Top-soccer http://top-soccer.com Latest Soccer News and Opinion Sun, 23 Nov 2014 04:21:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 France looking strong for Euro 2016 http://top-soccer.com/france-looking-strong-euro-2016/ http://top-soccer.com/france-looking-strong-euro-2016/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 01:51:44 +0000 http://top-soccer.com/?p=6141 Originally posted on Top-soccer.com

France won the European Championship the last time that it was held on home soil in 1984 and confidence is growing that they can repeat the performance in 2016. They…

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Raphael Varane

@raphaelvarane

France won the European Championship the last time that it was held on home soil in 1984 and confidence is growing that they can repeat the performance in 2016.

They were victorious again in 2000 when a golden goal from David Trezeguet was enough to beat Italy 2-1 in Rotterdam. Since then, France has gone through a turbulent period and slummed to a low point of 25th in the official FIFA World Rankings last year.

Didier Deschamps has restored pride to the National team and a fine showing at the World Cup has taken them back up to number seven. They automatically qualify for Euro 2016 as the host nation and a fine recent run of form has seen them cut to 5-1 second favorites behind Germany to win the tournament.

The 1984 tournament will always be associated with Michel Platini while it was Zinedine Zidane who was the star player in 2000. The current team may be lacking in big name players but Deschamps has created a team unity that was sadly lacking prior to his appointment in 2012. Having played over 100 Internationals for his country and won the Ligue 1 title with Olympique de Marseille as a coach, Deschamps was always destined to lead the French team.

The French Football Federation extended his contract to Euro 2016 after their hard-fought 3-2 aggregate play-off win over Ukraine. They began their World Cup bid with some scintillating football in beating Honduras 3-0 and Switzerland 5-2. Striker Karim Benzema was outstanding as France moved confidently into the knockout phase.

They needed two late goals to defeat Nigeria to book their place in the quarter-finals and a showdown with Germany. They could not produce the free-flowing football of their earlier matches and fell to a 1-0 defeat. The tournament was still regarded as a success for France and Deschamps has the foundations of a strong team for Euro 2016.

His midfield line-up of Paul Pogba, Blaise Matuidi and Yohan Cabaye is already regarded as one of the finest in world football. Benzema has the support of Antoine Griezmann and Mathieu Valbuena in attack while Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane is an emerging talent at centre-half.

Deschamps has insisted that his players treat all of their matches as trials for Euro 2016 and it was Varane who headed the winner in their latest clash with Sweden. Benzema missed a late penalty but it was another solid step towards their ultimate goal. There is little doubt that France will be a major player at Euro 2016.

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Berahino closes in on England cap http://top-soccer.com/berahino-closes-england-cap/ http://top-soccer.com/berahino-closes-england-cap/#comments Tue, 04 Nov 2014 19:03:29 +0000 http://top-soccer.com/?p=6134 Originally posted on Top-soccer.com

Ten matches into the new Premier League season, the leading English goalscorer is Saido Berahino of West Brom. The 21- year-old is yet to make his International debut but it…

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Saido BerahinoTen matches into the new Premier League season, the leading English goalscorer is Saido Berahino of West Brom.

The 21- year-old is yet to make his International debut but it can surely only be a matter of time before Roy Hodgson gives him his first cap. Berahino has been  making the headlines all season for the Baggies but was in the news for a different reason after last weekend’s 1-0 win at Leicester.

He was caught by the elbow of Leicester defender Marcin Wasilewski, an incident apparently overlooked by referee, Stuart Attwell. Berahino had undoubtedly been given a rough workout by Leicester’s defence with the Premiership now fully aware of his capabilities in front of goal.

It needed a slice of luck for Albion to break the deadlock but Berahino was involved in the build-up. The victory was enough for his side to move into the relative comfort of mid-table and keep their midlands rivals rooted in the bottom three.

He has formed a useful partnership with Stéphane Sessègnon up front and has scored seven goals in the Premiership already this season. His nearest English pursuer is QPR’s Charlie Austin who scored his fifth at Stamford Bridge in the 2-1 defeat by Chelsea.

England have a Euro 2016 qualifier against Slovenia followed by a friendly in Scotland later this month and many pundits believe that Berahino should be given his chance. Born in Burundi, he has scored ten goals in just thirteen appearances for England at Under-21 level but has had to work hard to secure his place in the Albion line-up.

He was sent out on loan to Northampton, Brentford and Peterborough after working his way up from the youth team. He made his first start for the Baggies against Newport County in the League Cup and scored a hat-trick. He drew further attention to his talent when scoring in West Brom’s 2-1 win at Manchester United in September last year and his contracted was extended to 2017 shortly afterwards.

He is been in terrific form this season, scoring twice in the opening match of the season against Sunderland and adding two more in the 4-0 win over Burnley. He scored against Manchester United again in the 2-2 draw at the Hawthorns in October and has also converted penalty kicks against Liverpool and Crystal Palace. The spot-kick against Palace came deep into stoppage time and it was tucked away with all of the experience of a seasoned professional. It can surely only be a matter of time before he represents England at full International level.

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Lamela goal sparks Rabona craze http://top-soccer.com/lamela-goal-sparks-rabona-craze/ http://top-soccer.com/lamela-goal-sparks-rabona-craze/#comments Sun, 26 Oct 2014 19:45:46 +0000 http://top-soccer.com/?p=6124 Originally posted on Top-soccer.com

The Europa League may sometimes struggle to compete the Champions League in terms of quality but the match between Tottenham and Astera Tripoli produced a piece of skill fit for…

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Erik Lamela

www.google.com/+TottenhamHotspur

The Europa League may sometimes struggle to compete the Champions League in terms of quality but the match between Tottenham and Astera Tripoli produced a piece of skill fit for any footballing stage.

