Real front-man and knows how to get the very best out of him.
Why not stick with what you’ve got? If it is his age that Mourinho is worried about, then time may be running out, not for Lukaku, but for the Chelsea manager. The 20 year old warrior is already proving he has what it takes to score goals for fun and torment even the tightest of defences, finding the back of the net against the likes of Liverpool, Manchester City, and more recently, Arsenal.
The on-loan starlet has netted an impressive 14 goals in 29 outings this season and has so far remained ambivalent as to where he will be plying his trade next season. It also seems as though Mourinho is more interested in the earning rather goal scoring potential of the Belgian powerhouse, who is likely to see his price-tag inflate considerably if he is to have the type of World Cup that many are predicting. Hopefully, though, Lukaku’s performances in Brazil will help change the Chelsea managers mind regarding the striker’s future at the club, as, with each performance, the Belgian is looking more and more reminiscent of a certain Didier Drogba in his prime. The big Ivorian even says so himself.
Robert Lewandowski – The Polish goal machine would have potentially been a perfect target man for Mourinho’s Chelsea…had he not just signed for Bayern Munich.
Fernando Llorente – Three seasons ago Llorente was in the kind of form that would have seen him score goals for Chelsea with his eyes closed. He has all the attributes they are looking for, but unfortunately since joining Juventus, his goal-scoring form has alluded him.
Whoever Mourinho decides to raid his war chest for this summer it is crucial that he spends wisely, or risk ending up with a strike force that is the laughing stock of Europe…again.
Tottenham to appoint former AC Milan manager in the summer? - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
According to Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport, Tottenham are set to appoint former AC Milan boss Massimiliano Allegri as their manager in the summer.
The report goes on claim that the 46-year-old has already agreed terms with terms with the North London club, and is due to take charge in July. Allegri has a great relationship with Tottenham’s technical director Franco Baldini, who is said to have been a key player in appointing the former Milan manager.
TuttoSport also claims that the deal was ‘done and dusted’ last week, but has come out in the open only recently.
Allegri has reportedly been learning English over the last few months in London and the Italian is believed to be bringing his own backroom staff to the Spurs. ‘BEIN Sports’ correspondent, CNN and Gazzetta dello Sport contributor Tancredi Palermi also confirmed that Allegri had been taking English lessons.
Dunno honestly on Allegri-Tottenham,it’s CorSport news.I only know that he spent last 2 months in London+has great relationship with Baldini
— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) April 18, 2014
Alegri was sacked by Milan in January after a four year tenure at the club. Under him Milan won the domestic double in the 2010-11 season winning the Serie A and Coppa Italia, but he left the club 30 points behind leaders Juventus at the beginning of the year, not something that will fill Spurs fans with confidence if he is to take the helm at White Hart Lane.
@tc917 not appropriate for me to confirm or deny what other sources are reporting amico, I can say he has been in UK to learn English
— David Amoyal (@DavidAmoyal) April 18, 2014
What do you think? Could Allegri be a success in England? Get involved in the comments below…
Possible Liverpool Starting Line up against Norwich - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
Having grabbed a dramatic 3-2 win over Manchester City at Anfield last weekend, Premier League leaders Liverpool will now travel to Carrow Road this Sunday to take on relegation threatened Norwich City.
The Reds are two points clear of Chelsea at the top of the table after ten straight wins in a row and manager Brendan Rodgers knows that an eleventh triumph will put his side within touching distance of winning the title this season.
Liverpool will be without the suspended Jordan Henderson, who picked up an avoidable straight card after needlessly crashing into Samir Nasri in the dying moments of the game at Anfield.
Rodgers has to make a key decision on who should replace Henderson in the starting eleven. Will Joe Allen start in what would be a flat 4-3-3 setup? Or should Lucas Leiva slot in to act as a screen for the back four enabling Steven Gerrard more freedom to express himself on the pitch.
There are also injury concerns over striker Daniel Sturridge but Rodgers believes the prolific Englishman should recover from his hamstring injury to take the pitch on Sunday.
Norwich however have problems of their own, the Canaries are currently 17th in the table, just two points above safety in the relegation battle. The Canaries have managed only one victory in their last seven matches and new manager Neil Adams is under pressure to steer his team clear above the threatened drop zone.
Prediction: Luis Suarez has been Norwich’s nemesis scoring eleven goals against Norwich in his last four games against the Carrow road side. Liverpool’s desire to win the title should comfortably give them a 3-0 win over the relegation threatened home side.
Where did it all go so wrong for Tim Sherwood and Tottenham? - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
Google search “Tim Sherwood” and click on images. Doesn’t paint a pretty picture does it – and I’m not talking about the 90′s retro mullet. The photographs illustrate that the Tottenham manager’s debut season in charge has been one epitomised by frustration and that has, at times, promised so much and yet produced so little.
