Tag Archives: Chelsea

Premier League ‘Bosman XI’ – Team Of Stars Out Of Contract In The Next Summer

Lampard-Bosman-XI

As we get close to the new year and the January transfer window, we make a team with the Premier League players who will be out of contract at the end of the season and could leave for free.

From the start of the new year, all these players can start negotiating with other clubs for a better contract and can join them for nothing in the summer. This year the likes of Michael Owen, Emile Heskey and Paul Scharner found new clubs, while Owen Hargreaves, Craig Gordon and Harry Kewell are left waiting for a phone call.

So come next summer which players could be moving on for free from the Premier League? Here is our Premier League ‘Bosman XI’..

Premier League Bosman XI

Subs:- Brad Friedel (Tottenham), Kolo Toure (Man City), William Gallas (Tottenham), Maynor Figueroa (Wigan), Florent Malouda (Chelsea), Mladen Petric (Fulham), Franco di Santo (Wiagn).

Note:- The likes of Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Jamie Carragher are also in their final year of their respective deals but have been excluded from the team because it is too hard to see them playing for anybody else.

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Cristiano Ronaldo’s Ten Greatest Manchester United Moments

When Real Madrid came out of the hat as Manchester United’s opponents for the last 16 of the Champions League, the minds of all United fans everywhere switched to one man, Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Portuguese skipper will return to Old Trafford for the first time since leaving the club in the summer of 2009. He will return for the second leg of the tie and will be greeted with a huge round of applause and the customary ‘Viva Ronaldo’ United chants.

In our today’s Picture Specials, we have a look at Ronaldo’s ten greatest moments during his time with the Old Trafford club…

1.  Joins United from Sporting Lisbon (July 2003)

Joins-United

2. Debut vs Bolton Wanderers (August 2003)

Debut-Bolton

3. Goal vs Milwall in the 2004 FA Cup final (May 2004)

FA-Cup-Final-Goal-Millwall

4. First Premier League title (May 2007)

First-League-Title

5. Back to back PFA and FWA awards (May 2007)

Back-2-Back-PFA

6. Stunning freekick against Portsmouth (January 2008)

Freekick-Pompey

7. Winning the Champions League final against Chelsea (May 2008)

Champions-League-Win

8. Named FIFA Player of the Year (December 2008)

Fifa-Player-Of-The-Year

9. 40-yard goal against Porto (April 2009)

Goal-Porto

10. Transferred to Real Madrid for world record fee (June 2009)

Transfered-Madrid

Premier League’s Top Five Biggest Spenders In The Last 10 Years

torres-chelsea-signs

The 2013 transfer window will be something special not only because of all the potentially exciting deals that can happen but also it marks the 10th anniversary of the transfer window.

In 2003 the rules were changed to ensure that all transfer were carried out either in the summer or in January alone, leaving the rest of the season free of speculation and allowing everyone to focus on the football. So, since it’s introduction in 2002/03 right up to the summer window just gone over £4.4 billion has been spent – but who has splashed the most cash and who has pulled off the worst deal?

Luckily, thanks to TransferMarkt and GiveMeFootball, we have a list of the top 5 biggest spenders over the last decade. Have a look at it below..

1. Chelsea

Total spend: £861,498,000
Biggest spend: £151,536,000 (2003/04)
Most expensive deal: Fernando Torres, £50 million (2011)
Best deal: Didier Drogba, £24 million (2004/05)
Worst deal: Andriy Shevchenko, £30 million (2006/07)
Average season spend: £78,318,000

2. Manchester City

Total spend: £662,521,200
Biggest spend: £160,556,000 (2010/11)
Most expensive deal: Sergio Aguero, £39.5 million (2011/12)
Best deal: Sergio Aguero, £39.5 million (2011/12)
Worst deal: Robinho, £32.5 million (2008/09)
Average season spend: £60,229,200

3. Liverpool

Total spend: £533,683,040
Biggest spend: £85,822,000 (2010/11)
Most expensive deal: Andy Carroll, £35 million (2010/11)
Best deal: Fernando Torres, £20 million (2007/08)
Worst deal: Andy Carroll, £35 million (2010/11)
Average season spend: £48,516,640

