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Monday, November 29, 2010

EPL Weekly Round-Up: Man United Thrash Blackburn To Go On Top, Arsenal Prevail At Villa Park & Liverpool Fall To Spurs Fightback


Manchester United reached the top of the league table, crushing fellow Lancashire club Blackburn Rovers 7-1 with unparalleled ruthlessness... Striker Dimitar Berbatov was on fire as he became the only fourth player in Premier League history to score 5 goals in a match apart from Andy Cole, Alan Shearer & Jermaine Defoe... Ji-Sung Park & Luis Nani also found the net for the Red Devils as United put on a magnificent display of aggressive football to brush aside the Sam Allardyce-managed team at Old Trafford... Wayne Rooney, who made his first league start after almost a month, couldn't find the target but put up a stellar performance to earn the assist for Park's goal... Anderson & Carrick were paired in central midfield, and they played their part to perfection as they ripped apart Blackburn with defence-splitting passes... United's unbeaten streak has now extended to 22 games this season, with a trip to Blackpool next weekend...



How The Rivals Fared This Week


Chelsea failed to regain hold of the top spot after they drew 1-1 with Newcastle United away at St. James Park... England striker Andy Carroll took advantage of a miscommunication between Chelsea stopper Cech & defender Alex to put the Geordies ahead but Salomon Kalou instilled some pride in the scoreline on the stroke of half-time... The Blues now lie joint second with Arsenal with 29 points...


Arsenal revived their title challenge with a 4-2 win over Aston Villa at Villa... Park... In-form midfielder Samir Nasri, Arshavin, Chamakh & teen prodigy Jack Wilshere all scored to secure 3 points for the Gunners after Clark threatened to ignite a Villa comeback... The Gunners lie currently behind Chelsea on goal difference...


In the biggest game this weekend, Tottenham Hotspur came from behind to grab a late winner to beat Liverpool 2-1 at Whit Hart Lane... Martin Skrtel put the visitors ahead but then later deflected Luka Modric's shot into the goal for Spurs to equalise... And then on the brink of stoppage time, Aaron Lennon broke free to score past Pepe Reina & earn a thrilling victory for the North Londoners...


Big-spending Manchester City were unable to break down Stoke City's resolve at the Britannia Stadium as the two sides wrapped up a stalemate...

And on a final note, Manchester United loanees Danny Welbeck & Tom Cleverley both grabbed goals as their respective sides Sunderland & Wigan slumped to league defeats...

The current top four league standings are as under:

Man United - 31 points

Chelsea - 29 points

Arsenal - 29 points

Man City - 26 points

The Weekly Verdict:

Team Of The Week - Manchester United

Player(s) Of The Week - Dimitar Berbatov & Anderson



[Note: I enjoyed writing this piece to the fullest coz first of all, we reached the top of the table for the first time this season & secondly, this is the first time United have been the 'Team Of The Week'! A weekend of firsts indeed, and I hope many more such weekends will follow this season!!!]

What d'you think of this weekend's results??? Feel free to leave your comments or drop me a line on Twitter @AbhinavCJ... You can subscribe via email or even sign up on Google Friend Connect with your Google/Twitter/Yahoo ID...

Vote for the Red Devil you believe has been most vital to United's unbeaten streak this season! Check out the poll on this blog...

Red Devils Reign, United Again!!!

That's all Folks!

Yours,
CJ

Friday, November 26, 2010

Rooney Apologises To United Fans Over Contract Saga

After scoring the lone goal via a late penalty to give Manchester United a 1-0 win over Glasgow Rangers at Ibrox, talismanic striker Wayne Rooney has apologised to the club fans for his disappointing behaviour during last month's contract dispute with the club...

Rooney made his first start for the club since the league game against Bolton Wanderers in early October... Rooney was impressive in patches against Rangers, going close to scoring quite a few times including once when his header hit the crossbar... After Fabio Da Silva was kicked in the face by Steven Naismith in the penalty box, Rooney sent Allan McGregor the wrong way to score his only second goal of the season... It is to be noted that Rooney hasn't scored from open play since last season's Champions League quarter-final first leg vs. Bayern Munich in March... His other goal this season also came from the penalty spot against West Ham in the league...

