Tag Archives: Birmingham City

Premier League Team Of The Week – Gameweek 14

Hernandez-Routledge-TOTW

See who have made our Team of the Week from an exciting fourteenth gameweek in the Premier League. Everton and Swansea City provide two players each, while there is one each from Aston Villa, Manchester City, Manchester United, Queens Park Rangers, Stoke City, Sunderland and Tottenham Hotspur.

Simon Mignolet (Sunderland)

The Belgium shot-stopper put in a positive display – which showed he had recovered from error against West Brom at the weekend – to earn himself and his team a much needed clean-sheet. He was not regularly tested by the QPR forwards, but was more than ready when called upon and made total of six saves during the game on Tuesday.

Rafael (Manchester United)

Being a Manchester United fan, I am loving to see the progress the young Brazilian has made this season. He has come of age and was once again at his best, as he was alert to the early threat of Matt Jarvis, making a number of key interceptions. Going forward, he put in a couple of dangerous crosses and was a threat to deal with for the West Ham defence.

Ryan Nelsen (Queens Park Rangers)

QPR will need some strong characters in the dressing room and on the pitch to get them out of this tricky hole at the foot of the table, and the New Zealand international is one of those. Having signed him while at Tottenham in February, Harry Redknapp knows Nelsen has those qualities and the defender was rock solid in the heart of the defence  in their clean-sheet at Sunderland on Tuesday.

Matija Nastasic (Manchester City)

Many eyebrows were raised when Roberto Mancini decided to break up the successful partnership of Vincent Kompany and Joleon Lescott at heart of the City defence. But the doubts have given way to nods of approval as the young Serbian once again impressed alongside the skipper and was solid at the back in the City’s 2-0 win at Wigan on Wednesday.

Leighton Baines (Everton)

The Everton left-back has been in the form of his life this season as he put in another superb display in the 1-1 draw against Arsenal at Goodison Park. The marauding full-back provided a constant outlet for his side on left and linked up with Steven Pienaar to devastating effects at times which caused the Gunners some trouble at the back.

Pablo Hernandez (Swansea City)

Pablo Hernandez has made his name as a right-winger for Valencia in the La Liga, but in Swansea’s impressive win over high-flying West Brom on Wednesday, the Spaniard did much of his best work on the left flank. Hernandez was a class apart during a first half performance that saw the Swans go 3-0 up within 40 minutes and he was involved in all the three goals.

Wayne Routledge (Swansea City)

Another player who has been impressive alongside Michu and Pablo Hernandez for the Swans this season has to be Wayne Routledge. The former Newcastle man was at his very best in the win over West Brom. He scored twice with two superb finishes and the midfielder popped up virtually in every attacking position as he caused havoc to the Baggies defence.

Marouane Fellaini (Everton)

The big Belgian returned from suspension and played a huge part in his side’s 1-1 draw at home on Wednesday. Fellaini epitomised all that was good about hard-working Everton, but also brought a significant amount of quality too. His curling effort in the first half brought the Toffees back on level terms after Theo Walcott had given Arsenal an early lead.

Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur)

It takes something special to make it in the Team Of The Week after scoring such an own goal and that’s exactly what the Welshman did in the 2-1 win over Liverpool at White Hart Lane. Bale’s driving run and delicious delivery led to Aaron Lennon’s opener within ten minutes before he doubled the lead with a brilliant free-kick.

Cameron Jerome (Stoke City)

We have seen many super-subs this season and Jerome was the latest of the lot. He came on in the 68th minute against Newcastle and completely turned the game on it’s head. The former Birmingham man used his pace to trouble the full-backs and delivered a perfect cross for Jonathan Walters to equalise. Then the forward repaid the faith shown in him by Tony Pulis as he won the game with a late strike.

Christian Benteke (Aston Villa)

The Belgium striker has been keeping Darren Bent out of the team with his superb performances and on Tuesday night against Reading, he again showed why he deserves to start ahead of the England international. Benteke saw a superb chance denied by Adam Federici in the first half and was superb as a target-man throughout the game before scoring the late winner.

TOTW GW 14

Top Five Keepers Who Can Replace Reina At Liverpool

According to the reports, Liverpool have given Pepe Reina until January to prove his ability to fit into Brendan Rodgers’ new system, or face being sold.

