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El Clasico : Preview

After his 4 month ban for biting Giorgio Chiellini, and all the drama that followed, its not surprising that the Uruguayan star could possibly make his first competitive appearance for Barcelona in probably the biggest club game in the world. This Saturday evening, it will be Madrid hosting their eternal rivals in one of the most anticipated El Classico’s for a long time.

After a summer of huge spending for both teams, both contenders are now brimming with a devastating attack. Following a disappointing season by their high standards, the Catalans last season lost both La Liga and the Champions League to Madrid (Atletico and Real respectively). So it was inevitable some huge transfers would be bought in. Barcelona had finally landed Luis Suarez from Liverpool for a reported £65m deal. The talented Ivan Rakitić was also drafted in after an impressive season for Seville. Among the several other deals, Arsenal defender Thomas Vermealen was signed to provided some defensive cover.

The Los Blancos meanwhile had gone on another hectic summer spending spree, in order to reinforce their grip on the Champions League that they spent so long craving. Following some wonderful displays at this summers World Cup for Colombia. James Rodriguez had finally arrived on the big stage. Real Madrid did not wait around to capture his services, and signed the playmaker for a fee of £63m. Toni Kroos, was long hinting a move away from Munich last season, and after his World Cup victory, It was announced that the powerful midfielder had moved to the Spanish capital for £24m. Javier Hernandez and Costa Rican keeper Kaylor Navas had also been transferred in.

On paper, the attacks on both sides had fans across the world excited. Lionel Messi, Neymar and Suarez right now is probably the most brutal front 3 on the planet. Whereas Madrid now have Rodriguez to join Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and the current player of the year, Cristiano Ronaldo. The inevitable showdown between the sides would surely bring fireworks.

So far domestically, it has been Barcelona who have hit the ground running. They are currently top of the league, having not lost a game. The team has looked so impressive, that they have not conceded a single goal in 8 league games, and in turn, scoring 22. Their only blot so far being a 0-0 draw away to Malaga. The South American duo of Neymar and Messi have started in blistering fashion, the Brazilian just beating the Argentinian with his 10 goals to Messi’s 9. With the defence in formidable form, and the imminent return of Luis Suarez, things look very bright for Barcelona.
Real Madrid on the other hand, stuttered in their opening few matches. After an opening day win, they followed it with back to back defeats. Losing to current title holders Atletico at home, and an astonishing match against Sociedad. where they had an early 2-0 lead wiped out, and lost 4-2. Since then though, the team has appeared to have gelled, and have won the next 5 matches. In those 5 games, the team has scored an amazing 25 goals, Ronaldo is way out in front, already on 19 goals for the season. They may be firing on all cylinders at the moment, but their defence is still a concern, having already conceded 9 times, and the form of Iker Cassilas still in doubt.

With 4 points between the leaders, and Real in 3rd (Seville in 2nd after a very impressive start for the team!). Barcelona will still be top of the pile, regardless of the result on Saturday, but they will want to keep hold of their unbeaten start, and even better, keep another clean sheet to go with their previous 8. But Real Madrid have simply been on fire recently, with Ronaldo on another level at the moment. It shall be another memorable chapter of the El Claisso saga this weekend!

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Premier League: The Winners & Losers So Far

With 7 games of the season complete, that’s roughly 20% of the season already over! With the upcoming international break, this would be a convenient time to see the big winners and losers of the season so far.

Winners

Chelsea (1st)
Though the season may be still young, the preseason favourites have already started in blistering fashion. 6 wins and 1 draw (against fellow title rivals City) is an excellent opening for the team. With both their big summer signings (Costa and Fabregas) hitting the ground running, Chelsea are already 5 points clear of second place City. If they can keep this up, it looks ominous for the rest. Chelsea have been much maligned for their seemingly boring method of playing, but with 21 goals recorded already, this Chelsea team appear to be a new breed from the previous squads.

Southampton (3rd)
The summer exile on the south coast at St Marys was very well documented, after losing several first team players, many assumed Southampton would struggle to even leave the bottom half of the table. If anything, the team is even stronger. Ronald Koeman has done a sterling job is steadying the ship. With 4 wins so far, they find themselves in 3rd heading into the break. Graziano Pellè has proven to be a shrewd signing, hitting 5 goals already. Morgan Schneiderlin has not let his summer of discontent affect his game, and players such as Nathanial Clyne have stepped up hugely. This early season form may not last, but their opening to the new season has been immense.

