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Nov 092014
 

In a bid to bolster Arsenal’s defensive options in January, reports have indicated that Arsene Wenger is considering a move for Aston Villa captain Ron Vlaar. So far this season, incessant injuries have sidelined several of Arsenal defenders leaving the few remaining too frail to put up an enterprising show.

Last season, Ron Vlaar was instrumental in the Birmingham based club’s performance and was even more fantastic when he featured for the Dutch national team at the recently concluded World Cup. His rock solid presence in the defence made sure that the Orange boys left the tournament with a bronze medal. Having shown great team spirit coupled with his vast experience spanning 10 years, Arsene Wenger believes that with Vlaar he could fill the void which Thomas Vermaleen’s absence has created after the defender switched over to Barcelona. The Arsenal manager reached out to the Villa Park club towards the closing of last summer’s transfer market but due to several factors, the deal fell through. However, with the spate of events going on at the Emirates, Wenger’s interest in the Dutchman appear to  have been rekindled as he is now reported to be lining up a bid to test Aston Villa’s resolve in the New Year.

Arsenal are determined to sign at least one central-defender next month with Laurent Koscielny out with an Achilles injury.  Full-back Nacho Monreal has been deployed in the central-defence for some time now but with the uninspiring performance that saw the Gunners surrender their 3-goal advantage over Dutch side, Anderlecht, their defensive frailties have now been seriously bared. With a title quest in sight, it will be disastrous for a team of Arsenal’s status to let the January window slide by without hiring extra legs in the defence.

While the Villa Park owners may not be too rigid to do business, Arsenal will face stiff competition in rivals Manchester United who have also been seriously linked to the 29-years-old. It will be recalled that Vlaar featured under Louis van Gaal at the World Cup when the manager was still in charge of the Holland team and it is expected that the cordial relationship between the two will be of advantage to the Manchester giants.

As it is normal, Aston Villa will want to keep their versatile captain but considering the fact that Ron Vlaar is at the last lap of his contract, his current employers will have their last chance to get some cash on him by January or risk losing him for free next summer. It is not certain how much Aston Villa wants for Vlaar but with the interests from Arsenal and Manchester United, they may decide to spark up a bidding war. Louis van Gaal has defensive worries of his own, his team are yet to recover from the exits of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic and to make matters worse, his other defenders have also not be too lucky with injuries this term. Although Vlaar is quite older than most of the players that Manchester United have signed this summer, if he finally moves to Old Trafford, he could be a band-aid in the short term.

Nov 072014
 

The rumours surrounding Bayern Munich midfielder, Xherdan Shaqiri are intensifying daily and The Daily Star has recently reported that Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham are all involved in the chase for the Swiss playmaker.

Shaqiri has been rumoured to be eyeing a move out of the Allianz Arena despite featuring several times for the Pep Guardiola side early last season. For all his troubles, he has not been able to establish himself as a first choice at Bayern Munich as he has continued to play second fiddle to the duo of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery. Despite the club declaring him surplus to requirements early this year, the midfielder has vowed to play to the best of his ability for the German champions.

In his predicaments, Italian outfit Juventus and Roma have both signalled interest but Bayern later made public their desire to retain the Swiss services and they further underlined their seriousness when they rejected Liverpool’s £12m bid around June this year.

Shaqiri has won two Bundesliga laurels, a Champions League trophy and two DFB- Pokals since he moved to the German giants and it appears that he is currently considering a contract extension with his employers. While fielding questions from journalists, Shaqiri was quoted to have said:

‘Liverpool made a bid for me before the World Cup but Bayern put their feet down and told me’ we are not going to sell you. My contract runs until 2016 and I could possibly extend it. I will consider my decision during the winter break. I try to do my best in training and when the coach rewards me with appearances, like against Hannover, then that is even better. I am always delightedwhen I can start games and I show that too, like I did this time. I think everybody could see how hungry I am to play football.’

The midfielder appears to be focusing on the upcoming clash where his country will be hosting England in Basel and he added that “I expect England to come over with a lot of young players who aren’t so well known. They will want to repair the damage after not doing so well at the World cup finals. They will come over to Switzerland looking to win but we will play our normal game and we will be going for victory too.” Said the Swiss.

Despite all these claims, several sources in Germany have insisted that even if Bayern are not going to out-rightly offload Shaqiri, a loan deal might be on the offer. Tottenham are reported to be interested in the prospect of have him on a temporary basis at first with the option of a temporary deal if he impresses. Bayern Munich however know that if their player moves to North London, the probability of him impressing at the White Hart Lane is huge and at his age, Tottenham will be willing to offer him a long term contract provided they can have him on trial basis for now. So the ball is in Bayern’s court. They could take their chances on the midfielder and ship him off to London or keep him at the Allianz Arena as a future option.

Oct 232014
 

One of Manchester United’s long term targets Marco Reus is reportedly inching closer to a switch to the Old Trafford club. it will be recalled that last month EXPRESS reported United’s interest. Although German giants, Borrusia Dortmund and Bayern Munich are already at logger heads because of the player, pundits have continue to wonder what Pep Guardiola really plans to do with Reus especially as he has been widely reported to be demanding about  a £8m/annum wage structure.

Reus is very dynamic and can be deployed in any of the flanks or even as a striking partner to any of the top strikers at Old Trafford, but to lure the German over to Manchester, Louis van Gaal will have to match a transfer fee of about £19m in addition to the bumper wage deal and also get his side a Champions League spot.