Rooney, speaking to the press post-match about his much-awaited comeback, said -

"I feel like I have apologised to the fans, but everyone keeps saying that I haven't and, if that is the case, then I apologise for my side of things.
"I have made my point clear since I signed my contract that I am committed to this club for the long term and I want to be successful with this club. I spoke with the manager and [the chief executive] David Gill and they reassured me the club was moving forward and, from that point, it took only two or three hours to negotiate my contract and sign it."

''Everyone is saying that I was definitely going to Man City," he said. "Believe me, if I had gone it wouldn't have been in England."

Talking of his well-taken penalty at Ibrox, Rooney remarked -

''It will give me confidence. It was nice to score but the main thing was to get back playing because I don't think I have consistently had a run of games this season. People are saying how badly I have been playing but I don't think I have played that many games for my form to have been a disaster.

"With everything that has happened, [the criticism] all goes a bit overboard but I know myself I have been through patches before when I haven't played well and come through them. I know 100% I will come through this one."

''I am just happy it is all over now and I want to put it behind me and look forward. Mentally I have been OK. I am mentally strong but because the football has not been going well, and the other things that have happened in my personal life, everyone has put it down to me not being mentally strong. I am, but the most important thing for me is to get back playing and score goals. I want to get back to the standard of last season.

"I am a confident person and I think I can do it. You see so many players leave this club and not do so well so I am just delighted I have stayed.''

After signing a new five-year contract with United, Sir Alex has told that Rooney would apologise to his colleagues as well as the fans... Wazza had his chance to publicly apologise to the fans during a recent interview to ITV but he didn't do so which led to speculation among fans that he won't be saying sorry to the fans... However, I'm happy that Wayne has finally done the right thing... I know that it won't be soon that the fans forgive him, but I believe that we should be getting behind him till the time he puts on that Red shirt... I'm a big fan of Rooney & I believe that he's damn important to our chances of winning titles this season...

Welcome back to the family Wayne, and wishing you good luck for your future at Manchester United!

What d'you think of Rooney's public apology? Feel free to leave your comments below or drop me a line on Twitter @AbhinavCJ... You can subscribe to this blog via email or even follow the blog via your Google/Twitter/Yahoo ID on Google Friend Connect...

Vote for the Red Devil you feel has been the MVP (Most Vital Player) to Manchester United's unbeaten run this season! Check out the poll...

That's all Folks!

Yours,
CJ

Sunday, November 21, 2010

EPL Weekly Round-Up: Man United Go Joint Top As Arsenal & Chelsea Lose, Liverpool Win Sans Gerrard & City Triumph Over The Cottagers

Patrice Evra & Javier Hernandez powered Manchester United to a win over nine-man Wigan Athletic at Old Trafford... The victory saw the Red Devils gain important ground in the title race as they went level on points with league leaders Chelsea, behind only on goal difference... Ji-Sung Park sent a magnificent cross into the box which Wigan stopper Al-Habsi failed to parry away & the eccentric Evra finished with a superb header just minutes before half-time... Wigan witnessed two of their players being sent-off for wild lunges within the space of 5 minutes in the form of skipper Alcaraz & striker Rodallega... 'Chicharito' Hernandez then made it two from Rafael's precise cross to grab his seventh goal in all competitions this season... The Old Trafford faithful also witnessed the return of ace striker Wayne Rooney, who made his first appearance since mid-October coming on as a substitute... United travel to Ibrox on Wednesday to face Glasgow Rangers in the Champions League...


How The Rivals Fared This Week

Arsenal blew their chances of going on top of the league standings as they surrendered a 2-0 half-time lead to lose 3-2 to Tottenham Hotspur in the north London derby at the Emirates... Samir Nasri & Marouane Chamakh put the Gunners on course for a comfortable win but a Gareth Bale-inspired Spurs bounced back in the 2nd half as goals from Bale, Van der Vaart & Kaboul stormed them to a win over their city rivals...

Chelsea lost to Birmingham City 1-0 at St.Andrews as veteran Lee Bowyer scored the lone goal of the game in the 17th minute... Stellar defending from the Birmingham defenders & former United goalkeeper Ben Foster's heroics saw them hand the London Blues their 3rd defeat in their last 4 league games...

Bolton Wanderers beat Newcastle United 5-1 at the Reebok Stadium as English striker Kevin Davies & Johan Elmander both grabbed braces... Andy Carroll pulled one back for the Magpies but it came too late to have an impact on the game...

