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Monday, August 29, 2011

EPL Weekly Round-Up: Manchester 13 North London 3, Chelsea and Liverpool cruise into top 4 & Newcastle show their Best!

Deadly Duo
Defending champions Manchester United ran riot as they humiliated Arsenal 8-2 at Old Trafford on Sunday. Wayne Rooney inspired a young Red Devils side with a deserving hat-trick, two of which were well-taken free kicks from just outside the box. In the meantime, he also crossed the 150 goals landmark for Manchester United in all competitions, going ahead of Ruud van Nistelrooy. New signing Ashley Young was equally brilliant, scoring a brace & assisting the same number of goals. The other names on the scoresheet for Man United were Welbeck (who had to be sidelined with a hamstring injury in the 35th minute), Nani & substitute Park, while it were Walcott & van Persie for the Gunners. The match also proved to be a significant morale boost for United goalkeeper David De Gea, who pulled off a number of brilliant saves including the penalty taken by van Persie in the first half. It happened to be the first time since 1896 that Arsenal have conceded eight goals, which gives manager Arsene Wenger sufficient food for thought. This victory takes Manchester United to the top of the table, ahead of crosstown rivals Manchester City on goal difference.

How The Rivals Fared

Manchester City produced an entertaining display at Whit Hart Lane as they thumped hosts Tottenham Hotspur 5-1. Bosnian striker Edin Dzeko was on target for the Citizens, scoring four of them, the only other name on the scoresheet being that of Sergio 'Kun' Aguero. Samir Nasri, who moved from Arsenal for a fee of £25 million last week, made a sparkling debut for the Blues, assisting 3 goals against his former North London rivals. The only consolation for Spurs came through Younes Kaboul, who headed in a corner but the damage had already been done by then. The win took Man City to the top of the table temporarily, before Man United surged ahead on goal difference.

Chelsea overcame a resilient Norwich City to beat them 3-1 at Stamford Bridge. Jose Bosingwa scored a cracker as early in the 5th minute but Grant Holt capitalised on an error from Hilario to bring the Canaries back on level terms. However, Norwich goalkeeper Ruddy was sent off when he brought down Ramires inside the box, Lampard restoring the hosts' lead from the resulting penalty. The game also marked the debuts of Romelu Lukaku & Juan Mata, the latter scoring the final goal to inflict more misery on the visitors.

Liverpool were mercurial as they swept aside Bolton Wanderers 3-1 at Anfield. Summer signings Jordan Henderson & Charlie Adam both scored their first goals for the club, apart from defender Martin Skrtel while Ivan Klasnic grabbed a last-minute consolation goal for the Trotters. The win took the Merseyside Reds into the top four at third place, above Chelsea.

Leon Best was clinical in front of goal he grabbed a brace to help Newcastle United beat Fulham 2-1 at St. James Park. Clint Dempsey pulled one back late into the game but the Magpies held on to extend their unbeaten run in the Premier League.

The current top four standings are as under:

Man United - 9 points

Man City - 9 points

Liverpool - 7 points

Chelsea - 7 points

The Weekly Verdict:

Team Of The Week - Manchester United

Player Of The Week - Edin Dzeko

That's all Folks!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Spurs look to continue momentum?

Can they do it after two decades?
Like most teams, Tottenham will head to Old Trafford with as underdogs, with Manchester Untied widely expected to claim the three points when the two sides meet tonight. It may be of interest to those following the Betfair football that it has been ten years since Spurs last defeated Sir Alex Ferguson’s side, when the Londoners recorded a 3-1 victory at White Hart Lane, with no win at Old Trafford since 1989.

Since then though and it’s been a barren spell for Spurs when playing United, although Harry Redknapp’s team will go into the match on the back of a stunning 5-0 midweek win against Hearts.

Spurs started their Europa League campaign with a confident victory against the Scottish side and will be hoping to continue their momentum into tonight’s match. United will have plenty of belief that they can see off the threat from Spurs, following their home record from last season of 18 wins in 19 Premiership matches.

That formidable form at home was the main reason United claimed the Premier League title, with Chelsea and Arsenal both struggling to turn their home grounds into fortresses. It could be a factor that affects the Premier league 2011-12 betting.

