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Premier League Team Of The Week – Gameweek 16

Rooney-TOTW

See who have made our Team of the Week from an exciting sixteen gameweek in the Premier League. Manchester United are the only side to provide three players, while there is one each from Arsenal, Chelsea, Fulham, Liverpool, Norwich City, Swansea City, Tottenham Hotspur and Wigan Athletic.

David De Gea (Manchester United)

The Spaniard has had his share of critics during his time in England, but on Sunday during the Manchester derby he showed everyone he has matured into a goalkeeper capable of handling the big occasion. With Anders Lindegaard’s wife going into labour, United had no choice but to play the former Atletico Madrid man and he didn’t let anyone down. He put in a commanding display and was prepared to step off his line to embrace the physical challenge of contesting the high balls.

Glen Johnson (Liverpool)

Back at his former club West Ham, the right-back made a blistering start to the game with an outstanding strike into the top corner from 25 yards out. He did not celebrate his goal but was the visitors most threatening player and was a constant problem to the home defence at Upton Park, while keeping Matt Jarvis quiet for much of the game.

Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United)

Ferdinand’s derby day may have taken a turn for the worse as he celebrated Robin van Persie’s late winner, but the experienced centre-half put in another steady shift for the Red Devils. During the periods when United’s midfied controlled the game, the veteran could concentrate on seeing off Sergio Aguero and did so effectively. He was established and reliable at the back, and also made an important block in the second half.

Sebastien Bassong (Norwich City)

The Cameroon international has doubled his career goals tally in the space of just four games, with the Norwich defender in the form of his life. He had found the back of the net just three times in over 150 appearances prior to 24th November, and there weeks on and he now has six goals to his name. The latest of those arrived on Saturday when he towered over Ben Davies to head home his side second of the game and held the line well as the Canaries won a seven goal thriller in South Wales.

Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham Hotspur)

The Belgium international has been very impressive for Spurs this season as a left-back and on Sunday against Everton he was his side’s best player. He may have been without his partner on the left-flank – Gareth Bale but he contributed a lot to the game. He was a key reason for Spurs’ much improve performance in the second half and in one dominating spell he fired three shots at goal in 20 minutes.

Damien Duff (Fulham)

Facing former employers tends to bring the best out of certain individuals and Duff looked like a man on a mission during Fulham’s clash against Newcastle on Monday, and was also instrumental in helping the Cottages to a 2-1 win. The Irishman used his skill and experience to torment Davide Santon & Fabricio Coloccinni and also had a hand in both Fulham’s goal, laying on the first for Steve Sidwell and crossing for Hugo Rodallega to nod home the winner.

Jack Wilshere (Arsenal)

Mikel Arteta will go down on the score sheet as the hero in Arsenal’s win over West Brom on Saturday because of his two goals (both from the spot), but the real star of the match for the Gunners was Jack Wilshere. The Englishman’s influence on the match was there for everyone to see with his passing, vision, defending and all-round determination to win the game for the Londoners.

James McCarthy (Wigan Athletic)

Wigan made it sure that Queens Park Rangers’ miserable start to the season continued on Saturday, with the London outfit still waiting for their first win 16 games into the season. Harry Redknapp took his side to the DW Stadium in search of a win, but a deadly double from McCarthy meant that he had to settle for just a point.  McCarthy was a real driving force in midfield and showed his true class with his two goals.

Fernando Torres (Chelsea)

On Saturday, the Spanish striker was finally looking like he was enjoying himself on the football field and goals obviously helped to lift the mood of the misfiring forward as he helped himself to two during Chelsea win at Sunderland. His movement caused the Black Cats defence problems all afternoon and manager Rafael Benitez will be hoping there is plenty more to come from his number nine.

Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)

Rooney enjoyed one his best days on Sunday, with his efforts pivotal to Manchester United’s 3-2 derby success at arch-rivals City. His first-half double, which came against the run of play, saw him move into 150 Premier League goals – youngest ever to do so. He found the right positions and also became the highest ever goalscorer in the Manchester derbies as a result.

Michu (Swansea City)

He may well have been on the losing side to an in-form Norwich, but the classy Spaniard was brilliant, again, in getting a second successive brace. He wasn’t at his best in the first half but orchestrated the Swansea comeback in the second period and took both his goals clinically. He double strike on Saturday, took him to the top of the goalscoring charts in the league.

TOTW GW 16

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Liverpool v Manchester United Preview

One of English football’s oldest and fiercest rivalry will be renewed this Sunday as Liverpool and Manchester United go head-to-head at Anfield.

The encounter promises to be an emotionally-charged affair, marking the Reds’ first home game since the recent report into the 1989 Hillsborough tragedy in which 96 Liverpool supporters lost their lives. United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has already confirmed the Red Devils will offer any assistance possible in ensuring the day goes smoothly, calling for mutual respect from both sets of fans.

The lastest fixture between the two sides at Old Trafford saw Liverpool’s Luis Suarez refuse to shake the hand of Manchester United defender Patrice Evra during the pre-match hand-shake following a much-publicised race storm, but reports ahead of Sunday’s game suggest there will be no such incident at Anfield, with the players not expected to cause further controversy on such an emotional occasion. The two teams are also expected to release 96 red ballons before the match as a tribute to those who passed away in the disaster.