Liverpool struck three goals past basement dwellers West Ham thanks to goals from Glen Johnson, Dirk Kuyt & Maxi Rodriguez... Liverpool, missing skipper Steven Gerrard on account of injury, beat the Hammers comfortably at Anfield despite a strong performance from out-of-favour England stopper Robert Green...

Man City regained the sacred 4th spot, surprisingly beating former manager Mark Hughes's Fulham 4-1 at Craven Cottage... Zabaleta struck twice for the Eastlands club alongside Tevez & Yaya Toure to provide some relief to manager Roberto Mancini, who is under pressure from his oil-rich club owners to deliver the goods...


The current top four league standings are as under:

Chelsea - 28 points

Man United - 28 points

Arsenal - 26 points

Man City - 25 points


The Weekly Verdict:

Player Of The Week - Gareth Bale

Team Of The Week - Tottenham Hotspur

What d'you feel about this week's results??? Leave your comments below or drop me a line on Twitter @AbhinavCJ... You can subscribe to this blog via email or follow this blog by signing up on Google Friend Connect...

That's all Folks!

Yours,
CJ

Friday, November 19, 2010

Rooney All Set To Return As United Face Wigan


Manchester United take on neighbours Wigan Athletic at Old Trafford which will probably see talismanic striker Wayne Rooney return to first-team action since mid-October... Rooney has not featured for the club since he came on a substitute in the home draw against West Brom... After a much-hyped contract dispute with the club which saw him become the highest-paid English footballer ever, Rooney will look to win the hearts of the fans who were gravely disappointed by his behaviour...

United barely escaped with a lucky point at Villa Park last weekend to maintain their unbeaten streak in all competitions as a youthful Aston Villa side outplayed the Red Devils completely save for the last 15 minutes of play... However, Chelsea's shock loss to Sunderland at home saw the Blues' lead at the top slashed to 2 points ahead of Arsenal & 3 points of United, springing life into the title race... With injury-plagued Chelsea facing a tough task away at Birmingham City, United should look to earn three full points at Old Trafford to gain advantage in the points table...

History is on the side of the Red Devils as they have won their last 10 league outings against the Latics... Last season, United thumped Wigan 5-0 in both home & away fixtures... United need to regain their scoring form, and no better occasion than against Wigan... However, inconsistent Wigan cannot be slightly underestimated as they won at Tottenham a week after a 6-0 defeat by Chelsea earlier this season... In their recent outings, Wigan held Liverpool to a 1-1 draw & also beat West Brom at the DW Stadium...

On the injury front, defenders Rio Ferdinand & Chris Smalling may be doubtful to play as they are carrying minor injuries following England's midweek friendly defeat by France... Jonny Evans may be in line for a start tomorrow alongside skipper Vidic after a string of below-par performances earlier this season... Evra & Brown are expected to start as full-backs since Rafael is out injured, though O'shea may get the nod ahead of Brown since he looked out-of-sorts last week against Stewart Downing...

In the midfield, Fletcher & Carrick will look to redeem themselves after the game against Villa... Scholes will probably be rested for the game considering United's Champions League trip to Glasgow on Wednesday... Nani will be plying his trade on the flanks with Obertan tipped to start in view of his impressive performances of late...

Sir Alex told a radio station that Rooney may come on a substitute against the Latics since the gaffer intends to play him in the starting XI vs. Rangers... This means that Berbatov will start upfront with Hernandez, though Macheda has an outside chance of making it following his stunning goal from 20 yards last weekend...

My Starting XI: Van der Sar, Brown/O'shea, Evans, Vidic, Evra, Nani, Fletcher, Carrick, Obertan, Berbatov, Hernandez

What are your predictions on tomorrow's scoreline??? I believe this might be the game United finally run riot! So I'm going for a 6-0 win over Wigan!!! Let everyone know yours - leave your comments below or just drop me a line on Twitter @AbhinavCJ...

Participate in the poll on the blog & vote for the Red Devil you believe has been vital to our squad this season! Eager to know what you guys think...

Red Devils Reign, United Again!!!

That's all Folks!

Yours,
CJ

Lindegaard Close To Manchester United Move, De Gea Situation Still Unclear

Anders Lindegaard, the 26-year-old Danish international is close to a move to Manchester United as the club attempts to find the ideal successor to the legendary Dutch goalkeeper Edwin Van der Sar... Sources close to the club say that Lindegaard, who plays for the Denmark national squad & Norwegian club Aalesunds, is expected to join United in the January transfer window for a fee close to €3.5 million after Aalesunds's club executives were spotted outside Old Trafford...

