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Premier League Roundup

The top league in England roared back into action this week, and with 26 goals scored, there was a lot to talk about in the opening weekend of games.

Saturday

Manchester United & Swansea took the honour of being the very first fixture of the new season, in the early kick off on Saturday at Old Trafford. United fans were looking for a brand new start after last season. Though it was clear to see it will need more than a new manager to change their fortunes. Swansea more than matched the home team, and took the lead after Ki put away a well worked passing move. United were level early on in the second half, Rooney scoring from close range with an acrobatic effort. But whereas previous United teams would have surged on to win, their defence was once again found wanting, as Sigurdsson pounced on a loose ball and scored he winner. A horrible debut for LvG but take no credit away from Swansea, who lost here 4-1 last season.

Arsenal were looking to start a Premier League season with a win for the first time in several seasons, and against a Palace team that lost manager Pulis a few days earlier, an easy win looked on the cards. But this was not the case, Palace played with great resilience and discipline. The Pulis mentality was still there. Arsenal could not find a way through, and got hit with a sucker punch. Hangeland heading home after some slack marking from a  corner. Arsenal were not at their fluent best, but managed to get back on level terms just before half time. Koscielny with an excellent improvised header deep into added time. The second half was more of the same, Arsenal piled on the pressure, but Palace held firm. it was not until the 91st minute did Arsenal get the breakthrough. Ramsey slotting home from 6 yards. A very scrappy win, but Arsenal take the 3 points. Palace will find the result hard to take, and had Jason Puncheon sent off late on.

The first London derby of the season took place at Upton Park, with the Hammers entertaining Tottenham. This was Pochettino ‘s first game in charge of the North London team, and it looked like a win on his first game would be a difficult task after Kyle Naughton was shown a red after being deemed to prevent a goal scoring opportunity with his hands. The red seemed a tad harsh, but West Ham failed to capitalise, Mark Nobel with a very rare miss for the spot, his kick just wide of the post. With Enner Valencia and Zarate on the bench, West Ham did not take advantage of their situation, and on the hour mark, James Collins was sent off for a second bookable offence. With seconds to go, it was Eric Dier, on his debut who won it for Spurs. The defender found himself clear, and rounded the keeper with the composure of a striker, a rolled the ball into an open net, a debut to remember for the young Englishmen.

Leicester were back in the big time for the first time in almost a decade, and played a thoroughly entertaining match with Everton. Everton,  were rocked by the news of an injury to Ross Barkley, which will now keep him out for several months. It was the Toffees who opened the scoring, Aiden McGeady with a sublime curling strike into the top corner from tight angle. But the home side fired back immediately, their new signing Ulloa rifling home a loose ball in the box. On the stroke of half time, Steven Naismith  capped a fine move, and put Everton back in front.  It appeared Everton would be leaving with a win, but with minutes left, Chris Wood beat Howard with a fine finish. In the end, the spoils were shared, both teams doing enough for a point a piece.

Last season Sunderland carried out a miraculous turnaround, saving their season after relegation seemed almost sure, they were up against a West Brom team with another new manager in Alan Irvine . Lee Cattermole is not known for his goal scoring prowess, but it was the defender who put Sunderland in front with a powerful, well struck goal from a good 20 yards out.  But a brace from Berahino had the Baggies in front. The first from the spot late in the first half after a very soft penalty for a tug on Anichebe.  He had the hosts in front mid way through the second half, arriving at the far post to fire home a cross. Sunderland were not giving up, and Seb Labsson levelled the game with a tidy finish. The equaliser took the bad taste away from that penalty decision, had Albion held on.

Andreas Weimann scored the winner for Aston Villa in their opening match at Stoke.  Roy Keane has joined Paul Lambert as Assistant Manager at Villa Park, and this hard fought victory at the Britannia would have been a great start to their campaign. Stoke had chances of their own to score, but could not find the net.  An opening day loss at home would not have pleased Mark Hughes. QPRs return to the league was not a happy one for their fans, James Chester scoring the only goal of the game for Hull. QPR will rue the chances they had, with 19 attempts on goal throughout the game.

