Game, Team and Player of Matchday 3

Arsenal continued their great defensive start to the season with yet another clean sheet at Anfield which has left Liverpool in the bottom three along with pointless Southampton and QPR. There are still eight teams without a victory though so none of the teams should be worried at this stage. Somewhat surprisingly Tottenham Hotspur are one of these teams and after two draws in a row is the pressure already building on Andre Villas Boas? Aston Villa picked up their first points with a draw against Newcastle United which will make Paul Lambert feel a lot better and Stoke City picked up their third draw out of three so it is looking like it could be another midtable finish for them already.

But, now onto team of the weekend, Arsenal deserve great credit for the way they conducted themselves at Liverpool and were the better team throughout, creating the better chances and finishing them off superbly, while also being very tight at the back and not allowing their oppositions flair players to have a major impact on the game which has not always been the case in the past. Norwich City picking up a point at White Hart Lane is a fantastic achievement (they did win there last year I know) but they are expected to struggle a lot this year and hadn’t shown enough to suggest that they were going to be as good as last season. But, they battled and probably should have won the game in all honesty so they deserve a lot of praise and if they can perform like this for the rest of the season they will stay up. Newly promoted West Ham are not expected to struggle this year but not many will have expected them to have disposed of a confident Fulham side so easily. Debutant Andy Carroll looked very happy and within a minute he had a positive impact and the team never looked like losing from there. However, my team of the week has to be West Brom, they have started their season fantastically and their performance against an inform Everton was very good. I personally didn’t expect the Baggies to start this well and they know it is only three games in but they already have seven points on the board so this could be an interesting season for them.

There were some standout performers this weekend with Robin Van Persie scoring a hatrick but unfortunately for him, even though he did win the match for Manchester United against Southampton, I am not giving him the player of the weekend simply because of his awful penalty. His movement was great and all three of his goals were different and showed how good of a striker he is (if that was ever in doubt). Another new signing impressed this weekend and that was Steven Fletcher who scored twice for Sunderland against Swansea City and although his first was gifted to him he still had to finish it and that wasn’t easy at all. The price Sunderland paid for him may have been slightly over the top but if he can get them between 15 and 20 goals then it could turn out to be one of the best signings of the season. My player of the weekend goes to Brad Friedel who must have been feeling the pressure after Hugo Lloris was signed on transfer deadline day but the 41 year old produced the goods and kept Tottenham in the game, pulling off save after save including two spectacular ones. He couldn’t do anything about the goal and it would be a real shame if he was dropped after this performance.

Finally, game of the weekend is a difficult one to choose as always because the game at the Liberty Stadium between Swansea and Sunderland had everything, including goals, red cards, mistakes and injuries. Sunderland took the lead twice through two Steven Fletcher goals but were pegged back each time with Wayne Routledge and Michu grabbing the goals for the Swans. Chico was sent off for a ridiculous challenge on Louis Saha and was rightly sent off. It was a fiery game and a draw was probably the right result in the end. Wigan against Stoke may not have been a game that caught many people’s attentions but in my opinion it was really entertaining and had a lot of drama in it, with two converted penalties and a lot of chances for either side with Franco Di Santo and Peter Crouch also scoring to make it 2-2. Plus, the save of the season from Ali Al Habsi made it a very fascinating game to watch. But, the match of the weekend has to go to Southampton and Manchester United because they produced an epic game which could have went either way. The away side pinched in injury time but it could have been very different. Rickie Lambert opened the scoring but when Van Persie scored his first everyone expected it to be a rout and Fergie’s men to walk it but a slip from Patrice Evra allowed Morgan Schneiderlin to get free and put the Saints back in front. But the runners up from last season never lie down and came back to win like they have done on so many occasions over the years.

Who do you think should have got the player, game and team of the weekend?

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Will Jermain Defoe leave Tottenham Hotspur this summer?

Jermain Defoe may be the only experienced striker at Tottenham Hotspur but surprisingly he has been linked with a move away.