Spurs currently sit sixth in the Premier League, seven points behind arch rivals Arsenal in fourth and 17 points behind League leaders Liverpool. You only have to take at look at their last ten results to realise that consistency has been one of the overriding factors for a disappointing campaign that has seen them register just 48 goals all season, conceding the same number in the process.
Tottenham started 2014 with three impressive consecutive wins against Manchester United, Crystal Palace and Swansea, to then throw it all away by capitulating 5-1 at home to Manchester City – a result which could have actually been so much worse.
Since then they have jumped from one extreme to the next, losing 4-0 to Chelsea to then beat Southampton 3-2, losing 4-0 to Liverpool to then dismantling Sunderland 5-1. Their latest result saw them come from 3-0 to drawing 3-3 with West Brom, a result that surely leaves Tottenham fans wondering whether this season has all just been an elaborate and theatrical ploy to test their sanity.
So, what has been the catalyst for Tottenham’s misfiring season?
The summer’s coming and goings
The loss of Gareth Bale for the small matter of £85.3m was a blow but it was not, by any means, the end of the world. Some even saw it as a blessing in disguise as, apart from providing chairman Daniel Levy with an abundant treasure chest, the move could have led to a new style of football that was not so reliant on the pace and finishing of one star player. Unfortunately for the Tottenham faithful this has yet to be seen.
By and large, the players that have been brought in by Levy have struggled to adapt to the boisterous and fast paced nature of the Premier League. But first lets start with the positives, or should I say positive.
Christian Eriksen has been Tottenham’s best player by a considerable distance this season and he was an absolute steal at £11m. He has provided goals and assists, as well as being the driving force and creative spark in the centre of the park.
Now the negatives. The few glimpses that we have had so far of Erik Lamela have been fleeting and uninspired and certainly nothing to justify the £26m that was forked out.
Paulinho was seen as a player who can drive the midfield up the pitch and score goals, but since his arrival he has neither been able to get a grip of the game nor find the back of the net consistently. Nacer Chadli and Etienne Capoue have both shown glimpses of why they were brought in, but injuries have limited either ones chances of making a real impact.
Similarly, the partnership that Vlad Chiriches had formed with Michael Dawson in the first half of the campaign was solid, but he two has spent most of this year on the physio’s table. The heavily criticised Roberto Soldado was brought in to be the centre forward goalscoring focal point that had been lacking since the departure of Dimitar Berbatov, but so far the Spaniard has scored just six league goals in 26 outings, only two of which coming from open play.
This particular statistic speaks volumes, and typifies the sort of stagnant season that Tottenham have had in front of goal. On the face of it Sherwood’s short stint in charge appears all the more impressive, especially when you consider the fact that he inherited seven new signings with not a single minute of Premier League experience between them prior to the start of the new campaign.
Sherwood was always going to be fighting an uphill battle
It was almost as if the Tottenham board were writing off this season completely when they decided to appoint Tim Sherwood as full-time coach at the turn of the new year.
This is not to say Sherwood hasn’t performed well in the circumstances, far from it in fact. A win percentage of 45.83% in a debut managerial season is an encouraging return for a manager who knew his days were numbered from the start. Moreover, he has had to do it without the support of those above him.
The most recent example of this being reports claiming that Daniel Levy and the board are pressuring Sherwood to play Erik Lamela in the final few league games in an effort to give him a decent run-out in preparation for next season.
For Sherwood, though, it has been a case of lacking in every department that matters. He lacks the experience needed to take on the top teams, he lacks the backing of the board and, perhaps more importantly, his team as a unit lack the understanding of what it takes to be successful in the Premier League.
For Tottenham Hotspur it is imperative that they restore the fans confidence in time for next season by finishing this campaign strongly with a floury of goals from key personnel.
What’s more, whoever the board decide to bring in over the break should immediately focus on working closely with last summer’s signings so they are more prepared for the riggers of Premier League football.
Who should win the PFA Young Player of the Year 2014 award? - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
With the Premier league nearing its end, the awards season is fast approaching. The nominees for the PFA Player of the Year awards have been revealed today, with Liverpool duo Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling fronting the Young Player of Year category.
Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey, and England’s World Cup hopefuls Ross Barkley and Luke Shaw complete the coveted list.
It has been the most open Premier League season in years, with the fate of the title looking to go down the wire; seven teams are locked in the relegation fight, while European places are also up for grabs.
The winner of the PFA Young Player award will be announced next Sunday, and today, writer Tamojit assess the merits of the six nominees:
Raheem Sterling, Liverpool
It’s not everyday that we see a relative youngster hailing from the sidelines and forcing his way through to the England’s national squad, but we have been lucky enough to watch the meteoric rise of Raheem Sterling this season.