Lindegaard has made more than 100 appearances for his club, and has astonishingly made a lot of progress in the past 2-3 years which also saw him being called-up to the Denmark national squad... Lindegaard played a significant role in his club finishing 4th in the league last season, which also saw Aalesunds win the Norwegian Cup for the first time...

Meanwhile, leading British daily 'The Times' reported that negotiations for the brilliant U-21 Spain & Atletico Madrid stopper David De Gea had reached an advanced stage & the question remaining to be answered was whether De Gea would join United in January or next summer... However, Atletico Madrid club president Enrique Cerezo denied such rumours & said that he expected De Gea to stay at the club for 'a long time'...

After Sir Alex recently stated in the press that he had shut the door on new signings in January, it would be interesting to see if United does sign any player... With Van der Sar set to retire next summer & Kuszczak seeking greener pastures, it seems imminent that one of Lindegaard & De Gea will most probably arrive at Old Trafford this January...

What d'you think guys about this? Leave your comments below or drop me a line on Twitter @AbhinavCJ...

That's all Folks!

Yours,
CJ

Monday, November 15, 2010

In & Out: Who Should Be On United's Transfer Radar???

Welcome to the blog's new feature called 'In & Out' - in which we look at the players who should be the top transfer targets for the gaffer & those who should be heading towards the exit door at Old Trafford...

Following the Rooney saga, CEO David Gill implied that Sir Alex will be allowed to spend around £100 million next summer on world-class replacements for Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes & Edwin Van der Sar... So in the first part, we look at the players who should be top priorities on our transfer radar in the next two transfer windows...

Jordan Henderson

The talented Sunderland midfielder has attracted interest from clubs all over England including us following his spectacular displays since January... Henderson is essentially a creative midfielder who plays in central midfield, but is also adept at playing on the right when the situation demands so... The best part about him is that he's just 20 & so he can be envisaged as the long-term replacement for Scholes... His current market valuation stands around £20 million & he should be a good buy!

Steven Defour

Sir Alex sent him a get-well-soon letter when he broke his leg during a game about two years ago... Now every other player doesn't receive a letter from Sir Alex, right? The Belgian international has been the playmaker for Standard Liege & can be a source of creativity in central midfield...

Sotiris Ninis

The Panathikinos midfielder hasn't looked back since he broke into the Greece national squad at the age of 19... He has a good World Cup in South Africa & even got himself on the scoresheet... His current market valuation stands around £8-10 million & he can probably fit into the current transfer market policy...

Alexis Sanchez

The Chilean winger-cum-forward has recently drawn comparisons with former United playmaker Cristiano Ronaldo with regards to his style of play... Sanchez shone at the World Cup & has been Udinese's most vital player in recent seasons... Sanchez is attracting interest from all over Europe & United will do well to sign him up!

Gareth Bale

He couldn't have been left out of this, could he? Currently one of the best players on the planet, Bale's meteoric rise from being a bench-warmer to the world's top left-winger has been nothing short of spectacular... His work rate, pace & dribbling skills are an absolute delight to watch & though he won't come cheap, he's touted as the perfect man to take over from Ryan Giggs...

Lassana Diarra

The French midfielder has been much talked about among United fans to take over the job what was once assigned to the perenially-injured Hargreaves... Lassana isn't the first-choice holding midfielder at Real Madrid following Mourinho's signing of young Sami Khedira & is tipped to leave the Bernabeau as early as January... With Hargreaves's future at United looking bleak, the 24-year-old will be a good acquisition!

David De Gea

The 19-year-old Atletico Madrid stopper has been impressive since he was promoted to the No.1 position at his club... He displayed nerves of steel during last year's UEFA Europa League final against Fulham & is a reassuring figure between the sticks... Sir Alex reportedly missed his only second game in his entire United manager to watch him play... With Van der Sar already 40 & deputy Kuszczak set to leave, De Gea can be the ideal successor to the great Dutchman...

Who do you think deserves the 'Fergie Fergie, Sign Him Up!' chant??? Leave your comments below or drop me a line on Twitter @AbhinavCJ... Feel free to add any other player to this already illustrious list!