Tottenham’s Erik Lamela scored a spectacular goal, executing the reverse kick known as the rabona to perfection. Lamela wrapped his left foot around his right leg to shoot home from 20 yards and send the White Hart Lane crowd wild with delight.

The Argentine has been at Tottenham for just over a year but has failed to secure a regular place in the starting line-up. He was signed for £30million from Roma and the goal illustrated what a tremendous talent he is. Spurs went on to win 5-1 and the goal has to be taken in context but Lamela hopes it can ignite his career at the London club. He also scored from a volley in the same match but all of the attention was on his “wonder goal”.

The skill has been in the game for a while but is regarded more as a piece of trickery or even “showboating”. Players have increasingly been bringing it into the game as a way to deceive or confuse defenders, slipping a through-ball to a player in an attacking position. Eden Hazard of Chelsea uses the technique quite frequently but has not produced anything as spectacular as a 20-yard goal.

Historically, the rabona can be traced back to Argentina in the late 1940’s, although it was more often referred to as the “crossed-kick”. Other famous exponents of the technique include Diego Maradona, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Gianfranco Zola. André Ayew of Ghana scored a rabona goal for Olympique de Marseille against Stade de Reims in the French Ligue 1 from inside the six-yard box.

Lamela’s goal will surely lead to a spate of players trying to emulate his achievement. The goal has already proved a smash-hit on You Tube with one clip attracting over 2 million views in 2 days. Youngsters will have been in the parks and recreation grounds trying to master the rabona this weekend. The rabona may only be a passing fad but Lamela will be hoping that it will lead to greater opportunities at Tottenham in the months ahead.

Spurs coach Mauricio Pochettino could not hide his delight at the goal which he rates as one of the finest pieces of skill that he has ever seen. White Hart Lane regulars will be eager to see much more of the Argentine this season, and not just in the Europa League.

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Pelle living up to his name at Southampton http://top-soccer.com/pelle-living-name-southampton/ http://top-soccer.com/pelle-living-name-southampton/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 23:55:52 +0000 http://top-soccer.com/?p=6117 Originally posted on Top-soccer.com

The news that Southampton had signed Pelle last summer was greeted with mild amusement in some quarters. This was in no way detrimental to the Italian striker Graziano Pelle but…

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Graziano PelleThe news that Southampton had signed Pelle last summer was greeted with mild amusement in some quarters. This was in no way detrimental to the Italian striker Graziano Pelle but more in deference to the legendary Pele, widely acknowledged as the greatest footballer of all time.

As the Premier League season gathers pace, the name Pelle is popping up with ever-increasing frequency in the sports pages. The new Saints striker scored twice in the 8-0 drubbing of Sunderland to take his tally to seven for the season, six of those in the Premier League. He trails on Diego Costa of Chelsea and Sergio Aguero of Man City. He could arguably have been awarded a hat-trick against Sunderland with a goal-bound shot inadvertently bundled into his own net by a defender.

His performance against the Black Cats rounded off a fantastic week for the Italian who had also scored the winner for his national team on his debut against Malta. At 29 years of age, Pelle is receiving recognition of his talents late in his career. He joined Lecce as a teenager and was loaned out to three lower-league sides.

He was then signed by Louis van Gaal at AZ Alkmaar in Holland where he spent four years and resurrected his career. He moved back to Italy for a spell with Parma but again found himself on loan, firstly at Sampdoria and then at Feyenoord where he met his future Southampton coach Ronald Koeman.

The Dutchman found the key to Pelle’s goal scoring talents and he fired in 11 goals in 10 games, convincing Koeman to make the move permanent. He ended the season with 27 goals and was still averaging almost a goal a game when Koeman persuaded him to follow him to Southampton.

Anyone who witnessed his spectacular overhead kick against Queen’s Park Rangers will realise that Pelle is not your average centre-forward. That sensational moment of magic is already being touted as a possible “Goal of the Season”.

Italian TV presenter Donatella Scarnati introduced Pelle as a 39-year-old but the striker was happy to laugh off the mistake. In a week that he has scored twice for his club, once on his debut for his country and been awarded Player of the Month in the Premiership, few things will worry Pelle right now. The headline “Pelle scores for Southampton” is no longer a laughing matter.

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Premiership power stifles England progress http://top-soccer.com/premiership-power-stifles-england-progress/ http://top-soccer.com/premiership-power-stifles-england-progress/#comments Sun, 12 Oct 2014 18:01:07 +0000 http://top-soccer.com/?p=6111 Originally posted on Top-soccer.com

England’s abject failure in this summer’s World Cup finals has seemingly failed to jolt the Football Association into any meaningful action to improve the International set-up. England’s 1966 World Cup…

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England

@england

England’s abject failure in this summer’s World Cup finals has seemingly failed to jolt the Football Association into any meaningful action to improve the International set-up.

England’s 1966 World Cup win now serves merely as a painful reminder as to how long it has been since they truly ruled world football. The nations expectations going into the World Cup were lower than they have ever been for a major championship and few were surprised to see them on the first available flight home.