Pivotal to Brendan Rodgers’ tactically flexible 4-3-3 diamond setup at Anfield, the 19-year-old has taken the Premier League by storm. His sheer pace, dazzling dribbling ability and immense composure has been one of the dictating factors for Liverpool’s title aspirations.
Sterling’s impressive performances against Tottenham and Manchester City proved that he is ready to hog the limelight in the biggest of stages. If everything goes to plan, he should make Roy Hodgson’s starting eleven for England in the showcase World Cup in Brazil this summer.
Daniel Sturridge, Liverpool
Forging a fearless partnership with Luis Suarez up front, Sturridge has sent shivers down the spine of the opposition in the Premier League this season. The 24-year-old has hit the back of the net an astonishing 20 times in 26 appearances in the Premier League, and if Liverpool do march on to win the coveted title, Sturridge could find himself bagging this personal accolade to go with his league winners medal.
Aaron Ramsey, Arsenal
The Welshman enjoyed a stellar start to the season, scoring 13 goals and grabbing six assists in the opening 22 games, before a hamstring injury cut short his adventure for a prolonged period of three months.
Pulling the strings in midfield and scoring for fun, Ramsey was named the player of the month for September, and it is right to say that Arsenal missed the 23 year old during the crucial Christmas period as their title aspirations blew up in smoke.
Luke Shaw, Southampton
Shaw has been a revalation in the league this season, and his many excellent performances this season has already attracted interest from Manchester United and Chelsea, who are set to battle it out for the coveted signature of the 19 year old.
Mauricio Pochettino’s Southampton have had a terrific season in the south coast with Shaw a real gem at the back. His stock has risen so dramatically that the defender is expected to make England’s squad for the World Cup in Brazil.
Eden Hazard, Chelsea
Jose Mourinho’s second coming has seen Chelsea fighting for the Premier League title and coming within the touching distance of reaching the Champions league final for the second time in three years. Pivotal to Mourinho’s squad has been the nimble footed Belgian, Eden Hazard.
Chelsea’s attacking imagination has been invigorated by Hazard, whose performances (14 goals and 7 assists) in England’s top tier this campaign has attracted comparisons with the world’s best two players, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
Ross Barkley, Everton
Barkley’s meteoric rise in an Everton shirt has propelled him to the cusp of acquiring a boarding pass for England’s flight to Brazil in June. Possessing dazzling ability, with great feet and the nonchalance of beating defenders at will, Barkley has been one of the key figures behind Everton’s challenge for the final Champions league berth this season.
His stupendous goal against Newcastle, running from midfield and beating several defenders on his way to finally slot home, is sure to be one of the major contenders for the Goal of the Season.
Verdict: It is very hard to chose one winner from the list, but considering both the impact and age, Southampton’s Luke Shaw is my choice to get the coveted award.
What do you think? Who deserves the Young Player of the Year award? Let me know in the comments below…
On The Attack! Liverpool dominate PFA Player’s Player of the Year nominations - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
The candidates for the PFA Player’s Player of the Year award have been revealed, with six of the Premier League’s top stars for 2013/14 set to battle it out for the coveted prize.
Liverpool trio Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Steven Gerrard all feature, as does Chelsea winger Eden Hazard, Manchester City’s Yaya Toure, and Southampton captain Adam Lallana.
Striker Suarez is the clear favourite to win this year’s award, with the Uruguayan having an unstoppable season for Liverpool, firing them to within touching distance of a first Premier League title in 24 years. His 29 goals and 25 assists have made him arguably the most in-form striker in Europe, with the 27-year-old hoping to unleash merry hell on World Cup defences this summer.
His strike partner Sturridge has also been heavily among the goals, with the England striker rising to prominence under Brendan Rodgers this season with 20 goals already to his name. Reds skipper Steven Gerrard has thrived in a more withdrawn role this season, and completes the Liverpool triumvirate in the list of nominees.
Chelsea winger Eden Hazard has come into his own this season under the tutelage of Jose Mourinho, helping the Blues to the Champions League semi-final, and second place in the league, just two points behind Liverpool. His 14 goals and seven assists so far this season have made him Chelsea’s most prominent attacking force, and he will challenge strongly for this years PFA award.
The same goes for Ivorian midfielder Toure, who has reinvented himself as a goal-scoring sensation form the middle of the park. Previously conceived to be a combative central operator, the Manchester City man has pushed further forward this season to great effect, with 18 goal and five assists to his name.
Adam Lallana completes the list of candidates, with the Saints skipper in inspired form this season, pushing his side to eighth in the table, while simultaneously forcing his way into England boss Roy Hodgson’s World Cup plans for the summer.