German legend Franz Beckenbauer while fielding questions from Bild in August stated that Manchester United ranks among the few clubs that Marco Reus could consider in the event where he chooses to make a switch and was further quoted to have said “I can imagine him at Bayern very well. If you can get a player of his class, you need to try it. I am sure if he doesn’t go to Bayern in 2015, he will probably go to another big international club such as Real Madrid or Manchester United. Dortmund are unlikely to be able to hold him.

This statement kind of rules out the possibility of Reus staying on at Dortmund as the club is always conscious of the number of high salaried players they have and if an offer comes, the German side will be sure to sell, but the idea of the player going to Old Trafford is hard to comprehend. Louis van Gaal has several options to choose from when it comes to his attacking options and it will be financially irresponsible of a team in Manchester United’s situation to sign another player in a position where they have about five players already. With Wayne Rooney, Marouane Fellaini, Juan Mata, Adnan Januzaj and sometimes James Wilson, of what use will the purchase of Marcos Reus be?

Many have opined that with the ineptitude on the part of Juan Mata, Louis van Gaal might consider shoving out the Spaniard, and also, it doesn’t appear that youngster Adnan Januzaj will be breaking into the starting line-up anytime soon and as such if Reus will be available for as little as £19m, the Manchester United boss might just decide to sign him on once he frees up more space by seeing Mata off.

However, this is still a long shot. Juan Mata might be finding things tough at the moment but it doesn’t mean the former Chelsea man has no more tricks up his sleeves and more so, if van Gaal must sign more players, then I believe he should focus more on his midfield and defence.

Oct 222014
 

Amid strong transfer links to Arsenal and Chelsea, Manchester United is reportedly preparing a whooping £200,000-a-week offer for Real Madrid’s midfielder and World Cup winner, Sami Khedira according to Daily Star. The 27-year-old player’s contract elapses at the end of the season and all effort by his employers, the UEFA Champions’ League title holders, had proved abortive. The most reasonable option for Real Madrid now is to cash in on the midfielder, cut price notwithstanding, in January, but that option may not be taken by most of his suitors, knowing they could wait for 6 months and get him on a free.

Sami Khedira, who won the 2014 FIFA World Cup with Germany in Brazil, was said to be interested in a move to Arsenal this summer with Real Madrid and the London club, said to have reached an agreement on fees, worth, £27m. However, the player’s wage demand of £150, 000-a-week was said to have stalled the arrangement on personal terms premise. It was later reported that, the defensive midfielder has slashed his wage demand to £134,000 weekly in a last ditch move to revive the move but Arsenal did not seem ready for talks as the club was obviously busy with strengthening other departments of the squad. This dragged on until news emanated from Spain that the player has rejected a contract extension from Madrid and is poised to either leave or stay at Madrid to see out his contract, which expires at the end of this season. So, the desperation to sell Khedira is hinged upon the prospect of losing the player on a free at the end of the season. Therefore, Arsenal and later Chelsea were thought to stand very good chance of landing the player in January for a very meagre transfer fee or for free at the end of the season.

The situation now is that Manchester United is reportedly aiming to surpass the weekly wage that Chelsea and Arsenal are willing to offer the player. While Arsenal were favourites to sign the player with weekly wage in excess of £100,000-a-week in mind, Chelsea were thought to be willing to pay Khedira £150,000 weekly, the fee initially demanded by the player from Arsenal, a situation which stalled the deal in the summer. Now, with a £200, 000-a-week offer plans by Manchester United, Sami Khedira would without blinking be a Manchester United player next summer, without considering the player’s preference or choice of club.

For Arsenal, acquiring the services of Sami Khedira would mean something to their title challenge as the versatility of the player in the midfield is well documented. While Mikel Arteta would no doubt be in and out of the treatment room for the duration of the season, Khedira is more than capable of holding forth in his absence. The defensive and offensive attributes of the former Stuttgart man is well known and he could add some defensive steel to an Arsenal midfield that lacks some physicality and aerial dominance. At 27 years, Sami Khedira could give Arsenal some 3-4 good years filling in defensively in the midfield, though he could also be used as a box-to-box midfielder. While many Arsenal supporters crave a younger, Patrick Vieira/ Emmanuel Petit/ Gilberto Silva type defensive midfielder, Sami Khedira would come in to add experience that may be lacking in players in their early 20s, to that role and give Arsenal some stability in the middle. Therefore his place in the Arsenal squad would be secured, if he moves in that direction.

But at Chelsea however, the presence of Cesc Fabregas, Nemanja Matic, Ramires and John Obi Mikel is a strong pointer to the fact that he may not get regular playing time under Jose Mourinho and this situation would just be a setback for the player, coming from real Madrid in a similar situation. Madrid signed Khedira’s younger compatriot, Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez into a team that already had Asier Illaramendi and a host of other Spanish players, all jostling for regular playing time. It would be safe to say that regular playing time at Chelsea would be less guaranteed for Sami Khedira, despite having the cash to spend on the player’s weekly wages.

Manchester United might be the best option for Khedira as they are ready to almost double whatever Arsenal and Chelsea are offering as weekly wage, the presence of players like Marouane Fellaini, newly signed Ander Herrera and Daley Blind, could just put paid to Sami Khedira’s switch to Old Trafford, if playing regularly matters to the German midfielder. The Red Devils under Dutch manager, Louis Van Gaal has shown desperation in the transfer market as they spent about £150m this summer securing the services of 6 players to get back into English Premier League and European prominence. On that premise, the Old Trafford outfit may just edge all other English clubs to the signing of Khedira, but if Khedira is passionate about his contribution to any squad on a regular basis, then Manchester United may not be the best option for him.

’Tayo Amosu.