Reina’s role as Spain’s second choice keeper has already been given to Barcelona’s Victor Valdes and his club career looks in danger of following the same path, but who could replace him at Anfield? Here, IntoTheTopCorner has a look at the top five candidates..

1. MICHEL VORM (SWANSEA CITY)

The Dutch international has been very impressive since moving to the Premier League from FC Utrecht a year ago. Vorm kept 13 clean sheets in 37 appearances last season and his performances won him the Fans’ Player of the Year, Players’ Player of the Year and the Away Players’ Player of the Year awards. The 28-year-old worked under the current Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers at the Liberty Stadium last season. Good reflexes, good ball distribution and comfortable with ball at his feet, Vorm fits into Rodgers’s system perfectly.

2. CRAIG GORDON (FREE AGENT)

The Scotish international was once famously hailed as one of the best keepers in the world by Gianluigi Buffon, but with him currently being a free agent, it looks like no one is willing to take a gamble on the injury-prone former Sunderland stopper. Though a move to Liverpool would be a risk for the club, should they keep him injury free and get the best out of him, then it could be the bargain buy of the year.

3. JACK BUTLAND (BIRMINGHAM CITY)

Jack Butland’s performances for Team GB at the London Olympics 2012 has done justice to his hype that had build around him after being selected in the England squad for the Euros. The youngster has only played first-team football in League Two while on loan at Cheltenham Town, but was tipped for a move to one of the top Premier League sides this summer. Signing Butland would be a major gamble due to his age and experience, but he could develop into one of the top keepers in the world and occupy the number one spot for many years to come.

4. MAARTEN STEKELENBURG (AS ROMA)

The Dutch number one inherited the jersey from the former Manchester United keeper Edwin van der Sar upon his retirement from national football. Since then Stekelenburg has improved steadily and has also made AS Roma’s number one jersey his own ousting current Liverpool back-up Doni at the Stadio Olimpico. With the rise of Tim Krul in the last year or so, the Roma man may need to move elsewhere to fight off the challenge for the Netherlands number one jersey and a move Liverpool could be the best opportunity. He being a product of the Ajax academy, it won’t be difficult for him to adjust to Rodgers’ style of football.

5. MARC-ANDRE TER STEGEN (BORUSSIA MONCHENGLADBACH)

The German has got many scouts from across Europe excited with his performances in the Bundesliga over the past season. Just 20 years old, Ter Stegen has already made his debut for the senior Germany side and also saved a penalty from Lionel Messi in the recent international freindly. The young keeper forced himself into Gladbach’s starting XI while still a teenager and is a very exciting prospect for the future. His style of goalkeeping has been frequently compared to the great German keeper – Oliver Kahn

Manchester City’s Potential Summer 2012 Transfer Targets

What a season it was for Manchester City!! On a dramatic final day of the season, the Blues went on to win the Premier League for the first time in 44 years but were very disappointing in Europea – both the Champions League and the Europa League.

This summer, Roberto Mancini has not signed any player yet but is expected to sign a couple of big players before the start of the season to strengthen the squad. With the Citizens having won the Premier League in the previous season, their aim for the upcoming season will not only be to defend their title but also put in a good performance in Europe ie atleast reach the the quarter-finals or the semi-finals of the Champions League. Here are Manchester City’s potential summer transfer targets..

JACK BUTLAND – BIRMINGHAM CITY (GOALKEEPER)

The 19-year-old English keeper was the part of the England squad for the UEFA EURO 2012 in Poland/Ukraine. The Birmingham City stopper – who spent the previous season on loan at Cheltenham Town – has impressed the England coaching staff and Joe Hart has urged City to try to sign him. However, the young keeper who is in the Great Britain squad for the upcoming Olympics, wants to sign for a club where he will be assured regular first team football so that he can progress and reach his potential. That looks highly impossible at City, but they could sign him and loan him away immediately to another Premier League or Championship club.

FABRICO COLOCCINI – NEWCASTLE UNITED (DEFENDER)

Roberto Mancini is reportedly trying to sign players that will strengthen his backline and the Argentine defender from St. James Park is said to be on his shopping list. Coloccini was at his best last season as he helped Newcastle finish fifth in the league, above Chelsea, and qualify for the Europa League. Coloccini will be a great good addition to the squad and will also add the necessary competition for places at the back. The 30-year-old has recently signed a new deal at Newcastle but the lure of Champions League football and winning titles will be very hard to reject.

