The story follows Johnny Klebitz who was seen on several occasions during the original GTA IV and was an interesting character. However, I feel that maybe he was not quite interesting enough to be the main character. He is second in command of the biker gang and the first half of the game is a power struggle between him and the leader Billy. Although it is a fine storyline at times it feels like it was rushed and not developed enough. But it seems like an Oscar worthy entry compared to the horrible subplot between Johnny and on-off girlfriend Ashley which is just very annoying.
The graphics are pretty similar to GTA IV as you would expect but it is a little darker than the original and for some reason it doesn’t seem as interesting to wander around the city and discover things. But there is nothing wrong with the graphics and they did not need to improve much on this area. The characters all have distinctive looks and there is even a cut scene that features a naked male and you get to see everything, I don’t know if this is impressive or not but it is definitely a first.
This is one area where it did definitely improve on GTA IV. Rockstar made riding bikes fun as they are now easy to handle and it takes a lot more to fall off. With the main character being in a gang I thought it was a cool idea to be given the option to use other members whenever you want. During missions you can call for help and your club come running. Plus they gain experience through fighting and so it is actually worthwhile trying to keep them alive but if they do die they get replaced by a newer member who starts with zero experience.
The game takes around 8-10 hours to complete which is not a bad length but I feel that they could have made it longer to make it more enjoyable. Throughout the game there are a lot of things to do such as 25 gang wars and races etc. The gang wars are fun but I just don’t see anyone replaying them several times just like the main story. But if you want to just mess about then it is a better choice than GTA IV because of the cooler weapons.
It is a decent game that I’m sure many will enjoy but for me it just lacked something in the storyline to make it special. Although I did thoroughly enjoy my time playing the game I did not connect with the characters and was not intrigued by the storyline. The voice acting is outstanding as always on a Rockstar game and this is one area where you will never be let down. It was also nice to see a few cameo appearances from the original characters such as Niko and Roman. It is definitely a game that is worth playing and even though the story isn’t great it makes up for it by having much improved gameplay.
Manchester City have a fantastic squad and will be hoping that under Manuel Pellegrini they can compete both in the Premier League and in Europe.
At home so far this season they have been very impressive on the whole but their away form has been suspect and if they are to be successful they will need to improve. All throughout the squad they have quality and it is difficult to choose my favourite player. Their captain Vincent Kompany is one of their most important players and could easily have been the one I chose and they have a number of midfielders that I love watching like Yaya Toure and David Silva but the player I like the most is Sergio Aguero.
Aguero is arguably the best and most in form out and out striker in the world right now and will always have a place in City’s fans hearts after scoring that dramatic winner against QPR in the last minute to win the title. This is probably the best moment ever in the Premier League and it could not have fallen to a better player. Jumping to this season he has already scored 13 goals in 13 games including five in four Champions League games to help lead his team into the knockout rounds of the competition which they have been desperate to achieve for years now.
When new players come into the Premier League there is always the argument that they need time to settle but not Aguero he has hit the ground running and has been pretty consistent and is a menace to opposition defences in every single game. To me he is undroppable, if Pellegrini has any sense he will put Aguero’s name first on the team sheet. This is harsh on his fellow strikers but will Edin Dzeko or Alvaro Negredo be able to score as consistently? I really like both of them but they are not in the same class as the Argentinean. You cannot argue with 43 goals in 73 league games.
What makes Aguero even more special in my opinion is that he always turns up for the big games and this is what separates him from most other players in the world, especially those that score a lot of goals because they get a lot of their goals against the ‘lesser’ teams in the league. Just look at his record against teams that are competing directly with City. While in Spain against Barcelona he scored six goals in 11 games. Against Chelsea five goals in nine games and Manchester United five goals in six games.
Looking at his international career he has scored 19 goals in 44 games which is not bad at all and he will be hoping that at the next World Cup in Brazil he, along with Lionel Messi can get the goals to win the trophy. Aguero is only 25 and will get better and better and is closing in on 200 career goals and if he stays at City he will definitely get to 100 Premier League goals in the next few seasons.