TEAM NEWS

Liverpool

Manager Brendan Rodgers will bring back his big names for the visit of Manchester United. Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez, Glen Johnson, Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger, Joe Allen and Martin Kelly were rested for the 5-3 Europa League win at Young Boys but will return as they go looking for their first Barclays Premier League victory of the season. Forwards Fabio Borini and Raheem Sterling, substitutes in Switzerland, are likely to start while midfielder Jonjo Shelvey pressed his claims for inclusion with a two-goal second-half cameo.

Manchester United

Winger Ashley Young has been ruled out for two to three weeks with a “bruised cartilage”, Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed. The 27-year-old missed out on the England squad for the World Cup 2014 qualifying double-header against Moldova and Ukraine this month, and Ferguson now expects to be without the player until October. The United manager has also ruled out Wayne Rooney but could feature next weekend, while Darren Fletcher would play from the start in Wednesday night’s Capital One Cup tie at home to Newcastle United. The Scotland midfielder came on as a substitute in the 1-0 Champions League win over Galatasaray in midweek, his first competitive outing since last November.

HEAD TO HEAD

Played – 185
Liverpool Wins – 62
Draw – 51
Manchester United Wins – 72

HEAD TO HEAD FIXTURES (LAST FIVE)

11-Feb-12 – Premier League – Manchester United 2-1 Liverpool
28-Jan-12 – FA Cup – Liverpool 2-1 Manchester United
15-Oct-12 – Premier League – Liverpool 1-1 Manchester United
06-Mar-11 – Premier League – Liverpool 3-1 Manchester United
09-Jan-11 – FA CUp – Manchester United 1-0 Liverpool

FORM GUIDE

Liverpool – WDLDD
The Reds are yet to register a win in the Premier League this season under new manager Brendan Rodgers and he will be desperate to break that duck against their fierce rivals.

20-Sep-12 – Europa League – Young Boys 3-5 Liverpool
15-Sep-12 – Premier League – Sunderland 1-1 Liverpool
02-Sep-12 – Premier League – Liverpool 0-2 Arsenal
30-Aug-12 – Europa League – Liverpool 1-1 Hearts
26-Aug-12 – Premier League – Liverpool 2-2 Manchester City

Manchester United – WWWWL
United come into this match on the back of four back-to-back wins in all competitions and are sitting second behind Chelsea in the Premier League table.

19-Sep-12 – Champions League – Manchester United 1-0 Galatasaray
15-Sep-12 – Premier League – Manchester United 4-0 Wigan Athletic
02-Sep-12 – Premier League – Southampton 2-3 Manchester United
25-Aug-12 – Premier League – Manchester United 3-2 Fulham
20-Aug-12 – Premier League – Everton 1-0 Manchester United

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Luis Suarez (Liverpool)
The Uruguayan will surely be the one to watch when these two sides meet tomorrow at Anfield. Suarez has dominated all the talk in the last two games between these sides at Anfiedl, but for different reasons. His mesmerizing performance helped Liverpool outclass United in March 2011 while the incidents involving him and Patrice Evra made the headlines after the last league game. With the ability to produce something out of the extraordinary, he will be hoping to do his best to help his team beat their fierce rivals while his battle with Evra will also not go unnoticed.

Robin van Persie (Manchester United)
The 28-year-old striker could not have asked for a much better start to life at Old Trafford. After scoring on his full debut against Fulham, with his very first shot, the ex-Feyenoord man then notched a hat-trick in the very next game against Southampton. Liverpool know all too well about van Persie’s predatory instincts after he scored both goals in the 2-1 win for his former side Arsenal at Anfield last season. Centre-back pairing of Agger and Skrtel will have improve on their showings so far this season if they are going successfully stop Dutchman from scoring.

PROBABLE LINEUPS

Liverpool (4-3-3): Pepe Reina; Glen Johnson, Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger, Jose Enrique; Steven Gerrard (C), Joe Allen, Jonjo Shelvey; Fanio Borini, Luis Suarez, Raheem Sterling.

The regular first teamers are expected to return after rested against Young Boys. Reina will start in goal, with Johnson, Skrtel and Agger to take back their regular positions. Jose Enrique might get the nod ahead of Martin Kelly in the starting XI. Gerrard and Allen will be back in place Henderson and Suso, while Shelvey is expected to keep his place in the side at the expense of Nuri Sahin, following his two goal second half cameo. Sterling will provide the Reds with natural pace and width on the left, while Suarez and Borini will complete the rest of the front three.

Manchester United (4-4-1-1): David De Gea; Rafael, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic (C), Patrice Evra; Antonio Valencia, Michael Carrick, Paul Scholes, Nani; Shinji Kagawa; Robin van Persie.

Not many changes are expected to be made to the side that defeated Galatasaray at Old Trafford during the midweek. De Gea, Rafael, Vidic and Evra are all expected to keep their place in the defence, while Ferdinand will come in for Evans. The rest of the side is expected to be the same with Valencia and Nani on the wings and Carrick and Scholes in the centre of the midfield. Kagawa, who has excelled in the role behind striker, will start again behind Van Persie, who will lead the line on his own.