Sunday

Sunday saw two of the title contenders in action. Liverpool were in action first, hosting Southampton. A team who has lost 3 of its key players to the Merseyside team, which provided an interesting subplot to the game. Raheem Sterling got back to his goal scoring ways quickly, scoring after 23 minutes, applying the finish to a wonderful pass by Henderson. Many would have assumed Liverpool would take control and add to their goal, but Southampton were not going to lie down, and grew into the game. They were more than a match for the Reds, and got their reward early in the second half. Nataniel Clyne lashing home after great 1-2 with new signing Dusan Tadic. Southampton then spurned several chances to take a shock lead, but were made to pay for their missed chances after Sturridge scored with Liverpool’s first attempt on goal in the second half. Southampton carried on, and Schneiderlin’s powerful shot was tipped onto the crossbar by Mignolet. Liverpool held on for the win, like Arsenal, they were not at their best, but the first few games are all about the result. It was very harsh on Southampton, who were the better team for a large share of the game, but they brush away any doomsday talk of their demise after a rotten summer.

Champions Man City were at Newcastle for their opening game, a fixture which has been very kind to them over the last few seasons. Newcastle had made several new singings over the summer, and were looking to get back to the early season form they showed last year, before their collapse after the sale of Cabaye. This was a game that Newcastle rarely threatened. City took the lead in the first half, after Dzeko’s neat back heel pass found David Silva to fire home. City were comfortable for most of the game, Newcastle failed to have a single shot on goal, though Ayoze Perez almost had the dream debut. Within seconds on coming on, he broke clear, and only a last ditch tackle from the covering defender deflected the ball just wide of the far post. Aguero sealed the win at the death, applying the finish after his initial shot was saved.  City open their defence with a sold win. Newcastle will hope for better performance next match.

Monday

The final game of the week was newly promoted Burnley hosting, Chelsea, who many consider the title favourites. Burnley may not have been given a chance by many pre-match, but that did not stop them from taking a surprise lead. Scott Arfield  with a rising drive after 15 minutes. Sending Turf Moor into raptures. It proved to be a short lived celebration, Chelsea were back in it. £32m striker Diego Costa smashing home the ball from inside the box. A goal on his debut, and many more will be expected of the Spain hitman. Soon it was all Chelsea, and all attention on their other blockbuster signing. Cesc Fabregas did not take long to get back into the groove of the Premier League. A sublime pass opened up the Burnley defence to allow Andre Schurrle to put the Blues in front. It was soon game over, Ivanovic poking home the ball from a Fabregas corner. No more goals occurred in the second half, all the damage had been done in the first 45. Both Costa & Fabregas played a key role, but it was still against   newly promoted team. Bigger challenges lie ahead.

Rahman Red Reflection: Southampton, Suarez and the (New) SAS

Liverpool started the 2014/15 season with an unconvincing 2-1 victory over Southampton at Anfield. It was a nervous encounter for the home side, as new Saints manager Ronald Koeman set out his team to frustrate the opposition and in doing so, they played very well and created some excellent goalscoring opportunities. The sheer delight on the face of Brendan Rodgers was clear for all to see when Daniel Sturridge swept in the winning goal, taking advantage of a knock-on from man-of-the-match Raheem Sterling, who also got his name on the scoresheet today with a neat finish in front of the Kop.

Sterling and Sturridge. The new SAS? Sounds exciting. Martin Skrtel chipped in a few times last season. We had a case of SASAS against Arsenal. If only El Pistolero was still here…

I was very disappointed that Luis Suarez left for Barcelona, especially the manner in how he made his departure, but I do believe the club was right to sell him. He is a really special talent and he will definitely be missed at Anfield, but the club has to move on and they will.

Is it impossible to replace Suarez? It is very difficult to name another player in the world who possesses similar qualities. The likes of Messi, Ronaldo and Bale spring to mind, but that is another debate entirely and it would be a dream if one of them became a Liverpool player! Tottenham Hotspur sold Gareth Bale for £85.3 million but failed to achieve their aim of securing a top-four finish, with Andre Villas-Boas and Tim Sherwood heading in and out through the revolving doors of White Hart Lane last season. The majority of the players they signed had struggled to make an impact and it will be interesting to see if their new manager Mauricio Pochettino can get the best out of his squad.

