Posts Tagged ‘epl


Football fever is back

So what if Manchester United lost the Community shield game to Chelski? We are still the Premiership champs and have also won the Champions League three times, something the Blues haven’t managed even once. Of course, there was Evra and his penalty kick. Makes me feel I coud guide the ball past Cech with a broken knee. But then there was also blind Mr. Chris Foy. It would be easy to argue about his decisions but it would be wise to say it was an evenly contested game that could have gone either way. Only a fool would play down United’s chances in the Premiership after this loss; the Shield after all only decides who gets to own up the initial bragging rights.

The Red Devils will definitely go into the league as favorites even without Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez. Sir Alex may not have shelled out £50 million on transfers, but Michael Owen, Gabriel Obertan and Antonio Valencia will be eager to prove themselves. The signing of Owen on a free transfer is probably the best move this season so far in the Premiership. He has so far hit top form in the pre-season games. An early introduction of Owen could have swinged United’s fortunes against Chelski. Ecuadorian Valencia is by no means Ronaldo, but his last season at Wigan was nothing short of exceptional. Then there is also the yet to be tested Zoran Tosic. He played a few games for the senior team last year but was largely involved in reserve fixtures.

I really can’t wait for the Premier League to start. I have already started making my presence felt in Fantasy Premier League games on various sites. Like any other Red Devils faithful, I too am praying for another successive title not just in England but also Europe.


Michael Owen arrives at Old Trafford

Michael Owen playing alongside Neville, Rooney and Scholes not just for England but also for Manchester United. Is it possible? 24 hours ago the answer may have been no. But it is now onfirmed that the injury friendly striker has penned a deal with the Reds that will keep him at Old Trafford till 2011. He will become only the 4th player in history to have played for both United and their sworn enemies Liverpool. Honestly, being a Red Devils fan I really don’t know whether to take this new move positively or not. Sir Alex has sure made a huge gamble by signing him.

The latest Red Devil in town Owen sure has had a roller-coaster career. A boyhood Everton fan, he went against his father’s wishes to join Everton’s mersyside rivals Liverpool. During his time at Anfield, he was regarded as one of the world’s most feared strikers, having netted a staggering 118 goals in 216 appearances for the club. But in 2005 he made the biggest blunder of his career by moving to an already star- studded Real Madrid. Mostly benched and under-performing, he was sold off to Newcastle United later. His time there was injury ridden and he rarely showd glimpses of his much talked about prowess. The Magpies however were relegated this past season and Owen has found himself without a club to play for. Hull City were first to publicly acknowledge their interest in the player. There had also been offers from Tottenham, Portsmouth and Stoke City.

Michael Owen will be keen to fill be keen to fill in the void left by the departures of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez.  Sir Alex Ferguson will be hoping that Owen would  don a similar role like that of Henrik Larsson two years back. The former Swedish captain had joined United on a 6 month long loan deal after stunning spells at clubs like Feyenord, Celtic, Barcelona etc. Despite being in the swansong of his career, Larsson was able to help United to a League Championship while providing useful guidance to youngsters like Rooney and Ronaldo. One should also not forget when a 35 year old Edwin van der Sar was signed by Fergie there were quiet a few eyebrows raised. Since then, van der Sar has proved to among the best goalkeepers in Europe. Fergie had even called him the best keeper at Old Trafford since Peter Schmeichel. United legends such as Eric Cantona and Laurent Blanc were similar signings too.

As you can see, Owen can definitely be at comfort with the club’s history with ‘finished’ players. However he will have to see that his fitness doesn’t turn out to be a roadblock. The best thing to expect  from the striker though, will be a goal against his former club and United’s arch-rivals Liverpool. Now, that would be mouthwatering.


