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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Game, Team and Player of Weekend 2

Chelsea, Swansea and Everton all continued their 100% start to the season, while Arsenal are still struggling to score goals since the departure of Robin Van Persie but on the other hand have looked solid defensively so is this an improvement? Aston Villa and Southampton are the only two teams left without a single point. So who will win my game, player and team of the weekend?

Firstly, onto team of the weekend. Everton are yet again candidates for the best team as they swept away Aston Villa in the first half scoring three goals and looking like they could have went up another few gears if they needed or wanted to. They are having a quick start to the season which is very rare for the team from Merseyside. Next, I think that West Brom deserve a lot of credit this week with them getting a point at White Hart Lane, they got a last minute equaliser through James Morrison but throughout the game they at least deserved a point and dealt with the threats of Tottenham very well and only conceded unfortunately through a deflected Benoit Assou-Ekotto effort. But the winner this week is, Swansea City as they continued their unbelievable start to the season and comfortably beat West Ham 3-0. Yet again, all of their star players performed including Michu, Nathan Dyer and the rejuvenated Wayne Routledge. Is this really the same Routledge we saw struggling for Newcastle United and many other clubs over the years? They are still to concede this season and in all honesty, West Ham didn’t cause them many problems but it is still impressive. Eight scored, none conceded.

Player of the weekend is always difficult to choose because there are always players that played well but don’t exactly standout. For example, Joe Allen, did for once get a lot of plaudits but he will probably play like he did for Liverpool against Manchester City most weeks but won’t get anywhere near enough praise. He controlled the midfield in a game that the home side should have won but for two costly mistakes. The way he keeps the team ticking over is sublime and whenever he has the ball, you know he will not give it away cheaply. Another player that doesn’t get nearly enough praise is Mikel Arteta and he was also brilliant this weekend for pretty much the same reasons, but unfortunately didn’t do quite enough for Arsenal to help them get a win. Similarly, Moussa Dembele put in an amazing performance in a losing effort against Manchester United. I can’t remember the last time a player from an away side controlled the midfield as much as the Fulham man did and if anything it has just alerted even more clubs to his quality and with a few days left of the transfer window, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone came in with a bid. My player of the weekend though is, Eden Hazard who has just shown everyone why he was wanted by nearly every club in Europe. His pace over five yards is fantastic and Newcastle United had no answer to him. He seems to have just given everyone a lift at Stamford Bridge and whenever he gets the ball, the crowd know something good is going to happen. The way he keeps the ball is brilliant to watch as he easily goes past players and sees passes that not many others can, in my opinion he was the main difference between the sides on the day. To top it off, he got yet another assist and a goal from the penalty spot.

This weekend most of the games seemed very competitive and could have went either way. Liverpool against Manchester City was definitely one of these as both clubs could have won the game near the death, but it is Liverpool that are the most disappointed with the draw as both the goals they conceded were mistakes and avoidable. Tottenham against West Brom could also be a contender because to me it showed exactly what the Premier League is about. No team ever gives up and West Brom showed that by creating numerous chances towards the end of the game and deserved their draw just purely because of their effort and determination throughout the 90 minutes. But my game of the weekend has to be Manchester United against Fulham. There was everything in this game, goals, mistakes and even goalkeeper David De Gea doing a Cruyff turn inside his own box to beat Fulham striker Mladen Petric. Fulham took the lead through Damien Duff but then the home debut boys took over with Robin Van Persie and Shinji Kagawa scoring before the game seemed over when Rafael added a third. But, Fulham didn’t lie down and led by Dembele they pulled one back through a horrendous error from De Gea and Nemanja Vidic. They just didn’t have enough in the end and if Bryan Ruiz’s header had went anywhere but at the Man United keeper, it may have been a great comeback but it wasn’t to be.

Ledley King retires and takes up a new role at Tottenham Hotspur

Ledley King has retired from football after a career ravaged by injuries and will be considered as one of Tottenham Hotspur’s greatest ever players.

King had the potential to be one of the best centre backs in the world

The centre back was named as 25th best player of all time in an article in The Times back in 2009 and might now be considered closer to number one. There is no doubting his commitment to the club as he has taken on an ambassadorial role within the club, there aren’t many players around like King anymore as he has shown his loyalty for a number of years and once stated that he would never play for another club which has now came true with his retirement.

It is a shame that he had so many injuries throughout his career but he was a fantastic defender and could have been one of the best in the world. In my opinion if he had stayed fit, John Terry would never have got as many caps for England and the team may have performed better. He only managed to play 21 times for England but scored twice for his country, I think he could have went on to play close to 100 games but we will never know and it is a shame.

Another thing that will have disappointed him is that he only won one trophy at Tottenham and that was the League Cup in 2009 but ever since making his debut in the 1998-99 season he has worn the shirt with pride and has held the defence together. When he was first coming through Spurs weren’t the team they are now and were mostly around mid table so it can’t just be coincidence that when he was playing close to full seasons they were battling for a European place. He only ever once played every league game in a season and that was in 2004-05.