OPTA FACTS

  • 0 – Danny Welbeck has had 0 shots on targets in the Premier League this season, despite 10 attempts. 7 of them came in last week’s win over Wigan.
  • 2 – Nemanja Vidic has been sent off in his last 2 games at Anfield. 3 of his 4 red cards in the Premier League have been against Liverpool.
  • 2 – Liverpool have won just 2 of their 11 Premier League games at Anfield in 2012 (W2 D4 L5).
  • 4 – Robin van Persie scored both the goals in the 2-1 win against Liverpool for Arsenal at Anfield last season and has netted 4 times in his last 5 games against the Reds
  • 12 – Luis Suarez has created more goalscoring chances than anyone in the Premier League (12), but has yet to register an assist.
  • 75 – Liverpool have had 75 shots so far this season – the joint-most in the Premier League – but only 15 of them have been on target.

REFEREE

Name – Mark Halsey
Based – Lancashire
Age – 51
Games – 3
Yellow Cards – 6
Red Cards – 1

MATCH ODDS

Liverpool 7/4, Draw 9/4, Manchester United 13/8

PREDICTION

It has been an emotional week in the North West after the Hillsborough report’s release and the emotional atmosphere might play spoilsport. The two sets of players will have to rise above the occassion to make the game a football spectacle. These derbies are rarely open, free-flowing, end-to-end affairs, so expect a cage game until the first goal is scored. United are in form having won three of their four Premier League games, with summer signing Van Persie scoring four in his two starts. But Liverpool are a hard team to break down at home, especially against Manchester United and their ability to take their chances might decide the outcome of the game.

Predicted Score: Liverpool 1-1 Manchester United

Premier League 2012/13 Team Preview – Liverpool

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

Manager: Brendan Rodgers.
Captain: Steven Gerrard.
Stadium: Anfield (45,276).
Last season: 8th.
Leading scorer (PL): Luis Suarez (11).
Odds: Title 25-1. Relegation 200-1.

In: Joe Allen (£16.7m, Swansea), Fabio Borini (£11.7m, Roma).

Out: David Amoo (Free, Preston), Alberto Aquilani (£7.7m, Fiorentina), Fabio Aurelio (Free, Gremio), Craig Bellamy (Free, Cardiff), Stephen Darby (Released), Henoc Mukendi (Loan, Northampton), Dirk Kuyt (£880k, Fenerbahce), Maxi Rodriguez (Free, Newell’s), Toni Silva (Free, Barnsley).

Kits

Key Man – Steven Gerrard
The talismatic skipper has been vital at the club for years and he showed that he is back to top form with his displays at Euro 2012 in Poland/Ukraine. If Gerrard could stay injury free whole season then it would be a huge boost for the Reds, as his presence in the team is of huge importance and he also can single handedly win games for his team, as he did in the latest Merseyside derby at Anfield – by scoring an hatrick.

Opening Fixtures
18-Aug – West Brom (A)
26-Aug – Man City (H)
02-Sep – Arsenal (H)
15-Sep – Sunderland (A)
23-Sep – Man Utd (H)
29-Sep – Norwich (A)

Probable Formation (4-3-3): Reina; Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Jose Enrique; Gerrard, Lucas, Allen; Downing, Suarez, Borini.

Verdit: New boss Brendan Rodgers has a huge task ahead of taking Liverpool straight back into the top four, but he should at least get the Reds playing the right way and if they can add a bit of the killer instinct, Anfield could well become a fortress for many teams once again. His purchases of Fabio Borini and Joe Allen could prove shrewd, as both have looked good in pre-season or during the Olympics. If he can keep Steven Gerrard fit, get the best out of Joe Cole and keep Luis Suarez out of trouble, the Reds could be back in contention for major honours. Personally, I don’t see Liverpool breaking the top four this season but would surely improve a lot under the new boss and finish higher than they did last season.

Prediction: 6th.

England v Italy Preview

England and Italy both arrived in Poland/Ukraine to take part in UEFA EURO 2012 without much expectations, but today they meet each other in the quarter-finals in Kiev believing this could be their year. 

England topped Group D to reach this stage, preserving Roy Hodgson’s unbeaten record as national coach in the process -with four wins and a draw taken from five fixtures to date. Hodgson’s early success has been based on making his side as difficult to beat as possible, with greater emphasis placed on the need to be solid at the back and defend as a collective unit. Italy’s footballing philosophy is much the same as their opponents. It has been suggested that the two sides will cancel each other out, with the fear of losing set to outweigh the desire to attack and take the game by the scruff of the neck.

Past meetings between the two countries suggest it will be a tight affair, with all but one of the last nine encounters having ended all square or been settled by the odd goal. Unfortunately for England, they have emerged victorious in just one of those outings. The Three Lions’ record in quarter-final clashes is also not the best, having lost seven out of 10, and they are looking to grace a major semi-final for the first time in 16 years. Italy will be hoping to pile more misery on their success-starved opponents this weekend, and in Cesare Prandelli they boast a coach who is yet to taste defeat in 13 competitive matches in charge of the Azzurri.

TEAM NEWS

England

England have all 23 members of their squad fit and are in contention for a starting berth, but it is likely that the same XI which started the Three Lions’ final group game against Ukraine will take to the field in Kiev. That means James Milner’s abilities going backwards will once again be favoured over Theo Walcott’s going forward, and Danny Welbeck will get the nod ahead of Andy Carroll in the battle to partner Wayne Rooney up front. Skipper Steven Gerrard is among those one caution away from missing a possible semi-final date through suspension, with Ashley Cole, Ashley Young, Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also walking a disciplinary tightrope.

