Tag Archives: Craven Cottage

Five Possible Destinations For Mario Balotelli

Balo-Destinations

Mario Balotelli’s relationship with Manchester City is in hot waters after his decision to take the club to a tribunal over disciplinary fines and that could leave the club with no choice but offload him in January.

The Italian striker has earned himself an infamous reputation in his short spell at the Etihad Stadium – his indiscipline on and off the field and his inconsistent form could catalyze a move away from Eastlands in the upcoming January transfer window. Here we have a look at the five possible destinations for the Italian star.

1. Inter Milan

Many newspapers across the UK have reported that the Inter owner Massimo Moratti is keen to bring back Balotelli to the club where he spent three prolific years before his big money move to Manchester. The 22-year-old is rumoured to be suffering from homesickness and has also been spotted several times this season in the stands at the San Siro. A move back to Inter will be the best thing for Italian as he will be back home.

2. AC Milan

Since the Rossoneri sold Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to PSG in the summer, they have not been the same force of the old and are now 17 points behind leaders Juventus in the Serie A. Chief executive Adriano Galliani is an admirer of the volatile forward and has pondered a possible bid for him. Whether it’s a temporary loan move or a full transfer back to the San Siro, Balotelli would probably prefer a homecoming with a new challenge.

3. Paris Saint-Germain

Where there is a world-class player, there is PSG transfer rumour. The French capital club had a bid rejected for striker in the summer, but it looks highly unlikely that the reigning Premier League champions would rejected another offer for the striker, low in the pecking order, should it be made again in January. Super Mario would no doubt take the Ligue 1 by storm, but the move would certainly upset PSG’s current alpha male, Ibrahimovic.

4. Real Madrid

Elsewhere, Madrid boss Jose Mourinho is another admirer of the City striker since he was at Inter and was reportedly considering a move for him this summer. Perhaps now he could reignite his interested to lure Balotelli to the Bernabeu, but I doubt it will happen. The former Chelsea and Inter boss wouldn’t want to rock the Madrid boat that is already edging closer to capsizing as it is.

5. Fulham

The outsiders are the West London club Fulham. Boss Martin Jol has expressed his admiration and interest in the Italian striker but that the Cottagers would find it ‘impossible’ to lure him to Craven Cottage and afford him. Perhaps Mancini would consider sending Balotelli to Craven Cottage on loan for the rest of the season and keep an eye on him. But I doubt Mario will give Fulham a consideration.

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Premier League Team Of The Week – Gameweek 12

See who have made our Team of the Week from an exciting eleventh weekend in the Premier League. Arsenal, Liverpool, Norwich City and Southampton provide two players each, while there is one each from Manchester City, Sunderland and West Brom Albion.

John Ruddy (Norwich City)

The England keeper was in instrumental form in his side’s shocking 1-0 win over Manchester United at Carrow Road on Saturday. He made a succession of crucial saves – especially from Ashley Young – and two right at the death, to frustrate United and keep them at bay.

Nathaniel Clyne (Southampton)

Southampton have conceded the most number of goals this season, but Clyne is one player to keep an eye for in the future. In the biggest game at the bottom of the table, he was rock solid in defence when his team needed him and going forward he chipped in with an assist as his team got the better of QPR at Loftus Road.

Carlos Cuellar (Sunderland)

The former Aston Villa defender has been rock solid at the back for the Black Cats this season and he was once again at his best against Fulham at Craven Cottage on Sunday. He put in a very impressive defensive display and also scored his first goal for the club by heading home a corner.

Michael Turner (Norwich City)

Turner struggled at the start of the season but on Saturday he was at his very best. He was the heart and soul of the Canaries’ spirited defensive display and dealt brilliantly with both Javier Hernandez (later replaced by Danny Welbeck) and Robin van Persie. He put his body on the line and successfully got his head to numerous crosses to keep United’s attack at bay.

Jose Enrique (Liverpool)

This is the second consecutive time the Liverpool left-back has made our Team Of The Week and he completely deserves it. Played in an advance role in Saturday’s comfortable win over Wigan, the Spaniard put in his best performance of the season so far and ended the game with a goal and an assist.

