92 clubs favourite players – Liverpool – Jose Enrique

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.
Jose Enrique
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.

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92 clubs favourite players – Everton – Seamus Coleman

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.
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?

Who is better Ashley Cole or Leighton Baines?

The left back spot for England has been one of those positions that in the last 10 years nobody has questioned who should play there.

But in recent months in particular that has changed with the form of Leighton Baines who has arguably been the best left back in the country for a number of seasons now. However, the problem is he is behind Ashley Cole who even though he is now 32 is still one of the best and most consistent fullbacks in world football. This is the first time that Cole has faced serious competition since he became an England regular. There have been other players that have been included in England squads that can play in the position but to most people they weren’t good enough to replace Cole. By this I mean players like Wayne Bridge, Stephen Warnock, Nicky Shorey and more recently Kieran Gibbs. Two of these players, Bridge and Warnock now play in the Championship and unfortunately their careers have gone downhill very fast. Finally Leighton Baines is getting the credit he deserves and there is a very good chance he could become the top English left back.

I am certainly not writing off Ashley Cole but I think that after he has won hiss 100th cap he may struggle to pick up many more caps from the starting line up after his recent outbursts against the FA. However, Roy Hodgson may not care about this and keep him as first choice at least until after the next World Cup. Not that this would be a bad thing as he is still a fantastic player both going forward and defensively. He may not get many goals or assists but he always makes himself available and lets the player in front of him cut inside and this has no doubt let Eden Hazard and Juan Mata be more creative in the middle of the pitch. Nobody would be annoyed or be against Cole being England’s left back for a few more years yet.

Cole has 99 caps for England

Cole has 99 caps for England

However, if a change was to be made I don’t think anyone would be against Leighton Baines becoming England’s left back for the rest of qualifying and the next World Cup. The 28 year old has 13 caps so far and already has more goals than his rival for the position and if Hodgson wanted a different option for taking set pieces then Baines would be perfect to have on the pitch. This season he has six goals in 27 games and has been arguably one of the best players in the Premier League even though he may not get as many plaudits as he deserves. If he could replicate his partnership with someone at international level like he does at club level wit Steven Pienaar then it will be very profitable for England. His goal against West Brom just proved how clever he is and his composure on the ball is fantastic. Plus, he can also take penalties and everyone in the world knows how bad England are at them.

Baines scored against Moldova

Baines scored against Moldova


So who would you choose?

Game, Team and Player of the Weekend

The Premier League kicked off this weekend and there is a lot to talk about but as from now after every weekend, I am going to decide on my game, team and player of the weekend. It will be difficult to narrow it down but I will try.

So onto the first thing, team of the weekend. This could go quite a few ways, should I give it to Swansea City under new manager Michael Laudrup, who destroyed QPR away from home 5-0 after being tipped as one of the teams to struggle this year (although it has only been one game and that may still be the case). Maybe, Fulham deserve it as they also won 5-0 against Norwich City, under difficult circumstances with their main man from last season Clint Dempsey not wanting to play. Although impressive, I have decided to go with Everton as they performed wonderfully and beat Manchester United 1-0. Everyone in their team played their part with Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin phenomenal at the back, Steven Pienaar and Marouane Fellaini causing problems from midfield and up front Nikica Jelavic worked his socks off. They may not have scored as many as the others but they certainly created a lot of chances and even hit the bar a couple of times. Defensively they didn’t put a foot wrong and each one of them, Jagielka, Distin, Baines and Hibbert all get at least nine out of 10 from me. It is a great start to the season for them but they must play like this in every game if they want to finish in the top six.

Player of the weekend is another tough one to choose as all of the teams that were in contention for team of the weekend obviously had stand out players. Michu obviously grabbed the headlines for Swansea and rightfully so, I don’t even think in his or his manager’s dreams his debut would have went that well. He grabbed two goals, one with a little assistance from QPR goalkeeper Robert Green and the other a fantastic finish. Mladen Petric also had a debut to remember by also scoring two goals but one of these took a massive deflection, however he has opened his account for the team so that will give him the confidence to push on and get more. He showed nice touches round the edge of the box and looks like he can create goals for others too. Hatem Ben Arfa of Newcastle United deserves a mention because he won the game for his team by winning and scoring a penalty, but he offered a lot more than just that with many mazy runs and great skills which forced the Tottenham players to bring him down. Yet another Premier League debutant is also a contender in Eden Hazard who in the first seven minutes of Chelsea’s game with Wigan Athletic showed why most clubs in Europe wanted him. Hopefully, he will show a lot more of that in the future. But, the winner for me has to be Marouane Fellaini who scored the winner for Everton, as I have already mentioned the whole of the backline got 9’s but this guy got a 10 and was fantastic from start to finish. He won everything in the air against both Michael Carrick and Nemanja Vidic, and was simply unplayable at times and he is definitely looking like he could have his best season yet in an Everton shirt. I prefer him to play in a more attacking role so he can do exactly what he did against Manchester United.