England’s traditional knee-jerk reaction is to sack the manager but this time they decided to stick with Roy Hodgson for the Euro 2016 qualifying and hope things improved. Talk of a new generation of players has become tiresome to English supporters, particularly in view of the so-called “golden generations” complete failure.

In fairness to Hodgson, the England job is no longer the high accolade that it once was. The enormous growth in the status of the Premier League has encroached on the International scene to the extent that England duty is regarded as more of an irritation than an honour. The club coaches now feel sufficiently powerful to issue thinly veiled threats about their players returning to the club without picking up an injury.

This is understandable when it comes to friendly matches which have already become more akin to exhibition football. More worryingly, the clubs are now treating the Euro 2016 qualifiers with similar disdain. Hodgson has been put in the position of having to be apologetic about “borrowing” players from the top Premiership sides.

There is growing unease about the comments emanating from Anfield about Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling. Sturridge picked up an injury in training for England and was forced to miss games for club and country. Liverpool coach Brendan Rodgers felt that the striker had been pushed too hard by Hodgson in training, an accusation flatly rejected by the England boss. Rodgers has also been at pains to avoid Sterling being run into the ground, a move clearly designed to restrict his England playing time.

If the England coach can tolerate this level of interference when he is trying to qualify the team for a major championship, what chance has he got of getting any benefit from friendly matches? The truth is that International football is coming a poor second to the all-powerful Premier League and England’s fortunes will not improve until this problem is properly addressed.

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Pardew on borrowed time at Newcastle http://top-soccer.com/pardew-borrowed-time-newcastle/ http://top-soccer.com/pardew-borrowed-time-newcastle/#comments Sun, 05 Oct 2014 13:58:54 +0000 http://top-soccer.com/?p=6101 Originally posted on Top-soccer.com

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has been reassured that his job is safe for the time being despite his side’s failure to win any of their first six Premier League matches.…

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Alan PardewNewcastle manager Alan Pardew has been reassured that his job is safe for the time being despite his side’s failure to win any of their first six Premier League matches.

A 2-2 draw at Swansea left the Magpies languishing in the relegation zone with hardly any change following their defeat to Stoke. This match should at least bring some relief in that it is followed by an International break.

Speculation over Pardew’s future has persisted since last season’s famous “head-butting” incident against Hull. Newcastle were swift to issue Pardew with a £100,000 fine, a punishment that was later increased with a £60,000 FA fine and a three-match stadium ban. Many believed that Pardew was fortunate to keep his job but it is Newcastle’s miserable league form that is now causing concern.

Many supporters felt that the club had not made sufficient effort to address the problems facing the club during the summer transfer window. A home defeat by champions Man City was followed by a goalless draw with Aston Villa. Victory looked assured against Crystal Palace with the Magpies leading 3-2 deep into stoppage time only for Zaha to grab a late equaliser.

Newcastle would claim a degree of retribution when beating Palace 3-2 in the Capital One Cup but a thumping 4-0 defeat at Southampton was a new low in terms of league performances. The knives were out for Pardew when the side fell two goals behind at home to Hull the following week but Papiss Cisse rescued a point with a late double strike as substitute.

Pardew joined Newcastle in 2010 and only Arsene Wenger of Arsenal has been in his job longer among the current Premier League managers. In November 2013, Pardew led Newcastle to four successive victories and was awarded the manager of the month award. They then recorded their first victory at Old Trafford in more than forty years but things have gone downhill ever since.

They lost 15 of their 21 competitive matches from the turn of the year to the of the season and fans verbally abused Pardew and owner Mike Ashley during the club’s last home game of the season. For many Newcastle supporters, Pardew was already on borrowed time at the start of the new season and nothing has changed to alter that view.

Following the 2-2 draw at Swansea, Newcastle play Leicester at home before a very tough run of games. They visit Tottenham and Manchester City in the last week of October and play Liverpool on November 1st. There are certainly some treacherous waters ahead for Pardew and Newcastle.

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Lampard returns to haunt his old club http://top-soccer.com/lampard-returns-haunt-old-club/ http://top-soccer.com/lampard-returns-haunt-old-club/#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 13:01:57 +0000 http://top-soccer.com/?p=6085 Originally posted on Top-soccer.com

While Chelsea have been taking the plaudits for their shrewd investments in the summer transfer market, the decision to release Frank Lampard is starting to look like an act of…

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Frank LampardWhile Chelsea have been taking the plaudits for their shrewd investments in the summer transfer market, the decision to release Frank Lampard is starting to look like an act of negligence.

The 36-year-old did not have his contract renewed at the end of last season and he signed for New York City on a two-year-deal. They just happen to be the sister club of Premiership champions Manchester City and a subsequent six-month loan deal was quickly agreed to take Lampard to the Etihad.

While the move raised a few eyebrows, few would have anticipated the stunning impact that the former England International would have. Coming on as a second-half substitute with Man City a goal down and seemingly heading for defeat at home to the Blues, Lampard produced one of his trademark finishes to rescue a point.

Having played for Chelsea for 13 years and become the club’s leading goal scorer of all time, it was a painful irony that he should be the man to end their 100% record this season. It is a measure of the respect that he has earned with the Chelsea fans that he was afforded a hero’s reception at the end of the match, even if it came through gritted teeth.

Former boss Jose Mourinho has declared Lampard’s love affair with Chelsea to have ended as soon as he joined a rival club. All the goal really proved is that Lampard is the ultimate professional and is not yet ready to hang up his boots. Chelsea should have retained Lampard, just as Manchester United retained Ryan Giggs, with a future coaching role in mind.

