Tag Archives: Alex Song

El Clasico – Barcelona v Real Madrid Preview

There are very few fixtures in world football that capture the imagination quite like the meeting between the two giants of Spanish football – Barcelona and Real Madrid, as the El Clasico returns tonight.

Two old adversaries will lock horns at Camp Nou in the latest installment of a derby dual which will perhaps decide the fate of the league at a point sooner than ever before. Barcelona are currently at the top of the table and hold an eight-point lead over their arch rivals. It’s no rocket science that anything apart from a win for Real Madrid will mean a huge task for them to overturn the deficit and defend their league title.

TEAM NEWS

Barcelona

Barcelona will assess Gerard Pique’s fitness ahead of Sunday’s Primera Division showdown with Real Madrid at Camp Nou. The Spain defender has not played for two weeks because of a foot injury but managed to train in the gym on Friday. Carles Puyol (elbow) and Thiago Alcantara (knee) are ruled out, meaning converted midfielders Alex Song and Javier Mascherano are likely to resume their partnership in central defence.

Real Madrid

Sami Khedira and Angel Di Maria are set to return to the starting line-up for Real Madrid, who have no injury concerns. The biggest selection dilemma for boss Jose Mourinho is likely to be over the playmaker role, with Mesut Ozil, Luka Modric, Kaka and Michael Essien all vying for a starting berth.

HEAD TO HEAD

Played – 221
Barcelona Wins – 87
Draw – 46
Real Madrid Wins – 88

HEAD TO HEAD FIXTURES (LAST FIVE)

29-Aug-12 – Super Cup – Real Madrid 2-1 Barcelona
23-Aug-12 – Super Cup – Barcelona 3-2 Real Madrid
21-Apr-12 – La Liga – Barcelona 1-2 Real Madrid
25-Jan-12 – Copa del Rey – Barcelona 2-2 Real Madrid
18-Jan-12 – Copa del Rey – Real Madrid 1-2 Barcelona

FORM GUIDE

Barcelona – WWWWW

02-Oct-12 – Champions League – Benfica 0-2 Barcelona
29-Sep-12 – La Liga – Sevilla 2-3 Barcelona
22-Sep-12 – La Liga – Barcelona 2-0 Granada
19-Sep-12 – Champions League – Barcelona 3-2 Spartak Moscow
15-Sep-12 – La Liga – Getafe 1-4 Barcelona

Real Madrid – WWWWL

03-Oct-12 – Champions League – Ajax 1-4 Real Madrid
30-Sep-12 – La Liga – Real Madrid 5-1 Deportivo
24-Sep-12 – La Liga – Rayo Vallecano 0-2 Real Madrid
18-Sep-12 – Champions League – Real Madrid 3-2 Manchester City
15-Sep-12 – La Liga – Sevilla 1-0 Real Madrid

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
The Argentine magician was an ever-present threat in the Champions League on Tuesday, setting up goals for Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fabregas in the 2-0 win at Benfica. Barcelona will need Messi to be at his best again and keep the action firmly in the Real Madrid half to prevent the understrength defence from being troubled by the visitors.

Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
Madrid’s star striker comes into this clash in the fine form and on the back of two consecutive hat-tricks against Deportivo and Ajax respectively. The torment of Barcelona in April when he scored the winning goal in this fixture last season which won Real the title, the Portuguese will again look to take command of this fixture.

PROBABLE LINEUPS

Barcelona (4-3-3): Victor Valdes; Dani Alves, Alex Song, Javier Mascherano, Jordi Alba; Xavi, Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta; Alexis Sanchez, Lionel Messi, David Villa.

Real Madrid (4-2-3-1): Iker Casillas; Alvaro Arbeloa, Sergio Ramos, Pepe, Marcelo; Sami Khedira, Xabi Alonso; Angel Di Maria, Mesut Ozil, Cristiano Ronaldo; Karim Benzema.