This United side doesn’t have the same level of experience than last season’s team, with the back five from last weekend’s 2-1 victory against West Brom having an average age of just 20. The summer signings of youngsters David de Gea and Phil Jones look to be smart pieces of business from Sir Alex, although both players will need to prove they can handle the pressure at such young ages.

The defending champions will go into this match without their first choice centre-back pairing of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, with Rafael, Michael Owen and Javier Hernandez also ruled out of the match with injury. Partice Evra does return to the back-line though, the French left-back fit again after his knee injury.

For Spurs, Luka Modric won’t play, with his future still far from being clear. The Croatian will join Ledley King, William Gallas and Alan Hutton on the sidelines, although Peter Crouch could play some part after struggling with an ankle injury.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

EPL Weekly Round-Up: Young Helps United Make Winning Start, Aguero Impresses With Goals On Debut, Rivals Held & More...

Young, and Shining Bright!
Defending champions Manchester United started on a bright note as they won their first game of the season 2-1 at West Brom Albion. Talismanic striker Wayne Rooney put the Red Devils ahead as early as the 10th minute when Ashley Young latched on to the former's flick only to set him up for a rather difficult finish. However, the Hawthorns struck back on the brink of half-time when David De Gea failed to save a loose shot from Shane Long, resulting in an equaliser from the Premier League debutant striker. The Red Devils continued to dominate possession but the hosts looked the far better side until Young dribbled his way from the left to score the winner as his shot got lucky deflections from the feet of Tamas & Reid, leaving Ben Foster helpless. It was an impressive debut for the England winger in an erstwhile injury-ridden victory for United, as both first-choice defenders Vidic & Ferdinand were sidelined for two weeks & six weeks respectively.

How The Rivals Fared
Manchester City came out firing on all cylinders as they thumped Premiership new boys Swansea City 4-0 at the Etihad Stadium. Record £38 million signing Sergio Aguero had an instant impact on his Premier League debut, scoring a brace after coming on as a second-half substitute. Edin Dzeko & David Silva bagged the other goals in what was a forgettable night for the Brendan Rodgers-managed Welsh club.

Do Chelsea need some Croatian creativity?
Chelsea's fortunes under new manager Andre Villas-Boas were given a reality check as they were held to a goalless draw at Stoke. English football's most expensive footballer Fernando Torres looked lively throughout the game, but failed to score coz of lack of proper chances created from midfield. The result should raise valid questions as to whether the Blues should be stepping up their efforts to sign playmaker Luka Modric from crosstown rivals Tottenham Hotspur.

Whadddaaa Goal!!!
In a clash of the summer's two most active clubs in the transfer market, Liverpool played out a 1-1 draw with Sunderland at Anfield. Uruguayan playmaker Luis Suarez missed an early penalty but made amends just five minutes later when he headed home Charlie Adam's free kick. However, Sebastian Larsson levelled matters for the visitors with a wonderful flying kick, thanks to a perfect cross from Al-Mohamady. Former Man United defender Wesley Brown was the standout performer of the day, as he almost single-handedly kept the Liverpool attack at bay. The game also marked the Anfield debuts of new signings Stewart Downing, Charlie Adam, Jordan Henderson & Jose Enrique.

Arsenal were held in an exhilarating 0-0 draw by Newcastle United at St. James Park, which also revealed the uglier side of things in the Premier League. Arsenal's new £10m signing Gervinho was sent off for violent conduct against Joey Barton, who was no less guilty in the whole incident for provoking such a reaction from the Ivory Coast striker. Arsenal's midfield struggled for creativity in the absence of both Cesc Fabregas (who has signed for boyhood club Barcelona for £35m) & Samir Nasri.

Championship winners Queens Park Rangers were the most unfortunate victims, as they were battered 4-0 by a depleted Bolton Wanderers side in front of their home supporters at Loftus Road. The London side will need to stock up their defensive as well as midfield options soon if they are to dream of maintaining their top flight status.

The Weekly Verdict:

Team Of The Week: Bolton Wanderers

Player Of The Week: David Silva (Manchester City)

That's all Folks!


