Players of the day- Franck Ribery and Theo Walcott

Sweden are the second team to be knocked out of Euro2012 after their 3-2 defeat to England while France beat Ukraine.

The first game was suspended after the fourth minute because of terrible weather conditions and it eventually got under way almost an hour later. The first half saw both teams come close but neither could really take control of the game, although France had more of the possession they couldn’t quite carve the Ukrainian defence open. However, early in the second half the game was all but over after two goals in three minutes from Jeremy Menez and Yohan Cabaye. Both goals were finished off brilliantly after some wonderful passing. Cabaye deserved his goal and once again was sublime in the centre of the midfield and along with Andrea Pirlo, has been the most consistent player in the tournament. Ukraine had a few half chances but couldn’t find a way past Hugo Lloris in the French goal.

Man of the match- Franck Ribery- The Bayern Munich winger was in and out of the game but whenever he had the ball he frightened the life out of the Ukraine defenders. His pace was crucial in the first goal and he looked the most likely all through the first half to open the scoring. France’s other flair players were slightly disappointing in my opinion with Samir Nasri never getting out of first gear and Menez being very wasteful at times. Ribery was the one that added some much needed creativity to the game and outshone the rest.

Ribery made his international debut in 2006

England managed to beat Sweden in a thrilling game with both teams pushing forward for the win. Andy Carroll gave them the lead with a good header from an accurate cross from Steven Gerrard and England seemed in control without every really posing a threat. The second half was very different as the Swedes knew that defeat would mean they were eliminated from the competition and when Glen Johnson couldn’t clear an Olof Mellberg shot, they looked confident and were forcing the issue a lot more and then Mellberg once again popped up from a free kick to score a header. This left the England fans with a feeling of oh no not again but Roy Hodgson made a positive substitution and brought on Theo Walcott who scored with one of his first touches. Goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson should have done a lot better though. The winner was scored by Danny Welbeck who flicked in a Walcott cross with an inventive effort that not many other players would have been able to pull off or even try.

Man of the match- Theo Walcott- He may not have been on the pitch for that long but he changed the game and proved to be the difference between the sides. James Milner hadn’t been able to get much out of the fullback Martin Olsson but he looked awful against Walcott. His goal may not have been the best but at least he had a try and it lifted everyone. For the Welbeck goal he was vital as he picked up the ball and was very direct, driving at the defence and pulling the ball across for the Manchester United striker. He may not have been involved a lot but when he did have the ball he caused problems and maybe will get a chance to start in the next game.

Walcott now has four goal for England

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Would Jason Pearce be a good signing for Leeds United?

Jason Pearce is close to signing for Leeds United from Portsmouth as they look to rebuild their squad under new manager Neil Warnock.

Pearce as captain of Bournemouth

Leeds will be hoping to take advantage of Portsmouth who are resigned to losing their best players in the summer with them in financial problems and looking like they are going to be relegated to League 1. Pearce has been linked with a number of clubs already with Ipswich Town also looking to take the centre back but Leeds seems to be his next destination. But will he be good enough to help Leeds get promoted and who will leave Leeds to give him his chance in the squad?

Darren O’Dea has already been released from his loan spell early and has returned to Celtic. He had played 38 games for the club this season but Warnock obviously wasn’t a fan and believed he could get in better. Other players that I think should leave if Leeds do want to get promoted next season are Leigh Bromby who had a lot of potential when he was young player at Sheffield Wednesday but has never really lived up to his early career promise. Alex Bruce is another player that I think they should get rid of they want to progress, however he is quite a consistent player when he does play.

At home Leeds have conceded 39 goals which is a lot and it is no surprise that Warnock feels that he must improve this statistic at least and losing 10 games at Elland Road it must have been hard for the fans to take this year and it has probably cost them a place in the playoffs.

So will Jason Pearce have a positive impact on the team and would he be good enough for the Premier League if they do get promoted in the near future? He actually started his career at Portsmouth when they were in the Premier League but was unable to break into their first team however at the time they were an established Premier League side and would not have risked putting in a youngster. Pearce left the club to get some first team football and he went to Bournemouth where he was eventually made first team captain. He played 183 games for the club and scored eight goals. He was at the club during all of their financial difficulties and was vital in keeping them up and then eventually getting them promoted to League 1.

This season he has proved that he is a very good centre back at Championship level playing 41 games and scoring 2 goals. He will be vital for Leeds next season if he definitely signs for them which is looking extremely likely at the moment. It would not surprise me if he became club captain either because he is a very good leader and when his team really need him he will stand up and be counted which may have been missing at times this season for Leeds.

Aston Villa sign Australian international Brett Holman from AZ Alkmaar

Aston Villa have made their first signing for next season with Australian Brett Holman joining from Dutch side AZ Alkmaar.

The winger was out of contract in the summer so was allowed to speak to other clubs and the player stated himself that he knew all about Villa’s history and this is why he wanted to join the club. It is a signal of intent from Alex McLeish that he believes that the club will stay in the Premier League or he would not want to sign new players for the new season if he did not know which division they were playing in. Although he is not the biggest name in world football and he may not excite the Villa fans as much as a few other names that are usually thrown around in the summer, Holman is a very consistent player and always chips in with goals and assists.

This season could prove to be his best yet in Holland with him already scoring six goals and contributing another nine assists. He has played in Holland for quite a long time now and was originally brought over by Feyenoord but did not play a game for the club and was loaned out to Excelsior where he finally started to make an impact, although this was in the second tier, he was starting to make a name for himself. He then continued to progress when he joined NEC Nijmegen, scoring 15 goals in the two seasons he was at the club which is pretty good for a winger.

He is currently at AZ Alkmaar and won the league with them in 2009. Every season he has been at the club he has got better and better and they were trying to persuade him to stay for longer but the lure of English football was too strong for him. He also has 53 caps for Australia scoring eight goals.

Holman playing for Australia against Japan

Now the question is will he succeed in England? A lot of the players we see coming from Holland are strikers and they have had a mixed time of playing in English football. Starting with Ruud Van Nistelrooy who was fantastic and in my opinion if he had stayed at Manchester United for the rest of his career would have come close to becoming the all time top scorer in the Premier League. However, there have been some expensive flops, the one that springs to mind the most is Afonso Alves who scored 47 goals in just 39 games for Dutch team Heerenveen. He then joined Middlesbrough and was very poor only scoring 10 league goals in his two years at the club. In his defence when he first signed he did look very promising as he scored six goals in his first 11 league games but then faded away and was very poor afterwards.

Two others that have not exactly failed in England but haven’t exactly hit the heights are Dirk Kuyt and Luis Suarez. Both were fantastic goal scorers but know Kuyt is seen more as a wide player and gets his fair share from that position but not enough for a striker. Suarez has looked pretty good but yet again has not added the goals to his performances.

So it will be interesting to see how Holman adapts to the Premier League but he may not be the flamboyant player the fans wanted to see and definitely feels like an Alex McLeish signing. Someone that has a high work rate and will try and cover every blade of grass and maybe what Villa need is someone that is going to unlock a defence when the game is tight which has cost them a few times this season.