The midfielder has already scored twice more for City in the midweek drubbing of Sheffield Wednesday in the Capital One Cup and it would be a major surprise if there aren’t a few more to come this season. There is already speculation that his loan period may be extended into February with Yaya Toure likely to be away on International duty in the Africa Cup of Nations.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger was among those to voice suspicions that Lampard’s move to Manchester City was a ploy to get around UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules. The club were heavily fined and forced to reduce their Champions League squad this summer with boss Manuel Pellegrini claiming that Alvaro Negredo’s departure was hastened as a result.

If the Lampard move was engineered by City from the beginning, Chelsea have been outmanoeuvred by their biggest rivals for the title. The two sides are set to meet again at Stamford Bridge in January and it is not yet known whether Lampard will still be available for selection.

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Sakho react to exclusion from Merseyside Derby http://top-soccer.com/sakho-react-exclusion-merseyside-derby/ http://top-soccer.com/sakho-react-exclusion-merseyside-derby/#comments Sat, 27 Sep 2014 15:43:41 +0000 http://top-soccer.com/?p=6087 Originally posted on Top-soccer.com

Scenes from outside Anfield suggest that Mamadou Sakho reacted angrily to being excluded from the Reds Derby lineup. He was seen leaving Anfield while his team contesting one the most…

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Scenes from outside Anfield suggest that Mamadou Sakho reacted angrily to being excluded from the Reds Derby lineup. He was seen leaving Anfield while his team contesting one the most important matchups of the season.

We can only imagine how deeply it hurts the French international, but his teammates deserve more and they should’ve at least receive his support from the sideline.

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MLS unveils new logo at FIFA 15 release party http://top-soccer.com/mls-unveils-new-logo-fifa-15-release-party/ http://top-soccer.com/mls-unveils-new-logo-fifa-15-release-party/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2014 13:45:12 +0000 http://top-soccer.com/?p=6062 Originally posted on Top-soccer.com

Major League Soccer unveils a new logo at FIFA 15 release party in New York City ending the famous boot-and-ball logo reign as Caitlin Murray of Soccer By Ives calls it. The…

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New MLS logo

www.mlssoccer.com

Major League Soccer unveils a new logo at FIFA 15 release party in New York City ending the famous boot-and-ball logo reign as Caitlin Murray of Soccer By Ives calls it.

The new simplistic design will now represent the league moving forward and MLS soccer describes it as a representation of the next chapter of the league’s vision to be among the world’s best leagues by 2022.

Click here to view the embedded video.

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PSG ready for Champions League challenge http://top-soccer.com/psg-ready-champions-league-challenge/ http://top-soccer.com/psg-ready-champions-league-challenge/#comments Wed, 17 Sep 2014 00:43:09 +0000 http://top-soccer.com/?p=6052 Originally posted on Top-soccer.com

Paris St Germain have been among the biggest spenders in Europe in recent years. They have established themselves as top dog in France but are still to make significant progress…

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Zlatan IbrahimovicParis St Germain have been among the biggest spenders in Europe in recent years. They have established themselves as top dog in France but are still to make significant progress in European competition.

Laurent Blanc has again been busy in the transfer market this summer with the £50million signing of former Chelsea defender David Luiz has proved controversial. The Brazilian was singled out for heavy criticism following his country’s humiliating 7-1 defeat against Germany with the general view being that PSG had paid far too much for the player.

Ironically, they were fined precisely the same amount for their failure to meet the new Financial Fair Play Rules. English Premier League Champions Manchester City recently parted with striker Alvaro Negredo and cited the ruling as the main reason for his surprise exit.

The UEFA ruling means that the club must not increase their wage bill for the next two seasons and must limit their spending in the transfer market. Chelsea are widely acknowledged as having managed their transfer dealings very astutely, the sale of Luiz enabling them to bring Costa and Fabregas to Stamford Bridge without breaching the guidelines. Any dealings in the near future for PSG will have to follow this trading pattern.

Blanc has some top International players in his ranks including Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani and the pressure is on to bring European success to France. A late goal from Demba Ba ended PSG’s Champions League hopes last season and they start a new campaign this week with plenty of expectation on their shoulders.

Club President Nasser Al-Khelaifi has called the punishment a “tremendous handicap” but PSG have won the French title for the past two seasons and are hot favourites to complete a hat-trick. Luiz will be paired with countryman Thiago Silva in defence while Ivory Coast International Serge Aurier has joined PSG on a year-long loan from Toulouse. Yohan Cabaye joined the French side for a fee of around £20m from Newcastle in January.

Blanc’s biggest challenge may be finding a solution to fielding both Cavani and Ibrahimovic in the same team. While Ibrahimovic scored forty goals in all competitions last season, Cavani was clearly unhappy with being asked to play wide. PSG will have a good test of their credentials with Barcelona the opponents on match day 2. A victory in that game would send a clear message to the rest of Europe that PSG’s investment is ready to pay dividends on the top European stage.

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Wenger excited by Welbeck signing http://top-soccer.com/wenger-excited-welbeck-signing/ http://top-soccer.com/wenger-excited-welbeck-signing/#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 02:31:53 +0000 http://top-soccer.com/?p=6044 Originally posted on Top-soccer.com

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the summer transfers was the late swoop by Arsenal for 23-year-old Danny Welbeck from Manchester United. The Gunners had received a set-back with news of…

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Danny Welbeck

http://www.arsenal.com/news

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the summer transfers was the late swoop by Arsenal for 23-year-old Danny Welbeck from Manchester United.