 

Oct 222014
 

In faraway Benfica, another player is being linked to Manchester United. Nicholas Gaitan’s contract with the Portuguese outfit runs out in 2016, and he hitherto had a verbal agreement with his current employers for a contract extension. Several times in the past, the Argentine had been linked to the Old Trafford outfit but they all turned out to be spurious claims. One of such claims was made by Portuguese newspaper Record which reported that towards the end of August, Manchester United made a bid but were unwilling to match the £30m fee that Benfica wanted.

His current employers have a dicey issue on their hands now that they have sold out some of their finest squad members and must now strive to convince Gaitan who doesn’t want to recognise the earlier verbal agreement to stay at the Club. On the player’s part, he is now 26-years and if he pens down a new contract with a high buyout clause, then he might as well choose to remain in Portugal for the remaining years of his career.

However, it appears that the player’s agents are the ones fuelling the rumours of a potential move to Manchester United because Jackson Martinez who they also represent had been heavily linked at one point or the other with the Louis van Gaal side, but do the Red Devils actually need him?

The answer to this question should be a no brainer but to sound objective, an analysis of the current situation at the club would be essential. Nicholas Gaitan plays in an attacking-midfield role and at the moment, Louis van Gaal has at his disposal, at least four players in Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata, Marouane Fellaini and Adnan Januzaj who could churn out wonderful performances in the position. More so, the manager’s mercurial formation makes it very difficult to fit in more than one anchor between the midfield and the strikers, as it was evident with Juan Mata’s plight when he had to wait for Wayne Rooney’s ban to get games. Either the manager chooses the diamond style midfield formation, or the conventional 4-4-2, he will still be left with about two midfielders grumbling for lack of game time, so why then will he fork out a whooping £30m to sign a player in a position where he has a surplus?

In the same vein, Manchester United lack a midfield enforcer, someone of Nemanja Matic’s status who can provide the much needed physical presence in the midfield, and unless the Argentine can bring that into the fray, then he has no business at Old Trafford. Louis van Gaal’s headache at the moment should be to wrap his head around the issues affecting his defensive unit and attempt to solve it. With as much as £30m, he could hire the services of Ron Vlaar and Ryan Shawcross both of whom can reduce the rate at which the Red Devils leak goals.

By Tomilayo Alapinni

 

 

Oct 132014
 

When Arsenal thought it couldn’t be worse and was hoping for a reprieve from injuries, they were dealt another major blow. It looked like only 3 points were lost against Chelsea but it seems much more was as news frittered in on Friday that the Gunners’ German playmaker Mesut Ozil has a knee injury and would be out for some months.

When I got wind of him going for a scan, I thought it was for a routine check up before the international break to see if he would be fit for national team duty but the result was shocking as the Gunners would now have to make do without him till 2015. It stands to be seen how Arsenal fans would take the news of the injury lay-off. In recent weeks, Ozil hasn’t really been a fans favourite at the Emirates as he has been accused of lacking zeal and effort on the field. Many have queried why Wenger has kept faith with him either on the wings and even in the playmaking position at the expense of Cazorla. Now that he is injured, their prayer seems answered. With his injury, Arsenal’s midfield which has been lightwieght in recent weeks now look paper thin. No Ramsey, Arteta and now Ozil. That leaves us with Wilshere (who is even an injury concern), Rosicky and Cazorla.

In the event of his injury, who plays the playmaking role? The obvious choice is Santi Cazorla while Rosicky and Wilshere could also be called upon to fill in there. With Ozil out of the way, hopefully, Cazorla would really step up his game and look to assert himself in that role before the German returns.

Another question that begs an answer is the issue of the left wing, how does Wenger solve it in the wake of the injury to Ozil? For most of the games he has played this season, Ozil has been deployed as a left winger much to the dismay of fans and pundits. In his absence, may be it is time for Wenger to play Sanchez there. The positive is that Walcott is closing in on a return from his long term injury and with that happening, Wenger won’t need to play Sanchez on the right wing. With Sanchez staying put on the left wing, chance opens up for Campbell to also prove his mettle. With Ozil in the fold, he was so down in the pecking order but now that he is out, Le Prof might see him as a back up for both Sanchez on the left wing and Chamberlain on the right wing. I expect to play more games between now and next year when Ozil would return.

Ozil’s injury could be a blessing in disguise for both Arsenal and the German. Injury to him means he is taken out of the firing line and that would help him rediscover his form and confidence. I expect him to return fitter and more confident. Might just be Arsenal’s joker in the second half of the season. Arsenal might just also be better for it. It has not been great first 7 matches for Arsenal with just 10 points out of a possible 21. Ozil’s poor form has been reason for it. Now that he is out, Wenger will be forced to put the right pegs in the right holes a la Sanchez (wings), Cazorla/Rosicky (Playmaker) and that could see the Gunners’ fortunes improve. 15 games in all competitions is enough to discover the winning formulae, hopefully Wenger gets it before he returns. It is never a happy moment to see a star injured but that of Ozil might just be a cloud with a silver lining.

Oct 112014
 

So much has been said about the future of Real Madrid’s Spanish stopper Iker Casillas. The Spanish legend had his somewhat invincibility demystified by erstwhile Los Blancos boss Jose Mourinho who under the pretext of an injury to him brought in former Valencia goalkeeper Diego Lopez only for him to settle for the new goalkeeper even after Casillas regained fitness.