Theo Walcott (Arsenal)

Arsenal fans and manager Arsene Wenger may be split on whether Theo Walcott is worth the money to keep at the club past this season. However, on Saturday in the North London derby at least Walcott put in a brilliant display. His contribution included an assist and an injury time goal.

Santi Cazorla (Arsenal)

The little Spainiard has been the Gunners’ best player this season and on Saturday he was at his creative best against Tottenham, making the most of Arsenal’s one-man advantage. He was involved in most of the hosts’ intricate build-up play, and topped off his performance with a goal and a brilliant assist in the 5-2 thrashing.

Jason Puncheon (Southampton)

He provided the impetus from the right side of midfield for Southampton, on his first return to Loftus Road, having played there on loan last season. His two assists and a sweet left-footed curling goal from the edge of the box was just the reward for his impressive performance.

Luis Suarez (Liverpool)

Another weekend and its Suarez again. The Uruguayan international is in the form of his life and without him I really can’t see Liverpool being a serious threat. However, he now has ten goals this season and increased his tally over the weekend with two well taken finishes in the home win over Wigan.

Shane Long (West Brom Albion)

The former Reading man spent a good 60 minutes terrorising the Chelsea defence and David Luiz in particular on Saturday. His goal involved great movement and his assist for Peter Odemwingie was of the first order. He has adapted very well to the life in the Premier League and now can produce performances capable of dismantling top sides.

Carlos Tevez (Manchester City)

The Argentine striker ended his barren spell of just one goal in his last 12 appearances for City, with a brace in the 5-0 thrashing of Aston Villa. His first came from the penalty spot, while his second was a close-range tap-in. But, his performance will be the most pleasing thing for Roberto Mancini.

Premier League Team Of The Week – Gameweek 10

See who have made our Team of the Week from an exciting tenth weekend in the Premier League. Manchester United and Norwich City have provided two players each, while there is one each from Reading, West Ham, Aston Villa, Swansea, Everton, Liverpool and West Brom.

Alex McCarthy (Reading)

The Royals may still be looking for their first win of the season, but the 22-year-old put in another inspired display for his team in the 1-1 draw against QPR at Loftus Road. He first excellently tipped Esteban Granero’s free-kick onto the crossbar and then produced another inch-perfect save to deny Adel Taarabt in the closing.

Steven Whittaker (Norwich City)

Making your debut in the Premier League is not at all easy, even for a seasoned professional like the former Rangers man – who was handed his Norwich City debut against Stoke on Saturday.  Whittaker was very impressive at the back, especially his crossing as the Canaries picked another welcomed win and kept a clean sheet.

James Collins (West Ham United)

Manchester City started with Carlos Tevez, Edin Dzeko and Mario Balotelli at Upton Park and then introduced Sergio Aguero in the second half, but they couldn’t find a way through the West Ham defence. Collins, alongside Winston Reid, marshaled the Hammers’ back four brilliantly and restricted the reigning Premier League champions to a number of half-chances.

Ciaran Clark (Aston Villa)

Clark provided the defensive foundation for his side to build an important 1-0 win over Sunderland on Saturday. On the one-occasion when Clark was stretched defensively, the centre-back recovered excellently to block Sunderland’s Stephane Sessegnon from scoring an almost certain goal.

Patrice Evra (Manchester United)

The Manchester United left-back has had a lot criticism recently, but it was all-smiles for the Frenchman during Saturday’s 2-1 win over Arsenal. The defender was hardly troubled by the Gunners, who didn’t at all have pace in their attack. He also scored United’s second goal, which turned out to be the winner with Arsenal scoring with the last kick of the ball.

Pablo Hernandez (Swansea City)

The Spaniard was at the heart of Swansea’s attacking threat, constantly probing with intelligent passing and movement. Hernandez created a host of Swansea chances before taking it upon himself to net the equaliser with just two minutes left on the clock, following a well-taken finish from the edge of the box.

Marouane Fellaini (Everton)

Everton will feel as though they should have left Fulham with all three points on Saturday, with David Moyes’ side dominating at Craven Cottage. A 2-2 draw, however, keeps them in the top four and Fellaini has been an influential figure for them this season. He bagged a brace at Fulham over the weekend to take his tally to five goals in nine matches.