The Gunners had received a set-back with news of a long-term injury to French International Olivier Giroud and Wenger was forced to act quickly to fill the void. A goal from summer signing Alexis Sanchez clinched qualification to the Group stages of the Champions League but it was evident that a new striker would be needed for the long season ahead.

Arsenal had been linked with various strikers during the summer but the capture of Welbeck came as a surprise to many. Louis van Gaal’s massive restructuring of Manchester United suddenly opened up the possibility of the England International moving on and he jumped at the chance to join Arsenal.

The move seems even better after he scored twice for his country in their opening European Championship fixture in Switzerland and it is clear that not everyone at Old Trafford is happy with his exit. United fans were still coming to the terms with the news of the arrival of Radamel Falcao when news of the Welbeck transfer broke. Welbeck has come through the ranks at United with loan spells at Preston and Sunderland before breaking into the first team.

Arsenal also have Theo Walcott on the side-lines and there is little doubt that Welbeck will be given the central strikers role that he craves. He scored 20 goals in 92 league games for United, a statistic that seemingly failed to impress Van Gaal. The fee was reported to be in the region of £16million and his new boss has already been highlighting the need to play him in a more central role. He was never really established in United’s starting eleven and was often asked to play wide.

Ironically, Arsenal came in for a lot of criticism for allowing former skipper Robin van Persie to sign for title rivals United. Wenger later stated his surprise that Chelsea were willing to allow Juan Mata to go to Old Trafford after he had been such an influential player at Stamford Bridge. There is no question that Giroud’s injury was a catalyst for Welbeck’s move but Arsenal may have got themselves a bargain.

For Welbeck, it was a golden opportunity to claim a regular starting place with a top Premiership side and play in the Champions League. Louis van Gaal could not guarantee either of those things at Old Trafford.

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Costa gives Chelsea a flying start http://top-soccer.com/costa-gives-chelsea-flying-start/ http://top-soccer.com/costa-gives-chelsea-flying-start/#comments Sun, 07 Sep 2014 14:47:38 +0000 http://top-soccer.com/?p=6036 Originally posted on Top-soccer.com

The impact of Diego Costa at Chelsea has been better than even the most optimistic of Blues fans had dared to hope. The Spain international completed his £32million move from…

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Diego Costa

The impact of Diego Costa at Chelsea has been better than even the most optimistic of Blues fans had dared to hope. The Spain international completed his £32million move from Atletico Madrid despite a poor showing in the World Cup and has fired four goals in three games to take Chelsea to the top of the table.

Prior to his double-strike at Goodison Park in Chelsea’s 6-3 victory, Costa had missed training for two days following an injury scare. The departure of Fernando Torres led Jose Mourinho to return to the transfer market to secure the signature of France International Loic Remy as cover for his main striker.

Costa also started last season in blistering form with ten goals in eight games, although he did end the campaign with hamstring problems. Mourinho was the most relaxed of all the top Premiership managers during the summer break with his deals secured early in the transfer window.

Such is his faith in his new front man that he has allowed Torres, Lukaku, Demba Ba and Eto’o to depart in quick succession. Veteran striker and Chelsea legend Didier Drogba has re-joined the ranks but is only expected to play the occasional substitutes role.

Mourinho is well known as something of a perfectionist so he will already have addressed the fact that Chelsea conceded three goals at Everton. While the spotlight has been on Costa and Cesc Fabregas, it is worth remembering that Mourinho recouped £50 million for David Luiz before the World Cup and brought in Felipe Luis. The Portuguese has also shown his ruthless streak in overseeing the end of the Chelsea careers of Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole.

Perhaps most controversially of all, he has taken the bold step of dropping Cech to the reserve goalkeeping position in favour of the younger Courtois. The speed with which he moved to snap up Remy for £10.5million suggests that he was not about to see his master plan wrecked at the first sign of injury. It seems as though he expected Torres to remain at Stamford Bridge but the Spaniard elected to take a two year loan deal for the rest of his contract at AC Milan.

As well as securing some of the best deals in the summer transfer market, Chelsea have also complied fully with the Financial Fair Play regulations. Midfielder Marco van Ginkel has joined Torres at the San Siro on a season-long loan as he continues his recovery from injury. Their next Premiership fixture is against the only team with a 100% record in the league, Welsh side Swansea. With a favourable draw in the Champions League, expectations are a lot higher at the Bridge than they were last season.

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Is Angel the answer to United’s prayers? http://top-soccer.com/angel-answer-uniteds-prayers/ http://top-soccer.com/angel-answer-uniteds-prayers/#comments Sat, 30 Aug 2014 13:30:27 +0000 http://top-soccer.com/?p=6010 Originally posted on Top-soccer.com

Manchester United suffered utter humiliation in midweek when they were dumped out of the League Cup 4-0 by Milton Keynes Dons. The competition has been much maligned in recent years…

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Angel Di Maria

https://www.google.com/+manutd

Manchester United suffered utter humiliation in midweek when they were dumped out of the League Cup 4-0 by Milton Keynes Dons.

The competition has been much maligned in recent years with the big Premiership clubs content to field weaker teams. Despite this, United were still expected to account for a team from League 1. Instead, they were well and truly thrashed as Louis van Gaal struggles to get to grips with the enormity of the task facing him at Old Trafford.