Liverpool have had a great start to the season and they will be hoping this is the year that they begin to challenge for a place in the Champions League.
They have one of the best strikeforces ever seen in the Premier League with both Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge playing some brilliant stuff and looking like a better partnership every time they play together. Add this to some exciting midfielders like Coutinho and Victor Moses they really do look like they will score goals in every game. They still have the main man in midfield Steven Gerrard who has had to change his game in recent seasons and I think he will be even more determined to do well after recent comments made by Sir Alex Ferguson.
But my favourite player for Liverpool is someone that I feel has been largely underrated and that is their left back Jose Enrique. For me he is one of the best left backs in Europe and a lot of people are saying that Leighton Baines, Patrice Evra and Ashley Cole are better than him. In my opinion this is very harsh as I believe on his day (which is most games) he is better than all of them, none of them are as strong as him and he very rarely makes a mistake or is caught out of position. Going forward Baines does have a better final ball but sometimes his gung ho tactics leave his team in danger. As well as Baines played for England it was not a surprise that with him in the team they were getting caught on the counter attack quite a lot.
Back to Enrique and I think he gained a lot of praise from a lot of football people because he could have left Newcastle United when they were relegated and went back abroad but he held his hands up and realised he wasn’t good enough and helped them get back into the Premier League. This is what made him a better player and has given him the opportunity to play for a club that will be challenging at the right end of the table and for Liverpool he has rarely put in a bad performance. Out of all the Kenny Dalglish signings he was by far the best and one that they paid a good price for and he lived up to it. But it is under Brendan Rodgers that he has improved even further sometimes playing as a left back and other times as a left wing back he was contributed eight assists in 43 games which isn’t a bad record at all.
It a shame that he has never even been given the opportunity to play at international level for Spain especially when you consider that before Jordi Alba came on the scene it was one of the few weak spots the team had. Unfortunately I do not think he will get the chance but I do not understand that at all. He has proven himself as a brilliant left back in England and could have been their number three for many years to come.
Hull City have done quite well so far this season and under Steve Bruce they have a great chance of avoiding relegation this year.
They are certainly not a team of superstars but they work very hard and they have seemed quite organised and this has meant that after eight league games they have picked up 11 points and are currently sitting in ninth place. They made some good signings in the summer that added Premier League experience to the squad including Steve Harper, Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore. But my favourite player of the current squad is arguably the most exciting player to watch and is someone that when he is on the pitch will cause Premier League defences problems as he has already shown.
That man is Sone Aluko who already has a goal and two assists in his eight league games this season so he is showing that he can cut it at this level. It was a real shame when he got injured part way through last season and it did show as the team did not look as threatening and in the end it almost cost them automatic promotion. Eight goals in 23 games was a good return for someone that usually plays out wide but with his pace and directness it is not a surprise that Hull City are a better team with him in the side and if they are to be successful this season they need to try and give him as much of the ball as possible.
Aluko did start his career in England but it was over in Scotland where he made his name and although his record does not seem too great at Aberdeen where he only scored 12 goals in 118 games, he showed enough quality for Rangers to take a chance on him, although it is worth noting that he did also assist 21 goals at Aberdeen so he was involved in 31 goals at the club. But it was at Rangers when he went to the next level and 12 goals in 23 games showed his qualities and another five assists for them was impressive. I think he would have got even better at Rangers but unfortunately he could not continue his career there because of the club’s much publicised financial problems, so he got a move to England and gaining promotion in his first season must have been a great feeling for him personally.
Steve Bruce was the man that took a chance on him and there must be some trust between the two of them because Bruce was in charge when Aluko was a young player at Birmingham City and gave him a chance in their first team. Aluko is still only 24 and will continue to get better and I am glad that he is getting the chance to show his ability in the top division in England and it would not surprise me if he was linked with a move away from Hull in the next few transfer windows if he keeps developing.
Fulham have not had the greatest start to the season but that does not mean they have a poor squad and I expect them to get better and Martin Jol to guide them to safety.