That's all Folks!

Yours,
CJ

Sunday, November 14, 2010

EPL Weekly Round-Up: United Earn Thrilling Draw At Villa, Sunderland Trump Chelsea At The Bridge While Arsenal Go Second Beating Everton

''You'll never win anything with kids''

This was what EPL pundit Alan Hansen said after this same fixture at the same venue 14 years ago, except for the fact that this time the roles were reversed... At 80 minutes, Manchester United were 2-0 down at Villa Park, Gerard Houllier's young side had outclassed the Red Devils & it looked that the road back to Manchester was gonna be a long one... But everyone knows - 'NEVER WRITE THEM OFF' - United did just what they should've been doing throughout the game...

Within the next five minutes, substitute Federico Macheda scored a stunning goal from 20 yards & then an unmarked Vidic headed home from Nani's cross to equalise... United created many more chances in the last 15 minutes (including 5 minutes of stoppage time) but the revival came too late & Villa held out to split points in United's sixth away draw of the season...


How The Rivals Fared This Week

Sunderland pulled what might be the 'shock of the season' beating league leaders Chelsea 3-0 at Stamford Bridge!!! Steve Bruce's side produced a spirited performance in which Onuoha, record signing Asamoah Gyan & on-loan Man United striker Danny Welbeck netted for the Black Cats to complete a rout of the Blues on their home ground...

Manchester City continued with their negative tactics (that saw them secure a dull draw in the midweek Manchester derby) against Birmingham City at Eastlands which ended in a goalless stalemate...

Tottenham Hotspur returned to winning ways with a 4-2 win over Blackburn at Whit Hart Lane... Welsh winger Gareth Bale scored twice to help his team rise to sixth in the points table...

Liverpool's inconsistencies were exposed again as they lost 2-0 to Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium...

Arsenal stepped up the title race by beating Everton 2-1 at Goodison Park... Sagna & Fabregas scored for Arsenal while Cahill pulled one back late in the 89th minute...

The current top four standings are as below:

Chelsea - 28 points

Arsenal - 26 points

Man United - 25 points

Man City - 22 points


The Weekly Verdict:

Player Of The Week - Stewart Downing

Team Of The Week - Sunderland

That's all Folks!

Yours,
CJ

Sunderland Boss Confirms United Interest In Jordan Henderson

Former Manchester United legend & current Sunderland manager Steve Bruce has confirmed that Manchester United are indeed interested in signing midfielder Jordan Henderson from the Wearside club...

Jordan Henderson, who has earned his first ever national call-up for England against France, has been hailed as one of English football's brightest prospects & is attracting interest from other clubs like Chelsea, Arsenal & Man City...

Speaking to the News Of The World, Steve Bruce said -
''Only once has Fergie talked about one of my players, and that was Antonio Valencia, and bugger me he bought him!"
"He had spoken to me about him. 'Keep me informed' were his words,then he signed him. He has said the same about Jordan, but to be fair they have all asked to be kept informed. What has caught most oftheir eyes is his ability to get up and down the pitch now is huge. You looked at Steven Gerrard, Ashley Cole and Cesc Fabregas, they are all great players but they can get up and down the pitch to get the mileage, and you need that in the modern game."
"He has caught the eye because he is a very good player. If you are Chelsea, Manchester United, or Liverpool, there is a 20-year-old who is playing in the Premier League week in, week out. There are not many you can look at."

Big-spending Man City are tipped to be top contenders alongside United for the midfielder's signature... But Steve Bruce insists that he will do his best to keep Henderson at the Stadium Of Light...

Steve Bruce added -"He is a Sunderland player, and a Sunderlandlad and we will do our utmost to keep him but we can never stop speculation. He has huge respect for this football club and he will do the right thing. Jordan has a good grounding."

Given the fact that Bruce & Sir Alex have a great relationship, the move may tilt in favour of the Red Devils despite City outbidding them... Also, Henderson has expressed his desire to play for United... Here's what he said -
"When I was little my heroes were David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Roy Keane. I've always liked the way Manchester United played.''

Let's hope that he signs for us as early as the January transfer window in case Tom Cleverley isn't brought back from Wigan... He'll be a great signing for sure!

That's all Folks!

Yours,
CJ

United Defender Earns First England Call-Up For International Friendly

Manchester United's 20-year-old defender Chris Smalling has received his first national call-up for England... Smalling has been included by Fabio Capello in the 22-man squad to face France in a friendly game on Wednesday...