Italy

Italy have nine players cautioned and one yellow card away from missing the semi-finals, with enigmatic striker Mario Balotelli, captain Gianluigi Buffon and combative midfielder Daniele De Rossi aware that they must tread carefully. It remains to be seen whether Balotelli will be offered the opportunity to line up against a number of his Manchester City colleagues from the start, with Prandelli announcing that he will not name his team until an hour before kick-off. It is expected that Thiago Motta will be in contention for a starting role, with the midfielder having overcome a hamstring injury. Giorgio Chiellini is ruled out with a thigh problem, though, and his place is expected to go to Juventus team-mate Leonardo Bonucci.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Played – 22
England Wins – 7
Draws – 6
Italy Wins – 9

FORM GUIDE

England – WWDWW
19-Jun-12 – Euro 2012 – England 1-0 Ukraine
15-Jun-12 – Euro 2012 – Sweden 2-3 England
11-Jun-12 – Euro 2012 – France 1-1 England
02-Jun-12 – Friendly – England 1-0 Belgium
26-May-12 – Friendly – Norway 0-1 England

Italy – WDDLL
18-Jun-12 – Euro 2012 – Italy 2-0 Ireland
14-Jun-12 – Euro 2012 – Italy 1-1 Crotia
10-Jun-12 – Euro 2012 – Spain 1-1 Italy
01-Jun-12 – Friendly – Italy 0-3 Russia
29-Feb-12 – Friendly – Italy 0-1 United States

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Steven Gerrard (England)
The Liverpool icon may be getting older day by day, but he has certainly enjoyed wearing the captain’s armband. In centre midfield, Gerrard’s passing, effort, and most notably his crossing and set-pieces has seen him be a driving force and set up three goals at UEFA EURO 2012. Up against pressure from Claudio Marchisio and Co, he’ll need to ensure his side make the best use of the ball when in possession, as he has done all tournament.

Wayne Rooney (England)
The talismanic striker announced his return with the winning goal in against Ukraine in the last group game. Having watched the first two games from the stands, the striker is desperate to make use of whatever opportunity he would get and made an impact in his first match itself. The Manchester United star forward has the skill to cause Italian defence some trouble and would surely be the man to watch out for in Kiev.

Andrea Pirlo (Italy)
The former AC Milan and current Juventus playmaker has been Italy’s best player in the Euros so far. His accurate passing and ability to create chances from the midfield has caused the likes of Spain, Croatia and Ireland a lot of problems in the group stages. If Pirlo – who has two assists and one goal to his name in the competition – is given a lot of space and time with the ball then he will surely create many opportunities for his teammates which will cause a lot of problems to the English defence.

Antonio Cassano (Italy)
Antonio Cassano has shown flashes of brilliance since returning from minor heart surgery that threatened to rule him out of the tournament, but was something close to his best before running out of gas in the 2-0 win over Ireland. Prandelli will look for more of the same from the Milan forward, hoping he can cause confusion in the organised English defence by dropping deep and playing some of his trademark passes into the area for his teammates to run on to.

PROBABLE LINEUPS

England (4-4-2): Joe Hart; Glen Johnson, John Terry, Joleon Lescott, Ashley Cole; James Milner, Scott Parker, Steven Gerrard (C), Ashley Young; Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck.

Roy Hodgson is expected to field the same side that defeated the co-hosts Ukraine as in the final group game as he would be keen on keeping the stability. Although Milner and Young have failed to impress, youngsters Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain look set to remain on the bench as Hodgson is set to use them as substitutes who can make a difference later in the game. The John Terry and Joleon Lescott partnership has done just enough to keep them top, but has been caught out on many occasions. Up top, the Manchester United pairing of Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck would be looking to cause trouble to the three-man Italian defence.

Italy (3-5-2): Gianluigi Buffon (C); Federico Balzaretti, Daniele De Rossi, Leonardo Bonucci; Ignazio Abate, Claudio Marchisio, Andrea Pirlo, Thiago Motta, Andrea Barzagli; Mario Balotelli, Antonio Cassano.

The Italians are expected to stick with their 3-5-2 formation, with Manchester City star Mario Balotelli starting alongside Antonio Cassano at the top. Leonardo Bonucci is expected to replace the injured Giorgio Chiellini in the back three, who would try and stop the opponents from running at in-form goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon. Andrea Pirlo would be the key man in midfield once again, and the veteran would look to continue to dictate play like he has done throughout the tournament.

MATCH ODDS

England 9/5 Draw 2/1 Italy 9/5

PREDICTION

This is a game between two teams who play very similar kind of football. Both teams would make sure they stay strong at the back and won’t let their opponents create a lot of chances. The battle between Steven Gerrard and Andrea Pirlo in the heart of the midfield seems to be a mouth-watering prospect. The game is expect to be a very tight and a cagey affair and maybe a moment or two of magic may be the difference between the two sides. Both the sides will be looking towards their explosive strikers – Wayne Rooney and Mario Balotelli for some individual class. Set-pieces or a counter attack will be important in this game between two teams who have been disappointing in recent international tournaments. The game has a huge prospect of being decided in extra time or on penalties. However, with some luck, England might just win this one and book themselves a place in the semi-finals.