Wes Hoolahan (Norwich City)

The Norwich City playmaker has always had the talent to play at the top level, but his inconsistency has often been the problem. However, against Stoke he was near to his best, pulling the strings as he drifted effortlessly from one side of the pitch to the other.

Luis Suarez (Liverpool)

The Uruguayan striker scored one of the goals of the season as he dug Brendan Rodgers’ side out of another hole. Full of craft and skill, Suarez appeared unplayable at times, and will haunt the Magpies skipper Fabricio Coloccini after his trickery tempted him into a clumsy challenge, which resulted in a red card for his fellow South American.

Robin van Persie (Manchester United)

Van Persie took just three minutes to remind Arsene Wenger why his absence is a massive blow to Arsenal’s lofty ambitions this season, when he capitalised on an uncharacteristic error by Thomas Vermaelen to give United the lead. His clever movement and constant attacking intent caused the visitors endless problems at the back.

Peter Odemwingie (West Brom Albion)

Odemwingie was the star of the show on Monday night as West Brom defeated rock-bottom Southampton 2-0 at the Hawthorns, with the Nigerian international striker grabbing a deadly double to pile pressure on Nigel Adkins’ side.

Premier League Team Of The Week – Gameweek 8

See who have made our Team of the Week from an exciting eighth weekend in the Premier League. Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United have provided two players each, while there is one each from Fulham, Liverpool, Newcastle, Norwich and West Ham.

Joe Hart (Manchester City) 

He was criticized for the goal England conceded in Poland during midweek, but the City keeper was back to his best against West Brom. He couldn’t do much about the goal, but kept his side in the game late on, with two very important stops from Romelu Lukaku that allowed Edin Dzeko to come up with a late winner.

Chris Baird (Fulham)

The Fulham right-back scored the only goal of the match helping the Cottagers beat Aston Villa at Craven Cottage. He capped a solid display for his side with a goal as he provided the finish after getting at the end of a John Arne Riise corner and also helped his side keep a clean sheet.

Gary Cahill (Chelsea)

The England international was only in the side for the suspended John Terry, but was calm and collected at the back and put in one of his best performances of the season in the important 4-2 win over Tottenham. He also got his name on the score-sheet as he opened the scoring with a thumping volley.

Fabricio Coloccini (Newcastle United)

The Newcastle skipper was back in the side after fully recovering from his injury and he led by example. He was as solid as a rock at the heart of the defence and with the Magpies down to 10-men after just 25 minutes, he put in a shift for two. His side may well have collect all three points if he would have lasted the whole game.

Javier Garrido (Norwich City)

He may not have scored the winning goal, but the former City full-back was one of chief architects of Norwich’s historical win over Arsenal on Saturday. He put in a fine defensive performance and at the same time was very good in supporting the counter-attacks. He kept the Gunners’ right wing relatively quiet and restricted them to very few chances.

Juan Mata (Chelsea)

He is getting better & better by each game and is surely an early contender for the Player of the Year award. The little Spaniard responded perfectly to the national team snub by helping his side to a comeback win at White Hart Lane against his former boss Andre Villas-Boas. He scored twice and assisted once to keep Roberto Di Matteo’s side at the top of the table.

Mark Noble (West Ham United)

Noble has been playing in the Premier League for most of his career but his performance on Saturday was one of his best. He put in a commanding display, scoring twice (once from the spot) in the important 4-1 win over Southampton. His drive and determination in midfield made Hammers look good.

Raheem Sterling (Liverpool)

He is one special talent and is getting stronger with every game. He became the second youngest scorer – after Michael Owen – for Liverpool when he scored the winner against Reading. He has huge potential in him to become oen the best in England and it looks like he is on the right track under Brendan Rodgers’ guidance.

Robin van Persie (Manchester United)

The Dutchman was again at his classy best against Stoke and it was another example of how dangerous the partnership between Van Persie and Rooney is going to be. His brilliant left wing cross resulted to Rooney’s equaliser and then he himself got on the score-sheet with sublime finish just before the interval.

Edin Dzeko (Manchester City)

The Bosnian may only have been on the pitch for just over 10 minutes but he completely transformed the tie as he netted City’s both goals in the 2-1 win at the Hawthorns. A trademark header got the 10-men City leveled and in stoppage-time he calmly finished off a flowing counter attack to grab what could be a crucial winner.

Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)

A few months ago people were suggesting that Rooney and Van Persie couldn’t play in the same team and he will have to get used to life on the bench. Fast forward to mid October and the England international looks at his very best as he celebrated his decade in the Premier League. Scored an own goal, but responded brilliantly with two well taken goals at the right end. The second being his 200th in club football.

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 2012/13 Team Preview – Fulham

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

Manager: Martin Jol.
Captain: TBD
Stadium: Craven Cottage (25,700).
Last season: 9th.
Leading scorer (PL): Clint Dempsey (17).
Odds: Title 1500-1. Relegation 7-1.

In: Mladen Petric (Free, Hamburg), Sascha Riether (Loan, FC Koln), Hugo Rodallega (Free, Wigan), George Williams (Undisc., MK Dons).

Out: Dickson Etuhu (£1.6m, Blackburn), Marcel Gecov (Undisc., Gent), Zdenek Grygera (Released), Andrew Johnson (Free, QPR), Danny Murphy (Free, Blackburn), Bjorn Helge Riise (Free, Lillestrom), Orlando Sa (Released).

Kits

Key Man – Clint Dempsey
Dempsey has been linked with a move away from Craven Cottage all summer but nothing has yet materialised. With the American, who contract is set to expire next summer, expected to start the campaign with west London club, he will be one of the key men for the Cottagers this season. Dempsey’s goal record in the Premier League is truly impressive and if he ends up staying at Craven Cottage, the club will need more of the same this season to finish in the top half.

Opening Fixtures
18-Aug – Norwich (H)
25-Aug – Man Utd (A)
01-Sep – West Ham (A)
15-Sep – West Brom (H)
22-Sep – Wigan (A)
29-Sep – Man City (H)

Probable Formation (4-4-1-1): Schwarzer; Riether, Hughes, Hangeland, Riise; Duff, Ruiz, Diarra, Dempsey; Dembele; Petric.

Verdit: After a slugglish start following their involvement in the Europa League, Jol’s side settled into form and should again be looking to finish in the top half of the table. Mladen Petric has looked a good bargain after his displays in the pre-season, but a lot rides on whether the club can keep hold of the American star Clint Dempsey. The former Spurs boss has allowed key players like Bobby Zamora, Andy Johnson and Danny Murphy to leave and it will be very interesting to see how he builds a new attacking spine to the team. I don’t expect anything out of the ordinary from the west London club and may just miss out on a top 10 finish this season.

Prediction: 11th.

Top Five Brazilians Who Should Move To The Premier League From Brazil

Chelsea are close to signing Oscar from Internacional, while Spurs are interested in Internacional’s Leandro Damiao and Manchester United are trying to bring Lucas Moura to Old Trafford from Sao Paulo. By the end of the transfer window this summer, all three of them could be playing in England.

Here we look at the top five Brazilian players who should move to the Premier League from the Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A (Brazilian League).

1. NEYMAR – SANTOS (STRIKER)

Neymar da Silva Santos Junior or commonly known simply as Neymar is the most sought-after player in world football. The 20-year-old born in Sao Paulo plays for the state club and arch rivals Santos and is undoubtedly their most important player. The talented striker made his debut in 2009 as a 17-year-old and since has been the key part of the first team making 186 appearances and scoring 110 goals. The exciting footballer, who has dazzling dribbling skills and clinical finishing, has been capped 18 times by his country and has found back of the net on 9 occasions since making his international debut in 2010. The Brazilian international, who helped Santos in winning the Copa Libertadoers last season, has been linked with many top European clubs over the years, but the forward has stated his intention of staying in his homeland and developing further.

Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United are the Premier League clubs that have confirmed their interested in him in the past. Neymar would be an invaluable addition to any club and would surely excite the fans with his skills and finishing but he won’t come cheap. The Brazilian his highly rated by the Pixies and is valued around £45m by Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A side.

