What will Wilfried Zaha add to the England squad?

Wilfried Zaha has been called up to the England squad and will hope to play some part in the game against Sweden.

Although, it is only a friendly it is a huge achievement for a Championship player to be called up and so far this season the Crystal Palace player has been in fantastic form and has caught the attention of manager Roy Hodgson. His club are flying in the league and now under new manager Ian Holloway he will be given even more chance to express himself on the pitch, as the former Blackpool man wants his team to be attacking and create chances. But, the big question is, does he deserve his call up?

A lot of people believe that he is good enough for the Premier League and has been linked with a lot of different clubs since making his debut in 2009. But, he has stayed at Crystal Palace and will be hoping that his and his current clubs form can continue and they can both play together in the Premier League. He has now played over 100 games for the club and in the last two seasons he has played over 40 games which a lot of players can only hope to play, especially at his age.

He will add something different to the England squad and will be a breath of fresh air which most England supporters have been crying out for. Too long have England fans had to watch mediocre and uninspiring performances and they now just want someone to get them off their seats which players like James Milner (who does a solid enough job on the wing defensively, but against opponents England should be beating, he should come nowhere near the first 11) and Theo Walcott (who has largely underperformed internationally since his hatrick against Croatia) don’t do often enough.

It would be far more exciting turning on an England game and watching Zaha and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on the wings then it would certainly make a lot of defences frightened and the England strikers would be expecting a lot of chances to come their way. For too long, England games have been a chore to watch and giving players like Zaha a chance will make fans a lot more optimistic about watching their country.

But why Zaha? Personally, I think he is one of the better English wingers and I am glad he has got a chance because it is more than likely that he will be a big star at club level and internationally. But, is the real reason they have called him up is to convince to sign him up for England instead of his country of birth Ivory Coast?

I don’t think this is the reason he got called up as Hodgson is now starting to give other players chances, such as Zaha and Everton’s Leon Osman and this can only benefit the national side. I hope he gets an appearance in Sweden and proves to everyone that he is a real talent, the only people that may not be happy are the Crystal Palace fans who will have to listen to even more transfer rumours about one of their star players.

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Players of the day- Yohan Cabaye and Andriy Shevchenko

England kicked off their European Championship campaign against France and co-hosts Ukraine took on Sweden in Group D.

The England fans were not the most optimistic before the game but afterwards they should be quietly confident they can beat both Ukraine and Sweden to qualify for the knockout stages. France had more of the ball and looked the more threatening but on the counter attack Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ashley Young and Danny Welbeck caused problems for the French defence. Joleon Lescott scored the opening goal from a fantastic Steven Gerrard free kick and this capped off an impressive first 30 minutes for the team. James Milner had went close after rounding the keeper but he could not finish but after the goal France took control. Samir Nasri grabbed an equaliser with a long range effort which Joe Hart arguably could have done better with. The second half was all France and Karim Benzema had two efforts from distance that needed saving.

Man of the match- Yohan Cabaye- The Newcastle midfielder ran the show and has added another couple of million pound to his price tag after such an impressive performance. He may not have stood out to some people as he didn’t take players on or get into really threatening positions but he kept the ball for his team and stopped countless counter attacks. He completed 43 of his 46 passes which is impressive by anyone’s standards and he certainly wouldn’t have looked out of place in the Spain side with his intelligent passes. He was unlucky not to score when his volley was just deflected wide but he was also lucky to escape without a booking as he did commit quite a few fouls.

Cabaye scored four goals in his first season in England

Co-hosts Ukraine are now top of the group after beating Sweden 2-1 and looking very impressive, they kept the ball brilliantly and very imaginative in some of their play. Wingers Yevhen Konoplyanka and Andriy Yarmolenko were impressive and they tried to take on their fullbacks and put crosses into the box. But it was Sweden who opened the scoring with a goal from the inconsistent Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He finished off a move he started, and it looked as though they would go on and win the game comfortably but Ukraine had other ideas. Two headers from Andriy Shevchenko changed the game around and it left Sweden desperate to find equaliser towards the end with Olof Mellberg and Johan Elmander missing very good chances.