Other notable inclusions included Newcastle United's Andy Carroll & Sunderland midfielder Jordan Henderson...

Smalling was signed from Fulham this summer for a reported fee of around £10 million... For a player who was playing in the third tier of English football for Maidstone until 20 months ago & not considered good enough for the Fulham starting XI, Smalling has taken giant strides since joining United...

United stalwart Rio Ferdinand will wear the captain's armband against Les Blues & even though Smalling may not feature during the game, he surely will in what looks to be a bright future for him ahead...

Well done Chris & best of luck for the times ahead!

That's all Folks!

Yours,
CJ

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Depleted United Look Forward To This Season's First Manchester Derby

So it's finally time for probably the biggest game in English football in recent times... The first Manchester derby of the season is finally here!!!

Injury-and-flu-stricken Manchester United look forward to a visit to the City Of Manchester Stadium knowing they can't drop points to keep the pressure on Chelsea... United, who go into this game on a six game winning streak, are currently 2 points off the top spot & 3 points ahead of fourth-placed City...

Half the United squad including manager Sir Alex are down with a flu that has swept through Carrington since their return from Turkey... Things aren't looking good on the injury front too as United will miss in-form winger Nani through injury... Giggs is still doubtful for tonight's game & Anderson hasn't yet recovered from his knee injury... Talismanic striker Rooney is in the US & may return this week - rumour has it that he may appear out of nowhere to play at Eastlands!

On the other side, Man City will miss only Mario Balotelli, who was sent off against West Brom after scoring both goals of the entire game... City will though not dwell much on that since their talisman Carlos Tevez is back from Argentina... Besides, Roberto Mancini has a full-strength squad to choose from in contrast to their city rivals...

United will hope that their top goal-scorer this season Dimitar Berbatov recovers from flu in time... In absence of Nani, Berbatov's creativity will be much needed... It was observed in the last game against Wolves that Chicharito Hernandez is still incapable of playing as a lone forward & so Berba's presence is essential... Also returning to the squad will be Michael Carrick, who was rested for the game vs. Wolves on Saturday... Other contenders for the central midfield spots will be Darren Fletcher, Paul Scholes & Darron Gibson... Obertan & Park are likely to start on the wings though Park will probably be assigned the task of neutralising David Silva... The back-four should remain intact with Vidic leading the line as usual...

My Starting XI: Van der Sar, Rafael, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra, Obertan, Carrick, Scholes, Fletcher, Park, Berbatov/Hernandez

Red Devils Reign, United Again!!!

That's all Folks!

Yours,
CJ

Monday, November 8, 2010

EPL Weekly Round-Up: United Grab Hard-Earned Win, Newcastle Gun Down Arsenal And Chelsea Lose At Anfield

Manchester United closed the gap on league leaders Chelsea to two points as they struggled to beat Wolves 2-1 at Old Trafford... Workaholic midfielder Ji-Sung Park scored the injury-time winner after United academy striker Sylvan Ebanks-Blake had cancelled out his first-half strike... Owen Hargreaves was a surprise starter in Sir Alex Ferguson's 2000th game as manager but cupid struck again as he limped off after 6 minutes with a hamstring injury... United now play a crucial Manchester derby on Wednesday at Eastlands...

How The Rivals Fared This Week


Newcastle upset Arsenal at the Emirates as Andy Carroll headed home the winner to help the Geordies rise to 5th place in the league...

Fernando Torres struck twice in the first half to help Liverpool beat Chelsea 2-0 at Anfield... It was Liverpool's third consecutive win in the league & finally the Merseysiders lie comfortably in the upper half of the table...

Summer signing Mario Balotelli scored a brace against West Brom at the Hawthorns before his hot-headedness got the better of him & he was sent off in the second half... This means the Italian forward will miss this week's Manchester derby...

The Weekly Verdict

Player Of The Week - Ji-Sung Park

Team Of The Week - Liverpool

That's all Folks!

Yours,
CJ

Friday, November 5, 2010

Fergie Fergie, Sign Him Up! - Gareth Bale: Is He Really Worth It???

Anyone who follows a bit of football action will have surely heard of this Welshman who's taken European & English football by storm - Yup! I'm talking about no one other than Tottenham Hotspur's charismatic winger Gareth Bale, who's been in the news for some time coz of his brilliant displays since the latter half of last season...