Leicester City (12th)
The winners of the Championship last season have already shown that they will not be a pushover. It has not been the easiest of starts for the club. Having to face Chelsea, United, Arsenal and Everton in their opening 7 games. But they have shocked all, and would not have been expecting to have a return of 5 points from those 4 games. The King Power stadium has proven to be a stronghold. Both Arsenal and Everton were held to a draw, and United were on the receiving end of one of the great matches of recent times, coming back from 3-1 down to win 5-3. Leicester paid £8m for Leonardo Ulloa, many would have raised an eyebrow to see that kind of money being spent on a striker from the Championship. But with 5 goals already, the Argentine has already become well known to all Premier League fans.

Losers

Newcastle United (18th)
The Magpies may not be rock bottom of the league (QPR beat them to that honour by goal difference), but it has not been a great few weeks for Newcastle. The team has not recorded a single win this season, but more importantly, the atmosphere among the home fans in the stadium is setting a very poisonous mood. Alan Pardew is under huge pressure from many parts of the fans, and then there is also the long standing issue between the owner Mike Ashley and the fans. Papiss Cisse has rescued the manager twice, with 2 goals in games vs Hull and Swansea. Unfortunately, this has only extended briefly what appears to be the end of Pardew.

Everton (17th)
Everton had a great 2013-14, pushing Arsenal so close to that elusive Champions League spot, only for them to stumble over in the final few weeks. Martinez had seemed to give Everton a new identify, with loan players such as Lukaku and Barry shining, and the likes of Ross Barkley emerging. With Lukaku and Barry now permanent, the Toffees would have been looking to make a serious challenge for the top 4. So far though, they find themselves 17th, with a single win registered so far. It could be argued that their fixtures have been rather tough, having faced Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and United already. It may be a tad early to start ringing the alarm bells, but the Toffees will have to start picking up soon, or pay the price for a shocking start.

Manchester United (4th)

The Red Devils may be sitting high in 4th, but that’s only half the story. With only 1 point separating them from 10th place Aston Villa, United would have hoped to be far more ahead of the pack by this stage of the season. After their huge summer spending, and faced with a relatively easy run of games, including all 3 promoted clubs, fans would have been expecting to be close to the top by this stage. But their start has been very hit and miss, opening day defeat was followed by 2 draws. Then there was the astonishing defeat at Leicester, after being 3-1 up. Though they have recovered well in their recent games, they already find themselves 8 points behind leaders Chelsea.

Arsenal & Liverpool (8th & 9th)

Both teams could be put together so far this season. Both clubs would have been looking to make a serious challenge for the title this year, especially after some heavy investment over the Summer. So far though, both clubs are down in mid table, a huge 9 point gulf between them and the leaders Chelsea. Its been an inconsistent opening for the clubs. Arsenal have lost only once, but have dropped points to City and Leicester (where they were leading both games) and in a stale performance vs. Spurs. Whereas the Reds have already lost to West Ham, Villa and City. There is still loads of time to get back into the title race, but their flat start to the season has already ensured that they cannot afford to make any more mistakes over the coming months.

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Same Old Arsenal….Always Injured?!

Shad Forsythe may not be a name that would have rung a bell to many fans during the summer transfer activity. But for many Arsenal fans, this could prove to be an important signing, not for the players, but in the backroom staff. It is very well documented that Arsenal seem to suffer badly every season with injuries. Arsenal had finally decided to investigate why the team consistently suffered from such huge numbers of injuries, and action was taken via an inquest into their training regime. Forsythe had a great background, working with the German national team for a decade, it would have been hoped that Arsenal fortunes would start to change this season.

All teams suffer from injuries, and its part and parcel of the game to deal with it as it happens. But for Arsenal, the sheer number and length of these injuries raises an eyebrow when looking at the facts.

Last season alone, Arsenal lost Lukas Podolski for  115 days (Hamstring), Aaron Ramsey for 97 days (Thigh Strain), Thomas Vermealen for 89 days (Back), Theo Walcott for 59 days (Abdominal Tear, this was before he was out for the season with a Knee injury in January). The full list of every injury can be found on http://www.arsenalreport.com/injuryroom/. Injuries caused from bad tackles or awkward falls can be blamed on bad luck. But a lot of the injuries are Muscle related injuries, and some occurred in training. It is rather curious that these type of injuries should occur to a well run club such as Arsenal, who have some of the best training facilities in the country, This was just last season, in previous seasons, Thomas Rosicky, Robin Van Persie and Thomas Vermealen had all missed large parts of the season from niggling injuries, and a long recovery period.

