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Sunday, February 20, 2011

In A Nutshell: United In FA Cup Last Eight, Giggs Extends Deal, Park Out For A Month & More...

United 'crawl' to win over non-league side


Manchester United struggled to secure a 1-0 hard-earned win over non-league side Crawley Town in the fifth round of the FA Cup. Wes Brown scored the only goal of the game in the 28th minute, thanks to an excellent cross from Darron Gibson. The visitors, buoyed by the 9000 travelling away fans, put up a spirited display against the Premier League leaders but United managed to hold on to their slender lead to advance to the last eight of the competition. The game also marked the Old Trafford debut of Danish goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard, who signed for the Red Devils during the January transfer window.

Giggs to play another year


Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs has signed a one-year extension to his existing contract, which will see him play for the club till the summer of 2012. The Welshman, who holds the club record of highest no. of appearances & is the most decorated player in English football, said -
"All I’ve ever wanted to do is play for United and I’ve been lucky enough to do that for 20 years. It’s great to know I’m still contributing to the team’s success and I feel I’ve got a lot to offer on and off the pitch. This is an exciting time to be involved with so many good young players coming through."

Wingers on the Sidelines

Ji-Sung Park, who returned from national duty earlier this month, has been sidelined for four weeks with a hamstring injury, which he suffered during training. However, good news is that winger Luis Antonio Valencia has started training with the Reserves & is expected to be back in March. The Ecuadorian winger suffered a career-threatening ankle injury in August but has shown extreme determination to recover from the incident. Valencia's return will no doubt provide more firepower to United's title run-in.

New deal for Evra?

According to the English daily 'The Guardian' & French TV channel 'Canal Plus', United left-back Patrice Evra has signed a new 4-year deal with the Red Devils. The 29-year-old Frenchman has been constantly linked with a move away from Old Trafford this summer given that his contract runs out in the summer of 2012. However, the validity of this piece of news remains to be confirmed, with United's club officials still not clearing the air regarding such speculation.

So what d'you guys think about the past eventful week? Feel free to leave your comments below or drop me a line on Twitter @AbhinavCJ & I'll get back to you right away!

That's all Folks!

Yours,
CJ

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

EPL Weekly Round-Up: Manchester Still Red, Arsenal Stay In Hunt, Spurs Move Ahead Of Chelsea & Liverpool Held


Manchester United overcame a spirited display from cross-town rivals Manchester City to beat them 2-1 at Old Trafford. City should've gone ahead as early as the 3rd minute when former United striker Carlos Tevez played in David Silva but the Spanish midfielder shot just brushed the side of the post. The deadlock was broken when Ryan Giggs brilliantly provided Luis Nani to go past Zabaleta & score his 10th goal of the season. With United looking dominant, City manager Roberto Mancini tried to change things with the introduction of new signing Edin Dzeko & Shaun Wright-Phillips in place of the ineffective James Milner & Aleksandar Kolarov. The substitution paid immediate dividend as Dzeko's misdirected shot deflected off the back of David Silva into the back of United's net, leaving Van der Sar stranded at the other end of the goal. However, the game was not over yet as Wayne Rooney made amends for his indifferent form of late to score the winner in the 78th minute from Nani's deflected cross, with a magnificent bicycle kick past a dumbfounded Joe Hart to send the Old Trafford faithful into fits of absolute joy & admiration for the goal. This victory leaves United eight points ahead of City with a game in hand, pushing their city rivals virtually out of the title race.

How The Rivals Fared This Week                  


Arsenal kept themselves in the title hunt as they overcame giant-killers Wolves 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium, courtesy of a brace from the ever-reliable Robin Van Persie. After this win, the Gunners are 4 points behind league leaders Manchester United.


Fulham & Chelsea played out a 0-0 draw at Craven Cottage as the hosts failed to grab 3 full points at home after Clint Dempsey couldn't convert a late penalty. Chelsea dominated possession all along but new signing David Luiz fouled Clint Dempsey inside the box in stoppage time. Dempsey himself stepped up to take the penalty but Petr Cech saved to salvage a deserved point for the misfiring defending champions.


Tottenham Hotspur moved ahead of Chelsea into the top four with a hard-earned 2-1 win over Sunderland at the Stadium Of Light. Asamoah Gyan sent the hosts ahead in the 11th minute but Spurs fought back with goals from skipper Michael Dawson & Niko Kranjcar to secure 3 points.