The transfer window is rapidly approaching its closure and United have smashed the English record transfer fee in acquiring Argentina International Angel Di Maria for £59.7 million. The player is not so well known to United fans but scored 22 and created 59 goals during his 124 appearances for Real Madrid. He was named as man of the match in the Champions League final last season and also scored a vital goal for Argentina in the World Cup this summer.

As an attacking midfielder, Di Maria has been in competition with the likes of Bale and Ronaldo for places at Real, often being asked to play in a wider role. Last season he made 27 appearances in the famous white strip, scoring four times and creating seventeen. At the age of 26, he is in the prime of his career and forms an exciting link up with former Chelsea star Juan Mata. The Spaniard has only shown flashes of the form that made him so popular at Stamford Bridge, although he did score at Sunderland last week in a 1-1 draw.

Van Gaal has already issued a warning to supporters not to expect Di Maria to work wonders. The former Dutch boss seemed relatively untroubled by the shock midweek defeat and was happy to oblige supporters with autographs after the game. His laid-back attitude may not instantly win over the more impatient United fans that are used to success at the highest level.

Van Gaal has already been criticised in the media for employing a 3-5-2 formation with his players seemingly at a loss to follow his instructions. He is intent on building a team that fits the philosophy of the club and sees Di Maria as another vital step in the right direction.

The Argentine has been handed the famous number 7 shirt most often associated with George Best, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo. United fans could see their new star in action as early as this weekend for the Premier League fixture at Burnley.

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Balotelli signing sets new challenge for Rodgers http://top-soccer.com/balotelli-signing-sets-new-challenge-rodgers/ http://top-soccer.com/balotelli-signing-sets-new-challenge-rodgers/#comments Sun, 24 Aug 2014 15:51:40 +0000 http://top-soccer.com/?p=6003 Originally posted on Top-soccer.com

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers managed to get the best out of Luis Suarez last season, taking Liverpool to within a whisker of the Premiership title. After a frenzied summer in…

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Brendon RodgersLiverpool boss Brendan Rodgers managed to get the best out of Luis Suarez last season, taking Liverpool to within a whisker of the Premiership title. After a frenzied summer in the transfer market, the Merseyside club are poised to sign another top class but temperamental striker in Mario Balotelli.

Liverpool are reported to have agreed a £16million fee for the Italian International from AC Milan. The former Manchester City striker scored for Italy against England in the World Cup in Brazil and is well known to Premiership fans.

Liverpool started the new season with a hard fought 2-1 win over Southampton at Anfield last weekend. The woodwork came to their rescue deep into the second half but there was a feeling that Liverpool lacked the same attacking threat without Suarez. The enigmatic Balotelli has been chosen as the man to fill the void and will presumably play alongside England striker Daniel Sturridge in an attempt to re-create last season’s successful partnership.

Suarez made a hasty exit from Anfield in the wake of the biting incident against Italy in the World Cup. Liverpool had been through the nightmare of dealing with a similar incident the previous season after Suarez tangled with Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic. The Uruguayan is now serving a ban with his new club Barcelona while steps are already being taken to ensure that Balotelli does not repeat his controversial behaviour that dogged his time at Manchester City.

Liverpool have apparently sought to obtain assurances about the 24-year-old’s behaviour with Rodgers already citing “an extensive code of conduct” at Anfield. Three weeks ago, rumours of a move for Balotelli were categorically denied by Rodgers but he is now set to unveil the man expected to provide the finishing touch to Liverpool’s new-look squad.

Balotelli was at City between 2010 and 2013 with some stunning goals mixed with some poor discipline, both on and off the pitch. His arrival will set an altogether different set of problems for Rodgers who is intent on maintaining unity within the club. The summer raid on Southampton has brought Lallana, Lambert and Lovren to Anfield, although the former is temporarily side-lined with a knee injury.

Additional signings Lazar Markovic and Alberto Moreno are ready to enter the fray as Liverpool attempt to find the spark that propelled them on a fantastic run last season. Only a home defeat by Chelsea and a late collapse at Crystal Palace denied them the title as Manchester City took full advantage. The two sides meet in the Premiership on Monday at the Etihad Stadium.

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Celtic aim to prosper from UEFA reprieve http://top-soccer.com/celtic-aim-prosper-uefa-reprieve/ http://top-soccer.com/celtic-aim-prosper-uefa-reprieve/#comments Sun, 17 Aug 2014 20:03:48 +0000 http://top-soccer.com/?p=5996 Originally posted on Top-soccer.com

The bizarre events that led to Legia Warsaw’s elimination from the Champions League have left Celtic eyeing a possible £20million windfall. The Scottish champions were comprehensively outplayed over two legs…

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Celtic FC TrainingThe bizarre events that led to Legia Warsaw’s elimination from the Champions League have left Celtic eyeing a possible £20million windfall.

The Scottish champions were comprehensively outplayed over two legs against the Polish side, slumping to a 6-1 aggregate loss. Legia fielded an ineligible player in Bartosz Bereszynski for the closing minutes of the second leg. Under UEFA rules, Celtic were awarded a 3-0 second leg victory in place of the 2-0 defeat, thus winning on the away goals rule.

Legia’s appeal to UEFA was dismissed and they have since issued a last ditch appeal to the Court of Arbitration. The revised draw has placed Celtic against Maribor with the first leg in Slovenia while Legia must now play Aktobe in Kazakhstan in the Europa League. There is a huge gulf between the top tier of European competition and the second, not only in status but also in terms of revenue.