The new season has not been very kind to the Gunners, with barely 2 months of the season under the belt, the defence has already been torn apart. Mathieu Debuchy has been ruled out for 3 months with and ankle injury, Debuchy was bought in the replace Sagna, but with his absence, new signing Calum Chambers will be starting a lot more than Wenger would have hoped. Nancho Monreal on the opposite flank has been side-lined for a few weeks, Kieran Gibbs has only just returned from his own injury, so both full back positions are already stretched. Kosielny has already had a few knocks this season, and the centre back pairing is rather thin right now, Wenger’s decision not to find a replacement for Vermealen may had been a risky one. Although the team was initially well stocked at the back, he should have been aware of the team’s fragile nature. Olivier Giroud, the main striker up top has also been ruled out until new year. Only an Arsenal player could get injured in the dying minutes of a game after getting hit by the ball! Call it unlucky, but it always seems to happen to the North London side.The knock on effect forcing Wenger to spend on Danny Welbeck on Deadline Day. With only one recognised striker (Yaya Sanogo is not yet ready to lead up front) up until New Year, considering the hectic Xmas schedule, it will be a tricky time. Arsenal need to hope Walcott doesn’t take too much time to return back to full fitness!

To top things off. Arsenal’s player of last season, Aaron Ramsey has been ruled out for a month, but knowing Arsenals injury record, he may not be seen until December! Losing a player to a Hamstring injury, so soon into the season will be worrying for the manager. Ramsey is one of the fittest players in the squad, and if he has already succumbed to a muscle injury, that cannot be a good sign, considering Arsenal signed a new member of staff specifically to deal with issues such as this.

Many rival fans may say Arsenal should have bolstered their team in order to cope with any injuries, Manchester United seem to be suffering a lot in their defence. But there sheer number of injuries already to key players for Arsenal could not have been seen. Only time will tell if the signing of the much publicised Shad Forsythe will have any effect on the time. It may take a while for the team to feel the effects of the new training regime. But it has definitely not been the best of starts!

Rahman Red Reflection: Liverpool Triumph in Marathon Penalty Shootout

Liverpool won a dramatic penalty shootout 14-13 against Championship outfit Middlesbrough to reach the fourth round of the League Cup.

The Reds took the lead after ten minutes through 17-year-old debutant Jordan Rossiter, but the away side equalised when Adam Reach headed in just after the hour mark. In extra time, Suso came off the bench for Liverpool to slam home with 11 minutes remaining but Middlesbrough’s Patrick Bamford stunned Anfield with a last-gasp spot-kick to force a penalty shootout.

Simon Mignolet pushed out the away side’s first penalty from Bamford but Raheem Sterling failed to score Liverpool’s fifth, confirming sudden death in the shootout. Twenty penalties were all scored in a row as each player from both clubs, including the goalkeepers, demonstrated fantastic courage and showed nerves of steel. The match finally reached its conclusion when Boro winger Albert Adomah missed the target – Anfield roared with relief and celebrated a memorable victory.

Middlesbrough certainly deserve massive credit for pushing Liverpool all the way in this cup tie. There is still plenty for Rodgers to worry about and he must have been relieved to see his side progress to the fourth round of the League Cup.

Overall, performances this season have generally been poor (except for the display at Tottenham Hotspur) but worryingly and most importantly, the league results have been unsatisfactory. The Merseyside derby is fast approaching and both Liverpool and Everton have struggled in the league so far, but Brendan Rodgers and Roberto Martinez will view this game as a great platform to reignite themselves as they aim to climb the table.

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The Second Yellow Podcast : Episode 2!

Hi Everyone!

After a long month, we finally got together and recorded the second episode of our Podcast entitled ‘Take Over The World!. We are now officially a series!! Hopefully this is sequel more like Terminator 2, and less Transformers 2!

You can listen via the player below, and if you like it, please share it!

Regards,

Team TSY :)

Episode 2: Take Over The World by The Second Yellow on Mixcloud

Rahman Red Reflection: Impressive Irons Hammer Lacklustre Liverpool

Liverpool were well beaten by a powerful West Ham United, inflicting a third defeat in five league games on Brendan Rodgers’ side.