Liverpool sold Suarez for around £75 million and Rodgers has recruited the services of Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana, Emre Can, Lazar Markovic, Dejan Lovren, Divock Origi and Alberto Moreno. Javier Manquillo has also joined the club for two seasons on loan. I think they are all good acquisitions and time will tell if Rodgers has signed the right players for Liverpool to challenge for honours, but a quality striker is a requirement to support Sturridge.

To conclude, Liverpool should be encouraged by the fact they were able to kick off their Premier League campaign with a win despite a below-par performance. There is still a very long way to go and hopefully the displays will get better as the new signings adjust to life at Anfield, but the Reds visit Manchester City next week. A big game for both sides, but far from season-defining…

Written by Ibrahim Rahman – 17/08/2014

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English Premier League – Its Back!

The Premier League is back! After the summer break, all the teams have chopped and changed, all hoping to achieve their own vision of glory. Here’s a quick preview of all the games this opening weekend.

Man United v Swansea

The Louis Van Gaal era at Old Trafford kicks off the new season, after a disastrous season last campaign under Moyes, which saw the team finish a lowly 7th place. The fans will be hoping that was just an anomaly, and normal service will return this year. The only new faces bought in were targets from the previous season, so it will be interesting how they now play under Van Gaal, as it is mostly the same team as last season. Swansea seemed to suffer somewhat from the ”Second Season Syndrome” that many teams face after a successful first season in the Premier League. They finished a very solid 12th, compared to the 9th place and Carling Cup win from the season before. Michu, who had an exceptional debut season, fell away last year, and has no been loaned out to  Napoli. Sigurdsson  and Fabianski are some of the new faces who have been bought in. LVG should open his United account with a win here.

Leicester v Everton

Everton had a great campaign last season. Roberto Martinez’s men came awfully close to stealing that last Champions League place before stalling in the last few weeks. Everton succeeded with their loan players last year, although the tricky Gerard Deulofeu has returned to Spain. Lukaku and Gareth Barry have both been signed up on long term deals. Another promising season at Goodison awaits. Newly promoted Leicester return to the top table for the first time since 2004. Survival will be the main target for the Foxes. Nigel Pearson took the team to the Championship title last season, so the team will be high on that confidence. Their capture of Leonardo Ulloa from Brighton will be a player to keep an eye on. It is a tough opening game for them, Everton should win, but the first game at home may be enough to sneak a draw for the Foxes.

QPR v Hull

It was a rapid return for QPR back in the Premier League after relegation in 2013. Harry Redknapp has stayed on as manager during their time in the 2nd tier. He has recruited both Rio Ferdinand and Steven Caulker to shore up the defence. A wise move, as they had the worst goal difference in their relegation season. QPR will be looking to survive this season reasonably comfortably, but relegation will still be a threat. Hull may have had a wonderful FA Cup run last year, in which they almost shocked Arsenal in a memorable final. But that will not cover up the fact their domestic  campaign was very poor, finishing 16th in the table. Robert Snodgrass and Tom Ince are new faces for this season, but this may be a season to far for them, after last years escape. QPR should be looking for a win if they are to be taken seriously this season.

 Stoke v Aston Villa

Stoke somewhat slipped under the radar last season, with a respectable 9th place finish. Under Mark Hughes, they have gradually changed their ways of playing. Some of their matches last season were played at a high tempo, with goals aplenty. The tag they got under Pulis seems to be slowly going away. They also made of the more eye catching signings over the summer, adding Bojan to the squad, once lauded as the next Messi. Aston Villa had a very turbulent season, after the high of the opening day win at Arsenal, the team spent most of its time flirting with relegation zone. Summer recruitment have been plenty, but nothing majorly eye-catching. Expect a draw between these two, or a narrow win either way!

