Tag Archives: Frank Lampard

Predicting Chelsea and United’s Starting XI For Today’s UCL Matches

The current league leaders Chelsea and nineteen time English champions Manchester United face each other in Sunday’s huge Premier League clash at Stamford Bridge, but before that they have some Champions League business to attend. 

The defending champions, Chelsea make the trip to Ukraine to battle it out against joint group leader Shakhtar Donetsk, while Manchester United – who failed to make it past the group stages last term – face Portuguese side Braga at Old Trafford. Both the managers will be keen to get all the three points today, but at the same time they face some selection dilemmas about who to rest and keep fresh ahead of the huge clash on Sunday.

Here at IntoTheTopCorner, we predict the starting XIs for both, Chelsea and Manchester United keeping in mind Sunday’s important Premier League clash.

Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Petr Cech; Bransilav Ivanovic, John Terry (C), David Luiz, Ashley Cole; John Obi Mikel, Frank Lampard; Juan Mata, Oscar, Eden Hazard; Fernando Torres.

Roberto Di Matteo’s side haven’t picked any new injuries during the Tottenham game and the Italian isn’t expected to make a lot of changes to his line-up. Captain John Terry, who is banned for four domestic games, is expected to make the return in the heart of the defence in place of Gary Cahill. Full-backs Branislav Ivanovic and Ashley Cole will have to be at their best against Shakhtar’s dangerous wingers. Frank Lampard, who was a late substitute in the 4-2 win at White Hart Lane, could get the nod in midfield instead of Ramires. The former West Brom boss is expected to play the same attacking four which scored four past Tottenham, with Juan Mata and Eden Hazard starting on the wings, while Oscar playing in the hole behind Fernando Torres.

Manchester United (4-1-2-1-2): Anders Lindegaard; Rafael, Scott Wootton, Jonny Evans, Alexander Buttner; Darren Fletcher; Tom Cleverley, Shinji Kagawa; Wayne Rooney; Javier Hernandez, Danny Welbeck.

Sir Alex Ferguson rested a number of players for Stoke’s visit after the hectic international fixtures, with Tom Cleverley, Shinji Kagawa and Darren Fletcher not evening making the squad. The trio will straight away be drafted in to the starting XI for today’s game. With David De Gea having started the previous two Premier League games, Anders Lindegaard is expected to start in goal for the Red Devils. Keeping in mind Sunday’s big game, Patrice Evra and Rio Ferdinand are rested, which means youngster Scott Wootton and summer signing Alexander Buttner are expected to start in the defence along with Rafael and Jonny Evans. Robin van Persie – United’s top goal scorer in all competitions – could also be rested, that could see Javier Hernandez start along side Danny Welbeck in attack with Wayne Rooney playing at the top of the midfield diamond.

The Best Tottenham And Chelsea Combined XI

Ahead of Saturday’s mouth-watering London derby between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea at White Hart Lane, we here at IntoTheTopCorner.com have decided to make the best combined XI using both the team’s players.

Tottenham’s new signing Hugo Lloris misses out to Petr Cech in between the sticks, while in midfield, there is no place for Ramires, Scott Parker, Clint Dempsey and Chelsea’s new wonderkid Oscar. Up front, Fernando Torres is picked as the lone striker ahead of Emmanuel Adebayor and the inform Jermain Defoe.

Premier League 2012/13 Team Preview – Chelsea

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

Manager: Roberto Di Matteo.
Captain: John Terry.
Stadium: Stamford Bridge (42,055).
Last season: 6th.
Leading scorer (PL): Frank Lampard (11).
Odds: Title 9-2. Relegation 500-1.

In: Eden Hazard (£32.5m, Lille), Thorgan Hazard (£880k, Lens), Marko Marin (£8.6m, Werder Bremen), Oscar (£22m, Internacional).

Out: Patrick van Aanholt (Loan, Vitesse), Jose Bosingwa (Released), Kevin de Bruyne (Loan, Werder Bremen), Jeffrey Bruma (Loan, Hamburg), Ulises Davila (Loan, Sabadell), Matej Delac (Loan, Guimaraes), Didier Drogba (Free, Shanghai Shenhua), Ben Gordon (Loan, Birmingham), Tamas Kalas (Loan, Vitesse) Salomon Kalou (Free, Lille), Romelu Lukaku (Loan, West Brom).