Man of the match- Andriy Shevchenko- He was already a national hero and now he will be considered a god in his homeland. The striker showed his fantastic ability and his movement was second to none in the tournament so far, the way he got away from Mellberg for his first was wonderful and getting in at the near post was genius from the former Chelsea man. His best days may be past him but he showed that if he is given a chance he will put it away, so France and England need to make sure they don’t give him a sniff.

Shevchenko has scored 48 goals for Ukraine

Who will Salomon Kalou play for next season?

Just days after winning the Champions League Salomon Kalou has left Chelsea and is in search for a new club.

Kalou has scored 36 Premier League goals

The 26 year old has been at Chelsea since the 2006-07 season and scored 58 goals in 244 games for the club which isn’t a bad record for a player that was often used from the bench. In his first season, he played the most matches he would as he played 57 times and contributed nine goals as well as 10 assists. For the next four seasons he was very consistent and hit at least 10 goals, including the 2009-10 season when he got 12 goals in 36 appearances. But for some reason this season he never really got going and under Andre Villas-Boas he was rarely used. He only played 24 times and got five goals but one of these was very crucial as he scored the only goal of the game away to Benfica in the quarter final of the Champions League.

Maybe it is the right time for him to move on as he was getting used less often and maybe was behind Juan Mata and Daniel Sturridge in the pecking order for the two wide positions, especially in the Premier League. So if he wanted to stay at England where would he go? He could sign for London rivals Arsenal as they could fit his style of play. He likes to get the ball out wide and cut inside so he would do a good job for them on the wings but it may be difficult for him to stamp his authority on the team especially with the likes of Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain and new signing Lukas Podolski able to play in similar positions. He would definitely add another threat but he may not be happy as he may not be first choice but it would still be a good move in my opinion.

Tottenham Hotspur have also been linked with him and if they lose key players this summer in particular Gareth Bale they will need to replace them. At times in the season  just gone Spurs looked a little weak on the wings especially when Aaron Lennon got injured. Rafael Van Der Vaart looks a lot more comfortable playing in the hole behind the striker rather than on the wing so I think Kalou could be a very good signing for the club. He arguably has a better final ball than Lennon so could even take his place and with Bale on one side, Kalou on the other, Van Der Vaart and the main striker will certainly get a lot of balls to attack in the box as well as benefit from clever through balls.

Finally, Liverpool could be interested in signing him as they have looked poor in the midfield area this season with Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing not living up to their price tags and were in all honestly not good enough for Liverpool. He can play on the left or the right and would link up well with both of their strikers. He could feed off Andy Carroll’s knock downs and also combine well with Luis Suarez on the floor. With Dirk Kuyt’s future unclear he would be a fantastic replacement and score around the same amount of goals a season.

I think he should join Tottenham and help them secure a Champions League spot next season because I think they would be a good fit for each other and under Harry Redknapp’s guidance he could become an even better player.

Will Ryo Miyaichi be the next star of the Premier League?

Ryo Miyaichi has been getting a lot of praise since he joined Bolton on loan from Arsenal but now there are fears that he will run out of steam before the end of the season.

Miyaichi celebrating his goal against Millwall in the FA Cup

Since joining Bolton he has been a revelation and it is of little surprise that when he started playing, Bolton’s results started improving but manager Owen Coyle knows that young players need time and may not be able to play every game. But he was sublime in the big six pointer against Wolves where he helped his team to a 3-2 win. The 19 year old has now scored one goal and provided two assists for the club and he has just given everyone around the club a lift including the fans who now finally have a player that gets them out of their seat when he gets the ball which they have sadly been lacking this season. However, this may be a harsh assessment as they do have Martin Petrov who on his day can terrorise defences himself and Chris Eagles who has been a little in and out of the side but when he has played he has looked decent.

Miyaichi has only played in cup competitions for his parent club Arsenal so far and will be hoping that when he goes back at the end of the season he will have proved to Arsene Wenger that he is good enough for a place in his Premier League squad. They do currently have some good young wingers at the club in Alex Oxlade Chamberlain and Theo Walcott so he may find it difficult and may have to leave again on loan or permanently and I’m sure a lot of clubs in the league will be looking to take him on.

