Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Are Liverpool Heading Towards Success Again?

It feels like yesterday that Liverpool, Rafa Benitez and Fernando Torres were lighting the Premier League up and dominating in European competitions. Of course times have changed and they have spent a few years in a "crisis" of some sorts. Brendan Rodgers is in his second year as Liverpool manager, and the changes he has implemented are starting to take serious shape.

For years Liverpool fans have been moaning about their lack of a competitive team, but what do you expect when you lose players like Fernando Torres and Xabi Alonso, and replace them with the likes of Andy Carroll and Stewart Downing. But the days of expensive and wasteful signings appear to be over. This window Liverpool have added several new players, got rid of average ones and made the changes needed to restart their assault towards becoming a top Premier League team once again.

Liverpool made decent additions by securing the services of Kolo Toure, Iago Aspas, Luis Alberto and Aly Cissokho, but have made even bigger, and impressive signings that are expected to have an instant impact. Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet was signed from Sunderland and has been sensational so far. After realising that Pepe Reina was not of the quality he once possessed, they looked to fill this weakness and did so successfully.

Towards the end of the transfer window, Liverpool secured the signing of defenders Mamadou Sakho and Tiago Llori for a combined fee believed to be around £25m. The duo are highly regarded defenders that will help Liverpool gain strength in depth, as well as improve their team now and in the future. Also at the end of the window they secured the one-year loan signing of Chelsea winger Victor Moses, a signing that could have a big impact for them. Moses is a tricky player, and like Daniel Sturridge, could benefit from leaving his bit part role behind for more first team chances.

Liverpool have eradicated their weaknesses, beaten rivals Manchester United 1-0 and took their place at the top of the Premier League. Although they aren't likely to win the league this season, they could once again qualify for the Champions League and continue to build a team capable of challenging for top honours in the future. It's early days, but Brendan Rodger's rebuilding plan is looking like a successful one, and don't forget they've still got the return of Luis Suarez to help this transition.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Are Manchester United Putting too Much Weight on the Shoulders of Adnan Januzaj?


 Adnan Januzaj

It's been a crazy season for Manchester United, yet there's been one bright spot for David Moyes and his struggling side. The emergence of teenage prospect, Adnan Januzaj. The youngster is one that not many football fans had heard of prior to this season, but he has become a first team regular, and has quite often been United's biggest attacking threat this season, but are they putting too much pressure on the young man's shoulders?

Adnan has scored some vital goals and created many chances for his fellow players this season, and at eighteen he has many years to develop and progress in to a world class player. Cristiano Ronaldo was a prospect of similar sorts once, yet he is now one of the world's best players. Players improve when at Old Trafford, and luckily he should do just that at United as he receny signed a long contract, easing the fans' worries.

With United's two star men, Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney struggling to stay fit this season, Adnan has played a far bigger role than anybody could have imagined. Hopefuy for his sake they can get fit and remain so, as this deadly trio look to play together on a consistent basis. If these three players learn to play together then United will no longer have to depend on the young Adnan, and they will in turn reap the rewards.

It's easy to say Moyes isn't good enough, but he's had enough bad luck that even Sir Alex Ferguson would have struggled some this season. Luckily he has a young star on his hands, and if nurtured correctly, he could become their greatest player, and possibly an elite player.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Are Manchester City a Certainty to Win the Premier League?


 Sergio Aguero

Manchester City had their struggles early on in the 2013-14 season, but they appear to have found a consistency no other team can. Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea , Everton and arguably Manchester United are in with a chance of winning the Premier League, but they have had theirs ups and downs, and some are known for falling apart as the season progresses. With the rich, large City squad winning game after game, one can wonder, who can actually stop them from winning their second title in three years?

Still in denial? Manchester City have been without star player Sergio Aguero for a large part of the season, but many have forgotten this. Why you ask? Because they've still been scoring goals and winning games. When football teams lose a player to injury and start to lose, it's easy to point the finger, but it's scary to think City have been as frightening as ever without one of the Premier Leagues best strikers. Now he is back they can only improve, and that's a scary proposition for the rest of the title contenders.

Arsenal notoriously suffer from post-Christmas slump, and although it hasn't arrived yet, one can't help but think it will be around before long. Chelsea were supposed to be dangerous this season, but they've failed to live up to the hype around Jose Mourinho's return. Although they're a hot favourite to snatch the title from City's grasp, they don't appear anywhere near as big a threat.