King has been praised by nearly every manager that he has played under and this is because he isn’t a normal English defender that likes to do the dirty stuff like diving into tackles and making blocks, he loved cutting out through balls and using his fantastic positioning to stop strikers from getting in on goal. He could do everything, he is clearly a winner and would do all that he could to get the win for his team.

He occasionally played in the holding midfield role because of his good passing ability and he even scored a goal against Bradford City in 9.7 seconds. He has had a good career and I’m sure he will have a lot of happy memories. The King of White Hart Lane played 315 times scoring 15 goals and the fans will surely never forget him.

Who will be Tottenham Hotspur’s next manager?

Harry Redknapp and Tottenham Hotspur have parted ways after the club failed to qualify for the Champions League.

Redknapp had been at Spurs since 2008

Tottenham finished fourth but because Chelsea won the Champions League they will be playing in the Europa League next season and even though this seems quite unfortunate should they have even been in that position? At the turn of the year they were genuine title contenders and many people believed that they were going to win the league. But they fell away and finished below Arsenal even though they were comfortably in front of them for most of the season. The distraction of the England managers job obviously didn’t help the situation and Spurs soon went on a slump after Fabio Capello left England and this was their downfall, their players seemed to not know what was going on and Redknapp didn’t help the situation at all. Overall Redknapp did a very good job winning 49.49% of his matches and will be very difficult to replace so the new man coming in may struggle under the pressure straightaway. Plus, key players may be more likely to leave no such as Luka Modric and Gareth Bale who will want to play in the main European competition next year.

So the board have a very big decision to make, they need a manager that is going to continue the work Redknapp started or they could end up a mid table club again. David Moyes is currently the favourite to take charge and I think this would be a fantastic appointment, he has worked miracles at Everton, getting them into the top half year after year spending very little money. He deserves to be at a club that can spend more money and I believe he has the ability to take them to the very top, as he always makes astute signings and improves the players he has in his squad. I only see two problems in them getting him and that is, will he be a big enough name to convince their star players to stay and is Moyes holding out for the big job at Manchester United?

Roberto Martinez is linked with every job going at the minute and it isn’t surprising however he could have the same problems as Moyes and not be able to convince their stars to stay. His Wigan team have defied the odds and kept them up year after year playing some very entertaining football and he has shown his tactics can beat the big teams in the league. One result the Spurs fans will remember about Martinez is when he took his Wigan team to White Hart Lane and they got destroyed 9-1 surely the board will remember this and see that he may not quite be good enough yet for a really big job.

Finally, another name I have seen linked with the job is Fabio Capello and a lot of Spurs fans are actually blaming him for ruining their season, if he just stayed as England manager then there wouldn’t have been so much speculation about Redknapp’s future. But looking at Capello’s career would he be able to do a good job? Yes in my opinion because he has shown he can win titles and trophies at club level, he will be judged mostly though by his time as England manager however I think this is harsh as international and club management is very different.

I hope Capello doesn’t get the job but he does offer something different to the other two and that is real pedigree in Europe and will be attract a lot of big names to the club. I really want Moyes to get the job but only if he is given the opportunity to build something at the club and is given money to replace the players that leave.

Moyes has won the LMA manager of the year three times

 

Who will Sebastien Bassong play for next season?

Sebastien Bassong has had a tough time since joining the Premier League but will he get another chance to show he has enough quality to stay in England?

The central defender is currently at Tottenham Hotspur but it looks as though his time at the club is coming to end after being shipped out on loan to Wolves for the second half of last season. In his three seasons at White Hart Lane he has only played 44 league games and has had to settle for a place on the bench a lot of the time with manager Harry Redknapp preferring others like Ledley King, Michael Dawson, William Gallas and Younes Kaboul. The 25 year old does have time on his hands but he hasn’t quite lived up to the potential he showed at Newcastle United where in his only season there, he was voted their player of the season, however this was in their relegation season and nobody performed that well and it can’t have been such an honour to win the award. In his loan spell at Wolves he also suffered relegation and did not perform that well, although he cannot be blamed for their relegation, he still has to take some of the blame as he did not look good enough for the Premier League.

So will anyone in the Premier League take him on or will he have to go back abroad or into the Championship? I think any of the three promoted teams should have a look at him as they all lack a little bit of experience in that area. West Ham currently have James Tomkins and Winston Reid as their starting pair but after releasing Abdoulaye Faye, they will need some competition and cover. Reading are also suffering from a lack of experience in that area with both Alex Pearce and Kaspars Gorkss hardly kicking a ball in the Premier League so Bassong would at least have a little more knowledge, and personally I think he is slightly better than Gorkss. Southampton have two good centre backs in Jose Fonte and Jos Hooiveld but they do lack cover so they will need to bring in someone so why not Bassong, I cannot imagine Spurs wanting a big transfer fee for him but his wages maybe a stumbling block.