Kits

Key Man – Fernando Torres
Didier Drogba’s departure has left a huge hole up front for Chelsea to fill. And who better to replace the strong, physical Ivorian than the Euro 2012 Golden Boot Winner? The Spaniard has proved that he is still a top finisher by scoring four goals in Poland/Ukraine last month, but can he continue the same goal-scoring form in the Premier Leagie this season is a big question. Torres’ mercurial feet and top-class finishing will play a massive role in Chelsea’s campaign and will decide whether the Blues are serious title contenders or just top four finishers.

Opening Fixtures
19-Aug – Wigan (A)
22-Aug – Reading (H)
25-Aug – Newcastle (H)
15-Sep – QPR (A)
22-Sep – Stoke (H)
30-Sep – Arsenal (A)

Probable Formation (4-2-3-1): Cech; Ivanovic, David Luiz, Terry, Cole; Mikel, Lampard; Ramires, Hazard, Mata; Torres.

Verdit: Despite winning the FA Cup and the coveted Champions League trophy, the new permanent boss Di Matteo will be expected to hit the ground running in the Premier League from the start. Failure to do so may test Roman Abramovich’s patience yet again. The Blues have boosted the squad by some heavy summer spending and are sure title contenders. I expect them to perform much better than last year but not enough to break the Manchester domination and finish in the top two.

Prediction: 3rd.

Premier League’s Top 5 Golden Oldies To Watch This Season

With just over ten days to go for the new 2012/13 Premier League season to kick-off, we continue to look forward to it and build up for the new season. Today, we look at the top five Golden Oldies in the Premier League. Five players who have been a vital part of the Premier League for the last few years and continue to impress us even today – with their advancing ages – whenever they play. 

5. BRAD FRIEDEL – TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (41 YEARS)

For many players, age is just a number but for some keepers it’s not even a number and Brad Friedel is one of those. At the age of 41, the former American international remains Tottenham’s first choice keeper as he looks forward in making some more spectacular saves and helping Spurs qualify for the Champions League next season. There have been rumours of Tottenham signing a new number one this summer, but Friedel has said that he will continue work hard and fight for his place in the first-team.

4. CRAIG BELLAMY – LIVERPOOL (33 YEARS)

Bellamy looked at home during his second spell at Liverpool and was probably the much-needed spark in Liverpool’s disastrous league campaign last season. The 33-year-old Welshman has been a regular performer in the Premier League with the likes of Newcastle, Blackburn, West Ham & Manchester City and was also the Reds top performer in the League Cup last season. Sadly, if the reports are to be belived then Bellamy could be playing his trade in the nPower Championship next season with Cardiff City.

3. FRANK LAMPARD – CHELSEA (34 YEARS)

Lampard is one of the most famous footballers around the world because of his legendary status at Chelsea. The England international has been a mainstay in the Chelsea first-team since his arrival at Stamford Bridge from West Ham in 2001. At the age of 34, Lampard with his brilliant passing abilities and an eye to score spectacular goals, is a huge part of the Chelsea team as they look to win the Premier League title for the first time in two years and also defend their Champions League trophy.

2. PAUL SCHOLES – MANCHESTER UNITED (37 YEARS)

At the start of last season it looked like football had lost one of it’s greatest sons when Scholes decided to hang his boots. Then in January, the Ginger Prince returned and showed the world his true class and proved that age is just a number. The former England international played a vital role last season helping United finish second in the league to Manchester City, just on goal difference. The midfield maestro made 17 appearances for the Red Devils scoring four goals, which made Sir Alex Ferguson offer him a new one-year deal.

1. RYAN GIGGS – MANCHESTER UNITED (38 YEARS)

With over 900 plus appearances, 160 plus goals and 12 league titles to his name, Giggs is by far the most decorated players in the Premier League’s history. At the age of 38, the former Wales international has been an one-club man with Manchester United and is an important part of the Red Devils squad. He looks energetic and tireless whenever he comes on to play and remains a threat to the opposition defence even today. He is a true legend, an inspiration and a role model for everyone in the game.