City had their struggles away from home, but have always been consistent at home. Now they've found a way to win away from home, too. With City in form, getting their best player back and no real contender to test them, who can stop them from winning the Premier League?

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Why Are Things Going So Wrong For David Moyes' Manchester United?


 Wilfried Bony scores winner for Swansea

We all knew it would be a tough, transitional period for whoever replaced Sir Alex Ferguson as Manchester United manager once he retired, but not many envisioned the drastic drop in form we're witnessing. David Moyes had relative success during his reign as Everton manager, and given time, Manchester United and Sir Alex himself both believed he would be the man to carry the club forward for years to come. It is still incredibly early in his career, but the pressure is mounting as his team find themselves in the headlines for all the wrong reasons week after week.

What's Gone Wrong?

A little bit of everything. Manchester United used to be almost unbeatable at Old Trafford, however, they have already lost five times at home, a little over half way through the 13-14 season. They don't know their best starting eleven, and David Moyes keeps experimenting with it every game, which seems to cause more confusion. There are a lot of average players that were able to perform under Sir Alex Ferguson, but now they're being found out under a lesser manager.

Manchester United find themselves well adrift of the Premier League's top spot, so the cup competitions should have been their main focus. However, Swansea City beat them 2-1, to knock them out of the FA Cup third round. During Sir Alex's 26-year stint as manager, he was only knocked out at this stage once, to Leeds United in 2010.

Manchester United are in the knockout stages of the Champions League, and they're also still in with a chance of winning the Capital One Cup, but is that enough? United aim to win every competition, but this year seems likely to be an empty handed one for the Red Devils. Why are they struggling so badly, you ask? Firstly, a lack of any real quality signing will always hurt even the best of teams, which is something United will have realised after this seasons end.

United have two world class players in Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney, and the duo are enough to turn any average team in to a great one, but what use are they when they are always hurt. Under Sir Alex the pair seemed to be fit for each and every game, and whether it's luck or a lack of effort, the pair have missed several games between themselves this season. Both are currently out injured at the moment, and although Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez are good forwards, neither are on the level of the starting front two.

United are in dire form and they're suffering from lengthy injuries and stupid suspensions, but there is still a good team somewhere within this squad. Maybe it's a change of tactics, new players needed or eventually a new manager, but Manchester United Football Club should not be the struggling team they've become.





Sunday, December 29, 2013

What Does The Future Hold For Loic Remy, And Will He Stay in The Premier League?


 

The twenty-six-year-old French international, Loic Remy, is becoming one of the stars of this Premier League season. He is on loan at Newcastle United, from his former club (who got relegated in to the Championship) QPR. His year in English football has been split between both clubs and he has scored a total of 16 goals in a little over thirty appearances. An average of nearly a goal every two games at this level is rare, so with many clubs interested, what does the future hold for Remy?

QPR signed Remy for a fee believed to be around £8 million a year ago, but after their relegation they knew they'd have to let Remy leave, even if temporary. Months later and QPR look set to return to the Premier League at the first time of asking, but Remy has been a revelation for his new club, so what will happen if both clubs are in the Premier League next year? There are rumours suggesting that a fee has been agreed if Newcastle are keen to keep him, which they inevitably will be, but surely a promoted QPR would love Remy to return and help them stay in the Premier League? After all he is still only a year in to a long, long contract with the club.

Regardless of where he ends up, it appears it will be a Premier League club, and not one abroad, as Remy appears very happy and content in England and his stunning performances suggest that also. Many teams in the Premier League are in need of a top goalscorer, and he has produced for arguably lesser sides,how imagine how good he could be with the creativity teams like Arsenal and Liverpool produce, Arsenal are in dire need of another forward, and some online reports suggest they already have a deal in place to sign the French star for the 2014 summer.

He rose to fame at French club Marseille, in which he played 68 times, scoring 27 goals. His consistency caused his popularity to rise and he rightfully earned a place in the French national squad. He played for the French youth teams, before becoming a regular for the full international team, in whcih he has played over twenty times, scoring four times.

With Remy being proud of his French roots, it is likely he will choose between Arsenal or Newcastle as both clubs have a selection of French players, some that he was close to before coming to England, and some he has grown close to during his time in England. Although this isn't everything it could well be the deciding factor, and with both clubs in a better position than QPR, it looks increasingly likely he will leave them next summer. Although he appears very settled at Newcastle, you'd put your money on him joining Arsene Wenger at Arsenal.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Just How Good is Luis Suarez?