Predicted Score – England 2-1 Italy (A.E.T)

England 1-0 Ukraine – Player Ratings

Wayne Rooney made his return to the England squad in style, scoring the winning goal for the Three Lions in a 1-0 victory over co-hosts Ukraine.  Here, we take a look at how the players fared at the Donbass Arena in Donetsk on Tuesday night.

ENGLAND

Joe Hart – 7
Hart was rarely tested during the whole game as his defenders in front of him did their job well, which restricted the co-hosts to shoot from distance and most of their shots were way off target. Hart did have to be alert to make a fantastic one-handed save from a swerving Konoplyanka effort and managed to get a hand on Devic’s goal-bound shot, which gave Terry enough time to make a goal-line clearance.

Glen Johnson – 6
The Liverpool full back is often criticized for being poor defensively and he nothing in the game to change that. Konoplyanka ha d a very fun time of the right of the England defence against Johnson and cut inside him too easily, which allowed the Ukrainian winger to swing in several dangerous crosses and fire off a few shots from range. As an attacking threat, Johnson was muted and was unable to create sort of impact on the game.

John Terry – 7.5
Terry was the rock at the heart at the England defence. He played crucial part in maintaining a clean sheet for his side with a fantastic goal line clearance to deny Devic. He was on hand to make several vital interceptions and was literally unbeatable in the air.

Joleon Lescott – 7
Like Terry, Lescott was literally unbeatable in the air and headed away many Ukraine crosses in his own box. He is developing a decent partnership with Terry in the heart of the England but at times he was beaten for pace and looked slightly slow on the ground. His real test of ability will come against more tougher oppositions in the knockout stages of the competition.

Ashley Cole – 6.5
The Chelsea defender was troubled by Ukraine’s wing play and was battling Yarmolenko throughout the game. Although Cole managed to win some battles, he allowed his direct opponent too much time and space to cut in and shoot on several occasions. The left-back did manage to get forward on few occasion and almost scored his first ever England goal with a half-volley which was well saved by Pyatov.

James Milner (Sub Off 70′) – 6
Milner is only in the side because of his high workrate and because he provides  defensive cover for the suspect Johnson. Going forward Milner is never going be a threat like Ashley Young or Theo Walcott or Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, so its like asking too much from him to be a creative outlet for England. Nonetheless, Miner did his duties very well and helped Johnson a lot, but he was unable to offer much going forward.

Scott Parker – 7.5
Parker was one of the best England players on the field. He was brave and strong in challenge and literally put his whole body on the line to stop Ukraine. He earned raucous cheers for blocking a cross with his face in the closing stages. He may not be the most technically gifted player in the England squad but gives his everything when playing for his country.

Steven Gerrard – 8
The England captain was once again influential in guiding his country to victory. He led his side from the front and was at times seen shouting instructions to his players which kept them disciplined and organised. He was also dangerous when he got forward and one of his forward forays eventually led to England’s goal, after he burst past Selin on the right and drilled a cross for Rooney to head in.

Ashley Young – 7
Like the previous game, Young start on the left but this time he was more effective and a threat for the Ukrainian defence. He often used his pace well to beat Gusev before sending in quality crosses for his forwards. His crosses were of top quality with the right amount of dip, swerve and power which made them a nightmare to deal with. He was unfortunate not to get an assist to his name.

Wayne Rooney (Sub Off 87′) – 7 
Most of the pre-match focus was on the return of Wayne Rooney to the England starting XI and what kind of impact he would have. The United forward answered that question by scoring winner. He rusty at times and missed a glorious chance from 6 yards in the first half but he was a constant threat upfront for the Ukrainian defence.

Danny Welbeck (Sub Off 82′)- 6.5
Welbeck was selected ahead of Carroll to start this game because his understanding with his United teammates Rooney and Young. The young striker was unable to make much of a telling contribution in the game, although his hold-up play was good and his understanding with Rooney looked promising.

Subs

Theo Walcott (Sub On 70′) – 3
Came on as a substitute in the second half for Milner and with 20 minutes to play against the tired Ukrainian defence, Walcott had no impact on the game at all. He failed to create any sort of impact and hardly touched the ball.

Andy Carroll (Sub On 82′) – N/A

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Sub On 87′) – N/A

UKRAINE

Andriy Paytov – 4
It was a night to forget for the Ukrainian keeper as his horrendous mistake led to Rooney scoring the winner. He looked very nervy in the first half but improved after conceding the goal in the second half and made a couple of smart saves to deny England scoring more goals.

Oleg Gusev – 7
Gusev put in a tireless shift down the right side for the co-hosts and managed do very well combining his defensive duty of marking his pacey opponent in Ashley Young and at the same time providing an attacking outlet for his side down the right.

Yevhen Khacheridi – 7
Khacheridi had the huge task of dealing with Wayne Rooney and managed to put in a respectable performance for his side. Although he was often outmuscled by Rooney, he still managed to keep the talismanic striker at bay for majority of the game with his tight marking.

Yaroslav Rakitskiy – 7
Rakitskiy was a stable presence at the back for Ukraine and his brilliant tackles kept the English forwards on their toes. The 22-year-old defender showed great maturity and character in leading his backline and was also an attacking threat from set-pieces.

Yevhen Selin – 6
Selin was a constant presence on the left and troubled Johnson for most of the game with his attacking runs. He was given a lot of space by the Liverpool defender and happily used it to create several good opportunities for his strikers. However, he was responsible for England’s winner as he allowed Gerrard to go easily past him in the build-up.