The controversy raged on while Mourinho’s stay at the Bernabeu lasted but after he left, new boss Carlos Ancelotti towed his path, preferring Lopez still to Casillas in some of the competitions. Lopez got the nod for games in the LA Liga while Casillas got the nod for the Champions League and Copa Del Rey last season. Should we call it coincidence but Real Madrid ended up winning the two competitions Casillas was in goal while they ended up finishing third in the La Liga.
In the summer, Real Madrid rang changes to their goalkeeping department by selling off Lopez to Ac Milan and bringing in Costa Rican goalkeeper Keylor Navas. With Navas in the fray at Real Madrid, it stands to be seen what becomes the fate of their legend.
Should Casillas decide to leave Real Madrid, a move to the Premier League has been mooted. Arsenal have been credited with an interest in the past but I doubt if that would happen again. Just like Real Madrid, Arsenal also rang changes in their goalkeeping department albeit a forced one as former nuber 2 Lukasz Fabianski moved to Swansea on a free transfer and Arsenal turned to former Nice Colombian goalkeeper David Ospina to replace him. with both Szczesny and Ospina having long term deals at Arsenal and been established internationals, it highly unlikely that Wenger would sign another international, a player with a massive ego like Casillas.
With Arsenal out of the race for his signature, the other likely contenders would be Liverpool, Chelsea and City. Casillas would not move to a club where Champions League is not guaranteed, where his huge wages at Real Madrid cannot be matched and where he won’t be first choice. Liverpool have Mignolet and from all indications, they are closing in on signing Victor Valdes on a free transfer. Certainly, they would prefer signing Valdes who is equally as experienced as Casillas for free rather than having to pay for Casillas. Also, should Valdes be brought in, he would be expected to compete with Mignolet for the first choice slot while Casillas would expect to walk into the team and be handed the number one spot on a platter.
Another team that can afford to pay his transfer fee and match his wages  is Manchester City but just like the others, they are also well stocked in the goalkeeping department. At the Etihad, they already have Hart and Caballero. Should Casillas come in, Hart would have to leave because he won’t be wiling to sit on the bench. In fact the British media would cry blue murder, that the Three Lions number 1 is rotting on City’s bench. City on their part would loathe loosing Hart since he represents one of the very few home-grown talents at the Etihad. The problem with having huge money to splash out in the transfer market is that there might be few home grown talents. In the City team, Hart, Clichy, Nasri (Arsenal background) and Milner represent home grown talents but they might just loose Milner in January or the summer should he fail to agree a new deal.
A move to Chelsea is the most unlikely. Chelsea already have twi very good goalkeeper in Thibaut Courtois and Petr Cech. The latter is seeking a move away as he is reluctant to sit on the bench. If Cech who is rated better than Casillas could be benched for Courtois , is it Casillas that Lopes displaced that would displace the Belgian? Considering the hell he went through in the hands of Mourinho while the Portuguese was at Real Madrid, the Spanish goalkeeper would refuse any chance to link up with him again. The talk credited to Casillas where he lauded Mourinho is nothing but damage control. It is clear to seeing eyes that there is no love lost between the pair.
Finally, the big question, is Casillas, a perfect fit for the Premier League? I don’t think so. The EPL is not like the La Liga where passing the ball around is the style. In the Premier League, the order of the day is long balls and that is his weak point. Casillas doesn’t come out for crosses and corner kicks. In Spain, he might get away with it but in the England, he would be massively exposed especially against the bottom half teams.
While there is no guarantee that he would stay put in Real Madrid, I would advise he doesn’t consider the EPL as one of his limited options.
Oct 072014
 

Manchester United manager, Louis van Gaal as revealed that left-back Luke Shaw suffered a dead knee in United’s 2-1 victory over Everton on Sunday and had to be substituted so as not to aggravate the injury.

He told BBC sport in an interview after the game that ‘He has a dead knee. He could have made it worse, so that is why he stepped out’.

Initially it was feared that the young gun could have suffered a serious knee injury but the manager played down the severity of the injury claiming that his substitution on Sunday was a precaution against making it worse. As a testament to this, Shaw is expected to line-up for the England under-21 for their Euro qualification game against Croatia.

The ex-Southampton player who joined United over the summer has had his fair ride of challenges since making the move. He was told by Van Gaal during pre-season to shapen up which he accepted and threw himself into. Only to get injured on the eve of the league opener against Swansea.

He had to make his United debut against West Ham following the suspension of United academy graduate, Tyler Blackett who was called up as a stand-in. Since the beginning of the league, Manchester United has been plaqued by injury to their senior team players. It started with Michael Carrick who got injured and limited the teams options in the midfield.

Since the start of the league, Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans, Phil Jones, Ashley Young and Marouane Fellaini have all paid a visit to the physios because of injury. The grippling effect and severity of the problem became apparent while during the pre-match interview of the game against West Ham, Van Gaal declared that he had only one fit centre-back Marcos Rojo and had to hand a debut to another United academy graduate Paddy McNair.

Since the beginning of the current campaign, Van Gaal has handed first team debut to several United graduates largely because of injury to his set of first team players. Three of these players are defenders namely, McNair, Tom Thorpe and Blackett. Van Gaal has been roundly criticised by the British press and pundits for failing to shore his defence when he could during the transfer window which has cost them to lose some winnable matches.

The height of United’s shoddy defence was severely exposed when they lost 5-3 to newly promoted Leicester City in the league despite leading 3-1 by half time. United cannot afford more injuries at this time. Any more injuries especially in defense can derail the team’s campaign in the premier league this season.

It is an embarrassment to a team of United’s calibre when small and average teams who usually dread a visit to Old Trafford now come expecting to leave with a point if they couldn’t win as Sunderland and Swansea did respectively.

Now is the time to build momentum and seek to fight the real fight that will see the title contest for the premier league title which is still within reach or at least a berth among the top 4 and qualification into Europe.