Who do you think should win? Get voting and let me know your thoughts in the comments below…
Roberto Martinez has the opportunity to heap more pressure on Manchester United manager David Moyes this season. The Everton boss, who is one of the candidates for manager of the season, saw his side win at Old Trafford in the previous clash and he will be hoping for another Man Utd scalp when he welcomes them to Goodison on Sunday.
Everton have been in remarkable form this season, having only lost six games all campaign and playing eye catching football all the way. Many have pointed out the huge improvement Martinez has made in his short stint at the club, stamping down his football philosophy and really pushing for a top four spot. Comparisons have been made between the two managers playing styles, Moyes was known to play hoof ball during his long spell at the helm but Martinez keeps it firmly on the ground.
Its been a roller coaster season for United, but you can’t ignore the fact they have the best away record in the league. Moyes is notably achieving in this sense, its the home form that is the concern. It will be a statement if his side go there and win, he needs to win to silence the critics and prove that Everton being above United this season is a one off.
Moyes is fully capable of having a side play good football, sometimes the links to the long ball are rather false and exageratted. Attacking wise he has a good mix, Mata is beginning to find his feet and he links well with other creative talents such as Shinji Kagawa and Januzaj. United fans will be hoping to see all three on the pitch on Sunday.
The problem though, which now seems such a norm to discuss, is the centre midfield. Does Moyes stick with Carrick and Fletcher, or does he try and throw Fellaini in against his old club. If he does it will be very interesting to see the reception. Probably a mass of boos to go along with Rooney if he starts.
Goodison was a happy hunting ground for Fellaini though. It is a small pitch where he used his physical prowess to huge success. He needs a goal to kick start his United career, 27.5 million is a tag he needs to hurry up and at least reasonably justify. Its strange because hitting 11 goals last season for his old club shows he is fully capable. It could be a case of just getting the first, the curse will be broken and the rest will follow.
Possible Chelsea Starting Line up Against Sunderland - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
Chelsea will take on Sunderland at Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening looking to reclaim the top position with a victory.
The title race has taken a new twist after Manchester City lost their ground, following their 2-2 draw with the Black Cats on Wednesday night. As a result of which, Chelsea have emerged as the prime threat to Liverpool’s 24 years of long wait for the Premier League title.
Put simply, Chelsea need to win all of their of last 4 matches, including the titanic clash with Liverpool at Anfield, to win the Premier League.
Jose Mourinho is due to hold his press conference on Friday where we should get to know about the latest on Eden Hazard, who missed last weekend’s 1-0 win away at Swansea after limping out of their Champions League victory over Paris Saint-Germain with a hamstring problem.
David Luiz and Willian could be rested for this tie, keeping in mind the upcoming Champions League tie with Atletico Madrid on Tuesday. Demba Ba has been in good touch, scoring two goals in the last two games and could continue up front as a lone striker.
Prediction: 2-0; Chelsea are undefeated in their last 26 home matches in the Premier League, while have won 8 of their last 9 home matches against Sunderland in all competitions.
Tottenham Alert – Brazilian wonderkid to terminate contract with Santos - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
Brazilian wonder-kid, Neilton, who is often dubbed as ‘the new Neymar’ is set to terminate his contract with his current club Santos.
The president of the club, Odilio Rodriques admitted in March that the player would be leaving the club at the end of the season. Also, the club manager, Bernard Hamilton also gives his consent, which means the forward would be free to move to any other club.
Back in November, The Mirror reported Spurs chiefs were in Brazil to finalise a deal for the young Santos winger.
Spanish side Sevilla had already offered £600,000 for his services, but his club were more keen on a 10 percent sell-on clause which would have fetched more profit but as it stands, they’ve to sell him for free.
In order to effect cancellation, Neiton will need to pay a financial compensation to Alvinegro. Or, else, he can sign a pre-contract with another team and end all all relationship with Santos.
The 19-year-old has been trying to negotiate a contract renewal since the end of last year. However, the club is unwilling to provide him $30,000, which he craves for.
Reports in Brazil suggests that two Brazilian clubs are eager to get his signature. So, if Spurs are really series about getting him, they must act now.
Title Race: Chelsea have experience, Liverpool have momentum - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
The already dramatic home stretch of the English Premier League 2013-14 took another sudden twist when Sunderland, defying all pre-game expectations, held Manchester City to a 2-2 draw midweek.
This result has suddenly catapulted Chelsea as the prime threat to Liverpool’s 24 year wait for the Premier League winners medal. To put it in numbers, Liverpool needs 10 and Chelsea 12 from their remaining 4 games to ensure they do not depend on others to lift the trophy.
Throw in the spectre of the Chelsea-Liverpool encounter on April 27th, and things get very intriguing.