Fergie, don’t sell Tevez

I just hope Carlos Tevez doesn’t listen to his national team coach, Diego Maradona and leave Man Utd for Inter Milan, or for that matter any club. Tevez has a great future at Old Trafford and has to be patient in order to realise his aspirations. Five years back his countryman Juan Sebastain Veron made a big mistake by leaving United and has since been in a state of virtual non-existence. Tevez shouldn’t make any hasty decison and follow Veron’s footsteps. In fact Veron himself has recently said that it would better off for Tevez to stay on with the Red Devils. 

As for Sir Alex he should give Tevez more chances in the starting eleven. Berbatov sure is a great player but has so far not been performing enough to match what was expected of him. Also before his arrival, Tevez along with Rooney and Ronaldo had formed a formidable strike force. It would be a feast if all four start more often. We may as well see repeats of the 3-0 demolition of Chelsea. Ferguson shouldn’t also forget that if he goes by Maradona’s words, Tevez would end up with old nemesis Jose Mourinho. I am sure Sir Alex wouldn’t want the cocky Mourinho to have the bragging rights at least in this issue.


Robinho does a Maradona

24 years ago, a certain Diego Armando Maradona, regarded by many as the one of the Greatest footballers, left Champion club Barcelona to play in the Italian Scudetto for mid-table Napoli. It turned out to be a master move for both player and club. With Maradona’s brilliance, the club who were struggling to stay in the top flight not long ago, won two Seria-A titles, a Copa Italia title and a UEFA Cup. Napoli easily beat clubs like Juventus, Bayern Munich and Vfb Stuttgart en route their first major European title.

So at a time when Robson de Souza, better known as Robinho has completed a move from Real Madrid to English club, Manchester City, the similarities are quite obvious. Maradona was 24 when he moved to Napoli. Robinho is 24 as well. Barcelona were the Copa del Rey Champs when Maradona left. Real Madrid are the current defending La Liga Champions. And just like Napoli at that time, Manchester City are also strugglers with not many titles to their credit. Both Maradona and Robinho were unhappy at Barca and Real respectively despite finding success regularly. Argentina coudn’t find much success in the 1982 World Cup despie spirited performances from Maradona. The same happened for Brazil with Robinho at the 2006 World Cup. One should wonder whether these similarities are just co-incidents or an indication of Robinho striking wonders with Man City in the coming years.

Maradona was constantly supported by other new signings like Ciro Ferrara, Salvatore Bagni and Fernando De Napoli. At Man City, Robinho will also be looking for help from fellow Brazilians Elano and Joe as well as marksman Benjani. Fans should also hope that Robinho doesn’t face any cultural or language barriers at Manchester. For Maradona though, Italy was a second home because of his Italian ancestry.


Sivestre a Gunner!

The unthinkable has happened for thew first time in 21 years. The last time somebody did this was Viv Anderson in 1987, albeit it was the other way around. French International Mikael Silvestre completed a move to Arsenal from arch rivals Manchester United. It will be interesting to see the kind of response he is going to receive from his former United fans when Arsenal play at Old Trafford later this season. The transformation from a Red Devil to a Gunner is never going to be easy for the left-back. Although the rivalry between the clubs do not have a Derby status like the one between the two Milan giants, it is still considered to be one of the greatest rivalries in football history. Premiership fans especially are known for the rather unhappy welcome they give to players while returning to play against their former home teams. Rio Ferdinand and Eric Cantona were both booed at Leeds for whom both had played before signing for Manchester United, during their games at Elland Road.

I doubt if Silvestre will ever be able to shine at the Emirates. Already in the twilight of his career, he will have to battle it out with countryman Gaël Clichy for a first team spot. But at the same time if he does perform he can more or less establish a first team place considering Arsenal has nobody else at the position and it is unlikely that Arsene Wenger would sign anybody else.  Wenger would want Silvestre’s role to be that of a guide to the young guns of the team. With the addition of Silvestre the number of French speaking players at the Emirates has now increased to 12.