West Brom v Sunderland

The Baggies had a thoroughly underwhelming season last year, narrowly avoiding relegation. The sacking of Steve Clarke for Pepe Mel mid season did the team no favours. The sacking came as a bit of a shock, as WBA were not looking in much danger before hand. There have been vast changes over the summer to the squad, with 9 players let go, and 8 players coming in. Mel will be hoping the overhaul will change the teams fortune on the pitch, or another scrap to avoid the bottom 3 may be the case again. Sunderland on the other hand ended their season on a magnificent run. Somehow managing to avoid certain relegation with wins at Stamford Bridge and Old Trafford, and a draw at City. Gus Poyet will be hoping the team can kick on this season after their near miss last campaign. Sunderland look the more likely team to take the 3 points here.

West Ham v Tottenham

The first London derby of the season, and one which a bit of an edge. Last season, West Ham beat Spurs 3 times, twice in the league and once in the cup. With Hammers fans not shy in boasting about their ‘treble’ over their London rivals. Sam Allardyce may not be the most popular of managers among his own fans, but he ensured survival last season, which would have been their main aim considering their big move to the Olympic Stadium in the near future. The addition of World Cup star Enner Valencia will provide a great goal threat, taking into account the injury problems with Andy Caroll. Tottenham have spent the summer quietly doing business, as opposed to last summers huge spending spree.  Mauricio Pochettino had a promising time at Southampton, and will look to bring that positive mentality to a Spurs side which struggled at times last year to gel together. A top 4 run seems out of reach for now, Europa League will be a more realistic goal. The match should be a one of the highlights this week, a winner is hard to call here, but for sure there will be lots of drama.

Arsenal v Crystal Palace

The Gunners will be looking to avoid the opening day defeat of last season. This time around, Arsenal have done well to strengthen the squad, and have largely retained their team from last season. With Bacary Sagna being the only major loss over the summer. Arsenal will look to put together a serious title challenge lasting the course of the season, unlike previous challenges which have started well, but faded in Spring. Crystal Palace have been rocked just days before the new season with the resignation of manager Tony Pulis.  Pulis did a wonderful job in taking a team which looked certain to go down, up to a lofty 11th place. Palace did well last season at the Emirates, before late goals beat a well organised team.  It will be hard to tell where Palace go, until the new manager is announced. What was looking like a potential slip for Arsenal, should now be a win.

Liverpool v Southampton

After a summer of reversing fortunes, this match up is the most intriguing of the weekend. Liverpool, after coming so close to the title last season, cashed in on Luis Suarez. They have spent a large amount of that money already reinforcing their squad. It has been Southampton who have felt a large brunt of Liverpool’s spending power.  Losing 3 of their starting line up in Lallana, Lambert and Lovrens. Liverpool have added several other names, and will want to carry on as they left last season. Southampton have been pillaged, losing a large portion of their first team, and also their manager. Ronald Koeman the new boss. How they react to their dramatic summer will decide how the team preforms over the next few months. Liverpool will be big favourites to win here.

Newcastle v Man City

The defending champions open their defence at St James Park. Their last defence of the title was timid, and they gave up their crown with little resistance. This time around they will be looking to avoid such a response. City are already a well prepared squad, with plenty of cover all over the pitch, and further transfers have bolstered the team even more. City will be expecting nothing less than the title again this year, and a serious run deep into the later stages of the Champions League. For Newcastle. it was a season of two halves. Before January, they were riding high among the top quarter of the table, but after the sale of Yohan Cabaye to PSG, the team spectacularly fell apart. Which was highlighted by a run of 6 losses. The team fell down to 10th, and it would have been lower if not for their impressive start to the season. Pardew has gone and signed a large number of players, 9 new faces in total. A top half finish will be the aim. Though they should not provide much of a challenge to the league champions here.

Burnley v Chelsea

Burnley return to the top tier after their relegation a few years ago. They could not have hoped for a tougher welcome. Chelsea look set to be the most likely challenger to the City’s crown. The addition of Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas have added to Chelsea’s already multi-talented team. With Costa, they finally have that clinical striker they have been missing since Drogba. Who incidentally has returned to Stamford Bridge, but will most likely play a more subdued role. For Burnley, they will be one of the favourites to go straight back down, so avoiding the drop will be their target.  Their future in the league will not be decided on games such as these, barring a huge upset, Chelsea should open their challenge with 3 points.