2. LUCAS MOURA – SAO PAULO (MIDFIELDER)

Lucas Rodrigues Moura da Silva known as just Lucas or Lucas Moura is another talented player from Brazil who has attracted interests from many top European clubs over the past year. The 19-year-old plays for his home club Sao Paulo and is their top talent coming through the ranks. Ther versatile midfielder, who can play on the wings or as an attacking playmaker just behind the striker, made his first team debut in 2010 as 17-year-old kid, and since has gone on to make 103 appearances for the Tricolor Paulista scoring 26 goals and assisting in 19. The teenager, who has won the South American Youth Championship in 2011, made his senior team debut in the same year against Scotland. Since his debut he has been a regular part of the national team setup making 15 appearances and scoring the first goal – his only goal for Brazil till date – in the 2-0 win over Argentina.

Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City are interested, but if the reports are to be believed then Manchester United are said to be the favourites in bringing the teenager to the Premier League. Lucas would be a huge addition to the Premier League and Manchester United. The attacking midfielder, who is valued around £25m, is a player who has immense of potential in him and surely one of the stars of the future.

3. OSCAR – INTERNACIONAL (MIDFIELDER)

Oscar dos Santos Emboaba Junior, who is commonly known as Oscar is another attacking midfielder who has attracted interested from many European clubs in the past year or so. The 20-year-old started off his career at Sao Paulo before moving to Internacional a couple of years back after a court case. Since his move to the Colorados he has been an integral part of their squad making 70 appearances in all competitions, scoring 19 goals and creating 20. The young playmaker, who can play anywhere in the midfield, scored the hat-trick in the 2011 FIFA U-20 Word Cup final win against Portugal and became the first ever player to do so. He made his international debut last year and since then he has earned 6 caps for the senior team. He scored his first ever international goal against Argentina last month.

The versatile midfielder, who is known for his movement and his passing, has been linked with a move to the Premier League this summer with both Chelsea and Tottenham interested. According to some reports in England and Brazil, Chelsea have beaten their London rivals for his signature as they have agreed a fee in the region of £20m with his club. Oscar would no doubt be a great addition to the Premier League and Chelsea alike and the fans would surely be expecting to see a lot of him in the Premier League for many years to come.

4. PAULO HENRIQUE GANSO – SANTOS (MIDFIELDER)

Paulo Henrique Chagas de Lima commonly known as Paulo Henrique Ganso or just Ganso is another playmaker that has been targeted by many top European club in the past few years. The 22-year-old joined Santos in 2005 as a 15-year-old from Paysandu and ever since has been playing for the Pexies. Ganso made his first team debut way back in 2008 as a substitute and since has been wearing the number10 jersey for the club on the regular basis. He has made a total of 157 appearances for Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A side and has found the back of the net 35 times. The 6ft tall attacking playmaker, who has been dubbed as the ‘next Kaka’, made his senior team debut in a friendly match against the USA in 2010 and was also an integral part of 2011 Copa America squad. But some serious long term injuries in the past couple of years has restricted him to being capped just 8 times by his national side.

Ganso, who is reported to be owned by Group DIS, is expected to leave Santos this summer but is set to stay in Brazil for atleast another year. Manchester City and Manchester United have both been linked with him in the past along with some more European clubs, but Internacional are the favourites to sign the £20m rated midfielder this summer. Keeping in mind his creativity and passing skills, Ganso would be an outstanding addition to any team in the Premier League but it doesn’t look like he would be moving to England atleast in the near future.

5. LEANDRO DAMIAO – INTERNACIONAL (STRIKER)

Leandro Damião da Silva dos Santos or simply known as Leandro Damiao is the second striker and the second Internacional player on this list that has attracted interest from many top clubs across Europe by his performances in Brazil. The 22-year-old played youth football for Atletico Tubarao and Atletico Ibirama before moving to the Colorados in 2009. Damiao made his first team debut in 2010 and since has made 115 appearances in all competitions and has found the back of the net 70 times for the Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A side. The striker, who guided Internacional to the Copa Libertadores success in 2010, made his international debut last year against Scotland along with Lucas Moura. Since his debut, he has gone on to be capped 9 times by Brazil but has scored just once – in the 1-0 win over Ghana at Craven Cottage.

Both Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool are reported to be interested in signing the inform Brazilian striker as they look to strengthen their forward line. Leandro Damiao started off his career as a midfielder but he is a true finisher and has proven his abilities by scoring regularly in Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A, which is said to be one of the most competitive leagues in the world. If the Brazilian does sign for a Premier League club this summer, he would be a great addition and will join the list of star strikers in the league.