Oct 072014
 

Dani Alves has reportedly decided to leave Barcelona at the end of this season, if reports coming form Spain can be believed on. The Brazilian has had a very successful career with the Catalan giants since his switch from Sevilla some years back. He has won the league as well as the Champions League and it might be time for the Brazilian to move ahead for more adventures. He has categorically stated that he would be moving to England when he finally leaves Spain. To where, Mr. Alves?

A transfer to Liverpool might actually be on the table. With the arrival of Javier Manquillo and Alberto Moreno, Liverpool’s right back position is no longer an urgent priority. But with recent reports linking Glen Johnson with an imminent January exit, the manager, Brendan Rodgers might set his sights on Dani Alves as a possible replacement. And a move to the Kop is viable given the fact that Chelsea and Manchester City might not be really keen on signing the Brazilian. Manchester City just bought Bacary Sagna this season and they still have Zabaleta. So the possibility of signing another full back would not seem like a rational idea for the blue half of Manchester. Chelsea too has effective players in that position. Azpilicueta and Ivanovich are still there. So a move to Chelsea too is highly unlikely. Arsenal recently bought Debuchy from Newcastle this summer. But with the Frenchman already injured, the need for a new right full back might trigger their manager, Arsene Wenger to search for a potential replacement in January. And with Alves’ availability, you just might not know whether or not the French manager will like to have the Brazilian in his team. So who actually wants Dani Alves? Maybe Manchester United does. The Old Trafford outfit has been on an overhaul this season and with the mounting number of defensive injuries, Van Gaal may decide to add Alves to their ranks. The only efficient right back presently in the United team is Rafael Da Silva and injury to this lad might further expose the Manchester United’s backline. Antonio Valencia has been known to play in that position once in a while but Van Gaal would not want to gamble on using a player who is not favored to play in such position. Valencia is a right winger who is also powerful and displays a great deal of defensive efforts. But a permanent berth in that position will not be handed to him as he remains highly unreliable to fill into that position.

Liverpool has been known to favor the Brazilian. The club has been inked with Alves many times in the past and Rafael Benitez tried to sign him in 2008. In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Benitez was quoted as saying ‘Dani Alves was our first option on the right side. The major problem that we had was that I had to decide to bring Alves as a winger when he was actually an offensive full back’. The irony of it all is that if Liverpool had signed Alves back in 2008, then Glen Johnson, the man Dani Alves may possibly replace would not have been bought at all. But now that Alves has set his sights on England, Liverpool might just have the chance to add him up to their personnel.

Presently, Liverpool doesn’t look like an attractive destination. The club’s present form is not so good. But if they are able to capture the Brazilian, they definitely will look better next season.

Oct 072014
 

All summer long, the Marco Reus and Borussia Dortmund contract talks break down has attracted interests from clubs all over Europe. At a time, Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester City were said to be in hot pursuit of the 25-year-old German as he has rejected contract extension offer from his employer, Borussia Dortmund. Now the £20m release clause on the player’s contract would be activated next summer and reports have revealed that the Etihad outfit now lead a number of Premier League rivals in the race for the German’s signature. Manchester City has been on the player’s trail for the past three years. While Borussia Dortmund reportedly tried to hold the player down with a new contract, Manchester City and the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United are on the sidelines waiting to pounce on the player when next summer comes.

Borussia Dortmund, the current employers of the player, recently acknowledged through Michael Zorc, their Sporting Director, that Reus is attracting interests from clubs both in Germany and abroad. This just goes to confirm media reports that the layer is poised for a move away from the German side and Arsenal, Barcelona, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Manchester City have all been linked to the player at or time or another. Next summer, the player’s release clause would appear to be active again and a £20m transfer fee would just be enough to price the German star away from the Jurgen Klopp led side. But with the financial status of Manchester City could just snap the player up next summer, a higher transfer fee notwithstanding.

The 25-year-old who plays as an attacking midfielder and sometimes as a winger is known for versatility, speed and technique that would really fit into Arsenal’s attacking style of play. With Borussia Dortmund, Marco Reus pulled some unforgettable performances that earned him the personal award of the Footballer of the year in 2012, a period when he formed a potent partnership with Mario Gotze that German football administrator, Franz Beckenbauer referred to as ‘’a classic duo’’ that nobody is better than in Germany. For City, Jesus Navas has been in spectacular form but the addition of Marco Reus would only make the competition for the wings at the Etihad stadium tough. With strong oppositions from Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool, the City attack would be more than grateful to have another very potent attacker in the mould of Reus, who can provide the cutting edge from the flanks against other teams. Reus, with the qualities he possesses, would walk straight into any team in the English Premier League as of today and command a starting shirt, therefore, it is only expedient to savour the possibility of him being an English Premier League player for Manchester City whether Navas would have the chance to play or not.

Manchester City are striving to get their financial liberty back through businesses off the pitch of play in order to survive the wrath of UEFA, who has stringent Financial Fair Play rules to be complied with and also to enable them bring in players like Marco Reus in the nearest future. With the reported £400m deal set to be announced by City, they are well positioned to escape FFP hammer hence they can afford to buy players such as Maro Reus. Buying Reus is no brainer, he is cheap and young, could be the perfect replacement for Yaya Toure who is in my opinion now on a decline and rightly so if you consider his age and the effects of the laws of diminishing returns.

’Tayo Amosu.

Oct 062014
 

Reports have it that Manchester City are considering selling Yaya Toure in the January transfer window. This report may come as a surprise to some, although there are others that will be expecting the move to happen.

But why will Manchester City be willing to sell Yaya Toure, sure Toure has not had a good start to the season, but as the saying goes “form is temporary, but class is permanent”, so Manchester City will know it is just a matter of time before Toure gets back into his groove.