Most recently, he's being hailed by the English press as the 'next Ryan Giggs' with regards to the manner he single-handedly fought defending European champs Inter Milan... In the first leg at the San Siro, Bale scored a wonderful hat-trick to grab some respect as Spurs lost 4-3 & in the home leg, he inspired Tottenham to a 3-1 victory which placed Spurs on the top of their group...

Such great performances have led to much speculation about his future at the club... Certain sections (mostly tabloids) reported interest from 'big' clubs about signing him next summer including Manchester United, but Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp has declared him 'unsellable'... Redknapp believes him to be an integral part of their squad & hopes to build a wonderful team around him...

Gareth Bale was signed up from Southampton two years ago for a fee of 5 million pounds when Martin Jol was managing the club... Bale was not even guaranteed a place on the bench until this January, when he started put up a string of consistent displays on the left wing... Since then, he's never looked back & is now one of those players to have a guaranteed place in the starting line-up...

Inevitably, he's attracted the eyeballs of most of us United fans as the probable succesor to club legend Ryan Giggs... Giggs is all set to hang up his boots at the end of this season alongwith Scholes, Neville & VDS, so as a result big-name replacements are required... United fans naturally want a guy like Bale to succeed Giggs, maybe because of the fact that both are Welshmen, or both are primarily left-footed, or both possess the quality of destroying oppositions single-handedly...

But let us put Bale aside for a moment & just glance at the talent the club already has, one may discover that signing him up may prove absolutely unnecessary... United has players like Nani, Valencia, Obertan, Bebe, Morrison, out-on-loan Cleverley & Park (if you consider him to be one!) who are capable of plying their trade on the wings... Nani & Valencia were crucial to United's chances last season & since Valencia is out injured, Nani's playing on his favoured right-wing... Once Valencia returns from injury in February, it's very much probable that Nani will be shifted back to the left, since Valencia is right-footed & not adept to playing on the left... Again, Valencia's contribution to Rooney's incredible haul of 34 goals last season is of great significance... Plus we have upcoming players like Obertan & Bebe who are gradually coming into their roles of late as United players...

I do not disagree that signing up Bale would be great, but he currently is on contract with Spurs till 2014 & his current market valuation stands anywhere between 30 to even 50 million pounds!!! Sir Alex (reportedly) has around 100 million pounds to spend on replacements in the summer of 2011, but spending more than 30 million on a single player seems foolhardy to me atleast... Plus having Bale in the line-up would result in leaving out either one of Nani & Valencia, which clearly won't go down well with either of them... Competition for a spot in the starting line-up is good, but the presence of a disgruntled player is never welcome...

What are your thoughts on this folks??? Leave a comment or reply to me on Twitter @AbhinavCJ... You can sign up for the blog on Google Friend Connect with your Twitter ID too!

That's all Folks!

Yours,
CJ

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

In Pictures: Bursapor 0-3 Manchester United

United maintained their unbeaten streak in all competitions this season with a win over Turkish champions Bursapor at the Ataturk Stadium thanks to a spectacular second-half performance by the Red Devils... Darren Fletcher, Gabriel Obertan & substitute Bebe all found the net to complete a comfortable win in the group stage game... United are now almost through to the lucrative knock-out stages of the Champions League with 10 points from four games & still two to go...

Rafael, Nani & Carrick in action against Bursapor

Scholes has a goal disallowed in the first half

Fletcher scores just six minutes into the second half

Gabby Obertan grabs his first professional goal for United

Bebe adds a third to complete a victory at the Ataturk stadium

That's all Folks!

Yours,
CJ

Conspiracy Theory: Fergie-Rooney Partners In Crime?

Today in the newspaper, I read an interesting report on the Rooney saga... Former Manchester United goalkeeper Mark Bosnich (now a football commentator with Sky Sports) has come up with a theory that the whole Rooney saga was actually staged... And he claims that it was Sir Alex who's the mastermind behind this!

Bosnich goes on to say that Rooney & Sir Alex are too close to each other to have a fallout in such a public manner... He says that this was an arm-twisting tactic deployed by Sir Alex against the Glazers since he was frustrated by the lack of funds to buy top players... Bosnich believes that when Rooney's statement spoke of the club 'lacking ambition to bring the top players to the club', it was actually Sir Alex saying so...