MATCH ODDS

Barcelona 17/20, Draw 11/4, Real Madrid 3/1

PREDICTION

With Barcelona having to deal with many injuries in the heart of the defence and Real Madrid having their best players in top form, its Real Madrid’s game to lose. As all games between these two sides, this one is also expected to be an open, end-to-end game of football with both sides going for the win. A win for the Catalan giants and they go eleven points ahead of their fierce rivals, but a win for the reigning champions and they are back in the race. An exciting match is expected followed by a win for the defending champions.

Predicted Score: Barcelona 1-2 Real Madrid

Five ‘Big Name’ Premier League Signings That Never Happened

The transfer window is finally over, and Premier League managers and chairmen can rest easy and concentrate on the matters on the pitch, for another few months at least.

Now that the dust has settled, we can take a look at the five ‘big name’ transfer deals in the Premier League which were very close to happening but never happened in end.

1. Hulk (Porto) to Chelsea
The Brazilian was continuously linked with a move to Stamford Bridge throughout June and July and at one stage it looked like it was almost a done deal. Hulk even admitted he wanted to leave Porto and join the European Champions, but the Portuguese champions insisted they had never recieved an offer from the Blues. In the end, Chelsea gave up the chase because of his hefty price tag and wage demands and instead signed Wigan’s Victor Moses. The powerful left-footed forward joined Russian champions Zenit St Petersburg this week, for a fee of around £40m.

2. Joao Moutinho (Porto) to Tottenham Hotspur
The Portuguese playmaker was the man Andre Villas-Boas wanted to replace Luka Modric at White Hart Lane. But Spurs had to first sell the Croatian to free up funds to buy new players and Modric’s transfer to Real Madrid took weeks to be agreed and completed, which left the London club with just few days to wrap up the Moutinho deal. On deadline day, Spurs did agree a club record £20m fee with Porto but problems surrounding personal terms and third party ownership issues scuppered the deal.

3. Lucas Moura (Sao Paulo) to Manchester United
The Brazilian wonderkid was Manchester United’s top transfer target this summer after the Red Devils failed in their pursuit of Eden Hazard. After seeing a £23m bid rejected by Sao Paulo, United came back with an improved offer and also reportedly had a bid in the region of £30m accepted by the Brazilian club. But the mega-rich PSG came in at the last minute, paid £35m for the youngster and snatched him away from under the noses of Sir Alex Ferguson

4. Yann M’Vila (Rennes) to Arsenal
The French midfielder was reportedly very close to joining Arsenal before the Euros in Poland & Ukraine but a training ground bust-up with his France teammates made Arsene Wenger to reconsider. The sale of Alex Song to Barcelona saw the rumours start again, but Arsenal’s north London rivals Tottenham had also entered the fray and in the end, Wenger decided against a late move for the Rennes midfielder and stuck with his players.

5. Clint Dempsey (Fulham) to Liverpool
Liverpool’s American owners were so confident of signing the Fulham forward that they announced on their official website the US international had signed for the club in July. A month later, the Reds did look favourites to complete the deal on transfer deadling day, with the 29-year-old desperate to leave Craven Cottage and join the Merseysiders. But with Liverpool refusing to pay anything more than £4m for the forward, Dempsey joined Tottenham late in the day for £6m, leaving Brendan Rodgers with just two senior strikers at his disposal.

Premier League Team Of The Week – Gameweek 3

See who have made our Team of the Week from an exciting third weekend in the Premier League. Arsenal and Tottenham have provided atleast two players, while there is one ech from West Brom, Swansea, Norwich, Sunderland, Manchester City and Manchester United.

Brad Friedel (Tottenham Hotspur)
The American again proved to everyone that age is just a number. He made a number of important saves, especially from Johnson late on to stop Norwich from taking all three points, but the highlight was his reflex save from Snodgrass in the first half. However, he couldn’t do much about the close-range strike for the goal. He is surely going give new signing Hugo Lloris a tough competition for the number one spot in the team.

Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham Hotspur)

The former Ajax skipper put in another impressive display for his new club. The Belgium international was solid at the back and made the most number of clearances this weekend. He was a constant threat to deal with for the Canaries during set-pieces and also at the same time made his presence felt while defending.