Other teams that are already in the Premier League may also like the look of him because of how well he did at Newcastle and the talent he has shown at times at Spurs. Stoke City may be interested in signing him as he will add a slightly better ball playing defender to their team. With Matthew Upson and Jonathon Woodgate not exactly performing as well as manager Tony Pulis expected he may be in the market for another defender.

Finally, I believe QPR should be looking at him as they struggled terribly at the back at times this season and he is a much better player than Clint Hill and is arguably better than Anton Ferdinand so I believe he would walk into their team.

Stevenage on the promotion charge

I have been really impressed with Stevenage this season as they have been the surprise package in League 1 and could force themselves into the playoffs.

They gave Tottenham a real fright in the FA Cup actually taking the lead at White Hart Lane after earning a replay against them. Their league form has suffered slightly since the first game but still they have had a fantastic season and if they do end up in the playoffs they know they can give the bigger names in the division a really good game as results have proven this season. They are currently three points behind Notts County in sixth place but remarkably they have three games in hand so if they take full advantage they will comfortably overtake them.

Some people have criticised the way they play football because it is a lot of long balls but that is a harsh assessment of the team because they have some very good footballers especially in the midfield. They have also just confirmed the signing of Patrick Agyemang which could be a brilliant signing as he has fantastic ability with the ball at his feet and therefore will not want balls lumped up to him. If he produces to the standard he is capable then Stevenage have a really good player on their hands and could be the difference between winning the playoffs and just competing in them.

The only worry for the team is that they don’t have an out and out goal scorer but Agyemang may be able to change this. Currently their top scorer only has nine goals. However, Chris Beardsley adds so much to the game than just putting the ball in the back of the net and those nine goals could prove vital at the end of the season. He has fantastic work rate and holds up the ball fantastically, he knows he has to challenge for every ball and every defender who he has come up against leaves the field knowing they have been in a battle.

They do have some talent in their side and Scott Laird is one of them, he has now played over 200 games for the club and he has been very consistent for the team and might be attracting interest from clubs in the Championship. He has looked very composed at the back and rarely makes a mistake but it is also his attacking threat that makes him vital to the squad. He has seven goals this season and recently scored the winner away to Sheffield Wednesday.

Gary Smith hopes to lead Stevenage into the playoffs

It has not been an easy season for the club with former manager Graham Westley leaving after four years in charge and two promotions. He was replaced by Gary Smith who is adapting quite well to his first role in England and I’m sure will improve as time goes on. If they make the playoffs they are as dangerous as anyone and if I was another team in them I wouldn’t want to play them.

The curse of Aaron Ramsey

Sunderland are beating Arsenal at the Stadium of Light 1-0 and Aaron Ramsey prepares to come on, nothing strange about this so far, he comes on and equalises and the Arsenal fans celebrate the goal like it was any other but then some Gunners fans begin to realise that whenever Ramsey gets on the score sheet someone famous dies. Obviously this is just a strange coincidence but hours after Ramsey scored, Whitney Houston tragically dies. I am not making a joke out of her death by any means as she was a fantastic singer and one in a million but she became the next victim of the curse.

It all goes back to a game against Manchester United when the young Welshman scored the only goal in a 1-0 win on the 1st May. The very next day, the American government announce that their troops killed Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan. There is no connection between these two events and they will have been in the same newspaper but one story on the front page and the other on the back page.

On the 5th October, Steve Jobs, one of the main men at Apple tragically lost his battle against cancer, yet again no connection to Ramsey but the day before he scored in a 2-1 defeat at White Hart Lane against Tottenham Hotspur. Still nobody would even think about putting these stories together but it is a very strange pattern developing.

And it continued after he scored the only goal in the game against Marseille in the Champions League, Colonel Gaddaffi’s death was announced. Now people are starting to put two and two together and thinking that he is a curse and whenever he scores somebody famous will die.

But surely this is all just a mad coincidence and they aren’t seriously connected as the player himself had nothing to do with anything that happened to these people. However, some people are taking it even further than this and saying he doesn’t even have to score to make something happen in the world because when he hit the post against Manchester City, the next day Kim Jung Ill died. Obviously people are just jumping on the bandwagon and now trying to find things and in my opinion if you look hard enough you will probably find something somewhere, like in this case, he has hit the post on other occasions and nothing has happened.

But the one that really caught my attention about this curse was the day he suffered a double fracture in his right leg, there was a massive earthquake in Chile which devastated many people’s lives and killed 525 people. I have no idea why it keeps happening when Ramsey scores but it has to be a coincidence it cannot be anything else.

I bet the next time he scores, on every social network site and forums people will be asking who is next? Because now it has made the news and a lot of people are talking about it.