Saturday, August 6, 2011

Rival Rendezvous: The Arsenal Season Preview

The most important thing on the minds of most Manchester United fans at the moment must be the excitement of Sunday's's encounter with our 'noisy' neighbours Manchester City in the FA Community Shield at Wembley, but I bring you today something really different out here. A couple of days back, I was able to convince Pranav Menon (a friend of mine on Twitter) to do this blog feature with me. Pranav, who goes by the name of "Desi Gunner" in the blogosphere, also manages a reputed Arsenal fan blog by the same name. So in this season's first edition of 'Rival Rendezvous', we talk to Pranav on what should Arsenal fans look forward to this season, the never-ending transfer saga of Cesc Fabregas, the manager & more...

1. Given the way Arsenal crumbled last season, how optimistic are you about the new season?

Pranav: A new season. A new story. New hope. A new signing or two and we are good to go.

2. Critics have been calling for Wenger's head coz of no silverware for the past six seasons. Do you think this is justified?

Pranav: Arsenal is the team that it is because of him. They've qualified year after year for the CL. Arsene Wenger deserves credit for that. The manager doesn't need changing. It's more to do with the philosophy.

3. What do you think went wrong last season? It was all going good, and suddenly everything changed...

Pranav: Arsenal as a team did not show up during the last two months of football of last season. Their win percentage was abysmal. It was more to with the teams mentality than anything else.

4. The English press has been abuzz with rumours linking Nasri & Fabregas (of course) to moves away from the Emirates. Do you see them playing for Arsenal come September?

Pranav: One of the two would stay is my guess. If somebody donated Barca with 10 million pounds and if they can come up with a decent offer I see Cesc going.

5. If in case both or either of Nasri & Fabregas leave, will Arsenal be able to mount a challenge for the title this season?

Pranav: That would depend on how much time Wenger gets to spend that money and how much would he be willing to splash out. An attack minded player and a central defender and we should challenge for the title.

6. Arsenal have signed Gervinho & Carl Jenkinson for a total outlay of approx £12m. What is your take on that?

Pranav: Young Carl Jenkinson has been brought in to replace the Turkey-bound Eboue. Not seen much of him other than his brilliant OG. But then he has obvious talent it seems.
Gervinho on the other hand I think should be a very good addition to the squad. He's already found his scoring boots for Arsenal. Let's see if he can deliver when it matters.

7. What positions do you think Arsenal actually need reinforcements in? And who are the suitable candidates for them?

Pranav: As I said an attack minded player. Juan Mata is a name that't been floating around for a long time now at the Emirates. But if I could have influenced Wenger in anyway I would have loved to see Benzema in
an Arsenal shirt.
Defensively we need a CB. But with Wenger you just never know whom will he sign. Honestly to be fair with him, English defenders are so over-priced getting a decent defender in a good deal is going to be difficult.

8. On the financial aspect, it is well known that Arsenal have one of the best sustainable club models. But then what stops Wenger from spending? Pray provide some insight on that.

Pranav: Even if Wenger was to manage say a team like Man City I do not think he would have spent like a Mancini or a 'arry Redknapp or even Mourinho. It just isn't his style.

9. Do you personally believe that Arsene Wenger's policy will work? Or do you agree with the outsider view of it being flawed in some aspects?

Pranav: Wenger lives in a world too idealistic for his own good. While I appreciate all his achievements and the way it has been achieved, I think it's time for him to change his method and approach in a few ways. Will he be able to do that is besides the point.

10. Final question - how do you rate Piers Morgan as an Arsenal fan?
No seriously, my final one to you is that if not Arsenal, who will the league title this season?

Pranav: Being a betting man, I would put my money on Chelsea.
By the way, I find Piers Morgan very interesting and love abusing him.

I express my personal thanks to Pranav for this blog feature. You can check out his brilliant Arsenal blog 'Desi Gunner' by clicking here. You can also follow him on Twitter @Desi_Gooner.

Think Arsenal will manage to make it to the Champions League next season? Let us know by leaving your comments below or drop me a line on Twitter @AbhinavCJ & I'll get back to you right away!

That's all Folks!


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