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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Game, Team and Player of Matchday 4

Yet another weekend has passed and the league is now starting to take shape with the likely frontrunners being Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal and Manchester City. The bottom of the table is also one many expect it to be come the end of the season with Southampton propping up the table and Reading only just above them. But with Liverpool, Sunderland and Norwich still not tasting victory they are not too far away from the other teams in the league. However, Liverpool showed signs of improvement at the weekend and will not be down there at the end of the season.

Now onto team of the weekend and I would just like to say that the game at Goodison Park between Everton and Newcastle United was definitely a tale of two halves. If Everton had played the way they did in the first half for the full game they would have won the game comfortably, but then again if Newcastle had played the way they did in the second half they could have come away with all three points. But football is a 90 minute game and a team that did perform for most of the 90 was definitely Aston Villa who have been steadily improving under new manager Paul Lambert. They picked up a great point away to Newcastle and followed that up with against previously unbeaten Swansea City. It will be a morale boosting win and exactly what the club needed as a whole because a defeat would have been hard to take especially when they played so well. Along with the good result, Paul Lambert will be pleased that two of his summer signings Matthew Lowton and Christian Benteke scored their first goals for the club. But, the clear and deserved winners are Arsenal. The only disappointing thing about their game is that they conceded a goal after a mistake by Wojciech Szczesny. However, their impressive front line made easy work of Southampton and they could have had more than the six they did score. The goals came from Lukas Podolski, Gervinho and Theo Walcott and two own goals. A lot of people wrote off Arsenal and I still don’t think they will challenge for the title but they should have a great chance of finally winning a trophy. A word of warning though to Arsenal fans getting carried away, every season there is a score line like this at the Emirates and the players haven’t been able to maintain this kind of form in the bigger games.

Player of the weekend is a battle between the players that scored twice for their clubs in my opinion and they are Demba Ba, Jermain Defoe and Dimitar Berbatov. So, let’s start with the Fulham striker because when he is happy, he plays sensational football and at home in particular he will be a threat to every team. The way he took his first goal was sublime and the way he placed it was so casual that you can just tell that he does that sort of thing every day and doesn’t think anything of it. It wasn’t just his goals that was impressive, it was his movement and he just has a knack of finding space near the opponents goal. His ability has never been in doubt but he showed the Fulham fans that if they play to his strengths he will score and create chances for his teammates. Jermain Defoe is playing in a position that he is slightly unfamiliar and that is as a lone striker. Usually, a lone striker is someone that can hold up play and bring others into play but this is almost the opposite of what Defoe wants to do. As soon as he gets the ball, there is only one thing on his mind and that is to get a strike in on goal. Reading had no answer to his movement and could only watch on as he expertly finished two of his chances in their game. My player of the weekend though is Demba Ba and I know he only played 45 minutes but when a single player can change the fortunes of a team in that short space of time, he deserves a lot of praise. Within a few minutes of coming on he had got Newcastle level and they looked a completely different team and then when it looked like his team were going home with nothing he reacted brilliantly to a superb knockdown from Shola Ameobi and placed a shot underneath Tim Howard.

I think it is pretty obvious which game impressed me the most and got me the most excited but still there were some entertaining games, in particular the Arsenal game and the Tottenham games. Arsenal created chances at will and scored goals for fun and Tottenham followed suit a day later but couldn’t quite get as many goals. Both of the newly promoted teams also scored past them so that may give them confidence for the future, but they should probably put these games behind them and move on. So, my game of the weekend, Everton versus Newcastle, this game had absolutely everything, goals that should have been given and ridiculous refereeing calls, as well as goals and missed chances. The most entertaining few moments of possibly the whole season occurred during this game, Victor Anichebe got a header in on goal which goalkeeper Steve Harper tipped onto the bar with Mike Williamson clearing it, however the ball was over the line, but the referee and his assistants missed it which led to a counter attack for Newcastle which saw Hatem Ben Arfa running with the ball against one defender with Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse breaking either side of him making it a three on one situation. However, they were stopped in their tracks when the referee called the game back for a free kick on Ben Arfa even though he had regained his balance and was looking to beat the defender. Two very bad decisions in the space of about 15 seconds. A draw was probably a fair result even though both will feel they could have grabbed all three points. Plus, Everton had a goal disallowed for offside even though Marouane Fellaini was onside so they may feel slightly more annoyed by the result.

Do you agree with me? Who stood out for your team this week?

Will Theo Walcott leave Arsenal this summer?

All of the stories of players leaving Arsenal have been about Robin Van Persie not signing a new contract with only a year to go but Theo Walcott is also in the same position.

Walcott has played 243 games in his career scoring 47 goals

The winger has been forgotten about by a lot of people because of their former captains situation but the club probably don’t want to lose Walcott for free either so could he also be on his way this summer? It could be a possibility and I think Arsene Wenger may have been making plans for this anyway with the signings of Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud. They may have thought that Van Persie would sign a new contract and then there wouldn’t be much room for the England international with Gervinho another option for the Gunners. But this may have backfired on them massively as now Walcott may think that they are trying to make him sign a new contract because they have failed to convince their main man to sign on so he may feel as though he wasn’t really wanted and isn’t as important to the manager. Last season he was in decent form and it is quite surprising to me that they didn’t give him a new contract earlier with him scoring 11 goals and getting 13 assists in his 46 appearances last year.

He is sometimes hit and miss and his final ball definitely needs improving but I’m sure a lot of clubs would be very happy to have him in their squad. Liverpool have been linked with him the most and with the way they are expected to play under Brendan Rodgers he would fit into their system as he would be very similar to Nathan Dyer at Swansea City. Liverpool are in need of some wingers too with Stewart Downing largely underperforming for long periods last season and Craig Bellamy possibly on his way out of the club so Walcott could be a great purchase.