Assuming the teams win all other games, Liverpool need at least a draw and Chelsea a win in the game at Anfield to top the league table, thus giving the match an atmosphere of a cup final. In that context, it would be critical to analyse what would be the key factors that can propel the respective sides to success during the 90 minutes at Anfield.
Liverpool have two things going for them – form and home advantage. The Reds have surpassed all expectations under Brendan Rodgers’ expert guidance and are currently on a streak of 10 wins.
This is unlike anything we have seen from other teams in this years’ league, in fact Manchester United were the only other team to have gone on such a such run, way back in 2008-09.
The ruthlessness of the Liverpool forward line and the clinical manner in which they have been finishing off games in the first 20-30 minutes make them firm favorites for this occasion. Add to that Brendan Rodgers’ tactical flexibility and astute understanding of his midfield’s resources means the club emerges a well-researched and planned entity in the big games.
Liverpool at home have been a bastion that has leaked only 5 points out of a possible 51 and the Reds fans will be sure to create an intimidating atmosphere at Anfield that has famously been termed as the ‘12th Man’ for Liverpool at home.
Liverpool will also feel blessed by the lack of fixture clutter, as their rivals are fighting on the European front and will visit Anfield on the back of a bruising Champions League semi final away fixture.
While the Reds have been all fluid and classy this season, Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea have had a rough ride in the Premiership with losses against minnows like Aston Villa and Crystal Palace and a forward line that has been terribly economical with their contribution in the form of goals.
Despite all that, Chelsea have demonstrated an iron-will to triumph in big matches with a blend of tight defence, physically dominating deep-midfield and a bunch of attacking midfielders who have managed to rustle up a keen understanding against the best of defences.
Chelsea, since 2005, has been a team moulded in the cast of Mourinho even when the Portuguese was not in charge of the club. The club has withheld technically far superior squads like Barcelona and Bayern Munich with their disciplined defending and commitment to defend at all costs and have the best ‘goals conceded’ record in away matches in the League, with only 15 goals shipped in 17 games. If there were an occasion for Mourinho to unleash his ‘me/my team against the world’ spirit, this is it.
This is a lip-smacking encounter for the neutrals, with the most fluid and dynamic team at home versus the team fuelled more by determination than by sheer form. What happens when a Red unstoppable force meets a Blue immovable object? We don’t have too long to wait to find out…
Manchester United show interest in French left-back - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
It doesn’t need any rocket science to understand that a massive rebuilding work will take place next season at Manchester United. There could be a mass exodus and like wise, there could be few additions as well, with manager David Moyes will be given the funds to sculpt the squad according to his own taste.
While midfield remains the major concern, Moyes needs to address his defensive problems as well. A need for a central defender is essential but at the same time, the Scot must be looking to find a suitable replacement for left-back Patrice Evra.
Evra has been at the club since 2006, but with his contract expiring at the end of the season, it seems his future lies elsewhere.
Going by the media reports, Manchester United have stepped up their chase for young Luke Shaw, but the youngster won’t come in cheap, especially with Chelsea vying for his signature as well.
According to French media, Manchester United have approached OM over the availability of 19-year-old left back Benjamin Mendy.
Marseille are currently going through a parlous financial constraint and therefore president Vincent Labrune needs to sell couple of players to balance the book. And of them could be Mendy, should good offers come for him.
The player himself has stated his desire to test himself at a bigger stage with England being his preferred destination:
“I have always dreamt of playing in England so I am happy to be linked with English clubs. I know it is a big step to go there straight away, but if you want to progress in Europe you need to play at the top level.”
He is young and exciting and would come at a cheaper price than Shaw. We will keep you updated on this, as we get info further.
Juan Mata certain Manchester United will sign top players this summer - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
Manchester United attacker Juan Mata has moved to assure fans that the club’s transitional period will not effect the club in the long term, and that he fully expects top players to arrive at Old Trafford in the summer.
The 25-year-old joined the club in a record £37m deal from Chelsea in January, and while the club has endured its worst Premier League campaign under the beleaguered David Moyes, the Spaniard is sure that United will be back in the big time, and soon.
“It’s not a team that’s just played one season in the Champions League and you’re going to a club that’s not top level,” Mata told the Daily Mirror, ”No, this will always be a top level club, one of the biggest in the world.”
“So if you don’t play Champions League one season, you’ll play in it the next year, or you will still win trophies, because it’s what the club is about.
“I have no doubt about it. When I joined, in all my conversations with the board and the manager about next season, they were confident about getting the right players.”
United are in for a major summer revamp, with a whole host of players edging towards the exit. Nemanja Vidic has already agreed to join Inter Milan at the end of the season, with the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra, Javier Hernandez, and Shinji Kagawa all said to be potentially moving away come the end of the season.