This is his second loan spell away from the club, with his first being at Feyernoord where he was quite impressive scoring three goals and getting five assists in his 12 games. On his debut he was given the man of the match which made the fans take to him straight away and label him ‘Ryodinho’ as he played like Ronaldinho did during his time at Barcelona when he was considered the best player in the world. Further praise was heaped on him as he was then called the Japanese Messi by their fans.

It is remarkable how quickly he has made an impact in the Premier League because in January people hadn’t really heard of him and now most full backs in the country will not be looking forward to playing against him. If he can replicate what Jack Wilshere did after his loan spell with Bolton then he will move onto bigger and better things and I just hope that his career doesn’t stall and if he isn’t getting the opportunities at Arsenal then he leaves as I want to see a lot more of him. I am sure the Bolton fans love him just like the Feyernoord fans did and if they stay up will want him to sign permanently.

Stuart Pearce’s first England squad

So Stuart Pearce has selected his first and possibly only England squad and the main surprises are the inclusion of Frazier Campbell and Tom Cleverley.

He knows both these players well from their time in the under 21s and will obviously feel they have the potential to step up and make a big impact on the international stage. However, both these players are just coming back from injury and although they have performed quite well, particularly, Campbell it does show a lack of experience and quality from Pearce. Surely they won’t be 100% at the minute so what is the point of taking them just to sit on the bench or not even be included in the squad. Pearce did comment saying that Campbell was a very good squad player and was a big character in the dressing room when he was in the under 21 squad. If the caretaker England manager believes that he will have the same effect in the full squad then he is sadly mistaken because no offence to the Sunderland striker but there are better players than him in the squad and I cannot imagine high profile players will have much time for him if he tries to take control of the group. The experienced players like Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney will take control and tell him what is expected and he will have to listen to them whereas in the under 21s there will not be as many big characters so he could control the group.

So maybe he has got a few selections wrong but at least he has brought Micah Richards back into the squad as he has been the best right back in the league and should have been our right back for years. I don’t think we have looked solid in that position since Gary Neville retired and Richards should have filled his boots but Capello obviously didn’t fancy him and preferred playing Glen Johnson who looks good going forward but is a very average defender. In the midfield he has basically done what all England managers have done and selected who he is expected to with him leaving out exciting players like Alex Oxlade Chamberlain and leaving the inconsistent Theo Walcott in his side. However, he has dropped Frank Lampard which to most England fans should be a fantastic thing because he has never really performed when it mattered and has been terrible at big tournaments. Add this to the fact that when he plays Steven Gerrard also underperforms, you have to wonder why he hasn’t been dropped sooner, maybe Andre Villas Boas has done England a favour by leaving him out of the Chelsea side.

In attack he has probably chose the right options with Rooney, Bent, Sturridge and Welbeck as they are the most in form and should probably be the four that go to the Euros. It will be interesting to see if he plays two up front because he will have to consider what he will do in the first two games of the Euros when Rooney is suspended.

The most worrying part about the England squad is the goalkeepers, if Joe Hart gets injured, England are struggling, Robert Green and Scott Carson are good enough for the bench but in a big tournament I would not trust them. All in all Pearce has not done what we expected, I was hoping he would bring in a lot of youth but no he has stuck with the players that have failed over and over again.

Fredrik Ljungberg’s next move

Fredrik Ljungberg wants to rejoin the Premier League after leaving Shimizu S-Pulse by mutual consent. He does not want to join any Premier League club either with him stating that he wants to join a team that will be challenging at the top of the table. Surely, this means he wants to follow in the footsteps of Thierry Henry because I cannot see Manchester City, Manchester United or Chelsea wanting to sign him as he is getting towards the end of his career.

Since leaving Arsenal he has not been able to settle anywhere having short spells at West Ham, Seattle Sounders, Chicago Fire and Celtic but can he still offer something in the Premier League. He possibly could give Arsenal a lift with them suffering a humiliating defeat against AC Milan, and he is still a very intelligent footballer and will be able to get himself into good positions, pace wasn’t his greatest attribute therefore he has always had to rely on other attributes to influence games.