They have experienced players that have played at the highest level and a lot of talent in their squad including Dimitar Berbatov, Adel Taarabt, John Arne Riise and Scott Parker. But even though I do like these players and think they are brilliant footballers, the player I have decided to choose is central defender Aaron Hughes.
This may seem like a strange choice at first but personally I do not think there has been a more consistent player in the Premier League. Over the years he has not grabbed any headlines but he has also not made many mistakes which a lot of the top defenders strive for. The 33 year old has had a good career and it has got even better since joining Fulham and having one of the most underrated central defender partnerships with Brede Hangeland. They are one of the main reasons why some believe they overachieved and under Roy Hodgson got to the final of the Europa League. Hughes helped the club have a great home record and even though in recent years it has not been the greatest they are usually very consistent at Craven Cottage and even the bigger teams struggled to get results there.
It is not surprising to me that when he is not in the starting 11 Fulham look shaky at the back and it was a similar story when he was younger at Newcastle United. While at Newcastle he played all across the back four and occasionally in midfield. He also played in a Uefa Cup semi final but unfortunately for him and the team they ran into Didier Drogba who was on top form and unstoppable. I was very surprised when they sold him because Newcastle are famous for having some pretty bad defenders that make a lot of mistakes and he was always the one that put in good performances. But for whatever reason he left the club and joined Aston Villa and it didn’t quite work out for him there but he was first choice in his first season at the club.
I do feel sorry for him on the international stage because Northern Ireland have never looked like qualifying for a tournament and even though he has over 50 caps he would have maybe hoped for more. However he has been involved in some historic wins for his country and will obviously be proud to have played so many times for his country.
In his career he has not scored many goals and only got seven club goals in his career and they include goals against Manchester United, Everton, West Ham United, Southampton, Sheffield Wednesday, Norwich City and Dnipro. Maybe for a centre half that went forward for a lot of corners he should have scored more however this is not what he will be remembered for and unfortunately for him he has never got the recognition his talents have deserved.
Everton are a very likable club and they have some good footballers and now under Roberto Martinez they have changed their style and at the moment are playing some wonderful football.
I hope they do very well under Martinez and they can back into Europe but that means it is very difficult choosing my favourite player from their team. I could have chosen someone like Leighton Baines who has arguable been the best left back in the country over the last few years or maybe someone like Steven Pienaar who has proven that he plays his best football at the club. But I have decided to go with someone that I feel has been the most improved player over the last few seasons and that is Seamus Coleman.
The right back was in and out of David Moyes team for a number of years but now it finally seems that he is getting the opportunity to be first choice consistently and is benefitting from it. The 24 year old has improved his defensive work so much in the last 12 months he is simply too good to drop and with this new style of play being brought into Everton it is important that the full backs get forward and support the front players. He has a lot of pace and his final ball is also improving every time he plays and I am sure he will start getting more assists as the season progresses. He does already have one goal in the Premier League so far this season so he will certainly be looking to add to that. Coleman has played 87 Premier League games now and with 10 assists and five goals he is certainly a full back that needs to be watched when he flies forward, but sometimes stats do not tell the whole truth and because of how attacking both him and Baines are on the other wing it allows the wingers to tuck inside and help out the main striker more so more chances will be created for teammates just simply by his positioning.
Coleman’s international career with Republic of Ireland has not quite taken off yet but hopefully the new manager will recognise his talents and use him to the best of his abilities but so far he has gained 17 caps and will be hoping to add a lot more to that tally.
A few years ago I actually likened him to Gareth Bale (when he was playing at left back) and thought they were similar sorts of players, obviously Bale went onto play a lot higher up the pitch and become one the most expensive player in world football. I do still stand by my comments to a certain extent because I feel that they could both take on players with ease and should have been playing higher up the pitch to cause more damage to the opposition but Coleman has now transformed himself into a very good right back with the potential to become one of the best in the Premier League so he and his coaches deserve a lot of credit for that.
Is Coleman already one of the best right backs in the league? Who is the best?
Crystal Palace are back in the Premier League and they will be hoping to last longer than they did the last time and under Ian Holloway they should be entertaining.