Anatoliy Tymoshchuk – 6.5
The Ukraine captain managed to break up a few of England’s counter-attacks with his excellent reading of the game and made a few well-timed challenges. He was guilty of occasionally wasting possession with a few misplaced passes but otherwise had a decent game for his side.

Denys Garmash (Sub Off 78′) – 5
Garmash was the worst player on the night. His final ball in threatening situations was poor which resulted in gifting possession to England during promising Ukrainian attacks. He did not seem to have the hunger to win the game and let down his teammates with his lack of effort.

Andriy Yarmolenko – 7
The 22-year-old Ukrainian proved a tricky customer for the English defence and often had Lescott and Terry on the back foot with his pace and quick foot work. But at times he made the wrong choice by having a go at goal from long range when a simple pass to his teammate would have been a better choice.

Marko Devic (Sub Off 70′) – 7
Devic was very nearly the hero for Ukraine with his effort which was cleared off the line by Terry. However, replays showed that the ball had crossed the line and England were lucky to lead. He made some smart off-the-ball moves and gave Terry and Lescott something to worry about throughout whole the game.

Yevhen Konoplyanka – 8
Konoplyanka was Ukraine’s best player of the game. His direct running caused Johnson problems throughout the game and not only managed to create numerous decent goal-scoring opportunities for his team, but also hollowed out a few chances for himself with his quick feet. He came very close to scoring with a superb dipping and swerving long range shot which forced a brilliant reaction save from Hart.

Artem Milevskiy (Sub Off 77′) – 7
Milevskiv offered a very physical presence upfront and held the ball up well for his team. His unselfish play also led to him creating several opportunities for his team but was unable to really threaten the England goal himself.

Subs

Andriy Shevchenko (Sub On 70′) – 6
Probably made his last appearance for his country but was unable to go out with a bang. He recieved a huge reception from not only the home fans but also the England supporters when he came on in the second half. He was not able to create a much of an impact and didnt get many chances to score as Ukraine’s midfield tired out towards the end of the game.

Bohdan Butko (Sub on 77′) – N/A

Serhiy Nazarenko (Sub On 78′) – N/A

England v Ukraine Preview

England – with the returning Wayne Rooney – take on the desperate co-hosts Ukraine the Donbass Arena in Donetsk today, knowing that a point is enough be enough to take them through to the last eight of the tournament.

Three Lions head coach Roy Hodgson will definitely pick talismanic striker Wayne Rooneyand he is facing the classic dilemma of who to drop to make way for him. Rooney will return to the team on Tuesday after completing his two-match suspension following his red card against Montenegro in Podgorica eight months ago. Either his Manchester United team-mate Danny Welbeck or Liverpool striker Andy Carroll will lose his place in the starting line-up. Carroll scored with a header and Welbeck cleverly flicked home the winner when England beat Sweden 3-2 on Friday which put them in sight of the last eight. “They have given me the classic manager’s headache but it’s the headache we all want really, because they are players are in-form and competing for a place,” said the former West Brom and Liverpool boss.

Oleh Blokhin’s side, on the other hand, need to win to make it past the group stage, so tensions will be high in what is sure to be an electrifying atmosphere. During the pre-match press conference, Blokhin said the pressure was on Ukraine’s opponents given their higher status in the game and greater expectations. “They are one of the favourites, so the pressure is on them,” he said. “We have a more relaxed approach, we have nothing to lose, even if we don’t get a great result, if we show fight on the pitch till last minute that will be no disgrace,” he said.

TEAM NEWS

England

With Wayne Rooney returning from his suspension, Hodgson has a clean bill of health in his squad with Theo Walcott available after a hamstring niggle. And the 64-year-old is content that expectation levels are rising in England after the opening two games which have garnered four points, but he can give no guarantee of success.

Ukraine

Meanwhile, Ukraine are sweating over the fitness of team captain Andriy Shevchenko who is rated as a “50-50 chance” of recovering from a knee injury in time for the decisive Group D clash. Shevchenko completed a squad training session on Monday, having sat out training the previous day because of a swollen left knee. But he remains an injury doubt and Blokhin says he will only decide whether or not to play the striker shortly before the match.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Played – 4
England Wins – 3
Draws – 0
Ukraine Wins – 1

FORM GUIDE

England – WDWWL
15-Jun-12 – Euro 2012 – Sweden 2-3 England
11-Jun-12 – Euro 2012 – France 1-1 England
02-Jun-12 – Friendly – England 1-0 Belgium
27-May-12 – Friendly – Norway 0-1 England
01-Mar-12 – Friendly – England 2-3 Netherlands

Ukraine – LWLLW
15-Jun-12 – Euro 2012 – Ukraine 0-2 France
11-Jun-12 – Euro 2012 – Ukraine 2-1 Sweden
05-Jun-12 – Friendly – Turkey 2-0 Ukraine
01-Jun-12 – Friendly – Austria 3-2 Ukraine
28-May-12 – Friendly – Ukraine 4-0 Estonia

KEY PLAYERS TO WATCH

Wayne Rooney (England)
The tournament finally starts for Wayne Rooney, as he is back and eager to play after serving a two match suspension. England have managed very well without him in the first two matches, but the Manchester United star is by far Three Lions’ most talented player in the squad. The 26-year-old, who has 35 goals for Manchester United this season, broke onto the scene in UEFA EURO 2004 scoring four goals, but his participation was cut short with an injury as England were dumped out by Portugal on penalties. And, with England failing to qualify for the UEFA EURO 2008 in Austria/Switzerland, Rooney has some unfinished business in the tournament. He will play in the role behind the striker, and will be the key link between the midfielders and the forward.