 

 

 

 

 

 

David Silva of Manchester City and Mikel Arteta of Arsenal

Community Shield 2014 Preview

The World Cup provided a nice distraction from the break from the domestic action, but the wait is soon over, the action in the Championship kicks off today, and the Premier League the following weekend. The Community Shield takes place this Sunday. The match may be seen to many as a glorified friendly, but its also seen as the curtain raiser for the new season, and for the winner, another piece of silverware. Defending Premier League champions Manchester City take on FA Cup holders Arsenal.

City’s preseason consisted of 6 matches, which involved 3 wins and 3 losses.  The majority of their time was spent in America, taking part in the Guinness International Champions Cup, a preseason tournament containing teams such as United, Liverpool and Milan. The highlight of their time in the States was an emphatic 5-1 dismantling of Milan. Sunday will be the first competitive game for a squad that has seen a few changes over the summer break. Bacary Sagna and Frank Lampard (loan) will both provide solid cover for the team, and bring a large amount of Premier League experience to the team. Wilfredo Caballero has been drafted from Malaga to provide competition for Joe Hart after the departure of Pantilimon to Sunderland. The biggest signing so far has been Fernando from Porto, for a sum of £12m. The club have been a lot more conservative with their transfer approach this summer. City though have been rocked with the injury to Negrado, which could keep him out for a few months, and Sergio Aguero has been looking for full match fitness for a while. The team is still filled with world class players, who if they click, should be favorites to overcome their opponents, who they beat 6-3

Arsenal go into the match as underdogs, the FA Cup may have been a reinvigorating tonic to the manager and squad, but it was the games against the fellow top teams where Arsenal failed to impress.  They will be hoping to change that this season, with their recent transfer activity. Alexis Sanchez will offer plenty in attack, be in on the wings, or playing as the striker. He should combine well once Theo Walcott comes back into the team, which in turn should make Mesut Ozil play to his best.  They have strengthened in defense, bringing in Debuchy to replace Sagna and Calum Chambers from Southampton. David Ospina has been signed to keep Szczesny alert. Arsenal have only played 4 games in preseason. 2 wins and 2 losses.  The brightest result being the crushing 5-1 defeat of Benfica, in which young strikers Sanogo (4) and Joel Campbell (1) showed promising signs. The German trio of Ozil, Podolski & Mertesacker will be missing in Sunday, after their World Cup exploits. All 3 could have been certain starters. Arsenal will be looking for Ramsey & Alexis to provide the sparks on Sunday.

The Community Shield may not be the best indicator of who will be top dog over the next 9 months, both teams are still gearing up for the following weekend. The game may very well come down to which team has acclimatized better in the first few weeks of preseason. Neither team will be too afraid of losing this game, so we should be in for a wonderful attacking show this weekend!

 

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500 Hits!

The Site has been up for just under 3 months, but we have already surpassed 500 hits on the blog! It’s quite an achievement in such little time, and we hope to grow even quicker over the next few months. As the new season begins, we will update the site more frequently with new content, and hopefully set up a podcast if all goes well!

The blog has been viewed all over the world, as you can see from the image below. From as far as New Zealand, Australia and Argentina! Thanks for everyone who has visited us, and here’s to another 500 hits, and breaking the 1000 barrier soon!

Regards,

Team TSY :D

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The Transfer Window So Far

With just 2 weeks to go before the start of another Premier League season, all the teams have been spending the summer attempting to improve their squads. So what business has been happening across the league so far? Lets take a quick recap on all the key moves made so far!

Lets open with the blockbuster signings of the window. Chelsea went out early and secured two highly rated players. The singing of Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona is a great buy for the team. Fabregas was clearly unsettled in his current role at Barcelona, and move to Arsenal would have been his first choice, but after being turned down, Arsenal’s loss is Chelsea’s gain. Diego Costa, with 27 goals last season was only behind Ronaldo & Messi in the goal scoring charts.  Chelsea really struggled up front last season, and they will hope Costa will fill in the void.  Didier Drogba has since made a stunning return to the Bridge after his stint in Turkey.