Defoe has scored 15 goals in 48 games for England

Last season was a frustrating one for the former Portsmouth striker as he only started 11 Premier League games and was constantly overlooked because Harry Redknapp wanted to play with Rafael Van Der Vaart just behind Emmanuel Adebayor. He wouldn’t have fit into their system that well last year in my opinion and that is the reason why he struggled for game time. When he on the pitch though he mostly produced the goods scoring 11 times in his 25 appearances and 17 in 38 games in all competitions so he has proved he does still have the quality to succeed in the Premier League and his career isn’t coming to an end. I was very surprised to see him linked with a move away but maybe he just isn’t an Andre Villas-Boas type of player but with a deal for Adebayor not completed yet he may be forced to use Defoe at least for the start of the season. The England international has 195 goals in his career so far and will be desperate to get to 200 goals as quickly as possible and to do that he may have to leave if he isn’t guaranteed first team football.

QPR have been heavily linked with him and they do have the funds to buy him and pay the wages so I can’t see why this transfer wouldn’t go through unless the player himself wants to play for a team challenging at the top of the table. However, QPR are building a good squad and may be outsiders for a European place in the coming season and could be a good shout for a cup win. He could compliment Bobby Zamora very well and has been a more consistent goal scorer than both Andy Johnson and Djibril Cisse so he could help push the club onto the next level.

Martin O’Neill is also keen on Defoe and Sunderland could do with a goal scorer as they haven’t really replaced Darren Bent and Asamoah Gyan in recent years with Nicklas Bendtner coming in on loan last season. It is unclear whether he will come back either on loan or permanently again so they will have to look elsewhere. A major problem could be that Defoe hasn’t played for anyone in the north so he may be reluctant to move to the area.

Finally, Aston Villa could be looking at the striker and this would be an interesting move as Darren Bent is also at the club and when they were both at Tottenham together they didn’t really play that often and that could mean that they weren’t a good partnership. I can’t see them working well together but maybe I will be proved wrong. If he did sign then they would have a quick attack with Bent, Defoe and Agbonlahor so they would be very threatening on the counter attack and would cause a lot of problems for their opposition.

Chelsea will face Benfica in the quarter final of the Champions League

After overcoming Napoli, Chelsea will face Benfica in the next round of the Champions League as they look to progress to the semi final.

Roberto Di Matteo will not be too disappointed with this draw as they know Benfica are a good side therefore they will not underestimate them and make sure his team prepare for the game properly but on the other hand he will also know that it could have been worse for his side. They came back fantastically against Napoli after a 3-1 defeat in the first leg but they managed to win 4-1 in extra time at Stamford Bridge and by doing this they have let everyone in Europe know that they are not finished yet and they still have enough quality left to win the whole competition.

Would they have progressed if Andre Villas Boas was still in charge? In my opinion no because the players looked happier and looked like they wanted to play for the man in charge. John Terry scored and had an all round fantastic game before going off injured, he wanted to get his head on every ball possible which he may not have done a few weeks ago. Frank Lampard scored a crucial penalty and he was also more influential in this game than I have seen him for quite a while and when he is on form you know he can get a goal or provide an assist. Didier Drogba opened the scoring and looked like a man possessed and someone that wanted to get Chelsea through all by himself and his performance reminded me of when Jose Mourinho was in charge and he destroyed opposition defences.

Lampard, Terry and Drogba celebrate a goal

These players may be a few years older now but they have proven when they want to, they can still put in match winning performances and on the night they all had to. The players showed a lot of togetherness and as soon as the first goal went in there was no doubt in my mind who would go through.

If Chelsea do progress, and they will be favourites to do so, they will face either Milan or Barcelona. Which will not be easy as Barcelona are clearly the best team in Europe right now and Milan showed everyone against Arsenal that if they are on form they can give a team a good beating, so it will not be easy for Chelsea but if they can get through the Benfica tie, they will grow more in confidence and they could spring a shock in the semi final.

The other quarter finals drew together APOEL from Cyprus and the European giants Real Madrid and in the other semi final they will face either Marseille or Bayern Munich. In my opinion even though APOEL  have done amazingly well Real Madrid will be the happiest of all the teams in the draw while Marseille and Bayern could be really close as they both possess real quality in their side.

It could be a fantastic quarter final this year with a lot of goals rather than the usual tactical battle so I for one cannot wait for the games to get underway.

Who will be the next Chelsea manager?

Chelsea have sacked their manager Andre Villas Boas and will try to find someone who can deal with Abramovich, Terry, Lampard and Drogba.

