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Monday, January 17, 2011

EPL Weekly Round-Up: Man United Held By Spurs, Rivals Win & Derbies Galore!

A brilliant display from the Manchester United back four saw them hold out for a 0-0 draw against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane. Croatian midfielder Luka Modric was in sparkling form as he tormented the United midfield duo of Carrick & Fletcher all through the game. The talking point of the match was however, the unjust sending off of United right-back Rafael Da Silva, who received a second yellow card for a 'challenge' on Assou-Ekotto in the 75th minute. But the Red Devils kept their nerve to split points with the Londoners & stay on the top of the points table.

How The Rivals Fared This Week

Chelsea struggled throughout as they beat Blackburn Rovers 2-0 at Stamford Bridge. Brainslav Ivanovic & Nicolas Anelka both scored in the 2nd half to help the Blues get a much needed win.

Manchester City overcame a spirited Wolves side as they beat them 4-3 in an exciting encounter at the City Of Manchester Stadium. Carlos Tevez was on the scoresheet again with a brace while the Toure brothers i.e. Kolo & Yaya also grabbed one apiece for the Manc Blues.

Robin Van Persie fired a brace while Theo Walcott also scored in a 3-0 away win over West Ham at Upton Park. The Hammers remain glued to the bottom of the table with 20 points from 23 games.

Derbies Galore!

It was quite a footy weekend as three derby games were played this time - the Tyne-Wear derby, the Merseyside derby & the Second City derby. Let us have a look at what happened in these games -

Sunderland managed to hold Newcastle United to a thrilling 1-1 draw at the Stadium Of Light as record signing Asamoah Gyan levelled for the Black Cats in the final moments of stoppage time to cancel out Kevin Nolan's earlier strike.

Liverpool & Everton also played out another exciting draw at Anfield. Raul Meireles put the Reds ahead in the 1st half but Everton went in front just minutes into the 2nd half with goals from Distin & Beckford. However, Everton keeper Tim Howard unnecessarily committed a foul in his own box to gift Liverpool a penalty & Dirk Kuyt made no mistake to split points.

Roger Johnson sent Birmingham City ahead just 4 minutes into the 2nd half but Aston Villa clawed back into the game as James Collins equalised for the away team. The final scoreline stood 1-1.

The current top four league standings are as under:

Man United - 45 points

Man City - 45 points

Arsenal - 43 points

Chelsea - 38 points

The Weekly Verdict:

Team Of The Week - Arsenal

Player Of The Week - Robin Van Persie

That's all Folks!


Sunday, January 16, 2011

In A Nutshell: Trip Down The Lane, Lindegaard Features For Reserves, January Ins & Outs And More...

So finally after more two weeks, I'm back with the weekly feature 'In A Nutshell' in which we look at what's happened & what's happening at Manchester United this week!

Red Devils Seek Victory Down The Lane

Manchester United take on North Londoners Tottenham Hotspur away at White Hart Lane in what might prove to be a crucial tie in the title race. Rooney, Vidic, O'shea & Van der Sar all are back from injury & are fit enough to feature in tonight's game. For the hosts, Rafael Van der Vaart & Gareth Bale both will play against the Red Devils in their bid for a top-four finish. With Man City, Arsenal & Chelsea all winning their games last night, both teams will need to fight for 3 points to stay on course for their season's aspirations.

My Starting XI: Van der Sar, Evra, Vidic, Ferdinand, Rafael, Giggs, Carrick, Anderson, Nani, Rooney, Berbatov.

Lindegaard Dons Colours For Man United Reserves

Anders Lindegaard played his first game for Manchester United as he featured for the Reserves in a 1-0 home win over Bolton. Promising youngster Joshua King netted the only goal of the game while United's jack-of-all-trades John O'shea returned from a month-long injury. Lindegaard, who signed from Norwegian club FK Aalesunds in November, is currently the third-choice keeper in United's ranks & is tipped to take over from VDS when the legendary Dutchman hangs his boots at the end of this season.

Youngsters Head Out On Loan

Northern Ireland midfielder Corry Evans & Belgian defender Ritchie De Laet both were loaned out to Championship clubs Hull City & Portsmouth respectively. Evans, the younger brother of Jonny Evans, will play for the Tigers for the remainder of the season while De Laet will do the same for the Pompeys. I wish both of them good luck, and I hope they flourish as our other loanees have done this season!

Eikrem Leaves Old Trafford To Join Solskjaer At Molde

Reserves captain Magnus Eikrem has left Manchester United to join United legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Norwegian club FK Molde. The Norwegian midfielder, who hasn't made a first team appearance more than once in the Carling Cup (sadly, given his potential) has signed for an undisclosed fee. I wish him luck in Norway, and I hope he turns out to be a really fine footballer under the watchful eyes of Solskjaer at Molde.

What are your thoughts on the week's events??? Feel free to leave your comments below or drop me a line on Twitter @AbhinavCJ & I'll get back atcha right away!

Traffordshire County is in search of co-authors & contributors for the blog, who write primarily about Manchester United. The blog already has teamed up with the excellent Arsenal blogs '11 Gunners' & 'Bloggerani' and also the upcoming Chelsea blog 'Holiday Blogger' for the blog feature 'RIVAL RENDEZVOUS', but the blog still seeks regular co-authors who can contribute atleast once in a week or two. So if you got the endeavour, we are here to give you the opportunity! Take your chance, coz we're waiting!