If he got given a contract till the end of the season, he may be able to produce some moments of magic like Henry has done in his short loan spell but will it really be worth it for him and the club? Probably not because I cannot imagine he would start many games ahead of Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain so if he did play he would have to play as a central midfielder. Yet again, it’s unlikely that he will be able to get ahead of Aaron Ramsey, Alex song or Mikel Arteta in the pecking order, plus he is about the same level of Tomas Rosicky so he would most certainly be a squad player and at this late stage of his career surely he will want to play as many games as he can.

So if he wants to come back to England he has to look further down the league, I could see Liverpool possibly being interested to add a bit of experience to their squad but they do have quite a few midfielders already so he wouldn’t be guaranteed a start.

The team I think he is most likely to sign for is actually QPR because they will be able to guarantee him a game most weeks, with him playing on the right and Joey Barton playing in the middle. Also they could offer him a very good wage which will obviously interest him but will he want to be involved in a relegation battle.

I would like to see him back playing in England because when he is on form he was one of the very best in the league and scored some very important goals. The Swedish international was a key part of the Arsenal side which played some fantastic attacking football and if he can recreate these types of performance whoever he signs for have got a real player on their hands and may make a big difference to where the team finishes in the league.

Young guns save Arsene Wenger and Arsenal

When you go 2-0 down at home, you look towards your experienced players to get you back into the game but not at Arsenal, although Robin Van Persie, Tomas Rosicky and Theo Walcott all played in part in rescuing the game, all the plaudits should go to a young Englishman and a Young Welshman.

Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain may have saved Arsene Wenger’s job and kept Arsenal in the FA Cup because they both played brilliantly in the second half to get Arsenal a victory that looked very unlikely at halftime. I have been praising Ramsey all season as one of Arsenal’s best players this season and if it wasn’t for the incredible form of Van Persie he would have easily won the Player of the Year trophy at the club. He plays with football in the right way always wanting the ball to feet and most of the time plays it simple and just gives it to a teammate but he also has the quality to unlock defences with his driving runs and precise through balls. The Welsh captain has so much energy and covers the whole pitch in a game, he is a proper box to box midfielder and although he may not be the best at defending he is always prepared to get back and help out his defence. The goal that got Arsenal back into the game was from the penalty spot which Ramsey won after a clumsy challenge from Villa centre back Richard Dunne who was lucky to stay on the pitch. However, it was fortunate that Dunne flung himself into the tackle because Ramsey had taken a loose touch and the ball was trickling through to the goalkeeper.

On the wing Alex Oxlade Chamberlain impressed me yet again after a good performance against Manchester United. His willingness to take players on and commit defenders shows that he is not scared of taking on the Premier League and maybe Wenger waited too long to put him into the action as Andrei Arshavin has had a horrendous season. In my opinion he has an outside chance of making Fabio Capello’s squad for the Euro 2012 because he would give England some additional pace and seems quite powerful especially for someone quite young. Although the problem is he will have to get past Aaron Lennon, Theo Walcott, Ashley Young and Adam Johnson just to have a chance of getting in the squad. In my opinion he actually looks better than Walcott, it would be fantastic to see them in a straight race as they both have exceptional pace but I believe that Oxlade Chamberlain may possess a better final ball and in time will create more chances for teammates and score more goals.

Yes Van Persie needed to stay calm and composed to score the two penalties and Walcott did show some great skill for his goal even though it did just end up deflecting off him but the two young guns deserve more praise as even in the first half they looked the best players on the pitch. Wenger deserves credit too as his team talk must have inspired his troops and maybe even Thierry Henry had a role to play in the dressing room. This is the type of heart and desire Arsenal fans were expecting all season and they have got to hope that the players show this type of commitment for the rest of the season so they can end their long run without a trophy

Super Sunday- The verdict

So it was the Super Sunday Sky Sports billed it as, long gone are the days when viewers had to watch Chelsea and Manchester United battle out a 0-0 draw, we finally have goals to go with the best players in the league, but where to start, should Balotelli have even been on the pitch to score the last minute penalty? Are Spurs genuine title contenders? Is Welbeck the man to lead the England strike force at Euro 2012?