STEFAN RADU – LAZIO (DEFENDER)

Stefan Radu is another name mentioned around the Etihad Stadium for the past couple of months. The 25-year-old Romanian has been in impressive form for Lazio since arriving in Rome, in 2008. His performances has attracted interest from many clubs across Europe. The 6ft centre-back, who can also play as a left-back, will be a great addition to the City squad and will also strengthen their defence which looked very vulnerable in the absence of Vincent Kompany. City will tough face some competition for his signature as Arsenal and Tottenham are also said to be interested in him.

MARTIN SKRTEL – LIVERPOOL (DEFENDER)

Stefan Savic looked vulnerable as a cover and with Joleon Lescott ageing, another centre-back is a need for City after their league winning season. According to the reports, Martin Skrtel is one of the transfer targets of the club. The 27-year-old was Liverpool best man last season, having featured in every league game. The arrival of the Slovakian, who is rated around £20m, will be a great addition to the squad and will no doubt strengthen the defence. The transfer might also see Lescott leave the club and head in the opposite direction.

THIAGO SILVA – AC MILAN (DEFENDER)

Manchester City being interested in Thiago Silva is no news as its been going on since the start of the summer. Reports in various UK papers claimed that Mancini met the Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri in May to discuss a possible deal for the £42m rated Brazilian defender but nothing as ever materialized. Some reports in the past month suggested that the 27-year-old could snub interested from City and join Paris Saint-Germain but he also squashed all those rumours by signing a new deal at the San Siro.

DANIELE DE ROSSI – AS ROMA (MIDFIELDER)

Its a well known fact that Roberto Mancini is a huge fan of Daniele De Rossi and with Nigel De Jong linked with a move away from the Etihad Stadium, the Italian, who starred for the UEFA EURO 2012 finalists in Poland/Ukraine this summer, may well join his compatriot in Manchester. The 28-year-old, who recently signed a new five year deal with the Serie A side, has said he is ready to try his hand in different league having played in the Serie A for more than 11 years. De Rossi would be a huge addition to City midfield, who are set to lose Yaya Toure in January due to the African Cup of Nations.

JAVI MARTINEZ – ATHLETIC BILBAO (MIDFIELDER)

With Nigel De Jong’s future doubtful and Yaya Toure’s international commitments during the mid-season, City reportedly are preparing a £25m offer for Athletic Bilbao’s Spanish international. Javi Martinez, who can also play as a holding midfielder or as a centre-back, has been attracting a lot of interest from many European clubs like Barcelona and Bayern Munich after an excellent season with the Europa League finalists. Martinez will be real coup for the champions but they are set to face some tough competition from Barcelona, who are said to be the favourites to land him.

GASTON RAMIREZ – BOLOGNA (MIDFIELDER)

Ramirez, 21, is an attacking central midfielder with an eye for goal and was impressive for his Serie A side during last season. Ramirez is rated around £16m by his Italian club and has attracted interest from many European clubs in the past one year with Manchester City, Liverpool and Juventus being one of them. The midfielder who scored eight times last season would be a great signing for future and at the same time would provide good cover for David Silva and Samir Nasri.

WESLEY SNEIJDER – INTER MILAN (MIDFIELDER)

Sneijder has been linked with a move to the Red side of Manchester for the past couple of seasons but now City are the favourites to land him. Mancini has been looking at various different attacking midfield options since Hazard snubbed the Citizens to join Chelsea and signing Sneijder would be like putting salt on the wounds of Manchester United, who have spent more than 2 season in trying to sign him. The Dutch international would no doubt strengthen the team but he would cost more than £30m and his form since the World Cup has been very disappointing.

ROBIN VAN PERSIE – ARSENAL (STRIKER)

Along with Juventus, Manchester City are the favourites to sign the Arsenal skipper, Robin van Persie, who has said that he won’t be signing a new deal at the Emirates Stadium. Van Persie was in some outstanding goal scoring form last season and ended the league season as the Premier League’s top goal scorer with 30 goals. With Roque Santa Cruz, Emmanuel Adebayor and Edin Dzeko set to leave during the summer, there is place for Van Persie in the squad. With just one year left on the 28-year-old’s contract, the Gunners are expected to cash in on the forward this summer and an offer around £16m-£20m may well be accepted.