I do not who is worse because it is blatant that these players run Chelsea and if they don’t like a manager then he will not last very long. At least Abramovich owns the club and can do whatever he wants because it is his money that he is pumping into the club but the players have no excuse, it doesn’t matter who the manager is, he deserves respect and should have full control over the team and not be influenced by players. This is why I feel sorry for Villas Boas because he is only a young manager and would have had a great future at Chelsea if the old regime weren’t there. I blame Mourinho slightly for this because he gave the players the confidence and made them feel like they were the best in the world and now nobody can control them.

This is why Jose Mourinho should be a contender for the job and if Chelsea want to be real challengers for the title then they have to bring the man in at all costs. He is the ‘Special One’ and nobody can argue with his record, everywhere he has been he has won trophies, including the Champions League with Porto and Inter Milan. In his first spell, he only lost 18 games out of 185, so why did he ever leave? Abramovich is the reason  and he needs to swallow his pride and do whatever is necessary to make sure that Mourinho manages Chelsea again because they desperately need him.

However, if the club don’t want to hire him then there are plenty of other candidates, Rafael Benitez has been linked with the job and he has also won the Champions League which is what Abramovich wants so that gives him a good chance. But when he was manager of Liverpool, he did a solid job but nothing more than that, he got them into the Champions League most years and had a decent win percentage. However, between him and Roy Hodgson they have left Liverpool in a position that they probably shouldn’t be in. Also, his last job at Inter Milan went horrifically even with some world class players like Wesley Sneijder, he could not get them to perform. He may get the respect of the players because of his achievements but this is not a certainty with the massive egos at the club.

Finally, Pep Guardiola is a huge name in the game and has won loads of trophies at Barcelona and therefore if he wants the job, he should probably be given it. Will he want the job though? He might want a new challenge especially if he wins the Champions League yet again and he might just want to test himself in a new environment. However, if he did come to England I think he would rather go to Manchester United or Arsenal because I think they would suit him more.

Mourinho and Guardiola

An outsider is David Moyes but this is very unlikely as he isn’t the biggest name and I think Abramovich cares about that and will take it into consideration. The next manager should be Mourinho and if they can patch up their differences then Chelsea will be a force yet again and the players will know who is boss. Player power cost Villas Boas his job but I don’t think that could happen to Mourinho because he has a bigger ego than all of them put together and this is the reason why he is so successful.

Pressure is building on Andre Villas Boas at Chelsea

Andre Villas Boas is the favourite to be sacked next in the Premier League after they have failed to live up to their pre season expectations.

It is not surprising that he is under pressure as the team are not certainties to qualify for the Champions League next season and are in danger of going out of the competition after a horrific defensive display away to Napoli. In this game they made Sunday League defenders look like professionals with poor positioning and poor decision making. Petr Cech kept them in the game for a while and when Juan Mata put them in front the fans must have been thinking finally our season is looking up. But they couldn’t even hang on until half time and went in at the break 2-1 down. AVB does not strike me as the type of manager that is going to rip into his players and throw things around the dressing room, this is a very bad thing at a football club because I believe players will play better if they have a slight ‘fear’ of the manager. They will want to perform better because they will not want to be screamed at by their manager, this is why Alex Ferguson has been one of the best managers ever along with Brian Clough, who have both been known to get their message across one way or another.

AVB has already admitted that player power can be a problem and because of his young age he must be struggling to gain the respect of the players. He has tried to drop players such as Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba so everyone knows who is the boss but it still does help the team get results. Against Birmingham City when Drogba came on at halftime he lifted the whole place and was even seen giving his teammates a pep talk in the tunnel which makes you wonder what AVB was doing.

If he gets given the time, he will probably turn Chelsea into a force again as he does seem to be a good manager and his record at Porto was amazing. You can see what he is trying to do as Chelsea have been criticised in recent seasons for having too many players the wrong side of 30 which means that he has tried to get rid of a few players, or at least fade them out. But this will take time as replacing a goal scoring midfielder like Lampard or a proven striker in Drogba will be difficult, especially when Fernando Torres has been dreadful and has not looked like he is going to get back into the groove of scoring goals anytime soon.

The Portuguese manager does have a 47% win record, which is actually quite good but the Chelsea board and fans were hoping it would be closer to the 88% win record he had when he was at Porto. I hope he keeps his job and gets to grips with the Premier League and also realises that in this country sometimes the players need the dreaded hairdryer treatment.