4. Tottenham Hotspur

Total spend: £496,663,200
Biggest spend: £125,400,000 (2008/09)
Most expensive deal: Luka Modric, £16.75 million (2008/09)
Best deal: Rafael van der Vaart, £8 million (2010/11)
Worst deal: David Bentley, £16.5 million (2008/09)
Average season spend: £45,151,200

5. Manchester United

Total spend: £484,884,400
Biggest spend: £91,080,000 (2007/08)
Most expensive deal: Dimitar Berbatov, £30.75 million (2008/09)
Best deal:  Cristiano Ronaldo, £12 million (2003/2004)
Worst deal: Owen Hargreaves, £17 million (2007/08)
Average season spend: £44,080,400

Teams Manchester United and Arsenal Want To Avoid In The Champions League Round Of 16

Arsenal-United-ucl

Arsene Wenger recently said it didn’t matter if his side finish second in their group, but given the difference between the sides Arsenal and Manchester United might draw, he may have to think again.

As everyone knows, if you want to win tournaments, you are going to face the best teams at some stage of the tournament. With Arsenal finishing second in their group, they now are more than likely to face a tricky first round in the knockout stages. While, Manchester United finished top of their group and although there are a couple of teams they will want to avoid, they will likely get a favourable draw.

Manchester United

For United, Real Madrid are clearly the ones to avoid, with Jose Mourinho’s men second in their group by Borussia Dortmund. As the Portuguese himself said, the past two times his side have finished second in their group they have gone on to win the Champions League, and with the quality they have in their squad, they are still one of the favourites to win the tournament. The other side United will be keen to avoid is Shakhtar Donetsk, who have been very impressive this season and knocked Chelsea out.

The other four teams that Manchester United could draw pose less threat than the above two. Milan are improving but they don’t look like they will be able to compete in Europe this year. Porto are tricky, but United should be able to beat them, and the same goes for Valencia. Celtic could be interesting given it will be the ‘Battle of Britain’ and their performances against Barcelona were incredible, but Sir Alex Ferguson’s side would be expected to win comfortably.

Arsenal

While United are looking to avoid only two teams, the Gunners really have only one favourable draw and that’s Malaga. The Spanish side’s excellent start has fallen away a little bit in the league, and with their inexperience in the Champions League you would think Arsenal would be able to beat them. The rest of the sides look dangerous.

PSG like Malaga are inexperienced in Europe, but have Zlatan Ibrahimovic and a number of other talent players. They are probably the second best draw available. Then there is Juventus and Dortmund, winners over Real Madrid, Chelsea, Manchester City and Shakhtar already, and they are not the real big guns of Europe. Barcelona and Bayern Munich are rightly considered amongst the favourites for the tournament, and if Wenger’s side pick either name, it will be very tough to see them making the last eight.

So, who do you want, and who you don’t want?

Champions League Group Stage Ultimate XI

Group Stage Ultimate XI

The Champions League group stages are done and dusted with Chelsea becoming the first holders in the history to be knocked out in the group stages, Manchester City completely out of Europe, Real Madrid finishing second and Lionel Messi in fine form.

Here, IntoTheTopCorner picks its Group Stage Ultimate XI, containing the very best performers over the six matchdays in a 4-5-1 formation. There’s an alternative to each selection, so have a look at the team below…

GK – FRASER FORSTER (CELTIC)

Forster

Celtic are through to the knockout stages for the first time since the 2007/08 season and they had some individual performances to thank for. The former Newcastle United shot-stopper is one of them, as he had two brilliant games against Barcelona that actually secured their qualification. A last-gasp defeat at the Camp Nou and a historical win at Celtic Park did their confidence a world of good, and their final matchday win over Spartak Moscow was more than deserved.