The player I have chosen as my favourite is someone that a lot of people will have heard a lot about because he certainly has an incredible story and one that will be mentioned basically every time he is on the pitch. Dwight Gayle has had an incredible rise and for someone that was playing in League 2 at the start of the last season probably did not think he would start a league game at Old Trafford this season.
At Dagenham and Redbridge last season he started impressively and was probably just happy to be a player in the Football League. He scored seven times in 18 league games and even though he was only their for half a season, the goals he scored and points he gained for the club arguably kept them in League 2. John Still was the manager at the time and he was very good at picking up talent from non league football and turning them into good footballers, he certainly helped a lot in his development and I’m sure will be proud.
He then decided to move on and joined Darren Ferguson’s Peterborough United where he got better and better and was soon getting more headlines for his performances. I personally felt that this was a great move for him because like Still, Ferguson has been able to pick up players, particularly strikers and make them better and then eventually make a profit on them when they finally leave. But I don’t think even Ferguson expected him to get a move to the Premier League and because they got relegated to League 1 at the end of the season he probably felt he could not stand in his way even if he does eventually end up just playing Championship football next season. Gayle did try his best to keep Peterborough up and 13 goals in 29 games proves that he certainly is good enough for that level but the big question is whether he can make the step up once more.
I do feel that he will end up back in the Championship and Crystal Palace overspent on him but he will give them a great opportunity to get promoted at the first time of asking. I was very happy to see him get first goal in the Premier League against Sunderland and even though it was only a penalty he had to put it away and with it being such a crucial moment in the match it showed me that he has the mental strength to be able to compete at the top level.
Ian Holloway will hopefully get the best out of him and let him express himself but he has been criticised so far by how he is playing him because he is getting pushed out wide a little more than he would want and maybe that is why he hasn’t quite had the chances to prove his worth but I do hope he manages to get double figures in the Premier League.
If I had chosen to do this last season then there would not have been a problem with my selection for my favourite Chelsea player but things have changed over the summer.
The man that I enjoy watching the most is Juan Mata but unfortunately for me and a lot of other football fans Jose Mourinho isn’t giving us the opportunity to watch his talents on a regular basis. For one reason or another the Chelsea boss has decided he has better options in his squad and completely disregarded last season. Mata was in my opinion the best player in the Premier League last year and yes I am one of the few that believe he was better than Gareth Bale. In his 35 league games last year he got 11 goals and 17 assists which makes it even more remarkable that Mourinho doesn’t select him week in and week, and in total for both club and country last year in his 74 games he got 21 goals and 39 assists which means he was directly involved in 60 goals. It seemed like he was just going to get better and better but now that has all stopped and I have very rarely questioned the ‘Special One’ before but surely this is a massive blunder on his part. Yes he has multiple options to choose from but Mata has to be the first name on the team sheet for me, he is easily the most consistent of the attacking players.
His defensive side of the game has been questioned and if that is the reason he has been left out then maybe that is understandable but give the ball to Mata in the final third and chances will come and with Chelsea’s strikers not exactly hitting top form they need several of those at the moment. I am not going to say that the reason Chelsea have started slowly is because Mata has not been on the pitch but it is a factor that needs to be considered.
Mata at Chelsea needs to be given a role that Bale had at Tottenham, Cristiano Ronaldo has at Real Madrid and to a lesser extent Hatem Ben Arfa at Newcastle United. Just put him on the pitch and let him do whatever he wants, if you give him the ball your team will have a better chance of scoring simply because he is on the pitch. Will you be as solid defensively? No but sometimes you just have to say to these sorts of players go out there and enjoy what you are good at, taking players on, causing problems for the opposition defence and winning games of football basically on your own. This may sound like he is a ball greedy player but he has phenomenal vision and just look at his stats he clearly cares more about the ball ending up in the back of the net rather than scoring himself.
So the question is, should Mata be in the starting 11 every week? Has Mourinho got this one wrong? Does he now have to leave the club?