Ashley Young (England)
Young was tipped to fill in Wayne Rooney’s boot for the first two matches, when the striker was suspended for picking up a straight red card in the final qualifier against Montenegro, but the Manchester United winger failed to do. With his United colleague coming back from suspension, the pressure will be released from Young’s shoulder and that will probably make him play his natural game. The former Watford and Aston Villa man averages a goal and an assist every three game for England and his form will be key to their  further success in the tournament.

Andriy Shevchenko (Ukraine)
Ukraine’s progidigal son has the backing and support of the whole nation and he answered their rallying cry against Sweden in the opening game scoring twice and helping the co-hosts register a historical win. The AC Milan legend has 50-50 chance of playing in this game due to injury but the striker would be very eager to play as this could be his final game for his country. The poacher is not getting any young and many may say his is past his days but he still has the knack of scoring some important goals and that’s what his country needs as they stand on brink of elimination.

Anatoliy Tymoshchuk (Ukraine)
Andriy Shevchenko may be the most important player to his country, but Tymoshchuk is not less important. The Bayern Munich midfielder who has 118 international caps to his name will be an key figure in the center of midfield as he will be the man looking to stop both Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard from creating chances. If the former Zenit St Petersburg man can do his job of nullifying the threats of the England duo, then Ukraine might have a chance of getting something out of this game or even may be upsetting the Three Lions.

PROBABLE LINEUPS

England (4-2-3-1): Joe Hart; Glen Johnson, John Terry, Joleon Lescott, Ashley Cole; Scott Parker, Steven Gerrard (C); Theo Walcott, Wayne Rooney, Ashley Young; Danny Welbeck.

Wayne Rooney will return to the starting XI after sitting out of the first two matches due to suspension. He will take Andy Carroll’s place in the lineup and play just behind his Manchester United teammate Danny Welbeck. Theo Walcott, whose match-winning cameo helped England knock Sweden out of the competition, has recovered from a slight injury and could start on the right wing with James Milner dropping to the bench. Ashley Young has been very unimpressive so far but will start on the left wing, with Scott Parker and Steven Gerrard in the center of the midfield. The back four will remain the same as Glen Johnson, John Terry, Joleon Lescott and Ashley Cole will form the quartet ahead of Joe Hart’s goal.

Ukraine (4-2-3-1): Andriy Pyatov; Oleg Gusev, Yevhen Khacheridi, Taras Mikhalik, Yevhen Selin; Anatoliy Tymoshchuk, Serhiy Nazarenko; Andriy Yarmolenko, Andriy Voronin, Yevhen Konoplyanka; Andriy Shevchenko (C).

Andriy Shevchenko is a major doubt for this match with a knee injury but will be given all chance of proving his fitness and will mostly start keeping in mind this is a must win game for Ukraine and this could also be his last ever game for his country. If Shevchenko fails the late fitness test then Oleg Blokhin is likely to turn to Artem Milevskiy or Marko Devic to play as the lead striker ahead of Andriy Voronin. Blokhin has played the same defence and midfield in both games so far and no changes are expected, with Anatoliy Tymoshchuk and Serhiy Nazarenko shielding the back four, with the young Yevhen Konoplyanka and Andriy Yarmolenko playing on the wings.

MATCH ODDS

England 1/1 Draw 12/5 Ukraine 11/4

PREDICTION

With Wayne Rooney returning, England are huge favourites to win the game but playing for a draw could be very dangerous. Wayne Rooney will start and will be key man, as he has the ability to greatly influence the game playing in the whole behind the striker. The onus will be on the co-hosts Ukraine, as they must win this and get all three points to qualify for the last eight or else they are out. A early goal for Oleh Blokhin’s side may cause some tensions in the English camp, but with the solid organise defence England have got, can’t see that happening. England will dominate the game from start to end, with Rooney making his presence felt.

Predicted Score – England 2-0 Ukraine

Sweden 2-3 England – Player Ratings

England produced a comeback from 2-1 down to emerge 3-2 winners against Sweden in their second Group D game at Euro 2012. Here, we take a look at how the players fared at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev on Friday.

SWEDEN

Andreas Isaksson – 5
Made a good stop at a stretch to keep out Parker’s early effort, then showed some brilliant reflexes to deny Terry from close range but from the resulting corner, he couldn’t deal with the swerving shot from Walcott and also could have done better with Welbeck’s backheel winner.

Andreas Granqvist – 4 (Sub Off 66′) (Flop of the Match)
Did not look at all comfortable against Young and Welbeck – when he drifted in the wide areas at time – and was never a threat going forward either. Was one of the men to lose Carroll as England took the lead. Was later substituted off for Mikael Lustig.

Olof Mellberg – 7.5
Was trouble a lot by the England strikers at the start but then produced one brilliant tackle in the first half to deny Welbeck a chance to shoot on goal. In the the second half, he forced a goal off Johnson and then headed in from a Larsson freekick to give Swedes the lead. Overall he was their best player on the pitch.