GONZALO HIGUAIN – REAL MADRID (STRIKER)

The Argentine is one of the most hottest property available in European football this season. Higuain has scored 22 La Liga in just 18 starts last season and yet he is second choice at Madrid behind Karim Benzema. The 24-year-old was linked with a move to Ligue 1 side Paris Saint-Germain at the start of the summer but nothing at all developed. Madrid coach Jose Mourinho has stated his intend to keep Higuain at the Bernabeu for many more seasons but a chance to play in the Premier League and alongside his Argentina teammates Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez and Pablo Zabaleta may be too hard to reject.

EDINSON CAVANI – NAPOLI (STRIKER)

Along with Robin van Persie and Gonzalo Higuain, Manchester City are also keeping tabs on the inform Napoli striker Edinson Cavani. If the 25-year-old Uruguayan was unknown to English football then he made himself known by scoring against both Chelsea and Manchester City in the Champions League last season. Cavani has been tremendous goal scoring form since joining Napoli in 2010, having scored 66 times in 94 league matches. The strong forward would be a marquee signing for the club but the Premier League champions face competition for his signature from Serie A champions Juventus, who are also interested in him.

Who Is Jack Butland? Introducing England’s 3rd Choice Keeper For The Euros

At the start of the season, Jack Butland wouldn’t have ever dreamt of being on the plane to Poland-Ukraine as a part of England 23-man squad for the Euros. But nine months later, an unfortunate injury to Norwick keeper John Ruddy means the 19-year-old Birmingham keeper has been called into Roy Hodgson’s team, taking the youngster straight into the big time.

Who is Jack Butland?

The question is a very good one. We havent seen Butland playing in the Premier League  or the Championship or even in the League One this season. Even the fans of Birmingham City – who are his employers – have only seen him if they have seen their reserves or the under-18s in action. But ask the people of Cheltenham and they will have nothing but praises for the young keeper who has appeared 24 times for them during his two loan periods at the club this season.

Yes, surprised? Cheltenham Town who play in the nPower League Two is Butland’s only club – so far – for whom he has played first team football. At six feet four inches, Butland is a commanding presence in the box and an athletic, agile shot stopper, and he has made full use of his stature to keep eleven clean sheets this season and has conceded just 26 goals. He has been one of the reasons for Cheltenham’s success this season which has seen them qualify for the League 2 playoff final against Crewe at the Wembley on Sunday.

Butland joined the Birmingham Academy in 2007 but hasn’t yet played a single game for the Blues. The best he could get was a place on the bench during the recent Championship playoffs. Despite having yet to make single appearances for the first team, the young keeper has already ‘Young Player of the Season’ award at St Andrews in May 2010 for his performances with the Reserves and England U-17s.

He has been involved with England setup since 2008 when he made his debut for the Under-16s against Northern Ireland and kept a clean sheet as the Young Lions won 6-0. Since then Butland has represented the Three Lions at every age group and was the key member of the U-17 squad that won the European Championship in Liechtenstein in May 2010. He was later called up for the Under-20s for the 2010 Under-20 World Cup in Colombia. He kept three clean sheets during the tournament and conceded just one goal against Nigeria, which in the end led to England’s downfall as they later failed to score.

His performances did not go unnoticed and he was later called up for the England Under-21s by boss Stuart Pearce. Butland made his debut in the 6-0 win over over Azerbaijan Under-21s in a Euro 2013 qualifier, and has since gone on to make a total of six appearances before being called-up as a replacement for John Ruddy in the senior team yesterday.

Who has been the man behind Butland’s success?

Butland comes with a huge promise and could be one of the stars in the future but much of that credit must be given to Birmingham City’s and current England goalkeeping coach David Watson. Watson, who has 178 appearances as a keeper for Barnsley, has been the key to not only Butland’s success but also has enhanced the careers of former England keeper Ben Foster and the current number one Joe Hart during their times at St. Andrews. And in Butland, it looks like he has moulded another potential shot-stopper for the Three Lions in the future.

What are his chances of playing at the Euro 2012?

To be quite honest the chances of him playing for England at Euros are zero. Joe Hart is England’s number one choice keeper and Robert Green will be his backup in case Hart suffers an injury, hope it doesn’t happen. So, Butland will only get a chance to play if both Hart and Green are suspended or injured and that looks highly unlikely. But expect to see a lot of him in the future, maybe during the friendlies after the Euros or during the qualifying campaign for the 2014 World Cup or 2016 Euros.

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