Cardiff City are playing in the Premier League for the first time and they have a few players that I do like and hope perform well but the man that I like the most at their club is Craig Bellamy.
He definitely splits opinion as a lot of people hate him because of the way he conducts himself on the pitch, always arguing with officials and usually having something to complain about. At times I feel this has slightly worked against him as he does have a bad reputation but when he is fully focused and has the ball at his feet even now defenders are worried and he will play a big part in whether Cardiff can stay up. Manager Malky Mackay has already commented that this may be his last as a player and I can see this being the case especially if they do stay up as he will have achieved what he always wanted to.
Unfortunately I do not think he has enough time to get to 100 Premier League goals in his career and this is down to the fact that he did something that not a lot of top players would do and that is dropping down a division to play for the club he supports. But he does still have 79 goals and that is a decent return for someone that has never been prolific, he has only ever it double figures in the Premier League on two occasions (once for Blackburn Rovers and Manchester City). But it is interesting to note that he may have actually became a better goal scorer when he modified his position and starting playing out on the left wing rather than the main striker. He was harshly treated at Man City in my opinion because he was one of their better players when he was on the pitch and then followed this up with an impressive second spell at Liverpool where he scored 9 goals in 33 games.
One of the few things missing from his career is trophies because he has played for big teams when they were competing and he only has a Scottish Cup with Celtic and the League Cup with Liverpool, he probably could have won something at Newcastle United but he should be remembered fondly by them while he was on the pitch because he scored some crucial goals for them, including some goals in the Champions League and that is a position their fans can only wish to be in again.
Bellamy will also be disappointed with his international career because Wales have never came close to qualifying and now that they are finally producing players that will give them the opportunity he is coming to the end of his career.
He is ending his career in the right way and winning the Championship last season will have been one of the best moments even though he only contributed four goals he was still a major asset and now in the Premier League I am sure teams would rather not see his name on the team sheet as on his day he will give players the run around.
The second of the 92 clubs I am going to choose my favourite player from is Aston Villa and they have been a solid team in the Premier League for a long time and have even qualified for Europe on several occasions.
The player I have chosen is someone that has been at the club through some tough times and also some good times and that man is Gabriel Agbonlahor. He has played for Villa under six different managers and has the achievement to have scored under every single one of them. This includes Kevin MacDonald, David O’Leary, Gerard Houllier, Alex McLeish, Martin O’Neill and now Paul Lambert. It was under O’Neill that he really started to show his potential by scoring 49 goals in 175 games and helping them to good finishes in the league. This season so far the goals haven’t been flowing for him but in his first five Premier League games he has assisted four goals and shown that he has had to adapt his game over the years from a central striker to a winger and he is still a massive threat to every team.
It did take him a few years to adapt to the new role after an impressive start to his career as a striker. In his first four full seasons at the club he scored double figures in all of these in the Premier League and now has 63 goals in the league all together and will be hoping that he can get into the elite group of players that has scored 100 goals in the Premier League in the coming years. Last year he returned to goal scoring form by getting 12 goals in all competitions and by linking up with Christian Benteke and Andreas Weimann he will get more opportunities to score and assist goals.
Personally I think Agbonlahor should have been given more chances in the England set up, he does have three caps and performed quite well in all of the games particularly in a win against Germany where he had a goal disallowed and caused real problems with his pace. Recently England have been struggling to find consistent wingers and front men which is why I cannot believe he hasn’t even been called up recently. His form is certainly better than Ashley Young and adds a lot more going forward than James Milner. Plus he has a lot more experience than Andros Townsend and Raheem Sterling and is still only 26 so he has a lot to offer.
He came through the Villa youth team so obviously the fans are going to like him a lot but something else that makes them love him is the fact that he has a brilliant record against one of their nearest rivals Birmingham City. Scoring four times in seven games in the Midlands Derby is a very good record and his performances have helped his side beat their rivals in five of the seven games you know the fans will have a lot of respect for your talents.
Who is your favourite player at Aston Villa? Does Agbonlahor deserve another chance on the international stage? Can Paul Lambert get the best out of Agbonlahor?