One may not have to look so far to determine the reason, in fact as recent as the close of last season, Toure’s agent Dimitri Seluk stated that his client was not happy and did not feel valued at Manchester City due to issues his agent claimed were based on Manchester City showing Toure no respect on his birthday and not allowing him to see his then sick brother. Also others will say Toure is looking for one last “big pay” with PSG his preferred destination.

Looking at Manchester City midfield and the quality Yaya Toure brings to it, Manchester City may be making a mistake selling him. Yaya Toure is arguably one of the best midfielders in the EPL and the whole of Europe, combining the qualities of power, technique, burst of pace and scoring goals, he is one player Manchester city will find hard to replace.

There is also the issue of depth in the squad both Garcia and Jack Rodwell have left for Zenith St. Petersburg and Sunderland respectively, yes Manchester City brought in Fernando from Porto and Frank Lampard from New York City, but considering Lampard will be leaving in January, this means Manchester City must bring in someone to replace Toure if he is indeed sold.

Here lies the problem, Manchester city may face if they try to replace Yaya Toure. Can Manchester city find a player better than Yaya Toure or at least with similar qualities? This may prove a difficult task to achieve. Finding a player to replace Toure with similar quality may not only be be hard to achieve but such a player will not come cheap.

Looking around Europe, how many players come to mind? We can look at Paul Pogba, he does have similar qualities to Yaya Toure, although he may not score as many goals but Pogba provides the incentive of him being a much younger player with many years ahead of him to get better and improve. Also he is familiar with the EPL having played at Manchester United, although just in little bits. But the problem for Manchester city buying Pogba is that he will definitely not come cheap.

Juventus are reported to value Pogba at around 60 million Euros. Now this may or should not be too much for Manchester city to afford considering the amount they spend on transfers and the wages they pay, but with the introduction of the financial fair play (FFP) rules been administered, it may make it difficult for Manchester City to splash out that kind of money. What may work in City’s favour though is the wages Pogba is currently on at Juventus, Pogba is said to be earning low wages at Juventus and he knows he can conveniently double if not triple that at Manchester city, also Pogba may be looking for a new challenge, after winning the Scuedeto thrice with Juventus, he may feel it is time to test the waters elsewhere.

Manchester City will need a lot of luck for all these to work in their favour and may have to look too elsewhere for a replacement and they may not have to look too far, in fact they may look towards a fellow Ivorian, in Tiote.

Tiote came into England as an unknown quantity when he joined Newcastle. He may not be a Yaya Toure but he definitely has his own qualities that can benefit Manchester City in the long run. Tiote is powerful , forceful, has a good awareness and a measure of technical ability, on the downside, he does not have good pace and sometimes tends to lose concentration and also must step up in the goals department, but joining a club like Manchester City can help him overcome his inadequacies.

It could turn out to be a good deal for Manchester City also as Tiote will come relatively cheap and has premiership experience. Tiote himself has recently stated that he won’t mind leaving The Magpies with Arsenal showing interest in him also. If Manchester City do go for him it may be good business for them.

Oct 062014
 

Reports say Newcastle United owner, Mike Ashley is working on potential replacements for manager Alan Pardew despite what seems like reposing confidence in the manager. It doesn’t at all appear like Ashley would sack Pardew after keeping faith in the manager since 2010. Pardew as the Newcastle manager has won both the Premier League manager and LMA manager of the year awards for the 2011/2012 season after guiding the Magpies to European football for the first time since the club’s return to the Premier League. However, the fans of the club have since lost patience with the former English footballer with banners and flags expressing their desire of his sack lifted and hoisted during home games. Pardew, however, is the currently the second longest serving manager in the English Premier League after Arsene Wenger, who has been at Arsenal since 1996, having managed the club since 2010.

Following his managerial stints with Reading, West Ham United, Charlton Athletic and Southampton, Alan Pardew became the candidate to replace Chris Hughton at  Newcastle and he signed a 5 and a half year deal. This deal expires by 2015 and Mike Ashley and many other fans of the club would prefer a replacement rather than an extension of the manager’s contract beyond 2015. Now it is understood that a list of potential replacements is being worked which includes David Moyes the former Manchester United and Everton manager, and AFC Bournemouth boss, Eddie Howe. David Moyes had previously performed wonderfully well at Everton claiming a spot in the top 7 English Premier League season in, season out, operating on a shoe string budget. However, the decision to join Manchester United after being chosen by retiring boss and country man, Sir Alex Ferguson, seemed a setback for the Scottish manager. A string of losses and draws ensured that Manchester United failed to finish top four which meant no UEFA Champions League football for the English football giants. A feat that hardly was the case at the club, during the Alex Ferguson regime.

Eddie Howe on the other hand is one of English football’s rising managers. At just 36 years old, he has done impressively well at his current club Bournemouth, which he’s been tinkering since January 2009 becoming the youngest manager in the Football League as the time of signing the contract. Previously, in 2006, at the age of 29, Howe was promoted to the position of a player-coach by the then Bournemouth manager, Kevin Bond, and handed the task of coaching Bournemouth’s reserve team, though he continued to play for the first team as a defender. In 2007, Howe retired from football due to a nagging knee injury and by the September of the following year, 2008, he lost his job as the reserve team coach, when Kevin Bond was sacked. He returned to AFC Bournemouth, first as a youth coach under Jimmy Quinn, then as a caretaker manager when Quinn was sacked in December, 2008. He was officially announced as the permanent manager on the 19th January, 2009 and brought the club out of relegation zone despite a 17-point deficit.