Thomas Vermaelen (Arsenal)
The strong Belgium international led his side from the front. He was rock solid at the back and played an important role in starting the attacks from the back line. His smart interception towards the end, from Mannone’s block prevent Liverpool getting back in the game.

Gareth McAuley (West Brom Albion)
Like the other two defenders in this team, McAuley was also rock solid at the back for the Baggies. He did an excellent job in dealing with aerial threat of Fellaini. He scored the second goal of the game from a corner to seal all three points for his side.

Nathan Dyer (Swansea City)
The Englishman has been very impressive this season, and was again the Swans’ most effective man going forward. His pace and drive was very important for the hosts and he troubled Jack Colback throughout the game. He created the first goal for Wayne Routledge with a delightful chip and also had three shots on target during the game.

Santi Cazorla (Arsenal)
The Gunners’ most impressive player so far this season was again at his best at Anfield. His Spanish class was evident almost every time had had the ball. He always found space, especially to recieve Podolski’s pass before setting him up to score and then he repeated the same trick from the other side of the combination, his movement and powerful finish were just superb.

Abou Diaby (Arsenal)
The Frenchman was one of the stars of the weekend. He displayed some fearsome strength in holding the ball, passed it with accuracy and provided his side with the momentum to build attacks. If he can stay fit for the whole season, then he has shown that he is more than perfect replacement for Alex Song.

Robert Snodgrass (Norwich)
The former Leeds United man was the star of the match. Caused the Spurs defence a lot of problems from the right and came very close of scoring in the first half, only see to see Friedel make an amazing reflex save. He capped an impressive display with a much deserved goal which earned his team an important point at White Hart Lane.

Steven Fletcher (Sunderland)
The former Wolves forward made an impressive debut for the Black Cats by scoring twice at the Liberty stadium. He was not much involved in the build-up play but showed his great finishing instincts with two good goals. He finished off the first sweetly after Williams’ mistake and then showed determination to bundle home under pressure from Chico.

Carlos Tevez (Manchester City)
The Argentine was again on top form as he helped his side defeat QPR at the Etihad Stadium during the weekend. His cross from the left provided the assist for Edin Dzeko’s goal and then capped a very impressive display with a goal after he turned in Dzeko’s shot in injury time. He completely deserved the goal and has now scored in all of City three Premier League games this season.

Robin van Persie (Manchester United)
The Dutch international turned from villain to hero in the space of 20 minutes. He equalised for the Red Devils in the first half but his overly-confident penalty in the second half was saved buy Kelvin Davis and it looked like he had blown the chance away for United to get back in the game. However, he scored twice in the last five minutes and earned himself a match winning hat-trick.

Premier League’s Twenty Most Expensive Transfers Of The Summer

The summer transfer window has shut down and as expected the Premier League clubs were the most busiest this summer, spending a total of around £480 million. In our today’s Picture Special, we look back at the twenty most expensive transfer deals of the season.

Eden Hazard (LOSC Lille to Chelsea – £35.2m)

Luka Modric (Tottenham Hotspur to Real Madrid – £30m)

Oscar (SC Internacional to Chelsea – £25m

Robin van Persie (Arsenal to Manchester United – £24m)

Joe Allen (Swansea City to Liverpool – £16.7m)

Santi Cazorla (Malaga to Arsneal – £16.7m)

Moussa Dembele (Fulham to Tottenham Hotspur – £16.7m)

Javi Garcia (Benfica to Manchester City – £15.8m)

Alex Song (Arsenal – Barcelona – £15m)

Steven Fletcher (Wolves to Sunderland – £13.3m)

Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund – Manchester United – £13.2m)

Jack Rodwell (Everton to Manchester City – £13.2m)

Matija Nastasic (Fiorentina to Manchester City – £13m + Stefan Savic)

Gaston Ramirez (Bologna to Southampton – £12m)

Fabio Borini (AS Roman to Liverpool – £11.7m)

Lukas Podolski (FC Koln to Arsenal – £11.4m)

Adam Johnson (Manchester City to Sunderland – £11m)

Jan Vertonghen (Ajax to Tottenham Hotspur – £11m)

Matt Jarvis (Wolves to West Ham United – £10.7m)

Olivier Giroud (Montpellier to Arsenal – £10.7)

Premier League 2012/13 Predictions

The wait is finally over as the new Premier League season kicks-off today and here my predictions for the 2012/13 campaign.