Again, this was also done to raise the wage structure of the club - for example, how do you justify offering a £180,000 a week contract for Wayne Rooney? By paying John O'shea 80,000 grand a week! This enabled the gaffer not only to give his players a pay rise, but also yielded a promise from the Glazers to spend around £100 million on world-class replacements for Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes & Van der Sar among other players...

One may argue that Rooney spoke publicly of his desire to leave the club... But this theory is fuelled by the report that Rooney told one angry fan while holidaying in Dubai that he 'never intended to leave the club'!

I can't deny that this is only a conspiracy theory, but then if it's true, I believe it's a masterstroke by the wily Scot to get from the miserly Glazers what the club desperately needs at the moment... So anyway, well done Sir Alex!!!

That's all Folks!

Yours,
CJ

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Champions League Preview: United Take On Turkish Champions To Seek Virtual Qualification

United undertake what might prove to be a tough trip to Turkey to face Turkish champions Bursapor in a UEFA Champions League group stage game tonight...

The Red Devils, unbeaten in all competitions this season, will look to earn 3 whole points from this away fixture... A tough time in the league awaits them ahead as United take on Wolves, Man City & Aston Villa within the span of a week... United need to win tonight to secure virtual qualification for the knock-out stages of the elite European competition...

Rio Ferdinand happens to be the major absentee in the squad travelling to Bursa... Though it was earlier speculated that he was injured, but Ferdinand claimed on Twitter that he was fine... Anyway, that looks like another start for young centre-back Chris Smalling with Jonny Evans out too...

Magnus Eikrem, the talented Norwegian midfielder & Reserves captain also travels with a squad & is tipped to earn a spot on the bench... Also travelling with the squad will be shock summer signing Bébé...

Man Utd Squad: Van der Sar, Amos, Kuszczak, Evra, Brown, Vidic, Smalling, Rafael, Fabio, O'Shea, Eikrem, Scholes, Obertan, Bebe, Fletcher, Carrick, Park, Nani, Berbatov, Hernandez

United are unlikely to field a 4-5-1 formation similar to their last 2 European games coz of lack of options in central midfield... Berbatov & Hernandez should spearhead the attack being the only strikers in the squad... Nani will be accompanied on the flanks by Park, who should start after a convincing display against Spurs... Scholes may start since he came on as a substitute on Saturday, with Carrick/Fletcher vying for a start... Smalling should partner Vidic in central defence, with Brown & O'Shea as full-backs...

My Starting XI: Kuszczak, Brown, Vidic, Smalling, O'Shea, Nani, Scholes, Carrick, Park, Berbatov, Hernandez

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Red Devils Reign, United Again!!!

That's all Folks!

Yours,
CJ

Monday, November 1, 2010

EPL Weekly Round-Up: United Still Unbeaten, Rivals Grab Late Winners And Geordies Win Tyne-Wear Derby

Manchester United put up a solid performance at Old Trafford to overcome Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 following their midweek League Cup win over Wolves... Skipper Vidic put United ahead via a powerful header in the 31st minute from Nani's spot kick & then six minutes away from full-time, Nani doubled the lead with an extremely bizarre & controversial strike... Rafael Van der Vaart & Luka Modric both went close for Spurs in the 1st half, but the attack fizzed out in the 2nd half as Van der Vaart limped off the field... Spurs face a daunting task ahead this week with Inter Milan visiting Whit Hart Lane while the Red Devils undertake a trip to Turkey to face Bursapor...

How The Rivals Fared This Week

Arsenal, Chelsea & Liverpool all grabbed late winners to win their respective games... League leaders Chelsea came from behind to beat Blackburn Rovers 2-1 away from home with Brainslav Ivanovic scoring the winner... Alexander Song & Maxi Rodriguez rescued Arsenal & Liverpool respectively from certain draws... Man City went down to Wolves 2-1 at the Molineux after going 1-0 up through Adebayor's penalty...

And finally in the biggest win this past weekend, Newcastle United beat arch-rivals Sunderland in the Tyne-Wear derby 5-1 at St. James Park... Geordies captain Kevin Nolan was on fire as he scored a magnificent hat-trick to power his club to the top half of the league table...

The Weekly Verdict:

Player of the Week - Kevin Nolan

Team of the Week - Newcastle United

That's all Folks!

Yours,
CJ