With regards to new recruits, Bayern Munich midfielder Toni Kroos has been strongly linked with a move to the struggling champions for almost the entire duration of the season, with Southampton full-back Luke Shaw, Lille defender Simon Kjaer, and William Carvalho of Sporting Lisbon just some of the names mentioned in connection with the club.
Mata certainly believes an influx of top players is imminent at Old Trafford, and that United will rise from the ashes of this failed season,
“They know, and I know, we’re in a transitional moment, but in the summer they’re going to try to sign a few players and I have the faith they are going to bring top players in.” continued Mata,
“I’m sure this club is going to come back and fight for every trophy. Since I was a kid, Manchester United was fighting for everything, and this moment is going to come back for sure.”
With the exit of Sir Alex Ferguson in the summer, United have struggled to replicate their form of old under David Moyes, something that Mata insists will change in the near future,
“The club is in a transitional moment. They had Sir Alex Ferguson as the manager for the last 26 years, so I think it’s a big change for the club.
“I don’t know how many clubs in the world that have had the same manager for nearly 30 years – probably none. That was a unique situation.
“But we have to look forward to the future, and I have to say I think the future for this club will be bright, because it deserves the best.”
What do you think? Will United come out stronger than ever next season? Let me know in the comments below…
Manchester United manager David Moyes was on a scouting trip in Portugal to watch Benfica beat Porto 3-1 in the semi-finals of the Taca de Portugal.
That the Red Devils need a central midfielder in the summer is known to all and they’ve been linked with several players from Portuguese league in the last 12 months, so naturally with the presence of Moyes in the stands, Portugal press are speculating whom Moyes must have scouted.
Already we reported yesterday that O JOGO feels Moyes have must watched Benfica duo – Nico Gaitan and Ezequiel Garay and Porto defender Mangala, today the same newspaper reports that Moyes have scouted Argentine midfielder Enzo Perez and he’s reportedly interested in signing him.
Moyes already had positive scout reports on Perez but he wanted to see him in action from a perspective he doesn’t get from watching in videos.
Earlier this season CSKA Moscow bid €15 million for the 28-year-old but that’s way below what Benfica want for Perez and CSKA were told that they’d only sell for his buyout clause of €30m.
It is believed Perez will make the Argentinian World Cup squad so United want to wrap up the deal before the World Cup so his market value doesn’t increase. So, Moyes has been urged to pay his buyout clauses, if he is indeed serious about landing him.
Arsene Wenger: Next season, Mesut Ozil will be the Player of the Year - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has stated his belief that record signing Mesut Ozil will return better than ever next season, and that the German will be among the candidates for Player of the Year.
The 25-year-old midfielder, who signed for the Gunners last summer for a record £42.5m fee from Real Madrid, has endured a trying first season in the Premier League. After an initially good start to life in North London, he faded badly, with some even questioning his footballing talent, with regard to his enormous price-tag.
But Wenger has remained staunchly in defence of his prized midfielder, and has now claimed that he fully expects Ozil to prove his doubters wrong next season, and become one of the most revered midfielders in the league,
“He is a fantastic football player,” Wenger said of Özil, “I would put him on the list to be player of the season next season.”
The Frenchman knows the difficulties in adapting to a new league, and believes Ozil will learn from his experiences in the Premier League so far,
“The first season is the season in which you adapt and then you know what will happen,” he said. “And I believe that he will know better his partners, he will know the league better and the potential is absolutely fantastic.”
A veritable superstar in the eyes of the Madrid fans during his three years in the Spanish capital, there were even signs displayed at Gareth Bale’s unveiling at the club pleading for the Real hierarchy not to sell the German playmaker.
But sell them they did, and Arsenal fans were delighted that Wenger had splashed the cash and brought a genuine world star to the Emirates, after so many years of cheap deals and talent nurturing. With Manchester City and Chelsea throwing huge sums of money around every season, it had become necessary in the eyes of many for Wenger to act so as not to fall behind.
But the fans’ euphoria at having Ozil in their ranks was soon replaced with a familiar frustrated feeling, with the German flattering to deceive after a bright start to his Arsenal career.
But Arsene Wenger wholeheartedly still believes in his man, and has preached the merits of his place in the side,
“He is a quick player, and agile,” Wenger said. “He can get out of tight situations. Players can open up to do something interesting in behind, so when he is not there, you get out of the situation and lose the ball.”
There is an admittance of Ozil’s initial failure from Wenger however, with the Arsenal boss acknowledging the German’s poor physicality in his debut season,
“He has gone through a difficult spell,” admitted Wenger, “because physically he was not as present as you would expect him to be. He had no real preparation and had a period where he was tired because he was not used to playing [right] through the season.”
“He felt the difference between Spain and here. Sometimes he was rested there because in Spain, when you are 2-0 up –when Real Madrid are 2-0 up – what strikes him is that the teams give up. They know they will lose the game.