Champions?

Manchester City are the favourites for me to win the title again this season. They broke their duck last season and got the monkey of their back. They now know how to cope with certain situations and how to get through games. Roberto Mancini and City both will have learnt a lot from last season. I know they haven’t sign anybody – except for Jack Rodwell – but they already have a very strong squad which is more than capable of winning the league again.

At the same time, I expect the title race to be very close like last season and may again go down to the very last day. Manchester United have got Robin van Persie and they will surely be right up there. They have also go their skipper – Nemanja Vidic coming back from injury, and he would be like a completely new signing for the club.

Top Four?

The two Manchester clubs will occupy the top two places and it will be either Chelsea, Arsenal or Tottenham for the remaining two places. I will go with Chelsea and Arsenal.

The Blues will be a better team than what they were last season. They have bought some very good young players like Eden Hazard, Marko Marin and Oscar, that are going to attack a lot. With Didier Drogba moving to China, Fernando Torres will have a big season, as he will have to fill the big shoes of the Ivorian. If Torres could get his old Liverpool form back, which made him one of the most dangerous forwards in the world, then the Blues could even challenge for the title.

It’s going to be very tight between Arsenal and Tottenham for the final Champions League spot. I fill Arsenal will just sneak into fourth because of the great football they play. They may have lost Van Persie and might also lose Alex Song, but in Lukas Podolski, Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud they have bought in some quality players. As for Tottenham, Andre Villas-Boas is a very talented manager but he needs to get the forward line sorted soon and also find a replacement for Luka Modric.

Bottom Three?

It’s really tough to call who will go down this season. Every year I feel Wigan will be relegated but they somehow stay up. This season again I am going to say Wigan. They have made two good signings in Ivan Ramis and Arouna Kone, but they could lose Victor Moses and should be down there again. Norwich had a very good season last term under Paul Lambert, but with him moving away to a bigger club they are going struggle along with Reading. I really hope the Royals stay up but they are a very attacking side. That will make them entertaining but also vulnerable.

Surprise Package?

With the expected arrival of Gaston Ramirez, it makes Southampton one of the entertaining teams in the Premier League. They have lots of exciting attacking players throughout the side and I can see them doing what Norwich or Swansea did last season. At the same time, I think Mark Hughes’ QPR side will be the overachievers this season. Hughes kept the R’s up on the final day last season and I am expecting a very good campaign from them this year. They have made some very good signings in Park Ji-Sung, Junior Hoilett and Jose Bosingwa. They will be very hard to beat and could even finish in the top half of the table.

Top Scorer?

We will be looking at a lot of the same names again this season. Van Persie and Wayne Rooney will form a deadly combo at United, while Luis Suarez – if he can control himself – will benifit a lot in Brendan Rodgers attack-minded Liverpool side and with Arsenal creating lot of chances Lukas Podolski will also be up there. But in the end Sergio Aguero will win the Golden Boot this season. He had a tremendous first season in England and I expect him to get even better this season. If City do go on to defend their Premier League crown, it will be because of his goals.

Player to Watch?

There are so many exciting players to watch in the Premier League this season. As a United fan I love watching Steven Gerrard play because he is a true inspiration to his team-mates and can single handedly win a game for Liverpool and I hope he stays fit for the whole season.

However, I feel Eden Hazard will be my player to watch this season. His transfer saga went on for months and in the end he revealed on Twitter that he had decided to join Chelsea. He is one of the top talents in world football and was named the Ligue 1 Player of the Year for the second consecutive time last season. He will have a huge role to play for Chelsea this season and will also have to justify his big transfer fees. If he can star as he did for his previous club then the Blues could be in with a shout for the Premier League title.