 Luis Suarez could yet be on the move after negotiating an exit clause into his contract

Luis Suarez is used to being on the front of newspapers for all the right and wrong reasons, but currently he is being talked about for all positive reasons. It's fair to say Suarez has a temper, and possible anger problems, but they make him a better player. When Suarez is on form, he is unplayable, but just how good is the Liverpool forward?

Arsenal and Real Madrid have been heavily linked with the Liverpool forward for a few seasons now, but he has signed a new contract at his current club, ensuring he will remain their player for a long while, or at the very least command a bigger fee for his services. Suarez celebrated his new contract by dominating Premier League strugglers, Cardiff City. Suarez scored two against the Welsh outfit, taking his Tally to 19 goals in 13 Premier League games.

Suarez is in sizzling form, especially considering he missed the end of last season and the beginning of the current one due to his suspension for biting an opponent. Since the unwanted rest, Suarez has played better and seemed to control his anger, so will that be enough for him to cement his place as the world's best player? He's not there yet, but another season or two like this and he will certainly be in the Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi calibre discussions.

Whether Suarez stays at Liverpool, leaves for a Premier League rival or heads abroad, it's important that he keeps his attitude in check as he is currently doing, and then if the goals continue to flow, Luis Suarez will be a delight to watch, and maybe then fans will start to accept him and begin to forget about his malicious past.





Friday, December 20, 2013

Champions League Knockout Round Fixtures in Place, But Who Will Win?

It's one of the most exciting times of the calendar year, and no we're not talking about Christmas. We've been through each and every teams 6 game Champions League requirement, and now we're left with 16 of Europe's best sides. Monday 16th December seen the draw for the next stage of one of football's finest competitions be made. With obvious contenders such as Barcelona and Bayern Munich alongside underdogs like Galatasaray, who will win these fixtures, and ultimately, who will win the trophy when it's all said and done?

Manchester City have been attempting to dominate world football for quite a few years now, but they've struggled to push past slight domestic domination, so surely now would be the time to make up for their Champions League failures? They are going to have to get past one of the world's best teams in Barcelona, but that may be the motivation they so desperately need to progress. If that wasn't enough, then the fact that their star man Lionel Messi is likely to miss the games through injury will surely add to their beliefs of winning.

Premier League leaders Arsenal have been in sizzling form this season, but they will have to beat the reigning European champions, Bayern Munich, if they are to progress. Arsenal have been an impressive force and they beat Bayern Munich last season, so it would be tough to rule them out. Although they're an improving team, Bayern and their experience should prove too much for Arsenal to handle.

Chelsea will face Galatasaray, in what should be a difficult tie, but one they should win with no problems. Manchester United likewise have a winnable tie against Greek side Olympiakos. It's fair to say Manchester United have the easiest draw in this round, but they have had inconsistent form this season and there are no easy games at this level of football. Although United should prevail as comfortable winners, you cannot be shocked if they were to suffer yet another failure this season.

Manchester City will pull off an upset in beating Barcelona, but Arsenal will fail to pull of their own minor miracle. Other English sides Manchester United and Chelsea will progress and this will leave 3 English teams in the quarter finals, which is an exciting prospect for the English fans. Although England have talented teams, it's hard to look past a team from another country winning this year. Perhaps it will be Real Madrid's year to prove they're the world force they so desperately wish to be.

Who Should I Look Out For?

Both Borussia Dortmund and Manchester United were top contenders to win it all last year, but failed to do so. Both teams have had their struggles this season, and for various reasons are not considered to be anywhere near good enough to win the competition. Although it's unlikely, teams with the caliber of players they have cannot be ruled out and these are the two surprise teams to look out for in the remainder of the Champions League.

Champions League round of 16 draw:

First legs

Manchester City v Barcelona - 18 February

Bayer Leverkusen v Paris St-Germain - 18 February

Arsenal v Bayern Munich - 19 February

AC Milan v Atletico Madrid - 19 February

Olympiakos v Manchester United - 25 February

Zenit St Petersburg v Borussia Dortmund - 25 February

Galatasaray v Chelsea - 26 February

Schalke v Real Madrid - 26 February