Alternative – Joe Hart (Manchester City)

RB – PHILIPP LAHM (BAYERN MUNICH)

Lahm

Bayern’s skipper and Mr. Consistent, Philipp Lahm, has proved dependable yet again as the Bundesliga leaders secured the top spot in Group F ahead of Valencia. Though, the German international captain did his best work on the left flank he comes in our side as a right-back. He managed three assists and won one penalty in the five matches he played and looked very solid at the back.

Alternative – Lukasz Piszczek (Borussia Dortmund)

CB – THIAGO SILVA (PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN)

Thiago Silva

The Brazilian is known as one of the best defenders in the world of football at the moment and he didn’t let anyone down. The former AC Milan centre-back was very consistent throughout the group stages as he helped the French side to first place in Group A in their long-awaited return to Europe’s elite. He scored two goals including the opener in PSG’s important win over Porto on Matchday six.

Alternative – Martin Demichelis (Malaga)

CB – MATS HUMMELS (BORUSSIA DORTMUND)

Hummels

Dortmund – surprisingly – topped the Group of Death and they had their solid defence to thank for it. Hummels, the integral part of the reigning Bundesliga champions’ back four, was at his very best as Die Schwarzgelben remained unbeaten in all of their six group games and also managed to keep three clean sheets in the process.  All the defence played their part, but the German international was perhaps the standout performer in Jurgen Klopp’s back four.

Alternative – Nicolas Otamendi (Porto)

LB – GIORGIO CHIELLINI (JUVENTUS)

Chiellini

Juventus secured their passage through to the knockout stages as Group E winners thanks to an unbeaten run of six games. Their last three were impressive wins and also clean sheets, while the Old Lady came out victorious in Donetsk – a feat achieved by very few teams in the past 12 months or so. The Italian international was perhaps the most impressive player in Antonio Conte’s back three.

Alternative – Christian Fuchs (Schalke)

CDM – ARTURO VIDAL (JUVENTUS)

Vidal

The Chilean international has to be one of the players of the group stages. The former Leverkusen man is a typical box-to-box midfielder combining defensive steel with goal-scoring prowess at the highest level. His partnership with Claudio Marschisio is the engine of Conte’s team. In the group stages, he averaged 4.8 tackles per game and scored three goals with one assist—an absolutely remarkable feat for a defensive midfield.

Alternative – Victor Wanyama (Celtic)

CM – WILLIAN (SHAKHTAR DONETSK)

Willian

The Brazilian alongside the Chilean gives our side some South American feel in the midfield. Willian, who has attracted a lot of interest from the Premier League clubs like Chelsea and Tottenham in the past, was one of the top performers for Shakhtar scoring four goals and creating two as they made it through to the last-16 and dumped the holders out of the competition in the process.

Alternative – Fernandinho (Shakhtar Donetsk)

CM – ISCO (MALAGA)

Isco

The 20-year-old Spaniard scored twice and assisted two in six games to announce himself on the European stage and walk straight into our line-up. While he has failed to to translate this form into his La Liga games, Isco has been in super form in the Champions League. It’s his form in the in Europe’s elite competition that has clubs scrambling to meet his €18.5 million buyout clause before Malaga extend his contract, and it’s clear this kid has something slightly special.

Alternative – Toni Kroos (Bayern Munich)

RW – CRISTIANO RONALDO (REAL MADRID)

Ronaldo

Love him or hate him, but the Portuguese is surely one of the best players in the world and he proved it with his performances for the Spanish champions in the group stages. The former Manchester United star managed to scored six goals in the group of death and will be hoping to score many more in the later stages as he hopes to guide the Los Blancos to their first ever Champions League title in over a decade.

Alternative – Juan Mata (Chelsea)

LW – LIONEL MESSI (BARCELONA)

Messi

A Champions League team without the best player in the world? Not possible at all. The Barca striker is at his very peak and was again at his very best in the group stages scoring five goals and creating two as he helped the Catalans top their group. The Argentine has had the best year having scored 90 goals and will be hoping more of the same in 2013 as he looks to guide his team to yet another European success.