“Mesut said what is the most difficult for him here is that 2-0 up, the teams fight like mad to come back. And that was the main difference – you have to fight until the last second of the game.”
What do you think? Do you agree with the Arsenal boss? Let me know in the comments below…
Chelsea and Arsenal target to stay in Germany in the summer - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
Chelsea and Arsenal have been dealt a massive blow in their pursuit of Hamburg attacking midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu as the German club revealed that they won’t be selling their prized asset in the summer.
The 20-year-old has established himself as one of the most promising players in the Bundesliga this season scoring 10 goals and grabbing 3 assits in 24 appearances for Hamburg.
Turkish Newspaper Gazete Karsi had earlier reported that Chelsea were interested in the 20 year old with a £13m bid lined up in the summer. Arsenal are also interested in the Turkish star who has shown dazzling brilliance in Germany.
Both the London clubs are looking to looking to bolster their striking departments and the Turkish International proves a cut cost option given his versatility on the pitch to play as a winger striker.
Calhanoglu however has a contract at Hamburg to keep him at the Imtech Arena until 2018 and the club’s General Manager Oliver Kreuzer insists they have no plans to sell their prized asset.
“Selling Hakan is definitely not an option,” Kreuzer told Hamburger Morgenpost.
Calhanoglu’s agent Bektas Demirtas also played down talks linking his client with a move away from Germany saying the midfielder is happy at the club and aims to finish the season on a high.
“We have not been receieving official enquiries from any club with regard to Hakan’s future. Nothing serious, no single club. There is also no reason as Hakan wanted to sign a long-term deal at Hamburg in February. He feels at home at the club. We would only start considering if Hamburg start negotiations with another club.”
Liverpool are lining up a summer move for Borussia Dortmund’s left back Marcel Schmelzer in the summer, claims The Guardian.
The story was also carried by Tutto Mercato Web and German daily ‘Bild‘, and despite the 26 year year old having a contract with the Westfalenstadion club till 2017, Liverpool are interested in the German to address their left back problems.
Jose Enrique’s prolonged injury has forced manager Brendan Rodgers to play full back Jon Flanagan as an inverted left back, the 21 year old who has grown in prominence this season.
Aly Cissokho is also likely to leave the club once his loan expires in the summer and with interest in Sporting Lisbon’s Marcos Rojo dying in the past few weeks, Liverpool have seemingly set their sights on the Bundesliga star.
Liverpool currently sit atop the Premier League standings and Rodgers will feed the need to bolster his defense in order to compete in the Champions League next season.
Schmelzer has featured 25 times for Dortmund this season, netting once and has also grabbed 4 assists to his credit. The German’s raw pace, the willingness to express himself on the field and the desire to work his socks off would ceaselessly fit into Rodgers’ tactical setup.
The German’s major asset is his crossing abilities from out wide and with Sturridge and Suarez up front, it would give Liverpool an added dimension to their already impressive attacking prowess.
Clark Whitney, Bundesliga journalist and featured columnist for Bleacher Report also tweeted regarding Schmelzer’s switch. The rise of 21 year old Erik Durm in the left back role for Jorgen Klopp’s side has been impressive and might make Schmelzer’s switch a possibility in the summer.
Rumor in England: Liverpool want Schmelzer. Inconceivable a yr ago. But w/ LFC a strong team again & Durm possibly new BVB LB, could happen
— Clark Whitney (@Mr_Bundesliga) April 18, 2014
So what do you think? Will Liverpool land Schmelzer or will the German stay at Dortmund?
Possible Arsenal Starting Lineup against Hull City - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
Arsenal will face Hull City at the KC Stadium on Sunday, looking to consolidate their fourth position in the Premier League table.
The Gunners moved back into the top four after they earned a convincing 3-1 victory over West Ham in the mid-week, and Everton, the other fourth place contender, suffered a shock 3-2 defeat against Crystal Palace.
Team News: Arsene Wenger revealed in his press conference that left back Kieran Gibbs will miss this tie, with injury, while Spaniard Nacho Monreal is also doubtful. Thomas Vermaelen will start at left-back, should both of them miss out.
Midfielder Mathieu Flamini is set to return from suspension, while German international Mesut Ozil could be involved as well, after recovering from hamstring injury.
This could be the possible starting line-up for the Gunners:
Prediction: 1-2; Hull City have found it difficult to replicate their cup form in the league, while Arsenal cannot afford to drop points from here on out.
Chelsea and Manchester United eyeing €40m Serie A superstar - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
Napoli will listen to offers for captain Marek Hamsik in the summer, according to reports from Italy, with Chelsea and Manchester United both said to be interested in the Slovakian international.