Liverpool reluctantly sold Suarez to Barcelona, but to the tune of £70m, they have gained a vast pool of resources to re-invest in the current team that came so close last season. They have not waited around, already securing 6 players. The Southampton trio of Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Dejan Lovrens have all moved north. Along with the arrivals of Emre CanLazar Markovic & Divock Origi. They will hope not to repeat the fate of Tottenham last year, who spent over £100m and failed to make any mark able improvement.

For Arsenal fans, the transfer window is usually an uneventful occurance. With underwhelming signings and last minute bids the order of the day. But those days seem to be over. After the sensational signing of Mesut Ozil last summer. Arsenal have come out firing. They have probably made the best signing of the window so far, managing to capture Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona. French right back Mathieu Debuchy and Colombian keeper David Ospina have been recruited too, along with the talented teenager Calum Chambers from Southampton. Arsenal need afew more signings if they are to truly challenge, but so far it has been a more then promising summer so far.

The Manchester clubs have been rather quite compared to their rivals so far. Defending Champions City have added former Arsenal full back Bacary Sagna, Fernando from Porto and keeper Willy Caballero . Not the usual spectacular signings we have become accustomed to from City. Frank Lampard has recently joined City on loan from NYCFC until January. Over in the red side of Manchester.  Louis Van Gaal will be looking to resuscitate a lifeless United team from last season.  Van Gaal had a immense World Cup, and will look to bring a new vigor to United. But so far, only Luke Shaw & Ander Herrera have been signed, players who Untied were highly linked with last summer.

The league is not just about the big teams, so lets see what the rest of the league have been up to. Everton have managed to sign Romelu Lukaku from Chelsea for a fee of £28m. Lukaku had a wonderful season at Goodison last year, and will hope to carry on that form. Gareth Barry has also been captured on a free after a solid season with Everton last campaign. Siem de Jong , the talented Ajax forwards has been signed by Newcastle United, who could be a name to look out for next season.  QPR have been looking to improve their defense, with both of their signings being defenders. Rio Ferdinand will be an experienced presence in the back, along with Steven Caulker from Cardiff. Tottenham have had a rather more subdued Summer after last year. Swansea duo of Michel Vorm and  Ben Davies have joined the ranks along with Eric Dier from Sporting. West Ham have been very busy in the meantime too, so far adding 6 players to their team, the highlight being the signature of Enner Valencia. Who had a great World Cup, scoring 3 goals. Stoke City have managed to come up with one of the most surprising signings so far, Bojan Krkic, who was once dubbed as the ‘Next Messi’ will now play at the Britannia, it will be very interesting to see how he manages to preform over the course of the season. A few more transfers of note, Joleon Lescott has moved to WBA, Brede Hangeland has moved to Crystal Palace, and Joe Cole to Aston Villa.

With just under a month to go, there is still plenty more time for teams to be shaken up, we may still have a few more shocks coming our way before the window closes at 11pm on September 1st.

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Arsenal’s Patience Pays Off

For Arsenal, the last few years have been tough, the lack of any silverware since 2005 was becoming a rather troublesome monkey on their backs. Since the opening of their brand new, £390m stadium back in 2006, it was not until May of this spring, could they finally add to the list of honors that encompass the interior of the stadium. The trophy not only provides some much needed success, but it also symbolizes the change in dynamics for the North London club.