Top 7 Teenagers To Watch In The Premier League

With just more than a month to go for the new Premier League season to kick-off, it’s time to look forward and build-up to it. Today, we look at the top 7 teenagers (under-20 years of age) to keep an eye on in the upcoming Premier League season.

1. ALEX OXLADE-CHAMBERLAIN – ARSENAL

‘The Ox’ joined Arsenal from Southampton last season and was very impressive in his debut season in Premier League. The 18-year-old made 26 appearances for the Gunners during the last campaign and scored four times. His performances in the league caught the eye of the new England boss Roy Hodgson and was picked for the Euros in Poland/Ukraine. The winger, who started his country’s opening game against France, has been capped five times by the Three Lions.

The 18-year-old has a lot of pace and his direct attacking style has been already loved by Arsenal faithful. Chamberlain broke into the first team last season and he is expected to stay there & play an important role for Arsene Wenger’s team this season, who love to give the teenagers a chance to prove themselves.

2. NICK POWELL – MANCHESTER UNITED

Powell joined Manchester United from Crewe Alexandra this summer for a transfer fee believed to be in the region of £4m. The 18-year-old caught the eye of many top Premier League clubs with his impressive displays for the League Two side as he played an important role in helping Crewe win the playoffs. The England U-18 international made a total of 38 appearances last season scoring 14 goals including the winning goal in the nPower League Two Play-Offs final at the Wembley.

Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed in the press conference yesterday that he would be developing the teenager in center midfield role and with United having many problems in that position over the past couple of years, Powell could get his chances this season. The attacking midfielder is certain to feature in most of the Capital One Cup games and FA Cup games this year.

3. ROMELU LUKAKU – CHELSEA

Lukaku moved to Stamford Bridge last season from Belgium side Anderlecht for a fee around £18m. The 19-year-old, who is dubbed as the ‘next Didier Drogba’, was tipped for big things last year but he hardly got a chance to impress. The Belgium international, who has been capped 14 times by his country, made just eight Premier League appearances and failed to score a single goal.

The former Anderletcht striker was one of the flop signings of last year, but with both Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba having left the club and with just Fernando Torres and Daniel Sturridge ahead of him in the pecking order, this might well be the year where the teenager may get the chance to impress at the bigger stage.

4. ROSS BARKLEY – EVERTON

Barkley has been the part of Everton’s successful youth academy and has come through the ranks at Goodison Park. The 18-year-old has been at the fringes of the senior team ever since signing the professional contract at the start of the last season. The England U-21 international has made a total of six appearances for Toffees – mostly from the bench – in the Premier League since making his debut against QPR in the opening game of last season.

The midfielder, who has been predicted to ‘become one of the best ever player to play for England’ by Martin Keown, is expected to get much more game time this season than what he got last season. With a lower budget to spend in the tranfer market, David Moyes is certain to give Barkley and many other young players a chance to play in the first team.

5. JOSH McEACHRAN – CHELSEA

The creative midfielder, who is the product of Chelsea’s youth academy, is heralded as the future of the Blues. McEachran made his first team debut for the Blues in a Champions League match against MSK Zilina in September 2010 and ever since has been around the senior team making a total of 22 appearances in all competitions. The 19-year-old, who is touted as the natural successor to Frank Lampard at Stamford Bridge, spent the second half of last season on loan at Swansea.

The England U-21 international, who has the talent and potential in him to become one of England’s best midfielder in future is expected to spend next season away on loan at a Premier League side where he might get some more first team football than at Chelsea, due to the competition for a place in the starting XI at the Stamford Bridge club.

6. CONNOR WICKHAM – SUNDERLAND

Sunderland signed Wickham last summer from the Championsip side Ipswich for a fee of £8m. The 19-year-old was tipped for big things but his first season in the Premier League was a bad one. He was able to find the back of the net just once in 15 appearances as the Black Cats struggled without the services of Danny Welbeck, Darrent Bent and Asamoah Gyan, who were all present during the 2010-11 season.