The Reds failed to cope with their opponents’ fast start, scoring twice through Winston Reid and Diafra Sakho in the opening seven minutes. Liverpool halved the deficit through Raheem Sterling who lashed in the rebound for his third goal of the season, after Mario Balotelli’s attempt had initially been blocked. The Reds pressed hard in search of an equaliser, only to be continually thwarted by Hammers keeper Adrian but this left them vulnerable to the counter attack and their misery was soon complete. Morgan Amalfitano jumped off the bench to apply a late clinical finish and secure West Ham’s first home win this season.

It was a dreadful display from Liverpool. They never looked settled and West Ham exploited their weaknesses. Looking at the defence, there is a serious lack of organisation and leadership. Dejan Lovren has had a shaky start to life at Anfield and Mamadou Sakho has also struggled in recent games. Alberto Moreno and Javier Manquillo have been hit and miss so far. These defensive frailties, however, are not new and you only need to look at last season to see the number of goals they conceded. Too many.

Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge were so important in the previous campaign but there is little point saying Liverpool are missing the Uruguayan. First of all, it’s obvious that any team would miss someone with his qualities. Secondly, he is still banned so he wouldn’t have played anyway. The bottom line is he no longer plays for Liverpool. Focus on the players who are actually in the squad. Move on.

Sturridge’s absence is clearly hurting Liverpool at the moment and he should be returning very soon. I hope he can hit the ground running straight away as Mario Balotelli, Fabio Borini and Rickie Lambert have yet to score in the league.

They are also really missing Joe Allen, a player who is accomplished with the ball at his feet but works very hard to reclaim possession for his team. Liverpool are missing his tenacity, energy and excellent workrate.

The Reds are lacking that spark at the moment and hopefully Sturridge’s comeback will reignite their attack. It’s still early days but three losses in their first five league games is worrying. Liverpool face Middlesbrough in the 3rd round of the Capital One Cup at Anfield and it seems inevitable that Rodgers will make plenty of changes, but I hope he fields a strong starting eleven as they need to return to winning ways quickly.

The Merseyside derby is not far away…

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Premier League : The Top 5 Goals

This weekend in the Premier League threw up many curious results, but also loads of great goal! Here are the Top 5 strikes (in my opinion!!) from this weekend in the League…………


 

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1. Di Maria (0-2) v Leicester

Before the shambolic final quarter of the game for Manchester United, they stormed into a 2-0 lead in first 15 minutes. Di Maria has already proved to be a wonderful signing. He carried on from QPR with a fantastic goal against Leicester. After a nice 1-2 with Rooney, Di Maria was through on goal. Where many would have tried to curl it around, or smash it past the keeper. The Argentinian produced a delightful lobbed finish, which just nestled in the back of the net. Surely the goal of the week!


 

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2. Jelavic (0-1) v Newcastle

Nikica Jelavic has had a fine start to the season, already scoring 3 goals in the first 5 games, and this was probably the best so far. Alan Pardew has been under great pressure from the fans at St James Park, with the teams struggling for results. But there was simply nothing that could have been done to prevent Hull taking the lead. A cross from the right found Jelavic, and with a marvellous acrobatic effort, smashed the ball past Tim Krul.


 

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3. Diame (0-2) v Newcastle

Its now 2 goals in 2 matches for Diame, following his great goal against West Ham previously. Newcastle may not have been able to stop the first goal, but the second was just as unstoppable. Picking up the ball some 20 yards away on the edge of the box, the imposing midfielder sold a few dummies to find a bit a space. Before unleashing a thunderous drive into the top corner, you just don’t stop those! Newcastle would have been cursing their luck, in conceding two wonderful goals, but they managed to fight back.


 

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4. Kranjcar (2-2) v Stoke

The Croat has been signed on 4 separate occasions by Harry Redknapp, and it’s goals like these which show why the manager trusts him so much. With the clock ticking towards 90 minutes, and the team down 2-1 to Stoke. The away side conceded a free kick on the edge of their area. Kranjcar stepped up, and curled in a brilliant free kick right into the top right hand corner. A great effort to share the spoils.


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5. Sakho (2-0) v Liverpool

The Hammers simply blew away Liverpool in a blistering opening 10 minutes. After conceding from a set piece in the opening minutes, it got worse for the Reds soon after. Diafra Sakho managed to work his way into the box, and found himself in the perfect place to float in a cross from the right onto the onrushing Enner Valencia. Instead, it was a cute chipped effort which floated above Mignolet and into the net before Valencia managed to get a touch. The shot looked to be a cross at first, but replays show he may as well have meant the cheeky finish!

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1000 not out!

We’ve been up for just under 5 months, but we have already surpassed 1000 views! After a steady start, the sites traffic has been going up every month. Which shows great sign of progress for us!