The Emirates Stadium was a huge project, £390m may not sound too much in current times, with the likes of Man City having vast sums of money invested into them. For Arsenal, they were going to have to pay off the loan without such help. This would have a significant effect of the way the club worked. During the barren years, Arsenal fans had to witness many oftheir star players and captains leave. Cesc Fabregas, Robin Van Persie, Samir Nasri, Emmanuel Adebayor and Gael Clichy are just some of the names that have departed. Arsenal were operating on a tight financial structure, so they could not pay the sums of money that top stars around Europe were earning. The lack of any on field success would contribute even further to players looking elsewhere for glory. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger had a very difficult job on his hand, to keep the club competitive, without being able to spend vast amounts on players that were much needed to improve the squad. The Club had a reasonable amount of money to spend, a few seasons of £40m-50m worth of transfers. But the club were not attracting star players, the marquee signings. the blockbusters, but rather,  they were players other teams were not entirely interested in. The last few years have been much more promising, with the repayment of the stadium loan almost complete. funds were now made available to towards the team,

The signing of Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid for a record fee of £42m last summer was astonishing in several ways. The club had never spent in the region of this before, it was a sign of their new found financial strength. Also this was not the shrewd signing of an upcoming player, or a cheap buy from overseas.  This was the arrival of one of the best midfielders in the world. Along with the FA Cup win, the club had also announced a huge sponsorship deal with Puma, dropping Nike after several years. With the debt almost paid off, combined with valuable sponsorship deals. Arsenal are now finally back as a big time player. Already, they have signed the much rated Alexis Sanchez, along with Mathieu Debuchy and Colombia keeper David Ospina this summer. The transfer window is still open for a few more weeks, and could see the addition of many more new faces. Which could help the club once more, go back to winning league titles on a regular basis. After several years of underwhelming signings, annual collapses during the season and having to see all their best players leave year after year. Things are finally looking bright, and this season may well be one of the most successful in the best part of 10 years.

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Atletico Already Playing Catch Up

For almost 10 years, Spanish football was dominated by the Big 2, Real Madrid and Barcelona. But last season, Atletico Madrid sprung a huge upset, and managed to wrestle away the title from the duopoly. Diego Simone had put together a resilient team, which spent the  majority of the season in the top 2, powered by their talisman Diego Costa. Atletico won the league, on the last day, at Barcelona. They almost capped it off with a Champions League win, in which they were leading with only seconds to go, before succumbing in Extra Time to Real Madrid. Summer would be crucial for them, as Barcelona and Real would inevitably strengthen, and their own star players would have attracted admirers from other big clubs around Europe.

The summer window so far has not been too kind to the defending champions. Their fierce neighbours Real, have already splashed over £80m on just 2 players. Toni Kroos, whose future with Munich was uncertain for most of last season, confirmed he would be leaving fro Madrid after the World Cup triumph. If the addition of Kroos wasn’t enough, Madrid recently completed the transfer of James Rodriguez from Monaco. For a reported fee of £71m, which would make him the 4th highest transfer of all time. Rodriguez had a sensational World Cup, and won the Golden Boot. Monaco are not a team in any real need of money, but even they could not refuse such a large bid. Over in Catalonia, Barcelona were looking to recover from a rare trophy free season. They have made the marquee signing so far. Luis Suarez, who had a phenomenal season for Liverpool. Shelling out £75m for the striker. Who will now feature in an brutal attack consisting of Messi and Neymar! But Barcelona did make a sacrifice in order to land the striker, they sold the highly rated Alexis Sanchez to Arsenal. Cesc Fabregas has also departed, Ivan Rakitic, of Sevilla had an influential season in taking them to Europa league glory, has been signed to replace him.

While the Big 2 have dominated the news with their blockbuster signings, things have not been so good for Atletico. Diego Costa has left for Chelsea, his 27 goals were a vital part of the glory last season. He has been replaced by Mandzukic, a great striker, but unproven in Spain. Their keeper Thibaut Courtois has been recalled back to Chelsea after a wonderful season. Left Back Felipe Luiz has also joined the list of Atletico exits to Chelsea. Finally David Villa, has moved onto the MLS, after chipping in with 15 goals last term.

Its not been a good summer so far for Atletico, with the loss of several players, and major strengthening of their rivals., thought they still have time to do more business But this is a team that worked well together as a team, regardless of their perceived lack of superstars. On paper they did not match up to the Big 2 last year, but their work ethic and drive saw them overcome that. They could repeat the same feat this year, but they will most certainly start with a disadvantage.

When England Beat Spain!