Wigan Athletic again frustrated Liverpool this season, grabbing a 1-1 draw at Anfield when Steve Gohouri cancelled out Raul Meireles's earlier strike, thus halting caretaker manager Kenny Dalglish's winning streak of 4 games on the trot.

The current top four league standings are as under:

Man United - 57 points

Arsenal - 53 points

Man City - 49 points

Tottenham - 47 points


The Weekly Verdict:

Team Of The Week: Manchester United

Player Of The Week: Luis Nani

That's all Folks!

Yours,
CJ

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Friday, February 4, 2011

Second Serve: Why Man United Did Well To Stay Away From The January Transfer Window

Fernando Torres - Liverpool to Chelsea (£50 mn)

Andy Carroll - Newcastle to Liverpool (£35 mn)

Edin Dzeko - Wolfsburg to Man City (£27 mn)

David Luiz - Benfica to Chelsea (£26.5 mn)

Darren Bent - Sunderland to Aston Villa (£24 mn)

Luiz Suarez - Ajax to Liverpool (£22 mn)


The above six players, as you very well must know, were part of the most lucrative deals of the just concluded January transfer window, also among the biggest in Premier League history. Except for Bent & Dzeko, rest of the deals were undoubtedly eleventh-hour deals, done with on the final day. So what was it that we witnessed? Gradual team rebuilding? Or absolute panic signings in a desperate attempt to get their seasons back on track??? Only time will tell...

A friend of mine (who's a United fan), like many of my fellow United fans, keeps moaning & groaning about United's lack of activity in the transfer market when it comes to marquee signings. In the run-up to the winter transfer window, he always used to pester me for all the transfer gossip involving us with some big name & everytime Sir Alex refuted such rumours, he exclaimed - ''Till the time Sir Alex's in charge, there's never gonna be any value in the market, eh?!?!'' I, of course, tried quoting history in the defense of the gaffer but in vain...!!!


So as we all know, United's only acquisition happened to be Danish goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard, signed from Norwegian club FK Aalesunds for a reported sum of £3.5 million. Even that didn't happen exactly in January, given the fact that the Dane started training with the squad as early as the first week of December. The possible recalls of the in-form loanees Danny Welbeck & Tom Cleverley didn't materialise, and the only other notable incident was the departure of Federico Macheda to Italian Serie A club Sampdoria on loan for the remainder of the season.


On what happened during the last month, was all the money splashed actually worth it? Do the team managements of, say Chelsea & Liverpool really think that those big money signings are gonna make an immediate impact on the fortunes of the clubs? Don't players need time to gel with their new teammates? In my opinion, they do.

Chelsea obviously have the look of an aging squad, a team in decline after the English Double last season. Signing David Luiz may not be such a bad acquisition given their lack of options in central defence, but Torres? He's been out of form, jagged since the World Cup & completely uninspiring this season for the Merseyside Reds. No doubt he has immense talent, but is he as good as before? Plus £50 million for him? That looks to be more of a statement from Roman Abramovich to other clubs (obviously Man City!) that they still can compete in the transfer market. As for Liverpool, the less said the better...

Look at what Manchester United did instead with Lindegaard. With a view to finding the successor of Van der Sar in the long term, Lindegaard was brought into the team in late November so that he has enough time to get into the mix of things at Old Trafford. Result? He was ready to play for the first team as soon as he was eligible to don the Red shirt!

Sir Alex also knows that his side are currently on an if-not-spectacular, a commendable unbeaten run in the Premier League, Champions League & the FA Cup. Bringing any significant changes could've easily upset the balance of the current squad, which I guess no United fan would like to occur! Without a doubt, United do lack the cutting edge in some departments, but this isn't really the time to splash the cash... Hopefully, you all will agree with me when we will lift our record-breaking 19th league title come May!!!

What d'you think of this guys??? Do you agree that Manchester United were right not to bring in any sort of reinforcements atleast for the time being? Feel free to leave your comments below or drop me a line on Twitter @AbhinavCJ & I'll get back to you right away!

On an ending note, I'd like to pay a tribute to our beloved living legend & one of the finest right-backs England has ever seen - Gary Neville - who retired from all forms of football on Wednesday. The 36-year-old veteran made 602 appearances for Manchester United & was one of the youth batch of 1992, famously known as ''Fergie's Fledglings''. I, like all my fellow Red Devils, would like to say that Gary will always occupy a special place in our hearts, and we'll remember him as the player who symbolised everything that was Manchester United! We are gonna miss you so damn much Gary...


Gary Neville Is A Red, He Hates Scousers!!!

That's all Folks!

Yours,
CJ

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