Game of the weekend isn’t quite as tough I don’t think, because 5-0’s are good but I would like a game to be less one sided and as I have said Everton played fantastically but Manchester United definitely weren’t great and couldn’t get out of first gear. So, my game of the weekend is Manchester City versus Southampton. The away side almost came away with a very unlikely win never mind just a point, after going 2-1 up but unfortunately couldn’t hold onto their lead and ended up losing 3-2. Both teams played the game in the right way and kept the ball on the floor and tried to pass through the opposition. When Carlos Tevez was brought down in the box for a penalty, I thought that was it for Southampton but Kelvin Davis managed to save David Siva’s penalty and there was renewed optimism, however, this didn’t last long as Tevez then did put City ahead. Game over? Not quite as sub Rickie Lambert scored with a fantastic finish and all of a sudden the momentum switched, and when fellow sub Steven Davis put them 2-1 up with an equally good finish, there was a feeling of worry growing round the stadium. But, just as he did against QPR on the last day of last season Edin Dzeko managed to get an equaliser, leaving enough time for Samir Nasri to fire home the winner. Good start from both teams but I think Nigel Adkins will be the happier of the two managers.

Which teams, players and games impressed you this weekend? How did your team do, were there any standout players?

Who will Leighton Baines play for next season?

Everton left back Leighton Baines is being linked with a move away from Goodison Park this summer but would a move be good for him?

Baines has eight caps for England

The 27 year old has been one of the best fullbacks in the Premier League for a number of years now and I am quite surprised he hasn’t been snapped up by one of the teams in the Champions League but this summer could finally be the time when he leaves Everton. He has played 202 games for the Merseyside club and scored 15 goals in his five years at the club which just shows how consistent he has been. Defensively he is rarely caught out even though he isn’t the quickest as his positioning and anticipation are both very good but it is offensively that he is at his best. He is able to put in quality crosses on a consistent basis and provides support for his winger. Baines is vital to the team because he provides a lot of the width with whoever plays on the left usually likes to cut inside which means he has to always be an option. I don’t think he should leave Everton because they are a good team with one of the best managers in the Premier League and they have been close to winning trophies in the last couple of years and I think they could finish in a European place next season.

But if he does decide to leave, I don’t think the Everton fans should be too upset and angry at him as the only clubs that he would realistically leave for will be in the Champions League year after year. So the reason he would leave would be ambition rather than for money reasons in my opinion. He is most heavily linked with Manchester United who at the moment will be unwilling to pay the fee that is being reported but may be forced to if they want their man. After letting Fabio join QPR on loan it is clear they do need another left back and Baines is one of the best around and they want to topple neighbours Manchester City next season so they will have to recruit the best. It would be a great move for the player himself and may give him more of a chance of becoming England’s first choice left back. However, will he want to play second fiddle to Patrice Evra and if he can’t get enough game time then this move will be a waste of time. The other possibility is that he is being brought into replace Evra who in my opinion hasn’t been at his best for a number of years now.

Another club that should be interested is Arsenal because they need strengthening at left back in my opinion with Kieran Gibbs still looking a little suspect when defending and Andre Santos not much better. He would certainly add more composure to the defence and give them a lot more stability over on the left hand side. Whether Arsene Wenger will be willing to pay over £10 million for him though is another question but with the possibility of him having extra funds because of the expected departure of Robin Van Persie he may want to strengthen his defence.

Ten years at Everton for David Moyes

David Moyes has reached a landmark that not many others do in modern day football and he deserves every bit of praise that he receives.

For 10 years he has been at Everton and has taken them to the FA Cup final and also to Champions League qualification. Who could have imagined this when he first took charge? Especially when at times in his reign he has been given very little money and had to replace players with cheaper options who he has made into very good Premier League players. Tim Cahill is one of these who owes his Premier League career to Moyes and he has served club and manager brilliantly. At the time of his signing a lot of clubs were looking at him but Moyes took a chance on him and he has repaid the faith with eight years loyal service and scoring many important goals.

Moyes became Everton manager on the 14th March 2002

Sometimes in football the stats do lie though and I believe the Scottish manager has been overlooked for arguably bigger jobs because of his win percentage which is surprisingly only 41.74%. But during this time he has got Everton into Europe on four occasions and in the last two seasons came very close to getting the team there again. But his real skill is in the transfer market, yes he hasn’t got them all right but nobody ever will, just looking at the players he has bought, when he signed them they were not necessarily household names but after a season or two they were considered some of the best in the league. Mikel Arteta is one of these who not many had heard of but he was vital in the way the team played and this led to speculation that he could leave the club which he eventually did when he joined Arsenal. Steven Pienaar is another great example of this.

He also doesn’t mind giving players a chance for example he signed Joleon Lescott and in my opinion he would not be at Manchester City if it wasn’t for the Everton manager because he took a chance on him even though he had never played a Premier League game. Leighton Baines is another, as well as Phil Jagielka. The lists just go on for him and his success far out way his disappointments in the transfer marker, even the experienced players he has brought in have made a positive impact, a lot of people may not have thought the Phil Neville signing was going to be good but his versatility has proved vital over the years and Tim Howard who was deemed a failure in the Premier League but was given another shot and he is arguably one of the best keepers in the league.

Finally, Moyes does not only rely on transfers, he is very good with the youth team, when they bring a player through he treats them right and does not let the spotlight get on them too much. When Wayne Rooney burst onto the scene it would have been easy for the pressure to get to him but Moyes didn’t allow that and I hope that Rooney realises one day how much Moyes did for him. You can add Jack Rodwell and Ross Barkley to that list as well.

It is remarkable looking back at his Everton career because there are so many positives in everything he has done but how different it could have been if he got sacked after finishing 2003-4 season in 17th place. But the board stuck with him and well done to them too. He three time LMA Manager of the Year and eight time Premier League manager of the Month will no doubt continue to do a very good job at Everton and I also believe he is one of the reasons why Everton are a lot of football fans ‘second team’ and this cannot be a bad thing for the club on a whole.