Alternative – Burak Yilmaz (Galatasaray)

ST – ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC (PARIS SAINT-GERMIAN)

Ibrahimovic

Out strike force is a nightmare to any team and Ibrahimovic leads it. The Swede has played for the many elite club during his career but his contributions for the French capital side in this season’s campaign can’t be ignored. He has managed to score just two goals in the six games but it’s the five assists that are the most impressive. Ezequiel Lavezzi, Javier Pastore and Jeremy Menez must really enjoy playing alongside the Swede as he continues to impress.

Alternative – Jackson Martinez (Porto)

Group Stage Ultimate XI

Revealed – Manchester United Have The Best Youth Academy In England

danny-tom

According to research by Sporting Intelligence, Manchester United have the best youth academy having produce more first-team players for club in Europe’s top 5 leagues than any other team in England.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s side are ranked fifth in the world behind the likes of Barcelona, Olympique Lyonnais, Real Madrid and Stade Rennais. Twenty of the twenty-four players who have graduated from the Old Trafford academy have gone on to play in the Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, Ligue 1 or the Serie A.

Nine of the twenty-four players produced are still at United ( including Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Darren Fletcher, Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck), and the remaining 15 playing elsewhere include the likes of Phil Neville (Everton), Kieran Richardson (Fulham), Phil Bardsley (Sunderland), Ron-Robert Zieler (Hannover 96), Paul Pogba (Juventus) and Ryan Shawcross (Stoke City).

Elsewhere in the Premier League, Arsenal came second behind United with 20 players, Aston Villa third with 15, Tottenham and West Ham joint fourth with 13 primary products. Reigning Premier League champions Manchester City are in seventh with 12 home grown players, while Chelsea are eight with total 12 players and Liverpool are tenth with a total of 10 primary products.

Outside the Premier League, Barcelona are the undisputed kings of producing players – with a massive 38 players produced by the famous La Masia academy. And it’s not only the number of production that impresses, its the unbelievably high talent level too. The likes of Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, Xavi, Sergio Busquets, Pedro, Victor Valdes, Carles Puyol, Jordi Alba, Cesc Fabregas and Gerard Pique are all home-grown players.

Ligue 1 club Olympique Lyonnias lie second behind Barcelona with 29 primary products, while Real Madrid have 27 home grown players. Another French club, Stade Rennais, are above Manchester United with 21 primary prodcuts. Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich are sixth with a total of 23 players followed by Sochaux, Real Sociedad, Atalanta and Atletico Madrid.

Top 10 from the Premier League

Manchester United – 24 total academy products
Arsenal – 20 academy products
Aston Villa – 15 academy products
Tottenham Hotspur – 15 academy products
West Ham United – 13 academy products
Newcastle United – 13 academy products
Manchester City – 12 academy products
Southampton – 12 academy products
Chelsea – 12 academy products
Liverpool – 10 academy products

Complete list..

Top 10 from Europe

Barcelona (La Liga) – 38 academy products
Olympique Lyonnais (Ligue 1) – 31 academy products
Real Madrid (La Liga) – 29 academy products
Stade Rennais (Ligue 1) – 24 academy products
Manchester United (Premier League) – 24 academy products
Bayern Munich (Bundesliga) – 23 academy products
Sochaux (Ligue 1) – 22 academy products
Real Sociedad (La Liga) – 21 academy products
Atalanta (Serie A) – 21 academy products
Atletico Madrid (La Liga) – 21 academy products

Complete list..

Steven Gerrard – The Pied Piper Of Anfield

Pied-Pipper-Of-Anfield

One of the greatest midfielders, Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has been the lynchpin of the Reds for the past decade or so and has also been the part of the transformation plans of four managers since the triumphant spectacle at Istanbul. However, the critics have doubted the current influence of the 32-year old English captain.