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It’s not just the figures we’re proud about, but also the sheer global scale of our views. The site has been viewed from all over the world, as you can see from the graphic below. :)

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With the podcast up and running, more regular posts and increased Facebook & Twitter followers, we hope to push on even more.

So once again, thanks to everyone who has taken their time to visit us!

Team TSY

Rahman Red Reflection: Ludogorets Lacerated by Last-gasp Liverpool

Last night, Liverpool returned to Europe’s greatest club competition and kicked off their Champions League adventure with a late, hard-fought victory over Bulgarian champions Ludogorets Razgrad.

The Reds finally made the breakthrough in the 82nd minute through Mario Balotelli – his first goal for the club. Holding off two defenders, he brilliantly steered the ball into the net with the outside of his right foot. Dani Abalo looked to have snatched a point in the last minute for Ludogorets after rounding Simon Mignolet. However in the second minute of stoppage time, the visiting goalkeeper Milan Borjan failed to control the ball in his 18-yard box and conceded a penalty for fouling Liverpool right-back Javier Manquillo. Steven Gerrard assumed his spot-kick duties and calmly placed his penalty into the bottom-right corner to give the Reds a winning start to their European campaign.

I was particularly impressed with the full-backs – Alberto Moreno and Javier Manquillo were excellent. Moreno’s brilliant left-wing cross enabled Balotelli to open his Liverpool goalscoring account. Manquillo was in an advanced position very late into the game and ultimately won the crucial penalty that secured all three points for the Reds.

Obviously, Mario Balotelli deserves credit for his goal. It looked like it was going to be another frustrating game for the Italian but when given the chance, he took the opportunity with aplomb. Balotelli is off the mark and that goal will give him confidence. I thought he wasn’t in the box more frequently enough as he was usually found hovering outside the area to collect and hold up the ball, but playing as the lone striker probably didn’t help his cause either as he was often left isolated. When Fabio Borini was brought off the bench, this helped to improve Liverpool’s shape and eventually led to them winning the game (although I do feel the Reds were very fortunate and have the Ludogorets keeper to thank for that) and must improve if they are to progress this season.

Brendan Rodgers should continue to deploy the 4-4-2 diamond formation and I believe that this would allow Mario Balotelli to flourish – he would receive support from a fellow striker and from the midfield, particularly if Raheem Sterling is positioned at the tip of the diamond.

In summary, it wasn’t the best Liverpool performance by any means. However, they showed character and resilience to win a game that they could easily have drawn or even lost. That in itself is a positive, considering the poor performance last weekend against Aston Villa. The most important aspect of this game was the result but Rodgers and his players know that greater tests lie ahead in their Champions League quest.

Next up. Basel.

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Premier League Rapid Review!

Twitter style 140 character game reviews for all of games from last weekend…. It’s harder than it looks!

Arsenal v City

The game of the week! Both sides shared moments of domination. Arsenal scored some crackers, City exposed the Gunner’s vulnerable defence.

Chelsea v Swansea

Battle at the Top.Swansea in front after an own goal. Chelsea storm back for a 4-2 win. New signings Costa and Fabregas still firing at 100%

Crystal Palace v Burnley

Not a great match, both teams still looking for their first win of the season. Burnley denied a late win after Speroni saved the spot kick

Southampton v Newcastle

The Saints continue to prove their pre season doubters wrong. A crushing victory, NCFC rooted to the bottom, The end looks nigh for Pardew

Stoke 0 Leicester 1

The Foxes first win of the season, at a tough away fixture. Ulloa carries on fine form. For Stoke, a return to earth after their City win

Sunderland 2 Tottenham 2

2 goals in first the opening  5 mins. Eriksen appeared to have won all 3 points, before a late Tottenham own goal shared the spoils.

West Brom 0 Everton 2

More misery for the Baggies. Lukaku opens his account early on, Miralles with the second, a comfortable 3 points. WBA need to improve quick

Liverpool 0 Aston Villa 1

Liverpool stumble at home, Agbonlahor’s early goal was enough to take all 3 points. Best start for Villa in over 10 years, Pool toothless

Manchester United 4 QPR 0

New look United finally register their first win. Di Maria inspirational, Rooney, Herrera, Mata also on target. QPR’s 2nd 4-0 defeat so far.

Hull 2 West Ham 2

Surprisingly entertaining game. A début goal for Hull’s Abel Hernandez. Some cracking goals from Enner Valencia and DIame. A draw was fair