’Tayo Amosu

Oct 042014
 

In what comes as no surprise, German midfielder Sami Khedira is said to be frustrated with life at Real Madrid and is looking for a move away.

The 27 year old was rumored to have refused a contract extension, sparking a flurry of interest from top Premier League clubs, specifically Arsenal and Chelsea.

Reports emanating from England have stated that the Blues have recently submitted an offer for the Real Madrid anchorman.

Khedira was a subject of speculation throughout the summer, and his departure from the Spanish capital seemed inevitable. The German however stayed put.

Khedira has seen very little game time since the start of the season, thanks mostly to a hamstring injury and then later a knee problem that required surgery. The Dynamic midfielder is still sidelined and is expected to make his comeback in November.

Carlo Ancelloti tenaciously held on to the midfielder to bring balance to a squad that lacked defensive solidity. However the German international’s refusal to extend his contract, has left the Real Madrid management with no choice but to explore the possibility of a sale or risk losing their priced asset.

The World cup winner is rumored to be valued at 10million pounds but is likely to go for 2 million less than the Spanish club has valued him.

Does the London club really need his services?

Sami Khedira is a combative defensive midfielder with a knack for joining the attack at timely moments. The German midfielder is a rare breed, whose attributes are so complete.

Khedira’s defensive positioning is among the best of anyone playing his position. And when he decides to put in a tackle, he is usually successful. And as his exploits at the World cup showed, Sami Khedira can also contribute efficiently to the attacking phase of play.

With a host of very formidable players, that include the likes of Ramires, Cesc Fabregas, Nemanja Matic and John Mikel Obi, Chelsea’s midfield is not in any way inadequate.

Sami Khedira is more mobile than Mikel, more defensively accomplished than Fabregas and more effective than the energetic Ramires.

As the match against Manchester City showed, the Blues need a bit more steel in the heart of their midfield, if they are to fulfill their dream of lifting the Champions League for the second time. A double pivot of Cesc Fabregas and Matic might prove sufficient for sides like Burnley and Aston Villa, but when the likes of Real Madrid and Bayern Munich come calling, the Blues will need more solidity in their midfield.

A pivot of Matic and Khedira is a more progressive unit than any other combination that Chelsea can currently offer.

They will however be weary of paying 10million pounds for a player who has suffered two major injuries in as many seasons, when he’ll be a free agent by the end of the season anyway.

If the Blues do eventually decide to splash the cash for the talented midfielder, they should be rest assured, that the German will be offering them something they don’t already have.

Oct 032014
 

In a season in which the Blues have remained unbeaten in 6 matches thus far, Chelsea’s Boss will be hoping his lads can continue their great run of form. With an important clash against Arsenal slated for Sunday, Chelsea will be hoping to have all their players fit and ready to go.

Unfortunately, the rigors of modern day football make it almost impossible for any club to always have a clean bill of health, despite having some of the best medical help available.

Although not in an injury crisis like rivals Manchester United and Arsenal, who each have over a dozen players out, Chelsea have a few injury concerns;

RAMIRES; Abductor Muscle Injury; 3 weeks

Jose Mourinho speaking to the club’s website confirmed Ramires’s knock after the Manchester City clash in which the Brazilian was substituted with minutes to go.

“It’s a muscular injury; he won’t be able to play on Tuesday or even against Arsenal. He needs the two week international break to recover”- Jose Mourinho.

Ramires will miss international matches with Brazil as well as the Heavy weight clash with London rivals Arsenal. Chelsea will be hoping that the diminutive box to box midfielder will be available as soon as possible.

The 27year old possesses the amazing ability to run the length of the field contributing to both the attacking and defensive phase of play. The Blues do not possess another player like him.

Didier Drogba; Ankle strain; Two weeks

The Ivorian picked up a knock in training and that will unfortunately rule him out of the clash with the Gunners on Sunday. The 36 year old will be disappointed that he will be missing the match against a team he has scored 15goals against, in 15matches.

The big center forward will be out for two weeks and is likely to make a return to the first team squad for the trip to Crystal Palace on October 18.

“Drogba will be out for a couple of weeks. He had a problem with his ankle and couldn’t travel. I think it’s not possible for him to make it for Sunday either” – Jose Mourinho speaking with the press before the sporting match

The former Marseille striker, returned to the club after leaving in 2012. The Ivorian is regarded as one of the best strikers of his Era, and will be hoping to contribute his part to Chelsea’s success in his second stint at the club.

Fortunately, the one player who a lot of Chelsea fans thought would make the injury list has been given a clean bill of health.

Diego Costa played the full 90minutes against the Portuguese side Sporting Lisbon, and was lively all throughout the match. The Chelsea boss confirmed that the Spaniard was better and continually improving his fitness.

Mourinho however advises caution on the part of the player, regarding his National team commitments;

“I have a feeling that next week, he goes to the national team…they will not consider the fact that he is in trouble…”

Diego is fit and ready to play against Arsenal and will be looking to improve his amazing tally of 8 goals so far this season. Notwithstanding any absentees through injury, Chelsea are still favorites to overcome their rivals in Sunday’s derby.

Sep 302014
 

Its here again, the league of the champions, and tonight ushers in glory, as Man City take on Roma in a must win match in the Match day 2 fixtures. We will be taking a look at the probable line up for man City, and discussing the probable outcome as well.

First, we take our minds back to the Match day 1 encounter which saw Bayern Munich take on Man City. The match was a very open encounter which saw entertaining football played by both sides, and not until the final minutes was a goal scored, by Jerome Boateng formerly of Man City. The loss relegated City to 3rd position in the group, above CSKA Moscow who were beaten 5-1 by Roma who top the group. Thus, tonight’s encounter is a dogged affair as Man City must win. A loss or draw will see them retaining their third position, with the certainty that Bayern will deal another crushing blow to CSKA Moscow, save a miracle. Losing tonight or drawing sees the group stage get harder for Man City, as they will find it hard to come up with the needed points to forge into the group of 16.