Well, I am going to start with Arsenal and has Arsene Wenger’s time at the Gunners come to an end? He made a strange decision today that actually cost his team which led to half the stadium booing the manager’s decision. He took off arguably the best player on the pitch in Alex Oxlade Chamberlain for Andrei Arshavin who failed to defend against Antonio Valencia properly and he eventually set up the winner for Welbeck. There is no doubt Wenger has been one of Arsenal’s greatest ever managers but the club haven’t won a trophy in years and are finally losing their grip on a top four place and are currently the second best team in North London which must hurt the fans more than anything. He has failed to invest in experienced players and the team looks short of quality with only Robin Van Persie, Aaron Ramsey and Thomas Vermaelen looking like top players on a consistent basis. Koscielny at the back has improved this season but still looks like he is prone to mistakes and yes Arsenal are struggling with injuries as was shown with Johan Djourou ripped apart by Nani in the first half and then being replaced by an 18 year old in Yennaris, yet Wenger still refuses to spend any money.

If Arsenal fail to finish in the top four then Arsene Wenger should step down if he is not sacked as he has done a fantastic job but the team is going backwards and therefore needs a change or Tottenham will leave them behind.

So onto Spurs, they performed admirably against Manchester City and deserved at least a draw against the team currently at the top of the table, doing this without their main striker this season Emmanuel Adebayor. But, Jermain Defoe played pretty well and has also made it known to Capello that he wants to be in the England squad this summer. He capitalised on a defensive error and rounded Hart with ease and always looked a threat throughout the game. Tottenham are most definitely title challengers because they have players like Gareth Bale who can rip apart any team in the world with his direct running and incredible pace, when the Welshman gets going he is hard to stop. His goal was sublime and no keeper in the world would have saved it and then he showed all of his abilities in the last few minutes to run rings round the City defence and then square the ball for Defoe who agonisingly missed the ball by inches. Seconds later Balotelli won a penalty and scored it but earlier in the game he probably should have been sent off for a stamp however the referee must not have seen it clearly as he stayed on the pitch and ended up winning the game. When they went 2-0 up they must have thought the game was up after David Silva had shown yet again that he is one of the best players in the league by putting Samir Nasri through with an inch perfect through ball that Nasri finished clinically. But champions win games when it’s not looking likely which has now happened twice in a row with the result against Spurs and the 1-0 win against Wigan.

However, do not discount Manchester United just yet, as they pulled off another victory when they weren’t at their best. The first half they were comfortable and looked like the only team in the game but in the second half when Arsenal picked up the game they had to defend stoutly and remain resilient which they did and if it wasn’t for Van Persie’s brilliance then they probably would have kept a clean sheet although that same player missed an absolute sitter after a mistake from Chris Smalling. The difference in the game was the manager’s decision making as Fergie’s changes changed the game positively for the team, firstly bringing on Rafael for the injured Phil Jones which allowed Valencia to be at the back post to put them ahead, then taking off Rafael for Park Ji Sung so Valencia dropped back to right back and set up the all important goal for United.

Welbeck scored the winner and his partnership with Wayne Rooney is starting to look really promising and this can only be a good thing for club and country. He was making a lot of runs behind the defence looking for through balls while Rooney was dropping deep and looking to slide it through for him. Maybe he won’t be top of the list to start at the Euros but he is definitely one for the future but if he keeps performing and scoring big goals he may just find himself in the starting 11.

At the end of the day it is Manchester 2-0 London and with the way things are looking this trend could continue for a while to come. However, it is refreshing to see all four of the top teams like to play attacking football and I think Tottenham under Redknapp will continue to improve and could possibly break Manchester’s dominance at the very top of the league and maybe even win the trophy. But if the England job becomes available will he stay at Spurs or answer the call from the FA? Will Tottenham be as good under a different manager?