Premier League 2012/13 Team Preview – Arsenal

Welcome to IntoTheTopCorner’s team-by-team preview to the new Barclays Premier League season. Here we look at Arsenal’s vital stats, their summer transfers and analyse their chances.

Manager: Arsene Wenger.
Captain: Thomas Vermaelen/
Stadium: Emirates Stadium (60,361).
Last season: 3rd.
Leading scorer (PL): Robin van Persie (30).
Odds: Title 6-1. Relegation 500-1.

In: Santi Cazorla (£16.7m, Malaga), Oliver Giroud (£10.5m, Montpellier), Lukas Podolski (£11.4m, Koln).

Out: Benik Afobe (Loan, Bolton), Manuel Almunia (Free, Watford), Pedro Botelho (Free, Atletico-PR), George Brislen-Hall (Released), James Campbell (Released), Joel Campbell (Loan, Betis), Denilson (Loan, Sao Paulo), Gavin Hoyte (Free, Dag & Red), Sean McDermott (Released), Jeffrey Monakana (Released), Rhys Murphy (Free, SC Telstar), Carlos Vela (£3.3m, Real Sociedad).

Kits

Key Man – Santi Cazorla
With Jack Wilshere out till mid-October and Robin van Persie’s future at the club uncertain, the latest addition to the squad from Malaga will be the key man for the Gunners this season. The versatile midfielder, who can play anywhere behind the striker, will be primary playmaker for the upcoming season and will try and create or score as many goals as possible.

Opening Fixtures
18-Aug – Sunderland (H)
25-Aug – Stoke (A)
01-Sep – Liverpool (A)
15-Sep – Southampton (H)
22-Sep – Man City (A)
29-Sep – Chelsea (H).

Probable Formation (4-2-3-1): Szczesny; Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs; Song, Arteta; Walcott, Cazorla, Podolski; Giroud/RVP.

Verdit: The RVP situation could be unsettling for the club and a Wilshere return is still unlikely in the foreseeable future. However Wenger has added three major signings to his squad that could make the Gunners serious title contenders. I don’t see them to be serious title challengers come May, but a sure top for finish.

Prediction: 4th.

Arsenal Reveal New Away Kit For Season 2012/13

Arsenal have revealed their new away kit for the 2012/13 Premier League season made by Nike, available to pre-order from Thursday, July 12, with the help of chart-topping pop duo, Rizzle Kicks.

The Gunners-supporting pair don the new strip, which combines a rich purple base with black hoops, in a viral that features the duo performing a track from their album Stereo Typical, ‘Demolition Man’.

The purple design gives the kit a regal flavour in this Diamond Jubilee year for a side that was known as ‘Royal Arsenal’ in the 1890s, having been formed at the Arsenal munitions factory in Woolwich, South London. The red trim on the shirt cuffs compliments the purple body, while the differing hoop patterns on the shirt provide a modern twist. The inner back neck graphic, meanwhile, takes the form of the Club’s motto, ‘Victoria Concordia Crescit’, the Latin for ‘Victory Through Harmony’, while the outer back neck graphic pays tribute to legendary manager Herbert Chapman’s innovative WM formation. The purple and black hooped socks, bearing one red stripe each, pay tribute to Chapman’s legacy and his introduction of hooped socks to make it easier for players to pick each other out on the pitch.

Speaking about the new kit, midfielder Alex Song said:

“I think the new design is really nice – I’m a guy who likes fashion and when I saw these colours, I was very happy. This kit is different to last season’s and I’m really excited to wear it. I might do something with my hair to match!”

As well as the striking new look, the kit will also be the most technologically advanced and environmentally friendly to date, thanks to Nike’s innovations. Each kit (shirt and shorts) is made using up to 13 recycled plastic water bottles, and out of fabric that is up to 23 per cent lighter than previous designs.

The kit is available to pre-order now at www.arsenaldirect.com and will be available in stores from Thursday, August 9, priced at £45 for adults and £35 for juniors. You can have a look at more pictures of the new kit here.