The prospects the champions of England face then is the Europa, which wouldn’t bode well for the Premier League reputation or the targets set for this season for man City by its owners, which is to improve on last season showing. Though they could win the Europa league just like Chelsea did, but it will be seen as an embarrassment that despite the abundance of riches, Man City are still yet to become elites in the football world, an indictment on the champions, that money cannot purchase class as touted by fierce rivals of the club and the media.

Below is the probable line up of the Man City squad to face Roma;

Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Kolarov, Fernandinho, Milner, Toure, Silva, Dzeko, Aguero, Subs; Caballero, Sagna, Mangala, Sinclair, Lampard, Navas, Jovetic.

Hart will be back between the sticks after being dropped, which caused quite a bit of controversy, Kompany sits at the heart of defense and will be expected to stop whatever is thrown against man City , and Demichelis will be partnering with him after the debacle caused by Mangala’s outing against Hull City. The reliable Zabaleta is back while Kolarov will be at the other end. Fernandinho will be expected to continue from where he left off against Hull, and Yaya Toure will of course be on duty. “Merlin”Silva will be dictating the play and he will as always be the driving force of creativity against Roma. He has done well to come back from a minor injury and should feeding the strike force of Aguero and Dzeko. These two were on target against Hull and as such will be expected to improve on their form. Expect Jovetic and Lampard to feature at a point in time during the match as Pellegrini tweaks his tactics and be sure to expect entertainment and drama in this must win match.

Sep 302014
 

In the summer, Arsenal carried out an internal restructuring of it youth set up when a new Academy head was appointed. Liam Brady had served notice of his departure last year, before he eventually step down as the head of the club’s Hale End Academy in May. His replacement Andries Jonker has already being at the helms for a few months. Although the effect of his work is not expected to bear fruits anytime soon, he has however outlined what his aims are for the Arsenal Academy.

There was a hint in the past that the academy had gone stale under the leadership of Arsenal legend Liam Brady after a handful of players came through the youth set up during his time at the club. However part of the plans to revamp and rejuvenate the youth set up brought about the Dutch man’s appointment.

He was officially appointed in January, and he has a past history of working with Manchester United manager Luis Van Gaal at both Barcelona and Bayern Munich. He joined Arsenal from Wolfsburg.

While Arsenal pride itself as a club that gives opportunities to youth talents, the drought in that area is something Andries Jonker highlighted in an interview, detailing that Ivan Gazidis has a grand plan to see Arsenal develop a world class academy. According to him:

“Arsenal want more talented players to come through, because that has been lacking,”

“They want me to develop the players from the academy much better than it was done before.

“At this moment, considering the investments the club have made, players have hardly been developed properly. This is why they wanted me, a man who can guide the coaches and who can influence the other coaches.”

“Ivan Gazidis [Arsenal chief executive] wants Arsenal to be the best academy in the world. He realises that will cost money and will take time, but that is his ambition.”

Besides, his grand plans to get the academy back on track, he still dwelled on the scouting network that would be involved in bringing some of these players to his attention. He detailed the kind of players he wants from the scouts, and the fact that the scouting network would need to be restructured to get the best out of it as well as the working relationship with the manager, Arsene Wenger in coming to a decision about  certain players.

“The scouting must be restructured all over again. It needs to be brought to a level so that we can bring in the absolute best talents from abroad and from England at an age that Wenger can immediately work with them.”

‘My chief scout at the academy, Steve Morrow, came and asked me what kind of players I wanted him to look for. So I said, the best player I have worked on, Xavi.’

“It is important that Wenger and I work closely together. What I do see is that everybody at the club has the feeling that they need to have the green light from Wenger before they do anything. But maybe that is not the case.

The key part was when he said that there are things in the academy that could improved on.

‘But there are a lot of things in the academy which can be improved or should be done different.”

The plan has been set up to reorganize the Academy set up, only time would tell how it pans out.

Sep 152014
 

The English Premier League of 2013/2014 was a captivating affair. Liverpool got to sniff victory, but was ultimately denied by a far more polished Manchester City. In the end, Liverpool fell 2 points short as they folded in critical games. Now, the 2014/2015 Premier League season is about to get underway and it will be Manchester United vs Swansea to kick off proceedings. Man U is looking like a much improved team, and their morale will be boosted by their stunning 3 – 1 victory over Liverpool in the final of the International Champions Cup in Miami. Liverpool will get a shot at putting themselves back on the map when they take on Southampton on the 17 August. Other fixtures to look out for include QPR vs Hull City on the 16th; West Ham vs Tottenham on the 16th and Burnley vs Chelsea on the 18th. Fans looking for a little distraction from the footy are welcome to enjoy free online slots games in between the corners!

 Posted by at 7:23 pm
Sep 092014
 


Whether you’re an armchair supporter or just love watching as much football as you can, it’s frustrating when you don’t know which game is on which channel and when.

For supporters of the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool, a Saturday match with a 3 o’clock kick-off is a rarity. However, more and more games are now effected by the increased demand to watch games live from home.

Is your team on the telly? Which channel? What time?

That’s where the Virgin Media Football Fixtures Generator comes in to play. You can search for games at the touch of a button and filter the results depending on which game you’re interested in. The Football Fixtures Generator has results for all Premier League and Sky Bet Championship games, which can be filtered by date and by team.