Magpies manage a draw at Old Trafford

A drawn opener just like last season, something that Sir Alex Ferguson hoped would be the last thing to happen to Manchester United. Fergie’s team were held to a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford. The team was nowhere near any of its phenomenal performances last year. Newcastle scoring midway through the first half through Obafemi Martins, in my opinion one of Europe’s most under-rated striker. United equalised almost immediately. Darren Fletcher, who has been in and out of the squad, levelling things. United were without two of their most important players, Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez, with rookie Frazier Campbell partnering Wayne Rooney up front. Young Brazilian Rodrigo Possebon also made his Premiership debut for the Red Devils. The Magpies played some really good football and even went the closest to scoring the winner but only for Martins to head above the cross bar. The home team were scrappy and couldn’t create enough chances to trouble Shay Given at goal. Newcastle deserved the one point they got. As for Man Utd, they can only hope that they don’t repeat the same away against Portsmouth next week. Newcastle next play Bolton at home.


English Premier League – Preview

The Mother of all Football leagues is set to enter a new season today. Will the Red Devils boosted by Ronaldo and Rooney be able to do what they are best at – Winning. Or will the rest of the Big-4 with a spate of new signings be able to dethrone the Champs? The eyes of the World might be set open the 100m Final at the Olympics. But for football fans nothing can rival the English Premier League. Manchester United definitely start as the firm favorites. The focus will be on Cristiano Ronaldo, will he fire after the transfer saga ended as an anti-climax?

Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea are no pushovers especially with big pre-season signings, something which did not happen with Man Utd. Certainly United’s inability to sign stars probably is the most discussed topic among the pundits. Dimitar Berbatov was the prime target for United, but into the new season he is still with Tottenham Hotspurs who are looking for a top four finish. Chelsea after losing both the Premier League and the Champions League to United have nothing but revenge in their mind. The Blues have a new manager in Luiz Felipe Scolari who is well aware of Ronaldo’s brilliance having coached him with the Portuguese national team. Scolari seems to be another Mourinho with his wacky humor and a determination to win. New arrivals Deco and Jose Bosingwa will be looking to impress. Arsenal meanwhile have lost a lot over the transfer period. With departures from key players Alisaksandr Hleb, Mathieu Flamini and Gilberto Silva, the only relief are the new signings, Samir Nasri and Aaron Ramsey. Wenger himself has described 17 year Welshman Ramsey as a player with a fantastic engine, good build, good technique and good vision. For Liverpool Robbie Keane has been the only major signing. The key player this season will once agin be star striker Fernando Torres who will be aiming to emulate last year’s success.

As for the other clubs, Tottenham Hotspurs, Newcastle United and Blackburn Rovers are the ones to watch out for. These are clubs which can spoil the day for any top club. All four will be aiming for a place in the top four and a place in the Champions league next season.  Spurs especially are seen as the Dark horses. Although weakened by the departure of Robbie Keane and Paul Robinson, arrivals Luka Modric and David Bentley can more than compensate. Also look out for Giovanni dos Santos who had good times at Barca and Heurelho Gomes, the young Brazilian ‘keeper. Michael Owen is undoubtedly Newcastle’s best player. But remains to be seen whether he can shake off injuries. Along with Owen, Obafemi Martins and Mark Viduka will be carrying the club’s hopes. Joey Barton is another player to reckon with if he can keep out of trouble. As for Blackburn, the major signing was ‘keeper Robinson from Spurs. Morten Gamst Pedersen and Roque Santa Cruz are key players. Manchester City was probably last season’s biggest disappointment. After promising a lot initially. they could only fade away. This season however they had beaten AC Milan in a pre-season friendly. With new striker from CSKA Moscow and Tal Ben-Haim from Chelsea things sould change. Bolton Wanderers, Everton, Aston Villa and West Ham are contenders for the UEFA Cup slots. Fulham, Middlesborough, Portsmouth, Sunderland and Wigan will try to keep themselves clear from the relegation zone. Newly promoted Hull, Stoke and West Brom should consider themselves lucky if they are to continue next season.