Jonas Olsson – 6
Was booked for a silly handball, the West Brom defender found hard to contain the English strikers. Got tired towards the end of the game and lost his concentration for England’s third goal. His partnership with Mellberg at the back rarely convinced.

Martin Olsson – 6.5
Was exposed a lot throughout the game, first by Milner and then by Walcott. He was not at all supported in defence by Rasmus Elm. His attacking contribution was much better though and he made a fine run in the second half that deserved a far better finish from Kallstrom.

Sebastian Larsson – 6
Troubled the England defence at times when he was given the space to put in a cross but otherwise failed to create much impact on the game except for that brilliantly delivered freekick which lead to Sweden’s second goal.

Anders Svensson – 5.5
An average performance from an average player to say the best. He took his time to get involve in the game but hardly got involved in it. Was very slow in reacting when bringing down Young many times. Didn’t leave any sort of a mark on the game at all.

Kim Kallstrom – 6
Came close to troubling the England goal at many time with some fierce strikes. Was not much a threat in the first half, but showed flashes of his real ability in the second half. Also side footed high from a brilliant low Martin Olsson cross.

Rasmus Elm – 5 (Sub Off 81′)
Was expected a lot from him in this tournament but has failed yet again. Wasn’t at all a threat in the first half but his influence grew in the second half. Didn’t track back to help Olsson defend and too often took the wrong option in the final third. Was substituted off when Sweden went 3-2 down.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic – 7.5
Enjoyed coming deep to get the possession and create chances for his teammates. Had a couple of very powerful shots on target from distance which Hart had to save. His use of the ball was superb, his strength impressive which troubled the England defence throughout the game.

Johan Elmander – 6 (Sub Off 79′)
Was very anonymous in the first half but got in to the game as the game wore on. Got close with a shot from a delightful Ibrahimovic pass but other wise was of not threat to Hart. His work rate was very good but was mostly overshadowed by Ibrahimovic.

Subs

Mikael Lustig (Sub On 66′) – 6
Looked a bit better than Granqvist but suffered with his the rest of the Sweden team when they gave away the lead and went on to lose the game.

Markus Rosenberg (Sub On 79′) – N/A

Christian Wilhelmsson (Sub On 81′) – N/A

ENGLAND

Joe Hart – 7
Another solid display by the English stopper. Made a couple of brilliant diving saves from Ibrahimovic and was well composed through out the game. Could have done better with Sweden’s equaliser but had no chance to keep out Mellberg’s header. England will need him to perform in the same way for the rest of the tournament.

Glen Johnson – 5
Made an important block in the first half to deny Ibrahimovic from shooting and was good going forward, but was the guilty party in Sweden’s equaliser as he played Mellberg onside before scoring the own goal and overall had a difficult night defensively.

John Terry – 6
Was alert as he cut out a number of Sweden passes in the final third but was troubled a lot by Ibrahimovic for pace and strength. Kept the defence well organised and showed great commitment but will have to improve in next matches.

Joleon Lescott – 6
His partnership with Terry in the heart of the England defence was good and is improving but he was poor individually. The Manchester City defender was poor during both the Sweden set-pieces which led to the goals.

Ashley Cole – 6
Not one of the best nights for England’s best left back. A rare misjudgement from a long ball hinted at a below-par performance and he duly delivered. Still, neither goal was his fault and he did cope well with Larsson on the right of the Sweden midfield.

James Milner – 5 (Sub Off 61′)
As always his work rate and determination was 100% but was never a threat to the Swedish defence. Except for a couple of crosses towards Carroll from the right side of the midfield, the Manchester City midfielder struggled to get in the game and was rightly substituted off for Theo Walcott, who completely changed the game on it’s head.

Scott Parker – 6.5
Was denied by a fine save from Isaksson in the early stages, Parker soon reverted to type as a spoiler in midfield and performed the role well. Got a bit lost as the game grew frantic in the second half but was a steady presence overall.

Steven Gerrard – 7
Another brilliant assist for the English captain, as he picked out his Liverpool teammate Andy Carroll with a glorious diagonal ball from the right side to head it past Isaksson to give England the lead. Otherwise had a quiet game before passing away a glorious chance to make it 4-2 in injury time.

Ashley Young – 6
Was a bit more influential on the wide than in the center – role he was asked to play against France –  Young nevertheless wasted one good opportunity in the first half when failing to square for Carroll and had another unconvincing night.

Andy Carroll – 8
Completely justified his selection ahead of Oxlade-Chamberlain. The Liverpool hitman was always a physical presence for England in the final third and a threat to the Swedish defence. Scored an exceptional header in the first half. His linkup play was also impressive though he gave a way a silly freekick which lead to Sweden’s equaliser.

Danny Welbeck – 7.5 (Sub Off 90′)
Took his goal incredibly well with a backheeled volleyed flick from Walcott’s cross into the centre. Had initially struggled to make his presence felt but his strike was just reward for another encouraging performance at the sharp end of the England attack.

Subs

Theo Walcott (Sub on 61′) – 9 (Man of the Match)
Had an immediate impact on the game with a swerving shot that beat Isaksson for England’s equaliser and then used his pace to get the better of the tired Swedish defence and setup Welbeck to score the backheel winner. This was his finest England performance since the hat-trick in Croatia in 2008. Completely changed the game on its head.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlaind (Sub On 90′) – N/A