Hamsik has been at the Serie A side since 2007, and has played over 230 games for the club, but he has struggled for form since returning from injury this season, with local media going so far as to say he is not happy under new boss Rafa Benitez.
Now, Corriere Dello Sport have claimed that the previously ‘untouchable’ midfielder could leave the club in the summer, with a reported price tag of €40m placed on the 26-year-old.
Chelsea and Manchester United have both been put on red alert as to the potential availability of the Slovak, according to the Daily Express, with both sides looking to strengthen this summer.
With four years remaining on his contract, Napoli remain in a position of power regarding their reportedly unsettled captain, and it remains to be seen if either Premier League club would be willing to spend heavily in order to prise him away from the Serie A side.
What do you think? Would Hamsik be a shrewd investment? Let me know in the comments below…
Top Five Candidates for the Premier League Manager of the Season - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
We are just four game weeks away from the epic conclusion of what has been a nervy, jaw-dropping and gut wrenching Premier League season.
With several managerial changes earlier in the summer, we have witnessed tactical advancements this season which would surely be etched in our minds forever. As the tumultuous campaign nears its business end we bring you the top five candidates for the Premier League Manager of the 2013-14 season.
1. Steve Bruce, Hull City
Hull’s campaign has been nothing short of superb. Steve Bruce has masterminded an attacking 3-5-2 setup at the KC Stadium which has earned rich dividends over the course of the season.
Bringing in the likes of Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore has been a masterstroke, while January acquisitions Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long serve to prove that money was well spent.
Hull also have made history by reaching the final of the FA Cup, a record that dates back 84 years ago when the club reached the semi finals of England’s oldest Cup competition.
They have also picked up memorable victory at home beating Liverpool and would fancy their chances of doing a ‘Birmingham’ in the FA Cup final against Arsenal in the coming month.
2. Tony Pulis, Crystal Palace
From desperation to sheer delight in a matter of months. That’s how you would describe Crystal Palace’s 2013-14 EPL season.
The Eagles endured a dismal start to the season with just one win and nine defeats from their first 10 matches. As Tony Pulis came at the managerial helm replacing the outgoing Ian Holloway, Palace had only four points in the bank, and were staring down the barrel.
The 56 year has overseen one of the great escape stories in recent years, as Palace, now with 40 points on the board, can look forward to another season in England’s top flight. Pulis has brought great organisation at the back and bringing discipline to a team that plays within its own limitations.
Palace co-chairman Steve Parish also deserves the credit for selecting the former Stoke City boss to guide his team out of danger, and boy they done it with some style.
3. Jose Mourinho, Chelsea
Can Mourinho deliver the title yet again in his second home coming at Stamford Bridge? Gathering pace from a slow start, the Special One has taken the Blues within touching distance of their lost Premier League crown and his team are also in the Champions League semi final.
Should the Blues beat Liverpool at Anfield in two weeks time and win their remaining three games, the title will be on its way to London.
It’s still all to play for the Blues , a campaign which will always be remembered for selling Juan Mata to arch rivals Manchester United. But if they come out with a cup double, who will care!
4. Roberto Martinez, Everton
Time is surely the best judge of an individual. Who would know this better than Everton manager Roberto Martinez.
Having won Wigan an improbable FA Cup last season, the Spaniard was unable to keep the Latics up in the Premier League. Had he done so, he might have not been in our list, for the Toffees may not have landed him at Goodison Park in the first place.
The 40 year old is a shrewd tactician and perhaps has envisioned something which the most ardent of Everton fans wouldn’t have imagined when he was appointed. Champions League Football was on his agenda when he walked through the doors, and boy has he lived up to his words.
Exploiting the loan market for a sustainable success strategy, Martinez brought in Gareth Barry, Rome Lukaku and Gerard Deulofeu, all three who have been the crux of the team who currently lie fifth, a point adrift of Arsenal in the fight to the finish for Europe’s elusive Club competition.
Should he fail, Martinez will still have orchestrated a brilliant season for Everton.
5. Brendan Rodgers, Liverpool
Should Liverpool win their first Premier League title in the club’s illustrious history, the last Championship which came 24 years ago, Brendan Rogers will be acknowledged as a Football messiah in the streets leading to Anfield.
It has been nothing short of an exceptional display from the Reds given their main objective before the start of the season was to secure a top four berth for Champions League next campaign.
Lest the Merseyside comically implode at the business end, Liverpool are sure to rub shoulders with the big daddies in the upper echelons of Europe’s elite club competition next season. The 2013-14 has been a season of bonafide success for the Reds and Brendan Rodgers deserves every bit of credit for the resurgence.
After all, not many managers show the courage the play the Cruyff-esque 4-3-3 setup in the Premier League. Oops, I didn’t mention the diamond formation.
So who do you think deserves to win the Manager of the season award? Let me know in the comments below…