This season is going to be the make-or-break for the England U-21 international has he will need to get over his ‘first-season blues’ and repay the club’s faith in him. Sunderland’s number 10 is expected to play an important role this season and he will have to score much more than what he did last season, if the Black Cats have to challenge for a place in Europe next season.

7. RYO MIYAICHI – ARSENAL

Miyaichi joined Arsenal in the summer of 2010 after impressing the scouts and the boss during a High School Soccer Tournament in Japan. The 19-year-old has featured only twice for Gunners since his arrival and that to in the Capital One Cup. The Japanese international was sent on loan to Bolton Wanderers in the January transfer window last season and he had a very successful time at the Reebok, making 12 appearances and was also voted as the club’s February Player of the Month.

With Andrey Arshavin expected to leave the club in the summer, Miyaichi may get a chance on the wings but at the same time he will face competition from the likes of Gervinho, Alex Chamberlain, Theo Walcott and the new signing Lukas Podolski for playing time. It looks likely that he will be sent on loan to another Premier League side again this season, where he will get some regular first team football.

Chelsea’s Potential Summer 2012 Transfer Targets

Chelsea ended the last season on a high by winning both the FA Cup and the Champions League but were very poor in the league and finished sixth in the Premier League table.

This summer, the Blues have already strengthen their squad by adding the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Marko Marin and the highly-rated Eden Hazard to their ranks, but at the same time, they have lost a few first team players in Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou and Jose Bosingwa. Roberto Di Matteo – who guided them to FA Cup and Champions League success last season after the sacking of Andre Villas-Boas in March – was appointed the new permanent manager of the club at the end of last month and he will surely look to bring in some more new names before their Community Shield clash against champions Manchester City on August 12. Here are Chelsea’s potential summer transfer targets..

MAICON – INTER MILAN (DEFENDER)

With Jose Bosingwa having left Chelsea this summer, the Blues need a right-back and Maicon is one of the options. The Inter Milan right-back is not the same player he once was but is surely better than Bosingwa. According to the reports, Chelsea are the favourites ahead of Real Madrid to sign the Brazilian for around £6m. The 30-year-old would be a good addition to the squad but surely won’t be a long term option.

GREGORY VAN DER WIEL – AJAX (DEFENDER)

At the end of last season, it looked like Van der Wiel would be playing for the European Champions next season. However, after a disappointing UEFA EURO 2012 campaign with the Netherlands in Poland/Ukraine and no further talks between the two clubs, his potential move to Stamford Bridge looks uncertain. The Dutch international right-back is already back in training with Ajax and with the Blues trying to sign Maicon, the 24-year-old looks like staying in Amsterdam for atleast another season.

LUKE SHAW – SOUTHAMPTON (DEFENDER)

Papers in UK suggest that the Blues are poised to make £4m offer for the Southampton youth graduate left back. Chelsea have identified Shaw, who turned 17 this month, as a possible backup for Ashley Cole and Ryan Bertrand. Shaw, who has been described as “technically very gifted” by Sir Trevor Brooking,  has made just one first team appearance and that to as a substitute against Millwall in the FA Cup fourth round replay last season but has been a regular part of the England U-16 and U-17 sides.

MAROUANE FELLAINI – EVERTON (MIDFIELDER)

Fellaini, who signed a new long term deal in November, has stated this past week that he is very happy to stay at Goodison Park but will consider a move this summer if an offer comes from an ambitious club. Chelsea, Manchester United and Real Madrid have all shown interest in the Belgium international who is rated around £20m by the Merseyside club. With doubts over Lampard’s future at the club, Fellaini would be a very good addition to Chelsea squad and will add the required physical presence in the midfield.

ALEX WITSEL – BENFICA (MIDFIELDER)

Portuguese giants Benfica are ready to cash in on the Belgium international, just a year after they signed him from Standard Liege. The 23-year-old was instrumental in helping the Portuguese side make the quarter-finals of the Champions League last season. Chelsea are interested in signing the £20m rated midfielder as they look to add more depth in their midfield. Manchester United are also interested in him, but a chance to reunite with his Belgium teammates – De Bruyne, Hazard and Romelu Lukaku – might incline him to Stamford Bridge.