That's all Folks!


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Thursday, January 6, 2011

In & Out: 'Clever' Move For Obertan???

According to some sections of the British media, Sir Alex Ferguson will probably recall young on-loan midfielder Tom Cleverley back from Wigan Athletic during the ongoing January transfer window. The speculation about this move has increased given Cleverley's good run for the Latics coupled with Man United's lack of creativity in midfield. With Park having left on national duty, Scholes injured, Hargreaves still doubtful & Valencia to return in late January, Cleverley can prove to be a useful addition to Sir Alex's squad, currently league leaders.

The same sources quoted Wigan boss Roberto Martinez stating that should United recall Cleverley, he'd like to have United winger Gabriel Obertan for the remainder of this season loaned to Wigan to bolster their chances in the battle against relegation.

Looking at the progress United's loanees have made at other Premier League clubs, say Danny Welbeck at Sunderland or Mame Biram Diouf at Blackburn or even Jonny Evans (two seasons ago at Sunderland), I think Gabby will do well to get more games under his belt since opportunities are scarce for him at United at the moment. He obviously has the talent to make it big at our club, but he has been quite inconsistent. It is evident that young players like him need a series of games to develop the consistency required to make it to the first team. Just look what a run of consecutive games did to Nani & Anderson in the past year, who are now among the more consistent performers at the club!

This week, a deal has been struck for Federico Macheda, who will go out on loan to Italian Serie A club Sampdoria for the second half of the season. I hope that when he returns to Old Trafford, we get to see a more polished version of the Italian wonderkid. Good luck Kiko!

What d'you think guys - should Gabby be sent out on loan & Cleverley be brought back??? Feel free to leave your comments below or drop me a line on Twitter @AbhinavCJ & I'll get back atcha right away!

That's all Folks!


Saturday, January 1, 2011

Looking Back On 2010: Personal Diaries

Starting off, I'd like to wish the readers of this blog a very Happy New Year 2011! Wherever you may live - in the United States, the United Kingdom or India or anywhere else - may you have a great year ahead...!!!

The last year has been pretty eventful for me in all aspects of my life. Be it my career ambitions, my personal life, my friends... Today, at the start of this new year, I'd just like to take some time off for myself on this blog. If you're reading this, bear with me as I travel back through 2010...

As far as I recall, I started the year with my college board prelims kicking off - just days after the tutorials had loosened their grip on me! Joined Facebook around that time too, and must say that I've made a few wonderful friends since. Also, I got into songwriting at that time (inspired by Noel Gallagher of course!). If you ever become friends on Facebook, you'd probably read some of the stuff I wrote back then!

Time passed, and I got busy with my studies as the board exams approached. Board exams went pretty well, but the surroundings were distracting to say the least - after all, sitting between 2 pretty girls & writing your exam paper can sometimes prove to be the hell of a task!

Exams got over, and the best thing happened. My Mom, who had cut off the connection to ESPN for the last 2 years (no football action on TV or the Internet for 2 whole years!) finally let me get the ESPN-Star Sports channels back on our TV screens. I don't blame her though, for what she did was probably for my own good, as I later found out.

Nevertheless, I had not-so-great moments with the 'Return Of ESPN' last season, with Chelsea (painfully) pipping us by a point to win the league title in May. Heartbroken, I seeked some solace in the FIFA World Cup, but I was to be disappointed yet again. First it was England that crashed out, then the crushing blow came in the final when the Oranjes lost by an extra-time goal to Spain.

Meanwhile, I prepared for a career in Chartered Accountancy besides waiting eagerly (and somewhat fearfully) for my board results. I was not to be disappointed, as I cleared both exams with decent marks. I also learned bit of playing the guitar in the meantime, and picked some skills from my favourite teacher, who hails from Kolkata but (unfortunately for me) was a Chelsea fan!

It was at this time that I broke up with my FRIEND. I liked her more than usual, but I never told her coz she was into some other guy, who was a friend too. So when she came to know about my once-upon-a-time feelings for her, she demanded an explanation which I wasn't able to provide, resulting in us going our separate ways.

The only good thing around that time I recall was Manchester United's win in the Community Shield over Chelsea, with Chicharito scoring in that game too! I had been pretty excited about his arrival at Old Trafford, and I was not disappointed as he has shown us how good he is!

September descended, and I finally turned 18. I got a new cell phone (smartphone - my 3rd in 3 years!) & a new Mahindra Rodeo! More than what I could've asked for anyday...

Then came the last quarter of the year, and with it came moments of self-doubt. Whether I was doing the right thing with my life. I eventually came to the conclusion that life would probably turn out alright, if only I'm gonna trust my instincts all along.

On an ending note, I'd like to tell you guys that I watched 'Inception' last night, and what a brilliant movie! I was totally blown away by the concept, and my mind & heart was racing all through! I'd reckon this one to all, coz it is easily one of the best movies last year & then you'll realize what a fine director Christopher Nolan is!

So that's what I gotta say about 2010. What are your thoughts on the past year & how did it go for you? Feel free to leave your comments below or drop me a line on Twitter @AbhinavCJ & I'll get back atcha right away!

Again, wishing one & all a very Happy New Year 2011!

That's all Folks!