It’s all quite on the football front over the summer, so I thought I would share another album, this time, when England beat World Champions (at the time!) Spain at Wembley! Its always nice to beat the reigning Champions..even if it was just a friendly!

Germany-World-Cup

World Cup 2014 : Germany Bring Down The Curtains

After 64 games, and one month of fun & drama, it was Germany who came out on top. Sealing their 4th World Title, at the expense of Argentina.

It has been a long time, over 20 years since either of these superpowers had won the biggest of all prizes. On form, Germany went in as the favorites. After the ruthless manner in which they dismantled Brazil in the previous round. Though Argentina would still be a threat, they had not conceded a single goal during the knock out phase, and were finally looking like a complete team.

If there were any doubts on Argentina being more tired after their semi final, they were quickly put to bed. Germany may have had the larger share of the possession early on, but Argentina looked lively on the break. It was Argentina who had the first clear chance to go in front. A tame header from Kroos played in Gonzalo Higuain clean through on goal. But he fluffed his chance horribly, not even managing to test the goalie and sending the ball wide. He soon thought he had made amends, putting away a great cross from Lavezzi, but the linesman’s flag denied him his moment. Germany did not have the best preparation, Sami Khedira having to pull out during the warm up, meaning Christoph Kramer was suddenly called into action, and suddenly having to start in the biggest game of his life. To his credit, he did well, but his time was cut short, a horrible clash with an Argentinian player left his dazed. Germany correctly chose not to take the risk, and replaced him with Andre Schürrle. Germany’s best effort of the half was from a corner late into added time. Höwedes crashing a header off the post. The half ended goalless, but it was an intriguing game so far.

Argentina replaced the lively Lavezzi with Sergio Aguero,  in search of a goal. Their early pressure almost paid off, as Lionel Messi was played in, and with the goal at his mercy, his shot went wide of the far post. A surprising miss when it looked like a goal was most certain. Argentina had now fluffed 2 good opportunities, and failed to test the keeper on both occasions. Germany eventually reasserted themselves and had most of the ball for the rest of the half, Toni Kroos had the best of their chances. The game went into Extra Time as neither team could find the break through. It was Argentina who wasted another glorius chance in in the first period of Extra Time. A poor German header found its way to Palacio, but his poor first touch and lobbed shot failed to threaten the goal, even if it was on target, it would have been cleared off the line by the rushing defender. Both team traded blows with no success, until 6 minutes from time. Gotze, who had come on as a sub, collected a pass from the industrious Schürrle. In one smooth motion, he controlled the ball and hit it on the volley from the edge of the 6 yard box and into the net. A fine goal, worthy of winning the World Cup. The two substitutes combined well, which would have pleased the manager.  Germany managed to hold on in the last few minutes, to win their 4th World Cup. For Argentina, they were made to pay for all their missed chances, they failed to register a single shot on goal. Brazil sighed in relief, as they would not have to witness their arch rivals win on their own turf. Argentina had done well to reach this far, but overall the Germans deserved it, they had been the best team throughout and had scored the most goals in the process. Not many can begrudge them this win.

On another note, the 3rd Place play-off was held on Saturday, and for Brazil, it capped of a horrendous week for Brazilian football. Inside 20 minutes, they were 2-0 down. Van Persie scoring early with a penalty, after Thiago Silva was lucky not to see red after pulling down Arjen Robben. Daley Blind scored the second, after after error from David Luiz, who has had a hapless few days. Brazil’s misery was capped off in the dying minutes, as Wijnaldum tucked home the 3rd. Brazil end the tournament having conceded 10 goals in 2 games. For Holland, they sign off on a high.

Before we leave the 2014 World Cup behind, The Golden Boot was won by Colombia’s James Rodriguez, with 6 goals (+ 2 assist), Muller finished  on 5, and Messi, Van Persie & Neymar all had an impressive showing with 4 goals.

So that’s it! Brazil 2014 will now be consigned to the record books,  its Russia’s turn in 4 years time. The European Championships will be in France in 2 year, something else to look forward too while we wait for the next global party! Our attention here will now move on to the English Premier League over the next few weeks, so we shall see you soon!