LUKA MODRIC – TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (MIDFIELDER)

Chelsea were highly interested in the 26-year-old last season and had also made three offers for him but all were rejected. With the playmaker ready to leave White Hart Lane this summer in search of regular Champions League football, papers suggests Roman Abramovich will offer Tottenham £36m for his services but will face some stiff competition from the likes Real Madrid and Manchester United, who are also interested in the Croatian international.

JOAO MOUTINHO – FC PORTO (MIDFIELDER)

Moutinho has attracted a lot of interest from the Premier League this summer after some putting in some impressive displays for Portugal at the Euros. The £25m rated midfielder has been a Chelsea target since the start of last season and is seen as an alternative for Luka Modric. But the Blues will have to battle with the likes of Manchester United – who have made him their number one target this season – and Tottenham Hotspur – who are managed by the former Porto boss Andre Villas-Boas – to bring him to Stamford Bridge.

VICTOR MOSES – WIGAN ATHLETIC (STRIKER)

Having helped Wigan Athletic survive relegation and stay in the Premier League last season, the Nigerian is ready to move to an ambitious club this summer and the Blues are interested in signing him. Reports suggests that Chelsea have made their move and are expected to complete the signing of the 21-year-old by the end of the week for a fee around £10m. The former Crystal Palace winger has proved he is good enough to play in the Premier League, but is he good enough to play for a club like Chelsea? Only time will tell.

HULK – FC PORTO (STRIKER)

Hulk has been a Chelsea transfer target for many years now but no deal has ever been struck between the two clubs. According to the reports, the Blues are close to signing £35m rated striker but they have been close since end of last season. With Tottenham appointing former Porto boss Andre Villas-Boas as their new manager, the Blues will now have to act quicker and sign the Brazil international or face losing him from under their noses to Tottenham.

THEO WALCOTT – ARSENAL (STRIKER)

With Robin van Persie snubbing Arsenal, Chelsea are set to test Arsenal’s ambitions and resolve by making an offer for Theo Walcott. The 23-year-old England international has just one year left on his current deal and has not yet signed a new contract. The former Southampton forward has improved over the past couple of season and is a regular part of the national team setup. Along with Chelsea, Ligue 1 side Paris Saint-Germain are also interested in him but the Blues remain the favourites.

STEVAN JOVETIC – FIORENTINA (STRIKER)

With Fernando Torres’ form a question mark and Chelsea having no experience options up front, Stevan Jovetic will be a great addition to Roberto Di Matteo’s team. According to reports in ItalyChelsea have had a £20m offer rejected by Fiorentina. However the Blues can get him for around £25m. The 22-year-old Montenegro international will be great asset to the club and will provide more options up front, but the Blues face competition for his signature from Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Juventus and AC Milan.

SOLOMON RONDON – MALAGA (STRIKER)

Rondon is not very known outside Spain, but the Venezuelan striker is very highly-rated and was Malaga’s top goalscorer this season. According to the papers in Spain, Chelsea are interested in bringing him to Stamford Bridge as backup for Fernando Torres but will face some tough competition from their London rivals Arsenal, who are reported to be preparing a £10m offer for him.

5 Issues AVB Must Solve At White Hart Lane

Andre Villas-Boas has been appointed as the new manager of Tottenham Hotspur, just seven weeks after Harry Redknapp guided them to fourth place in the Premier League.

The 34-year-old’s appointment will create some concern at White Hart Lane following his disastrous tenure at west London rivals Chelsea last season where he was fired after just 27 league games in charge. The former Porto manager failed to convince the fans, the players or the owner that he was the right man to deliver them success. In order to avoid a repeat of the same fate with Spurs, here are five issues he must deal with at White Hart Lane..

1. Win Over The Dressing Room And The Supporters

At no stage during his spell at Chelsea did Villas-Boas got the full support of the dressing room. The former Porto manager’s age counted against him. He was 33 when he took over at Stamford Bridge, younger than senior players such as Frank Lampard and barely older than the captain John Terry. With no playing career and only a few years’ coaching experience, he lacked the dignity of older managers and when results didn’t go their way, the protesting voices grew. In the end, Abramovich directly blamed these critics within the squad for the premature end to the Villas-Boas’ tenure. But after a number of humiliating defeats, including the 3-1 defeat against Napoli that left them on the brink of exiting the Champions League, the fans had run out of patience as well.