The play-offs will decide whether Celtic enter the lucrative group stages of the competition. In 2012/13, Celtic famously beat Barcelona and progressed to the last sixteen knockout phase, earning a cool 24 million Euros in the process. This accounted for over one third of the club’s overall revenue that season.

Legia Warsaw are using every available avenue in an attempt to get the decision reversed including a direct appeal to Celtic FC for a one-off play-off. Understandably, this request fell upon deaf ears although Celtic do have sympathy with Legia.

Legia had failed to register Bereszynski in their squad list for the second qualifying round against St Patrick’s, meaning that a three-match suspension had not been served when he came on as a substitute at Murrayfield.

Celtic boss Ronny Deila is being cautious not to underestimate Maribor in the play-off. A good result this week will set up the hoops for a welcome return to Celtic Park after the Murrayfield tie lacked atmosphere. The temporary move was enforced after the recent Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Last season Celtic were eliminated at the group stage having drawn AC Milan, Barcelona and Ajax.

The pick of the other play-off matches is Arsenal’s visit to Besiktas. The Gunners scrambled a late winner against Crystal Palace in their opening Premier League fixture on Saturday to keep the momentum going at the Emirates. Arsenal went nine years without winning a trophy before finally winning the FA Cup last season and gained further silverware when defeating Manchester City in the Community Shield. The two sides have never met before in European competition.

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Chelsea look strong after summer transfer deals http://top-soccer.com/chelsea-strong-summer-transfer-deals/ http://top-soccer.com/chelsea-strong-summer-transfer-deals/#comments Sat, 16 Aug 2014 00:27:58 +0000 http://top-soccer.com/?p=5990 Originally posted on Top-soccer.com

The top five in the English Premier League have all been busy in the transfer market through the summer and their new-look squads face the acid test next weekend. After…

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Jose MourinhoThe top five in the English Premier League have all been busy in the transfer market through the summer and their new-look squads face the acid test next weekend.

After the drama of the World Cup, hostilities resume on the domestic front as the new season gets under way. Champions Manchester City received a timely reminder that they face a strong challenge this year when beaten 3-0 by Arsenal in the Community Shield at the weekend.

Just as they did after their title success in 2011, City have sat on their laurels and made only minor adjustments to their squad. Fernando and Bacary Sagna are the most significant additions with the controversial capture of Frank Lampard for the early part of the season. It remains to be seen what part Lampard may play for City but they are generally the same outfit that profited from the late collapse of their rivals in the title race last season.

Runners-up Liverpool have been jolted into a frenzy of transfer activity by the unexpected departure of Luis Suarez. Without any question, Suarez was a key figure in Liverpool’s surprising title bid last season and he will be sorely missed. Whether their raid on Southampton’s ranks will be enough to maintain such a challenge is open to question. Lallana, Lambert and Lovren are all sound squad members but not obvious match winners.

Manchester United’s major change is at the very top with the much-heralded arrival of Louis Van Gaal. His reputation has been further enhanced by Holland’s great run in Brazil but he is inheriting a team in need of drastic surgery. Herrera, Milinkovic and Shaw are not likely to bring the title back to Old Trafford but there may be more to follow. Some encouraging pre-season results may have papered over a few cracks and this will surely be a season of transition.

Arsenal’s big name signing is Alexis Sanchez who made a good impression in the Community Shield victory over Man City. Arsene Wenger may have come very close to losing his job last season and his first silverware in nine years has bought him the opportunity to have one last crack at the title. Last season they were outclassed against their top of the table rivals and there is still a suspicion that the Gunners are a couple of players short of championship material.

The same cannot be said of Chelsea. Last season was a title that the Blues let slip away with Jose Mourinho’s consistent negativity eventually proving correct. He appeared to know the club’s weaknesses well before the end of the season and has addressed those with some disciplined buying. Diego Costa has a role to fulfil in bridging the gap in goals scored between Chelsea and their rivals. Didier Drogba’s experience will be invaluable against the lesser teams, albeit in a limited role.

Felipe Luis will slot in at the vacant number three position allowing Azpilicueta to revert to his favoured right side. Perhaps Mourinho’s greatest coup is in bringing Cesc Fabregas to Stamford Bridge. He can control the midfield in the way that Lampard did in his prime and release the likes of Oscar and Hazard into more attacking roles. If Chelsea falter this season, there will be no excuses from Mourinho who has declared himself more than happy with his squad.

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Barcelona confirm Luis Suarez move to Camp Nou http://top-soccer.com/barcelona-confirm-luis-suarez-move/ http://top-soccer.com/barcelona-confirm-luis-suarez-move/#comments Fri, 11 Jul 2014 14:08:00 +0000 http://top-soccer.com/?p=5968 Originally posted on Top-soccer.com

Luis Suarez much anticipated move to FC Barcelona from Liverpool has confirmed by both clubs, after weeks of speculation about the Uruguayan future. The former Liverpool star is scheduled to…

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SuarezLuis Suarez much anticipated move to FC Barcelona from Liverpool has confirmed by both clubs, after weeks of speculation about the Uruguayan future. The former Liverpool star is scheduled to travel to Barcelona next week to sign a five year contract and to be officially unveil to the media and fans.

A statement from the FC Barcelona website reads:

“FC Barcelona and Liverpool FC have reached an agreement for the transfer of Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan will be travelling to Barcelona next week for a medical, to sign his five-year contract and to be officially presented to the media and fans as an FC Barcelona player.”

Similarly, Liverpool released its own statement confirming the player exit.