Under the current Chelsea interim boss – Rafael Benitez, Anfield was a place most teams around Europe feared to go. It was a fortress in its true sense. A young Gerrrad was given a more advanced role to play, just behind the target man Fernando Torres, Peter Crouch or Andrei Voronin. With Xabi Alonso at the centre of the park and the smart Javier Mascherano as the holding midfielder – the link between the midfield & the back four – Gerrard was handed the responsibility of handling the attacking side of the game. Liverpool were known for their direct style of play, fluent passing and classic counter attacks. The 2008-09 season was the highlight of this Liverpool side’s strength and ability. Benitez was clearly a manager who understood each player’s psychology, style of play and the suitable position required for his effective influence in the side’s game. Gerrard was at his very best and had expressed his happiness under the Spanish boss.

Benitez-Formation
Liverpool’s formation under Rafa Benitez

Liverpool’s inability of holding on to Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano, the stalwarts of the Liverpool midfield was followed by the exit of Benitez. This led to a beginning of a doubtful and disappointing transition in the history of the football club. The entry of Roy Hodgson led to a hope for the Koptites as the former Fulham manager seemed like a hopeful perspective. But his tenure ended after just 31 matches following a run of disappointing results. Meanwhile, the Liverpool skipper suffered a recurring hamstring injury in training.

The sacking of Hodgson meant that Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish would step in his shoes. After a struggling start and a serious injury Lucas Leiva, Gerrard was given a role of playing behind Jordan Henderson and play as a deep-lying playmaker, a position to which the English midfielder was not much acclimated to. The introduction of Stewart Downing, Charlie Adam and Henderson meant that the injury affected captain had to play behind the attacking midfielders. However, this was the time when the then 31 year-old midfielder suffered his major injury setbacks. He was sidelined for six months with a grueling groin injury and was again sidelined for an infection injury on his right ankle.

Dalglish-Formation
Liverpool’s formation under Kenny Dalglish

These injuries forced the manager to play him in a safe deep position which would keep him away from exertion and hard tackling and thus keep him away from further injuries. However, the fan favourite had mentioned in his interviews that he was more than willing to play the same role that he had played for Liverpool over the years but was happy with any role given by the manager. A 1-0 defeat on the final day of the season at  Swansea City meant the end of a disappointing era for Dalglish. Gerrard was criticized by many as a player too old for the British game but was still able to get 8 goals in the meager amount of games that he played.

Then came Brendan Rodgers. The former Swansea boss provides a whole new type of game of retaining the ball as quickly as possible and playing an aggressive & fast game. Meaning, the type of game Gerrard longs to play, with wholehearted commitment in every tackle.

Rodgers-Liverpool

However, the current role given to Gerrard has frustrated many a Liverpool fan. The influential and committed skipper has been given a tamed role of playing the ball in the final third from a deep position. But with a lack of strike force and a berserk Luis Suarez when it comes to finishing the obvious chances, the only support in the front-line, the midfielder is forced to give away the ball due to lack of options. The main and obvious remedy to this is to bring in a new striker, especially a striker who can make his presence felt in the box. The reason being that Jose Enrique and Raheem Sterling do all the hard work on the wings, taking defenders to the byline and then when they look up there is hardly a shadow in the box to aim at. Due to the inexperienced midfield comprising of Jonjo Shelvey and Joe Allen, Gerrard is given the responsibility of handling the defensive duties as well. For a 32-year-old it is too big a task. Allen after an impressive first three games has exposed his physical weakness and has given the ball away cheaply especially against the likes of Chelsea who have a hefty attacking line-up.

Remedy-Formation
The formation that Brendan Rodgers should play, which will get the best out of Gerrard

A makeshift solution can be of playing Lucas and Allen as the holding midfielders and Gerrard playing in front of them. This will enable him to move to either wing to support Sterling or the newly fullback turned left midfielder Jose Enrique as also of playing the final ball to Suarez or taking the shot on from outside the area, for which he was so feared till a season or two ago. The main problem is that the more deep he falls in the midfield the more the midfield looses its experience and the dynamic presence of an attacking and creative midfielder and thus his influence in the game reduces drastically. For a man who has given everything for his home club and wants to fulfill his only desire of winning the Premier League title, he should be given the role of a trequilesta, even if it drains out all his energy and has to sit out a third of the game.