At Spurs, Villas-Boas must create an immediate bond with his squad. This should be easier than at Chelsea with fewer big egos in the dressing room and he has the advantage of a full pre-season to shape his plans. A strong start in the league will banish the disappointment of Spurs missing out on Champions League qualification and help win over the fans, who would probably have wanted a more experienced manager.

2. Sort Out Luka Modric’s Future

An immediate priority will be to sort out the future of Luka Modric, who is reportedly wanted by Real Madrid and also is a long-term target of Manchester United. The Croatia playmaker, who was an integral part of Tottenham’s success under former manager Harry Redknapp, was promised a new deal last summer after rejected Chelsea’s approach, but he has yet to commit his future to the club. He has made no secret of his desire to play Champions League football again and even though he was not at his best last season, he is still one of the most gifted midfielders in the Premier League.

With Modric not inspired by the prospect of playing yet another season in the Europa League, Villas-Boas must waste no time in persuading the most influencial players in his squad to have faith in his plans. If he still wants to leave, then Spurs should let him leave and cash in on him. A fee of £30m-£40m for the former Dinamo Zagreb playmaker who turns 27 soon, would be great business.

3. Strengthen The Defence

To compete for the Premier League or for a place in the Champions League next season, Villas-Boas needs to ensure his team have a very strong defence. That means going to the transfer market. The first priority will be to finalise a deal with Ajax for their skipper Jan Vertonghen. Negotiations for the Belgian international have dragged on all summer and a stage has come that he is already back in pre-season training with the Dutch club. But with most of the hard work completed, Villas-Boas should be able to quickly seal the deal.

Doubts remains over the future of Ledley King. He has become a hero in the eyes of many Tottenham fans after 14 years of loyal service to the club. But the question is how often will he feature in the forthcoming new season. His well-publicised chronic knee problems caught up with him towards the end of last season which may force him into retirement, where he is expected to be offered a coaching role. Such is his influence, if King breaks down again, it will leave a massive hole in the back line – despite the impressive form of Younes Kaboul and the return of Michael Dawson from injury. Vedran Corluka has already departed White Hart Lane this summer, joining Russian side Lokomotiv Moscow for £6m, but the need for defensive acquisitions is less urgent than bringing in new faces up front.

4. Bloster The Strikeforce

Following the departure of Louis Saha this summer and Emmanuel Adebayour’s return to his parent club Manchester City, Spurs have only one recognised striker in their squad – Jermain Defoe. The former Portsmouth forward scored 17 club goals last season – despite spending much time on the bench – but didn’t feature in England’s UEFA EURO 2012 campaign beyoung a 15 minute cameo against France.

Therefore, Villas-Boas will have to immediately dip into the transfer market to buy at least two strikers and his cause will be helped by the transfer budget expected to be given to him by Daniel Levy. Adebayor was a hit last season scoring 18 goals in 37 games but his wages, reported to be around £175,000 a week, have been an obvious stumbling block. If Tottenham can reach some sort of agreement with the former Arsenal man then they should. If that is not possible then another hitman must be pursued. Villas-Boas reportedly has his sights on the 22-year-old Chelsea frontman Daniel Sturridge, with a £10m bid being lined up but Roberto Di Matteo is keen to hang on to the player. Hulk would also be a perfect fit but he appears to be on his way to Chelsea. Brazil striker Leandro Damiao and Marseille’s Loic Remy are possible alternatives.

5. Get Rid Of The Deadwood

Although Andre Villas-Boas will want a big squad that will help him challenge for silverwares on all fronts, there are plenty players increasing the wage bill who could leave. Vedran Corluka, Niko Kranjcar, Louis Saha and Ryan Nelsen have already left, but there are still plenty of others who could be discarded. Giovani Dos Santos, Heurelho Gomes, Sebastien Bassong, David Bentley, Jermaine Jenas and a couple of more reserves players were all out of the first-team picture under Harry Redknapp. Clearing them off the wage bill would free up plenty of money for new signings.