“Liverpool FC confirms that Luis Suarez will be leaving the club after a transfer agreement was reached with FC Barcelona. The player now has permission to complete the usual formalities, which will then conclude the transfer.

We would like to thank Luis for his contribution and the role he played in helping bring Champions League football back to Anfield. Everyone at Liverpool Football Club wishes Luis and his family well for the future.”

Suarez, who will now be the seventeenth Uruguayan player to play for FC Barcelona, will be given the number nine jersey joining the likes of Samuel Eto’o, Zlatan Ibrahimović and Alexis Sanchez the player who was sold to make way for the Uruguayan.

Click here to view the embedded video.

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Brazil in shock after 7-1 thrashing http://top-soccer.com/brazil-shock-7-1-thrashing/ http://top-soccer.com/brazil-shock-7-1-thrashing/#comments Wed, 09 Jul 2014 23:36:11 +0000 http://top-soccer.com/?p=5951 Originally posted on Top-soccer.com

While there was a general feeling that this Brazil team were not the greatest, few would have anticipated the dramatic collapse that unfolded in their semi-final clash with Germany. The…

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David Luiz and captain Thiago SilvaWhile there was a general feeling that this Brazil team were not the greatest, few would have anticipated the dramatic collapse that unfolded in their semi-final clash with Germany.

The loss of Neymar to injury and Captain Thiago Silva to suspension weakened a team that had failed to impress in previous rounds. David Luiz, the subject of a £50million transfer from Chelsea to PSG before the World Cup, took over the captaincy and was in confident mood following his spectacular free-kick in the quater-final victory over Colombia.

The team had vowed to win it for Neymar and they sang the national anthem proudly ahead of the biggest match of their careers. Brazil were on top in the early skirmishes but the game changed with virtually Germany’s first attack. Luiz inexplicably allowed Thomas Muller time and space from a corner kick and he gleefully accepted the gift, slotting the ball home to put the Germans in front.

Brazil’s reaction to falling behind was that of a headless chicken. Whatever game plan that Phil Scolari had devised was replaced by something usually seen on the school playground. Luiz and Marcelo seemed to believe that they were given the freedom to roam, charging at the German backline more in hope than expectation.

They may have got away with this approach against a lesser side but not Germany. To the well organised German machine, Brazil were like lambs to the slaughter. Without Neymar, their attacks had no real purpose and frequently came up against a stone wall. With Luiz and Marcelo left high and dry, Germany could break at speed and rip the Brazilians apart.

This they did with glee, scoring four goals in six minutes to rack up an astonishing 5-0 half-time lead. The goals were not spectacular but they didn’t need to be. Germany had got behind the Brazilian backline and could virtually pass the ball into the net.

The game was long gone by half-time and the second half was an embarrassment for all concerned. Even the Germans seemed embarrassed at the plight of their opponents and hosts but could not resist adding another couple of goals. Had Ozil not wasted yet another opportunity, the final score would have been 8-0 and not 7-1 with Oscar scoring almost apologetically on the breakaway.

It is the first time that Brazil has ever lost a World Cup semi-final and matches their heaviest defeat of all time. Had they lost 1-0, they would be lamenting the absence of Neymar. Instead, they are now looking at rebuilding a team that was always struggling to live up to its name.

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Oscar scores consolation goal for Helpless Brazil in 7-1 defeat to Germany http://top-soccer.com/oscar-scores-consolation-goal-helpless-brazil-7-1-defeat-germany/ http://top-soccer.com/oscar-scores-consolation-goal-helpless-brazil-7-1-defeat-germany/#comments Wed, 09 Jul 2014 01:20:52 +0000 http://top-soccer.com/?p=5926 Originally posted on Top-soccer.com

After watching this Brazilian team played Mexico in the group stages and Chile in the quarter-finals, one could’ve easily guessed Brazil luck would soon run out. In both games the…

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David Luiz

After watching this Brazilian team played Mexico in the group stages and Chile in the quarter-finals, one could’ve easily guessed Brazil luck would soon run out. In both games the house nation was tested by opposition with real quality and they barely passed the test, given that the scores could’ve gone against them in either matchup.

Today’s 7-1 lost against Germany just further revealed that this team wasn’t cut out to be world champions as Andre Schurrle demonstrate below how much of an unorganized unit the team is.

Sure, missing star player Neymar and captain Thiago Silva means a lot but even with both players present this game had Germany name written all over it.

Andre Schurrle

The Selecao manage to pull a consolation goal back through Chelsea midfielder Oscar, who produces a fine finish to save them from further humiliation. The goal is probably the most meaningless of his young career and one he might not want to remember.

Oscar Goal

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Watch Argentina’s Coaching Staff touchline reaction during Argentina vs. Belgium http://top-soccer.com/argentinas-coaching-staff-touchline-reaction-argentina-vs-belgium/ http://top-soccer.com/argentinas-coaching-staff-touchline-reaction-argentina-vs-belgium/#comments Sat, 05 Jul 2014 18:56:16 +0000 http://top-soccer.com/?p=5910 Originally posted on Top-soccer.com

Miguel Herrera of Mexico may be the most animated coach of all the 32 teams that takes part in this summer’s World Cup, but this cameo from Argentina coach Alejandro…

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Miguel Herrera of Mexico may be the most animated coach of all the 32 teams that takes part in this summer’s World Cup, but this cameo from Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella seems to beat out all the Mexican touchline antics so far.

Alejandro Sabella Faint

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