A little surprisingly Southampton have been linked with him and I actually could see this happening as they gave him his debut and played 23 times for the club at a very young age so maybe he would rejoin them and help them in their battle to avoid relegation. He may want to play in European competitions but maybe he would also enjoy being a big fish in a small pond and therefore somewhere that he knows would be the perfect option for him. If it did happen it would possibly be my favourite transfer of the summer because a few months ago if you said it would happen you would look crazy.

Finally, Chelsea could be interested in him as they seem to want to buy a winger with the constant speculation that they are trying to get Victor Moses. With it being reported that Wigan want between eight and 10 million they may switch their target as I think they will get Walcott for the same price and he has already played for a big club so he knows all about expectations and playing in the big games.

Who will Victor Moses play for next season?

Victor Moses’ future at Wigan Athletic is in doubt after a lot of interest in the winger over the last few months but the club are standing firm.

Moses has played 72 games in the Premier League

Manager Roberto Martinez clearly wants to keep him and owner Dave Whelan will not sell him unless it is right for the club which could well mean that Moses has to stay at the DW next season whether he likes it or not. I don’t think it would be a bad thing for him to stay as he has only had two full seasons in the Premier League and is only 21 so why not stay and get more experience which he would not definitely get at another club. Plus, if Wigan can build on their good end to the season they may not be in a relegation battle next season so it could be a good place to be. Moses only missed one Premier League game last season and he must enjoy being classed as one of their best players and maybe he should show some loyalty to the club as a lot of clubs were interested in him when he was at Crystal Palace but nobody else took the chance. Last season he scored six goals and got six assists which shows he does have the quality to be a success and would flourish at a top six club.

The main club chasing him are Chelsea who are reportedly putting in a final bid to test Wigan and it is believed to be around £7.5 million which may be slightly too much for him and Wigan may have to accept the offer. They may try and hold out for £10 million but if the final offer is true then I think they will accept if they get the chance to loan a player off Chelsea too. Moses shouldn’t join Chelsea and I hope current teammate Franco Di Santo tells him that first team opportunities are hard to come by and at this stage of his career he has to be playing games. I can’t see him playing ahead of Eden Hazard and Marko Marin so he would spend a lot of time on the bench.

Arsenal may be a better option for Moses as they are looking likely to lose Robin Van Persie this summer and Theo Walcott seems reluctant to sign a new contract so there could be a place up for grabs. Arsenal would have a lot of pace in their team if they could sign him and their front three would look very threatening with Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud. However, is Moses good enough to be first choice for a team that is competing in the Champions League and may be expected to challenge for the title?

So maybe he needs to be looking slightly lower down the table if he wants to leave and Liverpool could well be interested in him as they need a replacement for Dirk Kuyt. With Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing failing to deliver in their first season they definitely need more of a threat from a wide position. Rodgers likes to play 4-3-3 so he could easily fit into that formation but I think this transfer will all depend on Craig Bellamy’s future, if he leaves then Moses would be a great signing.

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

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.

Finally Capello does something good for England

The news that Fabio Capello has left England is probably one of the best bits of news England fans have had for years especially after the disaster of the last World Cup. He decided to stand by John Terry and what an awful decision that was, I don’t think he realised the seriousness of the situation. How many chances was he going to give Terry, he has had the captaincy taken off him once so surely he should never have given him it back.

But let’s not focus on the reason why he left but what he did while he was in charge. When he first took charge there was an air of optimism among the supporters as he came with a very good reputation and had won a lot of trophies as a club manager. However, on the other side of this most would have preferred an English manager and Capello didn’t help the situation by not even learning the language properly, once claiming that he only needed 100 words of English to tell his players what to do which surely shows that he did not even put his all into the job. When you get a big job in a new country the first thing you have to do is learn the language and connect with the fans.

He made a strange start to his managerial career at England by deciding to choose a different captain in his first few games. Why do this? Surely it would have been better and more decisive to name a captain and stick to it but no Capello wasn’t decisive so why did he do it? Was it to show that he was the boss and nobody can cross him, well it didn’t work and his players got away with a lot during his time and he at times didn’t know what to do at all.

In his first qualifying campaign, it was quite impressive by England winning all their games apart from a defeat away to Ukraine, including a 4-1 win away to Croatia with Theo Walcott scoring a hatrick. But this is when it all started going wrong when England played a pre World Cup game against Japan and only won because of two own goals which was an embarrassment because of how bad they played. Then we all know things got worse with a 1-1 draw against the United States after a mistake from Robert Green who Capello had chosen as number one for the tournament. I think he made another mistake here because he should have kept faith with Green or played David James in all the games, it just showed that he knew he made a mistake but then blamed the ball for the error saying it was impossible to control. A 0-0 draw against Algeria is one of the worst results in England’s history. The Germany game was a disgrace, yes Frank Lampard’s ‘goal’ should have been given but England deserved to go out and the 4-4-2 formation was not working yet, Capello didn’t change and playing Steven Gerrard on the left wing angered everyone.

He should have gone after the tournament but he stayed and in fairness to him, England have qualified for Euro 2012 although the group wasn’t the hardest. And he also led England to a 1-0 win over Spain but it was very lucky and England didn’t deserve the win.

So, Capello was getting paid £6 million a year and he has basically left us in the same position as when he was appointed, so he could be seen as the worst England manager in recent years. At least Steve McClaren was a cheap option. He had a win record of 66.67% but this isn’t saying a lot as in qualifying England played some terrible teams and not even fully professional teams so therefore it isn’t a fair reflection.

Let’s just get Harry Redknapp in and forget about these last few years. And let’s hope that John Terry does not get on that plane to the Euros.